This picture tells a shooting story

Before you read any further, go look at the drawing accompanying the New Tork Times article on the autopsy of Michael Brown,

There’s a story in that picture. To read it, you have to be familiar with pistol shooting and the kind of pistol self-defense training that cops and amateur sheepdogs like me engage in.

In the remainder of this post I’m going to walk you through the process of extracting the story from the picture.

In case the link I’m using disappears behind a paywall, here are the most salient features of what I see:

  • The entry and exit wounds form a nearly linear arc from the crown of the head to the right hand.
  • There are no entry or exit wounds on the back.
  • On the head, there are two entry wounds at the crown and right eye, and a wound in the jaw which could be entry or exit (it’s unclear in the drawing).
  • There is one wound at the base of the neck on the right hand side, drawn to suggest an exit wound.
  • There is one wound in the upper right pectoral muscle, drawn like an exit.
  • There are three wounds on the right arm. The topmost one is very near the pectoral wound and drawn like an entry. The torn shape of the middle one, on the upper arm, suggests an exit wound (later update: turns out it’s a graze, and the only one that could have been inflicted from the rear). The bottom one, on the forearm, is clearly drawn as an entry wound.
  • The wound on the hand is drawn to suggest that the bullet entered there at a shallow angle (more tearing would be shown if it were an exit wound)

The first thing that jumps out at me is that this was not wild, amateurish shooting. Had it been, the distribution of bullet holes would have resembled an irregular blob. The near-linear arrangement suggests a relatively steady hand and a shooter who wasn’t panicked.

It also strongly hints that Brown was not moving sideways when the shots were fired. He was either stationary or moving directly forward or away from Officer Wilson.

We know Wilson is a cop and we know how cops are trained – to aim for the target’s center of mass (COM). But that’s not where the shots landed. What I see here looks like good aim at the COM compromised by a mild case of trigger jerk from a right-handed shooter, pulling the muzzle slightly left from the point of aim.

This is probably the single most common shooting fault there is. I do it myself when I’ve been out of practice; my first target, at 30 feet, is likely to feature a vertical line of holes a few inches left of the X-ring. It’s a very easy mistake to make under fatigue or stress.

The location and angle of the head wounds, and the absence of wounds on the rear surfaces of the body, is also telling. For starters, it tells us that Brown was not shot in the back as some accounts have claimed.

I think the only posture that could produce this wound pattern is for Brown to have been leaning well forward when he was first shot, with his right arm stretched forward (the pair of wounds around the right armpit and the shallow-entry wound in the hand are suggestive of the latter).

I originally thought the head wounds indicated that Officer Wilson was shooting Mozambique drill – double tap to the body followed by a head shot. This is how police trainers teach you to take out a charging assailant who might be high out of his mind. I drill this technique myself, as do most serious self-defense shooters.

Now I think it’s equally possible that Brown began to collapse forward when he took the first bullet or two and his head fell into the path of Wilson’s following shots.

One possibility we can rule out is that Brown was shot while prone on the ground after collapsing. There are no wounds at the right places and angles for this. If he had been shot prone at close range, the angle of the crown wound would be impossible; if he had been shot while prone at some distance the crown wound might just barely possible but we’d also see shallow-angle wounds on the back.

Everything I see here is consistent with the report from an unnamed friend of officer Wilson that Brown charged Wilson and Wilson shot him at very close range, probably while Brown was grabbing for Wilson or the pistol with his right hand.

UPDATE: I failed to make clear that the reason I’m sure Brown was moving is the extreme torso angle suggested by the lack of exit wounds on the back. A human trying to do that standing still would overbalance and fall, which is why I think he was running or lunging when he took the bullets.

UPDATE2: We now have have a bit more information on the report.

“Dr. Baden and I concluded that he was shot at least six times. We’ve got one to the very top of the head, the apex. We’ve got one that entered just above the right eyebrow. We’ve got one that entered the top part of the right arm. We’ve got a graze wound, a superficial graze wound, to the middle part of the right arm. We’ve got a wound that entered the medial aspect of the right arm, and we’ve got a deep graze wound that produced a laceration to the palm of the right hand,” Parcells said while pointing out the location of the wounds on a diagram.

Baden and Parcells concur that the head shots came last, and that the crown wound killed Brown. The middle wound on the arm was not, as I thought from the drawing, an exit; it was a graze. Their description of the hand wound as a graze causing a laceration confirms my reading that the bullet hit the hand at a very low angle – thus, Brown’s hands cannot have been up when he took the shot.

250 thoughts on “This picture tells a shooting story

  1. Don’t worry, Eric Holder will keep having new autopsies until they get the results they want.

  2. The friend’s story has been posted online, but it’s very unclear — it sounds like the kind of hysterical things anyone might say if they were there and afraid. I doubt I’d do better while looking for a rock to hide under.

    There was another version, clearer but also unverified, which I can’t find now, in which a witness (so he says) reported seeing this sequence of events:

    1. Officer, in a patrol car, sees the suspect walking down the centerline of the street with a package in his hands. He stops and talks to him. About that time the police radio says that a theft occurred. Suspect starts running past the patrol car.

    2. Officer tries to get out and confront him. Suspect body-blocks the door closed again.

    3. Officer quickly backs the car up 20-30 feet, gets out. Suspect charges down on him and grabs for the gun. One shot is fired, and suspect starts running back the way he came.

    4. More shots are fired, and suspect dies.

    I’m not saying that’s the way it happened, but it seems the most coherent story so far. If it’s true I’d say that only the first shot was justified. Once the suspect is running away (without the gun he tried to grab), there’s no need to kill, and the officer should have used his Taser or something else.

    Beyond that I pretty much take the anti-police view of this incident. The Left is mostly right on this one — except they assume the police are only at war with blacks. No, they’re at war with all of us.

  3. > I’d say that only the first shot was justified. Once the suspect is running away

    None of the bullet wounds is consistent with the notion that Brown was shot while running away. There are no entry wounds on his back!

  4. I think the only posture that could produce this wound pattern is for Brown to have been leaning well forward when he was first shot, with his right arm stretched forward (the pair of wounds around the right armpit and the shallow-entry wound in the hand are suggestive of the latter).

    Other way around.

    The arm shots were probably first, starting as the officer started to bring the pistol up, Brown starts to go down (falling forward because he’s running) the second to last shot is to the face he falls a little further forward and the last shot hits in the top of the head.

    Remember the “OODA” loop takes *time*. By the time the officer realized the fight was over he’d already put the last round in his head.

    Also not that *every* defensive and offensive class that I’ve taken, from military to basic CCW to high end combat pistol classes I’ve taken or read about for the last decade teaches you to SHOOT UNTIL THE FIGHT IS OVER.

    jdgalt:

    and the officer should have used his Taser or something else.

    You have any idea what the wire length is on a Taser?

    You know what happens when you hit someone with a taser while they’re running away *fast*, right? Especially if they reach the end of the wire?

  5. >The arm shots were probably first, starting as the officer started to bring the pistol up, Brown starts to go down (falling forward because he’s running) the second to last shot is to the face he falls a little further forward and the last shot hits in the top of the head.

    Right. I think my reconstruction and yours agree that the head shots have to have come last; the question is whether the shot to the hand or torso happened first. It could have gone ether way.

    The reason I think Brown was leaning forward at the time of the first shot is the absence of exit wounds on the back – there had to be a long enough path inside the body to slow the bullets to below skin-rupturing velocity. Sorry if I was unclear about that.

  6. >she doesn’t mention Brown charging back at Wilson.

    As an exercise, I’ve been trying to think of an alternate explanation of the wound pattern that doesn’t involve Brown moving directly towards Wilson with his right arm out. So far I’ve come up dry.

  7. @esr:
    “As an exercise, I’ve been trying to think of an alternate explanation of the wound pattern that doesn’t involve Brown moving directly towards Wilson with his right arm out. So far I’ve come up dry.”

    Wild speculation: Could the hand and/or forearm wound have come from behind with the hand pronated?

  8. Cameras on the officer or possibly on the car (depending on angle) or both would have been really useful.

  9. >He could have been facing Wilson with his arms forward without moving towards him, surely?

    Gad, I really was unclear. From the wound pattern, he seems to have been leaning forward far enough to overbalance unless he were running. Silly me, I had to explain this once on G+.

  10. @Jonathan: That might be plausible except for the angle of the shot through the top of the head. From reports, it’s at an angle downward. If the person is standing still, they are mostly going to drop in-place, either like a board or like a sack of potatoes. Either case requires a comparatively large amount of time (quarters of seconds) to fall in such a manner that the shootee would be in a convenient position to shoot from that direction. Especially so given that he was 6′ 4″. A straight fall to a 5′ height of a pistol would have taken about 0.3 seconds. That’s a fair bit of time in a fight. It would have taken even longer if the fall was a slow arc forward. I suspect that a police officer seeing a person crumple forward like that would stop shooting. Perhaps not. However, it’s less likely to keep shooting at somebody once they are already mostly on the ground.

  11. esr> As an exercise, I’ve been trying to think of an alternate explanation of the wound pattern that doesn’t involve Brown moving directly towards Wilson with his right arm out. So far I’ve come up dry.

    I’m not familiar with the forensics of analyzing bullet-wound patterns, so this may be a stupid question: How are Brown’s wounds inconsistent with his arms being up rather than out, as some witnesses said they were?

  12. >Wild speculation: Could the hand and/or forearm wound have come from behind with the hand pronated?

    It’s a creative thought, but I just tried assuming that position and I don’t think you can get the uppermost pair of entry/exit wounds that way.

    Besides, if Brown had been shot from behind I’d expect to see entry wounds on the back.

  13. >I’m not familiar with the forensics of analyzing bullet-wound patterns, so this may be a stupid question: How are Brown’s wounds inconsistent with his arms being up rather than out, as some witnesses said they were?

    Look at the low entry angle on the hand wound indicated by the drawing. It’s shallow; I’d say that would was made by a bullet traveling no more than about 30 degrees off the axis of the arm.

    Furthermore, where the arm wounds are is key. If those had been made with Brown’s arms up, there would be exit wounds on the rear of the arm where the bullet punched through. The lack of such wounds, and the pairing of entry/exit holes, says that the bullets entered the flesh of the arm and traveled some distance nearly parallel to the bone before exiting. Hard to see how that could happen unless the arm was near horizontal.

  14. Thomas,

    The problem with the idea that his arms were UP is that there’s no way in hell a trained cop would aim at and shoot someone’s arn if they we holding them up. Again, center mass.

    The only explanation for his arm being up and being hit like this would be that the cop was a bad shot and cops generally aren’t that bad of shots.

  15. >The only explanation for his arm being up and being hit like this would be that the cop was a bad shot and cops generally aren’t that bad of shots.

    I beg to differ. Quite often they are terrible. This one, however, knew how to shoot a tight group.

  16. Autopsy report – There are no entry or exit wounds on the back.

    @ jdgalt – “suspect starts running back the way he came.” “More shots are fired, and suspect dies.” “I pretty much take the anti-police view of this incident.”

    I do not understand how a rational human comes to this conclusion. If someone is presumed to be running away from a shooter (i.e. presenting his back to the line of fire), how is it that all the bullets struck him in the front or top of his head? Do you presume that this large heavy man was running backwards? Or perhaps that the bullets went past him and then ricocheted back toward him? You might want to try re-enacting your theory in your living room and see if you can make it work.

  17. If he’d been standing still with his arms forward, he most likely would have fallen on his back. Newton and all. No exit wounds on the back means that his body picked up the full momentum of at least three bullets.

    I’m willing to be charitable and call it confusion, but it looks pretty clear now that one whole class of eyewitness accounts (hands up, etc) is pure fantasy. The other accounts (charging) seem to match the physical evidence, as reported, and are likely to be reasonably close to the truth.

  18. In regards to shooting skills of cops, the guys I work with qualify twice a year, once at night, and once in daylight. Qualification is getting 5 of 6 rounds into the silhouette, 2 out of 3 tries. For most of them (75%?) that is all of the shooting they do. The rest form a normal spectrum that covers hunters and recreational shooters and I think two amateur match shooters. The sheriff doesn’t recall anyone ever failing, and most of them don’t need the third try (or the 6th bullet, for that matter).

    This is a rural county sherrif’s office, staffed largely by locals. Even the guys that only shoot for quals likely grew up around guns.

    The city cops nearby tend to be somewhat lower quality, occasionally making the news for cringe-worthy incidents. Like a doctor shot in the face by a cop using his gun to break a car window, apparently barrel first and with his finger on the trigger. That sort of stuff.

    And from what I hear, the statistically safest place in the world is directly in front of whatever a NYPD cop imagines that he is aiming at.

    No clue on Missouri standards, or the city cops in question, but the autopsy drawing shows a pretty tight group in the most likely scenario. When you see it static in the drawing, you tend to imagine the muzzle climbing and pushing to the right, which is probably wrong. Brown was falling (and probably twisting) as the shots were fired.

  19. As an experiment, I tried talking about this autopsy with one of my (liberal) friends. The results were… interesting.

    [conversation is edited for length]

    Me:
    Just looking at the bullet wound locations tell me what you think happened.

    Friend:
    Not a good shot. Clearly just emptying the magazine on his target.

    It would take some pretty substantial evidence for me to not blame the cop here (and want him in prison for life).

    Me:
    Here’s what I think you can reasonably conclude.

    [my analysis was almost exactly the same as ESR's]

    Friend:
    I call possible bullshit.

    Me:
    Did you *look* at the head wounds? The one that hits above the eye is the entry, the one at the chin is the exit. The guys head had to be tilted forward to do that.

    Friend:
    Maybe he leaned forward after being shot lower?

    Me:
    Possible. But if you’re going to execute someone, you don’t shoot them in the *hand* first.

    Friend:
    He missed the head and got closer with each consecutive shot. He could be a good shot with a bad anger/racism problem. Since he was not going for the center of mass. He was clearly going for the head. He was not reacting on instinct. He was trying to kill his victim.

    Me:
    Okay, let me make something clear. Of *course* he was trying to kill. By the time you’ve drawn your gun, you’ve decided that you *have* to kill.

    Friend:
    Then I don’t understand how/why you are reasoning the officer was being charged. Why is it more likely he was charging the officer than just bending over?

    Me:
    If this was murder, then the officer decided to open fire on a non-threat, *skipped* the obvious route of just shooting the victim in the head, landed his initial shots in the arm, and then walked his firing pattern into the guy’s head.

    Friend:
    Of course not. He obviously aimed for the head, hit too low, and adjusted with each shot. Is there some fundamental principle of shooting I am missing here? That seems obvious.

    Me:
    Sorry to be mean about this, but this is not merely implausible, this is *laughably* wrong.

    The initial shot was off target by about… call it 6 inches to the left and 18 inches low. This is the sign of a *terrible* shot. The entire shooting pattern is a line. Terrible shots simply *can’t* pull that off. (I mean, it’s *theoretically* possible, but so unlikely as to not be worth considering.)

    Friend:
    Could it have been dark?

    Me:
    Sure, but I don’t see your point. I mean no one mistakes a hand/arm for a head.

    Friend:
    Just as you consider the probability of him being a terrible shot with the signs of an excellent one, I consider the odds that his was actually justified in shooting an unarmed teenager so low it’s practically not worth considering.

    I know I don’t know enough about guns to refute your evidence. Though by itself, it is not enough to convince me there is another explanation.

    Me:
    So… officer decides to commit murder, aims for center of mass, but pulls shots left, Brown then tilts his head at the officer?

    And officer shoots him in the head *then*?

    Friend:
    still sounds reasonable

    Me:
    So, you’re ranking the probability that a police officer committed murder higher than the probability that a burglar decided to attack a police officer?

    Friend:
    I would rank a police officer attacking a burglar unprovoked over a burglar attacking a police officer unprovoked.

    Me:
    Okay. I guess this is a case of “agree to disagree”

  20. >If he’d been standing still with his arms forward, he most likely would have fallen on his back. Newton and all. No exit wounds on the back means that his body picked up the full momentum of at least three bullets

    Would this be true as well if he was on his knees?

  21. >Would this be true as well if he was on his knees?

    On his knees, how’s he going to lean forward far enough to not have rear exit wounds without falling flat on his face? Not plausible.

  22. esr:
    > As an exercise, I’ve been trying to think of an alternate explanation of the wound pattern that doesn’t involve Brown moving directly towards Wilson with his right arm out. So far I’ve come up dry.

    I think I’ve thought of another pose that could result in wounds like that. (It’s not nearly as likely as your scenario though)

    Given the pose you sometimes see [at least movie] cops take: turned side-on towards the target, with their off-hand stretched out in front, and their dominant hand resting on their hip. If the shootee has a lot of weight on their front foot, and then twists after the first few shots (to get their own weapon into play, or simply rotating in response to the other shots) you could see a wound pattern like that.

    Given the other facts of the case this seems highly improbable though. (Especially since that’s a position that [at least to my lay mind] only makes sense for someone who’s armed to take)

  23. Is this a case where the cop did “shoot to kill”?

    Is that common practice? I never encounter police news stories from around here where the victim was hit by 6 bullets. Two bullets is a lot already.

  24. As a shooter of several decades experience and training, I agree with esr’s analysis.

    That said, how about this as a possible alternate scenario:

    For whatever reason, Brown is on his knees facing the police officer and with his (Brown’s) left hand on the ground. Brown has his right hand/arm extended in the general direction of the officer’s gun. The shot progression is graze wound to right hand, entry wound in forearm, entry wound in bicep, entry wound in forehead and final entry wound in crown of head. Brown reacts to each shot by rotating the right side of his torso upward from the ground while his head tilts progressively more downward as each shot is fired.

