Kristof tries to work with our new bumper-sticker!


Our new bumper-sticker don't work:
As we noted not log ago, we've come to have a lot of respect for Nicholas Kristof's values.

That doesn't man that he's always right, since pretty much nobody is. Today, we think he's trying too hard. He's trying too hard to work with our flailing tribe's latest unworkable slogan.

As he starts, he tries to play nicely with others. His start sounds reassuring:
KRISTOF (6/11/20): “Defund the police” is a catchy phrase, but some Americans hear it and imagine a home invasion, a frantic call to 911—and then no one answering the phone.

That’s not going to happen. Rather, here’s a reassuring example of how defunding has worked in practice.
"Defund the police" is a catchy phrase? Actually, no—it just isn't.

It's "catchy" if you want to dream, or if you want to seem to dream, the childish dreams of children. It's catchy if you're too detached from the full world around you to understand that the whole world isn't, and never will be, just you and your dumb-asp friends.

The catchy phrase has already created a ton of confusion, and matters have only gotten worse from there. Nobody knows what the catchy phrase means, and those who explain may make matters worse.

Lisa Bender went on TV and said she could imagine a world with no police. That's the way dreams were in the early 70s. After that, Altamont happened.

On balance, we have a lot of respect for Kristof, but we think he's trying too hard. We were especially struck by where he went after that upbeat start.

He said he had "a reassuring example of how defunding has worked in practice." But when his reassuring example arrived, he was really just playing word games. Very few people would be inclined to describe this as "defunding"
KRISTOF (continuing directly): In the 1990s, both the United States and Portugal were struggling with how to respond to illicit narcotics. The United States doubled down on the policing toolbox, while Portugal followed the advice of experts and decriminalized the possession even of hard drugs.

So in 2001, Portugal, to use today’s terminology, defunded the police for routine drug cases. Small-time users get help from social workers and access to free methadone from roving trucks.
Is Kristof "using today's terminology?" Mainly, he's trying to cram today's terminology into a setting where it isn't a natural fit.

Portugal "defunded the police for routine drug cases?" No one would describe what happened in that stilted way, unless he was pointlessly trying to rescue the use of an unhelpful, sloganeered phrase.

Based on what Kristof writes, Portugal decided to address "routine drug cases" through the use of social workers rather than through the police. We're not entirely sure what that means, but no English speaker would describe it in the way Kristof does, except as a way to avoid admitting that our hot new slogan doesn't make good clear sense.

As he continues, Kristof says that Portugal achieved good results by adopting this different approach, whatever exactly it was. By relieving police of the need to handle "routine drug cases" (whatever exactly they are), Kristof says that Portugal began winning the war on drugs.

If true, that's good news, and it may be a practice to copy. (Aren't jurisdictions already doing that?) That said, no native speaker of English would be inclined to describe it as an example of "defunding the police." It's just a good solid bit of reform.

As he continues, Kristof continues to be polite. Then he expresses a fear:
KRISTOF: That’s the idea behind “Defund the Police” as most conceive it—not to eliminate every police officer but to reimagine ways to make us safe that don’t necessarily involve traditional law enforcement.

This conversation is long overdue. But I’m also worried that the phrase will amount to a gift to President Trump and Mitch McConnell. A recent poll found only 16 percent of respondents favor cutting funds for police departments, even as huge majorities acknowledged racial bias in policing and favored police reforms...
Is that really the idea behind "Defund the police?" Actually, there's no clear idea behind the phrase—and it could be a gift to Donald J. Trump because of the way it will naturally sound to many voters' ears.

There's something every liberal and progressive needs to know. Like all teams, our self-impressed team tends to be very dumb.

Do children say the darnedest things? So do many of our ranking professors, along with other top stars.

Under current arrangements, cable hosts will continue to pander to us because they want our business. But "Defund the police" doesn't make much sense, except in the realm in which some "we" decides to go after some "them."

What's the basic idea behind our new slogan? Kristof says the basic idea is to "reimagine ways to make us safe that don’t necessarily involve traditional law enforcement." That sounds like a very good thing to do, but why would you call it "defunding?"

"Reimagine police" has a hopeful sound. By contrast, "Defund the police" is a battle cry straight out of punishment/warfare. That said, human tribes have always worked on hating the other, and numbnuts like us do that too.

