Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pure Stupidity

Michael L.


I am sorry.

Is that an arrogant title?

We are supposed to be philosophical and sociological and understanding.  We are supposed to think that the young, black people who burned down much of Baltimore yesterday are merely responding to the circumstances of oppression that they live within.

We are supposed to believe that the United States is a highly racist country and that if we don't want well-deserved resistance from a beleaguered community then we better stop keeping them under the jack-boot of white, western racism.

As I often do, I turn to Daily Kos in order to get American left-leaning views on such things.  

Although, I have to say, this piece, entitled Powerful video interview of Crips & Bloods disputing the claims of the Baltimore Police is particularly weak and I am a bit surprised to find it on the front page.

Nonetheless, from the comments:

doroma has faith in the Crips and Bloods.
shocking....but I believe the gang over the cops (7+ / 0-)

at this point. In 2015, cops scare me ! They lie to cover up their crime.
Words in Action thinks that it's all perfectly reasonable:
When the authorities (2+ / 0-)

concede nothing and the broad middle fiddles in complacency with its dislike of conflict and discomfort, what alternatives are left?
Indeed, what else can people of good will do under such circumstances - whatever those circumstances are, exactly - other than burn down their neighbor's grocery store? 

freemark, in a different diary by a well-known user, thinks that rioting and burning down buildings and fighting the police is something akin to banging a golf club against a tree:
Have no trouble breaking a golf club (29+ / 0-)

The same people who break their own golf clubs after a bad tee shot refuse to understand why a small minority of people damage their own community after being abused and murdered by the people who are supposed to be protecting and serving them.
Because the inclination to burn down, or blow up, one's own neighborhood is psychologically akin to breaking a golf club.

Karl Rover has an interesting take:
I was disappointed by the comments (27+ / 0-)

that plainly said that the peaceful protesters were the looters.

There is more of a correlation with police riots and looting.
Got it.  The rioters are "peaceful protesters" and the cops who seek to protect the community from the rioters are themselves looters and rioters.

I have to say, as someone concerned about the long Arab war against the Jews, this kind of unjust inversion sounds very familiar to my ear.

This, however, from AKBear gets to the heart of the matter:
When all you see around you (75+ / 0-)

are the companies that take your money and only offer a pittance for a wage, then you can understand the rioting.

When all you see around you are the forgotten and underserved in the richest countries in the world, then you can understand the rioting.

When all you see are people losing their homes because basic repairs and maintenance have not been done in decades, then you can understand the rioting.
75 uprates.  That is quite a few.  In fact, that is an enormous number of uprates for a comment beneath an article.

In other words, what AKBear is saying is that the United States is such a horrible place - and the western system of liberal capitalism is so awful - that it is perfectly understandable why poor people "of color" riot and burn down their own neighborhoods.

This is what I like to call, in academic parlance, total bullshit.

My father grew up in a poverty-stricken mixed neighborhood in Brooklyn called Flatbush.

My grandmother, Sarah, carried my baby father through Ellis Island after leaving her dead husband behind in Argentina because they could not, initially, even get visas into the United States from the Ukraine.

She literally scrubbed floors at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in New York in order to take care of herself and my father before she remarried.

It never occurred to my father or his friends - despite the fact that as a teenager he was once fired from a job for observing Passover - to burn down their own neighborhood in righteous protest.

They figured that the thing to do was get into college.


  1. They figured that the thing to do was to get into college .

    Yes. But they hadn't had more than half a century of white liberal academics preaching to them that getting an education is 'selling out'. Thus ensuring they won't.

    The same academics/ politicians/ media people who did go to college.
    And who make sure their own children go to college.

    When you want less for other people's children than you do for your own, and dress it up in sociological theories, you are being something other than compassionate.

    The people who continue to send out these messages, the messages which have helped to destroy so many people's lives, tend to think of themselves as being the most compassionate ones in our societies.


  2. Moynihan had it right, and look how he was treated.

    White privilege and police brutality is not the problem, even if progressives cannot see past it.

    Conversely, to expect that people in poverty can escape it alone is also foolish.

    The vulgarity of culture and social media must change in order for an environment to develop where something effective can be done. The odds of that happening in the age of identity is slim.

    1. "Conversely, to expect that people in poverty can escape it alone is also foolish."
      How are they alone?

