Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Monthly Mohler - Albert Mohler takes on The BioLogos Forum

Since last year's takedown of Dr. Albert Mohler got about a jillion hits, I've decided to start writing something called The Monthly Mohler.  The Monthly Mohler will be an opportunity to look at the president of Southern Seminary's views on church and state, his beliefs that those who disagree with him are going to burn in hell for all eternity, and finally, his God'n'Amurrica blurbs on Fox.
Why bother with something like this? 

Because I believe that he's harmful.  He doesn't make the world a better place.  He reinforces tribalism.  He has a childish loyalty to some theological beliefs that he believes are science, but that only belong to mythology.  But millions of people listen to what he says because, after all, he's Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary. 
A few weeks ago, Dr. Mohler gave us his views on The BioLogos Forum, a website self-described as follows: 
The BioLogos Foundation is a group of Christians, many of whom are professional scientists, biblical scholars, philosophers, theologians, pastors, and educators, who are concerned about the long history of disharmony between the findings of science and large sectors of the Christian faith. We believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We also believe that evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation. Founded by Dr. Francis Collins, BioLogos addresses the escalating culture war between science and faith, promoting dialog and exploring the harmony between the two. We are committed to helping the church – and students, in particular – develop worldviews that embrace both of these complex belief structures, and that allow science and faith to co-exist peacefully.
In other words, the participants in the BioLogos forum know that we evolved.  We evolved, and it took a long, long time. 

Here's Dr. Mohler's take on this group:

Public debate is unpredictable by nature, but I have to admit that the approach undertaken by the folks at BioLogos continues to amaze me. The BioLogos movement is a straight-forward attempt to persuade evangelical Christians to embrace some form of evolutionary theory. Organized by a group that includes Dr. Francis Collins, now the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the movement seeks to marginalize objections to evolution among conservative Christians. It offers a very sophisticated website and an energetic communications strategy.

The BioLogos approach to the issue is now clear. They want to discredit evangelical objections to evolution and to convince the evangelical public that an acceptance of evolution is a means of furthering the gospel. They have leveled their guns at the Intelligent Design movement, at young earth creationism, and against virtually all resistance to the embrace of evolution. They claim that the embrace of evolution is necessary if evangelicalism is not to be intellectually marginalized in the larger culture. They have warned that a refusal to embrace evolution will doom evangelicalism to the status of an intellectual cult.
So far, so good.  Because the embrace of evolution really is necessary if evangelicalism is not to be intellectually marginalized in the larger culture, and doomed to the status of an (anti-intellectual) cult. 
Because we evolved, and Christianity cannot continue to deny it. 
I'm about 2/3rds of the way through with Richard Dawkins' "Greatest Show On Earth - The Evidence For Evolution".  Lord have mercy, what a brilliant book.  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Dawkins starts with some of the same arguments that Darwin used, arguments about processes that can't be denied.  In Darwin's day, British farmers routinely modified inedible plants to form various delicious cabbages and cauliflowers.  Dogs were selectively bred for fox-hunting, retrieving, or as guard animals.  Those cabbages and puppies with valuable characteristics were allowed to reproduce.  Plants and pups with undesirable characteristics were set aside as failed experiments. 
Within a half-dozen generations, new varities were spreading all over England. 

My father used to point out the varieties of soybeans produced in the agriculture department at Mississippi State University.  Some needed less water than others.  Some had a greater yield, but needed more fertilizer.  Others had a great yield but could be knocked to the ground by a 15 MPH breeze. 
I still remember many of the names the MSU scientists gave the varieties: Davis, Hood, Lee, Pickett, and Bragg.  (Yeah, they always named them after Confederate generals.)

So if characteristics of a species can be intentionally changed in a short period of time, what happens when Mother Nature is left alone to determine what characteristics are most valuable? 
The fossil record shows us. 
The plants, animals and fish at the lower levels are radically different from the fossils found near the surface.

But go far enough back up the time/species line with any two organisms, and you'll eventually find a common ancestor.  At an early point in the timeline, the two varieties could reproduce with each other.  Later on, you'll only get a sterile offspring - i.e., something like the offspring of a horse and a donkey, a mule.  Give nature a few million more years, and try to mate a cabbage with a kitten.  You'll get nothing at all.
The fact that people, puppies, purple cabbages, and pancreatic cancers evolve - it is at the heart of almost all medical research.  The flu shot you got this year will be useless next year.  The virus will have evolved by then. 
Face it.  Embrace it.  Evolution explains the world.  To learn more, read the Dawkins book. 
Back to Dr. Mohler....
Furthermore, they have been breathtakingly honest about the theological implications of their arguments. Writers for BioLogos have repeatedly made the case that we must relinquish the inerrancy of the Bible and accept that the biblical writers worked from a defective understanding of the world and its origins. They have asserted, for example, that the Apostle Paul was simply wrong in assuming that Adam was an historical person from whom all humans are descended. They have been bold and honest in rejecting the biblical account of the Fall as historical. They have warned that an affirmation of biblical inerrancy has led evangelicalism into an “intellectual cul-de-sac.” A complete inventory of the doctrinal concessions they will demand is not yet in sight, but as I have affirmed before, they deserve credit for the honesty of their proposals.

