Thursday, July 21, 2016

Black America: You Are More Likely to Be Struck by Lightning Than to Be Shot by Police While You're Unarmed

It's bad enough that I stayed up 'til 5:00 a.m. to write this. I'll get around to linking my sources later. Proofreading, too. Most of the data are from the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, but there are some from newspapers, too. Anyway...

A friend of mine posted this helpful video on Facebook to explain why anyone who has any objection to anything said or done by Black Lives Matter should just STFD & STFU. It's short--about four minutes. Watch it before reading on. Notice how compelling it is, how "truthy." Sorry I don't know how to embed Facebook videos here. Just follow the link.

Franchesca Ramsey refutes 4 remarks BLM disapproves of

This would be great except...

-3:35 "This assumes that the black community isn't worried..."

Wrong. Black Lives Matter is not "the black community." It is a specific organization with founders, leaders, local chapters, a written agenda, and a website where you can learn these things. What's being criticized is BLM, specifically. Trying to divert that to be a criticism of the black community, as a whole, is intellectually dishonest. It infers that anyone who disagrees with the group is racist, which is a tactic used to silence the group's critics. It's also a setup for a straw man argument. She can make a great case for how "the black community" and Cease Fire (a whole separate organization) are doing what BLM is being criticized for NOT doing...but that doesn't let BLM off the hook.

-3:19 "It's about the lack of consequence when black lives are taken at the hands of the police."

This statement presumes that all police killings of black people are cases of wrongful death. Most of them aren't. The vast majority are legitimate cases of self-defense. Why should a legitimate act of self-defense have "consequences?" If an armed robber shoots at people and the police return fire and kill the robber, the only consequences for the officers should be that they get some sort of recognition, maybe an award of some sort.

And in the cases of wrongful shootings, where consequences are appropriate, why should those consequences be limited to just killings of black people and not all people wrongfully killed by the police? Again, the inference we're supposed to absorb unchallenged is the idea that when the people getting shot by police are black, they're less often deserving of it than people who aren't black.

-3:16: "When a civilian has committed a violent crime..."

Again, she's conflating legitimate uses of force with criminal cases of excessive force. The message we're supposed to get is that every time a black person gets hurt in a conflict with a police officer, the police officer was the one in the wrong. Apparently, black people are supposed to enjoy some sort of special immunity from police use of force when they resist arrest or fight police.

I want you to stop and look at your own thought process for a moment, because BLM has really put a lot into drumming this particular message into people's heads over the past couple years. Coca-Cola should seriously look into hiring these people. When you hear numbers of black people injured or killed by police, your emotional reaction is based on the presumption that every one of those injuries and deaths was unprovoked and undeserved. When you recoil in horror at whatever number it is, you're not thinking, "OMG, why are black people so violent? Why are they being violent towards police officers at such a higher rate than everyone else is?" No, you're presuming each death was a murder, each injury a criminal assault, and that it was all motivated by racist police going out hunting black people for sport. That idea has no basis in fact, so why is it something you take for granted without even thinking about it anymore? That's the power of marketing and peer pressure.

-3:12: "Conversely, there's a lot of evidence that it's very rare to secure an indictment against a police officer for excessive force."

No, that's not a converse relationship. A true contrast would have been to look at how civilians who commit violent crimes are treated relative to police officers who commit violent crimes. But it wouldn't have been much of a contrast, because generally speaking, cops who commit violent crimes get prosecuted for them just like anyone else. You could fill a whole book with instances of cops who've been prosecuted for assault, stalking, domestic violence, all the way up to murder. I just heard of an Atlanta officer who's being tried for murder because of a shooting he was involved in on-duty. And the South Carolina officer who killed Walter Scott--he's been indicted for murder. He goes to trial this October. The officers in Baltimore who were involved in Freddie Gray's death were all charged with crimes and stood trial.

But none of that supports the narrative she's selling, so instead of contrasting criminal acts against criminal acts, she compares legitimate uses of force to criminal acts. She's right--it IS very rare to secure an indictment against a police officer for excessive force, just as it's very rare to secure an indictment against a police officer for bank robbery or blowing up a school or hijacking an airplane, and for the same reason--it's very rare that there's a case that warrants an indictment.

