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What a Riot

I just don't quite know what to make of this. I mean, it's as though I'm reading about U.S. Representative "My Great Grandmother." While she was indeed the sweetest person I ever knew, and I loved her bunches and bunches, she had something like a 4th grade education, and though she could garden and cook up a storm -- and competently do lots of other things -- she was simply, utterly ignorant about most things beyond that.

It's not a crime. It's not even necessarily bad. Then again, she wasn't a U.S. Representative.

I will say that Katherine Harris discharged her narrow and specific set of duties, such as they were, competently back in the Florida election debacle. I don't vote, and I've got less than nothing for GWB, but Big Fat Lies are something else entirely.

Your Amerika

More antics from public enemy number one, the cops.

You think I jest?

Listen: any parent not instilling disrespect, loathing, and an acute sense of caution as regards police officers (in this day and age) just isn't doing their proper job as a parent. The entire police apparatus is now nothing more than a club of predators, and it's the good people that are more often then not the prey -- and only because that's the kind of animals we're dealing with. You don't believe me? Yea? Really? REALLY? Y'sure? Perhaps that's what it will take: kids cowering in fear and apprehension when they see cops, before the tide turns and the few marginally "good ones" that remain, quit.

Yes, quit. The entire institution is wholly irredeemable and it is impossible to be in its employ, anywhere, and retain the slightest degree of intrinsic honor as a human being.

My disgust knows no bounds. To hell with all of them. Every one.

Count Me In

Redeeming Themselves?

Watch this tale of redemption. You know, I don't know any real way for these guys to ever make right the wrong they've actively caused and contributed to. One man goes so far as to admit putting 7,000 people in jail who weren't hurting anyone. Yes, I suppose you could say that no redemption is possible. That, in a rational world foremost in love with honesty and justice, the man could never make adequate repayment.

Actually, I'm not sure how I come down on that. But I do know that I respect these men for admitting to what they've done, and what they're doing to try and change things going forward.

(via Bill, again)

Raining and Pouring

No sooner had I completed the entry below this, and, well...

On May 28, 2003, a
Nebraska state trooper signaled Gonzolez to pull over his rented Ford
Taurus on Interstate 80. The trooper intended to issue a speeding
ticket, but noticed the Gonzolez's name was not on the rental contract.
The trooper then proceeded to question Gonzolez -- who did not speak
English well -- and search the car. The trooper found a cooler
containing $124,700 in cash, which he confiscated. A trained drug
sniffing dog barked at the rental car and the cash. For the police,
this was all the evidence needed to establish a drug crime that allows
the force to keep the seized money.

Associates of Gonzolez
testified in court that they had pooled their life savings to purchase
a refrigerated truck to start a produce business. Gonzolez flew on a
one-way ticket to Chicago to buy a truck, but it had sold by the time
he had arrived. Without a credit card of his own, he had a third-party
rent one for him. Gonzolez hid the money in a cooler to keep it from
being noticed and stolen. He was scared when the troopers began
questioning him about it. There was no evidence disputing Gonzolez's
story.

Now, of course, since this is America, Mr. Gonzolez may rest safe in the assurances offered by our culture of freedom, our founding principle of government submission to certain natural laws, and our peaceful, deliberative, and predominately fair legal process to fall back on. Naturally, in spite of all the hassle and likely expense, Mr. Gonzolez was able to prevail and at very least to win a moral victory, right?

You would be wrong.

At least there's one of the three judges on the 8th Circuit whom I don't hope soon dies of a long, painful and awful disease.

"Notwithstanding the fact that claimants seemingly suspicious activities were reasoned away with plausible, and thus presumptively trustworthy, explanations which the government failed to contradict or rebut, I note that no drugs, drug paraphernalia, or drug records were recovered in connection with the seized money," Judge Lay wrote. "There is no evidence claimants were ever convicted of any drug-related crime, nor is there any indication the manner in which the currency was bundled was indicative of
drug use or distribution."

"Finally, the mere fact that the canine alerted officers to the presence of drug residue in a rental car, no doubt driven by dozens, perhaps scores, of patrons during the course of a given year, coupled with the fact that the alert came from the same location where the currency was discovered, does little to connect the money to a controlled substance offense," Judge Lay Concluded.

Yea, the emphasis on "rental car" is original in the dissenting opinion.

Alright, sorry for the false allowance in the last entry. Now you can turn over and go back to sleep.

