A couple of weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul did a courageous and unusual thing by visiting Howard University in DC. Howard is what is known as a “historically black university,” founded in the wake of the Civil War to provide opportunities for higher education to African-Americans. It’s not exactly home turf for Republicans, but that’s precisely why Paul went, in order to bridge a massive gap that is hurting the GOP.
Response to his visit was mixed, but yesterday, NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous wrote a generally supportive op-ed on CNN. Although noting that Paul missed his target in most areas, there is one area that has promise:
Paul struck out when he tried to equate today’s Republican Party with the party of Abraham Lincoln, while ignoring much of the 150 years in between. (He even acknowledged his mistakes shortly after). But his willingness to step up to the plate can provide a lesson for a GOP struggling to get on top.
Republicans will not win black votes by paying lip service to party history while attacking social programs and voting rights. But they can make inroads by showing a commitment to civil rights, something Paul managed to do briefly in his remarks.
You may have heard about the recent slaying of a Texas district attorney and his wife in their home. It follows the brazen daylight killing of a prosecutor in the same county, and it has everyone on edge. This is what local law enforcement is going through:
The judge was on the phone.
“Yep, I said I’ll do anything,” Bruce Wood told the person on the other end, rubbing his forehead. “They asked me to do a eulogy. I don’t know what I’m going to say.”
Elsewhere in the Kaufman County Courthouse, a sheriff’s deputy was handing out bulletproof vests. “I brought the smallest one,” he said to a secretary, who stared at the khaki armor as he explained how to adjust the side straps should the need arise. “These have the neck for a female.”
Outside, two armed guards escorted a white-haired judge from his parked car to the mirrored doors of the yellow brick courthouse in a county where little seemed the same anymore.
“Judge! How are you doing?” shouted a reporter.
“Everybody is making do as best as we can,” he said.
Throughout this Fast & Furious mess, nearly everyone has paid attention to just Darrell Issa and Eric Holder squaring off in a Congress committee room. But there’s another thing that should be focused on, that being the agency at the heart of this disgrace. But I surely cannot have been the only person to ask this question:
Why do we even have ATF around anymore?
Well, maybe I have. Bear with me as I try to answer it.
Let’s read their mission statement:
A unique law enforcement agency in the United States Department of Justice that protects our communities from violent criminals, criminal organizations, the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, the illegal use and storage of explosives, acts of arson and bombings, acts of terrorism, and the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products. We partner with communities, industries, law enforcement, and public safety agencies to safeguard the public we serve through information sharing, training, research, and use of technology.
A “unique” agency? How can unique can that be?
“protects our communities from violent criminals” – Doesn’t every law enforcement agency do that?
“criminal organizations” – Sounds more like an FBI job or something for the gang squad of a local PD
“the illegal use and trafficking of firearms” – Okay, I can sorta see this one
“the illegal use and storage of explosives” – This one too, sort of, but I would think that other agencies could also handle explosions quite readily
“acts of arson and bombings” – Two words: fire department. Okay, four more: Federal Bureau of Investigation
There’s a lot of outrage over the death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida, last month. Trayvon was allegedly killed by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, who is claiming “self-defense.”
I’m not really clear on what actually happened. It appears that Trayvon entered a gated neighborhood, visting his father, when Zimmerman confronted him. Trayvon ran, unsure of what was going on, and Zimmerman—apparently the guy was some sort of criminal—shot and killed him. At some point during all of this, Zimmerman spoke with a 911 dispatcher, who asked him to back down. At least, this is what I think, from my limited knowledge, happened. (It should be noted that Zimmerman has not been arrested and is still out and about, though apparently in hiding.)
There have been calls to disarm neighborhood watch groups over this. There is also a lot of criticism towards a particular Florida law, called “Stand Your Ground,” which brings the self-defense claim out of the home and anywhere the person may be. These are both charges I disagree with; I am against disarming people in general, since law enforcement is essentially useless when it comes to actual, personal defense, and it seems ludicrous to me that you can defend yourself in your home but not on the street, such as if you get mugged. Such arguments are irrational.
But so are defenses of George Zimmerman.
This week, I caught a story on the Atlanta news that immediately drew my attention. A state Representative, MY state Representative, will introduce a bill during the next legislative session that requires every suspect arrested of a felony to submit to a DNA sample. Without careful examination, along with a very friendly news report about the bill, this does not strike many everyday citizens as a “bad thing,” as seen in the first comment made about the story.
Yet again, local law enforcement, driven by the increasingly inane, stupid, counterproductive, and unethical “War on Drugs,” have shown they have no class or decency by busting in on a dying woman to confiscate her perscription drugs:
A man says Vernal police disrupted an intimate moment of mourning with his deceased wife of 58 years when they searched his house for her prescription medication without a warrant within minutes of her death.
Barbara Alice Mahaffey died of colon cancer in her bedroom last May. Ben D. Mahaffey, 80, said he was distraught and trying to make sure his wife’s body would be taken to the funeral home with dignity, when he says officers insisted he help them look for the drugs.
