Monday, July 11, 2016

Cruising the Web

It's been such a depressing week. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those policemen shot in Dallas. And I wonder, who volunteers to be a police officer these days? They are so derided and hated that people are now shooting to kill them. People gather in protest against the police for shootings that were done in cities far away and before the details are fully learned about those shootings. And when the shooting started, those police in Dallas worked to protect the people gathered to protest them. Just as police do every day, they ran to the site of shooting to help. The Dallas shootings bring the number of police killed in the line of duty this year to 56. Who will volunteer to work in such a dangerous job just to face insults and hatred? And where will we be when people stop volunteering for that job?

Yes, the though of innocent, unarmed people being killed by police is horrific. But those were terrible, tragic accidents. If the police operated improperly, they will be investigated, tried and punished. And too often, after all the shouting, exculpatory evidence comes out such as it did in Ferguson, but then it's too late and the message that police mowed down an innocent civilian because of race remains. But what happened in Dallas was outright murder. I just wish that point was being made more often. I can't bear to listen to the news as so many people jump in to score their own political points or push their issues. And there seems to be a special hypocrisy on the left whenever there is a terrible mass shooting. As Kevin Williamson points out,
The same people who literally blamed the NRA for the Orlando shooting while the blood was still being mopped up are today demanding that Black Lives Matter not be smeared by association with the violence in Dallas.

The people who blamed Sarah Palin’s use of crosshairs as a graphic-design element on a poster (“targeting” certain Democrats for electoral challenges) for the shooting of Gabby Giffords suddenly have nothing to say about violent and irresponsible rhetoric.

I myself hold to the view that we hold criminals responsible for their actions and that speeches given by third parties are generally, at most, tangential questions. Maybe your view is different, and that’s fine: But pick one.
Instead of searching out some greater political point, how about blaming a sick and evil man who chose to bring a sniper rifle to pick off police officers one by one?

And the murderer in Dallas hasn't been the only one out to kill police officers.
Police say officers have been targeted in Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri in the aftermath of two high-profile killings of black men by law enforcement.

The attack in Tennessee occurred hours before the killing of five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night during a protest. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says the attacker told authorities that he was frustrated by the recent killings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Police have not disclosed a motive in Friday’s attacks in Georgia and Missouri, which have been described as ambushes.

In a fourth attack early Friday, a motorist fired at a police car as the officer drove by. In all, four officers were wounded. The officer wounded outside St. Louis is in critical but stable condition. The wounded officers are expected to survive.
Do the supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement truly believe that the biggest threat in black communities is police violence instead of the criminal environment that threatens entire communities? Do they truly believe that life there would be better if the police pulled out of those communities?

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Sadly, Heather MacDonald's new book, The War on Cops, has come out at a tragically apropos moment. Andrew McCarthy quotes from her book.
In the summer of 2014, as we have seen, a lie overtook significant parts of the country and grew into a kind of mass hysteria. That lie holds that the police pose a mortal threat to black Americans— indeed, that the police are the greatest threat facing black Americans today. Several subsidiary untruths buttress that central myth: that the criminal-justice system is biased against blacks; that there is no such thing as a black underclass; and that crime rates are comparable between blacks and whites, so that disproportionate police action in minority neighborhoods cannot be explained without reference to racism. The poisonous effect of these lies manifested itself in the cold-blooded assassination of two NYPD officers in December that year.

The highest reaches of American society promulgated those untruths and participated in the mass hysteria. President Barack Obama, speaking after a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, declared that blacks were right to believe that the criminal-justice system was often stacked against them. Obama repeated that message as he traveled around the country subsequently. Eric Holder escalated a long-running theme of his tenure as U.S. attorney general: that the police routinely engaged in racial profiling and needed federal intervention to police properly.

University presidents rushed to show their fealty to the lie. Harvard’s Drew Gilpin Faust announced that “injustice” toward black lives “still thrives so many years after we hoped we could at last overcome the troubled legacy of race in America. . . . Harvard and . . . the nation have embraced [an] imperative to refuse silence, to reject injustice.” Smith College’s president abjectly flagellated herself for saying that “all lives matter,” instead of the current mantra, “black lives matter.” Her ignorant mistake, she confessed, drew attention away from “institutional violence against Black people.” The New York Times ratcheted up its already-stratospheric level of anti-cop polemics. In an editorial justifying the Ferguson riots …, the Times claimed that “the killing of young black men by police is a common feature of African-American life and a source of dread for black parents from coast to coast.” In reality, however, police killings of blacks are an extremely rare feature of black life and a minute fraction of black homicide deaths. Blacks are killed by police at a lower rate than their threat to officers would predict. To cite more data on this point: in 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop-killers whose race was known, even though blacks are only about 13 percent of the nation’s population. Little over a quarter of all homicides by police involve black victims….

