Feelings Are More Important Than Facts

I came to a bit of a revelation last night during my PR class. Actually, to be fair, I was brought to it. We had a guest speaker in to discuss branding and she began by showing a Ted Talk clip from Simon Sinek about the difference between the marketing or branding strategies of a great company (or leader) like Apple and most others.

To sum up the talk, it all has to do with where the message begins; with the why or with the what. Interestingly, this is a theory based on the biology of our brains. Our neo-cortex, the newest part of our brain, processes facts, figures, language and the like. It is our truly “thinking” brain. When most companies develop a marketing plan, Sinek says, they start by addressing this part of the brain with the what. They tell us about the car’s gas mileage and its handling or how its paper towels are the cheapest. This is all good stuff and necessary on some level. It may even lead a lot of folks to buy the product. But more important than the what is the why, the feelings behind the purchase, which are controlled by our limbic brains. When you present someone with all the best facts and they agree with them completely but still may not take action because “it doesn’t feel right” or their “heart just isn’t in it” this is the part of the brain that is working. Apple gets this. It’s why there is a whole culture behind its products. It’s why people will buy anything with an Apple logo on it. A lot of car companies, especially luxury brands, get it too. Volvo and BMW don’t sell cars. Volvo sells safety. BMW sells the ultimate driving experience.

What’s even more extraordinary about this is, once a company gets you to buy into its culture, its why, it has turned you not just into a customer but into an advocate. You’ll probably also excuse some less than satisfactory performance or service from time to time because, after all, the company is almost like family now.

Part of the reason I signed up for the PR certificate program was to be able to better communicate the message of limited government. This message is currently carried, as it has been for the last century or so, by the Republican Party. And despite all its faults, and there are many, the GOP is still the best vehicle to continue doing so. But it doesn’t appear to be doing very well, nationally or, especially, in Washington state.

There are several things I’ve pointed to in the past but these are all relatively small and, for the most part, the inability for the GOP to connect with voters has always perplexed me somewhat. Conservatives outnumber liberals 2 to 1 (40 percent to 21 percent with the remainder classifying themselves as moderate) yet Democrats and Republicans are tied in the electorate. I could never put my finger on why until last night (although, once I did, I knew that I’d known it on some level all along but probably just didn’t want to admit it).

I guess this would be the appropriate time to pause for the old saw about Republicans not having hearts. Ironically, it turns out, it’s true, at least in the above sense. Those of us on the Right tend to focus on the bottom line, the brass tacks, just the facts, ma’am; while those on the Left tend to focus on feelings. I wish this weren’t the case. I wish more people would listen to reason. But it’s not and Republicans better get with the program if we’re going to win any more elections.

We see this dichotomy perfectly evidenced in the current gun control debate. We are supposed to live in a nation of laws, not of man. What that means is legislation shouldn’t be the result of individual incidents like Newtown but the result of overarching need and based on fact. And when one looks at the facts it’s apparent that the proposed gun control measures, most gun control measures for that matter, wouldn’t prevent the overwhelming majority of incidents like Newtown. But that doesn’t matter to most people, probably even a lot of people who are Second Amendment advocates. Case in point, Wayne LaPierre, the Executive VP of the NRA, has advocated for armed guards in schools. And while this strategy would certainly be more effective than banning “assault rifles”, it’s still, largely, a solution in search of a problem.

What happened in Newtown was tragic and should never have happened but, sadly, people die everyday in this country as the result of evil or stupidity. In 2011, 211 children were killed as the result of drunk driving accidents but celebrities aren’t making videos “demanding a plan”, Obama isn’t signing executive orders seeking to limit the sale of beer and or cars to law-abiding citizens, and Andrew Cuomo isn’t shrieking about only needing 12 ounces of beer to kill a deer. As tragic as Newton is, the chances of it happening to any one person are about as likely as being struck by lighting and are, in fact, considerably less than they were in the 90s. None of this matters though because “guns are scary.”

Obama rode to victory on the mantle of “Hope” and “Change”, words that have nothing to do with facts and everything to do with feeling. He did it again in 2012 because Romney chose to focus on his record at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts and Obama’s record as president. On paper, the choice was clear. Even a large majority of the electorate believed so with Romney favored 2 to 1 on the all-important question of who would turn around the economy. But when it came to the why, when it came to who voters thought identified with them more, Obama was the clear leader.

