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September 12, 2011

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What! I'll have to wait until October to be rattled again, ugh...J/K, do what you gotta do...I stayed out of the 9/11 thread because I just finished deciphering Emil's put-downs with all the tools of the lexicon I had available to me. And I've never heard of Bill Bryson either.

I found a link to another forum a while back that should keep me entertained between lulls while "working" at home; I usually stay up late working.

Soleri was right about skyscraperpage forum...I don't quite understand some of the posters' thinking as they rejoice over medium density 5-story buildings planned for RoRow (a new term I just learned for Roosevelt) in a forum named skyscraper forum (???). However, it looks like the City is planning to narrow Roosevelt, widen the sidewalks, build shade-structures and plant trees. Things that are strongly needed to encourage more development, walking, and safer biking in the neighborhood.

Come on folks. Someone start a guest blog thread.

Stick your neck out, take a risk.

No guts, no glory.

Make Jon proud, get some of them big words out here for us to wrestle with.

I was waiting for azrebel to start something. Watcha got?

Well, the big fight today, apparently is over Krugman. My 2 cents:

http://deconstructingthemanifest.blogspot.com/2011/09/krugman-paradox.html

There. I did my part.

Petro, and I did mine where I always do, the comments: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/09/paul-krugman-9-11

PSF, an idea: we pitch Roosevelt Row to the Korean community. We call it R'uh R'oh.

Well, I really *was* trying to start something over here, but rebuke noted.

Petro, sorry! No rebuke intended.

So, does anyone disagree with Krugman? Be brave (said the spider to the fly).

You did good Petro. I will never forgive the "patriots" of this country from coming down on the Dixie Chicks when they had the audacity to say what many Americans thought, " sorry world, we have a nut for a President and a lot of people are going to die around the planet because of him".

Agree that Krugman could have waited a day before his post, but it needed to be said.

eclec, you don't want me starting a thread. It will always deal with "too many damn people. we need to get rid of all the people".

So for now we go with Petro's thread until someone can wrestle it away from him.

P.S. I had plans to marry all three Dixie Chicks, but they never returned my called.

Oops, soleri - *my* bad. These are paranoid times, heh. I just thought I wouldn't have been able to "sell" my paradox idea if I tried to boil it down to a comment.

@azrebel:

Part of my point is that striking while the iron is hot made his observation more poignant, that the provocation was the thing. (He might be regretting it in hindsight - indeed his latest thoughts today demonstrate a bit of walking back - but I celebrate his incontinency :)).

Probably not going to get too much disagreement over the Krugman issue over here, though, 'tis true.

Documenting Krugman:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/about-that-paul-krugman-allegation-of-911-shame/2011/03/03/gIQAdwBMNK_blog.html

Krugman??? I'm appalled ya'll ain't glued to the tube watching the "CNN Tea Party Republican Presidential Debate."

For a second, I thought I had on Fox News. Tea Party debate just sounds oxymoronic since they are all the same.

Soleri, I'm all for a Korean inspired RoRow especially if it encourages a Seoul super-density community.

Isn't that Rogue dude supposed to be working on a book??

Discipline is hard.

At least Seoul is trying to improve their city. I was thinking more Scuby Doo for RoRo! The right-wing nutjob sites have their panties in a twist over Krugman. I certainly don't disagree with him.

Wow, so Rick Ungar of Mother Jones has his in a twist too. Pussy. Krugman was right not to allow comments. He knew what he did and what the response would be. He's got the biggest balls of them all!

http://www.gorevidalnow.com/

Vidal on 9/11. Interesting who won't publish him.

Well, I have no idea how to add a link to this page, so please go to Truthdig and read Chris Hedges column today. It is powerful.

Be sure to check out the comments:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/soundeconomywithjontalton/2016193031_is_social_security_a_ponzi_sch.html

Wow to those Seattle Times comments...for a second I thought I was reading extremist neo-con logic on AZcentral.

Didn't think that existed in Western Washington; ignorance IS bliss...

Is the new book a standalone or a continuation of Mapstone or sequel to Pain Nurse?

Great column refuting the Ponzi scheme allegation, Mr. Talton. I do wish you had included a hyperlink to the CBO data/report however.

Re: Seattle Times comments - it is to weep. Low-information meets compartmentalization meets demagogue-fed pseudo-ideology. Argh! What happens when education becomes trade-schooling. But, it's just what the corporate designers of education wanted, after all.

The new book is the second Cincinnati Casebook (after "The Pain Nurse"). I'm at 52,643 words. Gah!

As long as we're still discussing 9/11 issues, I'm going to post this here -- didn't get any bites at the end of the last thread (nothing about Bryson here):

In a recent interview with the Arizona Republic's Dennis Wagner, U.S. Attorney Paul Charleton recounts the shift in intelligence resources and tactics, including placing "terrorism suspects" under constant surveillance in the hope of catching them "spitting on the sidewalk" so that they could either be imprisoned or deported. "Only providence knows if we stopped any attacks, but it's been a decade without a major terrorism event in America."

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2011/09/10/20110910september-11-us-attorney.html

There are questions as to how finely tuned such tactics are and whether innocent individuals are being targeted on the basis of anonymous tips (good way to get even with a personal enemy or competitor), hearsay, or statements made under duress.

Of course, I am VERY glad that the United States has gone a decade "without a major terrorist event" (evidently, acts of right-wing domestic terrorism such as Andrew Joseph Stack III flying a private plane into the IRS building in Austin just last year don't count).

That said, the very absence of such attacks, by well organized, well funded, highly militant Islamic fanatics with big-time access to all kinds of military-grade weaponry and explosives (from battlefields in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere), many of whom are willing to die in the course of carrying out an attack, strikes me as a bit odd, especially given how much they are said to hate America. Almost, indeed, inexplicable.

Another recent article, about the reported plot by Al Qaeda to send three terrorists to the U.S. to conduct a 9/11 attack, mentions that "Intelligence analysts have looked at travel patterns and behaviors of people who recently entered the country" and that "counterterrorism officials were looking for certain names associated with the threat, but it was unclear whether the names were real or fake".

Excluding Alaska, the United States has a 4,000 mile long land and maritime boundary with Canada, large portions of which are notoriously underpatrolled, many of which present ideal conditions for persons crossing individually (separately, to meet later) or together, without having to present passports, visas, or any identification. Of course, they still have to get into Canada (unless they are recruited there).

The 2,000 mile border with Mexico is under considerably greater surveillance, but remains porous enough to allow hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to enter the country each year. Several recent news articles have noted that an unknown number of immigrants have begun entering California by sea, blending into the small-boat fishing community and arriving on unfrequented beaches at night by raft, rowboat, or motor launch, without running lights; a practice which authorities admit is very difficult to detect. (Even less so when small craft contain, say, three individuals instead of an overpacked boatload of Mexicans.) It's quite easy to get into Mexico by sea or even by land from Central America (many countries of which are also fairly soft targets for human smuggling); and thence from Mexico into the U.S. by one means or another.

