Thursday, September 3, 2015

A convoy with a difference

I'm obliged to an anonymous reader for the link to this video of the re-enactment of a World War I steam-powered convoy.  Its YouTube page explains it as follows:

The Great Dorset Steam Fair WW1 commemorative convoy from Bovington Camp to Tarrant Hinton, on 16th August 2014, arrives at the roundabout in front of the Bryanston School Gates - just before Blandford Bridge. A vintage (Ford?) staff car forms the escort at the front. McLaren road locomotive 1332, Gigantic, then appears hauling the 72 ton Pickfords trailer bearing the 1914 WWI Holt 75 HP gun tractor, 'Ben'. The strain of turning the Pickfords trailer through ninety degrees gives Gigantic cause to slow down and then bounce forward with accompanying chuffs as the driver expertly brings the trailer around. McLaren road locomotive 1652, Boadicea, pushes from the rear making up the 80 foot train. Burrell road locomotive 3257, Clinker, follows bringing troops. Roger, son of the late Fred Dibnah, is (I believe) at the controls of the 1917 Foden steam lorry that follows. Roger is co-owner of the Holt tractor. Show co-founder, Ronald Harris is with his 1915 Daimler lorry which was army owned in the war. The rear is brought up by the 1918 GMC water bowser owned by Rowley Moors of Bridport.

After a stop for sandwiches at the Crown Hotel you will see the lead driver check that all are ready, a blast of the whistles to signal the start and then the convoy setting off for the final leg of the journey. Please comment with any further information / corrections and don't forget to tick on 'Like' if you enjoyed this video. I was lucky with the shots/light and think that I caught the vehicles at their active best - especially the early sequence showing Gigantic being turned around the roundabout. All credit to those who have restored these vehicles and who handled them so well. It was a truly spectacular and memorable event.

Watch the video in full-screen mode for the best results.

A memorable event indeed!  Wish I'd been there to enjoy it in person.


Get government out of the marriage business

The recent controversy over a Kentucky clerk's refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

For a start, the position of a clerk of court is not religious, but secular in nature.  If one's religious beliefs conflict with the duties of the secular position, one has a very clear choice.  Either don't seek the position, or, if one's already in it, resign rather than go against one's conscience.  One can't impose one's personal religious beliefs on those who don't share them.  Christ put this rather well:  "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s."  The duties of a clerk undoubtedly belong to Caesar (or his modern democratic equivalent).  If one accepts the job, those duties go with it.  They're part of the territory.  Can't or won't fulfil the duties?  Then resign the position.

Those who are trying to 'uphold' the clerk's right to religious freedom have got it all wrong.  In her private capacity, she can observe whatever moral standards she wishes.  In her public capacity, she may not.  That's the warp and woof of the US Constitution.  It doesn't conflict with her faith at all, because the Constitution is Caesar's, not God's.  That's the nature of the nation in which we live.  Don't like it?  Move to a theocracy - and good luck with that, BTW.  We've had one in this country before.  It didn't work very well.  No theocracy has ever worked very well, because people aren't very good at observing all the rules and regulations, whether God's or Caesars.

Let me use myself as an example.  I'm a man of faith, and a retired pastor.  I will not officiate over a gay wedding, because it's contrary to the Biblical values of Christianity.  I do not condemn those who are gay;  they have the absolute right to choose their way of life for themselves, just as I do.  I don't regard them as 'extra sinful' because of their sexuality;  the Bible makes it clear that all sexual activity outside marriage is wrong, at least according to Judeo-Christian culture if not actual Divine commandment.  (That's something most of us honor far more in the breach than in the observance.  I'd guesstimate that well over half the couples I've married have been either sleeping together, living together, or already pregnant.)  However, I don't seek to dictate to those gay couples what they may or may not do.  If I do that to them, they have the equal right to do it to me.  (Remember the Golden Rule?)  I may refuse to officiate at their wedding, but that doesn't stop them finding someone else to do so.  In the same way, they may refuse to accept my perspective on sexuality and marriage, but that doesn't mean they have the right to force me to accept theirs.

As I've said on several previous occasions (follow those links to learn more), I think we should get government out of the marriage business altogether.  Abolish marriage licenses.  Let couples figure out for themselves how they see marriage, and make their own arrangements accordingly.  Christians who adhere to Biblical morality can marry in a church of their choosing according to Judeo-Christian custom.  Those who adhere to a different standard can do their own thing elsewhere.  That way, no-one can try to force anyone else to do things their way.  Works for me.