So what must Republicans do to regain the edge they had during the Reagan years? The answer is quite simple, senator. So many politicians on both sides of the aisle, Obama included, like to channel Reagan for a reason. He is one of the most beloved and respected presidents of the last century and this is in large part because he was able to connect with Americans on that why level. To regain the edge Republicans must speak less about facts and figures and more about feelings. And while we’re at it we must convey positive feelings. Yes, the economy is in shambles and it’s largely the fault of overregulation and high taxes. But this is all boring to the vast majority of Americans who are too busy cooking dinner and watching their kids’ soccer games to connect the dots between the Community Reinvestment Act and the mortgage crisis. They just want to know that their leaders care. They just want to feel good. Then, if the facts back up those feelings, all the better.

Love Actually Is All Around

One of our Christmas traditions is watching the movie Love Actually. We watched it on Saturday, the day after the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The opening lines of the film struck me more than usual with the news fresh in my mind.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

As horrible as the massacre at Sandy Hook was – and make no mistake, nothing is more tragic than the brutal murder of so many young children – tragedy befalls this nation everyday. When a mother loses her infant to SIDS does she grieve any less? When a husband loses his wife to a drunk driver crossing the center line is his world not turned upside down? No, yet these moments are rarely covered in the media and certainly not on a national level. And this isn’t to say that the media shouldn’t have covered Sandy Hook or that they should cover the more “everyday” occurrences of tragedy. News is news because it is novel; something out of the ordinary. But as we watch these tragedies unfold we should be mindful that the novelty which brought their coverage is a reminder that “love actually is all around.” If the world really was filled with hatred and greed instead of love and charity these tragedies would be more commonplace, we’d be desensitized to them, and the media would be covering something else.

So grieve the children of Sandy Hook. But at the same time, and perhaps to a greater extent, celebrate the heroism of people like teacher Victoria Soto and therapist Rachel Davino, who were so full of love for their first grade students that they gave their lives protecting them. Celebrate six-year old Jack Pinto who was, in the words of his family, an “inspiration to all those who knew him.” His family also added that they would not dwell “on the loss but instead on the gift that we were given and will forever cherish in our hearts forever.”

Life is short no matter how long we live and every day should be cherished as a gift. Those days or moments that are extraordinarily good we should celebrate even more. And these moments don’t have to be newsworthy, although perhaps they should be. They can be the smile that lifts someone’s spirits on a dreary day. They can be the latte purchased by the person in front of you at the drive-thru. Many times they even rise to the level of newsworthiness, as did this story about a cop giving a motorist much more than a citation.

We may never truly know all the motives behind the tragedies that befall society but one hypothesis is fame. Even though these monsters often turn the gun on themselves in the end, perhaps realizing the magnitude of their act, it seems some do it for the attention they will receive. A Facebook post originally attributed to Morgan Freeman, despite being a hoax in some sense, nonetheless speaks the truth. The post ends by encouraging readers to “help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim… You can help by turning off the news.”

I’ll go one further. We should encourage and spread good news, if we choose to make famous not the cowards hiding behind an arsenal of guns but the heroes that step in front of them perhaps our young people will grow up aspiring to this kind of fame instead. And I’ll say it, we could certainly benefit from some more solid morality in society. As a friend quipped, “some people ask how God could allow something so tragic to happen in a grade school; perhaps it is because God is no longer allowed in schools.”

I’ll Have a McGinn and Tonic

The Seattle Times reports today that the City of Seattle, led by Mayor McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and a few members of the city council, are beginning the process of lobbying the state to amend liquor laws to allow local jurisdictions to allow bars to serve alcohol past 2 a.m. The cynics, of course, point to the fact that the nightlife industry was a big supporter of both the McGinn and the Holmes campaigns but regardless, this is a great decision (and the second one in less than a week). It appears that, quite possibly, Seattle’s freshman mayor has begun to find his stride and I’ll drink to that.

Allowing bars to serve past 2 a.m., proponents state, would actually cut down on the crime rate and general tomfoolery that occurs when throngs pour out onto the streets of Belltown and Pioneer Square by allowing bars to stagger their closing hours or even remain open all night as they do in places like Las Vegas and New Orleans.

