Why the War on Drugs is Eroding the Public Trust in Policing Efforts

ImageIn 1971, Richard Nixon first used the term War on Drugs and declared that Drugs were “Public Enemy Number One.”  Although that was, perhaps, the first major escalation in the war, it has actually been occurring since 1914 with the Harrison Narcotics Act.  Even earlier, local laws (some dating back to 1860) have been attempting to control American appetite for drugs.  Whenever you want to pin the War on Drugs along the timeline, it has done little to improve the public’s view of cops.

One of the low points for public support of police occurred during Prohibition.  Overnight one of America’s most profitable legal businesses went from legal to illegal.  The demand that made alcohol such a profitable business didn’t disappear just because a President stroke pen to paper and declared it to be illegal.  If legal businesses could no long fill the demand, illegal businesses would.  And as a result, the highly profitable business of distributing alcohol became even more profitable.  Expecting lowly paid street cops to not take a months pay for looking the other way on a single night was ridiculous.  Of course, it didn’t take but 14 years to see how badly prohibition hurt the police, the public and the economy and for the amendment to be repealed.

Skipping ahead to the modern day, and we have the full fledged war on drugs.  Yet, after over 40 years of this endless war, the cracks are starting to show.  States are legalizing marijuana, prisons are crumbling under the weight of incarcerated users, and police forces are stretched to the limit after years of crime stats manipulation to maintain the flow of suspects into the court system.

In addition to the increasing flow of newly minted felons into the prisons system, America’s ability to solve what most would view as the most heinous of all crimes, murder, has fallen dramatically, even while the actual occurrence of that crime has dropped off. According to recent studies, America’s murder clearance rate is around 65%.  In raw numbers, that’s 6000 unsolved murders a year.  Interestingly, in 1965 there was almost the same raw number of unsolved murders, but the clearance rate was around 90%.  So even though we’ve seen a massive decline in the raw numbers of murder (and adjusted for population, the reduction is even more dramatic) police solve far fewer murders in terms of real or percentage numbers.

Yet that doesn’t seem to have to be the case.  In 2006, Philadelphia’s murder clearance rate dropped to 52%.  In 2008, after two years of intensive focus on solving murders, the clearance rate rose to 74%.  In 2010, it had risen to 92%.  What made the difference? According to Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross, a veteran Philadelphia homicide investigator and major-case supervisor. “If you don’t work a job, then it’s not coming in. That’s the saying around here. So we make our guys work the jobs.”  In other words, it’s about where the police focus their efforts.

If you look at the national trends, it’s clear where police focus their efforts.  In 2010, the year our murder clearance rate fell to 65%, police made 11,200 arrests for murder.  That arrest figure includes arrests from murders years prior, and it does not include the 6000 unsolved murders of that year.  (Several where solved, but the murderer killed and multiple murders with one person arrested.)  Now when it comes to drug abuse violations, this is not drug dealing but drug use, police made 1,638,800 arrests in 2010.

One could look at the numbers and come to the conclusion that drug abuse is a bigger problem that murder in America.  One would be wrong, however.  In the category of Drug Abuse Crimes, there are no victims, these people are not selling, and they are users.  Whatever you may think of users, equating them as a bigger problem than murders is just stupid.  And before you think that users are also drivers, arrests for driving under the influence are broken out from drug users.  In 2010, 1,412,200 arrests were made for DUI, the vast majority alcohol related.

So why are police so focused on drug users and not murders?  The answer is sadly simple and follows one of the oldest axioms in the book.  Follow the money.  When police make an arrest on murder, a crime that is hard to prove more often than not and involves hours of investigation by people on the street, detectives and lab personnel, the cost per arrest is quite high.  When it comes to drug users, users are practically falling into police hands because, lets face it, users who are using aren’t always the smartest people on the planet.  Every arrest comes with evidence in abundance (or the arrest wouldn’t be made) and quick plea bargains.  Fines more than cover the cost of policing and with federal aid for “task forces” and civil forfeiture, departments make money on drug abuse arrests.

How does this erode public trust in police?  The biggest change is the public perception of marijuana.  As the public at large has grown more and more accepting of marijuana, the arrest of users has become less popular.  It’s all fine and good for your local police chief to brag about the thousands of arrests they’ve made this year, but that’s just a number.  Drug Abuse arrests have reached the point where one in 250 of us know someone arrested for drug use ever year.  Depending on the demographic, it can be much higher.  And since we know these people, know most of them don’t hurt anyone with their use, are usually good people, aren’t violent and typically cause no trouble in the neighborhood, we begin to question the validity of the arrests.

