Category Archives: Amy Alkon

Barbara Ehrenreich Is Full Of It

Barbara Ehrenreich Is Full Of It
She isn’t the only journo to take a job at Wal-Mart, but Wired’s Charles Platt tells a different story on BoingBoing than she did in her book Nickel and Dimed. An excerpt from Platt’s version of working for Wal-Mart:

The job was as dull as I expected, but I was stunned to discover how benign the workplace turned out to be. My supervisor was friendly, decent, and treated me as an equal. Wal-Mart allowed a liberal dress code. The company explained precisely what it expected from its employees, and adhered to this policy in every detail. I was unfailingly reminded to take paid rest breaks, and was also encouraged to take fully paid time, whenever I felt like it, to study topics such as job safety and customer relations via a series of well-produced interactive courses on computers in a room at the back of the store. Each successfully completed course added an increment to my hourly wage, a policy which Barbara Ehrenreich somehow forgot to mention in her book.

My standard equipment included a handheld bar-code scanner which revealed the in-store stock and nearest warehouse stock of every item on the shelves, and its profit margin. At the branch where I worked, all the lowest-level employees were allowed this information and were encouraged to make individual decisions about inventory. One of the secrets to Wal-Mart’s success is that it delegates many judgment calls to the sales-floor level, where employees know first-hand what sells, what doesn’t, and (most important) what customers are asking for.

Several of my co-workers had relocated from other areas, where they had worked at other Wal-Marts. They wanted more of the same. Everyone agreed that Wal-Mart was preferable to the local Target, where the hourly pay was lower and workers were said to be treated with less respect (an opinion which I was unable to verify). Most of all, my coworkers wanted to avoid those “mom-and-pop” stores beloved by social commentators where, I was told, employees had to deal with quixotic management policies, while lacking the opportunities for promotion that exist in a large corporation.

Of course, I was not well paid, but Wal-Mart is hardly unique in paying a low hourly rate to entry-level retail staff. The answer to this problem seems elusive to Barbara Ehrenreich, yet is obvious to any teenager who enrolls in a vocational institute. In a labor market, employees are valued partly according to their abilities. To earn a higher hourly rate, you need to acquire some relevant skills.

As for all those Wal-Mart horror stories–when I went home and checked the web sites that attack the company, I found that many of them are subsidized with union money., for instance, is partnered with the Service Employees International Union; is copyright by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Why are unions so obsessed with Wal-Mart? I’m guessing that if the more-than-a-million Wal-Mart employees could be unionized, they would be compelled to contribute at least half a billion dollars per year in union dues.

Subsequently I considered writing about my brief experience, but a book defending a company that has been demonized does not have a large potential audience, and the writer tends to be dismissed as either hopelessly naive or bribed by corporate America.

He goes on to tell the tale of a guy who entered a homeless shelter with $25, worked as a day laborer and then for a moving company, and in 10 months, had $2,500 saved up, plus a pickup truck and an apartment. That story is Adam Sheperd’s, and his book about it is Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream.

Platt continued in the comments:

“Is there an incentive for this level of decision making by “sales-floor level” employees?”

I spoke to a guy who took the initiative to order, I think, 100 tentlike carports during his first month on the job, just because he noticed that a sample of four of the things had sold out within a day, and several people then came in asking for them as a result of word-of-mouth.

His gamble was successful. As a result he was invited to some kind of annual Wal-Mart gathering at company HQ, he met the CEO, and of course was promoted. That’s a very unusual story but, yes, I’d say there’s an incentive!

The biggest sin at Wal-Mart is not to take initiative. It is to offend a customer. We were warned quite severely that each average Wal-Mart customer is expected to spend, as I recall, about $200,000 during the rest of their lives. If you terminally alienate one customer, you may have just lost the store almost a quarter-million dollars. The second-biggest sin might be to hurt yourself, since your reimbursed medical expenses will reduce the annual bonus for your coworkers.

Oddly enough, Wal-Mart reminded me of startups that I visited in Silicon Valley during the 1990s. Same informality, same devolution of responsibility to low levels, same gung-ho optimism, young-aged work force, willingness to innovate, emphasis on growth, and a sense of very smart management behind the scenes. But of course the work is MUCH more boring!

Also from the comments is another person’s perspective that’s in tune with mine:

“how can you raise a family on that money in a company town?”