Note that a base of operations in the United States is not a requirement for a terrorist attack, provided the terrorists are not assembling a car bomb and/or cooking up explosives from scratch. One individual wearing a vest packed with plastic explosives and studded with thousands of small ball-bearings (assembled outside the country), walking into a crowded Starbucks on a busy Monday morning, or several wearing business suits and carrying briefcases containing machine pistols and grenades, could do a lot of damage. Conducting one such operation a month would have a devastating effect on American morale. There are other venues which could potentially provide larger casualties with very little increased security risk.

I'm not giving away any information or ideas which wouldn't have already occurred to a distributed terrorist group like Al Qaeda, some of whose members reportedly make an avocation out of sitting around cooking up plots against the United States.

What I'm getting at is that there have been no such attacks in the last ten years, according to U.S. Attorney Charleton. Isn't there something just a wee bit peculiar about that?

I know that a number of Islamic terrorist plots have been prevented from being carried out. Others were carried out and, through an odd incompetence (considering the availability of jihadists with considerable practical battlefield experience with improvised munitions, as either tutors or agents) involved bombs that smoked and burned but failed to explode. Many (though not all) of the attacks that were plotted but not carried out, involved individuals virtually recruited by the FBI in undercover sting operations. (No complaints there: nobody twisted these guys' arms to carry out an attack, and it's good to get them off the streets even if we're dangling bait to do so; but on the other hand, it doesn't say quite the same thing about either the threat level or the competence of counter-terrorist operations.)

@Emil - yes it is rather odd, isn't it? I mean, GB has had a rather nasty history with terrorists who seemed to be able to frequently put their dedication on display.

I think maybe the "fear factor" here in the US has much to contribute to this. Our paranoia feedback-loop seems to be well developed, and I mostly blame the magical-thinking population for that - and that includes the apparatchiks at all levels in law-enforcement and media. No need for a conspiracy from the top, although fear is a useful meme so I can see why it isn't actively discouraged.

So, I think that pervasive fear exaggerates the threat on the one hand and, on the other, the hightened irrationality and hair-trigger nature of our law-enforcement (along with the hair-trigger report-on-your-neighbors phenomenon) probably discourages the more rational - if I may use that word - of the would-be warriors.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-great-recession-in-five-charts/2011/09/13/gIQANuPoPK_blog.html

There are some interesting charts to ponder here. Income inequality is exploding (while political participation is sinking). I'm trying to imagine a president who could use these as a teaching tool for a nation driven insane by the right's racialized class warfare. Arizona is now the nation's fifth poorest state. Any correlation here between the increasingly extreme Republican politics of this place and poverty? You know the answer.

Emil and gang,

If you are hinting that there may be a program of exaggerated fear-mongering going on here in the US, then I would add that I firmly agree.

Even people in small towns are afraid of the Muslim boogy-man.

However, let me ask you, if a trio of middle-eastern men were to wander into a small community here in AZ, who would be in more danger, the three men or the population of "armed to the teeth" residents of the small town?

Personally, I wouldn't stand too close to those middle-east targets if I were you.

I just hate how cowardly America has become. Trading liberty for safety is the most un-American and cowardly thing a person could do.

Emil, no fair double posting. If you post an item and the universe moves forward, the earth rotates and your post is missed, that is a risk you take. The only person who can cause earth to rotate backwards, thus going back in time is Superman. Then again, has anyone ever seen Superman and Emil in the same place at the same time????

( : - )

A little off topic, but let's look at it as a small weather break in our news program.

Since I have no life, I have been monitoring the storm cells which approach the valley and their eventual demise. The radar images are unbelievable.

I would venture to say that if it were not for the heat island, we would have, should have had twenty plus more heavy rain storms this monsoon season. The cells approach the valley in powerful fashion. As soon as they approach the heat island, they begin to slow and disappear. I mean to tell you they go from full blown 30,000 foot thunder clouds to little wisps in no time at all.

We just had an August from hell. A little rain would have made a big difference in temps. If all the (ha)boobs in the city can't connect the dots on this connection between heat island and no rain, then may they and their relatives spend eternity walking behind a herd of camels with stomach issues.

Good luck with your newest novel! And thank you for the Hunter S Thompson quote! My favorite Hunter quote is; "When the going gets wierd, the wierd get busy." And the wierd have been VERY busy these days!

Emil,

The absence of attacks does not logically follow that the trash canning of the 4th Admendment prevented said attacks. I think most jihadists or Taliban or whatever they are called prefer to defend their homes against US occupation and guided missile attack. I think the 9/11 (middle-class well-educated Saudis)hijackers might be the exception to the rule, but US law enforcement has made it the standard.

I am more puzzled why there hasn't been an influx of sophisticated weapons into Iraq and Afghanistan to down our planes and helicopters. Are our supposed enemies using the same economies as Bin Laden? That is letting the US spends itself into a hole while tearing itself apart internally? Or have they ceased to care and are tending to their own economies and peoples?

Currently reading Chalmers Johnson's "the Sorrows of Empire". So far an excellent read.

eclecticdog wrote:

"I think most jihadists or Taliban or whatever they are called prefer to defend their homes against US occupation and guided missile attack. I think the 9/11 (middle-class well-educated Saudis) hijackers might be the exception to the rule, but US law enforcement has made it the standard."

Most jihadists and (Afghanistani) Taliban, perhaps, but not most terrorist organizations (including Al Qaeda). In fact, one routinely sees attacks similar to what I described reported in the newspapers, occurring overseas; but not, for some reason, in the United States.

"I am more puzzled why there hasn't been an influx of sophisticated weapons into Iraq and Afghanistan to down our planes and helicopters. Are our supposed enemies using the same economies as Bin Laden?"

Good question. Apparently there has been some use of shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles and apparently one downed aircraft:

"One internal report in September 2005 warned that Taliban commanders in Zabul and Kandahar provinces had acquired missiles they called "number two Stinger", for about $1,000 (£650) each. Nine months later came the first of at least 10 near-miss reports."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/25/afghanistan-taliban-missile-strike-chinook

Still, ten such attempts isn't nearly as much as one might imagine. The article also notes that the U.S. and its Afghan allies have been buying up old SA-7 and Stinger missiles from the 1980s ("which may no longer be operational because of battery failure") from tribesmen for $5,000 to $15,000 a pop (presumably non-Taliban tribesmen, though where money is an issue one never knows).

The real question is from whom do they acquire such weapons? RPGs are much easier to get. According to the article, "As fighting intensified in April 2007 one unidentified source told an American officer that seven Manpads purchased by Iran from Algeria had been landestinely transported from Mashhad in Iran across the border into Afghanistan. Other reports, also unconfirmed, accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence of supplying weapons or missile-trainers to the Taliban."

