The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘police’ Category

THEY WHO SERVE AND PROTECT

We’ve all heard that the police are here to serve and protect us.  I want to devote this post to the first of those two missions.

Have you ever needed to return something you purchased to a store?  You changed your mind, it’s too big or too small or it doesn’t go with your chartreuse shoes the way you thought it would.  And there you are, annoyed because you have to waste your time going back to the store, waiting in line with all the rest of the customers who are as annoyed as you because they’re doing the same thing.

Then you get to the desk and find a young lady who is thinking that it’s only another two and a half hours until she can get lunch and she’s had a morning filled with nasty customers who believe that she is responsible because their purchase doesn’t go with their chartreuse shoes.  But you’re confident in your ability to expedite this entire process.  You’re going to be pushy and cranky and demand a refund – no store credit will be acceptable to you.

It’s an immovable object and irresistible force kind of thing.

I would be willing to bet that many of the people who work in customer service entered that line of work because they are “people persons.”  Or at least they once were.  But as they listen to never ending complaints, especially when they are expressed without the civility of a “Please” or “Thank You,” well, it does takes its toll on the human spirit.  Illegitimi non carborundum be damned.  And who are the perpetrators of this destruction of the human spirit?  They are nice, everyday, “normal” people like you and me.

Now let’s consider the police and their mission to serve the public.  On the light end of things, we have those who are assigned to traffic duty.  I’ve known quite a few people who were caught committing a moving violation.  When they’ve explained this experience it is generally done by using rather salty language, thoroughly interspersed with expletives.  I have yet to hear someone describe their arrest by saying, “You know, I had the best morning.  The nicest policeman, an Officer Friendly, pulled me over for doing 65 mph in a 40 mph zone.  I am so grateful to him that he reminded me that by travelling at that speed I was endangering other motorists, pedestrians and myself.  I’m certainly going to take this to heart and stay within the speed limit in the future.”

The prudent motorist while awaiting the arrival of his ticket and the return of his registration and license is probably not cursing out the arresting office aloud.  But I am sure many of those in that circumstance aren’t thinking about buying tickets to the Policeman’s Ball either.  And I’m sure the body language is sufficient for the officer to pick up on their antipathy toward him or her.  And they get that every day, every time they stop another abusive motorist.

But as I said, that’s the light end of the job.  Take those who work in drug details or are assigned to a unit that specializes in trying to track down those who rape children or commit murder.  Dealing with that sort of depravity on a daily basis has to take a toll on a person’s spirit and humanity.  I know that’s a job that I couldn’t handle for very long.

Has any member of the police force ever made a mistake – one perhaps that resulted in an innocent person’s death?  Of course.  We all make mistakes – or there would be no need for a police force or a court system or jails.  But the current narrative that the police are some sort of occupying force whose goal is to beat the citizenry into submission – well, I just don’t see that.

To those who do work on our police forces, I am grateful that they have accepted the responsibility to serve the public generally and me in particular.  And I wish them well and offer a heartfelt, “Thank you.”  Perhaps if more of us took a moment to say those two words to the people we meet, we could help reduce the hostility that seems to have enslaved so many of us.  It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

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CANDY IS DANDY BUT LET’S TALK MISANDRY

If you’re not familiar with the term “misogyny” you have probably missed the fact that the “feminist” movement started a few eons ago or you aren’t tuned in to Hillary Clinton’s campaign to overcome it in what she and others describe as the “War on Women”.  Misogyny is, of course, defined as a hatred of women.  What you probably don’t know (because you’ve likely never heard it) is that there is a male version of this term, “misandry”.  So, you may ask, what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Fair question.

I decided on the title of this post because I just came across an old copy of Ogden Nash’s poetry which included his famous, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker” poem.  And, of course, misandry rhymes far better with dandy than does mysogyny.  And I love introducing my readers to arcane and otherwise obscure bits of vocabulary.  But beyond all this, there is a method to my madness which has less to do with politics than it does with living in a civilized society.

It’s a good thing that mysogyny (and I guess misandry) exist – or at least are perceived to exist.  If it weren’t for them, those who talk the most about the subject(s) would be utterly tongue tied and have nothing to say.  As it is, they have, in my opinion very little to say – but they still insist on saying it at great length.  Thank goodness for freedom of speech.

But if misogyny exists is it, perhaps, inherent in our vocabulary itself?  Maybe this is the reason that the left considers one of their major objectives to refine, sanitize, delete and alter our language so that it conforms to their view of how the world should be, rather than the way it is.  I first noticed this “purification” process beinning about twenty years ago when I was watching the Kentucky Derby.  Suddenly, I was struck by the singing of Stephen Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home.

