A few thoughts about Ferguson

Posted: November 25, 2014 by watsonthethird in Current Events
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday the Grand Jury determined that Officer Darren Wilson won’t face criminal charges for the shooting of Mike Brown. Given that the facts are not clear-cut, and given that St. Louis County Attorney Robert McCulloch decided to pursue the case through a grand jury, it’s not a surprising decision. It was probably the only decision the grand jury could reach under the circumstances.

That said, the basic narrative that has emerged–at least among those who support Officer Wilson–which includes the vast majority of conservatives–is that Wilson was justified in the use of deadly force because he was under assault. Not only was he frightened for his own life, but he was merely performing as he was trained.

Nevertheless, one point I do want to make is that this narrative–that Officer Wilson was politely interacting with Brown when the latter suddenly turned aggressive and violent–is almost entirely based on the Grand Jury testimony of Officer Wilson. Unfortunately, Mike Brown is dead and, therefore, was unable to provide his version of events. And that’s a problem in these kinds of situations where a police officer kills another human being in a confrontation without direct witnesses. Officer Wilson controlled the narrative because Mike Brown couldn’t offer anything that might rebut Wilson’s telling. As in all cases like this, Wilson had a huge incentive to color the story in ways that benefit himself, knowing that any rebuttal would be weak because they would come from witnesses who were not directly involved. Not only that, Officer Wilson was not cross-examined. Rather, the attorney gently led him through the events for the Grand Jury. That just seems… troubling. (Some examples of what a cross-examination might have delved into here.)

The closest living witness, other than Officer Wilson, is Dorian Johnson, who knew Brown for a few months and was with him when the killing occurred. Ezra Klein wrote an excellent piece in which he juxtaposes the testimony of Officer Brown and that of Dorian Johnson. You should read the entire thing. It’s riveting, but also telling in how their accounts are similar but different in key ways. For example, from Klein’s article:

It’s a Saturday morning, and the streets are empty. A few blocks from home, Brown and Johnson are walking in the middle of the road. This is when Officer Darren Wilson pulls up — and when Johnson and Wilson’s accounts begin to both converge and diverge.

As Wilson tells the story, he was extremely, unfailingly polite — more befuddled than anything else by these two young black men who seem to have forgotten to use the sidewalk. “Hey guys, why don’t you walk on the sidewalk,” he remembers saying. That’s not how Johnson tells it.

“He said ‘Get the F on the sidewalk!'” Johnson tells the grand jury. Either way, on this next point, Johnson and Wilson agree. It’s Johnson who replies and says they’re just a minute from their homes, and they’ll be off the street shortly.

This is the break point in the story. This is the moment when, even though you know how it ends, you’re hoping against hope that things play out differently, because it so clearly could have gone a different way. But here is when Wilson and Johnson begin telling stories that only barely converge.

As Wilson tells it, he then asks, “what’s wrong with the sidewalk?”, and Brown’s response, as reported by Wilson, is “fuck what you have to say.”

As Johnson tells it, Wilson never says “what’s wrong with the sidewalk,” and Brown never says “fuck what you have to say.” Rather, both Johnson and Brown think Wilson is satisfied with Johnson’s answer and is driving off.

“We continued to walk and have our conversation,” Johnson tells the grand jury, “but almost a split second [later], we heard the tires screech, and the officer, he pulled back in the truck very fast at an angle [where] if we didn’t hear his tires screech, the back of his cruiser would have struck one of us.”

The story Johnson tells from this point is straightforward: a cop feels disrespected by two young men, he reasserts his power, and then things spin out of control.

Wilson, having almost hit them with his truck, delivers the classic line of authority: “What did you say?” But Johnson is adamant that Brown hadn’t said anything. Maybe he mouthed something silently. Maybe he stared Wilson down. Maybe he did something else that Johnson couldn’t hear. But Johnson was right next to Brown, and Brown didn’t say anything.

But if he didn’t speak earlier, Brown starts now. Wilson had almost hit him with a truck. Brown is pissed. And so is Wilson. Brown says something and then Wilson hits him with the door of his cruiser. “He thrust his door open real hard,” says Johnson. “We was so close to the door that it hit mostly Big Mike, but it hit me on my left side and closed back on him, like real fast. Just the same speed, boom, boom, that fast.”

Compare this moment to Wilson’s rendering:

I go to open my door, say, “Hey, come here.” He said, “What the fuck you gonna do?” And he shut my door on me. The door was only open maybe a foot. I didn’t have a chance to get my leg out. I shut the door and he came up and appro ached the door. I opened the door again, trying to push him back, tell him to get back. Um, he said something. I’m not sure exactly what it was and then started swinging and punching at me from outside the vehicle.

