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In Secretly Recorded Phone Calls, Officers Say Innocent People Were Framed (gothamist.com)
598 points by danso 35 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 293 comments

> Caught on tape by a whistleblower cop, the officers said they witnessed or took part in alarming acts of police misconduct, from framing and beating residents to collaborating with drug dealers, all as part of a culture of impunity within the department’s narcotics unit.

Probably the single most effective thing to reduce police abuse in America would be to end the war on drugs and decriminalize drugs.

No-knock warrants were originally used to try to catch drug dealers before they could flush the drugs down the toilet.

Civil forfeiture was originally created to try to take money from drug dealers.

The war on drugs has taken a wrecking ball to the Fourth Amendment restrictions on search and seizure.

Police brutality videos on twitter have left most of us, even in the developing world, in utter shock.

I am in Bangalore, India

For most of us in developing world, US has been a model state - with problems yes. But a great example nevertheless.

For God's sake, WE were supposed to be a third world country, always looked at with sympathy in popular media (usually grossly incorrect depiction though)

In India, civil unrest is common, and has increased over the past decade. Cops know one thing very very clearly - they are outnumbered. If civilians start to become violent, it will be impossible to control them.

So they stand down.

I have read umpteen number of articles talking about how policing could be improved in the US, from removing powerful weapons to changing the training programs.

I feel that the solution is probably simple - sensitisation to the fact that they are outnumbered. If war mentality is what they get into the field with, better factor everything in.

No army in the world engages with a superior force unprovoked.

People, the citizens, ARE the most superior force - not just morally, but Truly . F*ing . Practically.

This equation changes when the police are militarized. In the wake of the War on Terror, it is now a common occurrence for police departments around the US to purchase excess or outdated equipment from the military. They are allowed to use chemical warfare against civilians in ways that wouldn't be allowed in actual combat. They have electrical equipment that can track or jam civilians' phones. They have literal tanks. The list goes on and on. Even if civilians outnumber the police, there would be a mass slaughter of civilians if it came to all out combat.

> They have electrical equipment that can track or jam civilians phones.

A thought popped into my head as I read this, how would the founders apply the right to keep and bear arms today? Would it extend to digital weaponry? Both offensive and defensive?

The question is interesting, but any answer is more projection of one's beliefs than any actual grounding in reliable fact.

In the context of the 18th century, the forces that a government could bring to bear would either be a centralized army (that would take months to get anywhere in what is now the US, due to its large size), or the very localized militia forces, which would be responsible for local defense until the regular army could arrive. In the specific context of the US, the main threats would have been Indian raids and slave revolts, where immediate action from local militia would have been essential for response. One of the pivotal events of the American Revolution was the British attempt to disarm the Massachusetts local militias, and it's my belief that this is why the Second Amendment is worded the way it is.

At the same time, we must recognize that our modern world is alien to those who lived 200 years ago. Services once provided by a collective civic obligation (such as the militias of that period) are now institutions provided by the government or by private individuals under contract of the government. And the realistic threats we face are vastly different. I imagine that given these circumstances, they would take a much narrower view of Second Amendment, casting it more as a right to personal self-defense rather than a right to private military rebellion against the government acting unlawfully.

>casting it more as a right to personal self-defense rather than a right to private military rebellion against the government acting unlawfully.

Then again, it might be hard to drum up support for a ban on rebellions, among people who were at the time in the middle of a rebellion.

By the time the Bill of Rights was written, the rebellion had been over for years. The American revolution ended in 1783[1], whereas the Bill of Rights wasn't written until 1789[2].

That's not to say they might not have been sympathetic to rebellion still, but they definitely weren't "in the middle of" one. Note that Washington himself literally led the American military against a rebellion during his presidency[3].

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolution [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights [3]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion

The Confederate States (during the American Civil War) prohibited states from seceding... and this was only a few months after they had seceded from the US!

I imagine that support would have been quickly reestablished amongst people making the laws once they got a grip on power.

> how would the founders apply the right to keep and bear arms today?

Not as fundamentally a right to keep countermeasures (whether classical weapons or alternative devices) to militarized standing police forces, because that is completely missing the point of the RKBA.

The RKBA exists and was seen as vital to the security of free states because the existence of a universal, well-equipped citizen militia was the thing which made it possible for the citizenry to demand that the government over which they had democratic control not hire large standing internal and external (which ultimately end up as backstop internal) security forces in the first place — because those were seen as fundamentally incompatible with liberty — but instead rely on small cadre forces plus mobilizing the civilian militia for internal and external security. The founders wrote quite a bit based on the dangers of standing armies, but they didn't write a prohibition into th Constitution, just provided the tools that they saw as making standing armies unnecessary. They didn't write as much about standing paramilitary police forces because at the time of the founding those weren't a thing, but pretty much every concern they expressed about standing armies applies to paramilitary police forces, which are just standing armies that are exclusively deployed internally for use against the citizenry, with additional force.

Well encryption was already ruled as munitions previously, though restrictions have lapsed a bit.


So I assume you have a right to bear encryption and related tools. Thank 2A for your iPhone ;)

It would depend on which corporations owned the founders

Traditional arms still work fine for keeping the police at bay, provided you and your friends have enough of them.

The most powerful thing civilians could do, but it would require nearly 100% participation, is just stop working. Everyone, everywhere. It would be painful, but nothing strong comes without pain.

This seems like an interesting idea, citizens could do things that are legal and peaceful but which convey a strong message. Other examples might be to stop buying, driving minimum speed everywhere (though you might still get ticketed for blocking traffic), submitting complaints, turning off services for a month, living without using power for a while (difficult but possible), and making telephone calls.

What else is within the power of people to control themselves in a legal and peaceful fashion? One thing business and government really does not like is uncertainty and it doesn't take much random disruption to mess with plans, especially now when things are already messed up. It would have to be something people can easily do, without much impact to themselves, that a lot of people will agree to do, which will have a noticeable impact on a sector that has been behaving badly. Company/product bans have been attempted without much success, but if people are motivated perhaps it is possible. It would essentially be citizens going on strike. It doesn't necessarily have to be directly related to the bad actor. I'm not sure there is a way citizens could strike against the police since few people usually interact with the police on a daily basis, but they might strike against government with the stated goal of changing governments oversight of the police.

There have got to be lots of ways the police, government, and business rely on ordinary people. That reliance is power and in many cases it would be legal, legitimate and peaceful to exercise that power.

American military doctrine is about being the superior force via tactics and equipment, being able to easily dispatch a larger or less trained enemy.

American policing has inherited this idea.

Too bad they didn't inherit the training and rules of engagement to go with it.

For a hilarious contrast, I once witnessed an example of "police brutality" in Delhi... a police officer pulled over a car with four guys inside. I don't speak Hindi so I don't know what he was saying, but the four guys piled out of the car, threw the cop against the car and threatened him until he literally just ran away.

Police may be outnumbered but the US already called in the military in many cities.

- US Police: 1.2 million full-time or part-time [1]

- US Military: 1.29 million active [2]

- US Population: 329.74 million [3]

I believe they're outnumbered by about 131 to 1.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_enforcement_in_the_United_...

[2]: https://www.cfr.org/article/demographics-us-military

[3]: https://www.census.gov/popclock/

Most of that military/police population are adult physically able males. The regular population is everyone, if you constrained that population to males/females 18-60 then subtracted the military/police numbers, you’d be closer. It’s probably more like 150:1. Also consider all those officers know how to use weapons, have certain training, it starts to get closer than you think.

We have too many police and active military and too many things are illegal that shouldn’t be. The problem is that the military is basically welfare for small towns and southern states.

> The problem is that the military is basically welfare for small towns and southern states.

Bingo. I served for the financial incentives (though I enlisted from a misguided sense of patriotism immediately after 9/11). My father, my brother, aunts and uncles, and even cousins who served; All of us from small rural towns in the midwest. I needed to obtain the means to pursue higher education and this was my path. What you so succinctly said here is completely spot on.

> The problem is that the military is basically welfare for small towns and southern states.

When I read comments like these, I get a little bit sad. What is it about the ease of communication that the internet enables that people think its ok to say such things? Is this what bravery is in the 21st century? This is a perversion of honesty and people wonder why there is so much division! Our forbears had it right, it really isn't everything that you think that you should say out loud.

Sure the OP is generalizing, but I don’t think the US military is seen in a positive light.

We spend an insane amount of GDP on the military complex. We know for sure military strikes have killed many civilians in other countries. Now with the President’s orders of “Dominate the battle space”, the Military with the police is hurting their own citizens.

It’s not about Bravery, the individual soldiers could be brave, but they’re still following directions of superior leaders with personal selfish motives.

The military and police are supposed to protect their country and citizens. They are doing the opposite. I don’t respect them.

