Archive for July, 2009
31 Jul 2009

58% of Republicans Have Doubts

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At least according to a poll conducted by Daily Kos.

Politico:

Shocker poll from Kos/Research2000 today.

A whopping 58 percent of Republicans either think Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US (28 percent) or aren’t sure (30 percent). A mere 42 percent think he was.

Count me among the 30% Not sure.

I think he was probably born in Hawaii. But, who knows? Very serious money was spent on court cases in a large number of states in order to avoid releasing more records.

30 Jul 2009

Obama’s Full Birth Certificate

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The snowball of inquiry created by Lou Dobbs on July 15th asking questions on CNN is rolling faster down the hill and growing larger. Joined amusingly now by even Andrew Sullivan, who writes:

I want Obama to instruct the Hawaii officials to release the official original document they say they have in their hands. Why not?

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Update

Ho! Ho! Just watch Andrew crayfish, after the left turns on the email heat.

My goal here is transparency and avoiding double standards. I’m sorry I got lost a little in the weeds there. And I would think it’s clear enough I’m not part of the Birther crowd. I’m trying to defuse them. I’m done now.

Scuttle.

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But National Review says Obama’s Certificate of Live Birth is his real, full, complete, and entire birth certificate.

The fundamental fiction is that Obama has refused to release his “real” birth certificate. This is untrue. The document that Obama has made available is the document that Hawaiian authorities issue when they are asked for a birth certificate. There is no secondary document cloaked in darkness, only the state records that are used to generate birth certificates when they are requested.

If one applies for a United States passport, the passport office will demand a birth certificate. It defines this as an official document bearing “your full name, the full name of your parent(s), date and place of birth, sex, date the birth record was filed, and the seal or other certification of the official custodian of such records.” The Hawaiian birth certificate President Obama has produced—the document is formally known as a “certificate of live birth”—bears that information. It has been inspected by reporters, and several state officials have confirmed that the information in permanent state records is identical to that on the president’s birth certificate—which is precisely what one expects, of course, since the state records are used to generate those documents when they are requested. In other words, what President Obama has produced is the “real” birth certificate of myth and lore. The director of Hawaii’s health department and the registrar of records each has personally verified that the information on Obama’s birth certificate is identical to that in the state’s records, the so-called vault copy.

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Mark Krikorian, however, offers an email rejoinder by Glynn Custred.

The question of Barack Obama’s birth certificate has provoked a surpisingly aggressive response from the White House and near hysteria from Obama supporters. If the question is so crazy, and especially since conservatives have joined the Obama supporters in their condemnation of those who asked them (Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, the National Review), why all the fuss?

The question on which the “birthers” hinge their complaint is, is there a more specific document that the president is purposefully witholding from the public? No one seems willing or able to answer that question in a straight forward manner, thus fostering an atmosphere in which doubts linger and conspiracy theories thrive.

The real problem, however, is not the president’s place of birth (it is highly unlikely that he was born anywhere but where he claims) but the Nixonian secrecy with which he has chosen to surround himself. Has Obama released his transcripts from Occidental College and Harvard? (we know all about Bush’s mediocre grades at Yale). Has he given permission for his theses and publications to be released? If not, why not? Michelle got into hot water when her thesis was publicized. Maybe Barack learned a lesson from that episode. And why the secrecy about the grades of such a smart guy as Obama? Might they reveal some kind of favoritism along the way?

We do know that there are things Obama tried to hide, such as his association with Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger as well as William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Do his records reveal other questionable associations or statements? Where is the transparency we expect of public officials? Why is Obama getting a pass when other presidents do not? And why the hysteria when the topic is brought up?

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Anent National Review’s position, I agree that the Certificate of Live Birth probably is the form used conventionally as proof of birth, but, come on, guys, do you really believe that the state of Hawaii does not bother to record the actual location of birth, typically the hospital? It is difficult to believe that a record more complete, at least in that respect, does not exist.

The real question is why has Barack Obama spent, as of last March more than $800,000 (by now, doubtless, a lot more), opposing all those court cases demanding he prove his citizenship by releasing a complete birth record?

If no such thing exists, it would be awfully silly to spend over a million dollars resisting proving its non-existence.

