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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why does the FBI spy on and infiltrate American citizen groups?

... but only when they challenge the status quo?

Isn't that "unAmerican?" And why is it not the lead story in the American media?

"Totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent" is what The Guardian calls it.

Here is part of the story:

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document – reproduced here in an easily searchable format – shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

Read more:

See the documents here:

We've seen this before, no?

Friday, December 28, 2012

OK, OK, now I am done defending officers

I saw this story in the Orlando Sentinel.

As an educator who teaches students who become mostly cops and lawyers, I am now hoping more will turn to law school than to the academy.

Because I am done defending police officers after this. This story shows just how corrupt the practice can be, and how widespread the abuse of power actually is.

So much for the "LAW ENFORCEMENT CODE OF CONDUCT." (google it)

Read this account and try to notice how many officers must be in on this in order for things like this to occur.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Prisoners to be released in North Carolina

How, exactly, does this happen?

A U.S. Justice Department review has identified at least 175 federal prisoners who must be released or resentenced because they have been locked up improperly.

The review, which followed a USA TODAY investigation, found that some of those prisoners shouldn't have been imprisoned because they hadn't committed a federal crime. Others received sentences vastly longer than the law allows.

The problems stem from a misunderstanding about which North Carolina state convictions were serious enough to outlaw gun possession or require extended prison sentences under federal law. The number of prisoners ultimately freed or given shorter sentences is likely to be higher than 175 because the examination by federal prosecutors was confined to the smallest of North Carolina's three U.S. court districts. Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said "many more" cases could be upended when all are reviewed.

So it comes from bad lawyering? In my state.

Ah, North Carolina. Making the news once again for all the wrong reasons.

Here is the rest of the story.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Newtown saying BYE to media

Wish the rest of us could, too.

Of course the risk of not having school violence in the media is that the problem is, once again, just forgotten.

But when there is literally no "new" news to report, what is the point of continuing to talk about the same things, over and over and over as part of the 24 hour news cycle?

According to Yahoo News, "Newtown residents ready to step out of media glare."

But, before you go, care to consider the possible relationship between what happened at the elementary school and the location of this group in your town?

Can you even imagine?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A pretty good article in the news about ...

... what motivates school violence.

Turns out it is hard to predict. Like all criminal behavior.

In criminology, it's called the "prediction problem."

If you're wondering who else in the United States might fit a "profile" of becoming a mass killer, just look around: They are everywhere, and they're most likely harmless. FULL STORY | OPINION: PREDICTING MASS MURDER IS IMPOSSIBLE

BUT, if there is a criticism of this article, it is that it fails to note the clear profile that has emerged in such cases.

Almost universally, these guys are white males, with easy access to guns, in rural areas, that were bullied or tormented, that suffered serious stress or strain in their lives including mental illness, and that told not one but multiple people in advance.

The problem is, most people who fit this profile don't shoot up schools. So how do you stop the one who does?

The only solution is to take them all seriously.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Death and the media: MORE

Remember the post from last week, Why Does How You Die Matter to the Media?

I wrote that the media focus on every victim "whenever there is a senseless tragedy involving violent death at the hands of a 'deranged gunman.'"

Well, unfortunately we're seeing it again this week in the wake of the mindless slaughter of 20 small children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.

You can learn about every victim here:

Vicki Soto "was a hero." Jessica Rekos loved "everything about horses." Emilie Parker "could light up a room." Learn more about the victims. Tributes

Or ...

PROFILES OF THE VICTIMS | PHOTOS: Conn. School Shooting Victims

And on every other network too.

This was a horrible tragedy. And I have kids in public schools around this age, so it is even harder for me than most.

But this case again illustrates what kinds of victims in which the media are most interested. Most get no coverage at all. And this distorts what is actually most dangerous to us and our kids.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Welcome to America


The United States has experienced a number of mass shooting rampages this year, most recently in Oregon, where a gunman opened fire at a shopping mall on Tuesday, killing two people and then himself.
The deadliest attack came in July at a midnight screening of a Batman film in Colorado that killed 12 people and wounded 58.

