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A Strategy For 2017

1/01/2017

Where appropriate and possible, remind people…

Trump Is A Fake: A fraud, a phony, a proven liar, a con man who always cheats workers and employees and partners and investors, a stooge for banks and billionaires, and Putin’s puppet.

Republicans Wreck America: They vote against the best interests of the people who voted for them in order to serve their billionaire donors, cutting programs that their voters want for veterans, the sick, the elderly, and children.

The Far Right Always Lies: They accuse others of what they are guilty of, they deny real problems, they smear people who point out those problems, they promise much but deliver nothing, they protect those who rob this country.

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That’s the short version, here’s the full explanation:
There’s a long struggle ahead of us, a generation long crisis that’s not going to be solved in a single election cycle. It needs to be resisted consistently and constantly, but in a manner that does not wear out its welcome among those who can be persuaded.

Don’t introduce these points in venues or conversations where the discussion is about something else; wait until somebody makes a statement favoring the things we oppose.

Counter that statement and that statement only. Be polite but firm. Don’t stoop to insults, but a careful measured response can be humiliating without being insulting.

Try to avoid more than two responses if on public forums. After you make your point, post something to the effect of “let’s not spoil this thread for others by continuing this further” and let them have the last word.

That makes them the jerks.

If the venue or conversation is one appropriate for lengthy discussion (say an ongoing discussion on politics), stay and keep up the fight, but again strive to remain courteous in all responses and don’t rise to their bait.

If they meltdown, let them. Be the adult and walk away.

We are not going to win back the deplorables, but we can wake up the deluded.

The three main points to keep repeating are:
Trump Is A Fake +
Republicans Wreck America +
The Far Right Always Lies
Don’t go outside those three topics; the message needs to stay clear and easily definable so everybody can grasp them.

A general observation among preachers / teachers / salesmen / public speakers is that most audiences won’t / can’t / don’t want to remember more than three points, and the more arcane or nuanced those points, the harder they are to remember.

So keep the basic message simple:
Trump Is A Fake +
Republicans Wreck America +
The Far Right Always Lies

Under each of those headings above, note the highlighted words. These are short / clear / precise / easily grasped words and phrases that reinforce each central thesis.

Do not introduce those words unless or until challenged. Don’t try to lay out a long / lengthy / nuanced / detailed case — K.I.S.S. Keep It Simply Simple.

(You’ll notice I didn’t use “Keep It Simple, Stupid” which was the original phrase. That’s because as much fun as it is to kick cripples down stairs or abuse those who aren’t as smart, it makes the person doing it look bad, and by extension undermines their argument. So stay relentlessly polite, even when taunted and insulted.)

Use those words & phrases or similar to convey the basic points in each paragraph. Always present them as undeniable facts in the initial post or conversation, don’t elaborate / equivocate / explain.

However, if challenged or asked, have data ready to back you up. If you haven’t already, start a list of news items / essays / blog posts that back up and elaborate each of the smaller points. CAUTION: Do not — repeat, not — use fake news or partisan sites that have not backed up their posts with verifiable facts.   DO YOUR RESEARCH and keep the list on your phone / tablet / desktop so you can respond quickly to a challenge or an inquiry.

I repeat, this is going to be a long struggle and we are not going to win it any time soon BUT WE WILL WIN IN THE END.

Right now there are millions of anxious people who have foolishly listened to the slickee boiz, ignoring all the bad things said and done because those voters are afraid for their families and their futures.

Those voters — even the ones who are registered as Republicans and involved in local politics — are not the deplorables (i.e., the flat out overt racists / sexists / religious bigots who flocked to trump and the GOP this election). They are basically common, decent, ordinary folks who are very realistically worried about where things are heading but who unfortunately have been badly served by those who did not get the progressive message across effectively and by slickee boiz who capitalized on their fears to rob them blind.

Those voters are not our enemy; those voters are our potential allies and when things go south for the slicksters, those voters will be the ones most susceptible to changing their minds and changing their votes —

— but only if we don’t demonize them in the process.

That is going to be a challenge for many of us, particularly those in minority or outlier groups who are being specifically targeted by the deplorables.

It is, however, a fact we are going to have to take in account for the next twenty-plus years.

(Remember Italy started WWII on the Axis side but, as they realized Mussolini was being used by Hitler and the Italian people were suffering because of it, overthrew the fascist regime and switched sides to join the Allies. So instead of having to subdue three enemies, the Allies only had to subdue two and could use their new Italian ally as a staging area for the war against the Nazis.)

I publish this strategy openly because it is based on one great weapon: The Truth.

The only way they can counter this is with lies, but their lies are of such a nature that they eventually blow up in their faces.

