An Open Letter to My Conservative Friends

Dear Conservative,

Remember who you are. You are a lover of liberty and of country. And that love requires certain tolerances. Namely, that you tolerate difference of thought, of opinion and of solutions to a wide range of perceived problems.

This will be hard to do. It will not be easy; but you have to do it.

And it will be made harder by the thoughts, the words and the actions of those that you disagree with. They will do and say things that will take you down a path you don’t wanna go. They will tempt you to abandon the liberty and the country to love.

We ARE a nation of immigrants. You can trace your family tree back to somewhere else. And you are right to celebrate that. It is right to take immense honor that it is uniquely American that we are the only country in the world where you can come and then ‘become’. If you come from Germany, you can become American. If you come from China, you can become American. From Romania, from Argentina or from Ethiopia; you can become an American. All knowing that you cannot go anywhere else and become. You cannot become Mexican, or Norwegian or Zimbabwean.

This is what makes us great.

Which is why it is so painful when you cheer statements suggesting select congressmen go back to where they came from. Which is why it is so frustrating to hear you chant, ‘send her back’. You are better.

And yes, it is hard. As they try to silence you, give them a voice. As they insult you, give them respect. As they seek to alienate you, let them have their opinions.

They will try to suppress you. They will call you racist in an attempt to silence you. They will label you as misogynist in an attempt to silence you. They will call you xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and you-name-it-phobic. Yes, they have and yes they will continue to do the same.

Carry on. Bear the burden and carry on.

Our liberty and our country depends upon it.

Chance of Recession: April 2020

Probability of US Recession

Probability of US Recession

Back in the day when Mark Perry was running Carpe Diem at his private location, I would follow his recession data. A fun leading indicator is the nugget he uses: The treasury spread data found at the NY Fed site.

Prepare yourself. Winter is coming.

Bedrock Principles

Noble Intentions

For awhile now I’ve been writing about, listening to, debating the merits of, politics. In many ways it’s enjoyable. In many ways it’s important. But in many ways it’s frustrating. Frustrating because all too often the debate devolves into a ‘fight’ about intentions and not a discussion of the merits of the policy.

How do you debate someone concerning the minimum wage when all they do is retort to your position, “Yeah, well, you just hate the poor. You’re a greedy racist that doesn’t care about the people who are marginalized!”

Here at Tarheel Red I have as a Bedrock Principle something I call Noble Intention.

I try to assume that the going in position of people is that they are operating from a place of noble intentions. That by arguing for a raise in the minimum wage they are NOT being racist or trying to hurt those with little experience. That what they ARE doing is advocating for people who might need a few more dollars in their pockets. That they are earnestly looking out for the little guy.

I hope that I get the same consideration.

Pino’s Cafe

My growing stack of books
My growing stack of books

No April Fool’s Joke.

I’m gonna try and get back into this thing and I thought this would be a good time. We have Trump, we have AOC, we have a new SCOTUS and maybe a newer one coming.

We have what seems like a runaway herd of donkeys vying for the shot at the title and much more.

As an added bit of fun, I am starting a ‘Book Club’. My stack of books is only growing, never shrinking. Maybe if I read with a purpose I can force myself to whittle it down.

Grab an Amazon, buy a book. Get a cup of coffee, beer or bourbon and join the discussion.

Meet here.

First book is ‘Coming Apart’ by Charles Murray. First post in two weeks to allow y’all –or me if there’s no one here- to buy, ship and prepare.

#MeToo – Not For Me Only For You

I’m old enough to remember a time when allegations of sexual assault were to be believed.  I can remember when unsubstantiated and uncorroborated allegations of sexual assault were grounds to ruin a man, a career and prevent elevation to the Supreme Court.

#MeToo

We had democrats protesting in the streets, banging down the doors of power and even harassing elected officials demanding justice.

But now we have a new story:

Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in California who is currently on leave, accused Fairfax of the sexual assault in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

We would expect the good Mr. Fairfax to be excoriated by the press, by the women, by the democrats and by all them, right?  Well, if you thought that, you’d be wrong.  So, what’s the difference between Fairfax and Kavanaugh?