The thin blue line is getting thinner all the time

A few days ago I posted an article titled 'Cops, crime, corruption, communities and violence'.  It examined the dilemma between policing according to traditional 'Peelian principles' and the current trend towards overbearing authority, and discussed the rise in violence towards cops.  Among other points, I said:

Things can't go on like this, because if they do, the good cops will leave.  Their lives are worth more to them than the risks they'll have to face to continue as peace officers.  That will mean the dregs take over . . . those who don't give a damn about citizens or their rights, and will lord it over everyone and throw their weight around behind the authority of their badges.  The more they do that, the more of them will die, and the worse the situation will get.

There's more at the link.

It looks like that reality is already affecting police recruitment.  Fox reports:

Police departments face a recruiting shortage amid a growing anti-cop mood that some fear has taken the pride out of peacekeeping and put targets on the backs of the men and women in blue. 

Open calls for the killing of police have been followed by assassinations, including last week's murder in Texas of a Harris County sheriff's deputy. Instead of dialing back the incendiary rhetoric, groups including "Black Lives Matter" have instead doubled down at demonstrations with chants of "Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon." Public safety officials fear the net effect has been to demonize police, and diminish the job.

"It's a lot harder to sell now," Jeff Roorda, business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association and former state representative, told "This is a very real phenomenon."

. . .

"You no longer just have to worry about your life while in uniform," he said. "Now you have to be worried about the well-being of your family," he said.

Roorda said the new academy class continues to be delayed and the police force loses about double the amount of officers per year than in the past.

Knowing police face public scorn or career-ending legal battles even if they acted properly has convinced many prospective cops to abandon their dreams of patrolling America's streets.

"I saw all this anti-cop propaganda and I was like, 'Who needs this?'” said Antonio, a New Yorker who asked that only his first name be used. The 32-year-old had applied and been accepted into the NYPD academy, but withdrew his candidacy amid the cop-bashing climate sweeping the country.

. . .

Recruitment nationally is "way down," said Jonathan Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association. He said some sheriffs around the country say the number of applications has fallen by as much as 50 percent.

. . .

Sgt. Delroy Burton, chairman of the DC Police Union in Washington, compared the current treatment of police to veterans returning from the Vietnam War.

"We have to fight the bad guys, and the policymakers go unnoticed," he said.

Burton, who was born in Jamaica and is a former U.S. Marine, said his police force is about 131 officers understaffed and has seen nearly 600 officers resign in the past 19 months -- a number he said is unheard of.

"We're sitting ducks," he said. "We're in these uniforms, brightly colored cars and there's nothing we can do. And the vast majority supports this loud vocal minority."

Again, more at the link.

When there aren't enough police to do the job, the streets will become less safe for them, as well as for law-abiding citizens.  That will further accelerate the loss of 'good cops', who'll conclude (quite logically) that their lives are worth more than the aggravation, danger and denigration to which they're subjected for doing their job.  At the same time, the 'wrong' type of cop, the 'jackbooted thug' variety who enjoys throwing his weight around, will become more prone than ever to do so, because he'll see it as preempting potential threats by intimidation and a 'command presence'.  Any objection or dissent will be seen as criminal behavior, deserving only of contempt.  That's already happening.

This is not a good place for law enforcement to be . . . and unless something is done to rectify the situation very quickly, it's going to get worse.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The so-called "refugee" flood

I'm getting more and more irritated by the angsting and hand-wringing and oh-dear-me approach by the liberal establishment to the so-called "refugee" crisis in Europe.  Today's heart-wrenching photographs of a drowned three-year-old refugee are being used to whip up emotional responses to the crisis - but that's only going to make it worse.  We can't respond to a crisis with emotions.  We've got to deal with its reality.

The problem with refugees in Europe is, fundamentally, the same problem that we have with illegal aliens in the USA.  The "refugees" have already escaped the horrors of war in Syria, or Iraq, or Eritrea, or wherever.  They've gotten out of the combat zone.  What they're now doing is traveling through many other countries in search, not of safety, but of economic improvement.  They aren't so much refugees from crisis as they are economic migrants looking for a better way of life.

