Re: Not Quite About Ferguson

1

Taking off badges is always a bad sign - happens over here as well (with ID numbers, not name badges, but effectively the same thing) and it's generally a sign that the police are about to do something dodgy.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:00 AM
horizontal rule
2

Ezra highlights a difficult dilemma that I think has to be treated with respect:

If Obama's speeches aren't as dramatic as they used to be, this is why: the White House believes a presidential speech on a politically charged topic is as likely to make things worse as to make things better. It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals. And in a country riven by political polarization, widening that divide can take hard problems and make them impossible problems.

Klein is, as noted, chanelling the White House here, but is Obama wrong?

I think there are a lot of things for which Obama is correctly blamed (as the OP notes re: torture, for example), but I think we know that Obama is on the side of human decency in regards to Ferguson, and so the remaining question is tactical. I'm not inclined to question Obama's political judgment, which is obviously pretty extraordinary.

(I liked Klein's piece a lot. I feel as though I understand Obama's thinking on this a lot better than I did before I read it.)


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:01 AM
horizontal rule
3

This seems pretty persuasive:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/09/fear-of-a-black-president/309064/

The moment Obama spoke, the case of Trayvon Martin passed out of its national-mourning phase and lapsed into something darker and more familiar--racialized political fodder. The illusion of consensus crumbled. Rush Limbaugh denounced Obama's claim of empathy. The Daily Caller, a conservative Web site, broadcast all of Martin's tweets, the most loutish of which revealed him to have committed the un­pardonable sin of speaking like a 17-year-old boy. A white-­supremacist site called Stormfront produced a photo of Martin with pants sagging, flipping the bird. Business Insider posted the photograph and took it down without apology when it was revealed to be a fake.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:07 AM
horizontal rule
4

Once the cops start wearing badges that read "Richard Hertz", you know they have basically become just another bunch of drunks on the street.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
5

Fair enough on the last point.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
6

mine to pf


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:09 AM
horizontal rule
7

Klein's piece was depressing but I thought it was actually very good. The amount of shit that was stirred over something as fucking innocuous as "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon" was incredible.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:17 AM
horizontal rule
8

Okay, but, everything in 3 has already happened in this case, without more than a tiny murmur of whining from the White House. And Obama's political judgement -- "extraordinary"? For some values of that word, I guess. He's quite good at getting himself elected, we know that. But in terms of advancing a political agenda? If we accept that he was always on the side of power and privilege, and was anointed to preside over the further immiseration of the middle and working classes by the jackals of Wall Street and offshore banking, then yeah, that's been a pretty extraordinary run. Is Mike Brown better off than he was 6 years ago?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
9

8.last is brilliantly insane rhetoric. Switch sides and there's a place waiting for you at NRO.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:24 AM
horizontal rule
10

I have an intuitive strong negative reaction to "the President must give a speech! A really good speech!" Who cares. Especially at this point, we all know Obama can give good speech. Also it reminds me of half-forgotten jackasses during the run up to the Gulf War who kept demanding that what we really needed we're good speeches about bringing democracy to the Middle East or whatever.

If I had to fault the White House, it wouldn't be for the absence of a big old speech, but for letting the local authorities twist in the wind for so long without just saying "fuck you clowns, we're federalizing everything." Not that that's easy either.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:25 AM
horizontal rule
11

9: I bet Obama is on the side of the oppressive local protesters who don't want their message hijacked by outsiders with random grievances, too.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:27 AM
horizontal rule
12

It, all of it, is not Obama's fault!! Obama is a very good man, doing the best he can, with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Coates has so much sympathy for the poor guy, and so should you.

Who's Michael Brown?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
13

11: an anarchist who is instinctively sympathetic with Stalinist Communists is a sad indictment of the appallingly bad state of US history education. And a kind of Ken MacLeod version of that sketch about the blind KKK member who didn't realise he was black.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:34 AM
horizontal rule
14

It is as likely to infuriate conservatives as it is to inspire liberals. And in a country riven by political polarization, widening that divide can take hard problems and make them impossible problems.

