Overused Statistic #738: Mental Illness and Violent Victimization

So there’s a particular bit of overused truth whose use I want to challenge. Again, it’s not that it’s not true. AND it’s not that we shouldn’t be telling people that it’s true, BUT it seems to only ever be used in contexts where it doesn’t mean what people think it means.

Persons with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crime than to be perpetrators of violent crime. This is true.

Persons without mental illness are also more likely to be victims of violent crime than to be perpetrators of violent crime. This is also true.

But wait! How is that possible?

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“Not as bad as Alabama” is hardly the same thing as “good.”

So, for amusement I will periodically go catch up with my reading on the US-centric but still wildly funny law blog, “Lowering the Bar”. Recently they have been covering the case of a Judge in Texas who, because of a rarely-remembered but still operant clause in the Texas state constitution, had the misfortune of accidentally resigning the judgeship he won in an election only three months before.

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Stephen Moore: Not the Nominee Republicans Need

Before we start, I’m going to need to go into a bit about the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System of the United States of America (AKA the Federal Reserve Board). If you think you have enough context and just want to read about Stephen Moore, you can skip ahead to the “Now it gets interesting!” tag below.

Stephen Moore has been stealth-nominated by the White House for a position on the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System (AKA “the Federal Reserve”). Someone in such a position is called upon to make decisions about many things, but most often and most centrally decisions about the availability of credit in the United States. The Board of Governors’ principle tool to influence monetary policy is the ability to raise and lower the interest rate that banks must pay to borrow money from the Federal Reserve. Not only does this affect directly many interest rates for consumer and mortgage loans, but it also affects the total amount of money in the economy. For instance, if a bank has an opportunity to loan money out at a specific interest rate, but it doesn’t have enough to do so, it can borrow the money from the Fed at a low interest rate and then lend it out at a higher interest rate. This allows them to use the income from the higher interest customer loan to pay the interest they owe to the Fed and pocket the difference. But if the interest rate the Fed wishes to charge is high enough, the rate charged to the customer might be so high the customer does not want the loan or perhaps so high that the customer does not have credit sufficient to qualify for the same size load at that higher rate (the required monthly payments would be larger, and the customer many not be able to comfortably afford those higher payments, in the judgement of the bank, even if the customer believes they could).

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Follow up to the Punisher cops: Logo Lawyer is Troubled

And FREEZE PEACH activists, for that matter.

One of the things that struck me the hardest in that story, at least after excluding the revelation that cops had actually placed punisher logos on their patrol cars anywhere, ever, much less huge logos covering nearly the entirely of the hoods, was the DeepThoughtsing™ of batshit dingleberry Roy Gutterman, head of the Syracuse Tully Center for Free Speech.

What did this “expert on communications law and the First Amendment” have to say that could help us appreciate precisely what had happened in Catlettsburg, Kentucky?

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Old News I Missed: Cops have placed the Punisher skull on patrol cars

This is from two years ago, though I didn’t see it at the time. Apparently the Blue Lives Matter movement created any number of mind-bogglingly awful logos and graphics, and at least some of them incorporated the stylized skull used as a personal symbol by the fictional Marvel comic and television character The Punisher.

If you don’t already know: The Punisher is not a good guy. He’s a former marine who now treats every crime as an act of war, and responds in kind. It never occurs to him that his wars might not make communities safer, that even if he targets bad guys war on the streets is bad for good guys and bad even for normal, non-noble but non-evil human beings. He is a man of blood and battle, a torturer and a murderer, and the embodiment of all the ideas that good is defined by its hatred of evil, that men are defined violently imposing their will over others, and, of course, that intent is magic. So, naturally, cops in the US think he’s the greatest.

Just check out those cars mentioned in the title:

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Congregation Chabad: The Blood of Our Children, Perhaps Our First Born

There is yet another mass shooting at a place of worship. The details aren’t out yet, but we know that at least four people have been shot at the Congregation Chabad northeast of San Diego during a regular shabbat service on a special shabbat: the 8th day of Passover. As four victims is often taking as the number that defines a mass shooting, whatever news comes next, we know this qualifies.

The good news, such as it is, is that local law enforcement apparently has the shooter in custody. The shooting is, for the moment, likely over. While not as extensive or as lethal as the recent attacks in Sri Lanka or New Zealand or Pittsburgh, it’s certain that this attack has commonalities with all of these, and has more direct connections at least with Pittsburgh (today is exactly 6 months after the Pittsburgh attack), but also likely with New Zealand.

I’ll be updating this as more comes in. The notes will not necessarily be cohesive in the sense of the larger post, but I hope to provide updated information as I get it, and I hope I can at least make sense within the updates.


As both of my readers know, I have a weird and idiosyncratic religious history, with a childhood more Christian, but an adulthood that was Jewish when it wasn’t either vaguely spiritual or, later, entirely non-religious. I have most of the general cultural knowledge of others raised Jewish, but rarely have the same level of emotional attachment to shared jewish traditions and customs. While there have been many atheist Jews over the centuries, the emotional distance I feel makes me even more uncomfortable with being taken for a representative of jewishness than other atheist jews. Nonetheless, the group affiliation is there. There are definitions of jew that include me, and I’m not prepared to give them up.