    I can see already that I’ve missed a wound in my list, but I think this is an at least plausible alternate scenario to the established scenario of Brown charging the officer.

    Given that the shooting took place on a well-traveled city street during daylight hours (as opposed to the proverbial back alley, late at night), I think it unlikely to the point of unbelievable that the cop executed Brown in the fashion this implies. Still, I think this scenario does seem to account for the known facts as suggested by the published wound pattern.

  25. @Joshua Brule: It seems pretty clear to me: an 18-year old male who struggles in school and flashes gang signs in photos decides to rob a store of some cigars, despite that fact that he’ll be caught on video. He then walks down the middle of the street, holding the loot, and attacks the policeman who stops him. It’s fascinating to me that there are otherwise sane people who think it’s more likely, if not an obvious certainty, that a policeman would decide to accost and murder a random man in broad daylight.

    The people who believe that are ignoring the violence and bad judgment Brown had just exhibited, minutes before, as well as the odds. Sure, sometimes police shoot people unjustly, but how often? It’s indisputable that criminals do stupid and violent things far more often than police shoot people for no good reason.

    I’ll grant that it’s possible that a policeman with a clean record would actually be a racist willing to murder a random black man in front of witnesses. I’ll concede that it’s possible that a teen thug was shot even though he “did nothing wrong” (in those seconds before he was shot, at least). But that’s not the way I’d bet: “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”

  26. @ Winter

    What part of “cops are trained to shoot at C(enter) O(f) M(ass)”, as mentioned more than once up-thread, do you find in any way consistent with the notion of “shoot to wound”?

    Once the cop decided to shoot, he was doing his best to kill the threat as quickly as he was able.

  27. >Is this a case where the cop did “shoot to kill”?

    Probably. U.S. police doctrine is that when you have a 6’5″ suspect in a strongarm robbery running at you, possibly high on angel dust or bath salts or something else that induces psychotic violence, or possibly a mental case to begin with, you don’t fuck around; you pop him.

    >Is that common practice?

    That’s how cops are trained – on the assumption that any criminal suspect may be a violent psychotic. See below for why, in the U.S., this policy is not actually extreme.

    >I never encounter police news stories from around here where the victim was hit by 6 bullets. Two bullets is a lot already.

    Your cops probably don’t have to deal with violent drug addicts and mental cases anywhere near as often as ours do. It’s not so much that we have more of them, it’s that ours are on the streets because involuntary commitment to a mental institution has been very difficult to arrange since the late 1960s. Add to this the fact that some street drugs can induce psychotic behavior…

    And crazy people are very dangerous. Subduing them is a specialized and risky skill not common even to fighters as relatively well-trained as myself, let alone a random cop who hasn’t been practicing empty hand for a quarter century. I’d certainly shoot to kill if one rushed me, out of realism about the limits of my abilities; thus, I can’t criticize police shoot-to-kill doctrine formulated for people generally even more limited.

  28. >I can see already that I’ve missed a wound in my list, but I think this is an at least plausible alternate scenario to the established scenario of Brown charging the officer.

    In theory, yes. Well done – the key point is that with left hand on the ground his torso can be braced so its long axis is close to coincident with the direction the shots were fired from. We need that for the observed wound geometry and the absence of exit wounds in the back.

    It’s not supported by any of the eyewitness accounts, though.

  29. Lining up wounds and bullet paths is not a new branch of forensics. I doubt there will be much, if any, variance in the conclusions of whatever agencies investigate this shooting. I also thought the wounds could be explained by Brown being shot while kneeling, but none of the witness reports state that. The officer didn’t see a teenager, he saw a 6+ foot, 300lb man. The police are not machines, nor are they superhuman. Being attacked is very frightening and your body dumps a whole lot hormones into your system. You don’t think calmly, you don’t think rationally, you devolve to your training. And very, very few people can count their shots.

  30. “And crazy people are very dangerous. Subduing them is a specialized and risky skill not common even to fighters as relatively well-trained as myself, let alone a random cop who hasn’t been practicing empty hand for a quarter century.”

    While I was a paramedic, we had a call with a guy being crazy on a roof. It took nine cops to subdue him, he was so crazy violent. Turns out he was on PCP…

  31. The other thing that bothers me about this story is that the shooting victim is Always initially called an innocent, good, well mannered, polite boy.

    It always ends up that the victim was more likely a violent and dangerous man.

    This doesn’t ever fit the initial narrative. I think the violent reaction of the mob to the convenience store footage was more because it ruined the narritive than anything else.

  32. > It’s fascinating to me that there are otherwise sane people who think it’s more likely, if not an obvious certainty, that a policeman would decide to accost and murder a random man in broad daylight.

    What drives me insane is that my friend understands things like prior probabilities and conditional likelihoods, but appears to ignore (or at least twist) such concepts when presented with evidence he just doesn’t like.

    @ESR: Honestly, I used to think that the whole “Gramscian damage” sounded too much like a conspiracy-theory to be true. But based on what I’ve seen lately, I’m revisiting the question.

  33. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5p7sqgkeA8

    This video was taken by a security camera when a russian cop (captain Yevsyukov) walked into a mall and began shooting at the visitors. Looks like that the girl who tried to stop the gunman assumed a position that was fairly close to Eric’s description. So, in this case, the victim could try to stretch his arm forward to protect from a pistol already pointed at him. Is that plausible?

    P.S. Sorry for my English, I’m not a native speaker.

  34. @ JWW – “The other thing that bothers me about this story is that the shooting victim is Always initially called an innocent, good, well mannered, polite boy. It always ends up that the victim was more likely a violent and dangerous man.”

    Welcome to the memetic war that has been raging in this country for several decades now.

  35. @esr:
    >It’s a creative thought, but I just tried assuming that position and I don’t think you can get the uppermost pair of entry/exit wounds that way.

    >Besides, if Brown had been shot from behind I’d expect to see entry wounds on the back.

    From the NYT article:

    ‘A witness, Tiffany Mitchell, said in an interview with MSNBC that she heard tires squeal, then saw Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson “wrestling” through the open car window. A shot went off from within the car, Mr. Johnson said, and the two began to run away from the officer.

    According to Ms. Mitchell, “The officer gets out of his vehicle,” she said, pursuing Mr. Brown, then continued to shoot.

    Mr. Johnson said that he hid behind a parked car and that Mr. Brown was struck by a bullet in his back as he ran away, an account that Dr. Baden’s autopsy appears to contradict.

    Michael’s body jerks as if he was hit,” Ms. Mitchell said, “and then he put his hands up.” Mr. Brown turned, Mr. Johnson said, raised his hands, and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!”

    Officer Wilson continued to fire and Mr. Brown crumpled to the ground…’

    It would be generally consistent with Mitchell’s and Johnson’s story if the shots did not all hit in sequence (though then the line they form would look rather coincidental), but rather if they correspond to about three separate events:

    1) Brown is hit somewhere by the shot fired within the car.

    2) Brown is hit in the hand and/or forearm while running away. Johnson mistakes this for a hit to his back. He turns and surrenders as Mitchell and Johnson claim. So far he has been hit by two or three bullets, maybe even just one if the shot from within the car somehow missed and he was only hit by one bullet from behind.

    3) Brown is facing Wilson, Wilson continues firing and the remaining bullets hit Brown, he collapses forward with the first few shots, resulting in the remaining shots entering his head as you have described.

    In looking at the NYT article, I realized something: Both the police account and Mitchell’s account agree that the first shot was fired during a close-in hand-to-hand struggle within the car. This doesn’t seem consistent with all of the shots hitting Brown during a straight-on charge towards Wilson, as Brown would have to have backed off first. Some of the shots may have hit during a charge if the scenario above occurred and Brown charged Wilson at the beginning of phase 3, perhaps in the panicked belief that Wilson was likely to continue firing, with the goal of getting the gun from him (the charge, of course, would have made Wilson certain to continue firing).

  36. None of this matters. You’re bringing up facts and logic — truth.

    Truth has no place in this issue. It’s a story, a narrative. Obama’s policies are catastrophic failures, breeding misery at home and chaos abroad. They need a distraction. They need a bigger & better Trayvon.

    Facts don’t matter to the narrative. Hell, Michael Brown doesn’t need to have been shot. He doesn’t need to exist. The reality of his death is completely irrelevant. He is a now a fictional character, an icon, a symbol. He is another Victim Of Racism, and our racial-healer President and his legion of good liberal supporters can now do battle against Racism. They will do this by putting things on Twitter and calling people racists, and feeling smug about how virtuous they are for not being racists.

    It’s a way to unify the liberal tribe at a moment when some of them were starting to stray. Some of them were criticizing the catastrophe in Iraq, or the unending recession, or the thuggery of Lois Lerner and the NSA.

    So if the town of Ferguson has to burn — if lots of towns have to burn — it’s perfectly okay because that serves the narrative.

    Eric, by bringing up facts and logic and experience you are demonstrating that you are a bad person. Good people don’t use facts; they rely on emotions. Good people don’t use knowledge, especially not knowledge about guns. Simply having knowledge about guns means you can’t be a good person. Because all good people know guns are bad. Good people on TV tell them so, therefore it is true. Simply by failing to parrot the narrative and point and shriek and put up something outraged on Twitter means you are a bad person. The world consists of good people who believe and repeat the narrative, and bad people.

    This is not a criminal case. It is not a factual event. You are trying to argue with a miracle. The self-proclaimed good people believe in the narrative the way a devoutly religious person believes in miracles. You are using the wrong tools and trying to accomplish the wrong task. The people creating the narrative don’t want to establish the truth or bring about justice. They want what they have brought about: hatred, division, and a chance for their tribe of good people to feel good about themselves and despise others.

  37. Sometimes there are no exit wounds from torso hits because the target was a big man. So you don’t need to explain lack of exit wounds due to angles although in this case your reasoning seems valid. But Mr Brown was overweight perhaps even meeting the definition of clinically obese. So there was a lot of ballistic gel (fat) in that mans body. The longitudinal arm shot with entry and exit is indicative of a fat man putting his hands “up” where “up” to him means getting his arms above maybe 10 to 30 degrees past the horizontally forward position slightly outstretched. More holding them forward than holding them up. Plenty of people that get shot fall to the ground out of sheer fright. And Mr Brown probably had his arms up in defensive mode and then immediately fell to the ground in submission since the cop was aiming a gun at him – probably firing. He was either shot as we was falling in submission or he was shot in the arm and then began falling in submission or out of fright. The two heads shots indicate that the cop continued firing even as Mr Brown was falling forward to the ground. The only shot that was life threatening was the second last or last shot. Those two shots were the head shots. One went through his eye then jaw into his upper neck/chest missing majors arteries. The crown shot killed him. Sorry but the evidence suggests (especially the longitudinal arm shot) that Mr Brown had his arms extended forward and angled up indicating either a submissive person or a lunge forward. The head shots indicate either defense against a lunge forward or a man facing forward with arms raised forward and upward in submission to an officer acting out his training that you confront and empty your magazine into a perceived threat (or a cop who chose to exercise deadly force with extreme prejudice without justification). I have always disagreed with the training that says you should empty your gun of all rounds. It is inhumane and unjust since it implies that all use of guns (and arms in general) should be with extreme prejudice. This is NOT appropriate training in a peaceful, free society. Citizens inherently know this when they are confronted by a criminal and “show” or “brandish” their arms to the criminal who promptly takes off. Police ought to have their training manuals thrown out and rewritten. This petty criminal would be alive today if police training was not prejudiced. Society and individuals appointed to represent us in society (LEO’s) ought to show mercy for petty criminals because a just society that believes in freedom, liberty and justice shows such mercy and levies penalty according to the nature of the crime. So, the question is “was Mr Brown attacking this officer trying to get his gun or not?” I say, no way. Since the cop was able to land six rounds into Mr Brown and the spread pattern of the shots indicates that no physical struggle was occurring. This big fat man was not a “threat” to this police officer. Somewhat similar to the big fat man selling cigarettes in New York City that was choked to death. He died because the police officers have decided that they CONTROL the citizenry. And in this case, this police officer also decided that he had the right to CONTROL the citizen Mr Brown. Mr Brown is dead. Trayvon Martin is dead. Zimmerman was charged and a jury appointed to determine his guilt or not. What will happen to this LEO? Will he be treated above the law? If yes, then this is yet more evidence that the United States of America is becoming fascist. The main media outlets choose to ignore all of these incidents of cops shooting citizens. But one does not have to google much to find that these occurrences are happening with frightening frequency.

  38. The pattern of shots doesn’t seem consistent with an outstretched arm.

    I see nine wounds from six bullets. For labelling’s sake, call them thumb, forearm, upper arm, armpit, pectoral, throat, chin, eye, and crown. Thumb and forearm seem to possibly be grazes from the same bullet, which was parallel to the forearm. Upper arm was a single bullet, perpendicular to the arm, shot from front or back(perhaps front-right or back-left). Armpit and pectoral are the same bullet, entry and exit, which was shot from Brown’s right side. Throat is an exit wound to either chin or eye, which means the bullet was shot from above. The other of the two did not exit, implying it was probably shot from above and forward. The crown was a single bullet, either a graze from forward or a penetrating wound with no exit from above.

    If we assume that all but one of these were caused in a single flurry of shots, the one outlier is pretty clearly armpit-pectoral – no plausible position allows for that to combine with the others. Even running at Wilson, Brown would have to be running about 45 degrees to the side of Wilson for that angle to work, and that isn’t consistent with the others. Conversely, it seems a very viable wound from a close-range struggle, that would be enough to force Brown away, but not immediately incapacitate Brown or even his arm.

    The other five seem consistent with Brown running at Wilson. Arms pumping lead to a forearm parallel to the direction of motion and an upper arm perpendicular to it, and then Brown falling forwards allows for three head wounds to exit as they did(with either the crown first, if it was a graze, or last, if the bullet is inside Brown).

    My suspicion at this point – which I’m not wedded to, but which makes sense – is that Brown knocked over a store, saw a cop a few minutes later and panicked(even though the robbery apparently hadn’t even been called in yet – Brown had no way of knowing, and would have thought Wilson was there to arrest him, even if he wasn’t), the confrontation escalated into Brown going for Wilson’s gun, getting shot once point-blank(into a shirt, which explains the lack of powder residue on his body), and backing off. Wilson probably tried to bring him in, Brown charged him instead of going to jail(same thing he did the first time, but with more cause), Wilson shot him five more times, three to the head, and killed him.

    If my story is right, Wilson probably didn’t react perfectly – escalation of violence like that is bad, and he could in principle have stopped shooting sooner – but he acted reasonably, and if the rest of the evidence bears out my theory, I’d vote to acquit.

  39. “While I was a paramedic, we had a call with a guy being crazy on a roof. It took nine cops to subdue him, he was so crazy violent. Turns out he was on PCP…”

    Heck, I once saw a guy spotted trying to shoplift in a store. The store security guards pinned him in a vestibule against a wall, but it took 5 people to hold him down until the cops got there, and he nearly broke free repeatedly, and he WASN’T on any drugs as far as I know.

  40. >It would be generally consistent with Mitchell’s and Johnson’s story if the shots did not all hit in sequence (though then the line they form would look rather coincidental), but rather if they correspond to about three separate events:

    I see a couple of problems with this scenario.

    One is that, as we’ve discussed, the shape of the shot group looks wrong for having been produced by three separate engagements. I really have trouble getting past this.

    Another is the claim that some of the remaining five or so bullets hit Brown while he’s standing with his hands up. If it went down this way, where are the exit wounds on his back and the rear surface of his arm? And why does the shot pattern look like he was leaning far forward, even before the final crown shot?

    But let’s try to match the wounds to this account.

    There is one fixed point: if Brown was hit from the rear at all, the only possibility is the graze wound on the upper arm. It would be a pretty odd error, though. Brown’s back is a large target and the cop has to be aiming for COM.

    Now for that low-angle graze on the hand. There is no way that happens if Brown’s hands are up, so I’m going to assign that to the struggle in the car.

    Everybody, notably including the medical examiners, thinks the head wounds happened last (you don’t keep fighting or even stay vertical with a bullet through your eye or crown). So we’re left with the following to account for: the entry/exit pair around the armpit, the shot to the base of the neck, and the medial forearm wound.

    It’s just, barely, possible that the neck and forearm shots landed with Brown’s hands up and failed to hole through. Wildly unlikely, but possible.

    The entry-exit pair around the armpit is the big problem for this theory. I think it is completely incompatible with any posture in which Brown is standing with his hands up. In that position, the bullet would have had to make a right angle turn and burrow like a mole to produce the observed exit.

  41. There is one fixed point: if Brown was hit from the rear at all, the only possibility is the graze wound on the upper arm. It would be a pretty odd error, though. Brown’s back is a large target and the cop has to be aiming for COM.

    Not just that, but he would be missing in a different way than the other shots missed. If Brown’s back were turned, then trigger-jerking by a right-handed shooter would then cause bullets to land on Brown’s left arm.

  42. @esr:

    It’s not supported by any of the eyewitness accounts, though.

    Thanks. My objective was to illustrate that there were alternate, and seemingly equally plausible, explanations for the wound pattern depicted. The assumptions necessary to support such a conclusion make it (them?) untenable though.

    @ grendelkhan:

    The assumption regarding body cameras on cops is that the images would show anything more than an unstable, partially obscured view of an event that likely didn’t occur “in frame”. Having a blurry still photo extracted from a recorded digital data stream presented as documentation of an event strikes me as the very definition of “tampered evidence”.

