The thin blue line…

I should probably admit that I am likely a bit of a romanticist when it comes to the police-officer and that I have always been impressed with the ubiquitous ‘Bobby-on-the-beat’, armed with their Custodian helmets, sunny disposition, truncheon and whistle. Personally, I preferred the originally iteration which featured a very Prussian looking spike on the top of their convex bulge… and not just because it looked quite phallic… although I feel that was likely a happy circumstance. To steal a quote from the greatest police procedural show ever made, ‘my cock up, your arse’.

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I should ALSO probably warn you right near the beginning that this tirade will eventually, since I am an unashamed Japanophile, circle round and start extolling all things Japanese.  Japan does a lot of stuff that I like really well. (food, swords, trains… gaming consoles) and so I feel compelled to wax on nauseatingly about how awesome they are. Even if I have no actual desire to be Japanese. (seems like A LOT of hard work)

In any event, I’ve always felt that a good litmus test for how enviable (and broadly Utopian) your society is, is how militarized your police force is. There was a time (not so long ago) when police didn’t sport that black overburdened body armor look (with the accompanying carbine). I lament that we have gotten to this point where this has become a ‘thing’, because its difficult now to ever go back to a more pastoral setting where the police didn’t ‘police’ through badass-ity and where they were seen less as enforcers of the state and more like helpful pillars of the community. (I think this might have something to do with the fact that police no longer live in the communities they serve… and that we’ve lost that sense of cohesiveness that comes with tight-knit neighborhoods *shrug* maybe?)

Anyways, this is most clearly illustrated with how Lego figurines have changed over the years. Because I am old now, I still remember playing with the first iteration.  For me this was always the quintessential lawman.

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Its sad that children today could no longer identify with that first version of the police officer anymore…

When I was in Japan I was awed by the police there. Its almost like you’ve stepped back in time. A Japanese police officer will still often carry a keijō as part of his load-out, basically a wooden staff or the shorter version, called a keibo and their sidearm is a five shot revolver affixed with a lanyard in one of those old-school-all-encompassing leather holsters. Initially, when I saw this, I must admit, I was amused, but the more I thought about this the more envious I became.

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Of course, Japan is not like the rest of the world, and in a society with 126 million people they usually have less than ten firearm related homicides per year. Which feels like some sort of clerical error more than an actual statistic. Japan is is not entirely unique in this, but it does feel like the most extreme example of an ideal police force.

There is loads of evidence to suggest that militarizing police actually does very little to make people safer. In fact, the opposite may be true. To be fair, I am very sympathetic to police officers and the tough job they have to do in environments where the chance that you are likely to engage with citizens that have a less ‘live and let live approach’ to resolving their differences with the laws of the land is not zero. And if I were a police officer I would definitely want more firepower, more protection and less pesky oversight in fulfilling my duties.

BUT… on a scale of slippery slopes, the militarization of the police feels especially steep to me.

I don’t have any solutions obviously. I’m just lamenting something that I wish wasn’t so. I also think we are likely past the point of return and that the police and military will soon become largely indistinguishable, other than in name. And that doesn’t feel like a step in the right direction…

People problems

Concentration camps.

I’ll give you a clue. Its in the name. Concentration. As in an assemblage. Less in the attentiveness context. I think there is some confusion here.

Firstly with the world war phenomenon that some concentration camps became extermination centers. The two are not the same thing. Really, any temporary structure meant to detain people could likely be called a concentration camp. Although I think the word concentration camp refers mostly to non-combatants since, an assemblage of enemy combatants taken for the purpose of resource denial are called prisoners (and historically get more rights and often better treatment) Anyway, I know to most this semantics. But I think words are important.

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Also. Concentration camps. British invention. Circa 1900. Getting their butts kicked in the second Boer war the British decided on a scorched earth policy to turn the tide of the war.  Broadly this meant resource denial on a massive scale. The British rounded up all the families (the women and children) of the Boer combatants and burnt their farms to the ground, killed their cattle and destroyed their crops. Difficult to carry on fighting when you family is dying in a camp and your farm has been destroyed. In any event thousands of people (mostly children) died in these camps of typhoid and dysentery before the war ground to an end.

I like to point this out because the war crimes of other nations routinely get glossed over and only incidents with higher body counts get remembered and then trivialized on twitter. Which grinds my gears.

