The Bookworm Beat — Waiting for Normal Edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingThe kids return to school on Wednesday and I have the hope — faint, admittedly, but still the hope — that my life will return to normal then. I’m not complaining about life during the summer. I’ve enjoyed sleeping in every day, I’ve enjoyed the freedom from schedules, and I’ve enjoyed the vitality that comes with having the neighborhood teenagers move into my house.

Still, I like normal too. I like being up and about early, I like that wonderful moment when everyone is gone and the house is mine for six hours, and I like the quiet rhythm that enables me to read, think, and blog. During summer, because my quiet time comes so erratically and lasts so briefly, I cannot seem to get in the groove.

Until normal arrives in my life (assuming it ever does), here are a few interesting links.

Making shocking comparisons about Obama, mainstream media turns racist

What’s shocking about WaPo editor Jackson Diehl’s post discussing Obama’s hubris isn’t how mean and angry the tone is. No.  What’s really terrible is that this WaPo editor is no longer comparing Obama to Lincoln or even Reagan; he’s comparing him to George Bush Jr. Wow. That’s hate speech.

Thomas Frank :  fool or plant

Steven Hayward points out that Thomas Frank’s advice for Progressives who want to make conservatives happy is to (a) ignore reality and (b) put into place the kind of agenda that conservatives have sought for decades. Hayward is correct that Frank is either as dumb as a post or a brilliant conservative plant.

The perverse pleasure of getting under a Leftist’s skin

One of my liberal friends posted on Facebook the fact that the autopsy report revealed that Michael “Big Mike” Brown, formerly of Ferguson, Missouri, sustained six gunshot wounds, two of which were in the head. He commented that this was an excessive number. His boyfriend chimed in — yes, excessive!

I wrote polite words to the effect that if, solely for the sake of argument, one accepts as true the shooting officer’s version of events, six is not an unreasonable number of bullets to put into a huge man who is charging towards you with apparently malevolent intent. Not all shots make their mark and a big man may keep moving long after he’s sustained serious, even fatal, injuries.

I added that the “shoot to wound” idea exists only in novels and movies. Real cops — and I’ve spoken with a few — know that, if the situation is bad enough to merit shooting, you shoot to kill. I got this delightful response, not from my friend, but from his boyfriend:

Sorry . . . that just doesn’t match up with the facts as reported. It’s nothing less than stupendous how those of you on the lunatic right become apologists for the very same fucking governmental forces you shriek are taking us into “socialism”, “tyranny”, and whatever other crap you come up with. How pathetic and embarrassing to all Americans. UNfuckingbelievable.

When I went to reply, I saw that my friend had deleted both my comment and his boyfriend’s response. I was so delighted with the boyfriend’s response, though, that I mischievously re-posted my original comment, adding that it was significant that the shots entered front-to-back and not vice-versa. It now appears one of the shots may have been from back to front, which raises the question of whether that was the first, kill shot, with the others coming as he lay helpless on the ground, or if it was a final shot as his body fell.

I thought it would be lovely to elicit another one of those tirades. When someone is so viciously paranoid, it’s nice to tease it out so that all the world can see him for what he really is.

Conservatives don’t hate gays

I’m part of a majority! Sixty-eight percent of Republicans would willingly vote for a gay candidate who shared their values. I’m in that 68%. Ever since I’ve been a child, I’ve been neither racist, nor homophobic, nor religionist, nor anything else but VALUES-IST. If you share my values, I don’t care about whatever else you have going on with you.

I’m also with those conservatives (60%) who would be upset if their children were gay. This isn’t because I hate gays, and I wouldn’t hate my child. It’s because gays are statistically less likely to live lives free from substance abuse, spousal abuse, depression, and suicide. It’s also because I’ve known many gays and their lives tend to be less stable and more inclined to excess than the straight people I know. In other words, it’s not the sexual orientation that would disturb me, it’s my deep worry as a parent that my child would be setting out on a potentially very unhappy and dangerous life path.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Edward Snowden, who threw himself into Chinese and Russian hands with suitcases full of NSA secrets, dressed himself up in libertarian patriotism: I’m protecting you, the American people, from your government, he promised. As someone who fears overreaching government, I could fully understand those who argued that he was performing an important public service. But how do you explain away the fact that the vast bulk of data he stole related to national security, not homeland surveillance? It looks as if he may be precisely the type of “patriot” scoundrel Johnson was thinking of when he coined his famous saying — someone who covers up despicable acts by waving the flag.

