The forever war in Iraq is now close to officially ending. A bipartisan bill to repeal both the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and may have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate. The bill has previously passed the House. Now we must repeal the 2001 AUMF that authorized not just the war in Afghanistan, but also the ill-conceived “War on Terror” that spawned American military interventions across the globe.
Chinese Purchase of American Farms
This article from the American Conservative magazine tells how the Chinese are taking advantage of the decline of the family farm to buy up American farmland and agricultural assets. It is one more example of the monopolization of our food production. A bill has been filed in Congress to stop any further sales of farmland to China and prohibit currently-owned Chinese farms from receiving farm subsidies. It should be passed as soon as possible.
Wall Street’s Buying up of Single Family Homes
The owner-occupied home has been the bedrock of the American family for generations. However, Wall Street investment firms are now using their financial clout to buy up single-family homes as rental properties. It is one of the drivers of high home prices. We should be using our antitrust and federal tax laws to discourage their use of financial market power to monopolize the American Dream.
Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard University is a leading advocate of the realist theory of international relations that I believe should replace liberal hegemony as the basis for our foreign policy (see this post). Here he gives faint praise to nationalism for its natural ability to unify societies to face challenges like the pandemic. Maybe he had to temper his support to avoid problems with his globalist colleagues.
If the police power is used oppressively, or improperly, let us by all means put a stop to the practice and punish those responsible for it; but let us remember that a brute will be just as much of a brute whether he is inefficient or efficient. Either abolish the police, or keep them at the highest point of efficiency.
The Works of Theodore Roosevelt (1917.) Scribner’s Mem. Ed. XXI, pg.73; Nat. Ed. XIX, pg. 63
After the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case, I am republishing this article from 2020 on how Theodore Roosevelt might have approached the modern policing crisis. Unfortunately, the lessons still ring true even after a year.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, this blunt observation of Theodore Roosevelt is particularly timely and provocative. As police commissioner of New York City, TR knew the difficulty of preserving the legitimacy of a police force in an ethnically diverse city. Police corruption, whether in the form of bribery or brutishness, sapped that legitimacy and needed to be swiftly and certainly punished. He also knew that such corruption often arose from systemic failures in society that were foisted on the average police officer to solve. Whether the slogan is Roosevelt’s or today’s “defund the police” chant, any sustainable police reform movement must address these past policy failures.
TheMilitarization of Police Departments
After the 9/11 attacks, the federal government decided that every metropolitan police department needed to be prepared to deal with a terrorist attack. This ended a successful era of neighborhood policing based on increasing the number of police officers walking a beat or otherwise regularly connecting with city residents. Instead, cities stocked up on military-style equipment, which had the effect of separating the police from the public and glorified the use of force over early intervention. Hollywood then further glorified it through television shows like “SWAT” and a host of police buddy movies. This resulted in a culture that ruled by fear instead of respect. It is past time to reverse course and reinvent the policeman as a community problem solver and give him or her the necessary support and resources. To do so, though, we must face another reality.
It is equally ironic that the relevant model may be the “surge” in military force that temporarily pacified Afghanistan and Iraq. The federal government should fund a similar surge in the number of city police over the next ten years subject to strict rules to insure it results in more and better-trained officers on the beat. Cities would then be expected to pick up the funding for this increase afterwards. Accepting the higher federal and local taxes necessary to achieve this more humane and sustainable form of policing would be the most concrete way to show our commitment to remedying past police abuse of poor minority communities. However, even this change will be insufficient if we neglect another crisis in law enforcement.
TheExpansion of Criminal Law
Roosevelt’s police force was plagued by bribery caused by the attempt to enforce Sunday blue laws that were deeply unpopular among poor immigrants and which he personally opposed. Today’s police officers are asked to not only keep order, but also enforce a myriad of new financial and economic rules. George Floyd was being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, which is a federal, not local, crime. Eric Garner of New York died while being arrested for failing to pay the state cigarette tax. If the police become identified with laws that have little legitimacy in their communities, they will inevitably face resistance and a lack of cooperation in enforcing other laws. Many cities already refuse to assist in enforcing the federal immigration laws in order to encourage illegal immigrants to cooperate with police in preventing violent crime.
The accretion of federal, state and local criminal laws over the years has placed all of law enforcement in an increasingly untenable position. All levels of government should conduct a thorough review of their criminal codes with the goal of either repealing minor criminal statutes, converting them to civil violations or developing new enforcement methods. Local police could then return to enforcing laws that preserve neighborhoods rather than disrupt them.
For most of this year, our nation has been concentrating on breathing freely by avoiding the coronavirus. Both the yearning to reopen and the George Floyd protests show that breathing freely is not enough for Americans. We must also be able to breathe free. Resisting arrest is never excusable, but resistance will occur more frequently if Americans believe they are not free. Blaming the police without examining the policy failures that affect all of us regardless of color will only sow the seeds of more resistance and a less efficient police force.
An old proverb advises there are two things decent people should never see being made – laws and sausages. Both processes can be disgusting to watch. Immigration legislation certainly falls into that category. For example, the crisis at the border should be focusing the attention of Congress on immigration enforcement and border control issues. Instead, globalist Democrats and some Republicans in the House of Representatives sent two bills to the Senate with the transparent objective of avoiding the duty to enact any meaningful reform by creating two sets of amnesties. This allows them to side-step the controversial, but necessary immigration limitation and enforcement issues. The goal of legalizing some long – time immigrant residents is laudable and necessary, but should be part of comprehensive immigration reform.
Again, both of these bills could be appropriate ways to bring these workers out of the darkness and give them the fundamental rights they need. However, the Senate should not take up either bill now until it considers a comprehensive immigration bill with effective limitations and enforcement mechanisms. I urge you to write or e-mail your state’s senators to ask them to table or vote against the two bills until it considers such a comprehensive bill.