Meanwhile, protests and riots against the police were gathering force across the country, all of them steeped in anti-cop vitriol and the ubiquitous lie that “black lives” don’t “matter” to the police. “What do we want? Dead cops,” chanted participants in a New York anti-cop protest. Two public defenders from the Bronx participated in a rap video extolling cop-killings. Few people in positions of authority objected to this dangerous hatred. The desire to show allegiance with allegedly oppressed blacks was too great. The thrill of righteousness was palpable among the media as they lovingly chronicled every protest and among politicians and thought leaders who expressed solidarity with the cause. At another march across the Brooklyn Bridge, a group of people tried to throw trash cans onto the heads of officers on the level below them; police attempts to arrest the assailants were fought off by other marchers….
It all sounds too tragically familiar to what we've seen in the past week. MacDonald writes this week of how Obama's response to Ferguson perpetrated the false story of what had happened there.
o claim that the laws are applied in a discriminatory fashion was a calumny, unsupported by evidence. For the president of the United States to put his imprimatur on such propaganda was bad enough; to do so following a verdict in so incendiary a case was grossly irresponsible. But such partiality followed the pattern of this administration in Ferguson and elsewhere, with Attorney General Eric Holder prematurely declaring the Ferguson police force in need of wholesale change and President Obama invoking Ferguson at the United Nations as a manifestation of America’s ethnic strife.

The wanton destruction that followed the grand jury’s decision was overdetermined. For weeks, the press had been salivating at the potential for black violence. The New York Times ran several stories a day, most on the front page, about such a prospect. Media coverage of racial tension portrayed black violence as customary, and riots as virtually a black entitlement.

The press dusted off hoary tropes about police stops and racism, echoing the anti-law-enforcement agitation and the crusade against “racial profiling” of the 1990s. The New York Times selected various features of Ferguson almost at random and declared them racist, simply by virtue of their being associated with the city where Michael Brown was killed. A similar conceit emerged regarding the grand-jury investigation: innocent or admirable aspects of the prosecutor’s management of the case, such as the quantity of evidence presented, were blasted as the product of a flawed or deliberately tainted process—so desperate were the activists to discredit the grand jury’s decision.

This kind of misinformation about the criminal-justice system and the police can only increase hatred of the police. That hatred, in turn, will heighten the chances of more Michael Browns attacking officers and getting shot themselves. Police officers in the tensest areas may back off of assertive policing. Such de-policing will leave thousands of law-abiding minority residents who fervently support the police ever more vulnerable to thugs.

Obama couldn’t have stopped November’s violence in Ferguson with his address to the nation. But in casting his lot with those who speciously impugn our criminal-justice system, he increased the likelihood of more such violence in the future.

John Hinderaker dissects the statistic
s to examine whether blacks are disproportionately involved in police shootings. He concludes,
In short, the data on police shootings show that blacks are involved in such incidents just about exactly as often as one would expect, given their violent crime rate. Slicing and dicing the numbers is interesting, but doesn’t generate any obviously relevant correlations that would change that finding. Which means that, unless someone can make a compelling argument based on the data, which we have not yet seen, the Black Lives Matter movement is founded on a lie.

As John Lott points out, President Obama and many others complaining about police violence and racism are misleading people about the statistics.
Obama is also wrong, as he was on Thursday, to infer racism from higher arrest rates or prison-sentence lengths. “African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites,” he said. What he failed to note is that blacks commit murder at almost six times the rate whites do.

“African-American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population,” he added. But Obama ignores the facts put out by his own Department of Justice. The FBI claims that gangs commit 80 percent of crimes in the US, and the National Gang Center estimates that 82 percent of gang members are black or Hispanic.

Obama claimed: “[Blacks] receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime.” Putting aside questions as to how comparable the crimes are or the criminals’ past histories, Obama again leaves out crucial details. Whites are more likely to face other penalties — fines and restitution, loss of professional licenses, and a greater drop in legitimate earnings upon returning to the labor force after prison.

Will Obama be complaining about the “racist” aspects of these other penalties?

Of course, Obama isn’t alone in pushing these misleading claims. For example, the left-leaning ProPublica attracted massive news attention for its false allegation that 15-to-19-year-old black males die at the hands of the police 21 times as often as do white males of the same age.

ProPublica never made it clear that its claim was based on an unrepresentative 1.2 percent of all departments in the country. Or that the University of Missouri-St. Louis professor it claimed to rely on, David Klinger, reportedly warned ProPublica that the FBI Uniform Crime Report data on justifiable police homicide is “absolute garbage” — a common view among those who work with the data.

Blacks, being the most likely victims of violent crime, are also the most likely beneficiaries of police protection. This makes it especially sad that recent polls show a sharp turn for the worse in relations between blacks and police.

