Patterico's Pontifications


O.J. Simpson Granted Parole

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:55 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This after serving nine years of a nine-to-33 year sentence:

Simpson, convicted of robbery and kidnapping, was granted parole Thursday — a unanimous vote by the four-member Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners reported instantly by national and international media. He could be free as soon as Oct. 1.

His release, too, is unlikely to go unnoticed. The moment Simpson received his fourth and final vote from the Nevada Board of Parole recommending release, he dropped his head, as if to give a quiet cheer of celebration to himself, before responding, “Thank you.”

Simpson was also asked what he thought life outside might be like:

The former USC and NFL star running back shrugged it off like a tackler who had taken a bad angle on him. “I’ve been recognized since I was 19,” he said. “I’ve dealt with it my whole life.”

Simpson told the board he wanted to be with his family after missing birthdays and graduations. When it was suggested he might have a webcast or blog once he’s out, he shook his head. Not interested.

That’s probably a good thing because some in the entertainment industry have already explained why they don’t think he should work in Hollywood again:

Giving Simpson a slick reality show or some other lucrative vehicle that allows him to make money while rehabilitating his image would be one more example of the media — more specifically, the entertainment industry — getting it wrong. Making O.J. the center of a new story and telling it from his point of view would, inevitably, make him sympathetic to some. Point of view is a powerful tool, and storytellers taking up O.J.’s cause, whatever the environment, would not hard-pressed to resist a redemption narrative. But that tendency would have the unfortunate effect of minimize and possibly even de-legitimize those who think his troubled past — which was not, as he claimed at the hearing, free of violence — is problematic in the extreme.

America loves second chances, but this one has far too many queasy elements to make it work.

It’s just as well. Simpson would then have time to pursue the real killer of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

In reading about today’s hearing, I was struck by how many people, along with myself, remember exactly where they were in 1994 as they watched a bizarre drama unfold on television with O.J. Simpson in the backseat of a white Ford Bronco and the driver leading the police on a nearly 50 mile chase from Orange County to Los Angeles.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Bloomberg Report: Mueller Expanding Probe to Trump Business Transactions

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:15 am

Bloomberg released this article this morning:

The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.

The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have involved Russians for years, making the boundaries fuzzy so Special Counsel Robert Mueller appears to be taking a wide-angle approach to his two-month-old probe.

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

With Trump’s warning that such an investigation would be out of bounds, the speculation that Trump may fire Mueller is bound to explode today.

Consider this your routine warning that a report based on “a person familiar with the probe” is worth nothing until corroborated by something more tangible.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

UC Berkeley Says Not So Fast To Another Conservative Speaker, Terms To Be Worked Out (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:36 am

[guest post by Dana]

I’m seeing a pattern. It looks like University of California, Berkeley is still struggling with issues of speech. Particularly speech from conservatives. This time, as with Ann Coulter earlier this year, administrators are using the flimsy excuse that they can’t find a suitable location to host conservative speaker Ben Shapiro.

From the Washington Examiner:

Young America’s Foundation announced that administrators informed the Berkeley College Republicans in an email this week they were “unable to identify an available campus venue” to host the lecture, which was slated for Sept. 14. The administrators, identified by YAF as Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell and Student Organization Coordinator Millicent Morris Chaney, claimed the lecture was spiked “despite extensive efforts.”

“Ben Shapiro is welcome on our campus, and we are committed to supporting his, and your, rights to free speech,” the administrators contended in their message to students, which was sent Tuesday.

The YAF isn’t buying it:

“Berkeley’s inability to find a lecture hall more than two months in advance is laughable,” the Foundation declared in its statement, noting the university’s insistence that it can only host Shapiro “when events are held at a time and location that allow for the provision of any required security measures.”

“An endless stream of liberal speakers continue to be granted opportunities to speak, unobstructed by time, place, or manner restrictions while conservatives are continually treated unequally, and repeatedly relegated to the margins of campus activity,” YAF explained in the statement.

