Hard Times: Lost on Long Island

I remember predicting this when talking to one of my daughter-in-law’s affluent relatives the night before their wedding, back in October 2008. He was skeptical, made some comment that anyone who really wanted a job could always find one. “You’ll see,” I said.

I wonder if he watched this.

Drug war

David Simon with the best thing ever written about the drug war:

We do it because we – and the communal reference is not merely to the ruling class, but to the middle- and working-class voters who tolerate such craven dishonor – live in abject fear that if we dare ratchet down our drug war, then drugs themselves will come closer: Closer to our communities; closer to our schools, our children; closer to our America.

The real risk? In the same way that the psychic effect of terrorism on a population becomes disproportionate to the actual probability of being a victim of terror, so too does our fear of drugs and drug abuse produce grandiose overreaction.

Think otherwise? If you believe for a minute that all of the brutality and lost treasure and human tragedy that underwrites America’s drug war keeps marijuana, or cocaine, or methamphetamine, or heroin from your children, you are entirely naïve enough to soldier in Pharoah’s army. Because regardless of where your kids go to school, regardless of who they keep for friends, regardless of whatever shaded suburb or gated community you inhabit, the truth is that if they want to get high, they will. They know where to get it, and yes, it is there to be got. Everywhere. We can’t even keep drugs out of our vast prison complex, much less a junior high school; if we can’t win the drug war inside a maximum-security prison, where in society do we expect to emerge victorious?

Yet to preserve the vague and unsubstantiated notion that this prohibition is sheltering us and ours, we have transformed it into an open war on the underclass. Rather than trust in our parenting, our resources, our values to guard against the actual and proportional risks of dangerous drugs, we have instead been willing to consign the children of West Baltimore or North Philadelphia or East St. Louis to hell on earth. In places devoid of all other legitimate economic endeavor – places where half the adult males of color no longer have employment – we have rigged the game: The factories are gone, the warehouses are empty. Only the corners remain. There, the only functioning industry gives daily meaning to the other, lost America even as it destroys that part of our nation. There, we have found a way to hunt, and persecute, and finally, monetize our poor for the benefit of a growth industry that actually spends profits lobbying legislatures for harsher drug statutes and more prison construction.

Big Brother

Facebook is watching you:

Facebook and other social platforms are watching users’ chats for criminal activity and notifying police if any suspicious behavior is detected, according to a report.

The screening process begins with scanning software that monitors chats for words or phrases that signal something might be amiss, such as an exchange of personal information or vulgar language.

The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t already have a well-established connection on the site and whose profile data indicate something may be wrong, such as a wide age gap. The scanning program is also “smart” — it’s taught to keep an eye out for certain phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators.

If the scanning software flags a suspicious chat exchange, it notifies Facebook security employees, who can then determine if police should be notified.

A 14-year coverup

You probably already know how I feel. Football is a religion in this country, and Penn State is one of its cathedrals. It’s big money, corruption, and abuse of power. Some kids paid the price while the big shots looked the other way. No surprise there.

The only shocker is that Louie Freeh actually did his job. If Paterno hadn’t died, it would have been a lot less likely. That’s because we now live in an accountability-free world.

Homeopathic politics

The son of George Soros, who is also a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, will use a super PAC to hopefully put itself out of business by targeting House lawmakers who oppose campaign finance reform:

Jonathan Soros, son of a prominent liberal financier, is helping to launch an independent advocacy group with hopes of spending up to $8 million targeting House lawmakers, primarily Republicans, who oppose public matching funds for elections and other campaign finance reforms.

The new super PAC, called Friends of Democracy, will file its first disclosures with the Federal Election Commission later this month and plans to zero in on 10 to 15 House races with television ads, mailings and Web messaging, Soros and other organizers said Thursday.

Like all super PACs, Friends of Democracy will be able to raise unlimited funds from wealthy individuals, corporations or unions–precisely the kind of system that the group is fighting against.

[…] “We openly acknowledge the irony of being a super PAC trying to address money in politics,” Soros said in an interview in Washington. “But our goal is to eventually decrease the influence of this kind of group…We don’t see any other path to real legislative change.”

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