From Paul Krugman:
a funny thing has happened: Health spending has slowed sharply, and it’s already well below projections made just a few years ago. The falloff has been especially pronounced in Medicare, which is spending $1,000 less per beneficiary than the Congressional Budget Office projected just four years ago.
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Seems like really great news. Want to bet that Republicans will turn it into an accusation about cutting Medicare?
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The most fundamental question about the Ferguson Police Department is seldom asked, even by the angriest of protesters.
Demonstrations do continue in Ferguson, a few miles from here. They are peaceful. The Missouri National Guard is gone. The controversy remains. What, exactly, happened in the altercation between the teenager and the officer?
Like an old Polaroid photo, the account of the police officer slowly comes into focus. The evidence so far does not contradict what we know of that account. But it is becoming an intellectual chore to reconcile the evidence with the unofficial/official story. Witness statements differ from each other just enough to be credible. Video evidence is indirect, starting just after the last shots were fired. New audio evidence could support more than one version, if it turns out to be the real thing.
The wider issue involves history that flows from structure. Statistics tell part of the story.
St. Louis County police are notably professional. There is only one organization in the world, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, that accredits police departments. Only 7 percent of US police forces are able to get that accreditation. St. Louis County is one of those. That commission has a special award, the Tri-Arc Award. Only 6 police departments in the history of the world have ever gotten that award. The St. Louis County Police Department is one of those 6.
Every part of St. Louis County can get protection from that highly professional police department. So why do so many small municipalities have their own departments? Why the additional layer of protection?
Turns out the answer is money. Ferguson, and other little municipalities, don't really pay for their additional layer of police protection. The small police departments pay them. They bring in more money than they cost. They get that profit mostly from traffic fines. Court costs also generate revenue, since they are imposed on defendants. Defendants who can't pay are arrested and go to jail.
Ferguson has a population of a little more than 20,000. 32,975 arrest warrants were issued last year, mostly in traffic court. Ferguson issues more traffic tickets, and collects more fines, than there are residents in that small jurisdiction.
Traffic fines fall disproportionately on minorities and on poor people. At family gatherings, we sometimes talk about what detours to take to avoid time consuming random traffic stops that are not really so random.
When you travel through the northern part of St. Louis County, you will occasionally find yourself trying to get around a driver going exactly the speed limit or a little less. Cell phone users who imagine they are multitasking compose part of this small annoyance. Elderly drivers who compensate with care for a declining reaction time are also part of it.
Often the slow driver is a black commuter, keenly aware of which vehicle operators municipal police are likely to target. The police treatment that we expect to receive does affect what we do.
When the community sees itself as the natural prey of the police who are nominally assigned to protect, little reaction is possible that does not involve caution combined with resentment.
When the practical purpose of a department is more collection than protection, a few officers can see themselves as natural predators.
Nationally, the percentage of police officers accused by the public of excessive force is less than 1 percent. In Ferguson the rate is 13 percent. There is a multiplying effect in both of those rates. Some of those officers are accused of multiple instances of excessive force. For a few, there were accusations before coming to Ferguson, while they were with other police departments.
A friend of mine in another small municipal police department died from a heart attack a few months after my loved one and I were married. He looked forward to meeting her. I looked forward to introducing them. She and I attended his funeral.
He had introduced revisions in standards of conduct in his own department. He pushed for their enforcement. He was popular among his colleagues. I not only would like to believe that most area police officers have similar personal standards, I do in fact believe that.
The issue, the real issue, is not whether most police officers are professional. The issue is not even one of bad apples. The issue is structural.
Unless these small subdivisions, these little municipalities, are prohibited from using the police as profit centers, police professionals will face a hard struggle if they want a better answer to the most existential question. It is a question that especially applies to Ferguson, Missouri.
Why does this police department even exist?
Rick Perry - Analysis, Paralysis, and Accusation (4:43) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Rick Perry's approach to border security is pure common sense. That is why it is so wrong.