My statement wasn't in defense of the military. Rather it was a defense of my fellow citizens in the south who were unfairly characterized in the parent comment.

Because it's true. The US military is primarily a jobs program. Very few join because they're brave, most join because joining will pay for college and improve your future job prospects. They're forced to become brave, to avoid poverty.

Normally, I'm a fan of doing the math...

Subtract the population that supports the current police's actions. And the (large majority, I'd guess) that don't care. And the ones that can't physically get involved or won't. Then add a force multiplier for superior training, tactics, organization, and equipment.

The result is not a pretty calculation.

It's bound to be 50/50, full on confusion, Putin chuckling while 120 guns per 100 people do the job. Instead you can confront the bully. It's been done before.

> Civil forfeiture was originally created to try to take money from drug dealers.

I agree with your premise, but this statement is incorrect. Civil forfeiture originated from the British Navigation Acts of the mid 1600s. It continued to be accepted practice in the US after the revolution, and was relied on during Prohibition as a tool against bootleggers much as it's used against drug dealers now. Usage has certainly escalated due to the war on drugs, but it's not where it originated from.

prohibition was just an earlier battle in the larger war on drugs as far as i’m concerned

Before the Harrison narcotic act in 1914 there was never such a thing as an "illegal drug" there were laws about adultering products with poison but the concept of illegal drugs or a "war on drugs" didn't exist before 1914 in the US.

I am not sure how addicts were treated by law enforcement historically but would be curious to hear about that. Just my own intuition says they probably were treated under existing vagrancy laws "Vagrancy laws took myriad forms, generally making it a crime to be poor, idle, dissolute, immoral, drunk, lewd, or suspicious."

Think about all the industries that profit from drug enforcement, incarcerating otherwise harmless citizens committing victimless "crimes". And where would hand-me-downs from the federal armed forces go!? Lots of cash cows...

Commercial for profit prisons are a huge problem. Huge. There is a whole lot of sentencing and prison reform that needs to be taking place, particularly for non-violent crimes.

The focus on "for profit" prisons is such a disappointing distraction.

The prison guard union is one of the most powerful lobbyist groups in California (and significant in the US as a whole) and has all the same perverse incentives as private prisons.

If you want to really address the problems, the prison guard union and police unions are literally 100x more powerful and impactful to laws and policies, and their PR teams love it that the internet stays distracted by the 8.2% of prisoners who are housed in privately-run prisons.

100% agree. Correctional Corporations of America and its prison wage labor model are just terrible. It obviously incentivizes excessive law-making to fill cell beds while those who are part of the establishment such as judges and lawyers become a separate social class with more power which is backwards.

It's possible the 'war on drugs' was an excuse used to establish those capabilities. I think it's telling that the DEA has been given the authority to take part in other enforcement actions on a temporary basis in response to the current protests. The agency could easily shift focus to e.g. human trafficking and continue unabated post-legalization.

There is only so much human trafficking one can do.

I don’t see anything with the potential production volume of what is, essentially, a foodstuff (cheap to produce and consumed multiple times a day, every day). Scaling down would be inevitable at the first sign of economic crisis, in the same way the defense sector was hit significantly post-89.

The point is that there's plenty of illegal behavior and only so many enforcement resources (which is by design right?) so we don't need to be worried for the officer's jobs, they can just switch to new legal focus area de jour.

It's awfully hard to retrain a cop to be a forensic accountant. The judicialbranch has been failing to undertake anything but token measures against white collar crimes. Actual police work against white collar criminals is not as easy as coercing a junkie into selling felonious amounts of a plant by product or made in a bath tub chemical.

I’m honestly pretty pissed off with the Democrats picking a candidate that’s not pro legalization.

The one alternative we have to the republicans is just doing the same crap.

Democrats haven’t had the courage to take a real position for a long time. Their program is basically to run as the slightly better Republicans.

Obama wrote a really nice article a few days ago. But when he was running things he basically did nothing to improve the situation although the issues with police were well known.

Obama's AG Eric Holder "barred state and local police from using federal law to seize cash and other property without criminal charges or warrants."

"Since 2008, thousands of police agencies had made more than 55,000 seizures of cash and property worth $3 billion under a Justice Department civil asset forfeiture program, which allowed local and state police to make seizures and then share the proceeds with federal agencies."

Jeff Sessions reversed this policy in 2017[0]. Eric Holder described it as an "extremist action." [1]

"A Washington Post investigation[2] in 2014 found that state and local police had seized almost $2.5 billion from motorists and others without search warrants or indictments since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Post series revealed that police routinely stopped drivers for minor traffic infractions, pressed them to agree to searches without warrants and seized large amounts of cash when there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Police then spent the proceeds from the seizure with little oversight, according to the Post investigation. In some cases, the police bought luxury cars, high-powered weapons and armored cars."

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessi...

[1] https://twitter.com/EricHolder/status/887070460306915328

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/collection/s...

So after 6 years at his position, Holder put restrictions on a certain type of civil asset forfeiture that was (according to the article you linked to) "a small total of assets seized by federal authorities, so the overall impact on forfeiture practices was relatively muted." It's not nothing, but I don't think it does much to contradict the parent comments remark about Democrats being slightly better Republicans.

I think one of the big problems with these systemic problems is that the partisan nature of American politics makes most people blind to the failures of "their team." Any failure is handwaved away, excuses are made, and nothing gets done. The only answer seems to be "vote for my team," even after decades of doing that have failed to make the changes that people want.

“So after 6 years at his position, Holder put restrictions on a certain type of civil asset forfeiture“

It’s the same with a lot of rules that Trump revoked and people are outraged about. A lot of them were put in at the end of the Obama administration’s term.

>I don't think it does much to contradict the parent comments remark about Democrats being slightly better Republicans.

I understand an opinion that the parties are very similar on important issues.

However, the parent also said "when [obama] was running things he basically did nothing to improve the situation although the issues with police were well known."

It is up to an individual to decide if Holder's directive on civil seizure amounted to "basically nothing." The fact is an attempt was made. I know of the above, because I was paying attention at the time.

It is also worth mentioning Obama ordered the phasing out of private contractors to run federal prisons. This was also overturned by Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration[0]

I have been somewhat disillusioned in retrospect by the actual change Obama was able to accomplish, given just how good his image is broadly as a President. I have very particular concerns unrelated to LE I won't address here.

However, it is important that people know that Obama at least spoke about his concerns with the criminal justice system and that his administration did in fact do stuff in attempt to accomplish reform.

As a more material evidence of contrast between the Democratic and Republican parties regarding criminal justice, I point to a Harvard Law Review article by Barack Obama written in January of 2017, titled "The President's Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform."[2]

This essay is made up of four parts:

I. The Urgent Need for Reform

II. Reforming the Federal Criminal Justice System

III. Tools and Actions to Drive State and Local Reforms

IV. Work Unfinished

The article features citings throughout and is demonstration of the level of thought Obama had put into reform, and what he was willing to put on the record regarding his intent and where he came up short.

Six months after this essay was published, Donald Trump, President of the United States and leader of the Republican Party told police not to worry about injuring suspects during arrests. [3]

I can understand frustration with the pace of police, (or more broadly criminal justice,) reform under Obama's eight year term. However, there is obvious, enormous difference between these very influential leaders of these parties.

For me, it is not about my team or their team it is about the actual communications and actions (small or large) made by leadership of these teams. I am impatient for change yet recognize on big issues change is often gradual. (such as decriminalization and legalization of marijuana)

In the absence of successful attempts to disrupt the entire system and failure of reform candidates to break through on the democratic side. It is very important to know that there is a difference between these parties.

[0] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/obama-administration-end...

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-prisons-idUSKBN1622NN

[2] https://harvardlawreview.org/2017/01/the-presidents-role-in-...

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/07/2...

The federal government stopped giving the police military weapons. They also had consent degrees with several departments that helped improve things.

These and others are all things the current administration has reversed and is almost certainly playing a huge role into why things have gotten so bad.

They were giving weapons to... someone though?

Seems I remember Republicans going on and on about that to this day. Fast and Furious something?

Fast and Furious was a DEA operation to allow gun dealers to sell weapons to straw purchasers in the U.S., knowing and hoping they'd go to Mexican cartels, allowing them to legally go after the cartels.

The Obama admin was responsible in "the buck stops here" sense, but this wasn't about admin policy.

You're thinking of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATF_gunwalking_scandal

It started in 2006 under Bush and continued under Obama.

  It started in 2006 under Bush
That very Wikipedia link clearly affirms that the operation that came to be known as Fast and Furious began in October 2009.

It's literally in the first sentence of the article: between 2006 and 2011. The initiative ran from 2006-2011. Operation Wide Receiver was the first operation that ran 2006-2008. Operation Fast & Furious was a subset that ran 2009-2011.

