Lazy Caturday Reads

Photograph from Walter Chandoha: The Cat Photographer (Aperture, 2015)

Good Morning!!

The photographs in today’s post are by famous cat photographer Walter Chandoha.

Lately the media has been following the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minnesota, and understandably they have called attention other cases of Black men being killed by cops. Yesterday a man was shot and killed by police in Portland, Oregon. 

The Oregonian: Portland police fatally shoot man in Lents Park.

Portland police responding to a call of a man with a gun Friday morning in Lents Park fatally shot the man after he drew what appeared to be a firearm, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The man died at the scene.

Investigators recovered what appeared to be a replica firearm with an orange tip on it, the sources said. A witness videotaped the shooting and provided the footage to police.

Police had received multiple calls about the man in the park with a gun shortly after 9:30 a.m.

Two officers who confronted the man fired less-lethal, 40-millimeter munitions at him, and an East Precinct officer shot him with a firearm, Acting Chief Chris Davis said.

Witnesses said they heard two gunshots.

Emergency medics tried to revive the man, but he was pronounced dead beside a fence by the park’s ball field off Southeast 92nd Avenue.

Police said the officer who fired the fatal shot is an 8-year veteran of the department. The bureau did not release the officer’s name.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered at the scene shortly after the shooting, screaming at officers from the park’s perimeter.

The gun wasn’t even real. The story says that the Oregonian usually doesn’t “typically does not identify a person’s race unless it is relevant.” In this case it was relevant, because the victim of the shooting was a white man.

How often do cops kill white people? According to a piece at Substack by Columbia University Professor John McWhorter, who is Black, it happens a lot: The Victorians had to Accept Darwin. We Need to Accept that Cops Kill White People as Easily as They Kill Black People.

The death of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis necessitates a new mental habit among us enlightened American souls.

We embrace assorted cognitive exercises as people with access to higher wisdom, such as understanding that a disadvantaged background can make it harder to excel, or that subtle bias can infect our thinking and actions.

walter-chandoha-cat-photography-inspiration-16Okay, but we need another one.

Whenever the national media reports on a black person killed by cops, we must ask ourselves “Would a white cop not have done that if the person were white?”

Because: we are taught that white (and even non-white) cops ice black people (usually men) out of racism. It’s possibly subconscious, but in the heat of the moment, they revert animalistically to their white supremacist assumption of black animality and pull that trigger.

This is why so many can only bristle at the idea that George Floyd did not die because he was black.

It’s why now, when the cop who killed Daunte Wright not only says she mistook her gun for a taser, and is even recorded as having done so, legions of people still insist on parsing it as evidence of “racism.” The idea is, I suppose, that she wouldn’t have made that mistake, would have been more prudent, if Daunte Wright was instead a white guy named Donald White.

The article is worth a read. McWhorter argues that poor people of any race are more likely to be killed by cops and because more Black people live in poverty, they are more likely to interact with the police and more likely to become their victims. I think he’s saying that the problem is not just racism, but economics–and policing itself.

Black people are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by cops, and exactly 2.5 times more likely to be poor, and data shows that poverty makes you more likely to encounter the cops, as even intuition confirms. This is why somewhat more black people are killed by cops than what our proportion in the population would predict.

Photograph from Walter Chandoha: The Cat Photographer (Aperture, 2015)

Accounts of this issue that pretend people like me have not presented figures like this – i.e. most mainstream media discussions — are out of court, even if their authors feel it’s their duty to pull people’s eyes away from “irreligious” ideas. Ignore the numbers and, even if you are writing about descendants of African slaves, you are simply plain wrong.

Reflect also: most people who take to the streets about cases like Daunte Wright are not thinking about the fact that black people are killed by cops 2.5 times more than their representation in the population would predict. They are protesting because all they see in the news is the black people killed, and have no way of imagining that whites are regularly killed in the same way and in much greater numbers.


Once more. Every time the media broadcasts the murder by cop of a black person, ask yourself if it’s really true that a cop wouldn’t have done it to a white person – and then go to, for example, the Washington Post database and see cops doing just that.

And upon that, we will settle upon an honest national conversation about the cops as murdering people in race-neutral fashion. Or at least we should.

Food for thought.

There’s quite a bit of news today about Trump loyalists. It even appears that some of them may finally get their comeuppance.

NBC News: Justice Department sues Trump ally Roger Stone, alleging millions in unpaid taxes.