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Shapiro at our local university. There were no hysterical protests or riots. Instead, a group of 20 or 30 students held a rather sad looking “dance-off protest” about 50 yards away from the building where he was speaking. Inside the packed hall, there was an assembled group representing just about every age and ethnicity possible. It was a respectful audience, and when Q&A time came, a solid line of men and women snaked all the way to the back door waiting their turn to address Shapiro. He didn’t shy away from anything thrown at him. He spent the most time with a young woman who challenged him on a woman’s right to have an abortion. And in spite of her continually moving the goal posts in an effort to rattle him – which Shapiro patiently pointed out each time – he was consistent in his viewpoints as he thoughtfully responded to her. In light of my experience, I can only assume that UC Berkeley must be made up of an awfully fearful and timid group of faculty and students. Because really, why else be so afraid?

For his part, Shapiro, who spoke at Berekely in 2016 without any problems, vows to fight back:

We’re coming to Berkeley, regardless of attempts to stop us. It’s just a question of when and where. Stay tuned.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


UPDATE: It looks like the show will go on after all:

“It’s clear that we have a number of workable options,” said Dan Mogulof, Berkeley’s assistant vice chancellor for public affairs. “This event is going to happen. We just need to sit down with the College Republicans to talk through the details.”

He said it was unclear whether the Berkeley College Republicans had been informed of the news.

Mogulof said Berkeley reconsidered its initial denial of the College Republicans’ request for a free, centrally located, 500-seat campus venue. Berkeley initially said the College Republicans didn’t follow the rules by pre-booking Shapiro before they asked whether the university had a room available.

“We didn’t have any options in terms of the spaces available free of charge,” Mogulof told FIRE, but “because of the extent of our commitment to free speech, the campus will help fund any fees associated with hosting this event if need be.”

The Daily Wire is also reporting that at the time of this report, the “Berkeley College Republicans confirmed that they haven’t heard from the administration directly.”

Also, the Foundation for Rights Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.) brings clarification with a fuller reporting of the exchange between the university and Berkeley College Republicans. As such, I have changed the title of the post in an effort to more accurately reflect that the university offered to “negotiate the terms of the event”.

Further, in catching up with the comments, I see that Dave posted this comment: “Also, the title of this post is false and misleading. Berkeley has not “said no” to Shapiro; as the university statement shows, they said the exact opposite.” While I don’t agree that Berkeley said the “exact opposite,” I would agree that in light of the clarification, the original title of the post was inaccurate and misleading.


Christian Leaders Pray For President Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:45 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, a photo of President Trump being prayed for by evangelical leaders and Vice President Pence made the rounds.


In a Facebook post, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who was part of the prayer group, shared this:

Yesterday was very surreal for @ahowardbrowne & I. 30 years ago we came from South Africa to America as missionaries. Yesterday I was asked by Pastor Paula White-Cain to pray over our 45th President – what a humbling moment standing in the Oval Office – laying hands and praying for our President – Supernatural Wisdom, Guidance and Protection – who could ever even imagine – wow – we are going to see another great spiritual awakening…

Howard-Browne further clarified that what took place “was normal, what a lot of us pray when we pray for elected officials. It was like a meeting of friends.”

When I first saw the photo, I reacted with cynicism: Evangelicals. Pfft. Trump. Pfft. All sorts of nuttery rolled into one photo. But then I thought about it. Say what you will about evangelicals, President Trump, and prayer, but I don’t know why anyone would object to prayers going up for a president. Particularly this one. While only God can say if these were the prayers of righteous men, I think it’s a positive thing when anyone, anywhere asks God to grant Trump wisdom. How could it not be?

Anyway, as a reminder, Trump’s claims of Christianity have been questionable and conveniently timed, in light of an impending election. Consider when asked about seeking God’s forgiveness in this life, then-candidate Trump said,

“I have great relationship with God. I have great relationship with the Evangelicals,” Trump said in the interview before pivoting to his poll numbers among Evangelical voters.

“I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”

Trump told Republican pollster and focus-group guru Frank Luntz that when the real-estate mogul has done something wrong, he tries to correct his error without getting God involved.

“I am not sure I have,” Trump said when asked if he’d ever asked God for forgiveness. “I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

To me, his comments revealed an individual completely unfamiliar with the Christian faith, mankind’s fall from grace, and the personal relationship between the believer and God. And yet, he somehow managed to con(vince) any number of leaders in the Christian church that he was the real deal.