So far, Dr. Mohler is batting 1.000
The BioLogos folks do indeed affirm that Paul was mistaken because Adam was not an historical person. 
Adam is a metaphor.
Not only is Adam a metaphor, but he's two different metaphors when you compare Genesis chapters one and two. 
The first two chapters of Genesis, the ones that all the fuss is about, are contradictory.  They are about two radically different creation accounts.  They can't both be "inerrant".  They use different names for God.  There is a different order of creation.  The authors, and there were two different authors, had different goals in mind when telling their stories. 
They are beautiful stories.  They were the best we could do at the time.  But they are stories, all the same.  Go to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (in the early 1980's) and you won't be taught this, but you will be allowed to learn it.  (Long, long story, involving denominational politics.)

Go here for the best explanation I'll ever write about the problems in the biblical stories of creation.

Not only does biblical inerrancy lead to "an intellectual cul-de-sac", it is a cul-de-sac with a cliff at the end.  You find yourself defending talking serpents and donkeys, exploring the reasons for making an axe-head float, and wondering why the snakes didn't eat the mice on the ark. 
Ok, back to Dr. Mohler:
They are also clear about their motive. In their view, the acceptance of evolution is necessary for evangelism. They are motivated, they insist, by a concern that a rejection of evolution puts Christians in a position of intellectual embarrassment. The rejection of evolution places Christians outside the intellectual pale, they assert, leading to the discrediting of the gospel. They believe that intellectuals, especially scientists, will not respect an evangelistic witness to the gospel from one who is intellectually discredited by rejecting evolution. They are embarrassed by the fact that a majority of evangelicals reject evolution, and they honestly believe that some people will not come to know Christ because they are so offended by our unwillingness to accept evolution. They have repeatedly asserted that the credibility and integrity of our Christian witness is at stake.

Why is the rejection of evolution an embarrassment to some Christians? 
Because it is embarrassing to be in a biology class with someone who is raising hell because a teacher is contradicting the folk tales he learned in his Mama's lap.  You feel bad for them.  You don't want to be there.  You don't want to watch the pain.  That's one of the definition of embarrassment.  And yes, changing your mind on any major issue causes pain. 
The writers for BioLogos have been unsparing in their criticism of evangelicals who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible or are proponents of either Intelligent Design or creationism. They initiated a public debate by presenting their arguments in the public square. But now, it appears, they really do not want a public debate at all. They want a one-way conversation.
Dr. Mohler then outlines the details of a tiresome Preacher Fight between himself and someone at BioLogos.  You can go back to his original post if you have the time for the whole thing.  It's a tiresome exposition about who said what and who all really responded in what way....all in relation to Saint Peter and Cornelius in the 10th Chapter Of Acts. 

The chief difficulty, the main reason that these guys can't get anywhere with their discussion?  Neither side can come out and say "Serpents can't talk.  No boat could hold every species of animal.  Trumpet noise couldn't knock down the walls of Jericho.  These are stories.  Parables.  Valuable campfire legends from the infancy of our race.  Let's try something....Dr. Mohler, I'm going to build a pile of wood as big as the Texas A&M bonfire.  I'm going to dig a moat around it.  I'm going to drench the whole thing with water.  Then, Dr. Mohler, I want you to pray for God to ignite the woodpile, the way he did for Elijah.  After you've failed at that, then we'll talk."

If the BioLogos guys were to be that frank and honest, donations would drop off considerably. 

A brief digression:  I briefly attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the sister institution to Doctor Mohler's Southeastern Seminary. 
There but for the grace of God go I. 
Here's more from Doctor Mohler, still bristling from accusations that he called the BioLogos people "not christian":
I can read their words, however. Their theological arguments are published in the public arena. They are not shy about making their proposals, and they call for a radical reformulation of evangelical doctrine. Their assaults upon biblical inerrancy have not been made in private conversations, but in public discourse. Their argument that the Apostle Paul was wrong to believe in an historical Adam and an historical Fall was made in public, as was their denial of common descent through Adam.
Now we're getting somewhere.  This is why Christian fundamentalists attack biologists so fiercely over evolution, while giving linguists a free pass when they offer up alternatives to the Tower Of Babel story.  You see, if there was no Adam and no Eve, then there was no Original Sin.  We are not infected from birth with a desire to murder, steal, covet, and bear false witness.  God didn't set up a perfect environment that we silly humans made a mess of. 
We don't have any collective guilt. 
Paul was off the mark about why Jesus had to die. 
Once you accept that the flu virus can evolve from year to year, fundamentalist theology is a mess. 

