Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Week Thoughts

Regardless of your religious bent, this is a special week in America, the week where we preach "Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men" as we simultaneously defend torturing our enemies and the shooting of unarmed, often mentally ill people.

Cops Are Pissed and Scared - But They Can Be Their Own Worst Enemy

The Curmudgeon likes cops. As a part-time Uber driver, The Curmudgeon has on several occasions been stopped for the most insignificant traffic violations (crossing a white line, 4mph over the limit) by East Lansing police late at night. They aren't harassing him - just making sure that the minor violation isn't a symptom of drunk driving. They have always quickly released The Curmudgeon without a ticket, without a warning. As someone who sees a lot of young drunks driving late at night in the vicinity of MSU, The Curmudgeon appreciates their diligence and thanks the officer for helping keep the streets a little safer.
But...
  • Police in New York City turn their back on their Mayor because of his comments on the suffocation death of an unarmed man guilty of nothing more than 1) being large, and 2) selling loose cigarettes on the street, and blame him for inciting a mentally ill career criminal for murdering two of their own.
  • Police in Missouri don riot gear in preparation for protesters, turning a suburban St. Louis town into a re-creation of Fallujah.
  • We get weekly news stories on unarmed people being shot by officers who claimed they were in fear for their lives, but whose actions give the appearance of choosing deadly force as their first option
  • Police departments across the nation warn their officers that they could be the next cops murdered for no reason.
No decent human being condones violence of any sort towards police officers. But policemen who worry they could be murdered for no apparent reason should try to use that fear in a constructive manner: it is the same fear felt every single day by many people of color.
People like Rudy Giuliani, FOP presidents and every conservative blowhard on the radio don't do cops any favors by refusing to acknowledge an undeniable fact: there is a very tiny percentage of police officers who are criminals and should be treated as such. 
Rather than acknowledging that reality, "The Blue Wall" goes up every time their is a fatal shooting of an unarmed civilian by a police officer, sending out the message "we believe all cops are perfectly within their rights to shoot and kill people whenever they feel like it."
Lawyers aggressively seek out bad lawyers and boot them out of the profession - the attorney discipline process is strong and can be very harsh.
Doctors will testify in malpractice cases when they see another doctor mess us.
Airplane pilots (including The Curmudgeon) will report other pilots who fly in an unsafe manner so the FAA can take appropriate action. (Michael Bell has an outstanding essay on Politico on this point.)
Police? They circle up and verbally attack anyone with the temerity to suggest their is a bad cop within their ranks.
The process of healing the very visible chasm between police and the people they are sworn to protect must include a very visible admission by police that there are bad cops, and they have to go. When dozens of unarmed people are annually executive by police officers – and include minorities, the mentally ill and children – police need to insist on a full, fair and open investigation rather than simply hunkering down and automatically maintaining the innocence of the shooter.
Then we might start making some progress.

The Failed President

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average tops 18,000 for the first time. It was at 8,077 the day Barack Obama took office.
  • Price of gasoline nearing $2/gallon. It peaked at $4.11/gallon in July, 2008.
  • Unemployment rate 5.8%, the lowest since July 2008. 
  • Job growth is at a 15-year high ... the best performance since Bill Clinton was President.
  • GDP increase of 5.0% in the third quarter, the strongest quarter since 2003.
  • The rate of Americans with no health insurance at 13.4%, the lowest rate recorded since Gallup started tracking in 2008.
  • The federal deficit is at its lowest point since before the Bush Great Depression, and has been decreased each of the last five years.
With this record of "failure" one wonders why the President's approval rating is hovering around 48%. Maybe the non-stop, non-factual criticisms from the right as amplified by unquestioning media? "Healthcare Train Wreck Will Destroy the Economy." "Dodd-Frank Banking Reform Will Destroy the Country." "Obama's Energy Policies Will Destroy Our Economy." "Acting on Climate Change Will Destroy Our Economy."
All of those GOP talking points during the last five years have helped the GOP politically. But all of those talking points have proven to be wrong. WRONG.
The current silence from Republicans in the face of this undeniable resurgence of the American economy leads to one inescapable conclusion: they are more worried about seizing political power than in seeing America succeed.
Sad.

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