(Bill St. Clair, again)

“This is our new America”

"Having witnessed her father being violently arrested, my 8-year old
daughter was distraught and crying. The police told my wife to take her
away.

"My wife consoled our daughter, but since the
Bollyn children have seen much of the world, and witnessed major
political events, she allowed our daughter to watch it, saying, 'This
is our new America
.'"

When you read this "unbelievable" account in its entirety (really, you should) take note: I had planned to copy/paste the whole thing here and then edit it to make time, place and nationality ambiguous. But I just don't have the time, right now. But if I had...well, read that and just go ahead and tell me you'd have though this happened in America. Just go right ahead.

Then turn over and go back to sleep. It's just the idle rantings and ravings of a malcontent, after all.

(via Bill St. Clair)

Small Pendulum Swings

A few months ago, I attended a retirement dinner for a longtime teacher friend of my wife. I knew most everyone there, and, let me indicate from the outset that I like all of these people, in spite of their awful, hard-leftist politics which I normally characterize as "commie." Due to demographics around here, these folks are all fortunate to have parents of their students who are highly involved, concerned, and supportive of their kid's educations. I've taught in my wife's classroom, and observed others. This is a special environment of excellent teachers and students alike.

So we're dining at one of those big round tables that sit about 8 or 10 people and I was chatting with one longtime friend of my wife who's been a school principal now for a few years. She was relating a recent experience to us where she negotiated with the school district on behalf of the union in order to secure a new contract (that presumably included higher pay and benefits, combined with fewer responsibilities). I offered her the bait: "So, is the end result of your negotiations that every teacher at the various seniority levels receives exactly the same pay and benefits?" I asked wide-eyed and enthusiastically. She took it, along with the hook: "Oh yes," she exclaimed with a smile of deep satisfaction and accomplishment. "Exactly the same." Then I reeled 'er in: "Well, that's really unfortunate for all of you really excellent teachers now, isn't it? I'd sure hate to work in a place where the most I can make is what the worst employee makes."

Oh, yes, you could have cut the air with a knife, as everyone looked down at their plates. But they all know what I'm like, so it all quickly moved on. I never expect that my jabbing points are going to have any lasting effect, but I still just can't help myself when such juicy opportunities present themselves.

Likewise, I was at my parents-in-law's house the other night for a family get-together when a conversation arose concerning who will be San Jose's next mayor. One of my wife's nephews asked who I would vote for, and I gave my standard answer: "I don't vote. That would involve me trying to force my values on you and others who may not share them, and I'd never do that to you."

You've never seen the subject of conversation change so quickly, but Bea's brother did mention that he missed my emails, since about a year or so ago when the family kicked me off their email list.

But all of that is just a round-about way of getting to what I wanted to get at in the first place. Now, I'm by no means talking about any sea change, or light at the end of the tunnel. More precisely, I'm talking about the joy in watching people get squeezed by their own political views -- hoist, by their own petard, if you will. It seems that even a lot of the lefties who toil at city hall are supporting "the other guy" over the one who was supposed to have been the shoo-in. And why? Because he's less beholden to labor unions.

Now, stop and consider what that means. Begin by asking: what unions? Well, public-sector unions, of course. You see, the private sector has gradually been undermining labor unions for three decades. Membership reached its peak if about 17 million in 1970, had fallen to 12%, or 10.9 million, by 1990, and is now at about 7% of the private workforce and continues to decline. All the while, guess what has been increasing? Public-sector union membership, i.e., membership amongst your employees, if you'll pardon the collectivist reference for purposes of making a distinction.  Whereas, private-sector membership has reached a 100-year low of 7%, public-sector membership is at an all-time high of 27%, and at the local government level? It's 42% -- nearly half of all public employees. (see The Library of Economics and Liberty, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

To understand the dynamics involved, read this. It's the competitive global marketplace that has been instrumental in undermining private-sector unions, because in spite of all the legal protections that unions "enjoy," employees increasingly have other choices and they have been making them. In short, the best employees migrate to where they are not limited to receiving only what the worst guy on the job gets. But no such dynamics exist in government. It's a monopoly. There's no competitor to go to. You're a union employee, or you're not an employee at all.

And so, the administrators and commissars of local government, who are not union members themselves, are feeling the pinch once felt by the captains of industry. One wonders where it will lead.

(Inspiration for this post began here, at Kim's place; and do make sure to watch these short videos.)