After a quick search of the internet I couldn’t find any hard facts on whether this is true. I did find one website that states just the opposite but considering it’s not exactly an unbiased group, while I don’t question their numbers, I wouldn’t be surprised if, after a more extensive search I could find alternate statistics to refute their claims; especially since the idea of extended hours leading to reduced crime actually does pass the smell test. (I invite readers to find statistical evidence, either for or against extending last call and post your links in the comments.)

Stupid people are going to drink and drive or act belligerent no matter what time you stop serving alcohol. They can always go to the liquor store and drink elsewhere past the 2 a.m. cutoff. At least by allowing them to drink in a somewhat controlled environment and not forcing all of them on to the streets and behind the wheel at the exact same time it’s easier to mitigate the damage they cause.

And the other side benefit: increased tax revenue for the ever hungry state. Bars will inevitably stay open later and make more sales. Of course, the case could be made that the extended hours will also require greater enforcement and cancel out any increase in revenue. Again, though, I don’t have the statistics to back up either claim although my guess is, even with an increase in enforcement, revenues will still outweigh costs.

In the end, it’s really all about freedom. The libertarian will argue that the state has no business telling private citizens when they may engage in legal commerce. And if alcohol is so dangerous then maybe we should just ban in outright because, you know, that worked so well back in the Roaring 20s.

Are police officers above the law?

The results of the inquest into the shooting death of John Williams by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk have come back and while they state that the shooting was unjustified, no criminal charges will be filed. Understandably, many folks are more than a bit angered. One friend of mine posted on her Facebook wall “WTF?! This cop should be executed in the same way that he murdered this defenseless, innocent man. Un@#%&ingbelievable!” Many of her friends chimed in in agreement. To her credit, when I called her on such an inflammatory posting she redacted it slightly, saying that I shouldn’t take it literally, that she was just angered.

It raises an important question though. What should a community do when a member of law enforcement unjustifiably, but without malice, shoots someone?

While the inquest didn’t find him “guilty”, everyone involved, including Officer Birk, seems to agree that the shooting was a mistake. But mistakes happen all the time and decisions made when under duress, in the blink of an eye, are not always the same ones we’d make when given time to reflect. Of course all the time that goes in to training a police officer is suppose to hone those officers’ decision making skills so that mistakes that the average citizen would make while under duress wouldn’t be made by the officer. It seems, then, that perhaps Officer Birk’s training was not all it should have been. Or perhaps Officer Birk just wasn’t fit to be a cop. I think most people will agree it’s a good thing that he chose to resign and find another line of work. But calling for his head; even calling for him to be charged with manslaughter and thrown in prison, is a dangerous road to go down.

First of all, I’m guessing that Officer Birk isn’t some bloodthirsty murderer who had it out for Native woodcarvers and joined the force just to be given the opportunity to go around shooting them. He’s going to have to live with the mistake he made for the rest of his life. Like most people who have killed another person, even if completely justified, the mark it will leave on his conscious will not soon disappear. He’ll likely be tormented by flashbacks and PTSD, so as a community, while our hearts go out to the family of John Williams, our hearts should also go out to Officer Birk.

There are some folks who always like to jump up when an officer shoots someone, even completely justifiably, and use what I like to call the “Dirty Harry” argument. “The guy only had a knife! Why didn’t the cop just shoot it out of his hand?” Really? Tell you what. I’m going to stand 30 feet away with a knife, act a little crazy, make some threatening gestures and start coming toward you. I’m going to bet that your survival instincts kick in pretty fast and you do whatever is necessary to stop me; including shooting at the biggest target you have: my chest; not my hand, arm or leg and certainly not the knife. This is not the movies and Jason Bourne does not exist so let’s put that myth to rest right away. That’s not to say that John Williams was charging at Officer Birk with his knife swinging through the air but since there were only a few people on that corner that day and, if after all their testimony and the testimony of other expert witnesses, half the members of the inquest jury came away believing that Officer Birk did feel his life was in danger, it means that there are enough questions that remain unanswered that no one will know for sure what was really going through Officer Birk’s mind and what the appropriate response should have been. After all, Seattleites are not typically known as gun-toting, trigger-happy, anti-Native American racists so if they’re willing to give Officer Birk a pass then he probably deserves one.