Three simple main points — Trump Is A Fake + Republicans Wreck America + The Far Right Always Lies — repeated long enough and straight forwardly enough will, like a constant drip of water, produce the desired result.

To mash two Mark Twain quotes together, a lie may get around the world while the truth is still getting its shoes on, but the truth has the great advantage of having fewer things to remember.

And while we are not sitting in a strategically good position on this, the first day of January 2017, remember also what Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller said when he and his Marines were surrounded by ten divisions of Chinese infantry at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War:

“Great. Now we can shoot at those bastards from every direction.”

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Two Sides, One Coin

30/12/2016

The Nation recently posted an article on how the great gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson accurately predicted the political anger that fueled many of trump’s voters last November.

“…a belief in total retaliation for any offense or insult, is what makes the Hell’s Angels unmanageable for the police and morbidly fascinating to the general public. Their claim that they ‘don’t start trouble’ is probably true more often than not, but their idea of ‘provocation’ is dangerously broad, and their biggest problem is that nobody else seems to understand it. Even dealing with them personally, on the friendliest terms, you can sense their hair-trigger readiness to retaliate.”

”The ethics of retaliation” is a good insight on the motivation behind many — perhaps most — of trump’s supporters.

While it certainly includes many bona fide deplorables — i.e., those outright overt white racists who flocked so eagerly into trump’s camp — it also includes a lot of rank and file non-racist / non-sexist / non-bigoted people.

But here’s what The Nation overlooks:
Those engaged in the ethics of retaliation were not merely active pro-trump voters but passive aggressive Democratic voters who failed to show up for Clinton.

I’ve been paying attention to what a lot of trump voters have been saying and posting in the aftermath of the election.

Excluding those extremists who’re simply looking for validation of their malignant views, when you read the bulk of Trump voters’ posts (particularly white trump voters) and find the linking themes, you see two things:

They want security,
and they want status.

Now security covers a lot of territory, but everyone seems to be on page with living in a world where change occurs at a manageable pace, giving people time to adjust and prepare; people aren’t anxious for daily bread for themselves and their families (and this includes housing, health care, etc.); protection from random violence, be it common crime, terrorism, or enemy attack.

Status is less tangible, but it includes a sense of self-sufficiency insofar as one’s security needs are met primarily through one’s own efforts, and that one isn’t regarded as worthless by society.

Those last two thoughts are tightly linked, because the mindset behind them holds one either pulls their own weight or is a parasite.

It creates a tension with the desire for security because unless one is a hermit living in an isolated area with enough naturally growing food to survive and no humans or predators to fear, sooner or later you have to cooperate with other people for your mutual aid and protection.

To be secure, you need the cooperation of others…

To have status, you have to stand on your own…

As has been noted here and elsewhere, there were a lot of Very Unhappy People in this country, and they were unhappy for some very specific reasons.

Many of those reasons are irreversible:
We’re not bringing back the coal industry (it’s dying and has been for decades), we’re not bringing back manufacturing jobs (they’re not being shipped overseas or taken by immigrants so much as they are by machines), we’re not going to shore up cultural norms that were already starting to fade at the end of WWII.

We are on the cusp of a huge sea-change in human civilization, one that is going to alter everything for everyone around the world.

If we insist on playing the same old game, there’s going to be a lot of blood and pain and suffering for a lot of people.

If we listen to what people want, if we address those needs, we can avoid it and have a better tomorrow for everyone.

The key word is “everyone”.

Right now, today in the US of A, the two parties are mired down by ideological differences that are making it impossible to find viable real solutions to the problems facing us.

That’s got to stop.

They will not change themselves.

trump is a wake-up call — rather, trump is a big 55-gallon barrel of ice cold skunk juice dumped on the bed. The angry / upset / frightened / pissed off people who voted for him want some changes, and if those changes aren’t for the best and don’t come muy pronto we can expect some really ugly changes over the next twenty years.

If we all recognize that changes must be made, and that for anybody to survive then everybody must survive, then we can drastically shift not just this country but the rest of the world into something better.

But we are going to need to make the change together.

Otherwise nobody is going to make it at all.

The trump voters and Clinton non-voters were promised a Leave It To Beaver / Ozzie And Harriet future but that’s not happening. There are no meaningful jobs to pay them high wages and salaries so they can enjoy a faux-luxurious life.

And why should there be?

When you try talking to most economist or fans of libertarianism and / or laissez-faire, you find a shocking paucity of imagination: They cannot conceive of the world continuing to operate the way they have known it to operate all their lives.