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Michael J.W. Stickings quotes Chuck Todd on why the Republican Party is spiraling downward. It strikes me that the process is a little like the tide going out. Each wave advances a little less, then retreats a little farther. Each GOP victory has a smaller margin, each defeat is a little greater.
Conservative James Wigderson inadvertently illustrates the problem with demanding additional voter identification that lower income people often do not have. An election outcome may be determined by the suspicious loss of 110 ballots in Monroe, Wisconsin. No voter fraud is suspected.
Here's the thing: Pretty much every case of election stealing has come from backroom trickery. Fraud by individual voters doesn't happen for two reasons. It's too easy to get caught and it's too hard to steal an election that way. Why pry open a front door at noon when the back door is open every night? On the other hand, if your goal is to keep certain folks from voting, then demanding additional IDs they might not have will work just fine. By the way, James is a wonderful writer. The headline alone is worth clicking the link.
At News Corpse, Ted Nugent finds a black pastor who doesn't much care for black people. Pretty much defines much of paleo-conservatism for me. It isn't that they hate historically oppressed minorities. They just hate folks who are suspected of sympathizing with historically oppressed minorities.
Norman Rampart at Mad Mike's America is disturbed that President Obama sent more representatives to Michael Brown's funeral than to Margaret Thatcher. I dunno. Maybe it's because there was less tragedy in a longer life? A life in which every chance, including life itself, led to achievement? Just a guess.
Tommy Christopher, at the Daily Banter, asks why a black guy sitting down in a public area is tased and arrested for protesting that he has rights and has done nothing wrong. Tommy contrasts his treatment with another case, one accompanied by an uncomfortable difference. Arrested while sitting in a public area? How fast was I driving, officer?
The fact that most police officers try hard to be fair simply means that not every encounter will result in some degree of injustice. It's something, it's significant, but it isn't much. That siren behind you? Don't worry, you'll probably be safe ... this time.
At The Intersection of Madness and Reality, one police shooting involves either a murder followed by a cover up, or an amazing feat of marksmanship and sleight-of-hand by a suspect who died with hands cuffed behind his back. This was in the back seat of a sheriff's vehicle. He concealed a gun, then shot himself in the chest while cuffed from behind? Seriously?
Max's Dad suggests a tragic screwup when police bust in on opposite sides of a Wendy's robbery, firing toward the center. The incident loses it's comic aspect when a cameraman accompanying the police is killed by friendly fire.
- It is our choice. We can be offended when others make fun of our faith. Or we can be instructed by how others view the way we project ourselves and our image of God. Infidel 753 provides an old video of George Carlin as he reacts to God as maniac. I wouldn't threaten to hurt you forever and ever if I didn't love you. Now give me your money.
When my father was murdered by gangs in El Salvador when I was seven, I thought nothing could get worse.
But then the gangs started threatening me, too, and beating up my brothers. I couldn’t go to school because the gangs there would come after me, and I wasn’t safe at home because the other gangs there came after all of us. There was nothing the police would or could do.
I was constantly under threat, as were my siblings. So in June 2013, scared of this situation, we made the decision to go to the United States – to try to escape the violence. I was 14, and my brothers were nine and 12.
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From Raw Story:
Conservative TV host J.D. Hayworth hurried to cut off a guest on Thursday who was debunking the conservative argument that Central American immigrants are bringing infectious diseases into the U.S., Right Wing Watch reported.
“I actually think the threat of diseases coming into the United States from Central America is fairly remote,” Dr. Peter Hotez — who specializes in treating those types of diseases at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston — told a surprised Hayworth during an interview on Newsmax.
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The number of homeless veterans in the United States has fallen 33 percent since 2010, to just under 50,000 as of January. The number of homeless veterans sleeping in the street, as opposed to in shelters, fell even faster, down nearly 40 percent over the past four years.
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A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”
Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO.
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Getting personal about a gun safety advocate.
