I’ve been struggling for several weeks to figure out how to write this diary. I think the best thing to do is to deal with the facts first:
My home was robbed.
Sometime early last month my home was broken into. Somebody (or somebodies, most likely) literally broke down my back door. They took some jewelry, and some other stuff including electronics. The jewels that they took weren’t that expensive, but they hit us where it hurt: the heart.
They took a necklace and earring set that my wife wore on our wedding day, and a necklace I bought for Mrs. Zen on her first mother’s day. A mother’s day which had come after our first daughter was born two months premature, all of 3 pounds 1 ounce, and spent a month in the NICU before coming home.
How do you put a value on that? The thought of some kid, rummaging through our stuff, taking that necklace, those memories. My blood still boils, and it’s been a month now.
Now for the follow up information. I went and met with a local police captain after the robbery. I buttonholed him at a community event and talked crime. Turns out that our town had a three-fold increase in Part I crimes, including rape, murder, and robbery, from June to July. The numbers tripled.
Also turns out that a home down the street had been robbed just a month ago, same M.O.
Of course, the cops don’t expect to catch these guys. They never do, unless something pops up in a pawn shop check. But these days, with Ebay, Craigslist, and a million other options, that doesn’t happen very often.
Which brings me to the larger point.
The very next week, the Attorney General said:
Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.
Earlier this year, the Bush administration said law enforcement in Baghdad was more important than law enforcement in my hometown.
The White House earlier this year proposed slashing the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, which helps local law enforcement officials deal with violent crime and serious offenders, to $200 million in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
In 2002, the year before the Iraq war, the program received $900 million.
John Sidney McCain III has put more priority into tax cuts for the wealthy than policing the streets (I guess his “middle-class” millionaires can buy their own security forces):
2005: McCain Voted For Corporate Tax Breaks Instead of $1 Billion for COPS. In 2005, McCain voted against providing $1 billion for the COPS program, offset by closing corporate tax loopholes. [2005 Senate Vote #70, 3/17/2005]
1995: McCain Voted To Eliminate the Successful COPS Program. In 1995, McCain voted for the Republican Commerce-Justice spending bill which included a plan “to dismantle [the] cops-on-the-beat program” [COPS] and replace it with a “block grant program giving local governments control over how to spend crime-fighting money.” [1995 Senate Vote #591, 12/7/1995; Chicago Tribune, 12/8/1995]
McCain Voted Against the Landmark $30.2 Billion 1994 Crime Bill. In 1994, McCain voted against the Crime Bill which has authorized $30.2 billion over six years for crime related programs, including the hiring of additional police officers, prison building, helping communities prevent crime, and an assault weapons ban. [1994 Senate Vote #295, 8/25/1994]
At no other point in the past eight years has the “On your own-ership society” rang truer to me than the day I sat down and tried to process all of this.
The police are overworked, underpaid, and have more serious things to do than recover a sentimental necklace or two. The Republican government has more important things to do than help protect my home. Surge in Iraq? Getting crime down in Baghdad? Physician, heal thyself.
And me and my middle class neighbors (the MIDDLE class, not Millionaire Class) are so busy with longer work hours, longer commute times, and less vacation, we don’t have the time to get to know each other and keep each other safe, either. We’re on our own.
So yes, my family was robbed. We had to install a new back door (20 gauge steel), and we’ll probably get an alarm system, because McCain and the Republicans have been too busy looking out for those who already live in gated communities.
This isn’t a diary about campaign strategy. This isn’t a lament, or a homily, on the Obama campaign. These are the facts. My family was robbed. And that’s why we’re volunteering for Barack Obama in swing states every weekend in October. That’s why we’re making phone calls.
We don’t need another President who doesn’t care about those of us who only have the one home.