A Blog on Politics, Principles, and Uncovering the Narrative

Category: Social

Why Do Poor People Commit More Crimes than Rich People?

I have heard that question asked several times in my life, and for a long time I gave the wrong answer. Because they have a greater need for things is the most common answer. Other answers might include theories about resentment, having less to lose, or simple desperation. You might come up with more complex theories, like I did.

None of these are the correct answer.

As with any question or statement, you need to apply critical thinking, and one of the major elements of critical thinking is to question your assumptions. So, in the question, “Why do poor people commit more crimes than rich people,” what is the whopping huge assumption being made?

That poor people commit more crimes than rich people.

And, as it turns out, that assumption is patently false.

First, you have to ask, what is being measured? We have no numbers, no statistics on what crimes are actually committed. Many people commit crimes and are never found out. Can you use arrest records? No, for the simple reason that many people arrested are later found innocent, or charges are dropped against them. What we use to measure crime rates is convictions.

This is where the numbers fall to pieces: convictions are a horribly inaccurate way to judge what actual crimes have been committed, especially in terms of being rich or poor.

Here are the reasons for that:

Targeting and Arrests

First of all, police more easily assume that poor people commit more crimes, and target those people far more readily for search and arrest. Take New York City’s “Stop and Frisk” laws. You might expect that high-power Wall Street executives would be an obvious target, and would often be found to have drugs on their person. Unsurprisingly, there were the fewest stop-and-frisk searches in the financial district. Instead, the vast majority of searches were in Harlem.

Unsurprisingly, the areas with the highest incomes had the fewest searches, and the areas with the lowest income had to most searches.

Race also clearly plays a part. Between 49% and 61% of all stops were made on black people, who constituted 23% of the population. 8% to 12% of searches were of white people, who make up 40% of the population. Although the rate of marijuana use is roughly equal between black and white people, black people are arrest about four times more often than whites. Since race has a strong correlation to economic status, this has an impact on how things work out. 

The reason may go beyond simple economic bias. Rich people have far better legal representation, and police officers might have a bias towards searching or arresting people who will help their conviction rate. The wealthy are also often well-connected, and police may get blowback for stopping a frisking a rich person.

Nor is it just simple stops and searches. White collar crime is infamously under-prosecuted. Despite massive corruption and crime that led to the 2008 Great Recession, almost no convictions were made. Despite fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion are rampant, few arrests are made and even fewer cases end in a conviction. Just look at how long Donald Trump got away with a plethora of crimes—and, despite all the evidence available, is still getting away with them. Usually only the most egregious, high-profile cases are even considered for prosecution.

As a result, most suspicion and targeting is placed on poorer people. If you target one group more than another, it is completely unsurprising that the group more targeted will be arrested and convicted more often. However, it does not mean that they commit more crimes.

Having a Good Lawyer

This is a huge factor. Wealthy people can get the best legal representation, which can, far more often, lead to all charges being dropped, or a deal being made that will require only rehab or community service, while no conviction ever goes on their record. One famous example is George W. Bush, who was well known to use drugs in his youth. At one point, he mysterious “volunteered” to do community service, for no stated reason, shortly after it was rumored that he was arrested for drug possession. When they do go to trial, expensive expert witnesses and a host of other legal protections are used.

People of lesser means, meanwhile, have only what legal representation as they can afford, which is little or none. Those with none have to resort to public defenders, who are notoriously under-qualified, overworked, and underfunded. Stories abound of poor people who are likely innocent of crimes being convicted, and of rich people likely guilty getting off scot free.

This contributes heavily to the large disparity in conviction rates between the rich and poor.

Plea Deals

Bail also plays a big part. If you are rich, bail is not a problem, and you can continue on with your life while your lawyers find ways to make your consequences as little as possible.

However, if you are poor, bail often makes it impossible for you to get out. Within days, you lose your job, and for most poor people that’s a harsh sentence in and of itself. Many poor people spend months or even years in jail waiting for a trial, some of them being incarcerated even longer than their sentence would be if they were found guilty.

It should therefore be no surprise that most poor people charged with crimes will plea to guilty convictions, even if they committed no crime at all.

