The 1994 Crime Bill Was A Liberal Policy

Lives should matter more than ideologically-driven revisionism.

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xddorox/flickr

Bill Clinton has become part of the 2016 election news cycle once again. He confronted protesters associated with Black Lives Matter who were denouncing the 1994 crime bill, a major piece of legislation that instituted a lot of the policies that drove over-criminalization and hyper-incarceration in the last twenty years.

"You're defending the people who kill the lives you say matter," Clinton told the protesters, attempting to link tough on crime policies (which are popular in urban area and among urban Democratic politicians despite the mainstream rhetoric) to crime reduction.

Twenty years ago the 1994 crime bill passed with broad support. It has become an issue this election cycle given increased interest in issues of police and criminal justice reform. Yet arguments over the crime bill have avoided engaging the uncomfortable truth about the role of bigger government in promoting police violence in favor of rhetorical acrobatics.

For example even while acknowledging the 1994 crime bill was largely "a sincere attempt to respond to a real epidemic of violent crime," Slate's Jameille Bouie has to insist there were "bad actors" as well. The focus on intentionality in politics is a distraction. The effects policies have on real people matter, not the intentions of the politicians first proposing them. Evaluating how policies will play out on the ground is a more effective way of protecting people from government abuses than the parlor game of trying to divine what's in someone's heart.

It matters. One revisionist tact taken with the 1994 crime bill is that it was never supported by liberals. Salon, for example, insists Bill Clinton's "right-leaning New Democrat policy record is a bad fit for today's liberal politics." Clinton blames Republicans for forcing him to add tougher provisions to the bill. Yet the 1994 crime bill went through Congress when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. It was supported by Democrats across the political spectrum, from center-left to hard left. Every member of the leadership of the progressive-leaning Congressional Black Caucus voted for the 1994 crime bill, even as their chairman at the time has now tried to deny he voted in favor of it. 75 percent of House Democrats voted for the bill. They were joined by 46 Republicans and one Independent, the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton receives more focus on the 1994 crime bill because her husband signed it into law, but Bernie Sanders actually voted for the legislation. He says now that was because of provisions about violence against women, but laws are not passed a la carte. Sanders has also claimed police departments are just examples of everyday socialism. Nothing about his rhetoric or policy positions suggests he'd even consider commonsense reform proposals from Black Lives Matter like reforming the police union contracts that often allow officers to kill with almost complete impunity.

Such exercises aren't just a distraction from solutions like the ones Black Lives Matter's Campaign Zero have proposed, they provide cover for future policy pushes that will also have the effect of exacerbating police violence. Victims of police brutality can no longer afford to have progressives deny that there's nothing about the good intentions of their policies that inoculates them from causing more government violence when they create the legal opportunity for such, especially in communities of poor and marginalized people.

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  1. For central planning to work, one needs a strong enforcement arm. Also, central planning never works, even with a strong enforcement arm.

    1. It works fine for the mob bosses (aka politicians) raking off the vig or skim (aka taxes).

    2. For central planning to be voted into power, one needs a strong PR arm.

      The entire journalistic establishment does nicely

      1. The journalistic establishment has been subsidized by Richard Nixon’s “bipartisan consensus” subsidizing of secret ballot elections as of the day the Libertarian Party first formed. The IRS code, as then amended, explicitly subsidizes the entrenched kleptocracy every time some idiot checks the box to increase taxes to buy looter votes for the presidential campaign.

    3. Central planning does not work.

      Let me explain it in a biological way.

      Imagine if you had to think of every one of your hearth beats. Every time your lung breats. Every time your stomach secret acid. Every time your intestines process food. You had to consiously do all this things, no delegation. You have to plan, I am going to breath, I am going to make my hearth beat.

      Impossible to do without dying.

      And that is only one body. Imagine if you had to do the same for your family. Imagine for your town, Imagine for your state. Imagine for your country.

      Central planning takes the gross assumption that does that do the planning have a greater understanding of the problems than those who are near the problems.

      A better aproach is cooperative planing. The markets are an example on this. A family is another example.

      To totalitarians:
      Not a single person on earth is wise enough to know all. Every time you try to justify that, you show that your level of intelligence is below room temperature.

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  2. Victims of police brutality can no longer afford to have progressives deny that there’s nothing about the good intentions of their policies that inoculates them from causing more government violence

    Doesn’t raising the minimum wage take care of this?

    1. #savage

      1. Or whatever the fuck it is people say these days to indicate that something was quite pithy and hilarious.

  3. Carceral liberalism: it’s a thing, yo. Some might say it’s a New York value.

  4. The focus on intentionality in politics is a distraction. The effects policies have on real people matter, not the intentions of the politicians first proposing them.

