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November 19, 2014

Comments

The Democrats would refuse to agree to a program which would "take union jobs."

Citation required. Really, wj, I thought better of your integrity than this "both sides do it"-ism.

I think you could get Republicans to agree to a revival of the CCC, if it were pitched as a replacement for transfer programs,rather than a new program. "Let's get some work out of them!" would be a line Republicans would like.

"Certainly we have a lot of infrastructure work that is in dire need of being done."

Which is an interesting thing to note, after many billions in stimulus were supposed to be spent on exactly that. Got diverted to other uses that were better suited to vote buying and laundering, I expect.

We do have a lot of infrastructure that needs upgrading, but that's a separate issue, you're not going to employ many people stocking critical transformers for utilities. Maybe digging ditches to bury power lines, which is something we really ought to be doing.

welfare moms digging ditches.

are they using backhoes and ditch witches or are we just getting off on forced labor here?

What's the hourly pay?

snarki, see Maher's Natures New Deal on the way the unions reacted the first time around.

Today, the really robust unions are government employees. I.e. those workers who would otherwise be doing the jobs that most of a potential CCC would be doing. So they seem hardly likely to embrace the idea. And, as you are no doubt aware, those unions are significant supporters of the Democrats.

Brett, you may be right. But I was thinking more of maintenance work. On highways, for example. Or in the National Parks. And in both cases, it would end up costing somewhat more than we are currently spending.

i'll be the broken record...

we like violence.

Agreed, and I agree with everything in cleek's 11:11. And most of everything else he writes.

Which is an interesting thing to note, after many billions in stimulus were supposed to be spent on exactly that. Got diverted to other uses that were better suited to vote buying and laundering, I expect.

Lots was spent on infrastructure. There's just a lot more to do.

According to this,, of the $779 billion, $37.7 billion was spent on "Transportation and infrastructure", roughly the same amount that went to food stamps. Twice that amount was spent on unemployment benefits.

So, not surprising there's lot's left to do, almost all of the stimulus went to anything except "shovel ready projects".

The number I like there is the $128 million spent to administer a $779 billion effort.

That's 16 one-thousandths of one percent - 0.00016 of the total - in overhead.

I call that efficient.

The other numbers all look like appropriate expenditures under the general heading of "stimulus". To me, anyway.

YMMV

cleek:

but it's not an inner city problem, it's a fundamental problem with America as a whole.

I'd agree with that, but I think its exacerbated in cities. Even the counter-examples that have been presented in this thread (NYC, Chicago) still have higher violent crime rates than the more rural sections of NY state and Illinois.

It's worth asking if there are factors known to be associated with crime in cities (such as poverty, inequality, etc), and in fact there are.

I have no fundamental disagreement with Brett or wj on an initiative like the CCC. I think its a good idea. I also would support training and internship programs. The key, I think, is providing people a legal route out of poverty and criminalization, allowing them to invest in and contribute to a community.

of the $779 billion, $37.7 billion was spent on "Transportation and infrastructure",

out of just under $100B allocated for that.

it's still underway, though much slower that anyone would like.

I'd agree with that, but I think its exacerbated in cities.

definitely.

and the reasons are many.

i can't help but think the fact that black and hispanic men are arrested, prosecuted and jailed at far higher rates than white men are, for the same crimes, does wonders to the social fabric of those neighborhoods and to the overall respect for laws and law enforcement.

but that would be blaming white culture. and we know that can't be right.

What I like is that Brett's cite says the "800+ billion stimulus" consisted of "Total funds used = $779 billion".

Then it gives the spending in a bunch of categories. When I add up those numbers, I get $1,379.228 billion.

Libertopian arithmetic, or what?

--TP

Tony - see here.

Ugh,

My snark may have been too opaque. My point was that if you want to rail against something, you can double-count things to make your case look more impressive to the arithmetically challenged. I note that Brett's cite gives a link to the generic "recovery.gov", whereas you cite the specific page that is actually relevant.

I only bring this up because it seems to me that double-counting is a general problem in all sorts of arguments about grand concepts, like "health care" or "crime rates".

--TP

cleek:

i can't help but think the fact that black and hispanic men are arrested, prosecuted and jailed at far higher rates than white men are, for the same crimes, does wonders to the social fabric of those neighborhoods and to the overall respect for laws and law enforcement.

This is a point I've been trying to make. I agree 100%.

but that would be blaming white culture.

I view it more as identifying a systemic injustice in the system of justice.

"The key, I think, is providing people a legal route out of poverty and criminalization, allowing them to invest in and contribute to a community."

Yes, but what I think is a crucial part of this, is getting them *out* of communities where there isn't any real prospect of that.

Newton's first law really does work with people: If you give people a way to stay in a hopeless situation, but continue to have food an housing, a lot of them will take it. And their children will grow up in a hopeless situation, too, among people who are not roll models of success.

That's what I mean by ghost towns being better than ghettoes: Ghost towns represent people having left hopeless situations for someplace better. You used to get ghost towns when the local economy collapsed, because there wasn't any system in place to enable people to live where there weren't jobs. And that was brutal, but it did result in them moving to someplace else, where they had a chance.

That's the ugly side effect of welfare: By enabling people to survive staying where they had no hope, it changed ghost towns into ghettoes. And that was not a change for the better.