This information is readily seen by anyone who actually clicks the link.

Regardless, the facts are not political no matter how much you may want to make them. The initiative began under the Bush admin and continued under Obama. Arguably, neither had much to do with it as it was mostly the work of the ATF and its leadership.

The Obama administration was supportive of consent decrees which force reforms (with penalties) on otherwise recalcitrant police departments. The current justice department will not such consent decrees, and this is exactly the wall we in Minnesota are going to run into As we attempt to force change on our police department.

> The current justice department will not such consent decrees

Well, plus the current administration outright abandoned investigations and publicly stated that it opposed the idea of investigating local law enforcement for systematic issues. It's not just an issue of neglecting an important tool of enforcement when the department now fairly overtly opposes the idea of enforcement.

Can't Minneapolis do its own investigation? And institute the reforms it needs?

To the extent that it is a systemic problem in Minneapolis, self-investigation would be compromised. Could Ferguson have investigated itself? Sure, and it did. Unsurprisingly, that investigation by the system that the federal investigations found deeply and thoroughly broken somehow missed the problems with the same system that the federal investigation found.

But, yes, and the State of Minnesota could also investigate.

Hire outside investigators, appoint/deputize independent lawyers to be special prosecutors, etc.

Most states of cities with police problems have very strong civil rights laws (often stronger than federal protections) -- they have the legal tools to make real change happen.

They don't need the DOJ to fix their problems. Relying on the DOJ makes sense if the local government is supportive of the bad policing -- like back in the civil rights/segregation era. Some states would not comply so the feds had to make things happen. You don't have that situation today.

> Hire outside investigators, appoint/deputize independent lawyers to be special prosecutors, etc.

And if it's a systemic problem in the local government, both the choices of the “independent” investigators and the shopping of their remit, and the decision of whether to do it at all will be affected by the systemic problem.

> Most states of cities with police problems have very strong civil rights laws (often stronger than federal protections.

Which helps not at all when the people and institutions responsible for enforcing the law are part of the problem.

Again, the problem is that localities with systemic police problems almost by definition lack the will to investigate and fix those problems.

It looks like the Minneapolis City Council is up for election next year? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis_City_Council)

If everyone hasn't forgotten all about this by that time, you could make police reform a major election issue. And then hold them to it.

But, odds are, everyone will have forgotten by then.

Vote those people out then. I know it is easier said than done, but I don't hear too many calling for the mayor of Minneapolis or city council members to be recalled.

Someone in the staff advocated for the current police contract, why not start by firing them?

Or maybe the problem is not as important to local progressive governments as it is being to made out to be?

That is happening.

Minneapolis controls its own police force, why do the progressives that run that town need the DOJ to step in?

Put the reforms in the next contract. Set training and certification standards that exclude bad or lazy cops. Take the cops guns away, or whatever.

Blaming the federal government for local police problems in cities like Minneapolis does not make sense.

It’s not blame. It’s just another step of the process.

We have a long history of empowering and protecting police - both culturally and legally. There are limits to what that process youdescribed will allow. The police department/union will never enact certain reforms or give up certain powers willingly, so they won’t make it into the contract. The state government leadership will investigate/demand reforms/potentially file civil rights violations against the police department - but if the department is obstinate in the face of those changes - the federal government has stronger incentives to enact reforms that the community, the governor, and the legislature want.

I don't get it, if the police are an existential problem, fire them all and do a reset.

Who is protecting them?

Do you not believe that the federal government has a role to play in helping solve significant state level issues?

I mean - I’m pro-cop. I have police officers in my family, and I wish the solutions were as straightforward as you seem to believe everything they are; however, the fact that we have the same reoccurring concerns - year after year, decade after decade - strongly suggests that this is not easy or straightforward.

Certainly, federal intervention made a lot of sense during the Jim crow/segregation/civil rights era where state and local governments deliberately defied federal law.

Here, this is not happening. The local governments that harbor bad police want police reform. I believe they have plenty of power to do that.

Well - I hope you’re right.

You can’t literally fire all the police in a city, without at least significant state support. You do need someone to respond to emergencies/keep peace.

I never liked the sound of consent decrees. It sounded too much a decree as in dictatorship but 'orwellianized' to pass the smell test in a nominal democracy.

But this is the same pattern where the executive branch just takes ever more power for themselves, under a belief that it will be wielded appropriately. The Obama administration could have prosecuted fully and given the corrupt police departments and officers definite punishments, instead of putting a settlement leash on them that just got handed off to the next President to be let go of.

> But when he was running things he basically did nothing to improve the situation although the issues with police were well known.

How can you be so spectacularly uninformed to say this?

Many other responses have pointed out the multitude of actions Obama took, yet you believe Obama "did nothing" simply because you did not put the slightest effort into finding out what he did or didn't do, and what maybe he tried to do but was blocked by Congress or courts or other government actors.

I really believe our democracy is failing in large part because of people like yourself believing farcical claims without doing the slightest bit of research or investigation to determine basic facts.

You must not have watched the Democratic presidential primary debates, when candidates spoke to a national audience about reparations for slavery, drug legalization, sex work legalization, a universal basic income, wealth taxes, banning private health insurance and so much more. Obama was a transitionary figure who oversaw a lot of changes (like same sex marriage, marijuana legalization, the rise of BLM and the Me Too movement) but the party as a whole has kept running downfield, leaving President Obama in the dust.

If you watched those debates - or paid close attention to the direction the Republican party has been moving - you'd understand why your argument that they are "slightly better Republicans" sounds outdated to the point of absurdity.

...And the candidates who spoke to those issues all dropped out for lack of support. The presumptive nominee supports none of those things.

But a lot of voters do and a lot of the party does. That was not true 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. It is true now. And who cares if the presidential nominee is some lefty or not? Until 50ish senators and a couple hundred representatives are on the same page it doesn't matter. We're moving in that direction but it's not going to be freaking instantaneous. At least we're not ruled by blue dogs and Clintons anymore, and are moving in the opposite direction.

Talking is easy, particularly at primary debates. Doing something is difficult and the Democratic party has been fairly ineffectual.

The party has shifted considerably in the last 4-6 years. Democrats have had virtually no power at the national level during that time. At the state and local level, we have seen significant changes towards things like drug laws, climate change, minimum wage, healthcare, etc.

I really, really, really hope so. (I'm in a very Republican state, so I haven't noticed.) That would be great, and just how that kind of change will have to happen.

But watching the primary process, I still don't see it.

I watched those debates. Reparations and free healthcare for illegal aliens. The stupidest possible positions to take, as those talking points will be replayed ad nauseam in the Swing states starting in September.

Not totally inaccurate, but I would take "no improvement" over actively undermining American government and society.

For better or for worse Obama pinned his legacy on healthcare reform, and being a symbol of improving racial justice rather than actual change. Republicans have tried to undermine that legacy ever since.

> Democrats [...] run as the slightly better Republicans. Obama [...] basically did nothing to improve the situation

That doesn't seem consistent with facts on the ground. I know what you're saying is that he wouldn't take firm policy stances, but neither did he gas protestors. The ability of the executive branch to control national discourse, find compromise and defuse division is important.

And we have one party that tries that, however flawed the results might be. And another the runs the government for the parochial benefit of their own voters only, basically laughing at the rest of the citizens whose needs aren't being heard.

And you can see the results. That doesn't look very similar to me.

He was really working on Obamacare. That was his pet project and what he believed was the best impact he could make.

I don't know enough to judge if he was right or wrong, but it's pretty clear that was his #1 baby.

I watched closely when Obamacare was debated. If Obama had only had had the courage to pound the table and tell his democratic senators to get in line, maybe Obamacare could actually have worked. Instead it turned into a half assed attempt that was flawed from the start.

Same with the bank bailouts. He was in an excellent position to get some real change but chose to keep Geithner who gave the banks what they wanted. And a precondition for anybody who administered the bailouts was to have worked for an investment bank.

IIRC the so-called "blue dog" Democrats in the House were the main obstacle preventing Obamacare from being more progressive. Unfortunately, they were right to be afraid...many of those Democrats lost their seats in the following years.

In retrospect the Democrats' window of complete control of the federal government was going to close no matter what they did (due to the GOP's obstructionism and unity in hating anything Dems did), and perhaps they should have passed more ambitious reforms while they had the chance.

IMHO it's not going to work. I saw a lot of Bloomberg ads and the message was undeniably "Trump sucks, vote for me" and he dropped out. "Not Trump" just isn't enough, just like "I'm a woman" wasn't enough. Stand for something that people want and feel will positively affect their world.

better yet, stand against what people don’t want and feel will negatively affect their world. fear’s a stronger motivator than love.

