Law Enforcement Spox Feel Much the Same as the Military

It's not a poll like the Military Times piece, but this article does capture the perspective of leaders of police organizations like the Fraternal Order of Police.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the kindest words for Obama came from a former Bush Administration official.
"You can’t in all fairness say that Obama is anti-police,” said Larry Thompson, a former deputy attorney general under George W. Bush. “If you read his statements, they’re not anti-police. But I do think the department and the administration have been too quick to point an accusatory finger at the police when these incidents have happened. Whether that’s accurate, it’s a perception you have to deal with and I think it will change under Sessions.”
Some of the others didn't feel it was at all unfair to suggest that the President was anti-police.

I suppose if I were a left-leaning individual who was afraid that Trump was going to usher in an authoritarian regime, I would be worried by these clear demonstrations of affection for him by police and the military (and especially the military over-represented on the front line, meaning the enlisted, the Army, and the Marine Corps). I suspect I would read this as confirmation that 'my side' was going to be quashed, and that the police would feel that they had a free hand to do some quashing without fear of repercussions from on high.

But, as AVI says, evidence is ambiguous. I think that's similar to the point Tom and I were discussing from Aristotle, the other day:
We must be content, then, in speaking of such subjects and with such premisses to indicate the truth roughly and in outline, and in speaking about things which are only for the most part true and with premisses of the same kind to reach conclusions that are no better. In the same spirit, therefore, should each type of statement be received; for it is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.
Of course, 'what is most probable' can look quite different to two different people who bring different assumptions to the table. You aren't going to get a scientific proof that could calm the heart.

I had a similar conversation recently with someone who is genuinely afraid of Trump and what he represents. She was worried that his administration plans to shrink the National Security Council down to around 150 people, from about 400. "But that's the size it used to be," I said, "and the reason President Obama grew it so much is that he likes to run things from the White House, rather than giving the departments more of their own head. Shouldn't you be relieved that the NSC is shrinking, and that career bureaucrats at the departments will thus have more control over the day to day operations of the government?"

She was not relieved. I imagine she would be no more relieved to learn that the police are looking forward so strongly to Jeff Sessions.


E Hines said...

I suppose if I were a left-leaning individual.... I suspect I would read this as confirmation that 'my side' was going to be quashed....

That would be because, as a left-leaning individual, you'd be projecting your own empirically demonstrated favoring of authoritarianism onto everyone else.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

I don't think that's fair as a general claim about any possible left-leaning individual. Certainly it happens in particular cases.

However, lets say you were a left-leaning individual who believed (as President Obama probably does) in the basic validity of BLM's arguments about structural racism and police. Then the facts look like this:

1) Jeff Sessions was denied a Federal judgeship because he was accused of expressing racist sentiments.

2) Donald Trump, whom you believe expressed racist sentiments on the campaign trial, appointed Sessions to head the Justice Department.

3) All these police organizations and spokespeople are expressing their relief that they will not have to fear being called out on structural racism.

Conclusion: The police and the Trump administration are aligned in wanting to take the breaks off police brutality toward black Americans.

I don't think that's true, but it looks to me like a perfectly plausible calculation if you share the assumptions. It has nothing to do with any sense of yours that you'd like to oppress someone else; it just follows from the facts plus the assumptions.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Obama inserted himself into a local police matter in Cambridge in his first few months of office. He strongly suggested the officers - including a black police officer - had treated Henry Louis Gates unfairly, without having gotten all the facts himself.

As for your generous interpretation of why some liberals fear, I am sure that it describes at least some individuals. Yet I have grown ever-more convinced over the years that most of us, and most especially liberals, operate at a my tribe/enemy tribe level.

MikeD said...

Yet I have grown ever-more convinced over the years that most of us, and most especially liberals, operate at a my tribe/enemy tribe level.

That, unfortunately, has been my experience as well. And it's caused me no small amount of discomfort. When you relegate your political opponents to enemies who are only motivated out of stupidity, ignorance, or outright evil there can be no discussion or compromise. And I know people both on the left and the right who think this way. And I'll not sit here and try to convince you that NO one out there supports the opposite political camp out of those motivations, but it would be the overwhelming minority. Most people who oppose abortion do so out of a fundamental belief that it is murder (or more properly, infanticide). Most couldn't give a damn about "controlling women and their reproduction", but that is what many on the left earnestly believe is the actual motivation. Likewise, most supporters of enhanced gun control do so out of a desire to see a decrease in gun violence (never mind the actual fact that only about 10,000 homicides a year are attributable to guns at all, and that this number has been on a decline since the 1980s), and not (as some on the right think) that they seek to disarm Americans so they can be more easily thrown into FEMA death camps.

The problem is, when you don't personally know someone who earnestly believes in a different political philosophy (and know them more than merely in passing) it becomes far too easy to dismiss that they might believe the things they say in the same way you believe the things you do, and instead construct a strawman who believes patently stupid things. Its comforting to live in that bubble, sure. But ultimately, it's bad for our Republic to simply assume our political opponents are not just differently motivated citizens, but instead our resolute enemies.