But even if those unconfirmed reports are true, that's small potatoes; and why take such a large diplomatic risk for such a small potential military return? The article notes that the U.S. distributed 2,000 Stinger missiles to anti-Soviet Afghani rebels in the 1980s, and dozens of Soviet helicopter gunships were shot down. I know that the Taliban are a bit behind the curve technologically, but even if "dead batteries" was a valid reason for Stingers and the like to stop working, you'd think that someone in the ISI or the Iranian Republican Guard, or some scientist or technician from another country but sympathetic to the Taliban and hostile to American occupying troops would be able to solve that little problem for them. Perhaps there weren't that many unfired missiles left?

azrebel wrote:

"If you are hinting that there may be a program of exaggerated fear-mongering going on here in the US, then I would add that I firmly agree."

I wouldn't characterize my remarks thus. I simply find it deeply puzzling, given the premises, that no such attacks have occurred in 10 years.

Al Qaeda is said to have recruited nineteen committed individuals, along with countless other abetting parties; funded them; trained them; inserted them; and supported them while they took numerous steps in furtherance of a highly complicated plot.

I can see why changes to U.S. domestic security arrangements would make such a plot difficult to carry out today; but I can't see why a series of considerably more basic but no less morale sapping attacks such as those I described, have not occurred in 10 years. Not one such attack, so far as I know. Even the (apparently rather effective) targeting of Al Qaeda leadership using assassinations (e.g., drone attacks) took years to erode the leadership base; and each such assassination might logically have been expected to provide the motivation for a revenge attack on the United States.

If anyone comes across a link suggesting an answer to my question, I'd be interested.

Emil wrote:

"Al Qaeda is said to have recruited nineteen committed individuals, along with countless other abetting parties; funded them; trained them; inserted them; and supported them while they took numerous steps in furtherance of a highly complicated plot.

"If anyone comes across a link suggesting an answer to my question, I'd be interested."

Oh, well, ya know, when you put it like that - there is the "9/11 Truther" perspective, which would hold that the seminal attack couldn't have been pulled off by Al-Qaeda alone, either. And there are, um, if I recall, some links on that... :)

But I'm not going there - please don't beat me up for light-heartedly bringing it up. Your phrasing practically begged for it, and I'm rascally that way...

ELECTRIC DOG, I have two of Chalmers Johnsons books on my night stand
as soon as i finish The Red Market, Some of The Dead are Still Breathing and The Charles Bowden Reader.

ELECTRIC DOG, I have two of Chalmers Johnsons books on my night stand
as soon as i finish The Red Market, Some of The Dead are Still Breathing and The Charles Bowden Reader.

I've been lurking on Jon's blog for several months now, enjoying the readers' comments and the back and forth of discussion, but too intimidated by the depth of discussion to consider throwing my two cents in. If you're looking for a Phoenix-based blog with a definitely lighter, but also at times serious, tone, I would humbly recommend taking a look at www.thunderstrokes.com. Readers of this blog who remember Jon from his days as a columnist at the Republic may be interested to read the "Repaying the Debt" post I wrote as a tribute to him and his influence on me while he was here. It may not be a blog of the same intellectual import as The Rogue Columnist, but I'm guessing you may find some entertainment value there, if nothing else. Sorry if this seems like a shameless solicitation in behalf of myself, which it is, but I'm smack in the middle of a quest for readers.

Kevin, that's a nice blog you have there. You've put a lot of work into it. It's a little bit too "nice" for us Rogue bloggers. If and when you decide to get "down in the mud" a little more, let us know, we'll play.

Just remember for all you "writers" out there, you need us "readers". We're part of the equation. Also, don't assume that we are all as smart as Emil and soleri. Go easy on those big words. A twelve letter word is exciting every so often, but mostly stick to four letter words. After all, this is Arizona.

@Kevin:

I too was a fan of Jon's column back in my Phoenix days. I also get the "intimidation" factor - these folks 'round here are wonky as hell.

I know about "questing for readers," too, heh.

Welcome, and dive in... I do.

Petro, I wasn't suggesting that Al Qaeda couldn't have pulled off the World Trade Center demolition. I haven't been talking about that event, and I hope that such a discussion doesn't get started here.

The State Press reported today that Governor Brewer is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit over two of her proclamations; one declaring May 6, 2011 as an Arizona Day of Prayer, and the other declaring January 17, 2010 as a Day of Prayer for Arizona's Economy and Budget.

No word on whether she plans to proclaim a Day of Prayer for the Arizona Cardinals.

Life Lesson # 1.337

I was just in the garage and I was tightening up the nuts on the wheels of a rolling table we have in there. While I was at it, I tightened the nuts on some shelves, a wheelbarrel and a vice.

Which got me thinking...............as you travel through life, it is best that you have your nuts tightened, otherwise they may fall prey to some calamity.

Just thought I'd pass it on.

Emil, I was teasing - no worries.

While rummaging around in a second hand store today i becane the proud owner for 2 bucks of a copy of "A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I am ten pages in and rolling
For the ever optomistic phxsunfan a great up beat piece ob urban dwelling in the magazine, Scientific American called Street Savvy by the editors. The September issue focus is on Urbanization.

http://www.truth-out.org/between-race-and-reason-anti-intellectualism-american-life/1314634662

This essay discusses anti-intellectualism as an American tradition dating back to Jefferson and the Federalists. It's a little gassy but it does provide a perspective to understand our current political predicament. Is Obama a victim of an inherently American flaw?

Rogue Columnist readers following the national debate on deficits and taxation might find the following letter of interest. I've restored two sentences (in brackets) that were apparently cut for space by The State Press:

* * *

Dear Editor,

Regarding John Gaylord's opinion piece, "Looking At Taxes and the Right to Be a Billionaire", the top 1 percent of American households receive 24 percent of the nation's personal income. President Obama's attempts to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on the top 1 to 2 percent of households (a modest increase of less than 5 percentage points to the top marginal tax rate) were rebuffed by conservative Democrats when the Democrats held the majority, and are now rebuffed by the Republican majority. Both claim to be afraid of "killing jobs" by taking money away from affluent individuals who might otherwise invest it in businesses.

What's often overlooked is that many of these individuals are already investing it, not in businesses, but in the U.S. Government, which, as a means of deficit financing, borrows money from wealthy individuals eager to park some of their excess cash in a safe place (U.S. Treasury securities). It should be obvious that money available as a loan, to be repaid with interest, is also money available as tax collections, free of obligation. Borrowing the cash increases the deficit: obtaining it through taxation reduces the deficit, since taxes collected are not repayable and higher federal revenues decrease the need for federal borrowing to fund the budget.