    2. There are people that cannot see outside their bubble and believe the poor are responsible for their own predicament.

      Not to mention the partisan conflict which causes rejection of any proposal of the other side, even those with merit, because the objective is to win, not to do what is right.

    3. Of course poverty must be tackled.
      And people living in poverty must be helped. That should be an imperative. I think the really important point is that the politicians who have been in charge of these areas for so long, and the sociological theories that have dominated the whole way in which poverty was to be tackled, and the federal government legislation and programmes which have had such an enormous impact on these areas, need to be allowed to be questioned. If for no other reason than that they have not helped , at all. They have made things worse.However well-intentioned some of it was, it has, surely, proved to be a failure. On a grand scale. And at a terrible cost to many of the most vulnerable in society.
      Everything from economic policy, social and family breakdown ( and related causes), and persistent government ( in all its forms) corruption, need to be addressed.
      Otherwise nothing will change.
      If the politicians and theorists really want to help people out of poverty and into a better future for them and their children, some people ( and some institutions) need to have the courage to ask themselves some hard questions. And to change what they are doing. More of the same is only going to produce the same outcomes, and the accompanying misery.
      Admitting failure is very hard. For all of us. Particularly when it demands that you question your ideological position. And, worse perhaps, may be seen to give comfort to your 'enemies'.

      When Obama campaigned on "Hope and Change", these things could have been where that "Hope and Change" really made a difference. If - and it's a big if - he had really been committed to presiding over the kind of changes that would genuinely give the people who need it most, real cause to hope.

  3. Also: If all people, regardless of the colour of their skin or what conditions their grandparents had had to face, were genuinely encouraged to: get an education; go to college; learn skills; find work; make their own way in the world etc., what proportion of them would be able to be counted on to vote for any particular political party?

    At what point does an entire political machine require people to be dependent on it for its own sake?
    And at what price?

    Autonomous people can make their own minds up.

  4. These rioters, aka criminals, and the commenters at Daily Kos have been sold the same time worn, rotten bill of goods by race hustlers.
    All I see in the comments are lame rationalizations for "people o' color" to break laws and rain destruction upon the communities in which they live. Baltimore has a majority minority police force and a black mayor. These Daily Kos armchair quarterbacks are enablers of a pathology that helps to keep people in misery for their own gratification.

    I can't even imagine where freemark came up with the stunningly bad analogy of a golf club. The grocery store down the street does not really "belong" to the rioters. People are destroying other peoples property, not their own, and stealing from their neighbors, not themselves. Obviously, not everyone is doing these things. The majority of the people in these neighborhoods are probably hiding in safety, hoping for an end to it, as I know I would be.
    I loved your comments at the end.

  5. I'd be a little bit shocked if anyone were to find the solid rational grounding for ANY large riot anywhere ever. That's why they're called riots. Often they're not in response to any single thing. Often it's a mass event borne of dozens of things. To me the riot per se isn't important but what is is calling for an accounting to the (black) mayor and the (black) city council and the (black) police force and the other (black) leaders who for some bizarre reason expect us to nod sagely as each and every one of them tells us how 'the system has failed for decades'...

    You are the system. These are, if we're to believe you, YOUR people. Where were you last month? Last year?

    Years ago I had the misfortune to drive around in Baltimore down by the University, where the Edgar Allen Poe house is. It was all eerily reminiscent of driving around African cities. Not because of the race of the people but the destruction, the gangs, the abandoned cars, the garbage in the streets. It was the only place besides Camden NJ I've ever driven through, in the US and blown through every red light, never stopping for anything or anyone. Doors locked, windows up, ready to rollover anyone in my way. And like I said, I know Jo'burg, I know Harare, I know Maputo, I know Luanda as well as Bamako, Abidjan, Ougadougou, Conraky.

    Point being, everyone can pretend this took everyone by surprise and isn't it terrible and why can't we all get along but what happened since oh, before nearly all these people were born to make no progress since? 15 years ago B'more was in the news when the media noted that 1000's of white families were packing up and leaving EVERY WEEK. Ya think it might have been the siren song of a city ready to die? Sure the Inner Harbor's a nice tourist spot, all clean and fresh. But the rest of the city's been disintegrating for decades.Did no one notice?

  6. Let me just say I 100% disagree with this article.

    1. To expound, let me just say that a article such as this that goes full on hard core right-wing freeper/red state only just hurts the main cause you set up this site for and divides us!