"Reimagine police" (or policing) might stir better angels. We could imagine following with, "Make the world better for everyone."

That's right, jerk-offs! We ought to dream of making the world better for the average police officer too—for the person who isn't the apparently deranged Derek Chauvin. But that would mean we couldn't loathe the others, and loathing is what all tribes do.

"Defund the police" just isn't real catchy. Mainly, it's incoherent, except for the ways it's misleading/confusing.

It's the latest example of "great ways to lose." Like all tribes, we over here in our self-impressed band tend to be skilled at that task.


  1. "As we noted not log ago, we've come to have a lot of respect for Nicholas Kristof's values."

    Hmm. Tsk. Well, I suppose being the phoniest dembot of the upper echelon of phony dembots might be considered a respectful achievement, dear Bob. By someone like yourself, stewing in the dembot culture.

    "But "Defund the police" doesn't make much sense, except in the realm in which some "we" decides to go after some "them.""

    One the contrary, dear Bob, it makes perfect sense, if you're a common criminal. Or a gang member. This is not complicated.

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  2. It is very hard to figure out whether Somerby is against the reduction of policing in favor of other approaches or whether he just dislikes the slogan itself. I get the feeling he thinks defunding won't work at all, based on his ridicule of Bender and his dismissal of Portugal's approach to drug use, but then he shifts back to insisting that the idea of less policing is too confusing for people to understand, including himself apparently.

    Somerby often uses a semantic quibble to dismiss a broader idea he just doesn't want to expend energy analyzing. This is more of the same. He won't even try to reimagine policing. He says it is too juvenile for words.

    1. Anonymous Ignoramus on June 11, 2020 at 2:56 PM writes, “It is very hard to figure out whether Somerby is against the reduction of policing in favor of other approaches or whether he just dislikes the slogan itself.”

      And who am I to deny that it’s hard for you? But people who can read for comprehension find the following in the blog entry:

      Our new bumper-sticker don't work
      our flailing tribe's latest unworkable slogan
      a catchy phrase? Actually, no—it just isn't
      an unhelpful, sloganeered phrase
      our hot new slogan doesn't make good clear sense
      there's no clear idea behind the phrase
      (Emphasis mine.)

      And then there’s this:

      Kristof says the basic idea is to "reimagine ways to make us safe that don’t necessarily involve traditional law enforcement." That sounds like a very good thing to do,….
      (Emphasis again mine.)

      May I suggest you not criticize others’ semantic abilities.

    2. May I, let’s back up.

      May I suggest that “sounds like” a good idea and “is” a good idea are two different things? Picture Somerby saying: it *sounds like* a good idea, but actually, jerk-off...”

    3. Suggest what you like and picture what you want, but how do you get from "TDH says X sounds like a good idea" to "TDH thinks X won't work at all"?

    4. Anything is possible, deadrat.

    5. "how do you get from "TDH says X sounds like a good idea" to "TDH thinks X won't work at all"?"

      Here is how @2:56 got there:

      "based on his ridicule of Bender and his dismissal of Portugal's approach to drug use"

      This is called reading for comprehension...

    6. Anonymous @6:29P, touché.

    7. Anonymous @7:04P, could you please indicate when you are being serious and when you're being sarcastic. I can't tell around here anymore.

  3. Imagine a town in which police don't have to chase stray dogs because animal control people do that.

    Imagine a town in which police don't have to chase down stray children skipping school because truant officers (who are school personnel) do that.

    Imagine a town in which police don't have to mediate domestic disputes because clergy, family counselors (in a city-funded family support agency), employer funded counselors do that in an ongoing preventative effort that heads off domestic violence.

    Imagine a town in which police officers don't have to deal with teens with too much time on their hands, selling drugs or committing vandalism or just hanging around businesses because there are clubs and athletics and church activities and youth organizations and dances and jobs for teens that divert their energies in constructive ways.

    Imagine a town in which police don't spend their time responding to burglary calls because neighbors know each other and keep an eye on each others' homes when they are at work or away on vacation, deterring potential thieves with vigilance.

    Imagine a town in which homeless people have shelters and social workers to help them get back on their feet so that police are not called every time someone wonders why there is a dirty stranger sleeping or going to the bathroom in a public area.