I agree that it seems implausible that Obama was born elsewhere than Hawaii. The only evidence for the alleged birth in Momabasa is the interview of Sara Obama, BO’s grandmother, by a clearly conniving Bible-thumper who is doing everything he can to get her to say she was present at Barack Obama’s birth at a hospital in Momabasa. She is elderly and at one point goes along and repeats the words he is putting in her moith, but another relative, a Mr. Ogombe immediately corrects her, and the “proof” dissipates. I listened to it, it was partially inaudible, and I wound up having no confidence in the reliability of anything anyone there was saying.

The Economist and liberal Alex Koppelman at Salon discuss the evidentiary problems with the Sara Obama interview.

But I do suspect there are other real, and politically embarrassing, personal details, like Barack Obama’s probable adoption by Lolo Soetero, his dual British citizenship (resulting from having a Kenyan father), the possibility that he may have owned and actually used a British passport to travel to countries banning US citizens, the question of whether he may have needed to take official steps to change his name from Barry Soetero to Barack Obama or to recover US citizenship after being adopted in Indonesia and never did, are all more likely to be the troubling issues requiring a coverup.

30 Jul 2009

A. Elmer Crowell Catalogue and Exhibitions

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Nesting Canada Goose, Copley Fine Arts Auctions, Sporting Sale, July 15-16, 2009, sold for $661,250

Maine Antique Digest thoughtfully informs us that, too bad! we’ve already missed major Massachusetts events devoted to the work of the renowned Cape Cod decoy carver A. Elmer Crowell (1862-1951) whose carvings have repeatedly set new records for auction prices.


Running curlew, sold at Copley in 2007 for $186,500, setting a decorative bird record

The Massachusetts Audubon Visual Arts Center in Canton had a symposium, Elmer Crowell & Beyond: A Gathering of Collectors & Enthusiasts, alas! on May 2nd, associated with a tremendous (now concluded) Crowell exhibition titled A. Elmer Crowell: Master of Decoys & More.

The good news is that an exhibition catalogue is in the works which will be available from Mass Audubon in the Fall sometime. The title will be A. Elmer Crowell: Master of Decoys. Contact Amy Montague at Mass Audubon.

Meanwhile, another Crowell exhibition A Bird in the Hand: The Carvings of Elmer and Cleon Crowell at the Heritage Museum & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts began in April and will be running through the end of October. MAD thinks it is likely to prove very popular and run longer.


Cleon Crowell and his father A(nthony). Elmer Crowell

29 Jul 2009

“Actually Read the Bill? Nah! Not Worth the Bother”

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Ultra-left Michigan democrat Congressman John Conyers is derisive of the very idea that representatives ought to read the Health Care Reform Bill nationalizing 16% of the American economy and undoubtedly resulting in the federal government assuming the power of making life or death choices affecting countless numbers of Americans.

I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill,’” said Conyers.

“What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?

0:36 video

They wouldn’t understand it anyway, is the point Conyers is making.

Isn’t it wonderful that so many Americans decided to put this kind of power into the hands of representatives so responsible?

28 Jul 2009

Solving California’s Problems

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In Santa Cruz, California (where people have a strong tendency to be stoned), a woman makes the kinds of public policy proposals that cause one to wonder how soon she will be elected governor of the left coast state.

2:34 video

Hat tip to Scott Drum.

28 Jul 2009

HFA Profiling

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Iowahawk correctly identifies Skip Gates’s arrest as a real case of profiling involving another group often the focus of majority animosity.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

28 Jul 2009

Seem Familiar?

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George Santayana observed that those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it. The above editorial cartoon, published April 21, 1934, shows that government pouring money into massive federal spending programs to try to improve the economy was tried before. The Great Depression continued up until WWII.

28 Jul 2009

Health Care Myths

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Clifford Asness, a hedge fund manager blogging at StumblingOnTruth, debunks the left’s arguments for socialized health care and has some fun doing it.

Health Care Costs are Soaring

No, they are not. The amount we spend on health care has indeed risen, in absolute terms, after inflation, and as a percentage of our incomes and GDP. That does not mean costs are soaring.