At this point, Johnson and Wilson’s accounts become mirror images of each other. Wilson says Brown slammed the door into him and then reached into the car and began throwing punches. Johnson says Wilson slammed the door into Brown and then “his arm came out the window, and that’s the first initial contact that they had. The officer grabbed, he grabbed ahold of Big Mike’s shirt around the neck area.”

The narratives continue to split. Wilson describes a scuffle deep inside the car, with Brown as the aggressor trying to beat the hell out of Wilson who is trapped in his cruiser. Johnson described a tug-of-war, where Brown has “one hand on top of the cruiser and the other hand more right up under the window, the side mirror. He’s trying to pull off the officer’s grip.” Wilson is trying to pull Brown in, Brown is trying to escape.

As Klein concludes, “Wilson’s account presents Brown as completely irrational and borderline suicidal, Johnson’s account is more recognizable. It isn’t a blameless, kindly beat cop who gets set upon by a rampaging Michael Brown. And nor is it a blameless, kindly Michael Brown who gets set upon by a cold-blooded murderer with a badge. It’s a cop who feels provoked by these two young black men who won’t get out of the street, and who tries to teach them a lesson, to put them in their place. His actions escalate the situation, and then the adrenaline floods, and then there’s a struggle, and the situation escalates, and escalates, and escalates, and then Darren Wilson shoots Michael Brown and Michael Brown dies.”

Now, we’ll never really know exactly what happened, but we do have historical reasons to doubt that Wilson’s account is entirely correct and without bias. In fact, as Klein points out, the overall tone of Dorian Johnson’s account seems more believable. (More on that here.)

And certainly the Black community of St. Louis and other parts of the country have experienced exactly this kind of “provoked cop” (and unprovoked, for that matter) behavior and have good and valid reasons to question if the same happened here. For better or worse, the St. Louis metro police departments have had a hand in creating doubt about their behavior because of their past behavior. To simply dismiss this case as Officer Brown properly reacting to an assault by a crazed, hulking man is a bit hard to accept.

But we need to move on. The violent, destructive protests are worthy of condemnation. As Rep. John Lewis wrote last night, “I know this hard. I know this is difficult. Do not succumb to the temptations of violence. There is a more powerful way. Only love can overcome hate. Only nonviolence can overcome violence. It’s good to disturb the order of things, to show signs of discontent, but it must be peaceful, orderly, and disciplined.”

In the future, I would hope that the police departments of the St. Louis metro area (and other departments) immediately install cameras in their cars and cameras on their persons. Even with cameras, there will still be plenty of dispute when events like this occur, but they can certainly help to clarify or shed light on what has happened. Furthermore, let’s demand that the police officers stop preventing ordinary citizens from recording them in public. And for God’s sakes, wear your name badges. It all makes one wonder, what do they have to hide?

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Comments
  1. rustybrown2012 says:

    I can’t understand why you or Ezra Klein find Johnson’s story more believable than officer Wilson’s. If “Wilson had a huge incentive to color the story in ways that benefit himself”, as you put it, you must concede Johnson did as well. Johnson’s tale exonerated himself from the robbery, martyred his dead friend, and pegs a white cop a murderer, things which (with the exception of exonerating himself from the robbery, I suppose) give him quite the street cred. Johnson’s story was not cross examined either and was submitted right along with Wilson’s; I don’t know why you find that “troubling”.

    Furthermore, the physical evidence supports officer Wilson’s version. It’s unbelievable that a trained police officer would try to pull a 300lb. man on top of him into his car. That would be suicidal. Think of how vulnerable one would be in that situation. Sitting in a car is a very poor fighting position in any circumstance; having a burly adversary on top of you would not improve your odds. The advantage would be Brown’s.

    It’s clear Brown attacked Wilson in his cruiser. Why did he do it? Who the hell knows. We know he was in a violent state of mind having committed assault and robbery moments earlier. Why is it so unbelievable that he would engage in another assault? Talk about “creating doubt about behavior because of past behavior”. You state “To simply dismiss this case as Officer Brown properly reacting to an assault by a crazed, hulking man is a bit hard to accept.” Why? Are you really unaware that police officers are attacked all the time in the line of duty?

    Finally, in the last seconds of the altercation, there are witnesses who corroborate Wilson’s description of Brown charging him, and again, the physical evidence supports this. Brown was first shot in the vehicle and his blood trail extends 20 feet farther from the vehicle than where he dropped; the only conclusion is that he was heading back toward Wilson. That blood trail is a fact that’s not been widely reported; did you even know about it?

    Between the circumstances, testimonies and physical evidence, there’s little chance Wilson would ever be convicted of anything. The right decision was made.

  2. Furthermore, the physical evidence supports officer Wilson’s version. It’s unbelievable that a trained police officer would try to pull a 300lb. man on top of him into his car. That would be suicidal.

    But Wilson’s version of Brown’s behavior would paint Brown as even more suicidal. Maybe he was. But as I said, we didn’t get to hear Brown’s version.