Oh, we all understand the use of drugs is illegal.  But when they arrest that kid down the street that mows your lawn and plays basketball with the neighborhood kids, you’ve got to wonder if police are focused in the right areas.

And that’s where we get into crime stat manipulation.  Using drug arrests to bolster the numbers, police departments can easily push up the number of arrests in a given year.  They can then say with confidence that the city is safer because of all the arrests. But if you look at the numbers, the percentage of total arrests for violent crime is fairly stagnant at 4% of all crime, even though more murders are going unresolved.  So while it looks like overall crime is down, and arrest numbers remain healthy… the truth is violence within the system hasn’t changed.  So when the police come to you and say we made “umpteen” thousand arrest last year, but you can’t remember the last arrest for violent crime and you can remember three or four arrest that were for drug abuse of nice people, you begin to wonder just what the job of the police really is.

From basic numbers, it is clear the job of police is less about solving murders than it is about arresting drug users.  And that really is a shame.  All that does it set up false numbers about serious crime that does little to support the police position, and provides large numbers of anecdotal evidence that police arrest good people for crimes with no victims.  When the numbers skew enough, public trust in police goes away.

Advertisements

Smoking Pot

pot-leaves-art-b67111f4c5bf10cbSo apparently the GOP leadership is starting to get soft on pot.  According to a Washington Post article that came my way, the movers and shakers of the Republican Party are starting ease up on the issue of legalizing weed. I have only one thing to say about that.

About damn time.

Thanks to another GOP’er, Richard Nixon, we started the now infamous war on drugs.  The war that had few victims and has placed more American’s behind bars than any other action we’ve ever commenced.  The police activity that has killed more people worldwide than any other military action since Viet Nam.  The insane idea that victimless crimes should result in jail time and that people growing plants are criminals.  This insane “war” has done more to initiate crime in this nation than any other action.  Ever.

Since that time, the GOP has been “hard” on crime.  Putting people in prison has become such a national past time that private business has gotten involved and it is acceptable to make money off of locking fellow American’s in cages for doing nothing more than smoking a 100% natural herb.  It has driven the black market to new heights, knocking of the prohibition style “Mob” and replaced it with vicious street gangs that make the worst of the 30’s look like a cheap video game while driving chemists and wanna be chemist to develop more and more addicting and potent drugs to meet the demand that was created through the criminalization of relatively harmless recreational drugs.

And don’t even start in on me about how drugs aren’t harmless and shouldn’t be used for recreation.  If you’ve the intelligence to read this blog, you’ve the intelligence to realize that we use drugs for recreation and mood enhancement on a daily basis.  Had your cup of coffee today?  It’s laced with Caffeine, a stimulant.  Had a cold brew?  You know its a depressant.  And both beer and coffee (and chocolate and more) are all as natural and at least as harmless as weed.  In the case of Alcohol, weed might even be more harmless.

At the same time we’ve criminalized legions of drugs, we’ve also become the most drugged out society on the planet.  We have drugs for almost anything.  Most of us have a medicine cabinet full of amber bottles.  Pain killers and mood suppressors.  Anti-depressants and sleep aids.  High blood pressure and high blood sugar.  We’ve a pill for just about everything.

But we don’t have a pill for the one thing plaguing our nation, turning young kids into career criminals and imprisoning fathers and mothers, brothers and sister who’s only crime harmed no one, arguably not even themselves, yet we give them long prison time in the name of our failed “War” on drugs.

South of our borders we have a nearly lawless country of Mexico, who imports massive amounts of a plant that would easily grow within or border (and does, in the wild, regularly) and to maintain their grip on the flow of that plant, gangs kill police, judges and families with impunity… all because we outlawed a harmless plant.

If we legalized, taxed, and guaranteed the safety of pot, we would in one swoop reduce crime, take the money out of the pockets of gang leaders around the nation, reduce violence in our neighbor to the south, and wipe out entire intrusive police activities.  just the act of demilitarizing police forces would be a boon to our civil rights.  At least half of “high crime areas” in the nation would disappear as the “crime” would no longer be illegal.

