Category Archives: Militarization of Police

Hot Air

Call Out The Air Corps!

Drop The Atom Bomb!

Sometimes real life today resembles nothing so much as a cheap 1950s movie. Y’know, the kind where giants grasshoppers threaten the big city or beady-eyed commies are plotting to infiltrate our high schools.

From "The Beginning of the End"

Giant Bugs Crawl Up The Wrigley Building

 

No matter what the threat was, some square-jawed sonuvabitch always  knew how to handle it. If it was the grasshoppers, why, just drop The Bomb on the besieged big city. If commies, well then, we’ll send in some real he-men to reason with them utilizing rock-hard fists.

Bloomington faces neither giant grasshoppers nor commies these days, yet some squared-jawed “thinkers” in these parts figure we need the The Bomb-lite for some as yet unnamed peril.

One of those square-jawed “thinkers,” apparently, is Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff. Acc’d’g to documents obtained by Mother Jones mag via the Freedom of Information Act, the Bloomington PD was one of several hundred from around this holy land to request a nice little Armored Tactical Vehicle from the Pentagon’s surplus motor pool.

BPD MRAP Request

Diekhoff’s Request

The specific vehicle Diekhoff wanted was a mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) fortress on wheels. The feds, you see, had 625 such MRAPs in their used car lot, the vehicles having been driven only by grandmas on Sunday afternoons for spins around Mosul in Iraq or the Helmand Province in Afghanistan during our excellent adventures in those locales. The Pentagon has a program making these tanks and other weapons of war available to municipal, county, and state law enforcement agencies for use against marauding mobs, heavily-armed drug cartels, lone snipers on the roofs of tall buildings, bomb-throwing anarchists, and other bad guys lurking around every corner even in our most bucolic villages. Reports Mother Jones:

In 2012, the program began making MRAPs available. The vehicles weigh around 14 tons, and feature armored hulls and tiny, blast-proof windows. “Nothing short of a rocket-propelled grenade will trouble this powerhouse,” one manufacturer boasted.

Terrific. I know I’m getting a little sick and tired of dodging flung explosives and taking cover whenever I hear the tom-tom beat of an AK-47 on Walnut Street.

MRAP

A Navistar MRAP On Display

Young adult writer Julia Karr (she’s not a young adult herself — she writes novels for that bunch) pointed out recently that Bloomington’s request still is pending. This even though President Barack Obama, caving in to pressure from his Kenyan Muslim gay abortionist overlords, has curtailed the Pentagon program.

Obviously, he wants the commies, anarchists, marauding mobs, and giant grasshoppers to win.

Now, I understand this great nation currently is suffering from a collective nervous breakdown — witness the popularity of presidential candidate Donald Trump — but, golly gee, can’t we feign at least a bit of sanity here in Bloomington?

The very existence of an armored, camouflage-painted MRAP in the BPD parking lot suggests our cops view the rest of us as enemy soldiers to be blown to kingdom come should we cross a certain as-yet unwritten boundary.

Let’s put some pressure on Diekhoff to withdraw this request. It’d be a nice gesture on the part of the gang upon whom we bestow badges and guns to keep the peace to actually view our city as something other than a war zone.

Hot Air

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Covenants

Just in case anyone was wondering if the police of this holy land are getting more trigger happy these days, or if our Officer Friendlies are any more bloodthirsty than their counterparts in other civilized nations, there is this:

The Unites States has failed to respect and protect the right to life by failing to ensure that domestic legislation meets international human rights law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.

That’s the conclusion issued by Amnesty International researchers this past week. They studied how the legislatures of the 50 states write laws setting standards for cops taking target practice on the citizenry. Murrica, they found, is failing. Our lawmakers are not living up to the standards set in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — which we signed in 1992. The Covenant, essentially, set guidelines for cops using firearms and other force. We were all for it more than two decades ago, ergo our signature on the document.

But in everyday practice, our lawmakers as well as our deputized guardians of public safety have pissed all over the document.

Militarization of Police

Ready, Aim….