I'm deeply unimpressed by the "but conservatives might throw a tantrum!" argument. Conservatives will always throw a tantrum no matter what. Conservative tantrums should have zero weight in decisions about what to do or not do.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:34 AM
horizontal rule
15

13: Dude, did you even read my comments? I think the RCP is despicable. I just don't see that much difference between cynical Democratic politicians and cynical Communist activists. Since you do, perhaps you could elucidate?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:38 AM
horizontal rule
16

14: I think that's right.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:38 AM
horizontal rule
17

14: Likewise. Rush Limbaugh is going to pitch a fit no matter what the President does, and Fox News will spin his every action as tyrannical socialism. Might as well try to get something done in the meantime.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
18

The RCP are trying their hardest to get more people killed and the Democrats are, as far as I can tell, trying to not get more people killed.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:39 AM
horizontal rule
19

14 seems right, but still doesn't change my antipathy to "where is the speech?? We must have a good speech."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:41 AM
horizontal rule
20

How fucking dare anyone out there make fun of Obama after all he has been through.!

He lost his grandmother, he went through a reelection. He had two fuckin kids.

His pastor turned out to be a user, a cheater, and now he's going through a lawsuit. All you people care about is..... readers and making money off of him.

HE'S A HUMAN! (ah! ooh!) What you don't realize is that Obama is making you all this money and all you do is write a bunch of crap about him.

He hasn't performed on stage in years. His speech is called "a more perfect union" for a reason because all you people want is MORE! MORE-MORE, MORE: MORE!.

LEAVE HIM ALONE! You are lucky he even performed for you BASTARDS!
LEAVE OBAMA ALONE!.....Please.

Jon Stewart talked about professionalism and said if Obama was a professional he would've pulled it off no matter what.

Speaking of professionalism, when is it professional to publicly bash someone who is going through a hard time.

Leave Obama Alone Please.... !
Leave Barak Obama alone!...right now!....I mean it.!

Anyone that has a problem with him you deal with me, because he is not well right now.

LEAVE HIM ALONE!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
21

18: So how is attacking other demonstrators NOT "trying to get more people killed"? If you knew anything about riots, you'd know that this is exactly the kind of thing that provides cover for the cops to crack skulls with impunity.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:47 AM
horizontal rule
22

http://civilrightshistory204.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/anti-communist_poster_from_birmingham_kkk_ca_1934.jpg


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
23

21: So, what are they supposed to do about Stalinist instigators? Do you have a helpful suggestion?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
24

22 to 23


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
25

23: LEAVE THEM ALONE! THEY'VE BEEN THROUGH A LOT! THEY MEAN WELL!


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
26

So how is attacking other demonstrators NOT "trying to get more people killed"? If you knew anything about riots, you'd know that this is exactly the kind of thing that provides cover for the cops to crack skulls with impunity.

This is the most insanely illogical thing that ... whatever.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
27

I don't want a speech. But Obama sure as hell could make an executive order putting the 1033 program on hold pending further investigation of police militarization. There would be support for that on both the left and the right. It would send the right message, and, more importantly, its actually the right thing to do.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
28

22: That's not helpful!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:54 AM
horizontal rule
29

Exterminate the kulaks!


Posted by: Opinionated Stalinist Instigators | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:58 AM
horizontal rule
30

I love the NY Times headline this morning: Shooting Accounts Differ as Holder Schedules Visit to Ferguson. I wonder if some sub-editor deliberately echoed the "Shape of Earth: Accounts Differ" joke.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
31

27 also seems right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
32

A speech can matter when you're starting from a low point. In this case, the refusal by most whites to think that there's even a problem. The president saying that as the president and a black man, there sure as hell is a problem, would be a big deal. What "problem" would he be rendering "impossible" by "dividing" people by making that speech? I don't want to say that he owes it to African-Americans to stand up for them, but he owes it to African-Americans to stand up for them.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 8:17 AM
horizontal rule
33

Thesis One: Big hard things get done when elites are viciously polarized or fragmented.

Examples:30s, 60s. Ted K and Nixon and LBJ didn't have no beer summits. Causation and exceptions to follow.

Counter: After golfing with Jeb and Jamie, Obama and Boehner are free to wave their hands impotently at their bases. They'all lunch later at Davos.

Thesis Two: The big groundling polarization numbers are for self-identification and Spectacle, because when the populist polarization is real and passionate, stuff starts getting broken everywhere, the center gets scared, and the center moderates at least one of the poles.

90-10 is a luxury


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
34

Obama sure as hell could make an executive order putting the 1033 program on hold pending further investigation of police militarization

Real question: what are instances in which he has acted quickly at a policy level in response to from-below popular demands?


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
35

32: There are a lot of stupid things said about what Obama can accomplish just by talking about it - so much so that (per Halford) it has become disreputable to notice that Obama can accomplish things just by talking about them.

