Friday, April 17, 2015

everything has changed

As we contemplate reform of our justice system,

imagine this:  pretend you're a security guard at a factory; in the parking lot are several parking spaces that are reserved for USDA inspectors. 

People who do not work for USDA aren't supposed to park there, but sometimes a driver will park there -- they are the closest, most convenient park-spots.

So - as the security guard on duty who has noticed a non-USDA vehicle parked in one of these reserved spaces, do you ...

1 - go out and tell the driver of the vehicle, arrogantly and rudely, that they may not park there

2 - go out and tell the driver nicely and politely that they may not park there

3 - go out and murder the driver

4 - go out and jokingly say to the driver, "Hey!  Did you get a job with the USDA?  Congratulations..." and wait in a friendly way while driver figures it out

5 - stay in your office and pretend you didn't see the vehicle in the USDA space....


The policeman's job, and the highway patrolman's job, is to Protect And Serve.

Apparently we've gotten off-track, and currently there are some problems -- and enough justified blame to go around throughout the justice system; it isn't only these shooters -- there must be reasons why they think they can do this...  (Systemic.  Systemic.)

We can straighten this out.

(The Innocence Project does work in this area; the Ford Foundation also has something going -- on their website, a section: "Reforming Civil and Criminal Justice Systems."  [They can help on President Obama's panel that he needs to set up...])


I liked reading the following two excerpts from Arthur Schlesinger's Journals, because they illustrate how quickly the atmosphere can change, making it possible to accomplish something previously believed not possible:

----------------- [excerpt one] -----------------


June 22

On Tuesday I lunched with Averell Harriman and Ray Cline.  We talked a good deal about Averell's impending mission to Moscow.  Averell said, "Each of the nations has an urgent political interest.  We want to get the Russian troops out of Cuba.  The British want a test ban agreement..."

...None of us had any optimism about the chances of an agreement on the test ban, and it is not clear why this meeting is taking place or what purpose it will serve.  Averell, nonetheless, the old war horse, is delighted to go to Moscow and rather relishes the opportunity to put Khrushchev on the spot. ...

--------------------- [excerpt two] -----------


July 21

Averell prepared for the Moscow trip in his usual astute and jugular manner.  He had no overwhelming expectations; on the other hand, he wanted to give the thing the best possible try. 

But there has been a remarkable change in the climate of the negotiations.  Three weeks ago, no one anticipated very much. 

The general feeling was that the test ban talks had been forced on Khrushchev by Macmillan's passion, derived from domestic politics, for an agreement.  In the last fortnight, everything has changed.

--------------------- [end excerpts.  Journals.  1952 - 2007.  Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.  The Penguin Press, New York, 2000]

l-r, JFK; Arthur Schlesinger, on a campaign train, 1959

l-r, watching something on television:  Vice President Lyndon Johnson; Schlesinger; Navy Admiral Arleigh Burke; President Kennedy; Mrs. Kennedy


Harriman; Khrushchev


"In the last fortnight,

everything has changed."