Let’s compare and contrast:

In one case, the accuser can name the date – in the other the accuser cannot.
In one case, the accuser can name the location – in the other the accuser cannot.
In one case, the accused claims not to know the accuser – in the other the accused admits knowing her.
In one case, the accused denies the interaction – in the other, the accused admits to the interaction.
In one case, the WaPo ran story after story – in the other, the WaPo spiked the story.

In one case the accused was a conservative – in the other, the accused was a liberal.

#MeToo indeed.

Turn Off the News: What Do We Care About

We know what we want

Welcome back gentle reader.

If you have been following the news lately, or even if you haven’t – you surely know that:

  • The government is shut down
  • Because the wall

And THAT is a big deal.

If you believe the news. But what do we really think?

policy priorities

It turns out that immigration is on the minds of many Americans.  So much so, that it ranks tied for #1 over all on the most recent AP-NORC Poll:

This after scoring only #3 last year.  Health care placing each of the last 4 years.  While consistently scoring in the top 3, immigration nearly doubled in attention from 2017 to 2018.  Is this attention due to Trump?  Is it due to an increase in the perception of a crisis?  Is it due to the news cycle?

Likely a combination of the three.

THE POINT

Do not let the news cycle guide your eye from the ball; focus on what is important to you.  Reflect on what concerns you.

Pay attention to that.

A Thing I Learned Today – I

Today I learned of the origin of ‘Federal’:

1640s, as a theological term (in reference to “covenants” between God and man), from French fédéral, an adjective formed from Latin foedus (genitive foederis) “covenant, league, treaty, alliance,” from PIE *bhoid-es-, suffixed form of root *bheidh- “to trust, confide, persuade.”

Secular meaning “pertaining to a covenant or treaty” (1650s) led to political sense of “formed by agreement among independent states” (1707), from use of the word in federal union “union based on a treaty” (popularized during formation of U.S.A. 1776-1787) and like phrases. Also from this period in U.S. history comes the sense “favoring the central government” (1788) and the especial use of the word (as opposed to confederate) to mean a state in which the federal authority is independent of the component parts within its legitimate sphere of action. Used from 1861 in reference to the Northern forces in the American Civil War.

Tariffs and Trump

Trump likes to think of himself as a free trade kinda guy.  and in some cases, think reduced regulations, he is.  But the idea that tariffs are good for the American economy is just plain bad policy.

Tariffs are nothing more than taxes on goods that consumers wanna buy.  Raise the cost of selling a widget?  Raise the price of buying a widget.

Simple.

And it’s not even about keeping core.  Consider, say, anvils.  Let’s pretend that Elbonia imposes a 10% tariff on anvils imported from the United States and Trump comes along and imposes a 25% tariff  on anvils imported from Elbonia.

Good for the US?  Winning?

No.

All it does is make anvils in America more expensive.

But does it save American anvil manufacturing?  Maybe – maybe not.

Say that at Acme Anvil, a US based company, they can make anvils at a cost of $45 per unit.  But Elbonia is able to bring them to market for $40.  People will, all else being equal, people buy the less expensive anvil moving jobs to Elbonia.

Now comes Trump and imposes that 25% tariff.  Acme now has the price advantage because the foreign made anvil goes from $40 to $50 providing Acme the opportunity to profit at $46.  Maybe Acme is happy with the $1 profit and is able to bring some jobs back from Elbonia.  But, not having to worry about competition, Acme might just price their anvils at $49, increase profits and keep the jobs nearly where they were before the tariff.

All the while the American consumer is being forced to pay an extra 5 bucks – or more.

If you are a free trade guy – you can’t be a tariff guy at the same time.

Big Data and Crime

I love numbers.  And data.  And the cool things that can be done with both.

I have been interested in crime theory, patterns and prevention for some time now.  This article is cool:

The faster data analytics extends to crime mapping, too. LAPD has been expanding “Operation LASER,” which uses near-real-time crime data to adjust police patrols on a daily or even hourly basis. By contrast, older systems, such as the vaunted “Compstat” — pioneered in New York in the 1990s — mapped crime much more slowly.

