Morning Ed: Law & Order {2018.05.31.Th}

[LO1] I think our bail system is bad and we should do away with it, but as long as we have it we’re not doing anybody any favors by making it harder for people to find a bail bondsperson.

[LO2] A fascinating look at how Mexican gangs are recruiting US soldiers we deported.

[LO3] Barbara McClay argues that even if body cameras don’t reduce police shootings and don’t even lead to convictions, still have a role.

[LO4] A lot of money is being spent on prisoners least likely to recidivize if set free.

[LO5] I dunno, sounds to me like he may have done something wrong.

[LO6] Seems to me that all they need to do is say this is about mass shootings because then any and every conceivable measure becomes justified.

[LO7] It’s possible that diversity doesn’t lead to better – or less discriminatory – policing.

[LO8] If you have guns, maybe don’t register them. Could be risky.

[LO9] A story of skydiving and murder.


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Will Truman is a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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116 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Law & Order {2018.05.31.Th}

  1. [LO1] Tabarrok’s point about banning the ads making it harder on poor defendants is well-taken, but, seriously, libertarians, this is the world you’ve been asking for all along. Maybe Bing can take advantage of that no-doubt huge pile of cash Google’s leaving on the table.

    Many potentially undesirable consequences of public policy are hard to foresee. “We may not like the results of unfettered corporate power so much if the managerial and executive class stops sharing our cultural and political values,” really isn’t one of them.

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    • It’s one of those sticky libertarian spots. Yes, a business should be able to do what they want, so if Google really wants to do this, then maybe Yahoo or Bing can pick up the slack.

      Where the conflict comes in is that most libertarians are concerned with how the justice system targets poor and minority communities more aggressively, and while Google isn’t wrong in that there are some bad actors, this move appears to be less about protecting communities from bad actors and more about virtue signalling. Counterproductive virtue signalling drives libertarians to drink, heavily, and not the good stuff.

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      • Oh I have no problem with saying that Google is doing something shitty here. Tabarrok’s argument on that account is persuasive, and even if he weren’t, it’s a free country and there’s nothing wrong with criticizing business practices you don’t like wherever you are on the political spectrum.

        The part I find funny, though, is the stuff where he’s all like, “But Google is so powerful! Should a corporation have this much power?”

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        • Actually, he isn’t wondering if Google has too much power, he’s wondering if Google is going to (inadvertently?) invite regulation because this openly political move risks encouraging political countermoves by politicians.

          I.E. Is Google going to find it’s power limited because it exercised it’s power to appeal to specific partisans?

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          • I interpreted that passage rather differently, but I can see how your reading makes sense.

            In any event, I do think the concern is a bit silly. Corporations do that much and more in terms of partisanship, especially post-Citizens United.

            I will go out on a bit of a limb and assume he thinks CU was correctly decided. (Not a slam. I think it was a close call and can’t really fault the majority even as I disagree.)

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            • I agree with you that CU was correct, even if I’m not thrilled that it was.

              I also think the hyperventilating over CU is a bit much. The result of the decision adds a lot of churn, but the playing field remains as level as it was before.

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              • Yeah it’s one of those things where both sides of the issue have a solid case IMO, but a lot of it gets swamped by overheated yammering (mostly from my side of the aisle) about “corporate personhood” or insistence that it’s buying elections.

                I’m not even sure buying elections is all that bad. I’m worried about roundabout ways of buying the people being elected.

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          • Is it a better policy for libertarians to fight for the end of cash bail? Some states have been doing this already and releasing people on their own and with faith that they will show up for court.

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            • Preferably yes, it would be better to reform the system, but as Jaybird notes, the devil is in the details. Can we limit pre-trial release to only serious violent crimes, or other specific situations where release poses a high potential for harm to individuals or society? Can we trust police and prosecutors and judges to not allow those definitions to become so meaningless as to be useless?

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              • Can we limit pre-trial release to only serious violent crimes, or other specific situations where release poses a high potential for harm to individuals or society?

                That is not what bail is for.

                The bail system is not designed to stop people from committing more crimes. Period. It has, literally, nothing to do with that. If the courts think someone is going to commit more crimes such that the person should not be on the streets, they should not be released in any manner, either with or without bail.

                Bail has one, singular purpose: To make it more likely that someone shows up for their court appointment. That’s it. That’s the entirety of the point of the system.

                I am not saying that is _good_ at that, but that is the purpose.

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    • Ironically, I read this story about Bail Bond Reform just yesterday. (It scratched my “unintended consequences” itch.)

      The gist of the article is that the bail system is set in place to handle middling level crimes prior to trial. Like you KNOW that someone who is accused of some heinous stuff (such as the stuff that Harvey Weinstein got accused of) would never make bail while the little piddly low-flight risk stuff allows for people to be released on their own recognizance. Since bail handles the stuff in-between… like, we’ll let you go on your own recognizance *IF* you leave $1000 (or whatever) with us (and you’ll get it back after the trial but if you get out of town, we’ll keep the $1000 (or whatever)). But this is prejudiced towards people who have $1000 (or whatever) lying around.

      So a handful of states said “you know what, this is unfair to lock poor people up just because they don’t have $1000 lying around… let’s get rid of cash bail. That way the poor people who might not be able to afford bail won’t necessarily have to lose their jobs when the bail conversation comes up with the judge.”

      Except when judges have to make a choice between “lock him up” and “let him go scot-free” for a lot of these mid-level crimes, they tend to pick “lock him up”. It wasn’t that bail was discriminating against these guys, it’s that it was letting more of them go free on their own recognizance than would have without the bail system in the first place.

      (insert line about people who wish we had more government getting more government here)

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      • So, speaking of unintended consequences…we have some other ones in this system. Or ‘unintended evolution’.

        The original system, for reference, was ‘Bail is set at an amount you can pay, but would be harmful for you to lose. You pay it, and get it back when you show up in court. If you do not show up in court, the police hunt you down, and haul you to the police station, and you lose all the money you put up as bail.’

        But the _current_ system, with bail bondmen, is not that system.

        The current system is ‘Bail is set pretty randomly, you pay 10% of it, and that money is gone forever. If you do not show up in court, the third party you did business with hunts you down and hauls you to the police station.’

