Archive for the ‘#commonsense’ Tag

Thought for the Day   Leave a comment

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Think About It #charlottesville   Leave a comment

Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group people at the rally.

I don’t support white supremacy (no, actually, I should say I don’t support RACIAL supremacy), but I support freedom of speech REGARDLESS of who is speaking. I don’t like it … I don’t want to hear it, but I defend your right to say it.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/12/virginia-unite-the-right-rally-protest-violence

So, in reading this, I keep thinking —

What would have happened if the anti-white supremacist protesters had been standing peacefully on the sidewalk with signs that simply said “We don’t agree with white supremacy”? Would there have been violence?

You have a right to disagree with someone else’s speech, but if your counter-protest is based on physical aggression, you’ve crossed a line that civil society should not cross. Unfortunately, this society has decided that it’s okay for some people to state their opinions loudly and aggressively, burn cars and beat up people, while others are supposed to run a gauntlet of counter protesters and put up with bottles and other objects of aggression being thrown at them.

http://www.theroot.com/why-haven-t-the-charlotte-va-police-responded-to-whi-1797778989

You can disagree with the message, but you don’t have any right to physically attack the messengers and when you take the authority unto yourself, you are the cause of the violence that follows.

Government Investigates Itself Again After Tragic Death of Justine Damond | Eric Schuler   Leave a comment

On July 15, a police officer in Minneapolis shot and killed Justine Damond, a 40-year-old Australian-born woman who had actually called the police in the first place.

Source: Government Investigates Itself Again After Tragic Death of Justine Damond | Eric Schuler

 

Image result for image justine damondReportedly, Damond called police because she thought a sexual assault was occurring in an alley near her residence. When the police car arrived, she approached the vehicle and was shot and killed by the officer in the passenger seat. Damond was unarmed at the time. As far as we know, neither police officer had their body cameras switched on and the dash cam was not recording. The officer who killed Damond was subsequently identified as Mohammed Noor, 31. Both Officer Noor and his partner have been placed on administrative leave.

Some of the characteristics in this case differ from other high-profile police shootings. But in the main, it fits a familiar profile. A police officer shot and killed a person under suspicious circumstances, and the victim’s loved ones are searching for answers.

And as with other police shootings, the officer involved in this case will be investigated by his colleagues in law enforcement. In particular, the investigation will be managed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).

To be fair, the BCA is not Officer Noor’s own police department, so the conflict of interest could have been worse. But it’s also not really an independent entity. The BCA falls under the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, which is the same department in government that oversees police in the state. Additionally, according to its own website, the BCA routinely assists law enforcement on other investigations. Indeed, that’s why it was established in the first place:

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) provides investigative and specialized law enforcement services to prevent and solve crimes in partnership with law enforcement, public safety and criminal justice agencies.

So the BCA investigators collaborate with police officers in their day-to-day work, draw their paychecks from the same place, and are ultimately accountable to the same officials in government. In spite of this, they are also charged with performing an independent and credible investigation of a police officer who killed someone.

If this does not sound immediately scandalous, it’s only because we’re accustomed to it. This is what accountability usually looks like in police shootings and in government generally. One nominally independent arm of the government investigates another for wrongdoing, usually finding nothing and prosecuting less. Speeches are given, press releases are issued, and hands are wrung–yet “never again” will likely happen again.

In government, this cycle of events feels normal. But what if we observed the same approach outside of government?

Suppose Wells Fargo came out tomorrow and announced that they had conducted an extensive internal investigation into their aggressive sales practices and found that, in fact, the company didn’t open any fraudulent accounts after all. Would you believe them?

What if Marlboro released the results of a new internal study and shared the good news that smoking cigarettes doesn’t actually cause lung cancer? Would you believe them?

I’m guessing probably not.

The conflicts of interest are obvious. Both firms stand to benefit if their conclusions are widely accepted by the public. So even if one of them assured us that the investigations were carried out by an “independent” department within their organization, we would still be skeptical–and rightly so.

But when it comes to government, many are willing to apply a less critical lens. Claims of independence are accepted when they should be questioned. Perfect professionalism is assumed, even when recent history offers little basis for confidence. Does this make sense?

Government employees are still people, just as surely as Wells Fargo employees are. And as people, they are fallible. They have biases, interests, and flaws like everyone else. Individuals do not become uniquely virtuous or incorruptible when they work for the government.

