While the South gets a lot of attention when it comes to racism, and not completely undeservedly so, it is also fallacious to pretend that this is about one backward-ass town.
If the Jena 6 case wasn't black and white enough for you (pardon the pun), there's this horror story out of Oakland:
Gary King and a group of friends were walking out of East Bay Liquors. A patrol officer, Sgt. Pat Gonzales, was headed southbound on the other side of MLK, near the 55th Street light. The officer claims to have identified King as a potential suspect in a murder that had occurred nearby a month prior (note here the words "potential" and "suspect"). For anyone that knows the geography of the incident, this "identification" was quite a feat: a full block away, looking diagonally across six lanes and between the thick pillars supporting the BART tracks, Gonzales was allegedly capable of identifying King.If, for some miraculous reason, this story were to gain national coverage (which I doubt since this happens all the time, in every part of the country), I can't wait to read Jason Whitlock's column on how this was the result of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and black fathers. Maybe he'll tell us that he shouldn't have been standing out on the corner, he should have been with his father fishing or something. Or maybe if he didn't have dreads, he wouldn't like a 'black thug suspect' or something like that.
The officer crossed under the tracks, tires squealing, to confront the group of teens in front of the liquor store. According to witnesses, Gonzales grabbed King by his dreads, while it remains unclear if the officer was attempting to carry out an arrest. After King pulled away from Gonzales, the officer used his Taser to try to incapacitate this "potential suspect." When this didn't work, King took off fleeing across the MLK crosswalk. Before even reaching the divider, Gonzales had shot him twice in the back. No fewer than a dozen witnesses corroborated this to me, which isn't surprising since the shooting took place in broad daylight on a busy street.
According to a witness, who identifies himself as King's cousin, after shooting King, Gonzales grabbed him. "He held his gun in my face and told me I better watch it." The officer then approached the dying King to handcuff him, before leaving him lying in the street to call backup. According to witnesses, it was only after the backup arrived that an ambulance was called. After being left bleeding, handcuffed on the pavement for nearly 15 minutes, Gary King was dead by the time he reached Highland Hospital. He was the third fatal victim of an "officer-involved shooting" this year, a polite term the OPD likes to use when it kills people.
Dozens of police cars then maintained a blockade, shutting down the six-lane street for more than four hours. According to one witness to the shooting, this was "to prevent a riot," and also to give the officers a chance to cover-up the details of the killing and, according to some, plant a gun on the victim. King's cousin is clearly suffering when I speak with him: "They shot my cousin right in my face We traumatized, we fucked up." The victim's brothers, too, are paying their respects. One is a teary-eyed 17-year old wearing a sweatshirt with pictures of King and the message "R.I.P. G-Money."
According to Gonzales, via a statement from the OPD, the officer felt a gun in King's pants, and after the young man attempted to flee, Gonzales claims that he was seen reaching into his waistband. The press has largely reiterated the official story: King was an "armed suspect" who threatened an officer. Case closed. One local news outlet even went out of its way to outdo the Police statement, writing that King had "pulled a gun" on the officer. Perhaps most shocking is the fact that King is consistently reported as a "murder suspect," without qualification. Even the police department had argued that he was merely a "potential suspect," that is, Gary King was suspected of being a suspect. Most shocking is the fact that, days after the fact, the OPD downgraded this initial statement: King is now posthumously considered to have been a "person of interest" in the murder, not even a suspect.
But the police story, repeated by the mainstream press, doesn't square with the numerous witnesses who described the shooting to me. Firstly, everyone on the scene denies that King was carrying a gun, or that a gun was found on the scene as the OPD is claiming. "He ain't no gangbanger," an aunt tells me. Moreover, even "neutral" witnesses like the cashier at East Bay Liquors (who nevertheless claims that King was friendly and well-liked) never saw King reach for a weapon: as he fled, they say, he was holding up his pants by his belt, and the officer shot him in the back without provocation.
As the train passes overhead, a woman who identifies herself as a senior financial officer at UC Berkeley asks, "we hear so much about Black-on-Black crime, why don't we hear about white-on-Black crime?" It has emerged since the shooting that Gonzales has been involved in two other shootings in recent years, one of which resulted in a fatality. On that occasion, the officer was cleared of any wrongdoing. He has now been placed on "paid administrative leave," standard OPD procedure, while he waits to be cleared once more.