They see the 'entitlement society' of Europe or the USA, with its no-strings-attached benefits, as an economic Nirvana.  They can arrive in a strange country and be given housing at public expense, an allowance on which to live that in many cases exceeds the wages or salaries they were able to earn in their home countries, free education for their children, publicly-funded health care . . . the list goes on and on.  That's why these "refugees" aren't stopping in the first safe country they come to.  They want more than safety.  They want money.

I can't blame them for that, of course.  If I were in their shoes, I'd want precisely the same thing.  Maslow's hierarchy of needs applies to them as much as it does to me or anyone else, and they're bound and determined to fill that hierarchy as best they can.  Unfortunately, to do so they have to rely on the citizens and taxpayers of other countries to provide it for them.  They can't or won't do so themselves in the countries where they're living or where they've found safety, so they're moving to where they can get it.  The fact that in doing so, they're imposing an impossible burden - financial, social, cultural and in other ways - on the countries to which they're moving is something about which they care not at all.

Illegal aliens from South America who are currently flocking to the USA are doing precisely the same thing.  They don't care that they're imposing all sorts of burdens on this country.  They want money, possessions, security - things they can't get where they are, but they can get here, because the US government hands them out freely through welfare and entitlement programs.  They'll finagle those things out of us one way or another, as long as we allow them to do so - something in which the present Administration is shamefully culpable.  Consider:

The list of costs to the US taxpayer is endless . . . just like the list of costs to European taxpayers of illegal aliens in their countries.

I see only one solution to this "refugee" or illegal alien flood.  It's in four parts, and applies not only to the USA but to every nation facing this problem.

  1. Secure the borders.  Make it hard to sneak in, and punish violators harshly, including confiscation of all of their assets before expulsion.  In particular, there should be no path to legal residence and/or citizenship for illegal aliens.  That last is not negotiable.  If they start their residence in a country by violating that country's laws, then by definition they won't make good law-abiding residents or citizens - so don't give them that opportunity at all.
  2. Provide aid that encourages and helps people who want to find safety and security, and make a better life for themselves, to do so where they are rather than be forced to find somewhere else.  That means putting boots on the ground and helping real people, rather than funneling aid money through governments where most of it can be siphoned off by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
  3. If your economy needs cheap labor that its citizens can't provide, offer a guest worker system that's functional, simple and effective.  You want to pick crops here for better money than you can earn at home?  Sure . . . but you get a six-month visa to do so and you go home when it expires.  If you comply with its conditions, you get offered another one next year.  If you don't comply and try to stay illegally, or you commit any crime while you're here, you're never allowed back.
  4. Only those who are legal permanent residents - not guest workers on temporary visas - and who've paid taxes in a country for five years (and I mean paid into the State's coffers, not gotten tax 'refunds' that more than cancel out what they paid in) are eligible to share in the welfare, entitlement programs, etc.  Been here less than five years?  No way.  Been here ten years, but paid taxes for less than five years?  Fuggetaboutit.  Not a permanent resident?  No.  Nix.  Nada.

Does anyone else have a better idea?  If so, please share it in Comments.



In the light of the agitation from the 'Black Lives Matter' folks and their threats against white people in general and police officers in particular, I couldn't resist borrowing this from Bloviating Zeppelin.

When they start agreeing that ALL lives matter, I'll take them more seriously.  Until then, that just about says it all, doesn't it?


The trials and tribulations of butthurt SJW's

I have to admit to a great deal of amusement at the to'ing and fro'ing over a new book by Theodore Beale, a.k.a. Vox Day, a.k.a. the Supreme Dark Lord.

It's a very interesting exposĂ© of how the loony left deploys Alinsky-like tactics to denigrate and destroy all those who oppose them.  I'm here to tell you, based on my experience he's absolutely right.  I think the top-rated review of his book says it all.

One need only read the multiple one star reviews of this book to verify its accuracy. They so perfectly typify the behavior that Day calls out that one might suspect him of planting them himself.

Vox Day lays out in clear, easy to understand terms the strategy of bully groups, how to identify their behavior, what to do and more importantly what not to do.

. . .

I realize that ... the SJW mentality can't escape the herd-think and that one is either blindly obedient to their will or an enemy to whom no mercy or compassion can ever be extended.

There's more at the link.  Recommended reading.

Inevitably, the publication of this book immediately before the 2015 Hugo Awards brouhaha enraged and infuriated SJW's.  Their immediate response (apart from leaving lots of one-star reviews of the book, many stating emphatically that they hadn't read it, which led to Amazon taking down the fraudulent reviews . . . will these idiots never learn?) was to try to defuse the book.  It's backfiring on them in many ways.