The Left’s selective concern for victims of violence

Bernard Goldberg is singing an old, familiar song, but it certainly deserves a reprise — Leftists, including black Leftists, have no sympathy for blacks killed by blacks, or whites killed by blacks. Their outrage is reserved solely for blacks killed by whites, even though their number is exceptionally small, especially when compared to those blacks who die at the hands of their racial fellows. This outrage, then, has nothing to do with victims of violent crime, and everything to do with fomenting race wars.

Nobody cares about white victims

That Kung Pao something-or-other was delicious!  Now, what did you say was in that dish?

I wonder how Thomas Friedman is going to explain this one away in defending his beloved Chinese communist government: dogs are for eating, says Chinese government.

Pictures

(Thanks, as always, to Caped Crusader, who has a knack for finding these great images and posters.)

Work boots not stolen

Thomas Sowell wisdom

All socialists sing the same song

No, Hillary is not a Nazi. The point is that all socialists sing the same song.

Looting

 

Do you ever feel as if you’ve been worked over by your government?

Getting a ticketI am very disgruntled. I got a moving violation today and have the strong feeling that I was set up.

There is a road near my home that I travel frequently. It’s a familiar road and, in its own way, a fun one:  Many people in my community travel that road on foot and I like to keep an eye out for friends.  Seeing them always gives me a comfortable, small town feel.

Given my dual reasons for keeping an eye out for pedestrians (safety and small town friendliness), you can take my word for it when I say that, as I neared a specific cross street, there were no pedestrians drawing near and, as I drove past that specific cross street, there were no pedestrians heading towards it from the opposition direction. Indeed, the only pedestrians  were two men nearing this particular intersection as I drove towards it.

Just as I entered the intersection (going the speed limit), one of the men walking north towards the corner suddenly swerved east towards the cross walk and stepped off the curb. I had a split second to figure out what to do. In that split second, he looked over his shoulder, up the cross street, and then stepped back onto the sidewalk. I had my foot hovering over the brake, ready to plow my passenger into the dashboard, but his change of plan made me change my plan.  I decided that he’d changed his mind about his impulsive decision to cross the street (because there was no indication that he was previously contemplating doing so), and I drove on.

Fifteen seconds later, I saw a motorcycle police officer coming up behind me with his lights on. An officer wearing a uniform from a police department two towns away from mine approached and asked politely if I had seen the pedestrian. I said that I had, but that he’d stepped into the intersection when it was too late for me to stop safely for the passengers in the car — even though I was going the speed limit — and, since he’d obviously then changed his mind and turned around, I kept going.  The officer informed me that I had enough time to stop and issued me a moving violation.

At this point, I might have thought the whole thing was my bad luck, but then something happened that got me wondering: About four minutes after the policeman stopped me, I saw another car in my rear view mirror getting pulled over. I’m betting he got pulled over for the same infraction because the office went out of his way to tell me that they were cracking down on cars that didn’t stop for pedestrians.

The crackdown might explain that another car got stopped immediately after I did, except for that information I opened the post with:  There were no pedestrians near that intersection other than the two men I mentioned, one of whom got me in trouble.  Perhaps — and I’m just say perhaps – that same pedestrian did the same thing to the other driver that he did to me: Looked as if he wasn’t going to cross, waited until the driver got into the intersection, stepped into the cross walk, then stepped back onto the curb, right in front of another motorcycle cop.

There’s no way I can ever prove this, of course. I just think it’s a remarkable coincidence that, within four minutes, on a street with only two pedestrians at a corner where police were hiding as part of a crackdown, two people got ticketed for moving violations.

It’s not the end of the world, of course, but I don’t like being made a fool of, especially when it costs me money — and being caught in a con (a scam? a sting?) does make me feel as if I’ve been played. Whatever the cost, I can afford it, thank goodness. Others who travel the road can’t (and I wonder if the police let them off with a warning, since the whole infraction is, I believe, a man-created offense).