You probably can’t. Starting a family is a decision that from a financial perspective should be delayed until one has a sizeable nest egg. Gratification can be delayed despite to protestation of young hormones otherwise. Most don’t wait and that’s their right but it doesn’t give them any justification to complain that entry level employment doesn’t cover the cost of maintaining a single family private dwelling with their one true love an a brood of entitled young ones. No legislation or labor union will ever prevent people from procreating themselves into poverty. Study hard, avoid unhealthy vices, keep your willy in your trousers or seated with a dime between your knees as the case may be and save up your money to start a family. Poor planning does not obligate Walmart to provide mitigation for bad decisions.

It’s like the idea that health care is a right — one other people should pick up the tab for, even if you’re mentally healthy and capable of working to pay your own way. An old boyfriend of mine does liver transplants. He spent years and bazillions on his education, worked insane hours during his training, and continues to work insane hours now, at one of the country’s finest hospitals. He makes a lot of money and the people whose lives he saves can tell you he deserves every cent.

via Kate Coe

The Color Of Crime In London

The Color Of Crime In London
I trace this to children needing daddies, and so, it seems, does Rod Liddle, who writes in the Times of London:

The overwhelming bulk of violent street crime in London is committed by young black men, and in numerous cases against white people, although one would not impute a racial motive; the statistics suggest that young black male criminals are quite happy to stab or shoot anybody who hoves into view with either a bulging wallet, a mobile phone or an assumed reflection of disrespec’ in their eyes.

Apologies if this offends – but that’s how it is. At most, the African Caribbean population of London is about 12% of the whole. But black males are responsible for nearly 60% of arrests for robbery – and the overwhelming majority of gun crime, most of it black-on-black violence.

We skirt this issue, mostly for decent, if deluding reasons – that a proportion of young black males is more likely to commit violent crime than other sectors of the population. It is a form of racism, though, to assume that the problem is simply a given, and unalterable – but we have been hamstrung in our attempts to deal with it for reasons of political correctness.

The propensity of some young black males to underachieve at school and later commit crimes of violence has been seen for too long as a roguish expression of cultural diversity, exacerbated by our own inherent racism and economic oppression; in other words, it’s not their fault. Indeed the culture of violence, misogyny and epic drug abuse, exemplified in rap music, has been lapped up by a bovine liberal white culture that finds the vibrancy and “edginess” of gangsta rap something in which we should all exult and indeed emulate.

At the same time, we are reluctant to draw attention to the fatherless families in our black communities, the absence of male role models and teachers, even though we know that this is not a good thing, as we increasingly realise it is not a good thing for white boys either. We have been shy of condemning this demeaned culture for fear of being branded racist; too quick to make excuses when the education statistics arrive and show black males right down at the bottom, even below poor whites. But not black females, note; they do well at school and are high achievers later on too (Amy says: see this link). This is only a racist thing if you make it a racist thing.

It isn’t racist to expect things to be different…to be better…to tell black women (and all women) that they have no right to be “single mothers by choice.” What is racist is not saying anything to or about the vast numbers of single black women who have sex without birth control and who bring children into this world who will not grow up with fathers.

Sandra Tsing Loh’s Atlantic Piece

Sandra Tsing Loh’s Atlantic Piece
Sandra is getting divorced, and writes about it. Read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt with her final thoughts on marriage:

So, herewith, some modest proposals. Clearly, research shows that what’s best for children is domestic stability and not having to bond with, and to be left by, ever new stepparent figures. Less important is whether or not their overworked parents are logging “date night” (or feeling the magic). So why don’t we accept marriage as a splitting-the-mortgage arrangement? As Fisher suggests, rekindling the romance is, for many of us, biologically unnatural, particularly after the kids come. (Says another friend of mine, about his wife of 23 years: “My heart doesn’t lift when she walks in the room. It sinks, slightly.”) If high-revving women are sexually frustrated, let them have some sort of French arrangement where they have two men, the postfeminist model dad building shelves, cooking bouillabaise, and ignoring them in the home, and the occasional fun-loving boyfriend the kids never see. Alternately, if both spouses find life already rather exhausting, never mind chasing around for sex. Long-married husbands and wives should pleasantly agree to be friends, to set the bedroom aglow at night by the mute opening of separate laptops and just be done with it. More than anything, aside from providing insulation from the world at large, that kind of arrangement could be the perfect way to be left alone.