If black victims really believe police are so racist, why would they even bother reporting crimes? If blacks think that police are by and large incompetent, dishonest or apathetic, there would be little reason to turn to them for help.

But blacks don’t shy away from reporting crimes to the police. Data compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2008 to 2012 show blacks are actually more likely than whites to report violent crimes to the police (54 percent to 45 percent).

Blacks consistently report violent crime at a higher rate than whites do. This is true of all income groups and of both suburban and urban areas. This higher rate of reporting is true in areas where blacks face higher violent-crime rates than whites and also when the reverse is true.

If black victims do become more reticent to report crime, criminals will find crime less risky and we will see more of it.

Inflammatory, false claims about police racism not only endanger the lives of police officers, they can also lead to higher crime rates — especially in heavily black areas. If Obama really cares about poor blacks, he should be more careful getting his facts right.

Just as people were shouted down when they dared to say "All lives matter," now we are seeing a backlash against anyone who dares to express support for the police such as Troy Aikman who tweeted out that "Blue Lives Matter" without accompanying his tweet with an expression of concern for the two black men killed by police earlier last week. Or there is Natasha Lennard who writes in Rolling Stone that we don't need to say "Blue Lives Matter" because it doesn't need to be said and we should just focus on the blacks who were killed by policemen.

Jonah Goldberg notes the double standard of those who thought it was beyond the pale to talk about Islamic terrorism after a guy killed people in Orlando while pledging allegiance to ISIS but thought it was perfectly OK to blame the shooting of Gabby Giffords on Sarah Palin or Dallas on the rhetoric of BLM. He writes in his newsletter from last week (well worth subscribing),
I keep repeating the old line: Behind every apparent double standard is an un-confessed single standard. The single standard here is that only the right people may politicize tragedy. Only the right people get to determine what sort of speech incites violence. Only the right people know when it’s a time for prayer and unity and when it’s time to take up action. Only the right people know when the blame falls solely on the murderers and when the murderers are simply a symptom of a larger problem. And when anyone disagrees with the right people, they reveal themselves to be the wrong people. Because you can only be right if you agree with the right people.

Sometimes, it seems like we're facing long, hot summers of rage as we did in the 1960s. Just reading about Minneapolis is so depressing.
Twenty-one officers from various Minnesota law enforcement agencies were injured and more than 102 protestors were arrested as a demonstration on the I-94 freeway in St. Paul turned violent Saturday night, with protestors hurling rocks, bottles, fireworks and bricks at law enforcement officers on the scene.
Hundreds of demonstrators began protesting at the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul Saturday night over the police-involved shooting death of Philando Castile earlier in the week before heading onto the I-94 freeway around 8 p.m., local Fox affiliate KMSP reported.

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And then there was this scene in Philadelphia.
Earlier, organizers said the shooting deaths Thursday night of five white Dallas police officers by a black sniper would not deter them.

"F- the police," protesters yelled in a chant-and-repeat as they arrived at the district headquarters just after 9 p.m. in what appeared to be an effort to bait the officers to respond.

"Look 'em in the eyes," said protest leader Erica Mines. "The only thing different between you and me is that you got a weapon and I don't. F- you! We ain't scared of y'all!"

Unflinching, the officers lined up across the front of the building, standing quietly with their hands clasped before them. A camera was set up to photograph the participants.

Another protest leader, who identified herself only as Niecee from Dallas got within inches of the face of Police Inspector Michael McCarrick, commanding officer of the East Police Division. Other protesters crowded around as she taunted him.

"How much testosterone do you got?" she yelled, then said in an aside to the others: "They know that they have been beat. This is the face of fear."

Protesters lined up, too, and advanced toward the officers, some of them calling black officers "traitors."

....As the march began, leader and coalition member Kamau Becktemba dismissed the sniper shooting deaths of the Dallas officers Thursday night.

"I'm not concerned for what that brother did when he killed those cops," said Becktemba, who drove a black SUV at the forefront of the protest. "It was justified rage."
Who will look at such stories and say, I want to become a police officer? Who wants to sign up for that sort of abuse?

Democratic Congresswoman Corinne Brown has been indicted for stealing from an education lottery to fund her own entertainment.
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was indicted Friday on charges she used some $800,000 in charitable donations as a “personal slush fund” for items that included box seats to a Beyonce concert and an NFL game, the Justice Department said.

Brown, a Democrat representing Jacksonville, Fla., and her chief of staff, Elias “Ronnie” Simmons, 50, were charged in a 24-count indictment. Court documents show they allegedly spent money earmarked for the One Door for Education charity for personal travel, luxury hotels, Beyonce concert tickets, box seats at a NFL game and a personal IRS debt, among other expenses.

