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New York Times (September 22): In March the Department of Justice described criminal cases involving nearly $700 million lost [to fraud] in the previous year by about two million people. The ones hit hardest by this kind of fraud are over 70, and they experience an average loss of $41,800, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports.... Some of the newer tactics for defrauding older people focus on Social Security, grandparenting and employment searches." ~~~

~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I have received a number of calls recently warning me I was about to lose my Social Security card, an eventuality that is highly unlikely. I have always just hung up on these automated calls, but yesterday, I decided to bite. When the "real person" came on the phone, he identified himself as a Social Security officer, certainly breaking the law right there. "Really?" I said. "How are you going to prove you're a federal government official and not a scammer?" He immediately hung up. Maybe this gang of crooks will stop calling me (tho probably not).

New York Times: "Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have both won this year’s Booker Prize, it was announced at a ceremony on Monday, after the judges for the literary award rebelled against its rules. 'We were told quite firmly that the rules state you can only have one winner,' Peter Florence, the chairman of the Booker judges, said at a news conference. But the 'consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners.' Evaristo, who won for her novel 'Girl, Woman, Other,' is the first black woman to win the Booker Prize. 'I hope that honor doesn’t last too long,' she said in her acceptance speech. Atwood, who won in 2000 for 'The Blind Assassin,' was considered a front-runner this year for 'The Testaments,' the sequel to her 1985 dystopian classic, 'The Handmaid’s Tale.'”

We are amused:

The Hollywood Reporter has a list of this year's Emmy Award winners.

The End of the Amtrak Dining Car. Washington Post: "Amtrak says it is reinventing its dining service on long-distance trains, killing the traditional dining car to create more 'flexible' and 'contemporary' dining options. The carrier says the change, starting this fall on the one-night routes east of the Mississippi River, is driven by the desire to save money and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table. With the transition, Amtrak is doing away with the traditional onboard kitchen, switching to serving prepackaged meals and easing restrictions on the traditional serving times. The change allows the railroad to cut costs associated with cooking aboard and keeping up with the white-tablecloth service that was once known to rival high-end restaurants and clubs." ~~~

     ~~~ Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I realize many of you are too young to have experienced this, but once upon a time, traveling by train & plane was glamorous. People dressed up to travel, and those who had train roomettes dressed for dinner. My then-husband & I once had a roomette when we traveled from Juarez to Mexico City, & the experience was absolutely fabulous; so was the cuisine in the dining car. Now, it's sensible to dress in the most comfy clothes in anticipation of getting squished into a teeny "economy class" airline seat. The photos accompanying the WashPo story show people wearing casual dress in the white-tablecloth dining room, & the men are too gauche to remove their billed caps. P.S. to American tourists: nobody more messes up a photo of an historic site than a bunch of yahoo sightseers ambling around in their sloppy travel outfits. Then:

CNN: "The US Navy has finally acknowledged footage purported to show UFOs hurtling through the air. And while officials said they don't know what the objects are, they're not indulging any hints either. The objects seen in three clips of declassified military footage are "unidentified aerial phenomena," Navy spokesperson Joe Gradisher confirmed to CNN.The clips, released between December 2017 and March 2018 by To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, appear to show fast-moving, oblong objects captured by advanced infrared sensors.In footage from 2004, sensors lock on a target as it flies before it accelerates out of the left side of the frame, too quickly for the sensors to relocate it. Two of the videos, both from 2015, contain audio from US fighter pilots attempting to make sense of what they're seeing."

New York Times: "A solid 18-karat gold toilet, titled 'America' by its creator, Maurizio Cattelan, was stolen early Saturday [September 14] from an exhibit at Blenheim Palace, the Oxfordshire birthplace and family home of Winston Churchill.... The artwork is based on a common Kohler toilet and was created by a foundry in Florence. The work’s value was not disclosed, but [Guggenheim artistic director Nancy] Spector described it as 'millions of dollars’ worth of gold.'... The police said in a statement that they were investigating the burglary and that a 66-year-old man had been arrested but not charged. The toilet has not been recovered. Jess Milne, a detective inspector, noted that the toilet had been plumbed to the building, so the theft 'caused significant damage and flooding.' He said the police believed a 'group of offenders' using at least two vehicles was behind the theft." the Hill's story is here.

