The recent incident involving, by most estimates, 100 to 300 ATV vehicles raising havoc on the streets of Providence serves to illustrate the almost impossible situation facing Police Officers today. When presented with a clear and dangerously unlawful situation, officers are expected by some to turn a blind eye and by others to possess some superhuman ability to end such behavior without physical force.
Then, almost immediately, the specter of race is injected into the conversation simply because a police officer was involved with a situation involving a person of color.
I defy most people to provide an accurate description of someone speeding by on an ATV amid uncounted others. The color of their skin is the last consideration at the moment, diving for your life might be the first.
The police are not a force unto themselves. They represent us on the street, and we rightfully expect them to act under the law. Those who would standby and do nothing in the face of unlawful behavior do not deserve the honor of wearing the badge.
But with that said, we can reasonably expect them to act judiciously with the discretion we empower them to exercise. Yet, the critics swarm out of their holes and rage about injustice absent one scintilla of evidence when they do.
What gets lost in all the ranting and raving by those who have twisted Black Lives Matter’s righteous cause into a carte blanch excuse for criminal and threatening behavior is there are two as yet untold stories here.
The officer will have to explain his actions. If they are found to violate the law or be contrary to department policy, the officer will face the consequences. I have the utmost faith in Colonel Clemens and the Providence Police to provide a full and complete report to this effect.
And any of the individuals who may be identified in committing criminal acts or motor vehicle violations, including the young man injured in the incident, need to face their responsibilities as well.
The NAACP was quick to characterize this as a racially motivated incident caused by the police. They fail to recognize their own disingenuousness in a rush to judgment.
The very thing they accuse officers of doing—assuming that because someone is black, they are guilty of a crime—seems to be acceptable behavior. If an officer acts, it must be wrong. There is no need to wait for the whole truth to come out.
While I certainly hope the young man recovers from his injuries, they do not excuse his actions or behavior. One cannot throw yourself in front of a moving train, then blame the train when it doesn’t stop.
This sparked the usual round of responses both for and against. At one point, I was asked my opinion on a litany of issues. These were both too complex and too numerous to answer on social media alone, thus the genesis of this latest blog.
As always, I welcome anyone who wishes to write a piece addressing these or any issues. Submit it to me (email@example.com) and I will happily publish it on the blog. My only caveat is the discussion be respectful. Passion is good, impoliteness is not.
Now, here are the questions and my answers.
Are you for legal immigration?
This one is easy. I support legal immigration. No rational person supports illegal immigration, if by illegal immigration you mean someone unlawfully entering this country absent a legitimate amnesty need. But there are exceptions. Creating a path to citizenship for those who were brought here as children by their parents without legal documents is the American thing to do.
However, there needs to be a time limit on the window of opportunity. For example, once an individual reaches eighteen years of age or, if already 18 or older, upon the creation of this program, they must apply for the citizenship process within two years. Miss that window of opportunity, and you are subject to deportation.
Are you for free enterprise?
Again, an easy one. Yes I am. But government regulations play an essential role in ensuring a level playing field. Labor laws, OSHA regulations, EPA standards, and others are all necessary to protect workers, customers, the environment, and those operating a business.
At one time, child labor was a significant contributor to a free capitalist market. Such conditions and practices are abhorrent and government regulations necessary to prevent such abuses.
And Joe Biden hit on something critically important to free enterprise, labor unions.
Labor unions, more than government regulations, made workplaces safer, pay and benefits more fair, and established a balance of power between management and labor. The pendulum swing away from union membership is partially responsible for the earnings gap. In 1983 union membership was 20.1% of workers, today it is 10.1%.
In 1965,the ratio of CEO to Worker compensation was 20 to 1. In 1989, it was 58 to 1. Today, it is 278 to 1. CEO compensation has risen 940% while only 11.9% for workers.
That some unions were corrupted is not an indictment of all unions or union members any more than the prosecution of corporate executives, say Brietbart for example, is an indictment of all executives.
Are you for energy independence?
