My friend Fritz, Opus 5

You were a stranger to yourself for most of your life Thomas. What say you now?


 

I have returned to my somber place.  It holds the solace of constancy.  I no longer live here in the physical sense, yet I have lived here all of my life. This life. Here I am Jack Torrance in the Overlook Hotel. You have always been the caretaker here, Mr. Torrance…

 

What say you now, Thomas?

I think I died here Fritz.

Yet you live and breath here now. That can not be.

And why not? You are dead, and yet here you are.

I am not here, Thomas. I am only in your head.

 

This was true. I had not admitted this to myself before, but in that moment grasped the truth of it.

 

My former self then.

Ahh, I see. You believe this, do you? Is this the reason you insist on returning to this place?

I am not certain what I believe Fritz. I suspect that you know, but will not say.

Not will not. Can not.

What is it that prohibits you from saying?

Because I do not have this answer, my friend. Only you do.

 

What say you now, Thomas? It occurred to me that as I am yet confined to the living it is only I who sense the immediacy of the question. Fritz is dead, so he may wait an eternity for my answer. It is only when I find the answer that our timelines may agree.

 

I have been a stranger to myself for most of my life and now I say that I am still a stranger.

I think you believe this.

I do. But…. it is not true, is it? And that is why I return to this place.

Are you asking?

Maybe.

We do not deal in maybes, you and I.

 

A hot wind stirs the trees today, the leaves sigh in that timeless symphony.  The waters of Darby Creek flow still and everything else moves in this place where time remains still. I decided I should sidestep the question.

 

When I was a boy, Fritz, lightning struck in the same spot up on that hill. On the 4th of July. Once, and then again in the very same spot, a year to the day later.

Yes, Thomas. I recall it. I was here.

 

This surprised me. I don’t suppose that it should have, but it did. I had been there, but was then unaware of his presence.

 

Are you God?

I am God as you are God.

But….God is dead.

He is indeed, for we have killed him.

No, Fritz. Not we. I have killed him.

You have answered the question then, Thomas. You are no longer a stranger to yourself.

But what does that mean?

 

He was gone again and I had only the sighing trees to answer me.

Wait… what? Vol. 66

Here at the Inn we are debating the incorporation of a weekly film feature.  Our thoughts were to select films which bear a theme in keeping with the current times. To that end we have two leading candidates:

Blazing Saddles – a film depicting one black American’s single handed struggle against institutional racism

OR

Cider House Rules – a film depicting those who write rules for others who are not beholden to those same rules themselves

 

They are both solid contenders, but we’d like to hear what you think. Let us know and we’ll get back to you.

The Paradiso

Morning tea in darkness

amid temporal fugues

I am now the waning crescent

Unfinished cigarettes burn

The ash drops; smoke rises

joining transmissions incomplete

Echoes of the Paradiso

weary of being hustled

and no longer wish to explain

to those who can hear

but refuse to listen

With dead souls that awake in the night

we leave the literal

I will now sleep in the day

 

How Militarized Police Can Attract the Wrong Officers

This is actually a first for the Ale 81 Inn. Below is featured commentary from Trevor Burrus of the Cato Institute. Originally published at the Daily Caller on 24 June, this was reposted in today’s edition of the Bongino Report.  Burrus’ piece underscores a number of the concerns identified in a Doom and Reprisal story featured here, A Fourth of July Tale, dated 3 July 2019.  https://ale81inn.com/2019/07/03/a-fourth-of-july-tale/


 

Last week, police in the small town of Moundsville, West Virginia received a military vehicle designed to withstand mines. The Mine‐​Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle was given to the town (population 9,318 in the 2010 census) by the federal government as part of the “1033 program,” which distributes surplus military gear to local law enforcement agencies.

As we engage in a national dialog about reforming police, we should ask not only why a small town with two murders since 2005 would need such a vehicle, but how such military gear and tactics affect who chooses to become a police officer. De‐​militarizing our police should not only be about taking away gear that is too often used to conduct violent raids on nonviolent suspects; it should also be about reforming the mindset, held by too many officers, that they are soldiers going to war against their fellow citizens.