But, but...that would mean law enforcement officers are generally law-abiding people! We can't allow that conclusion! It doesn't support the theme here, which is: All police force against black people is excessive. No police officer ever has any reason to put his or her hands on a black person, and if they do it, it's a crime. And when the police don't get penalized for these "crimes," it's because the system is corrupt, not because the police did nothing wrong. All black people are innocent. And if you don't believe it, it's because you're a racist.

-3:01: "Black-on-black crime isn't a thing."
Oh, really? Despite the fact that blacks are only 13% of the population, they commit slightly over HALF of all murders in America...and most of their victims are black. If it's not a thing, then why was she just saying at the beginning of the video about how concerned about it "the black community" and Cease Fire are?

But most of you who are eating up her words don't even know what the Uniform Crime Report IS, let alone what it says, so she can claim whatever she wants, and you'll believe it so long as it paints all black people as angels and cops as the boogeyman.

-2:34: "But the truth is black people are not more violent or more likely to commit crimes than anyone else."

PANTS ON FIRE!!! In 2012, according to the FBI, 28.12% of all violent offenders were black. At only 13% of the population, that means blacks are committing slightly over TWICE their "share" of violent crimes.

Now, to be clear, this doesn't mean that any particular individual is more likely to be violent. It could well be (and likely is) that a very tiny portion of that population is committing most of those crimes. This woman may be trying to sanctify an entire race of people, but just because I disagree with her doesn't mean I'm trying to demonize an entire race. But the numbers tell us that either violent individuals are more common among blacks; or that they're no more common among blacks than anyone else, but the ones who are violent are drastically more violent than the violent people of other races. We really can't say which from the data available, but it's one or the other.

-2:30: "The reality is, because of the history of institutional racism..."

Here she gives some very good reasons for the higher rate of violence among blacks...the violence she just claimed doesn't exist. "I didn't hit him, officer! And besides, he provoked me."

-2:22: "(Black communities)...are more likely to be targeted by police."

If by "targeted" you mean more patrol units are assigned to the precincts where the most crimes are being reported, yes. Why shouldn't they be? When you report that your house is on fire, you don't expect the fire engines to go instead to an address twelve blocks away where there's no fire, just so you can avoid feeling stigmatized. The cops go where the crime is--and most residents get upset if they don't.

-2:05: "Becoming a police officer is an occupation. It's a choice."

So is religion. By her logic, it's less wrong to oppress Jews than to oppress blacks, because Jews have the option of converting if they want to. So quit yer crybaby whining about the Holocaust, I guess, 'cause people of color have claimed king-of-the-hill status as Supreme Victims. Nobody else is allowed to complain when people RANDOMLY KILL THEM simply for belonging to a group.

Moreover, if police officers were to try to please BLM, it would basically mean not fighting back when someone attacks them anytime the attacker is black. Police, apparently, should just let black criminals shoot them. That sure as heck sounds like they think blue lives don't matter.

-1.43: "...this movement is not saying black lives matter more than anyone else's."

It is most certainly saying, however, that black people's concerns matter more than anyone else's. In the organization's early days, when people of other races, marching in solidarity, would try to include themselves in the cause by carrying signs saying "Black & Brown Lives Matter" or "All Lives Matter" (yes, that was initially a slogan of the organization's sympathizers, not its opponents), BLM leadership shut them down and told them to get their own slogan instead of trying to steal the spotlight from black people. Sympathizers of other races were told that making it a multi-racial, multi-cultural movement would dilute the message.

The message that cops shouldn't hurt people when they're not supposed to...right? How is that message "diluted" by getting a huge cross-section of America on board? See, this isn't about ending wrongdoing by the police. It's about black identity, and making cops afraid to lay a hand on black criminals.

-1:35: "It's totally okay for a movement to focus on issues specific to one marginalized group."

So excessive use of force by the police is happening only to one, specific, marginalized group, eh?

-1:27: "A breast cancer walk isn't unfair to other forms of cancer."

