Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Thanks, KG

Kevin Garnett

A belated post, but KG was an amazing, exciting player and an intriguing person, and a very big reason why I followed the NBA in the 1990s and 2000s.

I don't have much more to say than that.

Britt Robson's fitting tribute...

And some analysis of how he changed the definition of greatness...

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Only Problem is "Basket" could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic -- you name it.
"Half"? Probably in the ballpark, yes. "Deplorable"? Absolutely. But, "basket"? This is the only problem I have with what she said. It's a clumsy attempt to be poetic when what is called for is stark prose - it's the rhetorical equivalent of up-talk when no there should be no equivocation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Mystery That May Never Be Solved...

Looking at this chart, it's almost as if something happened in the mid-1960s that re-aligned Americans' party self-identification.

I wish there was some way to know what happened.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Republicans for Clinton

Update V: Former President George H. W. Bush (41) says he'll vote for Clinton. When the one-time national leader of your party plans to vote for the opposition (and also the wife of the candidate who unseated him), it might be time to give up the idea that Donald Trump is an ordinary candidate.

I don't recall anything like this in my lifetime.

Update: not exactly coming out for Clinton, but this is a aggressive kneecap -

And I believe Collins is only the second sitting US legislator to come out against Trump -

Update II: this is getting ridiculous.

Update III:
[conservative talk radio host Michael] Medved attended Yale Law School with Hillary and her future husband; while he didn't much care for Bill, he remembered her as "intensely likable." Indeed, he said, "to this day I don't know anyone, literally not anyone, who didn't like her, find her warm, sympathetic, a manifestly good person, a well-meaning person, not full of herself, not puffed up at all, down-to-earth, and a good friend . . . much nicer than what (her) critics think."
Emphasis mine. From

Update IV: consolidated list from

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hillary Clinton Is Trustworthy

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,
people will eventually come to believe it. -Joseph Goebbels
I read the other day that something like sixty-seven percent of Americans don't think that Hillary is trustworthy. It's the big lie that people have come to believe.
In the course of a single conversation, I have been assured that Hillary is cunning and manipulative but also crass, clueless, and stunningly impolitic; that she is a hopelessly woolly-headed do-gooder and, at heart, a hardball litigator; that she is a base opportunist and a zealot convinced that God is on her side. What emerges is a cultural inventory of villainy rather than a plausible depiction of an actual person. -Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Is Clinton perfect? No. Is she one-hundred percent honest? Absolutely not! She's a politician, after all. But the idea that she is uniquely untrustworthy is complete and utter nonsense. Stop believing it.

On the contrary, by the standards of politicians, she is quite trustworthy.

So where does all this misleading information about Clinton come from?

And who is she really?

Some essential reading:

If you have doubts about how to vote in November, you really should give her another look.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The More You Know...

If you are repulsed by Donald Trump, but you also think that there is something so wrong with Hillary Clinton that you don't feel you can vote for her, I have something for you to think about. Please consider that the same people and the same forces that ushered Trump into a place of prominence in national politics have been relentlessly trying to malign Clinton for twenty-five years.

It could be that many of the negative impressions you have about Clinton are the product of a long-term smear campaign, and just plain wrong.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Police Thyself

The last couple of days have given Americans stark and horrifying reminders of the nexus of problems surrounding race, police brutality, and gun culture. Others have written with more force and eloquence about the issue of racism in law enforcement. I defer to them.

Instead, I'd like to focus on what might be done to transform police departments around the country. Cops have struggled with racism for a long time, and on top of that increasingly have become militarized over the last 30 years.

Today, as President Obama discussed the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, he pointed out that two years ago (in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown) his administration created a task force charged with drafting and implementing recommendations to improve the quality of policing. Honestly, I didn't remember this chapter of the story. So I looked them up. After reviewing the recommendations, I thought, well, implementing these would solve some problems, and would be a great way to improve public relations. But I also thought: what would it take to not simply fix some issues at the margins, but really transform policing into an ideal?

First, some disclaimers: I'm not a law enforcement expert. I know that there are good cops -- I've interacted with many. I'll add also that the problems so appallingly on display this week are systemic and structural in nature, and not necessarily caused by specific individuals. I know that a lot of communities are working on this topic already. I am just trying to make sense of what happened this week, and brainstorm on what else might be done.

Here is a list of principles that I'd add in order to shape the debate about what can and should be done to radically re-think and re-structure the way the hard work of policing gets done.

Profiling Candidates. Data suggests that the psych exam typically screens out only about 5 percent of those tested. That's a good start, but given the current state of policing, there is plenty of room for improvement. Identifying candidates with anger management issues, control fantasies, and white-supremacist views must be made a priority. And typically, contracts to perform psychological evaluations are awarded on a low-bid basis. That is unacceptable. There should be higher standards and a stronger commitment to weeding out those unfit for the job.

Training Recruits. Twelve to fourteen weeks. That's all that is required before a candidate is put on to the street for on-the-job training. This is an astonishingly low bar to clear for what is in reality a very high-skill, high-stress career. I couldn't find anything more current than 2006, but as of then, here is a chart of median hours spent in training. All of the hours listed are shockingly low and should be substantially increased, but I highlighted the areas in need of special attention. For example, eight hours of mediation skills/conflict management? I mean, I consider that to be one of the essential job functions of a police officer. They should spend weeks, or even months on that topic alone. Only 14 hours of domestic violence instruction? Only 4 hours of coursework on hate and bias crimes? Nothing on rape, harassment, and stalking?

Officer Residency. Less than six percent of the officers in the Minneapolis Police Department actually live in Minneapolis. SIX PERCENT. That is not a force with a personal investment in the safety and stability of our community. The national average for large cities is 40%, which is still a little low. I think a residency requirement of 1/2 or even 2/3 of the force is reasonable.

Continuing Education.
 See above.

Accountability. Body cams. Dash cams. Three-hundred sixty degree review of officer-involved shootings. Police should meet a higher standard of conduct for the use of violence, and especially deadly violence, than an average civilian. Stronger sanctions and stiffer sentencing. Independent Prosecution.

This is obviously just a rough cocktail napkin list, but the idea is to start discussion. Police violence is not only a police problem, it is a societal problem. The police are us and we are the police. And it is up to all of us to fix it. It is a long-term problem and requires difficult, expensive, multi-faceted solutions. But apart from health care and education, I can't think of anything I'd rather spend my tax dollars on than the safety and security of all citizens.