As far as the children are concerned, how about the tribal approach (a natural, according to both primate and human evolution)? Let children between the ages of 1 and 5 be raised in a household of mothers and their female kin. Let the men/husbands/boyfriends come in once or twice a week to build shelves, prepare that bouillabaisse, or provide sex.

Or best of all, after the breast-feeding and toddler years are through, let those nurturing superdads be the custodial parents! Let the Type A moms obsessively work, write checks, and forget to feed the dog. Let the dads then, if they wish, kick out those sloppy working mothers and run effective households, hiring the appropriate staff, if need be. To a certain extent, men today may have more clarity about what it takes to raise children in the modern age. They don’t, for instance, have today’s working mother’s ambivalence and emotional stickiness.

In any case, here’s my final piece of advice: avoid marriage–or you too may suffer the emotional pain, the humiliation, and the logistical difficulty, not to mention the expense, of breaking up a long-term union at midlife for something as demonstrably fleeting as love.

Health Care’s Already Been “Reformed”

Health Care’s Already Been “Reformed”
It’s called Medicaid and Medicare. They’re working exactly as Obamacare is predicted to work — which is that they’re crushing states with costs. Daniel Henninger writes in the WSJ that the “public option” we’re being promised for health care is “Son of Medicaid”:

Spending on health and welfare, largely under Medicaid, makes up one-third of California’s budget of some $100 billion. In New York Gov. David Paterson’s budget message, he notes that “New York spends more per capital ($2,283) on Medicaid than any other state in the country.”

After 45 years, the health-care reform called Medicaid has crushed state budgets. A study by the National Governors Association said a decade ago that because of “new requirements” imposed by federal law — meaning Congress — “Medicaid has evolved into a program whose size, cost and significance are far beyond the original vision of its creators.”

In his speeches, Mr. Obama makes the original vision of his “public option” insurance plan sound about as simple as driving through toll booths with an electronic pass on your windshield. It’s going to be all about “best practices” with patients “reimbursed in a thoughtful way,” as if the federal government is about to become just another big Google.

Medicaid is a morass. Since the program’s inception, Congress has loaded it up every few years with more notions of what to cover, shifting about 43% of the ever-upward cost onto someone else’s tab, mainly the states. A 1988 congressional mandate requires local schools to pay for schooling and related services for disabled children, but because Congress underfunds its mandates, the states pay the rest through Medicaid.

…Mr. Obama’s plan is intended to “guarantee” health insurance for all. Whatever the truth of that, its outlays — larded atop Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — guarantee that Congress will become more like the states’ clown shows. But they are expensive clowns.

In his speech, Mr. Obama said the cost of the Public Option won’t add to the deficit: “I’ve set down a rule for my staff, for my team — and I’ve said this to Congress — health-care reform must be, and will be, deficit-neutral in the next decade.” If we’re honest, that means tax increases are inevitable. Sounds scary to me.

In case you didn’t see the link before, Virginia Postrel suggests we fix Medicare first — before embarking on any new adventures in going into vast levels of debt.

What Flavor Is Your Justice?

What Flavor Is Your Justice?
It comes in “male” or “female,” according to a piece by Constantino Diaz-Duranon on The Daily Beast:

Alan Jepsen was playing videogames at his home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, when the cops came knocking on his door. He was handcuffed in front of his sister and thrown in jail. In the words of his attorney, Jeffrey Purnell, “This child, this 17-year-old high-school kid, had to spend a week in jail–they locked him up and they put him in jail with grown-ups.”

His crime: Having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. And, perhaps, being a boy.

“These are kids,” said Purnell. “It’s ridiculous. Lawmakers criminalize common behavior among children, and it’s frustrating, really.”

The day after Alan’s arrest, Sheboygan authorities arrested Norma Guthrie, also 17, for having sex with her 14-year-old boyfriend. Norma, however, did not have to spend a single day in jail. She was released immediately, on signature bond, while Alan was held on a $1,000 cash bond, which his family could not afford. Sheboygan County Assistant District Attorney Jim Haasch is handling both cases.

The disparity in the punishment of these 17-year-olds, both accused of having sex with the 14-year-olds they were dating, goes much deeper. Haasch charged Alan with a Class C felony, which, according to court records obtained by The Daily Beast, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Norma, on the other hand, was charged only with a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail.