If low taxes in and of themselves spurred economic growth, then Nevada, which has zero personal and corporate income taxes, should be an economic powerhouse; instead, unemployment there has been increasing and stands at 12.9 percent. [Note that in its reliance on housing, construction, and retail as a source of economic growth, Nevada resembles Arizona. By contrast, California, which has higher personal income taxes than Arizona, remains the number one state for manufacturing.]

Supposedly, the ever increasing reliance of politicians on a small core of wealthy donors doesn't affect their judgment or policies. If so, politicians, whether Republicans or Democrats, should stop acting as the first line of defense for wealthy interests; or else they should stop pretending to be deficit hawks.


Regards,

Emil Pulsifer (reader)

* * *

Note that I don't think this is the time for economic austerity, which is clearly counterproductive (witness the economic slowdown following austerity measures by state and local governments and decreased demand from consumers hit by higher energy and food costs).

I included a tie-in to the deficit issue because the hypocrisy of Republicans and conservative Democrats on this issue offends me deeply, and because it's timely and offers a way to make the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for upper income households more palatable to moderate conservatives (whose participation is, as a practical matter, important); and because my idea for stimulating the economy by means of direct redistribution of income, via an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, wouldn't play well in Peoria. One thing at a time. Let's get the tax increase and show that the sky didn't fall as a result.

The anti-intellectual piece is excellent

"While rummaging around in a second hand store today i becane the proud owner for 2 bucks of a copy of "A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I am ten pages in and rolling."

That's the way to do it. If I had paid close to $10 (instead of the 50 cents I did pay) for a used copy of Thunderbolt Kid, I'd have been cranky too. Of course, I applaud cal's patronage of local independent bookstores, but for someone like me on a shoestring budget (Pedro?) that isn't an option.

I try not to spend more than 50 cents (if that) on books. One method is to visit the book corner of city library branches (some have better collections than others, so look around). These book corners stock two types of books: (1) former library copies which have been discarded because (a) they weren't checked out often enough and the space was needed for more popular titles; (b) they had too many copies; (c) damage (rare); (d) other; and (2) books donated by the Friends of the Library -- these were never circulating copies. These are bargain priced, especially the paperbacks. (Of course, the library has a lending library, too, for those who just want to borrow and read a book, but the stock isn't identical.)

This is also a good way to browse and try books or authors that one wouldn't ordinarily take a chance on.

Used bookstores that accept books (and sometimes CDs, videotapes, video DVDs and game DVDs) for trade and offer trade credit are another good way to reduce the purchase price. A few bookstores will permit purchases using trade credit alone. It's best to investigate to find out what kind of books they're looking for. Hardcovers will get you big trade credits if accepted, but unless it's a newly published book which isn't yet available in paperback, it's likely it won't be accepted since this kind of stock takes up shelf space and moves slowly due to its higher resale price.

Yard sales can be another source of super-cheap books, but those are hit or miss; many don't have books, and those that do frequently offer only bestseller list stuff like they sell in airports (which is fine if you like Daniel Steel and Stephen King but if like me you don't, they won't even be any good to obtain trade credit with, since they already have more of that sort of stock than they need and won't accept it for trade).

"Is Obama a victim of an inherently American flaw?"

Is Rick Perry currently the frontrunner in the Republican Primary?

Does "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" offer $1,000 prizes for knowing that the Sun is the closest star to the Earth? (By comparison, does the British version of the program?)

What would Watson say?

My goal is not to have anything when I move on into whatever galaxy awaits Iowa farm boys. Daily I try and unload some more crap I don’t need. So Emil whatever books my heirs don’t want, their yours. I will leave a note for my executor to mail them to whatever post you would like. Given that my folks were Roosevelt Democrats and believed the little man was never going to get up, I set out at 9 to prove them wrong. Consequently my desire to (over)achieve overcame my lack of intellect and all though not wealthy I did make a few bucks. Hence I recently passed on to my grand kids about a 100 first editions signed by the authors. And I have a motor home full of books ranging from Joseph Conrad to James Baldwin, Ayn Rand to Karl Marx, a whole bunch of Mad Comic magazines and some great Frazetta art books along with some Gahan Wilson political cartoons to mention a few. I do frequent many used book stores from coast to coast. Locally I have been loyal to Changing Hands for 30 plus years. And Mike that owns the Book Gallery is always good for a really rare book and some good conversation. He also has a shop at 50 West main in Mesa. Sven at Bards books (7st and Osborn just north) has a growing selection and is like Mike a nice soft spoken smart guy. And of course next door to Bards is the best Americano in Phoenix, at Urban Bean. For 25 cent to 99 cent VHS tapes it’s Half Price books. And although Half Price over prices their rare books U can work deals with them, if U demonstrate u can get something for less on line. But my second most favorite store as of today is Hoodlums. Great guys Steve and Chris can help you find most any vinyl music or movie DVD’s. So far Bryson and A Walk in the Woods reminds me of a coarse Garrison Keller. But the book has some good facts and for most folks Humor, I suppose.

"So far Bryson and A Walk in the Woods reminds me of a coarse Garrison Keller."

I warned of the occasional gratuitous vulgarity when describing Thunderbird Kid, but you said then that Bryson's language was terribly tame, and accused me of (possibly religious) oversensitivity, before bragging (if one can brag about such things) about how often you said the word "fuck" -- in the first grade at school.

Now, you complain of coarseness relative to Garrison Keiller (which isn't difficult to achieve, considering the fastidiously old-timey style of his radio program).

I don't think you really have an opinion about Bryson. You are simply being contrarian, even when it involves contradicting yourself.

"But the book has some good facts and for most folks Humor, I suppose."

Meaning that you wouldn't know, because you don't understand or appreciate humor, either as a writing genre or as a thing in itself.

I would appreciate it if you would steer clear of the book titles I recommended, because your remarks, clearly made in bad faith, are mere provocations, not expressions of genuine opinion.

Anyone ganderin' the Wall St. occupation today?

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/09/17/live-blogging-occupywallstreet-nypd-block-protesters-from-getting-near-the-banksters/

(sorry if double post, but original uncharacteristically doesn't show right away.)

Anyone ganderin' the Wall St. occupation today?

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/09/17/live-blogging-occupywallstreet-nypd-block-protesters-from-getting-near-the-banksters/

Oh, rolled into two pages (oops.)

"My goal is not to have anything when I move on into whatever galaxy awaits Iowa farm boys."

A goal? Is there a choice?

First time I've heard of a hole in the ground being called a "galaxy" but maybe that's one of those Iowan things, like alcoholic beverage control.

Is Arizona misrepresenting its job creation numbers?Just askin'

"Anyone ganderin' the Wall St. occupation today?"

No, but thanks for that. It appears to be a misnomer, however, since according to comments the protesters have confined themselves to a park, per agreement with the police.