100% true. The amazing thing is that Clinton’s program of “I am a woman. I am not Trump. It’s my turn.” already won the popular vote. Now imagine if they had a candidate who people actually wanted to vote for.

I didn't like W and don't like Trump but you can't draw meaningful conclusions from the popular vote in an election that's not decided by popular vote, because knowledge of that fact affects campaigning and voter turnout in various ways. There's no meaningful "winning" of such a vote, in terms of popular vote. It's truly trivia.

Winning the popular vote means that a lot of people voted for that candidate. To me it indicates that it was a very close election.

With winner-take-all state elector selection plus elector counts that favor lower-population states there are huge distortionary effects on voter turnout, the actual choices a voter makes in the voting booth, and campaigning, including GOTV efforts. The nationwide popular vote therefore has little meaning, not just on the actual outcome (plainly irrelevant for that) but even as some kind of score-keeping or "what if" thought experiment.

Your argument isn't supported by the turnout results. Average in 2016 was about 59%. Non-swing states like CT, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, NJ, OR, NH posted 65%+ turnout. Many swing states did have solid turnout, but even among states with similar tight margins there's a wide variance, like 75% in MN vs 66% in MI.

Edit: Data from here: https://ballotpedia.org/Voter_turnout_in_United_States_elect... (notably PA and WI are missing)

Maybe you could say states that transition from being safe to swing states see a turnout boost? I haven't checked. I would expect that turnout is more determined by demographics and inertia (states with high turnout in prior elections continue to do so, etc) than whether they are swing states, though.

This is a completely uninformed take. The Biden platform is by far the most progressive to ever reach the general election. Just because it doesn't go as far as medicare 4 all and completely ending the war on drugs doesn't mean it's "slightly better Republicans". Seriously, go look at it some time. The GOP wouldn't support any of it.

The whole "both sides are the same" needs to stop. The entirety of the GOP's governing philosophy is based on conspiracy. The hardcore Trump cult itself is completely disconnected from reality, thanks to 30+ years of scams and conspiratorial media that has demonized everything that made the country they claim to love what it is.

The contrast between the Dems and GOP should be stark for anyone who actually cares to look:


Just check bidens voting record in office. Very, very far from progressive. He has always run as the law and order guy, and helped push many of the laws enabling police misconduct today, such as mandatory minimums, 10x tougher crack sentancing, etc. I want to move forward too, but he is not the guy.

> But when he was running things he basically did nothing to improve the situation although the issues with police were well known.

Because police laws and funding is a state matter where the federal government can't do anything, and to top that Obama was locked by a Republican HoR in 6 of his 8 years.

This is extremely false. Obama's DoJ signed 26 consent agreements with PDs, under the authority of the 1994 crime bill.

He didn’t even try.

Ya that's a battle he probably should have picked

That's nonsense. He directed his DOJ to avoid prosecuting low level drug crimes (which Trump immediately reversed), his budgets were the first since Carter that proposed spending more on treatment than on criminalization, thousands of Federal drug prisoners were granted early release, he did a ton that apparently people choose to ignore..


blindless Bi-partidism never brought much democracy anywhere

That is not entirely true. A very large portion of police funding comes directly or indirectly from the federal government, and a lot of that comes under control of the executive too.

Donald Trump declared a national emergency so he could bypass Congress and raid the military budget to build a wall. The idea that Obama had his hand tied is ludicrous. Obama chose not to take action. We can debate why he chose not to take action but it was a choice he alone made.

Obama had absolute direct authority over drug classification. At minimum he could have moved marijuana off of schedule 1. Not to mention his direct authority over the FBI, DEA, DoJ, and other federal agencies. Even if you want to argue that an emergency declaration is unlawful, there were still numerous changes that he could have made within the confines of existing law and precedent. He didn’t and that is on him and him alone.

I agree with the part about moving marijuana off of schedule 1. It has no business being there and is _entirely_ under the president's control.

In my opinion he should have completely de-scheduled it federally. That is perhaps a little too radical. What's not at all radical would be taking it off of schedule 1. I can't for the life of me figure out any reason why he wouldn't have done that.

> Obama chose not to take action.

Obama's use of executive orders was widely criticized as "undemocratic" back then, by Republicans and even some Democrats, and that for stuff that actually made sense and was legal to do via EOs.

Trump? He can trample over legal issues and the Republicans won't even act like they'd even want to hold him accountable.

That is why I said even within existing precedent there were plenty of actions Obama could have taken. Obama was in charge of the entire executive branch.


It's a real cop-out to say his hands were tied. He had wide latitude and authority to implement changes within the executive branch.

> Obama was in charge of the entire executive branch.

Obama was in charge of the entire federal executive branch. The problem at the core of anti-police protests is not the FBI and not any other federal branch (okay, a bit the DEA/ICE), it is local police and sheriffs!

But the vast majority of those problem police are governed by liberal or progressive governments. Those police agencies should be models for the rest of the country and the world absent any involvement by the federal government.

Very true. You should think that LAPD or NYPD should be good examples how liberal cities are running great police departments but that’s clearly not the case.

Police unions have so much power that local officials are generally afraid to touch them.

Again, it's not that easy to blame "the democrats". The people at the top may go away in reelections when a Republican loses their seat, but the "base" structure, think the cops and their management that has been there for decades, will stay the same - and so will the organizational inertia.

To make it worse, a large part of the blame lies on police unions, e.g. in Minneapolis, whose leaders are hard authoritarian/right-wing and use all powers they have including staging expensive and often successful legal battles to keep "bad apple" cops in the service instead of holding them accountable.

Some of these cities have been under complete liberal democrat or progressive control for decades. These cities are operating under police contracts and policing standards set and enforced by liberals or progressives.

It's a real cop-out to say his hands were tied.

For some reason CGP Grey's video called The Rules for Rulers was recommended to me recently by The Algorithm. It sort of clarified in my mind all the vague ideas I'd absorbed from countless online and in-person conversations. Basically, even a dictator has to have the support of the keys to power. We can speculate that a president's hands were tied by one of those key groups. We can also speculate that another president has different key groups, and might be more willing, with the consent of core key groups, to reduce their numbers in ways not previously/recently considered an option.

> Donald Trump declared a national emergency so he could bypass Congress and raid the military budget to build a wall.

your argument is that Obama should be more like Trump? Declaring a fake national emergency and raiding the military budget is dubious action. Obama was never going to do ish like that and we should all be happy about that.

Also as Obama pointed out in his medium posts, policy positions get converted into action through electoral wins.

I'm old enough to remember that Trump was elected in part due to Obama backlash.

I'm also old enough to remember the backlash when Obama said Cambridge police acted stupidly (the police arrested a Harvard professor in his own house when he had to go through a window bc he lost his keys)

I know people are disappointed Obama didn't accomplish more. Obama is such an impressive person you just assume he can work magic. But Obama was constrained by the system of democracy and that limits what is possible.

>your argument is that Obama should be more like Trump?

No. I even pointed out that if you were to consider that type of move to be unlawful there were still PLENTY of other legitimate actions he could have taken.

Again, the President is in charge of the entire federal executive branch. That means the FBI, DEA, DoJ, Homeland Security, ICE, and others. There are numerous changes and reforms he could have enacted at the federal level.

>Also as Obama pointed out in his medium posts, policy positions get converted into action through electoral wins.

Obama was elected President twice. What more of a mandate did he think he needed to feel confident enough to take action?

I don't see where you pointed out that type of move would be unlawful.

> Obama was elected President twice. What more of a mandate did he think he needed to feel confident enough to take action?

Obama lost control of Congress in 2010. And here's a good summary of the losses at the state level.


anyway ... my point is pretty uncontroversial ... which is that there were limits on what Obama could do.

>Donald Trump declared a national emergency so he could bypass Congress and raid the military budget to build a wall

And how well did that work out for him? It took him his entire term to build about 1/5 of what he promised. And what he built isn't anywhere close to the impenetrable concrete wall he proposed.

To top it all off, if he had been facing a congress controlled entirely by the other party, he would have never gotten away with it because they would have passed a law making exactly what he did illegal.

And this was his #1 campaign promise. He spent every bit of his political capital on building a wall.

You do know that most Republicans feel the same way about Republican politicians

"Republicans haven’t had the courage to take a real position for a long time. Their program is basically to run as the slightly better Democrats".

There was the tea party movement that did shift the GOP and then later there was the election of Trump as well. These were reactions against the RNC establishment.

The democratic establishment has not had to deal with any thing like this. With the rise of AOC, Sen. Warren, and Sanders it seemed like the DNC was going to lose some power, but alas.

Nominating Biden for President is the same as if the GOP nominated Jeb Bush. A clear sign that change is not on the horizon.