Well, it is, actually. Breast cancer is big business, what with Pinktober and all, and other cancers that are just as lethal get underfunded trying to compete, but that's off-topic. Instead, let's bring this back to the point I was just making about black concerns mattering more than others. Suppose instead of being a breast cancer walk, it was a "Redheads with Breast Cancer" walk or a breast cancer walk only for women whose first names start with the letters A through L, and there's not another one scheduled for M through Z. Does that strike you as being very just? Or compassionate? Or inclusive? Do justice and compassion and inclusion matter?

See, just as breast cancer affects more than just women with names starting with A through L, police violence--and more precisely, unjustified police violence--affects people of all races, not just black people. But yet, the demand is that people of all races get behind muzzling the police...but only for the benefit of blacks.

-1:15: "Because of the brutalizing and killing of black people at the hands of police..."

Again, pushing the idea that we aren't talking about self-defense against black criminals who fight the police, or about justified use of force to effect an arrest of someone who's resisting, but just illegal attacks of any random, innocent black person. This is a total misrepresentation of the situation. When a lie this big is repeated this often, it behooves us to ask whom has what to gain by having people believe it.

-0:56: "...but when you look proportionately within the populations, black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers."

YES, and that figure correlates very closely with blacks' higher likelihood of committing violent crimes! Blacks are only 13% of the population but account for about 25% of all people shot by the police AND for 28% of violent criminals AND over HALF of all murderers! You can only hide for so long from the fact that most of the people getting shot by police are the same people SHOOTING AT police and others.

This next part was brilliant. I betcha whoever wrote this part has it framed somewhere. This is a resumé builder:
-0:46: (Graphic still says "Black men make up just 6% of the nation's population.") "...but of all the unarmed people shot and killed by police in 2015..."

My, that's mighty specific. Unarmed. Shot by police. Died of their wounds. 2015 and only 2015. That's got to be a fairly tiny sample Where's she going with this?

Keeping in mind, of course, that when she says, "unarmed," that's a dog whistle that's supposed to make you think, "not dangerous, not capable of killing someone with their bare hands, not trying to grab the officer's gun" as well as "a completely unjustified shooting, a murder." When she says, "shot by police," you're supposed to think, "wrongfully shot by police."

-0:42: (Ta-daa! The graphic now says, "Black men make up just 6% of the nation's population. But 40% of police killings in 2015." The 40% is printed extra large, and there was even a sound effect that went along with presenting it.) "...FORTY percent of them were black men."

A good magician can tell you what he's doing even as he's doing it, and you'll still miss it, so let me tell you what you just missed there in case you didn't catch it.

That black men make up 6% of the population is not an Earth-shattering statement all by itself, and by itself, it's not really even relevant to the discussion. But it still gets its own graphic as she reads it word for word. This is to hold your attention on the graphic. While you're holding your attention on the fact that black men are 6% of the population, she rattles off something about unarmed people, something your subconscious interprets as meaning "wrongful shootings by the police."

Then, riiiip! Look what the graphic now says. It doesn't say that black men, that 6% of the population, made up 40% of some relatively tiny number of people. It says that black men, 6% of the population, make up 40% of police killings. All of them. There's nothing up there about "unarmed," and you've probably forgotten about that part by now anyway, right? You're just thinking, "Wow, 40% of all people unjustly killed by police were black!"

According to the Washington Post, in 2015, police fatally shot 965 human beings. 564 of those people were armed with a gun. 281 were armed with some other weapon. (That's a total of 845 armed out of 965 total.) Ninety were unarmed. That doesn't mean non-aggressive, not presenting a threat, necessarily. They could have been sitting on an officer's chest, beating her head into the concrete for all we know. Or it could have been a negligent error on the officer's part, like some innocent bystander catching a stray bullet during a gunfight, or an officer thinking someone was reaching for a weapon. And in a very few cases, that might actually rise to the level of criminal negligence, where a cop will do time because he shot someone who was no threat at all for reasons even the officer himself is unclear about.

40% of 90 is 36. Now that's nothing to sneeze at. That's three a month. We don't know exactly what portion of those were innocent, non-aggressive people, or even aggressive people who maybe could've been handled without deadly force. It wasn't all of them, despite BLM wanting us to think that, but it was probably more than one or two, and those people's lives matter. It is a tragedy that they were killed, and the causes need to be addressed.

