Category Archives: America

About American politics, our spirit, and our soul

William Lind describes 2 visions of America’s future

Summary:  What will America look like in in 2025, after another decade of our long war? In the second of this series William Lind describes two scenarios, failed and successful responses to risks regarded as likely among paleoconservatives. Seeing visions of the future like this can help you decide how to vote in November 2016. Perhaps the fears of each group are what most clearly distinguishes Left and Right in America.

Coin Toss


Our future as two sides of the coin
By William S. Lind


The first toss of the coin: a dark vision

America’s “long war” continues to prove Sun Tzu correct: no nation ever benefits from a long war. From Afghanistan through Iraq to war with Iran (following Congress’s rejection of President Obama’s deal with Iran, which led to Iran building an atomic bomb, which led to an American attack), in Syria, and now in Saudi Arabia, America has failed to attain closure while spending itself into ruin. As I write in this year of 2025, the Federal debt is six times the GNP, revenues cover only 23% of federal expenditures, and it takes 25,000 dollars to buy one yuan {currency of China, now worth $0.16}. Almost half of the federal budget goes to paying interest on the debt. It is rumored the Estates General will soon be called, in the form of a Constitutional Convention.

In Washington, since the explosion of a suitcase nuke in Seattle on 25 December 2024, both political parties agree we must continue to fight. Although al Qaeda claimed credit for the Seattle bombing, American intelligence traced the origin of the plot to Saudi Arabia. This was no surprise; everyone had known for decades that most Sunni extremism had its roots in Saudi money. Previously, the United States had to pretend otherwise because of its dependence on Saudi oil. Now, with imported oil unaffordable, that was irrelevant.

Coin Toss: heads

The Saudi war is following the usual course. The initial American invasion, with three divisions, quickly captured Riyadh and destroyed the Saudi state. Fourth Generation war goes on in all the populated parts of Saudi Arabia — even the Shiites are fighting us, at the same time they fight the Sunnis — and jihadi volunteers pour in to defend Mecca and Medina, both of which U.S. troops occupied at the demand of our military commanders, who said they were being used as safe havens.

American air, drone and missile strikes hit daily throughout the Islamic Middle East and Southwest Asia. None of what we do appears to make any difference. Washington’s policy remains one of serial failure: when what we do fails in one venue, we go on to do the same thing somewhere else. Only complete financial ruin, which is rapidly approaching, appears likely to change anything.

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Are protests about police killings causing crime to rise?

Summary: First came the revelations of brutal police killings of unarmed people for little or no reason. Then the blowbacks of police excuses and rising crime. How we deal with this will have large effects on our cities and show how well we can deal with problems in American society.

Indications that the 3 decades of declining crime has reversed

Lots of stories about rising rates of crime. “Quiet Santa Clarita adjusts to recent jump in violence.” “After a 12-year decline, crime in L.A. surges in first half of 2015.” “Several big U.S. cities see homicide rates surge.” “Baltimore killings soar to a level unseen in 43 years.”

Conservatives explain what’s causing crime to increase

“The criminal element is feeling empowered’ by anti-police sentiment.”
—- Police Chief Sam Doston of St Louis.

Conservatives have the explanation. It’s a mixture of evil and lies, as in this Wall Street Journal op-ed by Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute — Excerpt…


The most plausible explanation of the current surge in lawlessness is the intense agitation against American police departments over the past 9 months. … The news media pump out a seemingly constant stream of stories about alleged police mistreatment of blacks, with the reports often buttressed by cellphone videos that rarely capture the behavior that caused an officer to use force. … Acquittals of police officers for the use of deadly force against black suspects are now automatically presented as a miscarriage of justice. Proposals aimed at producing more cop convictions abound, but New York state seems especially enthusiastic about the idea. …

Similar “Ferguson effects” are happening across the country as officers scale back on proactive policing under the onslaught of anti-cop rhetoric. Arrests in Baltimore were down 56% in May compared with 2014. “Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family,” a New York City officer tells me. “Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be nonstop protests.”