Welfare moms digging trenches???...Let us not forget that nearly all of that 30-35% of our economy devoted to "social welfare" goes to aid the needy, the sick, the young, and the elderly...folks who need assistance under any reasonable scheme you care to think of (excludes GOP "do nothing-let the poors die in the gutter" wet dream).

"Let's get some work out of them!" would be a line Republicans/DEL> Stalin would like.

Brett needs to touch base with these people.

"Then it gives the spending in a bunch of categories. When I add up those numbers, I get $1,379.228 billion."

Yes, if you do a lot of double counting. The first three categories listed add to 100%, the subsequent list is specific items within those categories.

Could have been more clearly written, but I was just looking for a quick reference to how much of the stimulus was spent on infrastructure. Not much of it...

whites flee urban areas+whites naturally take jobs and tax base with them+actively promote social policies to separate the races+systematically steal income and/or assets from black people+tilt government programs to favor a certain (ahem)race =

(drum roll, please)......SYSTEMIC INJUSTICE.

By enabling people to survive staying where they had no hope, it changed ghost towns into ghettoes

Why is it always ghettos, ghettos, ghettos? What about

Yes, but what I think is a crucial part of this, is getting them *out* of communities where there isn't any real prospect of that.

What you're talking about is de-populating areas - some large-ish - in the middle of major American cities.

If you want to be consistent about it, you're probably also talking about de-populating entire rural communities as well.

That's a pretty huge waste of whatever is there in terms of built infrastructure. Buildings, water and utility infrastructure, roads, etc. Human infrastructure, too. Family connections, churches, neighborhood associations.

If we're going to horse around with stuff like this at all, it makes more sense, to me, to look at how to actually rebuild the community in situ.

Historically, that's proven to be a really hard thing to do, but I'm not sure mass relocation and abandonment of existing communities has a very good resume either.

That's at least part of what the "urban renewal" thing was all about. The results were mixed.

I suspect there have been rural versions as well.

Owsley County, KY.

52% of the population receive food stamps.

Government benefits represent 53% of all personal income.

Move 'em out. Send them all to Williston.

russell, you might note that 95% of Owsley County's registered voters are Republicans (although Romney only got 81% of the votes).

Who says that people don't vote their pocketbooks above all else?

You might ask why they don't all up and move to Texas. There are reported to be lots of jobs there.

I suspect there have been rural versions as well.

A point I was going to make as well, but my post above got truncated...damned html. damned fat gingers.

If it wasn't for the grey economy, inner cities and other poor communities would be in even worse shape.

What I want to emphasize is that I'm not trying to pick on rural areas. I'm just trying to give a concrete sense of what it would mean to require people to move in order to get stuff like food stamps.

You'd be talking about half the population of Owsley County. It's about 20% of the entire population of Kentucky.

It's about a quarter of the people in the Bronx.

And so on.

You're talking about millions of people in the aggregate. Relocating millions of people as a condition of their receiving basic assistance like food stamps is beyond impractical.

Brett: Could have been more clearly written, ...

Yes, but it wasn't. The sloppiness, if intentional, was not meant to fool either you or me.

... but I was just looking for a quick reference to how much of the stimulus was spent on infrastructure. Not much of it...

What category would you have reduced in order to increase "infrastructure"? Or would you just have made the stimulus package bigger? I take it for granted you would not have reduced the tax cuts.

Are schools "infrastructure"? Just the buildings, or the teachers too? Or are schools and teachers simply wasted on the "B" types?

--TP

What category would you have reduced in order to increase "infrastructure"?

I would have begun by reducing the number of Republican governors of New Jersey by one.

"You're talking about millions of people in the aggregate. Relocating millions of people as a condition of their receiving basic assistance like food stamps is beyond impractical."

The "beyond" of this scheme is starting to look a little Soviet-like, the 1920s and 1930s.

True, some could stay behind, but then what about those folks? Plenty of empty buildings to squat in, I suppose.

The Bureau of Land Management could deputize them to police federal lands and rustle Bundy's illegally-grazed cattle and give each family a slaughtered beef cow as payment.

If we're talking homelessness, I've been saving this link for some time in case the subject came up:

http://www.nationofchange.org/utah-ending-homelessness-giving-people-homes-1390056183

Instead of the PolPotian "choices" "given" the homeless, whether they wear eyeglasses or not, around the country, the State of Utah, by bipartisan consent and with great success, has thought up the novel concept of giving the homeless homes to live in.

Imagine that.

If they end up in Williston, I hope the plan includes issuing long underwear, down coats, and good warm hats to the migrants.

Or should they bring shopping baskets full of newspaper with them from inner city Baltimore for insulation?

And when the boom ends, which it will, these folks will be the first to be laid off and the last to leave town after everyone else has fled to the next economic fad.


The Democrats would refuse to agree to a program which would "take union jobs."

You must be nearly as old as I am, to remember a time when the Dems actually defended unionism.

That kind of Democrat is pretty much extinct, and has been at least since Clinton's first term.

Then you should tell the unions how very badly they are wasting their money.