    Yes, Johnson would have reason to color the story to his benefit, but not nearly to the extent as Wilson. That doesn’t mean that Johnson is lying or the Wilson is lying, but personally, I do find Johnson’s version of how things escalated to be more believable than Wilson’s, as Klein did. But still, I don’t know what happened and neither do you.

    It’s clear Brown attacked Wilson in his cruiser. Why did he do it? Who the hell knows.

    But you are ignoring what led to the conflict. Johnson’s version is more believable in my mind, and could have ultimately led to the same situation in which Brown was shot at the car. You simply dismiss this as impossible.

    We know he was in a violent state of mind having committed assault and robbery moments earlier.

    No. We don’t know that.

    Are you really unaware that police officers are attacked all the time in the line of duty?

    Come on, Rusty. Are you unaware that police officers are not always truthful?

    That blood trail is a fact that’s not been widely reported; did you even know about it?

    Yes, I did know that.

    Between the circumstances, testimonies and physical evidence, there’s little chance Wilson would ever be convicted of anything.

    I agree. But that doesn’t mean that Johnson’s account is not more truthful than Wilson’s. I have to agree with Klein that Wilson’s account is hard to believe, although I do realized that it could in fact be correct. But I don’t know whether it is and neither do you. And I would think that even you would have to admit that Officer Wilson had a huge advantage in describing the events in a way favorable to him.

    Ultimately, the problem is that the treatment of blacks by the police, historically, has led to a level of distrust that makes it hard to simply accept everything they say as face value.

  3. rustybrown2012 says:

    But Wilson’s version of Brown’s behavior would paint Brown as even more suicidal

    Dude, you missed my point. It should be obvious from what I wrote that I was referring to the action being suicidal to Wilson, not Brown.

    • No, I didn’t miss your point. My point is, to believe that Wilson’s account is completely accurate, we pretty much have to believe that Brown had a death wish–i.e., he was suicidal. Furthermore, Johnson didn’t testify that Wilson pulled Brown into the car.

      As for the blood trail extending another 20 feet from where Brown was shot to death, yes, he apparently headed back toward Wilson. This was more than half a football field from Wilson’s SUV, not 30 feet or so away as was previously reported. So okay, Brown turns around. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Brown charged him, and the eyewitness accounts are unreliable and not consistent. The best eyewitness accounts that remain are Wilson and Johnson.

      Now, yeah, maybe in a suicidal fit of rage, 18-year old Mike Brown reached into a police car and tried to fight him right then and there because Wilson requested that he move to the sidewalk. And maybe Brown thought, no problem, I’m not armed but I’ll just grab the gun out of this guy’s holster on his right hip. Yeah, maybe he thought he’d just reach over Wilson’s 6-foot-4 inch, 210-pound body and across the seat to the side near the center console and he’d just grab that gun right out of the holster. And maybe he tried to grab Wilson’s gun so that he could shot the officer dead in cold blood before continuing on his way home. And maybe, after running 150+ feet and getting shot, he turned in a fit of rage and charged, unarmed, toward the officer who was shooting at him because he wanted to die.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        My point is, to believe that Wilson’s account is completely accurate, we pretty much have to believe that Brown had a death wish–i.e., he was suicidal.

        And my point is that for Johnson’s account to be completely accurate, we pretty much have to believe that Wilson had a death wish. Based on the days previous behavior of the two, I’m going with Brown being the hotheaded one with poor judgement.

        So okay, Brown turns around. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Brown charged him

        Doesn’t mean that he didn’t either, but he physical evidence and plenty of witnesses said he did just that. That also gave Wilson a motive for gunning him down, as opposed to executing him in cold blood.

        And you still seem to be incredulous that criminals act in all kinds of unpredictable and self destructive ways. You seem to recoil at the notion that someone could be a stupid, bullying thug to the point of their own demise when it happens all the time in gang ridden neighborhoods and in the line of police duty, both of which are in play here. Do I really need to pull up dozens of examples of unarmed idiots assaulting cops?

  4. rustybrown2012 says:

    Okay, how is someone who commits an aggressive robbery which involves physically confronting someone not in an violent state of mind? Would you be more comfortable with the term “aggressive”?

    • I just watched the convenience store video. He stole some cigarillos. Okay. Does that mean he would be in a “violent state of mind” on his way home? To the point that he would attack a police officer? You simply don’t know that. And you certainly don’t know what Mike Brown’s state of mind was.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        If you watched the video you know damn well he violently shoved the store’s proprietor into a magazine stand to get him out of his way. What do you think Brown would have done if the man gave him more resistance, politely returned the cigs and apologized? Think of the state of mind it takes to steal something right in front of somebody then thugishly push them away as they confront you. But you’re right – they were probably discussing homework by the time Wilson pulled up to them.