Aside from the cost of the ticket (and I don’t know yet what it is, but I’m sure it’s not cheap), if I want to avoid seeing my insurance going up, I have to go to traffic school. The county makes that expensive too:

In addition to the bail, you must pay a non-refundable administrative fee of $52 when requesting traffic violator school. The Court accepts certificates of completion from classroom and online traffic violator schools accredited by the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will also be required to pay the fee at the traffic violator school you select. You must submit satisfactory proof of completion to the Court by your due date. If you do so, your citation will not be reported on your driving record. If you sign up for traffic violator school and fail to submit the certificate of completion to the Court by the due date, the Court will notify DMV of your conviction and this conviction will be added to your driving record.

You know what else irked me? The ticket itself. The useful information on the back is illegible, light gray on pink.  I could see that it said “IMPORTANT — READ CAREFULLY,” because that was in 10 pt text and all caps, but everything else was not only in faded gray on pink, but was also 6 or 7 pt text.

If a business handed out a document with important information in illegible text, not only would people not be bound by the information, but the business would be sued under all sorts of consumer protection acts. One of the mandates the law imposes on businesses is that they must ensure that important information in documents that they give to consumers is in dark ink and uses a readable font. Our government, however, is free to hand out unreadable traffic tickets. Fortunately, I was able to access the information I needed on the internet.  Not everyone, though, is as internet savvy as I am, something that’s especially true for older people.

I’ll get over this, but as someone who’s not fond of government at the best of times, I really didn’t need to be on the receiving end of this petty exercise in police power.  I was just speaking today with a contractor about building codes.  He said that inspectors don’t have to have any building experience.  Instead, they can just be any old person who takes a class on how to read the code and apply it to a building site.  This means that the inspector is going to be absolutely inflexible.  Since he has no knowledge, all he can do is paint by bureaucratic numbers.

Take wheelchair ramps, for example.  I like them.  They’re useful for all sorts of people, from the disabled to mothers with baby strollers.  My problem is that codes don’t say only that the ramp has to be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs of a specific width, that it cannot have a grade greater than “X” or less than “Y”, and that it cannot force the disabled to wend their way through garbage piles.  Architects, engineers, and contractors can then act creatively to meet those parameters while still respecting the space or design of the building project.  Instead, codes spell out rigidly what the ramp must be like, even though it might be impossible or cost-prohibitive to fit that specific, code-defined ramp on the project, and even though an equally useful ramp might be built a different way.

I have the same problem with the ticket I got.  There was not the smallest likelihood I would have hit the man, who turned back to the curb the second his foot hit the road.  There’s also no indication that I was driving so recklessly or fast that I would have been unable to stop had it been apparent that he was bound and determined to cross.  The rule didn’t provide any flexibility for me to read the entire situation:  the passengers in my car, the other drivers on my tail, and the pedestrian’s actions, moving both forwards and backwards.

Instead, because the pedestrian (whether he was a plant or not) decided on the spur of the moment to step into the street, I was expected to stop immediately, sending my passengers flying and risking that another car would rear end me.  Keep in  mind that, as the situation played out, I could have hit the pedestrian only if I suddenly accelerated from 30 mph to about 70 mph (which I could do in a Tesla, not my Mom car), or if he had sprinted at warp speed to get in front of me.  Keep in mind too that, if the pedestrian was a continuing into the intersection, or was a child, I would have slammed the brake so hard, I would practically have moved backwards.

Grumble, grumble, grumble.  Grumble.

An update on the story about the liberal mugged by reality, plus news about shoddy police tactics

I wrote a few days ago about my liberal friend who was shocked by the way the judicial system treated a friend of hers who got arrested for allegedly doing a bad thing.  I have absolutely no idea whether the guy is guilty or innocent.  This post posits all three possibilities.

The guy ended up being charged with 21 counts, many of them duplicative, and all of them carrying very high minimum sentences.  He will almost certainly plea bargain.

If he’s guilty, a plea may be a good deal for him.

If he did what he is alleged to have done, but there are extenuating circumstances, that’s irrelevant in terms of deciding the risk of going to trial.  The moment a jury concludes that he committed the acts, he’s done for.  So again, a plea bargain is the way to go.

