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Author Topic: UN Peacekeepers to occupy Ferguson Missouri
NobleHunter
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9/11 is an interesting example since we had all the data we needed to prevent it, no 'enhanced interrogations' required.
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PSRT
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quote:
Just to be clear about this, you mean that the system should be set up in such a way that there is no luck at all involved in systemic results? Or do you mean to say that there should be luck (i.e. various factors that have nothing to do with the economic/political system) but that the luck should somehow be managed so that it is precisely applied to each person or group of people equally?

Its really an entirely different thread.

FOr purposes of this thread, people who do not acknowledge that important life outcomes are largely tied to factors beyond our control, and that many of these factors are tied to historical racism (historical meaning at least up until 30 years ago, if not still continuing), are people that I don't really consider worth having a conversation with, because they are too ignorant of important social reality to have a valid viewpoint.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I am taking for granted that probable cause exists for the existence of a "relationship" in a scenario justifying detailed interrogation.
So, it appears, did many of our torturers.
A cab driver is dead for this reason.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
quote:
Just to be clear about this, you mean that the system should be set up in such a way that there is no luck at all involved in systemic results? Or do you mean to say that there should be luck (i.e. various factors that have nothing to do with the economic/political system) but that the luck should somehow be managed so that it is precisely applied to each person or group of people equally?

Its really an entirely different thread.

FOr purposes of this thread, people who do not acknowledge that important life outcomes are largely tied to factors beyond our control, and that many of these factors are tied to historical racism (historical meaning at least up until 30 years ago, if not still continuing), are people that I don't really consider worth having a conversation with, because they are too ignorant of important social reality to have a valid viewpoint.

There's no question that historical racism is one of the many reasons why someone would begin with a disadvantage in life now. By looking at historical racism, the history of banking, wealth in families, etc etc we can get at why some people today are born into money and privilege and others are not. But this does not speak at all to the current state of our system and whether it plays favorites based on skin color. It definitely plays favorites based on level of wealth and background. But if the mere fact of unequal outcome and of people beginning at a disadvantage is what feels unjust, then your real qualm is with capitalism.

What I am getting at, and why it's pertinent to this thread, is that the simple observation in the here and now of an inequity of wealth and prospects does not at all show that the reason for the inequity is being caused by a systemic factor that is in play right now. Racism from 50 years ago could snowball into a problem now, even if there were zero racism now. See what I'm saying?

I want to reiterate (again) that I'm not saying there's no racism now. What I'm asking is how some people can so easily claim that any given disparity now is still being perpetuated by the [racist] system rather than inspecting whether it might have been caused before and still has significant aftershock now. Even if we asserted zero racism ever since emancipation I still imagine there would be a disparity between the black and white communities even now, with no other intervening forces. If we take that premise, the War on Drugs (which is probably racist in itself), and the way police departments are run at the moment and put them together it might well give the impression as a whole that there is rampant racism, when in fact they are completely separate issues. I'm not saying this is *for sure* the case, but I've seen no evidence offered that it isn't.

Most likely racism does play some role in life right now, but the question to be asked is how much, and in what way. "Every way" dodges the question, because not every single part of American society is racist; that doesn't fit reality. But at least by suggesting particular changes to the system people can suggest exact areas where they think there is racism. I've already mentioned body cams as being a good idea; so far no one else has suggested one single particular change they'd like to see to combat racism, even though much has been said here about the plight of blacks.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
PSRT: FOr purposes of this thread, people who do not acknowledge that important life outcomes are largely tied to factors beyond our control, and that many of these factors are tied to historical racism (historical meaning at least up until 30 years ago, if not still continuing), are people that I don't really consider worth having a conversation with, because they are too ignorant of important social reality to have a valid viewpoint. [/QB]
I would submit that people taking closed-minded, judgmental, and self-assured positions like this is more harmful to race relations in this country than any argument over which slogan better expresses a call to equality.
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noel c.
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NH,

"9/11 is an interesting example since we had all the data we needed to prevent it, no 'enhanced interrogations' required. "...

Source?