Modern Art. CNN: "Hillary Clinton's emails ... have become art -- and the former secretary of state herself went to take a look.The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee looked through printed copies of her emails and sat at a replica of the Oval Office's Resolute Desk during a visit Tuesday to an art exhibit in Venice, Italy, titled 'HILLARY: The Hillary Clinton Emails,' according to the exhibit's creator and curators. 'Hillary Clinton spent an hour yesterday reading her emails at my exhibition of all 62,000 pages of them in Venice,' American poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith tweeted Wednesday. 'She is pictured here at a replica of the Oval Office Resolute Desk, stacked with her emails.' Francesco Urbano Ragazzi -- the collective name for two men who are working as the exhibit's curatorial team -- told CNN that Clinton came in for a private tour of the exhibit Tuesday morning."

... Related Washington Post story here.

     ... Thanks to NJC for the lead.


The Commentariat -- Nov. 26, 2014

Internal links removed.

If This Is True, It Is Horrible. Igor Volsky of Think Progress: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress. Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017.... The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses...." ...

... Steven Dennis of Roll Call: "President Barack Obama would veto an emerging $450 billion tax cut deal coming together in the Senate.... 'The President would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families,' said Jen Friedman, deputy White House press secretary. The emerging package of tax cuts negotiated by top Democrats and Republicans would extend an array of mostly business tax breaks -- some permanently -- while some of the president's priorities would be left on the cutting room floor.... With the backing of senior Senate Democrats, it's conceivable the Senate could have the votes to override a veto on a tax cut package. In that case, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could end up being the presidential veto backstop, if it comes to that. One of her lieutenants, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ripped the deal Tuesday." ...

     ... Update. Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times: "The deal, negotiated by House Republicans and aides to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the outgoing majority leader, showed how much power has shifted since the Republican election victories this month. The negotiations fractured Democrats, and separated the Obama administration from Mr. Reid.... [President Obama's veto] threat sent negotiators back to the table to see if Republicans could add measures that would win liberal support, especially a permanently expanded child tax credit for the working poor." ...

     ... Paul Waldman: "... Democrats in the Senate may already be adopting a minority mindset, even before they're officially in the minority." ...

... Rand Paul, in Time, writes a fairly moving & largely sensible response to the situation in Ferguson. He focuses on problems associated with poverty. CW: So I want to know this, Senator: will you vote for the McConnell-Reid tax deal? As Volsky points out, just one provision of it "would push '16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into -- or deeper into -- poverty.'" If you're going to talk the talk, Li'l Randy, you've got to walk the walk. ...

     ... Dave Weigel of Bloomberg Politics: "Not mentioned [in the piece linked above] ... was the subject of Paul's first Ferguson op-ed, also published in Time. 'We must demilitarize the police,' wrote Paul in August, as he listed the ways that local police departments obtained and misused surplus military equipment.... Even by Washington's amnesiac standards, the efforts to reform the 1033 program that makes military gear available to police departments faded absurdly fast." Why? The Fraternal Order of Police opposed it. "FOP members reached out to 'maybe 80 percent of senators and half the House.'" ...

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Police said 44 people were arrested in the second and much calmer night of unrest Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson and they largely credited a beefed-up National Guard contingent." ...

... James Queally of the Los Angeles Times: "The worst damage of the night was at City Hall, where 'rioters' broke windows and badly damaged a police car, [St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar] said. Officers confiscated a Molotov cocktail and unleashed tear gas. 'That was the only place we deployed tear gas this evening,' Belmar said." ...

... Sadie Gurman of the AP catalogs protests that took place in other U.S. cities. ...

... Here's the New York Times' liveblog, which also covers unrest elsewhere. ...

... Joe Millitzer of Fox 2 St. Louis: "A body was found in a Ferguson neighborhood just east of the Canfield apartments in the 9400 block of Glen Owen drive. The body was found in a white Pontiac car parked in a driveway at around 9am [Tuesday]. The driver's side window is shot out. The victim is a black male in his 20's." ...

... Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times: "Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. called on peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson, Mo., to 'isolate' and denounce people who have vandalized buildings, looted stores and started fires following the announcement that a white police officer would not face charges in the shooting death of a black teenager. 'The way in which we make progress in this country is when we have seen peaceful, nonviolent protests,' Mr. Holder said in a hastily called news conference in his office. Those protesters who prevented violence, he said, were heroes." ...