I went to an "upper class" high school in the south in the 70s, and I don't remember a single fight in my time there.
I have now taught in a wide variety of schools, and some had fights on a daily basis. Those were the schools where all the kids had was respect - and if someone disrespected you, you had to fight them.
Seems to me that its the same as Brooks on the Senate floor - the legacy of fighting for respect, whether you are the disrespected poor kid or the police. It always ends badly either way.

Unions are not wasting their money. The lesser of two evils is, in fact, less evil.

And not for nothing, but police unions have been known to back Republicans at all levels.

--TP

Well, in at least one state the support of the police union(s) for the GOP resulted in them being explicitly excepted* from the massive anti-union measures the GOPvernor and his legalislative supGOPters forced through by at least doubtful legal means.

*at least temporarily. Iirc it blew up into everyone's face due to the quid-pro-quo being so blatant. Can't remember the details but it might have been that the Teahadists got apolectic about this exemption, so the kapos got stabbed in the back after all.

Actually, I think the reasoning was that they couldn't risk a police strike just when the other unions might choose to riot.

"just when the other unions might choose to riot."

When is the last time a union chose to do that in this country?

Maybe if they showed some gumption and open carried multi-shot weapons in Texas they'd get somewhere and Wayne LaPierre would riot with them in solidarity.

So, these riots, I've not heard of any lately.

Oh, yeah, Beck, Malkin. THAT's where you got the word "riot".

http://mediamatters.org/research/2011/02/17/right-wing-media-freak-out-over-union-protests/176563

I have a brother who misuses the language in a similar way. I was placed in the unfortunate position recently of having a mild intervention with him to head off some behavior that would have caused chaotic circumstances vis a vis my Alzheimer's-ridden mother and my family, so I bought him lunch and spoke with him in even tones about some behavioral adjustment, and later I heard that behind my back he was telling people that I had read him the Riot Act.

To which I will tell him if he has the guts to tell me that directly, that he obviously has never either read the Riot Act himself (a wordy and repetitive document, as Carlin pointed out) or had it read to him through a f&cking bullhorn with firehoses and slavering dogs on short leashes nearby, which is probably one of his problems, come to think of it.

That there should be riots (not effing sleep-ins and hippie chanting and occupy tent encampments) in this country is a topic for another day, and when that occurs, you may then exercise the language accordingly.

"When was the last time a union did that in this country?"

I was at ground zero during the Detroit newspaper strike, living about 15 minutes from one of their printing plants. Bricks through windows of stores that dared to carry the papers were the least of it. Union violence isn't as ancient of history as you suggest.

They've still got their RICO exemption.

cleek says:

We like violence.

I'm not disagreeing, but I'm trying to get you-all to talk about *why*. Why USans like violence so much more than Canadians or Australians, whose cultural backgrounds and histories have so many similarities to ours.

What sets us apart from the other Anglophone colonials is *slavery*. It's not our "nature", it's our history.

The US has a long and terrible history of vigilantism, lynching, and whitecapping: exta-legal, community-sanctioned violence. I'm arguing that this kind of top-down violence has its roots in slavery.

Not only did the elite enslavers like Congressman Brooks have to use direct, personal violence to keep their "property" in line, the system relied on every white man, slave-owning or not, being willing to use threats and violence against any slave.

Black people weren't just held in slavery by their "owners", but by every other white man, too. A black person out on their own -- walking down a road, for instance -- could expect to be stopped and interrogated by any white man who felt like it, and beaten if the white man didn't like their answers. I hope I don't have to point out how similar this is to "random" stop-and-frisk policies.

And I'm pointing out that there's an awful lot of heterogeneity being elided in that "us" of your's.

Same history, widely different levels of violence. Maybe there's some other, very important variable in there?

Anyway, here's hoping for a Thanksgiving recipe thread in time for pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping.

geographylady:

The point I'm trying to make is that Congressman Brooks, unlike your fighting students, was not by any means someone who *only* had respect. He was wealthy and powerful, he should have had *lots* of non-violent ways to gain and hold respect.

But the trouble for him was that much of his wealth was in the form of human beings -- wealth that fights back, that really doesn't want to be wealth. Their "respect" for him had to be based on violence and fear -- so he was used to the idea that violent retribution was the *only* way to truly be respected.

And other Southern white men agreed with him, they thought his behavior was appropriate, manly, and admirable.

I'm saying we still see some of that standard today. Americans *like* bullies, angry men who "take the law into their own hands", tough guys who "do what needs to be done", men who will retaliate with violence -- even when they have lots of other avenues to get respect.

This is not our "nature", this is our history -- the history of slavery, which infects all of us, North and South, black and white, men and women. And we have to understand and face the past if we're going to escape it.

Europeans have the crusades, hundred years wars, the middle east has thousands of years of wars, the Mongols roamed, Asia, I could go on but violence ids by no means uniquely American. In lots of ways comparing the US to anywhere else loses the key genetic marker that created America, the desire to live in a society that valued freedom of the individual to achieve prosperity beyond imagination. Those
are the people who came here to escape poverty and persecution. Europe is full of those people happy to be ruled by whoever won the latest war. I could go on but if slavery is a continuing contributing factor its probably because their ancestors were part of a minority that didn't come to achieve something, there was no natural selection for the same traits. Just another way to look at it. Heck Canadians never quit being European.

