Truth=Freedom - A meditation on whatever pops in my head

A member, and hoping to stay that way, of the reality-based community

25 February 2014

The unasked question

E.B., writing for The Economist's blog Democracy in America, discusses the various cases in which the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law (in some spheres it's being called "Open Season on Black Folks" law, but that's an opinion) has been suggested as a defense for some killing or assault or other. He notes at some length on the races of the defendants and other circumstances of the cases. I think he might be on to something, with his observation that:
This legal mess of anecdote, paranoia and gun violence has yielded some interesting statistics about which stories juries tend to believe. According to a report from the Urban Institute, a think-tank, when a homicide involves a white killer and a black victim, juries are far more likely to find the homicide justified than when the killer is black and the victim is white. In states with a “stand-your-ground” law, far more homicides are ruled justified, and the racial disparity is greater. 
Since Florida pioneered its “stand-your-ground” law in 2005, 23 states have adopted some form of it. The law’s protection of hot-headed gun-owners is profoundly unsettling given how many Americans now carry concealed weapons in public—from 1m in the 1990s to 8m today. Florida alone has more than 1.1m active concealed weapons permits. These gun-owners must be comforted by the fact that ever more slips of the trigger are considered justified—as long as the jury is inclined to believe their story. 
[Emphases mine]
I imagine they are.

I'll note that in the cases discussed in the piece, another pattern emerges: the victims of the assaults saw their attacker sentenced to jail. The victims of the killings saw their attacker go unpunished for their offense. I realize that (per the data cited in the quote above) it may require a change in thinking on the part of a large number of peaceable people, but maybe our African-American brethren in Florida should start carrying weapons. It's one way to make the ratio above work better.

Or, you could just come to Colorado. We could use an infusion of melanin.

Either way, it begs the question: why, if we are not a racist society, do we imagine that this disparity can exist?

15 December 2013

I just can't get worked up about what this guy does

So, there's this (registration required).

I know. You're just as shocked (shocked! I say!) as I am that the FBI has another dumb one on the hook. But here's the thing: the guys that are gonna do serious damage are going to have actual experience outside this country (in addition to some here, hence the legitimate concern about the existence of domestically-originated, religiously-motivated terrorism*I do not regard this concern as being of the extent that we should modify our view of civil liberties from that of pre-9/11, FWIW). And that means we're going to be best off watching out for them. But it seems the height of silliness to me that we are expending resources entrapping people who don't understand the tools of the trade well enough to spot a fake.

I'm on board with us watching and listening to the people we think are trying to wage a kind of war against us, and trying to catch them with the goods (so to speak). But can we please cut out the Keystone Kops take on the Bad News Jihadis kinds of operations? It makes us look stupid (and the drone war makes us look arrogant, petulant, profoundly heartless and cruel).

So, I was prepared to call this guy I linked to above a liar1. But he's not a liar. He's just really stupid. Now I better understand the reaction of this country after 9/11.

Oh well.

  1. Strictly speaking he tells the truth: his only assertion about the references to the identity of the allegedly intended bomber are that the "Islamist/terrorist" link in the case is not highlighted in the headlines of his favorite media punching bags. The fact this information is revealed in the second paragraph is evidently not enough.

05 December 2013

"Civil rights pimp"

But, of course, he's not the racist, she is.

She may be expressing her ideas inartfully, but that hardly diminishes the point she's making.

30 October 2013

"The Odd Lies of America"

OMFG yes (the second letter).

Another is more blunt:
This “Odd Lies of Barack Obama” stunt really pisses me off, using the same line you used for Sarah Palin. You know that’s a load of crap.
My family now has health insurance. But a few years ago we didn’t, because we simply could not afford it. At that time in New Jersey the cheapest plan I could find for a 3-person family was around $800 a month (now it’s over $1,000/month). And it was such a limited, crappy plan that it didn’t even include coverage for chemotherapy (if you read the fine print). NO CHEMO. 
Now, I don’t know about you but in my mind the main reason to have health insurance is for disasters and life-threatening or chronic illnesses. I mean really, I don’t need to pay $800 a month so I can save 50 bucks on maybe 10-15 doctor visits a year for all three of us, or save a couple hundred bucks on a year’s worth of prescriptions. That’s insane. Yet it’s the business model that insurance companies used freely for years. 
But no one in the GOP, including Chris Christie, gave a rat’s ass. Not too many in the media cared either. But Obama did. And he changed the system so that insurance companies can’t sell crap plans anymore. They have to meet a reasonable standard. Or fold. Wow, what a liar that Obama was. He didn’t mention that some insurance companies chasing in on shitty, rip-off plans were going to choose “die” instead of meeting reasonable standards. Well I don’t give a damn. 
Seriously. How about “The Odd Lies of America” instead? How about the absolute lie for decades that we had a great health care system in this country. Because no system that is unaffordable to tens of millions of its citizens is anything more than horrible and appalling. And no system that allows insurance companies to sell plans that won’t help the client with a cataclysmic disease – and hides that information in the weeds – is anything but disgusting.
The real reason to follow Andrew Sullivan is not his work (though it is quite good, especially on gay rights-- I know, color me surprised), it's his pissed-off readers.

