Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Third Way

Do we have to choose from one radical extreme or another? No.  No we do not.

Ron DeSantis recently filmed a campaign video in San Francisco, and frankly, I think he pulled his punches.  He stood on an empty quiet street, in an alley, actually, and recounted the failings of the radical mentality that has plagued the "Left Coast" in recent years. But he never actually showed any of the results.  He just talked about it.  Then again, maybe he was scared he would be attacked by "the woke mob."  The sarcasm light is lit.

During the pandemic, many courts and prosecutors in California let people out of jail on the grounds they might get CoVid, and no one should receive a death sentence for a property crime.  But the pandemic is over, sort of, and they are still letting felons out of jail on the grounds that jail is unfair or some such nonsense. In addition, after so many "Fuck the Police!" protests, the Police seem to be "quiet quitting" and just doing the minimum - as if to show people what happens when criminals face no consequences.  Maybe this is also a way for the Police to force a change in government.

The problems in California are many, and most are related to drug use.  In certain areas, you can see people - dozens of them - wasted on fentanyl, in public.  It comes from China, via Mexico, which is sort of ironic, as the West once subjugated China by exporting opium to that county.  Revenge is a dish best served cold. So you would think DeSantis would show a video that is making the rounds, of zonked-out fentanyl users, all bent over or laying about like they are in an opium den.  People are dying from this, and it is a real crises.  The "solutions" proposed by the State is to provide them with "safe" sites to do the drug and to have Cops administer NARCAN to people who are overdosing.  But of course, that just means they get high the next day.

Or take street crimes.  Mark Roper did the video above (one of several) about his efforts to get even with porch pirates and smash-and-grab car break-in thieves.  It is so bad out there that you can park a car with a package in the back seat and, "you won't have to wait long" before someone smashes a window.  People actually leave their cars unlocked and the trunk open, to show thieves there is nothing worth stealing inside and please don't break my windows.  And the thieves are pretty brazen about it, too - and it doesn't seem like they worry too much about being caught, either.  Again, a few videos like this would drive home DeSantis' point, but instead we get this video of him bloviating and cowering in an alley like the coward he is.

Similarly, the "tent cities" of homeless in  California would also drive home his point, but again, he instead favored what looks more like a Tick-Tock video. Then again, narcissists be that way. And again, this is a real issue, related to the two above. The "homeless" are often not just people who are economically challenged, but mentally ill people and/or alcohol or drug addicts.  And California's lax attitudes and generous social welfare programs (and mild weather in the South) attract a lot of homeless people from out-of-State...

...which is where a lot of working people are moving.  A lot of folks are fed up of having their car broken into again and again and their porch packages stolen or some homeless bum shitting on the sidewalk or pissing in the BART station (after jumping the turnstile).  It is one reason property values in Oakland dropped by 16% last year.

So, California as well as other "Blue States" have this problem.  Wokeness and ultra-left-wing "let's feel sorry for criminals" isn't the answer.  So what is DeSantis' answer?

Just as bad, and just as ineffective.

Florida is hardly a crime-free State, and in fact "Florida Man" regularly makes headlines for all sorts of horrendous crimes.  DeSantis' solution to all of this to attack Disney, ban books, burn books, and fan the fires of hate.  I am not sure how this solves Florida's fentanyl crises, its homeless problem, or its crime problem.  And of course, it doesn't.   Actually solving problems is difficult, expensive, and messy.  Grandstanding on social issues, however, gets you a lot of press and gives the appearance of "getting things done!"

There is a subset of the population that believes that all social ills are the result of "not enough Jesus" and that by attacking social values, the real hard problems facing our country would just magically disappear.  On the other hand, people on the far-left think that the most compelling issue facing America is "trans rights."  One side plays right into the prejudices and preconceived notions of the other.

Thus, we are told there are only two choices - wacky liberalism or wacky conservatism.  Neither is a good choice, neither accomplishes anything.  We need to find a third way.

And that means both extremes have to tone down the rhetoric and that politicians have to stop pandering to extremes and actually accomplish something.  We need to put an end to this "defund the Police" mentality and wringing our hands over our incarceration rate.  It is classic whataboutism.  "America incarcerates more people than... [fill in the blank]"  So what?  If someone breaks the law, they go to jail, simple as that.   How many people are in jail already is really irrelevant.  Letting people out of jail or having them face no punishment because "it's just a property crime" isn't the answer to anything.

Neither is banning books - what does that really accomplish?  Kids don't read today anyway.  The problem with the approach of the far-right is that they are dog-whistling to an extremist group that has already demonstrated a tendency to violence and even traitorous insurrection.  While claiming to "back the blue!" they are the first to attack and taser a Capitol Hill policeman, in their attempt to overthrow an election.  And that was just the start of political violence. Stay tuned.

It is kind of hard to believe that in 2023, we are having serious discussions about whether the earth is flat, the holocaust happened, whether the moon landing was faked or maybe Nazism is the answer (to a question no one is asking).  Go to Germany, where it was invented, and ask them how it all worked out.  You'll likely get a punch in the face if you give the Hitler salute - and then be thrown in jail.

There is a third way - the way most Americans want to see and actually practice. The press gives a lot of ink to the extremists on both sides, who make good eye-candy and click-bait for the press.  The vast majority of Americans who lean to one side or another but don't embrace extremes, are left out of the picture.  It's Nazi or Commie - you are not allowed anything in the middle!

DeSantis missed an opportunity with his lame-ass video.  But maybe that was by design.  Because while it is easy to point out the failings of the "Left Coast" mentality, it is a lot harder to come up with solutions.  And no, "prayer in school" isn't the answer to anything.  If DeSantis showed images of fentanyl abuse, car break-ins, or homeless camps in California, it wouldn't be too hard for someone to come up with a montage of similar things in Florida.

For example, we were in Hollywood, Florida a couple of years back, at an RV park right near Route 1.  Suddenly, there was this roar of motors and hundreds of youths on dirt bikes and ATVs roared down Route 1, ignoring stop lights and speed limits, or indeed, the direction of traffic flow.  Where was the Police?  And from what I understand (and see on YouTube) this is a regular thing.  It seems they sell more dirt bikes these days in the city, than in the country.

Or take Texas.  If you visit San Antonio, you can see the Alamo, ride a boat along the river, listen to a Mariachi band, and have your car broken into. And I am serious about this - it is a major crime problem and no one there seems too concerned about it.  Perhaps it is what keeps the local economy afloat. Oddly enough, Republicans run on a platform of "law and order" and yet their States routinely top the list for both violent and property crimes.  Yea, California is bad - 17th in crime stats.  But nothing compared to Louisiana and Oklahoma!

And yes, there are homeless camps in Florida, as well as a fentanyl crises.  And cars get broken into, as well. As for "boarded-up businesses" well, you can find them all across America as online shopping pushes another chain store into bankruptcy.  Retail isn't quite dead, but no one really wants retail space anymore. Or office space, for that matter.  There is an old saying about glass houses, Ron!

Solving real-world problems is a lot harder than blanket solutions.   "Don't Say Gay" isn't going to solve our drug and crime problems, or our economic issues,either.  Being soft on crime isn't going turn criminals into saints overnight - or at any time.  Both extremes are wrong and ineffectual.

We have to embrace the third way, or one or the other of the extremes will engulf us.  And tellingly, the extremists save their worst bile not for the opposite extreme, but for centrists who eschew both sets of radicals.  The Nazis and Commies have a begrudging respect for each other - and let's face it, they are two sides of the coin of fascism anyway.  But centrists? People who are willing to compromise and work on real solutions?

To either extreme, they are the real enemy!