How to read propaganda

A friend posted this link on Facebook recently: Before You Applaud Termination Of Officer, Here’s The One Thing You Missed. Here’s what I think about it after spending some time reading it carefully.

Maybe I overthink.

Maybe I ask a lot of questions. Maybe I see a lot of complexity in things. But that doesn’t mean I shrug and give up on drawing a conclusion just because there’s another opinion out there.

Continue reading “How to read propaganda”

NO on Ohio Issue 2

I finally got around to reading Ohio Issue 2.

The answer is NO.

If passed, it would work like this. Every “initiative” (any change in law that you get on the ballot by circulating petitions) will have to go through the Ohio Ballot Board. The Board will decide if the proposal will “grant or create a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specify or determine a tax rate, or confer a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license… that is not then available to other similarly situated persons or nonpublic entities.”

If they think it does (in short) create a monopoly, then… Ohio is such a weird state… the proposal still goes on the ballot, but it’s preceded by a yes/no question that amounts to “You know that Issue 2 thing we passed in 2015? Do you want to waive it just this once?”

So basically this is adding an “ARE YOU SURE?” vote to every initiative petition.

Also, special case–and how I love having special cases in a state constitution!–if Issue 2 passes then it claims to cancel and trump Issue 3. I’ve played enough Nomic to know how badly that can go.

One other thing

Issue 2 does nothing to prevent the Ohio Legislature or any subordinate local government from simply granting or creating a monopoly, yadda yadda, as long as they don’t put the issue to a referendum. That’s quite an oversight, if it’s an oversight. I don’t think it’s an oversight.


Long story short: Issue 2 AT BEST makes a silly extra hoop to jump through if the Ohio Ballot Board decides they don’t like your petition proposal. It doesn’t do anything to counteract the actual corruption that is rampant in local governments. And if both 2 and 3 pass, we’ll get dueling amendments. (That’s not such a bad thing, because 3 is bullshit. But still.)

Therefore, definitely NO on 2.

No. Not a "progressive."

“I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.” (Hillary Clinton from the Democratic debate the other night.)

No. Hillary Clinton is not a progressive. She’s gone out of her way, “for decades” according to her supporters, to distinguish herself from the progressives.

This is the kind of disingenuous bullshit that makes people not trust HRC. She’s a moderate Democrat. She should go ahead and own that.

Also: on what planet do you define a “progressive” as someone who doesn’t like to get things done? Doesn’t anyone remember FDR?



Barge & PARC: I'm cautiously optimistic. Here's why the haters are wrong.

I’m not particularly sold on Matthew Barge and his company as the Monitor for the Cleveland consent decree on police use of force but here are a few things about the process.

This selection is being done in the first place because it’s a requirement of the consent decree. It’s not like Cleveland went ahead and outsourced compliance because they thought it would be fun. While this isn’t specifically stated in the Cleveland Scene article, but it’s important: the City doesn’t get to pick any Monitor it wants. It’s a joint decision with the US Department of Justice. DoJ won’t let the City pick a softball Monitor. Furthermore, if the City and DoJ couldn’t agree on a Monitor selection, the choice would have fallen to Judge Oliver.

Elementary negotiation: this strengthens the DoJ’s hand.

Don’t complain about the cost. If it takes five million dollars to solve the problem of cop violence, then it does. It requires lawyers, investigators, statisticians, writers, analysts, security experts… people whose skills cost money.

In a similar vein, of course this has to be outsourced. Everyone knows the City of Cleveland administration is corrupt and otherwise very poorly managed. And we don’t want this oversight done by people who work directly or indirectly for Mayor Jackson; that’s ridiculous. We do want it done by people who are responsible to Judge Oliver.

Finally, yes we do want an out-of-town company to do this work. The farther removed they are from personalities and politics, the less likely they are to have friends and family members and even enemies with a personal stake in this, the better their chances of doing a solid job instead of avoiding offending anyone.

Look, either Judge Oliver and the DoJ are being real about this or they’re not. If they’re not real, then never mind the details and never mind who the Monitor is–this is just a farce all the way through. So we logically have to presume they are real. The alternative is literally to give up.

If the judge and the DoJ are real, then DoJ tried to pick a responsible Monitor and Judge Oliver will fire them if they suck.

Shaun King does the math

Regarding the question of how and why Michael Brown was shot down by a police officer this August in Ferguson, Missouri:

It doesn’t add up the way police say it adds up: Michael Brown could not have been only 35 feet away from the officer who shot him. It had to be more like 148 feet. Click through and read it all, only about ten minutes total.