Since the US was hardly the only society which had slavery, I would think we could look at other places which had it as well. If they have disproportionate levels of violence, then the hypothesis is supported. If, however, their levels of violence today are not out of line with other, similarly developed and situated countries, then the hypothesis needs to be reconsidered.

Anybody want to start a list of other countries which had slavery? Especially race-based slavery. Brazil, for example, leaps to mind.

Why limit yourself to the past? A number of countries still have slavery today, and the world, shamefully, does not unite to stop it.

I limited myself to the past because we are talking about what remains even after slavery has been abolished in a country.

Not to say that the continued existance of slavery is not shameful. And action should be taken to force those countries (e.g. Mauritania) which still practice it to change.

Brazil does have very high levels of violent crime.

>> "just when the other unions might choose to riot."

> When is the last time a union chose to do that in this country?

The police in Ferguson MO are unionized.

Maybe, but I don't think the rioters are.

In lots of ways comparing the US to anywhere else loses the key genetic marker that created America

Genetic marker? You can't be serious.

I guess you are. Unbelievable.

They've still got their RICO exemption.

Cite needed.

In lots of ways comparing the US to anywhere else loses the key genetic marker that created America, the desire to live in a society that valued freedom of the individual to achieve prosperity beyond imagination. Those are the people who came here to escape poverty and persecution. Europe is full of those people happy to be ruled by whoever won the latest war. I could go on but if slavery is a continuing contributing factor its probably because their ancestors were part of a minority that didn't come to achieve something, there was no natural selection for the same traits.

Marty, this is an argument founded firmly in Lamarckian genetics. The degree to which individualistic greed and selfish ambition are inherited and not learned behaviors do not in any way, shape, or form appear to correspond to a degree to which such behaviors are uniquely - or even principally - American. I will, however, say that I find it quite disturbing that you seem to want to reduce the "American spirit" to an unthinking, instinctual, individualistic avarice.

(To say nothing of the blinkered idealism required to decree that countless millions of immigrants of exceedingly disparate origins over the preceding several centuries shared not only identical motivations for immigrating, but an identical genetic predisposition towards a very specific definition of "freedom".)

Another take on the Detroit Newspaper Strike:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPdxlWGwqYQ

Brett trots out the standard issue corporate thugocracy view of labor relations in the USA. it is, to put it charitably, propaganda.

violence ids by no means uniquely American.

I think the argument being advanced is that the US is significantly more violent than similar nations - developed nations with mature economies and at least nominally coherent governments - when considered today, as opposed to 1,000 years ago.

That seems like a pretty solid claim, to me.

the key genetic marker that created America, the desire to live in a society that valued freedom of the individual to achieve prosperity beyond imagination.

This strikes me as a pretty romantic reading of the history.

Europe is full of those people happy to be ruled by whoever won the latest war.

It's also full of people living successful, accomplished, satisfying lives, as Europeans.

"Europe is full of those people happy to be ruled by whoever won the latest war."

The Poles, a happy people thru it all, have always been stuck with the highest war deductibles and copays.

Fractured Fairy Tales comes to mind.

So does the newly established Texas school history curriculum.

"the desire to live in a society that valued freedom of the individual to achieve prosperity beyond imagination."

Yes, the main chance was seized.

The rivers of blood flowing from the hacking and the scalping and the buffalo hunters amtraking thru the food supply are smoothly elided here.

Our forefathers were nothing more than Comanche raiding parties in britches sporting gunpowder.

That it led to Google, Cisco Systems, and Colgate Palmolive is meaningless to cold-hearted comets heading our way.

"its probably because their ancestors were part of a minority that didn't come to achieve something,"

Yes, when they purchased the cruise line tickets with the opportunity scholarships they had no idea a deficient number of bags of cotton picked would yield merciless whuppings and their women being ass-f*cked by Strom Thurmond for a good two centuries.

They figured they'd have a choice between the Big Mac, the Whopper, and the Baconator as the highest expression of human freedom.

I don't know what sort of history is being trotted out here.

It's innocence reminds me somehow of Tiny Tim's falsetto faith in Miss Vicki on the Tonight Show.

Violence within the US is bad enough, but take a look at US foreign policy:

Violence, overt and covert, executed or threatened is the distinguishing feature of US foreign policy since WW2, the number of foreigners killed and maimed by US forces and their proxies is outrageously high - no other country, democratic or not, even comes close.

Cite needed.

US v Enmons

"Brett trots out the standard issue corporate thugocracy view of labor relations in the USA."

Brett trots out what happened in front of his own two eyes.

Benghazi!!!

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/21/politics/benghazi-attack-report/

US v Enmons

Not exactly correct. That case exempted unions from prosecution under the Hobbs Act, not RICO. There is no "RICO exemption" per se. There is a well recognized preemption of labor violence associated with legitimate labor disputes from prosecution under federal anti-racketeering law (such acts are still illegal under state/local laws).

For a more nuanced view see here.

For another more recent chilling example of the misapplication of RICO to quash union organizing activity, see the the Smithfield Foods case. I see no exemption there, do you?

In passing, it is also noted that the criminal activities of anti-abortion activists is also exempt from RICO (cf. NOW vs. Scheidler). But I guess you are OK with anti-abortion violence.