One good example of this was in New York in 2018, when cops illicitly stopped a car with black occupants, one of whom had just been released from the hospital. The cops falsely claimed they smelled pot and demanded to search the vehicle. They demanded the occupants exit the car, but the injured man told them of his condition, and that it would be hard for him to get out. Impatient, the police brutally dragged the injured man from the vehicle and, when he struggled in pain, they charged him with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer. The man had to go back to the hospital for five days to recuperate from the injuries police did to him—all the time handcuffed to his bed. After a two-hour search, the police did not find any marijuana; facing an embarrassing situation, they planted some in the vehicle and charged the occupants with drug crimes. Unable to defend themselves (body cam footage was withheld for two years), they had no choice but to plead guilty to resisting and obstructing in exchange for the drug charges to be dropped. A conviction without a crime—one that would not have happened, certainly not successfully, with a wealthy person.

Sleeping Under Bridges

Then we have the laws themselves. There is a famous adage: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges.” Many laws are heavily biased in terms of economic status. It is commonly noted that if the punishment for a crime is a cash penalty, then the crime applies to poor people only. For example, there are laws requiring drug testing for public assistance, but none for the beneficiaries of corporate welfare or massive tax breaks. Being homeless can lead to being convicted of a number of crimes; sleeping in the street or in parked vehicles are the most common. Not being able to pay fines, often very steep for poor people, for offenses such as traffic tickets, civil offenses, and misdemeanor crimes can end in a conviction and jail time.

Most crime by rich people is masked by corporations. If you poison one person and they die, you get convicted. But if you own a corporation and you poison a whole city, you might be fined, for a much smaller amount than you profited by not cleaning up your waste. Wealthy people can steal, injure, and even kill, sometimes on mass scales, and never be arrested, much less convicted.

One significant example of this is how we treat the crime of theft. If a poor person commits a theft, from shoplifting to burglary to grand theft auto, they are charged and convicted. And yet, the most common form of theft goes totally unpunished—and is even rewarded. Unsurprisingly, it is the primary form of theft committed by rich people: wage theft.

If you take all other forms of theft—larceny, burglaries, auto theft, and robbery—and add them together, they are dwarfed by wage theft, which can total tens of billions of dollars in theft every year. This includes minimum wage violations, overtime violations, rest break and off-the-clock violations, in addition to simple underpayment. I myself have been the victim of three of those at various jobs, and many—perhaps most—workers have similar stories to tell.

And yet wage theft, while technically a crime, results in no convictions. This is because it is treated as a civil crime, and not a criminal offense. If you steal $100 from your employer, you can be arrested, convicted, and jailed. If your employer steals $100 from you, they are not even arrested, and usually they get away with it. You can only find redress through filing for public prosecutors to get your money back, which is rare, and takes years even if they do so, or by taking the case to court, which results in legal fees often dwarfing the amount that was stolen from you. Because it is so hard and expensive to get redress, employers usually get away with it scot-free—which explains why it is so rampant.


The Scale of Crimes

Finally, we have the way that convictions are counted. Stealing ten dollars from one person and a million dollars from a thousand people may both end up with a single conviction each.

If ten thousand criminals steal $100 each from ten thousand victims, for a total of $1 million, and are caught and convicted, that is counted as ten thousand separate crimes.

However, if one white-collar criminal steals $1 billion from a hundred thousand people, and is caught and convicted, that may be counted as only one conviction—despite stealing a thousand times more money from ten times as many people.

There are a number of possible variations of this, where poor people are convicted on the basis of minor infractions, while rich people are shielded for significant crimes.

Conclusion, and How to Handle the Issue

Unfortunately little of this at all is documented, so there are no numbers which can prove that wealthy people, per capita, commit more crime than poor people.

However, a very strong case can be made that this is in fact the truth—but because we use convictions as the measure, people always assume the opposite.

If anyone asks you why poor people commit more crime, the very first response would be to demand they provide evidence for their claim.

THEM: Poor people commit more crime than rich people.

YOU: Cite a source for that.

THEM: It’s a well-known fact.