Of course, if Citizen Smith had shot John Williams and then claimed that Williams was making a marginally threatening gesture with a knife, it’s a fairly good bet that Citizen Smith would be facing five to ten years as a guest of the state for manslaughter for using what the law calls “imperfect self defense.” If the prosecutor was feeing lucky he might even be able to pin him with second-degree murder. So does this mean that, because the only difference between Citizen Smith and Officer Birk is a badge that law enforcement is above the law? Well, yes. From something as simple as being allowed to speed toward the scene of a crime all the way up to being allowed to use deadly force; even force so deadly it can wipe an entire city off the map (after all, the president is the top law-enforcement agent in the nation), we’ve given certain folks extra rights to operate outside the law in order to enforce it. It’s the tradeoff we make for living in a civilized society. We trust that these people will act properly outside the confines of the law that the rest of us must follow and, generally, they do. Sometimes, though, they make tragic mistakes. We, of course, still have certain guidelines or laws they must follow when living outside the other laws. If an officer’s supervisor got wind of him speeding around just for the thrill of it he’d be heavily reprimanded. And any time a cop discharges his weapon, even justifiably, he has to fill out reams of paperwork. If it was found that a general ordered the mass slaughter of an entire village of civilians, he’d be dishonorably discharged and would probably spend the rest of his days in Leavenworth. (At least he should be. Unfortunately justice isn’t always perfect.) But any of these law enforcement officials facing such charges must be investigated and given a fair trial. What’s more, they must be given a bit longer leash than the rest of us.

The problem with charging Officer Birk with manslaughter, even if his civilian counterpart would have been, is that, the next time an officer is on the street and someone starts swinging a knife around, instead of taking the shot that officer may recall what happened to Officer Birk and, even if he does choose to take action after weighing the pros and cons, the extra seconds he spends doing so may cost him and others their lives. The same argument can be made for how we’re waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We should certainly discipline, even to the point of imprisonment, any soldier who uses excessive force or who does not follow the rules of engagement, but when we’re talking about Mirandizing combatants we meet in the field of battle and treating war like some routine traffic stop, we make soldiers second-guess their actions or, perhaps, choose not to take action at all. After all, why would any soldier risk his life to capture the enemy if he thinks he may be charged with a crime for doing so or that the enemy he captures may just end up being freed a few months later.

Instead of calling for the blood or our own police officers and soldiers because some may make mistakes, we should thank them for putting their lives on the line every day in defense of ours and if we really are facing problems of poor decision making in the field, as it appears is the case with the shooting of John Williams, we should make sure the training and screening process of our officers is the best it can be so we can better trust the decisions they make.

Local SEIU Chapter Refuses To Condemn Actions in Maryland

And threatens to call police!

That’s right. After hearing this horrible story about an SEIU group in Maryland terrorizing someone’s private residence I contacted one of the local SEIU chapters and asked them if they condoned this sort of behavior and if not would they be willing to issue a press release stating so. The woman on the phone feigned ignorance for awhile and then put what I assume was her supervisor on the phone. He feigned ignorance for a moment and then told me if I ever called again he’d call the police.

So I guess 500 people showing up with bullhorns and signs aplenty on someone’s private front doorstep is okay (as well as beating up a black man because he doesn’t fit the liberal mold he’s supposed to) but if a concerned citizen asks them to condemn such behavior he should be arrested.

Please guys, show just a teeny bit of respect for peoples personal property. Wouldn’t protesting outside an actual Bank of America building be a bit more reasonable?

Why the Anti-War Movement Prolongs the War

Olympia Port Militarization Resistance or OlyPMR, has been causing quite a few problems for Ft. Lewis soldiers and local law enforcement for the past several months, blocking movement of military supplies through the Port of Olympia, pouring cement on railroad tracks and breaking windows at the US Bank and in police cars. Now they’ve joined with the ACLU to add legal action to their list of “weapons” being used to combat what they call an “illegal and immoral war”.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in US District Court, claims that a civilian employee of Ft. Lewis illegally infiltrated their organization and relayed information to his superiors and local law enforcement who then used that information to target, harass and arrest members of the movement and influence law enforcement’s decisions while dealing with the “peaceful” protests. They are attempting to enact the Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law that prohibits the use of the Army for conventional law enforcement activities against civilians. This is a very flimsy argument and just another case of the anti-war movement and the ACLU attempting to tie our hands in a war that would have probably been long over had the military been allowed to fight a war like a war is supposed to be fought: bloody, violent, and with the objective being, to quote General Patton, “not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” In truth, OlyPMR is probably feeling a bit foolish that they didn’t better screen their membership and allowed a DoD employee to join in the first place. War does not mean Mirandizing al-Qaeda before we slap a set of zip-ties on him; it does not mean we can’t splash some water in al-Qaeda’s face in an effort to get the location of the dirty-bomb about to kill a few hundred people at the Mall of America; and war does not mean giving Khalid Sheik Muhammad a showy trial in Manhattan. The fact is, most of these terrorists are getting a step up in accommodations living at Camp Delta.

