Political Correctness at WaPo Run Amok

A recent article in the Washington Post detailing several assaults on local bike paths never mentions the racial characteristics of any of the attackers. It describes them somewhat – mentioning their approximate height, age, and clothing , apparently in a feeble effort to solicit readers to help identify the attackers. And in one instance it includes the skin tone, and in another an artist’s sketch of the attacker. But the Post doesn’t point out the attackers’ most obvious physical characteristic: their apparent ethnic origin, or for that matter their hair color.

Wow – times are a’ changing. Who would have thought, say 20 years ago, that political correctness would lead to this. Not mentioning racial characteristics may be a new policy of the Post. Or it may have been the personal preference of the article’s editor.

Why not just describe them as “a man”? What’s next – not mentioning their gender? Oh I guess that will never happen because it will never be politically incorrect to point out that an attacker is a male.

New Sheriff’s Brother Caught Stealing Campaign Signs

wolfethiefDon’t like the Constitutional right of freedom of speech? We’ll you’re out of luck if you live in the United States. But there still are a few things you can do to help deny freedom of speech to your political opponents: steal their campaign signs.

Carrying out such acts denotes questionable moral character. When it happens one assumes the culprits are teenagers who don’t know any better. But recently a middle-aged man named Erik Kleiner got busted for doing so. Get this: he’s the brother of the candidate running for office. Get this as well: that candidate was running for, of all things, sheriff.

Her name is Stacy Kincaid, who just ran for sheriff of Fairfax County, Virginia. Her brother’s actions paid off. She won!

Yes, I know – we’re not responsible for the actions of our siblings. And she sure as heck had better not have known about his antics prior to his arrest. Had she known about them and not turned him in would be grounds for stepping down.

But stealing campaign signs was only part of it. Her opponent, Bryan Wolfe, lamented that in addition to campaign sign thefts, his car and home property were vandalized, undoubtedly by Kincaid’s supporters.

That’s a very disturbing development – it’s more typical of how political campaigns are run in third world countries, rather than modern-day America let alone one of the most affluent counties in the country. “This stuff happens in the Wild West or the South, I kinda thought it wouldn’t happen in this race,” said Wolfe.

Meantime, if Mr. Kleiner wanted his sister to win in order to more effectively combat crime in Northern Virginia, he certainly did not set a good example for those toying with the idea of thievery.

Unleaded Gasoline May Reduce Crime

Who would have thought that getting lead out of gasoline would have had such an apparently positive impact on reducing crime?

According to a WSJ article, rising levels of lead in the environment from the 1950s through 1970s, in large part due to leaded gasoline, was correlated with rising crime 20 years later. This is because toddlers, who often put their fingers in their mouths, ingested dirt contaminated by air pollution. By the time they were in their late teens and early twenties – the age when violence tends to peak – crime had risen.

Then in the 1970s came the prohibition of leaded gasoline. The article states, “As lead in the environment fell in the ’70s and ’80s—thanks in large part to the regulation of gasoline—violence fell correspondingly. No other single factor can account for both the inexplicable rise in violence in the U.S. until 1993 and the precipitous drop since then.”

It would be interesting to find out if the scientists and policymakers back then knew of the correlation between lead and crime. Probably not. Little did they know of the unintended positive effects of their actions.

Visitors to Air and Space Museum Made Parking Attendant Rich

Have you ever been to the new Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Va. near D.C. – the one near Dulles Airport that features the Space Shuttle, the Concorde, the Enola Gay, and a lot more? If you did you may recall that the $15 parking fee is a bit steep. You also may not be aware that your money wasn’t necessarily going to help fund the museum. It was going to help fund the lifestyle of the parking attendants.

Smithsonian visitors unknowingly gave Mr. Meseret Terefe a total of nearly $500,000 over the course of his duties. Two other parking attendants were guilty of the same thing.

I live only a mile from the museum. I went there a lot during his three-year tenure, but fortunately he never got any of my money. That’s because of you’re a local like me, you know that parking is free after 4:00 pm, until when the museum closes at 5:30 pm.

Seems he was “unplugging the electronic vehicle counters installed in the parking booths” or “not handing customers a serialized parking ticket to display” in order to pull off his embezzlement.

Still, it makes one wonder. Couldn’t the management of the Air and Space Museum have been more vigilant over those three years? I mean $500,000 – that’s a heck of a lot of revenue to let go down the drain. Couldn’t someone working there have entertained the possibility that an enterprising parking attendant could theoretically get away with something like that, and that therefore he or she should be monitored for possible discrepancies? Couldn’t someone have done an occasional estimate of the number of cars in the parking lot for a given day, and figure out that revenues were far less than what they should have been?