I guess the election of President Obama was a reaction against the DNC somewhat and even Bill Clinton as well. But, in the end neither moved the needle.

Obama's pushing in the media as an "up and comer" felt like typical party messaging and positioning. I think he just surprised them when he "up and came" faster than they wanted him to, but I suspect his prominence in the first place was planned and intended by party insiders.

[EDIT] I mean the messaging concerning him and his prominence before he announced a Presidential run. It's no accident that there was a lot of chatter about him well before that on national media, all the sudden. Felt like official party grooming via the media.

“You do know that most Republicans feel the same way about Republican politicians”

I know that. And that’s what gave us Trump. Both parties have to pretend doing something for the little guy while being dependent on pleasing their big money donors. That’s why they can’t take a clear position.

Trump just upped the game with his rhetoric. Most Trump voters I know like him because they think he isn’t part of the corrupt establishment. You can argue whether that’s true or not but that’s what people think.

For both parties, the only constituencies they really care about are big businesses.

The big corporations backing republicans are benefitted by a smaller government, so that's what republicans advocate for.

The big corporations backing democrats are benefitted by a larger government, so that's what they advocate for.

(There are of course other non-corporate groups in play, e.g. unions, but the idea stands).

Beyond that, there's a lot of overlap in what big businesses want, and that's were you get bipartisan agreement. Corporations generally care about drugs in the sense that they want a labor pool that's not on drugs, so both parties kowtow to them on this topic.

Parties will pay lip service to the wedge issues of the day, but ultimately the parties do not actually concern themselves with the common voter except to make the appropriate sounds that those voters want to hear.

Then don't vote for that candidate. Vote for who you think will do a good job regardless of their party affiliation. Even if you need to write them in. The only wasted vote is an unused vote.

On the national stage, Democrats have to run someone who can appeal to people in Mississippi as well as New York.

The more important thing is why this article is about a city in the suburbs of New York City. The Westchester County Board of Legislators has 16 Democrats and 1 Republican. Why can’t Democrats make any progress even in places where they have total control and don’t need to compromise? Westchester County can’t change federal drug laws, but they have total control over their own police force and how they’re trained and what they focus their efforts on.

> Democrats have to run someone who can appeal to people in Mississippi as well as New York.

No, they don't.

Even when they win national campaigns, Democrats don't win Mississippi, so they manifestly don't need to run a national ticket that appeals to Mississippi.

EDIT: The primary process the Democrats have chosen may encourage this, but that doesn't mean it's necessary or that that process is well chosen.

> Why can’t Democrats make any progress even in places where they have total control and don’t need to compromise?

Because American political parties are what would be broad coalitions in a system with multiple competitive parties, and it's only a significant faction (but not, in many places, the strongest faction) within the Democratic Party that actually wants to make progress on this point. That's more than the Republicans have, though.

There are many Democrats in Mississippi and as a practical matter no primary system that simply ignored those voters would be viable.

I think that is problem for the Democratic Party.

Most US urban areas, some with the most problems, are completely controlled or mostly controlled by progressives -- some for multiple decades.

Why is there so much fail in the urban cores? Either the progressive policies fail because they don't work. Or, the progressives are not really interested in improving the situation. Or, a combination of both.

Progressives hire the police chiefs, negotiate the police union contracts, set the certification/hiring/training standards for police, make many state and most local laws, and so on.

Yet, police in the urban cores remain a problem? Why is that?

Many people will reasonably come to a conclusion that the progressive Democrats do not really want to improve things, or they are too incompetent to do so.

Twitter thread by a Minneapolis city council member about how they tried to do police reform. He talks about wanting to do changes slowly but was met with resistance by police, including the police delaying responses to call from areas where the members voted against police interests. He is now talking about disbanding the police altogether and starting over.


If this is what it takes it must be done. With today's availability of real-time policing metrics it should be clear if police are deliberately thwarting reform initiatives or retaliating.

Police officers have taken an oath to uphold state and federal constitutions and local laws. If they cannot live up to that commitment they need to go.

> Why can’t Democrats make any progress even in places where they have total control and don’t need to compromise?

The obvious answer is that these policies benefit Democrats and therefore they are uninterested in changing them.

You absolutely don't need to appeal to them (unfortunately). You win over the 11 most populous states and the presidency is yours even if not a single person in the other 39 voted for you.

While your statement about the 11 most populous states is correct mathematically, it isn't politically. That group contains states that are quite politically diverse: from Georgia to California.

There is no way that a Presidential candidate would win those 11 and lose the other 39.

Well exactly, so we get the concept of "swing states." For 2020, there's likely to really be just 5-6 of them. The fact remains a candidate has to focus on winning electoral votes, and candidates would campaign drastically differently if they had to win the popular vote.

No. Mississippi will vote Republican and New York will vote Democratic. They need to run someone that can appeal to the swing states: Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio.

Which primary votes do you think gave Biden the nomination? Is the older black base in MS pro-legalization? Did he get any black voter enthusiasm from the under 40s?

Black and Hispanic voters support marijuana legalization at a slightly lower rate than whites. But because black voters are overwhelmingly Democrat, and Hispanic voters are disproportionately so, that means they are far to the right of white democrats on the issue. 78% of democrats as a whole support marijuana legalization, versus 67% of black and 63% of Hispanic people. Because black and Hispanic people comprise roughly 35% of the party, the rest of the party (for the most part, whites) have to support legalization at 85%. So there is roughly 20% gap between white and black and Hispanic Democrats on legalization.

See: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2...

> the Democrats picking a candidate that’s not pro legalization

That's putting it mildly. Biden was an active participant in the war on drugs. He was the primary sponsor of the RAVE Act in 2002: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reducing_Americans%27_Vulnerab...

Nevermind the fact that his home state of Delaware didn't have much of an electronic music / rave scene at the time. Or that the music genres in question were all originally created by people of color. Or that most music venues (regardless of genre or clientele) have been over-charging for water for decades.

It's also cruelly ironic that this act primarily targeted a drug that causes people to become perma-grinning touchy-feely overly-emotive types, which (in my view) is essentially how Joe Biden seems to behave on a regular basis.

Needless to say, as a Democrat I share your deep frustration with this candidate.


This used to be the case, but recently things have changed and in the wrong way. Rather than one party getting better, over the past 15 years Republicans have gotten far worse on pretty much every metric I care about.

I'd love to go back to when I felt they were just modestly different.


Yes because the entire Republican establishment changed their policy and objectives to essentially focusing on opposing anything and everything he tried to do - no matter how reasonable or how much compromise Obama made. And they admitted that was their only strategy. Stop governing and just oppose. To try to stop his reelection.

That's when this country went off the rails.

floren 35 days ago [flagged]

> Stop governing and just oppose. To try to stop his reelection.

Boy I'm glad nothing like that happened after 2016

The democrats have continually come to the table— it's still the republicans obstructing. Remember DACA-for-wall?


kmonsen 35 days ago [flagged]

Can't believe someone is saying this right now. DNC is currently behaving as if they were the party in power trying to fix the corona issues and the GOP is like maybe we will let you get test if you give us tax cuts for the rich. It is completely abnormal that the party in power walks away from any responsibility and the other party has to negotiate to stabilize the country.

"Can't believe someone is saying this right now."

Yeah, this is definitely the endgame of "both sides" equivocating at all levels— all media is equally unreliable, all politicians are equally corrupt, all people are treated equally by police, Obama's EOs were just as bad as Trump's. It's super harmful to the state of discourse when people are unable to see the shades of grey on these things.

I mean yes, but that doesn't really cover it. Many people think the DNC is bending too far over and getting played at the moment. Like the approved the Trump slush fund, and he said what oversight?

It is not normal for the opposition party to be this nice in any way. They are tried to save states like this is some kind of partisan issue, and McConnell is lol, why don't they just declare bankruptcy?

Normally I would agree with the shades of grey but currently there is just no factual justification.

Also on rule of law, and constraining the police brutality. I mean it is hard to take this pushback seriously.

That's simply false. They have, over and over, come to the table to work with Trump. It's a point of frustration for me considering how little compromise they have been able to achieve.

Also frustrating considering that Republicans set their asking price at unalloyed, unmitigated evil, and allow themselves to be haggled down to merely abhorrent. Then Democrats give it to them. It's like trying to sell a banana for $100000 and agreeing to settle for $1000, then crying "but I already gave up 99% of what I wanted!" in order to justify taking $999 profit on a $1 fruit.

I would respect Democrats more if they had a "F.U. moment" and did something like arresting and imprisoning executive employees under the capitol building for contempt of Congress, for failure to produce documents necessary for oversight, that are required by law to be furnished on demand.

In the 2015 parlance of Back to the Future Part 2, they "got no scrote".

Good ole Mitch

Disagree, the country went off the rails with Newt Gingrich. He was the beginning of the end of moderates in this country.