For a start, an author using an obvious pseudonym wrote the parody 'John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels' (what a title!)  John Scalzi himself (firmly in the SJW camp) then offered to read an audio version of the book if his fans would raise money for a charity he supports.  (He's since followed through on his offer.)  Not to be outdone, another SJW wrote 'The Angel Vox Day and the War for the Heavenly Gamergate Puppies (Give Me a Hugo!)', which is being published in serialized chapters.  I'm not going to put up its cover, because it shows nudity (albeit in an artistic form) and I try to keep this blog family-friendly.  The first chapter is titled 'The Wicked Victory of Shoeless John! (The Chronicles of ... Angel Vox Day and His Flaming Sword!!!!!!)'  I think that's supposed to be funny, but I don't see the humor in it.  Still, to each his own, I guess.

To add to the fuss, one of Vox Day's fans has now written his or her own parody:  'John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia'.  (If the titles of these things get any longer, it'll take multiple breaths to read the damn things!)  Ditto on the (lack of) humor involved.

Of course, these rip-offs are being specifically labeled as parodies, so as to avoid any libel or slander lawsuits;  but they still appear to be riling up John Scalzi, who's tweeting his unhappiness: 'Question for the legal scholars among you: Is this title parody? Or libel?'

I'm not very happy with this sort of parody on either side.  I see no reason to deliberately try to denigrate, hurt or run down anyone by name, even though one might disagree more or less vehemently with their point of view.  I think it's a sad reflection on our modern society that it's become so prevalent.  Nevertheless, I can't help but reflect that the vast majority of the name-calling does appear to come from the SJW side of the fence.  A simple tally of insults will demonstrate that beyond reasonable doubt, and the display of their contempt at last weekend's Hugo Awards ceremony puts it beyond any doubt, as far as I'm concerned.

Be that as it may, the fuss being stirred up by all of these books is certainly making their authors laugh all the way to the bank.  This morning's Amazon rankings demonstrate that very clearly.

I doubt very much whether Vox Day thought his little volume would hit #1 in a serious category like Political Philosophy - or that two parody volumes inspired by it would hit #2 and #3!  It's also at #552 in the entire Kindle Store at the time of writing, so it's currently selling like hot cakes.  I'm sure he's enjoying it all immensely.

I do recommend 'SJW's Always Lie'.  It's a thorough and, I believe, a very factual analysis of the tactics used by moonbats, progressives and extreme liberals to try to destroy anyone who stands in their way.  It's worth knowing what to expect and how to counter it.  As for the parody volumes . . . I'll pass.


Gremlins - robotic version?

Many of us remember the World War II-vintage Bugs Bunny cartoon 'Falling Hare', where the fabled wabbit meets up with a gremlin on a US Army Air Force base.

Cute little imp, ain't he?

In yet another case of truth being stranger than fiction, it looks as if DARPA has plans for a fleet of modern roboticized 'gremlins' to help fight the next war.

The military has two types of long-range weapons systems: missiles that can be fired from great distances and are never seen again, and complex aircraft that remain in use for generations. What they have in common expense, whether they’re one-and-done munitions or aircraft that are costly to build and maintain.

The Pentagon’s lead research arm wants another alternative, looking to develop relatively cheap drones that can be launched from large aircraft or fighters, attack a target or conduct ISR, and then be retrieved in-flight.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced a program it’s calling Gremlins, looking to prove the feasibility of affordable unmanned systems that can be safely launched and recovered in the air, spreading the payload and airframe costs over as many as 20 uses instead of just one. In addition to reusability, DARPA hopes that the program could save money by making use of existing unmanned aircraft rather than designing new models.

Gremlins—named for the imaginary, mischievous creatures that boosted morale among British pilots in World War II—builds on an idea DARPA put forth in November, with a Request for Information on the idea of using large aircraft, such as C-130 transport or the B-52 bomber as “aircraft carriers” for small drones.

Under the Gremlins plan, groups of drones would be launched from large aircraft such as the C-130 or B-52, or from fighters or other smaller aircraft while those manned aircraft are outside the range of an adversary’s defenses. After the gremlins carry out their mission, a C-130 would round them up and take them back to base, where they could be set up for their next mission within 24 hours, DARPA said.

