"Smart on Crime" was seen as banal in 2009, but it's bracing and insightful today
The problem with Kamala is I don't know if she believes what she wrote in 2010 or what she said in 2020 (and I'm not sure she knows either).
On truancy here's a banal observation based on personal reflection: The covid school closings made schools seem much less serious about attendance even after they reopened.
My kid is about to start public school this month, and as I'm reading the rules about excused absences I keep thinking "how seriously do I need to take this? If I pull her out to visit relatives for a few weeks are they really going to do something?" I don't know that I would have had that thought if they hadn't been keeping kids out of classrooms for so long just recently. Maybe that same idea in other parents' heads is part of why truancy has risen.
This is the mystery of Kamala Harris in political terms. She is perfectly positioned to establish herself as the smart, tough prosecutor who pushes back against woke excesses, to put it crudely. It's just a huge political opening. Everyone else in the party who might wish to make this case is inhibited by concerns over race-trolling, TBH. She could easily establish herself as a formidable general election prospect nationally. She would take some heat from her left but the benefits would easily outweigh the costs and lots of Democrats would treat her with kid gloves. This is really teed up for her. So why doesn’t she have the wit to see this? That's the question.
Progressives believe in change and the possibility of making the world a better place. They specifically assign the state the primary role of changing society for the better. This is done primarily through devices funded by the public (taxes) and for the public. Using the power of the state to protect and consistently improve public safety , via a public service that’s free and available for all (the police) and whose presence is esp salient in public spaces for public use is therefore progressivism par excellence. The anti police fashion in contemporary left circles by contrast is an incoherent aberration more to do with (rather reactionary) classism than any coherent philosophy that’s meaningfully progressive.
Basic point that Matt leaves completely unaddressed: Cops should also be arrested and prosecuted for non-murder crimes, such as making false statements on official documents (like arrest reports). Any attempt to improve the quality of our law enforcement has to take this seriously.
"First, we need more intense, coordinated, and sophisticated law enforcement efforts to apprehend, prosecute, and disrupt the activities of gang members and leaders. Second, we need to figure out how to prevent the entry of young, vulnerable individuals into gangs and also enfranchise communities victimized by gangs in the larger cause of fighting them. Finally, we need to break the cycle of crime and focus more strategically on the re-entry of gang members from jail or prison back into their communities."
Was it ever explained what an 'intense', 'coordinated' and 'sophisticated' law enforcement effort to [destroy gangs] was? What does she mean by 'enfranchising' communities victimised by gangs in the larger cause of fighting them? How does one focus more 'strategically' on the re-entry of convicted gang members into a community?
But apart from that, why does the diametric opposite of these things seem to be happening in California recently?
I'm confused about the statement about why Kamala Harris is in the Democratic party. Is the implication that a prosecutor who enforces the law is not welcome in the Democratic party? That seems prima facie ridiculous.
I just browsed a study on recidivism from the US Sentencing Commission, the group that writes the federal sentencing guidelines. The basic takeaway is that increasing sentences from 38 to 79 months reduced recidivism by 18%. That doesn’t mean you subtract 0.18, it means you multiply by 0.82.
They used matching to control for age at release and offense type, very plausible methodology, and they have enough data for robust conclusions.
Anyway, that seems like a good estimate of the effect of incarceration. Double sentences, reduce recidivism by 18%. This is a good investment if you are deterring serious, violent crimes and a bad investment if you are deterring almost anything else.
The desire to prosecute the 1/6 rioters being about "coercion" - presumably not to do it again - is the most sympathetic possible reading. I don't think anyone seriously thinks that these same people are going to storm the capitol again.
It's about punishment, which is fine. They should be punished. But it can be unsettling to witness just how much thirst for blood the "defund the police/abolish prisoners" crew has when there are political enemies involved.
I don't have a super strong opinion about Harris, but I've noticed that her supporters are disproportionately in the "DEI manager in the Yemeni wedding liquidation division at Lockheed Martin" quadrant of the coalition. The guys who want to decolonize the claim denial department at the health insurance company they work for. As in, more concerned about the most basic optics (and talking about them constantly) than, you know, what's really going on out there.
I haven’t read the book, but MY’s take on it makes sense to me because of a 2019 (?) podcast interview of Harris I listened to. She sounded very pragmatic - much like a modern, moderate Democrat. But her campaign instincts are horrible, and now I’m afraid that she’ll be a drag on the already low-polling Biden.
KH's views on the appropriate use of incarceration would be more attractive if our jails and prisons were more constructive and less dangerous places. Here in NYC, sending someone to Rikers could literally be a death sentence, and certainly not rehabilitative.
One thing I would like to know is who exactly are these key Harris staffers? What are their names? And why do they appear from afar to be so much worse than the average Democratic staffer? Are they a bunch of a Tiktok-addicted zoomers? What's going on? I see from five seconds of googling that her chief of staff is someone named Lorraine Voles, but she was only hired in 2022 and has a long resume working for lots of normal Democratic politicians, so I assume she isn't the worst of them.
"Reading the book, you might occasionally ask yourself why the author is on the left at all."
I'd ask why is this not bread and butter Progressivism, anyway?
Today ended up being a fun Throwback Thursday: after Matt took us on this trip down memory lane, I reread Elizabeth Nolan Brown's critical piece on Harris [https://reason.com/2019/06/03/kamala-harris-is-a-cop-who-wants-to-be-president/], to which I remember Matt tweeting in reply at the time something like "Kamala is a cop but cops are popular.".