And then there’s the question of whether he’s innocent.  By charging him with 21 acts, the prosecutor, by bringing 21 counts against him, has already sent a signal to the jury that this is a “bad” man.  The legal presumption may be innocent until proven guilty, but a jury will almost certainly think “Boy, that’s a lot of smoke.  How about if we just convict him on one of the charges?”  The jurors won’t know, of course, that just one of those charges can mean decades in jail.  So again, the best bet for the guy is to plead out.

So think about that for a moment — we have created a judicial system where a person, whether guilty, innocent, or with a good excuse, begs to go to jail rather than to face the stacked deck in court.

But there’s more to it than that: This system encourages lousy police work, because the police know that they probably won’t be called upon to answer for it before a judge and jury.  Police are rational and they are overworked.  Even the best and most decent of them will eventually fall down the slippery slope of dangerously careless policing.

Did I say dangerous?  I meant it.  Please read this post by my friend Mike McDaniel (whose home blog is Stately McDaniel Manor).  It describes the terrible outcome of the kind of shoddy police work that our judicial system actively encourages.

A friend gets a hard lesson about the “liberal” police state

I was quite tired yesterday when I read something interesting.  Having read it, I jotted down an idea for blogging about it.  That note says “loving the individual versus loving the system.”  I then went to bed.  Today, I’ve spent the last several hours trying to remember what I read and what my cryptic little note meant.

Quite obviously, of course, the note refers to the difference between true conservatives, who believe in individualism, and Leftists of every type who speak of the individual, but only as a prop to justify state power.  The problem is that I’ve said this multiple times before at this blog.  What was new and exciting to me was something that I read that more perfectly illustrated the difference between conservative and statist.  I suspect that whatever that interesting trigger was, it’s gone forever, which is too bad.

However, having that thought in my mind did come in handy today when I got a call from a friend.  Someone she knows got arrested on the charge of doing something very bad.  He and his family don’t have much money, so they cannot afford a good lawyer.  Instead, he will get a pro bono public defender pulled from a pool of available attorneys — which means it’s very hit and miss whether the attorney has the actual skills to represent him.  The multiple charges against him carry automatic and lengthy prison terms — in other words, mitigating circumstances are not allowed.  I don’t know whether this person did what the police say he did but I do know that, if he actually did do what was alleged, there are actually mitigating circumstances.

But here’s the deal:  Because of the mandatory sentencing, his pro bono lawyer has already told him to plea bargain.  A trial is just too risky, because the outcome is binary — you win or you go to jail forever — and the attorney isn’t good enough to raise a reasonable challenge to the state’s charges.  That means that, even if this guy is innocent or there are extenuating circumstances, the risk of having his day in court is so great that the system is forcing him to spend the next decade or more in prison.

This is profoundly undemocratic.  We are guaranteed under the constitution a right to a fair and speedy trial, but the system is designed so that people have no incentive to take advantage of that inherent right.  The problem isn’t even as simple as rich defendants versus poor defendants.  It’s the fact that prosecutors layer on as many charges as possible, regardless of their validity, simply to force a plea bargain.  Rich people can hold out longer, but ultimately prosecutorial overreach is a “get into jail very not free” card.

My friend, who is heartbroken, was fulminating about the “police state.”  I agree.  I don’t blame individual police officers or even individual prosecutors (many of whom I count as my friends in the legal world).  They are operating in a system that cedes them greater and greater power, and with power inevitably follows corruption.  This is especially true when there are no checks on that power.

I see this increased power flowing not from the conservatives, who are normally considered law and order types, but from the statists, who are control freaks.  An inevitable byproduct of a control-freak is increased enforcement.  That is, control is meaningless unless you have the brute force to effectuate it.

Put another way, conservatives expect people to behave well.  Rather than micro-managing that behavior, they would like our institutions to teach good behavior as a moral, not a police, imperative.  Think about it this way:  If you remove God from the equation, the Ten Commandments are still a perfect list of core moral behaviors that lead to societal cooperation:

Exodus 20:1-17

Then God said all these words: “I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.

Commandment 1
“You are to have no other gods before me.

Commandment 2
You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.

Commandment 3
“You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.

Commandment 4
“Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the for eigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.

Commandment 5
“Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.

Commandment 6
“Do not murder.

Commandment 7
“Do not commit adultery.

Commandment 8
“Do not steal.

Commandment 9
“Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.