Brenden, you have a terrible understanding of the powers of the President. The President can propose and cajole, but it is both houses of Congress that must pass the laws and only then can the President sign them.

Secondly, there are plenty of things to criticize both parties about, but if you think they are indistinguishable, then you aren't looking very hard.

You can go through the voting records an various bills and see how they voted, it's all public data. I challenge you to do it one day, and you can see the difference between what they say in their speeches and what they actually do policy wise.

You can also cross that data with polling from the respective senators or representatives on individual policies and see how they line up. You can see quickly that they do not represent their constituents if you take the time to do it (I've done it myself).

They line up more often than they disagree b/c most bills that make it all the way to a floor vote aren't objectionable to anyone.

You're seeing a biased sample.

How the US was regarded internationally, soft power, increased markedly under him though.

If your softpower can change dramatically in 4 years you didn't really have much to begin with.

The arenas in which Obama tried to ~actually use~ soft power, such as Syria and Ukraine, seem more like failures than successes.

Soft power is based on trust - can you trust this ally.

Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose.

My point is no one has really trusted the USA for decades.

And yet it's unclear to me how the popular opinion of the US president in France translates into meaningful policy differences.

Many in Europe see the US as more of a risky bet after the last four years, especially with the Iran deal hurting many EU businesses for what they have decided are not good reasons.

Local businesses suffering due to an ally will drive (and probably already has driven) policy changes in the EU 26.

What did they think 12 years ago when Iran was part of the Axis of Evil? If trust takes a long time to build, there shouldn't have been any generated here.

Can you include specific examples of how popular EU opinion has driven policy? Typically the foreign policy of nations depends less on popular opinion than on geopolitical concerns. Your argument might be stronger if it focused on Trump's isolationist military and trade rhetoric, which both pose a much more significant threat to the current order in Europe and are a more substantial break from past USA policy than its attitude towards Iran.

> Remember Obama and how he was going to change the world?

You do understand that big, lasting change needs to come from all three branches of the government right? It's pretty clear Obama was pushing for much greater reform than what actually came about and Trump has done everything he can to dismantle what he created.

I have issues with a lot of Democrats and I don't love Biden, but Obama was one of the most straight shooters in politics.

>Couldn't even get a proper health care bill passed.

Perfect? No. Hell of a good start? Yes.

Ever heard of pre-existing conditions? Well not anymore. That fucking ALONE is worth all the mess that everything took.

You realize that before obamacare.. let's say you lived abroad for 1 year, developed some type of health condition, then moved back to the US.. you would be denied coverage or have health coverage but everything related to your pre-existing condition not be covered.

That basically means that you were fucked. I mean literally, if you developed cancer living abroad.. and tried to move back to the US- you basically could not without a financial death sentence.

Also every health plan has to provide maturity coverage, large companies are required to provide coverage.. etc the list goes on and on with regards to healthcare.

So please, don't parrot this garbage that obamacare basically did nothing.

brenden2 35 days ago [flagged]

So what, we're supposed to wait 100 years for sensible policy? What are you advocating? Why can't we fix things now?

mthoms 35 days ago [flagged]

It seems like the parent commenter is "advocating" that your claim "Obama did basically nothing" is provably false.

If you want to argue he didn't do enough, sure go ahead. Saying he did nothing is being intellectually dishonest.


He certainly gave it a shot.


> In 2011, Congress began placing restrictions on Guantanamo transfers in its yearly defense authorization bill, effectively stopping the president from transferring the detainees to a U.S. facility.

And yet the gulag is still there. It's a binary thing: either he closed it or he didn't. Clearly he did not.

Here's some evidence that refutes your claim that he "did nothing". If you want to judge results in a binary fashion then fine. Luckily, most reasonable people don't think that way.

> On January 22, 2009, Obama signed an executive order restricting interrogators to methods listed and authorized by an Army Field Manual, ending the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques." [...] The prisoner population of the detention camp fell from 242 in January 2009 to 91 in January 2016, in part due to the Periodic Review Boards that Obama established in 2011. Many members of Congress strongly opposed plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to prisons in U.S. states, and the Obama administration was reluctant to send potentially dangerous prisoners to other countries, especially unstable countries such as Yemen. Though Obama continued to advocate for the closure of the detention camp, 41 inmates remained in Guantanamo when Obama left office.


If you want to argue he could have done more, or failed to live up to expectations, you'd have many people agree (probably including myself). Saying he "did nothing" is just willful ignorance of the facts.

I appreciate your passion, but Obama still didn't follow through with his promises, and whatever change he enacted wasn't enough.

And I admire yours. I also agree with you the revised version of the statement above. :)

Friendly advice: if you want to engage in meaningful dialogue here avoid making absolutist (and lets' be honest, provably false) statements like "Obama did nothing" since you won't be taken seriously.

Have a good day.

I just checked and my actual words were "basically changed nothing", which to me means "made some changes, but they were inadequate".

I disagree. Most people will read that as saying the changes he made were inconsequential (in other words the changes "basically amounted to nothing").


If you meant inadequate (weren't enough), rather than inconsequential (had little to no effect) you could have said it.

Edit: That's not to mention that you twice doubled down on the idea he "did nothing" in other comments.

If you can't list a single thing that Obama did that was positive, I'm certainly not going to convince you.

If you are genuinely interested in the matter though, here's a link:


To be fair, he also had to work with a Republican Senate to get pass any laws.

Instead of apologizing, I think people need to understand the system doesn't work. It is fundamentally broken, just like the police.

Why don't cops go to jail for breaking the law? Because they are the ones who investigate themselves for their crimes. It's the same with politicians: they make the rules and write the laws for themselves. They go on TV and say things they think people want to hear, but when it comes to action they don't follow through.

Politicians are glorified TV personalities and aren't actually held accountable to their supposed policies. They wage a war of disinformation against citizens to get votes, and then engage in gerrymandering to make sure they stay elected.

> Instead of apologizing, I think people need to understand the system doesn't work.

You are claiming Obama didn't affect change, he absolutely affected exactly as much change as his office and the law allowed. Nobody is apologizing, its simply the way our system is designed.

Sorry but that isn't true. Obama had a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate for the first two years of his presidency[1]. It wasn't until January of 2011 that the House turned Republican.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/111th_United_States_Congress

One party is doing everything in its power to undermine democratic institutions and erect barriers to participating in democracy. The two parties are not the same because only one party is doing that.

And parties change, and are made up of individuals. Go watch some of last years Democratic presidential debates to see where things are now, not 4-12 years ago.

What people say in debates is irrelevant. The only thing that matters are their actions. People keep falling into the trap of listening to the speeches, but ignoring the actual policies, policy implementation details, and the whole bureaucratic side of things. People are hyper focused on the TV version of reality, and completely ignore the day to day humdrum action.

I think part of the problem today is the TV-ification of politics. For example, Trump is obsessed with "ratings" and Twitter likes, rather than actually doing anything meaningful. What's incredibly bizarre is how many other politicians have started copying him by focusing on grandstanding, Twitter likes, and getting more news airtime, rather than actually getting work done.

Democrats have had minimal power at the federal level since 2014, which is around when the party started seriously drifting leftward. Look at the state and local level. Cities have gotten rid of bail, states legalize marijuana, protections for trans people, hugely increased minimum wages, widespread criminal justice reform, tons of environmental laws, etc, etc. Not all Democrats are bold lefties these days, but some are, and they are actually doing shit.

> What's incredibly bizarre is how many other politicians have started copying

It has always been this way. Professional politicians are just better by nature at hiding unseemly attention grabs. Which is most definitely not something that fits with Trumps personality type.

The "both sides are the same" argument is a complete nonsensical distraction and wears really thin when faced with reality.

Sure, there are pretty significant differences in the day-to-day conduct between the two parties, but it is true that both parties are beholden to major corporate interests and are decreasingly supporting positions held by the public at large.

The centrist wing of the Democratic Party refuses to seriously consider universal healthcare as a platform while we all watch the current healthcare system fall further and further into dysfunction via private bureaucracy.

Numerous progressive policies have wide support across the political spectrum, but aren’t being seriously considered by either major party. And that is something that both parties are very guilty of.

The Democrats are the spineless party. They have no courage to take a position. It’s all wishy-washy trying not to offend anybody (especially not their donors).

They have plenty of positions though.

The republican parties position seems to be "whatever the opposite of the democratic position is". Nothing can be clearer than that point especially contrasting their conduct during the Obama administration vs the current administration.

I also wouldn't consider staunch opposition to LGBT rights as a spine worth having.

This is exactly right. At the end of the day they only answer to the people who write the biggest cheques and pay for the fanciest dinners and vacations they get to enjoy.

