From the Atlantic:
A little more than a decade ago, a company called Stanley Works was considering moving to Bermuda in order to save some money. Stanley, a tool-manufacturing company, had done some calculations, and figured out that it could save about $30 million per year in U.S. taxes by ditching its Connecticut headquarters. The decision seemed fairly clear-cut, as they’d be lowering their costs.
- More -
to get episodes automatically downloaded.
I suppose it was kind of gimmicky. The Democratic challenger to an incumbent Republican Congressional Representative pledged, if elected, to give back a tenth of his paycheck. Brad Ashford, the Nebraska Democrat, would keep doing that until members of Congress cut their own paychecks by 10 percent.
There are lots of good reasons to reject a proposal to cut Congressional salaries. Corruption is a lot more tempting when you kind of need the money. Junkets to foreign lands, lavish free dinners, implied future career opportunities, none are really illegal. Sometimes officials who have developed a part-time business of raking it in can cross ethical lines into outright criminality.
At some point, attacking the pay of politicians, however emotionally satisfying - and truly, truly, it does provide a buzz - might not be good public policy.
The incumbent Republican, Lee Terry, did not disagree with cutting the pay of Congress because it's bad policy. His indignation was more personal. It seems Congress has already gone too long without a raise, and enough is enough.
What he's not telling you is that Congress hasn't had a cost of living increase since 2006, when I led the charge for a freeze.
- Representative Lee Terry (R-NE), Comments on KMTV, Omaha, August 11, 2014
Those bringing home considerably less than the $174,000 a year paid to their representatives in Congress might not be completely sympathetic.
Why would anyone in elective office say such a thing?
One possibility is a mere slip of the tongue. The pressure of live debate, the relentless presence of news outlets, can capture momentary lapses.
The problem with that theory is Representative Lee Terry has a bit of a history. It is not the first time he has complained about the financial hardship associated with public service. He was forced to apologize for similar comments during the Republican shutdown of government last year.
Federal workers and those working for companies doing business with the government were going without paychecks. Shouldn't members of Congress give up their pay during the time they were forcing other families to live without?
...you know what? I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That's just not going to fly.
Similar stories surface from time to time. It is usually taken as evidence that some politicians are clueless, out of touch with the economic suffering endured by those they ought to be representing. In the case of Representative Terry, the seeming lack of concern is aggravated by his tireless opposition to any increase in the minimum wage.
Such incidents do illustrate a disconnect from life as it is experienced by those living with a significant level of financial anxiety. Comments like those for which Lee Terry is becoming known also illustrate an important part of human nature, a part most of us share.
I close my eyes and try to picture ordinary people. I find myself thinking of friends, co-workers, neighbors, worshipers at Sunday service, shoppers I meet in line at the pharmacy. And I find I'm thinking of people I meet and associate with. Ordinary people.
That is who most of us think of as ordinary, everyday people. Those we see and talk with. They are part of our daily routine. That's human nature, and that's part of the problem. What we see and who we see every day define what we know as ordinary.
As a young student studying government several decades ago, I participated for a few months in a special program that put me in Washington, DC.
I was impressed by one detail that I do not recall ever being reported. Senators and members of Congress do not open doors. Unless they deliberately look for doors, they probably never notice them. It's part of a larger pattern.
As they walk the corridors, even walking the sidewalks near the Capitol Building, they are continuously surrounded by a circle of staff. Papers are passed and glanced at. Conversations continue. Schedules are changed. Decisions are made. It is all done without missing a step. Each elected official is surrounded by a moving, busy office.
The circle is sometimes broken by other office holders and by ever present money flashing lobbyists. Away from the traveling office, officials live near wealth. They shop and worship with the rich and powerful. It affects, it has to affect, what they think of as normal, daily routine, and who they regard as average, everyday folks.
In Congress, most work very hard, doing what they came to the nation's capital to do.
They represent ordinary people.