The cases caught the attention of the local press, generating a heated debate over whether Alan is being given harsher treatment simply because he is a boy. “After all,” said Purnell, “this isn’t one district attorney in Tennessee and one in New York deciding how to charge these cases. This wasn’t even one district attorney in one county in Wisconsin and another county in Wisconsin. No, this was the same guy who charged these two cases.”

The district attorney’s office refused to comment, but experts say it would not be far-fetched to assume that Alan has been the victim of bias.

Furthermore, teenagers having consensual sex with other teenagers should not be prosecuted. In a lot of states, even Romeo would be a “sex offender” today (since he was thought to be 16 and Juliet 13 when they started seeing each other).

Big Cost, Little Benefit | Amy Alkon on MND

Big Cost, Little Benefit
Nursing home psychologist Ira Rosofsky writes in the LA Times that billions of dollars are being spent on medications that offer only marginal benefits for Alzheimer’s sufferers:

Examine the documents supporting the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Aricept, and you will see upon what a slim reed this drug’s empire was built. Those taking the drug scored, on average, three points better on a 70-item cognitive assessment scale. That’s about a 4% difference, mostly reflecting a slower decline rather than positive improvement. And the differences disappear when the drug is discontinued — indicating that the drugs “do not represent a change in the underlying disease.” At best, these effects may be only marginally more effective against dementia than garlic was against the Black Death in the 14th century.

…Even on Aricept’s website, the claims are sketchy on the drug’s effectiveness when it comes to cognition: “People who took Aricept did better on thinking tests than those who took a sugar pill.”

How much better? The company doesn’t say.

Many studies of the effects of drugs for dementia also speak about statistical significance, but statistical significance can be highly overrated if the differences aren’t meaningful. Take my extremely nearsighted wife, for example. Suppose a drug enabled her to read the giant E at the top of an eye chart without her glasses, but none of the smaller letters. Her eyesight would show statistically significant enhancement, but — despite her being a much better driver than me — I’d still refuse to ride in a car she was driving if she wasn’t wearing her glasses.

There are similar effects at play with anti-dementia drugs.

In 2004, Richard Gray of the University of Birmingham in Britain compared hundreds of patients with mild to moderate dementia who were taking Aricept or a placebo. The drug did improve mental functioning, but at disappointingly small levels — about one point on a 60-point scale. More important, there was no delay in the dementia’s progression or the rate of patients’ institutionalization. And there were no significant differences in mood, behavior or cost of care.

…Could the thousands of dollars spent annually per patient and the billions overall be better directed?

Yes, says Gray: “Doctors and healthcare funders need to question whether it would be better to invest in more doctors and nurses and better social support rather than spending huge sums of money prescribing these expensive drugs.”

A survey released in 2002 by the Kaiser Foundation found that the staffs in a typical nursing home spend a total of about two hours and 20 minutes a day with each resident. For the remaining 21 hours and 40 minutes, residents are left to their own — mostly medicated — devices.

…But why not admit the failure of medication and instead spend some of those billions of dollars on more staff to hold the hands of both patients and their families? Beyond nurturance, much of the savings from giving up on cost-ineffective medications could be diverted to basic research that might yield not only statistically significant but meaningful and large improvements — even a cure.

There is some comfort in believing, as our medieval ancestors did, that a tangible nostrum — like a pearl-hued donepezil tablet — will do some good, but it may be more comforting simply to comfort.

Instead of drugs, I’d bet many patients are wishing someone would just say the words of another ancient rock anthem: I want to hold your hand.

How To Die In Sweden

How To Die In Sweden
Walter Williams writes in the WT of waiting lists just to get on waiting lists for medical care in Britain, a national health care system that isn’t much different in Canada, and how it works in a country whose national health care we don’t often hear about — Sweden:

Canadians have an option Britainers don’t: proximity of American hospitals. In fact, the Canadian government spends more than $1 billion each year for Canadians to receive medical treatment in our country. I wonder how much money the U.S. government spends for Americans to be treated in Canada.

“OK, Williams,” you say, “Sweden is the world’s socialist wonder.” Sven R. Larson tells about some of Sweden’s problems in “Lesson from Sweden’s Universal Health System: Tales from the Health-care Crypt,” published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (spring 2008). Mr. D., a Gothenburg multiple sclerosis patient, was prescribed a new drug. His doctor’s request was denied because the drug was 33 percent more expensive than the older medicine. Mr. D. offered to pay for the medicine himself but was prevented from doing so. The bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.