They will have to take responsibility for these arguments. They should expect no less than a spirited debate over their proposals, and it is nothing short of bewildering that they now ask, in effect, for a pass from all theological scrutiny. They accuse conservative evangelicals of driving evangelicalism into an “intellectual cul-de-sac” and into the status of an intellectual “cult,” and then they have the audacity to complain of the “tone” of those who argue that their proposals amount to a theological disaster.
Yep.  A theological disaster.  That's what it would be.  As if that's a bad thing. 
You know, if I steal your car, get caught, and then make it up to you by going into my back yard and beating the crap out of my dachshunds, I don't think you'll be satisfied.  I think you'd prefer to get your car back. 
That's what the Original Sin story led to.  Substitutionary Atonement.  Adam and Eve screwed up, so I let God take his frustrations out on Jesus. 
Theology like that?  It needs a disaster every few millenia. 

Virtually every form of theological liberalism arises from an attempt to rescue Christian theology from what is perceived to be an intellectual embarrassment — whether the virgin conception of Christ, the historicity of the miracles recorded in the Bible, or, in our immediate context, the inerrancy of Scripture and the Bible’s account of creation.
No, no, no.  It arises from people looking at the texts, and asking themselves "Is this possible?"  "Could this have happened?"  "Why is this account of dead people rising from their graves in Jerusalem only mentioned in Matthew?" 
(To learn more about groups who try to sort out the truth from the legends, check out the fine work of the scholars at The Jesus Seminar.) 
Dr. Sprinkle kindly invites me “to come and see what I see in the hearts and lives of people in the BioLogos community.” I am willing and eager to enter into any conversation that serves the cause of the gospel. But a conversation that serves the cause of the gospel cannot avoid talking about what the gospel is — and that requires theology.
BioLogos is a movement that asserts theological arguments in the public square in order to convince evangelical Christians to accept their proposals. They now have the audacity to ask for a pass from theological responsibility. That is the one thing they may not have.
I believe that the need for some theological responsibility now rests in Dr. Mohler's camp.  The BioLogos people present compelling evidence for evolution, and yet want to continue calling themselves Christians.   Mohler hasn't done anything here except beg the question.  His argument appears to be that human evolution didn't take place because it would be a contradiction of one of the many branches of Christian belief that have slowly (ahem) evolved for the last two thousand years.   

Al Mohler's is a theology that needs to evolve, to grow up. 

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. - First Corinthians 13:11

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why does it have to be us?

After examining the symbolic budget cuts that the Republicans will try (and fail) to enforce at NPR and the NEA, Ed Morrisey at Hot Air gets down to the nitty-gritty. 

Defense spending. 
We should be looking strategically at the role of the US in the world, especially in Europe. We spend a fortune providing security to what has become a very stable and interconnected region. Our investment in Europe should be reconsidered in light of our economic problems. We won’t be able to withdraw from Korea for obvious reasons, nor should we scale back our naval power as we need to continue to protect shipping routes for secure and reliable global trade. If we really want to stop deficit spending now, we have to look for the opportunities to cut in the short term as well as the painful and necessary long-term reforms in entitlements, and that means the Pentagon is going to have to share the load.

I generally love Mr. Morrisey's stuff.  But he's begging the question in the italicized sections of that post. 

Why is our requirement to protect South Korea so "obvious" ?  Why is it our job to protect shipping lanes? 

1) Did it work out well for us the first time we helped the Koreans with a war?  How about Viet Nam?  Serbia?  (Plus, how is it going in Iraq and Afghanistan?)

2) Do people all over the world love us and appreciate our military in their countries? 

3) Would we respond well to, say, a little ol' Mexican military installation in Dallas (so Mexico could protect its investments and trading partner?) 

4) Is trade a two-way exchange?  If we're trading with Japan, isn't it time for them to start doing some of their own protection?  Does it not take Take Two To Tango? 

5) Do we have plenty of money to spend on this?  Or are we going into debt ? 

6) Name the countries that Mr. Morrisey is concerned about shutting down the Pacific trade lanes, or with attacking South Korea....Ok, there's North Korea and then there's China.  How much defense spending are we funding with money borrowed from....China ? 