In the name of this war, police routinely violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.  Illegal searches, called “consent” searches, are performed as a matter of routine.  If you attempt to refuse the search, they use that as probable cause that you must be “hiding something” and search anyway.  All because once they stop you, you are a suspect of a drug crime.  Everyone is.  If you don’t believe me, perhaps you should do some reading here or here.  And if you need a reminder of what your constitutional rights are, look here.

Why Sen. Rand Paul’s Filibuster Is Important and How CNN Dropped The Ball

This week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul filibustered the congressional approval of a new CIA director that he has every intention of approving. Does that make sense?

It should.

Paul was filibustering the approval to shed light on an important issue that should have everyone who appreciates living in a land governed by laws and not the whim of a man should be concerned about.

Back in 2011, New Mexico born Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a drone attack in Yemen. This caused some concern among libertarian thinking people since al-Awlaki got no due process before the United States government deprived him of his life. Historically and legally this is an interesting area. al-Awlaki was not in the USA when he was killed, but that alone doesn’t give up his rights under the constitution. The administration argues that he was actively engaged in warlike actions against our troops. It is, at best, a legal grey area.

It isn’t like the American government hasn’t actively killed American’s before, with regard for due process. Police do it regularly, and we don’t usually fault them for it. When a bad guy pulls a gun on an officer in blue, we don’t expect the officer to run to a judge and get a warrant before shooting back. We do, however, expect a thorough review of the incident to make sure the use of lethal force is justified.

Since finding out about al-Awlaki death, several senators and other politicians have been attempting to review the rational and justification for targeting an American Citizen from a drone. Let me be clear, the American al-Awlaki was not collateral damage in the drone attack. He was the target.

We now know he was with four others, all traveling in a SUV. They had stopped for breakfast, when one spotted the incoming predator drone and they fled. An Army Hellfire Missile was fired into the SUV, killing all of them. al-Awlaki was not on a battlefield and he was not actively threatening any citizen of any country. And that is why this is under review.

The administration has not used drones solely overseas. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security has purchased several Predator drones very similar to the one used to kill al-Awlaki. These drones are currently not armed with missiles, but instead an array of electronic equipment that makes domestic spying quite impressive. And at least some of these drones have been used to spy on Americans here at home.

So the concern has become, if it is legal for the Administration to use a drone to kill an American born terrorist overseas, how long until they use a drone to kill an American here at home?

Senator Paul asked this of the appointed new Director of the CIA in a letter. The chief law enforcement officer in the country, Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder responded via a letter. His response was less than satisfactory.

The question you pose is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no President will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine extraordinary circumstance which it would be necessary appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President authorize military to use lethal force in the territory of the United States.

Holder goes on to develop instances where he thought the drones may be used, like Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

This is disturbing on several levels. In both, foreign nationals attacked our country’s sovereign soil. These were not the actions of Americans, but the actions of angry aliens. As such, neither matched what the Senator asked. Would drones ever be used on Americans in America.

On another level, Holder specifically says “military to use lethal force.” Unless the hypothetical situation is nuclear in nature, such an action would be illegal under the Possie Comitatus Act. Additionally, the current Administration has not been forthcoming with the legal prior to this past Monday with the legal rational for using drones against American’s overseas, and has not stated whether or not the rational applies domestically.

On Monday, Holder released documents concerning the legal rational for overseas drone use against American’s. In a hearing on Wednesday, Holder was questioned about the domestic use of drones. Again, his answer was less than satisfying. In this case, it was Judiciary Committee member Texas Senator Paul Cruz who asked if using a drone in a very specific matter would be constitutional.

The situation was simple. Would the Administration believe it is constitutional to use a drone against a domestic terrorist sitting in a cafe. Again, Holder’s response was unsatisfactory. The answer to that question is “No.” But Holder had to dither, and avoid the constitutional aspect of the question. He was intterupted and asked again. Again he dithered. He finally answered “I thought I was saying no.”

You can watch the whole exchange here:

So I think Senator Rand Paul was more than justified in his Filibuster. It is time that the Administration is clear on its position of the legal use of lethal force on American soil.

Today, the filibuster over, the Senate did confirm John Brennan as the newest Director of the CIA. Just prior to the vote, which Paul did not vote in the affirmative, Paul received a letter from Holder clarifying the Administration’s position on drone strikes in the United States. In the brief letter Holder said that the President did not have the authority to kill an American who was not “engaged in combat.”

About time.