Malmo, with its 280,000 residents, is Sweden’s third-largest city. To see a physician, a patient must go to one of two local clinics before they can see a specialist. The clinics have security guards to keep patients from getting unruly as they wait hours to see a doctor. The guards also prevent new patients from entering the clinic when the waiting room is considered full. Uppsala, a city of 200,000 people, has only one mammography specialist. Sweden’s National Cancer Foundation reports that in a few years most Swedish women will have no access to mammography.

Dr. Olle Stendahl, a professor of medicine at Linkoping University, pointed out a side effect of government-run medicine: its impact on innovation. He said, “In our budget-government health care there is no room for curious, young physicians and other professionals to challenge established views. New knowledge is not attractive but typically considered a problem [that brings] increased costs and disturbances in today’s slimmed-down health care.”

These are just a few of the problems of Sweden’s single-payer government-run health care system. I wonder how many Americans would like a system that would, as in the case of Mr. D. of Gothenburg, prohibit private purchase of your own medicine if the government refused paying.

We have problems in our health care system but most of them are a result of too much government. More than 50 percent of health care expenditures in our country are made by government. Government health care advocates might say they will avoid the horrors of other government-run systems. Don’t believe them.

The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, who published Sven Larson’s paper, is a group of liberty-oriented doctors and health care practitioners who haven’t sold their members down the socialist river as have other medical associations. They deserve our thanks for being a major player in the ’90s defeat of “Hillary care.”

People will say, “That won’t happen here in America,” because we’ve had a capitalism-ish system. But, the Obama administration makes no bones about their desire for wealth redistribution in the name of fairness (not that the Republicans were ever the “small government” types they claim to be). So, we really can’t say how far this will go. Also, innovation is surely going to be a problem if government is running the show, just for starters, because innovators are likely to shy away from becoming part of a vast medi-bureaucracy.

And regarding who we do take care of — who I think we should take care of — the mentally ill, the homeless, and others who truly can’t help themselves. But, I think we need to encourage people to behave responsibly. Can’t afford health care for two children? Have one — or none.

More on Sweden’s health care here, by David Hogberg, Ph.D., a senior policy analyst at the National Center for Public Policy Research:

While Sweden is a first world country, its health care system – at least in regards to access – is closer to the third world. Because the health care system is heavily-funded and operated by the government, the system is plagued with waiting lists for surgery. Those waiting lists increase patients’ anxiety, pain and risk of death.

Sweden’s health care system offers two lessons for the policymakers of the United States. The first is that a single-payer system is not the answer to the problems faced as Americans. Sweden’s system does not hold down costs and results in rationing of care. The second lesson is that market-oriented reforms must permit the market to work. Specifically, government should not protect health care providers that fail to provide patients with a quality service from going out of business.

When the United States chooses to reform its health care system, reform should lead to improvement. Reforming along the lines of Sweden would only make our system worse.


I Went To Hungary Last Night

I Went To Hungary Last Night

I know, I know — this is not a picture of Hungary. It’s actually the facade of Bass Hall in Ft. Worth. It was so beautiful, I had to take a picture, although my photo doesn’t do it justice.

Only Thursday night, after I saw a book at a friend’s house, did I learn that an Irvine, California-based Hungarian artist, Márton Váro, had created it. He’s known for his work in marble, especially figures with draped fabric like this one.

But, let’s backtrack a little. This evening actually started a few months ago, at the LA Art Show. Gregg and I had left the apartment we rented in Paris in really nice condition (as always!) and the woman we’d rented it from thanked us by mailing us tickets to the art show’s opening night.

There, I was looking at some really beautiful paintings when the art dealer struck up a conversation about them, handing me his card at some point. But, he wasn’t the art dealer. His card said “Balázs Bokor,” and his job description was “Consul General of Hungary” (ambassador from Hungary to the Western states of the USA). I asked him if he was moonlighting selling paintings. No — just promoting Hungary, as always.

He’s very interesting, and lots of fun, and we’ve become friendly. I even had him give diplomatic advice one week in the short question in my column (scroll down to the second question).