Commandment 10
“Do not covet your neighbor’s house; do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

People who willingly abide by these rules are good citizens.  Conservatives do not believe that they are perfect, but that they will err on the side of decency and morality.  The problem, of course, is that without God as the  ultimate, albeit abstract enforcer (which is the case with statists who will not cede any micromanagement even to God), you’re left with nothing put police power to carry out your increasingly petty and overreaching decrees.

Since there are no big rules, there can only be thousands and tens of thousands of petty little rules.  And petty little rules need an awful lot of law enforcement.  And a lot of law enforcement means a vast concentration of power centered on policing.  It also means an overwhelmed prison system that incentivizes going to jail rather than presenting your case.

What was fascinating was that my friend, in the midst of her unhappiness, had an epiphany:  Sen.  Dianne Feinstein is one of the leading lights of state power.  It’s true.  The minatory, bossy, arrogant Feinstein is certain that she knows everything better than you.  She goes about armed or with guards, but she knows that you’re too stupid to be armed.  Or if you are allowed to be armed, she knows which gun you should use and how many bullets it will take for you to defend yourself.  She knows what you should be paid for your work, she knows how much of your income the government can spend better than you, and she knows that it’s up to her to control even the minutest details of your life.

My friend, though, hasn’t quite connected all the dots.  After fingering DiFi as the living embodiment of Big Government, my friend said, in a bewildered voice, “I don’t understand how she could have come out of San Francisco.”

I’m not shy.  I told my friend that SF is the perfect DiFi breeding ground.  Take away San Francisco’s endless tolerance for public nudity and gay sex, and you reveal a City government with pure tyrannical instincts.  The Board of Stupidvisors micromanages the city in every way possible and has since the Leftist takeover in the 1960s.  Here are just a few examples, which appear in posts I’ve written over the years:

San Francisco: America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism

San Francisco mulls expanding gay rights program at expense of academic programs *UPDATED*

The politics of City budgets in liberal cities *UPDATED*

Socialist governments just LOVE to control food

We’ll spend your money no matter what

American taxpayers officially on the hook for a 1.7 mile tunnel in SF

Life for the law-abiding in San Francisco

You get what you pay for with city government

Only in SF is JROTC a “controversial” program

Dealing with government bureaucracies

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, nude world — if you live in San Francisco

The streets of San Francisco (or, this is Nancy Pelosi’s city)

San Francisco’s pro-tenant laws and ethos drive up the cost of renting

Life in an increasingly fascist city — what San Francisco’s plastic bag ban means

Pro-Life versus Get-A-Life

This definitely wasn’t the post I intended to write, but it will have to do.

You need a scorecard to know the players — or yet another reason why citizens should be armed

I may not own a gun, but I cherish my right to own a gun should I want one.  Ever since Hurricane Katrina, I’ve realized that police cannot always be there to protect people.  What I’ve also realized, is the police officers can be just as dangerous when they’re on the scene as when they’re not.  This thought has been swirling around in the back of my brain ever since I started learning about a practice called “swatting.”  Swatting happens when a person, either as a (stupid) prank or from real malevolence, calls 911 and reports a hostage situation at the target’s address.  These reports always require a SWAT team to appear.  Homeowners find themselves awakened when the police surround their house or burst through their doors.  The there’s a high likelihood that something terrible will happen, such as the police shooting a befuddled homeowner who appears threatening.

Even without swatting, though, the police can be dangerous because they don’t know who the bad guys are.  With the best will in the world, in a confused situation, it’s impossible for them to tell who’s the homeowner and who’s the intruder.  In Fort Worth, Texas, police shot a grandfather who, hearing a ruckus from his neighbor’s house (police searching for drugs, as it turned out), grabbed his gun and went over to help out.  He never even made it off his driveway but was, instead, was shot dead by the police.  I’m not blaming the police.  I’m just citing this particular story as an example of the fact that, in fraught situations, police are justifiably nervous and can’t tell good guys from bad.  Neighbors, however, know each other, and a homeowner certainly knows who shouldn’t be in his house.

A little grab bag of things regarding Boston’s travails *UPDATED*

[UPDATE:  Thanks to Libby and John C, please scroll down to see two more great images.]

Tom Elia, who blogs at The New Editor, alerted me to this tweeted picture, which purportedly shows the rear bumper sticker on the car the Chechen brothers carjacked.  If you look carefully on the bumper’s right side….