The Church Committee was responsible for impairing the CIAs ability to collect human intelligence. This was softened by Ronald Reagan's executive order 12333, and further expanded by Bush II under order 13355, but I have no idea of what you are talking about.

Is the Tom syndrome afflicting you?

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NobleHunter
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Congressional Inquiry into 9/11
quote:
Their 832 page report released in December 2002 detailed failings of the FBI and CIA to use available information, including about terrorists the CIA knew were in the United States, in order to disrupt the plots

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noel c.
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Why do you think Bush issued his executive order facilitating inter-agency communication?

Information is useless unless it is delivered in a timely, and targeted manner. We have not experienced a major terrorist attack since 911. What do you know about the contribution of EIT to that coincidence?

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by noel c.:
Fenring,

"I see what you're getting at with Joshua regarding 'responsible', you seem to be using the term to mean the same as 'caused', or 'set into motion an event that will lead to other events.' So if Feinstein did an action, and if that action set into motion other things that lead to a murder, her actions led to or caused the murder, ergo she is responsible by definition. "...

Not merely "set in motion", but *electively* sought to set in motion a publicized partisan evaluation of facts prepared by staffers without cross-checking interpretations with testimony from *any* of the witnesses. Do those details clarify my point?

I had already understood these details to be part of your point. Your assessment of the evaluation as being partisan is a) your opinion, and b) not strictly relevant to whether the facts in question are accurate. The accuracy of it has been brought up in the other thread, and at best all we can do right now is to guess who is right. Tom and I think that Cheney is lying, but I can't claim certainty about that. As long as Feinstein believes the report is true then she released it in good faith, even if she might have also anticipated a partisan benefit from doing so. That would be scummy of her, but still has nothing to do with whether it's good for the public to learn the truth for sure.

As far as Feinstein deliberately electing to set this thing in motion, we wouldn't be having the conversation if we didn't think she knew exactly what she was doing.

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NobleHunter
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Yes, so the agencies had the information to beat 9/11, without needed to torture people to get it. They just hadn't shared it.

The people I believe (i.e. the ones who don't have a vested interest in thinking torture works) say torture has done nothing to prevent a major terrorist attack.

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noel c.
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Fenring,

"I had already understood these details to be part of your point. "...

Then you realize Feinstein's decision involved individual agency, not a Nuremberg mentality treating events like this as an inevitable outcome of political necessity.

"Your assessment of the evaluation as being partisan is a) your opinion, "...

So you think this report would have been released in the next Congress?

"... and b) not strictly relevant to whether the facts in question are accurate. "...

You believe that testimony from the witnesses present during policy formation, and actual interrogation (Dr. James Mitchell, and Dr. Jessen) would have no effect upon the conclusions?

"The accuracy of it has been brought up in the other thread, and at best all we can do right now is to guess who is right. "...

Do legitimate investigations tend to produce different results than partisan "investigations"?

"Tom and I think that Cheney is lying, but I can't claim certainty about that. "...

I think Pelosi, and Feinstein are lying... Do you?

"As long as Feinstein believes the report is true then she released it in good faith, even if she might have also anticipated a partisan benefit from doing so. "...

Feinstein has a degree in history. Do you think she has the training to understand what an actual investigation looks like?

"That would be scummy of her, but still has nothing to do with whether it's good for the public to learn the truth for sure. "...

Is it "good" for the public to go back to the restrictions of the Church Committee?

"Is far as Feinstein deliberately electing to set this thing in motion, we wouldn't be having the conversation if we didn't think she knew exactly what she was doing. "...

How do you separate the timing from partisanship?

[ December 15, 2014, 09:28 PM: Message edited by: noel c. ]

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noel c.
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NH,

"Yes, so the agencies had the information to beat 9/11, without needed to torture people to get it. They just hadn't shared it. "...

You missed my point.

Our intelligence agencies had been eviscerated by 911. Prevention of a second major terrorist attack required compensating measures, which came in the form of an executive order during a period of national emergency.

I suspect Senator Feinstein is nothing more than a revised Senator Frank Church (another liberal).

"The people I believe (i.e. the ones who don't have a vested interest in thinking torture works) say torture has done nothing to prevent a major terrorist attack. "...