The question is a situational one; a tactical one. Where can Obama do some good?

"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Obama said. "When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids."

I found that tremendously powerful. Did it do any good? Maybe!

I was, perhaps naively, shocked by the blowback, though.

I expect Obama to do things regarding Ferguson - particularly via the Justice Department - and talk can complicate action.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
36

If there's one thing history has shown it's that true progress on civil rights is accomplished only when liberals shy away from confrontation.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
37

34: Major protests and arrests by young immigrant Dreamers in the spring of 2012, leading to the rushed announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented youth on June 15, 2012. Applications accepted starting 60 days later, on August 15.

The end of this article spells out the June 2012 timeline. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/19/deferred-action-immigration-program_n_1786099.html


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:24 AM
horizontal rule
38

It should be noted that many "adult" immigrant advocates (like me) were counseling caution and worried about pressuring Obama too much in the midst of the 2012 political campaign. It was the young activists who pushed it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
39

Just in passing on part one, while thinking about the Jezebel problem with trolls, and my studies of liberalism/nationalism:

Identity gives access to rights and claims while anonymity (or self-effacement) gives access to power.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
40

Friend --

Nothing has ever been more important than fighting for folks like you. You are my priority.


Posted by: Actual Barack Obama (from email) | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
41

what are instances in which he has acted quickly at a policy level in response to from-below popular demands?

Its personnel, not policy, but Janet Yelin instead of Larry Summers as Fed Chief was due to popular demand from below.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
42

And you know what? Where the fuck is Hilary Clinton?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 9:54 AM
horizontal rule
43

42

She's not going to give up the bitter clingers.


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 10:00 AM
horizontal rule
44

Thesis One: Big hard things get done when elites are viciously polarized or fragmented.

The causality on that may be backwards -- I'd bet elites get viciously polarized when there are large, difficult problems that cannot be ignored.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 10:22 AM
horizontal rule
45

Quoting Yglesias from the OP:

What we have is something much scarier. Impunity. The sense that misconduct will occur and even be acknowledged without punishment.

This is Radley Balko's bailiwick, here, for example.

Now, that's specifically about drug-related cases, but his theme in general is the warrior cop, and action with impunity. Quoting from the linked piece:

Habersham County officials say they do not plan to pay for the medical expenses of a toddler seriously injured during a police raid.
Bounkham Phonesavah, affectionately known as "Baby Boo Boo," spent weeks in a burn unit after a SWAT team's flash grenade exploded near his face. The toddler was just 19-months-old and asleep in the early morning hours of May 28. SWAT officers threw the device into his home while executing a search warrant for a drug suspect.

Oops! Sorry about that! Nothing out of order here as far as we can see!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
46

Shorter Ron Fournier ogged, "Why won't Obama lead?"


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 11:48 AM
horizontal rule
47

42: You're insane.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
48

I'd bet elites get viciously polarized when there are large, difficult problems that cannot be ignored.

Well, it can be hard to separate, but there is a lot of ruin in a country, and a few times when large difficult problems get solved through consensus. And sometimes partisanship is more in sorrow than anger

Then there are the times when an elite faction can go all-in, kicks its opposition in the nuts, and creates an implacable generational enemy that won't be available for help if fortunes are reversed. And enjoys it. Sometimes the problems are created or highlighted in order to create an enemy.

Secession;Reconstruction amendments.

The CCC/WPA/devaluation were probably necessary. I don't think most of the New Deal was necessary.

The fascists got off on pushing moderate centrists to the wall. The post-War East European Commies had fun and felt empowered.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
49

the warrior cop, and action with impunity

Impunity comes up a lot in the starts-bloodless online rights discussions; as far as I've been told there's no repercussion, maybe not even a career ding, in incorrectly marking people as suspicious. Let alone recourse for marked people to argue that they should be un-marked. Nick Harkaway's `stat filler' set piece is way too accurate.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 12:38 PM
horizontal rule
50

Where the fuck is Hilary Clinton?

In spirit, New Hampshire.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 1:12 PM
horizontal rule
51

Oh how nice. Our building's management company just sent around an email alerting us to potential travel impacts of some planned protests in DC tonight and tomorrow, might want to avoid certain routes on your commute. OK, fine. Then it includes some helpful dog whistles tips like "be very careful and vigilant when walking to Metro stations and on station platforms" and "get on trains that are heavily occupied, not ones that are nearly empty (safety in numbers)". What the fuck?!?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 1:19 PM
horizontal rule
52

46,47:Sorry, but what happens in response to this over the next 6 months to year is going to be far more important than whatever stuff these folks say or do now while the event is going on. Incident management is very different from problem management,and right now we are still in the former. If the latter turns into "thank God we got through that,"and nothing is done in response, then that's the failure. Fairly independent of what anyone says this week.