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We need a criminal justice 2.0 (the 1.0 is broken)

Summary: Here’s another post about our broken criminal justice system by someone who .understands its weaknesses –Hon. Alex Kozinski, a judge on the Ninth Circuit. His description has little resemblance to what we see on TV in CSI and NCIS, or to what our peers experience in Europe or Japan.  {1st of 2 posts today.}



Excerpt from “Criminal Law 2.0

by Hon. Alex Kozinski (Ninth Circuit judge)
Georgetown Law Journal, 2015

Preface to the 44th Annual Review of Criminal Procedure
Section I (footnotes omited)

… In fact, much of the so-called wisdom that has been handed down to us about the workings of the legal system, and the criminal process in particular, has been undermined by experience, legal scholarship and common sense. Here are just a few examples:

(1)  Eyewitnesses are highly reliable.

This belief is so much part of our culture that one often hears talk of a “mere” circumstantial case as contrasted to a solid case based on eyewitness testimony. In fact, research shows that eyewitness identifications are highly unreliable, especially where the witness and the perpetrator are of different races. Eyewitness reliability is further compromised when the identification occurs under the stress of a violent crime, an accident or catastrophic event — which pretty much covers all situations where identity is in dispute at trial.

In fact, mistaken eyewitness testimony was a factor in more than a third of wrongful conviction cases. Yet, courts have been slow in allowing defendants to present expert evidence on the fallibility of eyewitnesses; many courts still don’t allow it. Few, if any, courts instruct juries on the pitfalls of eyewitness identification or caution them to be skeptical of eyewitness testimony.

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Independence Day Inspiration: make it meaningful!

Summary; Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, a a milestone on the march to American independence. But we should also remember that journey’s now almost lost beginning — events equally heroic but more relevant and inspirational to us today.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

“We have spent the prime of our lives in procuring {for our children} the precious blessing of liberty. Let them spend theirs in shewing that it is the great parent of science and of virtue; and that a nation will be great in both, always in proportion as it is free. ”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Willard, 24 March 1789.


We’re free, but how did we become so? Every successful round of political reform begins with people deciding to act and then organizing like minded people. Why not celebrate Independence Day by joining this company of people who have profoundly shaped our civilization?

In 1772 Samuel Adams and others decided to start the Committees of Correspondence, the first step on the road to independence. In 1785 Benjamin Franklin and others organized the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society. In 1887 William Wilberforce and others began a crusade to end the slave trade in British ships.

Don’t expect fast results. These programs took years, decades, or generations of struggle to win. We forget this by focusing on the moments of triumph and forgetting the years of struggle that produced them. Perhaps on Independence Day we should read the speeches that led to the Declaration. Like this by Thomas Paine, from the first of the 16 “The Crisis” pamphlets (23 December 1776).

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The 1% are changing America. It’s our move.

Summary: The moment approaches when every American sees that the 1% are taking it away. Then we each make a choice to go with the flow or resist. Here are a few events that show this time is close. I’ve predicted the events leading to this point, but have no idea how we’ll react. Much depends on our choice.

“An experience of profound contempt is necessary in order to grasp our situation, and our capacity for contempt is vanishing.”
— From Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind, chapter on “Values” (1987).

Don't Tread on Me

We’re in the pursuit phase of our battle with the 1%, the quiet coup. Decades of quiet organizing and slow progress (see here & here) — then Reagan began their advance that continues to this day, inexorably accelerating. After breaking down the old order (e.g., unions, campaign finance limits, New Deal era limits on banks) we see them building a New America: dismantling the public-financed colleges (see here and here), shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle class, and many other changes to core features of America.

The obvious moment of truth will come when events force us to see the systematic nation of these changes. Will we rise to the challenge, or look in the mirror and see cowards? That time approaches. Soon we’ll learn the answer.

(1)  Former NSA & CIA Director Hayden mocks us

This is almost too good to be true. Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden spoke to America’s inner party at the Wall Street Journal’s CFO Conference.