Are you nuts? Who has a "vested interest" in torture?

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NobleHunter
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People who authorized torture have a vested interest in believing it effective otherwise they did horrible things for no reason.
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noel c.
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NH,

"People who authorized torture have a vested interest in believing it effective otherwise they did horrible things for no reason. "...

This is so patently circular that I an not sure your sensitivities can handle a candid response based upon your most recent complaint to the moderator.

Do you give me permission to speak frankly?

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NobleHunter
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No. If you can't express yourself according to the rules of the forum, that's your problem.
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noel c.
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... Then I am going to leave your rose-colored world undisturbed.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
noel c.: Who has a "vested interest" in torture?
People who enjoy torturing. People who have tortured in the past and want to believe their actions are justified. People who over-emphasize the importance of protecting ourselves.

Lots of people.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Are you nuts? Who has a "vested interest" in torture?
It certainly seems to me that you do, noel.
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noel c.
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JoshuaD,

"People who enjoy torturing. "...

Those would be sadists, correct?

"People who have tortured in the past and want to believe their actions are justified. "...

This would imply an absence of demonstrable results, correct?

"People who over-emphasize the importance of protecting ourselves. "...

Did the reaction to the deaths of 3,000 people, targeted from the economic, governmental, and military nerve centers of our country constitute an "overreaction" in your opinion?

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Fenring
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noel, let's cut through the verbiage. You have said so far:

-You believe torture is acceptable in certain circumstances, and that therefore learning that the U.S. has conducted torture is not necessarily a moral problem.
-You believe the current report to be biased and not accurate.
-You believe the current report to be partisan and to have an agenda other than revealing truth.

Now let me ask you the one important question: Do you think it would be a serious issue if U.S. agencies conducted torture operations above and beyond what their legal mandate permitted? My question addresses both the moral issue and the legal issue of exceeding what the law specifies is permitted.

For example if, in your opinion, torture should be allowed in X case, and Y types of torture should be sanctioned, and your opinion was granted and that became the law: Would it be a problem if the CIA conducted torture in cases less serious than X, and if they used methods in excess of what Y permits? I am ignoring for the moment how we learn of such excesses, but simply of the fact that they occur. What do you think?

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noel c.
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Fenring,

"noel, let's cut through the verbiage. You have said so far:

-You believe torture is acceptable in certain circumstances, and that therefore learning that the U.S. has conducted torture is not necessarily a moral problem. "...

True.

"-You believe the current report to be biased and not accurate. "...

I believe it to be intentionally incomplete.

"-You believe the current report to be partisan and to have an agenda other than revealing truth. "...

I believe it is Dianne Feinstein's vendetta against John Brennan. Absent the personality conflict, partisanship would never have gained traction... but yes, the result was purely partisan.

"Now let me ask you the one important question: Do you think it would be a serious issue if U.S. agencies conducted torture operations above and beyond what their legal mandate required? "...

Absolutely.

"My question addresses both the moral issue and the legal issue of exceeding what the law specifies is permitted. "...

Agreed.

"So for example if, in your opinion, torture was allowed in X case, and Y types of torture were sanctioned, and your opinion was granted and that became the law: Would it be a problem if the CIA conducted torture in cases less serious than X, and if they used methods in excess of what Y permits? "...

Yes.

"I am ignoring for the moment how we learn of such excesses, but simply of the fact that they occur. What do you think? "...

Have I left anything unclear?

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TomDavidson
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But let's also be clear: you don't see a problem with torturing the brother of a terrorist to find out where that terrorist is, if that brother can't first prove to the satisfaction of his captors that he doesn't know, right?
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noel c.
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Tom,

"But let's also be clear: "...

Is this posited as *my* clarity, or yours?

"... you don't see a problem with torturing the brother of a terrorist to find out where that terrorist is, "...

The genetic relation is not particularly significant in the absence of other factors establishing a relationship.

"... if that brother can't first prove to the satisfaction of his captors that he doesn't know, right? "...

Your "clarity" is working overtime.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by noel c.:

Did the reaction to the deaths of 3,000 people, targeted from the economic, governmental, and military nerve centers of our country constitute an "overreaction" in your opinion?

