What Ignoring the Problem Gets You

What happens when you ignore a problem for an entire year? The problem doesn’t go away:

Despite ongoing national scrutiny of police tactics, the number of fatal shootings by officers in 2016 remained virtually unchanged from last year when nearly 1,000 people were killed by police.

Through Thursday, law enforcement officers fatally shot 957 people in 2016 — close to three each day — down slightly from 2015 when 991 people were shot to death by officers, according to an ongoing project by The Washington Post to track the number of fatal shootings by police.

The Post, for two years in a row, has documented more than twice the number of fatal shootings recorded by the FBI annually on average.

Why hasn’t anything been done to reduce the number of people being shot by police? Because the politicians rely on the police to be revenue generators and too many people worship the police as heroes.

I’ve written a lot about how being revenue generators makes politicians wary of curtailing bad law enforcement behavior. To summarize that point, the politicians don’t want to risk upsetting their biggest revenue generators because they might generate less revenue. If police officers are punished for shooting an innocent person during a no-knock raid they might be less inclined to go on the next no-knock drug raid and that would cut into the State’s civil forfeiture profits.

Hero worship is another problem. Whenever an individual rises to the status of hero they get a tremendous amount of leeway. Obviously bad behavior is explained away by the hero’s worshippers. After all, the individual is a hero and therefore can do no wrong. Ever since 9/11 law enforcers have been elevated from civil servants to heroes.

We see this come into play whenever an officer is in the news for doing something questionable or outright terrible. Cop apologists crawl out of the woodwork and find any excuse to justify the officer’s actions. Did the officer shoot a carry permit holder during an otherwise routine traffic stop? While the carry permit indicates that the victim wasn’t a felon or domestic abuser the cop apologists will still cite mundane nonsense like traffic citations as justification for the officer’s actions.

This hero worship also influences the actions of those who are tasked with holding law enforcers accountable. No politician, even a lowly municipal one, wants to be the person known for going against a hero. It’s bad for their public image and reelection efforts. So most of them are willing to turn a blind eye towards any issues involving law enforcers.

I imagine 2017 will also see approximately 1,000 people killed by police. Until law enforcers stop being revenue generators and stop being viewed as heroes the motivation to curtail their bad behavior won’t exist.

CNN and Hackers

The media’s portrayal of hackers is never accurate but almost always amusing. From hooded figures stooping over keyboards and looking at green ones and zeros on a black screen to balaclava clad individuals holding a laptop in one hand while they furiously type with the other hand, the creative minds behind the scenes at major media outlets always have a way to make hackers appear far more sinister than they really are.

CNN recently aired a segment about Russian hackers. How did the creative minds at CNN portray hackers to the viewing public? By showing a mini-game from a game you may have heard of:

In a recent story about President Obama proposing sanctions against Russia for its role in cyberattacks targeting the United States, CNN grabbed a screenshot of the hacking mini-game from the extremely popular RPG Fallout 4. First spotted by Reddit, the screenshot shows the menacing neon green letters that gamers will instantly recognize as being from the game.

Personally, I would have lifted a screenshot from the hacking mini-game in Deus Ex, it looks far more futuristic.

A lot of electrons have been annoyed by all of the people flipping out about fake news. But almost no attention has been paid to uninformed news. Most major media outlets are woefully uninformed about many (most?) of the subjects they report on. If you know anything about guns or technology you’re familiar with the amount of inaccurate reporting that occurs because of the media’s lack of understanding. When the outlet reporting on a subject doesn’t know anything about the subject the information they provide is worthless. Why aren’t people flipping out about that?

The Return of the Anti-War Left

After eight years of unexplained absence the anti-war left is slowly creeping out of the woodwork!

Three days before Christmas, President-elect Trump tweeted (yes, tweeted) that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and enhance its nuclear capability” until the world “comes to its senses regarding nukes.” The world, for its part, blinked in astonishment, wondering once again what Mr. Trump might mean, and why such a momentous announcement appeared via social media. Prior presidents generally undertook any shift in nuclear policy with care, and with the advice of experts in arms control and proliferation who have made keeping us safe their life’s mission. After all, when a single person has the power to rain down nuclear fire across the world, caution might not only be warranted, but expected.

As a quick aside, I think Trump’s attempt to take credit for Obama’s $1 trillion revamp of the United States’ nuclear arsenal is pathetic.

