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December 15, 2014


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I'm going to take a small liberty by copying over a reply from the previous thread, since the topic is relevant to the current blog as well.

Wrote theintellectualassassin:

"It seems that stop and frisk disproportionately targets black criminals. This is even after accounting for per capita criminality."

Good point: but let's remember that singling out Black INDIVIDUALS for police scrutiny merely because they belong to a RACE with disproportionally high per capita crime rates is the very definition of racial profiling; and racial profiling is illegal as well as unconstitutional (though case law has set such a high technical bar for proving it against the police in court that it might as well be legal).

Proponents of "stop and frisk" (and similar programs and policies throughout the nation) need to be honest in admitting racial profiling: the discussion can then be shifted to questions like whether it's justified, whether the police should engage in patently illegal behavior if they can get away with it, and whether racial profiling should be made legal.

I suspect that the support for such policies would melt away except at the fringes, once the discussion was put on an honest footing.

Racial profiling, as well as being a bad idea for the reasons mentioned by theintellectualassassin, is a bad idea from a technical law enforcement perspective, for the simple reason that by focusing police resources on non-criminal behavior for racial reasons, those resources are not being used to detect, prevent, stop, investigate, or reduce criminal behavior.

First of all, we voters, by necessity, give police the power of life or death. Therefore, they're potentially dangerous to anybody, us included. But the police, except for a few bad apples, don't seem to me to be more trigger-happy than they were back in the 1960s, and elements with which they come into conflict, except for a few bad apples, seem surprisingly nonthreatening. But when they meet on the streets after midnight. . . (My grandmother and high school coach were right. Nothing good happens after midnight.)

Hate radio isn't new, by any means, although since the 1960s, it has become a prime molder of public opinion. What IS new, however, is that some of those same messages are now being preached from the pulpits of many white Christian churches, i.e. blacks and Hispanics are scary, they are lazy, immoral, criminally violent, looking for free stuff, and are coming to get us and take our stuff. The churches always were part of the solution; now, they're part of the problem. Now, hate radio, Congressional Republicans and white Christians speak with the same voice.

Why wouldn't that scare African-Americans and Hispanics? It does. The Los Angles Rams “surrender monkeys,” as you and I have heard them (and Obama) called, and the Rev. Al Sharpton may be ill-advised (especially Rev. Al), but so far they are asking only for fair play. They are NOT YET advocating the killing of Caucasians.

If we're looking for a difference between now and then, we need look no further than the churches. And we don't have to look back much before the turn of the century, either. That's when, it seemed to me, the last Christians either had gone over to the other side or were moving in that direction. How did that happen?

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Much more can go wrong when our society has been so corrupted by the aftermath of 9/11, including the militarization of the police, our quick surrender of dearly bought rights, and torture as national policy."

I'd like to address the torture as policy portion of this.

It wouldn't be so shocking if it were only a case of the man on the street calling for harsh measures in response to events like 9-11. What's shocking is the way the nation's top legal authority in the executive branch, the U.S. Attorney General's Office, has sought to formalize policies that are patently illegal under both U.S. law and international laws and agreements to which the United States is signatory.

It does this by arguing, among other things, that torture is "serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death".

This is truly ridiculous. To give a simple counterexample: pulling out someone's fingernails one by one isn't going to cause organ failure or death, but nobody would argue that it isn't torture. The Gestapo used this method quite extensively in interrogations of prisoners. One reason for this was precisely its nonlethality, since the primary institutional purpose of torture is to coerce confessions (whether true or, more often, false) or other statements that can be used to justify further arrests or repressive policies, not to subject the victim to actions likely to bring about death.

Citing 9-11 as a justification is also ridiculous. The stakes in WW II were much higher than those against Islamic militants, and timely information about German plans and military deployments would have saved far more lives than Islamic terrorism has taken; don't forget that the Germans also targeted civilians deliberately but on a much larger scale (e.g., V-2 rockets, "strategic bombing" of major British cities, concentration camps, etc.); yet somehow the United States never sanctioned institutional torture.