I often thought, reading American media accounts of recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere, which were highly sympathetic to protesters occupying central city squares for days and weeks on end, with no permits and obviously contrary to standards for legal assembly even in the United States (much less authoritarian countries like those), that some level of hypocrisy was involved, since American police would quickly clear out such protesters using whatever escalation of force was necessary. Any resistance by protesters other than chaining themselves inertly together or to anchoring objects, would be regarded as rioting and would be met with systematic suppresion by police and, if necessary, national guard.

Mind you, I agreed with the media coverage and sympathized with the protesters, who were indeed exercising direct democracy. I just don't believe that American media -- much less the police -- would be half as sympathetic of such protests if they took place here.

Of course, one could argue that under authoritarian regimes, direct democracy is the only practical option capable of spurring change, whereas here in the United States there are ostensibly effective legal channels for political agitation; but even if one accepts that premise, the hypocrisy remains.

Even peaceful protesters aren't immune. Here's a photo gallery of peaceful environmental protesters conducting a sit-in at a congressman's office, having burning chemicals dropped into their eyes with coldly clinical efficiency:

http://nopepperspray.org/photos.htm

CS gas, which is prohibited in war under the terms of the 1997 chemical weapons convention, has been used (along with other riot control techniques such as pepper spray, batons, tasers, sound cannons, etc.) quite recently, as against crowds at the G-20 Financial Summit protest in Pittsburgh in 2009.

The United States has a long and quite bloody history of suppressing labor protests, even including use of the U.S. Army on behalf of wealthy property holders. So I'm more than a little skeptical about claims of moral superiority.

This bloody history is documented in such sources as Sydney Lens' "The Labor Wars" and also in sections of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States".

"Is Arizona misrepresenting its job creation numbers?Just askin'"

I'm sure that Brewer and Friends are trying to misrepresent the latest drop of one-tenth of one percentage point in the state's unemployment rate: but as reported by today's Arizona Republic almost all of that is due to hiring in the public sector, specifically to seasonal hiring in the educational professions. Apparently, the seasonal spurt in hiring is taking place earlier than usual this year, and because of this is included in the latest survey data.

"the protesters have confined themselves to a park, per agreement with the police."

Agreement under duress. Protesters are committed to a peaceful presence.

Nice deflect boys.

U R right emil. I vote to put u in charge of the world with Watson as your faithful servant.

I remember reading that Guardian piece about intellectualism. Hell, even Glen Greenwald gave kudos to Sarah Palin last week!

"Hell, even Glen Greenwald gave kudos to Sarah Palin last week!"

@eclecticdog, you've peaked my curiosity with that bit of snark (I assume it's snark.) I've poked around, but I can't find it - got a link?

Petro, actually it wasn't snarky at all! I know, I'm amazed too. The link:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/09/15/carville/index.html

At the bottom under point (2).

The typical non-Rogue reader:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/17/keith-olbermann-bill-maher-republican-voter-bubble_n_967598.html

Gracias.

@eclecticdog:

Amazed that Palin made a good point, or that Greenwald acknowledged it?

(Me, I'm amazed that Palin said anything that I agree with. Maybe she is dangerous, after all, in that "Godwin's law" kind-of-way, I mean.)

Here's my response to Robert Robb's column today on Social Security.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/09/17/20110917perry-off-base-social-security091811.html

Mr. Robb is correct that Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, but he failed to give the correct reason, which is this: unlike a private financier, the U.S. Government has the sovereign power of taxation and the sovereign power to borrow (very nearly at will); these powers guarantee that, unless the economy itself implodes beyond redemption, it will be able to meet its obligations, whether to Social Security recipients or to defense and aerospace contractors.

Robb wrote: "Payroll taxes are projected to be able to pay 75 percent of benefit obligations. That's the worst-case scenario for young adults -- they may only get 75 percent of what their Social Security benefits should be under existing law...Social Security has a built in corrective. If nothing else is done, benefits ultimately will be cut by a quarter."

There is no automatic cut in benefits when payouts exceed tax collections. Social Security has run a deficit on a cash accounting basis in many past years: there was no automatic benefits cut. It's scheduled to run a deficit this year, and in future years: there has been no benefits cut, automatic or otherwise. Benefits are determined by formulas in statutory law. However, the Congress can change such formulas (and the benefits, retirement age, etc.) unilaterally. It has already done so many times over the decades. Theoretically, Congress could cancel all benefits tomorrow (those who think the trust fund prevents this should see below). However, that would be political suicide, so it isn't going to happen.

Robb wrote: "Because benefits will increasingly outstrip payroll taxes, paying them will increasingly require the general Treasury to borrow money to pay back what it owes to the Social Security trust fund."

This is wrong in nearly every particular. Let's sort it out:

First, the fund needn't decrease its balance even when benefit payouts exceed tax collections. That's because there are two components to the fund's income: (1) tax collections; (2) interest paid by the government on the trust fund balance. All Congress has to do is pass a law increasing the interest payments on the balance, to offset the cash deficit, and voila, the trust fund depletion is fixed. This doesn't cost the government a dime, because the government owns the trust fund balance and pays itself (not the public) interest on that balance; it creates the interest the same way it creates the balance: through an accounting fiction.

Look for this "fix" some years hence, when both parties are done scaring the electorate to get what they want: in the case of Democrats, tax increases, and in the case of Republicans, spending cuts. Note that this is an imaginary fix but since the problem of the "trust fund" is imaginary too, it doesn't matter. The trust is not a source of benefits funding: benefits are funded by means of tax collections, fees, and borrowing, like all other obligations of the government.

Second, the government doesn't have to borrow just because Social Security runs a cash accounting basis deficit. After all, the Defense Department doesn't support itself -- at all -- but nobody argues that the DOD is causing the government to run deficits. The government runs a deficit only when TOTAL government spending on ALL government programs and purchases exceeds TOTAL government income from all sources (taxes, fees, and voluntary payments such as are made by subscribers to certain Medicare programs).

There are a large number of ways, other than cutting benefits, get the deficit under control. Taking the cap off Social Security is a good start. Currently, payroll taxes need only be paid on the first $106,800 of earned income. Extending the payroll tax to include non-earned income (e.g., capital gains from sales of stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc.) -- but only for the top 1 or 2 percent of households by income -- would be another step forward. Changing the income tax so that the wealthy pay the intended rate is another: at present, those who make their money from capital gains rather than wages or salaries (e.g., financial speculators) pay a capital gains tax on their income, which is 15 percent, not the 35 percent top marginal income tax bracket rate. Fix that so that they pay the same as if their income came from a company wage or salary. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the top 1 to 2 percent of households, so that the top bracket increases from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, is another step forward toward fiscal responsibility and deficit control.