But let's also get a little perspective. In a country of 318,900,000 people, about 42 million of whom are black, with close to 800,000 cops working in 17,895 law enforcement agencies, 36 unarmed black men got shot in a whole year, and only a portion of them shouldn't have been.

This is the "genocide." This is what's making people so angry they kill cops two and three and five at a time--any cops, not even ones being aggressive toward black people. This is what a handful of radical feminists are using to manipulate everyone into agreeing with anything they say or risk being discounted as racist. That maybe 30-some people got accidentally killed with a weapon that kills pretty quickly and effortlessly, even by mistake, is what's making the black community afraid to death to encounter a police officer.

36 out of 42 million. That's a one-in-1,166,667 chance that you'll be shot to death by police while unarmed. You are LITERALLY MORE LIKELY TO BE STRUCK BY LIGHTNING than to be shot by a cop while you're unarmed. I looked it up.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bernie Has Not Given Up, and He Won California

I think it should be pointed out that since Tuesday (well, since Monday, actually) there have been a lot of misleading headlines out there giving the impression that Sanders has thrown in the towel and is endorsing Hillary.

He's done nothing of the sort. He and Hillary have said that they'll "work together" to defeat Trump, but neither has conceded to the other. When Reporters tried to ask Bernie questions after his meeting with Obama, Harry Reid waved them away and wouldn't entertain any speculation that Bernie had quit. Later, speaking on his own, Reid told reporters something to the effect of "I don't imagine Bernie would refuse" to help Clinton beat Trump, but nowhere had Bernie made anything like a concession speech.

To the contrary, he's fighting her in the D.C. primary next.

An article was published on a website called JUSTICEGAZETTE.ORG making the case that Bernie Sanders actually won California by a landslide, and election fraud named Hillary as the winner. Many have been skeptical. Who's ever heard of this website? CNN doesn't say anything about fraud in California. None of the big networks do. Instead, they all have pictures of a smiling Bernie next to headlines suggesting he's supporting Hillary now.

OF COURSE this story is going to come from some amateurish little fish wrapper publication! Hillary and the big media outlets are all on the same payroll! That's been deafeningly clear all through this election. I don't know why anyone should now start acting surprised by the fact. There was practically a media blackout on Bernie while he was getting more donors than Hillary. Then they were giving him a token mention followed up with, "Of course, he can never really win," just before he won state after state. For the first time ever, they included superdelegates in the running tally of who was winning, because even in states that Sanders WON (like Washington), most superdelegates refused to support him.

So some little rag written by someone who could stand to take a journalism course or two wrote that journalists who support Bernie are getting shoved to the side while Hillary supporters are given the choice spots. Is this really all that incredible a statement? It correlates perfectly with what we're observing.

Cut through the brand marketing and look at the substance. Forget the "a popular actress said" or the speculations and look at what facts were reported: There are parts of California where you'd be hard pressed to even find a Hillary supporter other than at a Hillary rally, places where TENS OF THOUSANDS of people rallied for Bernie while a few hundred showed up to support Hillary...and yet Hillary won those districts. How?

No, It's like if you heard tomorrow that San Francisco had elected a Bible-banging homophobe for mayor, or Texas had elected a communist governor, or Baltimore or Oakland had elected a white supremacist, or Las Vegas elected someone who wants to shut down all the casinos and chase out the tourists despite visibly massive, overwhelming support for that person's rival.

More Californians favored Bernie than Hillary. They supported him 2:1 over Hillary in the run-up to the election. This much is documented, regardless of how chintzy you think JUSTICEGAZETTE.ORG might be. And then they show a video--a video that Hillary's party has been showing for years--of a computer programmer who works for a company that writes vote-flipping programs testifying under oath about how easy it is to produce a 51-49 win for any candidate, and why he believed that it appeared that had happened in Ohio in 2004.

