Bishop: Rolling Back Monuments – Not Double Jeopardy—Should be Trump’s Memorial to Steinle

Thursday, December 07, 2017
Brian Bishop, GoLocalProv Guest MINDSETTER™

Kate Steinle
Much has been made of a jury failing to convict Jose Ines Garcia Zarate in the death of Kate Steinle. This event was surely a tragedy, but it was not surely a murder. This instinct of my own was well articulated by Sarah Rumpf writing for Red State and illustrating that the right has not completely thrown away its compass despite the Alabama senate race. It is actually fairly easy to see evidence that casts doubt when the defense introduced circumstances that may have corroborated the gun having been left at the scene where the defendant found it; and the relatively low trigger pressure and lack of a safety on this Sig Sauer weapon as contributing to accidental firing. Albeit there was a debate in courtabout whether this is a safe weapon not prone to misfires or one with a hair trigger and a record of accidents.

But the question isn’t whether one believes it was an accident, but whether it is beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t. Of course there is a rash of second guessing the prosecutors. But prosecutor and blogger Patterico tamps down that rush to judgment as he adeptly discusses the nature of murder and manslaughter charges in California.

Despite the deserved sympathy for Steinle, federal charges for the same circumstances in order to pile on more years than the state will be able to mete out for the gun possession charge on which Garcia Zarete was convicted is simply the wrong direction to go. While not technically double jeopardy, it is virtually so.

Failing to convict Garcia Zarate is hardly an endorsement of sanctuary city policies that lead us here. But the San Francisco pier where this senseless death took place starts to look more like Wilder’s Bridge of San Luis Rey as we search for the meaning in who was there and why. Were it not for San Francisco’s refusal to honor a federal detainer, Garcia Zarate would not have been there. And this was after the feds had dutifully handed over Garcia Zarate to San Francisco for prosecution of a decades old drug case that the city dropped almost immediately.

This does leave one wondering whether, more than just refusing to hand over immigrants to ICE who are caught up in minor bureaucratic or misdemeanor skirmishes, San Francisco has a plan to frustrate attempts to deport those already in federal custody. And for all the truth that Garcia Zarete, who has but a 2nd grade education and was homeless in San Francisco following his release, was surely anxious and lacked coherence in the police interview following the shooting, somehow this same character has managed to cross the border illegally a half a dozen times. 

And it is worth recalling that Garcia Zarete is not the only but-for in this case. Were it not for the arming of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the gun would not have been there. Indeed a federal court recently barred a lawsuit by Steinle’s parents against San Francisco, finding that no laws had actually been violated by San Francisco, while allowing a claim against the BLM to stand for failing to properly secure the loaded weapon that killed Steinle (the gun was stolen from a BLM agent who left it loaded in a backpack in his SUV a few blocks from where Steinle was shot).

Federal land management was accomplished by the BLM and its precursors for almost 200 years without a law enforcement approach, until 1976. And since then, they have suddenly considered themselves in some kind of arms race. And this started before the Bundys and continues apace as the BLM had set itself against productive use of these vast lands, forsaking conservation for a preservation and a lock it up approach. 

It isn’t that the golden age of range management was without its tensions between the cowboys and the rangers, but the police power is of the states and, when confronted with enforcement problems in the past, the BLM would turn to local law enforcement. This, of course, necessitated maintaining a reasonable relationship with the counties over which it holds sway and helped balance incentives where so much of these western states are federal land.

While Trump could not bestill his tweets long enough to recall the reasonable doubt standard, he nonetheless made long overdue moves this week to mitigate the conflict between the BLM and the residents of western states. Rolling back monument designations that have roiled local citizens, blocking recreational and industrial access critical to their local economies, is a step toward restoring cooperation and respect that used to mediate the federal-state-county-citizen relationships.

To hear the caterwauling of anguish from environmental pressure groups, you’d hardly believe that a vast number of overarching protections remain in effect. Trump has a long way to go to actually untie the Gordian knot as mining projects on federal land can take 30 years or more to gain approval. But the move does return much land to multiple use and begs the question of whether the answer for the BLM is more armaments or more open arms.

And for a country that claims it is concerned about guns, the next step should be setting an example be reducing the federal arsenal. The BLM is just the tip of the iceberg. Armed police for the Department of Education? Indeed it was military style enforcement by environmental irregulars at the Fish and Wildlife Service that gave rise to the infamous cry against black helicopters – which were real enough to the people in Idaho to bring the opprobrium of Helen Chenoweth. I worked closely with the late Phil Nisbet, an obscure Idaho geologist who was one of the sources of complaint about this militarization of environmental enforcement.

But Phil’s obsession was not limited to federal interference in Idaho. His purpose in working the Salmon Mountains for the small Canadian mining firm Formation Capital was to unleash the strategic mineral cobalt domestically, improving world supply and wresting a virtual monopoly from dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire. Phil beat Elon Musk to the quest for this rare metal by 30 years,  but he would not live to see that mine opened. Construction was finally begun 20 years after I met Phil in 2010, but production still just over the next hill . . . eer mountain in 2017, following over 25 years of development and permitting.

The land released in Utah doesn’t promise us more copper and cobalt, but the precedent set does. Shrinking monuments in other states, as well as shrinking procedural delays blocking these projects are at the heart of Trump’s plan to make America great again. And there is nothing like a great economy to bring us back to solving the immigration dilemma where we began. When there is limited opportunity, American’s rightly wonder if it should be preserved for those who by life’s lottery were born here. When opportunities are more unlimited, it is easier to see the need for and to welcome those who would work shoulder to shoulder in an expanding economy. We need not be knee jerk multi-culturalists to recognize this obvious maxim. It may indeed be the enduring legacy of the Trump presidency, because there is nothing so enlightening as 3% growth!

Brian Bishop is on the board of OSTPA and has spent 20 years of activism protecting property rights, fighting over regulation and perverse incentives in tax policy. 

  • Sponsor: GoLocalProv

    Sample: N=403

    Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

    Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

    Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

    Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

     
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    Unaffiliated: 49%

    Democrat: 32%

    Republican: 15%

    Moderate: .4%

     
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    Probably be voting: 13%

    50-50: 9%

     
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    Right track: 39%

    Wrong track: 45%

    Mixed: 10%

    Don't know/Refused: .6%

     
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    Jobs and economy:  21%

    Education: 12%

    Taxes: 12%

    Roads: 12%

    State budget: 9%

    Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

    Healthcare: 3%

    Governor: 3%

    Homelessness: 2%

    Immigration: 2%

    Other: 7%

    Don’t know: .9%

     
  • Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

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    Don't know/Refused: 5%

     
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    25-34: 15%

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    High school grad: 16%

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    $150,000 or more: 13%

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    Cannot rate: 7%

     
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    Cannot rate: 11%

     
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    Good: 28%
    Fair: 30%
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    Never heard of: 1%
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    Good: 16%
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    Never heard of: 26%
    Cannot rate: 25%

     
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    Good: 20%
    Fair: 28%
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    Good: 21%
    Fair: 21%
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    Never heard of: 20%
    Cannot rate: 23%

     
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