      I still harken back to a great man MLK standing up for the rights of JEWS while his own people were being brutalized. To now side WITH the type of people that stood against MLK is just plain shameful!

    2. I'm not sure I get you Pith. Mike isn't siding WITH anyone but AGAINST violent rioters and their apologists. And, of course, against a certain kind of leftist rhetoric.

    3. What he is doing is spouting pure right-wing talking points! When he does this, he IS siding with the right wing hate-mongers. Just as those who espouse "palestinian" talking points ARE taking their illegitimate side!

    4. Well if you say so Pith. We will just have to agree to disagree on this. I've known Mike a long time and nothing anyone says will make me believe he sides with right wing hate mongers or plays one in real life or on the net.

      And just so you know, I, and perhaps a few others here, do not believe that every single word uttered by "right wingers," are the devil's spew. Some are, Some aren't.

      me, I'm kinda like Leonard Cohen said:

      "I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
      I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
      And I'm neither left or right
      I'm just staying home tonight,
      getting lost in that hopeless little screen. "

    5. Right wing talking points? As compared to?

      From the way they holler it seems the protestors believe police on black violence in the community is worse than black on black violence, and expect the police to be choir boys no matter what situation is encountered.

      They would have more credibility if they acknowledged that it's not just due to Republican policies, but their own as well.

    6. Well said, Doodad. The smears on MIke are tired, and have never been proven. They need to stop.

    7. Pitt,

      You are a good man and people of good intentions can amicably disagree.

      Part of the problem that I have with these riots - aside from the fact that I oppose riots, in general - is that there is a manufactured quality to this that derives, in recent moments, from Ferguson.

      Those cops that killed that guy need to be investigated and prosecuted...but

      But, the Baltimore police need to be able to defend their own city.

      You saw the footage. They literally had the cops on the run.

      Would you want to live in such a place?

      I would not.

    8. Mike,

      I do not think these are manufactured. For years due to economic policies like red-lining districts, the obvious racial war on drugs, and more we have pushed certain communities into despair

      Add on systemic abuses by cops towards the African-American community (from the piling on of court debt to the physical abuse and MUREDR of many African-Americans)

      Add all this up and a boiling point will be reached.

      Now mostly there were peaceful protests, but yet those never get any play in the media. instead the media will focus on the riots. Any many media (not just right wing) will push the thugs, criminal, lack of family BS

      Those who riot are on the fringe. Furthermore there has been proof that POLICE THEMSELVES have agitated the situation to make violence break out..

      But yet, the media and many people want to push the "poor bad black thug" meme. And people buy into this, thus real progress on the issues is never made. As such, to me, it is irresponsible to push this message.

      So yes, the riots are NOT to be praised, but to overly vilify the rioters and not the people responsible for creating the conditions that made the riots happen is quite frankly pushing the whole right-wing "blacks are bad" agenda!

    9. About the "bad cop" who needs to be investigated...

      1) If all these "alleged" good cops that exist would actually speak up about the predatory violence committed by their peers, things would not have gotten to the point of rioting.

      2) How many incidents such as this have been swept under the rug in the past. As such what confidence should the community have that things will change by remaining silent? How has that worked to date for them?

      3) They had the cops on the run would I want to live in a place like that? NO! But those people through economic hardship have no choice but to stay. The cops have created the conditions and let them deteriorate to the point that this has happened!

      4) Baltimore cops need to defend "THEIR CITY". I though the city was the communities? But then again the cops think it is theirs (even though less than 30% actually reside in the city). As such you have a bunch of outsiders getting their kicks on abusing the community. Because the community can't belong to those "thugs", it must belong to the Jack-boot law and order sociopaths who have a free reign to terrorize the community!

    10. I agree with most of your points, Pitt. But why shouldn't the media focus on the riots? They're actually happening, regardless of how many are ultimately involved, and they're destructive tragedies that take decades to recover from.

      I live in inner city North Philadelphia. We still haven't recovered from the 1964 riots. I have family in Newark, New Jersey, which hasn't recovered from their 1967 riots. Mike is in Oakland, which just had riots of its own a few years ago over Oscar Grant's murder by the police.

      The causes are a separate thing from the resulting actions. There is no honor in excusing or apologizing for riots. They destroy cities for decades, which is a matter that deeply affects those of us who live in these places.

    11. Pitt, I do not know that the Right has a "blacks are bad" agenda.

      In fact, I am pretty sure that the Republican party has an African-American candidate.