After the unrest in Ferguson in 2014, the militarization of police became a rightful object of criticism and concern. Why do our police increasingly look like soldiers in a warzone? Why do police average around 124 SWAT raids per day, nationwide, at a time when crime has dropped to rates that haven’t been seen since the 60s? Why do so many cops seem willing to commit casual acts of violence even when they’re being filmed, as is being documented in an ongoing Twitter thread from criminal defense attorney T. Greg Doucette?

Today’s idea of a police officer is no longer the whistling, baton‐​twirling officer who will assist an old lady with her groceries and help little Timmy get find his stolen bike. While such things still happen around the country, and there are many neighborly cops around, the image of policing has drastically changed. That image is what matters, because it’s what many prospective cops have in their head when they decide to pursue this career.

shocking recruitment video produced by the SWAT team of Hobbs, New Mexico (population 33,405 in the 2010 census) highlights the problem. Over a grinding metal soundtrack, police are shown undergoing military training, practicing with assault rifles, throwing grenades, traveling in armored vehicles, training as snipers, and much more. Perhaps the most disturbing thing in the video is the first line, “The rules of engagement of SWAT are simple: Defeat the enemy … any way you can.” The video clearly implies, “join the police if you want to break down doors and bust some heads.”

While there are exceptional times when such weapons and tactics might be required, a police department should consider it an achievement if military weapons and tactics are never used. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be true, as police around the country continually use military‐​style raids, mostly to serve search warrants for drugs. Perhaps that’s not surprising if many police officers start complaining “what the hell? I was told I could throw grenades, break down doors, and bash heads, not find some kid’s stolen bike.”

The Hobbs video, and many more like it, also highlight a more general problem of police often being tone deaf to the messages they convey. For example, during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, a police officer—who had evidently come to the city to help with crowd control—was photographed wearing a shirt with a menacing, baton wielding cop hovering over the Denver skyline with the words “we get up early to beat the crowds, 2008 DNC.” This stunning endorsement of casual violence has shown up in other places, including on a shirt commemorating the 2012 NATO summit.

All of this points to a crucial aspect of policing that is difficult to easily reform: department culture. Some departments are paragons of honor and duty. New recruits are socialized into a system of accountability and respect for citizens’ rights. Far too many departments, however, are beset with the warrior cop mentality (to borrow a phrase from the Washington Post’s Radley Balko, whose book The Rise of the Warrior Cop is the definitive text on this issue). In those departments, officers will high‐​five a colleague for wearing the “we get up early…” shirt and ask where they can get one for themselves.

Rolling back our militarized police forces won’t be easy. While ending the distribution of dangerous military gear to local police is a good idea, we will also have to deal with the gear that is already out there. There are 1,098 MRAPs currently distributed to local law enforcement, according to records from the Defense Logistics Agency that administers the 1033 program. Additionally, there are myriad assault rifles, grenade launchers, tactical body armor, and much more. Moreover, even without the 1033 program, police can and do acquire military gear on their own.

Local governments can limit police acquisitions of military gear, but they will have to go through the police unions, which can hold a lot of power, especially on the local level. Yet given the current fervor for police reform, it may be possible to overcome the unions. One possibility is to push for further transparency. We know surprisingly little about when, how, and why militarized raids are used. Local jurisdictions, as well as the states and the federal government, should push for laws that require police to extensively report the nature and justifications for such raids.

Increased transparency would be a sign of progress, but unfortunately it won’t do much to reform departments with entrenched cultures of unaccountability and casual violence. Fixing those will require a deeper look at the type of people who choose to become cops in the first place.

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TREVOR BURRUS

Trevor Burrus is editor in chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review and co‐​host of the weekly podcast “Free Thoughts,” from lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org.

Rise of the Cannibals

Watching the parchment burn

Mocking leers peek out from the embers

The lines preserved in ashen shells

though none can read their meaning

Their ill winds disperse the ruins

to the great desert beyond

Tending their fragile oases

with fear and shame

Blind

to the sandstorm approaching

Our dying breath

to laugh at your failures

Your children will eat you