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Open Thread: “The Cambridge Police Acted Stupidly”

Will Obama regret saying that? Personally, I think he’s right, but how will the Cambridge police react? Will there be pushback from law enforcement generally?

Sgt. James Crowley

Sgt. James Crowley

The arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley (who lives in Natick) says “I’m not apologizing.”

The Cambridge cop who arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. told the Herald tonight he will never apologize.

“I know I’m not apologizing. It’s not that I’m digging in my heels, I just have nothing to apologize for,” said Sgt. James Crowley.

The 42-year-old officer spoke to the Herald on the porch of his suburban home. He said he feels bad about the fallout from last week’s arrest, but he’s not going to give Gates an apology.

This could get interesting.

UPDATE 1: There is a very good piece at John McWhorter’s blog at The New Republic about the Gates episode. According to McWhorter (a self-described “black conservative,” Gates is no “rabble-rouser,” and has been “assailed as an accomodationist” by more radical black writers.

And meanwhile, the idea that he should have exhibited “deference to the police” ignores the totemic status that black men’s encounters with the police have in the way countless people process being black and what it means. There’s a reason Gates told the Washington Post Tuesday that what happened to him was part of a “racial narrative,” and that awareness surely informed his angry conduct.

The relationship between black men and police forces is, in fact, the main thing keeping America from becoming “post-racial” in any sense.

Here is where many will object with statistics about residential segregation, disparities in car loans and health care, and most recently, the dumping of subprime mortgages in black communities.

These, however, are more news stories than things felt on a visceral level among ordinary people as evidence that racism is still virulent in this country, a defining experience of being black. As Newsweek’s Ellis Cose put it in his widely read The Rage of a Privileged Class, “in the real world such statistics are almost irrelevant, for rage does not flow from dry numerical analyses of discrimination or from professional prospects projected on a statistician’s screen.”

What creates the true rub is unpleasant live social encounters, and none have such potent effect as ones with the cops.

UPDATE 2: The police report on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates has been removed from The Boston Globe’s website. Interesting….

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Live Blog: President Obama’s Press Conference

Will TOTUS be there or will they go with the big-screen TV?

Will TOTUS be there or will they go with the big-screen TV?

Tonight’s press conference by President Barack Obama is to focus on health care, according to the Washington Post:

Six months into his presidency, Barack Obama now owns America’s problems and a solid but slipping approval rating. He goes before the nation Wednesday night to defend his economic decisions and press his fight for the health care overhaul he says is desperately needed.”

Holding his 10th extended news conference, Obama will renew a message that the White House says he cannot pound enough: making health coverage affordable and sustainable is so vital that anything less will erode the economic stability of families, businesses and even the government.

The real question is whether the “reform” that comes out of Congress will actually be “affordable and sustainable,” however. The Black Agenda Report has a devastating article about Obama’s health care “reform” proposal by Bruce Dixon: Is the Obama Health Care Plan Really Better Than Nothing? Dixon cites an AP artlcle that compares the rollout of Medicare to the one proposed for Obamacare:

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Medicare law on July 30, 1965, and 11 months later seniors were receiving coverage. But if President Barack Obama gets to sign a health care overhaul this fall, the uninsured won’t be covered until 2013 — after the next presidential election.

In fact, a timeline of the 1,000-page health care bill crafted by House Democrats shows it would take the better part of a decade — from 2010-2018 — to get all the components of the far-reaching proposal up and running. The moving parts include a national insurance marketplace overseen by a brand new federal bureaucracy — the Health Choices Administration.

Even if Obama wins reelection in 2012, he will be out of office before the health care plan fully takes effect. Dixon points out that it will take until 2013 for any of the 50 million uninsured Americans to be covered. And he asks:

If the Johnson administration with no computers back in the sixties could implement Medicare for 45 million seniors in under a year, why does it take three and a half years in the 21st century to cover some, but not all, of America’s fifty million uninsured? And why does the Obama Plan make us wait till after the next presidential election? Politicians usually do popular things and run for election on the resulting wave of approval. Delaying what ought to be the good news of universal and affordable health care for all Americans till two elections down the road is a strong indication that they know the good news really ain’t all that good. And it’s not.