And then today we get this:

Crystal clear proof how screwed up criminal justice is

Casa Grande invited a private prison firm to help make a high-school marijuana bust. Can you spot the conflict of interest? If not, there is something wrong with your brain!

On 31 October 2012, a group of local law enforcement agencies and approximately 20 trained sniffer dogs descended on the Vista Grande High School in Arizona to perform a drug sweep. The officers and dogs showed up in the early morning and the school was put on lockdown, meaning all of the doors were locked and none of the children was allowed to leave.

According to the school's principal, Tim Hamilton, the dogs did not go near the children, who were made to wait in the hallways for the hour or so that the officers and canines swept through their classrooms. Ultimately, the dogs sniffed out three personal stashes of marijuana, and the three kids who owned these stashes were taken away by the police. Two of the kids have been put on long-term suspension, one has been expelled and all three are facing criminal charges.

Drug sweeps of schools are not uncommon occurrences in the recent past in America, much to the chagrin of civil rights advocates, who see such sweeps as an efficient means of diverting certain kids to prison – in some cases, even before they make it to adolescence, via the much-criticized "school-to-prison pipeline". What was unusual about this particular raid, however, is that, among the team of law enforcement personnel and canines put together by the local Casa Grande police department, there were prison guards employed by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country's largest for-profit prison company, which owns and operates several prisons in the area. CCA was also kind enough to provide their sniffer dogs for the raid.

What's even more unusual about this is that pretty much nobody in a position of authority in and around Casa Grande seems to think there's anything wrong with that.

"To invite for profit prison guards to conduct law enforcement actions in a high school is perhaps the most direct expression of the 'schools-to-prison pipeline' I have ever seen," says Caroline Isaacs of the American Friends Service Committee. Aside from the fact that CCA is a private corporation whose driving goal is to fill more prison beds because that is how it generates revenue for its shareholders, prison guards are neither qualified, nor legally entitled, to take part in law enforcement activities. According the Arizona's administrative code, any individual engaging in the duties of a "peace officer" must obtain certification from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training (Post). Prison guards are not Post-certified by default, because they are not obliged to undertake the necessary training (since it's not their job to go about making arrests).

To make matters worse, CCA's private prison guards are not even Post-certified as correctional officers because they are exempt from the Arizona state standards and training requirements. Despite this, Post's executive director, Lyle Mann, could see no problem with CCA sending its guards and sniffer dogs into the high school. As far as he could see, CCA was just behaving as the good corporate citizen he believes it to be (a view shared by many in Arizona) by helping out its neighbors. This is how Mann explained this view to me:
"CCA is one of the largest employers in the area. They employ more people than anyone I know in the state in that area. They try hard to be a good corporate citizen. They give money to charity, sponsor leukemia runs and other things good corporate citizens should do. So this government entity [the school] asked this good corporate citizen to loan them their tools [the dogs and the prisons guards], which they did, free of charge. The dogs are trained to take part in law enforcement activities; whoever handles the dogs is immaterial. So, although it is correct that those guards are not certified to carry out law enforcement actions, what they did at the school did not really require Post certification. They were just doing what a good corporate citizen should do."
Officer Thomas Anderson, spokesperson for the Casa Grande police department shared the view that it was the dogs' qualification and not the guards who handled them that counted, so there was no issue in his eyes with the prison guards being present at the raid. He also indicated that this was not the only time they have used CCA guards and dogs in local law enforcement operations, but he refused to elaborate.

CCA did not respond to queries regarding how frequently they donate the use of their dogs and guards to local law enforcement efforts, or whether they do, in fact, donate those services free of charge.

In response to CCA's efforts on 31 October 2012 to be a good corporate citizen by sending its sniffer dogs into the local high school, three school kids are now facing drug charges, two for possession of marijuana and one for possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Principal Hamilton believes that two of the kids will probably be sentenced to probation; the other may do jail time.

"In other states, they're legalizing marijuana," says Alex Friedmann, editor of Prison Legal News. "In Arizona, kids are being kicked out of school for possession." While it is, of course, important to keep drugs out of school, surely counseling and intervention would be more appropriate measures than funneling children into prisons and landing them with criminal records.