YOU: Great. Then citing a source will be no problem for you. I’ll wait.

THEM (Whether or not they cite a source, probably not): Statistics prove this.

YOU: Statistics showing what?

THEM: That poor people commit more crimes.

YOU: So, all crimes can be known? No one ever gets away with one?

THEM: OK, arrests then.

YOU: All arrested people are guilty?

THEM: OK, convictions.

YOU: If your wealthy employer steals money from you in wage theft, will that person be convicted? Are wealthy people ever convicted for sleeping in their cars? Are wealthy people convicted if the corporation they own kills people? None of these are counted as convictions. Or how about the difference in availability to expensive legal representation, which results in many indictments failing or being pled out? Or how about profiling of poor people by police? How about the scale of crimes?

THEM: [At this point, they will do one of three things: (1) deny that any of that has an effect without any evidence; (2) try to focus on one small detail they think they can argue and never return to the primary assertion; or (3) change the subject entirely.]

Simply put, there is no argument that can be made aside from appealing to faulty assumptions.

However, anyone with any reason or sense of fairness will have to conclude that it is as the very least highly likely that rich people commit as much or likely more crime than poor people.

In Which Conservatives Hold That Liberals Are Racists

Common right-wing claim: Liberals are racist.

Argument: liberals believe that black people cannot achieve anything on their own, and need special help and favors, whereas republicans respect the ability of black people to succeed on their own.

Flaw: This argument makes many extremely fallacious assumptions:

1. That racism and other impediments do not exist; that people of color share an even playing field with white people, and have an equal chance to succeed in any enterprise.

2. That liberals believe that racism has no impact; without this assumption, liberals would only be misguided, not racist.

3. That liberals believe that people of color cannot successfully compete in a fair and equitable environment, and so push artificial advantages on them that they do not need, eroding their self-confidence and self-reliance.

Ergo, since liberals believe people of color are inferior, liberals are racist.

That’s not some distortion I cooked up, that is the actual theory as explained to me by various conservatives. I will assume for this writing that any conservative making this argument atually believes it. Many likely do. But many know the argument is a crock and spread it because it serves and entertains them.

So let’s unravel the flaws:

1. The core of the argument, of course, hinges upon the assumption that racism simply isn’t a thing, that it has no significant impact. This is outrageously wrong; the evidence that racism exists, both personal and institutional, and has a substantial impact, is overwhelming, to say the least; it takes a fantastic level of willing blindness and denial to state otherwise.

2. The very idea that liberals do not believe that racism exists or has any impact is laughable.

3. Liberals do not fight to give people of color any advantages. All that liberals try to do is to remove obstacles created by racism and level the playing field. Not even close to the same thing. Liberals, for example, want to establish hiring guidelines, workplace rules, and other protocols that make the job market equitable and fair.

Of course, conservatives would not agree to many of these basic facts. They argue that racism has no impact in society, using fallacious examples like “we elected a black president” and “employers hire strictly on merit.” They use anecdotal evidence as if it were statistical; just last week, a conservative argued that of course the playing field is level, because “black millionaires and billionaires exist.” I hope that I do not have to explain to the reader where the flaw in this argument resides.

Furthermore, they expect liberals believe the exact same thing, or else are deluded.

And, since they believe (or claim to believe) that the playing field is level, they see any attempt to actually level the playing field as giving black people a decided advantage. Imagine a white person going into a room where they are told that they will get equitable snacks, and find that they are given 15 while a black person across the table has been given 5. An arbiter appears and says, “There has been a mistake, you got too many and the other person was given too few; we shall even things out.” The white person sees any attempt to give 5 of his snacks to the black person as unfair theft. The white person assumes that the unequal distribution is because they somehow deserve more, and that the lack for the black person is because they did something wrong. Human nature tells us that the reasoning is more venal: “I got the bigger share, for whatever reason, and I intend to keep it.”

When people are born with wealth stolen from others, many won’t and don’t question its validity; as the saying goes, “People born on third base believe that they just hit a triple.” They believe that the advantage is earned or otherwise natural and deserved. They also argue that since white people are often poor, this means that black people cannot be at a disadvantage. “I had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am, and have always had it really rough” is a common right-wing protest that they have it just as bad as black people do. It ignores the possibility that someone else had it worse, or that a much higher percentage of black people than white people have that problem.

