Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Drug War Stuff

I've got a couple of posts kicking around, but it's been an in and out kind of day and I may not get to much else, so before I leave you for the weekend, allow me to highly recommend spending 5 to 10 minutes to listen to Berwyn Heights, Maryland mayor Cheye Calvo, the man who's two labradors were the victims of a SWAT drug raid back in July. (See here and here for my own brief coverage of the story.) If you have the time just take a listen. It's a shame these overly violent mistaken raids happen, but as Calvo mentions, they may be more and more prevalent. And it's terrible to say, but perhaps for things to change, this sort of thing needed to happen to someone of Calvo's status and not to someone poorer and darker skinned. Kudos to the mayor for realizing this and for taking it upon himself to actually try and do something.

2 Comments:

Anonymous rose said...

sorry to be off topic, but some brit wrote a fantastic article that i'd like to post...thoughts?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/gerard_baker/article4735295.ece

It's funny how the harder you look at something, the harder it can be to understand it. I can't recall a US presidential election that has attracted more attention. But neither can there have been a time when the world has watched what goes on in America with the nonplussed, horrified incomprehension it has now.

Travelling in Britain this week, I've been asked repeatedly by close followers of US politics if it can really be true that Barack Obama might not win. Thoughtful people cannot get their head around the idea that Mr Obama, exciting new pilot of change, supported by Joseph Biden, experienced navigator of the swamplands of Washington politics, could possibly be defeated.

They look upon John McCain and Sarah Palin and see something out of hag-ridden history: the wizened old warrior, obsessed with finding enemies in every corner of the globe, marching in lockstep with the crackpot, mooseburger-chomping mother from the wilds of Alaska, rifle in one hand, Bible in the other, smiting caribou and conventional science as she goes.

Two patronising explanations are adduced to explain why Americans are going wrong. The first is racism. I've dealt with this before and it has acquired no more merit. White supremacists haven't been big on Democratic candidates, whatever their colour, for a long time, and Mr Obama's race is as likely to generate enthusiasm among blacks and young voters as it is hostility among racists.

Background
Middle-of-the-road Obama run over
Barack Obama's Palin problem
US election race descends into taunts
Obama rattled as rivals steal limelight
In a similarly condescending account, those foolish saps are being conned into voting for Mr McCain because they like his running-mate. Her hockey-mom charm and storybook career appeals to their worst instincts. The race is boiling down to a beauty contest in which a former beauty queen is stealing the show. Believe this if it helps you come to terms with the possibility of a Democratic defeat. But there really are better explanations.

One is a simple political-cultural one. This election is a struggle between the followers of American exceptionalism and the supporters of global universalism. Democrats are more eager than ever to align the US with the rest of the Western world, especially Europe. This is true not just in terms of a commitment to multilateral diplomacy that would restore the United Nations to its rightful place as arbiter of international justice. It is also reflected in the type of place they'd like America to be - a country with higher taxes, more business regulation, a much larger welfare safety net and universal health insurance. The Republicans, who still believe America should follow the beat of its own drum, are pretty much against all of that.

You can argue the merits of each case. But let me try to explain to my fellow non-Americans why Mr Obama's problems go well beyond that. Even if you think that Americans should want to turn their country into a European-style system, there is a perfectly good reason that you might have grave doubts about Mr Obama.

The essential problem coming to light is a profound disconnect between the Barack Obama of the candidate's speeches, and the Barack Obama who has actually been in politics for the past decade or so.

Speechmaker Obama has built his campaign on the promise of reform, the need to change the culture of American political life, to take on the special interests that undermine government's effectiveness and erode trust in the system itself,

Politician Obama rose through a Chicago machine that is notoriously the most corrupt in the country. As David Freddoso writes in a brilliantly cogent and measured book, The Case Against Barack Obama, the angel of deliverance from the old politics functioned like an old-time Democratic pol in Illinois. He refused repeatedly to side with those lonely voices that sought to challenge the old corrupt ways of the ruling party.

Speechmaker Obama talks about an era of bipartisanship, He speaks powerfully about the destructive politics of red and blue states.

Politician Obama has toed his party's line more reliably than almost any other Democrat in US politics. He has a near-perfect record of voting with his side. He has the most solidly left-wing voting history in the Senate. His one act of bipartisanship, a transparency bill co-sponsored with a Republican senator, was backed by everybody on both sides of the aisle. He has never challenged his party's line on any issue of substance.

Speechmaker Obama talks a lot about finding ways to move beyond the bloody battlegrounds of the “culture wars” in America; the urgent need to establish consensus on the emotive issue of abortion.

Politician Obama's support for abortion rights is the most extreme of any Democratic senator. In the Illinois legislature he refused to join Democrats and Republicans in supporting a Bill that would require doctors to provide medical care for babies who survived abortions. No one in the Senate - not the arch feminist Hillary Clinton nor the superliberal Edward Kennedy - opposed this same humane measure.

Here's the real problem with Mr Obama: the jarring gap between his promises of change and his status quo performance. There are just too many contradictions between the eloquent poetry of the man's stirring rhetoric and the dull, familiar prose of his political record.