But to answer the question of whether anyone objected to the president being prayed for, it appears they did. The Washington Post dug up a pretty dumb example from a supposed Christian, because why choose a robust and challenging objection intelligently articulated by a solid Christian when you can instead choose a dumb one because every cosmopolitan knows that Christians = dumb:

The White Wing Evangelical Christians visit the White House, laying hands on Trump. Now Trump thinks he’s Jesus. Sacrilegious.

They also included the objections of a well known Protestant pastor. This in spite of his rank hypocrisy. Consider the Rev. William Barber II, who serves as North Carolina’s NAACP chair and the leader of the protest group, Moral Mondays, which protests against President Trump’s policies:

On MSNBC’s “AM Joy” Saturday morning, Barber called the now-viral photo “theological malpractice bordering on heresy.”

“When you can p-r-a-y for a president and others while they are p-r-e-y, preying on the most vulnerable, you’re violating the most sacred principles of religion,” Barber told host Joy Reid.

Barber considers Trump (and Republicans) hypocrites, because their views and policies are not representative of Jesus’s words about how people are to treat “the least of these.”

When we have this extremist Trump Republican agenda that takes health care, transfers wealth to the greedy, that’s hypocrisy and sin. Seven hundred billion dollars, Joy? You haven’t seen that kind of transfer of wealth on the backs of bodies of people since slavery. Claiming to care about life, but then passing a bill when you know thousands will die — 22 million people, poor, working people will be hurt — that is hypocrisy and sin. When you know it will hurt children, the disabled and veterans, that is sin. That is hypocrisy.

Further, he accused Trump-Ryan-McConnell’s agenda as one of rank “hypocrisy and sin.”

Let me just cut to the chase: Rev. William Barber II exhorting Republicans and the president about Jesus’s commands on how to treat the most vulnerable among us is the same Rev. William Barber II who stood in solidarity with Planned Parenthood to protect the rights of women to have an abortion. This says all anyone needs to know about how much he really cares about who lives and dies and the most vulnerable among us.

These “Christians”. As a believer (albeit one who no longer attends church and has no intention of taking up the practice again), this is really frustrating. The hypocrisy of Trump, the hypocrisy of Barber, the seedy efforts of church leaders to convince voters that Trump was someone that he really wasn’t brought to mind a question that filmmaker Ken Burns asked during a recent interview. And it’s one that I’ve been chewing over. (Yes, I’m talking about that Ken Burns. The one about whom we can say much regarding his politics, historical views, etc., but this post isn’t about that.) He has simply articulated a compelling question, and one that I wish I could answer. But I can’t.

“The Republican Party has been extraordinarily successful at getting many groups of people to vote against their self-interest. Evangelicals are voting for Donald Trump. What part of Donald Trump reminds you of Jesus Christ? Trump lusts after his own daughter on national radio, talks about women’s bodies and breasts in such a disparaging way, and mocks them. How is this in any way Christian? When you make the “other” the enemy, how is that Christian?”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


John McCain Diagnosed With Brain Cancer

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:15 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Prayers for Sen. John McCain and his family tonight:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with brain cancer, the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said Wednesday.

The tumor was discovered after the senior Arizona senator underwent a minor procedure last week to remove a blood clot from above his left eye.

“Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” the hospital said in a statement.

“The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.”

If anyone has shown himself to be a tenacious fighter in this life, it’s certainly been Sen. McCain.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


This Means WAR: The ObamaCare Betrayal by Senators Capito and Murkowski Can Never Be Forgotten or Forgiven

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:00 am

As I mentioned yesterday, I am astounded that so many people want to blame the GOP’s failure to repeal ObamaCare on those who are least to blame: folks like Rand Paul and Mike Lee. As I said, the real villains are the people who voted for the ObamaCare (partial) repeal bill in 2015 — but oppose it today.

Well, Mitch McConnell will soon call for a vote on a reanimated version of that same bill. And now we’re starting to learn who the scoundrels really are.

At the top of the list of giant hypocrites, you’ll find Senators Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — who have both declared their intention to vote against the ObamaCare repeal bill that they both voted for in 2015. As Phil Kerpen said:

They have no excuse for this, and their betrayal will save ObamaCare.

This means war.

Capito and Murkowski are the most worthless type of hypocrites imaginable. They have postured as being against Obamacare, but they never really were. They voted in favor of the (partial) repeal in 2015 — and yet they claim they cannot vote for the same bill today, in 2017.

