Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Stephen Miller's Racist Fix for Race Relations, Part II

In the immigration handbook he wrote for then Alabama Senator Sessions, Stephen Miller cited U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner, Peter Kirsanow, who subsequently was considered by Trump during the transition as a potential nominee for Secretary of Labor. In Kirsanow's June 4 feature for National Review, Flames from False Narratives, he claimed that Black men are not disproportionately the targets of police violence and that the perception they are is a fabrication perpetrated by Hollywood, the media, academics and politicians.

To show that systemic police racism is a myth, Kirsanow presented a list of statistics compiled "from the 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey, Census data, FBI Uniform Crime Reports, and other sources" and cited his dissenting statement 2018 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Report for further discussion. The first thing to note is that Kirsanow's statement was a dissent. He disagreed with the findings of the report adopted by the majority. One of those findings had to do with the inadequacy of data collection dealing with police violence. The report found that:
The public continues to hear competing narratives by law enforcement and community members, and the hard reality is that available national and local data is flawed and inadequate. 
A central contributing factor is the absence of mandatory federal reporting and standardized reporting guidelines.
Former Director of the FBI James Comey characterized the data as "incomplete and therefore, in the aggregate, unreliable." I know, I know, Comey is a deep-state enemy of Donald Trump and therefore anything he said back in February of 2015 was simply a baseless attempt to discredit the President. The FBI publishes a honking huge disclaimer warning against the improper use of UCR data. None of that seems to matter to Kirsanow's high school debate deployment of selected, clumsily massaged statistics.

Of course, there is no way to challenge Kirsanow's numbers with better numbers because "the hard reality is that available national and local data is flawed and inadequate." It is a hard reality that Kirsanow would presumably prefer to retain, given his dissent from the Civil Rights Commission's report. Kirsanow is a lawyer, not a statistician, so it is probably unfair to challenge the logic of his claim that "[i]n 2015, a cop was 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male was likely to be killed by a cop."

Say what? Almost 20 times as many cops killed by Black men as unarmed Black men killed by cops? Well, no. Kirsanow arrived at his imagin-scary 18.5 times ratio by way of a per capita calculation that is not only preposterous but also wrong in Kirsanow's own terms, even setting aside the not inconsiderable fact that according to the Civil Rights Commission report only about half of police killings of civilians are reported to the FBI.

What Kirsanow did to arrive at his seemingly astonishing ratio is compare cops killed by Black men per 100.000 cops to unarmed Black males killed by cops per 100,000 Black males. The preposterous part of the per capita comparison is that the population of cops is not comparable to a population of African-American males. For example, there are no (or very few) individuals under the age of 20 something or over the age of 60 something in a population of cops. I could go on but the point is that "sworn officers" are not a demographic, they're an occupational category.

O.K. that's just the preposterous part. Now for the part where Kirsanow's calculation fails on its own terms. He compares unarmed Black males killed by cops to cops killed by Black males, where presumably both cops and their killers were armed. This shows conclusively that not all Black males are unarmed at all times yet both unarmed and armed Black males are included in the population Kirsanow used to calculate his per capita comparison. How silly. This may sound like nit-picking but it's the kind of thing that just kind of slips in when you are trying to lie with statistics but don't really understand descriptive statistics.

Yeah, but what about -- gasp! -- BLACK-ON-BLACK violent crime?!? If one actually read the criminology literature one would learn that violent crime is multi-factored, that most violent crime occurs within a given community and higher crime rates are associated with poverty. The analysis is nuanced and doesn't identify any single factor as decisive but here is an intriguing anecdote: white people living in poverty have a higher rate of violent crime than Black people living in poverty.

Black people are more than twice as likely as white people to live in poverty (22% to 9%). Now those two populations are not strictly comparable but then neither are the white and Black general populations that Kirsanow compares with abandon. But if we adjust for poverty using those percentages, the crime discrepancy vanishes! We can't do that because it makes inappropriate assumptions about non-comparable populations. But the reason I brought it up is to point out that the populations Kirsanow compares so blithely are also not comparable. One has a 22% poverty rate and the other has a 9% poverty rate. One of these things is not like the other.

Expect to hear Peter Kirsanow's name a lot in the coming days and possibly see his mangled numbers in Trump's speech on race relations written by Miller. He's African-American. He's a U.S. Civil Rights Commission commissioner. He's conservative. He ticks all the boxes.