        This…seems like a completely absurd system to set up, on the face of it.

        For one thing, the bail bondmen have completely subverted what is supposed to be the actual incentive, namely that you lose money if you don’t show up back in court. I mean, let’s say I had $10,000 to my name, and thus I got a bond of $5000. The way the system is intended to work, if I flee, I do it with only half my money. The way the system actually works, I pay $500, which I have then already lost forever, so technically speaking, I’m not losing _any_ money when I flee. Court have started raising bond costs due to this nonsense, but that doesn’t work particuarly well, because the courts shouldn’t be punishing people who don’t flee, yet that is what higher bail bondmen payments do.

        For another thing, if we wanted third parties hunting down people who skipped out on court, why don’t we just _offer rewards_ when people do so? I mean, require such people to be license and bonded, of course, but if we want such a system, it makes more sense to have it open to everyone, instead of just each company hunting their own bond jumpers.

        Does the system we currently have, where basically people get fined small amounts for being released pretrial, have no incentive to show up in court, and also might now be hunted down by third parties if they skip court, resemble the _intended_ bail system at all?

        Heck, if we wanted (For whatever weird reason) to construct a system that looked like the current system, would it be the silliness we have now? Shouldn’t people be paying these ‘get out of jail’ fines to the _legal system_? Shouldn’t the _legal system_ be posting rewards for people?

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        • Oh, I’m pretty sure that the current system is captured and (therefore?) perverse.

          The wacky thing is that getting rid of cash bail has resulted in worse outcomes.

          So then what?

          (Given that my assumption is that any new system will be captured before the governor even signs it, I’d prefer stuff like “get rid of the war on drugs” to prevent some of the arrests that result in bail before they even happen. But that only deals with a percentage of this stuff and I don’t know whether it’s a large percentage or a small one.)

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          • I think it shows that the presence or absence of bail bondsmen is secondary to what attitiudes prosecution and judges have about interim release. Those are the people who decide whether a person is in lockup or not and their jobs inherently give them the discretion to decide excercise their own judgement on the matter most of the time.

            I know the “war on drugs” is the go to libertarian bete noire on the issue, but I would bet on your instinct that the issues are much broader and systemic than that.

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            • If we want to go the route of “we need to change how society at large looks at crime (and specifically how judges looks at it)”, then… okay? That’s, like, something even crazier than libertarianism?

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              • Yes, so this might be a much more intractable problem than people realize.

                The clear fix is that judges and prosecutors are conditioned to be strongly influeneced by direct legislative instructions, but to get those you need a legislature postively inclined to put effort and political capitial behind that kind of thing, which is itself downstream of local political culture.

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          • The wacky thing is that getting rid of cash bail has resulted in worse outcomes.

            This is only because judges are extremely stupid, as far as I can tell. (I can’t read the article.)

            Right now, thanks to bail bondmens subverting the court system, there actually is _not_ any incentive not to flee the court. Already. That is the actual world we live in. People are not punished for fleeing, because they paid someone else to put up their bail. Now, they had to pay to get them to do that, of course, but _everyone_ had to do that.

            Hilariously, people who flee often end up paying less, because bail bondmen, surreally, often allow payment plans, because interest rates are a good way to soak people. So not only do people skip out on the courts, but they also skip out on paying all of the amount they owe the bail bondsman.

            Of course, I don’t approve of people who flee justice, but I have to give them props, at least they ripped off a scammy bail bond company on the way out…and hey, maybe they could get some payday loans too.

            Anyway, back to reality, the bail bondmen system utterly subverts the entire premise of the court system requiring cash bail. Which is why, incidentally, in rare cases that non-US locations require a cash bond, it’s literally illegal to get someone else to pay it for you.

            It is really astonishingly stupid for us to allow that. To set up a system where failure to appear in court will harm a defendant, and then let the defendant basically get insurance so it _won’t_ harm the defendant, but instead a third party. What sort of dumbass court system is this?

            Up next: ‘Turn in your passport so you can’t skip the country…or buy someone else’s passport off them and turn that in, we’re not picky. Turn in a passport.’

            And, eventually, of course, ‘Pay someone to serve your prison sentence if you are found guilty’.

            And judges who do not understand that cash bail, as of this very moment, provides absolutely no incentive keeping people from fleeing due to the existence of bail bondmens(1), and thus they change their behavior to keep more people in jail without bail when they cannot impose cash bail…are basically complete and total morons who have no idea what is going on slightly out of their eyesight and probably should be subject to some sort of competency test.

            1) It, at best, provides slightly more people _looking for_ people who flee. But that’s it.

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            • Isn’t that what bounty hunters are for?

              Also, I have no personal experience running a bail bond business, but I suspect that people who do prefer not to throw away money. If they usually offer payment plans, it seems reasonable to suppose that it probably pays off in average.

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      • Oh, that’s much less stupid than I assumed. The judges in one city apparently are still slightly stupid after a year. Sometimes when the system is completely broken, fixing it hurts. It’s worth reminding people it’s also going to harm the _city of Baltimore_, who has to pay for all this, and at some point the city won’t put up with it.

        BTW, it’s really surreal to see dumb comments like ‘Judges know they are the ones who will take the heat if somebody they’ve released absconds or commits a new crime.’ as an argument against no cash bail in a serious article.

        Because apparently judges don’t take the heat when they release someone on cash bail and they do that?

        Or they are assigning cash bail _knowing_ people can’t pay that amount? Which I remind everyone is unconstitutional…and also assumes that judges are complete morons who don’t know bail bondmen exist?

        Basically, every possible explanation of what is going on requires multiple levels of stupid.

        But who knows. Maybe the judges are right, and if they require a bond, people won’t blame the judge! In my previous comment, I deleted a reference to certain story because I had already closed the tab and couldn’t find it. Well, I found it again: https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/West-Haven-murder-suicide-leads-to-call-for-bail-11573679.php

        Basically, a bail bond company bailed someone out (Without them actually paying _anything_ in advance, what a clever business plan?) and that person committed a murder-suicide of his victim. And people yelled at the bail bond company, because people are exactly as stupid as we thought.