The original of Foster’s work read:

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home.
‘Tis summer, the darkies are gay.

One lawmaker in Kentucky found the words “darky and darkies” to be offensive and got a bill passed which altered the author’s original work to read “people”, replacing these two terms throughout the song.  On the surface, as attitudes and speech have changed since the mid-nineteenth century when the song was written, this might be more reflective of the way we think and speak today.  Although one can hardly imagine what the verbage of this song might look like if it fell in the hands of what we euphemistically describe as “rap artists”.  While they were at it, one can only wonder why they didn’t also alter the term “gay” to read straight and LGBTQ – but it’s hard to rhyme those terms I guess.

Unfortunately, like so many things that people who are self-described as “politically correct” missed is that they didn’t understand what motivated Foster to write this song.  Most people, on hearing My Old Kentucky Home envision a song about the idylic pre-bellum South with ladies twirling parasols as they are escorted on the family manse by the young beau who is courting them.  In fact, the song is a lament sung by a slave who has been sold from his Kentucky birthplace to a new master in the deep South who will make him work in the sugar cane fields and probably meet an early death.

But returning to misogyny for a moment in view of the dedication of some to expurgate our language so that only permitted terms can be uttered (and I suspect their theory is that if we can’t say it we won’t think it), a recent sad event occurred which seems to have gone under the radar of the “Thought Police”.  That tragedy was the shooting of NYC police officer Randolph Holder and remarks made by film actor and director Quentin Tarentino’s comments at what might be best described as an anti-cop rally held in NYC a few days after the officer’s murder.

Police departments and associations throughout the country called for a boycott of Tarentino’s forthcoming movie and any further projects in which he might be involved.  I happen to be vaguely unfamiliar with Tarentino’s works.  The last one that I saw was Pulp Fiction which was released in 1994.  When I say that I saw the movie it would be far more accurate to say that I saw a bit less than one half hour of it before I walked out.  Some friends dragged me to the movie but I found the language and violence to be way over the top – so I left.  Fortunately, there was a bar across the street so I enjoyed a few single malt Scotches until the movie let out and my friends joined me.

Now we return to political correctness.  While I thoroughly support the police in their effort to show their displeasure by withholding their hard earned dollars from flowing directly into the coffers of a director who obviously has high disregard for them and the job they do, isn’t their effort in organizing a “boycott” inherently misogynistic?  Why isn’t it called a “girlcott” or the more inclusive “peoplecott”?

As most of those on the left are hoping that they can change the world into what I view as a miasmic fantasyland, I think I’ll just call it an Epcott.

WHO SERVE AND PROTECT

We’ve all heard that the police are here to serve and protect us.  I want to devote this post to the first of those two missions.

Have you ever needed to return something you purchased to a store?  You changed your mind, it’s too big or too small or it doesn’t go with your chartreuse shoes the way you thought it would.  And there you are, annoyed because you have to waste your time going back to the store, waiting in line with all the rest of the customers who are as annoyed as you because they’re doing the same thing.

Then you get to the desk and find a young lady who is thinking that it’s only another two and a half hours until she can get lunch and she’s had a morning filled with nasty customers who believe that she is responsible because their purchase doesn’t go with their chartreuse shoes.  But you’re confident in your ability to expedite this entire process.  You’re going to be pushy and cranky and demand a refund – no store credit will be acceptable to you.

It’s an immovable object and irresistible force kind of thing.

I would be willing to bet that many of the people who work in customer service entered that line of work because they are “people persons.”  Or at least they once were.  But as they listen to never ending complaints, especially when they are expressed without the civility of a “Please” or “Thank You,” well, it does takes its toll on the human spirit.  Illegitimi non carborundum be damned.  And who are the perpetrators of this destruction of the human spirit?  They are nice, everyday, “normal” people like you and me.

Now let’s consider the police and their mission to serve the public.  On the light end of things, we have those who are assigned to traffic duty.  I’ve known quite a few people who were caught committing a moving violation.  When they’ve explained this experience it is generally done by using rather salty language, thoroughly interspersed with expletives.  I have yet to hear someone describe their arrest by saying, “You know, I had the best morning.  The nicest policeman, an Officer Friendly, pulled me over for doing 65 mph in a 40 mph zone.  I am so grateful to him that he reminded me that by travelling at that speed I was endangering other motorists, pedestrians and myself.  I’m certainly going to take this to heart and stay within the speed limit in the future.”