What is the difference between 2015 and 2017? Yesterday afternoon I sent emails to the press offices of Senators Capito and Murkowski, asking them why they would choose not to vote for the exact same bill they voted for in 2015. I received no response from Senator Capito, and a canned statement from Senator Murkowski that does not remotely begin to address the questions I had asked.

So what is the difference between 2015 and 2017? I’ll tell you what the difference is. The difference is that today, in 2017, we have a president who would sign that repeal bill into law. In 2015, we did not.

Senators Capito and Murkowski knew this. They lied to their voters, straight up.

Now: we all know that there are surely plenty of other cowards hiding behind the skirts of these two senators. (Hi, Rob Portman!) I suspect that Capito and Murkowski were chosen to be the primary fall guys (or fall gals, as it happens) because they’re not up for reelection for four years (in the case of Capito) and six years (in the case of Murkowski). I think the GOP establishment is hoping that you will forget about their treachery in the intervening four to six years.

I, for one, am not going to forget. I will never forget.

I hereby pledge to donate money to the strongest conservative challenger willing to primary either of these senators on the basis of their refusal to vote to repeal Obamacare. I don’t care if I have to wait until 2020 or 2022, I am doing it. And I will vocally support that person against these Senators, and do everything I can to see that these women are unseated.

So if there are others, why pick on Capito and Murkowski? Oh, I’m willing to do the same for anyone who votes against the repeal bill. We just don’t know who they are yet. But yes, I am focused on these two senators, because they are the ones who came out against the bill first, and will give political cover for others to do the same. We have to make an example out of somebody, so we might as well start with them — pour encourager les autres.

So here’s what we do. We primary them. We never, ever forget this betrayal. This goes for anybody else who votes against having this legislation going forward. All of them get the same treatment. No more donations for any of the turncoats. If they appear on the radio, we call in and rip them to shreds for this vote. We confront them wherever and whenever we can. We pull out all the stops.

Some, I expect, will go further. Some will simply stop voting for the GOP or donating money to the GOP. If you choose to go that route, I suggest you tell them exactly why.

One final point: some of you may be asking: why am I not screaming at Susan Collins? Am I mad at Susan and Collins? Well, sure. Of course I’m mad at Susan Collins — for being a complete economic nincompoop who is furthering a disastrous socialistic healthcare regime that is going to drive health care costs into the stratosphere and bankrupt middle America. But she didn’t vote for the 2015 bill. She didn’t pretend to be for repeal when it didn’t matter. (If you want a full list of who did vote for the bill in 2015, together with an analysis of who is still in the Senate today, I did that work for you here.)

Yes, Susan Collins might be an economic illiterate and the functional equivalent of a Democrat. But Susan Collins didn’t lie to her voters with her 2015 vote. Capito and Murkowski did. Capito and Murkowsi lied. They lied — and they must pay the price for lying.

I can’t make them pay a political price by myself. You have to join me. So I ask you:

Who’s with me?

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


A Saudi Woman In A Short Skirt, Activist Linda Sarsour, And The Alt-Right Jake Tapper

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

A controversial video of a young Saudi woman walking around in a miniskirt is making the rounds:

A young Saudi woman sparked a sensation online over the weekend by posting a video of herself in a miniskirt and crop top walking around in public, with some Saudis calling for her arrest and others rushing to her defense.

State-linked news websites reported Monday that officials in the deeply conservative Muslim country are looking into possibly taking action against the woman, who violated the kingdom’s rules of dress. Women in Saudi Arabia must wear long, loose robes known as abayas in public. Most also cover their hair and face with a black veil, though exceptions are made for visiting dignitaries.

The video, first shared on Snapchat, shows her walking around an empty historic fort in Ushaiager, a village north of the capital, Riyadh, in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative tribes and families are from.

The Saudi Okaz news website reported that officials in Ushaiager called on the region’s governor and police to take action against the woman in response to the video, without elaborating. Saudi news website Sabq reported that the kingdom’s morality police had corresponded with other agencies to investigate further after the video was brought to their attention.

According to updated reports by Saudia Arabian state TV, the young woman has been arrested for wearing “suggestive clothing”.