As another long night in Ferguson begins, the National Guard is on the scene, but so too are the local police, who continue to demonstrate great judgment and a keen grasp on how they're coming across to the outside world. A few minutes ago, police tried to shut down CNN anchor Don Lemon's live broadcast as he stood on a sidewalk in the middle of a group of protesters.
"I think we're about to be arrested because we're standing on a sidewalk," Lemon told a studio anchor in New York, sounding quizzical.
- More -
Police in Ferguson were caught on camera Sunday night threatening to mace one reporter and shoot another. At least two other journalists also claim they were arrested while following police orders.
Shortly after 10 pm Sunday night, police began launching tear gas at protesters and demanded that reporters turn their cameras off.
- More -
From KCTV Independence, MO:
INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -
A woman used text messages to convince a thief to give her back her stolen van.
"I'm just happy to have my van. I mean who does this, I can't believe this, it is my life, this is real," Megan Bratten said.
When Bratten walked out of the Kmart store near U.S. Highway 24 and Missouri Highway 291, her van was gone.
"An older gentlemen was like, ‘Are you OK?' and I said ‘No, I think my car just got stolen,'" she said.
It was her work van. The van Bratten uses for her business to provide for her five children.
"I just got angry and then I remembered that phone was in there and I thought ‘Let me text them a message' and I did," Bratten said.
- More -
to get episodes automatically downloaded.
When Scottie McCown died ten years ago, it did not cause a nationwide stir. Maryland paid little notice. There was not much attention paid in Baltimore, where Officer McCown had shot and permanently disabled a local teenager decades before.
The Baltimore protests in 1980 paralleled those we see today here in Missouri to one more deadly incident. Young black teenagers in America seem to continue as routine casualties. So it was in Baltimore three decades ago.
Riots had been massive in Miami at the acquittal of police officers who had beaten to death a motorcyclist after an eight minute chase. The cyclist was driving on a suspended license and likely had been trying to escape a fine.
I was living in the Baltimore area at the time. Like most area residents, I paid little attention to details. A 17 year old black kid had gone into a sub shop with a friend. He was unarmed. As he stood before the counter, he was shot in the back three times by a Baltimore city police detective.
There were raucous press events. Non-violent protests provided an outlet for rage. Baltimore authorities were mindful of the violence in Miami. They wanted to avoid similar racial conflict in Baltimore. A brief hearing was held. Officer McCown was fired, later sued for a million dollars by the young man and his parents.
Civil hearings quoted the conclusions of the lightning fast police review hearing. The officer had options:
He did not "identify himself as a Police Officer to the owner or employee of the Pizza shop and request they telephone for a back-up unit" or "accost the suspects, identify himself as a Police Officer, and conduct a stop and frisk." Finally, "there existed insufficient facts and circumstances to warrant reasonable belief of imminent danger to himself."
Mitigating details were unimportant at the time. Nobody, myself included, had time for mitigation. An unarmed kid would never walk again. What could justify that?
A decade later, author David Simon briefly reviewed the case.
In the area of Erdman Street where the shooting occurred, robberies had been committed in which a small chrome pistol had been used. The detective had noticed a couple of young men in a familiar pattern, looking through the storefront window. The pattern was repeated several times. Were they casing the place? Only when most customers had left did they enter.
Detective McCown readied his own revolver, just in case. As one of the young men suddenly faced the shop owner, McCown saw the metallic flash. The shop owner had not yet noticed the mortal danger facing him. The detective fired three times, screamed at the accomplice to stand still, and yelled at the shop owner to call police emergency.
Then he saw the metallic flash had been from a lighter. There had been no robbery, no accomplice, no mortal danger.
Simon makes the case that we, members of the public, are trapped in a fictional world in which no bad shooting can happen at the hands of a good police officer. Ambiguity is seldom a reality after the fact. But a lack of certainty is a fact of life in each professional moment of a fallible human. What Simon calls "the myth of perfection" haunts every incident.