Marty:

You should be aware that the "science" in "Doctor Science" is evolutionary biology and population genetics. For best results:

a) do not use terms like "it's in our DNA" when you're talking about something that's not in our DNA

b) do not say "natural selection" unless you're actually talking about natural selection

doc Science,

Its best not to be a pain. If you don' think millions of people settling a "new world" didn't create a certain gene pool that would include some behavioral similarities you should take the energy to explain why as Ianaeb.

but I'm trying to get you-all to talk about *why*.

seems like we've all agreed that nobody knows why.

maybe it's because the country was founded as a frontier society with a weak government and a strong indigenous enemy. kill or be killed was the way things went for the first 300 years.

maybe it's because guns are so ingrained in our culture.

maybe it's because we sucked down too much lead.

This is not our "nature", this is our history

it's our culture, our society, our laws.

it might also be biological (lead).

Maybe a culture that has combined sucking down biological lead with a dysunctional gun fetish fueled by the shallow end of the gene pool, ie the NRA, the RNC, etc, leads to sucking down too much lead (and copper and brass) in the form of bullets:

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/ferguson-woman-kills-self-gun-accident

The difficulty with the thesis that it is biological rather than (sub) cultural is this: the prevelance of violence within our country varies drastically from place to place. And yet, biologically we are all pretty thoroughly stirred around, and getting more so, with no really substantive differences from one place to another -- the melting pot is a lot more than just a figure of speech.

So there isn't really a gene pool that is distinct to the violent parts of the country. There are, however, cultural differences, both between different areas of the country and between various rural, suburban, and urban areas.

wj, The problem with the we are all biologically the same therefore... argument is that it doesn't take into account the external factors that would make "all" of us react similarly. These could be quite different stimuli across America, and be the same breadth of stimuli that occurs in other countries, yet we could react differently to each set of stimuli based on biology, and, of course, the culture. Or not, per Doc.

But if the same biology reacts differently to the different stimuli, that doesn't change the fact that it is the same biology.

So unless someone has evidence that our biology (including that of the folks who have come here relatively recently and not yet genetically melted in with the rest) is somehow different from other large swathes of the world....

If you don' think millions of people settling a "new world" didn't create a certain gene pool that would include some behavioral similarities you should take the energy to explain why

I thought the "gene" thing was presented as a metaphor. I'm somewhat surprised to find that it's being presented as a realistic proposal.

All kinds of people came here, for all kinds of reasons. The government where they lived treated them badly, they thought they could get rich, they were given the choice of emigrate or go to jail, they were sentenced to come here as their particular form of jail, it seemed like a better idea than starving, somebody kidnapped them and sold them to somebody here.

What is the common and distinctive "gene marker" of that lot?

A quite common personal "marker" for many of them was emigration as the only alternative to jail, miserable death, or total ruin.

"For a country located in the Americas, the United states has a relatively low murder rate. Canada and Chile are the exceptions. I suspect the issue is cultural, but but I don't know how much of a role slavery played in it."

That's consistent with the slavery hypothesis, since much of the Americas had an even higher slavery rate too.

By the way, last I looked into this, the discrepancy in homicide rates between the US and other top-tier economies was much greater than the discrepancy in overall crime or even violence rates. People get murdered a lot in the US largely because our violence is more likely to be lethal than other countries' violence. I have no trouble believing that's largely down to the availability of guns (and the partly consequent eagerness of our police to use theirs).

Countme-In: I've actually been wondering if the inhalation of lead at shooting ranges causes enough neurological damage to have visible social effects. And how one might mitigate that, short of shutting down the shooting ranges. (Get people to wear masks or respirators?)

"People get murdered a lot in the US"

But... most of the people who get murdered in the US are criminals. It's questionable which side of the ledger their deaths should end up on, society does not clearly suffer when one criminal kills another.

I'd be very interested in seeing a comparison of murder rates that exclude non-criminal victims.

"Countme-In: I've actually been wondering if the inhalation of lead at shooting ranges causes enough neurological damage to have visible social effects."

I think likely not. Most gun ranges today are pretty obsessive about ventilation, and it's more of an issue for childhood exposure than adults.

Firearms are more of a health issue for their users from a hearing standpoint, but I can't see the solution, (Silencers) being promoted any time soon.

most of the people who get murdered in the US are criminals.

Brett, do you have a source for that? I don't doubt it. I'd just like to see the actual numbers.

It's certainly our "peculiar institution" in the sense that we regard it as necessary to our way of life, and we refuse to give it up no matter how much it costs us.
Or as Garry Wills memorably put it, the great god Gun is our Moloch: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/dec/15/our-moloch/

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/expanded/expanded-homicide-data

In other news, of the some 19,000 people who committed suicide by gunshot in 2010, 100% were suicidal.

Of the 600 or so accidental gun deaths the same year, in addition to the 14,000 to 19,000 accidental gun injuries, the innocent victims were either in the vicinity of a clumsy, inebriated idiot or were themselves clumsy, inebriated, and/or idiotic.

None of the guns used in the above deaths and woundings admitted to having any responsibility whatsoever for the bullets leaving their chambers and were released on their own recognizance after tens of millions of dollars in pro-bono legal intervention.

Some small percentage of the murderers, murderees, suicides and accident victims were descendants of the original passengers and crew who arrived here on the Mayflower.