This reminds me of co-chariman of the Women’s March and self- described “Palestinian-American-Muslim, civil rights activist” Linda Sarsour’s infamous comment, in which she favorably compared the status of women in Saudia Arabia to those in the United States:

“10 weeks of paid maternity leave in Saudi Arabia and you are worried about women driving. Yes, 10 weeks puts us to shame.”

Given that the young woman in the video appears to be of childbearing age, don’t you just know that in spite of having been arrested and facing God knows what, she is this moment taking great comfort in knowing that she is in Saudi Arabia where she can at least get 10 weeks of paid maternity leave?

Anyway, this is the same Linda Sarsour who wants you to believe she is all about women’s rights, but with a few exceptions :


You can read about an angry Sarsour calling out CNN’s Jake Tapper for criticizing the Women’s March (remember, she’s co-chairman), which tweeted birthday wishes to Assata Shakur, who was convicted for killing a police officer. Shakur fled to Cuba to avoid serving a life sentence. Not taking Tapper’s criticism too well, Sarsour lobbed a sick burn at him:


Yep, that’s right: Jake Tapper is a member of the alt-right. And Sarsour is a put-upon woman of minority status, who is being publicly made to endure some ugly misogyny from the patriarchy. What a plight. Nobody knows the trouble she’s seen – not even a courageous young Saudi woman wearing a short skirt.

Anyway, you can also read about why Sarsour’s recent comments about “jihad” made during a speech at the annual Islamic Society of North America convention should not necessarily be seen as “advocating solely for peaceful, nonviolent dissent” as she claims.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


You Want to Know Who to Blame If ObamaCare Is Not Repealed? I’ll Tell You Who

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

First, let’s start by talking about who won’t be to blame: Senators Mike Lee or Rand Paul. Last night Brit Hume of Fox News tweeted this:

I have been a fan of Brit Hume’s for years. But I find it astounding that Hume criticized only people like Senators Lee and Paul, who actually would repeal ObamaCare entirely if given the opportunity. If there were 535 Mike Lees in Congress, ObamaCare would have been repealed in January. Where, I wondered, was the criticism of those who voted to repeal in 2015 — but won’t now? Why blame the fiercest opponents of ObamaCare, and give a total pass to people who hypocritically voted for repeal in 2015 only because they knew Obama would veto it?

Let’s review: in 2015, there was a bill sent to Obama’s desk called the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015. It didn’t repeal every aspect of ObamaCare, but it did a lot. Exchanges: gone. Subsidies: phased out. Penalty for not getting health insurance or providing it to your employees: gone. “Cadillac tax”: gone. Medicaid expansion: phased out.

Rather than the tinkering we have seen recently, this was a real move towards repeal. It passed the Senate 52-47. But, of course, it was vetoed by Obama — and the people who voted for it knew it would be.

Now, we have a President in office who has said he would sign such a bill. Rand Paul introduced a version in January. But his bill has been stalled in committee for half a year, while Republicans have spun their wheels trying to install a big-government replacement. For the most part, their efforts have resulted in bills that would put the GOP stamp of approval on the basic structure of ObamaCare.

Why hasn’t the GOP passed the 2015 bill? Clearly, because there are people who voted for a repeal bill in 2015 who never intended that bill to become law. Yet nobody in the media has been asking who these people are. And (until now), leadership has not forced the issue.

So when the news first broke last night that the latest repeal effort was dead, I raged at the leadership and the media, for hiding the identities of those people. If I had a full-time job in Big Media (ugh), I would track down everyone who voted for the 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill to see if they’ll still vote for it.

But it seems Big Media may not have to do the work. Mitch McConnell may do it for them. Events have move quickly since Mike Lee made his announcement last night — and as reported by Joe Cunningham, Mitch McConnell has announced that some version of the 2015 bill is going to be put to a vote:

Hallelujah! This is fantastic.

If the GOP is not full of hypocrites, the bill will pass. Of the 52 people who voted for the 2015 bill, 48 are still in the Senate. (Susan Collins voted against it.) Of the four Republicans who voted for that bill in 2015 and are now gone from the Senate, three have been replaced by Republicans — Sen. Coats (replaced by Republican Todd Young), Sen. Sessions (replaced by Republican Luther Strange), and Sen. Vitter (replaced by Republican John Kennedy).

As long as those three are on board — and long as none of the 48 change their vote, the 2015 bill will easily pass again, with 51 votes.