... Marc Fisher & Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post: "A news media obsessed with predicting the next step, a security apparatus equipped to put down almost any uprising, and a political power structure apparently seeking to head off violence by predicting it have combined to produce an unprecedented sense of inevitability, reducing what has historically been an explosion of frustration to a kind of staged performance." ...

... Chico Harlan, et al., of the Washington Post: "Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vowed to crack down Tuesday on 'criminals' he said had unleashed a night of violence [in Ferguson] on Monday, pouring in more than 2,200 National Guard troops amid criticism that he had not done enough to quell the rioting. At an afternoon news conference, a stern Nixon (D) ... lashed out at protesters over the wave of outrage Monday night that left at least two police cars and a dozen buildings torched and the entire region on edge. 'Last night, criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community,' he said. 'I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins.'" ...

... The Smoking Gun: "Michael Brown's stepfather last night repeatedly urged protesters to 'Burn this bitch down' after a prosecutor announced that no criminal charges would be filed against the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who killed the unarmed teenager. Louis Head, an ex-con who is married to Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, was with McSpadden outside the Ferguson Police Department headquarters Monday evening as prosecutor Robert McCulloch disclosed that a grand jury declined to vote an indictment against Officer Darren Wilson in the August 9 shooting." CW: So -- assuming this report is accurate -- this is the kind of "parental influence" Brown had. Nice. ...

... Jelani Cobb of the New Yorker excuses the violence. ...

... ** Dana Milbank: "What causes the outrage, and the despair, is the joke of a grand-jury proceeding run under the auspices of [Bob] McCulloch, the St. Louis County prosecutor. McCulloch essentially acknowledged that his team was serving as Wilson's defense lawyers, noting that prosecutors 'challenged' and 'confronted' witnesses by pointing out previous statements and evidence that discredited their accounts.... He was less troubled by inconsistencies that worked against Wilson.... McCulloch short-circuited the process -- reinforcing a sense among African Americans, and many others, that the justice system is rigged. He almost certainly could have secured an indictment on a lesser charge simply by requesting it, yet he acted as if he were a spectator...." ...

... Jeff Toobin: "How not to use a grand jury," a lesson from Bob McCullough. Of course McCullough knew exactly how to manipulate the outcome exonerating Wilson: "In making the case for Wilson's innocence [at his press conference], McCulloch cherry-picked the most exculpatory information from what was assembled before the grand jury.... Buried underneath every scrap of evidence McCulloch could find, the grand jury threw up its hands and said that a crime could not be proved. This is the opposite of the customary ham-sandwich approach...." ...

... Noam Scheiber of the New Republic: "Here is the irony of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch's announcement Monday night that a grand jury had declined to indict officer Darren Wilson...: The entire presentation implicitly conceded the need for a trial." ...

... David Edwards of the Raw Story: "CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin ripped St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch for asking Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson 'softball' questions during the cross examination of his testimony, which she called 'fanciful and not credible.'" ...

... Ezra Klein: "Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally." ...

... Andale Gross & Tammy Webber of the AP: An attorney for Michael Brown's family, Anthony "Gray, questioned, for example, why prosecutors presented testimony of witnesses who clearly did not see the shootings, rather than make a case for some type of charges. He also said it was unclear how the evidence was presented." CW: Hmmm. Why examine bogus "witnesses"? Oh, I know: to imply that all witnesses against Wilson were bogus.

... Tom Hamburger & John Sullivan of the Washington Post: "When Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson left the scene of the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the officer returned to the police station unescorted, washed blood off his hands and placed his recently fired service revolver into an evidence bag himself. Such seemingly unorthodox forensic practices emerged from the voluminous testimony released in the aftermath of a grand jury decision Monday night not to indict Wilson." ...

... Sandhya Somashekhar, et al., of the Washington Post: "... no clear picture of what truly transpired emerges from thousands of pages of grand jury testimony released this week by St. Louis County prosecutors. The witness accounts provide new and often conflicting details about what happened leading up to the moment when police officer Darren Wilson shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo." ...

... Meghan Keneally of ABC News: "In an exclusive interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, police officer Darren Wilson breaks his silence about the shooting of Michael Brown." Link includes preview of interview held in "a secret location." CW: Oh, for Pete's sake -- an "exclusive" interview in a "secret location." ...

     Update. Here's a 7:23 min. segment of the Stephanopoulos interview. ...