Now how CNN dropped the ball. In their report of Holder’s appearance before the Judicial Committee they failed completely to report on the verbal summersaults between Holder and Cruz. In their report, they reported that Holder said “no.” Shame on you, CNN.

If you’re gonna bitch…

I’m a firm believer that if you’re gonna bitch, you gotta be willing to call people out for the good things they do too.  So since my last post got a little bitchy, I gotta make up for it now.

I don’t have ALL the details, but apparently someone successfully got the attention of the Mayor’s office and pointed out how unfair it was to have community volunteers pay, on average, over $2000 to park at the VBC to participate in community theatre.  The mayor, Tommy Battle, agreed.  A new system is being developed that will allow these volunteers to utilize a city parking lot, for free.

Unfortunately for me, this system isn’t quite ready yet, and the play I’m in next week will not have the full benifit of this new program.  Or maybe it will.  We’re not sure.

Leslie, the President of Theatre Huntsville, came by our rehearsal tonight to give us the nitty gritty.  We’re going to be the test case for the new system.  So it might… or might not… work.  I’m sure, like any system, there will be bugs to work out.  But this is a HUGE step in the right direction.

This is the first real tangible sign that City Government here in Huntsville actually respects the arts and the volunteers that give our city the culture that officials like to brag about but not support.  I hope this is a sign that the new administration (took over this past October) is going to be more friendly to the arts than the previous one.  I can’t say that the former mayor NEVER attended one of our plays, but I know she turned down MULTIPLE invitations to attend them.  When you do six plays a year, every year, plus a bonus play in an open air amphitheater, you’d think she could fit us in sometime during her 12 years as mayor.

But maybe it is changing.  Maybe the new mayor, despite the belt tightening the city is going through, recognizes that our value to the community is more than just publicity for out of town business.  That we actually serve the community.  I don’t know.  But I know that through this simple act, the Mayor has impressed me more than the previous administration ever did.

Thanks, Mayor Battle.  I appreciate you hearing our situation and responding to it.  I hope you can come to our little show.  I’ll be the idiot on stage who keeps dropping lines and looking like he’s going to puke.  Wait, probably shouldn’t have said that.  That’s not the best way to get people to come.

Um…

Thanks, Mayor Battle.  Come see the funniest play Theatre Huntsville has put on this season!

Whew.

The Politics of Theology

A friend of mine recently told me that she homechurches.  It was a tongue and cheek response to a complaint I twittered during the latest church business meeting I attended. She also pointed out that being a homechurcher makes her statistically holier than thou. Also we can wear lingerie to mass.

That aside, she brings up an important point.  People experience both Church and God in different way.  It’s very hard to say that someones actions aren’t “Christian” or aren’t “holy” when what you’re really saying is “your view of theology differs from mine.”

Ultimately “Church” is an attempt to convince people that theology you practice is the “right” one.  Clearly we’ve been unsuccessful at it since we haven’t been able to create one “true” church.  So instead we find a church that suits our theology or is persuasive enough to overcome our disagreements.

Finding such a church proved increasingly difficult for my family at the turn of the century.  I didn’t feel a connection to the church I grew up in.  At the same time, I learned I didn’t make a good Methodist, and left the church I’d found a comfortable theology with after the Bishop moved the pastor that attracted us to the church. I intellectually understand the concept of changing the pastors to prevent a cult of personality, but ultimately it is the personality of a church that makes me want to attend.

Ultimately one woman showed my family where we connected the most, and that connection came about because of our similar theology and life situations.  While I no longer attended my home church, I did attend a special Christmas service every year.  It was at one of those services that a new pastor at the church grabbed me and my wife and basically talked us into giving the church another chance.  She managed to do this by connecting with us in a way that no pastor had since my childhood.

That woman is Jana Williams.  She understood the basic anger my wife and I had with God over our inability to conceive a child.  Jana had gone through the same issues and ended up adopting a wonderful girl prior to her arrival at the church.  She’s currently well along in adopting another child.  In that time my wife and I have adopted two children of our own, and so we have much in common personally and thankfully theologically with Jana.

Since I gave up on my childhood church the entire staff had changed.  None of the pastors of my youth still lead the church.  In fact, one of my youth group members is now on staff at the church as a minister.  So I’m happy to find that with the change of staff my old home has become my new church home.

I’ve gone into this detail for a reason.  It’s important to realize that I did search for a home.  While I may be in my childhood home, it isn’t out of habit or comfort.  Many of the same disconnect issues are there, but I ignore them because the theology and the people mean more to me.  And Jana and her husband, who is also a minister at the church, mean more to me.

