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« Rand Paul is better when he's needling | Main | Bernie Sanders' announcement, and my tweaks »

April 28, 2015


Peter G

I couldn't have said it as well never mind better. Thank you. In examining my own beliefs or analyzing the stated beliefs or behavior of others I often find myself looking into very dark motivations such as might be found in any savage. It's in our DNA. But DNA is not destiny.


There are other problems with Coates' moralistic take. The applicable dictionary definition of "race" is people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock. The qualifier "believed" begs the question believed by whom? This implies a degree of subjectivity. The whole concept of race is controversial within the scientific community. General genetic variability between humans is much less than that among many other mammals. And there's increasing intermixing with the passage of time and availability of travel and mobility. So perhaps it all comes down to personal interpretation. Countless studies show that conservatism is more consistent with identifying people with dissimilar features or customs as "others" to be feared. That's been playing out in obvious ways during the presidency of Mr. Obama. Analysis according to the philosophy and science of ethics will always be superior to the touchy-feely judgments of morality. Screw Edmund Burke.


Reposted from the earlier Coates thread, which I was late in seeing:

I can at least see where TNC is coming from, though. As he notes, in moments like this, we hear a deafening call for calm, peace, nonviolence, and the like. Of course we do. I think he has a point that these calls are often made in a self-serving fashion by those in positions of authority or privilege for no real reason other than to put the lid back on and proceed as if nothing happened and nothing need change.

That's what TNC is railing against. He increasingly writes about race as if he's at his wit's end. The black community is continually told that violence in reaction to police brutality won't help them achieve their goals, and in fact may very well prevent progress. And that's obviously true. But it's a Catch-22, is it not? If they just passively take their lumps and launch the occasional peaceful protest, no one takes notice. This "violence doesn't work, so please stop" lecture is used by many as an all-purpose shield with which to avoid or shut down a real discussion about why these things keep happening and actual action to change it. So I can see why TNC despairs - the game is rigged to prevent a real discussion and real change to take root. And maybe the riots will die out or be snuffed out via sufficient shows of force, but the anger that gives them life will live on and erupt again if provoked. What concerns me about the trajectory of TNC's writing is that he seems to be getting closer and closer to saying "violence is the only language the white power structure will ever understand, so have at it."

I honestly don't know how we bust out of this cycle. This is an overused cliche, but it might take a Nixon-to-China type of figure. A "law and order", NRA-approved Republican or centrist Democrat in the White House willing to scramble the usual partisan inertia and do something major in criminal justice reform. And win. But I don't see that figure on the scene now. Even as I credit him for saying some sensible things on the issue (to friendly audiences) Rand Paul is too much of a self-serving, shape-shifting weasel to expend political capital on it. So it could be a while.


Well now, to be fair, you find talk of social "morality" rather off-putting...except when it comes to Republicans ;-D

Peter G

His writings and beliefs leave little avenue for escape. His rather bold assertion elsewhere that whites are entirely the problem for blacks gets you where? If it is true and an examination of Africa leaves a lot of doubt about that, then where does that take you? Essentially the same place as Malcolm X went which is a self imposed apartheid. Everywhere they are a minority blacks have a legitimate cause for complaint but then so do most minorities where the tribal divisions may be by race or some sub-ethnicity or religion or what have you.

I remember back in the late eighties, 89 I think, race riots in Miami were sparked by the killing of a black person by a Hispanic officer. The underlying complaint voiced at the time was that the relatively new Hispanic community, largely Cuban, was moving rapidly past the resident black community in economic terms and competing with them for jobs that were historically theirs. And it was true. It's happened to every subsequent wave of immigration to the US or Canada. The blacks were by-passed economically.

I cannot imagine how bleak the future looks like to a black person in poorer areas. Where once even a high school education could be the ticket to a reasonable middle class existence they still had immense difficulty in cracking through to that promised land. And the promised land is moving farther away daily. The educational requirements and cost of getting anywhere must look incredibly daunting from the bottom end of the economic spectrum. No group is more affected by income disparity than blacks. No ethnic group has less assets that can be leveraged into a small business loan to start you on a path forward. Were I in such a situation would I not despair? Every path forward seems blocked.