... Kendall Breitman of Politico: "Rep. Peter King has a suggestion for the White House in dealing with the latest developments in Ferguson -- invite Officer Darren Wilson over. 'I think it would be very helpful if President Obama went and met with the police officer, or invited him to the White House and said, "You've gone through four months of smear and slander, and the least we can do is tell you that it's unfortunate that it happened and thank you for doing your job,'" the New York Republican told Fox Business on Tuesday." CW: Another Beer Summit would be just the thing, wouldn't it? But uh, one of the attendees is dead for some reason. King, formerly an IRA bagman, reportedly lives in New York City, but one has to wonder if he actually lives on this planet. ...

     ... CW: I see Digby had the same idea I did: Peter King, Interplanetary Man.

Chuck Schumer Is Still a Jerk. Kathleen Hunter
of Bloomberg Politics: "Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama's health-care law in 2010 instead of first focusing more'directly on helping the middle class, third-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today. 'Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them' in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. 'We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem -- health care reform.'" ...

... CW: Yo, Chuck. ObamaCare does help the middle class -- and every class, by making affordable, non-revocable healthcare available to most Americans. Apparently Chuck is totally unaware that no matter what Democrats did over the past six years, Republicans would have pummeled them for something -- like, say, not passing healthcare reform. I'll be Chuck is friends with Peter King. They probably go on excellent interplanetary adventures together. ...

... Martin Longman of the Washington Monthly: "If you want to know why the Democratic brand isn't better, take a look at their message man, Chuck Schumer." ...

... Brian Beutler of the New Republic: "First, [Schumer's] views in this case aren't new; and second, they are wrong -- both politically and substantively." ...

... Paul Waldman: "If only Chuck Schumer had been in the Senate back then, so he could have written [a second stimulus] bill and pushed for its passage. Oh wait -- he was, and he didn't." ...

... Steve M. more or less agrees with Schumer. ...

... Holiday Advice. Tara Culp-Ressler & Sam Collins of Think Progress: "... if your Tea Party uncle starts making wild assertions about the Affordable Care Act, here are some key points that will help keep your conversation on track." CW: If your uncle is Chuck Schumer, good luck.

** Joseph Tanfani of the Los Angeles Times: "In a decision that could force disclosure of some of the secret money flooding into elections, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that groups that run election-related ads must reveal their donors. The Federal Election Commission overstepped when it wrote a 2007 rule that said such groups didn't have to report the source of the money for certain types of political ads that mentioned the name of federal candidates, the decision by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington said.... Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who sued the FEC over the rule, called the decision 'a victory for democracy' and said it will help give voters the information they 'deserve in determining who is trying to influence their votes.'" Thanks to James S. for the link.

Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post: "Under President Obama's new program to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, many of those affected will be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and a wide array of other federal benefits, a White House official said Tuesday.... For those who work, that includes payroll taxes, also known as FICA taxes, because they are collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.... Current federal law says that people who pay the taxes and are deemed 'lawfully present in the United States' can collect benefits under those programs when they become eligible. They may also receive survivors and disability benefits." ...

... CW: I don't see why this is controversial. They pay the taxes, so they should get the benefits, just as I do. One of the dirty little secrets of the anti-immigration crowd is that they are happy to have the government collect payroll taxes from undocumented workers without providing these same workers any of the benefits which their taxes are supposed to cover, thus allowing undocumented workers to underwrite our benefits. But not theirs.

... David Leonhardt of the New York Times on the phony "poisoning the well" copout. "Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio may be on one side of some big immigration questions and conservative House Republicans may be on the other, but they can come together on metaphorical well water. Which is to say that politicians generally act in their interests, even when doing so involves pretending otherwise."

Sabrina Tavernise & Stephanie Strom of the New York Times: "The Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping rules on Tuesday that will require chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors across the country to post calorie counts on their menus. Health experts said the new requirements would help combat the country's obesity epidemic by showing Americans just how many calories lurk in their favorite foods. The rules will have broad implications for public health. As much as a third of the calories that Americans consume come from outside the home, and many health experts believe that increasingly large portion sizes and unhealthy ingredients have been significant contributors to obesity in the United States." ...

... Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death. The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes. Such regulations, released under the authority of the Clean Air Act, have become a hallmark of President Obama's administration." ...

... Infozine: "Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt [R] filed a formal objection to proposed new EPA regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants.... Schmidt and 16 other state attorneys general submitted a joint comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifying numerous legal defects in the proposed rule.... Separate from these comments filed with the agency today, Schmidt has joined with 11 other states in filing a lawsuit to block the new rules before they go into force." ...