  43. >Not just that, but he would be missing in a different way than the other shots missed. If Brown’s back were turned, then trigger-jerking by a right-handed shooter would then cause bullets to land on Brown’s left arm.

    Good catch. I meant to mention this when I began to write my previous comment, but the composition took a while and I spaced it.

  44. A thinking person first looks at the evidence, and tries to figure out what it most likely says. From there we may make further inferences.

    A thinking person does not jam the evidence into a convenient ideological frame, and then smoothly segue without so much as a paragraph break into a rant about police being evil.

    I’m strongly inclined to think the police are overmilitarized, but at the same time, police do need to exist, and police sometimes have to shoot people, and my assessment of the evidence so far leans in the direction that ESR’s does.

    I actually took ESR’s challenge at the beginning of the post, to click over to the image without having read his assessment and come to my own conclusions about what they said before reading his assessment. His assessment is more detailed due to his specific knowledge about weapons and standard techniques of using them that I largely lack, but I came to the same conclusions he did independently about what the pattern says even so. I think this means something. You can bend the evidence to sorta, kinda fit other shapes, but in the absence of other solid information I think we must rationally rate them at a much lower probability than the explanation put forth here.

  45. http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-issue-is-about-policeman-shooting.html?m=1

    According to the eyewitness accounts, Wilson shot *at* Brown when he was running away. Brown turned around and put his hands up, knowing he was in danger, and Wilson — now in full-on berserker mode — gunned him down. The first shot or two caused him to fall forward, which explains how he must have been pitched forward off balance.

    Your ballistic reconstruction is still wholly consistent with the fact that this was a white cop meting out punishment for the capital crime of pissing off a white cop while black.

    You would have a much better case if it weren’t for your vehement attempts like this to whitewash institutionalized racism and other structural problems.

  46. I don’t think the eyewitness accounts jibe with the autopsy report, or it would show different wounds in the arm. It also wouldn’t make sense for Wilson to fire so many shots into an upraised arm.

    Of course, these eyewitnesses may not be disinterested observers.

  47. “Institutionalized racism” didn’t get Brown killed. Neither did shoplifting, jaywalking, pot, or the militarization of police. What got him killed was violent, aggressive stupidity, and the bad judgment to attack an armed policeman.

  48. One wonders why Brown would have retreated 35 feet away from the police vehicle before turning around to charge, though.

    One also wonders why someone would commit a strong-arm robbery under the eye of a video camera, then draw attention to himself by walking in the middle of the street carrying the loot, and then attack a policeman. Mike Brown did a string of stupid things in the time before the shooting, so I’m not surprised he did something stupid at the end of it.

  49. >Your ballistic reconstruction is still wholly consistent with the fact that this was a white cop meting out punishment for the capital crime of pissing off a white cop while black.

    Tell me, how does your fantasy narrative survive the orbital fracture in Wilson’s face? This bogeyman of yours, “institutional racism”, did it somehow punch the cop hard enough to break bone?

    This, mind you, three minutes after the selfsame 6’5″ violent thug was caught on video roughing up a shopkeeper half his size for a pack of cigars.

    The phrase “needed killing” leaps to mind. And would still leap to mind if Brown’s skin were white, yellow, or purple with pink polkadots.

  50. >One wonders why Brown would have retreated 35 feet away from the police vehicle before turning around to charge, though.

    Here’s one simple and plausible answer: he was on drugs.

  51. Jeff, if pissing off a cop was a capital crime, nobody outside St Louis would have ever heard of Brown. It’s famous because it’s rare.

  52. As I posted in the other thread, Gateway Pundit has confirmation that Darren Wilson had sustained an “orbital blowout fracture” of the right eye socket, certainly from a blow from Michael Brown.  His vision was probably not all that great right then, but Brown badly needed to be put down.  He was a menace to public safety.

    Darren Wilson deserves a medal.

    It always ends up that the victim was more likely a violent and dangerous man.

    Exactly.

    Piaget Crenshaw is doing interviews with a slightly different story; she doesn’t mention Brown charging back at Wilson.

    Exactly.  It doesn’t fit the Benjamin Crump/Obama administration’s narrative.  Therefore the charge never happened, like the robbery… until the video was leaked.

    The DOJ and FBI must be viewed as enemy agents, fabricating evidence against Wilson.  CNN and the bulk of the MSM are their willing mouthpieces.  It is long past time to have strict liability for slander/libel for such disinformation activities.  The Marxian propaganda outlets should be bankrupted.

    Me:
    Okay. I guess this is a case of “agree to disagree”

    IMO, nobody who adheres to the narrative of your friend given the evidence is fit to vote or hold public office.  They are dangerously delusional.  The problem with Gramscian damage is that “crimestop” makes some inevitable logical conclusions almost unthinkable, because the neural pathways have been so heavily burned-in by reinforcement of PC tropes and vicious slander of anyone holding alternate viewpoints.  You probably have to de-program the victims by methods just as severe and over a considerable length of time.  They shouldn’t have any control over policy in the mean time.

    It would be generally consistent with Mitchell’s and Johnson’s story if the shots did not all hit in sequence (though then the line they form would look rather coincidental), but rather if they correspond to about three separate events:

    Two words:  shell casings.  You’re manufacturing your own narrative to railroad the officer.  You are one of the Gramscian damage victims who needs therapy, or perhaps just an enemy agent.

    Mr Brown probably had his arms up in defensive mode and then immediately fell to the ground in submission since the cop was aiming a gun at him – probably firing. He was either shot as we was falling in submission or he was shot in the arm and then began falling in submission or out of fright.

    Contradicted by eyewitness accounts.  Another Gramscian damage victim or enemy agent.

    This big fat man was not a “threat” to this police officer.

    The big fat man had already given the officer an eye-socket bone fracture.

    Brown turned around and put his hands up, knowing he was in danger, and Wilson — now in full-on berserker mode — gunned him down. The first shot or two caused him to fall forward, which explains how he must have been pitched forward off balance.

    An eyewitness count captured inadverently on a video made just after the shooting has already ruled out your scenario.  Either you are making up a narrative in which the policeman is a murderer, or you are deliberately ignoring evidence to the contrary.  Neither can be done in good faith.

    You’ll notice that this video is now “private”.  The Marxist propaganda machine is busy covering its tracks, censoring anything which contradicts The Narrative.  However, dozens if not hundreds of people have saved copies already.

  53. Piaget Crenshaw is doing interviews with a slightly different story; she doesn’t mention Brown charging back at Wilson.

    Why assume she’s telling the truth?

  54. Looking at the drawing, I came to a slightly different conclusion. It appears to me that Brown was holding up something in his right hand which Wilson mistook to be a handgun. Due to (perceived) weapon fixation, his first shots hit the right arm instead of center of mass, climbing up to the head.

  55. >It appears to me that Brown was holding up something in his right hand which Wilson mistook to be a handgun.

    Be ironic if it were the cigarillos, no?

  56. >Exactly. It doesn’t fit the Benjamin Crump/Obama administration’s narrative. Therefore the charge never happened, like the robbery… until the video was leaked.

    Ah..

    >IMO, nobody who adheres to the narrative of your friend given the evidence is fit to vote or hold public office. They are dangerously delusional. The problem with Gramscian damage is that “crimestop” makes some inevitable logical conclusions almost unthinkable, because the neural pathways have been so heavily burned-in by reinforcement of PC tropes and vicious slander of anyone holding alternate viewpoints. You probably have to de-program the victims by methods just as severe and over a considerable length of time. They shouldn’t have any control over policy in the mean time.

    Ok, then. Thanks for clearing that up.

  57. > Why assume she’s telling the truth?

    I don’t assume anything. Witnesses’ memory are notoriously fallible. All witnesses’ statements deserve to be evaluated by the investigators, though, which is what we’re playing at here.

  58. Jeff Read: I read your link and have been in discussion with people there, and… wow. They are claiming that Mike Brown paid for those cigars, that (despite the video) we really can’t know that the shopkeeper was intimidated (it might have been “playful rough housing” over something else), and that it wasn’t really a robbery but something made up by police. In other words, they are seriously delusional.

  59. Lots of discussion here about possible angles based on entry wounds.

    Wouldn’t a forensic examination of the paths of the bullets within the body clear this all up? (Is this scheduled to happen later?)

  60. They are claiming that Mike Brown paid for those cigars,

    But he did.

    that (despite the video) we really can’t know that the shopkeeper was intimidated (it might have been “playful rough housing” over something else),

    Just like you are about to claim that (despite the video) we really can’t know that Mike Brown paid for the cigars?

    and that it wasn’t really a robbery but something made up by police.

    Now we’re pretty sure it wasn’t a robbery…

    In other words, they are seriously delusional.

    They’re not the ones parallel-constructing a narrative to fit their pre-established conclusion that the white cop was in the right and the unarmed black teenager was in the wrong.

  61. Would it be practical to install video cameras on all police guns?

    Ideally, they’d record whenever the gun was being held, and would
    simultaneously transmit to a repository controlled by a neutral third
    party, perhaps a newspaper, lest the memory chip “accidentally” get
    destroyed after a bad shooting.

  62. >But he did [pay for the cigars].

    That’s pretty rich, even for you, Jeff. A customer called in a robbery report. If there was no actual robbery, why did the shop owner not correct the report when the police came to investigate? Or later, to the press? Would have made him a hero to the locals, might have saved his store from being trashed during the looting.

    And why do we see on video the shop owner accosting Brown as he was leaving and getting slammed into the other side of the shop?

    I watched the video twice, looking for money changing hands. I didn’t see it. To be fair, the quality is so low that some of those moving blurs might have been cash moving. But given what we know about the call-in and the shopkeeper’s behavior, I can only describe your theory as delusional.

  63. >Would it be practical to install video cameras on all police guns?

    I don’t think so, though the idea is sound in principle.

    The problem is that (a) cameras are relatively fragile under the field conditions of weapons (as opposed to being attached to a uniform shoulder), and (b) cops often have to go where network coverage is flaky. They’d object to a technology in which predictable equipment failures and network outages could be used to create a presumption of bad behavior – and I can’t say I’d blame ‘em.

    Human-mounted cams that record for later don’t have these failure modes. I think they should be mandatory.

  64. >Jonathan Abbey on 2014-08-19 at 19:22:39 said:

    >One wonders why Brown would have retreated 35 feet away from the police vehicle before turning around to charge, though.

    After the gun goes off during the car scuffle, he runs. Very common reaction; it takes time and effort to train that instinct out of people. He gets ~35 feet when he hears “Freeze!” behind him and sees that the cop isn’t out of the fight yet. He sees plenty of open ground all around him, the only safety available is to go back and try to disarm the armed policeman. Maybe he sees the cop still wobbly from having has face broken. Maybe he’ll get lucky.

    Maybe not.

  65. My summary of the two current leading narratives.

    1. Mike Brown was yet another of the multitude of poor young black ghetto males. He had a substandard home life, struggled in school, wrote bad violent rap, dressed ghetto, made and smoked blunts, and posed for photos making gang signs. He may have a juvenile record. He shoplifted some cigars, strong-armed the shop clerk, and walked down the middle of the road with his loot. Stopped for jaywalking, he got in a fight with the policeman, ran away when a shot was fired, but turned back and charged and was shot to death. The autopsy, and numerous witnesses, confirm this. But police are too militarized and have handled the demonstrations badly.

    2. Mike Brown was a “gentle giant,” no different than most other teens, including liking rap. Those aren’t gang symbols in those photos. Pot doesn’t make you violent. He paid for those cigars, and the confrontation with the store clerk was just “playful rough housing” or about something else entirely. The racist police have edited the video deceptively to smear Brown. The policeman’s facial injuries either don’t exist at all, or are exaggerated, or were caused by his own gun, or the car door he opened into Brown, when Brown pushed it back. Hitting Brown with the car door was part of the racist aggression that ended with Brown’s murder, done when Brown was surrendering. The autopsy, and numerous witnesses, confirm this. Also, police are too militarized and have handled the demonstrations badly.

    Trayvon II: Electric Boogaloo: it’s sort of a modern black Rebel Without a Cause with mashed-in dollops of the JFK assassination and Rashomon.

  66. >Pot doesn’t make you violent.

    Well, that part is true, anyway. It can impair your judgment, though. So if you have a native tendency to violence you won’t control it as well.

  67. > The problem with Gramscian damage is that “crimestop” makes some inevitable logical conclusions almost unthinkable, because the neural pathways have been so heavily burned-in by reinforcement of PC tropes and vicious slander of anyone holding alternate viewpoints. You probably have to de-program the victims by methods just as severe and over a considerable length of time.

    A little melodramatic, but… not a terrible analogy. Although I’m glad to be able to say that you got the time frame wrong.

    A little over 24 hours later (after innumerable back-and-forth chats and a whole lot of calmly repeating myself and answering the same questions phrased a little differently each time) my friend went from “certain beyond a reasonable doubt that it was murder” to “this goes against my intuition, but I think you are probably correct that Brown was moving towards Wilson”

    This was predictably followed by the claims that we need to: modify the rules of engagement so that it’s only permissible to shoot clearly armed assailants, “shoot to wound” instead of killing, only equip officers with less-lethal weaponry…

    (I’m sure a lot of the shooters here have had this conversation before.)

    Of course, my friend takes math/physics/probability theory seriously so I didn’t have to teach him epistemology from scratch. It was more a case of, “You know those tools you use for scientific reasoning? They apply here too. No, really.” (I have no idea how to handle the people without a math/hard science background…)

    I wonder if there’s a way to speed this process up. I don’t want to have to spend most of a day on this again…

  68. “They’re not the ones parallel-constructing a narrative to fit their pre-established conclusion that the white cop was in the right and the unarmed black teenager was in the wrong.”

    As opposed to race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump who are constructing a narrative to fit their pre-established conclusion that the little angel of an unarmed black kid was in the right and the mean nasty old racist white cop was out looking to kill some n-word?

  69. >One wonders why Brown would have retreated 35 feet away from the police vehicle before turning around to charge, though.

    I agree with @kjj interpretation of charging at policeman at “Freeze”. Another possibility is that at least part of those distance was Wilson driving backwards to unblock the car dor body-blocked by Brown.

    > It appears to me that Brown was holding up something in his right hand which Wilson mistook to be a handgun. Due to (perceived) weapon fixation, his first shots hit the right arm instead of center of mass, climbing up to the head.

    Errr… you know that shooting the gun out of hand is thoroughy debunked trope, and that police is trained to shoot for center of mass instead?

    BTW. is there scene drawing, with shell casing etc., available somewhere?

  70. “Would it be practical to install video cameras on all police guns?”

    Google glasses would be better and easier.

    ” (b) cops often have to go where network coverage is flaky. ”

    BT to smartphone to network. There’s always a copy even if the network is spotty. But again, head mounted is probably better anyway. Especially if you use it for data retrieval as well.

    Have to make it more rugged and less geeky looking.

  71. >Human-mounted cams that record for later don’t have these failure modes. I think they should be mandatory.

    And that will be the best thing to come out of this entire incident.

    Although I feel that in this case it would most likely have exonerated the cop. But I’m not naive enough to think that there are many many cops out there that really need cameras on them to keep them honest in their dealings with the public.

    They have consistently worried (and worse) about us using our phone cameras to record their actions, now I look forward to lawmakers in cities, counties, and states forcing them to wear the cameras themselves.

  72. But I’m not naive enough to think that there are many many cops out there that really need cameras on them to keep them honest in their dealings with the public.

    And the reverse….recordings (like recordings of police interrogations, which are mandatory in a few jurisdictions) are a good way of keeping both sides honest. If you’re defending someone who signed a confession, and claims it was intimidated or tricked out of him, you might be in for a long (and usually hopeless) fight trying to suppress the confession…the police lie one way, the defendant lies the other way, the police get believed, the time gets wasted. Record the whole transaction and you can spend your time on something real.

  73. >One wonders why Brown would have retreated 35 feet away from the police vehicle before turning around to charge, though.

    Here’s one simple and plausible answer: he was on drugs.

    The linked NYT article says that autopsy indicated that Brown was “otherwise healthy” but for the gunshot wounds. If he was on drugs, then that sentence is extremely misleading at best.

  74. This sort of thing makes me wish I lived in an all-white town. Not because I dislike blacks, but imagine what would have happened if Michael Brown were a white dude who was shot in exactly the same scenario: nothing. No riots, no protests, no national attention. Everyone with means if Ferguson will be leaving. See, Detroit, Newark, etc. It’ll be decades until the town recovers — if ever.

    And yeah, the police, in general, have behaved quite badly — attacking people on their own property, attacking journalists, etc. The militarization of police has really created a scenario where everything looks like a situation for a flashbang or tear gas grenade. That’s completely fucked up. But that’s a separate issue from the actual shooting in question (that still needs seriously addressing).

    Until we start treating minority altercations with the police differently as a society, more incidents like this will destroy thousands of peoples’ lives, rather than just one. Perhaps this is a little utilitarian of an attitude, but so be it.

    I fully support cameras on police officers, but even if video was released that would completely exonerate officer Wilson, that doesn’t fit the PC narrative, so there still would have been protests and riots.

  75. I think we’re missing the forest because of the trees. The significant import from this incident is not about the potential dysfunction of a juvenile delinquent or a beat cop, but rather points to the serious decline of our national character. The institutions of government and professional news media are revealed as self-serving agenda-driven advocates who exercise power for it’s own sake. Grievance mongers strut to the public stage and wield undeserved influence that inflames emotions and promotes rioting. Modern communication systems allow huge cohorts of people to express themselves, and in so doing, reveal how shallow, irrational, and hive-minded they are. Ferguson will be forgotten within a year or so, but the national disease will continue to fester.