Sadly, in Casa Grande, the grownups charged with care of these kids care appear to be more concerned about the well-being of CCA, the for-profit prison company and "good corporate citizen", than they are for the children who may end filling CCA's lucrative prison beds.

Major props to the Guardian for sharing this news!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Why does HOW YOU DIE matter to the media?

We see this phenomenon in the news media regularly.

They feature information about innocent people when they die.

Like 9/11, when the New York Times ran a feature on every single known victim.

And whenever there is a senseless tragedy involving violent death at the hands of a "deranged gunman."

Like this:

Why are these victims worthy of national attention  yet so many others are not?

Say the 20,000 that die from defective products.
Or the 50,000 that die from second-hand smoke.
Or the 55,000 that die from hazardous working conditions.

By focusing on some victims but not others, the media determines what we see as "victimization" and what we do not, what we worry about and fear, and what we do not. This helps explain why Americans are so unaware and unconcerned with corporate crime, which is actually far more dangerous than street crime.

And of course they are already trying to figure out his motive. Like there was one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ready for THAT discussion again?

Another mass shooting, committed with an "assault rifle."

More dead innocent people.

So are you ready for more media coverage of this event, for days if not weeks to come?

And yet another discussion of gun control? Here it comes.

A gunman wearing a hockey mask opened fire in a mall near Portland, Oregon, terrifying holiday shoppers. Three people, including the gunman, are dead. FULL STORY | PHOTOS

Police 'tentatively' identify masked gunman in deadly Oregon mall rampage
- VIDEO: 3 dead including gunman in mall shooting

Sheriff: Ore. mall shooting likely was random


But, nothing will change. And here is why.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How come this is only a story on Fox News?

And also, why is it their lead story?

EXCLUSIVE: FEMA Workers Told to
'Sightsee' as Sandy Victims Struggled

Finally, why this quote inside?
'I worked in Katrina and Katrina was run better than Sandy.'
- Anonymous FEMA first responder
Still trying to justify that nightmare?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Remember this crime alert story from yesterday? It came from the ASU Police Department:

At approximately 5:55 pm this evening, a male student reported to ASU Police that he was walking on Holmes Drive when two unknown black male suspects physically knocked him down and stole money from his wallet. The incident occurred at the Holmes Convocation Center near the Faculty Street intersection. The male student reported that there were no weapons involved and the black male suspects fled the area in a red older model Jeep Cherokee. The suspects are described as follows: Suspect 1 is a black male early 20’s approximately 6’0, thin build with short hair wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and jeans; Suspect 2 is a black male early 20’s approximately 6’0, thin build with short hair wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. ASU Police are continuing to investigate the incident.
Read that again, then read this crime alert from the same university:
 Boone Police reported that at approximately 7pm on 11/14/2012, two white males wearing ski masks broke into an apartment located near campus on Coffey Street.  The residents of the apartment reported the intruders attacked them demanding money and drugs.  The residents and neighbors fought off the intruders and were able to subdue one of the attackers until police arrived.  The second suspect escaped and remains at large.

ASU student Travis Dean Edgerton, age 20, from Chapel Hill was arrested and charged with felony burglary, felony attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a deadly weapon.  He is in the Watauga County Detention Center under a $100,000 bond with a December 18, 2012 court date.

The second suspect is described as a white male approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 170lbs.  Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact Boone Police at 828-268-6900.

Notice any difference???

In the first, the offenders are described as black males THREE times ...

1) At approximately 5:55 pm this evening, a male student reported to ASU Police that he was walking on Holmes Drive when two unknown black male suspects physically knocked him down and stole money from his wallet.
2) The male student reported that there were no weapons involved and the black male suspects fled the area in a red older model Jeep Cherokee.
3) The suspects are described as follows: Suspect 1 is a black male early 20’s approximately 6’0, thin build with short hair wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and jeans; Suspect 2 is a black male early 20’s approximately 6’0, thin build with short hair wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. ASU Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

In the second, the offenders are described as white males only twice:
1) Boone Police reported that at approximately 7pm on 11/14/2012, two white males wearing ski masks broke into an apartment located near campus on Coffey Street.
2) The second suspect is described as a white male approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 170lbs.
Notice that the following sentences from the second crime alert did NOT indicate the race or gender of the offenders:
"The residents of the apartment reported the intruders attacked them demanding money and drugs."
"The residents and neighbors fought off the intruders and were able to subdue one of the attackers until police arrived.  The second suspect escaped and remains at large."
So, I ask again, why in the first story are the offenders again identified as black males when doing so adds literally no new information to the crime alert?