7) Could we cut defense spending in half if we stayed out of everyone else's business, stopped looking for insults to our honor, and protected our own borders and no one else's ? 

8) When we declare defense spending to be "off the table", are we stark, raving mad ?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Fixed fortifications are a monument to man's stupidity" - General George S. Patton

Here's a video of two girls climbing the four million dollar per mile U.S./Mexico border fence.
The important thing about this massive piece of pork? 

1) The contractors who lobbied for it got paid.
2) Politicians came up with a piece of Performance Art to show that they were doing something. 
3) The fence looks impressive without actually stopping the flow of illegals, who help fuel our economy, and drugs, which help fuel the prison/counselor/police lobby. 

If seen in the context described above, this monument is more beautiful than Mount Rushmore. 

Hit the "tortilla curtain" label below to read an old post about how much this thing costs per foot. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

From the Federal Archives of the U.S. Department Of Irony

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. ... It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies."   - Barack Obama, 2006, back when debt and spending were bad things. 

Unh., you see, unh....all that about Republican spending cuts was unhhh...sorta hypothetical

And so it begins....Here's The New York Holy Times:

WASHINGTON — Many people knowledgeable about the federal budget said House Republicans could not keep their campaign promise to cut $100 billion from domestic spending in a single year. Now it appears that Republicans agree.

As they prepare to take power on Wednesday, Republican leaders are scaling back that number by as much as half, aides say, because the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, will be nearly half over before spending cuts could become law.

While House Republicans were never expected to succeed in enacting cuts of that scale, given opposition in the Senate from the Democratic majority and some Republicans, and from President Obama, a House vote would put potentially vulnerable Republican lawmakers on record supporting deep reductions of up to 30 percent in education, research, law enforcement, transportation and more.

Now aides say that the $100 billion figure was hypothetical, and that the objective is to get annual spending for programs other than those for the military, veterans and domestic security back to the levels of 2008, before Democrats approved stimulus spending to end the recession.

The picture of Republican campaign promises came from here. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A moment of nostalgia, inspired by the deaths of 4000 blackbirds in Bebe Arkansas


BEEBE, Ark. — Preliminary autopsies on 17 of the up to 5,000 blackbirds that fell on this town indicate they died of blunt trauma to their organs, the state's top veterinarian told NBC News on Monday.

Their stomachs were empty, which rules out poison, Dr. George Badley said, and they died in midair, not on impact with the ground.
That evidence, and the fact that the red-winged blackbirds fly in close flocks, suggests they suffered some massive midair collision, he added. That lends weight to theories that they were startled by something.
Earlier Monday, the estimated number of dead birds was raised to between 4,000 and 5,000, up sharply from the initial estimate of 1,000.
Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, provided the new numbers.

I once put that many blackbirds on the ground, but it took about 3 or 4 months.  Read no further if you are easily disturbed. 
I grew up on a rice farm in Mississippi.  Our house was in the middle of a pecan orchard.  There were 50 or 60 pecan trees in the fields around the house. 

(As residents of Fort Worth know, blackbirds and grackles travel in massive flocks.  They'll color the sky black.  When they select a place to roost in their daily migration, they leave behind a massive pile of blackbird droppings.  Downtown Fort Worth's efforts to get rid of them were comical.  They used scary rubber owls, air canons, plastic snakes in the trees, and I forget what else.  One thing they didn't do?  They didn't hire me to shoot them.  But I digress....)

One year when I was about 12 years old, the largest flock of blackbirds I've ever seen decided to roost in our pecan orchard.  They would fly in at about 2:00 in the afternoon and leave around 7:00.  Sometimes you couldn't see the branches on the pecan trees. 
My father estimated that they ate about 20 acres of rice.  (At the time, a good rice yield was 90 bushels per acre, and we got around $8.00 per bushel.  Do the math.) 
I had a 20-gauge single-shot, a beloved shotgun that I purchased with my own money in the 4th grade.
My father gave me an allotment of one box of shotguns shells per day....

....and turned me loose in the pecan orchard.  That was the best job I've ever had. 

As long as he didn't need me on a tractor, every day was a blackbird hunt. 
I could aim in the general direction of a tree, and put blackbirds on the ground.  My record number was 23 with one shot. 
Jack and Jim, our two sorta Border Collies, started following me into the orchard to gorge themselves on blackbirds.  They were competitive types who survived on leftovers and scraps, and they didn't bother with chewing.  They just ate and ate and ate.  Watching them swallow blackbirds was like watching Chris Christie swallow an aspirin. 
Eventually the cats (whose name was Legion, for they were many) started following me into the orchard.  I'd give almost anything for a picture of me, the dogs, and the cats making our trek into the killing fields.  We were a team.   
The birds eventually figured out the range of my Western Auto .20 gauge, and it became a bit more difficult to kill quite so many birds per shot.  Still, it was a rare shotgun shell that didn't send 8 or 10 of them to blackbird hell. 
25 shotgun shells per day times 12 dead blackbirds per shell times 3 or 4 months. 
You do the math. 