  76. Too lazy to look this up, but some city in California put cameras on all their cops, and found that citizen complaints went way down, and that findings of police brutality went down even more. Based on the numbers, it appears that about two-thirds of complaints of police brutality (before cameras) are unfounded.

    Meanwhile, the prior probability for any supposed criminal incident which gets hyped by the left as a “hate crime” being significantly misleading or utterly false is about 95%.

  77. Too lazy to look this up, but some city in California put cameras on all their cops, and found that citizen complaints went way down, and that findings of police brutality went down even more. Based on the numbers, it appears that about two-thirds of complaints of police brutality (before cameras) are unfounded.

    Isn’t the more natural interpretation here that cops are on better behavior when they know they’re being recorded?

  78. “And why do we see on video the shop owner accosting Brown as he was leaving and getting slammed into the other side of the shop?”

    Who knows? How was someone suffering from an orbital blowout fracture (does anyone have a source on this other than gateway pundit?) able to shoot as well as you are saying he did, and why is this alleged injury only coming out now when it supports their claim much better than “he robbed a store”?

  79. Daniel – the difference between the number of complaints made, and the number of complaints sustained, is what I based my conclusion on. From the WSJ, in Rialto, CA (part of the suburban smear of LA), “the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%” once all cops started wearing cameras.

    Assuming that all citizen complaints after cameras are legitimate, and that the proportion of uses of force that are excessive hasn’t changed, that means that only 30% of current citizen complaints are legitimate.

    First assumption is optimistic – some citizen complaints will be unfounded even with cameras. Second assumption is reasonable – while police will behave better if recorded, the knowledge that they are recording will also induce a lot of the people they interact with to behave better as well, so the sorts of interactions which end up leading to complaints might become a higher proportion of all uses of force. It’s hard to say which effect will predominate, so assume they balance. And that still leaves us with most citizen complaints against the police being unfounded.

  80. >How was someone suffering from an orbital blowout fracture [...] able to shoot as well as you are saying he did

    There are many kinds of hairline and compression fractures that hurt like hell without immediately impairing your performance at anything. This report is interesting mainly as an indication that Brown punched Wilson pretty damned hard.

  81. “It’s hard to say which effect will predominate, so assume they balance.”

    That is not at all a coherent position to take. You could just as well assume that citizens aren’t going to put themselves through the hassle of making a complaint unless it is, at least in their mind, legitimate, and therefore the drop in complaints is entirely down to police being on better behavior. Especially since that effect is likely to predominate anyway since all the cops (especially the bad ones) know they’re being recorded, whereas most citizens probably don’t have that knowledge in the front of their mind.

  82. while police will behave better if recorded, the knowledge that they are recording will also induce a lot of the people they interact with to behave better as well

    Rosemary Lehmberg makes this claim a lot funnier than it probably should be.

  83. @Paul Brinkley:

    With a BAC of 3x the legal limit, Rosemary Lehmberg, once out of the car, was probably much more of a threat to herself than to anyone else, and was almost certainly too incapacitated for it to even register that she was being recorded.

  84. Aye; that’s part of why I think that’s “funnier than it should be”; the behavior I saw of her detainment suggested someone too drunk to realize what she was doing.

    (Why she then decided to not resign afterward, once she presumably sobered up, stymies me. Or at the very, very least, keep the matter quiet. But that’s what I hope an investigation would resolve.)

  85. “There are many kinds of hairline and compression fractures that hurt like hell without immediately impairing your performance at anything.”

    Yes there are. To my understanding, an orbital blowout fracture is not one of these.

  86. “There are many kinds of hairline and compression fractures that hurt like hell without immediately impairing your performance at anything.”

    Yes there are. To my understanding, an orbital blowout fracture is not one of these.

    Pain is a signal that something is wrong with your body and that you should Stop Doing That to let it heal, but it’s a maskable interrupt. There are plentiful accounts of individuals’ not noticing mortal gunshot wounds when the adrenaline and distraction of combat are sufficient to override “don’t make this worse” with “if you lose this fight, you die and it doesn’t matter anyway”.

  87. JFM said: The officer didn’t see a teenager, he saw a 6+ foot, 300lb man.

    Of course, as you say. (And this is not to disagree with your analysis, which was fine, but to riff on it.)

    Because “teenager” is an irrelevant category in the threat matrix; if Brown had been 14 and 6′, 300#, he’d have been just as much a problem. Equally we’d be somewhat more skeptical of threat claims if Brown had been 35, but 5’2″ and 100 pounds (and not a lifelong martial artist or armed).

    Anyone who wants to harm you and is that large, and is in physical contact with you, is a deadly threat, in any normal analysis, age be damned.

    (What annoys me, just a bit, about the constant use of “teenager” in this thread, though, is that while accurate, it’s misleading in normal use.

    Michael Brown was 18 years old.

    In the United States, that makes him a legal adult, able to enter contracts, buy tobacco, join the Army, go to prison as an adult, marry anyone who’s willing to do so, and generally speaking do any damned thing apart from buy liquor or a handgun.

    18 is a “teen” in the purely numeric sense, to be sure.

    But the implication of “teenager” is “young adult minor”, not “adult”, as Mr. Brown was, at least on paper.

    This shades into calling 20 year olds “children” to pump up gun violence factoids…)

  88. >This shades into calling 20 year olds “children” to pump up gun violence factoids…)

    You’re behind the times. The current age cutoff for “children” in pumped-up gun violence factoids is 26. I’m tempted to open a pool on when it will hit 40.

  89. @Paul Brinkley: “(Why she then decided to not resign afterward, once she presumably sobered up, stymies me. Or at the very, very least, keep the matter quiet. But that’s what I hope an investigation would resolve.)”

    What I’ve heard–and I don’t know how true this is–is that she was afraid the Governor would appoint a Republican as her replacement. Her office is pretty much the only statewide one held by Democrats.

  90. @Dan:

    > I choose to self-segregate.

    From journalists who (best-case) suffer really bad cases of Stockholm Syndrome? I don’t blame you.

  91. (Why she then decided to not resign afterward, once she presumably sobered up, stymies me. Or at the very, very least, keep the matter quiet. But that’s what I hope an investigation would resolve.)

    Because the governor was abusing his power of office to try and force her out so he could appoint someone more favorable to him and less likely to investigate him for corruption.

    I think if we’re going to oust her for this we should also make the Feds declassify the police blotters which documented just what George W. Bush was up to, gallivanting around in the 80s.

  92. @Paul, Rick:

    Of course he would have appointed a republican to replace her. But the main thing is that a bunch of his pals were in the process of being investigated by her…

    She’s obviously a mean drunk. Whether that has any bearing, good or bad, on her professional effectiveness, I have no idea, but I try not to hang around mean drunks.

  93. >She’s obviously a mean drunk. Whether that has any bearing, good or bad, on her professional effectiveness, I have no idea

    Nor do I. In my view she has shown herself unfit for office not by the DUI itself, but by her attempt to use political pull and bullying on the arresting officers to escape consequences.

    And this heads the “Public Integrity Unit”? Obviously Texas needs a meta-PIU to bust the bad apples in the PIU, starting with Lemberg.

  94. “Because the governor was abusing his power of office to try and force her out so he could appoint someone more favorable to him and less likely to investigate him for corruption.”

    Only one problem with this bit of left-wing narrative: it ain’t so. Even the Austin American-Spaceman^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HStatesman debunked this one by reporting tha tLehmberg said, early on, that no political appointee wa sunder investigation. There was exactly one person indicted form that probe, a staffer that was not a political appointment.

  95. I have to admit Jeff Read’s doing some pretty good trolling today. Jeff, you got any OWS protests to head off to next? Maybe a rally to raise awareness of rape culture on college campuses?

  96. >Fox News has also published the claim, but not the source (presumably better than Gateway Pundit, but we won’t know for sure until someone steps forward):

    The descriptions of the sources in these two stories imply they are two different people, for whatever that’s worth.

  97. Bored now.

    If a big crazy thug breaks my eyesocket for no sane reason, I am going to keep on shooting him till out of bullets regardless of which way he is facing.

  98. One thing I’m gathering from the expanding information pool becoming available is that we really should be discussing the two separate incidents separately, rather than considering lumping them all together. It is entirely possible ) that a) Officer Wilson acted properly; and that b) the Ferguson PD reacted improperly to the subsequent civil unrest.

    This of course is the topic of Our Host’s previous post on the subject.

    http://www.pagunblog.com/2014/08/19/no-golden-era-on-police-brutality/#comment-368169 and followups are worth discussing as well – in that the Ferguson PD appears to have had a much less restrictive riot-control doctrine and much poorer C3 than does the platonic ideal of the National Guard. “2) The police are using tactics that are significantly more aggressive than the military authorizes. The field manual for riot control (FM 3-19.15) used by the National Guard gives at least one easy example”

    Which leads me to the conclusion that the police are not militarized enough; in that they do not have the current military’s protocol for riot control as part of their corporate mentality. As I said in comments there, maybe what we need is more veterans in policing.

  99. >Slightly off-topic: ESR, what do you think about the programs such as Outreach Program for Women (http://gnome.org/opw/)?

    Largely pointless. People of whatever plumbing who want to do this sort of thing select themselves; you can’t talk them into wanting to do it, and if they want to do it they’re difficult to stop.

    Well, there is a point, actually, but only as a form of theater. We care! We are showing sensitivity!

    Pfah. Show me the code.

  100. There you go again. You demand logic, reason and result. SJW demands that you FEEL their pain and pay their due.

    Speaking of which, I’m following the story of the “indie” game developer Zoe Quinn literally sleeping her way to get better job and better game review. That was bad enough, but her use of DMCA to take down critical video is the current iteration of the Streisand Effect. She claimed that the video uses a single image from her game, and that was enough for the video to be pull. The response to that act actually draws more attention than the original scandal.

  101. @esr:

    Nor do I. In my view she has shown herself unfit for office not by the DUI itself, but by her attempt to use political pull and bullying on the arresting officers to escape consequences.

    Like I said, she’s a mean drunk. When she sobered up, she immediately pled guilty, went to jail for 45 days (more than a few days is practically unheard of for a first time DUI in Austin if you have a halfway decent lawyer), and very contritely apologized and said she would seek professional help and not seek another term in office.

    She obviously had a serious drinking problem — receipts from a single liquor store chain in Austin showed that she was going through a gallon and a half of vodka a week. When she was arrested, there was vodka on the seat beside her.

    So she recognized she had a problem and acted unprofessionally, and promised to leave as soon as her term was up. But that wasn’t good enough for Perry, who decided she had to be ousted immediately. Since that’s not really his job, he did the same thing the feds do to the states — try to control things with purse strings.

    Lehmberg made a judgment that, until the voters could replace her, she’d rather not have a Perry appointee taking over her job. I don’t know that I blame her for that; some of his appointees have been less than stellar, and then there’s always the nagging question of exactly _why_ he had such a hard-on to get rid of her, when it wasn’t his job.

    FWIW, despite a lot of partisan sources trying to paint Perry’s current legal troubles as payback from Lehmberg, Perry’s case was brought by a third party, and Lehmberg recused herself, and asked a judge to appoint a special prosecutor. That judge was a Democrat, and she recused herself as well.

    So the case wound up before Rick Perry appointee Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, who assigned it to Rick Perry appointee Senior Judge Bert Richardson, who appointed Mike McCrum as the special prosecutor. Now, of course, Perry is trying to paint McCrum as highly partisan, but by all accounts that isn’t going to work too well.

    A simplistic view of what Perry did is that it is akin to blackmail. It may have been legal for me to take those compromising pictures of you, and it may be perfectly legal for me to post them on twitter. However, it may not be legal for me to offer not to post them on twitter, if you’ll only do a favor for me.

    Opinions vary on whether any sort of blackmail should actually be a crime, and on whether what Perry did is covered by a criminal statute, and if so, whether that statute is impermissibly overbroad, etc, etc.

    But given the state of the law and the amount of evidence, the grand jury found enough to hand down an indictment. This is hardly surprising; there’s an old saying that you can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.

    It will be interesting to see what happens at trial.

  102. Patrick, there are two things wrong with your discussion:

    1) Perry had said that, had Lehmberg resigned, he’d appoint her deputy – another Democrat – to the job.

    2) The Texas Tenth Court of Appeals considered a case just like this in 1990 and ruled that the charge amounted to criminalizing political speech, and threw it out. As many have argued, including the New York Times and Austin American-Statesman, this charges are dangerous because they lead to politicians being basically unable to do their jobs.

    Given the precedent involved, if there’s any justice at all, the case will be thrown out of court in a hurry.

  103. >FWIW, despite a lot of partisan sources trying to paint Perry’s current legal troubles as payback from Lehmberg, Perry’s case was brought by a third party,

    Um, none of the conservatives I’ve seen rant about this claim it’s payback from Lemberg herself. They claim that the “third party” is a false-flag op created or funded by Democratic political operatives other than Lemberg. I haven’t been following the matter very closely, but I cannot say this sounds the least bit implausible.

  104. Pfah. Show me the code.

    Are you sure that’s what you want? This is the GNOME Foundation… :)

  105. in particular, Karl Rove argues that it’s political payback from the trial lawyers and George Soros. That seems not only plausible, but likely, since Perry’s been an implacable advocate for tort reform.

  106. We now have a video of the shooting. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=df3_1408576637

    The shooting occurs some time after Brown breaks a cop’s eyesocket. The narrator is talking about the incident, but I can make no sense of what he says. Good video, terrible narration.

    A pile of cops show up, point guns at Brown, and tell him to drop his gun. He takes his hand out of his pocket, showing he has no gun, and proceeds to rapidly advance on one of the cops, not exactly charging the cop, but advancing in rapid and threatening manner, even though the cop is holding a gun on him. The cop fires a stream of shots in rapid succession, instantly killing Brown.

  107. Thanks for the detailed background, Patrick. I think at this point I’m glad there’s a trial, and I’ve no doubt there will be a circus around it, no matter how clean McCrum is, or how clean Perry is. It feels like no one’s hands are clean on this, and the fight is over whose hands are slightly dirtier.

    One thing I’m not clear on is the nature of that funding Perry vetoed. Namely, the terms under which it was promised. Is Perry reneging on a deal? Was that funding contingent on something else? I expect that to get close scrutiny.

  108. Thanks to you, too, Jay, for the rejoinders. (I had forgotten about Perry’s offer to appoint another Democrat.)

  109. Ian Argent on 2014-08-21 at 02:41:42 said:

    It is entirely possible ) that a) Officer Wilson acted properly; and that b) the Ferguson PD reacted improperly to the subsequent civil unrest.

    Experiment proves otherwise. New cop is put in charge. Mass media has orgasms of joy and paens of praise for his non military approach. Cops go down to collective violence, shops looted, shopkeepers suffer individual and collective violence. Military style policing resumes.

    It is like Gaza. One might suppose Israel blockades Gaza because they are evil racists, but when Egypt blockades Gaza …

    Similarly, when the progressive black cop resorts to military style policing …

  110. @Jay Maynard:

    1) Perry had said that, had Lehmberg resigned, he’d appoint her deputy – another Democrat – to the job.

    That was apparently one of the possibilities discussed. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if she believed him, or was acting just as belligerently when sober. I also don’t know if such a promise would be binding, or whether reneging on it might appeal to his base, and I also don’t know whether Lehmberg believed either of those things.

    2) The Texas Tenth Court of Appeals considered a case just like this in 1990 and ruled that the charge amounted to criminalizing political speech, and threw it out. As many have argued, including the New York Times and Austin American-Statesman, this charges are dangerous because they lead to politicians being basically unable to do their jobs.

    If you mean Texas v. Hanson, I think the statute was updated a couple of times since then. Like I said, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Obviously the statute attempts to place a line somewhere. Whether he crossed it or not, and whether it was drawn in a constitutionally permissible manner will both be considered in the trial and interminable appeals. It’s also my understanding that he was indicted for violations of two different statutes.

    As I said, the indictment may be meaningless, because a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. OTOH, McCrum is by all accounts a smart man, and probably would have swayed the grand jury to not indict if he thought the case were completely unwinnable.

    @esr:

    Um, none of the conservatives I’ve seen rant about this claim it’s payback from Lemberg herself.

    http://www.tpnn.com/2014/08/16/videos-belligerent-drunk-democrat-rosemary-lehmberg-in-charge-of-integrity-unit-indicts-rick-perry-over-a-lawful-veto/

    Travis County, Texas District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg issued perhaps the most frivolous, vengeful, and politicized indictment of a politician on Friday.

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2014/08/rick-perry-indictment-looks-walks-and-quacks-like-political-power-play/

    Remember that we’re dealing with the same District Attorney’s office that sought a spurious indictment against former House Majority Leader Tom Delay. The Travis County DA’s office’s jurisprudential legacy is firmly cemented in a foundation of liberal nonsense, and their latest figurehead pled guilty to and was convicted of being the drunkest DA to ever get behind the wheel.

    This is political payback at either its worst or its finest, depending on how long you’ve been in the business. After Lehmberg was convicted, Governor Perry demanded her resignation from office, and threatened to veto funding for the DA-run Public Integrity Unit if she refused; she called his bluff, and remains in office to this day. Perry vetoed the funding and thus sealed the fate on the reputations of both Lehmberg and the PIU. Lehmberg’s only possible redemption lies in Perry’s eventual conviction, but, as is normally the case with very public witch hunts, the facts—and the narrative—remain overwhelmingly in Perry’s favor.