Now, having led with my little opening tirade. Are camps on the US-Mexico border concentration camps. Sure, why not. Are they rife with measles, small pox, lice, rats and malnutrition? I’m leaning towards no. Well maybe measles because apparently this is a thing now again. Is there even the remotest possibility that these guys are destined for fake showers and infusion of an Zyklon B? Absolutely and categorically no way in hell.

I can’t speak for brutality against the detained, rapes, beatings, psychological abuse etc. I mean its possible. Experiments have shown as soon as their is a massive power disconnect between people, (most famously the Stanford Prison experiment) things start to go a little awry. Still, I feel there is more oversight these days, and while abusive behavior is still likely, I think its probably less pervasive than we imagine. (I also think my ideas about prison guards and wardens are largely colored by the portrayal and the stereotypical guards from Prison Break and Shawshank redemption).

Which begs the question. What do you do with these people?

Well we could start by asking them nicely not to come. I mean, its quite selfish of them (this is likely only 50% tongue in cheek) to expect other people to take care of them. We could ignore the problem (out of sight out of mind). We could build a massive frikken wall at huge cost to the taxpayer which… well it probably won’t work (unless we add minefields and gun turrets and sharks-with-frikken-laser-beams). We could make it Mexicos problem (we will tax you… and eh… ourselves…if you don’t police your borders). We can cut off aid to countries identified as the points of origin for these migrants (get your people under control, or we will stop giving you money to buy guns and tanks and water-canons… you know… to keep your population under control).

Actually… I have no idea what to do with these people. So really, I am probably fine keeping them locked up (for the moment) while I… deliberate and equivocate and… other words that end in -ate. And since I don’t live in a border town under siege where I can’t take my kids to the park because its littered with crap and trash and people who make me feel uncomfortable about my personal safety… I feel fine. Suck it up Texas.

Avast ye scurvy migrant dogs…

Or… (since she’s German)… it would probably be ‘Halt, ihr Migranten Hunde’. I have no idea what scurvy is in German. Not really part of my daily lexicon used to ask my old man to pass the marmalade. The fact that our family eats marmalade is also very un-Teutonic. And likely cause for the deduction of several German points.

Pia Klemp, a German Marine Biologist,  faces 20 years in prison. She is currently on trial in Italy for ‘aiding illegal immigration’, for, over the course of several years now, using her vessel the ‘Seawatch’ (which I originally read as the Seawitch, which would, imo, would have been a MUCH cooler name), to rescue over 5000 migrants from the Mediterranean.

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I made the mistake of reading the comments section of this article (when does that ever work out well?)… ‘Lock her up and throw away the key’ etc… actually, I’m not going to list them all, because really, I can’t be bothered.

Personally, Pia seems pretty cool to me. Mostly because she looks salty AF and has got a little bit of Anne Bonny/Mary Read thing going on. Also because rescuing people from potentially drowning is likely the right thing to do. Personal responsibility arguments aside about migrants choosing to get onto tiny rafts and endanger themselves and their progeny with dangerous sea voyages. When faced with indifference and action, I am more inclined towards action and not residing peeps to a briny end. Even the poor, dirty uneducated ones.

Let me also say that (at the moment) I am against illegal migration from one realm or principality to another. Mostly because I wouldn’t like a boat load of migrants dumped onto my doorstep and have to be suddenly forced to deal with the consequences thereof… I imagine this would likely impact my comfortable existence in a manner I would find vexing. Experience has shown that the vast majority of people are suddenly a lot less liberal when experiencing something (like migrants) up close and viscerally.

But! On the flip-side I like freedom of movement. As a concept. And I think that supply and demand would likely (eventually) even things like this out ‘naturally’ as opposed to regulation and policing. Probably. Since this is basically impossible to prove, since no country in the world would risk seeing how this would play out, I am, in a Realpolitik sense forced to be more intractable about illegal migration. Totally happy with the concept of legal migration (because I might at some point be one of those people). Also… I think I need to differentiate between migrants that are fleeing because of economic circumstances and those that are fleeing because of… well, I suppose living in a warzone is also kinda an economic circumstance… Then I suppose there is the desirable migrant… versus the one that is less desirable and suffers from bad cultural PR. We are inclined to typecast and profile people from certain parts of the world as having certain traits. Ergh. Which forces us to confront our own darkness…

So really, my two views are in opposition to each other. Like everything else in my life. Some days I am more pro. Other days more con. Are you loyal to your community or to humanity?