I was pissed at Obama for pushing that line when it wasn't true, and so I'm glad the chickens like their new roost. But to pretend for one moment that Obama's lie is in any way comparable to the "this is the greatest fucking health care system evarrrrr" bullshit we've been fed for the past 10-ish years is just fucking daft. Shame on anyone who dares do so.

The system as it was before the ACA punished losers in the genetic lottery. That is cruel. This is the only way to construct a privately administered (and profited on) system that at least tries to make health not be the reason for one's failure to thrive.

The system, as it existed before, also allowed one to pretend that they were being responsible by having coverage that was inadequate. These are many of the same people who rail at the poor and uncovered for it being their own damn fault. Those who so rail mention that the reason it's not themselves at fault is that they've just been lucky so far.

That is equal opportunity, yo.

P.S. If you would posit you don't know (and have never known) someone whose ability to contribute to society was literally crippled by some form of health problem that was not identifiably one "caused" by the individual, you are probably lying to yourself.

15 October 2013


For those of you curious about the "meaning" of this flag, I recommend this. Ta-Nehisi Coates is very eloquent about the meanings it holds for him.

I just see traitors. Ignorance of the history of this country is a kind of traitorous behavior, so if you were raised in this country and aren't aware of the extent to which the genesis of the Confederacy was about the preservation of slavery, I recommend going to the The Atlantic Monthly's Civil War issue (which hosts the linked article) and read its discussion of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (which anniversary is itself ongoing). There you can also read the rest of Ta-Nehisi Coates's discussion of it. I then recommend you go to Civil War | The New York Times and read for yourself a kind of "live-blog" of the events of 150 years ago, beginning with the aftermath of the 1860 election (and note that Lincoln isn't even in office during the time that the Southern states which form the Confederacy announced their succession).

We can argue all we want about whether or not the Union should have let them go, whether or not it was worth the loss of life, whether or not the North's motives were pure (Seriously? Is there any motive that's close to as bad as, "to hold captive for their labor, to rape its women, and torture for any offenses a class of people based on the color of their skin."). But "Traitor" is the label that sticks in my mind. It's the label that belongs. The people who brought that flag into existence did so in support of an endeavor that was the nation-state equivalent of "if you don't do it our way (even though we agreed to the rules of the government), we'll take our stuff and go home." And only because they were afraid of what might happen, not because it *had* happened. These were cowards and traitors. They didn't get nearly what they deserved in the aftermath, and they were ungrateful for being spared.

03 October 2013

A sensible solution

Here in the US, we're having a bit of a problem with governance. As best as I can tell, the problem is largely that one party has been hijacked by a group of people who will use any power they can grasp to achieve their political ends, which in this case is the end of funding for many parts of the government, especially (though likely not limited to) "Obamacare".

The problem has a solution, but it's probably not one that most of us would like to see happen: mass political realignment.

The "decent" or "sensible" members of the party currently known as the GOP should dissolve (and frankly, so should the Democrats), and the sensible members, along with a few of the more conservative members of the Democrats, could form a modern party not too different from the Republican party that nominated Bob Dole and the Elder Bush.

John Boehner may choose whichever party he likes, but he can't be speaker anymore. I seriously doubt anyone would vote for him again anyway.

The remaining Democrats could stick together, but they'd likely be more liberal in the near term.

By carving off the rump of fools, things like the debt ceiling and the absence of funding would be solved by the people who realize this is necessary, whether they like the details or not. And the Tea Party could pretend to be a part of the whole thing, just like today.