That said, there IS an element of fraud to Social Security. It doesn't involve an inability to make good on obligations -- only that would make it a Ponzi scheme. It involves misrepresentation where the so-called trust fund is concerned. The government owns the collected payroll taxes. Those go into the general fund and are spent; the government then writes itself an IOU for the amount and deposits this in the form of "special Treasury securities" in the trust fund: but the government owns this balance, not the public. It then pays itself interest -- also created through the stroke of a pen -- on the balance, and the combined total becomes the new balance.

The fund balance is not a source of funding -- for Social Security or anything else. It is not an obligation to the public: because it is owned by the government, the government can do what it wants with the balance, including tearing up its IOUs if it ends Social Security tomorrow, or for that matter, increasing the fund balance by increasing the intragovernmental interest it pays itself. The fund balance does not determine benefit payments. In short, it is irrelevant except as a perennial propaganda device used by both parties to attempt to gain tax increases or benefit cuts. It does not represent government debt to the public, and including it in discussions of debt burden on the public is disingenuous.

@Emil - did you send that in to the Republic as a "guest column" rebuttal? You ought to. I used to do that all the time, and got a few published, to boot.

Petro,

I'm amazed she made good points. Greenwald, altho folks consider him one of those gay married terrorists or leftist at a minimum, I think is pretty fair and puts a lot of consistant thought into his columns. If the right-wing wackadoodles really what to be upset they should read him on Obama instead of fictional news.

Given Emil's superb takedown of William Bill, I put out my Social Security column with some trepidation:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/jontalton/2016222532_biztaltoncol18.html

That was a good analysis Emil. I've often thought the cap on earned income was unfair as this article demonstrates:

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/09/17/retirement_heist_interview

The bastards have been lining their pockets with the working man's retirment pay since the halycon days of vulture capitalism. My own experience on lump payments is that mine was laughably small after 12 years of work. It should have been double (not to mention they screwed me and others out of our severance packages when we were all outsourced).

"William Bill"

ROTFLMFAO

Re your latest SS column, Jon:

Yes, it is, at the end of it, more a question of moral commitment, rather than one of hard economic calculation.

But that is true of politics in general, irregardless all of the baroque wonky posturing, isn't it?

"We all take care of each other, whether badly or well." - Me

The one bad thing about responding to one of Rob Bob's columns is that only two people get to see the post, Rob Bob and his Mom.

Ha Ha. Now when someone on this blog mentions Kafka, they'll have to say whether they mean the writer or the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Very nice column on Social Security, Mr. Talton. In it, you wrote:

"Over the next 75 years, even with the retiring baby boomers, Social Security's shortfall is 0.7 percent of gross domestic product, according to the Congressional Budget Office. If ever we had a manageable economic problem, this is it."

I managed to locate this in the 2011 Social Security Trustees' Report (p.20 of the PDF):

"Through the end of 2085, the combined funds have a present-value unfunded obligation of $6.5 trillion. This unfunded obligation represents 2.1 percent of taxable payroll and 0.7 percent of GDP during the 75-year valuation period."

http://www.ssa.gov/oact/tr/2011/tr2011.pdf

Note that "combined funds" refers to OASDI (that is, the Social Security retirement program and the Disability Insurance program).

Note that this is described as an "actuarial shortfall". It seems to involve calculations based on trust fund balances. I prefer the following formulation (from p. 11):

"OASDI cost is estimated to rise from the current level of 4.8 percent of GDP to about 6.2 percent in 2035, then to decline to 6.0 percent by 2050, and to remain between 5.9 and 6.0 percent through 2085."

All else remaining equal (a big assumption given questions about GDP projection that far out) this suggests an annual cash deficit by 2035 on the order of 1.4 percent of GDP. This supports your concluding sentence without involving the so-called trust fund balances.

Thanks for the Salon link to the Great Pension Heist story, eclectic dog.

Meanwhile.....

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/09/what-else-should-phoenix-sheriff-joe-arpaio-investigate

Thanks, Petro, I suppose a "My Turn" (guest column) submission to the Republic is a possibility.

Somehow I had the impression that it was reserved for established commuity figures and activists, local politicos, chamber of commerce types, and so forth, but perhaps not.

(Sunday's was a typical arraignment of government by a Mesa businessman running for the U.S. Senate. It conflated Bush era spending with Obama's, completely ignored the extraordinary economic circumstances that have made it a necessity, and excoriated "Obamacare" and the Environmental Protection Agency.)

If you have any hyperlinks to your published ones I'd be interested in reading them.

A while back when the London riots happened someone wrote a penetrative column. Excerpts:

"Call it the logic of opulence: a paradigm of plenitude centred on more, bigger, faster, cheaper, nastier, now. Its glittering, unattainable fever dream seems to have driven the rioters mad. As one told the Guardian, "Why are you going to miss the opportunity to get free stuff that's worth loads of money?" Indeed: why, given a poisonous compact tattooed into the deeper calculus of everyday culture, not? Hence, as many have pointed out, the mob hasn't exactly been looting bookshops, but the stuff of faux-luxe, mass-designer plenitude: plasma TVs, fast fashion, video games."

"If institutions are just instruments to fulfill social contracts, then ours are shattering because the social contracts at their hearts have fractured.

I call it a Great Splintering — not purely an economic phenomenon, as in "Great Contraction," but a social one: an era when social contracts are being torn up, abrogated, betrayed, abandoned, by accident, by design, by "regulatory capture," or simply by polities too gridlocked to progress. Broken social contracts aren't just tidy abstractions, empty of visibly real consequences, disconnected from the noise and clamor of our messy human lives. As they break, yesterday's ways of living, working, and playing rupture; yesterday's organizations, from corporations to banks to nations, creak and crack."
-- Umair Haque
http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2011/08/the_great_splintering.html

Alas, Emil, my contributions to the Republic predated the most of online era of newspapers, but I found that I preserved one from 2001 surprisingly close to its original format (a riposte to a then-Drug Czar Barry McCaffey syndicated column):

http://www.clubhousewreckards.com/wreckard/editorials/drugczarignoresreality.htm

And there is the one from '95, about Tent City, that I transcribed in a blog post (I think this is a repeat for this forum, my apologies):

http://deconstructingthemanifest.blogspot.com/2009/02/comin-atcha-sheriff-joe.html

In any case - I can testify that the "My Turn" columns are pretty much open to the public, since I was (and remain) a nobody.

We're running out of steam and we still have 11 days to go.

We could solve the immigraton issue, if you want. Maybe a guest worker program with turnstiles at the border, costing 25 cents to ge in or out. Might as well fix the deficit in the process. Quarters always have a way of piling up. They do in my truck anyway.

I think Stanton's in trouble. From the coverage, it sounds like he's trying to cleverly triangulate and just fend off Gullett's "city hall baaad" crap, rather that talking about the city's real challenges and opportunities.

Thoughts?

