Tuesday twofer: Robert Crimo and the economy
Bad news and good
It’s been a busy weekend so I wanted to make a quick hit on a few stories.
What we know about Robert Crimo… Crimo was the shooter who killed six people in a rooftop sniper attack in Highland Park, Illinois on Independence Day. Police say that Crimo, 22, obtained a “high-powered rifle” that was legally obtained, but so far, the exact type of gun has not been specified. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said that Crimo obtained the gun legally. Crimo was reportedly not known to police before yesterday.
Crimo posted violent videos and images online prior to the attack. CNN reports that two videos released under the name, “Awake the Rapper,” apparently depicted a shooting spree and a police response.
Despite this, Paul Crimo, the suspect’s uncle, told CNN that he had never seen Robert act violently, calling him “a lonely, quiet person [who] keeps everything to himself."
Paul Crimo also could not shed light on Robert’s political leanings. The shooter’s political affiliation may or may not have a bearing on the attack, but there have been claims that he was both a leftist and a right-winger. Photos of Crimo at a 2020 MAGA rally and wearing a Trump flag as a cape do appear to be authentic, but the extent to which he might have been a MAGA supporter is uncertain. The claims that he was a leftist or Antifa member are also unverified at this point.
This is speculative, but his nom de rap, “Awake,” makes me think of Libertarians who frequently talk about “sheeple” and tell people to wake up. This is distinct and different from being “woke.” Personally, I think it’s likely that he was a disturbed individual with no deep political ideology.
I have advocated red flag laws and this is another case where the perpetrator seems to have exhibited warning signs prior to his attack. Illinois has had a red flag law since 2019 yet Crimo seems to have fallen through the cracks. Why that happened remains to be seen, but it seems possible that he kept his disturbed online persona separate from his offline relationships with family and friends.
“There were no signs of trouble. I saw no signs of trouble. If I did see signs, I would have said something,” Paul Crimo told the Union-Bulletin.
A new Wall Street Journal article paints a different picture. Gio Montenegro, a neighbor, described Crimo as antisocial and a loner who would ride his bicycle wearing all black clothes, a mask, and goggles while blaring techno music.
In addition to red flag laws, it’s also fair to point out that Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws in the country and is rated sixth strongest in the nation by Everytown for Gun Safety. These include a Highland Park ban on “assault rifles” that was the subject of a Supreme Court case (another reason to suspect that the legally-obtained rifle was not an AR-style gun) and state laws that require licensing, background checks for all sales including private transactions, and minimum age of 21.
Even if Crimo was mentally disturbed, he was capable of detailed planning. The WSJ report notes that he plotted the attack for weeks and wore women’s clothing to blend in with the crowd and facilitate his escape.
There will be more information coming out about the murders, but on the surface at least, the Highland Park massacre seems to be yet another case of a mentally disturbed individual who obtained a gun and went on a killing spree. It also seems that few proposed laws would have prevented the tragedy.
Is inflation deflating? If you need some good news, there are signs that inflation is abating. I’ve noticed falling gas prices in my area and Noah Opinion cites a great many other indicators in a free substack article.
What’s more, it isn’t just the pundit class that is taking notice. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that “all manner of raw-materials prices—corn, wheat, copper and more” seem to have peaked and have begun to decline.
This may be partly a result of the Fed’s decision to ratchet up interest rates, but there is also a saying among economists that “the cure for high prices is high prices.” In other words, rising prices cause a reduction in demand, which can in turn help to drive prices down.
The WSJ also points to other factors as well. Investors who flocked to agricultural products as a hedge against inflation are now leaving those markets. Further, supply constraints from the pandemic and the Ukraine war have eased, boosting inventories. Additionally, good weather has boosted crop production in the US, Europe, and Australia.
The declining indicators are a good bellwether for inflation, but all eyes will still be on federal figures for the next few months. A big question is whether prices will come down enough for President Biden and the Democrats to reduce the bleeding in the midterm elections. There has already been some narrowing in generic congressional polls, possibly due to the January 6 hearings and possibly due to the fact that more candidates are no longer generic and some Republican picks have been uninspiring.
I’d still bet on Republican gains this November, but an improving economy and nutty Republican candidates may do a lot to blunt the red wave.
DeSantis and free speech again At no extra charge, I’m going to include a reference to Ron DeSantis’s new college political survey. Online this is being touted as an attack on free speech. I tend to agree that DeSantis is no friend to the First Amendment, but Politifact has a good rundown on why the brouhaha over this new law is misplaced. Basically, it’s pretty vague and rather than prying into political beliefs, the survey will reportedly ask whether students “feel they can express their political viewpoints and opinions in their college classrooms.” Florida also says that participation will be voluntary.
Read Politifact’s analysis here:
NOTE: This article was updated to add the WSJ details. 7/5/22 1330
The cure for high gas and food prices is not higher prices. Demand much more inelastic for these goods. Much harder to absorb increases for key living staples and make demand changes in the sort run. I am all in favor of less inflation. Hope trend continues.
"What’s more, it isn’t just the pundit class that is taking notice. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that 'all manner of raw-materials prices—corn, wheat, copper and more' seem to have peaked and have begun to decline."
For what it's worth - and you may have some special insight here - I was just shopping for round-trip airline tickets between Chicago (ORD) and Providence (PVD) and was pleasantly surprised to see the prices (for a late August flight) at half of what they were when I was looking a month back (and back within a "normal" range for when I've flown before - ~$300 round-trip). Don't know if that's inflation abating or something else going on in the airline industry, but I'm contemplating that vacation I thought I would have to put off when prices were around $600 for those same flights.