    Oh, Ed, you clueless bastard. Intentions matters. FEELZ matter. Actual outcomes – only if proposed by “bad actors”, and by that they mean “Republicans”.

    1. The focus on intentionality in politics is a distraction.

      Yeah, no, the focus on intentionality in politics is politics. Nobody supports legislation based on what it’s going to do, they support it based on what it’s intended to do. The fact that laws have intended consequences is not unknown to them – they’re not that stupid – it’s that they don’t care because they’re just that evil.

      1. *unintended, although unintended consequences may be intended.

      2. It’s broader than that — how else to explain ‘crime prevention’?
        If it’s not already a crime, how do the police propose to ‘prevent’ a presumptive crime without creating an actual crime?
        If it is already a crime, then act on it.
        Acts matter, intentions don’t.

    2. BLM is saying intentions don’t matter beyond the news cycle.

  5. Lives should matter

    Please stop using meaningless feel-good expressions.

    1. Please stop using me

      I don’t think anyone is using you Gil. Certainly not Ed.

      1. that’s even dumber than the phrase i was criticizing.

        1. But you looked like you were having so much fun half-quoting a sentence out of context and then saying how meaningless it is! I just wanted to try it too.

          1. the full sentence “lives should matter more than ideologically-driven revisionism” is comparing A to B

            “Lives” vs. X

            my point was that this whole “Lives matter” expression is mere “Appeals to Feels

            Its incoherent. If the point is to say, “The Goals of Law Enforcement Cannot Ignore Costs”, then say that, because that actually makes sense and doesn’t require some fuzzy appeal to a popular catchphrase that means nothing.

            If you want to ignore that point and just be a nitpicky douche because that’s your thing, go right ahead. Its just not very clever.

            1. All slogans are generally ideals concentrated into a feeling. It’s how you sell things to idiots and why every commercial worth it’s salt repeats the message three times; they correctly assume they are marketing to retards.

            2. See? That nanny-nanny-boo-boo really put the Perfesser in his place!

          2. what saddest is that the whole, “purposely ignore the point of what someone is saying in an attempt to play some kind of potential-interpretation-“Gotcha!”-method?

            Is a gimmick you just stole from Nikki, and don’t even do *very well*. You’re not even original in your pretentious-pedantic sniping.

  6. Sanders has also claimed police departments are just examples of everyday socialism.

    This is completely true, as is Sanders’ claim that all government is socialism. The more government power, the more socialist the geographic area ruled by it is.

    1. I had the exact same thought. That may have been the most accurate statement by a leftist politician since LBJ’s comment about his welfare proposals and black voting patterns.

  7. “the parlor game of trying to divine what’s in someone’s hard.”

    John?

  8. Do we really need much pondering to divine what is in Bill Clinton’s hard?

    1. “Why did they have to find out about the island?”?

  9. Every member of the leadership of the progressive-leaning Congressional Black Caucus voted for the 1994 crime bill

    I think you need to fact check that statement, Ed.

    IIRC, I ran through the roll call and got 12 of 36 CBC members voting against it. But that was a while ago and my memory may be failing.

    Now I’m going to OT your post:

    “kind, considerate, helpful” teacher at Newtown, CT middle school arrested for carrying concealed.

    1. my bad, Ed. the “leadership” of the CBC voted for it. okay, no dispute there.

    2. It wasn’t that concealed if people saw it.

      1. Yep. Or maybe he confided in someone who narced on him.

        1. According to the article someone or multiple someones saw it. So I’m thinking he just didn’t conceal it very well. Which is pretty dumb. The whole point of carrying concealed is, um, well, concealment.

          1. He needed this http://idealconceal.com/

            double barrel .380 folds up like a phone.

            1. I’m looking to get one of these in .380. It’s probably the biggest .380 out there which means perceived recoil is greatly reduced, but it’s still small enough to easily conceal.

              1. Nice. The reviews all conclude it’s a great value and reliable.

                I have a Walther already so I’m biased toward their lineup. The PPS M2 is 1″ wide. That would help with printing for anyone who wears skinny jeans. *shudder*

                1. If you are seriously shopping for a concealed carry firearm, take a look at a comparison study G&A did last September. All polymer, sub compact 9mms that were thoroughly tested. Though there has been a huge improvement in ammo of all kinds, including the .380, as Col. Cooper described it: “If one simply had to have a minimum pistol for purposes of concealment, a .380 with this load might do. I wouldn’t stake my own life on it, but then I don’t ride on bald tires either, while many do.”

                  1. IIRC from previous discussions, he has a .380 revolver already. I can appreciate the utility of keeping your lineup one caliber. My dad has four pistols (all revolvers) of at least three different calibers.