This joke about traveling to Australia:

Customs and Immigration Agent: Have you ever been convicted of a felony crime?

Traveler: I didn't realize that was still required.

Or did I read that here?

"People get murdered a lot in the US"

But... most of the people who get murdered in the US are criminals.

And in the context of the OP, the next logical questions are:

Don't criminals in other places kill each other?

Why are American criminals so uniquely murderous?

Also, fifteen seconds reflection should, I think, put the lie to this:

society does not clearly suffer when one criminal kills another.

For one thing, criminals are not always crack shots. A very long list of additional reasons could easily be elaborated.

I'm a fan of TV/Netflix detective series, and two of my favorites are "Inspector Morse", and its spinoffs, which take place in Oxford, England, (pop. @150,000) and lately "Wallander" the Swedish series (there was a Brit-produced version which was good, too) set in Ystad, Sweden (population roughly 18,000).

Both countries where the murder and killed-by-cop rates, especially via guns, are quite low per capita compared to the U.S.

Not that you can tell from the series.

The robed Oxford dons, students, and posh townsfolk kept up a weekly pace of murder via all sorts of nefarious means far ahead of British reality and maybe approaching totals in the inner parts of Baltimore just a few years ago.

In Wallander, the tiny, charming port town of Ystatd is on target for a murder rate (mostly via high-powered weaponry and incendiary devices) that may surpass recent totals in Crimea.

So there is an appetite for violent, armed mayhem for entertainment value in both cultures, but the fake stuff far surpasses their paltry real-life quotas.

It would be interesting to add up the annual shootings and other murders on American TV and movies, and see if they approach American reality in the streets, homes and love nests, and schools.

Sometimes even theaters, where there's more blood shed in the audience than there is on screen.

Maybe even numbers, at best, if you don't count the Zombie genre, which tells me that American entertainment just barely keeps pace with American reality blood lust, which of course pales to Brazil's, for example.

Just an observation.

"For one thing, criminals are not always crack shots. A very long list of additional reasons could easily be elaborated."

That would be a good reason to believe that society might suffer when one criminal attempts to kill another, but my statement was notable for the absence of "attempts".

But, yes, I'd agree that criminals being murderous is not a good thing. Criminals dying at each other's hands, maybe not as big a concern as innocents dying at the hands of criminals or each other.

And I did suggest that it would be nice to have some data that compared the rates of innocent people being murdered. If the difference is that our criminals are killing each other at a higher rate, it's maybe not such a big concern.

I 100% agree with Brett about "lead inhalation".

Metallic lead, the kind you'd find in bullets, is (like most heavy metals) toxic, but not excessively so. The stuff you have to really watch out for are the organic compounds of heavy metals, such as tetraethyl-lead in leaded gasoline, or whatever lead compound was used in paint. (Plus the "more harmful to kids" factor)

I've always wondered how upright citizens like Brett define "criminal" (the noun) when they talk about people who kill other people.

I mean, if some middle-aged white guy with an embezzlement conviction -- and nothing else on his record -- goes berserk with his legally-purchased pistol one day and shoots his ex-wife dead, is that a homicide committed by a "criminal"?

How about if it was a middle-aged black guy?

What if his conviction was for pot possession 25 years ago?

Brett disapproves of "criminal background checks" for gun purchases, I think. But if I'm wrong about that, I would be curious to know whether "criminal" means the same thing in both contexts. In Brett's own usage, I mean.

--TP


This notion that there is this clear dividing line between the criminal and the innocent is so precious. It means that the possibility of a change of heart is impossible and one is reminded of Ed Meese's legal acumen

That would be a good reason to believe that society might suffer when one criminal attempts to kill another, but my statement was notable for the absence of "attempts".

That sentence also reminds me that Brett's ever so clear dividing line also ignores the fact that there may be those who are slightly criminal and, when caught, feel like they have to resort of whatever means to stay on top.

I leave it to the Count to explain why these two criminals should have shot each other, ridding the pure of heart innocent of their felonious ways.

And who is more criminal:
Someone who has a felony conviction for a drug offense half a century ago?
Or someone who breaks the law repeatedly, day in and day out -- meaning, of course, anyone who drives on the freeways at anything like the "flow of traffic" speed?

The latter is, arguably, a "career criminal," especially if he is driving in pursuit of his employment. What we are thinking of when we say "criminal" is often a far cry from what the law actually says.

This notion that there is this clear dividing line between the criminal and the innocent is so precious.

I can understand, if not agree with, the concept of capital punishment for heinous crimes. But shrugging our shoulders at the death of other people, because they are or were guilty of some crime or another, that's not something I can do.

Downplaying a death because of the victim's criminality is a common ploy to whitewash deaths, especially at the hands of the police. For example, Akai Gurley, who was shot accidentally by the police. Nobody thought he had a gun, or was behaving suspiciously, or anything like that. A rookie officer who accidentally discharged his weapon while turning a doorknob with the same hand he held his gun in. And Akai unfortunately was hit and died. Despite the absolute irrelevance, the police released his rap sheet to the press.

http://blog.simplejustice.us/2014/11/23/the-outrage-of-the-victims-rap-sheet-must-end/

Speaking of the idea that you can easily separate the innocent from the criminal, Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides -- "second only to homicides of intimate partners". But then, research suggests that family violence is two to four times higher in the law-enforcement community than in the general population.