Conservatives claim that 230 of years of slavery and 160 years of racial discrimination had no relevant economic impact in favor of white people or at the cost of black people; this idea is ludicrous on its face.

Conservatives deny the facts plainly established, such as that banks favor white people and disfavor black people when it comes to loans, that black people looking for jobs are denied even an interview 50% more often even when they have equal qualifications as white applicants, or that black people are treated differently by police.

So, is the truth that conservatives are racist? One could easily argue that anyone making such a preposterous argument about race as the one detailed above easily fits the bill. However, I will simply note the truism that “While not all republicans are racist, racists are usually republicans.”

Guns and Responsibility

Read this article about a gun owner’s attitude toward Kyle Rittenhouse. It gets to the heart of gun control. Not directly, but in the assumptions made.

I live in Japan, where guns are effectively banned; it’s incredibly safe here. In the US, however, that’s not really an option. Guns aren’t going away anytime in the foreseeable future.

However, what the right wing wants is not the freedom to own and use guns; instead, what they demand is the liberty to buy and use guns without any conditions—and, more and more, without any penalties for irresponsible misuse, either.

Gun control is the responsible medium. Now, gun advocates will immediately assume that gun control is a ban, making it so that only criminals have guns because they can just decide to break the laws.

This, however, is blatantly false: despite the NRA propaganda, gun control does not ban guns, it does not deny guns to law-abiding citizens, and it does not proliferate guns in the hands of criminals.

It does the exact opposite.

Gun control is not a ban on weapons, it allows law-abiding citizens to own and use guns, and it minimizes the number of guns that criminals possess.

In fact, under even the strictest gun control now in effect in the US, the number of guns has actually increased while the amount of crime has decreased.

This goes against what many gun opponents feel is correct: that the fewer guns you have, the better things will be. That assumption is not fully correct. The key element is not the number of guns… instead, it is a matter of the people who possess them.

To understand this, you have to understand that most gun control in the US today is compromised by something called “The Patchwork Quilt.” That is, instead of there being one strong federal law for the whole country, gun control opponents have forced each state, county, and city to draft their own laws—creating a patchwork of areas, often in close proximity, where laws controlling guns can be strict or lax, allowing criminals who live in gun control areas to violate the laws with simplicity and ease.

Chicago does indeed have a gun control problem: it is called “Indiana.” All that a criminal has to do to defeat Chicago’s gun control laws is to drive to Gary and buy his guns there. The large number of guns taken from criminals in New York State proves the efficacy of the state’s gun control laws, as the vast majority were bought out of state and brought back in.

Gun control laws work, but are defeated by nearby areas where there is little or no gun control.

Amusingly, Oklahoma and Nebraska made the case for this by suing Colorado over its recreational marijuana laws: they claimed that since their own citizens could just drive to Colorado and get weed and bring it back, it compromised their own attempts to outlaw the drug. They were, effectively, arguing for federal gun control, they just hadn’t thought about the implications of their argument.

Gun control opponents, however, will ignore the Patchwork Quilt and simply say that gun control doesn’t work because it doesn’t work, trotting out the old propaganda line laid out by the NRA.

The thing is, we have a valid test case for gun control: Hawaii. In the 70’s, Hawaii had a gun crime problem, like much the rest of the country. In 1981, they made a new set of laws, strict gun controls which constituted the strongest such laws in any state in the country. They required training, testing, background checks, licensing, and registration, along with greater restrictions against guns classified as assault rifles.

If we are to believe the NRA line, Hawaii should have descended into hell: law-abiding citizens should have been stripped of their guns, while criminals roamed the streets, the only ones armed.

The reality, however, proved just the opposite: gun deaths and gun crimes in general dropped by more than half almost overnight, and stayed that way from that time forward. Today, Hawaii has one of the lowest, if not the lowest gun crime rate in the country.

Why is this a test case? Because the Patchwork Quilt cannot affect Hawaii. Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii has a built-in moat: you cannot drive to Alaska to get guns and then drive them back.