Bumper sticker of jacked car in Boston

It’s a hokey old song, but I thought of it when I thought of the wave of first responders, in Boston, in Cambridge, in Watertown, and in West (Texas), who so willingly showed up when the calls came in:

And finally, on a slightly less mordant note, did you know that one of Sinatra’s later albums (1970) was called Watertown (apparently after a place in New York) and that it had a song of the some name? I don’t like the song, but it seems appropriate here:

UPDATES:

What coexist really means

Coexist as it should be

Moral hazard and martial arts — and was I making any sense at all?

It all started when my sister and I got to talking about the up-coming Olympics.  I used to enjoy them when ABC presented each day’s events as a tightly packaged three-hour narrative, complete with villains (usually the Russian, French, or East German judges) and myriad heroes, whether they were the known champions who saw years of hard work paying off, or the dark horses who surprised everyone by appearing out of nowhere. While I may not like my news packaged, I don’t mind it at all when it comes to my Olympics.

Now that the Olympics seem to be 24 hours a day, with a fairly random presentation, I’m overwhelmed and, barring something spectacular (such as Michael Phelps’ amazing run of gold medals), I don’t have the patience for it.

Having determined to our mutual satisfaction that we both feel the same way about the Olympics, my sister offered me an interesting factual tidbit:  “I’ve heard,” she said, “that they’re thinking of adding Mixed Martial Arts to the Olympics, but the people opposing it say that it’s little better than dog fighting.”

My hackles went up instantly — not at her, but at the people who would say that.

“First off,” I said, “professional MMA is a voluntary activity.

“Second, these guys perceive themselves as warriors victims, not victims warriors.  [That was a heck of a dyslexic mistake, wasn't it?]

“And third, while they get a lot of injuries, I bet the injuries are less serious than football.  It’s the whole ‘moral hazard’ thing — the more you insulate people from known risks, the more dangerous their behavior is.

“Think of the difference between football and rugby.  The rugby guys get seriously trashed with superficial injuries to most parts of their bodies, but the lack of helmets mean that they don’t lead with their heads.  You therefore don’t hear about head and spine injuries with rugby players.

“With football players, though, the helmets and padding mean that the league has relied on increasingly large players, who use increasingly aggressive pressure on the opposition.  The injuries can be deep and profound.

“MMA’s the same thing — the guys tear up their knees and shoulders, which is a bad thing, but not life threatening.  It’s a risk they ought be allowed to take.  And they’re grown men, which means that they’re probably getting a lot less trashed than all those little gymnastics, who have been taking enormous risks with aerial activities, not to mention the bone stress and eating disorders.”

Clearly, I was on a roll.  Fortunately, I was preaching to the choir, since my sister just said, “Well, you know that the safest communities are those with the least police presence.”

“That sounds right to me,” I responded.  “After all, no one is going to care as much about protecting you and your loved ones as you are.  Provided, of course, that the authorities haven’t taken your weapons away.  You know that old saying:  when seconds count, the police are minutes away.”

“Yeah,” she answered.  “Look at Chicago.  They have this insane crime rate and they already have one of highest ratios of police officers per citizen in America.  So the City is going to hire more than a thousand police officers, as if that’s going to work.”

“It’s just like teachers, isn’t it?” I offered.  “We keep being told that our failing schools will get better if we hire more teachers, even though there’s no evidence that this approach works.  More than that, it ignores the fact that, back in the day when you and I were in school, our classrooms routinely had 35-40 students per teacher, and our test scores and overall education was just as high as now, if not higher.”

“That’s right,” said my sister.  “They never look at whether the teachers are teaching a smart way, or whether politics is interfering with education.”

She and I ended our conversation then, quite satisfied with each other.

But here’s the problem:  Were we right about anything we said?  Is rugby safer than football when it comes to serious (brain and spine) injuries versus superficial (teeth, nose, elbows, knees, etc.) injuries?  Are the safest communities in America those with the least police presence?  Does Chicago really have one of the highest rates of police per citizen?  And do today’s students really know less than students in the 60s and 70s, or have our expectations gone up since then?