The Snoop and his posse had it in mind to move on Stewart's turf, perhaps with a line of cookware, designer bongs, gold-plated ladies derringers, and maybe a Saturday morning cooking show aimed at kids,which could have led to some nasty business.

But after she rapped him on the knuckles with that 10-inch chef's blade during commercial break for mangling the peeling of the potatoes, word is he stepped back from those plans, and then gave it up altogether when he got wind of the muscle she'd rubbed shoulders with while inside -- mortgage bankers, hedge fund managers, Wall Street accountants with light fingers, and corporate CEO-types serving time for various serious felony convictions.

There were .. stories ... from when she was inside .. that she had a guy, some low level Tea Party pol doing time for cooking the books of the local PAC, rolled in flour, deep fried in bacon fat and stuffed into the empanadas she used to serve the prison staff for Sunday brunch because he sneezed as she pulled a souffle from the prison's kitchen oven, and made it fall, but that may have been urban legend planted to intimidate competitors.

As it was, just for the favor of permitting him to appear on her show and touting his new album, she told Snoop quietly in her dressing room afterwards that one day, and that day may never come, that she would call on him to do a service for her.

A message was sent.

No ham sandwiches in Ferguson, it seems.

And how one might mitigate [inhalation of lead at shooting ranges], short of shutting down the shooting ranges.

Besides Snarki's point in re: equality of lead inhalation, one could always go with unleaded bullets. I mean, if the Army can do it...

I dunno, Ugh. McCollough seemed pretty hammy to me.

My favorite bit was his refusal to say what the grand jury vote was. If it's a secret, whose word am I supposed to take that a majority voted to not indict?

And I'd like an answer to Rachel Maddow's question: what the hell was the idea behind making the announcement at precisely the time of day best suited to violent protests? Why 8PM; why not noon, or midnight?

My man Charlie Pierce will surely point out tomorrow that this farce was Not About Race, because in white-bread ham-sandwich America, Nothing Is Ever About Race.

--TP

No ham sandwiches in Ferguson, it seems.

It's hard to say what it would take to actually bring charges against a cop here in the USA.

BB: most of the people who get murdered in the US are criminals.

WJ: Brett, do you have a source for that? I don't doubt it. I'd just like to see the actual numbers.

Brett don't need no steenkin' source! His logic is exactly the same as that used by some US troops in Vietnam: if we shot them, they're VC.

(Because: otherwise we wouldn't have shot them, right?)

Much of the time I can ignore Brett as simply being obsessionally wrong-headed, like the village idiot or drunk. But this particular "logic" makes me sick.

"And I'd like an answer to Rachel Maddow's question: what the hell was the idea behind making the announcement at precisely the time of day best suited to violent protests? Why 8PM; why not noon, or midnight?"

You got me. I can see giving the grand jury a space of time to go into hiding. But I've got no idea what the thinking was behind waiting until midnight. Not that the people planning riots were't prepared to do so at any hour. There probably wasn't any good hour to fire the starting pistol on that event.

"It's hard to say what it would take to actually bring charges against a cop here in the USA."

It's hard to say why anyone thought it likely that a guy who was shot by police shortly after committing a robbery had done nothing to provoke it.

I mean, seriously, plenty of people get wrongfully shot by police, there's no question about that. But there was never good reason to believe that Michael Brown was one of them. Any more than there was reason to believe that Trayvon Martin was attacked by Zimmerman.

Again, seriously, why this drive to pick such lousy cases to focus on? With no shortage of likely innocent victims of police shootings, why pick the guy who just committed a robbery? Why keep taking thugs old enough to join the Army, who got killed assaulting somebody, and pretending they're innocent children? Just to prove that you don't need the facts on your side to craft a narrative?

Yes, most murder victims have criminal records It's not even a near thing. Or here, check page 40. Keeping in mind that not every criminal is going to have a criminal record, (The highest murder rate is in the 17-25 year old range, where somebody can easily be a criminal, and simply not have been caught yet.) 77% is the lower limit on how many of them were criminals.

Anybody who has taken a look at actual studies of murder knows this: Most of the people who get murdered in the US are criminals, almost all of the people who commit murder are criminals, murder in the US is mostly a matter of criminals killing each other off.

But, of course, that might be the case outside the US, which is why I suggested that it would be nice if these usual international comparisons of murder rates broke out the rates for innocent victims and criminals. 'Cause it really does make a difference in how you react, if the US murder rate is high because our criminals are killing each other at a higher rate.

Maybe we need a better class of criminal.

"Plenty of people get wrongfully shot by police" makes my point with sufficient force.

Glad we'very found a point of agreement.

It's hard to say why anyone thought it likely that a guy who was shot by police shortly after committing a robbery had done nothing to provoke it...

...there was never good reason to believe that Michael Brown was [wrongfully shot]...

Again, seriously, why this drive to pick such lousy cases to focus on? With no shortage of likely innocent victims of police shootings, why pick the guy who just committed a robbery?