The grossest part, even by my jaded North Mississippi standards, was when Jack and Jim made it back to the house. 
They would recline in the driveway, and you could see wounded and unchewed blackbirds moving around inside their ribcages. 

I don't know or care what killed 4,000 blackbirds in Bebe Arkansas, but I'm sure the blackbird population will survive. 
They've made it through worse things. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Worst Police Misconduct Videos Of The Year - 2010 edition

Happy 2011.  Since you folks generally don't hit links, I've scraped this excellent collection of videos from the Injustice Everywhere blog, stolen it, and reposted it here.  All in hopes that you will hit THIS LINK and give this guy some more traffic.  That's the only way you're going to see which video won the contest. 
I repeat, you must hit THIS LINK to see which video of Police Misconduct won. 
Here is Mr. Injustice Everywhere: 

Once again it’s time for our annual “Worst Police Misconduct Videos of the Year” reader’s poll. Here we post some of the more egregious, but not all, of the videos that were released in 2010 in association with claims of police misconduct. Of course, some of the incidents tied to these videos did not occur in 2010, but the videos for those reports weren’t released to the public until this year so they are included.
Each video is associated with a number and are listed in no specific order. At the end of the post is a poll where each visitor may select up to three of the videos that they consider the worst examples of police misconduct caught on video for the year. At the end of the voting period, midnight on New Years Eve of 2010, we will begin tallying the votes and present the five worst videos of the year on New Years Day.
(Note: Our list of the worst police misconduct videos of 2009 as selected by our readers is here.)
So, without further ado, here are the candidates…
VIDEO 1 – 47 votes

November 11, 2009:

A Texas State trooper was caught on dashcam slamming a female motorist face-first into a concrete barrier while arresting her on suspicion of drunk driving after she called police to report an accident. Prior to slamming her into the wall the dashcam recorded him telling the woman “You’re fixing to get hurt, don’t make me put you on the ground, you understand?” The woman was never charged and the now-former trooper was sentenced to probation after convicted on a misdemeanor assault charge.
VIDEO 2 – 12 votes

October 29, 2010:

A Fond du Lac Wisconsin police officer was caught on surveillance camera inside a jail holding area slamming a handcuffed mentally-ill detainee face-first into a table so hard it lifted the man’s legs off the ground and resulted in a gash that required stitches in his head. While the officer was suspended without pay for three days over the incident the man’s family claims that he suffered worse injuries than are being described and hasn’t been the same since the incident, describing him as a “walking vegetable”.
VIDEO 3 – 15 votes

October 18, 2010:

An undercover Seattle Washington police officer is currently under investigation after a surveillance camera inside a convenience store captured him kick a 17-year-old boy in the crotch then repeatedly kick him in the face while it appeared as though he was attempting to cooperate. The officer claimed the boy was just involved in a drug buy bust that went wrong when the undercover officers were robbed by the suspects they tried to buy drugs from. However, as you watch the video, note how the two kids look surprised by the commotion outside and go out to see what’s happening… would someone who just ran from a botched robbery do that? Oddly, the police apparently didn’t suspend the officer pending investigation until they found out the video was going to air on the news.
VIDEO 4 - 14 votes

October 18, 2010

The same Seattle Washington police officer shown kicking a compliant teenager in Video 3 then allegedly went outside and punched a man who was attempting to videotape what was happening. However, aside from a single report in the press, there was no other word on any investigation taking place regarding this incident. In fact, officials refused to even view the video which was sent to the press.
VIDEO 5 – 14 votes

April 17, 2010:

Two Seattle Washington police officers are still the subject of an internal investigation after both county prosecutors and the city attorney refused to press charges against them for their roles in this video captured by a freelance photojournalist where a gang officer can be heard telling what turned out to be an innocent man that he would “beat the Mexican piss” out of him before grazing his face while stomping on his hand. Later a female officer can be seen stomping on the man’s leg. Officers later released the man but didn’t offer him medical treatment even though he seemed unsteady on his feet. A second investigation began on allegations that one local TV station, which refused to air the story, colluded with officers to keep misconduct reports out of the news. One of the officers was also implicated in another incident a week after this video came out where he’s accused of choking a handcuffed suspect in the back of his cruiser. No video of that exists since the officer failed to activate his in-cruiser dashcam as required by policy.
VIDEO 6 – 9 votes