Now, I heard you laugh when you read that phrase “[i]f the GOP is not full of hypocrites.” That’s OK. I laughed while writing it. I am frankly stunned that McConnell is bringing some version of the 2015 bill to a vote, because I think the GOP is indeed full of hypocrites. And those hypocrites don’t want to be put in the position of voting against a bill they don’t like, but voted for in 2015 because they knew it would never become law. I predict there will be a lot of pressure on McConnell to reverse course and not put the 2015 bill to a vote.

But if he does, we’ll know exactly whom to blame.

Here’s my question: if Mike Lee and Rand Paul vote for repeal, and some other senator or senators change their vote from 2015 and vote against ObamaCare repeal . . .

. . . will Brit Hume still blame Mike Lee and Rand Paul?

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Finally, Some Truly Good News: McConnell Announces Revival of 2015 ObamaCare Repeal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:57 pm

Now we’re talking:

I’m doing an analysis of the Senators who voted for the (partial) repeal in 2015. Fully 48 of those Senators are still in the Senate today. They have no excuse not to vote for the same bill again.

Three other Republicans who voted yes were replaced by other Republicans.

(Susan Collins was a no.)

So: if nobody is a total hypocrite, we’ll have no problem getting this thing passed.

Which means it’s dead in the water.

So why do I say it’s “good news”?

Because, silly. Now, when it fails, we know who to go after. I will give money to anyone who tries to primary any Republican who voted for repeal in 2015 and takes it back now.

I’m looking forward to this.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

This Is Where Big Government California-Style Leaves You

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:22 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Fox News has the details:

Months after heavy rains ravaged roads and bridges in Northern California, officials in Santa Cruz County say it could still take more than a year to repair all the damage, especially in the mountains that are home to several thousand residents.

That’s too long for the Santa Cruz Vigilante Pothole Brigade, a group of intrepid locals who’ve raised money and manpower to do the job themselves.

The brigade is comprised of moms and dads, firefighters, entrepreneurs and fearless do-it-yourselfers fed up with tire-popping potholes – and a county public works agency telling them to just be patient.

By now, all of you know the libretto to this comic-tragic opera. Are there earnest citizens who just want to make their community a better place to live? Absolutely:

“People were giving us lists of where the holes were,” says volunteer Launy Senee, “and we would drive around and find them, and we just started getting people together and self-training ourselves, and filling the potholes.”

Using their own pickup trucks, they back over the repair job several times, smoothing the patch with their tires. Each job takes about five minutes.

“It’s just terrific to be a part of what we need to do to keep the place going,” Senee said.

Is there also an officious by-the-book bureaucrat who resents some peon citizen encroaching upon their territory and uses the scary chimera of a lawsuit to dissuade citizens from helping out? No doubt:

“We can’t have people running out into traffic and filling up potholes by themselves,” said Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin. “It just could end up impeding our efforts to actually fill more potholes if we end up getting sued because we’re letting people do this.”

I can only hope that Jason Hoppin sincerely hates the part of his job where he is called upon to stifle citizen initiative, but this being a deep red blue county in a deep red blue* state (Hillary Clinton won Santa Cruz County with 74% of the vote last year compared to her 62% overall margin in the state), I would have to bet that someone in Jason Hoppin’s position has a political philosophy which dictates that the citizen has no business trying to perform a service provided by the state, no matter how inefficiently the state provides that service. Fortunately, the intrepid pothole repairers of Santa Cruz County aren’t backing down:

The Santa Cruz Vigilante Pothole Brigade is in negotiations to become officially sanctioned, like volunteer firefighters.

But [Brigade Leader Larry] Mcvoy said he and his band of road warriors will continue to pave over problems and help their community – whether the government approves the group or not.

This immediately reminded me of a similar story I had heard several years ago, when a group of business owners in Polihale State Park on the Hawaiian Island of Kuai decided that waiting two years for the state government to fix a washed-out bridge leading into the park was unacceptable, so they rebuilt the damn thing themselves in eight days. Once upon a time America used to be a place where this was commonplace. Sadly, these kind of stories are now newsworthy.

Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.

* Correction: Kevin M. points out that I have mixed up the red state/blue state thing. To this day I still want to associate the far left with the color red, just like Lenin meant us to do. Post corrected above with thanks to Kevin M.


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