Category: Politics

Police Resignations

Scott came across a video where some cop in Florida rips into this lady who drive for about a mile after he put his lights on — along a dark, uninhabited road — to stop at what looked like a petrol station. It was odd because I had an uncle who worked in law enforcement and I distinctly remember him saying to get somewhere well lit and around people before pulling over. Put on your hazard lights, drive slower … but get somewhere in public. And visibility helps the cop too — they can see that the blob in your hand is just your purse.

The video had some text at the bottom that said the deputy involved had resigned … but that could mean he resigned before the department was able to investigate the incident, got a job elsewhere, and is out there right now hassling some other person who simply made the prudent decision to stop their car in a safer spot.

Which made me think about some of the Township meeting — when someone from the fire department or police department resigns? They don’t just say “hey, I’m not gonna be working after Friday” and that’s it. They submit a resignation. The resignation is then submitted at the Trustee meeting — and the Trustees vote to accept the resignation. It seems like we could better unsure officers are held accountable for their actions by not accepting resignations if there is any outstanding complaint against the individual tendering their resignation. Wait for the complaint to be resolved — maybe it was nothing and they can resign. Maybe it bears an investigation. But there’s no leaving to avoid accountability.

Barr, Trump, and Defense Strategy

Watching the recordings of Barr’s testimony to the January 6th Select Committee I couldn’t help but think “Barr is an attorney” — I’d encountered him as the General Counsel of the company when I worked at GTE. I knew him as our attorney that led an effort to deregulate the telephone industry — but a bit of research let me to understand he was also an attorney who has been involved in a major political deal-e-o before (the Iran-Contras affair).

So when I hear Barr saying Trump was ‘detached from reality’ and that his election conspiracy theory was “silly” and “nonsense” … I hear someone setting up a defense strategy for Trump: the Tucker Carlson defense — no reasonable person would have believed these statements to be true. “I didn’t know¬† wasn’t true” is not considered a valid defense when you’ve been told by dozens of well-informed people — willful ignorance doesn’t remove culpability. Now, I don’t know that Trump will open the door Barr constructed. Detached from reality isn’t a good slogan for campaigning. And going the Carlson route would mean admitting not only that he lost in a completely fair election but also that he continued to bilk his supporters for millions of dollars by promoting his claim to the contrary.

Making Statistics Work for You

The local newspaper had a poll (in a heavily Republican area) asking if readers support gun control — now they didn’t define “gun control”, so it’s possible some individuals said “no” because they envisioned something unreasonably restrictive or some said “yes” because they think ‘gun control’ includes arming teachers in classrooms or something. Based on the way they elected to bucket the data, there’s no clear “winner”.

But looking at it as just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ — almost 80% of the readers said “yes”

They could break it out by party affiliation and show that only 10% of self-identified Democrats said they don’t support gun control where 28% of self-identified independents and 24% of self-identified Republicans don’t support gun control.

But any of these charts clearly show that a significant majority supports some type of gun control.

Roe v Performance Art

Since the leaked draft overturning Roe v Wade was released, I’ve encountered a number of forums in which women are advocating we all delete any menstruation tracking apps. This seems, to me, like performance art meant as protest. Not an effective solution to the stated problem.

I get the point — people don’t want their data tracked in a place where the state can readily compel production of records. If they have reasonable suspicion that an abortion took place, they can get a warrant for your data. But deleting the app from your phone — that doesn’t actually delete the data on the cloud hosting provider’s side. Deleting the app has the same impact as ceasing to enter new data. Except you’ve inconvenienced yourself by losing access to your old data. Check if an account can be deleted — and learn what the details of ‘delete’ actually mean. In many cases, ‘delete’ means disable and then purge after some delta time elapses. What about backups? For how long would the company be able to produce data if they really needed to?

But before going to extremes to actually delete data, consider if the alternatives are actually any “safer” by your definition. If I were tracking my period on a little paper calendar in my purse or one pinned to the cork board in the rec room? They may get a warrant and seize my paper calendar too. And, really, you could continue to enter “periods” even if they’re not happening. There’s usually a field for ‘notes’ and you could put something in like ‘really painful cramping’ or ‘so many hot flashes’ whenever you actually mean “yeah, this one didn’t happen” — which would make the data the government is able to gather rather meaningless.

On Five Dollar Gas

This is the third or fourth time in the last decade that I’ve been seeing news reports about “5 dollar gas” or, more generally, astronomical rise in petroleum prices. How much it costs to fill a tank, how much a gallon costs, how this impacts family budgets.

Oddly, I’ve never seen any reporting discuss ways to minimize the impact that higher gasoline prices have. Any help at all, from the trivial (make sure your tires are well inflated, drive at less congested times to avoid idling in traffic, plan excursions so you’re not making a trip “into town” for different errands three days in a row) to the expensive (buy a more fuel efficient car). There’s nothing.