Hawaii proves the case that gun control not only can work in the US, but that it does work in the US—so long as there are no holes in the coverage.

But here’s where we get the twist: after enforcing these laws, not only were law-abiding citizens still able to get guns… but the sheer number of legally owned guns has skyrocketed. The number of guns owned in Hawaii has consistently grown over time. There are more and more guns every year.

This will make most gun control advocates scratch their heads. Wait, more guns are better?

Well, not exactly, It is not the number of guns that matter, but instead how they are allowed

This brings us back to the article I linked to at the start of this post. The author writes:

I’ve owned guns all my life. … When it was time for my son to learn to hunt, we took a hunter safety course together, and I tried to teach him these important lessons just as my father had taught them to me. …the most important thing about owning a gun for protection [is that you] do everything possible to make sure you never have to use it. …

Professional police officers know how to handle a weapon, and the best cops know how to de-escalate a tense situation — they know how to keep it from getting worse. A young vigilante knows none of these things. 

And this brings the point home: America could be a “safe gun” country, if we had gun control—something that gun advocates fight tooth and nail to prevent. Oh, sure, they’ll say they approve of safe gun use—but they will do everything in their power to prevent it from being required.

And if it is not required, then few will do it.

Background checks have been proven over and over again as effective means of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, while allowing law-abiding citizens free access. Yes, opponents will bring up apocryphal examples of a law-abiding citizen caught in some bureaucratic snafu—but such cases are the rare exceptions, not the rule.

And training? Why in holy hell would anyone oppose training in gun safety and gun use? It makes no sense whatsoever—unless you want to use guns without any requirement for personal responsibility.

And if you want to bring up the tired cliché about tyrants using registration lists to confiscate weapons, I would direct you back through your portal to the fantasyland from which you emerged. Tyrants and fascists are typically ushered in by those who have the guns in the first place.

Hawaii proved the case: strong gun control works, so long as it is not compromised by gaping holes every other city, county, and state.

Kyle Rittenhouse and those who laud him as a hero are the quintessential example of how fetishistic gun culture in the US has brought us our current sad state of rampant gun crime and death.

We can have our guns, and our safety—but only if we’re willing to be responsible and do it the right way.

Facebook Jail: How Facebook Empowers Trolls

By attempting to stop trolls, Facebook ineptly empowered them even further—and the reason has to do with Facebook’s own laziness and greed. You may have noticed that a lot of people you know have been put in “Facebook Jail” for seemingly petty offenses. Why is that happening?

I have a page on Facebook that I use to post about politics. I had already been through Facebook’s extortion wringer—they allow you to accrue followers on your page, gain some momentum, and then they kneecap you: they severely limit your ability to reach out to the followers you have gathered while at the same time start hitting you with incessant demands that you pay them to give some of it back to you. I certainly didn’t care enough to pay them a penny, so I just accepted that my page would be muted by its own platform. If you want to be a high-traffic site on Facebook, you have to pay.

But then, at one point a few years ago, I noticed something happening on my page: no one was getting notifications when I put up a post. The only reactions I got were from the few people who actively went to my page to see what I had posted. My reach dropped to zero. What the hell. I could still use Facebook in every other way, but suddenly my voice had been silenced.

I made complaints to Facebook about it, and, predictably, they did nothing. “Customer support” on the service is a fiction; go through the steps to ask them to fix something and all you’ll get are automated responses and no help at all.

After one week, the mysterious ban disappeared. Then, soon after, I got hit with another one. It also lasted exactly one week.

And then again, a third time, shortly after that. Same thing. One week, then back to normal. After that, it stopped.

It took me a bit to figure it out: I had been attacked by trolls.

Facebook has a problem with trolls. Publicly, they claim to want to stop them, but they can’t. Trolls tend to have a great deal of time to attack a problems, and tend to work in packs, helping and supporting each other. Facebook, on the other hand, doesn’t want to spare much in the way of money or manpower to truly address the problem.

So they automate.

They create systems which are not announced publicly. If so many complaints are made in such and such a pattern, then a certain penalty is applied. They never announce it because they know that if they do, it can and will be abused.