Seeking energy independence is a critical national security matter. I support renewable energy research and alternative energy sources. Coal, which accounts for almost 25% of electricity production in the US (and more elsewhere) combined with other fossil fuels (which account for 62%,) are two of the most significant contributors to anthropogenic accelerated global warming.
The Department of Defense, those ultimately responsible for defending this nation, has identified climate change as one of the most significant national security challenges facing this country.
We are at the point where the level of Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference (DAI) with the climate may be unrecoverable. Energy independence for the US must also include a significant investment in new energy sources, not just a surge in coal mining or improving fossil fuel extraction technology.
I know this may be heresy to some, but nuclear energy provided by the latest generation of reactors is dramatically less harmful to the environment, and safer overall, than fossil fuels. From an overall safety and environmental perspective, the more you know about fossil fuel, the more concerned you become. The more you know about nuclear energy, the less concerned you become. Once again, it is science that offers the answers, non politicized and unbiased.
Are you for more government regulations?
I support necessary government regulations; Health and Safety (OSHA), labor laws, automotive safety standards, FDA regulations. Speed limits on roadways limiting the speed at which cars can operate, even though they are capable of much higher speeds, makes everyone safer. Same thing with most regulations.
Do you support abortion on demand?
I support a woman’s right to choose and the guidelines laid out in Roe v. Wade. The one aspect of Roe that gets lost in the rancor and emotion is that Roe was about fair and equitable access to abortions. Abortion for medical reasons has always been legal. It was the discrepancy in access to abortions that Roe addressed.
Wealthy individuals always had access to safe and legal abortions because they could afford to find a doctor who would deem the procedure medically necessary.
Poor people did not have that option.
The decision to seek an abortion, for whatever reason, is the most difficult personal choice a woman has to make. The government has no business interfering with such a significant private matter.
One certain way to reduce the need for abortions is a comprehensive health care system offering contraception, family planning, pre- and post-natal care and support, and a strong system of child care assistance for those in need.
Do you think the Iran deal was a good one?
I believe the Iran deal was the best solution to an insoluble problem absent the elimination of theocratic governments. What is now clear, by withdrawing from the Iran agreement, the US has created more instability in the region and lost any opportunity to build a coalition against further nuclear development by Iran.
Instead, we have left it to the Israelis to deal with the problem militarily, which increases the likelihood of open conflict in the Middle East.
The only lasting solution to the Iranian problem will have to come from the Iranian people. By imposing sanctions on a government that cares little for the welfare of its citizens, the ones who suffer most are the very people we need to achieve success.
Much like the Treaty of Versailles, we are imposing draconian demands that will, over time, have the exact opposite effect to what we need in the region.
Are you for defunding the police?
Another softball. Of course not. But re-evaluating the tasks assigned to police departments and reallocating funds to more appropriate solutions makes sense. This trend toward the militarization of police (begun when I was on the job and no one embraced the toys more than us) was, in hindsight, a mistake.
But with that said, the reality of American society presents different challenges to police officers than other developed democratic countries. While police officers in many countries do not routinely carry firearms, the fact that there are 300 million weapons in civilian hands makes arming American officers critical.
Most gun owners never commit a crime. But the easy availability of weapons—both legal and illegal—makes their use in the commission of crimes more frequent and thus more of a risk factor.
Organizations like BLM will never gain the support of a majority of Americans until they decry the illegal possession and use of firearms as much as they criticize the actions of law enforcement.
The implicit racism by many officers to persons of color is reinforced by the number of crimes committed by those who illegally possess weapons. This is not blaming the victims of unlawful police actions. This is bringing to the forefront the realities cops must deal with on the streets.
The perception of persons of color having a higher propensity to violence is one of the worst aspects of implicit racism, yet it is equally promulgated by ignorant racists and those who commit violent crimes with firearms.
And the inequities in the criminal justice system–where persons of color face longer sentences and make up a disproportionate number of those in prison–further reinforces the myth absent an understanding of the conditions behind the statistics.