October 30, 2010

Two Miami Florida police officers are still suspended while under investigation over a cellphone video that made it’s way on YouTube showing an officer strike a man in or near his head while being held down by several other officers. That man, a youth services worker, was allegedly picked out of a crowd for now apparent reason and prosecutors were going to drop charges against him until the video went public. Then prosecutors moved ahead anyway and charged him with a stand-alone count of resisting arrest without violence for, according to his lawyer, trying to cover his head during the beating until he lost consciousness.
VIDEO 7 – 26 votes

August 5, 2010:

A Kershaw County South Carolina deputy has been indicted on a federal civil rights charge over his use of excessive force when he was caught on jail surveillance cameras repeatedly beating a handcuffed detainee with a metal baton while another deputy watched and shoved the man back when he tried to get away from the blows. The man suffered a broken leg in the attack and the other deputy seen in the video was fired over the incident as well but no word on charges against him.
VIDEO 8 – 7 votes

November 27, 2010:

Four Springfield Massachusetts police officers have been disciplined over their roles in a videotaped beating incident where officers held down an unarmed man while another repeatedly beat him with a flashlight on video captured by a nearby homeowner. One officer, who has been charged over the incident, has been fired while two others were suspended for 45 days and the fourth was suspended for 15. [0]
VIDEO 9 – 8 votes

September 21, 2010:

A Summit County Ohio deputy has been suspended for 30 days over a videotaped incident where he slammed a handcuffed detainee against a wall then sent him head-first into an opposite wall before kicking him in the jail’s intake room. The deputy claims the man tried to headbutt him though the video seems to show a head movement that appears more incidental due to the man being pushed than something intentional. The sheriff attributed this incident, and others this year, to stress over recent layoffs. [0]
VIDEO 10 – 17 votes

September 2010:

The police chief of Wister Oklahoma was caught on video slamming a 50-year-old woman into a wall then using a leg-sweep takedown on her, slamming her face onto the floor. The rough treatment left the woman with a black eye, bruised her ribs, and dislocated her knee. The incident apparently stemmed from the woman swearing at the chief when she went to complain about how the department was handling an investigation into an unspecified resident’s death. The chief charged her with using profanity in public and resisting arrest but no word on any adverse action suffered by the chief.
VIDEO 11 – 9 votes

September 5, 2010:

Six Dallas Texas police officers were involved in this video showing officers chasing a man for riding his motorcycle on a sidewalk then beating him after forcing him off his bike with their police cruiser. One officer was charged with assault for striking the man 5 times with a baton and another for striking him with his fists and knee. A third officer was also charged with evidence tampering for turning his dashcam away from what was happening. One officer was heard on radio during the chase telling them to get in close and that he was going to beat this guy.
VIDEO 12 – 31 votes

March 16, 2010:

Two Denver police officers
are under investigation over a videotaped incident in March of 2010 where they detained a man who was walking his dog because he told a motorist that the officers had pulled over that he would testify on his behalf since he witnessed the driver stop when officers were citing him for failing to stop. However, once the man started to use his cell phone to take pictures officers took him to the ground and began to punch him while attempting to take his cell phone, all of which was caught on another bystander’s video recording.
VIDEO 13 – 19 votes

April 4, 2009:

Two Denver Colorado police officers are still under investigation over a year after an incident that was caught on the police department’s own “HALO” cameras which showed officers take down and beat a man who was simply standing on a street corner and calling his father, a Pueblo County Sheriff’s Deputy, asking him what to do while police were roughly arresting his friend. The video contradicted police reports filed by the officers which tried to justify the beating and arrest but, a year later, department officials decided to only suspend the officers for a couple of days for lying on the report which sparked outrage and the eventual resignation of the Dept of Public Safety director.
VIDEO 14 - 31 votes

June 29, 2010:

Two Marin County California deputies are the subject of a lawsuit filed by a 64-year-old man who was tasered three times in an incident captured on the taser’s built-in camera as shown above. The suit alleges that deputies barged into the man’s home after paramedics had already treated the man for a leg injury when he hurt himself in a fall. Cops were called because paramedics heard the man exclaim that he was in so much pain he would have shot himself if he had a gun and officers wanted to have him committed for being suicidal. He was charged with resisting arrest but those charges were dismissed later by a judge.
VIDEO 15 – 13 votes

February 24, 2010:

