Friday Afternoon Open Thread

I’m not the praying type (there’s the disbelief in gods thing), but if I were, I’d send one up for Mexico right about now:

hurricane patricia

Hurricane Patricia is forecast to make landfall pretty soon as the strongest hurricane in history. Here’s hoping people got the hell out of the way while they still could. As usual, the people who can least afford it will likely bear the brunt. They will need our help.

Open thread.



A Modest Reparations Proposal

Theodore R. Johnson, “career naval officer, former White House fellow and doctoral candidate in law and policy at Northeastern University” suggests, in the Washington Post, “We used to count black Americans as 3/5 of a person. For reparations, give them 5/3 of a vote“:

If you want to shut down a conversation about race, just say the word “reparations.” Even black Americans are divided over the idea that money can compensate for the vestiges of an evil institution that ended 150 years ago; only 60 percent think the government should make cash payments to descendants of slaves. White Americans, on the other hand, have reached a consensus: In a YouGov poll taken shortly after the Atlantic published Ta-Nehisi Coates’s viral feature, “The Case for Reparations,” 94 percent were opposed.

Yet a year of protests over disparate law enforcement practices, a decade of particularly sharp income inequality and centuries of imparity in America show that racial reconciliation is impossible without some kind of broad-based, systemic reparations. Recognizing the original sin is simply not enough; we must also make moral and material amends for our nation’s treatment of African American citizens. But if a pecuniary answer can’t fix the structural disadvantage — and it can’t — what can?

Weighted voting.

…[R]eparations should be apportioned in the exercise of a civic right (a duty, even) long denied to the descendants of the enslaved. A five-thirds compromise would imbue African Americans with a larger political voice that could be used to fight the structural discrimination expressed in housing, education, criminal justice and employment. Allowing black votes to count for 167 percent of everyone else’s would mean that 30 million African American votes would count as 50 million, substituting super-votes for the implausible idea of cash payments…

Sure, there’s plenty of arguments against this proposal — and not much chance of it getting traction, especially in the areas that need it most — but hell, I’d vote for it.

Your thoughts?



Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ

I got nothing:

A police officer in Alabama proposed murdering a black resident and creating bogus evidence to suggest the killing was in self-defence, the Guardian has learned.

Officer Troy Middlebrooks kept his job and continues to patrol Alexander City after authorities there paid the man $35,000 to avoid being publicly sued over the incident. Middlebrooks, a veteran of the US marines, said the man “needs a god damn bullet” and allegedly referred to him as “that nigger”, after becoming frustrated that the man was not punished more harshly over a prior run-in.

The payment was made to the black resident, Vincent Bias, after a secret recording of Middlebrooks’s remarks was played to the city’s police chiefs and the mayor. Elected city councillors said they were not consulted. A copy of the recording was obtained by the Guardian.

“This town is ridiculous,” Bias, 49, said in an interview. “The police here feel they can do what they want, and often they do.” Alexander City police chief Willie Robinson defended Middlebrooks. “He was just talking. He didn’t really mean that,” he said in an interview.

Bloody fucking hell.



The Coming Conflagration In Cincy

The recent shooting here in Cincy of Samuel DuBose by a University of Cincinnati campus officer has barely made national news, even in the era of increased awareness of police brutality and murder of black lives, but all of that is about to rapidly change here in the Queen City.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said he’s confident police are ready for whatever happens this week after prosecutors release video of a fatal shooting by a University of Cincinnati police officer.

Cranley said city officials are preparing for the video’s release, as well as the conclusion of a grand jury investigation, in two ways: They are making sure police have the resources they need to respond to any protests or unrest, and they are reaching out to community leaders to prevent trouble from getting started.

“I think we’re prepared,” Cranley said Tuesday. “Everyone has the right to peacefully protest, but we will not tolerate lawlessness.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has said he expects the grand jury investigating the shooting to complete its work this week, at which time he will announce whether UC Police Officer Ray Tensing will be charged with a crime and also will release video of the incident from the officer’s body camera.

Tensing shot and killed Samuel DuBose, 43, during a traffic stop on July 19. The officer stopped DuBose at Rice and Valencia streets in Mount Auburn for having a missing front license plate.

Many questions remain unanswered. The police incident report said Tensing was “dragged,” but there was no mention of the dragging in the police dispatch call. Deters has refused to release video of the incident until the grand jury’s work is done, saying it is part of the investigation.

Cranley and other city officials say they have not seen the video, but City Manager Harry Black said Monday he has been briefed on what it shows.

My reaction is that it is not a good situation,” Black said. “Someone has died that did not necessarily need to die.”

The various reactions by Mayor Cranley, Police Chief Blackwell, and City Manager Black tells me that 1) the body camera video is explosively bad, and 2) that there’s little question that Officer Ray Tensing is in a world of trouble.  For this administration to go into damage control mode before the video is even made public tells me Cranley, Blackwell, and probably the city council as well are all terrified of the city’s reaction to this, and after the 2001 protests they are painfully aware of what can go wrong.

Cranley in particular is arrogant, even when he’s beaten, full of bravado and noise. You have only to look at how he’s the champion of “fixing” Cincinnati’s streetcar program after running on killing the streetcar two years ago and the City Council told him to screw off. Now Cranley’s acting like he’s the voice of reason and is the one making the streetcar “work” when it would otherwise be a mess.  He’s more than happy to take credit for “reforming” it these days, as a watchdog for taxpayers.

