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This is NOT racial profiling

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.

From the Boston Globe:

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates’s Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,” according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had “no idea who he was messing with,” the report said.

Gates told the officer that he was being targeted because “I’m a black man in America.” [To read a copy of the police report, click here]

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver’s license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. “It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,” the officer wrote in the report.

This was not profiling. The cop got a call that two men were seen breaking into a house and he was investigating. Based on Gates’ later statement about the door not closing properly it can be inferred that he opened it in a way that could look to a passer-by like he was breaking in.  The cop’s actions seem perfectly reasonable.

Gates was out of line, but should not have been arrested just for yelling. The cop should have simply left the scene. (Caveat: We haven’t heard Gates’ side of the story, I’m basing my opinion on the officer’s report)

I had a similar thing happen to me once. I accidentally locked my keys inside my apartment and was trying to jimmy a window when a cop passing by stopped me. Even though it was broad daylight and I wasn’t trying to be sneaky or anything I cooperated with the officer, showed him ID and soon he was on his way. In fact, after he verified I lived there he helped boost me through the window.

I would have thought he was a total dumbass if he just took my word for it that it was my place and drove off. I would have been furious if I came home and found out my home was burglarized and that the cops had seen the burglar in the act but had taken his word for it that it was his house.


Here is a picture of Gates being arrested:


Gates appears to be yelling and at least one of the cops at the scene is black. All the cops are in uniform and appear to have badges and name tags visible.

If a cop’s name and badge number are right in front of you, why do you need to keep asking for it?

Death Wish Democrats

Saturday’s New York Times featured a piece about how nervous the Democrats are getting over the proposed health care reform plan.  Democrats Grow Wary as Health Bill Advances is a curiousity.  According to the authors, the Democrats are so concerned that they will be painted as fans of big government that they have given very little thought to whether their progressive base, who actually *wants* a big government solution, will reward them for their efforts:

Even as Democratic leaders and the White House insisted that the nation was closer than ever to landmark changes in the health care system, they faced basic questions about whether some of their proposals might do more harm than good.

And while senior Democrats vowed to press ahead to meet Mr. Obama’s deadline of having both chambers pass bills before the summer recess, some in their ranks, nervous about the prospect of raising taxes or proceeding without any Republican support, were pleading to slow down.

Democrats had three reasons for concern. The director of the Congressional Budget Office warned Thursday that the legislative proposals so far would not slow the growth of health spending, a crucial goal for Mr. Obama as he also tries to extend insurance to more than 45 million Americans who lack it.

Second, even with House committees working in marathon sessions this week, it was clear that Democrats could not meet their goal of passing bills before the summer recess without barreling over the concerns of Republicans and ending any hope that such a major issue could be addressed in a bipartisan manner.

Third, a growing minority of Democrats have begun to express reservations about the size, scope and cost of the legislation, the expanded role of the federal government and the need for a raft of new taxes to pay for it all. The comments suggest that party leaders may not yet have the votes to pass the legislation.

Sometimes, I have this feeling that Democrats would prefer that the liberals in their midst would sit down and STFU.  Until then, they’re just going to stuff cotton in their ears and sing “la-la-la, I can’t HEAR you!”  I’m sorry, but when did the concerns of the minority Republicans get more attention from the Democrats than the people who they are supposed to be representing?  Haven’t the Republicans had enough time to screw up government and society for the past 17 years??  Why do we care whether they support reform or not?  Do we have to make a bill bad just so the GOP will support it?  They either vote for it or not.  Enough of the mollycoddling already.  As for the Blue Dogs, get their names.  Maybe we can primary them.

But the health care reform bill, as I understand it, is so bad that they are really cutting their own throats if they continue to push for bipartisanship.  Take the surtax on high incomes, for example.  I have read in various places that this will consist of taxing the current health benefits of people like, oh, I  don’t know, moi!  Now, on the face of it, a small tax so that poor families can afford health insurance isn’t so bad.  It’s the Murphy’s Corollary that’s attached to the bill that frosts my crockies.  As it turns out, this so-called “gold plated” policy I have through my employer would be non-negotiable.  That is, I can’t get a better plan and I would be forbidden from joining the public plan.  This is to protect the private insurance industry that has been tinkering with their plans to maximize profits for themselves and not patients.  My “gold plated” plan restricts me to a list of pre-approved doctors with which my insurer has negotiated prices for services, otherwise known as “rationing”.  If I go outside this list, I have to pay out of my own pocket until my deductible is satisfied and then, I get reimbursed for only part of these non-network doctors’ fees.   Let’s just say that I have issues with my plan and leave it at that.

Does this remind anyone of the cable companies who have a monopoly on your township?  You know, the ones that charge you outrageous amounts of money for channels you want to see but which force you to buy the entire FOX package?

Ok, so here’s where I think the health reform plan is going:  you, the hard working individual pulling in a pretty good salary but who is stuck in NJ where everything is expensive and a good salary means diddly squat, are going to be forced to pay a tax for a service for which you can never benefit unless you are no longer employed in the job you’re in.  (Bear with me here because this is going to get ugly)  Instead, a person who has far less education or gumption or whatever or who is in reduced circumstances through no fault of his or her own, but who is destined to be characterized as the new welfare queen, will be able to get health insurance through the public plan.