Each of these factors reinforce to equal measure the misconception.
Do you think we should defend Federal Buildings?
Defend them, of course. Intercede in local situations absent specific requests from local law enforcement or elected officials, or absent evidence of abdication of responsibility by local authorities, no.
Do you think cities run by Democrats are thriving? (if so, name one).
This is my favorite. This is the classic example of how correlation does not equal causation. For instance, I could argue there has been an increase in violence in Chicago and other cities since 2016, when a Republican President took office. It correlates, but it doesn’t mean it caused it.
(Now if we want to argue the rhetoric coming from the administration—saying the white supremacists in Charlottesville were good people, for example—creates an atmosphere provoking violent acts, that might be a different discussion.)
To infer from data like the FBI crime reports, which are the ones most used to make these assertions despite FBI warnings against drawing such conclusions, distorts the reality. In one more accurate study of gun violence in Chicago, 70% of the non-fatal gun injuries happened within areas containing just 6% of the city’s population. The study referred to these as “micro-geographic hot spots.”
There is no reliable way to gauge the political affiliation of a city’s administration to the city’s economic health as a significant factor in whether or not a city is “thriving.”
One could argue that under two Republican mayors, Giuliani and Bloomberg, NYC saw an increase in violence and a downturn in economic viability. Under Giuliani’s tenure, New York suffered the most significant terrorist attacks in US history. Does this mean a Republican-led city, or country, is more likely to face a terrorist attack? It may correlate, but it does not establish the cause.
Do you think the virus came from China?
I know the virus came from China because the CDC, WHO, and a host of other organizations–based on verifiable scientific pathogen methodologies–have traced the virus origin to China.
Do you think China is run by an evil regime?
China is a communist country with capitalistic overtones economically and a repressive dictatorship on civil liberties. The implication of these two questions being linked is that China intentionally released the virus. While this makes for a great novel, the evidence suggests otherwise. Unless one wishes to abandon all rationality because of the equally deadly viral affliction of unprovable, often paranoid and irrational , conspiracy theories. I will adhere to staying with the evidence.
As a footnote, I am confident Bill Gates and Dr. Fauci, should they ever conspire to take over the world, would come up with a more controllable and effective method.
Do you believe that the Muller investigation was legit and that the FISA Court was not deceived?
If we cannot have confidence in a man of proven character such as Robert Mueller to act in a manner consistent with the letter and spirit of the law, there is no hope for us. I would say Mr. Mueller’s refusal to offer a conclusion as to the President’s culpability in the matter, much to the chagrin of those who oppose the President, is a clear indication of Mr. Mueller’s character and integrity in rising above the temptation of political gain.
I would also refer you to the Senate Intelligence Committee report as to the indisputable fact of Russian interference in the election and the undeniable evidence of criminal activity. As to the FISA warrant, there has been no evidence produced of any intentional misrepresentation of facts by the FBI in the warrant application. Acting in good faith is the standard in seeking warrants when evaluating information submitted in support of the application.
Sometimes, the information used to obtain a warrant turns out to be incorrect or inaccurate. But the level of probable cause needed to convince this court of the need to surveil American citizens is a high bar and, in this case, did not depend on just one dossier or alleged element in the application.
Do you think BLM is controlled by avowed Marxist?
First, BLM is not a centralized organization like some would believe. They tend to be independent groups across the country operating under a common banner. That someone who is an “avowed” Marxist is involved in such a group is not surprising, but they do not “control” the group. And while I see Marxism as a failed philosophy doomed by the very nature of humans, to embrace such a philosophy in its pure theoretical form is both lawful and acceptable under our concept of free speech.
Do you think Joe Biden bribed the Pres. of Ukraine to remove the Prosecutor investigating Burisma?
No, and no shred of reliable evidence proving this allegation has ever been shown. That is the standard of our criminal justice system, innocent until proven guilty. Much like Mr. Trump is not guilty of collusion with the Russians.
Are you for funding health care for illegal aliens?