George Takei, who was a much more pleasant fellow to follow on social media when he wasn’t championing that butcher Hillary Clinton, took Trump’s tweet about expanding the United States’ nuclear arsenal personally and penned a scathing piece on nuclear weapons in general. Let me say that I appreciate Takei’s rant against nuclear weapons and wish more people would do the same. I also appreciate the handful of other articles penned by the anti-war left in recent times. But I’m forced to ask why these article are appearing again after eight years of silence.

During the George W. Bush’s presidency there was a strong anti-war sentiment coming from the left. Neoliberals, socialists, communists, and leftist anarchists all came together to hold protests against the United States’ wars throughout the country. When Obama first ran for president he did so on an anti-war platform, which gained him the support of the anti-war left. Once he won the election he continued Bush’s reign of terror but did so without protest from the supposedly anti-war left. In fact, they stayed mostly silent for all eight years of Obama’s presidency.

Now that a Republican has regained the presidency the anti-war left is suddenly making noise again. Unfortunately, for them, they lost all legitimacy after Obama took office. By only protesting the wars when Bush was in charge the anti-war left demonstrated that they weren’t anti-war at all. They were just anti-Republican-lead-war. Once a Democrat was ordering the slaughter they were silent. Now that a Republican will be ordering the slaughter again they are suddenly making some noise.

In other words, they’re a bunch of liars. But, hey, at least we can enjoy four years of public outrage over the wars even if that outrage isn’t actually because of the wars.

Officers You Don’t Want

The city council member in St. Paul is worried. The council recently voted to make the whole cycle of “We investigated ourselves and found that we did nothing wrong.” cycle more difficult by remove two officers from its Police Civilian Review Commission. Because of that vote the member is now concerned that many officers will vacate the force:

Some St. Paul city leaders are a little concerned they might see a larger than normal exodus of veteran police officers in 2017.

One city council member told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS morale in the St. Paul Police Department (SPPD) is the lowest he remembers in his 20 years as a member of the city council.

“Police on the street are disappointed and dismayed by the recent city council vote to strip two police officers from the city’s Police Civilian Review Commission, because they see it as the council not having their back and not supporting them when they put on bullet-proof vests to go to work everyday”, said City Council member, Dan Bostrom, who is a retired SPPD officer and was first elected to the city council in 1996.

Not surprisingly, the council member in question is a retired police officer.

Review bodies aren’t supposed to have the backs of or support the individuals they’re tasked with reviewing. They’re supposed to be a third-party that can perform a more impartial review when complaints are made against the individuals they’re tasked with reviewing. Judges doesn’t ask juries to have the backs of defendants. Electrical inspectors aren’t told to have the backs of the electricians whose work they’re tasked with inspecting. Medical review boards aren’t told to have the backs of doctors they’re tasked with reviewing. So why is a civilian review body tasked with reviewing complaints against police officers expected to have the backs of those police officers?

I would argue that any officer who leaves a department because the review body overseeing that department doesn’t have the officers’ backs is somebody who shouldn’t be a police officer. If an officer is afraid of a more impartial review of their behavior then they are probably aware that their behavior is at least questionable if not obviously corrupt.

Capitalism Versus Socialism

One of the biggest criticisms socialists make against capitalism is that under capitalism a poor individual may starve. But under socialism a poor individual… may starve:

PUERTO CABELLO, Venezuela (AP) – When hunger drew tens of thousands of Venezuelans to the streets last summer in protest, President Nicolas Maduro turned to the military to manage the country’s diminished food supply, putting generals in charge of everything from butter to rice.

But instead of fighting hunger, the military is making money from it, an Associated Press investigation shows. That’s what grocer Jose Campos found when he ran out of pantry staples this year. In the middle of the night, he would travel to an illegal market run by the military to buy corn flour – at 100 times the government-set price.

Queue all of the socialists claiming Venezuela isn’t real socialism. But the military is part of the State and therefore it having a “legitimate” monopoly on food distribution most certainly is socialism.

Scarcity is a law of nature. Because of that, no system can guarantee that every individual will receive everything they need to survive. Socialists claim that they can overcome this rule of nature but socialists countries have been proving them wrong time and again.

The difference between capitalism and socialism is how wealth is distributed. Under capitalism wealth is distributed by one’s ability to serve the market. If you are able to serve the market successfully you can obtain wealth. Under socialism wealth is distributed by one’s favor with the State. If you can curry favor with the State you can obtain wealth.

Neither system can prevent starvation or nefarious people from obtaining wealth. But the former relies on pleasing the masses whereas the latter relies on pleasing the elites in power. To me it seems rather obvious which is more ripe for abuse.