And the funny thing is, those folks who hoot and holler most about big bloated gov’t, the tyranny of federal guidelines, the coming disarmament of all US citizens, and the rounding up of Christians and Republicans into re-education camps, are those most likely to shriek that our cops should be able to fire their guns at will whenever folks sneeze.

If you care to — and if you’ve the stomach for it — here’s the full text of the report. BTW, if you click on this link to the Covenant itself, you’ll note that it was drafted and adopted by some 35 countries in 19-freakin’-66! So the US didn’t jump on the bandwagon for more than a quarter of a century. And among the original signatories were such bastions of gentility and civil rights as the Soviet Union, Romania, Rwanda, Chile, and Iran.

Keep in mind that during all that time, our soldiers were fighting for “freedom” in countless hot spots around the globe.

Welcome To The Show

In more pleasant news, Indiana University’s beloved fireplug and wizard with a bat in his hands, Kyle Schwarber, had a smashing cameo appearance in Major League Baseball this week.

Schwarber

Kyle Schwarber

Schwarber was selected in the first round of last year’s amateur draft by the Chicago Cubs and he’s done nothing but force professional pitchers to rethink their career choices since then. Through four levels of minor league ball thus far, Schwarber has demonstrated an uncanny ability to hit for average and power and control the strike zone. The Cubs are trying to make a Major League catcher out of him, an aim that most scouts say is problematic. But the kid’s such a spectacular slugger that the big league club might be satisfied if he only achieves mediocrity as a backstop.

Schwarber was brought up this past week because the Cubs played in two American League ballparks where the Designated Hitter is employed. The kid, ergo, was able to take his swings w/o being forced to lug the leather onto the field. As a hitter, he continued to amaze, hitting a home run and a triple, driving in six runs overall, and even going 4 for 5 in his first start at Cleveland’s Progressive Field.

The Cubs sent him back to the minors immediately after yesterday’s game. So, what does the future hold for him? Best case scenario is that, with proper tutelage, he can become an adequate Major League catcher by Opening Day 2016. Other possibilities include the National League adopting the Designated Hitter rule, making his defensive deficiencies moot, and the sad chance that the Cubs might use him as trade currency, shipping him off to an American League club in exchange for what ought to be a bushel-full of talent.

Puttin’ On The Ritz

A pal o’mine is heading up to Indianapolis as I type this. His errand? Picking up a stack of bumper stickers for Glenda Ritz for Governor. The Loved One and I have already put in our orders. We mentioned lapel buttons as well but my source tells us Ritz hasn’t got around to getting them made yet.

Bumper Sticker

Right now Ritz is trying to raise enough dough to make her quarterly financial report, due later this month, look good. She’s competing with John Gregg for Dem dollars. Now, I was happy to vote for Gregg when he ran in the last gubernatorial election against eventual winner Mike Pence, but I’d be even more thrilled to throw my lot in with a Dem who’s closer to my heart, as Ritz is.

Ritz

Ritz Wants You

[Photo: Kelly Wilkinson/Indianapolis Star]

She’s My Best Friend

It’s The Loved One’s annual Birthday Week, wherein she takes the week off work and celebrates her entrance into the world by mowing the lawn and scrubbing down the patio furniture [I know, she’s a weirdo.]

Anyway, I’ll be featuring vids of songs I’m dedicating to her for the next five days. The first, written by Queen’s bassist, John Deacon, came out in 1975. Deacon wrote the song in honor of his wife, Victoria Tetzlaff, to whom he’s been married for 40 goddamned years. The couple has six kids — actually, adults, now. Pretty neat for a rock star, no?

 

Hot Air

Something’s Rotten

For a very long time I’ve resisted the terms fascism and police state to describe the happenings in this holy land.

I figured the folks who threw these words around were drama queens and kings, prone to hyperbole and panicky language. Hell, I’m prone to hyperbole, as Pencillistas well know — but I use it for comic effect. Too many others, though, have employed the rhetorical device to make whatever case they have for or against Barack Obama and other Murrican saints/sinners seem that much more urgent.

I’d hear or read the word fascist and roll my eyes.

Now, no more.