You cannot judge the “cost” of something by simply what you spend. You must also judge what you get. I’m reasonably certain the cost of 1950’s level health care has dropped in real terms over the last 60 years (and you can probably have a barber from the year 1500 bleed you for almost nothing nowadays). Of course, with 1950’s health care, lots of things will kill you that 2009 health care would prevent. Also, your quality of life, in many instances, would be far worse, but you will have a little bit more change in your pocket as the price will be lower. Want to take the deal? In fact, nobody in the US really wants 1950’s health care (or even 1990’s health care). They just want to pay 1950 prices for 2009 health care. They want the latest pills, techniques, therapies, general genius discoveries, and highly skilled labor that would make today’s health care seem like science fiction a few years ago. But alas, successful science fiction is expensive.

In the case of health care, the fact that we spend so much more on it now is largely a positive. The negative part is if some, or a lot, of that spending is wasteful. Of course, that is mostly the government’s fault and is not what advocates of government control want you to focus upon. We spend so much more on health care, even relative to other advances, mostly because it is worth so much more to us. Similarly, we spend so much more on computers, compact discs, HDTV, and those wonderful one shot espresso makers that make it like having a barista in your own home. Interestingly, we also spend a ton more on these other items now than we did in 1950 because none of these existed in 1950 (well, you could have hired a skilled Italian man to live with you and make you coffee twice a day, so I guess that existed and the price has in fact come down; my bad, analogy shot). OK, you get the point. Health care today is a combination of stuff that has existed for a while and a set of entirely new things that look like (and really are) miracles from the lens of even a few years ago. We spend more on health care because it’s better. Say it with me again, slowly – this is a good thing, not a bad thing.

By the way, I do not mean that the amount we spend on health care in this country isn’t higher than it needs to be. …

In summary, if one more person cites soaring health care costs as an indictment of the free market, when it is in fact a staggering achievement of the free market, I’m going to rupture their appendix and send them to a queue in the UK to get it fixed. Last we’ll see of them. …

Socialized Medicine Works In Some Places

…The funny part is socialized medicine has never been truly tested. Those touting socialism’s success have never seen a world without a relatively (for now) free US to make or pay for their new drugs, surgical techniques, and other medical advancements for them. When (and I hope this doesn’t happen) the US joins in the insanity of socialized medicine we will see that when you remove the brain from the body, the engine from a car, the candy from the striper, it just does not work.

So, please, stop pointing to all those “successes” that even while living off the US still kill hard-working people who could afford their own health care while they stand in line for the government’s version (people’s cancers growing while waiting ten weeks for a routine scan, which these people could often afford on their own if allowed, is a human tragedy). Even the successes you gin up for them would not be possible without the last best hope of humankind (the US) on the front lines again making the miracles for the world. …

A Public Option Can Co-Exist with a Private Option

The government does not co-exist or compete fairly with private enterprise, anywhere. It does not play well with others. The regulator cannot be a competitor at the same time. It cannot compete fairly while it owns the armed forces and courts. Finally, it cannot be a fair competitor if when the “public option” screws up (can’t pay its bills), the government implicitly or explicitly guarantees its debts. We have seen what happens in that case and don’t need a re-run.

The first thing the government does is underprice the private system. You can easily be forgiven for thinking this is a good thing. Why not, cheaper is better, right? Wrong. They will underprice private enterprise by charging less to the purchaser of health insurance, not by actually creating it cheaper. Who makes up the difference? Well, you and your family do if you pay taxes, or your kids will pay taxes, or their kids will pay taxes. The government can always underprice competition, not through the old fashioned way of doing it better, they never do that, but by robbing Peter to pay for Paul. They are taking money from your left pocket and giving you a small portion of it back in your right pocket. They do it every day before breakfast, and take a victory lap for the small portion they return.