If this is true, then we should judge all of these institutions, whether public or private, by the same standard.

We would not trust Wells Fargo to investigate allegations of fraud committed by Wells Fargo. Neither should we trust the government to investigate itself when it comes to matters of life and death.

Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story | Daniel J. Mitchell   Leave a comment

Every so often, I run across a chart, cartoon, or story that captures the essence of an issue. And when that happens, I make it part of my “everything you need to know” series.

 

 

Source: Everything You Need to Know about Government, in One Story | Daniel J. Mitchell

I don’t actually think those columns tell us everything we need to know, of course, but they do show something very important. At least I hope.

And now, from our (normally) semi-rational northern neighbor, I have a new example.

This story from Toronto truly is a powerful example of the difference between government action and private action.

A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. 
Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job. …Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours. …Astl says members of his gardening group have been thanking him for taking care of the project, especially after one of them broke her wrist falling down the slope last year.

There are actually two profound lessons to learn from this story.

Since I’m a fiscal wonk, the part that grabbed my attention was the $550 cost of private action compared to $65,000 for government. Or maybe $150,000. Heck, probably more considering government cost overruns.

Though we’re not actually talking about government action. God only knows how long it would have taken the bureaucracy to complete this task. So this is a story of inexpensive private action vs. costly government inaction.

But there’s another part of this story that also caught my eye. The bureaucracy is responding with spite.

The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards…City bylaw officers have taped off the stairs while officials make a decision on what to do with it. …Mayor John Tory…says that still doesn’t justify allowing private citizens to bypass city bylaws to build public structures themselves. …“We just can’t have people decide to go out to Home Depot and build a staircase in a park because that’s what they would like to have.”

But there is a silver lining. With infinite mercy, the government isn’t going to throw Mr. Astl in jail or make him pay a fine. At least not yet.

Astl has not been charged with any sort of violation.

Gee, how nice and thoughtful.

One woman has drawn the appropriate conclusion from this episode.

Area resident Dana Beamon told CTV Toronto she’s happy to have the stairs there, whether or not they are up to city standards. “We have far too much bureaucracy,” she said. “We don’t have enough self-initiative in our city, so I’m impressed.”

Which is the lesson I think everybody should take away. Private initiative works much faster and much cheaper than government.

P.S. Let’s also call this an example of super-federalism, or super-decentralization. Imagine how expensive it would have been for the national government in Ottawa to build the stairs? Or how long it would have taken? Probably millions of dollars and a couple of years.

Now imagine how costly and time-consuming it would have been if the Ontario provincial government was in charge? Perhaps not as bad, but still very expensive and time-consuming.

And we already know the cost (and inaction) of the city government. Reminds me of the $1 million bus stop in Arlington, VA.

But when actual users of the park take responsibility (both in terms of action and money), the stairs were built quickly and efficiently.

In other words, let’s have decentralization. But the most radical federalism is when private action replaces government.

 Reprinted from International Liberty

Editors Note: Since this article was originally published, the local government tore down Astl’s $500 stairs, citing “safety standards,” and plans to replace it with a $10,000 set.

Sanctions? For What?   2 comments

I didn’t vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, but the main reason I would have voted for Donald Trump rather than Hillary Clinton (for example, had I had a gun to my head and was required to vote for one or the other) was because of his relaxed stance toward Russia.

I have an 18-year-old son and a 24-year-old daughter, both now eligible for the draft — though the daughter has not yet been required to register. Thank you, President Obama, for balancing the ying-yang of male-female relations and requiring both genders to be killed in wars you start. That retroactively confirmed why I was right not to vote for you. I thought it was because you admire Marxist African dictators and have zero understanding of economics, but in reality, I voted against you because you’re a warmonger who never saw an 18-year-old you didn’t want to die in a war … unless, of course, they are your daughters.

But back to the moment ….

President Trump came into office talking strong defense without going to war. Okay, if I hadn’t had a third option who actually would have been a good president, that was a bit of weight in his direction since Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State had encouraged the Obama administration to advance two wars and get involved in four others and then bragged about it in her book Hard Choices. That was a recipe for my children being killed in one of her dirty little wars and so, if I hadn’t of loathed her before, I would not have voted for her in 2016. Disliking Trump’s misogyny simply didn’t outweigh Clinton’s warmonging and utter lack of diplomatic skills, which would likely endanger my children’s lives.