There is indeed a fascism here. This is truly a burgeoning police state. When cops start killing people willy-nilly, when prosecutors and Grand Juries and courts say, Hey, that’s cool to more and more homicides of citizens, be they petty criminals or innocent victims, when police departments large and small armor up like an occupying army, well, then, we’ve got a rotten problem.

Police Militarization

We hated the Nazis, the KGB, the East German Stasi, Lon Nol’s Cambodian thugs, even Bull Connor’s deputies and Alabama state troopers for their brutality. We called them fascists. We understood that they ran police states.

In the case of the Americans just mentioned, we comforted ourselves by saying, What bad guys! They weren’t real Americans. Those were isolated incidents. We’re better than that.

We weeded out our fascists — or so we hoped.

And then in the 21st Century, we started calling everybody and everything we disagreed with fascist.

A Congress and a President imposing a national health insurance program on the citizenry is not fascism. Nor is a passel of benighted fundamentalists claiming that dinosaurs strode the Earth with humans or that global warming is a hoax.

What defines fascism more than anything is the drawing of blood. Governments regularly draw blood — both of their own citizens and of those from far off lands — but most have the decency to try to hide it, to excuse it, or to apologize for it.

Today, though, American police officers are drawing blood and many of us — way, way, way too many of us — not only are excusing it, we’re cheering for it.

Fascism only works when the people demand it. Many Americans, babies, are demanding it today.

There’s your fascism. There’s your police state.

It’s here. Now.

Hot Air

Peace, Love & Soul

Well, whaddya know?

The Gov. of MO has sent in the Highway Patrol to Ferguson and next thing you know, everybody’s all lovey-dovey.

Highway Patrol

10-4!

Can this be a turning point in the militarization of our police departments?

Will cop bosses now realize that the people of this holy land don’t particular care to see armored vehicles on the streets of their cities?

Or is all the kumbaya just dumb luck?

Kitchen Confidential

Such brutality!

From Herald Times

Every woman should know to use a light skillet on her partner’s head. Banging a guy on the coconut with a cooking pot is just criminal.

Dough Woe

Speaking of ludicrous situations, Gov. Mike Pence will continue to cut state funding of public universities as a hedge against another economic recession/depression.

The Guv’s sitting on a spare $2 billion and he’s prancing around telling anyone who’ll listen what a great budgeteer he is. And, believe it or not, tons o’folks are listening. After the various bubbles burst and investment bankers had squeezed every cent out of their fancy financial instruments leading up to the collapse of the global economy in 2007-08, Indiana started trimming the fat out of its budget so’s the state would have money in the bank for the next economic disaster. Fat, you must understand, includes trivial things like education, social services, health care — all those things, in other words, that don’t have to do with the pouring of concrete and the further enrichment of the already rich.

Money

None For You

Social services, natch, are for the takers. Education is for commies. $2 billion socked away in the bank is for those who worship good, sound economic principals above all things. You know, the decent people of our great republic.

Pence’s plan is to slash allocations for Hoosier universities if state tax revenues fail to reach a certain threshold in any given year. He’s doing this because, god forbid, he never, ever, ever wants to tap that $2B in the bank.

Following the governor’s lead, I’m proud to announce The Loved One and I have a surplus $200 in our checking account. And we’re not going to touch it even if a wind storm blows the roof off our modest chez. It’s better to be exposed to the elements as we sleep than to spend money that’s just sitting there.

Wow!

Today’s the anniversary of the reception of the “Wow! Signal,” a narrowband radio burst detected by Ohio State University’s “Big Ear” radio telescope in 1977. Acc’d’g to those astro-geeks who know such things, the Wow! Signal can be interpreted as a message sent out to the Universe by an intelligent species on some planet located (from our POV) in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.

I won’t bore you with all the tech details, mainly because I hardly understand them myself, but the signal’s radio signature purportedly mirrors that of the “hydrogen line.” That’s the electromagnetic spectral line frequency emanated by hydrogen atoms when they undergo energy changes. Don’t ask.

Wow! Signal

Anyway, SETI searchers long have supposed that if a gang of green beings from another planet wanted to announce their presence, they’d do so by broadcasting that particular alphanumeric code. Hydrogen is the simplest and most plentiful element in existence and the hypothesis holds that every intelligent civilization would get the reference.