Oh, and he's statistical illiterate who uses numbers to score high school debating points.


pgl said...

I was hoping someone who address his statistical nonsense. Your post did a very good job. A must read!

Anonymous said...

‘An analysis of arrest data voluntarily reported to the FBI by thousands of city and county police departments around the country reveals that, in 800 jurisdictions, black people were arrested at a rate five times higher than white people in 2018, after accounting for the demographics of the cities and counties those police departments serve In 250 jurisdictions, black people were 10 times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts.’

It is not that blacks commit more crimes. It is because the police encounter blacks more often when there was nothing to pull them over for. When Kirsanow writes “blacks are, indeed, overrepresented among victims of police shootings, but underrepresented relative to black overrepresentation in crime”, he is citing encounters with the police as his evidence. But of course this is a very biased statistics and he knows it. But of course he is a lawyer so lying comes natural to him. said...

The latest on Stephen Miller is that he is reported to be writing a speech on race relations that Trump will deliver at the first of his newly revived mass rallies, no masks or social distancing thank you, to be held in Tulsa, OK, site a massacre by whites of blacks 99 years ago, on June 18, Juneteenth. And just to show what his attitudes really are, Trump has declared no way militaty bases named for Confederate officers will be renames. So Miller is clearly the perfect person to write this speech.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The racist history behind the 10 US Army facilities named after Confederate leaders

@voxdotcom - June 9

Take the Confederate Names Off Our Army Bases

The Atlantic - David Petraeus - June 9

Anonymous said...

Fine and important analysis.

pgl said...

“The latest on Stephen Miller is that he is reported to be writing a speech on race relations that Trump will deliver at the first of his newly revived mass rallies, no masks or social distancing thank you, to be held in Tulsa, OK, site a massacre by whites of blacks 99 years ago, on June 18, Juneteenth. And just to show what his attitudes really are, Trump has declared no way militaty bases named for Confederate officers will be renames. So Miller is clearly the perfect person to write this speech.”

Well said – more on Mr. Miller:

Miller’s white-nationalist sympathies aren’t limited to immigration. After Dylann Roof murdered black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, Miller was troubled by the prospect that Confederate monuments might disappear.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

‘I should not have been there,’ Milley says of Trump photo op

The country’s top military official apologized on Thursday for taking part in President Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square for a photo op after authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters.

“I should not have been there,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a prerecorded video commencement address to National Defense University, reports Helene Cooper. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

His first public remarks since Mr. Trump’s photo op, in which federal authorities attacked peaceful protesters so that the president could hold up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church, are certain to anger the White House, where Mr. Trump has spent the days since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis taking increasingly tougher stances against the growing movement for change across the country.

On Wednesday, the president picked another fight with the military, slapping down the Pentagon for considering renaming Army bases named after Confederate officers who fought against the Union in the Civil War.

The back and forth between Mr. Trump and the Pentagon in recent days is evidence of the deepest civil-military divide since the Vietnam War — except this time, military leaders, after halting steps in the beginning, are now positioning themselves firmly with those calling for change.

Mr. Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square, current and former military leaders say, has sparked a critical moment of reckoning in the military.

“As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from,” General Milley said. He said he had been angry about “the senseless and brutal killing of George Floyd,” and repeated his opposition to Mr. Trump’s suggestions that federal troops be deployed nationwide to quell protests.

General Milley’s friends said that for the past 10 days, he had been agonized about appearing — in the combat fatigues he wears every day to work — behind Mr. Trump during the walk across Lafayette Square, an act that critics said gave a stamp of military approval to the hard-line tactics used to clear the protesters.

The general believed that he was accompanying Mr. Trump and his entourage to review National Guard troops and other law enforcement personnel outside Lafayette Square, Defense Department officials said.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Air Force commander calls George Floyd's death 'a national tragedy'

Washington (CNN)The chief of staff of the US Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, sent a memo to commanders late Monday calling the death of George Floyd a "national tragedy" and voicing support for the service's top enlistee, Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, after he made a passionate plea for justice, vowing to do more to fix racial inequality among the ranks, according to a copy of the message obtained by CNN.

In his memo, which he asked commanders to distribute widely, Goldfein also announced that he and Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett have directed the service's inspector general "to do an independent review of our legal system, racial injustice, and opportunities for advancement." ...

(Two days later, the next USAF chief-of-staff weighed in.)

... First African-American Air Force Chief Of Staff Shares Personal Message

Fred C. Dobbs said...