If one means an otherwise capable adult who enters the country illegally to work, no. But it is more complicated.
What of an injured or ill young child brought here illegally by their parents? Would you have us deny treating the child? Would you have us let them die because of their immigration status? Or a pregnant mother? You would deny her the choice of abortion and refuse her treatment to bring the child to full term?
These are not yes/no situations, they are much more complicated.
Until we resolve the overarching issue of immigration with effective and humane programs, finding solutions to problems such as healthcare will be impossible.
Why are people fleeing democratically controlled cities?
Migration patterns to and from cities are in constant flux. The political affiliation of the city’s administration is a very low consideration in such decisions. The reasons people leave or move to cities vary with the current economy, crimes, employment opportunities, etc.
I would argue much of the most recent exodus from major cities is because of the disastrous manner in which we handled the pandemic.
Cities like New York with diverse populations, large numbers of foreign travelers, and serving as major points of entry into the country were more vulnerable than other less cosmopolitan cities. These are not circumstances or conditions predicated or created by the political party holding the mayor’s chair.
To imply people are “fleeing” cities because of the political affiliation of the mayor contradicts the facts. People leave cities for a variety of reasons, very few of them political.
I’ll give one example. There was a massive exodus from Boston after the school desegregation order. Whites who could afford it fled the city. The real estate market and rents collapsed; lower-income people filled the gap. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Cities experience changes all the time, and the most significant factors driving it are almost always outside the control of the local political structure.
Each of these issues is complex and requires a deliberate and comprehensive analysis to craft the best solutions. I would argue that, despite the constant repetition from this administration about ‘yeah, but what about what Obama did,’ the evidence of corrupt practices and wrongheaded policies put in place by Mr. Trump is more compelling and I believe he has done significant long-term damage to this country.
The facts bear this out. Not one principal member of the Obama administration in eight years was ever charged, let alone convicted of a crime. And if politics influences the Justice Department, even under a Republican Congress, nothing came of investigation after investigation into the Obama administration.
Yet under President Trump, in less than four years, we have the following.
Mr. Trump’s personal attorney (Michael Cohen) charged and convicted.
Mr. Trump’s White House national security advisor (Michael Flynn) charged and convicted.
Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) charged and convicted.
Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign chairman (Rick Gates) charged and convicted.
Mr. Trump’s former campaign advisers (Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos) charged and convicted.
And these are just the top-line indictments. If ever there was a model for a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) case, the Trump administration is it.
When asked to explain his being surrounded by so many people he worked with being convicted, Trump was at a loss for words. Instead, he tried to avoid the question with the usual “But Obama spied on my campaign,” despite this fallacy being disproved.
In fact, had the FBI and the Justice Department not investigated Russian efforts to influence and support the Trump campaign (as detailed in the Senate Intelligence Report) I would argue they should be charged with Obstruction of Justice.
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I do not write this piece without trepidation. I hope to convey the point without feeding into the adversarial generalizations some believe this requires. I seek to cause no harm to the many sincere people who support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the worthwhile goals of changing the impact of implicit bias within society.
Yet, the reason the founding fathers made Freedom of Speech the First Amendment was to ensure the government silences no one for holding or expressing an opinion. Even if that opinion criticizes an important movement for change in America.
More so, because that is the very basis for any progress; change tempered by a rational discussion of all aspects.
The founding fathers believed in the ability of Americans to discern the valid and righteous from the vain and vicious. It would seem we have forgotten the goal of the First Amendment in our pursuit of finding solutions to the issues raised by organizations such as BLM.
I was troubled by a news story out of Vermont reporting the suspension of a school principal for a post done on her personal time expressing her opinion about the BLM.
Tiffany Riley wrote:
“I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.”
The School board in Mount Ascutney held an emergency meeting, suspended Riley and now seek to terminate her. The board’s statement characterized Riley’s post thusly,
“the ignorance, prejudice, and lack of judgment in these statements are utterly contrary to the values we espouse as a school board and district.”