There's more at the link, and at DARPA's Web site.

The concept of an 'airborne aircraft-carrier' for drones is an interesting one.  However, it also makes me wonder about enemy counter-measures.  When the Boeing E-3 Sentry entered service in the late 1970's, the Soviet Union developed the R-37 'AWACS killer' air-to-air missile, designed to be fired from hundreds of miles away.  Even if it didn't kill the AWACS plane, its approach (particularly when fired in a 'swarm' of dozens of the missiles) would force the aircraft to abandon its airborne early warning role and take evasive action to avoid being shot down.  It would also force AWACS to orbit further away from the front line, reducing its coverage of the area of hostilities and rendering it less effective.  (A more modern 'AWACS killer' missile, the Novator K-100, is reportedly under development.)

Could a similar countermeasure be applied to a 'gremlin carrier', forcing it to keep its cargo of drones further away from their targets?  I don't see why not.  (For that matter, I can see an enemy getting really creative and producing their own version of a 'gremlin', which would then allow the 'carrier' to 'recover' it.  As soon as it gets close enough . . . bang!)

It'll be interesting to see where this leads.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Getting into - and out of - a very small place

Courtesy of XBradTC, we find this video clip of a Britten-Norman Islander twin-engined light aircraft landing at a remote game lodge in Idaho.  According to the company that posted it, the strip is at an altitude of about 2,700 feet above sea level, and has a usable distance of about 1,200 feet. Watch the video (and the next one) in full-screen mode for best results.

Curious, I went to the YouTube channel of the company operating the plane, and found they had another one of the same plane taking off from the same strip.

The company has several other interesting flying videos on its YouTube channel.  They remind me of bush flying in Africa - strips in the middle of nowhere, often with a bend (or two, or three, or . . . ) in the middle, surrounded by all sorts of things you really didn't want to hit on your way in or out.



A reminder from Mallard Fillmore this morning:



World War II began 76 years ago today

On September 1st, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and World War II began.  By the time it was over, fatalities (military and civilian, from combat and non-combat causes) would total at least seventy million, probably up to eighty-five million, and possibly as high as a hundred million.  That total is at least doubled if wounded, injured and missing persons are included.  Total casualties of all kinds were probably not far short of a quarter of a billion people.

Stratfor has an interesting and thought-provoking analysis of Hitler's effect on Europe as a consequence of the Second World War.  Here's an excerpt, reprinted with Stratfor's permission.

The first outcome, obviously, was that he destroyed Europe's hegemony over much of the world and its influence over the rest. Within 15 years of the end of the war, Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands lost their empires. A handful of European nations had dominated the world. By the end of the war they had lost the will, the energy and the wealth to maintain their power. After half-hearted and doomed attempts to resist, these countries willingly participated in the dismantling of what they had once thought of as their birthright.

This changed the shape of the world, of course, but the change was less the result of the world's resistance to Europe than a result of Europe's exhaustion. After the war, Europe faced the task of rebuilding buildings. The ambition to rule had been exhausted ... Europe has lost its recklessness, which is on the whole good. Yet it has gained an excessive caution that makes it difficult for Europe to make up its mind over matters small and large.

The world is certainly a better place without Hitler's reckless imprudence. It is probably a better place without British or French imperialism, although when we look at what they left behind, we wonder if the wreckage of empire is worth the wreckage of the post-imperial world, whoever we blame for that wreckage.

. . .

There was another thing Hitler cost Europe: the metaphysical sensibility. It is startling, the extent to which Christian Europe has abandoned Christianity for secularism. Consider this map (click the image for a larger view):

The decline of church attendance is the outer husk of a European sensibility that, at the highest levels of thought, contemplated the deeper meanings of things. It was not Hitler who destroyed the European metaphysical sensibility. In many ways it destroyed itself from the inside, with a radical skepticism derived from the Enlightenment that turned on itself. But Hitler provided a coup de grace to that sensibility by appropriating figures like Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner to his own political ends, thereby delegitimizing not only them but also the tradition from which they emerged. Hitler, in his own strange wanderings in the depths, made such wanderings no longer respectable, and indeed, suspect. There is a saying I once heard: "German philosophers go down deeper, stay down longer and come up dirtier than any others." I don't know about philosophers, but Hitler, the would-be philosopher, certainly did, and it cost Europe the jewel of its intellectual heritage.

. . .