For Trump campaign rallies, attendees must agree not to sue if they get the virus

As President Trump moves to resume indoor campaign rallies, his campaign has added a twist to his optimistic push to return to life as it was before the pandemic: Attendees cannot sue the campaign or the venue if they contract the virus at the event.

“By clicking register below, you are acknowledging that an inherent risk of exposure to Covid-19 exists in any public place where people are present,” a statement on Mr. Trump’s campaign website informed those wishing to attend his June 19 rally in Tulsa, Okla. “By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.”

Mr. Trump’s rally in Tulsa, the site of a massacre of black residents in 1921, will be on Juneteenth, a prominent African-American holiday recognizing the end of slavery in the United States. The rally will also be his first since the pandemic forced most of the country into quarantine three months ago, a campaign official said Wednesday. Polls have shown former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. establishing a substantial lead over Mr. Trump.

Oklahoma, a state Mr. Trump won four years ago by 36 percentage points, began lifting restrictions on businesses on April 24 and moved into Phase 3 of its reopening on June 1, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing.

Of the four states the president announced this week as sites for rallies, three — Florida, Arizona and North Carolina — are seeing rising virus caseloads, while Oklahoma’s infection numbers are steady but not falling.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people avoid mass gatherings and stay out of crowded places.

Anonymous said...

June 10, 2020

Stephen Miller’s Racist Fix for Race Relations
By Sandwichman

[ Both parts of the argument should be read together with this addition to the initial part:

Sandwichman responds:

Within the constraints rhetorically imposed by Margaret Thatcher, There Is No Alternative, I agree with you. Third Way neo-liberalism redistributes income upward with avowed good intentions and some good results. Ultimately, though, it capitulates to militarist adventurism (See Blair, Iraq). But there always was an alternative that Third Way shied away from: redistributing income UPWARD. Third Way neo-liberalism didn’t do that because it bought the supply-side mythology that private investors were the job creators.

The entire argument is simply excellent. ]

ilsm said...


During the early part of the War Between the States, Lincoln put saving the Union ahead of freeing slaves (keeping the "border states appeased/in the Union, Emancipation Proclamation in Jan 1863, it was a compromise) they will soon dismantle the Lincoln monument!

The vox 'article' on military base names is chronologically challenged.

It attributes motive to 'salve sympathies' of locals who at any rate made tons of money with thousands of soldiers on new posts nearby is a huge stretch at mind reading.


“We are forcing our black soldiers to serve on a base named after leaders who served to keep them in chains”.

There are not many former slaves willing and able to serve on Ft Gordon, today.

In his second inaugural Lincoln wanted malice toward none.....

Wait 'til someone remembers that George and Martha used slaves.......

Orwell's 1984 fits here.

The problem is people who talk about military matters that have some other attribute than Lincoln's "Union" in their self image.

Anonymous said...

June 12, 2020

Trump Administration Moves to Solidify Restrictive Immigration Policies
The administration proposed a rule this week that would raise the standard of proof for migrants hoping to obtain asylum and is expected to propose additional visa restrictions.
By Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Maggie Haberman

Fred C. Dobbs said...


Abe Lincoln, August 1, 1858: On Slavery

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.
This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from
this, to the extent of the difference, is not democracy."

Slavery was acceptable practice for thousands of years.
Blame the Quakers for advancing the notion that it
was abhorrent, which took hold in the UK some years
before it did in the US. Lots of Quakers in my family
history, at least one of whom owned a slave it seems,
which would have got him cast out if he hadn't already
been exiled to Canada for 'tory tendencies'.

Anyway, your arguments don't
impress me even slightly.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Abe Lincoln, addressing the Illinois Republican
State Convention, Springfield, Illinois June 16, 1858

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed -

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing, or all the other. ...

Anonymous said...

Fred Dobbs:

"White"washing history as always -

April 27, 2003

The Empire Slinks Back

Wheresoever the Roman conquers, he inhabits. -- Seneca

Let me come clean. I am a fully paid-up member of the neoimperialist gang. Two years ago -- when it was not at all fashionable to say so -- I was already arguing that it would be ''desirable for the United States to depose'' tyrants like Saddam Hussein. ''Capitalism and democracy,'' I wrote, ''are not naturally occurring, but require strong institutional foundations of law and order. The proper role of an imperial America is to establish these institutions where they are lacking, if necessary . . . by military force.'' Today this argument is in danger of becoming commonplace, at least among the set who read The National Interest, the latest issue of which is practically an American Empire Special Edition. Elsewhere, writers as diverse as Max Boot, Andrew Bacevich and Thomas Donnelly have drawn explicit (and in Boot's case, approving) comparisons between the pax Britannica of Queen Victoria's reign and the pax Americana they envisage in the reign of George II. Boot has gone so far as to say that the United States should provide places like Afghanistan and other troubled countries with ''the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.''