Well, we got it 37 years ago and scientists ever since have been trying in vain to get it again. Their failure to do so has convinced doubters that the signal was some kind of weird fluke. Nuh-uh, say those in the Wow camp: The code is so precise that it’s virtually impossible to occur by chance.

The argument could become moot much sooner than most of us realize. At least one prominent SETI researcher has predicted humans will detect and verify an extraterrestrial signal within 20 years. Seth Shostack says more powerful computers will be able to wade through the noise and pinpoint faint radio frequency signals sent by ETs before two decades passes.

Title Card

All I can say is, Cool!

Nanu

Hot Air

More On GMOs

So, I know an evolutionary biologist who is working tirelessly on her PhD. This morning at The Pencil back office (AKA Soma Coffee) I leaned close to her and cooed the words, “What’s your take on GMOs? And can you say it in one sentence?”

Her response: “People are afraid of the wrong thing.”

[Just to clarify, she doesn’t mean the gen. pub. should be afraid of a nuclear exchange rather than GMOs, for instance, or the bogeyman. She means people’s knee-jerk GMO repulsion is based on a basic misunderstanding of the process.]

From "The Creature from the Black Lagoon"

Scarier Than GMOs?

Which is what I’ve been saying all along!

Bullets Vs. Kid Gloves

Just wondering: Why do cops kill unarmed black kids for everything up to and including jay-walking but when an armed, white gun nut goes on a deranged quest to ambush police and fire fighters (employing live fire and bombs) in order to overturn our purported tyrannical gov’t, the greatest care is taken to insure his safety before he’s apprehended?

Leguin

Douglas Lee Leguin: Still Alive Despite Firing At Cops And Detonating Bombs

Kid Stuff

Personal to police depts. all over this holy land: Stop playing GI Joe; you’re adults now (links here, here, and here).

Ferguson, MO

Law Enforcement?

Negotiable Justice

Justin Wykoff’s att’y sez his client’s case will go to a jury.

Wykoff, of course, was the well-liked, well-respected Bloomington Department of Public Works project manager who got cracked for allegedly scamming a quarter of a mill USD* in a kickback scheme with a Bedford contractor (*of a total of $800,00 bilked). Folks in and out of local gov’t were shocked when news of Wykoff’s bust emerged. Nevertheless, the feds seem to have a strong case against him.

Wykoff

Likable

Usually, guys accused of fraud and embezzlement in federal district courts don’t go to trial because they strike plea agreements with prosecutors. Wykoff’s lawyer, John Boren of Martinsville, acc’d’g to today’s Herald Times, is ready to go all the way to fight the charges. Boren told the H-T he’ll call for a jury trial.

Kinky public employees rarely want to go before a jury because if there’s one thing a panel of peers doesn’t cotton to, it’s stealing their tax dollars. Still, Wykoff and Boren want to take their chances before a dozen registered voters.

My guess is they’re betting Wykoff’s likability will be a big asset in their case. In fact, Borden just may be negotiating a plea agreement even as we speak with Wykoff singing about his co-conspirators in exchange for a slap on the wrist. By threatening to go to a jury, Boren may effectively be saying, Hey, you willing to risk your whole case? Gimme the best you’ve got and I’ll sign my guy up for voice lessons.

Kyle Killing Minors Moundsmen

Kyle Schwarber, late of the Indiana University Hoosiers baseball nine, still is battering minor league pitchers as he enters his third month of professional baseballing.

Schwarber pounded college hurlers on his way to becoming the Chicago Cubs’ top choice in June amateur draft (No. 4 overall). He’s kept up the onslaught even against superior competition in the for-pay game.

Schwarber

Schwarber, The Night He Was Drafted By The Cubs

The kid known as The Hulk has settled in as a left fielder for the Daytona Cubs, a High A minors outfit. Schwarber played catcher for the Hoosiers but isn’t considered an adequate potential major league backstop. By playing the outfield, his path to the bigs just may be shorter. Again, expect to see him swinging the bat in Wrigley Field either in September 2015 or right out of the gate after spring training 2016.

And, again, stay tuned here for all the Kyle Schwarber news you can ask for.

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