“I was holding her hand saying goodbye when all the intrusion happened,” he told the Deseret News.
Barbara Mahaffey died at 12:35 a.m. with Mahaffey, a Navy medic in the Korean War, and his friend, an EMT, at her side. In addition to police, a mortician and a hospice worker arrived at the home about 12:45 a.m., Mahaffey said. He said he doesn’t know how police came to be there.
“I was indignant to think you can’t even have a private moment. All these people were there and they’re not concerned about her or me. They’re concerned about the damn drugs. Isn’t that something?” Mahaffey said.
Mahaffey said he was treated as if he were going to sell the painkillers, which included OxyContin, oxycodone and morphine, on the street.
“I had no interest in the drugs,” he said. “I’m no addict.”
In my last post, I wrote about intellectual property rights, and why one position that has preoccupied many libertarians—that is, that intellectual property rights don’t exist—is balderdash and something we need to ditch. In my next post, I’m going to comment on libertarian foreign policy positions that I find completely untenable, but in this one, I’m going to focus on my pet peeve of many libertarians: anarcho-capitalism.
Seriously. It’s starting to really grind my gourd.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at an event or just talking with someone, trying to explain libertarianism, when the other person says, “Oh, you just want to privatize the entire government and just let the big businesses run amok and have nothing!” While the second point might be unfair to anarcho-capitalists—I suspect a lot of them have no real love for big business—the rest of it is more or less dead-on for this small yet highly vocal minority of libertarians. Unfortunately, their antics and rhetoric have begun to become associated with the liberty movement in general, which discredits us, prevents us from gaining any more traction with the public, and ultimately is just detrimental to the goal of maximizing individual liberty, which is what the movement is about.
Personally, I don’t really think anarcho-capitalism does that, and let me show you why.
In a story that will shock and disgust any sane American, Florida police officers went undercover into high schools and spent weeks befriending students…who they then tricked into becoming marijuana users:
Last year in three high schools in Florida, several undercover police officers posed as students. The undercover cops went to classes, became Facebook friends and flirted with the other students. One 18-year-old honor student named Justin fell in love with an attractive 25-year-old undercover cop after spending weeks sharing stories about their lives, texting and flirting with each other.
One day she asked Justin if he smoked pot. Even though he didn’t smoke marijuana, the love-struck teen promised to help find some for her. Every couple of days she would text him asking if he had the marijuana. Finally, Justin was able to get it to her. She tried to give him $25 for the marijuana and he said he didn’t want the money — he got it for her as a present.
A short while later, the police did a big sweep and arrest 31 students — including Justin. Almost all were charged with selling a small amount of marijuana to the undercover cops. Now Justin has a felony hanging over his head.
This is outrageous.
First of all, I don’t think 25 year old police officers should be dating 18-year old high school students; that’s just inappropriate in any situation. But second (and third) they are now fabricating criminals out of whole cloth, while wasting scarce police resources that could be put to far better uses.
If it were “Just the facts, ma’am,” then thousands of Florida police officers would be out of work:
Thousands of Florida officers remain on the job despite arrests or evidence implicating them in crimes that could have landed them in prison, a Herald-Tribune investigation has found.
Corrections officer Kurt Stout, already dogged by allegations he groped and had sex with prisoners, was arrested on allegations he raped two teenage girls. Nick Viaggio capped a string of violent outbursts at the Ocala Police Department by attacking his girlfriend in a crowded nightclub until bouncers dragged him away. Palm Beach County deputy Craig Knowles-Hiller, under investigation for sleeping with a 14-year old, had to explain why the girl’s DNA was found on one of his sex toys.
Even those officers with multiple offenses have been given chance after chance through a disciplinary system that has been reshaped in their favor by the state’s politically influential police unions. As a result, officers around Florida carry personnel files that are anything but heroic.
I’m certainly not the first to notice this, but can we just give up on the fiction that our police officers are actually civilians? If you needed further evidence to see that they are becoming another wing of the armed forces, take a look at this monster:
What you are looking at is the new “PitBull VX” from Alpine Armoring, a vehicle specially designed for SWAT teams.
Now, I know what you’re saying: “Cool!” Or maybe, “Actually, they could probably use one of those.” And, true, Detroit and Philly might need one of these. But anywhere else?
I thought one of the commenters thoughts best expressed my own:
Also, the whole argument, “We should do so-and-so to save lives” is the most ridiculous government argument I’ve ever heard.
The purpose of (local, state, federal) government’s is to serve their populace. “Saving lives” is surely a good application of serving your populace. No one seems to understand that money and budgetary constraints exist even when it comes to “saving lives.”
You simply cannot get 100% coverage in anything like this. First, it is probably impossible to and secondly, it would be far too expensive even if you could. It is all boils down to math and statistics. You do certain things/make certain purchases in the hope that it will “save more lives.” If this 200k purchase of a police vehicle or 750k purchase of another ladder truck will save more lives, that’s great - it’s all touchy feely.