Ah, yes. Because the stopped clock is right twice a day, if we happened to check the time at those moments, we must conclude it was not stopped. Is that the takeaway? Except it's not exactly a perfect analogy, since we know Wilson didn't know about the robbery when the shooting occurred. So even if we assume robbery merits summary execution after the fact and without due process of law, why does that mean we must conclude misconduct could not have occurred here?

That Brown had just committed a crime does not in any way, shape, or form vindicate Wilson unless Wilson was engaging him in regards to said crime... which he was not.

Again, seriously, why this drive to empower random low-level government officials to conduct summary executions with little or no pretense, and to fight tooth and nail against the very idea of making a credible effort to hold them accountable for their actions?

(To bluntly answer the question as to why this has been latched onto, to no small degree because of how the Ferguson LE community handled the aftermath of the shooting. Really, I'd think that was pretty obvious.)

"That Brown had just committed a crime does not in any way, shape, or form vindicate Wilson unless Wilson was engaging him in regards to said crime... which he was not."

For a rational person, it weights the probabilities in favor of Wilson's account of what happened. If a police officer says, "I was attacked by that nun!", you, rationally, are more skeptical than if he says, "I was attacked by that guy who just robbed a store!"


On second thought, perhaps I do know why they picked such a late hour.

Riots were inevitable, no matter when they made the announcement, and likely regardless of the conclusion the grand jury came to. Rioting plans had been made, the holidays are coming up and everybody had their looting lists ready.

What the late night announcement made sure of, was that the average person would get the news of the decision at the same time they heard of the rioting. And, while your average mushy headed liberal sees rioters, and thinks, "Aha! There must be injustice here!", your normal human being sees rioters, and thinks, "Proof those people are dangerous lunatics."

So the late night announcement saw to it that the average person would be primed to be sympathetic to the Ferguson police, by reminding them that said police are dealing with a lot of dangerous lunatics.

Yes, most murder victims have criminal records It's not even a near thing. Or here, check page 40.

The report says no such thing.
The statistics were for "prior arrest history".

(Although, in any event, the US criminal justice system appears to this outside observer to be as racially biased as your recent comments - and given the remarkable effectiveness it displays in obtaining guilty pleas, there is probably a fair degree of overlap.)

The clown show continues. Bobo the clown admits that the police would actually like to have riots, so as to demonstrate that they are 'dealing with a lot of dangerous lunatics". To protect and serve, unless that protection dilutes a point the police want to make. If some law abiding citizen's business gets torched or something worse, well, just collateral damage to prove that the police are right and one can't make an omelette without breaking a few of something. Of course, this is simply a case of 'heightening the contradictions'. Quite amazing though that Brett seems to think that this notion of Lenin is the ticket.

So the late night announcement saw to it that the average person would be primed to be sympathetic to the Ferguson police, by reminding them that said police are dealing with a lot of dangerous lunatics.

If true, that is some seriously f***ed up sh*t.

Just saying.

Happily, I suspect it's only true in Brett's mind.

For the record, my understanding is that Wilson was aware of the theft of the cigars. His claim, again from my understanding of his testimony to the grand jury, is that he thought Brown resembled the description given of the cigar thief, and that is why, having told the young men to get off the road, he went back and confronted Brown.

I'm not surprised that there were no charges brought, because it's very rare for cops to be found criminally liable for the use of force on the job. Right or wrong, they're given a lot of leeway.

My thoughts here are:

Wilson is not a good cop. Not in the sense of some kind of violent dude looking for excuses to shoot black kids, but in the sense of not having good control over the situation. He thought that he had made Brown as the thief, he had called for backup, all good. Somehow that turned into a fight that left Brown dead.

Not good police work. Whatever else Ferguson needs at this point, at a minimum they need better cops.

I've also never lived anywhere where the cops spent their time telling young men not to walk in the street. Cops in Ferguson have nothing better to do?

Other things:

Brown's body was left in the street for four hours.

The medical investigator called to the scene didn't take pictures "because the camera battery died".

He also didn't take any measurements or otherwise document the scene because, in his words:

It was self-explanatory what happened. Somebody shot somebody. There was no question as to any distances or anything of that nature at the time I was there.

Long story short, sh*t is f***ed up and bullsh*t in good old Ferguson MO. As it is in many other places.

The grand jury materials, including Wilson's testimony, have been published, and can be read here.

I haven't read much of them at this point, but what I take away so far is that Brown scared the crap out of Wilson, so he shot him.

Lastly:

why this drive to pick such lousy cases to focus on?

Yes, it is always interesting to see who folks choose as their causes celebre.

What color is a "criminal who has not been caught yet"?

--TP

To bluntly answer the question as to why this has been latched onto, to no small degree because of how the Ferguson LE community handled the aftermath of the shooting. Really, I'd think that was pretty obvious.

This has always been the sticking point for me. Wilson deserved due process and reasonable doubt, just as anybody else does.

But if it had been anybody else, there would have been an indictment the next day. Instead, the police didn't really investigate, charges weren't filed, and the grand jury dragged on. The travesty isn't what was presented to the grand jury, its what wasn't:

http://blog.simplejustice.us/2014/11/25/the-ferguson-lie/

That it ended without the prosecutor asking the grand jury for an indictment is unheard of. By this omission, it ended with the prosecutor telling the grand jury that a close call goes to the defendant.

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