Thursday night, he invited me to a Hungarian cultural program — “Living traditions and bagpipes in the Carpathian basin” — and I took my friend Sergeant Heather…one of those absolutely unsnobby class acts you can take absolutely anywhere, and more important, somebody who wouldn’t ask me “Are you HIGH?!” upon being invited to hear a program of bagpipe and native flute music (basically the sounds of randy Hungarian shepherds).

Sure enough, she had a great time, and so did I, and she even bought the bagpiper’s CD. Afterward, a bunch of us went to Balazs’ house and had drinks and sushi and talked about Europe and the U.S. and how we’re nationalizing banks here, and how amazing that is to Eastern Europeans. At some point, he broke out a book of Váro’s work and I finally learned who created that amazing building in Ft. Worth.

Oh, by the way, the evening’s bagpiper, Ferenc Tobak, is also a photographer. See some of his photographs of Romanian musicians here. See his photos of the gypsies of the eastern Carpathians here.

Who says there’s no culture in Los Angeles? You just have to be friendly and leave a Paris rental apartment like it’s your grandma’s place.

All The Fruits And Nuts Are At Their Keyboards

All The Fruits And Nuts Are At Their Keyboards
Got this e-mail from Scarlett Johansson’s “close friend Serge G.” Uh, make that “original Scarlett’s” “close friend Serge G.”:

In a message dated 3/29/09 3:14:07 AM, writes:

IT IS NOT A SPAM, but if you received that message second and plus time JUST CLICK ?DELETE? button and have a nice day. Don’t feel bad, please understand original Scarlett’s family very desperate to shut down that humiliating antichristian “actress” clones line career development.

Hello dear Ladies and Gentlemen! I would like inform you that Scarlett Johansson ?actress? actually is a clone from original person Scarlett Galabekian last name, who has nothing with acting career, surname Galabekian, because of adoption happened in 1992. Clones was created illegally by using stolen biological material. Original person is very nice (not d**n sexy),most important – CHRISTIAN young lady!

I’ll tell you more,those clones (it’s not only one) made in GERMANY – world leader manufacturer of humans clones, it is in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Rhineland-Palatinate, Mr. Helmut Kohl home town. You can not even imaging the scale of the cloning activity.

But warning! Helmut Kohl clone staff strictly controlling all their clones (at least they trying) spreading around the world, they are very accurate with that, some of them are still NAZI type disciplined and mind controlled clones, so be careful get close with clones you will be controlled as well.

Original person is not happy with those movies, images, video, rumors and etc. spreading on media in that way it would be really nice if we all will try slow down that ”actress” career development, original Scarlett will really appreciated that.

Please remember that original Scarlett’s family did not authorize any activity with stolen biological materials, no matter what form it was created in it was stolen and it is stolen. It all need to be delivered to authorize personals control in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Original Scarlett never was engaged, by the way! Her close friend Serge G.


H.R. 534, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003, was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on February 5, 2003. After discussion, it was passed on February 27 by a vote of 241-155. It now moves on to the Senate for consideration.

This bill makes it unlawful for any person or entity to perform or participate in human cloning, or to ship or receive embryos produced by human cloning. The penalties are imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines of $1 million or more.

These now join other nations as diverse as Norway, Australia, and many other countries, which had already added cloning for any purpose to their criminal code. And in Germany where it carries a penalty of five years imprisonment they know a thing or two about unethical science.

Serge, honey, just say the word and we’ll send over the nice men from the…uh…spa.

Nothing Like A Cop Killer To Bring The Community Together

Nothing Like A Cop Killer To Bring The Community Together
The photo I saw in the LA Times was a shot of a sad black woman holding a photo of a black man. The caption: “Oakland gunman remembered” — about a rally for Lovelle Mixon, shot and killed by Oakland police after he murdered FOUR officers on Saturday.

A rally for the cop killer? I had to look that up.

Sure enough, the community there managed to turn a cop murderer into a case of a black man rising up against white oppression. Here’s a report from (from somebody who apparently skipped some school, vis a vis “total estrangers” and creative punctuation):

Family friends and total estrangers gather today’s at the place where Lovell Mixon Ceased to exist in this physical form this past Saturday in Oakland CA. People were there to show solidarity and support and to tell the media and the whole police department that they can go to hell because “we don’t believe in the demonization of this modern day Malcolm X”. A Native American Man said ” the only raper i can really think of is the ones who came and rape my mother land”

Here’s the obscene Obama-ization of Mixon’s face posted on feministing, but created by Kevin Weston in collaboration with art director Arturo Tejeda to accompany this piece of tripe, also by Weston.