You mean, when we killed 130,000 civilians while toppling two governments? Yes, that was an over-reaction.

The torture apologetics seem to fall into two basic arguments:

1. We didn't torture, and
2. Torture was justified in our case.

I find it interesting that the two apologists I've read, noel and Dick Cheney, have both employed both kinds are argument, despite the fact that they seem like mutually exclusive defenses. Granted, that's not a large sample size, but it still strikes me as; well, perfectly predictable, all things considered. Noel, are you in fact Dick Cheney, posting under a pseudonym? I would imagine that his schedule opened up a bit around the time you started posting regularly... But I digress. The torture question is one of values; the enlightening aspect of this debate is discovering the extent to which we have *not* left the practice behind as a nation. I guess we still get credit for slavery and child-labor being taboo...

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by noel c.:

Have I left anything unclear?

Nope, thanks for your clear and candid answers. Now another question:

What if we eventually learn there is at least some truth to this report, the relevant truth being that methods of torture were used either in excess of what the law permitted, or in scenarios less serious than what the law permitted? Would you then change your mind about it, at least insofar as it is important to expose when the law is not obeyed by our government agencies and the report helped do that?

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noel c.
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AM,

"1. We didn't torture, and
2. Torture was justified in our case.

I find it interesting that the two apologists I've read, noel and Dick Cheney, have both employed both kinds are argument, despite the fact that they seem like mutually exclusive defenses. "...

When did you read me to have said "we didn't torture"?

There is the legal definition, and a common usage. I have chosen common parlance. Do you employ the same care in all of your reading?

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noel c.
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Fenring,

"What if we eventually learn there is at least some truth to this report, the relevant truth being that methods of torture were used either in excess of what the law permitted, or in scenarios less serious than what the law permitted? "...

If it was concealed, then we have a problem Houston.

"Would you then change your mind about it, at least insofar as it is important to expose when the law is not obeyed by our government agencies and the report helped do that? "...

I have no problem with responsible congressional oversight, and review. That is what the committee system is for.

If this results in court-martial, or closed criminal proceedings... so be it.

I will always have a problem with personality pissing matches that put security, or military, personnel in jeopardy.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by noel c.:

I have no problem with responsible congressional oversight, and review. That is what the committee system is for.

If this results in court-martial, or closed criminal proceedings... so be it.

I will always have a problem with personality pissing matches that put security, or military, personnel in jeopardy.

Fair enough, I think I agree with this. Would your view on the report being a partisan trick change somewhat if we later learn it's true that unauthorized torture really happened? By this I mean, would truth content within the report change your evaluation of it having been purely a pissing match?

I'll even offer a lesser case: If we learn that the people who presented the report really were hoping to benefit politically from it, but it's also true anyhow that illegal torture was done and hidden, would you assess the balance of these two facts as being a net good for the American people or a net evil, that the report was released?

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noel c.
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"Fair enough, I think I agree with this. Would your view on the report being a partisan trick change somewhat if we later learn it's true that unauthorized torture really happened? "...

This report stinks to high heaven, and no degree of re-reading will change that.

"By this I mean, would truth content within the report change your evaluation of it having been purely a pissing match? "...

If the "truth content" itself changed, that would alter my evaluation. The problem is with the report content.

For example: There were perceived violations of protocol that Dr. James Mitchell himself forwarded to superiors. Committee staff left these references anonomoyus, while laying the onus of responsibility on him by name for ignoring these cryptic references (ie., they accused him of being unresponsive to his own initiatives). The report also foolishly misrepresents the frequency of water-boarding sessions either through ineptitude in data interpretation, or simple animus.

"I'll even offer a lesser case: If we learn that the people who presented the report really were hoping to benefit politically from it, but it's also true anyhow that illegal torture was done and hidden, would you assess the balance of these two facts as being a net good for the American people or a net evil, that the report was released? "...