First of all, it’s highly doubtful that the Ft. Lewis employee, John Towery, was ordered by the military to spy on OlyPMR. After all, I’m sure they’re well versed with their own laws. It appears that he, as private citizen Towery, decided to attend some meetings under an assumed name and get a little intel on their activities and then, again of his own accord, share that information with the good people at the Olympia PD. Furthermore, if it was some sort of “black op” then, point of fact, it would be “black” and there’d be no paper trail implicating the US Army. Either way, the only way Towery and the commanders at Ft. Lewis are getting in any trouble is if they decide to fold under the pressure and cop a plea; probably leading to the “resignation” of Towery. Sadly, because of the weak civilian leadership currently overseeing our military, this just might occur. Perhaps, if this “non-violent” anti-war group wasn’t engaging in violent and maybe even treasonous (impeding military shipments to a war zone) tactics, they’d have nothing to worry about.

There’s nothing wrong with peaceful protest, they’re one of the cornerstones of our republic; and the military certainly shouldn’t be employed on US civilians at home under regular conditions (i.e. when martial law is not declared); but just because a hundred or so Evergreen State College students under a haze of bong smoke and cheap beer think they’re going to change the world and “stop this illegal war” doesn’t give them the right to cause a ruckus and thousands of dollars of damage in downtown Olympia. And it certainly doesn’t give them the right to plan their next concrete-laden salvo free from the ears and eyes of any off-duty military personnel who might want to drop by. Who knows, maybe Towery heard that they were serving up some Garlic Jim’s Pizza and homemade chocolate-chip cookies? It unnecessarily costs the taxpayers; it undermines morale, causing our troops to question their actions on the battlefield while emboldening our enemies; and, by the way, it dissuades those more level-headed folks who may disagree with the war or are on the fence from joining any sort of truly peaceful anti-war movement.

Amanda Knox found guilty

I haven’t been following every moment of the Amanda Knox trial but I’ve followed it enough to be of the opinion that what happened in Perugia today was a tragedy.

Yes, there was some evidence that indicated Knox may have been involved. Chances are she isn’t completely innocent but anyone accused of a crime rarely is. The travesty in my mind is that she and her boyfriend appear far from guilty and, even in Italy, the accused must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Furthermore, there has been so much that has gone wrong with this trial that, had it been held in the US a mistrial would have been declared long ago. From the charges of abuse of power leveled against the prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, to the contaminated evidence, there was just too much that didn’t make sense.

Knox’s defense attorney, Luciano Ghirga, referring to the fact that Knox could have been sentenced to life, said it well. “I am not at peace. They didn’t have the courage to go all the way. It is a judicial compromise.”

Our own Maria Cantwell also offered a theory that I considered as well. “I have serious questions about the Italian justice system and whether anti-Americanism tainted this trial.”

I commend Senator Cantwell for having the courage to say what a lot of folks might not consider politically correct and for pledging to follow up through diplomatic channels so all that is possible may be done to resolve this in a way preferable to Knox.

And speaking of American political response to the verdict, I actually feel for President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton here. They will have a fine line to walk.

If they do nothing they’re allowing the justice system of an ally to take its course. Considering the way Obama has dealt with the world (bowing to foreign leaders, etc.) this past year, this may be what happens. Maybe a good idea if they don’t want to appear to be forcing America’s will on Italy. A bad idea because they’d be allowing a US citizen to go to prison for 25 years for a crime it’s uncertain she committed.

Of course, if they do intervene, the opposite is true. They’ll be coming to the rescue of Knox but Italians might accuse America of trying to push its weight around and being conceited.

The best idea, no joke, would be to send someone like Bill Clinton (or maybe, and I say this with tongue-in-cheek, Jesse Jackson). He did well freeing the Americans in North Korea.

