Photo of the day

From a Telegraph photos of the day gallery:

Australia's Nathan Hedge rides a wave at Teahupoo, on the French Polynesian island Tahiti during the Billabong Pro Tahiti surf event, part of the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) world tour

Australia’s Nathan Hedge rides a wave at Teahupoo, on the French Polynesian island Tahiti during the Billabong Pro Tahiti surf event, part of the ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) world tourPicture: GREGORY BOISSY/AFP/Getty Images

Who gets the money vs. who needs it

Love this infographic via Vox:

donating v death

Wow.  Would be nice to put some of that breast cancer and prostate cancer money (let’s be honest, cancer simply scares people disproportionately) into heart disease, COPD, and diabetes.

The media and Ferguson and what it tells us

First, it is just extraordinarly stupid that the police in Ferguson have repeatedly gone after members of the media.  If they think that is somehow going to work in their favor, they are just morons.  Maybe in Russia; not in America.  More importantly, though, this tells us a lot about the mindset of police forces in Ferguson.  And it’s not good.  Vox’s Max Fisher:

That police in Ferguson are targeting journalists so openly and aggressively is an appalling affront to basic media freedoms, but it is far scarier for what it suggests about how the police treat everyone else — and should tell us much about why Ferguson’s residents are so fed up. When police in Ferguson are willing to rough up and arbitrarily arrest a Washington Post reporter just for being in a McDonald’s, you have to wonder how those police treat the local citizens, who don’t have the shield of a press pass…

The police crackdown on journalists in Ferguson has become so severe that President Obama, in public comments, had to remind police that media freedom is protected in the United States.

“Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their job and report to the American people what they see on the ground,” he said. This would be banal statement if uttered about China or Russia; that the American president had to say it about his own country is a staggering sign of how badly the situation has turned.

Meanwhile, conservatives are complaining that the media have “taken the side” of the protesters.  Hey, wouldn’t you if you were getting gassed and arrested to?  But it’s far more than that.  Great post from Slate’s Josh Vorhees:

But missing from such handwringing about the reporters’ ostensible loss of objectivity is the fact that the media had left the sidelines long before Lowery and Reilly were handcuffed. The very reason that national reporters—including Slate’s Jamelle Bouie—packed their bags for Ferguson was to get answers. Answers to why a member of the Ferguson Police Department opened fire on an unarmed black teen in broad daylight. Answers to why city officials originally refused to identify the cop involved in the shooting or even say how many bullets he had fired. Answers to why police were responding to what originally were largely peaceful protests with military-grade riot gear.

In short, the media descended on Ferguson looking for the same thing that had led protesters to take to the streets: the truth. That’s the real reason the media is siding with the protestors: What the people in the streets of Ferguson want is the same thing the journalists were sent there to find.  

Meanwhile, love this post from Yglesias on the lack of police accountability in all this:

Reasonable people can disagree about when, exactly, it’s appropriate for cops to fire tear gas into crowds. But there’s really no room for disagreement about when it’s reasonable for officers of the law to take off their badges and start policing anonymously.

There’s only one reason to do this: to evade accountability for your actions…

And what’s particularly shocking about this form of evasion is how shallow it is. I can’t identify the officers in that photograph. But the faces are clearly visible. The brass at the Ferguson Police Department, Saint Louis County Police Department, and Missouri Highway Patrol should be able to easily identify the two officers who are out improperly arresting photographers. By the same token, video taken at the Lowery and Reilly arrests should allow for the same to be done in that case.

Policing without a nametag can help you avoid accountability from the press or from citizens, but it can’t possibly help you avoid accountability from the bosses.

For that you have to count on an atmosphere of utter impunity. It’s a bet many cops operating in Ferguson are making, and it seems to be a winning bet…

But on another level, it would almost be nicer to hear that nobody in charge thinks there’s been any misconduct. After all, a lack of police misconduct would be an excellent reason for a lack of any disciplinary action. What we have is something much scarier. Impunity. The sense that misconduct will occur and even be acknowledged without punishment. Of course there are some limits to impunity. Shoot an unarmed teenager in broad daylight in front of witnesses, and there’ll be an investigation. But rough up a reporter in a McDonalds for no reason? Tear-gas an 8 year-old? Parade in front of the cameras with no badges on? No problem.