    Breitbart crafts the words a bit more carefully, but even then, the headline screams “Political Payback: Rick Perry Indicted in Power Struggle with Democrat-Controlled DA Office”, and if you don’t read extremely carefully and know the backstory, you might think that McCrum is part of her operation, never mind that he’s from San Antonio:

    The Travis County District Attorney’s office has a long history of politically-motivated prosecutions, including the 2005 indictment of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for alleged campaign finance violations. DeLay’s convictions were completely overturned and he was acquitted after an appeal to the Third District Texas Court of Appeals in 2013—too late to save his political career.

    Here, a liberal watchdog group called Texans for Public Justice filed an ethics complaint against Perry earlier this year, and a grand jury was convened in the case. Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said at the time, “The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto power afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution, and we remain ready and willing to assist with this inquiry.”

    The grand jury’s indictment today, under the supervision of appointed special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, starts the process for a criminal case against the Governor but by no means guarantees that an actual criminal conviction will result. The grand jury process is entirely one-sided, controlled by the prosecutors, who present only their side.

  111. “Experiment proves otherwise. New cop is put in charge. Mass media has orgasms of joy and paens of praise for his non military approach. Cops go down to collective violence, shops looted, shopkeepers suffer individual and collective violence. Military style policing resumes.”

    Why can’t BOTH reactions be wrong – the Ferguson PD’s in-your-face respect-ma-authoritah overbearing actions towards persons not actually rioting; and the later lack of response by the state troopers that allowed rioters to loot, pillage, and burn without attempts to stop, that led to the governor calling out the guard. In this analysis, the pendulum swung too far in either direction – initially too aggressive, and then too meek. At that point, the riots have (to a certain extent) taken on a life of their own as outside provocateurs have entered the fray; it;s too late to say what might have happened if either the local PD had a somewhat less aggressive response initially or the staties had a more aggressive response on the following night. The battle lines have been drawn both in the town and in the political sphere. We didn’t see a moderate yet firm response in critical initial nights.

    It’s also worth noting that the Guard, if they are follwoing the tactics in the field manual I referenced earlier, are using DIFFERENT tactics than did the locals to suppress the riots; a more measured response, and are hpefully not doing idiotic things like arresting reporters for simple contempt of cop

  112. ESR> And this heads the “Public Integrity Unit”? Obviously Texas needs a meta-PIU to bust the bad apples in the PIU, starting with Lemberg.

    Then who will police the meta-PIU? It’s the ancient conundrum:
    QVIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CVSTODES?

  113. That’s why I always update my aphorisms:

    “But who will debug the debuggers?”

    “Debugger, debug thyself!”

  114. There are so many layers of semi-snark jokes that apply here that it seems more efficient to pass them by.

    People tell me that my viewpoint on politics has become bitter and cynical. Is it bitter and cynical to suggest that perhaps the reason why we need all these extra watchers is that perhaps the majority of voters don’t really care if the politicians they vote for are corrupt?

  115. Here are more details from CNN:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n95mxT1AkpI

    Basically he had a swollen face but no breaks or tears in the eye socket. So, good news for both sides (“the broken eye socket was a lie!” “well, he still had swelling, so the proof of physical violence still stands!”).

  116. I don’t have enough evidence to say exactly what happened here.

    I understand that police have a dangerous job and sometimes they have no choice but to shoot someone. On the other hand, I am disturbed by the people who suggest that once you mess with the police, you are fair game for them to kill you.

    The police should be better than that.

    Now, maybe in this case the police officer legitimately felt he had no choice but to use lethal force. If so, that’s a shame, but it had to be done. But then we have comments here about how once things get going it’s OK for the police “to shoot until the fight is over”, with the implication that the fight is over upon the death of the other person.

    Maybe I’m hopelessly naive, but people used to talk about how police were trained to subdue people without killing them. So, for example, if the other person is unarmed, they might have to shoot, but if the guy is at some distance and crumples to the ground, they stop shooting (while keeping him covered, handcuffing him, etc.). I’d ever heard it claim the police would first aim for a leg to stop things before anybody got killed. Because the police are the good guys, and they don’t want to kill anybody unnecessarily, even someone who is a bad guy (at least at the moment).

    I understand that if somebody is very close and is an imminent threat then, yes, they unfortunately have to shoot to kill. But if some of the witnesses are correct in that there was some distance and Brown had stopped running and turned around, then the police officer gunning him down seems unnecessary. Others here seem to think too bad, even if that’s the scenario, he already had it coming at that point.

    I don’t think this autopsy proves anything other than he wasn’t shot in the back. Maybe the gunpowder traces on the clothes will prove telling, but for now I think the gunshot pattern is consistent with both Brown charging at close range and with Brown essentially surrendering and being shot several times, taking shots as he fell forward. We sometimes make too much of patterns, and what seems to be a clear line of shots could have come about in a number of ways.

  117. Jonah Glou on 2014-08-21 at 22:06:29 said:

    I don’t think this autopsy proves anything other than he wasn’t shot in the back. Maybe the gunpowder traces on the clothes will prove telling, but for now I think the gunshot pattern is consistent with both Brown charging at close range and with Brown essentially surrendering and being shot several times

    Shots through arm show hands were not in the air. Therefore, not surrendering.

    Big black guy with previously demonstrated willingness to take on armed cops and try to get their guns. Not surrendering. What are you going to do?

  118. Lehmberg is Travis County District Attorney, an elected Democrat. For obscure reasons, the Travis County DA also runs the statewide Public Integrity Unit, which is funded by the state government. (Probably because Austin, the state capital, is in Travis County.)

    Perry decided that Lehmberg’s conduct in her DUI case showed her unfit to run the PIU. There were two ways that Lehmberg running the PIU could stop: she could resign as DA, or Perry could veto state funds for the PIU. Lehmberg refused the first, so Perry exercised the second.

    The basis of the indictment is that Perry, by threatening the veto, attempted improper influence on Lehmberg in the performance of her duties. I don’t see it. I can see many situations where the governor would seek to influence the head of PIU. For instance, if PIU never indicted anybody, or conspicuously failed to investigate a notorious scandal, or bungled several prosecutions, or used perjured testimony, or improperly withheld evidence, or wasted its efforts on frivolous prosecutions, or carried on legal vendettas on behalf of wealthy or politically influential individuals… then it would be appropriate for the governor to demand that PIU clean up its act, or not get any more state money.

  119. “well, he still had swelling, so the proof of physical violence still stands”

    The alleged fracture was presented as proof that he was hit hard enough to cause that fracture (which is pretty damned hard, hard enough to also probably break Brown’s hand, which is one of the reasons people smelled bullshit), not that he was hit at all

  120. @Rich Rostrum:

    There were two ways that Lehmberg running the PIU could stop: she could resign as DA, or Perry could veto state funds for the PIU. Lehmberg refused the first, so Perry exercised the second.

    You’re not a Perry advisor, are you? That’s a false choice. Perry vetoed state funding, and some of the slack was taken up by Travis county. The PIU was greatly downsized, but it still exists and Lehmberg is still in charge.

    If Perry really believed, as he said, that:

    “Despite the otherwise good work (of) the Public Integrity Unit’s employees, I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.”

    then he screwed up, using the same “(s)he made me do it” logic as the terrorists do when they chop off a head.

    Of course, he didn’t really believe any of that, anyway, so it’s all good.

  121. (I haven’t read all the comments, so I apologize if this point has been made).

    Aren’t the wounds also consistent with Michael Brown raising his arm outstretched to shield his face, and ducking his head? That seems a natural reaction to being shot at, or having a gun pointed at you.

    This action could also be misinterpreted as surrendering, or (if combined with lurching forward) as an attack.

  122. >Where is Eric Holder on this one?

    If past performance is any guide, he’s probably ginning up some way for the Justice Department to sue the families of the victims on the theory that they provoked the murderers’ justified rage by being white.

  123. > Jakub Narebski on 2014-08-22 at 15:58:53 said:

    > Interesting:
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/08/gofundme-campaign-for-ferguson-shooter-drowns-under-racist-commentary/

    Funny. The article quotes a few comments that aren’t racist, and the screenshot only has one that is even questionable. Having met 4chan myself, I don’t doubt at all that it went downhill once they showed up, but this is like running archive photos of downtown Ferguson from last Fall on a story about riots, looting and arson.

    How long until the donor list leaks and another CEO is ejected from public life?

  124. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/23/us/ferguson-mo-key-factor-in-police-shootings-reasonable-fear.html

    Mr. Brown’s friend, Dorian Johnson, has said that Officer Wilson grabbed Mr. Brown by the throat and said “I’m gonna shoot you” as he tried to drag him into the squad car. He and Mr. Brown fled after the gun discharged, Mr. Johnson said, and Officer Wilson, in pursuit, shot Mr. Brown as he stood with his hands up in surrender.

    (emphasis mine)

    I think if there were strangulation marks on Brown, they would be mentioned in autopsy report…

  125. Is it worth pointing out at this late date, that nobody is ever properly trained to ‘shoot to kill’, they are trained to ‘shoot to stop’?

    That is, to use potentially lethal force to stop a threat. If it turns out that in the course of stopping the threat the person who was posing the threat dies, that’s the breaks.

    In practical terms, that means that you can deal someone a fatal wound but if they keep doing the nasty thing they were doing that justified shooting in the first place, it’s still OH SHIT time, and keep shooting. Whereas if you shoot once, miss, and the person you shot at immediately stops what they were doing and puts their hands on their head you have stopped the threat and had better stop shooting. Else there’s a good chance you’re going to prison.

  126. Yeah, I must say I find the part of the story about the police officer trying to pull Brown into the car completely implausible, as this position would put the officer at such a leverage disadvantage. If he wanted him in the car, I don’t think that’s how he would have gone about it.

    As I said above, I don’t know what happened. I suspect Brown took offense to the officer telling to get off the street and shoved the officer back into the car, and then a struggle took place. It’s possible witnesses honestly misinterpreted this as the officer trying to pull Brown into the car, or perhaps they felt bad for Brown after the shooting and that colored their recollection.

    Afterwards there is testimony from multiple witnesses that Brown was walking away and there was some distance between them when a shot was fired by the officer. Some people have latched onto the fact that one witness described this as a shot in the back, and the autopsy didn’t show any shot to the back, so that person must be lying. That could again have been an honest misinterpretation, as a jolt from Brown in response to the shot could have led to the mistaken notion that he’d been hit.

    At this point either Brown rushed the officer and he had no choice but to kill Brown, or the officer was jacked up from the previous encounter and unloaded his gun into Brown when he could have ended the encounter in a non-lethal way. Hopefully there will be enough evidence to convince reasonable people which it was.

    Eric, you are an anti-idiotarian, right? I’ve seen idiocy on both sides, but you only seem to be holding one side to account. Shouldn’t you be unhappy with the people pushing the claim about the fractured orbital socket, including using misleading medical images? And how about the police incident report? Shouldn’t the taking a life merit more than a simple statement that person X was killed at time Y? And this was a report from the St. Louis police file 10 days after the fact. The Ferguson police apparently didn’t feel any report was necessary. There’s some idiocy there, right?

    Ultimately, I’d think we all want the police to keep criminals off the streets while not taking anybody’s life it they can help it. So when there is a situation where people are upset because they think a life has been taken unnecessarily, I’d hope the reaction would be to look into the case and, if the facts merit it, try to convince these people that, sadly, there had been no other choice. I wouldn’t think the reaction would be, “ho ho, look at these morons!” There seems to be a lot of inappropriate glee here.

  127. >Shouldn’t you be unhappy with the people pushing the claim about the fractured orbital socket, including using misleading medical images?

    I will be if the story is definitely disconfirmed. Right now all we have is anonymous sources contradicting each other.

  128. Afterwards there is testimony from multiple witnesses that Brown was walking away and there was some distance between them when a shot was fired by the officer. Some people have latched onto the fact that one witness described this as a shot in the back, and the autopsy didn’t show any shot to the back, so that person must be lying. That could again have been an honest misinterpretation, as a jolt from Brown in response to the shot could have led to the mistaken notion that he’d been hit.

    That (and if there was shoot in the car) should be fairly easy to check: compare how many shots were fired (AFAIK incident report includes such things like how many bullets were left), versus 6 woulds that Brown had.

  129. Round remaining vs hits on the target isn’t dispositive, since that doesn’t rule out rounds that were fired outside the car and missed.

  130. As I wrote in the previous thread:  shell casings.

    One of the jobs of crime-scene analysis for a shooting is to find all the shell casings, mark their locations for the photographers, then collect them as evidence.  The report will have all of this data, from which the motions of the shooter can be determined.

  131. Shell casings don’t seem to be all that conclusive. Apart from variation in pattern and direction between firearms/ammunitions, and cases that often bounce and roll all over depending on how they hit the ground, there’s also the very real possibility of accidental tampering. Ayoob wrote about one such case last year where two casings ended up 40 feet from where they were fired, which the prosection (unsuccessfully) tried to use as evidence of an “execution style” killing. In fact the entirety of the article, which discusses disparity of force, is very relevant to this situation.

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/16/massad-ayoob-fist-vs-gun-disparity-of-force-and-the-law/

  132. >As I wrote in the previous thread: shell casings.

    >One of the jobs of crime-scene analysis for a shooting is to find all the shell casings, mark their locations for the photographers, then collect them as evidence. The report will have all of this data, from which the motions of the shooter can be determined.

    Only very vaguely. You have the problems of semi-autos not always ejecting consistently (even when held in the exact same position for repeat shots), and the casings do tend to bounce and roll with some vigor.

  133. “I will be if the story is definitely disconfirmed. Right now all we have is anonymous sources contradicting each other.”

    Which means the people treating it as if it were definitely confirmed have jumped the gun. This is why I brought this up in response to your bit about not being able to tell if the video shows money changing hands – because both of them are examples of one side or the other asserting as if it were undisputed truth something we just don’t know. Why is claiming there was an orbital blowout fracture better than claiming he paid for the cigars?

  134. >Why is claiming there was an orbital blowout fracture better than claiming he paid for the cigars?

    Wilson was taken to a hospital after the assault, abd a robbery was reported. Any reasonable person would consider those facts to make the orbital fracture story much more likely and Brown having paid for the cigars much less likely.

  135. In my hometown a couple years ago there was an early-20s man, drunk and high, who became enraged when he found his girlfriend’s house’s door locked and began to pound on the front window and yell obscenities. Turned out it was her neighbor’s house; the neighbor shot him five times through the still-locked window.

    You can probably surmise from the fact you haven’t already heard this story that the shootee was white. Think you’d have heard of him if he’d been black?

  136. The whole approach in the united states to race really detrimental over the long term. Affirmative action helps to promote people who are unqualified above their abilities. In medical school we had several of these individuals. They were given tutors at no charge, extra time on tests, and meet and greets with the faculty. While the rest of us studied and worked, they had study sessions with the TAs and special review sections. In the end, they all got smoked. Half dropped out and half turned a 4 year course of study into a 5.5 yr plan. They were given every advantage, every edge, tuition support, book allowance, etc. The powers that support this system just don’t get it. As a white male I have been systematically discriminated against in every admission process during my schooling from high school, through college and into graduate school. Because of this I needed to have a higher GPA, MCAT and a richer CV at every turn than others. Many good people were turned away and quit when faced with these barriers. Some of us were not. We survived and thrived in a highly selective environment. We became better and harder. We did whatever it took to succeed. At some point there is no more hand holding and all individuals are released into the pool of competition. Those given the easy path are unable to compete. They failed spectacularly. No amount of propping up could compensate. The scales could no longer be tipped and they found themselves on the receiving end of a ruthless selection process.

    All that affirmative action has created is a group of white males that are the survivors. They are the ones who could not be defeated along the way. They have succeeded despite the odds being stacked against them. At the end of the day affirmative action cripples the recipient so that when they are finally put into the pool of talent they are shredded.

    The constitution of the united states has the 14 th amendment that contains the equal protection clause. While slavery has been outlawed since 1865 (close to 150 yrs) the equal protection clause has been suspended for white males. There is no equal protection in the US for this group. The funny thing is that through their actions they are selecting out a group of people that in the end are tougher, smarter and harder working than if they left it alone. They are creating a group of modern day slaves on the plantation of the US government faced with competition from a group of people with the odds stacked against them. The action in Ferguson manifests some of the anger the black community holds because of this system. They have been taught that they deserve success and if it does not happen it is because of race. It is the ethos of the participation trophy writ large. Even successful blacks are tainted. The government has stolen legitimate success under this pall of affirmative action.

    For the unsuccessful, they understand at some level that they have been unable to succeed even with the heavy hand of government in their corner. Not only did you fail, you failed when the playing field was not even level. The government has created this mess because it does not respect the constitution’s 14 th amendment. Politicians have created a dependent class. Now they want more. The US is bankrupt. The EBT cards one day will cease to work. Those 350 lb grain fed american beauties will begin to feel hunger that they have not felt in their entire lives. What then america? What will happen when an entire generation that has never gone to bed without a meal suddenly finds that the chicken mcnugget stand is closed? What happens when the participation trophy of an EBT card breaks? In the first great depression men wore suits and stood in line for soup. They had respect for the societal norms of the day. They were desperate but respectful. What do you see in Ferguson? This is the fourth turning. Google it. Anticipate it.

  137. Patrick Maupin on 2014-08-21 at 20:30:23 said:
    > That’s why I always update my aphorisms:
    > “But who will debug the debuggers?”
    > “Debugger, debug thyself!”

    Once someone’s been buggered it’s hard to de-bugger them.