But let’s hope that it doesn’t need to come to this. Let’s hope that Knox will be found not guilty on appeal and allowed to return to the United States by next Christmas.


What Are We Supposed to Do When the System Is Broken?

This morning Laura Ingraham ran a story about Michigan abortion doctor Abraham Hodari who continues to practice despite countless instances of forced abortions and even, what one might generously label, the negligent homicides of four young girls.

And then there’s Maurice Clemmons and his cold-blooded murder of four Lakewood Police Officers yesterday.

What do these two tragic cases have in common? They represent a failure of the system. I don’t have some grand illusion that life is supposed to be fair. There are some sick folks out there and sometimes really bad things happen to really good people. It may be tragic but it’s life. The grand illusion that I do carry around is that, while life may not be fair, government should be. And by that I mean government needs to uphold and enforce laws that help to prevent tragedies like those I just mentioned.

The crimes committed by Hodari and Clemmons should never have happened. Hodari should have, at the very least, been stripped of his medical credentials long ago for forcibly aborting pregnancies. In my opinion he should be spending several years as a guest of the Michigan State Penal System. Clemmons should not have been released on a scant $150,000 bail after being charged with child rape. He, too, should, at the very least, be awaiting his rape trial in a Pierce County Jail.

But neither of them are and what are we left with? Who knows how many more young girls may be forced to go through abortions before Hodari is stopped? In the case of Clemmons I suspect justice will eventually be served and he’ll be placed behind bars without the possibility of parole but I doubt this will be the last time that innocent people must die at the hands of a felon walking free. So I ask you, what are we suppose to do?

Some may say, “Well, we still need to rely on the system. Sure it may have some kinks but it’s still the best on Earth.” Others may advocate reform at the ballot box. I’d certainly hope that whatever idiot judge that granted Clemmons bail be retired as soon as possible, but is any of this really enough?

I’ll add one more name to the list: Khalid Sheik Muhammad. What is this guy doing receiving a criminal trial? He’s already admitted to planning 9/11. Why is he not already six feet under? All the criminal trial is going to do is serve as an opportunity to plead not guilty on the grounds that either a) only 2800 people died on 9/11, not the 3000 that the government is charging him with or more likely b) everyone that died on 9/11 deserved it because they were infidels. Either way he’ll use the time to rail against the evils of the very country that is allowing him the opportunity to do so.

This can’t continue indefinitely. We can’t keep relying on “the system”. I’m not advocating blind vigilantism. As much as I can empathize with someone who takes the law into his own hands and blows away the guy that raped his daughter, it’s not right. I don’t agree with the guy that murdered abortion doctor George Tiller either. Abortion is still, unfortunately, legal and, to the best of my knowledge Dr. Tiller, while a despicable human being, wasn’t so despicable as to forcibly abort any of his patients’ pregnancies. But when “justice has been served” and the verdict is not guilty on account of the guy didn’t get read his Miranda Rights or, as in the case of Dr. Hodari, he laughs at his accusers because he believes he’s above the law (and apparently rightfully so if you go by the State of Michigan’s actions) what must be done? At what point do we concede that the government is not doing its job and feel well within our rights to take matters into our own hands.

In many states, Washington included, we have the Castle Law, which allows homeowners to shoot dead anyone that enters their house and poses a threat to their safety. And there are other instances where we, as private citizens, are completely within our rights to take lethal force against someone who is threatening us or someone around us. So, if someone who is a known killer, either because there is undisputed evidence clearly indicating that they are beyond any doubt, or because they’ve admitted to it themselves, and the government lets them go because of a technicality, do we just sit around and wait until they are in the process of committing another murder (or, in the case of Dr. Hodari, manslaughter is probably the more appropriate charge but, either way, he’s still killed someone), or, given the opportunity, do we prevent further murder by any means possible? Again, I’m not advocating blind, vigilante justice but surely there is a point at which private citizens can not rely on government. I’m not saying we’re there yet but the discussion needs to occur if people like Hodari and Clemmons are walking free and enemies of war are being afforded the same rights as common criminals.

Those Zany ELFs are at it again (or would it be ELVES?)

According to the Seattle Times, the Earth Liberation Front appears to have struck again. This time in Maltby. The message, visible from SR-522 says “If you continue to risk killing children, mother earth and her creations, all your holdings are targets.” As someone in the Seattle Times comments section opined, “don’t they know spray cans are bad for air quality?”

