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Savannahmann

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Member since: Thu Aug 30, 2007, 11:50 PM
Number of posts: 3,700

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And so it begins, First campaign attack ad targets Hillary, and it shows a systemic vulnerability.

The other day I asked the question about union support for Hillary, and if she could win without it. The answer I got after a half dozen links in the OP was don't worry, the Unions will support her. No proof, no linked announcements. Just have faith that the party will muddle through to the end and it will be alright on the day.

kpete posted a story about Centrist Dems pushing back against the Warren wing of the Democratic Party. This post was interesting IMO because the Centrist Dems were giving up several populist issues by telling the Left to shut up and sit down. Worse, the Centrists announced they were giving up those populist issues.

This evening, I stumbled across this when I got my email up and running. Here's the story. A Pro-Israel group is asking where Hillary is regarding the speech by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In short, the ad is asking Hillary to come out and make a statement regarding her position on Israel regarding the Iranian nuclear program. This is a trap, an obvious one, but an effective one.

Since Hillary has been Secretary of State, it's assumed that she'd got some serious Foreign Policy experience. So when someone asks a question regarding Foreign Policy, they expect an answer pretty much right away. The NY Times falls into this trap, and sent an email to the Clinton camp asking Hillary's opinion on the ad and if she supports Israel. No response was all that the NY Times got in answer, and that is probably the best answer she could have given.

Gallop has support for Israel at a whopping 64%. That's as high as it has ever been in this particular poll. Now, the ad was put out by the Conservative groups, granted. But this shows a serious weakness in the Democratic party, and how we are positioning ourselves for the 2016 election.

Populist issues are often derided, but the truth is that populist issues have a lot of people behind them, which is why they are referred to as populist. From legalization of Marijuana, to Civil Rights reforms, there are a lot of issues that have popular support. Either pluralities, or outright majorities. So just how many of those populist issues can Democrats eschew and remain serious in the eyes of the public?

Worse, by rejecting the populist issues championed by the left Hillary sets the campaign up as a choice between the RW, and the slightly less RW. As we saw in 2014 when we had lackluster turnout, GOTV works best when we give the people a reason to GOTV. We need to give the people a candidate, a plan, an ideal to vote FOR.

A thirty second ad produced by a Conservative group that supports Israel in perhaps as much as two hours. Released to Youtube, and emailed to the NY Times has struck the mark, and nobody has even announced their intent to become President yet.



No, I'm not suggesting that the election in 2016 will be decided on who supports Israel. I am saying that this is a papercut. A single small insignificant thing by itself. But there is an old saying, the death by a thousand papercuts. A single papercut is insignificant. A thousand would be the death of the candidate on the day. The Democratic Party must embrace those populist issues that are being rejected this early in the campaign. Because without the populist support, all the GOTV efforts in the world won't do a damn thing to help us win.

Can a Democrat or even Hillary win without Union Support?

It seems we are going to find out. One of the problems that comes with a nomination for Hillary is the baggage of additional support for the TPP. Hillary Clinton has long supported Free Trade despite the fact that it costs jobs to American Workers, especially Union workers. http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Hillary_Clinton_Free_Trade.htm

Now, Unions have been very vocal in their opposition to the TPP and especially Fast Track Authority. The AFL-CIO has told Senator Wyden of Oregon that if he supports the TPP or Fast Track that his re-election effort is in serious jeopardy come 2016. 2016 of course, is a Presidential Election year.

So how much support normally comes from Unions to help Democratic Candidates get elected? SEIU has donated more than $220 million dollars to Democratic Candidates and Campaigns. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php In 2012 alone the SEIU donated more than $25 million dollars to Democrats. But their support does not stop with cash, and votes. Union members show up to rallies, they show up and volunteer, they show up and man phone banks to help GOTV. You know, that massive defense against weak campaigns on our side is to shout GOTV, well the Unions are instrumental in GOTV efforts.

