Friday, July 24, 2009

"Racial Profiling" and the President




In 1987, I had recently moved into a run-down apartment building in Freeport, NY. I was starting a new job, which was walking distance from my apt. On my first day of work, I walked home during my lunch hour. On my way back to work, less than half a block from my building, three police cars converged on me. An officer got out of his car, drew his gun, an yelled "freeze!"


Of course, I froze. The other officers came up to me, asked for my ID, and frisked me. Apparently, my building was a known drug spot, and these officers thought I went there to buy drugs. After explaining my situation, and proving that I didn't have any drugs, they let me go. I was rattled, but went back to work for the rest of the day. I mention this now because of the current debate about "racial profiling."


Was I "racially profiled," because I was a White guy walking in a largely minority area? Or was it, as the police said, because I was leaving a "known drug location?" I'll never know, and I don't really care. I'm certain that such "profiling" exists, and indeed it is often justified, when race is one component of a larger profile.


Here are two more recent examples: Twice, police have stopped me while riding my bicycle, for no apparent reason. The first time was in the middle of winter, and I was wearing a ski mask, riding through tony North Woodmere after midnight. I lived in N. Woodmere, and had my ID to prove it. The second time was right here in Lynbrook, on the route I take to work every day. This cop knew me, from my job, and explained that they were looking for "a guy on a bicycle with a backpack," which fit me exactly. As I was getting ready to show him the contents of my backpack, he got a call, saying they had caught the suspect, literally around the corner.


The suspect in the second incident was a dark-skinned Latino, who also was riding a bicycle with a backpack. This is an example of race being one factor in a "profile," and how police use that information. Sometimes profiles are inaccurate, and a good officer knows this. Witnesses get details wrong, and clothing can be changed, or backpacks discarded. Skin color is not so easy to change, or conceal, which means it is will continue to be used when making a description of a suspect, or a "profile" of a potential suspect. Unfortunately, this also means that some will continue to use race as a means to divide us, when it comes to law enforcement.


Police are human. There are good cops, and bad cops. I have no brief for officers that break the law, or actually violate people's civil rights. I find those who falsely accuse police of this behavior just as contemptible. This brings me to mention President Obama, who brought up "racial profiling" in response to a question about Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates' encounter with Sgt. James Crowley, of the Cambridge P.D. While the president didn't directly accuse Sgt. Crowley of it, he strongly implied it. Why even bring it up?


Does the President of the United States want to stoke the flames of racial animus? I don't think so. I think it was more a a "reflex" for him, because this is part of the liberal "profile" in law enforcement situations like this. Liberals' "knee-jerk" reaction to these situations is that somehow the person was "targeted" because of their race. As the facts have come out, it is apparent that was not the case, regarding Sgt. Crowley's actions. The President owes Sgt. Crowley, and the Cambridge P.D. an apology.




Thursday, July 23, 2009

"SELLING A DREAM," or Real Reform?

President Obama did well in his latest national "prime time" press conference, according to Charles Krauthammer. Of course, that opinion was based on a comparison to a "Snake Oil" salesman, so it might not count as praise. I have to admit that, on some level, the president's "pitch" sounded good to me, as well. Then I thought of an old friend, who used the phrase "sellin' you a dream" often, when talking about politics, business, or any similar subject. I think this is a prime example of politicians' "selling a dream."


"97 or 98 percent of people will be covered" is not possible, for many reasons, and the president knows it. For him to say that without challenge, or follow-up shows what a friendly environment he was in. Also, minutes after he singled out a Republican strategist and a Republican Senator for attacking him, he claimed not to be attacking them back, politically. Is this really the "new" politics he championed? And again, not one press person called him on the obvious discrepancy from reality.


More interesting was how he "pitched" it. It sounded so reasonable. He had the answer to everyone's problem with the health-care system, even those who don't don't have a problem with their own health care insurance coverage. Of course, he's "selling a dream" to as many people as he can, to get this new "entitlement" passed into law. Make the taxpayers think it's "revenue neutral," then raise the taxes to pay for the inevitable "crisis." That is the history of "new" government programs.