The weird thing is that this sometimes creates very complicated emotional consequences for me: The Chabadi would, I’m sure, quickly disavow any possibility I might be in the same category of jewishness as they. And I can’t say I feel some close kinship with Chabadim as fellow travelers on the same road. The congregation where I made my adult home was small and unaffiliated, but leaned much more toward Reconstructionist judaism than any other flavor. I’ve never even been to services at a Chabadi synagogue, though obviously some features of services would be readily familiar to me. I imagine going to a Chabadi service would be something like a Mormon going to a Catholic service, or a Unitarian Universalist going to a 7th Day Adventist service.

And yet, weirdly, this almost-closeness interrupts my thoughts about this tragedy in a way that my clear distance from Sri Lankan communities or muslim communities in New Zealand does not. In those cases, I don’t feel any expectation to speak knowledgeably about Islam’s failings or Sri Lanka’s long and multi-faction history of violence. I can simply say that it doesn’t matter what the history is, the violence was unjustified and tragic. Yet in the case of the attack on Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha in Pittsburgh or (now) Congregation Chabad, I feel that I’m somehow supposed to speak about, and speak knowledgeably about, everything from the history of the Lubivitchers (of which I know little) to the distinctions between Reform and Reconstructionist judaisms (where I’m more knowledgeable but no expert) to my seemingly contradictory position that I’m not entirely opposed to Israel keeping occupied territory in the Golan while I thoroughly and utterly oppose the occupation of Gaza.

But I don’t have to explain those things, as much as my brain might pester me with sharp pokes. Because the same is true here as is true in other mass shootings: The violence is unjustified. This violence can never be justified. This violence must end.


Looking at the pictures of the police tape around the synagogue I was struck with the idea that this created a twisted mockery of an eruv.


Newer reports are putting the total shots fired around 10, and one report is listing a single person dead in addition to the four people wounded whose conditions were reported earlier.


And now reports are saying that rather than one murder in addition to the 4 injuries that were reported, there were a total of only 4 people hit, with 1 person killed and 3 injured. Although I’m no longer sure which is correct, I think this makes it very likely that the number of persons shot is unlikely to increase with new reports.

The one person killed is said to be an older woman.


In entirely not-shocking news, the shooter has been determined to be a young adult man. Who would have thought?

In slightly more shocking news, the mayor of Poway, the city where Congregation Chabad is located, has declared this a hate crime. It’s not at all surprising that it’s a hate crime (the only other plausible possibility given what we knew was domestic violence turned public), but it is somewhat surprising to me to hear the Mayor say that this early. It seems likely, then, that the shooter has been making statements about his anti-semitic motives to law enforcement, with the information then further communicated to the Mayor. This last is speculation of course, but I think it will prove true.


Trump has offered “thoughts and prayers”. Anti-semitic scumbags offering their selfish thoughts and bigoted prayers are worse than useless. I hope people take this opportunity to call Trump out again for his Nazi sympathies and general awfulness.


And… it has now been pointed out to me that I missed a story from earlier this week where a Christian guy, also in California,

deliberately drove into a group of pedestrians because he thought some of the people were Muslim

Also of note? He was on his way to a Christian bible study meeting at the time he chose to run these folks over. While the DA isn’t formally alleging any violation of hate crime provisions, prosecutors are still investigating and have not decided against those charges. For the moment, he’s been charged with eight counts of attempted murder.


A former Assistant Secretary of State (Joel Rubin) was on Fox News to discuss the rise of anti-semitism in relation to the Tree of Life/Or L’Simcha shooting 6 months ago and the Congregation Chabad shooting yesterday. After Rubin pointed out that there’s been substantial growth in public anti-semitism and mentioned the Charlottesville horror, he then made the point that Trump had “essentially said [the Charlottesville Nazis] were fair”. As soon as Trump was mentioned, Fox cut to commercial and came back from break pretending nothing unusual happened.

Joe Biden See No Boundaries

Much discussed in certain circles of the internet the past month or two has been Democratic presidential nomination candidate Joe Biden’s long history of zooming past boundaries without even acknowledging that they might be there. The debate has been weirdly complicated by some people who insist that, since they themselves would have gladly consented to the touching Biden initiated with them without asking that somehow never asking is a reasonable choice on his part. “If I wanted a back rub,” their argument begins, “but other people don’t want a back rub, how in the world is Biden supposed to know who wants him to walk up behind them and rub their shoulders and who doesn’t?”

How indeed.

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Passovers Past: The One Drop Rule

Passover is a time to think about slavery, and for many of us to think about race because of the deep connection between the two topics. Two years ago I wrote one of my best-loved pieces The One Drop Rule. Not only do traffic logs show that both of my readers read the post twice, but apparently one of them still comes back a few times per month to read it again right up until today. Since it’s also a post about which I’m proud, and since I’m also struggling with kidney stones right now, I thought I’d take the opportunity of this year’s Passover to bring it back for new readers. It turns out that I’m not up to messing around with 301 redirects to create all the appropriate aliases, so instead I’ll link it here and encourage you to go read the original if you haven’t or if you’ve forgotten it. If you like, you can pretend that post is your reward for finding the afikoman. I’d make a chocolate joke here, but Bootsy Collins told me I can’t fit it between the 1s:


Yes that’s the same video I included in one of my earliest blog posts ever, but as long as we’re headed down memory lane, we may as well take the funk railroad. I hear it even has a stop in Mixed Metaphorville.