Inside the matrix of TV, the corporate media and on much of the internet, discussion of the Obama plan’s timeline, the human cost of another three years delay, and the comparison with Medicare’s 11 month rollout back in the days before computers are almost impossible to find. We can only wonder why.

I don’t suppose any of the media representatives who attend the press conference will ask about this, but you never know.

In other related health care news, Senator Orrin Hatch has walked out of the bipartisan group that has been working on the bill, saying:

“Some of the things they’re talking about, I just cannot support. So I don’t want to mislead anybody,”

Could that be good news?

CNN reported yesterday that Democrats in Congress are getting frustrated with Obama’s wishy-washy approach to leadership:

As the prospects for passing health reform by the time Congress leaves for its August recess look bleaker, Democratic grumbling about President Obama is growing louder. One Democratic senator tells CNN congressional Democrats are “baffled,” and another senior Democratic source tells CNN members of the president’s own party are still “frustrated” that they’re not getting more specific direction from him on health care. “We appreciate the rhetoric and his willingness to ratchet up the pressure but what most Democrats on the Hill are looking for is for the president to weigh in and make decisions on outstanding issues. Instead of sending out his people and saying the president isn’t ruling anything out, members would like a little bit of clarity on what he would support – especially on how to pay for his health reform bill,” a senior Democratic congressional source tells CNN.

Senator Charles Grassley related to Congress Daily a bit of dirt he heard from a Democrat who attended a “private meeting” with Obama to discuss health care:

Grassley said he spoke with a Democratic House member last week who shared Obama’s bleak reaction during a private meeting to reports that some factions of House Democrats were lining up to stall or even take down the overhaul unless leaders made major changes.

“Let’s just lay everything on the table,” Grassley said. “A Democrat congressman last week told me after a conversation with the president that the president had trouble in the House of Representatives, and it wasn’t going to pass if there weren’t some changes made … and the president says, ‘You’re going to destroy my presidency.’ ”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

CNN will be streaming the President’s press conference live beginning at 8PM on this page. This is a very big moment for Obama. Let’s hope he makes an effort to respond honestly and directly to reporters’ questions.

Please use the comments to share your reactions to what Obama has to say and to the quality of questions asked by White House reporters. What would you ask if you had the opportunity?

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Wednesday Morning News at the Break of Day

 

General News

Senate Backs Obama on F-22 Fighter

The vote was a major victory for the White House and makes it unlikely, though not impossible, for the F-22 to survive.

Blasts Kill at Least 15 in Baghdad

The violence was the worst to hit the Iraqi capital since American combat troops withdrew on June 30, providing another test of Iraq’s ability to defend itself as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki left for talks with President Obama in Washington.

Accused of profiling, cops won’t charge Harvard prof

“The city of Cambridge, the Cambridge Police Department, and Professor Gates acknowledge that the incident of July 16, 2009 was regrettable and unfortunate,” they said in a joint press release.

“This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department. All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”

Woman found dead at Calif. food processing plant

A 40-year-old woman has been found dead in a machine at a Southern California food processing plant that is a major supplier for McDonald’s restaurants.

Economy

Challenge to Health Bill: Selling Reform

The United States now devotes one-sixth of its economy to medicine. Divvy that up, and health care will cost the typical household roughly $15,000 this year, including the often-invisible contributions by employers. That is almost twice as much as two decades ago (adjusting for inflation). It’s about $6,500 more than in other rich countries, on average.

We may not be aware of this stealth $6,500 health care tax, but if you take a moment to think, it makes sense. Over the last 20 years, health costs have soared, and incomes have grown painfully slowly. The two trends are directly connected: employers had to spend more money on benefits, leaving less for raises.

Bailouts could cost U.S. $23 trillion

A series of bailouts, bank rescues and other economic lifelines could end up costing the federal government as much as $23 trillion, the U.S. government’s watchdog over the effort says – a staggering amount that is nearly double the nation’s entire economic
output for a year.