The trolls are aware of this, and they actively work the system to figure out the latest rules. They share that information amongst themselves, and then use it as a weapon. That’s what happened to my page: trolls figured out that if they report abuse or make some other complaint in a specific way, they could get my page shut down. They do so, and then watch the page and laugh their asses off as the target posts about how they’ve been mysteriously silenced. They take that back to their off-service forums and share it as an accomplishment, as a way to accrue respect and currency amongst their peers. They milk these things as far as they can take them.

So, why does Facebook allow them to get away with this?

The answer is pretty simple: Facebook wants to appear to be dealing with abuse, but they don’t want to actually pay for it. So they automate.

The problem is, a basic truism in strategy in conflict is that if you always react in the exact same way every single time, your opponent can easily use that against you.

So Facebook lays out automated systems that rely on user-reported abuse by trolls, but trolls quickly work out what the system is and then use it in force to abuse their targets even more. In essence, Facebook is only aggravating the problem, not solving it.

Making the problem worse is that the people being attacked are never made aware of it until they are punished; there is no recourse. I was never informed of anyone making complaints, and my “Page Quality” console never showed a single violation. I have no clear idea how exactly they did it, I simply know that they did it.

I am guessing that this is how it worked: Facebook sets up a parameter where if a certain number of complaints of abuse are made by a certain number of different users within a certain period of time, then the page gets muted for a week. This would be allowed to happen three times before any human interaction from Facebook is called for. This means that a site can issue abuse—or be abused—for about a month. Upon the start of a fourth cycle of complaints, an alarm goes off, and a Facebook staffer spends maybe half a minute looking at the situation. If they can see no obvious signs of actual abuse, they then shut off the automated muting mechanism.

There is likely an exception made for high-traffic sites (which, in order to be high-traffic, are paying a fair amount of money to Facebook), where the parameters are set higher and staffer attention is brought in faster. Or maybe not—big spenders may just get the reverse treatment, where they can get reported any number of times and never receive punishment unless they become so abusive that it starts garnering media attention.

However, for the people who don’t “boost” their page—me and you and most Facebook users—they get the punishment, while the trolls get a hearty laugh.

This is a similar problem that you see in copy protection or “DRM” schemes: once a single copy of a movie or song gets out in the wild, it gets shared endlessly, and no copy protection scheme ever works, because somewhere there is a media pirate who always finds a way to get past it. As a result, the DRM scheme is completely ineffective—and, in fact, punishes the people who actually follow the rules by putting restrictions on them that make using the media harder.

Facebook avoids paying a price for this because (a) they hide the workings of it, and (b) they have a virtual monopoly, and know that the users they abuse won’t leave in enough numbers to cost them anything. In fact, all the fuss probably increases traffic and ad views for them.

And so we come to the latest set of rules in Facebook, which seem to be the cause for the now-famous seven- or thirty-day bans referred to as “Facebook Jail.”

You can bet that it is a new set of parameters Facebook set up for dealing with abuse.

You can bet that it is 99% automated.

You can bet that trolls figured it out very quickly and started using it.

And you can bet that the people you know who are disappearing for a week or a month at a time are being sent to Facebook Jail by the very trolls that are supposed to be the ones sent there.

Armed 17-Year-Old Trump-Supporter Militia Member Kills Two in Kenosha

As far as I am aware, no BLM member or associated protester has killed anyone in the protests since George Floyd’s murder—but right-wingers have killed several. Steven Carrillo, a member of the far-right extremist group Boogaloo Boys, shot and killed two law enforcement officers (which conservatives like Ted Cruz have tried to pin on Antifa). And now, Kyle Rittenhouse, a far-right teenage kid in a militia movement—and apparently a big enough Trump fan to have been in the front row of one of his rallies—has killed two more people and injured one, this time protesters.

Rittenhouse, very simply, should not have been there. In fact, it appears that he was in violation of both Illinois and Wisconsin law to have his gun in the first place. Right-wing media is already framing him as the innocent victim of a violent mob just trying to defend himself, but there is nothing to support that. In fact, witnesses at the scene report that Rittenhouse, with others, was randomly shouting and taunting people on the street, pointing their guns at people, and threatening to shoot.