This trend to suppressing those who would dare criticize the BLM movement, for it is happening all over the country, is as dangerous as the very issues BLM seeks to address.
It was once the majority of the country that tried to suppress voices such as BLM and other aspects of the equality movement, using all the tools of censorship and oppression to oppose racial justice.
Now, it would seem, the standard for Free Speech is “as long as it is in keeping with the most politically correct movements.”
Instead of taking the opportunity for a public discussion of Ms. Riley’s opinion—perhaps exposing implicit bias and teaching a valuable lesson to the students in the school and across the county—the school took the politically expedient way out.
This is not about BLM and the many valid changes they seek to bring about. But I find it troubling that an organization using the power of Free Speech to bring about change would demand to be exempt from criticism, or that political entities would seize on the moment to restrict Freedom of Speech.
Failing to unequivocally support Freedom of Speech is a danger to all. Groups like BLM are often the catalyst for progress. As Margaret Mead said,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
But this should not make them immune from criticism.
I also find it troubling that an organization such as BLM, which rightfully argues blacks as a group are targeted solely on the color of their skin, would apply the same generalizations to all Police Officers.
Those who seek the protection of the First Amendment as a means to redress their grievances cannot deny it to others. Nor should they stand idly by when it is.
Ensuring justice and equality for all is a righteous cause. But seeking ways to bring it about does not immunize you from criticism. Fair treatment need be applied without reservation or conditions. Leaving aside the valid institutional changes necessary within society and law enforcement, justice without equality, no matter how worthy the goal, is contradictory to change.
Whether you are a black man or woman, or a police officer wearing a badge, one need by judged by the content of your soul, your character, and your conduct, not by the actions of others who happen to belong to the same group.
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Yesterday I posted something on Facebook that sparked a discussion. I’ve made no secret of my contempt and disagreement with President Trump. However, I was rightfully called out for my statements that, while reflective of many Americans impression of the President, were not factual.
If I am to expect truth and rationality from the President, I should hold myself to the same standard.
Here’s what I posted,
Let me get this straight.
Some individual Muslims commit acts of terror.
We must ban all Muslims, says our President.
Some people enter this country illegally and commit crimes.
We must ban all immigration, says our President.
Some white, racist, supremacists kill and injure people exercising their First Amendment Rights and cause the deaths of two Virginia Troopers. And the President says nothing about banning such violent dangerous un-American idiocy.
The reemergence of racist white vitriol falls squarely on Trump’s shoulders. After all, they are the poster children of “Make America Great (White) Again”
Mr. Trump never said, “We must ban all Muslims.”
Mr. Trump never said, “We must ban all immigration.”
One could argue my last two points, but that is not my purpose here. I am here to set the record straight about what our President has said and why his Presidency puts America at risk.
Mr. Trump has expressed a fundamental misunderstanding of the Islamic faith. Long before he was a candidate, he offered the fallacy of President Obama being a Muslim as something that should concern Americans.
This came in the wake of “fake news” about the “birther” lies of President Obama’s citizenship. Trump finally, I would argue begrudgingly, abandoned that lie when confronted with the evidence.
The majority concluded that the primary purpose of §2(c) was religious, in violation of the First Amendment: A reasonable observer familiar with all the circumstances—including the predominantly Muslim character of the designated countries and statements made by President Trump during his Presidential campaign—would conclude that §2(c) was motivated principally by a desire to exclude Muslims from the United States, not by considerations relating to national security. Having reached this conclusion, the court upheld the preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of §2(c) against any foreign national seeking to enter this country.
On his stance on immigration reform, in his words.
In August 2015, he retweeted a crude remark aimed at then-presidential candidate Jeb Bush, whose wife is Mexican-American and who is fluent in Spanish. “So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!”
“The Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. They send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them. They don’t want to take care of them,”
Words have meaning and one can infer intent. The man is a bigot. As a bigot, he exemplifies what bigotry involves, ignorance.
On Muslims, in his words.
“A total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US.”