This is how the free market works — something becomes expensive, you need to consider other options. Buying an electric car isn’t cheap — expensive enough that it’s not an option for some people. But driving an electric car is a way to minimize the direct impact fuel prices have on you. At an enterprise level, electric trucks can reduce the indirect impact of fuel prices.

On The Coup

We have reached a point where Dick Cheney is making an appearance on the House floor to support his daughter in her belief that attempting a coup is, well, not the pinnacle of American democracy?!?

For a long time, I absolutely believed both parties in the United States thought they were trying to do the right thing for the country. I remember going to a rally against privatizing social security — one of Bush 2’s early initiatives. The local NPR station had a reporter meandering around looking for younger people to interview — looking, specifically, for people who were worried that their retirement wouldn’t include social security. I, on the other hand, knew the history of the social security system. It was started after people lost huge sums of money — some more money than they had (thanks, leveraged buying) in a stock market downturn. The basis of social security is, essentially, that you can realize greater returns in riskier investments. But you can also lose everything in riskier investments, and this program is the backstop against “losing everything”. In that context, how is it reasonable to consider allowing individuals to direct social security funds into riskier investments because they might be able to outperform government bonds?!? But … I got it. We were decades away from the great depression, and years before the crash of 2008/2009. Most people had only experienced upward movement in the market. And the question at hand was really “is this form of insurance against stock market crashes still worth it?”. I could look at pretty much any political debate and understand how both sides had a coherent argument and viewed their position as The Right Thing To Do.

Maybe that’s still true today — but it seems like conservatives have become more adamant about forcing their will on the nation to retain power. To make money. We watched a dude on MSNBC basically admit to participating in a coup attempt not because he was ashamed of his actions. Not because he wanted to make sure everyone understood what exactly happened. But because he wanted to sell his new book. Well, mission accomplished (I guess). He’s managed to get his name out there & we all know he’s got a book. Liberals can buy it to prove there was a coup and conservatives can buy it to see “the receipts” on stealing an election. (Receipts which have been promised on multiple occasions but which have never been produced).

I’m still hopeful that the end result of this mess is a viable third (fourth, or even fifth) party. Maybe some actual fiscal conservatives (not deficit spending dumped into the military industrial complex v/s tax for domestic spending). Some democratic socialist party that makes Bernie seem pretty middle-of-the-road.

Keepin It Rural

There’s a movement in my community to “save” it — save it from developers who see hundreds of rural acres as the perfect place to make a load of money building and selling homes on small lots. And probably save it from people who move into a development surrounded by hundreds of rural acres and want to complain that cow poo smells bad — not something I’ve heard of here yet (which could just be that no one’s said it to me), but a friend of mine lived in a development that overlooked a scenic dairy farm. People bought into what almost amounts to agrotourism in my head — look at that pretty chuck of Americana over there. And you get to live right next to it! Aaaand then some people from the development tried to get local regulations changed to stop dairy farming because, well, animal poo does stink. Luckily Ohio has right-to-farm laws that protect farmers in these types of situations — unless you’re really outside industry practices and have an especially stinky farm, you don’t get shut down just because the development that moved in next door doesn’t want to smell cows.

It’s one thing to buy a couple hundred acres of your own and not develop it. Easy enough — don’t develop it! It’s another think altogether to buy two or three acres and not want any of the surrounding land to be developed. Not impossible if you are lucky enough to pick up property next to a park or something. But a tough ask when surrounded by other residential homeowners. Which is why I think a bigger part of the movement is an attempt to protect rural areas from mass agro. I don’t think many farmers approaching retirement actively want to sell their couple hundred acres to a developer. What they want is to cash out millions of dollars from their land to fund their retirement. An understandable desire. Many farmers I know would love to have kids that are interested in taking over the farm after they retire. But the reality that I see within small-scale farming is having a second job to pay for the farm. Maybe my experience if skewed because I work in IT — it’s a field that’s great for contract work, so people can work a few contracts during less busy farming seasons and focus on the farm in spring and autumn. But I don’t know anyone who literally makes their entire income from farming. Retired people who make extra money farming. IT folks who subsidize the farm. There’s a chap we follow on YouTube who left an architectural firm — they seem to live on their farm proceeds, but I don’t actually know him.

My point being? I think a big part of sustaining rural communities has got to be changing how we shop for food. Changing how restaurants source food. If some mass agriculture company grows corn on ten thousand acres and sells it at four bucks a bushel … we’ve got to value the small rural farmer enough to be willing to pay maybe six or seven bucks a bushel that provides a sustainable income for the farmer. That would also create an environment in which farmers who want to retire would have people who look at purchasing the farm as a viable small business opportunity. Instead of a developer being the only realistic option — seriously, who wants to be destitute in retirement so someone else can enjoy a couple hundred acres of undeveloped property!?