Second, the government ultimately always cheats when it’s involved in “honest” competition. Try mailing a first class letter through Fed-Ex, or placing an off-track bet on your favorite horse with a bookie, or playing a lottery through a private company. Uh, you can’t, so please stop trying, I don’t want you to hurt yourself. Once the government discovers it cannot win, it changes the rules. You see, the government has the power to legislate, steal, imprison, and even kill. Those are advantages most private firms do not have…

Health Care is A Right

Nope, it’s not. But we are at the nuclear bomb of the discussion. The one guaranteed to get me yelled at or perhaps picketed by a mob waving signs printed up with George Soros’s money. Those advocating socialized medicine love to scream “health care is a right.” They are loud, they are scary, but they are wrong about rights…

This is more philosophy than economics, and I’m not a philosopher. But, luckily it doesn’t take a superb philosopher to understand that health care simply is not a “right” in the sense we normally use that word. Listing rights generally involves enumerating things you may do without interference (the right to free speech) or may not be done to you without your permission (illegal search and seizure, loud boy-band music in public spaces). They are protections, not gifts of material goods. Material goods and services must be taken from others, or provided by their labor, so if you believe you have an absolute right to them, and others don’t choose to provide it to you, you then have a “right” to steal from them. But what about their far more fundamental right not to be robbed?

In fact, although it’s not the primitive issue, the constant improvement in health care gives another good example of why the “right” to health care makes little sense. Did you have a right to chemotherapy in 1600 AD? You could have protested to Parliament all you wanted, but chemo just didn’t exist. Then, did you have a right to it the moment some genius invented it? You did not pay for the research. You did not make the breakthrough. Where do you get the right? How did it come into existence for you the moment somebody else created these things? I’m pretty sure you cannot have rights to material goods that don’t exist, and I am pretty certain that the moment some genius (or business, or even government) brings them into the world your “rights” do not improve. …

So why do people scream health care is a “right” if it so obviously is not? If not a right it can still be willingly provided as charity by society. But those screaming “health care is a right” worry that this will not work out as well for them. In fact it would work out if all they cared about was good health care for all, and not power, but they do love that power.

Those seeking free health care could admit these are not rights but they simply want other people’s stuff, and be honest supplicants, or open thieves. However, they believe that guilt and the false moral high ground work better for them.

Read the whole thing.

27 Jul 2009

“Do as I Say, Don’t Live as I Do”

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Thomas L. Friedman knows whats good for you

Kate, at Small Dead Animals, merely posts a quotation from New York Times editorialist Thomas L. Friedman‘s June 30th “Just Do It” column demanding that Americans support the democrats’ Cap-and-Trade Bill.

(T)his bill’s goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 is nowhere near what science tells us we need to mitigate climate change. But it also contains significant provisions to prevent new buildings from becoming energy hogs, to make our appliances the most energy efficient in the world and to help preserve forests in places like the Amazon.”

and links a photo of Mr. Friedman’s house.

Hat tips to Greg Pollowitz and Mark Steyn, who remarks:

(O)bviously, being a renowned expert, Thomas Friedman, like Al Gore and the Prince of Wales, needs a supersized carbon footprint. But you don’t — you can get by beating your laundry on the rocks down by the river with the native women all day long.

“Environmentalism” is a government restraint on economic advance and, therefore, social mobility. In other words, it’s a way to ensure you’ll never live like Tom Friedman.

27 Jul 2009

Kitten Rides in Engine Compartment for a Week

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A small white kitten climbed up sales representative Steve Johnson’s tire while he was stopped at a Piggly Wiggly in Evansville, Indiana. The stowaway rode more than 1400 miles in the engine compartment in the course of a week, until Johnson stopped for an oil change in Madison, Wisconsin and his passenger, a little dehydrated, but otherwise none the worse for wear, was discovered.

Channel 3000

1:36 video

WQOW News18

0:46 video

27 Jul 2009

Thousand Crimes of Dick Cheney

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Lizzie Widdicombe, in this week’s New Yorker, describes the beautiful people taking in the Bactrian Treasure Horde (fresh from darkest Afghanistan) at the Met, nibbling mutton at La Grenouille, and lamenting still another of Darth Cheney’s enormities.

Elisabetta Valtz-Fino, the exhibit’s curator, led a tour of the treasures, which included tiger, dolphin, and ram designs (the nomads loved animals). There was a jeweller in the crowd—Tim McClelland, of McTeigue & McClelland jewellers, which helped sponsor the event—and he studied the back of a collapsible gold crown. “This is the Hubble space telescope of jewelry,” he said. Adrianne Dicker-Kadzinski, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker, said she had done a stint in Afghanistan, in 2004, with the U.S. Army Reserve. “Kabul itself was very sad,” she said. “The whole country is like a moonscape—brown, brown, brown.”