Imagine if we had treated captured German officers the way that declassified U.S. legal memoranda have sanctioned for use against *suspected* Islamic militants in secret CIA prison facilities: stripping them naked and forcing them to wear (and soil themselves in ) diapers, without so much as a hole in the floor for sanitation; keeping them awake for 11 days straight with face-slapping, bright lights and ear-piercing noise, before starting again after a brief respite; hanging them naked from chains on the wall or ceiling in excruciating positions of bodily stress; putting them through dozens of near-asphyxiations through waterboarding, and so on and so forth.

Note also that the Germans and Japanese sometimes used torture against U.S. and other prisoners, so the point in refraining from similar pracices wasn't simply a practical policy designed to prevent tit-for-tat actions by the enemy.

A major point of leverage during the civil rights actions of the '60s was the fight for the "hearts and minds" of a Cold War-driven world. Washington was well-aware that the USSR was using American racism in its propaganda.

Today, arrogant Washington just doesn't give a shit.

Unfortunately societies get the police departments, justice systems, and governments they deserve. That they are allowed to discriminate against social and economic classes is completely within our cultural biases, but if they can do it to "them" it will happen to "us".

A crime preserved in a thousand centuries ceases to be a crime, and becomes a virtue. This is the law of custom, and custom supersedes all other forms of law. Mark Twain.

Thanks Jon for your perceptive discussion. I think you were too young to be out on the streets with us in the antiwar movement. Looking back, the thing that bothers me the most is the presence of agent provocateurs. James Ellroy wrote about this in Blood's A Rover. There is a POV documentary, Better This World, that anyone who is thinking about getting political should see ASAP. As a general rule, any activist group will be infiltrated, and any activist group with leanings like those you suggest, will be heavily infiltrated by agents advocating for violence, and trying to destroy your movement by any means necessary. People need to know this upfront.

I don't think it's racist to have doubts about the Michael Brown case. The circumstances are dubious and the evidence murky, especially in news reporting prior to the grand jury decision; and reporting since the decision has focused mostly on the protests and on subsequent developments involving other cases. For this reason I wrote in my recent Guest Column that the Brown case is controversial, and left it at that.

But since the grand jury decision (the details of which I haven't had time to adequately research), the fulcrum of my skepticism has shifted a bit.

The facial injuries claimed by an anonymous supporter of the police officer under investigation never materialized. The widely reported claim that Brown put his head down and charged the officer like a football player appears to have been based on the diary entry of a White-supremacist which was fabricated solely for the purpose of biasing the investigation against Brown. The gun which Brown supposedly tried to seize was never tested for Brown's fingerprints.

The very circumstances of the attempted seizure are puzzling: according to the officer, Brown was profane and verbally abusive from the very start of their encounter, when Brown was still walking down the street. According to the officer's account, he was still seated in his patrol car when Brown grabbed his gun. This means that Brown had an open window to reach through, subsequent to a hostile verbal exchange, after which Brown approached the vehicle. Yet the officer apparently felt threatened enough to draw his gun while still sitting in the vehicle. Something doesn't add up here.

Then there's the question of why Brown didn't get the gun in the initial struggle. The officer claimed that he felt like a rag-doll in Brown's hands, so great was Brown's size and strength, and from a sitting position Brown (who was standing) must have had additional leverage. Of course, it could be that Brown let the weapon go after the barrel became hot when it discharged.

We know that the officer was not equipped with a body-camera; but there has been no discussion in the media that I'm aware of as to whether an audio feed existed: specifically, whether patrol officers in the Ferguson PD were equipped with open microphones (pretty standard these days), and if so, the content of the audio or the reason why the mic had been switched off or never switched on.

If the officer was angry because Brown cursed him out, then called Brown over to the vehicle, brandished his weapon while still seated and threatened Brown for his insolence, it might explain some of these discrepancies. An attempt by Brown at that point to manhandle the officer and force his weapon to point down, whether out of fear or because he sensed an arrogant bluff and decided to call it, would still be ill-advised, but would put a different complexion on events: he might even legally have claimed self-defense.

Conflicting witness statements and other ambiguities and unresolved issues, as well as Michael Brown's previous criminal behavior, don't exactly make his case the ideal vehicle for a protest movement. But a good defense attorney could put a different spin on the case.