As a rule, I don’t like politics.  I used to think politics was everything, but now I loath it.  Personally I think all politicians are crooked and worthless and I don’t care if they are elephants or asses.  This dislike extends all the way to church politics, a topic I’ve ignored for years.  Until recently.

I’d heard rumblings of dislike surrounding the politics of my church for a couple of years.  I didn’t pay much attention because I didn’t want to know.  I don’t know or care what cliques are present in the church.  I attend for the theology and the opportunity for my children to be exposed to what I think is a good and healthy view of church and Christ. But now I’m thinking I’m going to have to rethink my self imposed ignorance.

One of the ways I serve my church is to participate in duties as one of the sound techs for the services.  It’s a skill I have, so using it for the good of the church is easy.  This past week was my week for duty, and normally that is no problem.  Except that this Wednesday night was a business meeting.  Church business.  Which is really just another way of saying Church Politics.

Since I was not up to speed on the political maneuvers of the church, I wasn’t really prepared for the onslaught of new “policies” from the “personnel committee.”  I’m still unclear as to what prompted the four proposals for policy changes that were introduced.  At least one of them seemed to be specifically aimed at hurting the people who mean so much to me at the church.  The Williams.

I’m not going to pretend to understand exactly how the decisions of the personnel committee came to be.  What disturbs me is that they don’t seem to match what I view the church’s theology and tradition to be.

Jana had a brilliant and exciting study idea, and requested a study leave to pursue it.  I was to help her with it and had gotten quite excited about it and bombarded her with emails and suggestions on how to go about studying it.  Then she stopped asking me questions and stopped talking about it.  I just thought I’d come on to strong so I didn’t ask any questions, but it turned out the Personnel committee had denied her study leave.

They did, however, approve her husband’s leave.  Seems some on the committee didn’t like the idea that two pastors would take study leave at the same time.  Never mind that they are married.  Never mind that NOT taking the leave together increased the burden and difficulty of the leave and never mind that the study plan of one of them would really impact the church.  No, they just couldn’t possibly take leave at the same time, even though they planned the leave for the time when it would impact the church the least.

Whatever the reasoning behind this, I can not believe it is coincidental that the committee chose to propose a change to the leave policy of the church immediately following their denial of Jana’s study leave.  In the past the policy was at the discretion of the senior pastor.  But now, the personnel committee wanted to be involved in any decision regarding leave that would make two ministers have overlapping leave of more than a week.

This would mean any time Jana and her husband decided to take a vacation of more than a week they would have to justify and explain their plans to the approval of the personnel committee.  A cruise, to visit family, to go drink margaritas on the beach had to have the explicit approval of this committee.  (I’m not suggesting that Jana drinks.  She is a baptist preacher after all)

And I’m supposed to believe that they didn’t attempt to institute this policy immediatly following the denial of Jana’s request to take two months leave with her husband?

Now how fair would it be to you if you had to justify your leave request with your HR department every single time you wanted to leave?  Your supervisor would no longer be allowed to approve accrued leave that you had already earned, but instead had to pass on your request to the HR department.  Most of us would be quite upset with that kind of arrangement, but that is exactly what happened here.

Personally I found it a slap in the face to the senior pastor and an unfair burden to our only married staff members.  It was almost a vote of no confidence by the committee in our senior pastors ability to manage his staff.  Either that, or a slap in the face of the only married staffers.  Either way, it isn’t a nice way to run your business.  Your church business.

Thankfully the policy as written didn’t pass.  Instead, the policy was amended at the meeting to allow the senior pastor the authority to approve leave for up to three weeks of overlapping leave.  I’d rather have had the entire policy done away with, but at least it was significantly weakened prior to passing.

So now I’m at a crossroads.  I can no longer be blind to the politics at the church, nor can I assume that they aren’t intended to hurt someone.  Or at least, if not intended to hurt, then not enough thought went into them about how they would really effect real people.  And something in MY theology says that’s not right.  So now I’m left to decide if this church and my theology really do mesh.

I was happier when I was ignorant.  Isn’t there a saying about that?

Is turn about fair play or twice as disgusting?