If somebody would come up to me and say “Look, Hayden, here’s the thing: This Snowden thing is going to be a nightmare for you guys for about two years. And when we get all done with it, what you’re going to be required to do is that little 215 program about American telephony metadata — and by the way, you can still have access to it, but you got to go to the court and get access to it from the companies, rather than keep it to yourself” — I go: “And this is it after two years? Cool!”

He was speaking the truth. We deserve to be mocked The USA Freedom Act was mostly cosmetic reform (the NYT agrees). Two years ago I predicted our pitiful response to Snowden’s revelations.

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Myths and truth about police violence, & why change is coming

Summary: The surge of stories about our out-of-control police deserves attention for what it reveals more us. Everybody has problems. Success results from our ability rapidly and effectively see and respond to them. America used to do both well (as Hitler and Tojo learned). Modern America does neither well.  But change is coming, unexpectedly forced by minds cool and unsympathetic.  {2nd of 2 stories today.}

Police then and now


  1. The Police crushed; crime soars!
  2. Real news: more police shootings.
  3. Real news: police are almost always acquitted.
  4. The voices that will force change.
  5. For More Information.

(1)  The Police crushed; crime soars!

From the formerly great paper become a Rupert Murdoch rag, The Wall Street Journal: “The New Nationwide Crime Wave” by Heather Mac Donald — Excerpt…

This incessant drumbeat against the police has resulted in what St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson last November called the “Ferguson effect.” Cops are disengaging from discretionary enforcement activity and the “criminal element is feeling empowered,” Mr. Dotson reported. Arrests in St. Louis city and county by that point had dropped a third since the shooting of Michael Brown in August. Not surprisingly, homicides in the city surged 47% by early November and robberies in the county were up 82%.

Similar “Ferguson effects” are happening across the country as officers scale back on proactive policing under the onslaught of anti-cop rhetoric. Arrests in Baltimore were down 56% in May compared with 2014.

“Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family,” a New York City officer tells me. “Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be nonstop protests.”

Police officers now second-guess themselves about the use of force. “Officers are trying to invent techniques on the spot for taking down resistant suspects that don’t look as bad as the techniques taught in the academy,” says Jim Dudley, who recently retired as deputy police chief in San Francisco. Officers complain that civilians don’t understand how hard it is to control someone resisting arrest.

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Be Proud America! as we watch our babies die

Summary: We’ll hear much about American exceptionalism from candidates for President during the next 17 months. Here’s a tangible example — the greater fraction of infants that die in America than in our peers. We know how to fix it; we have the money. We lack only the will. Be proud, America!  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Some insights into the factors affecting infant mortality, showing how badly we’re doing.

NBER: infant mortality, Jan 2015

From the January NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health story about this study:

The U.S. infant mortality rate (IMR) compares unfavorably to that of other developed countries, ranking 51st in the world in 2013. In the U.S., there are nearly 7 infant deaths during the first year of life per 1000 live births, roughly twice the rate in Scandinavian countries. The U.S. IMR is similar to that of Croatia, despite a three-fold difference in GDP per capita.

What explains the U.S.’s relatively high IMR? This is the subject of a new NBER working paper … To quantify the importance of these potential sources of the U.S. IMR disadvantage, the authors combine natality micro-data from the U.S. with similar data from Finland and Austria. These countries provide a useful comparison because Finland has one of the lowest IMRs in the world and Austria has an IMR similar to much of continental Europe.

…  In short, worse conditions at birth and a higher post-neonatal mortality rate are both important contributors to the U.S.’s higher IMR.

Finally, the authors explore how the U.S. IMR disadvantage varies by racial and education group. They find that the U.S.’s higher post-neonatal mortality rate is driven almost entirely by excess mortality among individuals of lower socioeconomic status. As the authors note, “infants born to white, college-educated, married women in the U.S. have mortality rates that are essentially indistinguishable from a similar advantaged demographic in Austria and Finland.”
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