What if Brown stole the cigarillos not because he was a brazen thug intent on getting his way regardless of risk (in which case we would have expected to hear about a long police record, something that FOX News never mentioned), but because the Asian store clerk had, on multiple visits, subjected Brown to insulting and unwarrented scrutiny and comments as a potential shoplifter? Whites aren't the only ones to harbor stereotypes. Brown, possibly already deeply upset for undisclosed personal reasons (there was surprisingly no discussion in the media of his ostensible state of mind prior to these events) then snaps and openly steals the item because he's pissed-off by racist provocation. (Better idea: shop somewhere else.)

Still in a foul mood and expecting at any moment to be pulled over by the police after the theft is reported, he stalks "down the middle of the road" (an act whose oddity and disruptiveness depends on whether it was a major avenue or a low-traffic by-street), not even trying to avoid arrest.

A cop pulls up and, for all we know, further enflames Brown's sense of resentment with overbearing or even racist-tinged commands. Brown mouths off and is called over to the cruiser, where the officer brandishes his gun, inside and out of public view, while threatening Brown or otherwise verbally abusing him.

After Brown grabs the gun, the officer manages to fire a shot, which causes Brown to release the gun and withdraw. Instead of attempting non-lethal force (taser, chemical spray) or demanding compliance while keeping Brown covered with the gun, or calling for backup, the officer, his own resentments and biases enflamed, shoots to kill, first from inside the car and then a second time outside. He waits until Brown turns around because a shot in the back of an unarmed individual walking away is difficult even for a policeman to defend these days. The blood trail supposedly indicating that Brown approached the officer is capable of more than one interpretation: perhaps it was left by Brown as he walked away from the car after being shot; or perhaps the officer told him outright "I'm going to kill you now" and Brown made a desperate attempt to close and grapple with the officer.

Pure speculation of course, but the point is that resolving the case decisively might depend on evidence which isn't available; and alternative narratives from a defense attorney are not forthcoming because Brown never had a chance to retain one.

Some of this speculation might be contrary to fact: I'm only offering a hypothetical to illustrate a point: but without sifting through hundreds of pages of witness statements and forensic reports, knowing something about the background of witnesses, and weighing it all dispassionately, we're left with a shifting kaleidoscope of impressions, reactions to which are as much a reflection of the predilections of the commenter or of accidental variations in media exposure to critical details of the case, as they are of the facts. This is another reason why I chose not to dissect the Brown case but merely to note its controversy in passing.

I'm having trouble posting a comment: if it get's double-posted please delete the copy.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"More than once, I used a chokehold — until it became clear they were dangerous, especially to large people, and you needed to get them sitting up quickly (the problem with Garner, as far as I can surmise)."

The difference in the Garner case is this:

(1) Garner wasn't armed and he didn't violently resist, much less persistently; as he lay on the ground he didn't move and kept his hand open and flat to demonstrate that it held nothing and that he was cooperating.

(2) Garner was wrestled to the ground by four trained police officers. Given this and (1) it didn't require a chokehold to get Garner in handcuffs, much less require the sustaining of a chokehold for an extended period while Garner repeatedly complained that he couldn't breathe. Police have numerous tools and methods to effect an arrest under such circumstances.

(3) Chokeholds are illegal under New York state law and have been against NYPD regulations since 1993. Even then officers were going on record as saying that the regulation was "bad" and they couldn't be sure they would obey it.


(4) Far from offering paramedic services, no attempt was made to revive Garner.

To me, watching the video, it almost looked as if Garner's chief concern was having his arms forced together behind his back. It may be that he had some medical condition or previous injury which made this painful; and his girth probably reduced his flexibility further.

Typo correction: unwarrented = unwarranted.

Incidentally, the officer responsible for the chokehold in the Garner case had previously been sued for conducting a strip search on a public street of a young Black man suspected of drug possession, in which he pulled the kid's boxer shorts down and roughly slapped his testicles upward, twice, while ostensibly searching for drugs.

Nor is this the only such lawsuit against the officer.

Frank Serpico, writing October 23 of this year in Politico, has this to say about police reform:

"...An even more serious problem — police violence — has probably grown worse, and it’s out of control for the same reason that graft once was: a lack of accountability.

"Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

"...In the NYPD, it used to be you’d fire two shots and then you would assess the situation. You didn’t go off like a madman and empty your magazine and reload. Today it seems these police officers just empty their guns and automatic weapons without thinking, in acts of callousness or racism. They act like they’re in shooting galleries. Today’s uncontrolled firepower, combined with a lack of good training and adequate screening of police academy candidates, has led to a devastating drop in standards."


The article continues over four pages. At the end, Serpico gives six recommendations for police reform.

Thumbs up on the Serpico article. Thanks Emil.

Serpicos recommendations are right on.
Regarding the Brown case, I agree that it is a bad case to pivot on. Although I do believe there is a case for prosecutorial malfeasance.
The Garner case should have been the issuing of a citation or at least a peacefully negotiated arrest. Many police agencies training includes negotiation skills and hiring psychological testing should weed out those that cannot negotiate, Talking is always a better choice than getting hurt or hurting others.
Good to see Serpico (now an artist) is alive and doing well. Considering his "fellow" (thin Blue line) officers once tried to kill him.

Once upon a time, for about 15 years, I was the trainer in prevention and management of assaultive behavior in a large East Bay county hospital- almost entirely in emergency and inpatient psych. This included methods for containing aggressive folks as safely as possible. Depending on who was in the class, I'd often say, "When we're finished, 5 of us would have been able to contain and restrain Rodney King safely." (It was a majority Black staff and clientele.) Looking at the Eric Garner killing I wondered how many NYPDs were ashamed when looking at it too.
The staff who exceeded our guidelines were written up, occasionally disciplined. While we wanted large, strong, capable people involved when possible, we didn't have a goon squad. We wanted defusers and negotiators as well.
The staff who were inclined to exceed guidelines had some idea that there was a commitment to minimizing staff aggression from the medical and nursing directors on down. They were also tuned in with "limit testing" i.e., situations that allowed taking matters into their own hands. One way of looking at unjustified police violence is to look at the lack of consequences. Cops who are so inclined will take that as a signal that they can kick ass with impunity. Simple enough.

Bad cop:

and the worst crime in America, is?

In one word cal: inequity.

To clarity: the lack of consistency in law enforcement, whether it is the cop on the street or in court or in prison or the every increasing list of things you can be fined/jailed/ruined for, and the mish-mash of laws that are increasingly more contradictory than the Bible.

I concede to your wisdom
I was thinking we have decided being "poor" is the worst crime. Pessimistically I do not believe that "manunkind" can overcome the inequities that exist and have existed since we realized the thigh bone could be a weapon. Maybe I will watch Quest for Fire, tonite.

Some local organizers must be channeling their inner Rogue. At least one, and possibly two, protest “gatherings” are planned for tomorrow afternoon – both at suburban malls. One is an enclosed regional mall and I think a “die-in” is planned for the food court. The second is an up-scale “festival” type mall. This protest is to tie up traffic on the main 6 lane road serving it. At least I think that’s the plan – the whole deal seems somewhat disorganized. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Not totally channeling Rogue. If you’re targeting the “oligarchs” you need to be targeting where they live. That would be (in descending order): NYC, Washington, San Fran/San Jose, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Seattle. But wait a moment. All of these areas are bright blue (even if some they are surrounded by ultra-red states. Not much of an oligarch class here in B’ham.

Rogue nails it when he compares it to the Occupy movement: a lot of anger and rage but no actual vision of just what it wants to accomplish.

Rae Dong Chong is my favorite cave woman.

Dawgzy wrote:

"One way of looking at unjustified police violence is to look at the lack of consequences. Cops who are so inclined will take that as a signal that they can kick ass with impunity."

Exactly right. And this applies to other forms of corruption as well. The police are a hierarchical, quasi-military organization, so direction comes from the top, should those at the top care to exert that direction, and to follow through in making sure that their guidance is followed.

Just look at the MCSO. There are behaviors that will get any deputy in the doghouse. Consequently, these tend to be avoided.

Others, though flagrantly illegal, are commonplace because the bosses tolerate them. In these cases, what the bosses care about is plausible denial. This is done by setting up formal guidelines and procedures which in practice are allowed to lapse. If forced to make an example of someone, they portray the malefactor as a rogue cop who doesn't reflect the organization or the values of its leadership. Then business as usual.

