American police, at least in big cities, view their job as protecting criminals and serving the ACLU. The Brits have a radically different view: protect law-abiding citizens from criminals. On the ground, the difference may not be so striking, but the public utterances of police officials are dramatically opposite.
Is there no equivalent of the ACLU in the UK? If there is, how do the police avoid doing its bidding? Could this be a consequence of the British loser-pays system in civil law? Less monetary temptation for anti-civilization forces to take down the police?
Watching the BRAC hearings on C-span is edifying, and not just in terms of statistics about military installations.
From the usual network coverage of Congress, you get the impression that the Party of Treason owns all the articulate speech and oratory, while the Republican 'party' just sits there cowering, or at best stumbles and stutters. You also get the impression that corporate and military leaders are dull and dumb.
BRAC shows an opposite picture. Retired generals and admirals speak with passion and brilliance (and even a few unfeigned tears) about the places and troops that they love; obscure politicians of both parties are articulate and organized. Only a few of the 'big names' appear in these hearings, and they are surprisingly dull and unprepared.
The difference is not primarily media bias; it's more a matter of self-selection. The 'big names', who are mainly Dems, are driven to find cameras with global reach to satisfy their grandstanding addiction, while the executives and generals know that their best loss-cutting strategy in those situations is silence. In BRAC, the networks aren't watching, so real work happens. The back-benchers get a chance to do precisely what they were elected to do: protect the interests of their districts. And they do it magnificently.
It's refreshing and heartening to see that democracy does in fact work.... sometimes. Especially when the legislature is taking responsibility for its own proper job, instead of handing it off to commissions and courts. So why do we need the commission in the first place?
Great news: China has withdrawn its bid for Unocal. This is also heartening, and more evidence that Congress can be effective even without making laws. As a non-social technical type, my first instinct is to discount the power of words: if it ain't concrete action, it ain't nothing. Good to be reminded now and then that I'm wrong about this!