... Steve Wilheim of the Puget Sound Business News: "Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is making a big investment in fighting climate change, by bankrolling a lawsuit that aims to limit coal mining on federal lands. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils against the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is being completely financed by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. In an opinion piece entitled 'This land is our land' published by the Huffington Post Monday, Allen said he believes the BLM is not responding sufficiently to the threat of climate change."

John Hudson & Yochi Dreazen of Foreign Policy: "Michèle Flournoy, the most widely rumored candidate to replace Chuck Hagel as the next secretary of defense, has taken herself out of the running for the job, according to sources familiar with the situation. The decision complicates what will be one of the most important personnel decisions of President Barack Obama's second term."

Beyond the Beltway

AP: "Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday became the latest states to have same-sex marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can consider appeals." (Via the LA Times.)

Presidential Election

Thomas Edsall of the New York Times on the presidential candidacy of Jim Webb (D), former U.S. Senator from Virginia. Edsall cites Joel Kotlin on "gentry liberals": "The great raison d'être for left-wing politics -- advocating for the middle- and working classes -- has been refocused to attend more closely to the policy imperatives and interests of small, highly affluent classes, as well as the powerful public sector." Webb, Kotlin & Edsall speculate, is an antidote to that who might "save the Democratic party from itself."

Philip Rucker & Matea Gold of the Washington Post: "On a Republican presidential debate stage expected to be filled with more than a dozen current and former politicians, Carly Fiorina envisions herself standing out -- as the only woman and the only CEO. Sensing an opportunity in a crowded field that lacks a front-runner, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive is actively exploring a 2016 presidential run." CW: for one thing, she'll make the boys look good.

News Ledes

NBC News: "A holiday storm system played havoc Wednesday with the Thanksgiving travel plans of tens of millions of people -- wiping out hundreds of flights in the Northeast, dumping rain on busy roads and threatening more than a foot of snow in some places.

Washington Post: "Police cleared the remaining barricades from one of Hong Kong's largest protest sites Wednesday and arrested two pro-democracy leaders as authorities stepped up their efforts to end the two-month-long civil disobedience campaign. Hundreds of protesters chanted for 'full democracy' as workers in red caps and 'I love Hong Kong' T-shirts began clearing the metal and wooden barricades in the shopping streets of Mong Kok, a crowded working-class neighborhood that has become a flash point between protesters and opponents during the occupation."

Reader Comments (10)

Big loss for dark money. And a win for Chris Van Hollen, wh seems to be on a roll.

November 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames Singer

Re: Too many GD brooms.
"....The sweeping regulation, which would aim at smog from power plants and factories across the country, particularly in the Midwest, would be the latest in a series of Environmental Protection Agency controls on air pollution that wafts from smokestacks and tailpipes."
New York Times
"...sweeping rules on Tuesday that will require chain restaurants, movie theaters and pizza parlors across the country to post calorie counts on their menus."
New York Times
So much sweeping so little time. You want to piss off the the little guy? Pass "sweeping" regulations that won't do shit but make the honest small business owner hate voting for you.
Fat Bob and Fat Betty and their two little ones, Chumb Chumb and Elie Phant are not going to turn away the double double triple cheese burger, extra fries and 68oz sugar syrup soda pop, extra bacon on everything, because the government forced posted a calorie listing on the window of the FatFry drive-in. Ain't goin' to happen.
So regulate the important things that you can, pollution from factories and cars. You can throw meter on such things but stay away from sweeping regulations that have no teeth and little effect.
Because the Kock brothers will convince the Fat family the government is taking their freedoms on both accounts.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJJG


Twue dat.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Re: Carly running again.

Suggested slogan: "As President, I'll do to the country what I did to Hewlett Packard: run it into the ground."

Return of Demon Sheep? I can hardly wait.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarossa

The ground is being set for Darren Wilson's martyr status in Right Wing World to surpass that of saints crucified for loving Jesus.

After a short return to the force in order to give his detractors what for, Wilson will move on to a more lucrative career where his particular brand of racism and violence can be spread far afield.

I think, given his current heroic status both for shooting a black kid and for "standing up" to the blahs and their liberal supporters, Wilson has a very good chance of following in the footsteps of another stellar example of law enforcement in this country, Mark Fuhrman. Can't you see Wilson appearing on Fox as a guest "expert" on law enforcement and community policing?