      You see a historically abused minority whose young people need relief from white, western racism.

      What I see is a historically abused minority whose young people need a college education in order to get a good job.

    12. The recent demonization of police officers on the left does not help anything.

      Are you seriously questioning the existence of good police officers?

      I can personally introduce you to dozens of them, including three cousins in New Jersey (including one in a very urban city, Passaic), and a sergeant at my local PPD district. They literally put their lives on the line for us every day, especially in places like where I live.

      Our cities absolutely do also belong to the men and women we hire to keep them safe.

      Are there some bad cops? Sure. Just like there are bad lawyers and bad accountants and bad mechanics and bad wastewater operators. But to make wild generalizations and assumptions on an entire profession is no different than the demonization we regularly see of Jews and Israel based upon a few cherry-pickings.

    13. "What I see is a historically abused minority whose young people need a college education in order to get a good job."

      First before that can happen:

      1) Why don't we fund the inner city schools to a point where the kids CAN GET a good education?

      2) How are they going to pay for college? Last I knew college sure wasn't cheap! (The older version of the GI bill I had only covered 50% of my degree, the newer GI bill is better). So yes there is a way they can afford it, that is IF they qualify (medically, background,etc)

      "In fact, I am pretty sure that the Republican party has an African-American candidate." - LOL By the same TOKEN, the left has some Jewish candidates that would throw Israel under the Hamas bombed bus in a heartbeat!

    14. Jay,

      I can personally introduce you to dozens of them, including three cousins in New Jersey (including one in a very urban city, Passaic), and a sergeant at my local PPD district. They literally put their lives on the line for us every day, especially in places like where I live.

      I totally believe you in this statement you made.

      My question, has ANY OF THEM EVER outed one of their own when it comes to misconduct?!

      THAT right there is the problem, all these GOOD COPS I hear about NEVER speak out against the ones committing abuses, instead they cover up. People would respect the cops a heck of a lot more if they started to stand up against the abusive cops instead of closing ranks behind them!

      So I do acknowledge that not all cops are violent sociopaths, very few cops actually speak out against them!

    15. Pith is right about that "thin blue line." I've seen it personally among relatives and friends who are cops and in my career in Corrections. Of course the same thing happens in many other fields and among many other groups in general , not that there is any excuse for it.

      There is no doubt that police have lost the respect and trust of a good deal of the public. What to do about it I don't know.

    16. Any of them? Yes, certainly. Cops are fired and / or arrested for wrongdoing all the time. We don't hear about that often, outside of when it occurs locally, because there's no news in it.

      They certainly do deserve the union protections and collegial solidarity they have, however, seeing as how their job is a hard, dangerous and vital one that not many can or will do. None of us who are not police should judge them until we've walked a beat in their shoes.

      I'm not making excuses for the bad behavior of individual officers, and I never have. Your generalizations are inaccurate, however.

    17. They certainly do deserve the union protections and collegial solidarity they have

      1) They DO deserve the UNION protections. No question there
      2) They DO NOT deserve the collegial solidarity. This leads to abuses being protected. And when this happens ...

      however, seeing as how their job is a hard, dangerous and vital

      3) How much MORE dangerous do the cops make it when they commit abuses and cover them up with their "collegial solidarity"? Their job would be far less dangerous if the community knew the police POLICED themselves!

      one that not many can or will do

      4) There have been published stories that people with TOO HIGH AN IQ have been rejected solely on the basis of a high IQ! So what kind of people ARE they looking for?

      None of us who are not police should judge them until we've walked a beat in their shoes.

      5) Up to a point yes, HOWEVER, it is not too much to ask that police UPHOLD THE LAW considering their job is to enforce the law!

      I'm not making excuses for the bad behavior of individual officers, and I never have.

      6) Yet you have not made a comment about cops who do NOT speak out against the abuses committed. the "rough ride" That Freddy Gray recieved is a well known tactic causing the city of Baltimore millions of dollars in settlements. This practice has been going on for well over a decade at least. yet NOT ONE cop ever spoke up against it? This is why police departments get these "generalizations". At some point you have to ask WHY ISN'T AT LEAST ONE "Good Cop" speaking out against this?!

    18. I suggest you read my comment below, if you haven't already. To claim that I have not commented on these tactics is patently false.