E Hines said...

I don't think that's fair as a general claim about any possible left-leaning individual.

You appear to run with a different set of left-leaning individuals than I do.

Your "facts" 1-3 illustrate projection quite nicely. As does MikeD's Most couldn't give a damn about "controlling women and their reproduction", but that is what many on the left earnestly believe is the actual motivation even more clearly. Those on the left who believe anti-abortionists are merely trying to "control[] women and their reproduction" insist on doing exactly that concerning themselves, and they're assuming everyone else is trying to do exactly that to them.

I'll soften the breadth of my claim about left-leaning individuals favoring authoritarianism, though. Mike and I had a similar discussion some years ago on another blog, and what I was talking about then is what I'm talking about now: the leadership for the most part.


It wasn't a right-leaning individual who said they were negotiating with terrorists over the terms of lifting a government shutdown. It wasn't a right-leaning individual who called those who disagreed with them hostage takers. It wasn't a right-leaning individual who questioned the patriotism of of those who declined to do things his way.

It wasn't a right-leaning non-leadership individual who said a woman should be gang raped or held down and her mouth crapped into because she disagreed with her policies. It wasn't a right-leaning non-leadership individual who routinely referred to tea partiers--who disagreed even with less right-leaning individuals--as tea baggers. It isn't a right-leaning non-leadership individual who says those who disagree with her are preaching divisiveness.


I haven't heard any left-leaning individual, leader or rank-and-file or commoner, decry those behaviors.

Eric Hines

Cassandra said...

...ultimately, it's bad for our Republic to simply assume our political opponents are not just differently motivated citizens, but instead our resolute enemies.


I often have a hard time understanding how my more-liberal friends think, or appreciating the things they value highly (anywhere as much as they do). Likewise, I have trouble understanding how they can so easily dismiss some of my values and the arguments I find persuasive.

But I know each of them to be good, decent, intelligent people who live their lives pretty much the same way I've lived mine. I also know them to be just as open to arguments from the 'other side' as people on 'my side' are (namely, to a limited degree, when they're not being attacked or backed into a corner). But entertaining opposing arguments is not the same as being persuaded by them. The best outcome I see - frequently - is that hearing rational arguments for conservative policies calms their fears (some of which are the same fears, by the way, that I hear daily from conservatives, and some the polar opposites of our fears) and helps them see that the other side aren't all deranged wildebeests hell bent on destroying America.

My best and oldest friend in particular keeps saying, "How do we persuade people to *listen* to each other?"

I suspect we're only willing to listen to folks we already care about.

Cassandra said...

Another thought I've had frequently is that liberals and conservatives differ greatly in "what they expect to happen if we adopt policy X".

Case in point: increasing the minimum wage to $15. If most liberals really *believed* doing this would result in fewer jobs for women and minorities and teens, they wouldn't support the policy. But that's *not* what they believe - many of them really believe that few/no jobs will be lost and women and minorities and teens will have more money to spend (and this will ultimately make everyone better off). They really believe increased consumer spending will offset higher labor costs and businesses with low profit margins will therefore be able to pay these higher wages.

And the problem is that there are liberal economists who produce studies they can cite to support these beliefs. Just as there are conservative economists who produce studies we cite to support our view of things.


Grim said...

Indeed, if you check the Department of Labor's website right now, it claims that 600 economists have promised them that there is no correlation between increasing the minimum wage and unemployment. Any evidence to the contrary is dismissed as mere anecdotes, not data like these brilliant economists have brought to bear.

The fact that -- lo and behold! -- it somehow keeps happening is just one of those non-causal regularities in nature. If you look at the iron laws of economics governing reality, there's nothing causal about the connection. It's just an accident that they always occur together.

ColoComment said...

"no correlation between increasing the minimum wage and unemployment"

And yet when you remind these people that the justification [rationalization?] for a carbon tax or a cigarette tax (which make fossil fuels and smoking more expensive, just as raising the minimum wage makes labor more expensive), is that it will reduce the amount of fossil fuels used, and discourage cigarette smoking.... Well, that's different. How? [crickets]

Cassandra said...

Easy. You should only take incentives into account when they support your case :p

Seriously, when analyzing a complex process it's not ridiculous to take offsetting changes into account. So for instance, it is quite possible to raise the cost of an input to production without having to raise the selling price of the goods produced. But ONLY if some other factor offsets the net increase to production costs. Possibly you could see a massive increase in the volume of sales, or the price of some other input could go down by a corresponding amount, or productivity could increase.

This is some of what these economists are arguing could happen. And they're correct to note that correlation does not prove causation (min wage jobs could decline for other reasons besides a hike in the minimum wage).

One of the things these studies do that infuriates me is only look at aggregates (rather than the effect on specific businesses that employ large numbers of unskilled/min wage workers). That muddies the waters considerably, as does the fact that positions that offered $15 an hour BEFORE the min wage hike were not counted among minimum wage jobs before. They're not new jobs, and adding them to the min wage pool hides declines at the low end.