A New Broom Sweeps Clean

Out with political farce, bias, and bigotry?



2018 will be hard to forget. TV specials remind us of “revolting developments” that we’d rather forget. Never mind! Most of us are full of resolve, and other things as well. Por ejemplo, frijoles.

To send the old year on its way, I bought a new broom. Maybe it will sweep out at least a couple of things. But if the broom works its magic, I’ll still have to deal with the sweepings.

Thing number one, to borrow from Dr. Seuss, is the latest from my hometown. A new state law goes into effect at the start of 2019. The law says that police departments can no longer destroy internal investigation records linked to officer-involved shootings, other major uses of force, sexual assault, or lying while on duty. For some time, my hometown’s record on police shootings has raised questions. Will transparency help?

Nope. City Hall prefers to be proactive! It’s decided to destroy such records before the law goes into effect. When the press got wind of the maneuver, the mayor pushed back. It would be “ridiculous” to suppose the purging of the records was aimed to “beat the clock” on the new law. To support his answer, he even gave a rationale. Destroying city records is “quite routine.” After all, he asked, “Do you keep these records forever?” Of course not. The idea, Mr. Mayor, is to keep them until the public no longer has a need to see them. Ah, well. Jimmy “the shredder” Butts isn’t one for fine distinctions.

Thing number two involves another public official. The junior senator from my home state has presidential aspirations. Does she also have a nose for conspiracy theories? Seems so. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve long suspected that the Knights of Columbus put a little something extra in their Sunday doughnuts, not to mention their Lenten fish fry dinners.

But Kamala Harris sees much more. In her recent vetting of judicial nominee Brian Buescher, a member of the Knights of Columbus, she let it be known that the Knights of Columbus is “an all-male society.” That was just a starter. The Knights also oppose “marriage equality.” Finally came the pièce de résistance. Quoting Supreme Knight Carl Anderson’s statement that abortion on demand is “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale,” she asked Buescher if he agreed. Another presidential aspirant, Cory Booker of New Jersey, fanned the flames of this senatorial grilling. Buescher, stuck on the grill, did a bit of waffling.

Both thing number one and thing number two are, indeed, revolting developments. We might hope that they would help give rise to a revolution against farce and flatulence in local government, and even more so against bias and bigotry at the national level.

Such revolution, I suppose, is a long shot. Still, keep in mind my new broom! If it proves to be sufficiently magical, it would offer a start in the miserable matter of thing number one and thing number two. But dealing with their detritus? Maybe Elon Musk could fund a special launch.

Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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