    Jes’ Sayin’

  138. “As a white male I have been systematically discriminated against in every admission process during my schooling from high school, through college and into graduate school. Because of this I needed to have a higher GPA, MCAT and a richer CV at every turn than others. ”

    Quit whining.

    If it weren’t for affirmative action you probably wouldn’t have gotten in either:

    ” “Astonishingly,” because Unz has documented what looks very much like a tacitly common policy on the part of the Ivies to cap Asian admissions at about 16% of undergraduates, give or take a few percentage points, no matter what the quality of Asian applicants might be.That’s a strong statement, but consider the data that Unz has assembled.”

    http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/12/at-the-ivies-asians-are-the-new-jews/#mbl

    I tell my kids not to whine about things being unfair because life is unfair. They live in the US which puts them at the top of the pyramid already so quit whining.

    Whiners whine and doers do.

    So what some minorities got in to med school? Guaranteed they didn’t take a spot from a white male but an Asian one.

  139. >If it weren’t for affirmative action you probably wouldn’t have gotten in either:

    Assumes facts not in evidence; after all, jfre might be Ashkenazi. ;-)

  140. @esr if jfre is Ashkenazi then he should know better and probably wouldn’t self identify as one of the “downtrodden” white male demographic anyway.

    Only the bottom third of entrants care about AA because everyone else was going to make the cut anyway.

    Which points again as probably not Ashkenazi if were going to stereotyping. :)

  141. @William O. B’Livion:

    > Once someone’s been buggered it’s hard to de-bugger them.

    I thought the Japanese had a procedure for that…

  142. @ jfre

    You’re a little late to the optimism party here. Eric’s been forecasting and explaining this trend for nearly a decade. The future, by its nature, is still unknown however.

  143. So what some minorities got in to med school? Guaranteed they didn’t take a spot from a white male but an Asian one.

    The country got a doctor who was between substandard and dangerously incompetent, that’s what.  Not that I don’t think that the Michael Browns and Kermit Gosnells don’t deserve each other; it’s the rest of us who deserve neither of them.

  144. > Only the bottom third of entrants care about AA because everyone else was going to make the cut anyway.

    It’s hardly a crisis, but I can understand why some people are upset:

    “The bonus for African-American applicants is roughly equivalent to an extra 230 SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), to 185 points for Hispanics, 200 points for athletes, and 160 points for children of alumni. The Asian disadvantage is comparable to a loss of 50 SAT points.”
    (https://www.princeton.edu/~tje/files/webAdmission%20Preferences%20Espenshade%20Chung%20Walling%20Dec%202004.pdf)

  145. >“The bonus for African-American applicants is roughly equivalent to an extra 230 SAT points (on a 1600-point scale), to 185 points for Hispanics, 200 points for athletes, and 160 points for children of alumni. The Asian disadvantage is comparable to a loss of 50 SAT points.”

    So whites are still being screwed worse than Asians, a fact somewhat obscured by the higher Asian mean. Interesting. I didn’t have any preconception about this, but find it a little surprising in retrospect.

  146. > whites are still being screwed worse than Asians

    In that analysis (if I’m reading it right, it’s just a simple logistic regression model), whites are the baseline – Asians applicants are being penalized relative to whites.

  147. @Joshua Brule:

    > Asians applicants are being penalized relative to whites.

    Yeah, that’s what it says.

  148. >In that analysis (if I’m reading it right, it’s just a simple logistic regression model), whites are the baseline – Asians applicants are being penalized relative to whites.

    You are right. I misread the figures.

  149. “It’s hardly a crisis, but I can understand why some people are upset:”

    Some Asians are upset but most don’t complain. Cultural probably.

    It’s mildly annoying as a parent when your kids aren’t getting straight A’s or likely to get perfect SAT scores as it a large number of their cohorts will.

    Which means the top ivies can probably fill their 16% quota from that group. If your academics are simply great as opposed to perfect you’re behind the 8 ball if Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc was your ambition.

    Personally, I’m happy with my kids going to Maryland where I went for both undergrad and grad.

  150. The big impact from AA isn’t at the elite schools (Yale, Harvard, etc). As noted, they can fill their quota from qualified minorities. In doing so, however, they take many of the minority applicants who would have been admitted to first tier schools on merit, causing those schools to admit less qualified applicants and kicking off a cascade that runs down through Podunk U as each level is forced to admit more underqualified minority applicants because the minority applicants they could have admitted on merit have been taken by more competitive schools.

    For anyone interested in a serious analysis of AA I strongly recommend Sander and Taylor’s “Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It”.

  151. “As noted, they can fill their quota from qualified minorities. In doing so, however, they take many of the minority applicants who would have been admitted to first tier schools on merit, ”

    No. They reject minorities that should have been accepted pushing those down to 2nd tier schools.

    If Asians should be 26% on “merit” then 10% are rejected in favor of non-Asians.

    The odds that top schools are accepting more than 10% under performing minorities is remote.

  152. Nigel, I’ve read that the drop-out rate of minorities admitted to top schools via affirmative action is quite high, and affirmative action opponents claim that students who drop out of top-tier schools would have done fine at other schools. Schools tend to brag about their minority admission numbers, not graduation numbers.

  153. >You have some spam on your main A&R page

    dfranke and I did a security audit last night. This means somebody has a zero-day, dammit.

    I’ll look into it after kung fu class.

  154. @papayasf

    True and that’s a shame. It’s something that the schools have to figure out how to address.

    However, it doesn’t matter from the perspective of the white male. If it were a “level playing field” he’s losing a comparable number of entrance slots to high performing Asians as he was to AA entrants.

    And further the largest pool of “legacies” is white and they get a hefty boost as well. Which is how George Bush got into Yale. Obama was also a legacy but earned his cum laude which neither legacy nor AA can give you.

    I don’t see where the white male demographic is disadvantaged at all from the perspective of college entrance.

  155. I don’t think many have gripes about simply being out-competed for college slots, but many have legitimate gripes about other people being given preferences due to race.

    And I question whether Obama got his grades purely out of merit. Affirmative action can happen within classrooms, too. He also got to be president of the Harvard Law Review without publishing much, either before or afterwards.

  156. @PapayaSF I’ve heard this too. The classic example is of a black or Hispanic kid who’s pretty good at math, but not really good enough to go to MIT or Caltech. So instead of going to a second-tier engineering school like Kansas State where he could graduate and make a good living, he flunks out of the elite school and has to work in crappy jobs trying to pay off his student loans.

    Or he says fsck it and stars slinging rock, doing some burglary, whatever. Ends up incarcerated for most of what should be his productive years, and/or killed by either a cop or a rival gang. And he becomes another statistic used to justify why AA is necessary.

  157. I agree with you both. I know of a case personally where a black student was given the red carpet treatment to go to UT Austin. Full ride scholarship, first of his family to go to college. Great student on paper, Valedictorian and GPA of 4.0+, but valedictorian of a 30 person predominantly black high school class in a small Texas town. Had a dream of being an engineer. Went to the big city (Austin), and within a semester got thoroughly ground up by others coming out of prep schools and other highly competitive high schools. Attempted a second semester but it was hopeless. Returned home to work at a minimal wage job. How was he was served by the system? He should have gone to a junior college, got the calculus, physics and writing skills he was obviously missing and then go to a bigger school. Maybe not UT, but a second tier school in the state. He could have become an engineer and the first college grad in his family history. Instead he sees himself as a failure. Even after all of this, he went back and got a job. He has the drive but he will never get a second chance.

    For UT and the national government, he was a successful minority recruit, a stat that the government uses to beat up these institutions if they don’t get enough minorities. For this young man it was his one shot. He never had a chance. They set him up to fail. They bagged their quota.

  158. @jfre and that affects you how? Only 4.5% of UT Austin freshmen were black in 2012. 18.4% Hispanic and 15.2% Asian.

    #10 engineering school in the country and only 15.2% asian.

    The impact of AA on white freshmen is offset by capping Asians at 16%.

    http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/the-university-of-texas-at-austin-228778/overall-rankings

    http://www.utexas.edu/news/2012/09/19/2012-preliminary-enrollment-data/

    The fact that the 4.5% freshmen who are black have a higher failure rate than average for their economic cohort is unfortunate but doesn’t mean that you needed a “higher GPA, MCAT” blah blah “at every turn”. The reason you need a higher GPA, MCAT, etc is because Asian applicant GPA, MCAT, etc were higher than yours and occupied 15.2% freshmen slots rather than 3% and probably should have been around 25% for a top 10 engineering school.

    As far as graduation rates go, Hispanics have improved quite a bit. Probably on par with their economic cohort.

  159. @ nht:
    > @jfre and that affects you how?

    You do realise that you just implied that jfre should not be concerned about suffering that happens to people who don’t share his skin colour?

    Regardless it does also affect all of us in various minor ways, assuming that jfre’s acquaintance could have become an engineer if he went to an easier school, but couldn’t at UT Austin, the rest of society has lost out at least one engineer (potentially two for whoever he replaced at UT Austin if they choose to go into another field or give up rather than take a lesser school). Obviously this is trivial in comparison to the personal effect on the individual in question though.

  160. >As far as graduation rates go, Hispanics have improved quite a bit. Probably on par with their economic cohort.

    I didn’t know this, but it’s congruent with other evidence that Hispanics (to the extent the category is meaningful) are in a very late stage of assimilation – comparable to, say, Italians just before WWII or the Irish in 1900-1920. One reliable index of this is the immigrant group’s food getting mainstreamed. Italians stopped being outsiders when pizza and subs became all-American; as of a couple years ago salsa outsells ketchup.

    The next step in the process will be for “Hispanic” to dissolve as a political identity. I’ve already seen news coverage of an increasing tendency among “Hispanics” to identify as white on government forms. This time around the process may be slowed a bit, because racial identity politics has become an engine without which Democrats can no longer win elections. They will thus try as hard as they can to slow down the political endgame of assimilation in which the immigrants’ voting patterns become indistinguishable, but it is unlikely they will be able to stop or reverse it.

  161. In California there is an attempt to resurrect the corpse of bilingual education, and Jerry Brown just rolled out the welcome mat for any more illegal aliens who’d like to come.

  162. “You do realise that you just implied that jfre should not be concerned about suffering that happens to people who don’t share his skin colour?”

    Bullshit. I’m stating his diatribe above about how downtrodden white males are unfairly discriminated on the basis of GPA and MCAT is without merit.

    If it were a level playing field where GPA, SAT and CV were the only criteria then he’d be screwed worse at UT or any decent med school. So what he wants is playing field where he is at an advantage but others are not.

    So what that AA increases minority entrance by a few percentage points. It’s not coming out of his hide anyway.

    That they fail more often is a different issue.

  163. “I didn’t know this, but it’s congruent with other evidence that Hispanics (to the extent the category is meaningful) are in a very late stage of assimilation – comparable to, say, Italians just before WWII or the Irish in 1900-1920.”

    Plausible. However since they are still a significant percentage of immigration (legal or otherwise) the process won’t complete for a while.

    As far as politics they probably trend conservative but not old white gringo who buries his Mexican family connection and says stupid stuff about Hispanics and immigrants conservative.

    The Republican Party is still hostile to immigrants and minorities. Until that changes no amount of assimilation will help.

  164. >The Republican Party is still hostile to immigrants and minorities. Until that changes no amount of assimilation will help.

    I do not think this is really true any more. I can remember when it was true, but I think the GOP now largely reserves its hostility for unassimilated minorities and immigrants. If you’re Bobby Jindal or Ben Carson, not a problem.

  165. @ Nigel – “Bullshit. I’m stating his diatribe above about how downtrodden white males are unfairly discriminated on the basis of GPA and MCAT is without merit. ”

    Your focus is too narrow. We’ve been living in a country that has been too affluent for too long, and those chickens are coming home to roost. The lack of real hardship in daily life has produced several generations that lack survival robustness and desperation-driven cognitive incentive. Affirmative Action programs only make this worse. Burdening white males via institutionalized hardship in academia will only make them stronger over the long run. This nonsense is akin to the Liberals buying votes in the black community via welfare, and then destroying the historically tight-knit black family structure in the process.

    Covert liberal racism is far worse than redneck asshole racism.

  166. @TimP:

    To Nigel’s point, 18% of white people who start UT as freshmen don’t manage to get a degree, even after 6 years. Yes, this is a lower percentage than the 30% of black people similarly situated, but if we assume these ratios holds true for the 49.9% of white freshmen vs 4.6% of black freshmen enrolled in fall 2012, then 9% of freshmen are white yet don’t get a degree.

    Shouldn’t you feel sorry for them? There’s 6.5 TIMES as many of those as blacks who don’t get a degree.

    On the other hand if jfre knows someone who is white who WOULD have gotten a degree but couldn’t get in for some reason, cutting out black admissions all together would do much less for that person than fine-tuning the admissions process to weed out whites who won’t be able to cut it.

  167. “Your focus is too narrow. We’ve been living in a country that has been too affluent for too long, and those chickens are coming home to roost. The lack of real hardship in daily life has produced several generations that lack survival robustness and desperation-driven cognitive incentive.”

    We’ve been affluent for what? 60 years? The Great Depression didn’t end till WWII. Then we had WWII. Call it the mid 50s when we became affluent again.

    60 years isn’t much on the timescale of nations.

    2.6 million Americans went to war since 9/11. That’s deployed in theater and not in conus. 670,000 have been awarded disability status.

    These past few generations that have served do know hardship and have survival robustness. 12-18% of men from 25-45 are veterans.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/158729/men-women-veterans.aspx

  168. @ nht

    Let’s see, just off the top my head, a new child born in the US can expect . . .

    Government provided prenatal and birthing healthcare whether the mother is a US citizen or not. Government provided or subsidized food, housing, clothing, education, healthcare, transportation, modern communication devices, job training, make-work employment, disability payments, and indigent burial. Couple that with the epidemic of obesity, which now is often beginning by age 4. Overlay private and religious charities that provide supplemental aid, and the only real hardship left is boredom.

    I agree that many veterans have likely seen a few tough years, but the cohort is small and the effect temporal.

  169. The more I read about Missouri, the more I am reminded of the riots in London a few Summers back.

    Cop shoots black criminal.
    Protests over police brutality.
    Escalation into riots.

  170. @TomA:

    Overlay private and religious charities that provide supplemental aid, and the only real hardship left is boredom.

    You obviously don’t have a clue.

  171. @ Patrick Maupin – “You obviously don’t have a clue.”

    You’re obviously not very articulate.

  172. @PapayaSF:

    Your link was interesting. In case you hadn’t noticed, comments on this blog mostly seem to be directed to points of disagreement. Much more efficient that way.

    @TomA:

    > You’re obviously not very articulate.

    You’re right. When somebody says something that isn’t even wrong, it takes my breath away and I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll make a small start by saying that someone who manages to barely scrape by today on three part-time minimum wage jobs like dishwashing, flipping burgers, and cleaning offices, just _may_ be better-equipped for the hard work required to survive after the apocalypse than a lot of the participants on this very blog.

  173. @PapayaSF:

    Ah, I see what you mean now. Well, I’ll let you take it up with Mr. Rational as to whether he’s a nobody or not.

  174. I did a search on the page before I posted and didn’t come up with the string “theconservative”.  Must’ve been HTML-ified.  Wasn’t trying to do any dupes.

  175. @ Patrick Maupin – “someone who manages to barely scrape by today on three part-time minimum wage jobs”

    Are you speaking in the first person? If so, your life experience of temporary employment hardship is actually an advantage to you. You can rightly possess self worth, integrity, motivation to improve, pride of accomplishment, and know firsthand the value of hard work. It is actually cruel to raise a child as a government dependent mooch.

  176. @TomA:

    I’m glad to see your ignorance is tempered with a healthy dose of patronization.

  177. @ Patrick Maupin

    Please forgive me. I do not intend to sound ignorant or patronizing. But I am still confused. Are you working 3 part-time minimum wage jobs at present or not?

  178. @TomA:

    I have never personally worked 3 part time jobs simultaneously (although I have certainly put in my share of 80+ hour workweeks over the years). While I agree with you that periods of hard work can do a body good, that’s only true in moderation.

    People who barely scrape by wind up with cognitive deficits that makes it hard to get ahead:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/poverty-strains-cognitive-abilities-opening-door-for-bad-decision-making-new-study-finds/2013/08/29/89990288-102b-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_story.html

    My personal knowledge of people in bad situations comes mainly from the money and occasional time I donate to the local food bank. I know the CEO of the food bank quite well — he used to be CEO of the company I worked for before we were acquired. In the region the food bank serves, almost a quarter of the children suffer from “food insecurity” — they and their caretakers literally do not know when or where their next meal is coming from. These are kids who, without the food bank, wouldn’t stand a chance of being able to pass the marshmallow test, simply because they’re that hungry.

    Most of the clients of the food bank have at least one working family member. It just isn’t enough to both pay the bills and put food on the table:

    http://www.austinfoodbank.org/news-center/news-releases/New-Report-Substantiates-the-Face-of-Hunger-in-Central-Texas.html

    So I’m just not seeing the evidence to back up your assertion that the only hardship being suffered is boredom.

  179. I agree that life is tough when you’re poor, but let’s acknowledge that many people are poor because of their own decisions. If you drop out of high school and have a kid as an unmarried teen, guess what? You’ve just vastly increased your chances of a lifetime of poverty (for you and your kid). If you can’t feed ‘em, don’t breed ‘em.