So, now, having won in part because of his stated desire to get along with the Russians (if not China), President Trump is now eager to sign sanctions against the country and says he will do so as soon as Congress forwards them to him.

I was encouraged when, after the election, Donald Trump decided to get along with China. I figure getting along with other countries is a better choice than not getting along with them and it’s really not our business what they do within their own borders … just as it is not their business what we do within ours.

So, whatever happened to getting along with Russia? Well, the Democrats (and there is increasing evidence that the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton were involved) cooked up an excuse for their anointed queen to have lost the 2016 election. It couldn’t be her hawkish war stance, her lack of any economic understanding, her attacking the women her husband assaulted, or her calling 40% of the electorate irredeemable deplorables. No, it had to be something far more insidious … like Russian operatives “interfering” in the election.

Let’s be clear about this. The backed emails came from Julian Assange of Wikileaks, who has never claimed anyone gave him that information. His organization has proven itself quite capable of doing its own hacking.

Moreover, there is no evidence that our actual election system was hacked. It would be virtually impossible to do so anyway. There are only three states with electronic voting machines. Those have had issues in the past, but an investigation showed they worked fine in 2016. One of the glories of our now-crippled federalist system is that elections are statewide affairs … even for the President of the United States. Ballot box stuffing is possible at the precinct level, but modern election practices would catch most of those.

So Wikileaks released information ahead of the US Presidential election that showed Hillary Clinton in a bad light. It’s recently come to light that Russia was the source for an anti-Trump report that came out around the same time. Both blocks of information served to improve the knowledge of the American public of the inner workings of the two major candidates for president. That’s a good thing! That’s what journalists are supposed to do and don’t. Assange and those mysterious Russian hackers did us a favor by informing us of information we the people had a right to know.

That’s not interference. That’s education.

So, now Trump wants to impose sanctions about Russian for “interfering in the election.” What does that tell us? That he didn’t have a deal with Russia to swing the US election in his favor? Perhaps. But more, it shows that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Instead of being friendly with Russia, President Trump has decided to risk a war with them instead.

Good going, Mr. President. You’ve fallen for the same stupidity that every other president since 1945 has fallen for. Let’s start another war that we don’t have the economic capacity to win. Let’s consume more young lives and end maybe set off World War 3. And, why?

Because, according to the elites in Congress, the American people apparently have no right to know the truth about their candidates, so it’s worth going to war to prevent such “interference” in our elections.

And, of course, journalists stroke the “Russia did it” line because they don’t want the American people to notice that Julian Assange did their jobs for them. But in case you’re wondering – Assange addressed this issue of Russian hacking the day of the election, before we even knew who the winner would be … when most of the opinion polls were showing that Hillary Clinton would be the winner.

https://wikileaks.org/Assange-Statement-on-the-US-Election.html

Yet Another Unjustifiable Police Shooting   Leave a comment

Justine Damond was in her pajamas when she approached the police car. She had earlier called in a report of a possible rape and probably just wanted to know if everything was okay with the woman she had heard screaming. Instead, Officer Mohamed Noor shot the Australian woman dead in the upscale Minneapolis neighborhood.

Justine DamondFred Bruno, the lawyer for Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, said: “It is reasonable to assume an officer in that situation would be concerned about a possible ambush.”

Justine Damond’s family’s lawyer, Fred Bennett told CBS News: “I think that’s ludicrous. It’s disinformation. It doesn’t have any basis in fact. She obviously wasn’t armed, was not a threat to anyone, and nor could she have reasonably been perceived to be.”

Officer Mohamed Noor has refused to be interviewed by investigators, as is his legal right. Body cameras, which are worn by all Minneapolis police, had not been turned on at the time of the shooting and the squad car dashboard camera also failed to capture the incident. Does that seem suspicious to anyone else?

Officers Harrity and Noor, who between them have spent three years on the police force, have been placed on paid administrative leave. So they got a paid vacation for tampering with evidence (turning off the body cameras) and killing a woman.

Officer Noor should be immediately charged with 1st degree murder and placed in jail without possibility of bail like anyone else who shot someone in similar circumstances. It is well past time that we stopped treating cops like they are somehow immune for the rules that the rest of us live under.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40673189

Cultural Appropriation is Applause   Leave a comment

Image result for image of wyandot indianHave you heard about the United Nations decision to discuss a ban on so-called cultural appropriation? It’s been a thing for a while. Apparently it’s wrong for a white chef to cook Mexican food or to wear “insensitive” Halloween costumes. So, at the insistence of indigenous groups, including the Canadian branch of my tribe, the UN is considering expanding intellectual-property regulations to protect Indigenous designs, dances, words and traditional medicines.