But riots are fundamentally unproductive. They mostly harm the interests of the very groups that give in to what I must admit are very natural urges. They never make things better. The only result I ever see are further physical separation and sorting by race. Detroit is a classic example of what results. Ferguson became Ferguson by white people moving out and black people moving in. I don't believe the riots there will do anything but increase that trend. And I don't believe that the financial arrangements in that town were intentionally placed there with a racial bias in mind. That was just the easy out many places and politicians take to avoid making necessary tax increases. It is easier just to fine people. The fact that those fines inevitably placed heavier burdens on the low end of the economic spectrum was a foreseeable consequence that could have been corrected at the ballot box. It should have been. Certainly they have an opportunity to do that now.

What must it be like to always get the shitty end of the stick? I cannot say. But I think I very much agree with the statement made today by your president with regard to the Baltimore riots. He sees the problem very clearly.


I wish Obama could be the transformative figure I describe in my post. But he just can't. I don't blame him for this at all. It's his political opposition that has created this environment where everything he says is turned on its head and every idea he supports becomes a kenyan soshalist plot to take God-fearin' white guys' guns or whatever the scaremongering talking points are today.

He has the perspective, intelligence, and temperament to be the leader who builds a coalition towards ameliorating the vestiges of this country's original sin. But he won't get the chance because the man's every action becomes a radioactive political football, especially when there's a racial component.

Barack Obama has been far, far, from perfect, but we're not going to see another one like him, maybe ever in the post-Citizens United world of court-approved corruption masquerading as elections. It's a shame that the nation has allowed the majority of his presidency to be pissed away.

David & Son of Duff

I was intending to chip in my tanner's worth later, after I had woken up properly. But then I read this and it says it all so much better than I ever could:

"In 2012, after four years of his own failed policies, President Obama won a whopping 87.4% of the Baltimore City vote. Democrats run the city of Baltimore, the unions, the schools, **and, yes, the police force** [my emphasis]. Since 1969, there have only been only been two Republican governors of the State of Maryland.

Elijah Cummings has represented Baltimore in the U.S. Congress for more than thirty years. As I write this, despite his objectively disastrous reign, the Democrat-infested mainstream media is treating the Democrat like a local folk hero, not the obvious and glaring failure he really is.

Every single member of the Baltimore city council is a Democrat.

Liberalism and all the toxic government dependence and cronyism and union corruption and failed schools that comes along with it, has run amok in Baltimore for a half-century, and that is Baltimore’s problem. It is the free people of Baltimore who elect and then re-elect those who institute policies that have so spectacularly failed that once-great city. It is the free people of Baltimore who elected Mayor Room-To-Destroy."

In other words, this is not an American problem, it is a Democrat problem. I hardly dare tell you where the quotation comes from because Peter's eyeballs might revolve at high speed and he will start frothing at the mouth. Still, whisper who dares:

The Dark Avenger

That you repeat the dreck of an organization know for lies and stupidities on an almost daily basis doesn't prove anything but your own fearful racism, duffer.

Peter G

That's bullshit of course. Baltimore was once a thriving manufacturing center which was largely lost to fierce competition, domestic and international. Did the Democrats do that? Not really. It was an unstoppable force which you absolutely support don't you David? What alternative policies would you have espoused that would have changed a single blessed thing? Not one. Just the usual blather about more freedom or more liberty. You glory in this misery for it reinforces your racist beliefs. Your alternative policies are what exactly? Well give us an example of your version of paradise, a single paradise will suffice. I wonder what is happening in Kansas btw?

The world is changing David, do you think you will be always safe in your gated community and mind?

David & Son of Duff

So then, Gentlemen, am I to take it that Baltimore has NOT been a Democrat fiefdom for the last 40-odd years? And therefore, the crapulous situation now facing the city and its inhabitants has absolutely nothing to do with the Democrat party, nothing to see here, move along, please, it's all the fault of, well, er, you know, those Republican swine!