Griswold for Representative – SPOG Candidate Questionnaire

What are three to five specific tasks you intend to take while in office?

Improving our state’s economic climate, educational system and Puget Sound area transportation system. By improving these areas of our society, especially the first two, fewer people will be in at risk situations that would lead them to a life of crime, thereby reducing the burden on law enforcement as well as allowing law enforcement to focus more on bigger crimes than the many smaller crimes that are committed as a result of poor economic status and education.

In regards to issues effecting law enforcement directly, I want to focus on getting the financial as well as the moral support law enforcement deserves and needs to be effective.  It is shameful how understaffed and under-funded many of our law enforcement agencies are, especially the SPD, which hasn’t seen much of an increase in staffing for over 30 years even though crime has increased dramatically in that time.  There also needs to be moral support from our politicians during tough times like shootings. Civil rights groups should not be the first to stand up and comment on a shooting, regardless if it was justified or not.  Officers involved in shootings should be given the benefit of the doubt (as criminals are in the justice system) and presumed to have acted on the best interest of the community, not out of some misguided feelings based on race or whatever else many groups like to charge the police with.  Politicians need to stand up for the men and women of law enforcement, not try to acquiesce to the will of special interest.

In your view, what are the more serious issues facing law enforcement officers at this time?

Law enforcement needs the financial as well as the moral support it deserves and needs to be effective.  It is shameful how understaffed and under-funded many of our law enforcement agencies are, especially the SPD, which hasn’t seen much of an increase in staffing for over 30 years even though crime has increased dramatically in that time.  There also needs to be moral support from our politicians during tough times like shootings. Civil rights groups should not be the first to stand up and comment on a shooting, regardless if it was justified or not.  Officers involved in shootings should be given the benefit of the doubt (as criminals are in the justice system) and presumed to have acted on the best interest of the community, not out of some misguided feelings based on race or whatever else many groups like to charge the police with.  Politicians need to stand up for the men and women of law enforcement, not try to acquiesce to the will of special interest.

What should Seattle and/or King County be doing about these specific environmental issues that it is not doing now?

Increasing funding and standing up for officers in cases like shootings.

What do you propose to do to improve the Office of the Mayor’s protection of law enforcement officers’ rights?  

While a state legislator has no direct control over the Mayor’s office I will do all I can to work with the city of Seattle to make sure that law enforcement is given the respect and funding on a local level that it deserves.  In regards to internal investigations, more focus needs to be placed on the serious cases (shootings, drug trafficking) and less on the kinds of petty occurrences that can happen to all of us, regardless of profession (calling someone a name, making an obscene gesture, even making a questionable traffic stop).  While actions of these nature should not be applauded and still need to be dealt with on a professional level, assigning a detective to cover a complaint of this nature is not the proper allocation of resources, especially when many of these complaints turn out to be unfounded.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement in law enforcement?

I served in the U.S. Navy helping to protect our freedoms and although I never saw any real combat or situations which local law enforcement face on a day to day basis I hope and feel that what I did contribute helped keep our nation safe and free.

In civilian life I have always tried to be as active a part of law enforcement as possible, reporting crimes as I see them and learning as much as possible through talking with police officers and seeing their work, first hand, through ride-alongs.

How do law enforcement concerns/issues fit into your campaign?

While I am focusing mostly on economic, educational and transportation issues, I always keep in mind the important service that law enforcement provides our state and that when and if it comes to cutting funding for state programs, law enforcement should be one of the last sectors on the list.  I will stress as much as possible my support of law enforcement as a very necessary part of our community and, if elected will actively support law enforcement through the support of legislation that does the same.

Why do you want our endorsement? Specifically address how you will use it in your campaign?

The current leadership in Olympia is not tough on crime and does not like to face the fact that sometimes bad people do bad things.  Law enforcement is an integral part of keeping society functioning and while government should continue to find ways of reducing the factors that contribute to criminal behavior (poverty, poor education, etc) it should not loose its focus on stopping crimes in progress or about to be committed.

If elected, I will keep apprised of the issues that face law enforcement and work with law enforcement officials to give them the tools and funding needed to be able to fight crime.

Your endorsement of my candidacy will let the citizens of the 43rd district know that those who protect them day in and day out are behind someone who will work to provide the support law enforcement needs to carry out its duties.