The prudent motorist while awaiting the arrival of his ticket and the return of his registration and license is probably not cursing out the arresting office aloud.  But I am sure many of those in that circumstance aren’t thinking about buying tickets to the Policeman’s Ball either.  And I’m sure the body language is sufficient for the officer to pick up on their antipathy toward him or her.  And they get that every day, every time they stop another abusive motorist.

But as I said, that’s the light end of the job.  Take those who work in drug details or are assigned to a unit that specializes in trying to track down those who rape children or commit murder.  Dealing with that sort of depravity on a daily basis has to take a toll on a person’s spirit and humanity.  I know that’s a job that I couldn’t handle for very long.

Has any member of the police force ever made a mistake – one perhaps that resulted in an innocent person’s death?  Of course.  We all make mistakes – or there would be no need for a police force or a court system or jails.  But the current narrative that the police are some sort of occupying force whose goal is to beat the citizenry into submission – well, I just don’t see that.

To those who do work on our police forces, I am grateful that they have accepted the responsibility to serve the public generally and me in particular.  And I wish them well and offer a heartfelt, “Thank you.”  Perhaps if more of us took a moment to say those two words to the people we meet, we could help reduce the hostility that seems to have enslaved so many of us.  It’s worth a try, don’t you think?

BALTIMORE BURNING

The colony of Maryland was chartered by King Charles I to Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, an English Roman Catholic.  Calvert and his father preceding him had sought this charter as a place where Catholics could find a refuge from the persecution to which they were subject in England.  The colony was founded on the principle of religious tolerance.  Tolerance.  That’s a word that has, if it has not vanished from our vocabulary certainly has been largely absent from the behavior of many of us.

Today, a portion of Baltimore is burning, burned by the intolerant, the ignorant and those who would promote anarchy.  Granted, the recent death of a young black man under mysterious circumstances while he was in police custody is the focus and purportedly the catalyst for today’s lawlessness.  As we saw in Ferguson, MO, young thugs – some of whom may well not be local – are burning and looting.  A CVS after being raped of its contents was set ablaze and is on fire as I write this.

Various interviews with local residents suggest that while Freddie Gray’s demise was the immediate cause of today’s outbreak, there has been a very long history of mistrust of the Baltimore police by the black, inner city community that goes back decades.  One middle aged man described how he had been detained by the police and spent several months in prison after they discovered that he had his day’s supply of prescription medication wrapped in a napkin in his pocket.  The implication of his statement was that they took these capsules to be an illicit substance.

Baltimore has, for the last 47 years had a Democrat installed in the office of mayor.  The current occupant is, in addition, a black female.  According to the 2013 estimate by the U. S. Census Bureau, of Baltimore’s 622,000 residents, 63.3% are black.  As we know, if you merely ask anyone at the DNC – the Democratic party is the party of the oppressed, the down-trodden and minorities.  Black Americans overwhelmingly buy into this apparently as more than 90% of them are registered as Democrats nationwide and President Obama got more than 95% of their votes.  Every member of Baltimore’s City Council is a Democrat.

Perhaps the man who was interviewed and displayed a great deal of anger toward the police is being completely honest in the statement he made about his interaction with them.  If so, that is reprehensible.  But the police have generally been portrayed as a quasi-fascist organization – not just in Baltimore but throughout the country whose primary goal is to harass and shoot black Americans, specifically young black American males.  And we all know that fascists are supposed to be right wing Republicans.  There is a certain failure of logic in the historical facts and the assertions.  After all, the mayor and City Council are the ones who direct police policy and activities.

Wouldn’t you think that after 47 years of purported repression, the citizens of Baltimore and most of our large cities which similarly have had Democrats installed in the office of mayor for decades, (Philadelphia – 67 years; Chicago – 84 years, as examples) would figure out that the people for whom they are routinely voting, election after election, are not implementing policies which serve their constituents?

The proper way to effect positive change is through the political process and through peaceful protest but definitely not through destruction of public and private property or by throwing stones or shooting at police.  And if the people in our urban ghettos don’t adopt that philosophy – well, Einstein’s definition of insanity comes to mind.

THE WELCOME MAT

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has a motto, designed to remind us that each of us has the responsibility to conserve water.  “It’s A Desert Out There.”  The casual visitor to Las Vegas, had he been here last week, might have shaken his head incredulously at that slogan as we had a three day substantial rainfall.  It reminded me of being back in Chicago.

The rain continued for long periods of time throughout the day, would pause for perhaps ten minutes and then resume.  Because of the precipitation and the ominous and gloomy clouds which brought it, I decided to skip Gracie’s normal evening sojourn to the Dog Park and walk her through the neighborhood instead.  At least we could scurry home quickly should the downpour resume.