  180. @ Patrick Maupin – “People who barely scrape by”

    Charity is a virtue and your volunteerism is commendable. However, the above reference is an ambiguous liberal slogan and not a real social crisis here in the US. Obesity is now an epidemic among the poor and actual starvation is almost non-existent. For people that must rely on charity for sustenance, trading work for goods is a win-win in which both parties benefit. Having self respect and dignity is much more nourishing than free government cheese. And devaluing people with low expectations is not doing them any favor.

  181. Oh, and TomA, not that you read any of the links that I provided, but here are a couple more for you to not read and to make more uninformed comments about:

    http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/are-hunger-and-obesity-related/

    http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/why-are-low-income-and-food-insecure-people-vulnerable-to-obesity/

    I’m sure you can ignore all that as highly partisan, but feel free to follow the links to the actual research, and note how they are careful to point out conflicting studies.

    More to the point, it meshes with what I hear from people at the food bank, including the CEO, who is one of the most levelheaded people I know.

  182. “Food insecurity” is not hunger. The very fact that we talk about “food insecurity” as a problem shows that there is no hunger in America. The next meal always comes, somehow, even if you don’t know a day in advance how it will come. Food insecurity is unpleasant, but nobody is harmed by it. For most of history, and in much of the world today, actually hungry people would be delighted to merely be insecure about their food supply, which nevertheless would keep coming.

  183. @Milhouse:

    > “Food insecurity” is not hunger.

    Correct, to a point. Hunger is the tip of the food insecurity iceberg. It’s a continuum.

    > The very fact that we talk about “food insecurity” as a problem shows that there is no hunger in America.

    Incorrect. The tip of the iceberg still exists, despite the fact that some people have noticed that the whole of the iceberg is disturbingly big.

    > Food insecurity is unpleasant, but nobody is harmed by it.

    Thank you for not paying attention, too. The mental energy consumed by constant worrying about where the next meal will come from and how to pay the rent is, in fact, harmful.

  184. >The mental energy consumed by constant worrying about where the next meal will come from and how to pay the rent is, in fact, harmful.

    You’re defining down the problem to the point of triviality. Almost first-world problems, now. They’re not actually cold, or hungry, but oh my goodness how they have to *worry*.

    Middle-aged engineers in declining fields (aerospace, anyone?) facing layoffs, despite a mortgage and children in college face constant worry that is, in fact, harmful. Nobody seems to find such people worthy of special charity or gov’t action.

    Some worries are in fact just part of the cost of business of being alive, you know.

  185. By the way, the same researcher who linked cognitive deficits with poverty also found that getting people to recall times when they were successful helps to erase the cognitive deficit.

    http://www.thestreet.com/story/12269468/1/how-being-confident-helps-you-overcome-poverty.html

    I actually agree with TomA that (to the extent they are able) making people work for food is a good thing. But not if it’s make-work. Even people with cognitive deficits know when they are being made to perform like trained seals for their fish.

    There is no question that some policies pursued by liberals have the effect of infantilizing portions of the population, but by the same token, there is no question that some policies pursued by conservatives don’t account very well for those who, for whatever reason, are temporarily or permanently incapable of properly fending for themselves. And when they get together and create “compromises” those are almost always the worst of all worlds.

  186. @ Patrick Maupin

    The problem is systemic. All politicians have an incentive to buy votes via welfare because the poor are most inclined to sell at low cost. They also tend to be most susceptible to memetic subversion and then made into party line voters.

    However, the primary side effect of this corruption is that the “poor of means” soon are transformed into the “poor of spirit.” Endless government handouts sap the soul of dignity and the subconscious mind exacts a toll as low self worth. At the extremis, the end result if self-hating cripples.

    The problem is not that this anomalously occurs in a few unfortunate souls, but that entire generations are being subverted and rendered inept. It’s become a runaway cancer in society and our political leadership is cheering on the cancer.

  187. TomA: Not only that, they’re importing millions more poor people to push the process even further. A.k.a. “electing a new people.”

  188. @TomA:

    The problem is systemic.

    What do you mean, “THE” problem??!?

    Endless government handouts sap the soul of dignity and the subconscious mind exacts a toll as low self worth.

    I’m sure they do. I’m also sure that has NOTHING to do with the problems of a large percentage of the food bank clients. Unlike what many liberals believe, government can’t fix everything. But unlike what many conservatives believe, government isn’t the root of all problems, either.

    The problem is not that this anomalously occurs in a few unfortunate souls, but that entire generations are being subverted and rendered inept.

    That’s “A” problem. It certainly appears to be a major contributing problem for some of the people who have been on the news lately. But it’s not “THE” problem, and it’s not the problem I see around me. But then I live in Texas. People who want to live on the dole generally find a more hospitable state:

    http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/the_work_versus_welfare_trade-off_2013_wp.pdf

  189. >By the way, the same researcher who linked cognitive deficits with poverty also found that getting people to recall times when they were successful helps to erase the cognitive deficit.

    It’s not clear to me what this tells us in the way of policy prescription, exactly, because cognitive deficits cause poverty.

    There are many reasons that everyone should read The Bell Curve. One of the main ones is how forcefully the book points out the adverse effect of meritocracy.

    For most of human history, how bright and able you were had little affect on your wealth, social position, and who you were eligible to have offspring with – society was too stratified for there to be more than sporadic individual exceptions. Thus, the poor had a distribution of traits like intelligence and time preference not greatly unlike the rich. As society has become more meritocratic, one effect is that our institutions extract the highest-functioning of the poor and mainstream them among the (at least comparatively) rich.

    Murray and Herrnstein point out that the effect of this process, while laudable in many ways and great for the individually able, harms the poor (considered as a culture and a breeding population). It is both dyscultural and dysgenic. At the limit, ‘the poor’ consists almost entirely of people with cognitive deficits, addictions, poor impulse control, trash culture, and various other problems that make them un-mainstreamable.

    The U.S. was not at this point at the beginning of the 20th century, and I’m almost certain it still wasn’t in 1970. I don’t know that we’ve reached it now, but I’m also far from certain that we have not.

  190. @ Patrick Maupin

    Memetic subversion is insidious. If a government official approached you and offered to purchase your dignity in a single obvious transaction, you would be on-guard and likely refuse. However, if the process is indirect, camouflaged, gradual and incremental; you may never take notice of the transition to addiction and dependance. Government pursues a War on Drugs not because of altruistic concern for the victims, but because it does not like the competition.

  191. >The U.S. was not at this point at the beginning of the 20th century, and I’m almost certain it still wasn’t in 1970. I don’t know that we’ve reached it now, but I’m also far from certain that we have not.

    I think we’re pretty close. While there will always be newcomers to poverty (born into it, various circumstances), long-term poverty is a sign of disfunction.

    But of course the government is trying to help, by making poverty more bearable so a wider demographic is willing to live in it (as opposed to making the effort to mainstream).

  192. One of the consequences of desegregation is that any non-dysfunctional members of urban minority communities get the fsck out of those communities as soon as they have the means to do so. (It’s not just “white flight”.) This leaves fewer and fewer positive role models in those communities, which leads to further cultural drift in the direction of negative behaviors.

    The elephant in the room is that the very behaviors that are taught to Boyz in da Hood on pain of death (or at least severe bodily injuries), which are required to unequivocally signal “I ain’t your bitch” to potential predators, are precisely the behaviors interpreted by LEOs as escalation up the threat matrix, including to the point where lethal force is the corresponding response. The minority communities that grieve passionately for the loss of so many of their young men are training those young men to waste their lives in the criminal justice system, or throw them away outright via suicide by cop.

  193. > You’re defining down the problem to the point of triviality. [...] They’re not actually cold, or hungry, but oh my goodness how they have to *worry*.
    >Middle-aged engineers in declining fields [...] face constant worry that is, in fact, harmful.

    Yes, the stress of facing layoffs while having a mortgage and kids in school, the prospect of maybe having to lower your expectations about your old age and mov to a cheaper place, that stress is actually harmful.

    The stress of not knowing where your – or your children’s – next meal is going to come from, that’s just a minor inconvenience. Heck, we all have our worries.

  194. This is from townhall.com

    http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2014/08/27/blacks-must-confront-reality-n1882887/page/full

    “In 1950, female-headed households were 18 percent of the black population. Today it’s close to 70 percent. One study of 19th-century slave families found that in up to three-fourths of the families, all the children lived with the biological mother and father. In 1925 New York City, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households. Herbert Gutman, author of “The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925,” reports, “Five in six children under the age of six lived with both parents.” Also, both during slavery and as late as 1920, a teenage girl raising a child without a man present was rare among blacks.

    A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia found that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families (composed of two parents and children). What is significant, given today’s arguments that slavery and discrimination decimated the black family structure, is the fact that years ago, there were only slight differences in family structure among racial groups.

    Coupled with the dramatic breakdown in the black family structure has been an astonishing growth in the rate of illegitimacy. The black illegitimacy rate in 1940 was about 14 percent; black illegitimacy today is over 70 percent, and in some cities, it is over 80 percent.

    The point of bringing up these historical facts is to ask this question, with a bit of sarcasm: Is the reason the black family was far healthier in the late 1800s and 1900s that back then there was far less racial discrimination and there were greater opportunities? Or did what experts call the “legacy of slavery” wait several generations to victimize today’s blacks?

    The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities — for example, violence and predatory sex.

    Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it’s 22 times that of whites. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

    The black academic achievement gap is a disaster. Often, black 12th-graders can read, write and deal with scientific and math problems at only the level of white sixth-graders. This doesn’t bode well for success in college or passing civil service exams.

    If it is assumed that problems that have a devastating impact on black well-being are a result of racial discrimination and a “legacy of slavery” when they are not, resources spent pursuing a civil rights strategy will yield disappointing results.”

    Great society anyone?

  195. @Greg:

    > You’re defining down the problem to the point of triviality.

    Thank you for not paying attention, too. I’m not defining the problem — I’m reporting what researchers have found.

    @kn:

    > The stress of not knowing where your – or your children’s – next meal is going to come from, that’s just a minor inconvenience.

    I can’t tell if you’re serious or not, but I can assure you that many (most?) people with these worries are also worried if they are going to be able to make the rent, and if their car is going to fall apart or be repossessed. But you are absolutely right that they don’t have the luxury of worrying about what happens 5 years from now.

    @TomA:

    > Memetic subversion is insidious.

    Again, that has nothing to do with the problems I am reporting. These are people who want to work, who are working, who by many metrics are probably actually more fiscally responsible than me (certainly more so than my brother), and yet who come up short.

    @esr:

    It’s not clear to me what this tells us in the way of policy prescription, exactly, because cognitive deficits cause poverty.

    There is, of course, an intractable cohort for which there may be no good policy prescriptions. I like to believe that it isn’t yet all that big, and that we should address the rest.

    The problem is that a coherent set of policy prescriptions would have elements the right hate and elements the left hate, and would never get passed. I think it’s pretty easy to state that, as a matter of policy, an able-bodied person who wants/tries to get up in the morning and put in 8 hours working for someone else ought to be better off than one who just sits around the house. An extension of this is that able-bodied person A who is more valuable to his employer than able-bodied person B ought to be better off, as well.

    To make this work, you’d probably have to reduce the minimum wage, and you’d have to taper off welfare slowly (so, for example, an additional dollar earned makes the recipient better off by at least 50 cents), rather than having a dollar value where welfare completely stops. You’d also have to implement a better real-time integration of payroll and welfare benefits. The federal government stopped allowing advance EITC payments a few years ago because very few were taking advantage of them. Very few were taking advantage of them because if they screwed up the math, they’d owe the government on April 15th. Most other countries have PAYE (pay as you earn) systems that don’t require the average joe to complete a return at the end of they year, never mind face the prospect of owing money.

  196. As to the need to carry two or three part time jobs to make ends meet, it is becoming an increasingly common necessity to survive. Why?

    Why is it that the cost of living has skyrocketed?
    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-28/%E2%80%9Cthere%E2%80%99s-no-inflation%E2%80%9D-checklist

    Since 2001 the cost of:

    College tuition and fees are up 130%
    Medical care is up 70%
    Goods and services are up 55%
    Transportation is up 50%
    Food is up 45%
    Housing is up 42%
    Communication is up 35%
    Recreation is up 12%
    Clothing us down 5%

    Wages? Stagnant.

    The US treasury in concert with the Federal Reserve have worked tirelessly to debase the currency. Following up after the 2008 market meltdown they have printed trillions of dollars. These trillions are given to the banks at zero percent and then the banks loan this money back to the treasury at 0.25%. Nice deal. How can you get a piece of the action? You can’t. Your job is to be the wage slave picking up the 0.25%. The deck is stacked against you. The 2008 bailouts have been and continue to be welfare for the bankers.

    While the velocity of money continues to decline (indicating increasing deflationary pressures), the cost of living continues to increase as shown above. The divide between rich and poor is being driven by our own government. The poor will be increasingly used in pawns in this battle. The demonstrations in Ferguson and at Bundy ranch are the first few notes of the warm up band. The fourth turning is coming. Anticipate it, Google it.

  197. Some worries are in fact just part of the cost of business of being alive, you know.

    Or, as I like to put it: “You were not born into the Garden of Eden. Deal with it.”.

    @ESR

    Strange how the old myths about the inherent superiority on the nobility are beginning to become true. Although of course the people who would be thought of by most people today as “the nobility” (mostly politicians) are anything but.

  198. @Foo Quuxman:

    > You were not born into the Garden of Eden. Deal with it.

    But what do we do with those who can’t deal with it? Part of the current “strategy” is to wait until they do something unsocial, and then lock them up.

  199. @ Patrick Maupin – “But what do we do with those who can’t deal with it?”

    Who is the “we” in your sentence? What right do they have to pass judgement on others, especially in regard to something as arbitrary as “dealing with it”? What’s wrong with minding your own business as long as the others aren’t impinging upon your freedom? Once you decide to meddle in the affairs of others, where do you draw the line at stopping? What if the others decide to fight back against your nannyism or tyranny? Why does your mind work that way?

  200. @Foo Quuxman:

    > Strange how the old myths about the inherent superiority on the nobility…

    Meh. Getting rich is usually done by some combination of hard work, intelligence, luck (where, depending on the individual, luck includes having the right parents, being in the right place at the right time, and somewhat randomly deciding to work on project A vs. B), not being too hedonistic, being a good judge of character, and being heavily motivated by money.

    I would actually hazard a guess that, for most rich people, superior intelligence is the least of the necessary ingredients to get rich. It often doesn’t seem that way, because superior intelligence certainly helps considerably in rising to the top of the working class dogpile.

    I also think that, in a sense, you’re reversing esr’s argument. He thinks there may be a small but growing cohort of dregs, not a small noble population subset. I think it’s pretty likely that for any rich person, you could find dozens or hundreds of people in the general population with extremely similar intelligence, work ethic, tastes, etc., but that’s simply not true for many, if not most, of the “dregs.”

    There are some present-day dynasties of “nobility”, but that just shows the other end of the spectrum. Just as it’s hard to get a leg up to start a career when you’re working 3 part-time dead-end jobs, it’s much easier to make a few million if you have plenty in the bank and plenty of knowledgeable friends with plenty in the bank.

    But to esr’s point, you’ll often find really rich people (“nobility”) marrying ordinary people, though you won’t often find them marrying people who wouldn’t be able to hold a job.

  201. I am 100% behind anything nannyish Patrick or anyone wants to attempt. Just make it 100% voluntary: don’t take anyone else’s liberty or money to do it.

  202. @jfre since 2001 we’ve been at war and a recession. No shit the economy is not in the best of shape and there has been a cost to standard of living.

    As far as income inequality goes the gini index was 4.45 in 2001 and 4.77 in 2013.

    Higher than most countries and a function of our tax laws favoring the rich.

    On the plus side we’re a net oil exporter. Conserve more and produce more and we’re in much better shape than 2001.

  203. @TomA:

    Who is the “we” in your sentence? What right do they have to pass judgement on others, especially in regard to something as arbitrary as “dealing with it”?

    A quarter of the children in my area would have significant issues if the food bank went under. Many of their families are obviously having trouble “dealing with it.” I think it’s interesting that you seem to think that I’m passing some sort of judgement on them, when I’m actually (and pretty obviously, IMO) indicting what you yourself call systemic problems.

    Frankly, if the food bank ceased to exist, and people were caught stealing food for their families, I wouldn’t actually judge them too harshly at all. We all do what we have to to survive.

    What’s wrong with minding your own business as long as the others aren’t impinging upon your freedom?

    So you don’t believe in helping anybody ever? I guess you got yours.

    Once you decide to meddle in the affairs of others, where do you draw the line at stopping?

    Not sure what you mean by “meddle”, but, for example, at the food bank, we try really hard not to draw a line. In general, we let people self-select whether they need extra food or not, and I’d say that for the most part, it works pretty damn well. Now, that may partly be because the effective hourly wage of waiting in line for the food is not really all that high, but whatever.

    Obviously we, as a society, have lots of lines drawn — far too many, really. But let’s take a couple of the simpler ones. If someone helps themselves to your TV, you will, for some obscure reason, probably believe that was wrong of them, and attempt to use the government to retrieve it and/or punish them. That’s how things work in your world. That’s not how things work in other worlds, e.g. like the one that was in the news recently. Do you really think the right answer is to simply watch these people and wait until they commit what your world calls a crime, and then lock them up and throw away the key? Of course you do, never mind that some of them could probably be persuaded to act differently if “we” got our act together.

    What if the others decide to fight back against your nannyism or tyranny?

    Obviously the people in Ferguson think you’re a tyrant if you think they shouldn’t be looting and burning. What will you do if they fight back against your tyranny in your house? (Bearing in mind some of them are much better armed than you are, of course.)