        And, as that article explains, a bunch of complete and utter morons (Although weirdly it doesn’t call them that.) think the way to ‘reform’ the system is to require bail bondmen to charge at least 10%.

        Here, look, here’s a quote from a State’s Attorney: “This woman is dead because this guy got out for no money.”

        And other people nearby did not sarcastically shout “Yeah! People don’t get to kill other people for free! Walking out the prison door and killing people should require Cash. On. The. Table! Only people who can pay $2500 should get to murder people!”

        I mean, I claim cash bail is a stupid and unnecessary system in this day and age of bank accounts and credit reports and required social security numbers and photo IDs and whatnot, where the cost of fleeing justice and starting over is already very high, and the only people we should worry about doing that are people rich enough that they probably can already pay their cash bail. (Honestly, so many people have negative assets and are so deep in the hole that if throwing your life away and starting over elsewhere was doable, people would be doing it _anyway_.)

        But people can dispute that in a sensible manner.

        But could everyone writing articles about bail at least _pretend_ we’re still using it to stop people fleeing justice, the actual purpose bail has? Instead of going along with the nonsense that apparently everyone has hallucinated it is for which is…making it hard for people to get out of jail based on…their ability to pay some money…wait, that doesn’t make sense…judges should put the bail out of reach of bad people but let them out out via bail bondsmen, no wait, the bail bondsmen should have to charge even more…no, that can’t possibly be the argument being made…wait, I know, let’s demand higher bond some more…

        If we’re lucky, all these people inexplicably (I mean that literally, in that it cannot be explained, even by them.) in favor of higher cash bails because [surely eventually some good reason will be invented to insert here] will come to the correct conclusion that bail bondsmen are subverting the entire system and ban them totally, with the intent that people have to pay their entire cash bail!

        Which will accidentally result in cash bail going away because basically the only entities pushing cash bail are doing so because the large insurance companies that operating the bail bond industry want them to, and without that profit generating the upward pressure, the system would correct much faster.

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        • Out of curiosity, is there anything that could have happened to make you say “this was a bad idea”?

          I mean, if it worked as expected, you could say “Hurray! It worked as expected!”

          If nothing changed, you could say “Well, there’s a lot of cultural inertia…”

          If things got worse, which is what happened, you’re saying ” Sometimes when the system is completely broken, fixing it hurts.”

          I’m just stuck wondering if there is anything that could have happened that would have gotten you to say “yeah, we should do something else” rather than “we’re merely in year two of the five year plan”?

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          • A careful reading of your article basically says Baltimore _already_ had a huge problem with people not getting out on bail.

            And the change is working in the rest of Maryland:
            http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-bail-reform-statistics-20180116-story.html

            In the rest of the state, ‘about one-fifth of defendants are being held because they can’t or don’t pay bail, down from 40 percent’ and meanwhile people held without bail only went from 7.5% to 20%. (And most of that 12.5% probably previously only had bail in the technical sense, as a lot of people are admitting that judges would set bail too high on purpose to make sure people didn’t get it…which the article and everyone quoted treats as completely normal instead of utterly insane.)

            Here’s the money quote from that article:
            Del. Curt Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat, expressed concern that the positive trends don’t reflect what is happening in bail review cases in Baltimore, where judges are often reluctant to release anyone being held on a gun crime, for example.

            ‘Baltimore City’, the jurisdiction mentioned in your link, has one-tenth the population of Maryland. (Yes, it has a higher crime rate, so, I dunno, one fifth the crime? One third? Although it’s all of Baltimore that has the higher crime rate, and Baltimore City isn’t even half of the Baltimore metro area. And we have no idea what the judges in non-Baltimore-City Baltimore are doing.)

            But, basically, if there are even very modest gains in the number of people released pre-trial in the rest of the state, more people have been released in total, despite one jurisdiction going the other direction. Gee, if only Reason had bothered to do actual math instead of doing what they always do: Fight something they (as libertarians) logically should be promoting, just because liberals like it and conservatives don’t.

            And as that one jurisdiction is operating in direct opposition to the high court’s directives, as I said, that will be fixed at some point.

            On top of that, fewer people will have been harmed by having to pay anything, which is something the Reason article totally ignored as any sort of harm. (Good libertarianing there!) If 200 more people are in pre-trial jail for a few months, but also 1000 different people who would have had to pay huge amount before now got out of jail without having to sell their souls and future earning to a bail bondsman…I’m not saying that’s worth it, but it surely is worth something.

            And in addition to that, the courts are now correctly holding people who shouldn’t be out on bail via actually denying them bail instead of moronically giving them bail that they can’t reach, which by itself is a net good. This allows people to actually see and argue against that, for one, and it means an unexpected rich person who shouldn’t get out can’t get out anyway, etc, etc.

            So the pure numbers of ‘additional people in jail’ a pretty stupid anyway. The current cash bond system is utterly broken and causes a lot more harm than just ‘people sit in jail’.

            Actually, this entire premise that 200 more people are being held is proof the program isn’t working is a bit surreal. So, the premise is that the judge were…issuing bail for people they didn’t want out, but those people were getting out anyway? And now that they can’t _pretend_ to keep people in jail with high bail, they’re not issuing bail so that people don’t get out? And that’s a…bad thing? Good thing? If they didn’t want those people to get out, should we want them out? If they did want those people out, why are they now holding them without bail?

            What are the goals here, again? What are the judges doing again? What is _anyone_ doing? Why is no one asking these questions?

            At some point the justice system really should stop behaving like a drunken idiot.

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            • Hey, “Reason and the WSJ are wrong” is an awesome argument.

              So things are better?

              Good! All we need to do is tweak things a little. Get the state congress to pass something with guidelines. Get the governor to sign it.

              Easy-peasy.

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              • So things are better?

                If it’s just the poor in Baltimore who are being locked up more we might be looking at race as a factor in the outcome… or things just suck in Baltimore.

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                • Things sorta do just suck in Baltimore right now, crime wise, and the fact that judges are not really implementing state-level reforms is actually not that startling.

                  I suspect eventually the Maryland state courts will start reprimanding a few judges and introduce a few guidelines. For example, if someone is accused of a misdemeanor, that really should require a good justification to hold without bail.

