Yesterday in American Sedition: (Not Actually Mentioned in the) Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers & Senators Too Edition

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke had some interesting thoughts he decided to share on social media yesterday:

You remember Sheriff Clark, the (sheriffs aren’t actualyl mentioned in the) Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officers Association Law Enforcer of the Year Award Winner? You know, the tough guy that tried to call in the Wisconsin National Guard about six weeks ago even though he was not the law enforcement officer in charge of what was happening in Milwaukee with demonstrations, protests, and riots? The actual officer in charge would be Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward A Flynn. And he had this to say about Sheriff Clarke:

“Nobody has got more to say about law enforcement and less to do with it,” Flynn said of Clarke, calling him a self-serving man who seeks “celebrity.”

Sheriff Clarke would be the tough guy that had an inmate die of thirst in the jail*, the oversight of which is one of his few actual primary responsibilities, because his subordinates specifically and purposely cut off water to the inmates cell – an inmate who was mentally ill.

So what is it that Sheriff Clarke actually does/is actually supposed to be doing? His actual jurisdiction is running the jail, providing security at municipal facilities, and patrolling the part of the interstate as it runs through Milwaukee County.

“By statute and by practice, the sheriff plays only a limited role as a traditional law enforcement agency,” Abele said in his budget remarks to the County Board on Sept. 29, 2011.

“For example, in 2009 the sheriff reported only 12 crimes to the FBI, compared to 41,000 for the City of Milwaukee and 3,200 for West Allis, and even 242 for the UWM Police Department.”

There are no unincorporated areas in Milwaukee County and each of these incorporated municipalities have their own police departments.

Last year, the administration of Milwaukee County ExecutiveChris Abele released some eyebrow-raising statistics on the Sheriff’s Department, noting that:

  • Milwaukee is the state’s only county with no unincorporated area, meaning there are municipal police patrolling every part of the county. Besides Milwaukee, there are 18 suburban police forces in action.
  • In 2009, the sheriff reported only 19 crimes to the FBI, compared to 41,375 for the Milwaukee police, 3,288 for West Allis police, 1,908 for Wauwatosa and even 242 for the UW-Milwaukee police. That’s right, the UWM campus police handled 12 times more criminals than the Sheriff’s Department.
  • Just 10 percent of Sheriff David Clarke’s requested property tax levy was for police services. As Abele put it, “the sheriff plays only a limited role as a traditional law enforcement agency.”

The deputy sheriffs staff the Milwaukee County Jail and County Correctional Facility South (formerly House of Correction), handle the courthouse’s system of bailiffs, and patrol the freeways.

Earlier in the day he was complaining about how long it took his NICS check to go through so he could buy a new AR pattern rifle. Insinuating that this is not how law enforcement should be treated (because, you know, they’re not just citizens too or something).

In case anyone was wondering, NICS checks for gun purchases are done by the FBI – law enforcement genius!

Anyone else get in the game yesterday? Why yes, yes indeed. Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III.

You know, this Senator Sessions.

And thus an uncomfortable light shined once again on a man plainly hidden in the ranks of the Senate for a dozen years now. A man known to be one of the most consistently conservative legislators on Capitol Hill. A man noted for hisobstructionist tendencies. A man with a chequered history linked to America’s racist past. A man, who has been, arguably, waiting for this moment for the last two decades.

Sessions’s first national exposure was, surely, mortifying for the would-be federal judge. It was 1986, and the then-39-year-old US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama was a Reagan nominee to the federal bench. Sessions had good reason to believe he’d be rubber-stamped through to a judgeship – some 200 of the Gipper’s judges had already been heavily sprinkled throughout the federal judicial system. But Sessions stopped up the works. The young lawyer became only the second man in 50 years to be rejected by the Senate judiciary committee.

The reasons for his rejection, as I explained in this 2002 New Republic story had to do with a soupy mix of dubious and arguably racist moves, comments and motivations on the part of the Alabama native that led senator Ted Kennedy to announce it was “inconceivable … that a person of this attitude is qualified to be a US attorney, let alone a United States federal judge.”

And finally a quick update by addition (unintentional omission) from Friday’s Today in Hashtag Violence, Terrorism, and Leaderless Resistance post:

Two Texas men, working in California, have been charged in a brutal assault and battery on Maan Singh Khalsa – a Sikh-American. They first threw something at his car, then followed him and at a stop light pulled him from his car, beat him, ripped off his dastar (turban), and cut/pulled out some of his hair. The attackers have had the hate crime additions added to the charges they face.

Just 24 days (inclusive of today) to go until the election. Stay frosty!

* The Journal-Sentinel did a deep dive into deaths in the Milwaukee County Jail from 2008 to 2014,

Bob Dylan Nobel

How do people feel about Bob Dylan getting the Nobel prize for literature? I don’t always love his lyrics, but “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Mississippi” are about my favorite songs ever in terms of lyrics.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day

Good news from USA Today, of all places: “Support grows for Indigenous Peoples Day amid Columbus Day criticism.”