      • But you’re right – they were probably discussing homework by the time Wilson pulled up to them.

        Now you’re starting to argue like Cluster.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Now you’re starting to argue like Cluster.

        Ouch, now that’s a low blow! But an inaccurate one. I was just pointing out, with a smattering of levity, that I find it unbelievable that you don’t think Brown was in a particularly violent or aggressive state of mind five minutes after committing a very aggressive robbery. What little I know about psychology leads me to believe that a doped up teenager who has just engaged in a highly risky, dangerous and adrenaline-inducing activity does not reverse to baseline in five minutes.

  5. rustybrown2012 says:

    Come on, Rusty. Are you unaware that police officers are not always truthful?

    Strawman. I never even remotely implied that I thought cops never lied. I was addressing your specific and clearly stated point that you find it unbelievable that a cop was attacked. I’ll ask again: Why? Are you unaware that police officers are attacked all the time in the line of duty?

    • Are you unaware that police officers are attacked all the time in the line of duty?

      Really, Rusty? Yes, I am aware that police officers are attacked. So?

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Really, Rusty? Yes, I am aware that police officers are attacked. So?

        So? So what did you mean when you wrote “To simply dismiss this case as Officer Brown properly reacting to an assault by a crazed, hulking man is a bit hard to accept.”?

        Dude, those are contradictory statements.

      • No it’s not. Of course it’s true that police officers are attacked. It’s also true that some police officers are corrupt. That doesn’t mean that either happened in this specific case.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Look, If you state you find it hard to believe a cop was just attacked out of the blue, as you did, it’s perfectly logical to ask you if you’re aware cops are attacked out of the blue all the time. That was my point and I stand by it. I understand the written word. As for corruption, that’s a factor you’re introducing here from whole cloth with absolutely zero evidence. Sorry, I prefer evidence.

      • Sorry for the slow response to this one, but ice cream was handed to me.

        Look, your question, “Are you unaware that police officers are attacked all the time in the line of duty?” is condescending.

        Second, that police officers do come under attack doesn’t mean that happened in this case, and doesn’t even imply whether or not I am aware that police officers are attacked in the line of duty.

        Third, as for corruption, it’s a perfectly valid question to ask you since you seem to believe everything Officer Wilson says without reservation. As for evidence, you are an intelligent man and I know you know how to use Google, so stop with the silliness.

        Anyways, it’s late here and I’m signing off. Maybe you could ponder the last comment in this thread and give it a reply. Cheers.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        that police officers do come under attack doesn’t mean that happened in this case, and doesn’t even imply whether or not I am aware that police officers are attacked in the line of duty.

        Of course it doesn’t mean it happened in this case; I never said it did. My purpose in pointing out that police officers are often attacked by unarmed perps was in direct response to your apparent incredulity that those assaults happen, which I gleaned from your statement : “To simply dismiss this case as Officer Brown properly reacting to an assault by a crazed, hulking man is a bit hard to accept.” My point is it shouldn’t be that hard to accept; those kinds of crazy things do happen. I must say, this would go more smoothly, at least for me, if you addressed the substance of what I write and worry less about the tone, which in this case wasn’t very offensive.

        as for corruption, it’s a perfectly valid question to ask you since you seem to believe everything Officer Wilson says without reservation.

        Even if it were true that I “believe everything Officer Wilson says without reservation” – which it’s not, I only wrote that I think his statement seems to be most consistent with the best eyewitness accounts and physical evidence – what in blue blazes does that have to do with corruption? That’s quite a sans-evidentiary leap your taking there. It’s as if I were to blame Brown for the past actions of other young thugs or automatically place him in the same group. I try not to do that because that’s prejudicial thinking and has little to do with the case at hand.

      • Yes, corruption wasn’t the best word to use; lying would have been better. So:

        Are you really unaware that police officers have been known to lie when describing their actions?

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        No, Watson, I’m not unaware of that at all. When did I ever give you the impression that I thought police officers never lied?

        See, the impression I got from you that it’s hard to believe an unarmed man would attack a cop is from your direct statement that you found it hard to believe that an unarmed man would attack a cop. Get it? This is getting a bit tedious.

      • No, Rusty. You inferred that I find it hard to believe that unarmed men ever attack cops because I found Officer Wilson’s account harder to believe than Johnson’s (though certainly not impossible). But you’re right, this is tedious.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Whatever, Watson. Several times on this thread (I’ll let your words speak for themselves) you’ve expressed incredulity that an unarmed person would attack a police officer, and I pointed out that that situation does indeed happen more often than one would first assume. That’s it.

  6. rustybrown2012 says:

    Concerning the blood trail, bully for you that you knew of it. Now, how do you explain it?