In my opinion, Stanton's platform took a big turn for the worse about 2 weeks before the August election. He started out by talking ideas-what's wrong with the City and how we fix it. Then, shortly before the election, his platform became "lobbyists are bad, don't vote for Gullett." Perhaps a lobbyist as mayor is not the best scenario (although I don't see why a lobbyist mayor would necessarily be any more beholden to his client's interests than a mayor who is married to a lawyer at a large commercial law firm, who I imagine has clients that are impacted by City policy).

In any event, I'd rather hear why you are the best candidate rather than why the other guy is the worst based solely on his line of work.

Politics has been about "The other guy is worst" since, well, let me think, since about the early 1800's ?? I'm thinking maybe 1801.

I'm over here in the east valley tying to get Pearce out of office, so please forgive me if I don't have time to get the latest milquetoast into the office of Phoenix Mayor.
( : - (

Petro, thanks for the links to your My Turn columns (or versions thereof). I found the first person descriptive Tent City essay from 1995 to be of particular interest. There was one section I wanted to ask about:

"Many times an hour, inmates came into the tent hawking cigarettes, marijuana, speed, cocaine, boxer shorts, socks, sweat shirts, "Ladmo" bags - Joe Arpaio's cold lunches - oranges, apples, nicotine patches, blankets, and anything else one can imagine to bring comfort to the incarcerated.

"A game was played between the officers and inmates regarding enforcement, partly cat-and-mouse capriciousness, partly, I'm sure, enabling a "selective enforcement" window to assist officers in controlling truly troublesome inmates."

I always find it fascinating that so much lawbreaking goes on under the direct control and supervision of supposedly law-and-order types like Sheriff Arpaio.

To be fair, I suppose that Tent City lacks the security features of, say, the typical indoor prison; and some of those prisons also seem to have smuggling problems.

That said, I'm baffled and offended by the security lapses described here. My philosophy of penal administration is that jails and prisons should be strict but humane, and fully under the control of the guards and administrators.

First, how do the inmates get these items (especially illicit drugs)? I'd like your informed opinion, but in giving it please differentiate between what you personally witnessed and what was told to you by others (e.g., inmates, guards, activists, lawyers).

There seem to be only a few options:

(1) Inmates smuggle them in personally, perhaps in cavities or in their stomachs (later passed out in bowel movements);

(2) Corrupt guards (or other jail employees coming into contact with the inmate population (e.g., cooks);

(3) The items are smuggled in via items entering the jail, whether sent by friends and relatives to inmates, or passed by delivery persons or tradesmen to trustee inmates who oversee jail supplies or otherwise have unsupervised access to outside visitors.

(4) The items are smuggled in over outside fences directly to inmates using pre-arranged plans that rely on code-signals (e.g., whistles) to determine when it is safe to pass the items over.

Of course, any combination of these is possible and, always, collusion by corrupt jail employees (especially guards) makes it so much simpler.

Second, how do inmates keep such items without them being discovered and seized? How often do searches occur, how systematic are they, and do they involve searching the persons as well as the quarters of inmates (and if so, how intimate are these personal searches)?

Third, how do inmates use illegal drugs without being observed and/or detected by guards?

Fourth, to what extent would you say that security lapses such as these are the result of administrative or enforcement failures, and to what extent are they the result of fundamental limitations of method imposed by the civil rights of inmates? From what I understand of the abuses that routinely occur in Arpaio's jails, I wouldn't imagine that the latter entered into it, but I wanted to ask for the sake of thoroughness.

Fifth, to what extent is the jail drug trade controlled by inmate gangs? Is anyone allowed to smuggle in and/or sell drugs there, or do the gangs require membership and/or a piece of the proceeds? If the jail drug trade is organized and enforced by gangs, then not only are the smuggling methods circumscribed, but the cooperation of corrupt jail employees (especially guards) seems even more likely, because these activities are organized, systematic, and regular, and thus more likely to be detected than a large number of individual hit-and-miss efforts.

Sixth, is any attempt made by jail authorities to gather intelligence on inmate drug activities, whether via plants among new inmates or through visual or audio surveillance? This would be especially effective if known gang members are targeted, particularly if jail-based gang intelligence officers check the criminal backgrounds, known associations, and tattoos of inmates for gang affiliations.

I'll expound a little on Tent City. There are two tent cities: one mainly for DUIs and the other for felons. Both have work-while-you're-jailed programs. Inmates returning from work-release are processed differently -- they are patted down at the gate. I think most contraband comes in this way now.

I only spent a day there, so my experience is short. But, although there is no smoking, cigarettes are plentiful and cost a buck a nail. There were also quite a few card games, about one per tent, and there are approximately 40 tents that each hold 50 inmates. There is a limit on how much money you can hold inside, but obviously this is easy to get around and a card sharp could increase their holdings to boot. The guard staff is small for the DUI side and remarkably out-of-shape (round and short). The graveyard shift was noticably younger and trimmer though. I'm thinking maybe only a half dozen guards tops are active on the DUI side.

My brother managed to get himself locked up for a year before the split was made. Contraband came over the fence or, you could climb the fence in your jail clothes and walk over to Circle K to get whatever you needed (wearing of street clothes could be and sometimes was considered an escape attempt - if you were caught). But this was before racist gangs began running the felons' side of Tent City.

He was present during the first riot. It began over an unannouced search and inmates knocking over a locker onto an officer so contraband could be taken and hidden. I wouldn't want to be a snitch on the felon side. Help is too far away and insufficient if a snitch is found out. They would be dead or badly injured and that would go for any violence in Tent City.

I'll close by saying the dinner was horrible. I ate what I could, but threw most of it away.

Abdul, we would like for you to place a bomb in a video camera and blow up the leader of the Northern Alliance.

Ok, who's going to run the camera?

You.

OK. Nice knowing you.
********************************
Abdul Jr., we would like for you to place a bomb in your shoe and blow up an airplane.

OK, will they be Air Jordan's? Ha Ha, get it?

Abdul Jr., shut up.

OK, nice knowing you.
******************************

Abdul III, we want you to put a bomb in your shorts and blow up a plane.

OK, you're kidding right?

NO.

OK, nice knowing you.

******************************

Abdul IV, we want you to put a bomb in your turban and blow up the former president of Afghanistan?

OK. You do know I suffer from migraines, right?

Yes, this will fix your migraines.

OK, cool. Nice knowing you.

********************************

OK, who volunteered for the bomb up the butt?

Abdul V, well, I didn't volunteer, but I'm next in line. Can we talk about the fuse?

No.

OK, nice knowing you.

*****************************
*****************************

These are people we want to intoduce to a "Democracy" ???

Now that's funny.