No, I find it impossible to condone legitimization of the comedy of competing egos at the expense of American lives. If you have reason to believe the CIA is populated with sadistic incompetents, the fix would come from the electoral process. At present a majority believes we were served well in the dark days following September 11, 2001.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you have reason to believe the CIA is populated with sadistic incompetents, the fix would come from the electoral process.
How would you make this an electoral issue without releasing data to the public to enable an informed decision?
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PSRT
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Perhaps my position is harmful in the sense that it is exclusionary of people who are too uninformed to be helpful towards arriving at a solution, and cuts out of the diologue people whose input continues a cycle of oppression. I'm ok wit that. I'm not interested anymore in educating adults in basic facts about our nation's history, and our nation's economic structure. I'm tired of pretending that listening to people who have destroyed our middle class over the last 40 years is a good idea.

All opinions aren't valid. When it comes to discusing the reality of the black community in our country, one of the invalid positions is that systematic oppression of black people ended long enough ago that we aren't talking about people raising families now. Another invalid opinion is that our wealth as adults is a measure of our character.

Neither of those things are true, and I have no personal use for people who think they are. They are positions of ignorance that produce great evil. And I really have no interest in debating whether they are false or not. It's gives those positions too much credibility.

That stance, I am certain about, does far less harm to race relations than the harm done by letting the conversation be continually hijacked by ignorant people.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
Perhaps my position is harmful in the sense that it is exclusionary of people who are too uninformed to be helpful towards arriving at a solution, and cuts out of the diologue people whose input continues a cycle of oppression. I'm ok wit that. I'm not interested anymore in educating adults in basic facts about our nation's history, and our nation's economic structure. I'm tired of pretending that listening to people who have destroyed our middle class over the last 40 years is a good idea.

So far the tally of things you tacitly oppose includes capitalism, and now democracy. Anything else? There is some coherence to the idea of decisions being made only by an intellectual elite or by those with correct opinions, but this kind of idea is not a part of the American system as it was designed.

Ironically I think that excluding people's opinions that are considered to be inferior or ignorant is the mentality that led to slavery and the destruction of the middle class in the first place.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
What I am getting at, and why it's pertinent to this thread, is that the simple observation in the here and now of an inequity of wealth and prospects does not at all show that the reason for the inequity is being caused by a systemic factor that is in play right now. Racism from 50 years ago could snowball into a problem now, even if there were zero racism now.
No, because that snowball, so long as it perpetuate a racial division, is the essence of racism. It is an active bias that the system reinforces, both on a direct mechanical level, and by creating the kind of statistical facts that justify and perpetuate personal prejudices. The snowball has to be stopped and broken up for wider systematic change to be useful- otherwise any reforms just perpetuate the snowball- make the divide wider as those outside of it benefit at the expense of those inside it.

quote:
What I'm asking is how some people can so easily claim that any given disparity now is still being perpetuated by the [racist] system rather than inspecting whether it might have been caused before and still has significant aftershock now.
Which is to say, you're not listening to what the people who have experience living with and fighting the problem are saying- you're making up false claims based on your insistence of trying to define racism in one, specific narrow way, that's not germane to the issue at hand.

Trying to be right about what you want racism to mean regardless of how its actually being used, is something that only serves to effectively let the person doing it dismiss and disingenuously demonize experts on the matter by claiming, by pure assertion, that they're wrong, instead of paying attention to the fact that they are, in fact looking at the proximate mechanics of such racism and presenting solutions for how to fix the system to remove it as a factor.

quote:
no one else has suggested one single particular change they'd like to see to combat racism, even though much has been said here about the plight of blacks.
This is outright false. Peopel have suggestied things and you've dismissed them out of hand on the basis taht you know better than those that actually have experience in the matter and taken the time to actually educate themselves.

And the very first suggestion is to stop presuming that you're right by default and instead make the effort to listen to those with more experience and educate yourself- to stop insisting that you can effectively redefine the words of others until they're wrong and you're right, as you have been doing in this conversation

It's also been directly said that an active effort to make the full process of justice is made transparent to them. Make an extra effort to have full and public trials where there is any question that they've been treated unjustly, so that all the evidence in the matter is clearly and openly weighed. No amount of assertion will restore trust in the justice system after decades of abuse- it takes a clear and active adherence to the full process to demonstrate that every possible effort is being made to check bias and act in the best interests of the community.