But for Cranley to go into damage control mode publicly without being pushed by protesters and national press?  Cranley’s not even attempting to fight this.  I don’t think Cranley is overreacting at all, because I think the body camera video of the stop must clearly show that Tensing murdered DuBose.  Devil’s advocacy says Cranley is blaming the black community here for anything bad ahead of time and is engaged in epic obfuscation of his posterior region, but that’s so obvious and cynical a ploy that it’ll never work.  What’s on this body camera footage has the ambitious mayor of a pretty decently-sized Midwestern city preparing for major unrest without a single second of video being public yet. That sounds like resigned defeat to me.

Usually you have local governments prevaricating and qualifying things, “I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation” or “We’re still looking at all the evidence” or “You’ll have to talk to UC President Santa Ono about this”, and for Santa Ono to be openly talking about reforming the campus police rather than having to be forced into reforms and the defense attorney for the University saying that he expects an indictment is amazing.  Remember, this is a cop, and 99% of the time police are never convicted of murder of citizens, especially black citizens, and the trial, if there even is one, is just for show.

This is starting to look like it might be the 1% where justice actually happens.  The Cincinnati Enquirer is suing for the release of the video, but the news now that the grand jury expects to wrap up this week and that the video will be released is very strange and almost too orderly.  It’s like the entire city administration is getting out in front of something horrific that hasn’t gone public yet.  This just doesn’t happen, even with Cincy’s history of post-2001 police reform, and Chief Blackwell’s crusade to make the police more accountable.  You always deny, deny, deny and circle the wagons, not, you know, do the right thing.

All we can do now is await the video’s release later this week, and I’m betting it’s going to put Cincinnati in a very, very harsh national spotlight.  But maybe that spotlight will see justice done for Samuel DuBose.

[UPDATE]  Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters is holding a press conference on the DuBose shooting at 1 PM, followed by Mayor Cranley and Chief Blackwell giving a press conference at 2 PM.

University of Cincinnati is cancelling classes today starting at 11 AM ahead of the press conference, which means that that grand jury decision may very well be coming down this afternoon, plus the video.

More later today.



Never Mind “Rising Again”, It Never Went Anywhere

In what should surprise precisely no one, an overwhelming majority of white Southerners still see the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride in a new CNN poll.

American public opinion on the Confederate flag remains about where it was 15 years ago, with most describing the flag as a symbol of Southern pride more than one of racism, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. And questions about how far to go to remove references to the Confederacy from public life prompt broad racial divides.

The poll shows that 57% of Americans see the flag more as a symbol of Southern pride than as a symbol of racism, about the same as in 2000 when 59% said they viewed it as a symbol of pride. Opinions of the flag are sharply divided by race, and among whites, views are split by education.

Among African-Americans, 72% see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism, just 25% of whites agree. In the South, the racial divide is even broader. While 75% of Southern whites describe the flag as a symbol of pride and 18% call it a symbol of racism, those figures are almost exactly reversed among Southern African-Americans, with just 11% seeing it as a sign of pride and 75% viewing it as a symbol of racism.

Among whites, there’s a sharp divide by education, and those with more formal education are less apt to see the flag as a symbol of pride. Among whites with a college degree, 51% say it’s a symbol of pride, 41% one of racism. Among those whites who do not have a college degree, 73% say it’s a sign of Southern pride, 18% racism.

Digging around in the crosstabs, a majority of Southern whites with college degrees are okay with the Confederate flag (51%). And among Democrats 34% find the flag a symbol of pride (77% among Republicans) and 34% of liberals do too (71% among conservatives, 60% among moderates.)

The real killer: 58% of snake people Millennials see the flag as a symbol of pride, which is actually slightly higher than Gen X-ers (56%) or Boomers under 65 (53%).  Seniors, well, They’re at 64%.  I hope we’re well past the whole “Young people aren’t as racist as their parents” nonsense, because Millennials are just as awful. Indoctrination is awesome.

I grew up in North Carolina, and this doesn’t surprise me one damn bit.  People ought to know better.



British sex abuse: worse than you can imagine even though you know it is worse than you can imagine

Brad DeLong’s first rule of George dubya would seem to apply here.

Figures from police forces in England and Wales published on Wednesday reveal that 1,433 men have been identified in reports of alleged abuse by victims, since the operation was set up in 2014.

Of these 216 are dead, 76 are politicians, both national and local figures, 43 are from the music industry, 135 from TV, film or radio and seven from the world of sport.

[…] Hundreds of institutions have been identified by victims of non-recent abuse as places where their abuse took place. These include 154 schools, 75 children’s homes, 40 religious institutions, 14 medical establishments, 11 community groups, nine prisons or young offender institutions, nine sports venues and 28 other places including military establishments.

Abused children apparently number over a hundred thousand. Those are just the ones we know about.








Early Morning Open Thread: ICYMI

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Nonviolence As Compliance“:

Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city’s publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city’s police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.

The citizens who live in West Baltimore, where the rioting began, intuitively understand this. I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today’s riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived in that world regarded the police not with admiration and respect but with fear and caution. People write these feelings off as wholly irrational at their own peril, or their own leisure