"Here now to talk about the latest shooting of three unarmed black teenagers and the problems facing the seven officers who were forced to do their duty, is Darren Wilson, himself a former police officer who knows first hand the difficulties facing those who, in the brave performance of their duties, are hung out to dry by the press and liberal protesters. Darren?"

"Well Sean, it's vital that these brave officers be allowed to go back to the job of protecting the public. That one kid who pointed his finger at those officers should have known better. He clearly wasn't raised right. I know personally how perilous it is to have a black person threaten you with a body part. It was unfortunate that those kids were shot, but necessary."

"Thank you, Darren, that clears it up nicely. Next up, Dr. Laura will tell our viewers why so many black children make the mistake of doing dangerous things like pointing a finger at armed police officers."

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Thought Ezra Klein's 'unbelievable' view of Darren Wilson's tale was quite on point. Actually, he could have been even harsher with the obvious take "Oh-c'mon-now, really-you-are-fibbing-big-time-about-what-took-place." Do I think the kid, Michael Brown was a bit full of himself at the time? Yeah! Do I think Officer Krupke (aka Wilson) was even fuller? Yeah!

Do I buy into a BOLO broadcast that at the time a penny-ante cigarillo grab was a high profile, all points bulletin alert, and that every cop was out to find the perps! Nah! Saving the community from stogie snatchers was a high priority?

Then again, I suppose that run-of-the-mill infractions as high crimes & misdemeanors are a daily fodder for the local police departments. Just looking at the local police logs in the online 'paper' and found among the following recent incident reports:

Nov. 10, 8:40 a.m.: Caller reported receiving sexually explicit videos from someone and wants the practice stopped, a restraining order.

Nov 11: 7:57 a.m.: Seagull with broken wing found on Long Sands Beach. Expired upon arrival.

Nov 12: 9:46 a.m.: Young deer found on the side of the road at the base of Mount Agamenticus, appeared to have been stripped of all its meat.

What Michael Brown did at the convenience store should have had consequences for him, of course...but, the whole fairy tale of what transpired afterward does not make any sense. Wilson's (twelve shots fired) "I did what I was taught to do..." Humbug! Furthermore, the Grand Jury saga is even more bizarre.

"Law & Disorder", Dick Wolfe...I think we have a new series to produce. Starring Mickey Rourke, perhaps?

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Ezra Klein:
"None of this fits with what we know of Michael Brown. Brown wasn't a hardened felon. He didn't have a death wish. And while he might have been stoned, this isn't how stoned people act. The toxicology report did not indicate he was on PCP or something that would've led to suicidal aggression."

I'm guessing Klein missed the security video of Brown assaulting the diminutive convenience store employee who had the audacity to challenge him (Brown) over the theft of the cigarillos only moments earlier

Oh, and about those cigarillos: I can see him saying "Hold these while I beat this cop's ass." Though it might be more believable had he taken a moment to take off a Lebron James Cavaliers jacket. "Hold this. I don't want to get blood on it while I beat this cop's ass."

Klein's point that the jury trial, not the grand jury process, is the appropriate way to sort out conflicting issues is well taken but poorly supported.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Feldman

On the Volsky piece, yes, it is horrible and it does have he ring of truth.

As I have written before, it's not the economy, stupid, it's the tax structure. Taxes, like money in any form, are an expression of power, and the powerful get the breaks. After forty years of Reaganomics, the the voice of the common man and woman has been stilled. The even more horrible news is that they don't seem to know it.

Or maybe they do and that's why they didn't vote in November.

Here at home only one voice was raised yesterday in support of a very modest property tax increase ($3 per 200,000) in a nearby city. The rest were a chorus of "no." Local and state governments do need more money, but it's hard to make that case when middle class wages shrinking and for most employment an increasingly chancy business. People want to hold on to what they've got. The last thing they want is another tax. After all, their entire culture teaches them tax avoidance. Why should mom and pop pick up the tab here in the state where a year ago the legislature in special session fell all over itself granting Boeing another $8 billion in tax breaks if they would only assemble their new plane here, not where they go a better deal?

A Thanksgiving thought: We have become beggars at the corporate table. (Wish I had enough talent to draw a cartoon.)

Washington State is also home to the Microsoft behemoth that is currently hiding enough profit in tax havens, in the US and abroad, to fund our state government for two full years if only if was actually paying the corporate taxes it should.