It doesn’t matter that a shouted warning concedes every advantage to the gunman, that death can come in the time it takes for a cop to identify himself or demand that a suspect relinquish a weapon. It doesn’t matter that in a confrontation of little more than a second or two, a cop is lucky if he can hit center mass from a distance of twenty feet, much less target extremities or shoot a weapon from a suspect’s hand. And it doesn’t matter whether a cop is an honorable man, whether he truly believes he is in danger, whether the shooting of a black suspect sickens him no less than if the man were white.
- David Simon, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, 1991
The young man in Baltimore did not deserve to be shot. He did not deserve a life of partial paralysis. The officer did not deserve the public censure that became a part of his life.
A few miles from my home here in Missouri, 34 years later, a new police shooting has aroused community anger. Local resident Michael Brown has been killed on a residential street in Ferguson. He had just graduated from High School.
The demands for justice, to the extent that the demands are specific to this case, are premature. Justice without process is not justice. Judgment that comes before evidence is not justice.
My friend, liberal Michael J. Scott, is a former police officer. He makes a brief point: "... we don’t yet have the facts so I’m going to reserve judgement."
As those facts slowly dribble out, it has become difficult to compose a case that would justify the shooting. Was there an assault on the officer? Was Michael Brown sufficiently provoked by insult - Get the f*** out of the street - to react with violence? Did the young man decide that apprehension for an earlier forceful robbery was worth attacking a uniformed officer? Was there some other perceived threat?
What is known so far obstructs the search for a reasonable explanation. The number of shots fired, the distances involved, the accounts of a young man with arms raised in surrender, all join to strain the imagination. The slow motion revelation of those details has not helped. The absence of evidence has itself become evidence.
And so there has been outrage. The initial reaction by police authorities to community anger leaves little to the imagination. The lack of distinction between legitimate protests on one hand, and attacks on police, or destruction or looting on the other, has been beyond justification. The relentless march of military level force, the armament and equipment, the early disproportionate response did little to help.
These were not the decisions of individual police officers. Those in charge seem to have achieved a complete disconnect from the consequence of their actions. What are we to expect when protest is necessary and peaceful protest is made impossible?
Mercifully, authority seems to have shifted to more responsible command.
Separating the actions of authorities from the initial shooting is not an easy emotional leap. But it is a necessary leap. In the fullness of time, as evidence bleeds forth, the truth surrounding the death of young Michael Brown will unfold.
Official ineptitude should not be part of that evidence.
Putting Skin in the Game - Racism in Politics (5:16) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
How those who hate Obama know they are not racists. They look within.
to get episodes automatically downloaded.
The Moderate Voice offers an interpretation of what happened in Ferguson. The headline: From the start, the police were behaving like they might be nuts. Then they went nuts.
Rumproast finds that the career of a civil rights hero is also a case study of what conservatives will do wherever they are elected.
Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post has good news, and good news, and Republican news, and sad news about Walgreens, and the Veterans Administration, and a former Vice President, and a former part term Governor, and a lost celebrity.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, displays a virtue that we who follow Jesus would do well to embrace ourselves. He is willing to publicly take on a fellow atheist for objectionable arguments. He dissects a recent presentation by Richard Dawkins. Perhaps more of us should be willing to speak out when Christians are less than fair.
From KMOX-TV, St. Louis:
FERGUSON, Mo. (KMOX) – He’s an African American. He’s from North St. Louis County. And as a local commander of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, his job Thursday night is to establish calm in Ferguson.
No more armored trucks, tear gas and riot gear. Highway Patrol Captain Ronald Johnson says he wants to establish a rapport with the protestors face-to-face.
- More -
From National Journal:
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which came under fire earlier this year for a deceptive series of fake Democratic candidate websites that it later changed after public outcry, has launched a new set of deceptive websites, this time designed to look like local news sources.
- More -
Eye surgery this morning will keep me from any heavy blogging for a couple of days, possibly longer.
I mentioned to my loved one that the surgery will also keep me from heavy lifting, as well as any other around-the-house work, for the next several months.