And may I say quickly how much I admire your abilities to stick your heads in buckets of sand with your hands over your ears whilst shouting "La-la-la-la-la" as loud as you can. Really super!

Peter G

Well David unless you would have us believe that Republicans have no where been elected or dominated local politics for decades then perhaps you would point out where your peculiar ideology has solved all these problems. Mississippi? Alabama? Louisiana? Where are those glorious Republican strongholds on the economic spectrum of success? Surely Maggie fixed everything in your own country right?

George Bush had a great plan didn't he? The intentionally inflated housing market and generous credit was intended to help wasn't it? He actually boasted during the campaign for his second term that they'd put more Americans into their own homes then at any time previously. Ever rising home prices were supposed to allow people who'd never had a chance to have equity in a home to build some. Great plan as long as home prices never fall. Only problem was that huge numbers of people were put into homes that stagnating wages would never allow them to afford. Precipitating the largest economic meltdown since the Great Depression. Lord preserve us from your further ass hattery.

David & Son of Duff

Er, perhaps it's still early morning where-ever you are in the frozen tundra that is Canada but can I remind you gently, Peter, that the subject of this discussion is - BALTIMORE!

Now remind me again, which political party has been running the State, the city, the unions, the bureaucracy, the schools and the POLICE for the past 40-odd years?

Peter G

Nice weasel David. I'm sure you would like to limit the conversation to just Baltimore but even that doesn't support your nonsense. Presumably you are arguing that the Republicans or the right in general have a better alternative manor of governing that solves problems of race and economic disparity. Well where is it? And what is it? Because if can't do that then you are just another Limbaughian gasbag doing exactly what our host predicted such a gasbag would do. Oh and it's almost noon. Come on David, breakdown and give us of your wisdom about what you would do to solve these problems. Surely you know?


I read the Coates piece based on PMC's observations here. Please explain how the piece is excessively moralistic, or that TNC's writing is generally moralistic.

His style strikes me, in this piece, and generally, as the very opposite of moralistic.

You have not yet come close to illustrating a reason for this assertion, and it is the crux of your criticism of Coates. So I grade this post "H", for hollow.

David & Son of Duff

And YOU accuse ME of weaselling, Peter?!

I can understand your deep desire to talk about anything, even the GOP, rather than face the deeply unpleasant fact that the (il)liberal 'apparat' that has run every facet of Baltimore for 40 years has been shown up as, at best, crassly stupid and dogma-bound, and at worst, the sort of corrupt regime that would find itself at home in South America!

My entire and very genuine sympathies are with the poor black saps who are trapped there and who have yet to fight their way through the miasma of lying agit-prop put up not by people who *should* know better but people who *do* know better - but most of all people who know enough to keep their corrupt snouts in the trough.

There are examples of decent democratic socialism in practice around the world and if you attempt to defend the crooks running Baltimore, Peter, then shame on you. In doing so, you will show beyond a doubt that your sympathy for 'the working class' is, shall we say, skin deep!

Peter G

So you've got nothing besides sympathies. I thought as much. There are indeed some excellent examples of democratic socialism around the world and every single one of them relies on prying money out of the haves and using it to help the have nots. In fact that is the only way to make democratic socialism work. In order for this to work in Baltimore that would require quite a lot of money to be pried out of haves, who do not live in Baltimore, to help the have nots who reside there. Do we agree?

Btw are you sure you meant sympathies? The English language is rich in words and my sense of what you are expressing at the misery in places like Baltimore is more like joy than anything else.

Peter G

Since that wealth transfer is my solution David I think I should ask again, what's yours. A wholesome diet of your sympathies?

David & Son of Duff

So, still nothing to say about the Democrat 'apparat' that has run Baltimore for 40+ years, Peter. How about, say, Cleveland, Philadelphia or Detroit, how are they doing?

Not much of a conversationalist when you are on the back foot, are you?