I agree. The British Empire has had a pretty lousy press from a generation of ''postcolonial'' historians anachronistically affronted by its racism. But the reality is that the British were significantly more successful at establishing market economies, the rule of law and the transition to representative government than the majority of postcolonial governments have been. The policy ''mix'' favored by Victorian imperialists reads like something just published by the International Monetary Fund, if not the World Bank: free trade, balanced budgets, sound money, the common law, incorrupt administration and investment in infrastructure financed by international loans. These are precisely the things Iraq needs right now. If the scary-sounding ''American empire'' can deliver them, then I am all for it. The catch is whether or not America has the one crucial character trait without which the whole imperial project is doomed: stamina. The more time I spend here in the United States, the more doubtful I become about this....

islm said...

Perspectives change when you are the 'executive'!

The compromiser, Lincoln, was not a radical republican. He did have their support with a few exceptions.

"I would save the Union. ... If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

Source: 22 Aug 1862 (several weeks before Battle of Antietam, the first "success" in the Eastern Theater) Lincoln to Greeley:

What did Lincoln think about the ideal of democracy, the US was a representative republican, 1858 or 1862 and on?

Father Abraham was a great American.

Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman @paulkrugman

As a number of people have pointed out, talk of a "second wave" of Covid-19 misses the point that the first wave never ended; this biases conversation by making it seem as if staying at the current death rate would be OK. Is this projection acceptable? 1/…

2:11 PM · Jun 12, 2020

Right now, the daily death toll is around 3X higher than on the worst day of the Tet offensive in the Vietnam War; twice as many Americans dead already as in the whole of that war, and we're on track to double that total 2/

So even if we don't have another spike like what happened in April, this is a disaster of the first magnitude 3/

Anonymous said...

June 12, 2020



Cases   ( 2,105,820)
Deaths   ( 116,527)

While the numbers are terrifying, I wonder at the intolerable proportions of Blacks. ]

Anonymous said...

June 12, 2020

Cornel West: Black Lives Matter and the fight against US empire are one and the same
Acclaimed thinker and activist says conversations over police brutality are inseparable from discussions over Washington's imperial policies
By Azad Essa

Anonymous said...


Within the constraints rhetorically imposed by Margaret Thatcher, There Is No Alternative, I agree with you. Third Way neo-liberalism redistributes income upward with avowed good intentions and some good results. Ultimately, though, it capitulates to militarist adventurism (See Blair, Iraq). But there always was an alternative that Third Way shied away from: redistributing income UPWARD. Third Way neo-liberalism didn’t do that because it bought the supply-side mythology that private investors were the job creators.

[ Notice then Cornel West and bear in mind that the United States just subverted the government of Bolivia and would do the same for Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela just in the Americas. ]

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden’s VP list narrows: Warren, Harris, Susan Rice, others

Boston Globe - June 12

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s search for a running mate is entering a second round of vetting for a dwindling list of potential vice presidential nominees, with several black women in strong contention.

Democrats with knowledge of the process said Biden’s search committee has narrowed the choices to as few as six serious contenders after initial interviews. Among the group still in contention: Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, as well as Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama's national security adviser.

Those with knowledge declined to name other contenders and said the process remains somewhat fluid. Additional candidates may still be asked to submit to the extensive document review process now underway for some top contenders. Those familiar with Biden's search spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the process.

The campaign dismissed the idea of a shortened list as early speculation. “Those who talk don’t know and those who know don’t talk,” said Andrew Bates, a Biden spokesperson.

Biden, who has already said he will pick a woman as his running mate, is facing increased calls from Democrats to put a woman of color on the ticket — both because of the outsize role that black voters played in Biden's road to the nomination and because of the reckoning over racism and inequality roiling the nation following the death of George Floyd. The black Minneapolis man died after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck for several minutes, an episode that was captured on video. ...