The Justice Department on Friday sued Roger Stone, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, accusing Stone and his wifeNydia, of owing nearly $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes and fees.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says the couple underpaid their income taxes by $1,590,361 from 2007 to 2011. It further says Stone, 68, did not pay his full tax bill in 2018, coming up $407,036 short. The couple, the suit alleges, used a commercial entity to “shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties.” [….]

Stone was on his way to federal prison in July 2020 when then-president Trump commuted his sentence. Stone was sentenced earlier that year to serve 40 months in prison for lying to Congress about his efforts to connect with WikiLeaks in hopes of digging up dirt on Trump’s 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton. The lead prosecutor in the case said Stone had lied because the “truth looked bad for Donald Trump.” Stone was convicted of all seven counts against him….

Walter-Chandoha-cats8The Stones deposited more than $1 million in accounts belonging to a commercial entity, Drake Ventures, instead of personal accounts, thereby frustrating collection efforts, the government said in the filing.

From those accounts, the pair covered a down payment on a Fort Lauderdale condominium, paid for personal expenses and covered some of their tax liabilities, the lawsuit alleges, calling the entity an “alter ego” of the Stones.

Additionally, the filing wants to thwart the Stones’ transfer of their $525,000 Florida condominium to an entity known as the Bertran Family Revocable Trust, which the government says is controlled by Nydia Stone and has as beneficiaries their children, Adria Stone and Scott Stone.

A tax lien was being sought against the property, it said. The suit also seeks a judgment for $1,590,361.89.

The government also said the Stones at one point entered into an agreement to cover taxes owed through monthly installments of nearly $20,000, but stopped paying. Additionally, the filing alleges that in 2018, Stone filed his federal income tax return as “a married individual filing separately from his spouse” and owes an additional $407,036.84 for that year alone.

Politico: Pompeos violated rules on use of State Department resources, IG finds.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times, a government watchdog has determined.

POLITICO obtained a copy of the report on the Pompeos, which was put together by the State Department’s inspector general’s office….

By digging through emails and other documents and interviewing staff members, investigators uncovered scores of instances in which Mike or Susan Pompeo asked State Department staffers to handle tasks of a personal nature, from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to picking up their dog and arranging tours for the Pompeos’ political allies. Employees told investigators that they viewed the requests from Susan Pompeo, who was not on the federal payroll, as being backed by the secretary….

Mike Pompeo, in an interview with investigators, insisted that the requests were often small and the types of things friends do for friends. His lawyer, William Burck, slammed a draft version of the report he received as a politically biased “compilation of picayune complaints cherry-picked by the drafters.”

Cat-Photog-2The inspector general’s office, however, defended the investigation, noting that many of the rules governing such interactions are clear, do not make exceptions for small tasks, and that the Pompeos’ requests ultimately added up to use a significant amount of the time of employees paid by taxpayers….

Susan Pompeo, for instance, asked staff members to buy a T-shirt for a friend; arrange for flowers to be sent to friends recovering from sickness; and help her book hair salon appointments when she was in New York during the U.N. General Assembly and had to meet with foreign dignitaries. One year, a senior adviser to the secretary and a senior Foreign Service officer came in on a weekend “to envelope, address, and mail personal Christmas cards for the Pompeos,” the report states.

State Department staff members also found themselves given more intense assignments, such as planning events, including for groups with which the Pompeos were affiliated but in a non-governmental capacity.

The apparently personal Pompeo tasks required time either when they were on-duty or off-duty, the report states. The Pompeos did not separately compensate the staffers for the non-State Department-related work, the report states.

Of course all this personal work was paid for with taxpayer money.

David Ignatius has an interesting opinion piece in The Washington Post on Kash Patel, whom Trump installed in the Defense Department late in his administration. Opinion: How Kash Patel rose from obscure Hill staffer to key operative in Trump’s battle with the intelligence community.

In the Trump administration’s four-year battle with the intelligence community, a recurring character was a brash lawyer named Kashyap P. “Kash” Patel. He appeared so frequently, in so many incarnations, that he was almost a “Zelig” figure in President Donald Trump’s confrontation against what he imagined as the “deep state.”

Patel repeatedly pressed intelligence agencies to release secrets that, in his view, showed that the president was being persecuted unfairly by critics. Ironically, he is now facing Justice Department investigation for possible improper disclosure of classified information, according to two knowledgeable sources who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe. The sources said the investigation resulted from a complaint made this year by an intelligence agency, but wouldn’t provide additional details…. other Trump staffers, most prominently adviser Stephen Miller, became near-household names, Patel, now 41, flew largely beneath the radar during the Trump administration. In the span of four years, he rose from an obscure Hill staffer to become one of the most powerful players in the national security apparatus. The saga of his battles with the intelligence bureaucracy shows how the last administration empowered its lieutenants to challenge what it saw as the deep state.