Let that sit there for a second to marinate.

Ok, now, that sounds pretty bad.  It’s the kind of thing that causes those of us in the lower 98% of population who are not pulling in millions or dollars of ill-gotten booty bonuses to fight over the measley piece of the GDP pie that’s left.  There are a couple different scenarios on how this will play out.  Either the Democrats really are going to stick us in an insurance straitjacket where we’ll simmer with anger over how good the poor have it OR (more likely), the public plan will be so bad that most people who are on it will pine for private insurance.

Either way, the Democrats are screwed.  Well, they did that when then voted to overturn the will of the voters and shoved Obama down our throats even though we told them he wasn’t ready and that he needed more time in the Senate to work on his legislative skills and form coalitions he could count on in the future.  Obama just wants to get this health care reform bill done.  Like now.  Before the August recess.  The bill itself wouldn’t go into effect until 2013, a year after Obama could potentially be out of office so what’s the rush?  Why not get something in place that actually, you know, works?  Why not expand SCHIP in the meantime to include people 4x the poverty level and allow people to buy into Medicaid?  Give yourself some breathing room to craft a European style health care plan with uniquely American features, whatever that means.

But noooo.  They must pass this crappy bill now, now, now.  And they are looking for bipartisan support, a sure sign of impending disaster.  When are Democrats going to learn that Republicans are NEVER going to support health care reform?  Passing a bad bill, with or without their support, only increases the likelihood that the GOP and their media friends are going to clobber the Democrats as tax and spend liberals who like big government programs that don’t work.  And Democrats are walking right into this trap with their eyes wide open.  They *know* this is how it will play out but it’s almost like they can’t resist.  It must be masochism.

Democrats could make this easier on all of us by doing it right the first time around and making average working folks so satisfied with the results that the Republicans look like a bunch of hard hearted meanies when they roll out the welfare queen meme (and you know it’s coming).  Doing it right could mean electoral success for generations to come.  And at this point, the Congressional Budget Office says health care costs will keep rising, even with this plan.  So, if the bill isn’t going to slow down rising costs for those of us stuck in private plans, it’s time to put the brakes on it and work for a better solution even if it means taking on private insurers and getting tough with them.

Take your time, guys.  This one’s a no-brainer.

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Monday, a Summer News Break


General News

One Step Was Plenty

First Man to Walk on the Moon Stoically Backpedals on Earth

It’s not fair to call Armstrong a “recluse,” as many accounts of his life after Apollo 11 invariably have. He’s no cosmic J.D. Salinger or Howard Hughes, shunning the world out of spite or madness. Armstrong makes the occasional public appearance and speech, as he did Sunday at the Smithsonian and as he will do again Monday at NASA’s official commemoration of the moon landing.
. . .
Yet for the 40th anniversary, Armstrong has once again carefully rationed himself. He told planners at the Smithsonian and NASA that he would speak at their events, but not as the keynoter, not at length and only in conjunction with other Apollo alumni. A book-signing at the Air and Space Museum featuring his Apollo 11 crew mates, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, was out of the question (Armstrong stopped signing anything some years ago when brokers began peddling bogus signatures on the Internet). Media interviews? Not a chance. “He’s always been this way,” says one person involved in planning the events.

16 Killed in Copter Crash at Afghan Base

NATO officials in Kandahar ruled out insurgent fire as a factor, as the helicopter was well within the perimeter of the military base, crashing just after it took off more than a mile inside the camp, said Capt. Glen Parent of the Canadian Army.

With More Children at Peril, a Call to Unarm

Chicago Church Pushes for Gun Regulations as Deaths of Youth Increase

Murdered Fla. Couple’s Daughter Will Care for 13 Siblings

Ashley Markham, 26, said that it was her mother’s wish for her to care of the children. Markham also defended her parents whose lives and histories had come under national media attention following the murders.

Another possible Zodiac suspect put forth

Tarbox says that on an evening in the early 1970s, a walk-in client appeared at his Montgomery Street office with a merchant mariner’s identification document. He paid $50 for what the lawyer presumed would be a consultation for a shipboard injury claim.

Instead, in the hour that followed, Tarbox says, the seaman admitted he was responsible for the Zodiac crime spree – five murders in Vallejo and San Francisco that remain unsolved today despite 40 years of intense investigative effort by law enforcement.

And THIS should be in a category of it’s own…. I’ve never imagined such a thing:

‘I wed Iranian girls before execution’

In the Islamic Republic it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin, he explained. Therefore a “wedding” ceremony is conducted the night before the execution: The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard – essentially raped by her “husband.”

“I regret that, even though the marriages were legal,” he said.

Why the regret, if the marriages were “legal?”

“Because,” he went on, “I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding’ night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

“I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over,” he said. “I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her.”

Health & Science

In Britain, the Dept of Health clarifies flu advice for pregnant women

Let us look at two extremes. Keeping yourself in isolation for nine months – tricky with all those ante-natal checks – is a non-starter.

The other extreme would be to go to every rock concert in town and go to as many crowded places as possible. Also not sensible.

And for two three sides of the same story: Continue reading