35% of Public Employees, and more than 6% of private employees are union. That translates to tens of millions of votes, supporters, and people we have traditionally counted on. For example, If Unions had sat out the election in 2012, President Obama would have won by one percent of the vote. http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/supreme-court-ruling-wounds-both-democrats-and-unions-neither-fatally/

Let's look at 2008 and 2012 again. President Obama won in 2008 with 69,498,516 votes. That was a hair shy of 53% of the vote. In 2012 however, he won with 65,915,796 votes, or 51% of the vote. By contrast, the Republicans picked up a million votes in 2012 from their showing in 2008. While President Obama lost four million votes, the Republicans picked up a million. So three million voters for our side stayed home, and a million switched sides.

There is always some bleeding where Union members vote against their own interests. That's going to happen. Unions don't march in lock step by any stretch of the imagination. However, one thing is apparent. Democratic party chances without Union Support would be reduced to a coin toss. Even if you ignore the risk to the vote totals, you would have to forego not only the money, but the support in manpower of the Unions at events, phone banks, and organization of GOTV efforts.

In short, I don't believe we can win without support from the Unions. Now, will the Unions turn out and throw their money, time, and encourage people to volunteer for a candidate that hopes to gut their members? For the Unions, this is literally both parties being the same. You can now begin to pound on your keyboard about Choice, GLBT rights, horrid records on minorities, and the evil of the Koch machine. But to the Union, it won't matter who is cutting their throat. Is it supposed to make the Union members feel better that their factories are shut down by a treaty signed by Democrats as opposed to a treaty signed by Republicans? Will the Democratic Party position on Gay Marriage somehow keep the Union members employed?

The Unions are telling us that they have a Litmus test this election cycle. It is the TPP. They've warned Senator Wyden, they can't stand by and say oh well the Republicans would be worse. For them, anyone passing the TPP, especially through Fast Track is suicide. Because without the Unions, we are down to risking the election on a roll of the dice. Do the die come up Lucky 7? Or will it be Snake Eyes? If we nominate someone who has supported the TPP and Fast Track with a long history of Free Trade support, the throw of the dice ends up hurting the Unions no matter who wins the election.

This my friends, is one of those Issues that is not reflected in your polling, and one that anyone with a modicum of intelligence is able to see will hamstring us and make even the narrowest of victories uncertain at best. Ok Hillary Supporters, start posting your poll results now and shouting that issues don't matter because it's too early in the election season but the Polls are the only thing that do matter this early.

Very powerfully written.

So the Democratic Party reflects your views 1000 times more than the Republicans. I'm actually very sorry to hear that.

Because this Democratic Party is a pale shadow of the one I respect and love. We used to call on people to strive for the common good, now, we just want them to strive for the good of our richest supporters.

JFK, announced that we would go to the moon. He did not promise us that we would be first, but absent the effort, we would certainly be last. He did not promise it would be easy. In fact he was right up front with us when he said it would be hard.

But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.


Kennedy made no bones about how hard it would be. It would be nearly impossible to do it before the end of the decade, and it would be after he left the White House no matter what happened. So he could not hope to bask in the glory from the Oval Office when man first stepped on the moon. But it was a goal worth achieving, a goal worth striving for. A burden our nation had to shoulder, together.

How about FDR. His brilliant speech on the Four Freedoms. Talk about grand idealism beyond the reach of mortal men.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression -- everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way -- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants -- everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor -- anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.


I could go on, and on, and on. I could list speeches from the Senate about how our world could be better, but we must strive together to reach that place. I could quote Supreme Court decisions that ordered equality and freedom.

Now days, it seems all I can quote is the disappointments. No charges will be filed by a Democratically managed Justice Department over the murder of unarmed black men. No charges will be filed in the actions of the police to abuse the citizenry of their civil rights. We can't go for Single payer, it's too hard. Imagine my disappointment when I realize the same party that told the world we were going to the moon because it was hard now announces that we can't do things, things that need to be done, because it is too hard.

We used to reach towards the stars, and we reached the moon. We used to strive to improve mankind, and we used to speak from the heart as we described our dreams. Dreams that inspired generations before us. Dreams that filled hearts with joy, the downtrodden with hope, and filled the Congress with Democrats.

Today, we don't dream big, we dream of winning. We don't know what we'll do if we win, but we want to win. We had giants who stood on the mountain and cried out the hopes of the people. Now, we have mice who squeek that the cat won't let us do anything.