According to court documents, shortly after Terefe started working there in 2009, Ms. Freweyni Mebrahtu told him he was putting her and others at risk by not stealing, because the number of cars he was reporting was higher than others’ reported numbers. Not long after he got on board with the scheme, one of his managers – who court documents only identify as A.H. – insisted on getting half of the ill-gotten gains. Another participant in the scheme was Ms. Genete Yigzu, who according to a Department of Justice spokesperson has since passed away.

If Terefe noticed that the number of cars he was reporting was significantly higher than those of booths manned by other co-workers, why didn’t anyone at Udvar-Hazy or PMI (the parking contractor) notice that as well?

Rule 1 is to always assume or at least entertain the possibility that anyone accepting cash that doesn’t belong to them may not always act honestly, and that extra efforts should be made to keep tabs on that person or persons.

Carrying out periodic visual car counts, especially using video surveillance footage, and comparing that with the number of reported vehicles should have been a no-brainer. Another mistake was badly designed parking booths. The embezzlers unplugged the vehicle counter whenever they pocketed the cash.

So have redundant vehicle counting mechanisms in place, for starters. Separate the vehicle counters from the booths, as well. Do adequate background checks on workers. Consider moving to a non-cash system, like what Metro did in 2004 after millions of dollars went missing from its lots. And keep better tabs on workers, especially those handling cash.

* * *

BTW the museum is known as the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. No, Udvar and Hazy aren’t the names of two great scientists who discovered a comet or whatever. Udvar-Hazy is the last name of the main donor to the museum. A pet peeve of mine is that on the nearby highways, signs for the museum state “Udvar – Hazy Air and Space Museum.” First of all the signs have bad punctuation. It should be Udvar-Hazy not Udvar – Hazy. Second of all, except for one of the newer highway signs on the Beltway near Tysons Corner, nowhere do the signs say that it’s the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. So motorists may be thinking it’s just another air and space museum, not the Smithsonian air and space museum. Talk about poor marketing skills of whoever made the signs,  and of whoever has left the signs that way for the past seven years or however long the museum has been around.

That’s the government for ya.

Urban Should Not Mean High Crime & Poverty

In China and elsewhere, many apparently think that the more urban the area, the safer the area.

A lawsuit against the University of Southern California over the violent crime deaths of two Chinese graduate students alleges that, given that the online application says the school is in an urban area, school officials should have known that the Chinese would interpret that to mean a safe area.

First of all our hearts go out to the slain Chinese students and their families. As far as the lawsuit, it’s silly. When applying to a college it’s prudent to find out the crime statistics of the surrounding area. A simple Google search will do that. Moreover I’ve been to China and have spent lots of time around Chinese, yet never got the impression that the Chinese associate “urban” with “safe”, as far as crime goes. And to be sure, I just asked a Chinese whether, prior to coming to America, she associated urban with more crime or less crime. She said more crime. Besides, there are 38,000 students at USC. If two of them fall victim to violent crime, that means you have a 1 in 19,000 chance of the same. Those odds are probably a lot safer than most places.

Nevertheless, I could see how someone from another country could be unaware that in the United States, urban and especially inner city are associated with higher crime. That’s because in many other countries, inner city is not necessarily associated with higher crime.

We Americans take it for granted that inner city means high crime. But in fact, the inner city is not a “natural” place for crime. We artificially made it that way – “we” meaning American federal, state, and especially local governments and the people who voted them in. To borrow from something I wrote before:

“The areas of high concentration of poverty are determined largely by the location of subsidized housing.” The federal decision long ago to locate subsidized housing projects in America’s inner cities prompted many lower-income people – and criminals who tagged along with them – to relocate there or to stay there.

To drive home the point, in France, certain suburbs are associated with high crime.

“A similar thing happened in France decades ago, when authorities decided to erect its subsidized housing projects in the outer suburbs of Paris. They were a magnet for poor immigrants, and they are where many of the rioting youth now live. Unemployment is as high as 50 percent in some neighborhoods.”

So there’s a “pull effect” created by government programs like subsidized housing. There’s also a “push effect” created by government policies, pushing out businesses and responsible citizens through such measures as a higher minimum wage compared with the surrounding communities, higher taxes on businesses and individuals, and a tortuous system of licenses and regulations. As noted here, a business owner tried for years to get a license to set up shop in New Orleans, to no avail.

Of course, in America these days, it’s not just the inner city anymore that’s crime-ridden. It’s suburbs too. Take my own metro area. Several decades ago the University of Maryland College Park was in a county – Prince George’s – that was just as safe as practically anywhere else. But now the crime rate is higher in Prince George’s County compared with D.C.’s Virginia suburbs.

That’s because of the push effect and pull effect described above. Maryland and D.C. are bastions of the Democratic left. I think of all of those liberal/left professors at the University of Maryland College Park, and how their workplace is surrounded by what their politics have wrought. They provide the anti-intellectual firepower for the liberal/left agenda that’s implemented by the nation’s federal, state, and especially local governments.

The result? Driving businesses away, pulling criminals in, and making the area less safe for human habitation.