They will argue that free markets have always existed and have always made the world a better place while conveniently overlooking the fact that for most of humanity’s history the divine right of kings and the use of armies of human slaves / peasants to get things done were the norm and only in the last three centuries have significant departures been made from that.

We are now seeing the dawning of yet another major change in the way the world will operate and that change is this: Very few humans will need to work.

No, strike that — very few humans will be needed to work.

We will have machines to do most jobs done by humans today, everything from brain surgery to replacing toilets (essentially the same basic programming when you think about it) to driving vehicles to a million and one things we can’t even think of them doing today.

The handful of humans who will be needed will fill very specialized niches, and will be rewarded quite handsomely for their efforts.

The vast majority of human beings
won’t have to do a damn thing.

Now, today’s economists — particularly those of a capitalist bent — will clutch their piles of ill-gotten wealth even closer to their bosoms and hiss ”parasites” at the thoughts of all those unemployed people, decrying them as useless.

Au contraire.

Those non-working people will be crucial to the economy of the future.

We’re going to pay them.

Not to work.
To play.

[to be continued]

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Let’s Look At How Santa Claus Is Portrayed In Other Countries

21/12/2016

relatos_de_presidio_no780

 …okay, let’s not…

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David Lynch Is One Of The Wisest People On The Planet

4/12/2016

David Lynch on coffee

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Wot Hoppen?

10/11/2016

There is no simple thread, no single cause to explain Trump’s victory. There are many, many factors, some operating alone, some overlapping with others like a Venn diagram.

There’s a great temptation to view all this as one vast interlocking conspiracy but it’s not. It’s more like a core illness that allows other opportunistic infections to settle in. Treat the main illness and the smaller ones will fade away on their own; deny the reality of the main illness and the problems will never go away. Read the rest of this article »

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H.L. Mencken Prepares Us For The Worst

8/11/2016

HLMencken on ideas

“Any man who afflicts the human race
with ideas must be prepared to see
them misunderstood.”
— H.L. Mencken

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Your Theological Post Of The Day

1/11/2016

why-did-god-create-atheists

peanuts-11-01-1975

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What’s Wrong With AT&T (& Everybody Else)

7/10/2016

Unable to go to the gym yesterday, I opted to take a walk in the evening.

Set the timer on my phone to alert me after half an hour so I could turn and come back.

About 1 block away I passed this AT&T junction box.

img_6062-box

Note:
It’s after business hours. No repair crew in sight. Wide open. Wires exposed.

There are people walking up and down the street all day and even in the evenings.

Lots of teenagers.

Lots of animals (there’s a big wash to the right of this photo where coyotes and other wild animals roam).

We’re having windstorms blowing a lot of dust around.

I’m not an AT&T customer, but a lot of my neighbors are, and as I would like somebody to call one of my service providers if they left a vulnerable junction box open to animals / elements / mischief, I decided to call AT&T to tell them they needed to send someone out to close it and lock it (the padlock was missing).

Problem #1:
No 1-800-NUMBER to call to report a service problem.

If I were king of the forest, I’d make sure all my untended equipment had both a 1-800 and a URL clearly displayed.

You never know when you might want someone to call you right #%@&ing NOW!!! to let you know you have a problem / potential problem.

There was a 811 number, but that turned out to be just a connection to the city permit office so you wouldn’t accidentally dig up a cable or pipe.

Well, what’s the point of owning a smartphone if you can’t get online from anywhere? I located the AT&T website, and…

Problem #2:
No contact info in case you want to report a technical problem to them.

Lotsa links to stuff to buy, lotsa links to upsellers disguised as customer service, but nowhere to click on and tell somebody they have an immediate problem requiring immediate attention.

So I call 411.

It’s completely automated now. Ask for an operator and they just give you the closest equivalent. After requesting technical support and getting an upsell number, or repair (and getting an upsell number), I asked for a human operator…

…and got bupkis.

So I gave up and dialed “O” for operator.

A canned voice, then no pick-up.

So I finally opted to try the main AT&T customer service.

Problem #3:
Aren’t these voice operated human emulators amazing? For most simple problems, they can quickly guide your call as needed.

For many problems, however, they don’t have a programmed response. In those cases, we need an actual human being with some knowledge to be on the other end of the line to figure out What Needs To Be Done.

And we the customers are usually savvy enough to know when the problem can be handled by a canned voice and when we actually need a warm twitchy on the other end of the line.

AT&T’s canned responses refused to put me through to a human operator.

Finally I opted for the canned response that came closest to what the problem was.

Waded through a round of upsell options, hollered at the automated voice to connect me with a human being.

Listened to some bad library music.

Finally spoke with a pleasant enough lady. Told her the situation, where the box was located.