Absolutely. Want to see a great breakdown? https://np.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/2kaubu/just_a_remi...

This is great, thanks for sharing.

I would like to point out that it's still cherry picking, and ignores the cases where Democrats voted against sensible legislation. They supported the Patriot Act for example, and recently supported bailouts for large companies that didn't need free money from the government but still got it, all while keeping it difficult for people to access unemployment benefits.

Actually what you're doing here is closer to cherry-picking, since you've found a handful of examples compared to the dozens in the link.

I highly recommend telling pollsters you'll be voting Libertarian, as that will help them get into debates. Someone should be on that stage saying drug laws are wrong.

Edit: vote for whoever you want, I just think the debates will be better with their voice.

When I was younger I was turned off by what I perceived to be the Libertarian obsession with drug legalization.

Now I get it, but I’m sure I’m not the only person who got tired of them sounding like a broken record.

I would vote libertarian if I didn’t have to buy into their vision to eliminate “burdensome “ regulations like environmental protections and their pipe dream of free market healthcare.

Ah yes... Libertarian, the "I got mine, fuck the rest of you" party...

Isn’t that the “rule of law” conservatives? You know? The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” people? Or is it not? Maybe political parties aren’t singular entities and are actually a collection of people. Of which there’s crazies in all of them.

Libertarians are by their core policy positions all about “I got mine, fuck the rest of you”. In the libertarian paradise, if you’re rich you’ll do fine, you’ll have your gated community and private security, but if you’re poor and starving, well, sucks to be you, you can starve to death.

Yep, and the legal market prices must not be pushed too high due to excessive regulation and taxation, lest the black markets (and crime associated with them) continue to flourish

> lest the black markets (and crime associated with them) continue to flourish

Black markets of tax evaders are vastly superior to those avoiding criminal penalties up to life in jail.

Agreed but tax evasion is not the only crime associated with black markets (especially the drug trade)

Most of the other crimes are associated with prohibition.

When the penalty for drug distribution is a decade in prison which the government then uses as leverage to flip your distributors and then do the same to everyone in your whole organization, it makes it economically viable to use extreme measures to avoid prosecution. Snitches get stitches etc.

Whereas when the consequences of tax evasion are paying what you owe plus penalties and interest, you just pay the money (or go bankrupt). There is no incentive to spend five million dollars to avoid a million dollar penalty as a gesture of loyalty to your people or to keep them from flipping; you just pay the million dollars. There is much less incentive to murder witnesses and risk prison when the alternative was only bankruptcy and not prison to begin with. The violence is primarily attributable to the harshness of the penalties in the War on Drugs and what that justifies in order to avoid them.

Meanwhile prosecuting tax evasion is self-financing whenever tax evasion is prevalent, so it has a natural equilibrium at a low level of tax evasion. Prohibition is the opposite -- the harder you prosecute the higher the street prices get and the more lucrative it is to commit violence to bring in those high prices.

Agreed. I highly recommend Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel[1] for a great look at the economics behind the drug trade. It's remarkable logical when you just consider the facts.

[1]: https://smile.amazon.com/Narconomics-How-Run-Drug-Cartel/dp/...

From a harm reduction standpoint, this is wrong. I want heroin users to get pure, uncut heroin -- just as I never worry that a bottle of whiskey is going to be cut with fentanyl. Legalize it and regulate it, and price out the black market or it will have all the incentive to undermine the possible good.

I used to be for complete legalization for the reasons discussed here, but now i struggle with that because of how much destruction there is to people from meth and opioids. If those were legally available in smaller "safe" doses maybe it would be better. But this is just tough to contemplate.

I agree that legalization alone cannot solve the problems. A lot of the harm is caused by current approaches, including policing itself. A lot of the motivation to use is due to poverty, and a ton of users are self-medicating for mental health issues. Policing, mental health care and poverty all need to be addressed in order for these problems to go away. Harm reduction practices (like safe injection sites, availability of counseling and addition services) in conjunction with legalization are components of a sane drug policy.

How do meth/opioids change the equation? They're not (for the most part) legal.

Alcohol causes tremendous destruction, too, but I thought there was general agreement that national prohibition was worse.

They change the equation when someone is advocating for “full legalization” with (sometimes) “no government regulation”. The argument is (rightly or wrongly) that certain drugs are actually so harmful that they should be kept out of the public.

Yes, that's what I was thinking. They are so destructive and addictive that people can't stop taking them. I worry that if they were legal and cheap people would get hooked on them and cause a lot of devastation ton themselves and their families. Of course there are people today who can't get methadone to treat their heroin addictions, because of legality concerns where it's not available.

This remains an issue in Canada with regard to cannabis, now that it is legalized. And we still have a thriving black market in cigarettes, due to high taxes.

Your parent said decriminalise rather than legalise. It’s a strategy that Portugal has had a lot of success with.

I’m curious - which drugs do you think should be available for sale commercially? All of them? The libertarian side in me says yes, but the pragmatic side says easily available meth wouldn’t exactly be a great thing for society.

If Meth were legalized, somebody would figure out a way to make a safer Meth. Very few people would choose to use dangerous product that is often cut and has unknown levels of the drug in it, when there is a packaged/tested version available. A lot of the really terrible drugs only exist today because of prohibition. Some of them were invented as a way around the laws, and some were invented as an economical way to produce/traffic in the face of extreme danger (from law enforcement).

Most people would opt for safer drugs if they had options. As it stands now you are basically at the mercy of the local illegal drug dealer that you know, and most of them don't have high quality standards.

You can already get a prescription for meth, but it's still neurotoxic. Better than something you can get on the street? Sure, but it's still straight up bad for you. The safer version of meth are the other amphetamines like Adderall.

Agreed, but you can't legally get some without convincing another human to give it to you, and that human is on high alert for watching for someone who might abuse it - which is exactly the person who would benefit most from legality/availability of safer alternatives, but to that person it is illegal. That's why they turn to the black market.

The War on Drugs was really just a casus belli on black males. The civil rights movement had eroded the Jim Crow system the authorities had set up to keep themselves in power, and were seriously worried about more educated well spoken minorities starting movements in the country. They needed a way to suppress their minority populations without drawing the ire of the rest of America, so they manufacture a drug crisis by taking a small problem and blowing it way out of proportion as an excuse to crack down on their potential political opponents. It has worked amazingly well.

To say that drugs were a small problem is rewriting history. We would have all been better off treating it like a medical issue rather than a legal / criminal matter, and the long tail effects of enforcement have definitely cemented a lot of structural issues in society- and admittedly, some drugs are far less harmful than others. Pot and crack use have two wildly different outcomes, obviously.

You can look at examples in history when oppressors used the opposite tactic: wars were fought to force China to keep opium legal, lining pockets of mercantile companies while keeping China hooked (and earning it the old 'sick man of asia' moniker).

90% yes, 10% pharmaceutical/alcohol/tobacco companies lobbying.

That, making civil forfeiture funds go to the general coffer, and forcing police departments to pay settlements out of their own budget.

They socialize the costs and privatize the profits of their misbehavior.

FYI, 1/3 of all people killed by strangers in the US are killed by the police. [0]

Police take more money from people through asset forfeiture than criminals do with theft. [1]

[0]https://granta.com/violence-in-blue/ [1]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/23/cops-...

> Probably the single most effective thing to reduce police abuse in America would be to end the war on drugs and decriminalize drugs.

I agree 1000%. I wish more people would realize this.

That the protestors aren’t using this as one of their main demands gives a clue as to their motivations.

They clearly aren’t above advocating extreme solutions and the far left generally seems to recognize the importance of legalization.

In my opinion, politicians love wars on drugs because that way they can keep the monopoly of whatever they want to sell.

If you make the laws, you make something illegal, and then don't follow your own laws because you're also the enforcer

Alcohol beverages was a $1,439 billion market in 2017. There is no movie recorded since the prohibition era without reinforcing this drugs as social acceptable every 30 minutes at least once.


> There is no movie recorded since the prohibition era without reinforcing this drugs as social acceptable every 30 minutes at least once.

Citation seriously needed. Your link certainly doesn't provide it. Off of the top of my head I can think of countless counterexamples.

> Overall, 86% of the total 655 movies included at least 1 alcohol scene, with a range of 0 to 617 and a mean of 68 (SD = 87) occurrences per movie.


If we take this mean and use a movie average length of 1.5 hour it was actually 10x worst than my estimation.

Yes you are right it is probably better to take the median.

I think it would be pretty easy for a ML pose algorithm to scan the whole Amazon Prime + Netflix archive for a real answer. Especially series like Mad Men are over the top in conditioning for alcohol and cigarette use. I started noticing when I quit smoking how much this was.