Think back with me for a minute. Back to early 2002. America was in crisis. We’d been attacked, and our existance felt threatened. Laws were passed, laws that took away basic Freedoms we’d enjoyed for decades. The few dissenters were loud, warning that this was a fundamental shift in America and would hurt us all. Those voices were drowned out with cries of patriotism and the need to support our country.

Frankly it was sick. Much of my love of talk radio died during this time. Limbaugh and Hannity disgusted me with their tirades on having nothing to hide and if you opposed this new laws you must be a terrorist.

Now return to today. We’ve now got “change.” Obama is in office and America is again in crisis. And again there are voices opposed to the presidential plan to resolve the crisis. And even with this change, a new crop of political pinheads is actively attempting to paint those who disagree with the direction of the President as anti-American.

Today on one of the cable news shows I saw a senator I remember getting slaughtered by Hannity for not supporting the President was actively attacking Hannity and Limbaugh for, you guessed it, not supporting the President.

So tell me true. Is this kind of disgusting rhetoric a case of turn about being fair play? Or is of twice as disgusting?

Writer Excommunicated For Writing

I wish that the title of this post wasn’t true.  I know that like maybe three people read my blog, but I need to write this for other reasons.  It’s just so horrible I can’t believe it actually happened.

One of my new favorite writer and blogger , JF Lewis, got excommunicated from his church for writing an urban fantasy novel with a vampire protagonist.  You can find the story here, but below is a quick synopsis.

Lewis adds that the elders of his church believe that “by writing the book, I committed the sins contained within it. They also felt that I’d aimed the novel at young children (which boggles the mind) and that it teaches and encourages the use of vulgar language. Though I disagree wholeheartedly with their decision, I can’t really say they took the action they took in order to be mean… they appear to have been acting out of genuine concern.”

Whatever their motivation, I can’t believe that a loving church would honestly remove a member for writing FICTION.  I have to think that Lewis’s christian charity at their motivations is a greater sign of Christ’s loving influence than the church’s actions.

I discovered Lewis quite by accident.  I was wandering around Books-A-Million one day, looking hopelessly for a new vampire book to read.  I love vampire stories.  And I came across a new book written by an Alabama author about Vampires.  So I picked it up.  And I loved it.  The book, if you want to support the author, is called Staked.

In an interview at Urban Fantasy Land, Lewis talked a little bit about the action.  It wasn’t much detail into the why, but it did have a bit to say about how it effected his family.  The following quote from Lewis in the interview really upset me.

They went after my wife, too…. tried to hold her partially responsible for what I wrote because she did my website.  They used my dedication against me, tried to make her ashamed of being named in it.  I’m still mad about that.

I’m still trying to figure out the motivation on that.  Okay, don’t like the book I guess you do what you have to do, but then to target his FAMILY like that?  I have to give the man credit.  According to the interview he has still attended services at the church, and has taken communion there.  He is a better Christian than I am.  Seems to me, the church could learn a thing or two from his actions.

I’m so alarmed that such a thing could happen today, that I’m nearly speechless.  And the book really is good.  I enjoyed it completely.  This March, ReVamped comes out, the sequel to Staked.  You can be sure I’ll get that book too.


Baby Killer Obama

In an earlier post I talked about my five year old son learning from another child that President-elect Obama is a “baby killer.” Although I personally don’t care for Obama, this made me quite angry. A five year old hasn’t the capacity to understand the context of the statement.

The situation has only gotten worse. Now that my son has learned that Obama is to be our President he is convinced that Obama will personally be arriving at my brothers house to kill my two year old niece.

This is causing nightmares. This is causing fear. This is causing my son to run and hide any time Obama is on TV. I can’t live like this much longer. He’s having breakdowns in class, he’s not sleeping and he’s starting to act out.

On one level I can understand. I have great fear of the Obama White House and often feel like running away myself. I was equally afraid of a McCain White House, but still understand the basic fear of change my son has absorbed from the general post election mess.

Four years from now who knows what may be. My son could replace this irrational fear with a profoundly rational one involving the White House. Or he may discover great hope and pride, forgetting this childhood fear altogether. For his sake, and the country’s, I hope the latter comes to pass.

The reality is probably in the middle. A little luck and my son won’t learn the disdain far to many Americans have for government. Frankly I hope that the current resuegance in hope and trust Obama seems to represent can survive the first 180 days.

But personally I have little faith in the illusion of change. And a great fear of the reality.

So while I’m hoping my son’s nightmare will end, I’m more hopeful that the country’s hasn’t begun.