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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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"No, I don't support defunding the police," Joe Biden told CBS News recently, thereby keeping Democratic hopes for his presidential candidacy alive.

Has there ever been a dumber political slogan?

"Demilitarize," definitely. "Reform," absolutely. But "Defund the Police" is just plain stupid; a political suicide note. What does it even mean?

A couple of weeks ago, everybody was all about our heroic "first responders." The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops shocked everybody. Even so, most Americans broadly support law enforcement. But with even Boss Trump giving lip service to reform, what I call the "Anti-gravity Left" had to come up with something suitably absurd.

The eminent psychologist Steven Pinker dealt memorably with the broader question in his 2002 book The Blank Slate. As a lad growing up in peaceful Canada "during the romantic 1960s" he'd fancied himself an anarchist. Then the Montreal police staged a wildcat strike in October 1969.

"By 11:20 am, the first bank was robbed. By noon, most of the downtown stores were closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a [rival] limousine service…a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters."

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota recently put a pertinent question to Minneapolis City Council president Lisa Bender, a Bernie Sanders supporter and passionate exponent of defunding: "What if in the middle of the night my home is broken into. Who do I call?"

Bender, who rose to prominence advocating for bicycle commuters, informed Camerota that her sort of question "comes from a place of privilege." Do these high-minded specimens even hear themselves?

The remainder of the interview consisted of multi-syllabic bafflegab making it practically impossible to determine exactly what "defund" meant to Bender and Minneapolis city council members who voted unanimously for a (non-binding) resolution supporting the concept.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, you may recall, was heckled and driven from the platform by angry protesters after saying "I do not support the full abolition of the police department."

But then precious few activists using the slogan actually do. "For most proponents," explains Georgetown law professor Christy E. Lopez in the Washington Post "'defunding the police' does not mean zeroing out budgets for public safety, and police abolition does not mean that police will disappear overnight—or perhaps ever."

Then don't use the phrase, professor. A political slogan you've got to keep explaining away is counterproductive.

Instead, Lopez would recommend "shrinking the scope of police responsibilities and shifting most of what government does to keep us safe to entities that are better equipped to meet that need." You know, increased care for the mentally ill, alcohol and drug counseling and homeless shelters, domestic violence interventions and the like. All that good stuff.

"We must teach officers to be guardians, not warriors," Lopez adds in a resonant phrase that probably means something to her.
In short, all we've got to do is transform Minneapolis or Little Rock into Copenhagen, and there will be a lot less police violence.
OK, I'm being a smart aleck. But let's get real. Most cops would be happy to be relieved of having to deal with psychotic or delusional people. Also with public drunkenness and drug overdoses. They famously hate domestic violence calls, notoriously difficult and dangerous to handle.

People call police because they're scared. You can have an army of social workers on call, but it's going to be cops who make first contact. And if I have to call 911, I want somebody competent and decisive to show up fast.

I mention Little Rock because that's where I live, a leafy, pleasant city where it's nevertheless common to hear gunfire in the night. One time a couple of years ago, six out of eight houses on our street got broken into at 2 AM. Probably the roaring of our elderly Great Pyrenees, Jesse, kept us safe.

The thieves broke into several homes. They kicked two small dogs into a neighbor's swimming pool and left them to drown.
No cops? Please.

The Little Rock Police Department has been a hive of factionalism and discord basically forever—feuding, bickering and suing each other. They're as contentious as a college English department with guns. Much of the fighting centers upon race. It's the American South.

But they do show up when you need help. And I've always been damned glad to see them.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)