                    1. Most handgun murders use a 22, IIRC

                    2. Most handgun murders use a 22, IIRC

                      Yep. Mostly because there are more 22s out there than any other kind of firearm. Any firearm can kill if you hit a vital organ or an artery. I have a couple 22s and I know I wouldn’t want to be shot by one.

                    3. .380 REVOLVER? I didn’t know there was such a thing. 9mm, .45ACP, yes, but I had not heard of a revolver in .380.

                      True, it is simpler to buy ammunition for only one caliber, but ‘they say’ variety is the spice of life, some have many different calibers. I haven’t purchased a .40S&W, primarily because I have handguns above and below it in size and didn’t really desire yet another caliber to feed.

                    4. maybe it was 38 special. in which case, disregard.

                      Taurus has the “Ultralight” in 380.

                    5. 380 REVOLVER? I didn’t know there was such a thing

                      This guy (who is a very pro-revolver advocate) thinks “Semi-auto caliber revolvers” are the dumbest things on earth

                      he’s always mildly amusing

                    6. maybe it was 38 special.

                      Yes. A reliable old S&W Model 10 from the late 40s. Love that gun.

                  2. If you are seriously shopping for a concealed carry firearm, take a look at a comparison study G&A did last September. All polymer, sub compact 9mms that were thoroughly tested.

                    I’ve done my research. What I want is something compact with a DA/SA trigger, but with enough weight to reduce the perceived recoil. I don’t like “flippy” guns. I prefer something with some weight to it. So I shy away from polymer frames. I want metal. I want it to feel heavy in my hand. That is what attracted me to the Bersa. It’s got everything I’m looking for. Granted the caliber isn’t the most effective, but a center-mass hit with an expanding bullet will cause most people to stop fighting. I certainly wouldn’t want to use ball-ammo in that caliber for self defense.

                    1. Take a look at the CZ 75 compact. Comes in steel and aluminum frames.

                    2. Take a look at the CZ 75 compact. Comes in steel and aluminum frames.

                      Just did. Looks nice, but it’s literally twice the price of the Bersa.

                2. I have a Walther already so I’m biased toward their lineup.

                  The Bersa Thunder is essentially a clone of the Walther PPK.

    3. Here’s an article identifying, “The 11 in the Black Caucus Who Voted NO on the Clinton Crime Bill

      “…23 CBC members voted for the Clinton crime bill and 11 voted against. Obviously that was 23 members too many. But clintoncrime-linethe idea that the Black Caucus was Stephen in Django Unchained ? a house Negro to Calvin “Bill Clinton” Candie ? is a bit too simplistic. The road to the vote was rocky to say the least and in the end, several members who voted with Clinton got something in return”

      1. “got something in return”

        I’d love to see what they got in return that could have possibly helped their communities.

        1. You’re assuming it wasn’t a nepotistic/monetary return: he’s called “Slick Willy” for a reason!

  10. Why Bill Clinton is responding to BLM is because the ’94 crime bill is one of few things Clinton was able to get done before Congres went to the GOP. It is an important part of his administration’s legacy, and they are criticizing it. The narcissist in Bill cannot let that go.

  11. And in 1994, “black lives matter” meant “you white people don’t care that criminals are preying us; give us more cops and prisons!”

    1. #becarefulwhatyouwishfor

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  13. How come no one voting for Bill Clinton twice noticed this in 1994?

    1. See 2012, anti war left.

  14. This just goes to show how much progressives believe in magic. They rarely meet a piece of government legislation or a government program that they don’t like, but then they get upset when violence is used to enforce it. It should be enforced with magic, not violence. Stupid Republicans must be like obstructing the magic and stuff, or something, you know?

    1. LOL, sorta like a cock block.

    2. You know, for a party of backwards-thinking, anti-science stupid people with the support of only 23% or so of the population, those darn Republicans have some pretty amazing brainwashing powers. They somehow bamboozled the Democrat majority in Congress to pass a crime law in 1994, and tricked multiple highly-educated, otherwise-thoughtful and pro-science Democrats to support the Iraq war. Funny, that.

      1. Even racist cis-gendered shitlord clocks are right twice a day!

        /derp

  15. He says now that was because of provisions about violence against women, but laws are not passed a la carte.

    More evidence of how totally authentic the Bern is.

    1. So Bern thinks only BlackWomensLivesMatter

      1. “womyens” is the preferred neologism of the month, thank you.

  16. Sanders has also claimed police departments are just examples of everyday socialism.

    This is a popular meme with the progs lately. It’s very funny given that only a short time ago they’d soil their drawers if anybody suggested that any part of government was socialism. Given their innate hypocrisy they’d probably still soil their drawers if you were to tell them that FDR’s New Deal programs are socialism.