1. Thank you for smoking (Go watch that movie)

Weed industry in the US (Miraculously legalized in most key states in record times)

With the blame games, polarization and mistrust simple problems aren't getting solved. Forget about big ones.

As Herbert Simon in his Nobel speech pointed out, if you can't solve 2nd grade problems don't run into the 10th grade classroom and cry about what's on the blackboard.

If they ended the failed and ridiculous drug war not only would police departments have less friction with the community they would also free up massive resources to deal with real problems. Maybe even start preventing property crimes! One can dream.

The old adage about go catch some murderers instead of chasing kids around with a joint.

> The war on drugs has taken a wrecking ball to the Fourth Amendment restrictions on search and seizure.

The "war on terror" is probably even worse, given how many citizen rights were all but wiped after 9/11 across the world.

How many Signal-using techies have been asphyxiated by cops kneeling on their necks or gunned down simply for daring to walking around in public?

Let's not equivocate abuses. It's unnecessary. And moreover changing the way our most vulnerable citizens are treated will likely go a long way toward changing the way everybody else is treated.

People in Afghanistan got killed by drone strikes or "exfiltrated" to Guantanamo or a load of "black sites". The "war on terror" is absolutely as murderous.

The War on Terror is an actual war waged using actual militaries. And non-American citizens don't have constitutional rights outside United States territory. Those facts in no way diminish the wrongness of what has happened, but we could just as well compare it to Global Warming and our complicity in the death of millions; the connection would be just as tenuous and unconstructive.

That said, interestingly in 2016 ~1100 people were killed by police officers in the United States[1], while ~1600 people were killed by drone strikes in Afghanistan[2].

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/...

[2] https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/drone-war/data/get-the...

How many people were killed in Mexico and Columbia?

This and cash bail are the two most obvious ones. 1/3 of incarcerated people on any given night are unconvicted people who just couldn't afford the bail.

This gives police an enormous amount of power to coerce people. It's also deeply un-American because people are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. And then on top of that, it's serves no practical purpose as the vast majority of released people show up for their court dates.

This reminds me of the Ramparts Scandal in Los Angeles:


It's amazing how bad that was. I believe policing in Los Angeles has improved since then. It still has tons of problems, and the justice system in general in Califronia, has tons of problems. But it is amazing how bad it got in this incident.

> Probably the single most effective thing to reduce police abuse in America would be to end the war on drugs and decriminalize drugs.

I have very much thought the same thing. We might be overly optimistic but it would solve so many problems.

> Probably the single most effective thing to reduce police abuse in America would be to end the war on drugs and decriminalize drugs.

No. No, no, no. A thousand times no.

The war on drugs is just an objective of the police. The objective isn't why brutality happens. Brutality happens because of a systemic problem - the complete lack of accountability. Drugs are just the impetus for some fraction of police-public interactions. They are not the reason for how those police-public interactions are carried out.

The police are completely out of control in my neighbourhood. There are walls of tear gas rolling down the streets, rolling into people's apartments, their living rooms and bedrooms. Nobody, not the city mayor, not the state government is willing to reign them in - which is why this is happening.

The war on drugs is a bad thing, but if you end it tomorrow, it won't solve a single one of these systemic issues.

>but if you end it tomorrow, it won't solve a single one of these systemic issues.

Why not? The war on drugs is absolutely unenforceable - that leads to police picking and choosing what to enforce which amplifies systemic biases they have. You cannot enforce drug laws accountably, not least because it is largely racist in origin and as such targeted at specific minority groups - let alone practicalities

There's a fantastic Vice interview of an British ex-undercover drugs officer: He summarizes most of his career as having been spent ruining the lives of poor people around him and his crowning achievement being a bust that (in the words of one of his colleagues apparently) "interrupted the illegal drug trade in stoke for upwards of 20 minutes"

The police can always pick and choose what they enforce. Have you ever called them? I am close friends with people who have, multiple times. Getting them to show up is an exercise in pulling teeth. They respond to calls - all calls - in an utterly discretionary nature.

As they currently operate, they can't even do any part of their job accountably. Drug legalization is just a pet issue for techies, that is a smoke-screen that distracts from the real issues.



> Drug legalization is just a pet issue for techies

No. 14% of State prisoners, ~25% of people in local jails, and almost half of all federal prisoners is not a pet issue.

Reducing the police's arrests by ~25% will have a ~linear impact on police brutality. That is, it will reduce brutality by ~25%.

I will take a ~25% reduction, but that is not my goal. The goal is to fix the system, not the symptoms of the system.

Drug laws are a social fad, they will appear, or go away depending on which side of the bed the public wakes up tomorrow. The structural failings of the police, that persist through the presence or repeal of any one law are what need to be fixed.

'Which laws are on the books' is not a structural failure. The police should be capable of doing their jobs, regardless of which laws are on the books. If they aren't doing their jobs, the solution is not to change the laws, it's to change the police.

> Reducing the police's arrests by ~25% will have a ~linear impact on police brutality. That is, it will reduce brutality by ~25%.

Negative. Police brutality is not just driven by the number of interactions, but the likely outcome of those interactions. Dealers are often armed and strongly prefer avoiding prison.

Most drug arrests are not of dealers.

And get rid of two party recording consent laws?

Thank you for being one of the few people that recognize the real reason many people want to legalize drugs

So many times it is countered with "You just want to get high that is why you want to legalize drugs"...

No I dont want to have my home invaded at 3pm and be shot dead by a trigger happy gang member because the "informant" the police bullied in to snitching gave them a random address for their "dealer"

//true story that has happened more than once in the USA

And now the DEA has been mobilized against citizens to quell protests and criminalize dissent. The DEA is now the Gestapo.

From a legalistic point of view you are correct. But if it wasn't that it would be something else. Already the DEA is being repurposed to investigate networks of 'professional anarchists' who are supposedly the architects of the current unrest. While support for the drug war is waning, reactionaries are just switching back to tropes about 'communist agitators' that were used prior to the drug war to delegitimize civil rights activism in the 1960s.

100% agree.

I want to remind people of Chris Dorner[1]. Chris Dorner was a black police officer that based on his manifesto, had witnessed many use of excessive force by his colleagues. When he reported them, he was fired in retaliation.

When the manhunt begun, the police started shooting at people that vaguely fit his description. The police shot 102 bullets at a mother and daughter delivering newspaper. People had to paint messages on the back of their truck so the police don't shoot at them.

Watching it at the time was unreal. The police and media portrayed him as a psycho, while the people whose car he stole had a different story.

In the last stand off, he was in a cabin and the police burned it to the ground. The police denies burning it down, but they did use tear gas and in the police recording, you can hear a man say "use the burners".

One year later, LAPD chief Charlie Beck, admitted that 8 LAPD officers had violated the use of force policy.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Dorner_shootings_a...

Edit: as the comment pointed out, Dorner killed 4 people, including 2 officers and the daughter of a police captain. I did not omit this information, it is included in the very first paragraph of the wiki.

You accidentally forgot to mention that the manhunt wasn't because of his manifesto but because of the people he killed.

Doesn't excuse the behavior of the police, but it's a weird thing to skip over.

It would be great if you could add the information that he killed people (police officers and their families) in retaliation for his firing to your post. Otherwise it makes very little sense without reading the wiki article.

My theory on how to fix this is to maintain the adversarial nature of the courts. Don't force the DA to prosecute cops. Have them maintain the relationship as it currently works and let the DA become the the cops' lawyer by default while the Public Defenders' office take over the role of prosecuting police.

Since the PD and DA are already set-up this way in relationship to policing, this makes more sense than trying to wring impartiality out of the DA; they have to work hand in hand with police to convict criminals and need to maintain a cozy relationship. The simplest solution would be to keep the dividing lines the way they are.

My suspicion is the Public Defenders’ offices are nearly universally underfunded and overworked, so the only way to make this work is to make sure they’re resourced appropriately, which would be a tough battle politically.

>My suspicion is the Public Defenders’ offices are nearly universally underfunded and overworked [...]

By design.

It sounds like a good idea. It might be easier to get public support for being "tough on police" then defending accused criminals.

> My suspicion is the Public Defenders’ offices are nearly universally underfunded and overworked, so the only way to make this work is to make sure they’re resourced appropriately, which would be a tough battle politically.

That would be a worthy battle in itself. Public Defenders' offices should be funded as well as criminal prosecutors' offices, and organizationally be (at least) peers of them.

Public Defenders are already vastly overworked and under resourced, with only about 10 minutes to spend on a case on average.

My hats off to those folks they are some of the greatest heroes in society right now. If I were to be able to cash out of tech I would either become a school teacher or public defender.

Or have dedicated prosecutors who aren't already overloaded and underpaid as public defenders are.

That it doesn't already work this way, or something similar to this, I find bizarre.

How about having the judge do some questioning?

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