On Thursday, President Bush will host a meeting of the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases where he will push them to accept his misguided framework of “voluntary” reductions. Bush is using this meeting as an excuse for skipping yesterday’s conference at the United Nations where world leaders met to lay out an aggressive “road map” once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress spoke with Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), who sharply criticized Bush’s decision to skip the U.N. meeting and his destructive global warming policies. “Kennedy got us to the moon,” said Inslee. “George Bush’s energy policy wouldn’t get us to Cleveland.” From the interview:
[Bush] has this hallucination that somehow a voluntary system will cause the huge investment we need in high technology to be made. And we simply know that volunteerism is great for PTA bake sales, but they will not reorder the economic system of the world, and move to a clean energy technology. […]
But if we continue down this path of George Bush, with the rose-colored glasses, and he can wave his magic wand and suddenly everyone is going to make this investment. That dog just won’t hunt. And we’ve seen this sort of fictional policies before in his optimism that he was going to sprinkle success over Iraq and it’s the same thing with global warming.
Bush’s chief science adviser, John Marburger, recently said that manmade global warming is an “unequivocal” fact. But as Inslee notes, embracing rhetoric isn’t enough. He added that Bush has basically been reassuring his “friends in the oil and gas industry” that “we accept global warming, but don’t worry friends, we’re not going to actually do anything about it.”
The Bush administration has repeatedly resisted mandatory emission reductions and a cap-and-trade system. At the G-8 summit in June, German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed that countries adopt a 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, “but had to settle for compromise language after President Bush made it clear the United States would not agree to it.”
Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) wrote to Bush and urged him to support “mandatory national and international limits” on greenhouse gas emissions.
Here’s one more example of the cruelly misplaced priorities of the Bush administration, as detailed by Dan Bernath in AlterNet: The Federal War on Medical Marijuana Becomes a War on Children Automatic weapons. Check. Helicopters. Check. Dogs. Check. Bulletproof vests. Check. You may not buy the government’s characterization of its campaign against medical marijuana patients as a “war [...]
Read The Full Article:
The next addition to the Blue Majority page is a candidate returning from 2006: Eric Massa, who is[...]
Read The Full Article:
U.S. forces killed three relatives of a tribal chief in eastern Tikrit, a source from the Joint Coordination Center in the city, said on Tuesday, VOI writes.
Read The Full Article:
I just read this story in the Politico, 'Anti-Hillary Facebook site tops Obama', and it's really[...]
Read The Full Article:
While the Senate and House were busy today ratcheting up tensions with Iran, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki claimed that Iranian weapons are no longer flowing into Iraq. “Asked about Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Forces, which the U.S. military charges is arming, training and directing Shiite militias in Iraq, Maliki said: ‘There used to be support through borders for these militias. But it has ceased to exist.’”
The latest CNN/WMUR New Hampshire Democratic primary poll (307 LVs, 9/17-23 MOE 5.6%) has come out and the results echo what we've seen in most national polling: while the Democratic field is overall quite static, Hillary Clinton continues to rise. In[...]
Read The Full Article:
In his ongoing quest to prove the total irrelevance and marginal nature of the netroots, David Brooks has yet again devoted valuable column space at the New York Times to that very irrelevant topic: us.
According to Brooks, the fact that Hillary Clinton leads in national polls of the presidential race is a repudiation of the netroots - of our tactics, our ideas, and our self-righteous, bullying selves. Brooks has two main, closely related, sources for this. Glenn Greenwald identifies the first: David Brooks.
The first tactic is merely the most commonplace conceit of the standard Beltway pundit: Brooks takes whatever opinions he happens to hold on a topic, and then -- without citing a single piece of evidence -- repeatedly asserts that "most Americans" hold this view, and then bases his entire "argument" on this premise. Thus, the only way for Democrats to have any hope of winning elections is to repudiate their radical, rabid Leftist base and instead follow Brooks' beliefs, because that is "centrism." This is actually a defining belief of the Beltway pundit, and it is as intellectually corrupt as an argument gets.
The second source for Brooks' expertise on the netroots and its place in Democratic politics is, of course, Matt Bai. Much as FOX News looks to Joe Lieberman for the Democrat perspective, Bai is the go-to guy for conservatives who want to know about the netroots, and here he - miracle of miracles! - confirms all of Brooks' own thoughts! Who ever could have imagined such a result?