Of course in all of this, perhaps the most important thing that Hitler did was unleash the United States, a country where earning a living is the definition of life. Hitler believed that his defeat meant the triumph of Bolshevism. It really meant the triumph of the United States and its culture, which it distributed in Western Europe through occupation and in the Soviet bloc through imitation.

The United States redefined European culture. As I have written in Flashpoints: The Emerging Crisis in Europe, it was not Coca-Cola but the computer that was the carrier of American culture. The computer had nothing to do with metaphysics or with the true or beautiful. It had to do with the narrowest form of instrumental reason: It simply got things done, and in doing so, it justified its existence. The computer dominated the world — and Europe — and with it came a mode of thinking, contained in programming, that was so radically different from what European culture consisted of as to almost be from another planet.

. . .

Hitler drew the Americans into the heart of Europe and left the Europeans completely vulnerable to the emerging, and quite strange, modes of thought that a nation that holds shopkeepers in great regard can produce. Hitler destroyed the dams that Europe had built around itself. He crippled all of Europe, including the Soviet Union. He could not imagine the need to cripple the Americans, nor could he have had realized the need. And therefore, in the end, they rebuilt Berchtesgaden and I am sitting here looking at it.

Hitler will be remembered not only for great evil but also — and more important, in many ways — for the manner in which almost all of the consequences of his war were unexpected.

There's more at the link.  Highly recommended reading.

As we remember this dismal anniversary, let's spare a thought (and a prayer) for the millions upon millions of casualties, and those who survived the war but are now leaving us at a rate of thousands every day as they grow old.

May the victims of the Second World War, whenever they died or will die, rest in peace.


Wirecutter finds the best ones . . .

From his blog this morning, part of an ongoing series headlined "Another 'Aw F***' Moment in Time":


Monday, August 31, 2015

An entirely different sort of cat-fish!

Two men went fishing on the Black Warrior River in Alabama over the weekend.  What they caught wasn't what they expected.

Who the hell would be so cruel as to abandon kittens in a place like that?  I hope their rescuers took care of them, and found them new homes.


Watch out for new charges and fees

The Planning And Foresight blog has a useful warning for those of us who may not read all those e-mails and circulars from our banks with enough attention.

The slow collapse of our economy will bring about new fees and taxes so that the government and companies can maintain their cash flow. For example, my ... local bank decided that all savings account that have been dormant for 6 months or more will be assessed a maintenance fee of $6.00/month. While $6.00 a month is a small amount, the total cost for one year is $72.00 for digitally maintaining an INACTIVE account.

There's more at the link.  It's a very timely heads-up to us all.

Note that the $6.00 'maintenance fee' is for doing nothing.  The bank doesn't incur any extra cost to let your account sit in its electronic records.  It's just trying to milk you for every penny it can suck out of your pockets. With money getting tight for almost everyone, look for more businesses - not just banks - to try tacking on additional fees and charges.  I'm already seeing that in, for example, vehicle service centers.  Their bills now often add a few dollars here and there for 'consumables' or 'disposal of waste products' - things that used to be non-itemized, covered in the overall charge.  (I note that the latter hasn't gotten any smaller after those line items were separated out . . . )


The calls to kill get louder

As a grimly relevant adjunct to my previous post about crime, cops and communities, the voices calling for racially-based violence (especially against police) got louder last weekend.

Members of the #FYF911 or #F**YoFlag and #BlackLivesMatter movements called for the lynching and hanging of white people and cops. They encouraged others on a radio show Tuesday night to “turn the tide” and kill white people and cops to send a message about the killing of black people in America.

One of the F**YoFlag organizers is called “Sunshine.” She has a radio blog show hosted from Texas called, “Sunshine’s F***ing Opinion Radio Show.”

. . .

During the show, callers clearly call for “lynching” and “killing” of white people.

A 2:39 minute clip from the radio show can be heard here. It was provided to Breitbart Texas by someone who would like to be referred to as “Hannibal.” He has already received death threats as a result of interrupting #FYF911 conference calls.

An unidentified black man said “when those mother f**kers are by themselves, that’s when when we should start f***ing them up. Like they do us, when a bunch of them ni**ers takin’ one of us out, that’s how we should roll up.”  He said, “Cause we already roll up in gangs anyway. There should be six or seven black mother f**ckers, see that white person, and then lynch their ass. Let’s turn the tables.”