A couple of things- first, is anyone blogging about the Thomas/aubuchon Az bar hearings, or doing frequent summaries?
Second, a bit about Rehnquist. (There was a bit about operation eagle eye over at digby yesterday.) Do any of you remember the corporation commission impeachments in 1964? It was a pretty drawn out process. It went from the hearings in the house committee on commissions, to the house hearings, debates and impeachment, to a trial that lasted a month. Rehnquist argued the entire trial except for a few hours by one of the two other prosecutors. He was a solo practitioner at the time, probably had made SOME money by then, but the whole thing must have taken a good chunk of a year, and a fair amount of lost income unless someone was paying the bills, so to speak. Buzard and Williams were acquitted on all counts, but never ran again. The really interesting thing, and probably one of the main reasons for the whole trial, was the was Rehnquist got to make accusations against Duke Senner ( wh had been a commissioner but was running for reelection to congress in the fall) when a) Senner wasn't on trial and couldn't defend himself and b) charges were made by a very biased and unreliable witness under legislative immunity. Very cute. It was a pretty shady piece of work and, as such, it probably impressed kleindeinst, Mitchell and Nixon.
It's never mentioned in the few bios I've scanned. It was an interesting episode that would make a great article somewhere. I looked at the trial transcript at the Az bar assn library when I was in town. In any case, it needs to be included in the standard bios because of his book on impeachment and presiding at clinton's trial, and because it was obviously a major undertaking of an important jurist.

@Emil - always love a thoughtful read, and thank you for the questions.

First, eclecticdog's input rings pretty accurate ('though the Circle K trips sound a bit, ahem, over-the-top - this I never witnessed - but then again it sounds like his account predates my experience by, what, around a year? - if he is referring to the riot that I think he is.) The reaction to my article that I alluded to *does* illustrate that the TC environment was volatile and subject to frequent upgrades by the Sheriff's Office.

With that last bit in mind, it is important to note that I'm writing about the Tent City of over fifteen years ago. And I will indeed stick with what I personally witnessed, unless noted otherwise.

(This is going to be a long one. I'll split into multiple parts.)

There was a mixture of convicts at the time I was there, though the schism was more characterized by length and character of sentence, with the work-release (street clothes) inmates separated from the orange-jumpsuit folks with more severe, and I assume, longer-term, sentences. Not DUI vs. felons, exactly (I tented with assault and theft convicts, for example.)

On smuggling:

Most of your speculation is on-the-money, although nothing as draconian as body-cavity or ingestion was necessary. When we work-release folks were re-admitted in the evenings, we were lined up against the fencing and brick wall outside the dining area in the ad-hoc admitting area, given a menacing speech about contraband, and then after some judicious visual assessment (the guards were so very arrogant in their ability to detect the guilty ones), about 1 out of 10 of us were selected for pat down, shake-out-your-shoes, searches. Occasionally, some cigarettes, money or other such was discovered, and these folks were marched off for their punishments.

(Moving to another post...)

Here's one place where guard corruption appeared. There was one fellow from my tent that was a consistent cigarette-supplier (buck-a-nail, as eclecticdog says - $10 for a joint), who I personally witnessed was selected for the pat-down. There was an obvious pause when the officer got to his belt-line (he smuggled the cigarettes by folding his sweats around a few packs), and then the officer moved on. My friend (who was serving time for running an auto-strip shop), was quite the braggart afterwards about that one. I assume he was bribing them somehow, but it really wasn't clear to me exactly *why* he got away with it. He did enjoy uncharacteristically (for inmates) jovial banter with the staff, however.

I heard rumours and anecdotes about over-the-fence tosses, but never witnessed one. They seemed apocryphal to me - I just couldn't see a person risking their own freedom by trespassing so close to the facility for a buddy, but, well, who knows with some people.

It is my *opinion* that most of the contraband came in from work release folks. The combination of arbitrary and discretionary searching, high reward, and relatively light punishments were a perfect recipe.

(Moving to another post...)

On light punishment, I can give a personal example. I never had the nerve (or motivation) to smuggle anything, but I was a naughty inmate - every evening I had a dinner at home with my lady which included a joint and a couple of beers - until I was caught two weeks into my one-month sentence. A little too red-eyed, they detected alcohol on my breath and I was marched off to the breathalyzer. Thus began a couple hours of verbal abuse ("What do we do with this guy?" "He's in here for a DUI and he's drinking." "I guess we'll tell the judge to activate the other 60 days of his sentence." "Revoke his work-release status." etc.) Around 11 pm they finally made me scrub the dining area and lavatories, about a four-hour gig (I had to get lined up at 7 am for work-release the next morning.) That was pretty light (my tent-mates stayed up and waited to review my fate - they really were a charming bunch of guys :).

On searches:

Searches were rare, and usually only initiated by some provocation. These silly men sometimes got a bit careless and blatant with their hawking or snorting or smoking, and the guards had to react if only to maintain some self-respect. For the most part, they really didn't give a shit. As I noted in my article, the tent areas were notoriously un-policed, which meant that they were "policed" by the most aggressive inmates. Very nerve-wracking. I think they (the guards) liked it like that, the sociopathic creeps.

Or provocation by a prominent editorial in the Sunday paper. Heh heh.

(Moving to another post...)

You (Emil) said:

"...and to what extent are they the result of fundamental limitations of method imposed by the civil rights of inmates? From what I understand of the abuses that routinely occur in Arpaio's jails, I wouldn't imagine that the latter entered into it, but I wanted to ask for the sake of thoroughness."

Hahaha. That was great. Some questions answer themselves.

As to gang control - my experience was that if you kept your head down and didn't try to act like you owned the place, the other inmates, gang folks included, pretty much left you alone. I think the high-turnover of the street-clothes population probably kept organization at a minimum, anyway. A lot of the non-smuggled items for sale (food, underwear, blankets, etc.) seemed to be more of a product of trustee violations than any organized criminal violation.

"...is any attempt made by jail authorities to gather intelligence on inmate drug activities...?"

Not. At. All. From what I observed, all the officers cared about was not being disrespected. They were as criminal as the rest of us.

Cheers!

(End thread hijack.)

Nice posts Petro. I was in Tent City about 8 years ago and my brother was there about 20 years ago (I think it may have been the first year Tent City was open so the learning curve was just beginning, for my brother and the jail!).

Thanks, e-dog!

Petro, etc., just wanted to let you know I appreciate your comments. I've been working on a response to Robb's last column, so I'll be a little delayed getting back to you, but I will.

P.S. I don't care about blankets, etc.; I just don't like the idea of criminal gangs trafficking in drugs running jails or prisons.

Thank you, Emil.

"P.S. I don't care about blankets, etc.; I just don't like the idea of criminal gangs trafficking in drugs running jails or prisons."

While I don't/didn't read any judgmentalism into your comments and questions, this reminds me of a joke (not exactly relevant to your point, but I want to share it anyway):

Man runs into questionable-looking chap on the streeet, asking for money. First reaction, "Why should I give him any money? He's just going to spend it on alcohol or drugs."

Upon further reflection: "Wait - that's how *I* was going to spend it!"

;)

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