    19. Jay,

      Yes you have, however, I think we disagree on to the point of the culpability of it this plays out. I think you minimize the point to much.

      I was just making sure you didn't let that VERY IMPORTANT point be drowned out in your defense of the cops.

    20. I've known Mike a long time...

      Doodad and I go way back.

      In internet years, it is practically forever. Heck, Doodad and I knew one another when I actually liked Barack Obama and when I was still a Democrat.

      I remember Doodad from back in the day at Daily Kos and he was among the very first to drop by this joint once I started grousing.

      The thing about grousing, tho, is that once you start it becomes exceedingly difficult to stop!

      Ask Volleyboy1. He'll tell ya.

      Thankfully, I am arrogant enough to believe that I actually do have something worthwhile to say and, therefore, I intend to continue speaking.

      There are many things that I do not understand, not the least of which is how to get people to acknowledge that which is obvious.

      For example - and I always seem to go back to this - it is obvious that the Obama administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood and has no real intention of preventing an Iranian nuclear bomb. The former is so obvious that it should be considered established historical fact, yet getting some people to acknowledge this historical fact is like pulling teeth.

      But we cannot move forward as a community unless we face the realities before us.

      That much is certain.

    21. And, Mike, aka Karmafish, it has been and continues to be a distinct pleasure to read your stuff. Also to see others join us, regardless their leanings. We have some smart folks here.

  7. Totally wrong analogy!

    The cops in those ares are like the cops that "policed" the Jewish ghettos in 1930s Germany!

    I hate to go all Godwin, but you had to make that analogy to hamas and their ilk!

  8. Hey don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of "that kind of cop," or of cops generally BUT I'm even less a fan of gangbangers. Anyone who goes down that road is lost. The enemy of my enemy is a BAD BAD way of thinking. The Baltimore police need a good looking at and probably lots of reform (and not just Baltimore,) but praising/believing gangbangers is just so wrong. As is "understanding," Hamas et al. And for me, it all flows from a certain brand of leftist ideology more so than it does from any real concern for dead black victims.

  9. No. I just don't support gangbangers at all ever because they are drug selling, violent criminals who hurt people including their own race via their activities. I still wouldn't like them even if they were using their drug money to but old Aunt Sue a new wheelchair. And, the "truce?" Well riots are bad for business. Can't sell drugs in that kind of climate. I don't buy any compassionate gangbanger shit.

  10. I still need a few more days to put my thoughts in better order. I also happen to be in the middle of about fifteen personal issues (most are good, though, so don't worry!), hence my recent silence here.

    But for now I'll say that as a supporter of police, from here in Philadelphia, where an African-American officer was just shot down in cold blood last month, while buying his son a video game, for no other reason than being in the very place a couple of savages wanted to rob, the recent demonization of the men and women who serve and protect us sickens me.

    And it should sicken all good people in our country.

    There is no excuse for riots and destruction and looting. I also say this, sitting no more than two dozen blocks or so from the epicenter of the 1964 Columbia Avenue riots, from which North Philadelphia has still not recovered, 51 years later.

    I fucking love Baltimore. Baltimore is Philadelphia's soulmate, they are the most similar American city to mine in every single way, and I'm literally in pain watching this shit.

    I will also note, however, that police officers in large departments NEED TO STOP KILLING YOUNG BLACK MEN IMMEDIATELY.

    This shit is far too common, and though there is absolutely no excuse, ever, for rioting and looting and destroying neighborhoods and cities... well, by that same token, there is also no excuse for the ever-continuing police abuses and brutality against young black men which regularly provide the heat source for these fires.

    Fuck. All I know for right now is I want some pit beef, in honor of the great American city of Baltimore...

  11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBLeVcP_JQg

  12. There is a "solidarity," protest scheduled for NYC tonight at 6 PM. Hopefully it is peaceful.

  13. This is from evil old Fox news so be forewarned but suspicions of violence being manufactured is probably accurate. (I mean, doesn't history suggest that is probably the case.)


    " An analysis of social media traffic in downtown Baltimore Monday has unearthed striking connections to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. last year, according to a leading data mining firm that shared its findings exclusively with Fox News.

    The firm, which asked to remain anonymous because of its government work, found between 20 and 50 social media accounts in Baltimore that were also tied to the peak period of violence in Ferguson. While further analysis is being conducted on the data, it suggests the presence of "professional protesters" or anarchists taking advantage of Freddie Gray's death to incite more violence.

