Is graffiti is now officically sanctioned? So asks Glenn Reynolds, as he links a report from The Hill about the refusal by U.S. Capitol Hill Police to stop anarchists from graffitiing the Capitol:

Anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on part of thewest front steps of the United States Capitol building after police wereordered to break their security line by their leadership, two sources toldThe Hill.
According to the sources, police officers were livid when theywere told to fall back by U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Phillip Morse andDeputy Chief Daniel Nichols. “They were the commanders on the scene,” one source said,who requested anonymity. “It was disgusting.”

It might have been disgusting, but the USCP brass were probably still smarting from the bruisings they received after tussles with Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan.
The Hill continues:

Approximately 300 protesters were allowed to take the steps andbegan to spray paint “anarchist symbols” and phrase such as “Ourcapitol building” and “you can’t stop us” around the area, thesource said.
Morse responded to these claims in an e-mail Sunday afternoon,explaining that the protesters were seeking confrontation with the police.
“While there were minor instances of spray painting ofpavement by a splinter group of Anarchists who were seeking a confrontationwith the police, their attempts to breach into secure areas and rush thedoors of the Capitol were thwarted,” Morse said. “The graffiti waseasily removed by the dedicated [Architect of the Capitol] staff, some ofwhom responded on their day off to quickly clean the area.”
He added, “It is the USCP’s duty and responsibility to protectthe Capitol complex, staff and public while allowing the public to exercisetheir First Amendment rights … at the end of the day, both occurredwithout injury to protestors or officers.”
Yet, the sources who talked to The Hill were furious thatprotesters were not stopped before reaching the Capitol.

I think I know what’s going on, and I think those who are outraged at the orders to allow the grafitti need to put themselves in the position of those who gave the orders.
I’m not saying I agree with them, but let me (a former Police Review Commissioner who has dealt with professional anarchists up close and personal) play Devil’s Advocate.
This might appear to be a clear case of principle, but is it?
That depends on how we define “principle.” Is it a matter of principle to wait in a longer line to save two cents a gallon on gasoline? Sometimes, when I weigh these things, I’ll decide that saving twenty cents isn’t worth my time, and I’ll just fill up where there’s no line.
An easy example, though, because paying more for gasoline is not a matter of principle.
However, I think a simple weighing process — which disregarded matters of principle — went on in the minds of the bureaucrats who gave the order to allow grafitti.
What costs more? Arresting the vandals? Or cleaning up after them?
The latter is far, far cheaper. (In the short run, and depending on your perspective, maybe even in the long run.)
I say this because of my experience with anarchists, and with civilian review of the police. Anarchists are not ordinary people, but true fanatics. Their operating maxim reminds me of an expression attributed to Golda Meir

“We will show the world that killing Jews is an expensive enterprise.”

Arresting an anarchist is an expensive business. While the criminal justice system is set up to deal with ordinary criminals, these are not ordinary criminals. Nor are they innocent citizens wishing to have their names cleared. To arrest them requires the use of force, and any use of force will trigger an avalanche of complaints, as these people will use every available legal and illegal artifice to abuse the system at every turn, in the process making life as difficult as they can for the police, the jailers, the relevant review boards, and every bureaucrat and politician they can possibly connect to the arrest. If no force was used, it will be alleged that it was. If force was used, it will be alleged to have been excessive. All officers, clerks, hearing officials, judges, etc. are said to be “part of the system” and therefore evil.
In a previous post, I quoted from an anarchist who was honest enough to have provided an example of this mindset at work:

….we will battle the authorities with all means that can be used in an anarchist way.
As anarchists, we have no interest in the justice system. Rob says he did not commit the crimes of which he was accused, and we will certainly do what we can to prove this. But from an anarchist perspective, the guilt or innocence of a comrade is not important in determining our solidarity with him or her. This concept of guilt and innocence is just another aspect of the democratic system of justice and law which we reject.
The justice system, justice as it exists in the present society, is a system of judgement, a system which allows certain people to determine that others–whom these judges have never met and know nothing about–should be locked up, forced to give up certain free doms, even killed. Such a system is beyond any sort of reform that could be acceptable to an anarchist, because at its heart it is authoritarian. Thus, an expression of revolutionary solidarity with an imprisoned comrade would be a struggle aimed at the destruction of the justice system.
This requires an understanding of the justice system. It is courts, judges, prosecutors, the entire trial process; but it is also prisons, police, and laws. There is no use in pursuing prison reforms. No matter how gentle and homely a prison becomes. it remains a prison, a place for locking up one who offends the law. Nor are better behaved police of interest to us. No matter how well behaved the cop is, he or she remains the armed protector of state power and private property, both of which the anarchist seeks to destroy. And better laws only reinforce state power. Their purpose is to protect the present social order, to maintain social peace. And social peace is based in the violence of domination and exploitation, the violence of power.
So our struggles in solidarity with specific prisoners such as Rob base themselves in our struggle against the social order. They use the anarchist methods of attack against that social order, not the democratic methods of accommodation and negation.

It’s easy to condemn the police bureaucracy for “caving.” I’d love to be in their position, because that way I’d get to try implementing a policy of refusing to cave!
Who knows? I might keep my job for a day.
Sigh.
In other cave news, Justin pointed me to this report that head lice are now being tolerated in the Oakland public schools:

Under new guidelines, Oakland children with lice or nits will be allowed to stay in class — a policy that may be a first in the Bay Area.
Oakland officials cited schools in western Australia as their model, saying the policy encourages treatment and is justified.
“There are no serious health consequences or risks of students having head lice,” said Joan Edelstein, the district’s health services coordinator. “We don’t want students to be missing five to 10 days of schools when they pose no risk of harm to themselves or anyone else.”

Some parents are unhappy at being forced to send their kids to lice-infested schools, but in this case, the principal refused to pick nits over principle.