At the start of the Trump administration, Patel was senior counsel for Rep. Devin Nunes when the California Republican chaired the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 and 2018 and emerged as a leading critic of the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russia. Patel then joined Trump’s National Security Council staff as senior director for counterterrorism. In 2020, he was a senior adviser to acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell and his successor, John Ratcliffe, helping lead their efforts to remove senior career intelligence officers.

Patel’s most prominent role was his final job, as chief of staff for acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller in the administration’s last two months. In that position, according to sources close to events, he challenged the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, and very nearly became acting director of the CIA himself.

As with so many other still-mysterious aspects of the Trump presidency, there’s a riddle at the center of Patel’s many activities. Beyond the basic goal of advancing Trump’s personal agenda, was there a larger mission? Was there a systematic plan, for example, to gain control of the nation’s intelligence and military command centers as part of Trump’s effort to retain the presidency, despite his loss in the November 2020 election? Or was this a more capricious campaign driven by Trump’s personal pique and score-settling without a clear strategy?

At least he’s out of government now, thank goodness. Read all about Patel at the WaPo link. 

I’ll end there. What stories have you been following? As always, this is an open thread.

21 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend everyone!!

    We had a little snow here yesterday. That was a shock. It’s still chilly today. Here’s hoping Spring will come back soon.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m still living in the Blade Runner reality here. Five straight days of cold, rain and it may clear out tomorrow sometime but wow … this is just getting old! Love the little girl feeding all the cats!!!

    • NW Luna says:

      Here we’re having a few days with temps over 75 and it’s too hot for me. Unseasonable warm. Plants are leaping up in this sun and warmth.

      My favorite is the jumping cat!

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    What do y’all think about this?

    • NW Luna says:

      Police seem to be too trigger-happy and shoot by reflex. Many down-and-out males probably look threatening to them. I agree that “the problem is not just racism, but economics–and policing itself.”

    • NW Luna says:

  4. dakinikat says:

  5. quixote says:

    Re killings by cops: indeed, it’s important to remember the intersectionality (to use the woke buzzword) of disadvantage and race. The other big one that gets all-too-ignored is that women are victims of murder-by-cop and sexual-crimes by cop. Men don’t have to worry about the latter category. That does not make it better for women. And proportional to interactions with police, women may be dealing with *more* ‘crimes of power’ by cops.

  6. NW Luna says:

    I’m glad to see Stone, Pompeo and the other Trump associate rats (apologies to rodents) get investigated and charged. I was worried that the Biden administration would ignore the former guy’s criminal administration.

  7. dakinikat says:

  8. NW Luna says:

    • quixote says:

      What a nightmare. First one soul-destroying violation, then the law itself rocking up to say they don’t give the tiniest of damns.

      And the geniuses who invented this didn’t even think it through enough to realize there might be a smidgen of a problem there.

  9. djmm says:

    In 2019, the couple killed in Houston with their dog, after a (Black) cop obtained a no-knock warrant using allegedly false statements, were white. The cops who participated then allegedly lied about how it went down. In addition, a Hispanic woman had set the situation up by falsely claiming to police that her non-existent underage daughter was in the house with the drug dealing couple. The initial reports by police leadership to the public were all wrong. It gave me deja vue when Ms. Taylor was murdered, under a no-knock warrant based on bad information. Yes, police kill white people as well.

    I am not sure I buy the argument that it is largely because more Black’s live in poverty. In many cases, it appears that Black victims were the subject of police racism. Not every case, of course, but quite often. Sandra Bland, for example, was stopped for failing to use a turn indicator, I believe. The officer’s attitude on the tape was horrifying. It is possible that Ms. Taylor’s case might have been treated differently, if she were not Black. Maybe they would have knocked n her door in the morning. It also might have been different if she were not a young female who the police thought would be alone. They must have known this approach would terrify her.

    • quixote says:

      No question that there’s racism, and sexism, operating. But middle-class or well-to-do blacks are not generally victimized by cops. Being perceived as underclass is a huge factor. I think what bb meant, at least it’s what I mean, is that it’s important to be aware of all the factors involved in prejudice. It’s never going to be effectively ended until we do.