Two Columbia Missouri police officers are being sued by a man who was tasered on dashcam video, shown above, about 30 seconds into what appears to be a typical traffic stop after he asked why he was being pulled over. He claims that officers then began to beat him off-camera before arresting him on resisting arrest charges that were later dismissed when the prosecutor couldn’t show how the man could have known why he was being arrested in the first place.
VIDEO 16 – 11 votes

July 2008:

A New York NY police officer shown in this video footage brutally beating an Iraq war vet with a baton in the apartment building where the vet was staying with his mother was later acquitted of charges against him because the man he beat was too terrified to testify and could not be found before the trial. The video was kept from the public eye since 2008 until right before the trial this year.
VIDEO 17 - 60 votes

February 11, 2010:

A Columbia Missouri SWAT team videotaped their raid in on a family’s home that was based on questionable information they received from a paid informant. That raid resulted in a family’s corgi and bull terrier being shot while a 7-year-old was nearby inside the home. The cops say they did the evening raid because they expected this guy to be some big dealer but all they found was a pipe with resin and a grinder. The couple was charged with simple possession and child endangerment but the raid sparked a civil rights lawsuit that is still pending as well as promised reforms from the department itself.
VIDEO 18 – 44 votes

March 3, 2010:

At least four Prince George’s County Maryland police officers and two police commanders are the subject of ongoing federal and internal investigations into their actions in the above video and subsequent actions during the investigation into it. The video contradicted officer’s claims in reports that a student they beat during celebrations after a college basketball game had attacked a police horse. The video clearly showed he did nothing to provoke the attack and his subsequent arrest as well.
VIDEO 19 – 13 votes

March 28, 2010:

A Streamwood Illinois police officer has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for beating a motorist with his baton at least 15 times after he had tasered the man’s passenger and it was all caught on dashcam. The men he tasered and beat were unarmed and didn’t present a threat to the officer who is now on paid leave and may eventually face even more charges in this case.
VIDEO 20 – 6 votes

November 5, 2010:

A South Bend Indiana police officer was suspended for 30 days without pay over what happened in this video. The officer was found to have violated departmental policies when he intentionally hit a suspect with his police cruiser, shattering his knee, while the man was fleeing on foot. The officer claimed he turned into the grass to avoid hitting the suspect but the video was found to have contradicted that claim.
VIDEO 21 – 6 votes

March 24, 2010:

A Newark New Jersey police officer was suspended without pay and indicted for using excessive force and falsifying reports to cover it up after this video surveillance tape captured him assaulting a teenager at an apartment complex without justification. Three other officers present during the incident were reassigned while under investigation but no updates were available in regards to their status. Charges against the 15-year-old boy were dismissed.
VIDEO 22 – 24 votes

February 29, 2009

A Carrollton Texas police officer is the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit over a 2009 incident caught on dashcam video that shows him slamming a man against a car and then to the ground after the man informed him that he had a concealed weapon permit but wasn’t given a chance to show it to officers at the scene. He wasn’t arrested that day because he didn’t do anything wrong… the officers were investigating him on suspicion of stealing license plates but he was just a car salesman putting temp tags on a sold car.

However, when the victim went to file a complaint three weeks later he was arrested and charged with resisting arrest after an officer asked him if he really wanted to pursue this. Since then he claims cops have been intimidating him by parking at his home at night and giving him tickets for parking on the street.
VIDEO 23 – 8 votes

July 18, 2009:

A West Valley Utah police officer is the subject of a lawsuit filed by a man claiming he was picked up and thrown to the ground face-first by the officer who stopped him for allegedly running a stop sign. Apparently the officer tailed him without pulling him over until he got to his girlfriend’s house and then, when he got out of his truck, the officer turned on his lights. The officer then walked up to his truck, shoved him inside of it, then dragged him back out to shoulder-toss him face-first into the pavement while holding his arms behind him so he couldn’t break the fall.
VIDEO 24 – 18 votes

December 11, 2010:

Kenton Ohio police are investigating how the man shown in this video, arrested on drunk and disorderly charges, ended up on life support in the hospital after his family started asking how it happened. This video appears to show one of the officers handling him in a processing area performing a leg sweep on him while he was handcuffed. The thing to remember here is that when someone is handcuffed they are extremely susceptible to severe head injuries since they have no way to brace themselves when thrown down like this and, often, their head takes the full brunt of the impact.
VIDEO 25 – 122 votes

August 30, 2010:

A Seattle Washington police officer is still the subject of an investigation for fatally shooting a Native American woodcarver when he tried to stop him for carrying a block of wood and a legal knife. The man was apparently partially deaf and was wearing earphones so, according to witnesses, it didn’t appear as though he even heard the officer’s commands before that officer opened fire, striking him in the back and the side. Initial press releases from the police stated that the officer fired when the man rushed towards him with the knife but that was withdrawn in the face of contradictory witness statements. Subsequently, it appears as though his knife may not have even been open as it was found closed on the ground near his body. This, and several other cases in the last two years, has sparked calls for a federal investigation into the department.
VIDEO 26 – 11 votes