  7. rustybrown2012 says:

    In his rush to discredit officer Wilson Ezra Klein plants his foot firmly in his mouth (from Watson’s link):

    What happens next is the most unbelievable moment in the narrative. And so it’s probably best that I just quote Wilson’s account at length on it.

    I was doing the, just scrambling, trying to get his arms out of my face and him from grabbing me and everything else. He turned to his…if he’s at my vehicle, he turned to his left and handed the first subject. He said, “here, take these.” He was holding a pack of — several packs of cigarillos which was just, what was stolen from the Market Store was several packs of cigarillos. He said, “here, hold these” and when he did that I grabbed his right arm trying just to control something at that point. Um, as I was holding it, and he came around, he came around with his arm extended, fist made, and went like that straight at my face with his…a full swing from his left hand.

    So Brown is punching inside the car. Wilson is scrambling to deflect the blows, to protect his face, to regain control of the situation. And then Brown stops, turns to his left, says to his friend, “Here, hold these,” and hands him the cigarillos stolen from Ferguson Market. Then he turns back to Wilson and, with his left hand now freed from holding the contraband goods, throws a haymaker at Wilson.

    Every bullshit detector in me went off when I read that passage. Which doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen exactly the way Wilson describes. But it is, again, hard to imagine. Brown, an 18-year-old kid holding stolen goods, decides to attack a cop and, while attacking him, stops, hands his stolen goods to his friend, and then returns to the beatdown. It reads less like something a human would do and more like a moment meant to connect Brown to the robbery.

    Looks like someone should get his bullshit detector checked, because Wilson’s description is practically identical to Johnson’s:

    So now Big Mike’s able to turn different angles while he is trying to pull away. And at a point he turned, now we are face-to-face, and he put his hands like, grab these, Bro. And in shock, I’m so not unconsciously, my hands open to where he could put the rillos in my hand.

    • Looks like someone should get his bullshit detector checked, because Wilson’s description is practically identical to Johnson’s:

      Yes, they are practically identical–in that respect. But you are ignoring the salient differences in their accounts.

      Look, we can go around and around forever on this, and I know that the only way this will stop is when I stop because you like to have the last word. Fine. Have it.

      My larger point is that there is a history of police not treating black people (among others) in certain communities with complete veracity, which contributes to doubting even Officer Wilson, especially given some of the circumstances he describes. Is that unfair? Probably, but it’s a situation that the police themselves have helped to create in these communities. And that’s a problem for all involved, including and especially those police officers who consistently do the right thing.

      So instead of going in circles, maybe you could address the question of whether the Mike Brown killing raises questions of what, if any, reforms should be undertaken by the St. Louis metro area police departments, as well as others. That might be more constructive. The grand jury has made its decision. That part is done.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        But you are ignoring the salient differences in their accounts.

        No I’m not. I simply find Wilson’s account to be more credible based on the evidence. And I find your source, Ezra Klein, to be laughably biased and full of shit.

        My larger point is that there is a history of police not treating black people (among others) in certain communities with complete veracity, which contributes to doubting even Officer Wilson, especially given some of the circumstances he describes. Is that unfair? Probably, but it’s a situation that the police themselves have helped to create in these communities. And that’s a problem for all involved, including and especially those police officers who consistently do the right thing.

        I’m taking this case at face value based on the facts that are known to me. I personally think it can often be a mistake to strive to fit specific events into larger narratives without a compelling reason to do so. I think it’s a mistake in this case. Look, black violence is a real problem in many areas in this country, but that shouldn’t lead us to be predisposed to see Brown as a thug. But Brown’s actions five minutes before his shooting do tell me he was a thug, at least in that period of time. Can you present one scintilla of evidence that leads you to believe that Officer Wilson was corrupt or racist? No, you can’t. Here, let me turn your above quote around:

        “My larger point is that there is a history of blacks committing a disproportionate amount of violence in certain communities, which contributes to doubting even Brown, especially given the evidence. Is that unfair? Probably, but it’s a situation that blacks themselves have helped create in these communities. And that’s a problem for all involved, including and especially those blacks who consistently do the right thing.”

        If you find that statement offensive, then you must find the previous one you made equally offensive, because the reasoning is entirely the same. Personally, I think both statements make valid points to be considered, but I think it’s unproductive to go down these roads when talking about this particular case.

      • But I don’t find it offensive.

        Personally, I think both statements make valid points to be considered, but I think it’s unproductive to go down these roads when talking about this particular case.

        I don’t disagree that both statements make valid points to be considered. It may be a mistake to fit this case into a larger narrative, but that’s what is nearly always said in these kinds of cases. Police need to be held to a high level of accountability, and need to create trust with the citizens they are protecting. After all, they are the ones society grants the ability to use lethal force. Their past history shows that they have violated that trust. They need to earn it back. If I was running the departments, and I demanded accountability from my officers, then I would have no problem with police car cameras and body cameras. I would have no problem with citizens video recording my officers in public. In fact, I would welcome it. And for God’s sakes, I would demand that my officers always wear their name badges.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Fully agree with you. I think cameras on every cop is a great idea. Sure would have helped in this case.