Peter G

I do and I have said much on these very issues my silly fellow interlocutor. And I'll repeat. The problem with all those places is that their taxation authority ends at their municipal boundaries. The resident populations are poor and have not resources that can be taxed. This model of taxation is one designed to produce exactly what it does, population flight by those with the resources to do so. Leaving behind a nearly destitute population often does produce corruption as those with power use diminishing revenues to line their own pockets and reward their political backers. I've written about that too. I know quite a lot about Detroit as it happens. There is a perfectly workable social AND democratically sound alternative and that is to use regional or state taxation authority and stop tiresome old duffers such as yourself from hiding away in some tiny unincorporated tax haven on the borders of those towns. But you wouldn't want your tax dollars going to "those" people would you? Not when you can weasel out by sending them your sympathies instead. And before you justify yourself by saying those people can't be trusted with your tax dollars let me just point out no one has to. The state or federal level can administer the spending and allocation and auditing of any and all social and development programs themselves can't they? Still awaiting the duffer plan.

David & Son of Duff

Quite remarkable! So you describe, accurately, your scheme whereby the powers of a city are used to take money from those *you* designate as 'rich' when, suddenly, bless my soul, the rich bugger off! Whodathunkit? Well, anyone with more than three brain cells, actually.

So, Phase II of the Peter Plan snaps into action and now the State authorities will take money from the rich. A little test for you now, Peter, what do you think the rich will do? Yeeeees, quite, they'll bugger off to the next State. And before you start to think nationally, do try and imagine the attractions of, say, Bermuda, or Mauritius. And do remember also, Peter the Great Economist, that when these people go they usually close their factories, shops and businesses putting *your* people out of work.

No probs, I hear you cry with a delighted air, the National/State/city governments can run them! You mean, as well as they run their domains already?! Well, good luck with that one, Peter!


You didn't address anyone specifically on this, but since I was one that accused Coates of moral argument, I'll offer an answer. He states: "... there was no official appeal for calm when Gray was being arrested. There was no appeal for calm when Jerriel Lyles was assaulted. ... There was no claim for nonviolence on behalf of Venus Green. ... There was no plea for peace on behalf of Starr Brown." His argument seems to be that moral indifference on the part of officials and society at large are to blame. I would oppose with actual nuts and bolts solutions divorced from subjective attitudes: investments in education, vocational training, infrastructure, business, subsidized arts, and the whole list of other liberal programs that, despite the propaganda of the right, worked pretty well in the New Deal and Great Society programs.

Peter G

We're going for the thread length record here David here at PM Carpenter's esteemed blog. Still waiting on your plan which seems to resemble the Republican plan to replace ACA in its ghostly nature. You've got my plan in a nutshell David. That's exactly what I am proposing. That state wide or federal funding and taxation is the only way to deal with geographical disparities in income level. Just like they do with state sales taxes that fund a lot of education. Good thing too for your long term Republican havens like the states I cited above which get a shitload more in funding from the federal government than they kick in as revenue. I look forward to the Republican plan for southern red states to renounce this inequity. Let's take a poll. How am I doing, Carpenterites, back footed as I am, with out resident Libertarian problem non-solver.

David & Son of Duff

Yes indeed, our esteemed host deserves a medal.

So let us take your ‘plan’ to its ultimate end in which the national government over-rides all State laws and taxes the rich to the limit which, of course, is a lesson that will be learned by the ‘wannabe’ rich, that is, those people who borrow money in order to start up new business enterprises. They, as sure as night follows day, will disappear overseas (much as the wealthy French flock to London these days!) and their businesses will close. Thus, ‘at a stroke’ (to quote an old Brit phrase) your tax receipts will drop but the demands for welfare from your unemployed will rise! Brilliant!

Today – Baltimore; tomorrow – Mayland; the day after – the USA!