    Imagine a town in which a burglary call actually gets investigated because police have time to devote to actual policing and are not being distracted by a stream of calls about things that could be more readily handled by civilians.

    This is what defunding the police looks like in the places that have tried it. Asking folks to imagine no police at all is a scare tactic designed to preserve the status quo in policing, which involves SWAT teams in surplus military humvees shooting mentally ill people over misunderstandings, while cops in body armor are taught how to use high tech weapons but not how to deescalate conflicts.

    1. Nicely written.

      Also imagine a town not stuffed full of inappropriate military equipment it has to maintain.

    2. Look at all the verbiage that 3:06 used. It still doesn’t correspond to “defunding” as understood by normal English speakers.

      What jerk-offs these liberals are. Dumb as a box of rocks too.

    3. What does "Rock the Vote" really mean? Throw rocks at voters?

    4. "Dumb as a box of rocks too."

      If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, then they're not just dumb.

      They're prime Darwin Award Laureates.

    5. "... by normal English speakers."

      What's that got to do with you?

    6. Good list. Here's what I would add:
      - Imagine a town -- better yet, a state -- where traffic enforcement simply gives out citations and does not attempt to have a "can I search your car" conversation with a motorist.
      - Imagine a town (state and nation) where there are "no-knock warrants" don't exist.

  4. I agree that the slogan isn’t terribly good.

    But who exactly is using it? It has mostly shown up on signs at protests. Perhaps the Minneapolis city council has used it? But from there, it gets picked up and amplified by news media, which then demands an explanation from liberals, as if holding all liberals responsible for the phrase, even the many who don’t agree with it.

    The sign holders at protests aren’t following some centralized liberal planning/sloganeering strategy.

    Also, Somerby laments the anti-police sentiment, the us-vs-them mentality of some of the protesters. But many of them are responding to the (not unwarranted) feeling of being besieged by the us-vs-them mentality of the police, and are expressing their outrage at it.

    It is the job of cooler heads in liberal leadership to steer the outrage into a more practical discussion without ridiculing or belittling the protesters, and that is what Kristof, as Lopez the other day, is trying to do.

    Somerby...not so much.

  5. "the apparently deranged Derek Chauvin"

    It appears that Chauvin and Floyd, while working as bouncers at the same club, got into disputes about Chauvin's aggressiveness in handling club members too. That may have contributed to what happened later when Chauvin had Floyd under his control.

    It may be that Chauvin was not "deranged" but motivated by personal animosity toward Floyd, or something to prove.

    What is Somerby's motive in portraying Chauvin as "deranged"? If Chauvin is mentally ill or has some built-in flaw that made him a "bad apple" then no change is needed in a police force except to get rid of the bad apples. But if Chauvin was behaving badly for reasons that could arise in any person, then it is the power and role of the police that tempted him to abuse his power and hurt those he was supposed to help, and that is a serious problem for ALL police.

    It is clear that Somerby is on the side of "get rid of the bad applies and policing will be fine" and not of the "policing has inherent problems due to the power assigned to human beings to exert over others and needs to be closely supervised or restricted so that power is not abused" school of thought.

    Defending the status quo is what conservatives do. Fixing problems to improve society is what liberals do. If Somerby was ever a liberal, he doesn't seem to be much of one now.

    1. The Chauvin-Floyd beef has already been walked back. Try to keep up.

  6. “ jerk-offs!“

    At long last, Somerby’s facade begins to crack.

  7. Altamont happened in 1969, but otherwise I see the relevance since "Defund Police" means "Replace cops with a criminal motorcycle gang."

    1. Maybe on whatever planet you're from.

    2. "Defund Police" means "Replace cops with a criminal motorcycle gang. They couldn't be any worse."

      Fixed it for you.

  8. Nice try, troll. Maybe try harder next time.

  9. Public schools have been defunded, and the long-term goal is eliminating them. You know this Daily Howler. You know what it means.

  10. If the Portuguese police had a division that deal with narcotics, it's fair to say that it was defunded. Obviously, it's not the only thing that happened based on their decriminalization policy. But it is one of the things, and it's fair to point it out.
    Portugal is profiled in Moore's "Where to Invade Next" film.

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