                  Although, at least they have been forced to switch to actually saying ‘no bail’, as opposed to what court system _has_ been doing (And is doing most everywhere), which is just setting bail too high for people they don’t want out, which, a) can backfire and result in them getting out anyway if there is money or friends the judge didn’t know about, and b) is almost totally impossible to notice and police in any manner by watchdogs, or oppose by defense lawyers.

                  And the fact that every article that talks about bail reform mentions how judges do that, how they set the amount of bail based on how much they want the person to get back on the streets, without then adding the words ‘illegally and unethically’ to their description of that, pisses me off.

                  If a judge does not want a person on the street pre-trial, he _must_ have some actual legal rationale for it (Either they’re a flight risk or a risk to others), and be willing to say it in court, where it can be disputed by people.(1) Not just ‘oops, that bail was way too high, hehehe, I’m sneaky’.

                  1) Actually, I’d argue in the adversarial system of justice we have, that sort of thing is more properly introduced by the prosecution, but whatever.

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        • BTW, it’s really surreal to see dumb comments like ‘Judges know they are the ones who will take the heat if somebody they’ve released absconds or commits a new crime.’ as an argument against no cash bail in a serious article. Because apparently judges don’t take the heat when they release someone on cash bail and they do that?

          Insurance is about risk mitigation/evaluation. Insurance for negative events is cheaper than negative events. A criminal fleeing justice after bailing himself out is a negative event, however this is relatively rare because there are various externalities which tend to prevent it.

          Bail bondsmen are offer insurance to society (paid for by the accused), with part of the “product” being that if he does flee, a bounty hunter will come after him and him alone (as opposed to the general justice system which is after everyone all the time).

          The Bail Bondsman paid full sticker price to get the defendant out of jail and the Bail Bondsman’s wallet is on the line for making him show up. Unsurprisingly, their business model is based on evaluating risks and they’re better at it than the judge (who doesn’t have his personal wallet on the line).

          Also unsurprisingly, the moment we make judges put more skin in the game (and with higher risks) they get more risk averse. Those “higher risks” stem from losing the Bondmen’s services, which are ultimately to society.

          My expectation is if we get rid of Bondsmen (by eliminating bonds) then some people will benefit (by getting out of jail without paying anything) while others will NOT benefit because they stay in jail. Where the balancing point on this is unclear… but I’m fine with running local and state level experiments to see who the winners and losers are.

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          • I understand the business model of bails bondsmen, I’m just saying that we don’t actually allow insurance for most criminal court decisions. Civil cases, yes, but as far as I’m aware, you can’t get any sort of insurance even for cash-based _criminal_ penalties.

            Like, you can’t pay $10 a month to an insurance company and get covered for any parking fines a court might impose. This, rightly, would be seen as obstruction of justice. The courts have punished you with that parking fine, and _you_ need to pay it.

            Also unsurprisingly, the moment we make judges put more skin in the game (and with higher risks) they get more risk averse. Those “higher risks” stem from losing the Bondmen’s services, which are ultimately to society.

            I think this is a utopian view of how the bail bond industry works. The number of people that bail bondsmen refuse to deal with are functionally zero.

            What they normally do is just raise their rates. Although, I guess, at some point, the rate they are charging becomes close enough to the actual value of the bond itself that they are essentially no longer providing service because if people had that money, they obviously would just put it up themselves.

            But I close this discussion by pointing out that asserting that bail bondsmen are ‘essential’ is basically asserting that the court system is currently operating in an unconstitutional manner. It is not constitutional for courts to set cash bonds that non-wealthy people cannot pay, because it is not constitutional to punish the non-wealthy more than the wealthy pre-trial.

            All this reform stuff that is going on didn’t appear out of nowhere. It’s the result of several lawsuits in various places, lawsuits that civil rights groups have been winning very easily because, again, it is blatantly unconstitutional to have a pre-trial system(1) that treats people differently based on their wealth. The ‘reform’ is just panicked jurisdictions trying to get out in front of this. Seriously, google ‘bail lawsuits’.

            1) A _conviction_ system that treats people differently based on the wealth is also unconstitutional, but much harder to prove.

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  2. [LO6] If they’re worried about terrorists and sex offenders, it seems like they could make that clear by not using the system to crack down on “code of conduct violations”.

    Also, I’m not usually the sort to make this my go-to argument, but I’d be amazed if there’s a school anywhere on Earth that couldn’t find something better to do with $1.4 million dollars than this Friend Computer crap.

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    • We will only upload a student picture if there is a good reason.

      Really, and what constitutes a ‘good reason’? Hrmmm?

      Also, Will, is this the link you mean to have, because the article doesn’t mention mass shootings.

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          • Yeah, I find it especially interesting they give the example of tracking a student through time.

            Erm, when you’re trying to figure out who did something in violation of the rules, you look at the time and place (or just the place, if you’re not sure of the time, like graffiti that no one saw go up) of the actual rule violation. You might want to get some context on it, like to see how a fight started, but that’s a few minutes, at most.

            The reason you track specific students through time, especially the ’60 hours’ you’re so proud you can track them backward through, is that you have something against said specific student and want to find an offense to punish them with.

            Which is…not appropriate behavior for authorities. Although it is _exactly_ the sort of behavior I expect from the quasi-fascists I often find running schools.

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  3. [LO7]

    While perhaps counterintuitive, our findings are consistent with research suggesting that pressure to assimilate can foment “loyalty conflict” among minority group members, who may attempt to prove their allegiance to ethnically integrated institutions by publicly discriminating against their own co-ethnics (Brown and Frank 2006, 101; see also Alex 1969; Kuykendall and Bums 1980).

    See also Cube and Ren 1988.

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  4. I am shocked to discover that Trump’s definition of “law and order” involves shielding notorious racist fuckfaces from the easily predictable consequences of their moronic crimes.

    Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018

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  5. LO8:

    Retired KCSO Commander Joe Pilkington is a court recognized firearms expert. He could not speak directly to Kirschenmann’s case but says the laws are changing so frequently, it’s often hard to keep up with the latest regulations.