These are good questions and we probably should have known the answers before we started talking.  As it is, I’m simply too lazy today to check whether my facts are right.  And in keeping with my previous post, “When ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”  Since every issue resolved itself so neatly, why in the world would I want to mess up my nice little conversation with actual, possibly different, facts?

British police can’t even defend themselves against dogs

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding things here, but as I read this article, five British police officers got badly mauled by a single dog because none had a gun.  It wasn’t until a SWAT team arrived that the attack ended.

In America, the police are minutes away when seconds count.  In England, the police are there, but who cares?  Even the dogs aren’t scared.

Self defense and the police

I finally figured out the Second Amendment when Hurricane Katrina struck.  I mean, I’d always known before that the police can’t be everywhere and that they often show up to mop up after a crime, because the criminal and done and gone so quickly.  The knowledge that they’re out there is certainly a deterrent to crime generally, but it cannot stop all crimes specifically.  Knowing that intellectually was not the same as understanding that viscerally.  Hurricane Katrina brought the whole thing home:  with the best will in the world, it was impossible for New Orlean’s police to protect citizens literally left adrift by the Gulf’s raging waters.  Those with guns protected themselves.  Those without were vulnerable.

Mike McDaniel gets this.  A former police officer and current Second Amendment stalwart, he understands the limits of what the police can do, and the point at which the citizenry is responsible for its own care.  It’s a post that’s worth reading.  I don’t have a gun in my house for various reasons, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t think you shouldn’t have one either.

A pepper spray series

From Zombie, who comments on the gaggle of giggling girls who gleefully relive their pepper spray experience,

and

From Castra Praetoria, who’s been pepper sprayed a few times himself (but all in the line of duty),

and also

From James Taranto, who notes that a lack of actual aggression doesn’t mean that the protesters weren’t engaging in the type of activity that calls for police crowd control of the physical variety.

Giving police respect *UPDATED*

I’ve been following with interest the discussion about police power.  I agree with OldFlyer completely that police authority versus identity politics is not the main issue here, especially because of the fact that all evidence surrounding the Gates arrest is, to date, self-serving ex post facto data.  Instead, OldFlyer is completely right that the important issue is Obama’s strikingly divisive and unpresidential behavior, followed by his narcissistic inability to admit that he erred.  Nevertheless, the discussion about police power is an interesting one.

Thinking about it during the night (insomnia is a great spur to deep thought), it occurred to me that I have no problem giving police respect because I don’t see the relationship between civilians and police as a demeaning “they have power, I don’t” situation.  Instead, I give police respect because they’re doing a difficult and necessary job.  I don’t deny that police officers have a great deal of power, but I recognize the necessity of that on-scene power because they’re willingly entering dangerous situations most of us would flee.  Without power, they’re just fish in a barrel, waiting to be shot.  Ultimately, I am grateful for their service, and I admire what they do.  More than that, I appreciate that we’re lucky enough to live in a country in which most police officers carry out this job with dignity, decency and honesty.

Unlike me, people who show respect to police officers only because the latter are in a power position don’t actually respect them at all.  Instead, they hold them in contempt.  Rather than viewing cops as an admirable front line against anarchy (“thank you for taking the time to make my world safer, even if it means casting a suspicious look on me”), they view them as power-hungry control freaks (“you’re just holding this job because you like to feel important, but I’ll make nice because I’m scared of your power”).  It is these civilians who, when they get obstreperous, find themselves hauled in on “disorderly conduct” charges — and this happens because the police recognize the contempt motivating the behavior.

UPDATE:  It turns out I’m not the only one who approaches law enforcement with genuine respect.  (Not that I speed, so I haven’t yet had to talk myself out of anything!)

Non sequiturs are us (or are Obama)

Isn’t the first advice of being in a hole to stop digging?  Someone needs to remind Obama of that, because he’s still out there making enemies of police officers throughout America.  He’s also saying utterly ridiculous things to justify his position.  How’s this one?

The president said he understands the sergeant who arrested Gates is an “outstanding police officer.” But he added that with all that’s going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, “it doesn’t make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he’s not causing a serious disturbance.”

If police offers were responsible for health care, the economy and foreign wars, that might make sense. As it is, though, their job is to protect the public at home, and to ensure that citizens cooperate with them in keeping communities safe.  What Obama said isn’t even a straw man argument.  It’s just nonsense.