Of course, not every police organization is run on dictatorial lines to the same degree as the MCSO, and internal political pressures from unions and other police associations can complicate the matter of ensuring discipline in the ranks: but there are many effective forms of executive action by department or organizational heads which will strongly discourage deviation while sidestepping technical union powers. At the end of the day, regardless of internal dissension, a strong, honest hand at the top will prevent the systematizing of corruption.

"At the end of the day, regardless of internal dissension, a strong, honest hand at the top will prevent the systematizing of corruption."

Will be interesting to see how long it takes
NY cops to destroy DeBlasio. DeBlasio is one person whose support has already slipped to 50 percent. NY cops are an institution with Badges and guns. Like the CIA they will use whatever means to preserve their way of thinking and their view of earning a livelihood.

One reason why I won't be voting for Hillary Clinton:

I saw her asked recently whether she would sanction use of the CIA's torture techniques if Al Qaeda had a nuclear bomb that would be detonated in three days, and the CIA had a prisoner who knew where the bomb was located.

Instead of pointing out the stupidity of this kind of hypothetical, she gave a cat-ate-the-canary look to the interviewer and the cameras and, with ironic inflection of her voice, said that she wouldn't want the U.S. to sanction torture "as an official policy", as though implying that in practice a wink and a nod would suffice.

The naivety of those who argue for torture on this basis is staggering. The obvious flaw in all of these "ticking time-bomb" scenarios is that those being interrogated needn't tell the truth. All they have to do is resist a bit, pretend to break down, then send them on a time consuming wild goose chase: and time is the one thing they don't have in these hypothetical scenarios.

An Al Qaeda operative could claim that the bomb is being driven across the border from Mexico or Canada in three days at such and such a point; or brought into the country by means of a nighttime amphibious landing by a commando squad. Or anything else. By the time they figure out they have egg on their faces, the bomb has gone off. The prisoner can always claim that the group must have changed their plans after his capture.

Or, the individual might simply refuse to cooperate. Some of those interrogations went on for far longer than three days, over matters considerably less sensitive (from an Al Qaeda perspective) than a devastating blow against America.

As noted above, there is also the question of why Al Qaeda, which operates using a cell structure to minimize the knowledge of individual members, wouldn't change its plans (such as moving the bomb) if an operative who possesses such knowledge has been captured.

Finally, one has to ask, how does the CIA "know" this? The same way they knew that all those guerrilla groupings they bombed with drone attacks would turn out to be wedding parties? The same way they knew that more than a dozen of the detainees in their secret prisons who were held and interrogated for weeks, would turn out to be completely misidentified, including some individuals who (had) actively wanted to help the U.S. fight terrorists? The same way they knew that Aldrich Ames was literally carrying bags full of top secret documents out the front door, day after day for eight years?

I don't trust the CIA. It isn't just political, it's a matter of competence. When they say they got information from the horse's mouth, it's often a good bet that they got it from the other end. Just look at the way they assigned these supersensitive secret prison and torture tasks to contractors and unstable, undependable low-level agency operatives, so that the bosses could distance themselves from the way the work was carried out.

A minor but illustrative anecdote: a few years ago I happened to be on the campus of a local university during one of the CIA's open recruitment pitches. This consisted of a table set up along a frequented walkway, stacked with literature explaining the agency's general functions and offering career paths to students with linguistic and computer degrees, manned by a young intern able to field basic questions. Also on the table were a variety of promotional items (small bottles of hand-cleanser, keyrings with magnetic bubble-compasses attached, etc.), all inscribed with the CIA name, official seal, and website address.

To this day I still chuckle when I think of those magnetic compasses. They pointed in a wide variety of directions, most of them far from true. Of two bottles of hand-cleanser I took along, one had a non-functional spout, requiring the entire cap to be unscrewed to use its contents.

Of course, these are throw-away promotional items manufactured by contractors; but they are also the Agency's marketing tools, the public face of the Agency in its attempts woo the nation's best and brightest into service. Basic quality-control was called for.

cal lash wrote:

"Will be interesting to see how long it takes NY cops to destroy DeBlasio."