While Gracie is one quarter Golden Retriever, apparently the gene that accompanies fondness for water is missing from her DNA.  True, she does love to hit the fountain of the lawn sprinklers for a refreshing drink, but the stuff that falls from the skies doesn’t, in her estimation, have the same appeal.  Perhaps that is because the lawn sprinklers are a regular and predictable phenomenon – and rain is such a sporadic event.

In any case, we were meandering around the block and I happened to notice that, without exception, every home had a door mat at the front door.  And interestingly, most of those doormats had the word “Welcome” on them.  Gracie and I are the exception.  Our doormat says, “Please Wipe Your Paws.”  But for some reason, looking at these doormats caused me to think about both the issue of immigration and the allegations of police oppression which have become so rampant in some sectors of the media.

The United States accepts over a million people a year who want to immigrate to the country – more people than the rest of the countries of the world combined.  The process of gaining legal status here is onerous and rather Byzantine – but apparently enough people worldwide are willing to endure both the wait and the process to ensure that a continuous stream of newcomers arrives on American shores every year.

These people have a somewhat different view of life in America than some of us who are here legally by reason of birth.  I mean, who in his right mind would want to go to the trouble and expense of moving to a country where there was a high probability that when he got there he would be “oppressed” by those in law enforcement?  Basic logic would suggest that would be a place to avoid rather than one to which a person would seek admittance.

Now just because a person has a good heart and is welcoming to friends and guests, it does not follow that his kindliness would extend to everyone who presented himself at his door.  Most of us would probably call 911 if we saw a hooded man, brandishing a gun, rather than welcoming that person in for tea.  And while most of us who are here as a result of immigration reflect on our own and our forebears’ experience in coming to America and want to extend that same courtesy to others who are similarly motivated, that does not imply that we want to do so in an indiscriminate manner and open the door to anyone who presents himself.

If we look at the historical waves of immigration that occurred in America, we need to put in perspective that while we gratefully welcomed low wage people in the first and early part of the country’s second century, that in large measure reflected that the country and its infrastructure were under construction and needed those workers to build railroads and dig ditches for sewers.  Their arrival did not displace workers who were already here.  But the infrastructure, notwithstanding its deteriorating condition, and the railroads have been built.  No such need exists today.

Our manufacturing sector has greatly diminished and Wall St. no longer waits with baited breath to hear the U. S. Steel quarterly report as it did in the 1950’s.  Rather, the financial markets are moved by whether or not Google or Apple made their number for the most recent three month period.  Of the thirty stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average , only nine are purely involved in manufacturing and of those, two manufacture drugs.  The other twenty-one companies are primarily involved in providing services.

The problem with a stagnant, albeit slightly improving economy, is that those Americans who are at the bottom of the economic barrel face increased competition from illegal aliens (or if you prefer “undocumented people”) and nowhere is this more evident than within the inner city communities predominantly occupied by blacks.  That, at least in part, explains why the rate of unemployment among blacks consistently runs twice the “official” rate of unemployment – and among young black men runs twice that, nearing twenty-five percent.

If we truly want to face the issue of why there is unrest and despondency among certain groups of our population, racism is a convenient but dishonest explanation.  Let’s face it – the automobile dealer who is selling Ferraris doesn’t really care about the race of the person who buys his vehicle – and cares even less how that person obtained the cash to close the deal.  It isn’t a matter of race – rather it’s a matter of economics.  And the economic outlook for those in our inner cities is very bleak.

Riots and lootings solve nothing but in fact create additional problems for the business owners who are directly affected and potentially can lead to the arrest and incarceration of those who participate.  In truth, some of those who participate are simply out for ill-gotten gain – and any excuse will do to set them and their malicious intentions in motion.  Others probably have a sense of their own helplessness but see no path to extricate themselves from it.  And then there are some ideologues who believe that America is the most racist, despicable country in the world.

To those in the third category, remember that once there was a Berlin Wall – designed to keep the citizens of East Berlin from making their way to freedom.  America has no such barrier in place to prevent any willing person from leaving.  And there are countries which apparently are willing to give anyone, irrespective of background, an opportunity to start over.

The recent committal of five more Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay suggests that country might provide a more nurturing venue for them to spend the remainder of their lives.  And given the generous way in which our federal government spends taxpayer dollars, there’s probably a program in place to help facilitate their change of address.  Take advantage of the opportunity – please.

Via con Dios.