  8. Cluster says:

    Now you’re starting to argue like Cluster.

    LMAO. That’s because Rusty is spot on and debated this point better than I could of. The physical evidence overwhelmingly supported Wilson’s account and exoneration, and there was no other conclusion the GJ could have arrived at. It is very unfortunate that Brown died as it is when any young person dies, but this is much more of a moral and personal responsibility story than it is a race story. Just yesterday here in Phoenix a white guy was shot by police when he resisted arrest, fled in a car and then used that car to try and hit another patrol car chasing him. His crime was that of domestic violence so you wouldn’t think that that would rise to the level of a police shooting, but when you choose bad behavior and then disobey police instruction, bad things tend to happen. As of now, the national media on this story is no where to be found. It should also go without saying that police are killed in the line of duty often, so every day they put on the uniform could be their last. And those assholes who chose to steal and set fires in Ferguson incited in part by the actions of Brown’s stepdad have erased a lot of the sympathy Americans had for their plight.

    I also think that America has grown very tired of this incessant victim mentality that extends to the “war on women”, “war on poverty”, “war on minorities”, etc., etc. At some point, people need be responsible for their own lives and their own decisions. On the whole, this is a very fair country that offers opportunity to anyone who chooses to wake up everyday, make good decisions, and work towards a better future.

    • rustybrown2012 says:

      Thanks, Cluster. I calls ’em as I sees ’em. Cheers!

      • Cluster and Rusty ride off into the (115 degree on Cluster’s porch) sunset singing “Kumbaya”… lol

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Maybe we’ll go skinny dipping’ in Spook’s pond later!

      • Maybe we’ll go skinny dipping’ in Spook’s pond later!

        Well, let’s not get carried away here!

        And Spook, while I did not see Juan Williams on The Five tonight, I suspect that the reason he was complaining about how the witnesses weren’t allowed to be cross-examined was not because he doesn’t understand the grand jury process, but because he does. Per the New York Times:

        But the gentle questioning of Officer Wilson revealed in the transcripts, and the sharp challenges prosecutors made to witnesses whose accounts seemed to contradict his narrative, have led some to question whether the process was as objective as Mr. McCulloch claims.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        Yeah, I don’t know if the GJ was the right call in this case or not. I know there are biases built into that system and it favors cops. But based on the evidence, I see Wilson cleared of wrongdoing whichever way it was played. Whoever would be deciding this case would be faced with a truism: you assault a cop and go for his gun, bad things happen to you.

      • Spook: “With the promise of impending violence in Ferguson, MO, hanging over our heads for the last 90 days, I wasn’t sure we were going to enjoy another Thanksgiving as a free nation.”

        This guy is comically paranoid.

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        I know, right? What a mindset.

  9. rustybrown2012 says:

    Cluster:

    I think the ACA will go down as the most politicized, the least read, the least understood, the most damaging, and the most divisive piece of legislation to ever have been signed into law

    He forgot a couple things – it will also go down as one of the most “shockingly” effective pieces of legislation that has helped a great number of Americans.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/12/4-new-studies-obamacare-working-incredibly-well.html

    Republican rants seem so convincing before you compare them to reality.

    • Another Cluster classic from a few weeks ago was him complaining that under President Obama, federal revenue set a new record. Gasp! He forgot one thing: Federal revenue has set a new record under every president at least since World War II, and probably farther back.

      And wasn’t it Cluster who claimed that Darren Wilson suffered a fractured eye socket?

  10. rustybrown2012 says:

    Noonan wrote a silly and deeply unserious post over at bfv about “Stupid Liberals” in which he lays out as evidence for his premise several trivial tempests in teapots, isolated irrelevancies, off-hand quotes taken out of context – you know, the usual stuff. Left unsaid are the innumerable ways this country is better off under Obama (who is hardly the definition of a raving liberal) than it was during the previous 8 years of conservative rule. In Noonan’s defense, it must suck to witness a Democratic President doing a fair job of mopping up the smoldering mess their Republican POTUS left behind.

    • 02casper says:

      Mark is always going to be unhappy. He pines for a world that never existed and never will. In the ten years I’ve followed B4B and B4V, I doubt if he has had more than a dozen positive posts. I truley feel sorry b=for him and the others there.