    “Just in the last few years, there have been lots of changes in gun laws,” he said. “Making an effort, a good faith effort to comply with these really complicated laws, should count for something.”

    You know those gun laws the gun rights communities complain about. This is a prime example. Not only is it very likely the ‘illegal modification’ is a minor thing, it’s probably something that was legal until recently, and the punishment is wildly out of line with the harm done, especially given that the person probably made an honest mistake and was making a good faith effort to comply with the law.

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      • He should have said something like “Disgusting Rosie O’Donnell does the same thing as Dinesh, no charges even filed! We need a justice system that treats people of color the same way as privileged whites! I’m pardoning him!”

        And watch everyone pick up chairs and start hitting each other.

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          • I’m just looking at it from the perspective of the three groups.

            Is this a fun argument for me and my team to make?

            Is this a not fun argument for the other team to argue against?

            Will swing voters be more likely to swing my way when watching me and my opponents fight about this?

            It seems to me that I have at least two “yes” answers. Don’t know about the third.

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            • I’ll acknowledge your plan might have been smart.

              But the WH is not in the mood for smart today.

              Really don’t even see this playing out well even with the squishier group ones, let alone the threes.

              And of course it’s rage-catnip for the twos.

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              • From his perspective, this is fun for his group to argue. It’s yelling “HYPOCRISY!” as loudly as physics allows. That’s kind of fun.

                It forces his opponents to say “NUH-UH!” and, occasionally. say “of course I don’t support the use of gendered and crude insults but it’s important for cultural critics to be able to speak truth to power without fear of repercussion…”

                And number 3s roll their eyes.

                So how much fun is it to argue against? If it’s not fun, he’s got two of the three.

                If it *IS* fun to argue against, well, then he’s only got the one.

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                • From his perspective, this is fun for his group to argue. It’s yelling “HYPOCRISY!” as loudly as physics allows.

                  From his perspective, sure, but his perspective is sufficiently warped and, well, bluntly dumb that I don’t think it will take.

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  6. LO1 – It’s not hard to find a bail bondsman. In New Orleans at least, the price of real estate is more of less inversely proportional to the number of bail bondsmen brick and mortar operations visible on Google Earth. The real problem is that these people are parasites enabled by the state.

    LO2 – Here we have the two most dysfunctional domains of US domestic policy in one news story: immigration and prisons. I think there should be zero tolerance for deporting foreign nationals who commit violent crimes in the United States. If we had some sort of hard line sensible policy for this maybe all the moms and kids might not have quite as hard a time constantly having to fill out paperwork to be allowed to exist.

    LO6 – This has been going on for years. In one of the towns we lived in a few years ago, the school district fired the entire librarian staff so they could buy more CCTV cameras.

    Incidentally, these things are everywhere in New Orleans now, and I have very mixed feelings about them. On the one hand, everyone I know has started getting obscene numbers of tickets for turning right on red or driving 23 in a 20, even without being identified as the driver of the vehicle. The last two victorious mayors have run solely on platforms of removing the cameras and then reneged on their promises. Poor communities especially hate them. On the other hand, I haven’t seen anyone driving 80 miles an hour past the playground in a long time, the numbers of people hanging out in the streets clearly waiting for crimes of opportunity has dropped precipitously, and crime in general is way down across the board and much more so in neighborhoods with greater numbers of cameras.

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    • The real problem is that these people are parasites enabled by the state.

      What’s the difference between an industry that consists of parasites enabled by the state, and an industry that performs a valuable service that mitigates harm caused by the state?

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      • I’d say the difference is how they interact with the state on a political level, much more than how they practice their business. And I don’t trust businesses that profit by mitigating the harm done by the state to really remain benign for long in that sense, because their bread is buttered on the side with the state continuing to harm people.

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      • Yeah, pillsy is right.

        The bail bond industry is funded and operated by large insurance companies, and those exact large insurance companies are the same people paying ALEC to write model legislation pushing bail higher and higher and fighting reform.

        Bail bondmans are not an industry that sprung up to shield people from a government injustice. They are an industry that mostly created the injustice in the first place, and then stepped in to make money helping people manage it.

        …you know, there’s a fun rule of thumb that those of us in the US should probably check before discussing social problems: How do other first world countries deal with this?

        Well, with bail, other first world countries mostly got rid of cash bail a while back. Just…got rid of it.

        There are things they call ‘bail’, but they are more like ‘probation’, it’s specific rules like ‘Have to check in with the legal system once a week’ and ‘have to explain travel in advance’ and ‘cannot sell large assets or withdraw large amounts of cash’.

        On top of that, in the few cases where cash bond is still done, it is literally illegal for anyone else to pay it because that (very obviously) screws up the intent of the courts, which is to hold the _defendant’s_ money until they show up back in court.

        Yes, the bail bond system we are talking about would be considered obstruction of justice in most places.

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        • …you know, there’s a fun rule of thumb that those of us in the US should probably check before discussing social problems: How do other first world countries deal with this?

          While we’re at it we should check if the gov is creating this situation and/or making it worse.

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          • I’m not sure that helps us much here, because technically speaking, the government is going to have made all the problems in the legal system, because the government made the legal system to start with and defines how it works.

            But in this case, you’re right: The government did create the entire bail bondsmen system and allow it to operate, which is a weird thing to allow, much less make a framework of laws for. I know a lot of people go ‘Well, why shouldn’t it be allowed? Free market and all!’, but that system is allowed to do something that no one else can, under any circumstances: Take a court-ordered punishment for someone else.

            If that happens in literally any other manner, we charge people with obstruction of justice. For example, if the court orders released you pre-trial with an ankle monitor under house arrest, and you paid someone else to wear it for you and live at your house while you wandered around free, and the courts discover this, they will throw both you and whoever you paid in jail.

            And other countries treat ‘putting up someone else’s cash bond’ the same way, as obstruction of justice. If the court says ‘we’re going to keep your money if you don’t show back up in court, so give us a bond’, it damn well better be your money that you handed them as a bond.

            So, yes, the state governments really did create this problem. And then, of course, the system got captured by the industry…as I’ve said, the only people really lobbying for higher cash bails are the large insurance companies that mostly operate and entirely fund the bail bondmen system.