It's been remarked that the biggest difference between Americans and Europeans is religion: ignorant Americans cling to faith; enlightened Europeans long ago embraced the liberating power of reason. Yet here's an odd thing about this election. Europeans are asking Americans to take a leap of faith, to break the chains of empiricism and embrace the possibility of the imagination.

The fact is that a vote for Mr Obama demands uncritical subservience to the irrational, anti-empirical proposition that the past holds no clues about the future, that promise is wholly detached from experience. The second-greatest story ever told, perhaps.

2:36 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

This is an AP release that I'm about to post kids. Not an editorial, but an AP release, front page stuff on Yahoo. It's one in a countless string of absurdly biased article Yahoo has posted over the past few days.

NEW YORK - Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Friday defended two debunked television ads attacking Democrat Barack Obama and claimed erroneously that running mate Sarah Palin never sought money for lawmakers' pet projects as Alaska governor. Palin has sought nearly $200 million in earmarks this year alone.

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McCain made the comments during a feisty grilling on ABC's "The View," where the panel of female hosts pressed him on Palin's religious views, his position on abortion rights and whether he had traded in his maverick ways to placate conservatives.

In Alaska, meanwhile, the investigator looking into whether Palin abused her power as governor in trying to fire her former brother-in-law asked state lawmakers for the power to subpoena Palin's husband, Todd, a dozen others and the phone records of a top aide. The state House and Senate judiciary committees were expected to grant the request.

McCain's appearance on "The View," which is popular among women, came the day after ABC News aired Palin's first wide-ranging interview. She sought to clarify her views on global warming — in the past she has doubted the connection between human behavior and climate change — and hinted that the U.S. might need to go to war with Russia over its incursion into Georgia.

Palin appeared to agree with Obama that the U.S. military had the right to cross the Pakistani border without the government's approval to seize terrorists there. She also seemed stumped when asked by ABC anchorman Charles Gibson whether she agreed with the so-called "Bush doctrine" of preventive war laid out after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

When asked if she supported the doctrine, Palin replied, "In what respect?"

Palin was in Alaska on Friday, holding meetings and taping a new interview segment with Gibson. She was scheduled to attend a campaign rally in Nevada on Saturday while McCain took the day off, a reflection of her growing status as the GOP ticket's celebrity draw.

The McCain campaign defended Palin's much-criticized inquiry into banning books at her hometown library, saying her questions were only hypothetical.

Shortly after taking office in 1996 as mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 7,000 people, Palin asked the city's head librarian about banning books. Later, Palin told the librarian that she was being fired, although Palin backed off under pressure.

Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said Thursday that Palin asked the head librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, on three occasions how she would react to attempts at banning books. He said the questions, in the fall of 1996, were hypothetical and entirely appropriate. He said a patron had asked the library to remove a title the year before and Palin wanted to understand how such disputes were handled.

Records on the city's Web site, however, do not show any books were challenged in Wasilla in the 10 years before Palin took office.

On "The View," McCain said that Palin had "ignited a spark" among voters but acknowledged they parted ways on certain issues. The Arizona has said human behavior is largely responsible for climate change and opposes drilling for oil in a federally protected refuge, for example.

McCain also appeared to back off a bit from his claim that Palin was the best vice presidential pick in U.S. history when he joked, "We politicians are never given to exaggeration or hyperbole."

McCain said he had chosen Palin because she would help to reform Washington, specifically cited curbing federal spending for earmarks. When pressed about Palin's record of requesting and accepting such money for Alaska, McCain ignored the record and said, "Not as governor she didn't."

McCain also stood by two of his campaign commercials — one which said Obama favored comprehensive sex education for kindergarten students and another that suggested the Democratic hopeful had called Palin a pig. Both are misleading and factually inaccurate.

Obama, as an Illinois state senator, voted in favor of legislation that would teach age appropriate sex education to kindergartners, including information on rejecting advances by sexual predators. And while Obama told a campaign rally this week that electing McCain would be like "putting lipstick on a pig," he never used the phrase in connection to Palin.

"Those ads aren't true. They're lies," said "View" co-host Joy Behar.

"They're not lies," McCain said, insisting that Obama "chooses his words very carefully" and should never had made the lipstick remark.

McCain defended Palin's conservative religious views but said if president he would maintain a clear separation of church and state. He also reiterated his opposition to Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion rights.

"I believe Roe vs. Wade was a very bad decision," he said to a smattering of boos.

Asked what he would do to overturn the decision, McCain said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would strictly interpret the Constitution.

McCain appeared irked when Behar asked him whether he had jettisoned his independence as a candidate, contending that he appeared to be in "lock step" with President Bush's policies.

"What specific area have I, quote, 'changed?' Nobody can name it," McCain said.

McCain has changed positions on significant issues. For example, he once opposed Bush's tax cuts but now supports making them permanent. He had opposed lifting the ban on additional offshore drilling but now calls for drilling off the U.S. coast. He was against mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions but now favors them.

Cindy McCain, who joined her husband for the last part of the show, said she disagreed with Palin's view that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest.

The wealthy beer heiress refused to say how many homes she and her husband own — a question that tripped up the candidate last month. They own multiple properties in Arizona, California and outside Washington, D.C.

"That's not part of this campaign," Cindy McCain said. "We are fortunate to be able to live a good life and share with other people who are not so fortunate."

3:02 PM  

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