In other words, if you're going to say this: "The male student reported that there were no weapons involved and the black male suspects fled the area in a red older model Jeep Cherokee" ... then why not say this: "The residents of the apartment reported the white male intruders attacked them demanding money and drugs" and "The residents and neighbors fought off the white male intruders and were able to subdue one of the attackers until police arrived.  The second suspect escaped and remains at large" ?????

This is a stunning example of how media communications can drop subtle hints about how race is correlated with danger in American society.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Katheryn Russell-Brown coined the term, criminalblackman, to refer to the image of a dangerous person in contemporary America.

As shown in this book, there is ample evidence that the mainstream media disproportionately focus on crimes committed by people of color, especially African Americans.

So when I got this email alert from the university police, it really caught my attention:

Campus Crime Alert
Appalachian State University Police Department
December 2, 2012

At approximately 5:55 pm this evening, a male student reported to ASU Police that he was walking on Holmes Drive when two unknown black male suspects physically knocked him down and stole money from his wallet. The incident occurred at the Holmes Convocation Center near the Faculty Street intersection. The male student reported that there were no weapons involved and the black male suspects fled the area in a red older model Jeep Cherokee. The suspects are described as follows: Suspect 1 is a black male early 20’s approximately 6’0, thin build with short hair wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and jeans; Suspect 2 is a black male early 20’s approximately 6’0, thin build with short hair wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. ASU Police are continuing to investigate the incident.

Anyone with information regarding this or any crime is encouraged to call the ASU Police
Department at (828) 262-2150, or you may also contact
Crimestoppers at (828) 268-6959. If your information leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a reward up to $1000.00.

You may also report crimes anonymously at:
Notification of a serious crime to the campus community is required by federal law.  

It is not the first description of the suspects that caught my attention, not is it the last describing suspects 1 and 2. It is the middle one, saying: "The male student reported that there were no weapons involved and the black male suspects fled the area in a red older model Jeep Cherokee."

Why not just say "there were no weapons involved and the suspects fled the area ..."

Because, yeah, we already know they are black males. So what is the point of saying that again? It's like someone writing this asked himself or herself, "How many times can we say they are black men?"

This is a great example of how race is used in the media to scare people.

If you don't think this has consequences, ask the surviving family members of Trayvon Martin or Jordan Russell Davis.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

BP in the news ...

If you ask a criminologist about BP, he or she might describe the company as a mass murderer (someone who kills more than one person at one time). Or he or she might characterize BP as a serial killer (someone who kills more than one person over a long period of time).

I'd call them a serial mass murderer, since they've killed more than one person at one time, more than once over a long period of time.

Someone like that ought to be in the news. Here's the latest on BP:

  1. White House stops new BP contracts

    The Daily Advertiser-3 hours ago
    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration put a temporary stop to new federal contracts with British oil company BP on Wednesday, citing ...

  2. BP suspended from new government contracts

    USA TODAY-18 hours ago
    U.S. Coast Guard fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the BP operated off shore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon, in the Gulf of ...
  3. Abu Dhabi's Taqa Buys BP North Sea Assets for $1.1 Billion

    Bloomberg-Nov 28, 2012
    Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) bought stakes in North Sea fields for $1.1 billion from BP Plc (BP/), the energy producer that's disposing ...
  4. 3 BP employees arraigned on Gulf oil spill charges

    Businessweek-14 hours ago
    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two BP rig supervisors and a former BP executive pleaded not guilty Wednesday to criminal charges stemming from ...
  5. EPA suspends BP from new federal contracts in wake of oil spill

    Washington Post-13 hours ago
    The Environmental Protection Agency has suspended BP from bidding on any new federal contracts, including drilling leases, as a result of the ...
  6. US bans BP from new government contracts after oil spill deal

    Reuters-13 hours ago
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government banned BP Plc on ... BP and its affiliates are barred from new federal contracts until they ...
  7. BP shut out of US contracts: Feds cite deadly blast, poor response

    Los Angeles Times-by Michael Muskal-18 hours ago
    BP, which has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges in connection with the nation's worst offshore oil spill, was suspended from new ...
  8. 3 from BP plead not guilty in connection with gulf oil disaster

    Los Angeles Times-by Michael Muskal-13 hours ago
    Two BP employees and a former executive pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a variety of charges, including manslaughter and concealing ...
    But there is also this piece of news!