Charges include federal mail and wire fraud, concealing material facts on required financial disclosure forms, theft of government property, obstruction of the due administration of the internal revenue laws and filing false tax returns.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell, of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said Brown and Simmons used Brown’s official position as a member of Congress to solicit “over $800,000 in donations to a supposed charitable organization, only to use that organization as a personal slush fund.”
NOw that's just cold - using a charity so she can go to a Beyonce concert. Of course, if she were a Republican, she would now be the face of the party in the House. I expect that her crimes will sink with barely a trace.

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With how depressing the news is, I've been spending a lot more time reading about sports. It can still get me riled up, but the stakes are so much smaller, that it feels like a relief.

So Larry Brown is leaving SMU now that it's gotten in trouble under his watch and they have a post-season ban and he's been suspended. Dana O'Neil asks the question that I was thinking: "What did SMU expect?"
Reality TV cultivates longer-lasting relationships than hiring Brown. Since 1965, he has cashed paychecks from 15 different employers. Forget a rocking chair or watch for years of service. For Brown, staying put long enough to become fully vested in a 401(k) plan is considered an accomplishment. He spent six seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, which in Brown parlance counts as longevity.

The country is littered with his resignation papers, from Los Angeles, where he resigned ahead of the NCAA posse at UCLA, to New Jersey, where he bolted after the Nets stumbled; in America's heartland, where he departed Kansas amid more NCAA trouble; and in the South, where he decided not to join the Carolina Cougars when they relocated to St. Louis; from the West, where he left the Denver Nuggets after two years, to the Southwest, where he left the Spurs midway through the season.

You could call that nomadic.

Narcissistic would be more accurate.
I've never trusted or liked him since he was the coach at UCLA while I was there as a graduate student. He came in saying how honored he was to be there and how much he loved the job and would never leave. He was clearly a brilliant coach and took UCLA to the NCAA finals. Everyone was thrilled and loved him. Then he left and the result was vacated because two players were found to be ineligible. But what did Brown care? He was out of there and on to one stop after another in college and the pros. Perhaps, at age 75, he's reached the end of the road. If so, good riddance.

NBA writers and sports talk radio has been consumed with Kevin Durant's decision to move to Golden State. I'm not sure why it's so shocking. What is so surprising that he would want to go to play with some of the pest players in the league, for an organization that is willing to spend money to have champions instead of trading James Harden away, for a coach who is truly gifted, and play with a bunch of other players who seem to play with joy without personal agendas and showboating? Maybe he doesn't want to have to win by playing hero ball and would like to share the ball and get better shots? He gave Oklahoma City his finest efforts for a long time. Why shouldn't an individual be able to choose the place that he thinks would be best for his professional and personal goals?

But so many sports writers and on-air personalities act as if he's personally insulted them or the glory of the game. Sean Newell writes at Vice Sports and expresses exactly what I was thinking.
No one in the world should care where Kevin Durant plays basketball, and they certainly shouldn't care enough to scream about it on ESPN. But sportswriters, even though their job is to report on real world topics, write fiction. They create narratives because it's easier to do the job if there is a relatable storyline to follow. Those storylines then have to have a reason for existence, so then comes the moralizing.

In no other field of work would it be acceptable to criticize a person for choosing to be professionally happy, well-compensated, and in a position to achieve personal goals. But it happens all the time in sports because of the yarns spun by the likes of Mariotti and Lupica. Arbitrary expectations and rules, based on pure fantasy, are foisted upon athletes so that we can enjoy a good story. The dirty secret of sportswriting is that we love the unpredictability and realness of sports, but we want it to be produced like reality television with heroes and villains and a plot that is pleasing and familiar....

Because of this constant lens, Durant is not a person with a career who made a professional decision. Kevin Durant is a character who is supposed to be unwavering in his loyalty to his city and team. He's supposed to sacrifice himself for the ownership group that stole a franchise from Seattle and got a different city to finance a stadium. Durant will now forever be a bad guy because he left....

So now that he's a villain, Durant needs to have a critical flaw, and they found one quickly: He was supposed to "win the right way," but by choosing the Warriors he chose to win the easy way. Conveniently, it is apparently no longer acceptable that athletes care about winning. Remember when all athletes were "me me me" guys and just wanted to collect a check and preen and didn't care if they won or lost? Remember how sportswriters invented that? And then they invented the idea of The Winner. The Winner is the ideal athlete, which is a heavy burden when you consider all athletes have become idealized versions of real people—and The Winner is distinct from an amazing athlete. Individual stats only took a player so far, no matter how mesmerizing the performance. True greatness, however, depended on if you won the big game, and if so, how many times. Now, KD has shone light on another invention: you don't have to just win, but you have to win in a way that does not offend. This is how intellectually bankrupt American sportswriting is: to win the right way is to win as if real life were Rudy or Hoosiers. Which is to say, win fictitiously. Win in three acts, win in a way that suits me.