However, she was there for those instructions and seems to think I was mistaken about the length of time.
I'll be back on site soon.
Fox Business Channel’s Lou Dobbs has a theory on the flood of immigrant children illegally crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.: President Barack Obama made it happen.
“The White House created the open borders impact problem,” Dobbs recently told the New York Post‘s Cindy Adams. “This humanitarian crisis begins with our unemployment. It’s a sham. Coordinated and orchestrated implicitly and directly by this administration.”
- More -
to get episodes automatically downloaded.
This is the Racist Child Molester Serial Killer theory of America. Racists -- should they even exist -- are not people we know, but people who existed either in some distant history or in a far off cave somewhere.
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic Magazine, August 29, 2011
Those of us beyond a certain age, and many of us much younger, do not have to consult history to recall how gay people were looked upon: more specifically, how we looked upon them. They were the very definition of lowlife. The main reason we did not consider that we were the ones on the side of evil is that we did not think of the issue at all.
Anita Bryant, in her Florida campaign against homosexuality, changed some of that. We were forced to examine the unexamined. Sometimes icy darkness melts a little in the harsh glare of the noonday sun. Even then, it can take time.
Some of us inwardly apologize for our own unthinking acquiescence in the demeaning of gay people. We might find it easier to acknowledge at least the possibility of other unexamined biases. Not everyone has that advantage. Not everyone chooses to see it as an opportunity.
Some racism is like that. It is unexamined except superficially. We skim along the surface of a single assumption. Racists are unspeakably evil. We, and those we include in our circles of friends, are not evil. What could be more clear? They, and we, are not touched by racism, except in our rejection of it.
Most bigotry is not binary, turned off and on as you would a light switch. A line drawn between racism and good will can be fuzzy. Sometimes it is so blurred it is not a line at all. It can be more like a rheostat. The light shines and dims in degrees as the dial is slowly turned.
Few of those who hate the President because he simply does not belong in his position would consider their motivations to be racist. Racism is the province of monsters, on a level with child molesters. In the polite company of Fox News viewers, even those who wear tricornered hats at public gatherings, motives are pure.
The President failed to faithfully execute his own laws, including Obamacare, postponing requirements that some employers provide coverage. He did this without Congressional authorization.
Did President Bush delay enforcement of Medicare Part D in 2006? Well, we don't like President Bush, either. In retrospect. So it was wrong back then as well, even though conservatives and liberals and Republicans and Democrats never thought anything about it at the time. We just know a delay of enforcement is wrong because Obama also did it.
President Obama is attacking religious freedom, requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. Some of that has been struck down by the Supreme Court, but a lot of the oppression remains.
Similar requirements long been a part of state law in Arizona, Montana, North Carolina, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas
That's a lot of states.
Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin, West Virginia, New Jersey, California, Maine, Delaware,
That's a lot of states with no religious freedom.
Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Massachusetts?
That's a lot of states with no religious freedom where nobody objected, ever.
Well just because everyone else does it, does that mean Obama has to do it as well? Besides, the issue is states rights. And ...uh... religious rights. Conservatives didn't protest back then because violations of religious freedom were, not exactly okay when done by states, but brought to our conscience because it was Obama.
Immigration! Obama has gone too far on immigration. Sure, deportations are higher than ever, and illegal immigration is lower than in many years. But that doesn't make everything legal.
Does Obama really have the authority to prioritize deportations? Deporting known criminals before innocent school kids who were brought here are babies? Oh. He does?
How about on the influx of South American children? He's following procedures on refugees escaping violence passed during the Bush administration? Signed into law by who? President Bush?
Some of the issues on which conservatives hate President Obama may seem like a sudden double standard. We may try to look below the surface for some deeper explanation, some more basic motive. But we won't find racism there.
After all, bigotry belongs to the scum of the earth, not good folks with good hearts.
Just ask those of us who deeply regret that we once despised gay people.