I am terribly disappointed in the Democratic Party. I'm disappointed that we aren't doing more. That we aren't striving to right the wrongs. That we aren't holding our hands out and helping the lowest among us stand beside us. I'm disappointed that we have forsaken the ideals of those great men and women who came before us. Some of those older than even myself marched in protests to demand that Blacks be given the right to vote. That segregation be abolished once and for all.

Think about that. Think about it for a minute. There was a time when people like you, and I and most of the folks here would have marched in protests to demand justice for the abused minorities. I marched, and I stood there and demanded that people recognize AIDS was a killer and we should strive for a cure. I protested the asinine sodomy charges that too many of our brothers and sisters endured. I protested an end to the threat of Nuclear War.

We used to demand more from our elected leaders. We used to demand more of our Government. Now we're happy to get less, so long as the other side doesn't get anything. We have become the party that exists for one reason, to oppose anything the Republicans support, and to support anything that the Republicans oppose. That isn't a political party. That isn't even a good script for a half assed B movie about politics.

But this is good for you. This is what you want to see. This is perfect, the awesome culmination of a lifes work, and generations of dreams.

I'm saddened. I'm convinced that those Giants, FDR, Truman, and JFK. I'm convinced that those men would spit on us and call us cowards. I feel certain that those greats who set a standard that we should all strive for would be ashamed to be in the same party with us.

LBJ was a low point, but sadly he seems to have been the mold for the rest of those that came next. Because after LBJ, it seems that we've become casual, relaxed. It's good enough, it's almost like our motto became that of a half assed repairman. That'll do.

That attitude would have prevented Bobby Kennedy from trying to do more after he had given his Brother to the world. But even despite that, Teddy Kennedy stood up and said he would take up the mantle. While he wasn't nominated, he did serve this nation until his death in the Senate, giving us many speeches and votes, and laws that strove to make a difference. That'll do never entered his vocabulary. He fought until the very end for what he believed in. Always striving to do more.

We've set our sights so low that we're in no danger of tripping over them. That's not a good thing. That's not something to cheer. It's something to lament. This is why so many people tune us out. This is why there were four million fewer voters for President Obama in 2012 than in 2008. Because we have decided that'll do is good enough. We don't need to try harder than that.

State Judges pushing back against Stingray.

Stingray, those devices designed to mimic cell phone towers so that the law enforcement types can track people are in the news again. This time, an article showing how the Courts are pushing back against them. The reason is that the FBI and Homeland Security have made nondisclosure agreements with the police departments about the devices. These agreements appear to the Judges, not to mention little old me who hasn't driven within a mile of a law school to violate the 6th Amendment's confrontation clause.

The Washington Post reports and links to other news stories about the same subject.

In short, the Defense attorneys ask the police how they tracked the suspect using his cell phone. The Police give a vague answer. The Defense attorney asks questions for specific information and the police say they can't answer because of nondisclosure agreements, or some vague reference to national security and how it will be harmed if the answer is given. The Prosecutors so far are withdrawing the evidence rather than allow it into open court, which brings up a good question. Why are the police using techniques and technology that are obviously inadmissible in court?

Let's put it another way. You get arrested for suspicion of a crime, say murder. The police beat a confession out of you, and during the beating you expose the location of the murder weapon. It has your finger prints and DNA on it. During the trial, the prosecutor withdraws the confession, but is allowed to use the gun with fingerprints and DNA which was obtained during the torture. That would be wrong to me. Anything that resulted from the Cell Phone data should be suppressed until the Police are left with nothing but swearing they know this is the bad guy and you'll just have to take his word for it because nothing else is available to prove the guilt. A search warrant would be problematic because the probable cause for the warrant was itself inadmissible in court.

But that's my opinion. I post this so you can see what is going on, and if you feel as strongly as I do, toss out a fuck you to the law enforcement types that are abusing this technology every day.

Hillary the inevitable.