Again, it would be nice if people across the political spectrum could admit these are genuine problems.  (They are!) If  only the right-wing support of the police wasn’t so damn reflexive (hooray for libertarians, though, I am particularly loving Mike Munger’s FB feed).   These are real problems that simply should not be existing in a healthy democracy, or at minimum should be seriously addressed rather than largely ignored.  American can and absolutely should do better.


Because I am Ferguson obsessed

and yet too busy to blog as much as I’d like this week due to the start of the semester, here’s another.  It’s a Robert Reich status update that is basically a blog post that I wrote in my head but never got around to writing here:

Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri, is at least the fifth unarmed black man to be killed by a white police officer in the past month (along with Eric Garner of Staten Island, John Crawford of Ohio, Ezell Ford of Los Angeles, and Dante Parker of Victoville California). Most of the residents of Ferguson are black; almost all its police officers are white. Yet a new Pew poll shows Americans sharply divided over whether the shooting of Michael Brown raises an important issue of race. While 62% of white Democrats think it does, 61% or Republicans think it doesn’t, and that the issue of race has got too much attention in the shooting. On what planet are those who don’t believe race is at issue here living?

Seriously.  I would really like some follow-up questions with those who think the race angle is being overplayed here.

Tea Party and Ferguson

So, that last post about the NRA reminded me of something a friend and reader shared on FB earlier today.  What’s true about the NRA is far more true about the Tea Party.  From William Wilson:

I have an honest question. Where are all the constitution quoting, anti -government, tea partiers in Ferguson? I’m pretty sure there are a lot of rights being infringed upon. Yet, I havent’ heard a peep from Ron Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ted Nugent, or ANYONE! Isn’t the tea party’s whole purpose about keeping the government from doing EXACTLY what they are doing? Here is their chance to make a REAL stand, and prove that their cause is just and true, not racially or politically based. Their silence is deafening.

I’ve been told by my Tea Party friends (and yes I do have some) that the tea party isn’t about party or race. But about stopping the government from infringing upon the rights of US citizens. I’m looking forward to hearing them tell me why they aren’t represented in Ferguson. It’s been a week.

And let me be PERFECTLY CLEAR. I don’t think the Tea, Republican or Democrat party are racist institutions. But I do believe all three have racists in them; of the black and white persuasion.

It’s a real shame there has been actual violence, looting, etc., from among some of the protesters in Ferguson.  It makes it far too easy for those on the right to put this into their schema of dangerous, scary Black people that police can rightfully take any and all measures to protect them from.  Police certainly can and should use force when there is violence and looting.  Alas, that muddies the fact that, on the whole, the police have still been amazing excessive and amazingly unaccountable.


Where’s the NRA?

Love this from the Daily Beast’s Cliff Schecter:

The National Rifle Association has been warning us about the threat of a heavily-armed and dangerous government crushing dissent for decades. Their leader, Wayne LaPierre, even referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms as “jack-booted thugs.” 

Their dystopian nightmare sounds exactly like what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri.

Yet somehow, the NRA seems to have missed the whole thing with the SWAT teams and the tank-like vehicles and the snipers and the LRAD sound cannon and the tear gas and the rubber bullets being trained on unarmed Americans. Not a peep from LaPierre on this extended assault on citizens of Ferguson, at least that I can find.

If I were suspicious of their motives–and I am–I might point out that when I visited their 9 acres of militarized gun-fun also known as their convention in Indianapolis, I saw fewer black faces than in your average episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. I’d also point out that LaPierre blows just about every tune he knows on his dog whistle, when warning his membership of the horrors confronting them during this period when violent crime has fallen to its lowest level in a generation:

We don’t trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves and we trust what we know in our hearts to be right. We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.

Besides making you wonder who spiked his drink with goofballs, what jumps out about that friendly little harangue? Who do you think LaPierre’s speech is meant for when he mentions “terrorists” and “drug cartels” and “carjackers” and “knockout gamers?” I promise you the hardcore gun fetishists he’s preaching to are not picturing Eric Rudolph or George Jung.

I was never actually expecting logical consistency from the NRA.  But nice of Schecter to lay out who they really want those guns to protect themselves from.

Photo of the day

From an In Focus gallery of Ferguson:

Demonstrators raise their arms and chant, “Hands up, Don’t Shoot”, as police clear them from the street as they protest the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 17, 2014. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


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