Drum explains mass incarceration again!


It's all tribal script now:
Kevin Drum says he "doesn't really care what anyone thinks of Joe Biden."

We don't care about that either. By any traditional standard, Biden's too old to be running for president. He has some qualities we like—he knows how to talk about working-class people; he isn't afraid to tell boyhood stories in which his father calls him "Honey"—but there's nothing especially thrilling about him as a White House hopeful.

That said, he isn't Donald J. Trump, and he could be Trump's next opponent. For that reason, we recommend Drum's most recent report about the actually history of mass incarceration.

If you simply click this link, you'll see a graph Drum has prepared concerning incarceration rates from 1930 on. You'll then see Drum say this:
DRUM (5/29/19): As you can see, the 1994 crime bill had no effect on this trend. Incarceration rates started skyrocketing in the late 1970s as a response to rising crime rates, and after the crime bill passed the increase in incarceration started to slow, eventually peaking in 2000.
We mention this 1) because Vladimir Putin will soon be emailing us liberals, saying that Biden caused mass incarceration with the 1994 crime bill; and 2) because major segments of our "liberal community" will continue stampeding through the streets, reciting this Russkie script.

As we've mentioned many times, it's all narrative now—and we humans seem to have a fatal attraction to scripts which are factually flawed. This fatal flaw even infects us liberals, brilliant though we so plainly are.

We love to claim that women are underpaid by 20 cents on the dollar as compared to men "for doing the exact same work.". We also love to promote faulty or borderlines claims about the 1994 crime bill, often at the prompting of 1) Vladimir Putin or 2) our assistant professors.

According to future anthropologists with whom we consult, this is what we humans always did. At any rate, Drum's longer complaint reads as shown. We post this for a reason:
DRUM: I don’t really care what anyone thinks of Joe Biden, but liberals should stop inventing reasons to blame him for things he isn’t responsible for. The 1994 crime bill (a) included a lot of good ideas, (b) included some bad ideas at the insistence of Republicans, (c) had nothing to do with skyrocketing incarceration rates, (d) was supported by most black lawmakers, and (e) was a reaction to the fact that violent crime really was high, and nobody at the time had any reason to think this was likely to change.
We especially note the fact that the 1994 crime bill "was supported by most black lawmakers," not that facts and perspective actually matter, given the way we're wired.

More precisely, the crime bill was supported by former Black Panther Rep. Bobby Rush; by future NAACP president Rep. Kwami Mfume; and by Senator Carole Moseley-Braun, the nation's only black senator in 1994.

It was also supported by future presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and by the late Paul Wellstone, the Senate's most revered progressive at that point in time. Jesse Helms voted no.

Because it's all anthropology now, none of this actually matters. According to major anthropologists, we human beings always lived for the joy of reciting tribal script, the more misleading the better.

Tribal script made us feel we belonged. It proved we were better than you were.

Final point: One candidate was quoted on this matter in today's Washington Post. She's the one who keeps "misspeaking" about the gender pay gap—and yes, she was blaming Biden.

According to future anthropologists, this is what we humans were like in the years before Mister Trump's War.


  1. "we human beings always lived for the joy of reciting tribal script, the more misleading the better."

    Humans are fine, Bob. But you zombies will vote for anyone your zombie death-cult tells you to. And truth be told, you don't care who it is, nor do you have any control over that decision.

  2. Biden should be proud of the crime bill, especially as regards African Americans. Many people make the mistake of focusing on perps. However, it's more important to focus on the victims IMHO. Thanks to what Bob calls the "mass incarceration", there was a huge drop in black crime victims. Biden deserves some of the credit for this achievement.

  3. Somerby’s post is, of course, not about the 1994 crime bill. If it were, it might analyze some of the reasons why a liberal in 1994 or 2019 might express a principled objection to the bill.

    If Somerby’s post were well-reasoned, it would not suggest that people shouldn’t criticize Biden for his support of the bill because Bernie Sanders also voted for it, or fail to note that Biden was the author of the bill and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, and as such, bears a bit more responsibility for the bill than others.

    If Somerby were trying to be fair, he would not misrepresent Harris’s criticism of Biden. She does not “blame him” (for what, Bob?) for creating mass incarceration (?). She says: “That crime bill — that 1994 crime bill — it did contribute to mass incarceration in our country.” She says it *contributed* to mass incarceration, and according to the Brennan Center “Though the bill was not the root cause of "mass incarceration," it was "the most high-profile legislation to increase the number of people behind bars," according to a Brennan Center analysis in 2016.”

    So, remember, Biden may well be the Dem nominee in 2020, so don’t falsely attack him. Of course, the same is true of Harris, presumably. But the attacks against her keep on coming here at the Howler.

    But today’s post is not about Biden, Harris, or the 1994 crime bill.

  4. Women are underpaid compared to men, sometimes for doing the same work, sometimes for the same hours. That has been documented in various studies, if not by the 80% statistic. That is why people like Harris and every other liberal politician supports measures to address pay unequality.

    Women care about this issue. Women vote. Women recognize bullshit when they hear it. Most women have first hand experience of workplace inequality.

    Woe to male politicians who do not understand this.

    1. I see you've decided to go with the "math class is tough" meme anyway. Well, at least, it'll look good on your résumé if you ever apply for a DNC sinecure.

    2. Nothing like watching men scramble to protect their privilege.

  5. Biden ain't nuthin' but shit and neither is anyone who supports him.

  6. The right-wing press appears to be trying to provoke animosity among Bernie supporters aimed at the DNC and the mainstream media:


    Russian meddling attempted to suppress left vote by fueling the idea that Bernie was cheated out of the nomination in 2016, causing enough progressives to either stay home or vote for Jill Stein, to swing the votes in those Northern states and put Trump into office. Now it appears they are doing it again, anticipating that Bernie will not win the nomination and trying to fuel distrust and animosity to keep Bernie supporters from supporting whatever Democratic candidate does win the nomination, including Biden.

    Bernie has played into this by criticizing the DNC and the Democratic Party, so that some Bernie supporters regard Democrats as the problem. Divide and conquer.

    Somerby, meanwhile, thinks it is those calling The Other names who put Trump into office. I think it was Bernie and his bros who helped but no one seems to be willing to say so. Party politics means that we all close ranks around whoever is the nominee. Bernie attacks the Party between elections and won't close ranks, preferring to sulk when he is not nominated. If he repeats that in 2020, we will get Trump again. He hasn't got enough support to be nominated, but he does have enough to be a spoiler, a role he doesn't seem to mind playing.

    Does he know he was aided by Russia and the conservatives in 2016? I think he does.

  7. Here, Somerby commits the sins he rightly criticizes in the media. He oversimplifies and misleads. Sanders and Rush voted for the bill, but both expressed grave concerns at the time. Both have since expressed regret, with Rush saying he "apologizes" and is "ashamed" of his vote.

    Biden, by contrast, stands by his vote. He even brags that he "drafted the bill" -- including its draconian features.

    Bob Somerby, you can do better. You should correct this post.

    There's more on Rush and Biden here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7047015/Video-resurfaces-Bobby-Rush-saying-regrets-voting-Bidens-1994-Crime-Bill.html)

  8. The post says that Drum explains mass incarceration again. Kevin Drum declares he doesn't really care what anyone thinks of Joe Biden. It mentions that Incarceration rates began skyrocketing in the late 1970s as a reaction to rising crime rates.

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