We are told that Hillary is inevitable. The supporters tell us we have no other choice. No one else is running, although Hillary hasn't announced yet either, and even if they did, they can't win against insert Republican candidate here. I've mentioned lately that it's a shame that we have to settle for Hillary, and that got me to thinking. When they tell us how inevitable Hillary is, or how unbeatable she is, there is no long list of accomplishments. There isn't a vision for America that will inspire. The most that the supporters tell us is that she's better than any Republican.

That's like saying a broken leg is better than a heart attack. Sure it is, but nobody wants a broken leg either. We aren't hearing how inspiring Hillary is. We aren't hearing how this is the culmination of a life of political activism. When we look at her record, it's at best mediocre if we're honest. Being one of the Democratic Senators who voted for George W. Bush's war in Iraq is not exactly a plus point to many here.

So I thought I'd toss a poll out. I'll give you the results now. More people would prefer Hillary as President over a sharp stick in the eye. This isn't saying that she's a great candidate who is able to unify people to vote for her. It's just given two pretty lousy choices, she is slightly less objectionable than the alternative. However, that is not a way to get the voters to turn out and vote for you.

Let's be honest. It's a bit of a hassle to go and vote. In my case I have to get the car, drive five miles to the "community center" and then find a parking place somewhere in a grassy field. Then I have to make my way it, present ID to the first desk. Fill out a card that says what is on my ID. Then I go to the second table where they compare the card I filled out with the voter registration rolls. If the card I filled out matches my voter registration information I'm good to go. Then they give me a smart card and I can now wait for a machine to open up. Once a machine is available, then I can go and use the touch screen computer to cast my ballots for whomever I choose. Quite the effort if you can imagine.

So what is going to motivate people to go through this. Is it a chance to vote against Republicans? For most people, no. They don't show up to vote against a party, or a candidate. They prefer to have someone to vote for. If Hillary is the candidate, I don't think we're going to get a whole lot of people waiting in the three lines to cast a ballot against the Republicans. Early voting is even worse.

So we have to inspire people. We have to give them something to vote for. So here is your chance today my friend. Would you prefer Hillary as the Democratic Nominee? Or would you prefer a sharp stick in the eye. Ok, we have the results. Sharp stick in the eye is a distant second. I guess Hillary is inevitable when you put the question that way.

John Geer had his hands up according to four police witnesses.

Now I know the defenders of the Thin Blue Li(n)e are always quick to point out how the police have to believe that any movement could be a threatening move to grab a weapon or something like that. Yet in the case of John Geer who was shot and killed by a police officer in 2013 and the investigation has been going on for 17 months. The Family petitioned the court and won an order to get the documents being held by the District Attorney.

Here is what we know. Adam Torres shot and killed Geer claiming that Geer who was standing behind his screen door with his hands up suddenly reached towards his waistband as if reaching for a weapon. Torres was the only officer to shoot and killed Geer.

Four other police officers including a Lieutenant who were present all said they saw Geer make no motions, his hands never went below his shoulders, and he never reached for his waistband.

Torres had been arguing with his wife, presumably by cell phone, on the way to the domestic disturbance report.

Now, four cops say the victim did not reach for anything, but one cop does. So what does the DA do? For seventeen month they have been investigating. Seriously? If someone had shot a cop in front of four witnesses the trial would have been over and the sentence would be in progress in less than seventeen months.

Here are two links, I know some people detest the Washington Post, or is it the Times? I never can remember. But anyway, here are two links so you know I'm not single sourcing the information.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Family-of-John-Geer-Glad-More-Details-Unraveling-in-Fatal-Shooting-290601401.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/officer-who-shot-john-geer-says-he-moved-hands-toward-waist-3-other-officers-say-no/2015/01/31/7cc2c0da-a7f6-11e4-a06b-9df2002b86a0_story.html

Seventeen months, four police officers who saw the assassination, and no charges have been filed. What does it take to charge a cop who murders someone? Apparently it is going to take an act of God, because nobody else seems willing to take action on this painfully obvious crime.
Posted by Savannahmann | Wed Feb 4, 2015, 01:19 PM (8 replies)

Look, it's no big deal. So the police were shooting black teen mugshots.

Seriously. I could pretend this was being made up. But it isn't. It's really happening. But no policy was violated.