    Gray, 25, died April 18, a week after being injured while in police custody. A wave of violence erupted in Baltimore following his funeral Monday.

    One account, which also tracked the recent union protests in New York City as well as other disturbances, tweeted photos of Gray's funeral and used language that seemed to anticipate violence in Baltimore.

    The discovery that some social media accounts were tied to cities 825 miles apart was described to Fox News as “surprising.” While it is possible to spoof accounts and make it appear as if someone is in one location when they are really in another, the data mining firm told Fox News that it can’t fully explain the numbers.

    The use of social media to fuel violence in Baltimore has already been highlighted by law enforcement. On Monday, police said an online call was issued for a "purge" at 3 p.m. ET, starting at Mondawmin Mall and ending in the downtown area. That type of threat is based on a movie called “The Purge,” the plot of which involves rampant lawlessness.

    The Washington Times also reported Monday that law enforcement intelligence officials issued a warning after someone sent a text urging people to “kill all white police officers” in reaction to Gray’s death. The text has fueled fears that the violence in Baltimore could spread nationally, according to safety memos obtained by The Washington Times."

    There was a time in my life when I would have seriously suggested that this kind of manufacturing ultimately originated with the government or far right sources. You know how that went, right? (counterintel pro)

  14. LOL at this pic


  15. As I read through these comments, I wonder to myself about the kernel of the disagreement.

    I want to thank Pitt for standing up in disagreement, however. That is not easy to do when you know that you are a minority of one.

    Ultimately it comes down to a question of personal responsibility and individual liberty versus the general well-being and the greater social good.

    As I am going to write about on Sunday, it is embedded in the Preamble to the Constitution of the US.

    What Pitt is arguing - I think that it is fair to say - is that the USA has not upheld its end of the bargain. Poor kids (not just poor black kids) but poor kids throughout the country often do not have the means at their disposal to move on, as adults, into a better life; a life wherein they can raise children and move into a middle-class, or better, life-style.

    And, on top of that, they are subject to governmental abuse via the cops.

    That is the essential argument and Pitt can correct me if I am mistaken.

    Agreemen or disagreement is mainly a matter of degree.

    When I look at the world, as a whole, and I think about issues of civil liberties on other continents, I tend to disagree.

    1. I want to thank Pitt for standing up in disagreement, however. That is not easy to do when you know that you are a minority of one.

      Kinda got used to that one somewhere else...LOL

      What Pitt is arguing - I think that it is fair to say - is that the USA has not upheld its end of the bargain. Poor kids (not just poor black kids) but poor kids throughout the country often do not have the means at their disposal to move on, as adults, into a better life; a life wherein they can raise children and move into a middle-class, or better, life-style.

      And, on top of that, they are subject to governmental abuse via the cops.

      That is the essential argument and Pitt can correct me if I am mistaken.

      That is a very fair and accurate representation of what I have stated

      When I look at the world, as a whole, and I think about issues of civil liberties on other continents, I tend to disagree.

      I would need some real time and more than a comment for this reply

  16. Deut. 15:11:

    For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

    And America and Americans have done that time and again;but, to what avail? Something isn't working. Why? Or is that the point of the scripture; poverty can't ever be fixed?

    1. And America and Americans have done that time and again

      Have we really done that?

      The republicans keep gutting the social safety net to the point it is in tatters. Had we kept a good social safety net, then things would not be so bleak.

      When the only welfare of any substance is CORPORATE welfare, how does that serve the poor? *Note: please include mega corps paying a wage so low that their employees need to be on the social safety net so that taxpayers basically end up paying part of a workers wage*

    2. "Have we really done that?"
      "The republicans keep gutting the social safety net to the point it is in tatters."
      They believe it was bloated and fostered dependency rather than lifting people up. I think they were right about that to some degree, but people do need some form of help.
      "When the only welfare of any substance is CORPORATE welfare,... "
      I'm not sure what that is, other that a slogan. Do you mean tax deductions?
      "...how does that serve the poor?"
      Would that be what it's supposed to do?
      Agree with you about the mega corps - we are footing the bill for substandard wages.

      On another note, a few years ago I met a man, an immigrant from Brazil, who came here and 'somehow' managed to get a teaching degree. He teaches in NYC in a largely poor black neighborhood. He said it's not looking good and expects it to take generations to change things. From his point of view it's not so much the school as it is the parents.