There is a snag in the plan. Since we have seen several "crisis" bills passed into law recently, starting under the "hated" President Bush, the "crisis/immediate action" mantra is wearing thin. The House leadership had to "twist arms" to get "cap and trade" through, and the Senate left them "high and dry" on it, by not acting on it. The Dems that got hell from their constituents about that don't want to repeat that mistake with health care. I hope all of our representatives have a grasp on the text of whatever they vote on, but I'm doubtful. Few of them know what the bailouts or stimulus packages contained, to this day!


Luckily, there are more people interested in politics than ever, which means more voices being heard. Challenges to a president with the "MSM" on his side are heard by more of the public than ever before, which is a good thing. For the record, I support reform of the health-care system. I just think Pres. Obama is "selling us a dream," which will turn out to be a nightmare, if it follows the pattern of the other monstrosies he got passed. I opposed the bailouts under Bush, and preferred my "stimulus" money in one check, instead of weekly increments in my paycheck. That just showed me how small a tax break it was.


PS: Some real "reform" might be ending employer-paid health insurance. It's a relic from WWII, when government "capped" wages. That's just the "acorn" of a huge tree of bureaucracy that's grown from it, but it's as good a place as any to start. I also wonder what a "federal tax holiday" for six months would do for the private sector economy. Now that's a dream I'd like to sell, if you want radical ideas!




Saturday, July 18, 2009

CAN WE TAKE A PAGE FROM HONDURAS, AND CALL IN THE MILITARY TO THROW OUT THE NYS SENATE, THE GOV, and MAYOR BLOOMIE?

My heart is with the Honduran people, who overwhelmingly know that what happened to Zelaya was the right thing to do. (All of those who are outraged at this "coup," just imagine it was Pres. Bush being taken out of the White House.) I only wish we had some similar mechanism to remove the NYS Senate (I'd throw in the Assembly, as well.) from power. ALL of these clowns should go! The other two branches, as well as the Assembly are against them, yet they insist on creating a real statewide crisis over who will be in power in the Senate. Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg haven't distinguished themselves, either.


The NYS Senate isn't the only story that reminds me of Honduras. I think Zelaya got the idea from Bloomberg, who rewrote the NYC charter to get a third term; or maybe they both took the idea from the socialist game plan, as did Chavez. Term limits are a good thing, for no other reson than politicians hate them. Bloomy's been able to buy an attempt at a third term, and no-one wants to run against him, much less remove him by force. Still, I can't help but include him as an anti-liberty "authoritarian" political leader.


I think Zelaya's not as rich as Bloomberg, but he's got powerful friends, in the "international community." They're going to put "pressure" on the Honduran polity, and we'll find out how "representative" they are of their population. Meanwhile, NYC and state residents have less "representation" than the people of Honduras. I'm not kidding. Most NYS residents would support the NYS National Guard coming into the Senate and removing all of these clowns who call themselves legislators, or at least the ones under criminal indictment, like Sen. Hiram Monserrate.


Governor Paterson has brought NYS to another level of dysfunction. He came into office on the heels of a governor who used the State Police as his personal "political dirty tricks" squad, and isn't up to the job of "cleaning house." AG Andrew Cuomo is a much-favored challenger in the primary, because he has taken on a small part of the statewide political corruption. If he had any brains, he would've used the State Police to bust all of the corrupt politicians he could. If only. Fortunately, we won't need the State Police to throw Paterson out; he knows where the door is.


Before we judge the actions of the military in Honduras, we need to acknowledge that they were being directed by civillians. What legal authority did the Army obey, and the President disobey? The Supreme Court, and the legislature, as well as the Honduran Constitution. Here in NYS, we need to "blow up the political machines," with the force of our speech. One voice saying these things sounds like nothing. Thousands of voices saying the same thing is a political force.


We can learn something from their experience, my friends! "THROW THE BUMS OUT OF OFFICE, IN NY STATE!" In both parties!