Also, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe she rescuing migrants and dumping them in Italy because she thinks its funny. This actually makes me like her more. Ha ha (har har)

In closing I am probably pro-migration as long as it doesn’t affect me personally. And I don’t have to pay for it. This is actually my operating logic for nearly everything. Probably means I’m a libertarian.

A real libertarian I mean. Not like those other ‘libertarians’.

The Ying and Yang

I’m sure that title probably gets bandied about quite often… in any event…

I imagine like most people I tend to look askance at the field of democratic nominees… what are we up to now, 24? And up until now I’ve really been loathed to unpack this particular clown-car… because… well… I think the majority of the world is feeling quite fatigued about politics (and probably about our fellow humans as well) at the moment. Certainly my tolerance feels like its at an all time low. And being quite a hardcore centrist I tend to treat those that shun the light that emanates from the warm, gooey center of the universe with a bit of… contempt is likely too strong a word… whatever the milder form of that is… I mean I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

Having said that… and the Realpolitik being what it is, someone has to step into the ring with the incumbent leviathan (of whom I am not a fan) and bring balance back to the force. So is there anyone I could, in this stew of weirdos, potentially support… I mean they can’t all be incredibly shit…

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So the first thing I have to admit is that… I’ve been a little unkind lumping them all together and coloring them all (not always between the lines) with the same blue brush. Still, the ones that I find the most loathsome seem to (according to the polls) be the most popular. The career politicians (that have never had a real job or ever created anything) are right near the top of that list. The only action these people could take that would endear them to me would be ritualistic suicide. I jest. Also once you’ve attained a certain level in politics, you likely struggle under the weight of your own hubris, falling on ones sword for the greater good would never even occur to you.

Enter stage… eh… left. Andrew Yang. Who I actually kinda like.

My libertarian tendencies tend to make me very suspicious of Universal Basic Income. Let me start there, because… well… we have to start somewhere. Andrew has obviously given this a lot of thought, and his rationale is actually very considered and logical. On the face of it, as much as I’ve considered UBI… I’m inclined to believe its a solid theory. But… I also believe that the human condition and gutter-politics would weaponize UBI in a heartbeat. It would quickly become a wicked instrument that would be wielded like a scythe by any politician, and that the candidate promising to give the proletariat the most money in their bank account every month, wins. And that… freaks me out, because once you open that Pandora’s box you can’t just snap the lid closed again. On the flip side, the machines are coming… and Andrew seems to be one of the few on the left that can empathize with a middle class that is under very real threat of being made redundant. UBI… I mean I get that it works in Alaska… *exhales through pursed lips* I actually don’t know. I’m not willing to dismiss it outright anymore as pure socialism though and I think it needs to be discussed.

Moving along from there,  Andrew is also a smart as fuck. Well spoken. And surprisingly likable. (trust me when I say I’m quite difficult to please) Which I can’t say for many of the other nominees. Also he was also a D&D nerd at school, which makes me quite cheerful (if only because I can see him rolling a d20 for foreign policy drone strikes on the Resolute desk). He was also an entrepreneur and on the face of it seems to have a solid work ethic. He is also not afraid to be interviewed by peeps and organisations that aren’t necessarily on his side of the political spectrum. So big props there!

Is he a good match-up for President Trump in the Octagon though? My gut feeling is no. I mean I’d like him to be. (to be fair there is value in being the complete antithesis of Donald Trump) Wait… maybe I’m jumping the gun here, first he has to defeat everyone in his own Democratic field. That in itself already feels like long odds. But he could potentially draw the moderates…  ergh. I dunno, the democrats feel so fractured and factionalized at the moment, seeing them being able to rally round a single candidate (that isn’t mad) is a difficult thing to visualize.

Anyways, I guess I just wanted to try do something small to market him a little bit and maybe underscore that there is at least some light in all that darkness. God, that sounds dramatic… let me rather go back to being apathetic. That way I can be grumpy and hate on anyone that wins. That feels like a better realm with in which to dwell…

 

 

Han Solo-ism

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Basically…  I follow the political ideology of Han Solo (and Gandalf the grey)

Wait what? Those aren’t even real people…

My political beliefs are not under any obligation to make sense to you. Also, Han Solo loves dogs… and I love dogs…

Chewbacca is not a dog.

*Jo puts his fingers in his ears* LA LA LA LA LA LA LA… I can’t hear you.