Afterward, there was a lamb dinner at La Grenouille (“I feel very Afghan eating this,” the writer Ann Marlowe said) and a raffle: all the guests received little keys; one of them opened a treasure chest containing a special gold-and-lapis bracelet made by McClelland. (The winner was a J. P. Morgan asset manager named Sophie Bosch de Hood.)

As excited as people were to have seen the Bactrian jewels, a sadness wafted over the evening: because of security concerns, the hoard can’t be displayed in Afghanistan. “I’m so mad at Dick Cheney,” said Caroline Firestone, an eighty-year-old philanthropist, who has known the former Vice-President for a long time. “I once gave him my house in Wyoming so he could stay there at Christmas. And he never let me come and talk to him about Afghanistan.”

26 Jul 2009

Hawk Stops Mail Delivery

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This hawk chases mailmen

A nesting Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan has shut down mail delivery in its local neighborhood by making a habit of stooping upon local carriers.

CBC:

Canada Post has temporarily suspended door-to-door mail delivery for a neighbourhood in Moose Jaw, Sask., because of threatening swoops from a protective bird of prey.

Letter carriers had recently become the target of a Swainson’s hawk nesting in the area. The common prairie hawk, which can grow to 50 centimetres (19.7″) in length and weigh up to 1.1 kilograms (2.42 lbs.), is known to be quite territorial when caring for young.

The fierce moves of the Moose Jaw bird have disrupted mail delivery since late May.

“What they do is just try to intimidate you,” Janet Ng, a bird expert from the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre, told CBC News on Friday.

Janet Ng, a bird expert from the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre, says the hawk is merely protecting its young. Janet Ng, a bird expert from the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre, says the hawk is merely protecting its young.

“They’re trying to protect their nests. They want to protect their young, and they want to scare you off because they don’t know what your intentions are.”

Canada Post said mail delivery will resume as soon as the birds have moved on.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Jul 2009

NYPD Captain Looks at the Gates Arrest

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My class list has been obsessing over Skip Gates’s arrest in Cambridge for a couple of days. Most participants tended to agree that the Cambridge cop had not behaved unreasonably, but a few correspondents were inclined to contend that arguing with police and denouncing their presence and behavior should be considered First Amendment-protected instances of Free Speech.

Captain Brandon del Pozo of the NYPD discusses the Gates arrest from a professional police perspective on Crooked Timber, refuting, I think, effectively the Free Speech claim.

Whether or not a person should be arrested for disorderly conduct depends on subjective assessments that are nonetheless important to make. (more on discretion later) These include the extent to which the interaction is actually in public, the extent to which he has genuinely impeded the investigation by being verbally combative with an officer who needs to elicit investigative information from him, or created a situation of genuine public alarm, and, admittedly more controversially, the extent to which he fosters a climate wherein it’s acceptable for people to harass, berate and otherwise annoy the police as they are trying to conduct routine investigations that are in the interest of public safety. …

The officer instructs the person to exit the house and talk on the porch. This is standard police safety practice. An unfamiliar building with unknown occupants that is the potential site of a burglary is not a safe place for an officer to enter, especially alone. If he is drawn into the home and attacked there, he can be locked in and will take longer to rescue. Kitchens have a variety of weapons, and rooms have limited sight lines and places for suspects to hide. Bringing a suspect to the porch is a prudent move for an officer.

The man knows what’s going on. He did, in fact, just force his own front door open. All accounts indicate the sergeant showed up moments later; the 911 caller personally informed him, in sum and substance, “he just went into the house a few seconds ago.” There is a continuity of events that indicates a reasonable person would understand why the police came to his door a few moments after he broke it open. The only thing that could indicate a race bias is the unobserved hypothetical that the police would not have been there if he was white. This doesn’t matter; for a homeowner of any race there is a facially plausible race-neutral reason why the police have come to the door.