That's what's called circumstantial evidence. Contrary to what every detective show and court drama ever produced would have you believe, "circumstantial" doesn't mean "invalid." Circumstantial evidence is evidence. It's not usually as rock solid as some other sorts of evidence, but sometimes, it's the most solid that's possible. For example, let's say you're home babysitting your little nephew, Roger. Roger loves cookies, he loves to climb, and he knows he's not supposed to have any cookies until after dinner. You're watching TV shortly before getting up to make dinner, and you hear a crash from the kitchen. You run in an find Roger sitting on a stack of books on the counter. There's a chair pulled up to the counter, books stacked on the chair. The cabinet where the cookie jar is kept is open, and the cookie jar is smashed to pieces on the floor. You don't have to be a genius to see that Roger climbed up to get the cookies and caused the jar to fall. Do you have video of this happening? Eyewitnesses? Roger's fingerprints or DNA samples from the cookie jar or the cabinet handle? Any evidence that the crime wasn't actually perpetrated by Roger's imaginary friend Herbie, as he claimed (right after he claimed that nothing happened and before he changed his story to say that the Ninja Turtles did it)? You and Roger are the only ones in the house. There are no pets, no vermin, no open windows or strong breezes. You, however, are not an investigative journalist for a billion-dollar broadcast news channel. Now, do you doubt your conclusion that Roger knocked down the cookie jar? Is there any doubt at all? "All you have" is circumstantial evidence.

It's that same kind of situational evidence that's making it obvious that this election was stolen. If we want to be sure the results were wrong, there'd have to be a hand-counted recount of paper ballots. If we want to be 100% certain that the error was intentional, we'll have to have a programmer look at the source code of the program used to count the votes. But common sense and a simple understanding of math tell you that if, going into the polls, some number of people say they're voting for Hillary and TWICE AS MANY say they're voting for Bernie, and then the election results say Hillary wins...somethin' ain't right.

But as the infomercials say, "Wait! There's more!" Even without hacking the vote count, there's the matter of so many Bernie supporters--easily identified by software used during pre-election canvassing--and ONLY them, being given provisional ballots that were never counted.

This is the 2000 Florida all over again, but without any hanging chads. Just count all the damned ballots. How hard is that to understand? People who were registered voted. Count their votes.
That's not being done, and people are laughing that the mere idea that all the votes should be counted is just some lunatic blogger crying sour grapes.

I'm done with it. If Bernie doesn't get the nomination, I'm voting for Trump. He'll try (and fail) to do such horrible things that the military will remove him, or the UN will step in, or we'll otherwise have some sort of Constitutional crisis requiring a new Constitutional convention. Then we can finally break up this monstrous empire into a more sane collection of appropriately sized nations. The South can finally have their apartheid Baptist theocracy where everyone's required to carry three machine guns, and the Northeast can have their bans on large sodas while staging elementary school performances of the Torch Song Trilogy. We can finally stop lumping together the Great Lakes and prairie states as "the Midwest" (like Cleveland and Detroit have anything at all in common with Kansas and Iowa) and let California do its own thing.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Stronghold Economics

Today I heard a story on the radio about a local foundry shutting down. They interviewed the workers. They were all very unhappy about it, and they all sounded all rather unintelligent, too, meaning they probably have few other options besides doing the work they've always known. Every one of them makes more money than I do. Any one of them would probably be seen as having a better work ethic than I. Probably all of them are financially self-sufficient (at least to the extent that you can say someone who depends on a regular paycheck from someone else is "self-sufficient"). I tried to picture myself in their shoes, working my entire life at a foundry or factory or what have you, and it seemed like hell. It seemed like prison-lite. I could do it for a set period of time, to achieve a particular goal, especially if the payoff were substantial. But I couldn't just resign myself to thinking that my only purpose in life is to make money for someone else's business. Thinking of lying on my death bed saying, "Well, I didn't do much with my life, but at least I taped a whole bunch of boxes shut for Plasticorp!" seems like the saddest thing in the world to me.

But I look at where I am financially, by contrast. I look at the struggles that come of not having a regular job and the challenges I've had building wealth. I worry that I will not be a proper role model for my children, especially for my son, and that they will have a harder time supporting themselves as adults as a result of not seeing me go away for so many hours a day, working on someone else's schedule.

But then I thought about what I do, and how my son spends most of his free time, and I'm not quite so concerned. He likes to play civilization-building computer games. One of his favorites is called Stronghold. Let me explain how Stronghold works.