    Energy stocks end higher, BP shares rise

    MarketWatch-50 minutes ago
    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Energy stocks turned higher Wednesday, tracking the broader market and as U.S.-listed shares of BP PLC ...
     So apparently it is not stopping the company from making money. Serial mass murder for profit?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Every once in a while, a person has courage

... and says what he feels to be the truth, RIGHT on the air and RIGHT in your face.

You know the story of the Benghazi attacks. Or at least part of it. You've heard about it in the news, right? If not, GOOGLE it.

And one network has been hyping it over and over and over again, even as the others have let the story go.

So when that network (Fox News) had an interview on Monday with an man who has covered the military for a long time, they probably had no idea he would basically dismiss them as a wing of hte Republican party (his words, not mine).

That interview ended rather abruptly on Monday after he took not one but two jabs at the network hosting him.

Co-anchor Jon Scott interviewed Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Thomas Ricks, who has covered the military for decades, about his new book The Generals. Scott asked Ricks weigh in on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and Sen. John McCain's criticisms of Amb. Susan Rice.

"I think Benghazi was generally hyped by this network especially," Ricks said. He added that he thought McCain seemed to be "backing off" from criticizing Rice since "the campaign [was] over."

"When you have four people dead for the first time in more than 30 years, how do you call that hype?" Scott said, pushing back against Ricks' characterization of the network's coverage.

Ricks compared the situation to security contractors who were killed in Iraq. He described the attack in Benghazi as a "small fire-fight" and added, "I think the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox is operating as the wing of the Republican Party."

At that point, Scott thanked Ricks for his time and ended the interview after about 90 seconds.

UPDATE: According to the New York Times' Brian Stelter, a Fox News staffer told Ricks he was rude following the interview. Ricks said that he thinks the hit lasted "about half as long as planned."

Watch it here:

Monday, November 26, 2012

What does Bangladesh and a fire have to do with criminal justice?

Nothing, unless you are thinking critically.

So did you hear about the huge fire that killed more than 100 people in Bangladesh the other day?

Here is the story:

The 100-plus workers who died in a fire late Saturday at a high-rise garment factory in Bangladesh were working overtime making clothes for major American retailers, including Wal-Mart, according to workers' rights groups.

Officials in Bangladesh said the flames at the Tazreen Fashions factory outside Dhaka spread rapidly on the ground floor, trapping those on the higher floors of the nine-story building. There were no exterior fire escapes, according to officials, and many died after jumping from upper floors to escape the flames.

As firemen continued to remove bodies Sunday, officials said at least 112 people had died but that the number of fatalities could go higher.

The Tazreen fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 workers, many making clothes for U.S. consumers, have died in factory fires in the past five years. As previously reported by ABC News, Bangladesh has some of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable working conditions.

Got that?

You go shopping for cheap crap and people DIE as a result.

That seems like news to me. Props to ABC and Yahoo News for covering this story ...

READ the original ABC News report.

"The industry and parent brands in the U.S. have been warned again and again about the extreme danger to workers in Bangladesh and they have not taken action," said Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, an American group working to improve conditions at factories abroad that make clothes for U.S. companies. Nova said the fire was the most deadly in the history of the Bangladesh apparel industry, and "one of the worst in any country."


WATCH the 'Nightline' report on deadly factories.

 Workers' activists went into the burned-out remains today to document which major retailers were using the Tazreen factory.

They say they found labels for Faded Glory, a Wal-Mart private label, along with labels they said traced back to Sears and a clothing company owned by music impresario Sean "Diddy" Combs.

