Documenting Force

New York City will now document all use of police force. Charleston put in this requirement for its officers! The trick to making it work in Charleston: officers using force were required to include the names and contact information for 2 eyewitnesses or observers. If witnesses were not cited, officers were disciplined for improper reports. It reduced the excessive use of force and provided clearer statistics about the use of force overall (where, when, circumstances, et al.).

The Wasteland of Abundance

We isolate tax cuts as policy, separating the fights over balance sheets from the brawls over women’s reproductive rights or school choice. But the boxes we build are too neat. They ignore the messy spill overs of American life, the spill ways through which pour the slag of American lives. As long as we are in the box, we cannot stop the breakdown or clean up the slop.

The illusions of ideology have replaced the rigor of intellect and taxes are the battle flag of the right’s ideology. So focused, we puzzle over the subtle cultural changes the country undergoes. These changes are tied to a hidden contradiction–that greater concentrations of individual and corporate wealth create greater barrenness, a wasteland of abundance. America’s riches are paid for by an absence of judgement, the destruction of truth, the loss of elements of virtue beyond the balance sheet, elements whose death and mutilation rot out our common will and leave it dying like fruit in the fields.

Taxes influence selfies; one feels richer for a 1000 self-made pictures–without having to do anything! Yet try buying an internet connection without cable, virtually impossible! By monopoly and self image, the strictures of our minds led to violent escapes.

The notion is difficult to express! It’s best seen in an observation of my daughter, during a visit to Ghana’s Cape Coast castle, a slave trading site. Centuries later in the empty space–in the air, she said, you could still feel the pain.

Dorothea Lange photo. LOC.

Dorothea Lange photo. LOC.

The Insignificant

A minor note to point out a major David Brooks error: it is not candidates who can create “significant” moments who are brought forward (if so, then where’s Kasich?); fame lies in the lair of those who create “insignificant” moments, esp. constructed on lies and illusions to non-existent events and data, packaged, exploited, and timed for television.

It is suitable that Republican candidates have mastered this skill, since it comes straight out of the playbook of Ronald Reagan. (Incidentally, it’s a skill neither Mitt or Jeb demonstrates with facility.)

The Scales of Affirmation Action

(I reply to a critique of affirmative action. /wr)

Your statement makes a subtle shift that is a bold lie–upper income blacks have never depended on affirmative action to open doors for their children! Where privilege has been involved, it is tied to fame and family income, networks and legacy–not affirmative action! Your statement slyly assumes all admissions and opportunities tied to African-American success comes through the narrow door of affirmative action, according to quotas determined by whites in privilege, with poor candidates of any race being excluded, as common class interests are protected. Not so!

From college admissions to government contracts, prior levels of family income or current income are taken into account. The idea, disputed as it is, is to expand opportunity, not preserve privilege.

Equally wrong is the idea held by many that affirmative action lowered standards and put aside merit. Opportunity is not a guarantee; merit was demonstrated once opportunity was provided by ensuring diversity!