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

It was the year 1957 – 57 years ago.  The scene was Little Rock, Arkansas.  The governor of that state was Orval Faubus (D), a name that may be unfamiliar to younger readers.  The nine male white Justices of the Supreme Court had struck down desegregation in public schools in the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision.  The governor of Arkansas disagreed with that decision and militarized the Arkansas National Guard to prevent black students from attending Little Rock Central High School.

The nine black students who had enrolled in Little Rock Central High School initially were blocked from attending by the Guard.  The Mayor of Little Rock, Woodrow Wilson Mann appealed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) who intervened, sending in the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to escort and protect the students.  Eisenhower ultimately federalized the Arkansas National Guard, taking them out of the control of Governor Faubus.

Particularly during their first year attending Little Rock Central High, all of the students were subject to derision and abuse by their white counterparts.  One of them, Melba Patillo had acid thrown in her face and several white girls tried to light her hair on fire when she was in the rest room.  Others were spit on as they walked the school’s hallways.  That was the way it was in America in 1957 – at least in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The state of Arkansas elects its governor for a two year term.  Orval Faubus was elected to six successive terms by the citizens of that state.  Notwithstanding what transpired in Little Rock in 1957, Faubus won his final election as governor in 1964 and carried more than 81% of the black vote in that election.  What were the black voters of Arkansas thinking back then?  What are they thinking today?

There was something refreshing about Orval Faubus.  He made the list of the “Top Ten Most Influential Men in America” in 1958.  He was either loved or hated.  There was no parsing your position when it came to the governor.  You knew that Faubus was a strict segregationist.  He made no bones about his position and made no excuses for his beliefs.  Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, it was impossible to say that he was not honest.

I thought about Little Rock as events in Ferguson, MO are unfolding.  To say the least, the way in which the Ferguson PD has managed this has been far from perfect.  Suspicion has arisen because of the failure, until today, to release the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown.  The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon (D) took charge and by appointing the head of the Missouri State Police,  Captain Ron Johnson took a big step in the right direction.  Johnson is well-spoken and is a calming influence, helping to diffuse a situation that was at a boiling point and is now at a fast simmer.

The family made a statement and appealed to the community to keep calm, to continue to demonstrate but to do so in a peaceful manner.  That is admirable and is what should happen.  But in today’s release of the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown, it was also revealed that Brown was caught on the Quick Trip video security camera, robbing the store.  His identity and participation in this theft has now been confirmed – as well his manhandling the short owner of the store who is dwarfed by this 6’ 4”, 292 pound “gentle giant” as he has been characterized.  And then the attorneys for the Brown family, headed by Benjamin Crump who represented the Trayvon Martin family, released the following statement:

Michael Brown’s family is beyond outraged at the devious way the police chief has chosen to disseminate piece mil (sic) information in a manner intended to assassinate the character of their son, following such a brutal assassination of his person in broad daylight.

There is nothing based on the facts that have been placed before us that can justify the execution style murder of their child by this police officer as he held his hands up, which is the universal sign of surrender.

The prolonged release of the officer’s name and then the subsequent alleged information regarding a robbery is the reason why the family and the local community have such distrust for the local law enforcement agencies.

It is no way transparent to release the still photographs alleged to be Michael Brown and refuse to release the photographs of the officer that executed him.

The police strategy of attempting to blame the victim will not divert our attention, from being focused on the autopsy, ballistics report and the trajectory of the bullets that caused Michael’s death and will demonstrate to the world this brutal execution of an unarmed teenager.

Benjamin L Crump, Esq.
Anthony D. Gray, Esq.
Daryl D. Parks, Esq.

If I hadn’t read the signatures at the end of this statement, I would have guessed that it had been written by Al Sharpton or one of the other race baiters who regularly stir the pot when these sorts of incidents occur.  And just for once, it would give all of us some real reason for outrage if the “victim” as Michael Brown may have been, did not engage in possibly illegal acts, such as the store robbery, which only muddy the waters on what happened.

I didn’t know the late Michael Brown.  Losing your life over fifty dollars worth of stolen cigars is mind numbing.  But I do know that good kids don’t steal from convenience stores.  And if there is one lesson to be learned, it is one that is generally ignored by our black citizens.

In 1964 when black Arkansas voters cast 81% of their ballots for the segregationist/racist Governor Orval Faubus, the overall unemployment rate in this country was 5.2% and for black workers was 6.1%.  Today the rate for black teenagers, kids like Michael Brown is nearly 25% – and black Americans voted for another Democrat, Barack Obama giving him 95% of their ballots.

It makes me long for the good old days.

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