They conspired that if “cops started losing people,” then “there will be a state of emergency.”

He speculated that one of two things would happen, “a big-ass [R’s?????] war,” or “ni**ers, they are going to start backin’ up.”

“We are already getting killed out here so what the f**k we got to lose?”

Sunshine could be heard saying, “Yep, that’s true. That’s so f**king true.”

There's more at the link, and at the provided link on YouTube.  I hardly need to add that there's a serious profanity alert at the latter link.

Remember what I said some years ago about the changing urban self-defense environment?   Those words are more true now than they were then.  Don't think that these people are just talking about criminal violence.  Some of them are committing it as well.  The crime figures demonstrate that, the latest tragic example being Deputy Darren Goforth in Texas last Friday.

Please be prepared, and be careful.  Don't become a crime statistic yourself.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cops, crime, corruption, communities and violence

I was terribly saddened to read of the pointless, senseless murder of yet another peace officer last week, this time in Texas.  It's the latest in a string of deaths on duty for the 'thin blue line', and there's no end in sight.  Sheriff Hickman said of the latest tragedy:

Hickman said Goforth was apparently singled out only because he was wearing the uniform of a law enforcement officer. The sheriff made it clear he felt the shooting was tied to a national backlash over several recent killings of unarmed black people by police officers.

"When rhetoric ramps up to the point where cold-blooded assassination has happened, this rhetoric has gotten out of control," he said. "We heard 'black lives matter.' All lives matter. Well, cops' lives matter too, so why don't we drop the qualifier and say 'lives matter' and take that to the bank."

There's more at the link.

I think we're approaching a point where there has to be a fundamental re-evaluation of what we - society as a whole - expects and wants our law enforcement officers to be.  There appear to be two widely differing perspectives on the matter.  One side wants minimal law enforcement commensurate with civil rights and liberties.  The other wants much stricter law enforcement, even if it violates civil rights and liberties, on the grounds that public safety necessitates it.  (Unfortunately for the second approach, crime in cities and areas with that approach to law enforcement appears to be at least as bad as anywhere else, and frequently worse.)

There's the issue of police themselves.  We expect them to be paragons of virtue;  but then we send them into situations where their daily interactions are usually with the dregs of society, where they're exposed to violence, threats, lies, filth and the worst that people have to offer.  Is it any wonder that they become hardened and cynical, viewing most people (including the 'good guys') as potential law-breakers, regarding everyone as a potential threat until proven otherwise?

There's also the problem of police becoming primarily fund-raising machines for themselves and their localities.  I've experienced this myself in Nashville, TN, where I live.  Last year I was stopped and issued a ticket for speeding, without the Metro PD officer providing any proof at all that I had, indeed, been speeding.  When I protested, he informed me that he wasn't required to do so.  He agreed that I could take the matter to court if I wished, but pointed out (rather smugly, I thought) that even if I won, I'd still be required to pay more in court costs than the fine he was issuing me.  I was basically in a no-win situation.  I thought very seriously about fighting the ticket in court, as a matter of principle;  but that would have meant going into town, waiting a full day (possibly longer) for the case to come up, having to come back again if the officer couldn't be there, and all sorts of bureaucratic hassles (as well as having to pay the aforementioned court costs whether I won or lost).  It wasn't worth the trouble.

As far as I'm concerned, this was nothing more or less than legalized robbery, and my opinion of Metro PD and of its officers has plummeted. Anyone willing to work for an agency that practices such extortion has already branded himself as worthless, IMHO.  As a result, I've lost almost all respect for Metro PD and its officers.  Unfortunately, there are all too many such agencies out there, and all too many officers willing to work for them, and all too many local governments eager to use their law enforcement agencies as fund-raising machines.

St. Louis County in Missouri is a classic example.  Read these reports to see what I mean.

It's not just there, either.  It's all over the country.

Answer me this:  how are we supposed to have any respect at all for law enforcement officers (or their agencies) who engage in these shenanigans?

I suspect this is a major part of the problem with certain elements of society who resent, distrust and fear law enforcement.  Some are just plain criminal, and deserve no consideration.  Others . . . no, others have a real problem.  They've been treated so badly, for so long, that they've lost sight of the fact that the law is there for a reason.  They see it - and those who enforce it - as more of a burden, more of a threat, than a blessing to society.  In time, they come to see peace officers as active enemies . . . and they respond accordingly.  I have to struggle against this myself, now.  When I see a Nashville Metro PD officer or vehicle, my immediate, unspoken reaction is, "Oh - another jerk looking to rip me off."  That's probably very unfair to the officer(s) concerned, but it's also entirely rational and logical, considering my experience last year.  That's unlikely to change anytime soon.