Look, the Chief was interviewed, and he said that there was no policy violation, and nothing wrong with the police officers shooting mugshots of black teens. They even talked to the Major Kathy Katerman, who said the police often shoot at mugshots of latinos, whites, and even women. Now, she's a white woman, so if anyone would have the right to shoot at some pictures of white women....... Or something.

Major Kathy Katerman told HuffPost that the department has multiple lineups for target practice. Some feature only white men, others are all Latino and one features photos of only women.

"The public thinks there should be one woman and one white man and one black, but that's not really what test is about," Katerman said. "We have targets of all races."

Police Chief Scott Dennis told NBC South Florida that officers used poor judgment. No one would be punished, however, Dennis said.


In other news, Congress isn't moving nearly fast enough on the killing cops is a hate crime thing. Damn it, the cops have a tough job, or something.

Adoption, the conventional wisdom is it's bad. I have a little experience, and I say Pfui.

Now, that means I was adopted. But wait, there is more to the story. My brother was also adopted. Now, I don't know if he's my real biological brother and I don't care. My Father was adopted by his parents.

There has been a growing trend in the media, that children who are adopted are always missing something because they don't have access to their genetic roots. I say this is nonsense. A family is about love. I mean unconventional love, understanding, and support. I have come to the aid of my brother, and he's come to mine. My Father supported me and loved me until the day he died. http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/please-dont-tell-me-i-was-lucky-to-be-adopted/2014/12/31/9e9e9472-6f48-11e4-ad12-3734c461eab6_story.html

I've never searched for my biological mother, father, or siblings. I have no intention of doing so. Part of my outlook on life is that People make the best choices for themselves and their families. So whoever my biological mother was, it doesn't matter. She made her choice, and I don't need to understand the why, the why doesn't matter. I was loved like any child. When I was a boy and I got hurt I saw the terror in the faces of my parents. I saw the horror that I had been injured. They paid for clothing, toys, school, braces, dental work, and all the other associated costs.

I don't care what my genetic tree looks like. I don't care where my ancestors came from. Nothing they did is my fault, nor my problem. I don't care if my ancestors were pirates in the Caribbean, or peasant workers in Lithuania. I am speaking of my biological family.

A Father is more than the guy who injected the semen that combined with the egg to start you. A Father teaches you right, and wrong. A Father tells you when you've done well, and when you haven't. He shows you the strength it takes to work a long career, day in and out, through good times and bad. A Father stands up beside you when you've done well, and when you've done something wrong and are about to have punishment handed out. I was fortunate to have one that loved me, and stood by me in good, and bad. When I had earned accolades and chastisement, he was there.

A Mother is more than the woman who carries you in her womb. She tends to your injuries, comforts you when you're sick, smiles when you're happy. She watches you and works with your Father to teach you those lessons you need so desperately. She teaches you that there is more than you, and then more than the family. They teach you your duties, and responsibilities to the family, the community, the society, the nation, and the people of the world. Decades of effort go into being a Mother, and I can't imagine having a better one than I had.

Decades go into being a parent.

Now, neither my Brother, nor I have ever had any desire to seek out our Birth Parents. When I called to talk to my folks about my decision to marry. My mother blurted out that she thought I had called to say I was searching out my Birth Parents. I know she could hear my frown over the phone. Why I asked her. She explained that those stories were all on the news, and she just figured I would want to. I told her then the one truth I have known since my earliest memory. I have parents, and I love them, and they have never shown me anything but love. Even when they punished me to teach me a lesson, I knew love.

Robert Frost said that Home was the place when you have to go there, they have to take you in. I had a home, and I put that to the test. During my life I have experienced some setbacks, as we all have. I had to go home. I moved into the basement, and I was welcomed. No questions other than how they could help me.

So to all of those who think that you are supposed to feel lost, adrift, or somehow incomplete if you aren't part of your biological family. I can tell you this. You are supposed to feel how you feel. I don't know why my Biological mother gave me up. I believe that she did it because she thought it was best for her, and me. I am in no position decades later to question her decision. I have no right to judge her now, decades later, for her choices. Those choices do not make me what I am.