In Stronghold, you are a medieval lord. You start each phase of the game with nothing but a house, some gold, and some undeveloped land. You're given an objective, anything from something as simple as "grow this number of apples" to "rescue Lady Elspeth from the evil knight in the neighboring kingdom." In some of the more complex challenges, you'll start off with more than just the house, but generally, you have to start from scratch at the beginning of each round.

Starting from scratch means that first, you build a storeroom. The storeroom doesn't produce anything. It's just where you keep your stuff. Any homeless person can tell you how critical this is to accumulating any sort of wealth. After the storeroom, you build a woodcutter's hut, because you can't build anything else in the game until you have some wood (that you keep in your storeroom, which is why you have to build that first). To get wood, you must have a woodcutter cut it, and to get someone to come to your castle and work as a woodcutter, you have to build him a woodcutter's hut.

The next step is to procure some food. The quickest, simplest, cheapest way is to build a hunter's hut. The hunter will kill game to feed himself and the woodcutter, putting any surplus in, not the storeroom. He'll put the surplus in the granary, which you need wood and gold to build. You can also build various sorts of farms and mines to harvest other natural resources, and then build different types of workshops for craftsmen to turn those raw resources into weapons, armor, and other useful and valuable commodities.

Having laid all this infrastructure and stockpiled a mass of weapons and armor in your armory, and having built elaborate fortifications from wood and stone to defend your home and all you've built, you can start raising an army. To support all these workers and soldiers, you need to have enough food and housing to support them all, as well as means of keeping their spirits up and keeping them out of trouble. Only after you've done all this and trained an army of sufficient size can you then take on the tasks of defeating your enemies, rescuing damsels in distress, or what have you. You can still fail at this point. You can suck as a general and totally botch your military operations.  But the point is that even if you are a brilliant strategist and tactician, you still have to start from scratch chopping wood.

We live in a society where labor is divided up into many, highly specialized roles. In our world, you can train to be that military commander and nothing else. You don't have to work through wood chopping and eel fishing to get there. The thinking is that you'll be a better commander if you focus on nothing else but learning to command troops effectively. This is true. But what happens to that brilliant commander if he upsets his king? If the king casts him out, and (because of this) none of the other kings want to hire him, what does he do? Does he become a miller or a cook? A wine maker or a pole turner?

In my case, I wandered onto the next screen to be the lord of the next level. I started with a house and a storeroom and a little bit of gold to build a woodcutter's hut. I built the hut, but nobody came to work there, so I worked as the woodcutter myself. I chopped wood until I had enough to build a farm, but when that happened, I was out of food and had to sell some of the wood to keep myself fed. So it was back to chopping, to once again acquire enough wood to build the farm. Then I had it, but needed gold to build the farm, so I sold some of the wood and went back to chopping to replenish what I'd sold. Finally, I had enough wood, gold, and food to build the farm. I built the farm, and no sooner had the crop started to ripen than it was attacked by thieves. And wolves. And neighboring armies of inspectors and enforcement officers from the kingdoms of Health, Building, and Zoning. Each time, I'm back to cutting wood to try to accumulate enough to move on to the next phase.

But unlike those guys at the foundry, I keep on, because I have an objective. My game ends when my life ends. Not before, and I don't get another turn after, so I have to keep on 'til I get it right. My objective is to give my kids a head start when they start their game. My goal is for them to already have a storeroom, a woodcutter's hut, a hunter's camp, a farm, and maybe a couple workshops going by the time they're ready to start the game. It's unlikely I'll ever be called on to rescue Lady Elspeth. Maybe that won't happen until my great-great-grandchildren get a turn. But I won't see my kids struggle just to get past the woodcutter's phase, so I'm trying to get that stuff done for them to lay the groundwork for their later success.

When I worked a regular job and dreamed of what I'd rather be doing, I used to wish I could be a pioneer. I wished I could go into an undeveloped land and, working as a generalist--building structures, growing crops, establishing security, building a community--laying all the groundwork for a new civilization to establish itself.

I see now that I got my wish, and I'm happy for it. I may get frustrated that the game is too full of wolves and raiders when I'm still unprepared to fend them off, but I am so incredibly fortunate just to be playing the game. I think my kids will do fine.