"There's no question that Wal-Mart and the other customers at this factory bear some blame for what happened in this factory," Nova said.

Nova also said that Wal-Mart "knew exactly what's going on at these facilities. They have staff on site in Bangladesh."

Wal-Mart actually warned of dangerous conditions at the Tazreen factory last year, in a letter posted online by the factory owner.

Wal-Mart told ABC News that the company has not yet been able to confirm that it was still making clothes at the factory.

In a statement, Wal-Mart told ABC News, "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragedy. ... [F]ire safety is a critically important area of Wal-Mart's factory audit program and we have been working across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh.

"As part of this effort, we partnered with several independent organizations to develop and roll out fire safety training tools for factory management and workers. Continued engagement is critical to ensure that reliable, proactive measures are in place to reduce the chance of factory fires. "
In a statement, Sears disputed reports by activists that it sources clothes from the Tazreen facility. 

"Our thoughts are with the victims of this tragedy," said the statement. "We can also confirm that Sears Holdings does not source from this factory."

"In addition, Sears recognizes that fire safety is a critical international issue that we intend to address through specialized training for management in those factories that produce merchandise for Sears Holdings."

Worker Rights Consortium said that numbers of the labels of garments found in the factory could be traced back to Sears.

A spokesperson for Combs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

What do you think? Still want to shop at Wal-Mart?


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy holidays!

First, a national conference.

And now the holidays.

Eventually I'll be back!

It's not anything is happening. Well, except for the death of the US Constitution. ...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why some Americans are actually shocked about the election

I closely followed the news heading into the recent elections, like I always do. And so I knew there was actually a very good chance Barack Obama would be re-elected President. By election day, the odds were better than 90%, according to statistical wizard and New York Times blogger Nate Silver over at

His predictions were based largely on polling data in the battleground states, those handful of states that could go either way (since most are very stable and reliably go one way or the other). Maybe this is why?

Slave holding states and Republican voting states today: Nearly identical

But anyway, back to the point ... those polls in the battleground states were almost universally pointing to Obama wins in all of them, with the only exception in North Carolina and perhaps Florida. Obama would end up winning all of those states, except North Carolina, and is leading by a tiny margin in Florida with 99% of the votes counted.

So, the only people who could have been surprised by this are those that were not paying attention.

Or, perhaps, those getting their news from organizations that were not paying attention.

Take Fox News and talk radio, for example. As you may know, I listen to Rush Limbaugh, so I know he was predicting a huge Romney win. So too was Sean Hannity on his radio show, as were all the guests he has on his show. And then these are talking heads like Dick Morris on Fox News who were also confidently predicting not only a Romney win but a huge win.

In fact, all these folks said there were three possibilities on election night: A huge Romney win, a small Romney win, or a small Obama win. No one in these organizations was saying Obama could win big. Which he did.

Why? The answer is simple. They dismissed the polling data, attacked it, and relied on internal polling data produced by Republican operatives. They insisted that their people were being under-polled and would actually show up in higher numbers than Democrats. But, they were wrong. Very very wrong.

Yesterday, the day after the election, Rush Limbaugh actually said that no one saw this coming and no one could have seen it coming because the only thing that showed that this could happen was the polls! But then he went on to dismiss the polls because, according to him, they showed the two candidates were tied (which they did not). Of course, many people saw this coming and boldly predicted it online (see Nate Silver).

So we've arrived at a point in time when some people are getting their information (the point of the news) from sources that are not only biased but also factually inaccurate. The minimum cost of this is a group of miserable people who end up gullible and easily distracted and even misled.

This has enormous consequences for our nation and the policies we create or don't create to try to solve our problems. And much of the problem can be blamed on for-profit news organizations.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It's election day and ...

... this is the lead story on Fox News right now:

GOP officials booted, Black Panthers return — and Obama at polling site?