The trouble is, there are good law enforcement agencies and officers out there.  I'm privileged to have some of them among my friends:  JPG, Matt, Lawdog, Murphy's Law, Captain Tightpants and a number of others.  I know that all of them treat good citizens as such, with respect and professionalism.  I've worked in the law enforcement field myself, and tried very hard to do the same. To this day I carry retired LE credentials.  I know there are 'good cops' out there . . . but there seem to be a whole lot less of them than there used to be.  That's a tragedy.  What's worse, those good officers are now the targets of criminals who see all police, good or bad, as their enemies, to be shot on sight for no other reason except that they exist.  That's what seems to have happened in Texas a few days ago.  I live in the daily awareness that it could happen to one of my friends at any moment, for no reason at all except that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  That's scary as hell for me, and even more so for them and their families.  Many of them are angry about it, and I don't blame them.

Sir Robert Peel put forward nine 'Peelian Principles', which have been the bedrock of community policing in democracies throughout the world.  The seventh of these Principles reads:

To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

I submit that far too many law enforcement officers and agencies have lost sight of that truth.  It's certainly honored far more in the breach than in the observance, in my experience.  That's perhaps the root of the resentment, anger and bitterness directed against police by so many today.  They're no longer seen as members of the public, but as oppressors of the public.  If we want to change the relationship between police and public, we've got to re-establish a right relationship between them.  At the moment, police all too often portray themselves like this:

How do we get from that, back to this?

How do we get police to respect and uphold the rights of citizens, when they so seldom deal with citizens who respect their rights in return?  I just don't know . . . but I do know that what we're in right now is a no-win situation.  Things can't go on like this, because if they do, the good cops will leave.  Their lives are worth more to them than the risks they'll have to face to continue as peace officers.  That will mean the dregs take over . . . those who don't give a damn about citizens or their rights, and will lord it over everyone and throw their weight around behind the authority of their badges.  The more they do that, the more of them will die, and the worse the situation will get.

What's the answer?


The Cinder Cone

Courtesy of a link at Miss K's place, we find this very interesting video of a group of friends building their dream in the hills of Washington state.  The music's nostalgic, the fun they're having is obvious, and everything's laid back.  I enjoyed it.  Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.

I wouldn't want to live in a tree house myself, but a cottage on one of those headlands . . . that might be very nice indeed.


When a win isn't a win after all

We've spoken several times before about the parlous financial situation in various States, including Illinois.  It looks as if that parlous situation is having wider effects.

After years of struggling financially, Susan Rick thought things were looking up when her boyfriend won $250,000 from the Illinois Lottery last month. She could stop working seven days a week, maybe fix up the house and take a trip to Minnesota to visit her daughter.

But because Illinois lawmakers have not passed a budget, she and her boyfriend, Danny Chasteen, got an IOU from the lottery instead.

. . .

Under state law, the state comptroller must cut the checks for lottery winnings of more than $25,000. And lottery officials said that because lawmakers have yet to pass a budget, the comptroller's office does not have legal authority to release the funds.

. . .

"The lottery is a state agency like many others, and we're obviously affected by the budget situation," Illinois Lottery spokesman Steve Rossi said. "Since the legal authority is not there for the comptroller to disburse payments, those payments are delayed."

While Rossi said winners will eventually receive their money once a budget is in place, the promise is cold comfort for Rick.

"You know what's funny? If we owed the state money, they'd come take it and they don't care whether we have a roof over our head," Rick said. "Our budget wouldn't be a factor. You can't say (to the state), 'Can you wait until I get my budget under control?' "

There's more at the link.

The budget impasse in Illinois is because the Democratic Party-controlled legislature wants to continue to borrow billions upon billions of dollars to fund entitlement and social spending, while the Governor wants to curtail borrowing and live within the state's means.  This is what happens when those priorities collide;  and I'm willing to bet that it won't be long before the same conflict arises in other States too.  Meanwhile, it sucks to be a big lottery winner there.

(Hey - if the State can pay your winnings with an IOU, why can't you pay your taxes the same way?  Seems only fair to me . . . )