From NRA's America's 1st Freedom:
Had Watts “been a stay-at-home mom” for the previous five years? Not exactly. In December 2008, Watts announced the formation of her public relations firm, VoxPop Public Relations, including an impressive list of clients for which she was already working. The registered address for her PR firm was a residence, so presumably she was running her pr firm out of her house. Her children were all well into school-age or older, so it’s likely that she had plenty of time to run her business during the day.
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Burr will be out for a day or two or three after today's second eye surgery.
He says there will be follow up procedures, but probably not more surgery. He will soon run out of eyeballs for them to work on.
Sometimes a newsreport reveals more about the news outlet.
This morning's episode of SportsCenter briefly checked in with reporter Josina Anderson, who is on the scene at Rams training camp. She was asked to talk about how Michael Sam is fitting in with his new teammates, and Anderson went ahead and told us about how Sam's showering habits.
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...because of the condition of the border, from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across, that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be, and I think I think it’s a very real possibility, that they may have already used that. We have no clear evidence of that, but your common sense tells you...
- Governor Rick Perry (R-TX), August 21, 2014
Paralysis of Analysis was a phrase that came into vogue when I was in my early adulthood. It was over-thinking decisions to the point where decisions were never made, or at least never made in time to be useful.
In politics I tended to misapply it to Adlai Stevenson. He was the governor of Illinois and was twice the Democratic nominee for President. He would have made a pretty good President, I think. But he faced Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was widely credited with winning the war against the Nazis.
Who would you have voted for in the 1950s: an excellent governor of a very large state, or the military hero who had saved the entire world from pure evil?
Stevenson was often accused of over-thinking issues. But the problem was not an inability to make decisions. It was communicating ideas.
It wasn't the words he used or the concepts. He didn't leave people confused. It wasn't that he talked down to people. It was the depth of his thoughts. It was as if he wanted to demonstrate that there were no simple answers. To. Anything.
The lack of simple answers was a legitimate point. It didn't come across. Instead, most voters saw an egghead, highly intelligent, incapable of decision.
Paralysis of Analysis goes against human evolution. We are descended from those who lived closest to nature. This meant they lived among predators. Fast decisions with little information, without thinking for more than a fraction of a moment, may have kept our most vulnerable ancestors alive. Our modern term for the process is "common sense."
The ability to think things through took us beyond immediate survival to a greater measure of security. Every major advance in human development, from technology to military defense to law, came from analysis. So did much of spirituality. Our relationship to each other could finally transcend personal survival.
If paralysis is one danger of analysis, prejudice and unintended consequence is the downside of its absence.
Analysis when things don't yet matter is what prevents paralysis when they do. It allows for rapid response that is thought out. It often allows for intelligent, realistic, compassion.
I have never thought of Paralysis of Analysis as applying much to government. Policy is the practice of thinking things through ahead of time, attempting to reduce unintended consequence. The best decisions in government are backed by more analysis than even the deciders are aware of.
Rick Perry's "no clear evidence but your common sense" brings to mind the dynamic tension between common sense and strategy.
...no clear evidence of that, but your common sense tells you...
When common sense leads to suspicion, fear, and unfounded accusation, it can bring us to the invasion of wrong countries with loss of life and tragic unanticipated danger. When it diminishes compassion, even for frightened children, it endangers the national soul.
...individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states...
The demonizing of terrified kids simply because they are strangers, refugees from distant countries, takes us back to the times of the ancients, to our most primitive ancestors.
Many thousands of years of human history tell us to go beyond that.
From The New York Times:
Held for nearly two years in a prison run by an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Syria, an American freelance writer was unexpectedly freed on Sunday, following extensive mediation by Qatar, the tiny Gulf emirate and United States ally that has successfully negotiated the release of numerous Western hostages in exchange for multimillion-dollar ransoms.
The family of the freed hostage, Peter Theo Curtis, 45, said that no ransom had been paid.
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