  • New Black Panthers Return to Scene of 2008 Polling Station Confrontation
  • First Election Day Votes Cast as Romney Battles on, Obama Goes Home
  • PREDICT THE ELECTION: Take Your Best Shot at Predicting the Final Electoral Map | VIDEO: Electoral Map Still in Play
  • North Carolina Poll Worker Allegedly Tells People to Vote Democrat | US Election Closely Watched Abroad
  • Election Day User's Manual | Unions Under Fire for Voter Roll Allegations | OPINION: Vote Comes With Responsibility
  • Oregon Elections Worker Fired After Allegations of Ballot Tampering | Biden to Run in 2016? | CANDIDATE TRACKER
  • THE COUNTRY DECIDES: Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly Bring You Complete Election Night Coverage Starting at 6PM ET

  • So let's get this straight, according to Fox, there are allegations of irregularities on election day, and ALL of them are against Democrats or people who vote Democratic.

    But don't worry, because on the same website, Fox News has its bias alert ready to go:

    Campaign 2012 Coverage Unequal — and Unfair?

  • OPINION: Media Makes Outrageous Romney Claims Days Before Election
  • FOX BUSINESS OPINION: America... Let's Not Wreck It

  • But the problem is, the only bias they see is that against their chosen candidate.

    This is supposed to be a news organization!

    You think they will ever turn their bias alert on themselves?

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Should this be a crime???

    David Frum says the voting system gives too much power to local authorities and political parties, leading to a chaotic process. FULL STORY | ELECTION OVER? NOT SO FAST | CHALLENGES | ZELIZER: IF IT'S CLOSE, WATCH OUT

    Have you seen what is going on in Florida? 7 hour long lines to vote.

    By design it turns out. The plan of a Governor who wants to reduce the number of people who vote. See?

    Monday, October 29, 2012

    Think a "MONSTER storm" takes crime out of the news?

    Wrong ...

    CNN calls it a "Monster storm." And yet on its website here are some of the other lead stories:

    See? Bad stuff. Random stuff. Accidents. Violence. Dead people. That's still the news.

    Fox News calls it a monster storm too. But their lead stories are political, and of course, not biased at all.

    Cartels, Lawmaker Warns

    Lebanese terror group, whose leader is shown above, is gaining a larger presence in Mexico, lawmaker says

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

    Blog closed for international travel!

    Hey, I am going to SOUTH KOREA to deliver a talk to the Korean National Police University.

    So the blog will be closed until Monday, October 29th.

    See you on the other side of this incredible trip!

    Sunday, October 14, 2012

    New movie questions war on drugs

    ... one of its main proponents is actor Brad Pitt.

    The documentary claims the war on drugs has cost more than $1 trillion, has accounted for over 45 million arrests since 1971, and that it preys largely on poor and minority communities.
    According to Pitt: "I know people are suffering because of it. I know I've lived a very privileged life in comparison and I can't stand for it. ... It's such bad strategy. It makes no sense. It perpetuates itself. You make a bust, you drive up profit, which makes more people want to get into it. To me, there's no question; we have to rethink this policy and we have to rethink it now."
    Yeah, you think? My own analysis shows the war to fail to meet its goals (consistently) and to impose fr more costs on society than benefits. So, it is a failing policy.
    It's nice that a documentary company is calling attention to it, and that the New York Times is as well.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Media FINALLY telling us implications of the election

    Obviously, the upcoming elections are in the news. Everywhere. Every day.

    But I'm not sure we're learning much other than what we want to learn about the candidates we already support.

    But today, there is a great article from Yahoo News about the possible implications of the presidential election for the US Supreme Court.

    This is refreshing. Perhaps we'll think long and hard about it before we vote.

    Whoever wins the election this fall may be in a position to radically change the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court, a legacy that far outlasts a four-year term. On Wednesday, the nine justices will hear oral arguments over whether and in what ways universities can use the race of applicants as a deciding factor in admissions. Just nine years ago, the Court upheld race in admissions in a 5-4 vote when swing justice Sandra Day O'Connor joined the liberal wing of the court for the decision. 

    O'Connor has since been replaced by the much more conservative Samuel Alito, and some judicial experts think the relatively recent decision will be reversed, displaying how quickly court nominations have consequences on the law.

    President Barack Obama has already appointed two new justices to the Court and, if he's reelected, he'll most likely get at least one more crack at it. There are currently four justices in their seventies on the aging Supreme Court, and three of them are within four years of 79, the average age at which justices have retired since 1970.