    3. It's so fucking depressing because there are so many problems, especially ones that none of us can fix. It's not only poor African-American neighborhoods that have these problems, either. Come here to Kensington, Bridesburg or Fishtown to see pathetic 'parenting' cultures amongst urban white folks, as well. Mothers doper dipping on the 89 bus or the El next to their crying kids, and all that shit.

      Our government certainly does come up short on the social contract, however, and this is something that non-American audiences in particular perhaps sometimes do not understand.

    4. Jay,

      I think people outside of the US, here in Britain, for example, do understand that America provides a very different kind of ' welfare state' than we are used to here. In the UK, and in much of Europe, there is a long tradition of a bigger government which seeks to provide public services. Healthcare is the most obvious one. In Britain we have a benefits system ( including old age pensions) for unemployment etc. And help for working people and families.
      The tensions over ' welfare ' are some of the most difficult and bitter political arguments that make up our public debate. For what it's worth, I know from firsthand experience how vital that safety net can be.

      I am really interested that in your last comment you mentioned " parenting cultures", as that is a subject I emailed Mike on this morning - with a relevant article from the Guardian, written by a teacher.
      America's problems with division because of its racial past are very different than in Europe. There are, however, interesting similarities in terms of communities which find themselves alienated and marginalized. Here in the UK the group of children who are currently doing most badly in our schools are white working-class boys. There may be many factors playing into that. One of them appears to be that they feel that school is 'not for them'. They seem to be conscious that their peer group - and the general neighbourhoods they are growing up in - do not value education. And that anyone seen to be interested in education is likely to be socially ostracized, or worse.
      We have a growing, rather than falling, amount of people who seem to be unable to parent effectively. In some cases, they are barely parenting at all. Our teachers are bearing the brunt of this.
      Some of these social problems seem to be linked more to 'culture' than economics. It is complex and difficult. And there is a very great deal that we need to try and sort out. Too many people are being damaged.

  17. Culture versus economics.

    To what extent is the problem one of lack of opportunity?

    To what extent is the problem a cultural problem within the black community of Baltimore?

    As liberals we tend to lean heavily on the first proposition for two reasons. One, if the basic problem is economic, and thereby societal, the government can take measures to ease the situation. That is, there is something we can do about it. The government can team with local businesses to create jobs programs for the urban poor, for example. It can provide health-care benefits and after school programs and all sorts of creative measures - as they tried to do during the Great Society - to ease the burden on the urban poor and create a pathway for success.

    The second reason that we tend to go for the first proposition is because the second one generally strikes us as unjust, if not racist. To place any responsibility for for their own situation on themselves seems callous, like blaming the victim. It seems uncaring, even hostile.

    Nonetheless, the cultures that we are raised within create who we are as groups and individuals. If I had been born and raised in Shanxi province in China, rather than Kingston, NY, and Trumbull, CT, I would be an entirely different individual... and probably a better one!


    1. It's not callous to call for responsibility. Most successful people ARE responsible. That is the point. It is not racial at all, despite the efforts of some to make it racial.

      Responsibility is more important for minority populations. No society will ever be free from prejudice and discrimination. America and Israel are near the top when it comes to tolerance. If you know you have to be twice as good, what message does it send when you act twice as bad?

      To place no responsibility is racist. It is not each person who is to blame, but ideas that have not worked and leaders that care about the people on election day, then do much of nothing, then cover themselves by pointing fingers. There is not much responsibility in this vein either.

  18. "This Week on the New Black Panther Party’s “Black Power Radio,” national chairman Hashim Nzinga said since America has “declared war on us,” evidenced by “military police in the black neighborhood” protecting the rich, the New Black Panthers should be looked upon as Founding Fathers who declare war and are “willing to die or kill to save our babies and to save a black nation that is dying before our eyes.”

    Nzinga said, “America is about protecting the rich and the powerful.”

    He added, “We pay taxes. They have declared war on us and it’s nothing but state racism.”

    “So if we say we are at war, we should be applauded like George Washington,” Nzinga continued. “We should be applauded like Thomas Jefferson. We should be applauded like the Founding Fathers of the country.”

    “This is not the hate hour, this is the love hour,”he added. “We have to love ourselves enough to be willing to die or kill to save our babies and to save a black nation that is dying before our eyes.”


  19. It's not pure stupidity it's ordinary stupidity.