So, I felt the need to point out the logical fallacy here. These First Nations groups seek to ban appropriation of their culture, but they don’t want to ban all cultural appropriation. Of course they don’t. They would have to forego every single technological advance imported into the North American continent since Columbus’ first voyage. I can’t speak for every Native person in North America, but I personally don’t want to give up mathematics, writing, metal forging, money, English/Spanish/American Sign Language, modern medicine, melodic music, perspective painting, modern construction, modern transportation, … ah, heck, there’d not be much left if I insisted upon assuaging all cultural appropriation. I’d be living a Stone Age existence if I refused to culturally appropriate everything that is not First Nations’ derived.

Brad would disagree with me on this because he has an invention he’s seeking a patent for, but “intellectual property” is not truly property. It’s the idea that you can create a monopoly for an idea … to keep someone else from thinking. It leads to such morally questionable attempts as trying  to patent genes to keep anyone from researching it for a given period of time.

Culture constitutes “the habits, beliefs, and traditions of a particular people, place, or time.” Outside of the forced assimilation of indigenous peoples by Americans, Canadians and Australians in past centuries, a culture is adopted voluntarily by individuals. The voyageur who was the first white man to join my ancestral tribe apparently liked what he saw and stayed with his Indian wife for 17 years and produced five children … until he died from some sort of infection. He adopted the Wyandot culture because it served his individual self-interest. His great-grandson Joseph assimilated into white culture almost a hundred years later because that choice served his individual self-interest. That’s how cultural assimilation works.  There were more barriers for Joseph to join white culture than for Barasallai to join the Wendat culture, but they both chose that path voluntarily because it served their personal choices. By the way, I used the two forms of designated my tribal culture deliberately because when Barasallai joined our tribe, we were still Wendats, but by the time Joseph assimilated into the larger white culture, we were Wyandots.

And through contacts with other people from other cultures, any given cultural idea or tradition has become better. Think about all the different cuisines that make up “American food.” Think about all the different musical styles. My favorite cuisine is Oriental food. That’s a broad category that includes Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Japanese dishes. Of course, being the daughter of a chef, I have learned how to make my favorites at home. But none of those dishes are native to me. My mother the Indian with Irish blood cooked a mean colcannon, but so did my father whose ancestors come from Sweden. I’m glad our diet wasn’t restricted to corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers, deer, wild turkeys, small game, and fish.

My father, living in the United States, would have found limited work if he’d insisted upon cooking only Swedish dishes.

Keeping “non-Natives” from using traditions not typically associated with them means that only a handful will be exposed to that culture. Fewer people showing an interest means that the products and ideas of Natives will get less exposure and will become a sociological or archaeological artifact rather than a living idea, limited to a few multicultural festivals.

Emilee WillsNatives and people from all over the world should embrace cultural evolution – appropriation has this negative connotation of force. Since humans form a single species, it is pointless to isolate a set of ideas just because “your people” discovered or named it. You should instead dream of seeing your culture emulated by others because it might might lead them to be curious about its origins and eventually come and visit you, bringing their tourist dollars with them.

It may (probably will) enrich your own culture. One could say that cultures which “evolve” and change as they encounter other cultures are the strongest ones. Despite all the complaints about how mixed-up the English language is, its flexibility has allowed it to borrow foreign words to describe what the old Anglo-Saxon language couldn’t. It has grown and adapted and is now the preferred language of commerce all over the world. We all know what traditional British cuisine is like. Would anyone want to eat in England if you removed curry from the landscape? Or just limited its cooking to people of east Indian descent? British wouldn’t even have tea to drink if they hadn’t appropriated it from somewhere else. Bangers and mash would have to be bangers and turnips, because potatoes are assimilated. Americans would literally starve. We’d have clam chowder, anadama bread and a lot of junk food.

And doesn’t Emilee Willis, Wyandot Princess, look more comfortable in her shorts and t-shirt than the woman in traditional dress at the top of the article? Emilee is appropriating. Why is that right when a white chef making Mexican food is wrong? I don’t know, probably because neither is wrong. The sincerest form of compliment is imitation.

Posted July 18, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in culture, Uncategorized

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