We're arrived at a point where more than half of the Supremes believe corporations are people. Many don't agree, but what is not disputable is that while corporations may be people in the eyes of the law, they are certainly not good people and not good citizens. In the din of criticism leveled at our schools is the claim that our schools are failing us because they are not teaching civics to our young. I've heard the complaint since the 1950's. But who can provide civics lessons for our corporate moral lepers if not the courts or the legislatures?

A powerful piece in an October NYReview lists many other ways corporations have deliberately and successfully shrugged off any duties they once had as citizens. No pensions, less health insurance, poor wages and crappy hours....

It's very much worth a read:

Our power relationships with corporate America are truly out of whack when the Democrats, too, are embarrassinly supine.

All that grimness said, a nonetheless sincerely and heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to all in RC land.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The recountings of what happened in Ferguson the morning Michael Brown was killed, those of Darren Wilson and Dorian Johnson, differ dramatically at vital points along the timeline.

And in one way, I'm not even sure that really matters.

As Klein points out, in truth, eyewitness accounts are often notoriously unreliable. And here is where we get to the Rashomon like aspect of this whole sad affair.

Accounts of events are necessarily colored by the teller's own life experiences and state of mind as much as by personal motives and their proximity to the action. Things happen quickly and it's hard to process everything as the event cascade picks up steam.

If one can edit out the self-serving elements in both stories, what's left is certainly not The Truth, but a kind of personal truth reflective of the state of mind of the tellers. If, as in Kurosawa's film, Rashomon, we could produce a medium who was able to conjure up Mike Brown's spirit from the great beyond so that he could give his testimony, we might be no closer to what actually happened either.

But we might get a very sharp image of Brown's state of mind and personal view of the world and himself in it, at that moment.

So let's remove the bits in Wilson's testimony about his manhunt for the cigarillo thief and his kindliness upon encountering the boys.

Unless the entire thing was a complete fabrication, what we get--and remember, I'm looking at this in light of Kurosawa's rather artful epistemological approach--is Darren Wilson's sense of this kid as a beast, a sort of inhuman monster who didn't even merit any initial courtesy or respect. Given Wilson's background, it's likely that Johnson's description of their initial encounter with him ("Get the fuck on the sidewalk!!") is a tad more believable than the way the Wilson describes it.

But if you buy the idea that Wilson's testimony, shorn, as much as possible, of self-serving fancies and strategic inaccuracies, describes a man who viewed these kids in a very disturbing way.

When one is able to shut down human reactions and impulses and see The Other as nothing more than an Enemy to be dominated or, if all else fails, killed, then, at least in my opinion, no actual "Truth" could be more alarming, and changing that particular personal truth might be the best way to avoid these kinds of encounters that go from 0 to past the point of no return in seconds.

I don't think there's any doubt, as Klein suggests, that there were enough questions about the details of that morning to beg for a trial to sort them all out. The fact that there won't be is disgraceful. But what goes on inside the heads of both victims and perpetrators is a vital clue in trying to prevent future Fergusons.

If citizens are looked at as possible Enemies, and in this case, a potentially deadly enemy--because there's no way we can know whether or not Wilson really was fearful for his life, but there's a good chance close proximity to a rather large Enemy might do that for him--can be met with deadly force. Yesterday I wondered why it took 12 bullets to stop Brown when a couple would suffice. But perhaps in Wilson's mind, 12 weren't nearly enough. Not when confronted with an inhuman thing, a hated thing, a fearful thing. A thing. After all, you know how those blacks are...

Thus Wilson's encounter with those boys was not based on common sense or calm discussion. Anger, outrage, fear, and violence.

Those qualities, it seems, are integral to Darren Wilson's personal truth. And plenty more like him.

And perhaps Michael Brown's personal truth, a black kid in Ferguson who maybe just wasn't going to stepin-fetchit anymore, put him in Darren Wilson's line of fire.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Let me echo Ken's wish for a happy, bountiful, snoozeful (when possible) Thanksgiving to all you lovely RC'ers.

May a turkey fly through your window and commit ritual seppuku in your oven, and may he bring his own stuffing, dressing, cranberry sauce and several freshly baked pies, to be deposited on the table (which he will set), before leaping into the roasting pan where he will baste himself every 20 minutes or so until done.

Those turkeys get more talented every year.

Must be a Frankenturkey.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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