    • And then there’s Spook, convinced that only he and his kind are willing to lay down their life, blah, blah, blah. It must be painful to care so much…

      • rustybrown2012 says:

        I see Cluster has commented on my post, and rather than address the quantifiable gains that Americans have enjoyed under the ACA and the Obama administration he prefers to cite opinion polls fresh off of the predictable midterm election turnaround (as usual, he seems to misunderstand the “pox on both houses” nature of such polls and doesn’t cite the even more dismal poll numbers of Congress and confidence in Republicans). I’ll give him this: Republicans are very effective in the propaganda department – seems they’re able to perfect that art since they don’t have to bother themselves with actually thinking about the serious issues that affect this country, coming up with innovative solutions, or legislating – and there are plenty of rubes, like Cluster, that soak up that brand of partisan, cynical soup. Not that all the folks are terminal rubes like Cluster, but plenty are swayed by the relentless Republican agitprop which appears to be their (Republicans) sole product for 21st century America. It’s not a pretty picture. But the truth will out, and the long game is that people will plainly see what 8 years of Clinton looks like next to 8 years of Bush next to 8 years of Obama. That’s a pretty simple equation, and easy to pass on to the electorate in 2016. Unfortunately, we can’t count on the Dems to fuck up a good thing. Even so, we should be fine – the facts are on our side.

    • rustybrown2012 says:

      BTW, as far as being an Obama “loyalist” goes, I personally don’t give a shit about Obama and he’s been a major disappointment to me in many ways – but that doesn’t distract me from the fact that he’s light years better than McCain, Romney or any of the other horrid clowns your party has put forth in the primaries.

      • 02casper says:

        Rusty,
        I have also been disappointed in Obama in a number of ways. Yet as you said he is way ahead of both McCain and Romney. If Republicans want our votes, the least they could do is give us a decent choice.

        That said, Cluster has come up with another example of projection:

        “They will always get the votes of small minded, economically ignorant, religious bigoted people who believe in dividing Americans for political gain. The liberal I quoted earlier is a good example. In the last 6 years, the Democrats have divided Americans along almost every single possible line; ethnic, class, gender, etc.”

        Change the word Democrats to Republicans and he is spot on.

  11. 02casper says:

    Over the last couple of days, I’ve been working with my students to give them tools to differentiate between credible sources and sources that aren’t credible. Noonan is the perfect example of someone with little or no credibility.

  12. meursault1942 says:

    Geez, that’s some Amazona-class projection by Noonan there. But what else can you expect from a guy like Noonan who has going to great lengths to cut himself off from facts, critical thinking skills, and even basic reality?

    So Noonan provides a perfect demonstration of one of the key components of the ongoing conservative psychotic episode. Cluster provides an apt demonstration of the other when he responds to ACA facts with…a single opinion poll. Inside the wingnut bubble, facts aren’t facts; opinions are facts to them, and actual facts are to be hated, shunned, and attacked at all costs.

    Again, I can’t understand what conservatives find so appealing about a belief system that requires constant lies and constant fear of simple reality.

  13. rustybrown2012 says:

    Cluster’s world (paraphrased): When America is engaged in covert systematic torture it’s not so bad, on the other hand, talkingabout such torture is absolutely despicable. How dare American operatives be held accountable to international standards of decency as well as our country’s own codes of honor and protocol!

  14. 02casper says:

    In cluster’s world, torture is ok as long as it’s done to people cluster doesn’t like. If a white conservative male were tortured he would be going nuts.

  15. rustybrown2012 says:

    Cluster appears to believe the topic of Americans torturing people of brown skin should not be discussed in polite company. Fine if we do it, but ixnay on the isclosureday. But infringe on the rights of religious nuts to discriminate agains fags, and he’s all in.

  16. Another classic Spookism: “One of the real ironies of all this is the fact that one of the primary goals of Progressives is to eventually get as many people as possible to live in urban areas where they can be ‘easily’ controlled.”

    I guess this is the thinking that comes from getting all your news from Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Poor Spook is going to start shooting at his own shadow soon, fearful that the progressive urbanites will descend en masse into his rural hamlet with violence in their hearts and minds.

    • meursault1942 says:

      “One of the real ironies of all this is the fact that one of the primary goals of Progressives is to eventually get as many people as possible to live in urban areas where they can be ‘easily’ controlled.”

      Not “urban areas,” Spook, FEMA camps. Christ, do you even read the Oath Keepers newsletters?

  17. rustybrown2012 says:

    I just took a gander at bfv, and anybody notice that the comments at that funny farm seem even more unhinged than usual? I fear we may soon discover Ama’s true identity in a tragic headline, or perhaps her total mental breakdown will happen in a quieter, more private fashion. Frankly, they all seemed a bit more grounded when there were a few of us around to point out that their screws were loose. Seems that self-censoring contravening opinion really is harmful to one’s mental health.

    Although jaw-dropping examples of projection are commonplace at bfv, I think Noonan’s latest post deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame. It’s also a fine example of the cowardly false pretense shared by all of them, where their inability to debate and defend their positions is rationalized by characterizing their opponents as too silly or rude to reason with. C’est la vie:

    ”…we have in our society quite a large number of unreasonable people. People who don’t know history; are only hazily aware of the facts, but are absolutely convinced of their worldview and determined that anyone who dissents from it be squashed.”