She asked me to stay on hold for a moment while she contacted someone.

Now, you might think she was calling the local service crew to send somebody out to lock up their very expensive and very vulnerable junction box.

No, quite the contrary: She was looking for somebody to pass the buck to.

She found a buck recipient and patched me over.

Several more minutes of really bad library music and sporadic upsell options, then the phone was picked up by somebody who actually seemed to appreciate the fact a very expensive AT&T junction box was basically standing on the side of the road with its trousers down around its ankles and unless secured, could possibly inconvenience a couple of hundred (if not thousand) customers.

Took down all the information…

…then patched me over to the local repair team.

Okay, fine. Just get somebody on the line.

Another round of library music (marginally better this time) and upsell announcements, then (finally!) a local service operator also seemed to appreciate how vulnerable AT&T’s very expensive equipment was and promised to send somebody out ASAP.

Fine, just as long as it gets taken care of.

I checked my timer to see how much more time I had left on my walk and saw I’d spent a grand total of 23 minutes just trying to find an AT&T employee who gave as much of a damn as I did as to whether AT&T customers would lose their service to dust or debris or dogs or delinquents.

23 minutes…for something that I should’ve been able to phone in under one minute by simply reading a 1-800-NUMBER on the box.

23 minutes in which AT&T provided no easy access for someone who wanted to make sure their customers weren’t inconvenienced…

…but kept bombarding me with numerous recorded upsell sales pitches.

And therein lies the problem with business in America today.

Once upon a time it was taught in business schools — hell, it was common #%@&ing SENSE!!! — that the object of a business was to make money by providing goods and / or services to customers.

Not any more.

Today’s MBAs are taught that the only reason any business exists is to make money for its owners / stockholders without regard to any social responsibility to its customers and clients.

Customer comes wanting to buy one thing? Sell ‘em two, even if they don’t need it.

Especially if they don’t need it.

Customer comes with a problem? Avoid addressing the problem, try to sell ‘em something.

Customer has a problem and gets past the first line of upsellers? Throw another one at ‘em…and another…and another…

…until they buy…

…or quit in frustration.

CEOs punish employees who try to help customers, reward (with paltry incentives) those who find a way of sucking more cash from their pockets.

And the CEOs take that money and pay themselves huge salaries / huge dividends / huge profits / huge bonuses.

Edward Whitacre Jr. couldn’t care less if hundreds of customers are suddenly deprived of AT&T’s services; what are they gonna do? He couldn’t care less if somebody wants to help AT&T by forestalling a problem for those customers; if it doesn’t involve selling more crap, who gives a rat’s patoot?

If you want to know why customer service is so shitty, it’s because they think you are shit.

And they have no financial incentive to change because they’ve seen that the laws are written to make them invulnerable to customer pressure.

Want to change business ATTitudes, change business laws.

P.S. For those who ask, “Well, if you were so concerned why didn’t you close the junction box?” the answer is if some anusoid came by after I closed it, saw it was unlocked, and decided to open it and rip out a few handfuls of wires on a lark — #%@&ing with a telephone junction box being a #%@&ing Federal offense! — I’ve got better things to do with my time than spend it with FBI agents, trying to explain why my fingerprints were on AT&T’s equipment.

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Yipes! Swipes!

27/09/2016

Artists and writers and musicians and all creative people have long had a love / hate / I-kill-you-filthy! relationship to homages.

“Homage” as you know is the French word for plagiarism blatant rip off swipe.

It’s all fun and games until somebody swipes your stuff, then it’s “Drag hang ‘em over a mile of broken coke bottles!”

It you want to waddle through an area full of moral / ethical complexity, this is the category to do it in.

(We’re gonna stick to art because it’s easier to show examples of what I’m talking about, but what I’m posting about applies to all creative forms.)

Some people & cultures take swiping very, very, VERY seriously.

The Japanese have been know to cancel best selling titles simply because the manga-ka relied a little too heavily on stock sports photos for reference.

On the other hand, the late great Wally Wood told more than one aspiring artist, “Why are you drawing everything originally? Get a reference file so you don’t have to!”

Wally Wood also put together the famous graphic 22 Panels That Always Work for hard working cartoonists who needed to meet a deadline and, stumped for inspiration, could use one of his examples to get them through a tough point in the story.

ys-wally-wood-22-panels

But the thing about Wally Wood’s swipe files was that he used them for feel or reference, he didn’t copy them line or line, detail for detail. Take a look below, comparing a panel from his famous sci-fi story “My World” and the original news photo from the 1930s.

ys-mw-4

This terrified baby was almost the only human being left alive in Shanghai's South Station after brutal Japanese bombing. China, August 28, 1937. H.S. Wong. (OWI)NARA FILE #: 208-AA-132N-2WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1131

This terrified baby was almost the only human being left alive in Shanghai’s South Station after brutal Japanese bombing. China, August 28, 1937. H.S. Wong. (OWI)NARA FILE #: 208-AA-132N-2WAR & CONFLICT BOOK #: 1131

The same idea,
only different.