    As we wrote last week, Romney would be in a better position to drastically reshape the court if he is elected, because the oldest justice right now is the liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 79. Romney would choose a conservative-leaning justice to replace her, shifting the makeup of the court so that conservatives have six votes and liberals just three. Ginsburg has hinted she will step down when she's 82, which would be during the next presidential term.

    If Ginsburg retires, Obama will almost certainly replace her with another liberal justice and the court will remain split between four reliably liberal justices and four even more reliably conservative justices, with Justice Anthony Kennedy swinging between them, but more often siding with conservatives. Obama's earlier two Supreme Court appointments kept the status quo: He replaced two retiring liberal justices with people of a similar ideological bent, leaving the balance of the court unchanged.

    But two of Ginsburg's conservative colleagues are not far behind her in age, which means it's possible that Obama would be in a position to replace Antonin Scalia or Anthony Kennedy, both 76, or Clarence Thomas, 74.
    If Obama is able to replace Kennedy, a moderate conservative, or the very conservative justices Scalia or Thomas, the court's ideological make up would change dramatically.

    A left-leaning court could alter laws on same-sex marriage, gun rights, affirmative action, campaign finance, property and a whole host of other legal issues we might not even know about yet.
    And such a move would have major consequences. Geoffrey Stone, the former dean of the University of Chicago Law School, found that if a liberal judge had replaced one of the four most conservative judges starting in 2002, the liberal wing of the court would have won 17 out of the 18 most important Supreme Court cases over the past ten years, including Citizens United, which struck down campaign finance reform laws. Meanwhile, if a conservative judge had replaced one of the liberals, the conservative wing would have won 16 out of the 18 cases, including the health care reform case.

    But first, the president would have to get such a person nominated--and it might not be an easy task. The Supreme Court confirmation process has become bitterly polarized in recent years, says Stone. Obama's first two nominees--Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor--both received an average of 35 "no" votes in the Senate, even though they were nominated to replace judges of a similar ideological bent, and were both widely regarded as qualified for the job. In the past, such nominations sailed through, attracting an average of only three "no" votes, Stone says.

    With the stakes so high on altering the makeup of the court, confirmation fights could get ugly. "There's a pretty good chance that the minority of the opposing party would do everything they could to prevent a shift," Stone said.

    This suggests that the president could receive an all-out rejection from the Senate if he replaces a conservative justice with a liberal one in a second term. If that happens, Obama may be forced to look for a "stealth" candidate, one who has a thin judicial record on constitutional issues, to squeeze him or her through the confirmation process. Stone describes the perfect under-the-radar candidate as "somebody who everybody agrees is competent but nobody knows anything about." This approach can backfire on the president, however. Think about Justice David Souter. President George H.W. Bush nominated this stealth candidate to replace the court's liberal leader, William J. Brennan, without knowing where Souter stood on abortion, affirmative action and other issues. Soon after his confirmation, Souter defected from the conservative wing of the court, disappointing many on the right.

    Obama's short list will most certainly be skewed toward female candidates, especially if Ginsburg retires on the president's watch. "There will be real pressure to appoint another woman on the court so there's no backsliding there," says Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. Diane Wood, a judge on the 7th Circuit, has been rumored to be on Obama's short list in the past, but she will be 62 this year. Presidents generally aim to nominate someone in their late 40s or early 50s for the spot, to maximize the length of their tenure.

    Jacqueline Nguyen, a recent Obama appointee to the 9th Circuit Court, might fit the bill. She's in her late 40s, and also doesn't have an extensive paper trail on controversial constitutional issues. Nguyen also would be the first Asian-American on the court if nominated. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and California Attorney General Kamala Harris are also rumored picks. But both women would have to be willing to give up their promising political careers to take the posts. (Harris would be the first black woman ever appointed to the court.)

    Paul Jeffrey Watford, another recent Obama appointee to the 9th Circuit who is in his 40s, might also be considered.

    It's a guessing game that Supreme Court watchers will continue to play until there's a nominee. And one with significant consequences: Whoever makes the final cut, on either side of the aisle, could alter the Court for years to come.

    [Related: Meet the Supreme Court justices]