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  7. Here’s a Tweetstorm I wrote about pop culture and (often) reactionary violence in the ’90s that I think is on topic and probably of interest to some folk here.

    I think linking to it is OK? It’s the kind of thing I’d write a comment or even a post about if the prospect of writing a post or long, essay-like comment unprompted didn’t fill me with terror (or at least mild anxiety).

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  8. LO-1 The problem with the bail bondsman is the same as the problem with payday lenders. Social parasites(eleventy!1!) that have evolved to fit within the laws and norms of the communities. Some may hate them, but they exist for a reason, which is sometimes a positive.

    (Every bondsman I have ever met was a lowlife, and I met more than a few playing pool.)

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    • From my time doing defense work as well as personal experience arising from a few youthful indiscretions I can tell you there’s a little economic ecosystem built around criminal justice. There’s the bail bondsman and certain less reputable members of the local bar and also the old hippy who made nice with the state’s attorney to turn his wellness center into a certified diversion program. It all looks and in some respects is predatory/parasitic but anyone with experience can tell you the system would be much worse without it.

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    • “On the one hand, the cop shot the guy through a closed door based on a pretty implausible story about him holding a gun. On the other hand, the guy was drunk on his own property. So really it’s gotta be 99% his own fault.”

      This thing where everybody but the people who are ostensibly trained to deal with potentially dangerous, stressful situations have to act flawlessly (and often more than flawlessly, if faced with confusing or contradictory commands) or they start dying is just impossible to justify. It also is tending to render the police worse than useless, since calling them to deal with anything but an imminent threat is putting people’s lives in jeopardy for no reason.

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      • *Sarcasm*

        But they are trained, and the department always says that their actions are in line with the training, and the training is never wrong, because us civilians can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be an officer and ….

        */sarcasm*

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  9. Vox has a long piece presenting good arguments from both sides of the recall effort aimed at Judge Aaron Persky, who handed down the (very short) sentence in the Brock Turner sexual assault case. I thought before, and am even more convinced now, that despite the judge really screwing up, recalling him would be a serious mistake. Nonetheless, he really does not come off well here. Imagine making this argument and thinking it would help your case:

    [Persky] compared the recall effort to the backlash against the justices who handed down the Brown v. Board of Education ruling — a landmark civil rights decision against segregation in public schools, which drew ire from Southern states in particular. “Imagine for a moment if those federal judges had been subject to judicial recall in the face of that unpopularity,” he said.

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  10. This has been my experience doing some low-level criminal defense work in a different country to America primarily out of a relatively impoverished area where the vast majority of defendents are of an underprivilidged and discriminated against racial minority.

    Most defendents with limited or no prior criminal records for most minor crimes (minor assualts and drug trafficking offenses make the bulk of these) get released on their own recognisance. Repeat offenders are quite a bit more likely to be held. Defendents who commit a new offense while out on release tend to be held automatically but can petition for release and get it.

    The presumption of the system is that release is the default and that holding an accussed has to be justified by the prosecution. This justification is on three grounds 1) ensuring attendence in court 2) safety of the public (which is in practice mostly likelihood of re-offending) 3) maintain confidence in system of justice (in practice where a release would shock the public). In practice, reason number 1 is where the system is most inclined to be heavy handed, this is because court and attorney time is regularly wasted by defendents who don’t show up to court appearances and it gets to the point for a lot of them that they are effectively kept in custody just to keep track of them rather than them being any kind of threat to the public. Its a bad fix, but the system is overburdened and probably wouldn’t work without it.

    If a defendant is getting released from custody, frequently there is a bail element to it. For the low level offenses I deal with this typicaly ranges from $100-$1000 dollars. People with lesser records tend to get this as “no cash” bail where they don’t actually have to pay anything up front, they just are fined by the court for that amount if they don’t show up to court. People with greater records or more serious offenses get cash bail that they have to pay. Typically if we’re going that route, the cash bails are lower in dollar number than no cash bail and are set after defense and crown have a little negoitation about what is reasonable and what the defendant can actually scratch up on short term notice.

    That last bit appears to be where the bail bondsman comes in for the American system, so that defendants can raise the money for bail that they don’t have on hand. However, I’m perplexed at why its considered a good idea to add what appears to be a sort of pay day loan element to the system. If people have no means of paying for bail that seems to me that you’ve just set your bail amounts too high and should adjust them downward to the point they meet their role of giving the defendant a financial incentive to attend court and keep the peace rather than being a barrier keeping them in custody. Custody is super expensive for the system and the state should have a strong incentive to not use it when it doesn’t need to.

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    • However, I’m perplexed at why its considered a good idea to add what appears to be a sort of pay day loan element to the system.

      Because the people paying the politicians want to operate a payday loan operation in the system, duh.

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    • The Republicans should really take this as a warning and do some deep soul searching.

      They they cause this by being smug and referring to immigrants as “animals”, and “rapists”?

      How can they reach out to these disaffected people who were driven away by the dismissive tone of the Trump?

      Maybe Fox News can do a profile of a MS-13 member, and give us heartwarming profile, where he enjoys Panera bread and Applebee’s.

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    • I’m so old that I remember when Ed Gillespie raised this alarm bell and became governor of Virginia and Democrats did not win any elections in Virginia in 2017.

      Except that didn’t happen.

      I don’t quite what to make of posts like this. Sometimes when I read posts like this it seems like there is this idea that Trumpers are an immortal and unquenchable Moloch that must always be appeased. You seem to think that it is so easy to convert people to far right politics.

      Are we to always live in fear of the Trumpists?

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      • Well, the Warshington Post is now raising it.

        I’m also not quite as sure that “hey, we should have some serious checks on immigration” is a “far-right” position.

        I mean, the position that I argue is pretty much nigh-open-borders. Would you say that this position is a centrist one, a center-left one, or a good, solid, left one?

        Because, until recently, I considered it a “only crazy libertarian-types who have had to deal with the system their own selves would have it” position.

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        • It’s true that Gillespie was basically laughed by ostensibly neutral commentators at when he talked about MS-13 in Virginia (“Has he even seen a map?”) and the issue more have more salience now.

          But less salience than the bad optics of immigration authorities taking children from their parents.