Perhaps as for many of you, it was Howard Zinn’s wonderful and essential A People’s History of the United States that opened my eyes to the atrocities committed by Columbus and his sailors. From the relevant chapter:

They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But as word spread of the Europeans’ intent they found more and more empty villages. On Haiti, they found that the sailors left behind at Fort Navidad had been killed in a battle with the Indians, after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.

Now, from his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route.

In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.

Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.

When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island….

Las Casas tells how the Spaniards “grew more conceited every day” and after a while refused to walk any distance. They “rode the backs of Indians if they were in a hurry” or were carried on hammocks by Indians running in relays. “In this case they also had Indians carry large leaves to shade them from the sun and others to fan them with goose wings.”

Total control led to total cruelty. The Spaniards “thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.” Las Casas tells how “two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.”

So…although wishing someone a “happy” Indigenous Peoples Day may seem incongruous after reading all that, IPD is a necessary corrective, and acknowledging it is a small act of social justice. So happy Indigenous Peoples Day to everyone!


Debate Wrap Open Thread

I bet Trump’s constant looming made the Secret Service nervous. Open thread!

Surviving Hurricanes and Other Unthinkables

This seems like a good time to recommend Amanda Ripley’s excellent book The Unthinkable, which examines why (and how) some people survive catastrophes and others don’t. She examines 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, a hotel fire, a stampede at Mecca, and the Virginia Tech mass shooting, among other incidents. It’s a fascinating book, and also hugely practical.

Katrina seems most relevant now, with Hurricane Matthew bearing down on us. Ripley reports that, although a lot of the press coverage of the victims focused on poverty: “The victims of Katrina were not disproportionately poor; they were disproportionately old. Three-quarters of the dead were over sixty, according to the Knight Ridder analysis. Half were over seventy-five.”

She then launches into a discussion of how bad most of us are at risk assessment. You know: how we dread sharks and terrorist attacks when we really should be dreading car crashes and household accidents. She also talks about the perils of arrogance (“about 90 percent of drivers think they are safer than the average driver”) and overconfidence:

When it comes to old-fashioned risks like weather, we often overestimate ourselves. Of the fifty-two people who died during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, for example, 70 percent drowned. And most of them drowned in their cars, which had become trapped in floodwaters. This is a recurring problems in hurricanes. People are overconfident about driving through water, even though they are bombarded with official warnings not to. (This tendency varies, of course, depending on the individual. One study out of the University of Pittsburgh showed that men are much more likely to try to drive through high water than women—and thus more likely to die in the process.)”


Hurricanes are especially tricky because we have to respond to them before things get ugly. We have to evacuate when the skis are clear and blue….It’s hard to image the violence to come. Without any tangible cues, denial comes easily.

In general, she reports, elderly people don’t like to evacuate: “In 1989 1979, after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, retirees and people over age seventy were least likely to evacuate—regardless of how close they were to the reactor.”

Also, elderly people are at particularly risk for over-valuing past experiences (relative to current conditions) in their decision-making. This appears to be a particular trap in highly complex and variable events like hurricanes. Ripley reports on an elderly Katrina victim who, when his kids urged him to evacuate, quite reasonably pointed out that his house had survived thirty years of hurricanes and so should also survive Katrina. But what he—and pretty much everyone else—hadn’t counted on was that decades of technohubris-fueled, under-regulated development and “starve-the-government” GOP policies had decimated the wetlands and levees that had previously protected the city from big hurricanes. And so, like so many others, he drowned.

Best to all Juicers who are in Matthew’s path. Please evacuate EARLY and check in as best you can throughout the weekend. And here’s a thread for sharing everyone’s hurricane-related experiences and suggestions and good wishes. (After Matthew has piddled out, I’ll post another thread with some of Ripley’s more general survival tips – plus my own experience with an earthquake in Japan.)

Quick Tech Question

Some users report their comments ALWAYS going into moderation or disappearing. Some others report moderation after editing a comment (but not all users).

This is most worrisome as you can’t report the issue in a comment if it disappears! So if this happens to you, dear reader, please use the Contact option in Quick Links at the top to send me details so that I can make it better for you.

Details I need:
1) what happens
2) nym
3) email address you fill out for the comment form
4) does this always happen at home but work elsewhere, or vice-versa?
5) what’s your IP address? go to Google and type “what’s my IP address” and include the number

Open thread (until Betty posts)

iOS10 Includes Automatic Organ Donor Registration

Just a note to let everyone know that, with today’s iOS10 release, iPhone users can now legally register as an organ, eye and tissue donor right on their phone. Click on the Medical ID tab within the Health app. (App also lets you share your decision with family and friends via social media, which is probably a good idea.)

More info at

PS – For those who are interested, the story of my kidney donation to an animal rescuer. (One of the best things I’ve ever done, btw.)