On that theme, making a strong effort to adopt community oriented policing is essential. Assign occurs to neighborhoods on a permanent basis, with the primary goal of becoming part of the community and building trust. All of the recent headline incidents would have been easily prevented by the simple mutual respect that comes from building a real relationship with the people of the community.

Stop undermining and start programs that are designed to eliminate racial bias in the system as well-diversity programs that force employers to consider people of all races and hire proportionally instead of feeding the bias by just grabbing the low hanging fruit, effectively locking better qualified minorities out of the system because they can't even get in the door and making sure that qualification system for educational acceptance are looking for people of all backgrounds, not just a narrow set of factors that implicitly work to preserve imbalances, because they're drawn from test scores and school systems that in and of themselves, are structure to cater to those with greater access to wealth.

There are any number of proposals on the table- things in process, things that people are advocating for, but you're not going to hear much of them as long as you keep shouting down the people who have invested the most in solving the problem on the basis of the fact that they won't let you hang up your "Mission Accomplished" sign over the notion of racism and while actively ignore what they mean by it.

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NobleHunter
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quote:
On that theme, making a strong effort to adopt community oriented policing is essential. Assign occurs to neighborhoods on a permanent basis, with the primary goal of becoming part of the community and building trust. All of the recent headline incidents would have been easily prevented by the simple mutual respect that comes from building a real relationship with the people of the community.
If I understand how the protests started, the cops being able to say: "the coroner is busy and we can't move the body until they get here" and be believed would have done a lot to keep things calm.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
I think your problem is with capitalism. This is a system, after all, where in theory everyone has an equal chance to succeed and where no law prevents any person from making the attempt.
You're confusing capitalism and meritocracy. There is nothing about capitalism, on its own, in theory or practice that suggests any sense of equality at all. It's just a system that suggests that private ownership of wealth (productive assets) can potentially generate more and better output than public ownership. Which is true for many, but not all, marketable goods and services so long at there isn't a strong possibility of the provider developing a monopoly on a critical need.

Capitalism and market based economies are very effective, but they're not meritocratic unless you ensure that everyone has equal baseline access to the system, and more importantly, that ant individual failure, which is the norm in such systems, isn't a life destroying event. Success is built on making multiple attempts until all the uncontrollable factors (which is to say, luck) come together to create success. Some people are lottery winners- wither by inheritance: they start with enough wealth to have no effective cost to failure until something pans out, or because they manage to get it right on the first shot, with the latter being very vulnerable to the delusion that they made it purely on the basis of their hard work and determination, easily able to ignore just how improbable all the factors that had to come together to work out right the first time are.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
quote:
On that theme, making a strong effort to adopt community oriented policing is essential. Assign occurs to neighborhoods on a permanent basis, with the primary goal of becoming part of the community and building trust. All of the recent headline incidents would have been easily prevented by the simple mutual respect that comes from building a real relationship with the people of the community.
If I understand how the protests started, the cops being able to say: "the coroner is busy and we can't move the body until they get here" and be believed would have done a lot to keep things calm.
Wilson and Brown being on a first name basis, such that they were inclined to talk to and respect each other would have done even more.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Neither of those things are true, and I have no personal use for people who think they are. They are positions of ignorance that produce great evil. And I really have no interest in debating whether they are false or not. It's gives those positions too much credibility.
Sigh... I did enjoy this little torture interlude as it was a welcome break from dealing with you and Pyrtolin.

I have little use for race hustlers and useful idiots peddling their little "white privilege" fad.

I agree there is little point in debating people like you and Pyrtolin. Reasoning with you is really a waste of time, as 38 pages of your insipid sermonizing proves. It would be more fruitful to try to have a discussion with Al- Qaeda - at least they're not quite so sanctimonious about things.

I guess the issue will have to be decided in a voting booth. I certainly encourage you to get out the message as much as possible to as many people as possible. The more you talk, the better as far as I am concerned, although I will try to avoid having to hear it, personally.