While it is true we have genetic predispositions. Cancer, heart disease, and all of that and then some. What makes us who we are is our environment. The lessons we learn, from our parents, our schools, literature, and life make us who we are. I was not born a Democrat. I was not born Liberal. I was born. I learned the rest as time went by. I was not born to respect the ideals of right and wrong. I was taught that.

I have no idea who my Biological mother or Father was. I don't know why they gave me up. I don't know what happened to them afterwards. I don't care. While I obviously hope they lived long and fulfilling lives, I don't care about them more than anyone else alive at that time. My Family raised me, stood me on my feet, and gently nudged me out into the world. When I had to circle back to the nest, they welcomed me home. When they passed from this world, I wept at the loss, and thanked them for making me a good person, a good man.

I am grateful I had good parents. That they did not bring me into this world is irrelevant. I am grateful because I appreciate their sacrifice and effort. Because I was adopted, I know this truth. They would have done the same for any child that had been blessed to arrived in their hearts and called family. That's why I feel lucky. Because that child was me and my Brother.

Oh, and my Brother married a woman who had a child. That child did not understand why our family loved her without reservation. She did not understand for a couple years why we cared for her, and why we welcomed her so much.

She finally understood. You don't get born into our family. You get loved in.

The good cop conundrum.

There has been an argument going on for a while not just here, but all over. One side says that there are plenty of good cops you just don't hear about. The other side argues that they can't be that good if they lie, and assist others in lying. So in another thread I asked a what if. I wanted to start another thread with this.

Scenario, and let me make absolutely clear that this is a scenario, not a real event in my life.

In this scenario, I'm a Deacon in my church, a well respected member of the congregation, and of the community. My neighbor is also a member of the church, and attends every Sunday. He's generous with his time, helping people who need things fixed, an accomplished handy man sort of guy. He helped Mrs. Smith when her heater broke last winter. We'll call my notional neighbor Bob. Bob has a wife and kids, and I know them.

Bob was out on Thursday night. Bob was out and I know it because I saw him drive off in his truck. Friday morning Bob asks me to do him a little favor. If anyone asks, he was with me last night, and we watched the ball game. I agree. Later, I find that Bob is accused of raping a girl. She's in intensive care. I know Bob, and know that just isn't like him. I tell the police Bob was with me, and they put the case on hold. Because the word of a man like me is enough to stop the prosecution. Nobody is going to say that I, a man active in all those things is a liar on the record in court. The jury just wouldn't believe it.

I'm a deacon in the church. Active in charities. I help the homeless, and I donate to the animal shelter. Am I a bad guy in this scenario? I justify the lie this way. I know Bob, he's a great guy. Dependable, and if he's convicted, his wife will never be able to make it without him. His kids will grow up without a Daddy. It's just one lie. I'm a good guy, an eagle scout back in the day. One lie doesn't change all of that does it? Not one little lie and I don't know that woman, and she's nobody to me. Bob is a friend, and a neighbor, and this woman isn't in my church, and doesn't live here. She's a stranger and thus one of them. Bob is one of us. He stayed with me when my Dad died, and helped me through it. He was a pallbearer when old Pastor Hayes passed away. Who is this woman compared to that?

Does the lie change it? I have long argued that yes, the lie changes it. All your good works, all your good deeds have just gone up in smoke in my opinion. But I am anxious to hear your opinions. Does the lie make you a bad guy? Or is it understandable that you would lie, expected really in that situation.

If your word isn't good all the time, not just a vast majority of the time, then it isn't good ever in my experience or opinion.

Question, what if we treated police shootings like aircraft accidents?

If anyone has ever watched television documentaries, or docudrama's about aircraft accidents you know how extensive the investigation to find out what happened, and why is. No stone is left unturned. The investigators seek to understand the effects of everything. Design of the aircraft, weather, procedures, crew behavior, training. The questions they ask about every piece of information is what, and why.

The author of this article points out how the aircraft crash investigations are run, and how we could apply that model to our police force.

I'll summarize it, probably too much. Partly because aircraft accident investigation is one of the documentaries that I like to watch, and I love learning about how things work, and how a little mistake can lead to a catastrophic result. Perhaps it's taught me to think ahead somewhat.