In the divisions of LAPD now using LASER, officers are given “mission sheets” with instructions to focus on very specific areas, sometimes just a few blocks big. The missions are written by their local supervisors, but with heavy input from the real-time crime mapping, as well as another analytics tool called PredPol. It uses an algorithm to predict the location of future property crimes.

I’ve always wondered, for example, does most crime occur during the day or during the night?  Are most drug mules active during the summer or winter?  Does rain slow down breaking and entering?  Do car break in follow a location heat map?

Turns out some people feel that the answers to those questions is that crime IS dependent on those things:

At the Olympic Division station, Officer Jennifer Ramirez reviews her daily mission sheet printout. She eyes the areas she’ll target, “because these are the hot spots, these are where the crimes tend to happen, this day, this time, based on the crime mapping that we do.”

Ramirez has faith in the analysis, because she’s convinced crime is cyclical.

 

But all this goodness doesn’t come controversy free:

But her mission sheet doesn’t point her just toward certain places. It’s also pointing her toward certain people. Her mission sheet comes with mug shots and names.

“These are people that we are going to be looking out for, who are our chronic offenders,” she says.

The “Chronic Offenders Bulletin” may be the most controversial element of LAPD’s new data analytics strategy. It’s a list of the people in a certain neighborhood who police think are most likely to commit crimes. Chronic offender status is based on a point score, which is calculated on the basis of his previous interactions with the justice system, or membership in a gang. The LAPD’s new data search tools make calculating that score much simpler.

Small print across the top of the Chronic Offenders Bulletin warns that it’s “Info only… not PC [probable cause] for arrest.” But officers are encouraged to interact with the chronic offenders to the limit allowed by the law.

“It’s just disruption of crime,” says Deputy Chief Kato. “When you see Johnny Jones walking down the street and he’s a chronic offender, you should pay attention to his activity. Now if you have a lawful reason, constitutionally, to stop him or detain him, then do that.”

I’m sure such lists are ripe for abuse.  However, I’m also sure that such individuals are already on the beat cop’s internal watch list.  In the same way that teachers know the bad apple, that kids on a soccer team know who not to pass to, in the same way that herds know who the weak member is, the criminal is well know to the community and the officers who patrol that community.

LAPD says it does not publish the Chronic Offenders Bulletin, for reasons of privacy and police operations. But Kato says if someone walked into a station and asked to find out if he’s on it, Kato would tell him.

He believes strongly that the Bulletin is a smart way to focus police attention on the small percentage of people who commit most crime. But others in the community see it as data-driven stereotyping.

“They’re just reinventing their surveillance techniques and machinery,” says Anthony Robles. He’s an organizer with the Youth Justice Coalition, an activist group run by young people who’ve been incarcerated.

Robles thinks the Chronic Offenders Bulletin is just a new version of the gang membership lists that used to drive a lot of LA policing. Those lists have been the subject of a recent lawsuit, and are falling out of favor. Critics accused the department of including the names of people with dubious ties to gangs.

Robles recalls what it was like to be on the gang list, when he was a teenager.

“Every time I drove out of that block, or drove anywhere, I’d get pulled over. A lot of times they’d search my car they wouldn’t find anything and they’d give me a moving violation.” Robles believes the increased scrutiny did little to keep him on the straight and narrow. “It led to a lot of anger — it made me want to do something bad!”

Jamie Garcia is with another activist group, the “Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.” The group sued to get more details about the new analytics tools — including the chronic offenders list. She thinks the only thing that’s new here is what she calls the scientific “veneer.”

“These programs are nothing new, in the history of policing,” Garcia says. “What they are trying to call science is pseudo-science.”

For instance, the chronic offender formula is partly based on how often you have contacts with the police — “field interviews,” she says. And those contacts are simply more likely in a place that already has more police patrols.

“The bias is still very much inherent in the data that is being used, and the same communities are being impacted,” she says.

The tools aren’t perfect, they may never be.  However, a more important question might be, “Are they better than what we have now?”

Our Immigration Policy

Re-posting this article I penned just a few short months ago – and before the recent lamenting of the plight of children who find themselves in a much better and safer place than the on they left.