If Hilary pitches her campaign to a coalition of the goobers and shies away from this type stuff at all then that is a problem. But in the moment I find no problem with whatever realpolitik considerations keep her and others from jumping in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 1:39 PM
horizontal rule
53

a coalition of the goobers

The long-awaited sequel to A Confederacy of Dunces.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 2:14 PM
horizontal rule
54

To me, her silence is an indication that she doesn't really value the Black vote as an important part of her future constituency. Wouldn't want to offend the goobers!

This is a chance for her to pull the reverse-Sister Soulja moment, and actually stand up for the people who will be voting for you. But that doesn't seem to interest her very much.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 2:22 PM
horizontal rule
55

I always wondered if the Sister Souljah moment ever actually meant anything to anyone other than New Republic writers. Did it have any perceivable actual effect on the '92 election?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 2:33 PM
horizontal rule
56

Didn't it show Leadership (tm)?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
57

55: Probably provided the margin of victory in Georgia and a few other states. Of course, the vote in the Electoral College wasn't especially close, so Clinton could have lost all the Deep South and border states and still won the presidency


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
58

Probably provided the margin of victory in Georgia and a few other states.

Is that based on anything other than speculation and assumption? I definitely get the impression that the Sister Souljah thing was a huge deal for official Washington, DLC, New Republic types, who were eager to draw lines against Al Sharpton types in the then-rampant-in-New York-and-DC black populists vs. UMC urban white people war. But I've always suspected that the impact was purely there; I doubt that it made much of a difference in actual voting, in the South or elsewhere.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 5:40 PM
horizontal rule
59

To be clear, my theory is based on nothing other than speculation and assumption, as well.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 6:15 PM
horizontal rule
60

How would you even begin to measure that? If you're a fundamentals guy, then almost by definition it doesn't matter. If you think campaigns matter, it's almost impossible to tell which narrative began where and wound up where and made who vote for whom.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
61

Well, it'd just be the beginning of measurement, but you could look at polls before and after the Moment.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:21 PM
horizontal rule
62

Hold a seance and consult the spirit of David Broder.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-20-14 7:35 PM
horizontal rule
63

Love Me Ferguson, I'm a Liberal ...more discussion in Jacobin about liberals and "outside agitators" Mentions Bull Connor and MLK, but not of Chaney Goodman and Schwerner coming down to "our town" to "stir shit up." This fight is mine/ours/theirs (to profit from), possessive neoliberals say, just as the Klan used to 50 years ago.

But these empty protestations from liberals do have a very clear purpose: separating people of color from a spirit of revolutionary community-building and anticapitalist politics. ... But in reality, these liberals are the enemies of the sort of radical change that these terms of inclusiveness are meant to signify. The language is turned into tools to silence and freeze people out of meaningful discussions about coalition-building and community change and, ultimately, reinforce capitalism's status quo.

The ease with which certain liberal bloggers at venues like the Daily Beast and Gawker use the terminology of racists, bigots, and violent segregationists should give everyone pause, and it should tell leftists that we have a long way to go towards building a truly progressive media.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 08-21-14 9:35 AM
horizontal rule
64

You know who ELSE didn't like Stalinists? That's right!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 08-21-14 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
65

I hadn't known much about the revolutionary communist party until this week. Apparently, their main principle is a cult of personality around a guy named Bob.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 08-21-14 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
66

Scott McLemee is your go to blogger for Bob Avakian and the RCP.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 08-21-14 2:41 PM
horizontal rule
67

Nevertheless, the RCP and the Church of the SubGenius are NOT the same thing. Take it from me.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 08-21-14 2:44 PM
horizontal rule
68

Take it from me.

You'll pry my pipe from my cold, dead lips.


Posted by: J.R. "Bob" Dobbs | Link to this comment | 08-21-14 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
69

Has anyone posted this yet ? http://www.mediaite.com/online/black-texans-protest-police-violence-by-exercising-right-to-openly-carry-guns/
My reactions are complicated.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 08-23-14 4:56 AM
horizontal rule
70

69: their use of the name Huey Newton was not an accident.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-23-14 5:18 AM
horizontal rule