    ”…those who are least knowledgeable are most likely to believe they are practically all-knowing. Our actual solution is to try to ignore such silly creatures. In a sense, that is what we’ve done here – and while there are fewer comments, such comments as their [sic] are tend to increase the sum of knowledge. Of course, this is just a little-noticed blog – but I think it can serve as a model.”

    • Yeah, I noticed Noonan’s post. No better way to be absolutely convinced of their worldview than by hiding from anyone who might challenge it. It does make you wonder if they ever take a moment for self-reflection.

      As for Little Amy and her comparison that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were nothing more than fraternity pranks–please. Yeah, it’s common for fraternities to rectal feed their newbies for the fun of it. Or freeze them to death. In fact, considering the number of innocent individuals who were tortured or killed (as in the case of Gul Rahman), I guess it’s common for fraternities to just grab anybody who is not even a part of the frat and just torture them to death in the name of good, clean, All-American fun. It is clear that she literally has no morals and is in no position to preach to anyone about anything.

  18. meursault1942 says:

    I’m sure you’re all just as shocked as I am that our wingnut “anti-corruption” crusaders–who totally hate corruption, you guys!–had nothing to say about this rather blatant and widespread case of corruption. I mean, it can’t be because they don’t care about corruption anymore–they keep telling us they do. Their silence really is a mystery.

  19. rustybrown2012 says:

    Cluster says:

    ”Any non partisan and objective analysis would have to include the current Obama drone program wherein jihadists, including jihadists who happen to be American citizens, are targeted by drone missiles and killed without any chance of due process. And killed along with them is anyone unfortunate enough to be standing along side them regardless of their affiliation or innocence. Yet this program is deemed acceptable by those who think torture is making an admitted murderer uncomfortable.

    It’s hard to wrap your mind around that..”

    First of all, Obama’s drone program is not “acceptable” to me or to many on the left, particularly the far left. You’ll have absolutely no trouble finding many harsh criticisms of this program from numerous leftist sources – they’ve been published for years and continue to be published – all while our alleged “Dear Leader” has been sitting in the Oval Office. Cluster is just lying here.

    Secondly, Let me take this opportunity to point out once again what a hypocritical, skeevy weasel Cluster is. He routinely accuses his ideological opponents (us) of hypocrisy (as he does in his post above) and slavering, partisan fealty to our preferred elected officials. He does this constantly, and in terms extreme and insulting. Yet, considering what he wrote above, can somebody please point me to just one single critical post Cluster has written about Bush’s drone program (remember him, the one who started the program?) while Bush was still in office? You can’t, because he didn’t. Yet I can point to several of my posts from the past where I’ve harshly criticized Obama for his continuation of the drone program (among other things); I can even recall referring to him as a war criminal and suggesting prosecution. I, and many on the far left, call them as we see them and are faithful and consistent to our inner values, regardless of who’s in office.

    So who’s the hypocrite? Who’s the “knee-padder”? Who’s the opportunistic liar? Thy name is Cluster, and I’ve just provided some very solid evidence for it. Not too hard to wrap your mind around that.

  20. mitchethekid says:

    Hey guys. remember me?

  21. rustybrown2012 says:

    Cluster says:

    ”I think we can properly blame the left wing of the Democratic Party for the murders of the two NYPD officers.”

    Har har. Gee, I thought conservatives were all about personal responsibility. Might just possibly be the murderer is to blame for his murders – but who am I kidding, I know that’s just a loony left way of looking at things.

    Other gems from Cluster’s moral handbook: People who torture are not responsible for any blowback from torture; those who decry and expose torture are. People who discriminate against homosexuals are not guilty of discrimination; those who take a stand against such discrimination are. People who trample on women’s rights are not guilty of misogyny; those who champion those rights are. Rule of thumb: it’s always a liberal’s fault!

    What a partisan rube. Better stop reading this now, Cluster, so you can get back to listening to Rush – after all, you need to know what to write next.

  22. 02casper says:

    Cluster says:

    “Wouldn’t it be appropriate for you, and people like you, to apologize to Americans for getting everything wrong? How in the world can you live with yourself knowing that the people and the policies you support are so corrupt, so incompetent. and so ineffective? ”

    Why should we apologize for Republicans and their policies? Perhaps cluster and the other members should thank Obama for today’s economy

    • rustybrown2012 says:

      Good point, but don’t hold your breath Casper. Seems like Cluster yearns for the grand old days of the last Republican administration when we were entrenched in pointless wars and leaking 700,000 jobs a month. Any sane, rational person can see this country is far better off now.

  23. 02casper says:

    “Any sane, rational person can see this country is far better off now.”

    Exactly.

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