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          • I might be more persuaded thatthe seriousness of the threat posed by MS-13 justifies further immigration restrictions if the Administration hadn’t just come out and said that fleeing MS-13 isn’t grounds for an asylum claim.

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              • That may be true [1], but it also has basically nothing to do with what I said.

                If you wish to talk about the objective nature of the threat posed by MS-13, that’s fine, but given your other arguments in this thread I thought you wanted to discuss the political implications of that threat, and the way high-profile political actors make use of it.

                [1] Yes, “may”. To be blunt, the MSM is not exactly averse to magnifying the dangers posed by, well, everything.

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                • Well, just to limit us to the way high-profile actors are making use of it, Team Trump has recently referred to MS-13 as “animals”. Nancy Pelsoi, bless her heart, recently argued that it was morally wrong to refer to any person made in God’s Image as an “animal”.

                  And now the WaPo is covering MS-13 in Maryland. Not in Texas. Not in California. Maryland.

                  If the argument is that MS-13 must not be that bad if the government isn’t willing to accept refugees from countries with MS-13, I’m not sure that that argument sticks the landing.

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                  • Well, just to limit us to the way high-profile actors are making use of it, Team Trump has recently referred to MS-13 as “animals”.

                    That’s one interpretation of Trump’s remarks, though not one I find entirely convincing. Surely there are plausible options other than, “Trump always speaks very carefully, and eschews any hints of bigotry in his remarks about immigrants,” aren’t there?

                    If the argument is that MS-13 must not be that bad if the government isn’t willing to accept refugees from countries with MS-13, I’m not sure that that argument sticks the landing.

                    I’m not sure either, if we’re evaluating it from the perspective of some nebulous generic voter who we don’t know anything about except that they’re dumber than us.

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        • I’m also not quite as sure that “hey, we should have some serious checks on immigration” is a “far-right” position.

          I’m not sure what this means. There are already “serious checks” on immigration. Our current immigration policy is already fairly far in the direction of restrictionist. It just happens to be the kind of restrictionist that isn’t very effective in a number of ways. Do you think that building a wall and having ICE go full gestapo gets us to a better immigration policy? That’s the relevant question and not some vague conversation about where on the political spectrum our language about immigration falls.

          And none of that even gets us to the fact that MS-13 itself, along with a bunch of other Latin American gangs, was birthed out of a combination of U.S. drug policy and earlier rounds of deportations. We could have a combination about how our actions around the world will inevitably have reprucussions at home. But I guess scary stories about gangs in middle schools sell papers to Republicans and Democrats alike.

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          • MS-13 is the new Superpredator, the new Crack Baby, the new Al Queda, the new Hun, the new Yellow Peril, the perennial dark skinned boogeyman who is at the door ready to defile our women.

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            • That’s all a bit dramatic. Gangs, MS-13 included, are a legitimate criminal justice concern, as is border security. It’s just that, as I said above, building a series of white elephants at our Southern border and turning ICE into the gestapo is simply not a particularly smart way to deal with those problems.

              But yes, there is a whole bunch of unnecessary consternation coming from the reactionary parts of the political spectrum on this issue and it is certainly tied up with larger issues of racism. I will point out though, that, for the right, the issue of immigrant crime is analagous to the issue of school shootings on the left. It’s a low probability event that creates an opportunity to claim that the other side is callous and unwilling to take the necessary action.

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          • I’m not sure what this means. There are already “serious checks” on immigration. Our current immigration policy is already fairly far in the direction of restrictionist.

            Oh, I agree! Would you say that America’s immigration policy, as it stands right now, is a far-right one?

            Personally, I think we need to reform the hell out of it and liberalize it up. (Here’s one of many examples of me arguing that we need to reform immigration if you want some evidence that I’m not only just now taking this position out of convenience.)

            That said, this isn’t about my opinions of MS-13.

            This is about important narratives involving MS-13 and, for whatever reason, the Warshington Post is throwing this story around.

            Did you read the part of the article where teachers are afraid of losing their jobs for talking about MS-13?

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            • Would you say that America’s immigration policy, as it stands right now, is a far-right one?

              Yes. Is this a trick question?

              This is about important narratives involving MS-13 and, for whatever reason, the Warshington Post is throwing this story around.

              This is exactly the sort of Cult of Savvy stuff that was (rightly) complaining about. It makes it impossible to actually discuss anything, because we have to filter everything through the lens we imagine some poorly specified set of third parties use to observe the world. Even if we agree on the ground facts, we can’t possibly agree on the lens, because of the “poorly specified” bit.

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              • Yes. Is this a trick question?

                A little. It’s because, for whatever reason, the debate is whether we should liberalize immigration, keep it the same, and tighten it up.

                “Tighten it up” appears to have won a very big election recently.

                It makes it impossible to actually discuss anything, because we have to filter everything through the lens we imagine some poorly specified set of third parties use to observe the world. Even if we agree on the ground facts, we can’t possibly agree on the lens, because of the “poorly specified” bit.

                Then we can’t agree who seems to be winning a larger argument in the outside culture. We can’t even really discuss it.

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                • “Tighten it up” appears to have won a very big election recently.

                  Stipulating that there are strong currents of reactionary authoritarianism and outright racism in US politics is… not exactly a big lift for me. Neither is granting the premise that constituents motivated by those currents [1] have captured the Republican Party, and with it the federal government.

                  Then we can’t agree who seems to be winning a larger argument in the outside culture. We can’t even really discuss it.

                  Within the parameters laid out here, where we discuss disembodied narratives and the reactions of a set of hypothetical voters (who, by construction, are less clever and informed than we are), I agree entirely.

                  [1] There’s a lot of overlap, but I don’t think the Venn diagram is a perfect circle.

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                  • Stipulating that there are strong currents of reactionary authoritarianism and outright racism in US politics is… not exactly a big lift for me.

                    Well, my argument is not exactly “we need to change what we’re doing!” as much as it is “we need to notice things”.

                    There was a *LOT* of self-deception in the days going up to the election.

                    I am feeling many of the things that I felt before that election.

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                    • I suppose your feelings are, at least, a more concrete topic of discussion than the feelings of an allegedly modal voter, but I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to refute (or for that matter, agree with) them.