Here’s a YouTube video from the rally:

Hey, all you people at that rally — not every cop is a saint, but when somebody’s breaking into your house or doing a drive-by and you call 911, if I were a cop there, I sure wouldn’t be too fast risk my ass for ingrates like you. And I say that as somebody who has a close friend who’s a cop (a beautiful blonde cop) who worked the inner city as a rookie — her first day was during the L.A. riots — and who was beloved by some of the people on her beat, including the owners of a soul food restaurant (in other words, very non-white).

And regarding the “raper” reference above, here’s more on their beloved Lovelle Mixon from an SF Chron story by Jaxon Van Derbeken:

The day before the shootings, police learned that a sample of Mixon’s DNA taken after he was sent to prison in 2002 for assault with a deadly weapon matched the evidence recovered after the rape of the 12-year-old girl, police said.

Lt. Kevin Wiley, who oversees the sexual assault unit, said Tuesday that the girl had been walking in the 2600 block of 74th when she was grabbed and dragged off the street at gunpoint to a secluded area between homes and sexually assaulted. The attacker then let her go, and she told her parents what happened, police said.

Given the nature of the attack on a 12-year-old, police asked the state Justice Department laboratory in Richmond to rush tests of a DNA sample from the rape to compare it with a database of the state’s inmates.

Not enough time

The match to Mixon came back Friday afternoon, but police still would have needed to take a comparison sample from Mixon for him to be charged, investigators said.

Police would not go into detail about the other rapes. But they said that at least one happened this month and that another woman was dragged off the street and raped in the neighborhood in January.

The victim in that rape told police that the attacker “came up behind her. She was savagely raped and sodomized,” said Sgt. Jill Encinas of the police special victims unit.

DNA tests in that case are pending, Encinas said.

Police said several victims of the early morning attacks were prostitutes or people the attacker may have believed were prostitutes. The East Oakland area, however, is not known for prostitution, Wiley said.

Most victims did not get a look at the attacker, but the 12-year-old girl did, Encinas said.
‘Dead-on’ sketch

She helped police come up with a sketch of the rapist that strongly resembles Mixon, Encinas said. “It’s pretty dead-on,” she said.

Oh, and by the way, Mixon “executed one of the officers by standing over and shooting him in the head,” a KRON/Kimberlee Sakamoto story said:

Officials also confirm to KRON 4 that Mixon had tattoos glorifying gun violence. One is of him holding an assault rifle and the other glorifies shooting people in the head.

Here’s video of officers from around the country and Canada showing up to mourn the murdered officers (note that a number of them are black):

Here, from an SF Chron story by Demian Bulwa and Jaxon Van Derbeken, is more on the other cops who were murdered by Mixon:

According to authorities, Lovelle Mixon used a semiautomatic pistol to shoot and kill Hege and Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, two motorcycle officers who pulled him over during a routine traffic stop. Two hours later, Mixon, who was holed up in his sister’s nearby apartment, opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle, killing SWAT team sergeants Ervin Romans, 43, and Daniel Sakai, 35.

Another SWAT team officer, Sgt. Pat Gonzales, also was shot: A bullet ripped through his left shoulder, and another ricocheted off his helmet. He was treated for his injuries and released.

The chaotic shootout occurred in a darkened apartment filled with smoke from officers’ nonlethal shock grenades and dust from bullets ripping through drywall. It ended when SWAT team officers returned fired and killed Mixon, authorities said.

…Law enforcement authorities revealed Sunday that Mixon had been investigated last year in another homicide case in Alameda County. Details of that slaying were not immediately released, but prosecutors found there was not enough evidence to charge him.

…Oakland investigators said they were not aware of Mixon’s possible connection to the earlier slaying. They said they were perplexed about what triggered Mixon’s sudden outburst of violence against their officers.

“This is a strange one,” said Oakland police Capt. Steve Tull, who is overseeing the investigation. “We don’t know what his motivation is.” If authorities found he had violated the conditions of his parole, Mixon would have faced at most six months in prison, Tull said.

Mixon “weighed six months” against his own life and the lives of the officers, Tull said.

He was an animal who belonged in a cage.

Condolences to the families of the murdered police officers.