This depth of sourcing (not just one, but two Beltway pundits) is supposed to blind us to the lack of actual evidence. The only polling information Brooks cites is to show that Obama and Edwards are doing better among college-educated people while Clinton does better among people with less education. But rather than using this information as a springboard to a serious inquiry into why this pattern exists, Brooks uses it to resort to the tactic Greenwald identifies: providing his own explanations for why Clinton should be polling well and asserting that those explanations are why people with high school educations would prefer her as a candidate. Because he's cited that one piece of polling information, we know he's familiar with the concept, yet he apparently feels no need to use such evidence to actually answer the question he's posed. Who needs evidence when you have the combined gut feeling of David Brooks and Matt Bai?
It's a deeply condescending view of the world, and one Brooks has raised to an art, building his entire career on ill-founded claims about what "average Americans" think, buy, and eat. Confronted with evidence of his glaring falsehoods, Brooks revealed his basic mentality: Use of evidence, or facts, or anything that calls into question that which David Brooks feels to be true, is unethical and humorless.
So forgive me for my lack of ethics or humor when I point out that, in today's column, Brooks repeatedly talks about how totally important it is that Hillary Clinton is hawkish, but in fact, polls show that a majority of Americans favor withdrawal from Iraq. Iraq, indeed, is all but absent from Brooks' analysis, mentioned only once in the entire column, in passing on the way to claiming:
The fact is, many Democratic politicians privately detest the netroots’ self-righteousness and bullying. They also know their party has a historic opportunity to pick up disaffected Republicans and moderates, so long as they don’t blow it by drifting into cuckoo land. They also know that a Democratic president is going to face challenges from Iran and elsewhere that are going to require hard-line, hawkish responses.
Finally, these Democrats understand their victory formula is not brain surgery. You have to be moderate on social issues, activist but not statist on domestic issues and hawkish on foreign policy. This time they’re not going to self-destructively deviate from that.
You have to wonder how Democratic politicians privately feel about the self-righteousness and bullying of a conservative commentator like David Brooks laying out this prescription for Serious politics and electoral victory. Here he delimits what positions Clinton (or any other Democrat) can take and be seen by the Beltway crowd as legitimate, and points to the fact that she's saying what he wants to hear on the Sunday morning talk shows as evidence that that's what she really believes, because it is what she says to the audience that truly matters - the Beltway class - and anything else she says risks "drifting into cuckoo land." What she says to us when she comes to YearlyKos or sends her communications director to O'Reilly to defend the netroots is pandering; what she says when she's talking to Brooks and his ilk is what's truly in her heart. Or so the column goes.
But the fact that this is the only mention of Iraq in an 800-word column shows just how out of touch with America Brooks is - polls show that Iraq is the most important issue to voters. The territory Brooks sees as "cuckoo land" is in fact where the majority of Americans live: wanting withdrawal from Iraq and not wanting war with Iran. That includes the moderates and Republicans Brooks thinks Democrats can lure in by acting more like Republicans, pushing war with Iran.
And since withdrawal from Iraq is what Democrats ran and won on in 2006, I have to wonder what "this time, they're not going to self-destructively deviate from [hawkishness]" means. Their last deviation was quite a winner. Not only was running against Iraq a winner, as Greenwald points out, Brooks' prescription for hawkishness hasn't been playing well since November, either:
And while Brooks is certainly right that Democrats generally have been following his advice and that of David Broder and Fred Hiatt -- that, particularly with foreign policy, the smart thing for Democrats to do is to support, and certainly not disrupt or impede, the Cheney/Kristol foreign policy in the name of "centrism" -- it is somewhat hard to argue that this is smart politics in light of this:
Frustration with Congress spans the political spectrum. There are only minor (but not statistically meaningful) differences in the approval ratings Democrats (21%), Republicans (18%), and independents (17%) give to Congress. Typically, partisans view Congress much more positively when their party is in control of the institution, so the fact that Democrats' ratings are not materially better than Republicans' is notable.
Only in the twisted, fact-free, self-loving world of the Beltway Pundit is a political approach which produces these disastrous results "smart" and "successful." But they are so convinced that what they believe is always what Real Americans in the Heartland believe -- they so endlessly equate their own views with "centrism" -- that they will never accept that their orthodoxies are unpopular, even when facts prove conclusively that they are. That is why the gap between the Beltway and America continues to grow rapidly.
If David Brooks wants to prove that the netroots are irrelevant, he's going to have to do better than spending hundreds of words stomping his feet and saying we must be wrong because he disagrees. He's going to have to come up with some facts. Public dissatisfaction with a Congress that has essentially hewed to his desires is not proof that he's right, at least anywhere outside of Beltway land. Here in cuckoo land, it even looks like evidence that he's wrong.