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                        • In Junish 2016?

                          Like the worst band of crooks, frauds, and outright Nazis I can remember in American politics where in striking distance of the Presidency, and that we had roughly Russian roulette odds in the November election.

                          In Junish 2018?

                          It turned out there was a round in the chamber after all.

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                            • OK? I mean, sure, there’s another election coming up, and we’d be fools to believe that the democratic process in this country is guaranteed to function as we want it to. If we’re going to be making appeals to nebulous third party consensuses, well, I’m pretty sure that people know and understand that now.

                              But I’m not sure what constant vague allusions add, especially not when they’re wrapped around the most charitable possible interpretations of statements (like the “animals” comment) made by a guy who long ago proved he deserves no such charity.

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                              • If we’re going to be making appeals to nebulous third party consensuses, well, I’m pretty sure that people know and understand that now.

                                There are plenty of ways to appeal to nebulous third party consenses.

                                But I’m not sure what constant vague allusions add, especially not when they’re wrapped around the most charitable possible interpretations of statements (like the “animals” comment) made by a guy who long ago proved he deserves no such charity.

                                Yeah, like that one.

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                                • OK, straight up: I believe that Trump long ago proved that he doesn’t deserve any sort of charity when it comes to interpreting comments like the one about “animals”.

                                  Do you disagree? Do you think he still deserves the benefit of the doubt?

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                                    • So you believe I’m in error to have priors—informed by, at this point, years of Trump’s behavior—that indicate to me that Trump is racist as all hell, and that somewhat ambiguous [1] statements to that effect should be interpreted in that light?

                                      [1] Somewhat ambiguous at best. If Trump had wanted to make it clear exactly who he was talking about, he could easily have done so.

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                                  • Do you think he still deserves the benefit of the doubt?

                                    Trump should never be given the benefit of the doubt, but that’s a blade that cuts many ways.

                                    If you assume Trump is acting immorally, you’ll be right more often than you’re wrong. Ditto if you assume he’s ignorant, ditto if you assume he’s Trolling and lying just to hit people’s buttons.

                                    Immoral+ignorant+trolling doesn’t equal “leader of anything” much less “speaks for the Supremes” or even (amazingly) “speaks for his own administration”.

                                    The purpose of Trump on Twitter isn’t to inform, it’s to inflame.

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                • Tighten it up” appears to have won a very big election recently.

                  So what? What’s the larger point here?

                  In 2016, populism, of both the left and right variety, was in vogue. Ten years prior to that, so was buying expensive homes with no money down on an adjustable rate, interest only mortgage. Five years before that it was nation building. Manias happen.

                  Once we’ve noticed this, what exactly are we supposed to do about it?

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                  • So what? What’s the larger point here?

                    Once we’ve noticed this, what exactly are we supposed to do about it?

                    Well, my argument is not exactly “we need to change what we’re doing!” as much as it is “we need to notice things”.

                    There was a *LOT* of self-deception in the days going up to the election.

                    I am feeling many of the things that I felt before that election.

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            • I think that you’re unnecessarily conflating two issues. Gangs are one of those things that flourish in the corners of society to which we pay the least attention and they grow to the point where they can reach it and touch people higher up the SES scale.

              Parents are paranoid about their kids. Full stop. The fear can be MS-13. It can be perverts in white vans. It can be heavy metal music and satanic rituals in the state park. All of that has more explanatory value than the political narrative. That’s why the WaPp is throwing that story around.

              I would draw a parallel to the grooming scandal in the UK. Did concerns about political correctness play some role in letting South Asian men victimize certain types of young women? Probably, a little bit. But more than that, the situation can probably be better explained by all of the myriad of ways that stressed social service and criminal justice systems come up short and but he fact that these victims are exactly the kind of people who fall through the cracks in any system. But yeah, some people are going to focus on the political correctness angle, because it suits their politics.

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          • Do you think that building a wall and having ICE go full gestapo gets us to a better immigration policy?

            This, times 100.

            A very large section of immigration policy seems to exist because people want something that _hurts_ The Other. And the other side of the debate seems to be ‘Uh, let’s _not_ hurt them’, which, while less sociopathic, is not actually an ‘immigration policy’ either.

            Seriously, here, one side in this debate has been, for years, whining about _asymlum seekers_ coming here ‘illegally’. Newsflash, guys: It is perfectly legal for literally anyone to walk up to the US border, without any sort of permission, walk into the US, and tell the people there they are fleeing. In fact, under international law, they can even enter through a _non_ port of entry as long as they immediately turn themselves in.

            In fact, I’m very confused as to how those people think a border even works…they can’t check your papers when you’re not in the country yet. You do not actually need papers to enter the US. You need papers or some credible claim of asylum to not be deported back out.

            This is the same sort of complete lack of knowledge that utterly pissed me off about Trump’s Muslim ban the first week. Not just because of the complete lack of knowledge, but the idea that we were, somehow, not going let people into the US without extreme vetting. Except…we literally had already vetted them and given them permission to enter the US (called a visa), and in fact they already were in the US. They were just in the ‘remain here until we check your permission to enter the US’ part of the US at the airport’s border controls, and Trump was demanding ‘extreme vetting’ of them. But..who was supposed to do that vetting? Random border people who exist to detect fruit smuggling? As opposed to the state department, which works closely with the CIA, and had presumably already checked them out when they gave them a damn visa? Was that ‘extreme’ vetting going to result in some sort of ‘extreme’ visa that we were now supposed to require, but only from certain countries? Wouldn’t that be ‘extremely’ confusing?

            It’s not that it was malicious, it that the people who did it seemed to literally have no idea how the entire process even _worked_.

            …you know, there’s a certain mostly-valid complaint that people have that people in favor of gun-control often seem to have very little idea how different sorts of gun work, calling things ‘assault rifles’ and ‘assault weapons’ and nonsense like that.

            So, in the same vein, I’d like to the people who are ranting about MS-13 and how they have to be kept out of the country so we need to do [stupid thing unrelated to MS-13]…I’d like them to explain how the asylum and refugee system is supposed to work and what it is for. Just, like, lay out the basic system.

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