The campaign's list includes several black women, including Harris and Rice. Advisers have also looked closely at Florida Rep. Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, both of whom are black, and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden’s Vice-Presidential Search: Who’s on the List and Where It Stands

NY Times - June 13

Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s advisers have conducted several rounds of interviews with a select group of vice-presidential candidates and are beginning to gather private documents from some of them, as they attempt to winnow a field that features the most diverse set of vice-presidential contenders in history.

The search committee has been in touch with roughly a dozen women, and some eight or nine are already being vetted more intensively.

Among that group are two contenders who have recently grown in prominence, Representative Val Demings of Florida and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta. One well-known candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, has lost her perch as a front-runner. And some lower-profile candidates, like Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, are advancing steadily in the search process. ...

Anonymous said...

Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan

This worldwide movement (BLM) seems to show that the most anti (call them reactionary) people are East European anti-communists. They need the West as an ideal, a beacon of freedom, so Black Lives really do not Matter to them.

1:58 AM · Jun 13, 2020

I think racism is very strong in Eastern Europe, but there is no history of imperialism (rather the reverse) and that makes a difference compared to the West: no guilt complex but also indifference.

Anonymous said...

June 10, 2020

Economics, Dominated by White Men, Is Roiled by Black Lives Matter
The editor of a top academic journal is facing calls to resign after criticizing protesters as “flat earthers” for wanting to defund the police.
By Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley

The national protests seeking an end to systemic discrimination against black Americans have given new fuel to a racial reckoning in economics, a discipline dominated by white men despite decades of efforts to open greater opportunity for women and nonwhite men.

A growing chorus of economists is seeking to dislodge the editor of a top academic publication, the University of Chicago economist Harald Uhlig, after he criticized the Black Lives Matter organization on Twitter and equated its members with “flat earthers” over their embrace of calls to defund police departments.

Days earlier, the profession’s de facto governing body, the American Economic Association, sent a letter to its members supporting protesters and saying that “we have only begun to understand racism and its impact on our profession and our discipline.” A group of economists, mostly from outside academia, last week hosted an online fund-raising effort for the Sadie Collective, an organization that aims to bring more black women into the field.

Black economists say the events have brought some progress to a field that has long struggled with discrimination in its ranks — and with a refusal by many of its leaders to acknowledge discrimination in the country at large. But the profession remains nowhere close to a full-scale shift on racial issues: On Wednesday, the director of the White House National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, told reporters, “I don’t believe there is systemic racism in the U.S.”

Black Americans are vastly underrepresented among economics students and professors, a wide range of data have shown. There are no black editors of the most prestigious economics journals. There are no black professors in the main economics department at Chicago, Mr. Uhlig’s employer, which is one of the most storied departments in the country.

In a survey of economists released by the American Economic Association last year, only 14 percent of black economists agreed with the statement that “people of my race/ethnicity are respected within the field.”

As protests against discrimination have grown in recent days, a conversation has erupted — often led by black economists — over how the lack of diversity has left the profession ill equipped for a moment where policymakers are seeking ideas on how to combat racial inequality in policing, employment and other areas....

Anonymous said...

June 12, 2020

Depression and anxiety spiked among black Americans after George Floyd’s death
Asians and African Americans show sharp increases in mental health problems amid protests, while white Americans were relatively untouched, Census Bureau finds.
By Alyssa Fowers and William Wan - Washington Post

alfa said...

"here is an intriguing anecdote: white people living in poverty have a higher rate of violent crime than Black people living in poverty"
It's the first time I read this. All data I saw confirmed the opposite.
This article seems very weak, the propensity of blacks to commit violent crime is very documented and there's a higher correlation between race and crime than between race and poverty.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass being vetted to be Biden running mate

via @CBSPolitics - June 23

Congresswoman Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, is undergoing vetting as a candidate to be Joe Biden's running mate, CBS News has learned according to sources familiar with the process.

The five-term congresswoman represents Los Angeles and endorsed Biden for president in mid-March.

It is not immediately clear where Bass stands in the vetting process but her name has been floated for consideration by powerful Democrats like House Majority Whip James Clyburn. "Karen Bass would be a big plus…she is a great person in my mind, I work with her every day," Clyburn told CNN in June when asked about Biden's vetting process.

Clyburn specifically cited her previous leadership experience as speaker of the California Assembly, the first African-American woman to lead the chamber, as fitting preparation for the White House.

Her current leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus has taken on even greater importance, since she recently unveiled House Democrats' slate of police reforms in the wake of George Floyd's death and the nationwide protests for racial equality. ...