But at the other end of the extreme, one of Wood’s acolytes was an artist of extremely modest talent who could at least draw a straight line and ink it to satisfaction; while he often worked batting clean-up on other people’s work, this person also sold his “own” illustrations to sci-fi digests of the era: Typically panels from comic books copied pretty much directly with no effort to add any science fictional elements.

But then, that’s what “fine” artist[1] Roy Lichtenstein did, swiping panels from comic book cartoonists whom he bore grudges against, copying them as extra large canvases, and selling them for mucho dinero.

ys-oh-alright-thumb

One of the guys he ripped off was inspired by took him to court, but the judge ruled what Lichtenstein had done was to take an idea — in this case an artistic expression — and by copying it large enough to see the printing dots, turned it into a brand new work of art that wasn’t a direct swipe after all.

Then Lichtenstein tried the same stunt with a Disney character and Disney threatened to drag him through every court on the east coast regardless of what the first judge ruled[2], and Lichtenstein painted Disney no more.

Money, as the eminent philosopher
C. Lauper once observed, changes everything…

This orbits back to a recent series of complaints about convention artists selling work that is not wholly their own.

For decades the major comics and media companies have been looking the other way as artists sell prints and commissioned drawings of characters they do not own. The unspoken agreement is that what is being sold is not a picture of Daffy Duck or Batman or Harry Potter but rather a representation of that particular artist’s skill.

As these convention artists make no representation they own any rights to the characters, this legal fiction has been allowed to stand. It could be a big X, it could be super-detailed drawing of every blessed Avenger ever, but the thing actually being sold is not the art in and of itself but the art as a representation of the artist’s skill level.

Not all the major media companies are happy with this but as they say in The Sopranos, “’Ey, whaddya gonna do?” or (more to the point) as they say in the Army: “Never give an order you can’t enforce.”

The major media companies can not enforce every single solitary copyright violation so they let the little fish swim free, going after the big pirates of posters and T-shirts and media.

But recently an interesting new charge has been floating around.

Warner Brothers / DC Comics own Batman.

Artist Pat draws a picture of Batman based on a pose from a recent comic book or movie; the point being that it’s not Pat’s character nor is the pose original even though that particular execution is done by them.

Artist Pat then sees Artist Leslie selling prints that exactly copies Artist Pat’s work.

Artist Pat takes umbrage at Artist Leslie, yet Artist Leslie has done nothing that Artist Pat hasn’t already done!

It’s one thing when Artist Pat sees a T-shirt retailer selling dozens of shirts based on Artist Pat’s art without paying Artist Pat, yet if Artist Pat is using someone else’s character, Artist Pat is doing just as much “stealing”.

Every creative person starts out with some sort of imitation. Maybe not wholly conscious, maybe without intent to profit directly from it, but every creative person learns their craft by studying what those who came before them did and then learns to add their own stylistic interpretation.

And somewhere on a gamut from “not nice” to “outright criminal” there falls the issue of copying somebody else’s art and making a buck off it for yourself.

Is it always wrong? Is it never right?

Depends.

Re-create another artist’s work but acknowledge the source ala “reproduction of Fantastic Four #1 cover by Jack Kirby” and it’s hard to point fingers.

Take another artist’s idea but add your own twist to it — “See, it’s the dogs-playing-poker picture only this time they’re human!” — and it seems to fall into the category of “fair usage”.[3]

But it’s pretty unkosher to swipe another struggling artist’s idea even if that artist swiped it from somebody else.

Basically, don’t be a yutz about it. If you like what somebody else did, figure out what you liked about it then do that in your own way.

Just added!

ys-theodore-gericault-the-raft-of-the-medusa

Théodore Géricault – The Raft Of The Medusa

ys-earl-norem-raft-of-medusa-swipe

Earl Norem – Not The Raft Of The Medusa

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[1]  As opposed to a “howard” artist?

[2]  Because nobody fncks with The Mouse!

[3]  And if it doesn’t, MAD magazine and about sixty million pornographers are in a world of hurt because of their parodies of famous movies and TV shows.

 

 

 

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Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing

2/09/2016

1  To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2  To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3  To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4  To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5  To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6  To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7  To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8  To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9  To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

— found via Wikipedia

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