    1. Doubt it. Socialism isn’t a bad word anymore. Socialism is good and wonderful, as long as the right people are in charge. Just look at Sweden.

      The mask is totally off at this point.

      The people who remember the Cold War are like old and stuff. They don’t know anything. It will work this time.

      1. The one I’ll never stop laughing at is the attempts to rebrand the economics of the Soviet Union as “state capitalism”. Yeah, an entire empire of slavish Karl Marx devotees constantly sounding the refrain that they were poised to destroy capitalism any day now, those were the real capitalists, how dare they sully the great name of socialism!

        1. Had a friend in grad school who insisted that all the environmental disasters in the USSR were a result of the capitalist portions of the Soviet economy.

      2. True Facts. The French Terror was bad luck. Soviet genocide WASN’T REALLY socialism. Christian National Socialism WASN’T REALLY socialism. The People’s Temple in Guyana wasn’t, nor the starving island of Cuba. REAL socialism is, like, in the fictional works of Edward Bellamy, William Dean Howells and Jack London, where nobody starves and nobody is gunned down by Todes-schutzen. Seventeenth time’s a charm, I can really tell.

    2. Police departments are examples of everyday socialism? Seriously? I had not heard that one.

      I guess that means that asset forfeiture constitutes income redistribution. And that the most developed socialist countries are Police States.

      1. It doesn’t? Police departments have been co-opted into looter socialism since George Holy War Bush pushed the idea of buying support from local ku-klux-kops by cutting them in for a share of the loot. His offspring (why wasn’t abortion free and legal back then?) then put the looting into practice. After the economy collapsed–as in all such altruist experiments, Bush Baby exported the same looter fascism through UN flimflams so that other countries, whose politicians the NSA listens in on, could fail as miserably as These States. If not for their hypocrisy and ignorance of formal reasoning, they too would be Police States permanently crippled by looter altruist prohibitionism. Only incompetence has pulled them back from the brink.

    3. I guess I’ve accepted (though not understood) progressives’ willfully short memories when it comes to communism, but wasnt it just like a month ago everyone was all about how awful the police were? Police ARE an example of everyday socialism, I agree, but how the fuck is anybody supposed to be thinking “yup, that’s what we need more of”?

  17. Are you single tonight? A lot of beautiful girls waiting for you to http://goo.gl/X6JhyG

      1. Or is it women’s prison?

        1. You got girlfriend Vietnam?
          Not just this minute.

    1. Waiting for you to….

      take out the trash
      take her out to a nice dinner
      change the baby’s diaper
      wash the car
      call the plumber

      1. Taking out the trash is a part of foreplay

    2. After the Ashley Madison scandal, I just can’t look at one of these ads without seeing some gnarley old dud in a chat room writing me love letters.

      1. I learned that from Aerosmith’s Sweet Emotion video.

      2. Us old farts need some sweet lovin’ too!

  18. Black Matter Lives!

  19. Clinton blames Republicans for forcing him to add tougher provisions to the bill.

    They forced me to do it mummy!
    Oh Billy, take some responsibility.
    Next thing you’ll say is that some hussy forced you to put your wee wee into her pie hole.

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  21. Sanders has also claimed police departments are just examples of everyday socialism fascism.

    FTFY, Sanders

  22. Those BLM protesters who decry the Clinton ’94 Crime Bill I’m sure also voted out many of the Dem Congressmen/women who passed it, thereby bringing to the Speakership Newt Gingrich.
    Thank You, BLM!

    1. Ah! A whining 2-parties-Only Republican in here to snivel some votes for prohibition, conscription, xenophobia, tax-funded bombing campaigns, asset forfeiture financial collapse, torture, bullying pregnant women into squeezing out lebensborn Hitlerjugend and shooting our kids over hemp, I’m just as sure.

  23. The Congressional Black Caucus has always supported the racist drug war. Maybe Reason can ask some of them why?

    1. It was racist to oppose stiffer penalties for crack and more brutal police policies back then…

  24. Fallacy of equivocation detected: When Ed says “liberal” he is using it in its post-1932 defeated prohibitionist Republican imitation of a National Socialist hissing “juden!” Whereas when Salon uses the exact same expression, they mean what 1930s German National Socialists meant when they hissed “Bolchievisimus!”
    Hey, this is the Twenty-First Fucking Century–the one Union Carbide warned us to expect. Can we not call looters looters, prohibitionists prohibitionists and antichoice mystical bigots what they are? Why lie?

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  27. It’s long past time to quit calling progressives “liberal.” From guns to speech to the police state: there’s nothing liberal about what they support.

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