Lowrey: Defund the Police. Um…

Annie Lowrey, writing for The Atlantic:

America badly needs to rethink its priorities for the whole criminal-justice system, with Floyd’s death drawing urgent, national attention to the necessity for police reform. Activists, civil-rights organizations, academics, policy analysts, and politicians have drawn up a sprawling slate of policies that might help end police brutality, eliminate racist policing, improve trust between cops and the communities they work in, and lower crime levels.

A more radical option, one scrawled on cardboard signs and tagged on buildings and flooding social media, is to defund the cops.

Lowrey’s discussion of defunding police forces isn’t a call for dissolving them, but rather divesting them of the activities that lead to over-policing, over-incarceration, and the deaths of innocents. Defunding is not the way to go; the other options already on the table, also mentioned, are. We should do all of those things.

The rest of the article embodies an unflattering comparison of America’s priorities to those in our similarly-situated allies. Our culture, as exemplified by where we spend our money, is out of whack. The good news is that we can repair it.

#policing #criminalJustice #incarceration

The Sucker Factor

The trouble with associating a political agenda with a disease possessing a two week incubation time is that, by the time any so-motivated activity yields evidence of error, that error amounts to tragedy.

Looking on the bright side, we’ll get a good read on the agenda vs. relative intellect—aka the sucker factor—in two weeks.

Vox: Essential Workers Have Found Their Power During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Emily Guendelsberger, writing for Vox:

Americans tend to look at big societal problems and see only individualist solutions. Look at the comments on any article about recent work stoppages in Amazon warehouses or fast-food chains, advising workers to improve themselves and find a better job if they don’t like the one they have.

This is what “no society” looks like, and it’s not just ugly — it’s a death cult.There are no free-market solutions to a pandemic. There’s no free-market answer to climate change, or homelessness, or the rise of new germs that shake off our old antibiotics. If there’s no society, there are no solutions to humanity’s looming existential problems. There’s only the grinning skull-face of eat-or-be-eaten capitalism mouthing, “You’re on your own.”

American individualism and the free-market capitalism built America and are what drive our society, but they’re not without a downside. A vocal minority of Americans are irate at being told to stay home and are protesting to re-open the economy.  They employ the harsh rhetoric of individualism, epitomized by a protester’s placard in Nashville, Tennessee this week: “Sacrifice the weak.”

Protester uging

No, thanks.

There’s a divide between when it’s our right to seek our own best fortune and when we should and must submit to the greater good. It’s for wise—and decent, humanitarian—citizens to recognize where it lies. Fortunately, we’re still in good, majority company on the right side of the issue.

For those times when a workers employment hinges on accepting unsafe or disadvantageous circumstances, the right solution is a labor union. American workers have let union membership dwindle over the last few decades to their detriment, ever since President Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers. It’s time to reverse that trend. Employees at Amazon and elsewhere have begun to figure that out.

#employment #individualism #society #culture

Marc Andreessen: It’s Time to Rebuild

Marc Andreessen decries the state of our infrastructure as a failure of will to build in this essay, published today:

Why do we not have these things? Medical equipment and financial conduits involve no rocket science whatsoever. At least therapies and vaccines are hard! Making masks and transferring money are not hard. We could have these things but we chose not to — specifically we chose not to have the mechanisms, the factories, the systems to make these things. We chose not to *build*.

It does feel that America has become complacent in its comfort the last couple of decades. We see other countries, notably in southeast Asia, produce comfortable, modern, elegant cities and build out all-encompassing technological infrastructures while we’re stuck with the aging result of long ago efforts.

There’s a lot to agree with here.

#rebuilding #infrastructure

Kaepernick, Nike, and Betsy Ross’s flag

Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox:

The sneaker was supposed to go on sale this week for $140, and Nike had already shipped it to retailers when it made the decision. Kaepernick took issue with the sneaker’s design, which featured 13 white stars in a circle, referencing a Revolutionary War-era version of the American flag (commonly known as the Betsy Ross flag). This early version of the flag, he argued, is pulled from the era of slavery and doesn’t warrant celebration.

Kaepernick’s sincere, years-long public rejection of overt and systemic American racism is rightly applauded, but this is an example of taking a good idea too far. That an unrelated symbol of early America emerged from the long era of white oppression of blacks is no reason to reject it. We’re not talking statues of Civil War heroes or Lee’s battle flag, here. The Ross flag is in no way connected to white supremacy.

The first symbol of American independence and unity, the Ross flag was also the first to recognizably survive into the modern era. It should be part of any celebration of the nation’s founding.

Kaepernick’s rejection of the flag from a product he endorses is his business. Nike’s rejection at his urging is not only ridiculous, but it’s also bad business, to boot. The shoes were already in retailers’ hands.

#Kaepernick #racism

Serwer: The illiberal right throws a tantrum

Adam Serwer–The Atlantic:

Undetectable in the dispute on the right is any acknowledgment of the criticisms of liberal democracy by those who have been fighting for their fundamental rights in battles that are measured in decades and even centuries; that the social contract implicitly excluded them from the very rights white Christian men have been able to assert from the beginning. Perhaps to do so would be to acknowledge the fundamental immaturity underlying the American Orbánists’ critique: that what they describe as a crisis of liberal democracy is really just them not getting exactly what they want when they want it.

Smart analysis of the religious Right’s shit-fit over the evaporation of white men’s long-running prerogatives.

America’s social order is changing, both by inclusion and attrition. No wonder the far Right rails against immigration, justice and equality for marginalized people, and even learned scientific knowledge. They attempt nothing short of the triumph of ignorance; that’s the only means available for preserving something whose time has passed.

#americanConservatism

Trump, as explained by a Brit

Love this:

God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid. 

He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart. 

In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.

Read the entire quote here.

#trump