The spokesmen for NY police benevolent associations and police unions have already been showing up on FOX News night after night to offer absurd claims: that de Blasio's mild suggestion that "law and order" must apply to the police also, has made them so weak at the knees that they're afraid to arrest anybody. Conservative talk-radio (is there any other kind?) has no doubt followed suit.

Amen Emil on Hillary, even excluding what Republicans think about Hillary there are tons of reasons not to have Hillary as President.
If U desire a woman as the next president, look to the brilliant Elizabeth Warren.

CIA: Atrocities:



It seems clear that Warren won't be running, and has little chance to win the Democratic primary if she does.

I thought that Howard Dean was a pretty good Democratic presidential candidate. Just because he got excited about the prospect of Democratic political gains and his voice cracked ("the Dean scream") the media flushed him down the toilet. Only in America, as Yakov Smirnoff used to say.

The price of oil has roughly halved in six months. I keep seeing pundits on CNN explain this in terms of basic market dynamics: supply and demand.

The problem with this (as I see it) is that world demand for oil hasn't even remotely halved, nor has world supply of oil even remotely doubled, much less over the last six months.

The only explanation that I can see is that with a decrease in demand (China's economy has slowed), the oil futures investors whose bids determine the actual market price of oil got cold feet and sold. That drove the price of oil down as a commodity.

The same thing seems to be true when demand increases (e.g., when China's economy heats up): the increase in actual commodity usage encourages oil investors to jump on the bandwagon and buy; so the price of oil goes up.

In each case, fluctuations in demand and supply do correlate with changes in the price of oil: but in themselves are not sufficient to directly influence the price of oil to the extent observed; instead, they trigger buying or selling by oil investors and this piggy-backing effect determines these fast, huge oil price fluctuations.

Personally, I believe you two, Emil and cal, are misguided in your interpretation of Hillary.
Accepting a human rights award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Clinton homed in on the importance of putting American values first when it comes to the criminal justice system and in the fight against terrorism.

"It is possible to keep us safe from terrorism and reduce crime and violence without relying on torture abroad or unnecessary force or excessive incarceration at home," she said. "There's no doubt that at home and abroad, America is at our best when our actions match our values."

I do not for one minute believe that Hillary would appoint a sadistic sociopath (Cheney "going to the dark side") to any of her cabinets.

Incidentally, the same media which demonstrates skepticism about the value of government stimulus spending is now claiming that the drop in gas prices has put so much more in the pockets of consumers that it explains recent economic improvement, or presages further improvement.

The current price of oil is around $60 a barrel. It's also dropped by about that much from earlier this year. So that's a per barrel savings of $60.

The last time I checked the United States uses about 19 million barrels of oil a day. Saving $60 per barrel over 19 million barrels, and extending that savings (for the sake of argument) over a year (365 days), results in a total annual decrease of about $416 billion in oil costs, if my math is right.

U.S. gross domestic product was about $17 trillion in 2013; and $416 billion is about 2.8 percent of that. But that doesn't mean the economy will grow 2.8 percentage points faster: it simply means (in our table-napkin calculations) that expected GDP growth will be 2.8 percent higher.

Expectations for economic growth vary, but 2.5 percent real GDP growth on an annual basis is at this time a reasonable working assumption.

If we take 2.8 percent of 2.5 percent, we get less than one-tenth of a percentage point additional growth. If we be generous and round up, that translates into GDP growth of 2.6 percent. Scarcely a bonanza improvement over 2.5 percent.

Maybe I'm not reasoning about this correctly: I'm certainly open to argument. Perhaps there is some sort of multiplier effect I'm not taking into account? But I just don't see a huge windfall from this to the domestic economy.

Suzanne wrote:

"I do not for one minute believe that Hillary would appoint a sadistic sociopath (Cheney "going to the dark side") to any of her cabinets. "

She doesn't have to. All she has to do is make it known that, in practice (as opposed to official policy position rhetoric), she has a "pragmatic" attitude and a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about torture, provided the circumstances are exigent and that those carrying it out are discrete, or at least discrete enough that the shit won't hit the political fan until her term is through, because of the layers of secrecy.

The CIA and its contract agents already have plenty of "sadistic sociopaths".