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Fenring
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
I think your problem is with capitalism. This is a system, after all, where in theory everyone has an equal chance to succeed and where no law prevents any person from making the attempt.
You're confusing capitalism and meritocracy. There is nothing about capitalism, on its own, in theory or practice that suggests any sense of equality at all. It's just a system that suggests that private ownership of wealth (productive assets) can potentially generate more and better output than public ownership. Which is true for many, but not all, marketable goods and services so long at there isn't a strong possibility of the provider developing a monopoly on a critical need.

I can't help people who deliberately misunderstand statements they don't like, but there is a benefit in that it forces more precisely wording. I'm happy to restate the above quote:

I think your problem is with capitalism. This is a system, after all, where in theory there is an equal opportunity for those with the means to succeed to do so, and where no law prevents any person from making the attempt.

So yes, it is the means that differ from person to person as others have said; this can include genetics, family, background, wealth level, and so forth. It should be noted (and this is easy to misunderstand) that having an equal opportunity to succeed does not in any way indicate precisely equal odds of succeeding, or that the success of people with similar means will be to the same degree.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Capitalism and market based economies are very effective, but they're not meritocratic unless you ensure that everyone has equal baseline access to the system, and more importantly, that ant individual failure, which is the norm in such systems, isn't a life destroying event. Success is built on making multiple attempts until all the uncontrollable factors (which is to say, luck) come together to create success. Some people are lottery winners- wither by inheritance: they start with enough wealth to have no effective cost to failure until something pans out, or because they manage to get it right on the first shot, with the latter being very vulnerable to the delusion that they made it purely on the basis of their hard work and determination, easily able to ignore just how improbable all the factors that had to come together to work out right the first time are.

By definition capitalism cannot be purely meritocratic; this can be seen trivially just by virtue of how capital works and in how its results answer to no one and do not have to behave as you'd like them to. Everyone already does have equal baseline access to the system (more or less), but you might mean to say that it can be a meritocracy if everyone were given the same baseline starting point within the system. In my example from before, where one guy is given $1,000 and the other $1 and they're told to go and make money, you would have them both begin with equal amounts, yes? If your answer is yes, then you don't believe in capitalism, since that system includes intrinsically both the notions of private property (e.g. that you can't take things from someone by fiat and give them to someone else 'to be nice') and of free enterprise (e.g. you can't stop someone becoming ludicrously wealthy due to success in order to give others a chance). At present the U.S. operates as a form of mixed capitalism that offsets market effects with laws that redistribute wealth to some extent, but not to nearly enough of an extent to even come close to having everyone start at the same baseline.

Once you start talking about giving people an equal baseline to start from, removing the luck component from the success calculus, removing the risk of failure to have no dire consequences (or rather to have a set of consequences set by the state), and even things like affirmitive action (i.e. dictating who will be hired by private companies) then you have left capitalism far behind and rejected it.

I'd like to add that I don't necessarily oppose the concept of meritocracy or of designing a new system that has interesting and fair features, but nevertheless that was not the intent of the current system at its inception and certainly not how it operates now. So when I say you oppose capitalism I'm not denigrating that position, but nevertheless it is a definite point that when opposing capitalism's basic premises themselves it becomes redundant or even contradictory to begin assigning blame to certain problems within capitalism to "racism". It's true that racism can affect the efficient function of capitalism too, but I suspect that since you define racism as disparity in wealth and chances of success, that you would find that racism, defined in this way, cannot be removed from a capitalist system; in fact it is guaranteed to exist.

[ December 16, 2014, 12:44 PM: Message edited by: Fenring ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
This is a system, after all, where in theory there is an equal opportunity for those with the means to succeed to do so, and where no law prevents any person from making the attempt.
Still a false statement- capitalism is an economic system. It doesn't make any claim one way or another about legal structures except that they allow for private property ownership. Fascist systems can be very capitalistic, even as they legally exclude large segments of the society from participating because they don't conform to whatever national standards are required to play the game.
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TomDavidson
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Hey, bringing this back to the Brown/Wilson case for a moment, check this fascinating bombshell out, from the Smoking Gun:
Sandy McElroy: False Witness

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