The accident happens, and the "go team" from the NTSB is sent. These are experts in specific subfields of aircraft investigations. Pilot training experts, materials experts, weather experts. All of them start out trying to figure out what happened. One tool that has made it much easier to determine the cause of the accident is the recording devices. The Flight Data recorder shows what the plane was doing. The inputs to the controls, the behavior of the engines, as much data as they can get. The other half of that data is the cockpit voice recorder. This records all the sounds in the cockpit giving the investigators a history of every alarm, every spoken word, the wind rushing, the bangs and groans the plane may make.

This information is vital in finding out as exactly as possible, what happened. But they don't stop there. If there are recordings at Air Traffic Control, they want them. If there are tapes of Radar, they want them. If a guy took a picture with his camera, they want it. They want every piece of information they can get, and they want pilot information especially. Was the pilot drinking or taking drugs before the accident? A drug and alcohol check will tell us that. What was the health of the pilot? When did he sleep last? What did he eat and when?

By the way, I work in an industrial setting. Heavy equipment, and lots of weight being moved about. If there is an accident at work, we have to provide a sample to rule out drug and alcohol playing a part. If you go to the Hospital, you will provide a sample there. It's part of the insurance regulations, and it's part of the workmen's' comp regulations. I've done that, had an accident and been cleared of the presence of drugs or alcohol that may have impaired my ability to perform my job.

Now, for aircraft, the airline gets to offer whatever information they have to the investigators, they don't get to hide anything, or claim that a single document is classified or restricted. They provide everything to the investigators. The same with the manufacturer.

Imagine if American Airlines plane crashed outside your town. American shows up with representatives from Boeing (not suggesting either Boeing or American are doing this, just picked their names out of the air as an example) and say they will be investigating it and you all can go away. They'll tell you what happened later. They announce that the plane is the safest thing in the air, and the pilot was great. It must have been an act of God. Then a second plane crashes, and a third, and so on and all that. Then video surfaces of pilots finishing their drinks and popping a bunch of pills before they board the plane to fly. The airline says that is an isolated incident, and one bad apple shouldn't prejudge the rest of the fine pilots. Video surfaces of people putting wings on the plane with duct tape. The manufacturer says it was a one off mistake, no reason to suggest all the other planes are less than safe.

You would picket and demand that no airplanes fly over your neighborhood. You wouldn't accept the word of either group ever again. No amount of internal reforms would be enough.

Yet, for Police, we do just that. No drug or alcohol checks. No suggestion that the officer did anything wrong. No one outside of the police agency can investigate the incidents.

The end result of the aircraft investigation is a narrative of what happened, and the mistakes that were made. The suggestions to prevent another accident are also included. A change in the design of the plane. Different training. A policy change, or procedure change. New regulations about what can or can't be done.

As an example, did you know it was a violation of regulations to have the pilots discussing anything but the plane during take off or landing? Checklist errors have led to crashes, and the pilots were usually, but not always, discussing something else besides the plane. Just normal people having a normal conversation. But it was dangerous enough that the pilots are now prohibited from doing that during preparations for take off or landing.

That regulation was made to make sure that future accidents were prevented. Because we don't want a world in which our weather report includes sheet metal showers and intermittent bodies.

We should have an incident investigation team that examines the use of deadly force every time. Not from inside the department, or even the city. But hand picked people who have one goal, to make sure that each incident was absolutely necessary. Does this incident provide a glimpse into poor training or a bad policy?

But we need information to conduct those investigations. We need recordings, video and audio to show what the officer saw, and heard. We need to look at those to see if there is a training change that can be made to reduce mistakes. Perhaps the officer could stand a little further away, further from the danger. Perhaps he can be taught that the weapon is his last resort, not a routine response. Perhaps it's anger management training and the effort to make the police set aside emotional response instead of ramping up the me cop you obey mentality.

We need a police incident investigation board. We need to know exactly what happened, but more, we need to know what went wrong and what we can do to prevent it from happening again if at all possible. We aren't going to get that with the current system. But we need to get there as soon as possible.
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