Good points. Especially in light of duff's maniacal bleatings in talking to Peter G above. Public education, public housing, and other much-maligned liberal policy was working, not perfectly, but public policy is never perfect. Abandonment of those programs, via corruption (yes, sometimes by Democratic city machine grifters) and disinterest or outright hostility to those programs has been a source of urban decay. The disinterest and hostility began in the late 1960s, but really picked up right around 1981, when we elected a right-wing crackpot who hated the New Deal and Great Society and had a (now largely airbrushed) history of statements of racial and class animus.

Meanwhile, thanks to backlash to the civil rights and antiwar movements and the dirty f'ing hippies, to great electoral effect the GOP launched the War on Drugs, the Democrats meekly followed their lead to try to remain electable in the Reagan years, and the country instituted all sorts of short-sighted policies that helped lead to the animus between police and the communities they're supposed to protect we see all over the country.

But this talking point, which I can only assume is catching fire in the Wurlitzer echo chamber because duff is using it, that Democratic policies are the one and only reason for Baltimore's troubles is...pathetic.

You want to see a jurisdiction that has been battered by the policies of its ascendent political party's policies? Look at pretty much the entire Deep South, run by regressive Dixiecrats and their now-GOP progeny. Last or near last in every education metric, every public health metric, you name it, they're last. Net recipients of federal funds (moochers!!!). And despite right-wing economic cranks' declarations to the contrary, their anti-union, low wage, low regulation, low tax environment is not an irresistable draw to businesses. Meanwhile California remains a hub of the tech sector and a draw to top talent and business.


A shoulder high hand clasp to you my brother. Strike up Jefferson Airplane's Somebody to Love. I lived through the Kennedy years and Great Society and, as you point out, at least domestically they had problems that were far outweighed by the advantages. I could easily work my way through two college careers before settling on the third with money earned at summer jobs in factories. I had friends escaping the increasingly oppressive farm hinterlands living in federally subsidized housing that allowed them to work and raise a family in respectable and enriching surroundings.

Thom Hartmann has an interesting theory that the '60's and '70's scared the bejesus out of the upper classes and they decided commoners should not have access to as much leisure time because they only used it to do things like smoke pot (the sophisticated use cocaine and morphine or Valium and Scotch), read unapproved writings by Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky and raise questions about the social order. His claim is that this lead to the gigantic propaganda push behind Reagan already begun under Nixon. This argument seems to have a lot of merit.

Peter G

Did that happen in Sweden? Germany? France? Great Britain? Any well managed social democracy? I see a lot of BMW s driving around. Even the odd Jaguar. Those businesses closed did they? Interesting that all these people are relocating to GB considering the awesome welfare state and taxation rates you have. Shouldn't they be like..leaving? Or going to Monaco. I mean, your weather! I think it might be a little hard for the Kochs to move their operations offshore when their primary markets are in the States don't you think? Won't they have to take the oil fields they extract their money from with them? That's gotta be expensive. The problem with your Ayn Rand grade idiots is that they assume that if they don't serve a market no one else will. Or can.

These rocket scientists who relocate to Bermuda or Mauritius or whatever coupon clipping tax avoidance haven they might find, where are they going to invest their money so they have coupons to clip? Where there are actually people and markets and revenue hungry governments no? And they are going to evade taxes in those places how? It's a lot easier said than done. Remember what they say about death and taxes.

Peter G

Yes they did. And can again.

David & Son of Duff

Come on, Peter, give it one last try, big effort now - stick to the point with which I began this conversation: That is, Baltimore has been a Democrat party enclave for **over 40 years**. They control EVERYTHING! There are no elected Republican office holders and haven't been for years.

So, my original and simple question is this: Who is to blame for the state of affairs in Baltimore?

Come on, apply your Canuck grit and determination, try and stick to the point - AND ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!


"His argument seems to be that moral indifference on the part of officials and society at large are to blame."

It's a pretty big leap from the passage you quote to that conclusion. I don't see the bridge.

I think Coates' argument is more about the nature of political power, and how it is/has been deployed against African-Americans, than it is about morals, both here and elsewhere in his writing. Here, Coates is offended that the powerful invoke non-violence selectively, as a matter of political convenience, not because they are amoral (which I'm guessing TNC would take for granted).

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