URLs du Jour

2020-09-10

[Amazon Link]
Our Amazon Product du Jour is dedicated to all those geeks who can begin a sentence with "Technically…" and not as a joke.

  • High on the list of this month's Reasonable suggestions for Fixing Things is from Peter Suderman: Bust the Police Unions.

    In 2018, as a gunman murdered 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sgt. Brian Miller, a deputy with the Broward County Sheriff's Office, hid behind his police cruiser, waiting 10 minutes to radio for help. For his failure to act, Miller was fired. The official cause was "neglect of duty."

    In May 2020, however, Miller was reinstated and given full back pay. His 2017 salary was more than $138,000. Miller had challenged his firing, and he had done so with the full backing of his union.

    Miller's reinstatement is notable in that it relates to a high-profile case. But the essential story—an officer performs poorly, with fatal results, and the union comes to his defense—is all too common. That is what police unions do: defend the narrow interests of police as employees, often at the expense of public safety. They start from the premise that police are essentially unfireable and that taxpayers should foot the bill for their dangerous, and even deadly, negligence. And although unions are not the only pathology that affects American policing, they are a key internal influence on police culture, a locus of resistance to improvements designed to reduce police violence. To stop police abuse and remove bad cops from duty, police unions as we know them must go.

    A local instance (as reported by CNN, so maybe true):

    The Manchester Police Department in New Hampshire is at odds with an officer they fired in 2018 after a labor arbitrator ruled they must rehire him.

    The Manchester Police Department said in a statement posted on Facebook that it received a complaint against Officer Aaron Brown in January 2018. During the course of the investigation, it uncovered text messages "in which he claimed to have intentionally damaged property while executing search warrants" as well as "text messages that included extremely disturbing racist remarks," police said in the statement.

    In the weekly Reason roundtable podcast, editor Katherine Mangu-Ward noted that there's a mirror-image symmetry in the left/right attitudes toward public employee unions: the left loves teacher unions, despises police unions. While it's the inverse on the other side.


  • Another submission for the good-but-unlikely suggestion box comes from David Harsany at National Review: Questions the Media Should Ask Joe Biden. They're all good, and would be a respite from the usual softballs. Sample:

    You have promised to return to the Obama administration’s directives on Title IX, which have denied due process to college students accused of sexual misconduct, preventing them from questioning their accuser, reviewing allegations and evidence, presenting exculpatory evidence, and calling witnesses. Why don’t college students deserve the same presumption of innocence that you enjoyed after Tara Reade accused you of sexually assaulting her?

    You once promised to put Beto O’Rourke — the man who said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your guns” — in charge of gun-control efforts in a Biden administration. Will you keep that promise? Your running mate Kamala Harris also supports confiscation of “assault weapons.” You back a ban on AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles, but it’s unclear whether you back a retroactive ban. Where do you stand now?

    … or just anything at all that would require him to recall facts and put them into a coherent argument.


  • At Cato, Chris Edwards has some compliments for a belated effort to restrain spending: Senate Is Right to Resist State Aid.

    Another week, another news story about supposedly imploding state‐local government budgets. A New York Times headline warns, “With Washington Deadlocked on Aid, States Face Dire Fiscal Crises.”

    The story leads with, “Alaska chopped resources for public broadcasting. New York City gutted a nascent composting program that could have kept tons of food waste out of landfills. New Jersey postponed property‐​tax relief payments.” The piece is built around such anecdotes, which do not seem dire to me.

    Senate Republicans are right to resist the additional state bailouts pushed by House Democrats because the states can and should handle their own budget challenges going forward.

    The math does not support the "dire" assertion, either.


  • Veronique de Rugy looks at another pleader lining up in the "gimme more money" queue: Airlines Once Again Approach Congress With Captain's Hat in Hand.

    As the saying goes, "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." This advice applies to the hole Congress leapt into by bailing out the airline industry back in March through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Now these companies want even more taxpayer money. The federal government should refuse another bailout.

    Like many industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have lost a lot of revenue. But unlike other industries, the coronavirus relief bill authorized up to $32 billion for payroll support through Sept. 30, for roughly six months. Basically, the way it worked is that every airline that got a loan could furlough its employees, but those that took both a grant and a loan couldn't. Of course, it's difficult to tell if the Treasury Department was ever serious about enforcing these requirements.

    So don't do that. And while you're at it, cut Amtrak loose from its subsidy, OK?


  • [Amazon Link]
    P. J. O'Rourke has a new book coming out, Amazon link at your right, and there's an excellent excerpt from the Bulwark, a welcome break from 1586 consecutive Trump-is-icky articles: O Beautiful for . . . Pilgrim Feet?.

    And America was founded in angry perplexity, starting with the first attempt to colonize the nation, on those Outer Banks, at the “lost colony” of Roanoke.

    The people who already lived on Roanoke Island, the Croatoan and the Dasamongueponke, were perplexed when 115 English arrived uninvited in 1587. Angry, too. Within a few days the Dasamongueponke had killed one of the English, George Howe. Within a few more days the English had killed several of the Croatoan who’d had nothing to do with Howe’s death.

    Thus a precedent was set for the way different kinds of Americans would treat each other for the next four hundred–some years and what would happen to innocent bystanders when the treatment was being handed out. (Advice to American bystanders: don’t stand by, stand back.)

    Also a lengthy analysis of "America the Beuatiful" as only Peej could provide.


  • And in the (fortunately small) Pun Salad "I Was Wrong" department. There was a guy with the legal name of "Nobody" on the New Hampshire GOP primary ballot. I thought for sure that a decent number of less-than-attentive voters might think that was an option instead of a person. But the unofficial Election Results show Nobody with a mere 0.85% of the vote.

    Looking forward to the November election, when my algorithm will probably be the usual:

    
        for each elective office
    	if (there's a Libertarian candidate)
    	    vote Libertarian
    	else if (it's a contest between Republican and Democrat)
    	    vote Republican
    	else
    	    skip to the next office
        

    I don't do write-ins or vote for unopposed candidates.

    It would have to be a really bad Republican to make me vote for a Democrat.


Last Modified 2020-09-10 1:30 PM EDT