January 16, 2010:

Phoenix Arizona police officers were accused of indiscriminate use of pepper spray which doused women and children during an anti-Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio protest in that city. While police and some groups in that protest blamed anarchists for provoking police by throwing bottles and hitting a police horse with flagpoles, others claim that protesters were trying to push a mounted officer back when the horse appeared close to trampling protesters as it pushed its way into the mass of protesters, at which point video captures the discharge of pepper spray from that mounted officer. Others also claim that Phoenix PD officers had infiltrated the protesting group of anarchists as provocateurs and began to arrest protesters when the pepper spray was released. This video was a late entry requested for inclusion by a CopBlock reader on Facebook.
VIDEO 27 – 9 votes

October 2010:

A number of Boston Massachusetts police officers are under investigation after videos taken by students at Roxbury Community College showed officers punching and using knee strikes on a 16-year-old who was wanted after escaping custody while held on assault and possession of marijuana charges. While officers claimed that the teen assaulted them, witnesses say he complied with every command given and that the arresting officers never showed their badges. This video was a late entry requested for inclusion by a CopBlock reader on Facebook.
Sorry, the poll has closed.
Please only vote for three entries. Voting ends at Midnight, December 31, 2010.
NOTE: If there’s a video that you think we missed that could be worse than the ones listed here let us know and we’ll add it as a late entry if it qualifies. Late entries are added along with a number of votes that is equal to the median number of votes for all entries at the time of inclusion.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

An awkward question about economists

Here's economist Walter E. Williams on "Fair" trade, with some editing by The International Liberty Blog

The primary issue is whether or not a politician should have power and control over what you can purchase, or at what price:

At first blush, the mercantilists’ call for “free trade but fair trade” sounds reasonable. After all, who can be against fairness? Giving the idea just a bit of thought suggests that fairness as a guide for public policy lays the groundwork for tyranny. …Last summer, I purchased a 2010 LS 460 Lexus, through a U.S. intermediary, from a Japanese producer for $70,000. Here’s my question to you: Was that a fair or unfair trade? I was free to keep my $70,000 or purchase the car. The Japanese producer was free to keep his Lexus or sell me the car. …The exchange occurred because I saw myself as being better off and so did the Japanese producer. I think it was both free and fair trade, and I’d like an American mercantilist to explain to me how it wasn’t. Mercantilists have absolutely no argument when we recognize that trade is mostly between individuals. Mercantilists pretend that trade occurs between nations such as U.S. trading with England or Japan to appeal to our jingoism. …That’s nonsense. Trade occurs between individuals in one country, through intermediaries, with individuals in another country. Who might protest that my trade with the Lexus manufacturer was unfair? If you said an American car manufacturer and their union workers, go to the head of the class. …it’s never American consumers who complain about cheaper prices. It’s always American producers and their unions who do the complaining. That ought to tell us something.

I think Williams once said that he goes to his mailbox every morning to see if he's gotten a government check for not raising pigs.  He never has gotten one.  But lots of millionaire farmers get them every year, millionaire farmers who are no better at not raising pigs than Williams is. 
Even if you're a vehement supporter of corporate welfare, you've got to admit that is funny. 

On a (slightly) related note, "Basic Economics" by Dr. Thomas Sowell has now gone into a 4th edition. 

I have quoted, mis-quoted, mangled, highlighted, posted, and fallen asleep with this book so many times that I'm not going to burden this post with an excerpt.  Just hit the Thomas Sowell label down below. 
The man is brilliant AND readable.  My new copy of the 4th edition (on my truck seat at all times) is already starting to look like it's been owned by 3 different students with too many highlighters. 

This gets me to Glenn Loury, now comfortably situated in Brown University's economics department. 
Loury started his career as a conservative but now calls himself a progressive.  
Loury once had a domestic violence problem, and a Bolivian Marching Powder problem.   (I think he's a libertarian, but hey, Brown U. doesn't hire many of those.  There are some things that an academic just can't admit.) 

Go here to read what Loury had to say about Obama's race speech, the one Obama had to compose after the Revered Wright incident.  Like most of my blog topics, I came across this one while looking online for something else.   
I don't agree with a lot of it, but it is readable.  There is a structure to the sentences.  It flows.  You can see a pattern from paragraph to paragraph. 

So here's my point.  Or my question....
Why are the most readable (and therefore best) living economists all black?