Immigration orders: Vox just told me what to think

I did not know what to think about President Obama’s new executive order on immigration. Most of my mainstream news comes from NPR, and sadly most of what they talk about is the Capitol Hill gamesmanship. Since 50.01% of what goes on on Capitol Hill is straight-out lies from teabaggers, I wasn’t getting much actual information.

Then this video from Vox came along and laid it out rather clearly. What got my attention is the fact that eleven million people are living in the US without authorization and it’s not at all practical to kick them all out.

Let’s start with that: Deporting eleven million people is not a thing we can really do. It doesn’t matter what the teabaggers want to believe. There is nowhere for them to go! Their former home countries can’t accommodate them! We need them to work here!

Look. You can’t evict 3% of a country. Well, you can, but we’ve seen how that goes in Europe, Africa, and South Asia. Not an option unless you want to go all Full Sudan out there.

Furthermore, if you ask me how I feel about people who cut out of their former countries for food, jobs, safety, or a place to live? I’m on their side. Let me put it this way: My foreign-born grandmother didn’t have papers either.

And back to the video, a majority of unauthorized immigrants have lived here more than ten years. Home is here for them.

So starting from the reality-based assumption that jacking up deportations by an order of magnitude is off the table, the administration has no choice but to prioritize its cases. And then doesn’t it make sense to let peaceful, productive, good neighbors stay? And furthermore, if they’re going to stay, what advantage is there in forcing them to stay underground and off the radar?

No, the only reasonable thing is to allow a path to permanent legal residency for people who are already living in the United States and already making a contribution. Let’s get them integrated, employed above the table, paying taxes, receiving benefits, and acting like they belong here. Because even though they or their parents may have slid under the radar years ago, the fact is that they’re here now and nobody benefits from creating a culture of “illegals.”

NPR fails again. Teabaggers gotta teabag.

Today’s Morning Edition on NPR featured an interview by Arun Rath with teabagger Tom Cole (OK-4). It’s a great example of the thing I hear again and again on NPR: lots of softball questions, casual acceptance of whatever nonsense “both sides” say, lack of followup, and a complete failure to get at actual facts. Here we go.

In the first twenty seconds, Rath repeats the teabagger line that President Obama is “bypassing Congress” with his plans on immigration reform. That’s bullshit right there. Absolutely nothing in the three and a half minute story backs up the “bypassing” accusation.

Unless by “bypassing” you mean I bypassed Congress by shoveling snow off my own sidewalk this morning, and I bypassed Congress by eating breakfast of my own choosing.

What I’m saying is that when you make an accusation like that, it’s meaningless (i.e., bullshit) without something that makes the action, well, wrong. It’s a loaded term. If NPR wants to take sides in this, great, they can go all Fox and use all the loaded words they want, but without substantiation it’s fake news.

So Rath put it right out there, asking Rep. Cole what he thinks of the administration’s assertion that the new immigration plan is within the President’s powers. “The President’s been on both sides of this issue,” Cole replied, waving around words like “inappropriate,” “unproductive,” and “unconstitutional.” Calling the President out for some perceived inconsistency, Cole went on with “It’s hard for us to understand, when were you [Obama] being disingenuous?”

Now stop right there. Cole did not answer the question. He made an assertion that Obama’s plan exceeds his powers, and when asked to substantiate that charge he switched to calling the President “inconsistent” and “disingenuous.”

Rath failed as a reporter. He simply moved on to the next question, without comment or challenge.

The question of whether Obama’s plan is legal and within his powers is an important one. I’m curious about it myself. I honestly don’t know what the legal issues are in this regard, but my point is that I still don’t know because the reporter didn’t do his job.

What’s wrong with this is that the interview leaves the question hanging out there with no actual information other than one guy’s uninformed opinion about some other guy’s alleged inconsistency on a point that may or may not be relevant.

Rath could have made the interview not useless by asking a simple followup: “I hear you saying that the President has been inconsistent in his own statements on his powers in the realm of immigration, but what I’m asking you is on what basis do you say he is exceeding his legal powers?” If Cole dodged the question again, Rath could have said, “Wait, no, you’re claiming the President is stepping over a legal line, so you must know where that line is. What is the limit of the President’s power in this regard, and how do you know that?”

I realize this is a morning news show, and NPR could only allocate three and a half minutes to the interview, but can we hold them to a higher standard than merely filling time?

Political reporting isn’t supposed to be amateur hour. This story is yet another easily found example of NPR doing C-level work and expecting an A for showing up. I call bullshit. The interview was a waste of time at best, a disingenuous propaganda vehicle at worst.