Around this time, the person begins to accuse the officer of racism, at first refusing to cooperate with the investigation. This makes the investigation more difficult, and might make the officer wonder if he is safe. To assume Gates isn’t the type of man to use violence when he is angry and using obscenities is to emasculate him, or patronize him, or to resort to stereotypes based on age, stature, type of employment, etc. Anyway, early on, the sergeant concludes this man is not a burglar, but reports that the man continues to be verbally belligerent. …

The police cannot be expected to leave a location simply because the person there is screaming at them and ordering them around, even if that person is apparently innocent and likely lives there. They should still thoroughly investigate. If this were a legitimate expectation of the police, then it would sometimes allow genuine criminals to berate cops into leaving the scene prior to a complete and thorough investigation of the crimes they have committed. Officers should leave when they are convinced that the investigation is complete, and that the situation is under control, regardless of the demeanor of a person.

The police need to foster an environment in which they can deliver public safety without being subject to obscenities, accusations and yelling from any party, even innocent parties. The judgments of policing are obviously difficult and subjective, and are often marred when they are made in the face of people issuing inflammatory comments even as the police are rendering routine services with an obvious cause. It is in the collective interest of citizens and police to promote an environment where the police can conduct an investigation calmly and with mutual respect. It cannot become commonplace for people to be allowed to scream at the police in public, threatening them with political phone calls, deriding their abilities, etc. Routine acts like rendering aid to lost children, taking accident reports and issuing traffic violations could be derailed at any time by any person who has a perceived grievance with the police. The police service environment is not the best venue for the airing of such grievances.

The police should not be cowed by threats of phone calls to people such as mayors, police chiefs and presidents of the United States, along with allegations that “you don’t know who you’re messing with.” It is traditionally whites who have had this type of crooked access and influence. These appeals to higher authorities are often meant to exempt the ruling castes from following the rules and laws that the rest of the community will be expected to follow. It happens, it is unfortunate, and it is not in the interests of justice for it to continue. Nobody trying to do their job fairly deserves to hear the equivalent of “My daddy donated fifty million to this university, and you’ll be getting calls from everywhere in the administration about raising my grade enough for this class to count as a distributive requirement.”

It is possible for a person to commit disorderly conduct by unabated screaming and verbal abuse in a public setting. Without drawing conclusions about the Gates case, there comes some point where a person is genuinely causing public alarm, and where he is acting with a rage that exceeds what we can expect from a reasonable person in a heated moment. The mere presence of the police conducting a legitimate investigation should not provoke continuous rage and epithets from such a person. One response is that the police should just leave if the investigation has been conducted successfully, and that this will calm the person down. In practice, this is indeed often the best thing to do. On the other hand, it should be noted that it is just as much the responsibility of the citizen to see that his actions are an inappropriate way to relate to police officers who have not, in the specific case at hand, acted unreasonably. This point may be hotly contested, but I believe it is true: there is no obligation for the police to hurry in their activities or to leave as soon as possible because they have incited the rage of a person who is acting unreasonably. There is a distinction between hanging around to show them who’s boss and working at a steady, professional pace, to be sure. But in the end the mere presence of the police cannot be seen as an acceptable reason for disorderly conduct, and should therefore not spur the police to leave a scene simply to de-escalate it. A police strategy of “winning by appearing to lose” emboldens citizens to attempt to get the police to lose in more and more serious matters, including walking away from situations where a person is genuinely guilty of a crime.

It is in the civic interest for cops to have discretion over violations and some misdemeanors.

24 Jul 2009

Obama Puts His Foot In It

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Power Line’s John Hinderaker aptly identifies Barack Obama’s potentially fatal flaw.

Obama… continues to overestimate his verbal skills. All his life, he has been rewarded for assuming a certain pose and offering up platitudes in a reasonably glib fashion. These are minor talents at best, but they got Obama elected President, notwithstanding his lack of original insight into any issue of public policy. Now that he is President, however, these limitations are starting to haunt him. Obama’s foolish and entirely needless assertion that Cambridge policeman James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arrested Harvard professor Henry Gates is beginning to turn into a political issue that will hurt Obama with broad sectors of the electorate.

This is one more in a series of self-inflicted wounds that have contributed to Obama’s steadily declining standing with Americans.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

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