After shooting one man in the head (and caught on video saying “I just killed someone” to a person he is speaking to on the phone), protesters ran after Rittenhouse, who was no doubt in a panic by this time. One cannot fault the protesters; they were under deadly assault at this point, very much like the time back in early June when another right-winger, Brandon McCormick, drove into a protest in Salt Lake City and tried to shoot protesters with a bow and arrow—before being quickly taken down by protesters. (McCormick, a felon, has been charged with three felonies and could face up to 15 years in jail.) However, after Rittenhouse fell while fleeing his first murder, committed the second when he shot a man trying to subdue him. It is a weak defense to say you were just protecting yourself by shooting someone who was chasing you because you just killed someone else.

There are many disturbing elements to this story, and one of them is the Kenosha police. Apparently, police are okay with vigilantes; they were seen not just speaking amiably to Rittenhouse and other right-wing militia members earlier on, giving them bottled water and telling them how much they were appreciated.

Also, far from taking a stance against untrained vigilantes added to the mix, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis actually blamed the protesters for getting shot and killed, saying they should not have been out after curfew.

Then, in the ultimate act of sheer favoritism, when Rittenhouse, still bearing his rifle, approached the police with hands up, having just murdered two people, and as protesters shouted at police to apprehend him… and had the police totally ignore him and pass right by. Rittenhouse then left the scene and fled to Illinois.

You can see Rittenhouse kill one man and wound another in the video below, then, just seconds later, walk right through police as they charge on towards the protesters.

Aside from the obvious clues, Rittenhouse was an avid Trump supporter, seen in photographs in the front row of a Trump rally in late January. His Facebook page was adorned with right-wing “Back the Blue” images.


Kyle Rittenhouse, in the white cap, at a Trump rally on Jan. 30.

The right-wing media and echo chamber are in full-bore smear and blame-the-victims mode, posting that all of the people injured or killed by Rittenhouse were felons and pedophiles, showing only selected screen caps which show Rittenhouse appearing only under siege. They have cobbled together videos which claim to show that protesters fired first, as well as other dubious claims, and repeat almost in mantra fashion the words “self-defense.”

There are a few cultural elements to this event which require mentioning. The first is related to the encouragement that Rittenhouse and his fellow vigilantes received from police, who should have cleared him out of the area, not supplied them with bottled water and kind words. The Kenosha police were not the only ones to do this: Trump himself fanned the flames. The now-famous criminal couple from St. Louis, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, went outside as protesters peacefully passed their home and shouted at them while aiming loaded weapons at members of the crowd. Sound familiar? Exactly what Rittenhouse was doing shortly before killing two people.

To say that one has nothing to do with the other strains credulity.

The other cultural element is related to gun ownership. Too many people who own guns appear to have little or no sense of responsibility regarding them, believing that anyone who they injure or kill will be the ones at fault. This flies in the face of the actual case: if you bring a loaded firearm out in public, the onus is on you—not the people you kill with it.

Finally, in what universe is anyone okay with a 17-year-old kid bearing a semi-automatic weapon at night in the middle of protests?

Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide and faces a possible life sentence.

Trump and Republicans Plot to Kill 44,000 Americans

Every year.

And no, I am not making that up. A study by researchers at Harvard made the rather conservative estimate that if having health care saves one life out of every 455, and repealing Obamacare without a workable alternative will kick as many as 20 million people off of health insurance, then the death toll on an annual basis will come out to 43,956 people.

Remember the lifelong conservative who stood up before Paul Ryan and told him, point blank, that Obamacare saved his life? He’s just one example. This is not a theory. These are actual people living, and under the Republican plan, dying.

It’s not as if Trump and Ryan are loading guns or getting killer drones ready, but if their actions result in the deaths of that many people a year, the drones might be a more merciful killing.

Is it really defensible if you kill people with a pen instead of with an airplane, especially if it is equivalent to 15 times the death toll of 9/11 on a yearly basis?

If you think paying for health insurance hurts, try not doing it.

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