Tag Archives: police

What’s government for?

In the simplest terms, our country was founded on an idea that every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This was derived from John Locke’s similar belief in “life, liberty, and property.”  It is the government’s duty to protect these rights.   Police protect our lives and property domestically, and the armed forces protect us from foreign threats.  But the government is so much more that just police and military.  Forming and living in societies has allowed us to move away from hunting and gathering and subsistence agriculture.  By division of labor, we’re able to specialize in a trade, send our young to schools, and have more leisure time.  Currency developed to make transactions simpler (What you don’t want my chickens?)  Government has grown to regulate agriculture, balance the rights of laborers and corporations, preserve our natural resources, monitor food and drug safety, provide a social safety net, and on and on.

Today, among recession, unemployment, skyrocketing health care and education costs, multiple foreign wars, growing support for LGBT equality, and many other issues, we’ve seen the rise of the Tea Party.  Now, I used to be an objectivist/Libertarian.  I thought “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” were brilliant.  But those books showcase an unrealistic utopia.  No one had a sub par education because they were born in the wrong neighborhood, there wasn’t a stay at home mom left with nothing when her husband decided to abandon his family, mental illness didn’t exist.  The Tea Party wants to cut government spending so they can have lower taxes.  Too bad for you if you don’t have insurance or want to marry your same-sex partner.  The Tea Party supports a strict adherance to the Constitution, nevermind that the preamble specifically says to “promote the general Welfare.”  Our country wasn’t founded to create millionaires or laud people who were lucky enough to be born into healthy, wealthy, intelligent families.  America is for everyone.

If you’ve ever played a sport or were part of any type of team, you’ve probably heard the saying that a group is “only as strong as the weakest link.”  If our country is a team, the homeless, unemployed, ill, etc are our weakest links.  We cannot progress as a whole and leave these less fortunate behind.  Our country supports public education because an educated populace is important for a functioning democracy, our economy needs trained workers, and academically engaged children are less likely to become teen parents or criminals.  I think this rationale extends to other government-run social welfare programs.  We cannot expect people to be good citizens when their basic needs such as housing, food, and health care are not met.  Of course we must find a balance in these programs to make sure we are teaching men to fish, not just handing out fish.  And yes, there are charities that care for these needs but they’re not in every community and not everyone is welcome (for example, some shelters turn away gay or transgender people).

I hate myself for saying this, but I do agree with the Tea Party on one of their points.  We should be auditing government for waste.  Are consultants overpaid?  Do politicians need the lavish offices and expense accounts they have?  Are we sending Social Security checks to dead people?

For me it comes down to this fundamental question: Can government achieve what liberals and progressives want for a price that conservatives can accept?


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Seattle cop punched 17-year-old girl in the face

I’ve seen the video, and I think he was right to.

I’m glad that the majority of comments I’ve seen have been in support of Officer Ian Walsh.

Say what you want about citing jaywalkers, the girls in this incident reacted inappropriately and got what they deserved.

You don’t touch an officer while the person he’s trying to ticket is cussing him out.

Here’s my comment on YouTube:

What if the officer hadn’t gotten the situation under control? What if he said, “I’ve got this one girl cussing and refusing to listen to me, I’ve got this other girl shoving me and a bunch of people gathering around, I think I’ll let this one go”? I say good job for this officer standing his ground and not setting an example that if you protest and harass a cop enough, that you can get away with illegal activities.

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First of all, sorry I’ve been away so long. The baby is keeping me busy and when I get a chance at some downtime, blogging isn’t the first thing on my mind.

October 31, Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car after a routine traffic stop. Trainee Officer Britt Sweeney was hit by gunfire but survived. The accused killer, Christopher Monfort, was shot and apprehended by police November 12th. Monfort is now also suspected in an arson that destroyed three police cars and a mobile precinct on October 22.

November 29, four Lakewood Police officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, Mark Renninger, and Greg Richards lost their lives as they prepared to begin their shifts. Authorities are now on a massive manhunt for Maurice Clemmons.

Neither of these shootings were cases of officers responding to a crime-in-progress. These were ambushes, assassinations. And as I see it, both of these could have been avoided.

Monfort doesn’t have much of a record, just three traffic violations in the past two years. He graduated from University of Washington in March 2008 and appeared to be headed to graduate or law school. He “wanted to make a difference in society” according to his advisor at Highline Community College. So maybe it isn’t anything about Monfort himself that should have drawn red flags, but there was a threatening note left at the scene of the October 22 arsons. One officer told SeattleCrime.com that higher-ups didn’t release the note to other officers, who would have used the information to be more cautious in their surroundings. Not parking on the side of the road after a traffic stop, for example.

The case against Maurice Clemmons seems more clear. He was supposed to be serving 95 years in prison in Arkansas, but Gov. Huckabee commuted his sentence. He violated his parole and went back to jail for a few years. One source said he has been convicted of 13 felonies, but another said that he had five felony convictions in Arkansas and eight felony charges in Washington.  Clemmons was most recently arrested for child rape and assaulting a sheriff’s deputy.  Unfortunately it is Washington law that bail must be set for all crimes except capital offenses.  He came up with the necessary $15,000 to be released and five days later murdered four police officers.  As of my writing this, Clemmons is still evading capture.

Five cops, all with at least 11 years experience are dead, and it seems that they would still be with us were it not for some procedural screw ups.  Officer Brenton (and all other area law enforcement) should have been alerted to the threat found at the arson scene.  And it’s baffling as to how a repeat offender and parole violator with an obvious lack of respect for the law (punching a deputy in the face) and questionable mental stability (his wife says he told his rape victim he was Jesus) was let out on bail.

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