Thursday, June 12, 2008

The BushCo Legacy

I think we're realizing what it was all about now.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Civil liberties violated in Washington, D.C.

Isn't it a bit creepy to have to answer to the police when you're just driving down the road minding your own business? Wouldn't it be better, if in Washington D.C. they turned the officers loose in the neighborhood to look for criminal activity based on reasonable suspicion, that is, let the police do their jobs, rather than, relying on already weak precedent, add one more crazy step to the blanket destruction of civil liberties? It is very wrong to order police to investigate everyone.

According to this article on the AP wire police in Washington, D.C. have been ordered to stop all vehicle traffic on a specific street, look in vehicles, demand identification, and permit or deny passage. Citing nothing except a crimewave in a torn inner city neighborhood, police decision-makers have crushed your freedom of movement. If you drive down this street, you will have to speak to police, answer questions, show identification. Then they will say whether or not you can drive down the fucking the street.

The final straw is that someone somewhere has decided to play like it's legal for cops to say, "Well, Mr. Jones, we're not going to let you drive down this street, you're going to have to turn around and get out of here."

It's a very old police tactic in poor neighborhoods to find a reason to stop someone and start asking questions about what they are doing there. This is usually because police are suspicious about something criminal.

What's new here is the blanket-approach, first legitimized by sobriety checkpoints, a blanket suspicion where everybody at a certain point gets checked for alcohol consumption. Police devote millions of dollars in overtime wages for this legally shaky activity, while statistics show they find several times more drunks by pulling over people driving like maniacs.

However, with this lazy, scatter-shot approach to law enforcement, in bending civil liberties, whoever it is makes these decisions accomplishes 2 objectives. One, they create what they apparently believe is a deterrent to drinking and driving, although if this kind of thing keeps on going, it will in reality be more like a deterrent to leaving your own house. Two, they believe they score a publicity victory. In their mind, nobody can say they're not tough on alcohol-related crime, by God, just look: they stopped 8,000 drivers in one night and found 15 drunks.

So on one hand you've got ruling by fear, and on the other you've got cop-theatre. So you're not only afraid to leave your own house to pick up that six pack, but you're apprehended on the way to the Quickie Mart, and held up as a shining example of how hard the Police decision-makers are working to prevent drunk driving. Who cares if you've not had a beer since last Thursday? Certainly not the person (more likely a committee, i.e. not just one bonehead but multiple boneheads) who decided to allow this wholesale invasion of privacy and blatant violation of constitutional rights.

But the American people do care. According to the article, Civil Liberties groups, that is, patriotic and gutsy American citizens, will also speak to the folks who are stopped. They will gather data, and eventually will fight, legally, to restore trendy damage to principles that have made the United States of American a wonderful, and free, nation.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Insanity and guns in Arizona

A guy with a geranium in the cranium pulled a cross-town shooting spree Sunday. He poured dozens of shots into the front doors of his back-fence neighbors, and proceeded to drive across the north side of Tucson, managed to shoot 4 policeman, 2 of them in the head. While driving. Using a military-style rifle. One of the officers, who died, had served 21 years in the military and had decided to work for TPD. The kind of cop who is there to serve, to help.

Our governor here in Arizona has vetoed several of the psychopathic bills presented by right-leaning Arizona congresspeople that would have allowed such things as waving your gun in someone's face whenever you want, carrying concealed guns on school campuses, and concealing guns in your car.

The support for such bills seems to come from a kind improvised-cowboy mentality, as if some schmo driving down the road is going to have a chance against a crazy guy with an assault rifle, the kind of guy who not only managed to shoot 4 policeman in an hour on city streets, but whose acquaintances said was way off the deep end and clearly needed to be in a psychiatric hospital.

The signs were everywhere. The guy's mental health is described in this article in the Arizona Daily Star. (Their links only last a couple weeks) He had threated to kill at least 3 people, including the poor girl who went to a highschool prom with him 7 years ago. She had called police, encountered an administrative wall of do-nothingness, and had ended up telling everyone she knew that if something happened to her, to look for this guy.

All this craziness was clearly illustrated on his MySpace page, the focus of the Star's article in the link above. That this guy should have been in a rubber room with a few straightjackets in the closet was clear.

But what happened instead. Looks like his parents bought him a house, nobody lifted a finger to intervene in spite of the obvious signs of serious mental illness.

It may be true that popular trends in mental health care may result in someone like this going away for a month or two but they have a tendency to come back, get scooped up by the police and end up in the jails instead. In this case the only thing to be thankful for was that his over-the-backfence neighbors weren't home, and he did not end up at the University or some other puplic gathering place, like the other horrors we've all read about recently.

Everybody knows there's a problem with folks like this. The poor guy just has a very serious mental disease, adult-onset schizophrenia, it was obvious to everyone he was off his rocker but for some reason he was out walking around, had a car, a house, no need to work. The article said he came over the neighbor's fence to complain about BarBQ smoke. The MySpace page had a photo the crazy guy had taken of the neighbor, along with the death threat.

There's not much of a point to made here, but an obviously insane person should not have had military rifles. It's mostly just sad, and it seems preventable. Mental health sevices, law enforcement, need to change their ways, to look for the signs of someone who is just gone and can't change. Have you ever had to call the police and had the dispatcher say, "well we can't do anything until they hurt you?"

Proliferation of guns is not the answer, the instant cowboy is not the answer. And you don't need a rifle capapble of destroying the house across the street to defend yourself against the kind of people who kick in you door in the middle of the night.

If anything the key lies with acknowledging this kind of thing happens again and again, defining what you see prior to that, and committing some individuals for at least 10 years, forget about helping healthcare organizations maintain their profit margins by letting these poor crazy souls go. It seems like popular medical theory is under corporate influence here. As if it's a sin against corporate dogma to realize that some folks are obviously dangerous. Protecting the rest of us means a life at shady acres is necessary for some folks.

Here is the interactive map of how the crazy guy drove across our pretty foothills neighborhood and filled the town with lead directed at his imaginary adversaries.