And if the CIA, as the nation's foreign intelligence agency, is telling the President what constitutes exigent circumstances, rather than the other way around, and she is inclined to take their word about the operational details of things she has no personal knowledge of, and the usual blank-check intelligence oversight committees of Congress back her up or at least provide political cover, then it's business as usual.

Look, we've got a "liberal" President Obama who has completely taken off the table the idea of prosecutions for acts which are patently illegal under both U.S. and international law, and supposedly against his personal ideals for what American stands for.

Then when CIA Director John Brennan hijacks the national discourse by calling a press conference to defend the agency's torture practices, in which he fails to use the word "torture" even once and offers some mealy-mouthed nonsense attempting to justify the agency's past behavior, President Obama, instead of sternly calling him out or demanding his resignation, says that Brennan is a sterling fellow who has his confidence.

And Hillary Clinton is manifestly to the right of Obama on foreign policy matters. So I don't look to her for housecleaning.

This kind of factoid-driven journalism has to be taken with a grain of salt but is kind of interesting nonetheless:

"What Every State In The U.S. Is Worst At"


From the article:

"Less than 80% of Texans have a high school diploma. It’s actually the only state that dips below 80%, too. Everything is bigger in Texas — including dropout rates, apparently."

Suzanne, not to worry. I don't see the elephants in the room as someone I would vote for. And i dont see Baker making a come back.

Back to the issue of policing and other city provided services. I’m going to heed Cal’s sage advice not to pontificate from the ivory tower. Here’s what I know about policing:

At the core of the current discussion are two interrelated issues: (1) The killing of unarmed black men by the police and (2) the killing of black men by other black men in black neighborhoods.

A germane fact, at least of people here: the city of Birmingham had its 55th murder yesterday. Almost all of these where black men/”youth” men killing each other. This is for a city of approximately 200,000 people!

Also germane is that two disruptive demonstrations are planned tomorrow in suburbia protesting this situation. I’m not going to pontificate of the rightness of this action. To me, it seems not only unproductive, it seems counterproductive.

I have some opinions regarding all of this. But that is all they are: opinions. If you can’t put forward concrete examples of actions taken and results obtained then all you have is hot air.

An aside: I see where Jeb Bush is throwing his hat into the ring for president. I can’t speak for everyone, but I think I’ve had enough of the Bushes and Clintons.

Also: I think this may be the best post by Rogue I have read.

I get so tired of seeing apologists for the New York City Police Department appear on television, excoriating the mayor and other critics for "demonizing" them. In their rhetoric, criticism equals demonization.

If these apologists adopted a zero tolerance policy toward police abuse of power, instead of a zero tolerance policy toward criticism, the NYPD wouldn't be experiencing the problems they do, including the recent assassination deaths of two NYPD policemen.

While there is no excuse for the sort of "profiling" which marks someone for death merely because they wear a police uniform, it's also clear that, had they not made a habit of abusing the minority community with defiant impunity (and had not been allowed to do so), there would be no protests and no violence against the police on grounds of police abuse.

It isn't just the civilians. Here's what Black cops have to say. Excerpts from a Reuters piece:

Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.

The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.

The black officers interviewed said they had been racially profiled by white officers exclusively, and about one third said they made some form of complaint to a supervisor.

All but one said their supervisors either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions. The remaining officers who made no complaints said they refrained from doing so either because they feared retribution or because they saw racial profiling as part of the system.

There’s evidence that aggressive policing in the NYPD is intensifying, according to data from the New York City Comptroller.

Police misconduct claims - including lawsuits against police for using the kind of excessive force that killed Garner - have risen 214 percent since 2000, while the amount the city paid out has risen 75 percent in the same period, to $64.4 million in fiscal year 2012, the last year for which data is available.

People who have taken part in the marches against Garner's death - and that of Ferguson teenager Michael Brown - say they are protesting against the indignity of being stopped by police for little or no reason as much as for the deaths themselves.

“There’s no real outlet to report the abuse,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain who said he was stigmatized and retaliated against throughout his 22-year career for speaking out against racial profiling and police brutality.

Officers make complaints to the NYPD’s investigative arm, the Internal Affairs Bureau, only to later have their identities leaked, said Adams.


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