    As far as nannying goes, you have obviously written off the bottom segment of society and obviously believe (as per your post that started this subthread) that all of them are already more than nannyed enough, and the the only issue they face is boredom.

    As I said, and I will say it again, you really don’t have a clue.

    Why does your mind work that way?

    Are you asking why I care that the middle class is disintegrating in many places in this country?

    Or are you asking why I think that “we”, meaning the people with enough intelligence to examine cause and effect and unintended consequences, ought to try to reverse some of the damage done over the past 50 years?

    Do you have any kids?

  204. @PapayaSF:

    > don’t take anyone else’s liberty or money to do it.

    Unfortunately, I think it would be disastrous to go cold-turkey on entitlements. The question is, is there an intelligent way to slowly reduce them that actually encourages behavior that most of us (even though TomA doesn’t like that word) approve of, and discourages behavior that most of us (that dreaded word again) disapprove of?

  205. I don’t think cold turkey is necessary. I’d be happy with innovative changes in that direction and a general phase-out.

    It seems to me that welfare (like most government programs) is stuck in early 20th century thinking, plus decades of accreted layers of laws and regulations and bureaucracies and remora-like interest groups. With our knowledge and technology today, nobody would want the current system. So what would we do with a clean slate? I want to see people come up with a dozen different tech-enabled proposals, and try them in a dozen different cities. See what works. Federalism is a fine (semi-) scientific way of testing public policy, but few ever seem to talk about it that way.

  206. @PapayaSF:

    The feds seem to be ready to move a bit in that direction with block grants for TANF, and proposed ones for medicaid. Unfortunately, for a lot of potential innovation, I think, as I said in an earlier comment, the IRS would need to be on board, as would the DOL.

    For example, there is no reason why the IRS couldn’t know, based on your history and current employer reports, that you are going to be getting EITC (which is, for the most part, basically a rebate of the FICA taxes). Instead of giving it to you in a lump sum, they could direct the employer to go ahead and pay it to you. But for that to work, there has to be a mechanism that says that if the IRS screws it up, you don’t have to pay it back (because basically, we’re talking about people who won’t have the means to do that).

    And if a state wants to integrate welfare with work, the easiest way to do that also probably involves the employer, where the state rebates some of the wages for the lowest paid workers.

  207. On the plus side we’re a net oil exporter. Conserve more and produce more and we’re in much better shape than 2001.

    Who’s “we”?  The USA?  If you believe that you are disinformed, delusional or insane.  In 2014 the USA might cut its crude-oil imports to less than half of total consumption.  The USA hasn’t been a net exporter since 1948, and absent something like a total economic collapse with takeover by China farming N. America for resources, never again will be.

  208. Patrick, I’m at a loss to understand why you think I’ve attacked some unknown food bank that you’re associated with. Or that I lack empathy for the poor, or oppose charity. None of that is true. As stated previously, I commend you for your volunteerism. I support several charities in my personal life as well.

    Getting back to the original issue, politicians buy votes by preying on the poor and corrupting their spirit via endless handouts resulting in an insidious addiction to dependance. This is a tangible harm to people that are already starting out with meager resources in life. If this cruelty were overt, it would likely have been defeated already. However, politicians (like drug dealers) are sneaky and wrap their vice in altruistic slogans, false promises, and memetic re-programming. The enemy is not the poor, but he incipient tyrants that would make them into handout junkies.

    Please continue your work at the food bank if that pleases you. I do not object in the least.

  209. @TomA:

    Patrick, I’m at a loss to understand why you think I’ve attacked some unknown food bank that you’re associated with

    Well, for a start, you did practically conflate government aid and “Overlay private and religious charities that provide supplemental aid, and the only real hardship left is boredom. ” in your comment that started this sub-thread.

    Or that I lack empathy for the poor,

    You may think you have empathy for the poor, but your words indicate that you think they are all being taken care of handily, cradle-to-grave, that their only issue is “boredom”, that “barely scraping by” is a slogan and not an unfortunate way of life for millions, and that an epidemic of obesity proves there is no hunger, rather than being a separate problem that also unequally affects the poor.

    None of those things are true, which is why I assert you don’t have a clue.

    Getting back to the original issue, politicians buy votes by preying on the poor and corrupting their spirit via endless handouts resulting in an insidious addiction to dependance. This is a tangible harm to people that are already starting out with meager resources in life. If this cruelty were overt, it would likely have been defeated already.

    And yet, when I suggest “we” should attempt to fix these problems, you write words that suggest you think I’m a dangerous lunatic with questionable motives, and ask how I could possibly think this way.

    I suppose that’s because I’m inarticulate.

    Whatever.

  210. @Patrick Maupin
    >I can’t tell if you’re serious or not,

    Sorry about that, the tongue-in-cheekiness of my post apparentlly didn’t come across.
    I’m actually at a loss for words when I see the dismissiveness and ignorance with which some people here react to the problems you point out.

  211. “The USA? If you believe that you are disinformed, delusional or insane. In 2014 the USA might cut its crude-oil imports to less than half of total consumption.”

    So are you always rude or just on the internet? In any case you are correct and I was disinformed. The US was a only net exporter for a short period in 2011:

    http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-29/u-s-was-net-oil-product-exporter-in-2011.html

    There is evidently a ban on crude oil exports I was unaware of:

    http://business.financialpost.com/2014/02/21/could-the-u-s-become-a-net-oil-exporter-not-likely-says-eia-chief/?__lsa=4432-c444

    Interesting comment in this article:

    Adam Sieminski: The EIA’s forecast is that the U.S. will become a net exporter of natural gas before the end of this decade. We’re already a net exporter of coal. In terms of electricity, most of our trade is with Canada, and that never really seems to have been much of an issue. The U.S. is also a net exporter of petroleum products, so we now export more gasoline and diesel fuel than we import. We import a lot of oil products, particularly into the East and West Coasts. But we are a big exporter, mostly from the Gulf Coast, with the increase in refinery utilization down there. The overall picture now is one in which the U.S. trade deficit is being reduced by growing oil and petroleum product exports.

    Given this comment and looking at the production vs usage trends on the EIA site it is clear to me that the US is in a far better energy position than in 2001. That has huge economic and strategic implications. For example if we can start selling large quantities of LNG to Europe in the next decade we can fuck with Russia. Vastly reduced crude oil imports means that the influence of the Middle East is greatly reduced. That makes me happy.

    I’m not going to pretend I meant petroleum exports vs crude but I am going to assert that I was correct on the general (we’re far better off than a decade ago) while wrong in the specific.

  212. You said, and I quote, “net oil exporter“.  That is light-years away from having a positive balance of trade in the narrow segment of refined petroleum products (the USA has traded excess diesel fuel for excess European gasoline for decades).

    This is not a small mental error.  Such misconceptions lead to disastrous policies.

    The product exports are due in part to high demand for ULSD, and the cheap natural gas in N. America which provides inexpensive hydrogen for hydrodesulfurization.  These are effectively exports of natural gas in liquid form, without the costly cryogenic systems.

  213. @ Patrick Maupin

    This is my last shot. Take it or leave it.

    Real hardship in contemporary life is perhaps something like living in West Africa at present. Housing (if any) is a thatch or mud hut, food is truly scarce and primitive, clean water and sanitation are non-existent, social interactions have frequent life and death opportunities (e.g. Ebola), lots of governmental and tribal tyrants to propagate genocide rather than bribery, catastrophic natural disasters with no safety net, and there’s no grievance mongers or media to showcase your bitching/plight.

    The “poor” souls arriving at your food bank live like kings in comparison. Cry me a river.

  214. @TomA:

    While contemplating how much worse it could be is occasionally a useful tool, personally, I find it’s a tool best applied by oneself for oneself. Your willingness to apply it to others, especially when you obviously don’t have a clue exactly how bad it is for some of them, doesn’t exactly help out your avowed claim of empathy.

    I usually prefer to consider how things could be made better. For example, there are a few US counties that perhaps could be made better, if only we managed to raise the life expectancy of the inhabitants to equal that of the residents of Bangladesh and Algeria.

  215. “You said, and I quote, “net oil exporter“. That is light-years away from having a positive balance of trade in the narrow segment of refined petroleum products (the USA has traded excess diesel fuel for excess European gasoline for decades).

    This is not a small mental error. Such misconceptions lead to disastrous policies.”

    The only energy policy I would advocate is for more solar, more hybrids, higher fuel efficiency standards, more conservation, more nukes, more shale, more drilling anywhere it wouldn’t be an environmental disaster as a function of foreign and defense policy (and not necessarily environmental or economic).

    In any case here is the relevant section in the 2014 Energy Outlook:

    “U.S. use of imported petroleum and other liquid fuels continues to decline in AEO2014 mainly as a result of increased domestic oil production. Imported petroleum and other liquid fuels as a share of total U.S. use reached 60% in 2005 before dipping below 50% in 2010 and falling further to 40% in 2012. The import share continues to decline to 25% in 2016 and then rises to about 32% in 2040 in the AEO2014 reference case, as domestic production of tight oil begins to decline in 2022 (Figure 12).”

    My point remains that we are far better off in 2014 that we were in 2001. Why you are so intensely focused on proving me wrong after I conceded that I was on the issue of oil exports shows that you really don’t give a shit about discourse but counting coup.

    If we can drive conservation up and move more quickly to alternative energy sources for personal transportation, no matter the environmental impact of batteries (which is pretty nasty), then instead of a rise back up to 32% we could drive it down further.

    A good use of defense dollars is subsidizing solar on every house and a plug in hybrid in every garage. THAT would be my policy as it would reduce the impact of Russia, the Middle East, Venezuela, and a vulnerable energy distribution network in one shot.

  216. A good use of defense dollars is subsidizing solar on every house and a plug in hybrid in every garage.

    Three words:  “duck belly curve”.  Germany’s Energiewende is running into major headaches associated with mismatches between supply and demand.  Creating (costly) headaches is the opposite of what defense spending should be doing for us.

  217. @nht:

    > … and move more quickly to alternative energy sources for personal transportation…

    In related news, a couple of months ago, I bought a 2014 (well, really 2013, I guess, but they just re-introduced it here and call it 2014) Mitsubishi i-MiEV. It’s an interesting vehicle — most of the reviews completely pan the car (a common sentiment is “save your money and buy a leaf”), but all of the actual owner reports and forum comments I have seen are very enthusiastic.

    I’m very pleased with it so far — for my purposes, it’s much better and more comfortable (not to mention, cheaper) than a Leaf — more headroom, and much better cargo capacity. I wasn’t really looking for a hybrid; since my commute is not very far, it made sense to make one of our vehicles full electric — fewer things to go wrong.

    > A good use of defense dollars is subsidizing solar on every house and a plug in hybrid in every garage.

    There are a lot of great (or corrosive, depending on your point of view, of course ;-) subsidies for EVs around here. $7500 from the feds and $2500 from Texas for a start (I know that latter one seems odd, but it’s about air quality, not energy efficiency, so hybrids don’t qualify, but full electric, CNG, and LPG do). I also got a 1/4 point reduction on the loan from my credit union because the car is energy efficient (0.99% for full financing for 65 months). But wait, there’s more!!!

    I’m sure national defense is the farthest thing from their minds, but currently the People’s Republic of Austin provides plug-in charging all around the city. An all-you-can-eat card for the electric buffet costs $25.00 for 6 months, including taxes. One of the charging stations is a pleasant 0.4 mile walk from my house, so that’s where I’ve been charging it. Less than a dollar a week for the energy to run my car.

    > no matter the environmental impact of batteries

    The battery, of course, is the elephant in the room, in more ways than one. Mitsubishi seems to have their act together on these, but in some ways buying one of these is still an act of faith. Personally, I believe that by the time it is time to replace the battery, a higher-capacity more environmentally friendly version will probably be available, but even if that’s not true, I think I’ll probably get my money’s worth out of the car.

  218. @Mr. Rational:

    > “duck belly curve”

    That’s one of the reasons that pairing solar with EVs makes sense:

    http://insideevs.com/solar-panels-electric-cars-duck-curve-related/

    > Germany’s Energiewende

    Even if we stopped renewable subsidies altogether today, utilities that aren’t innovative in matching supply and demand are going to be in trouble. Yes, renewables are progressing that quickly:

    http://climatecrocks.com/2014/02/16/the-weekend-wonk-utilities-ignore-renewables-at-own-risk/comment-page-2/

    The utilities are going to find themselves in a classic squeeze — if they raise rates, some of their best customers will find ways to tell them to fuck off, and then they’ll have to raise rates even more. This doesn’t just apply to energy — in Austin, they are going to have to raise water rates because people are conserving as they’ve been told to do.

    The obvious answer to wild demand fluctuations is to start treating consumers like big businesses, and give them a “demand charge” for their peak power usage, as well as the charge for total energy usage. Arbitrage is already happening, and by the simple expedient of doing this, the utilities could smooth the demand curve across the board without any new investment on their part.

    Unfortunately, many of the utilities aren’t going to do this, because they recognize that this will only hasten the reduction of their relevance. Once people have their own solar cells AND batteries, they will start to scrutinize their utility bills more closely, and maybe even install a natural gas generator as solar backup instead of connecting to the power grid.

    Make no mistake — battery technology suitable for customer installation to reduce peak demand is progressing apace, too:

    http://gigaom.com/2014/07/20/behind-the-scenes-of-aquion-energys-battery-factory-the-future-of-solar-storage/

  219. The obvious answer to wild demand fluctuations is to start treating consumers like big businesses, and give them a “demand charge” for their peak power usage, as well as the charge for total energy usage.

    The power company in Arizona tried to do that, and got massive protests that they were trying to kill solar (see TUSK).

    Of course, if customers paid industrial peak+energy rates, they would find much less expensive ways to cut their power bills than covering their roofs with PV panels.  And even with today’s subsidies, the PV wouldn’t pay any more.  I think this is hilarious.

  220. “Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.”

    Follow the link below and read the whole thing. It is only about 8 paragraphs. This is a little slice of liberal perspective on the Ferguson situation.

    “A little more than half a century after Brown, the election of Obama gave hope to the country and the world that a new racial climate had emerged in America, or that it would. But such audacious hopes would be short-lived. A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama’s election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ferguson-wasnt-black-rage-against-copsit-was-white-rage-against-progress/2014/08/29/3055e3f4-2d75-11e4-bb9b-997ae96fad33_story.html

    More fodder from the Washington Compost.

  221. @Mr. Rational:

    > The power company in Arizona tried to do that

    No they didn’t.

    > and got massive protests that they were trying to kill solar (see TUSK).

    That’s because they’re trying to, at best, reign it in in a very reactionary fashion. What they were attempting was a direct tax on customer-installed solar, except that they get the revenue, not the government:

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/green-tech/solar/arizona-imposes-net-metering-fee-on-rooftop-solar

    The APS proposal did not at all consider peak usage. It did consider theoretical peak production, but was a tax on installed capacity, so it didn’t even actually look at the maximum output to the grid. This sort of tax is not helpful and would not even encourage the sort of arbitrage I was discussing that could smooth the demand curve.

    Currently, industrial demand charges examine maximum usage and assume that the minimum usage is zero. A somewhat fair demand charge in a world where customers can also be providers would simply subtract minimum usage (which could be negative) from maximum usage (which could actually also be negative), take the absolute value, and say “usage variability is X — here’s the cost for that.” An even fairer demand charge might look at min and max usages for different time-of-day and time-of-week bands.

    At first glance, it might seem that real-time pricing would be even better, but we have seen that that is ripe for abuse (and also, a lot of the arguments that Clay Shirky correctly put forth against micropayments would apply here — markets function best when pricing signals are filtered).

    > Of course, if customers paid industrial peak+energy rates, they would find much less expensive ways to cut their power bills than covering their roofs with PV panels.

    Nothing wrong with that for cases where it’s true. Although your duck belly says peak capacity may be an issue for utilities in the future, peak demand is a major headache for utilities right now, so why not incentivize customers to figure out how to smooth the demand curve in such a way as to remove both these headaches?

    > And even with today’s subsidies, the PV wouldn’t pay any more.

    Perhaps with your, and Arizona Power’s interpretation of what I wrote, where only people who install alternative energy get dinged. But if they treat everybody equally, I couldn’t disagree more. Right now, in Texas, if you point your solar panels west, you will generate peak power at the same time you are using peak power (AC). If you were getting charged for peak power, you might find that a few solar panels paid for themselves muy pronto.

  222. @Mr Rational
    “Three words: “duck belly curve”. Germany’s Energiewende is running into major headaches associated with mismatches between supply and demand. Creating (costly) headaches is the opposite of what defense spending should be doing for us.”

    The “duck belly curve” is a matter of the right price incentives (see other comments).

    The Energiewende has gotten a new European impetus now we see how trustworthy the supplies from our eastern “friend” are. Let alone the new troubles in the middle east. I suspect that the cost-benefit analysis of solar/wind energy has been changed in the last months. We will see during the next half year or so how this will pan out.

  223. Regarding the decline in living standards in black communities, There is a hypothesis that huge damage was wrought by the invention of crack cocaine, which made gang activity profitable. (Perhaps crack dealers would stop killing each other if cocaine were readily available in pharmacies.)

  224. Pingback: Under Oath | Countenance Blog

  225. Sorry, this shows a lack of practice. He missed center mass on all shots. He shot right and kept shooting before he was back on target. It was one error compounded by another. But it worked in the end, but being lucky is not being good. Next time you might not be lucky. But then Napoleon said he would rather have lucky generals than good generals.

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