Health and Science

Democrats use Republicans to rally on health care

“The comments by Kristol and DeMint prove what we already knew: Republicans have no interest in meaningful reform,” Poersch wrote to the Senate committee’s email list. “Their top goals: Destroy President Obama. Regain political power. Continue Bush-era policies that have cost our country so dearly.”

DCCC chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen also joined in: “Republicans should immediately put an end to their political games and join President Obama and House Democrats in fixing America’s broken health care system.”

Global swine flu deaths top 700

Margaret Chan, WHO director-general, has warned that swine flu will become the biggest flu pandemic ever seen.

However, most cases continue to produce only mild symptoms.

Asia watches long solar eclipse

The previous total eclipse, in August 2008, lasted two minutes and 27 seconds.

This one will last six minutes and 39 seconds at its maximum point.

Why raindrops come in many sizes (Link to the story)

Scientists previously believed that the drops collided with each other as they descended, and that these interactions produced a variety of drop sizes.

But the lead author of this study, Emmanuel Villermaux from Aix-Marseille University, explained that there were always “shortcomings” in this idea.

“The drops are not likely to collide that often,” he told BBC News. Real raindrops are so sparse, he said, that it is likely a drop would “fall on its own and never see its neighbours”.

Mapping America’s giant trees

“We want to identify the reasons for tree mortality and if those are changing,” says Dr James Lutz, a research associate at the university’s College of Forest Resources.

Little research has been done on a long-term basis to monitor the lives of large trees. Unlike studies with smaller plants and almost all animals, no individual scientist is able to track a forest giant for its entire lifespan – from germination to death. They live for hundreds of years and play a vital role in the ecosystem long after they have died.

Arts

Rough Sex With Vampires: What Does “True Blood” Tell Us About Women and Sexuality?

To Peterson, the current crop of pointy-toothed dramas continues the genre’s fascination with sexual violence and the idealization of the chaste woman. I can’t fault her for taking issue with eroticized depictions of abuse, often against women. But she’s wrong to equate the sexual politics of True Blood with those of the abstinent, repressed Twilight.

Oldest UK television discovered

The 1936 Marconiphone is thought to have been made in the months that Britain’s first “high-definition” television service began.
. . .
The few controls include volume and vertical hold, but there is no channel changer, as there was only one channel when it was made: the BBC.
. . .
It has been hooked up to a Freeview box so that it can show digital channels, although Mr Borinsky has had to install a standards converter so that a modern television signal can be seen.

Most will carry Obama press conference; time shifted after NBC balked

The stakes were particularly high for NBC, which airs the most-watched show of the summer, “America’s Got Talent,” at 9 p.m. This week, the reality hit includes a heavily promoted interview with “Britain’s Got Talent” singing sensation Susan Boyle.

Sources said that NBC demonstrated reluctance to carry Obama’s news conference live. Faced with the prospect of only one or two major broadcasters — CBS and ABC — covering the event, the White House moved its start time to 8 p.m.

Opinion

The Great Tax Con Job

Why are these guys willing to lose so much money funding “conservative” media? Why do they bulk-buy every right-wing book that comes out to throw it to the top of the NY Times Bestseller list and then give away the copies to “subscribers” to their websites and publications? Why do they fund to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year money-hole “think tanks” like Heritage and Cato?

The answer is pretty straightforward. They do it because it buys them respectability, and gets their con job out there. Even though William Kristol’s publication is a money-losing joke (with only 85,000 subscribers!), his association with the Standard was enough to get him on TV talk shows whenever he wants, and a column with The New York Times. The Washington Times catapulted Tony Blankley to stardom.

Steeler Quarterback accused of rape

BenRoethlisberger

From the Associated Press:

A woman has filed a lawsuit accusing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of raping her last summer in his penthouse hotel room at a casino in Lake Tahoe during a celebrity golf tournament.

Roethlisberger’s lawyer denied the allegations Tuesday, and noted that the woman, who was working at the hotel as an executive casino host, never went to the authorities.

“Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone. The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct,” David Cornwell said in a statement. “If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated.”

I really hate cases like this. We see them every year or two and they never end well. First of all let me say that I am not offering an opinion on Roethlisberger’s guilt or innocence, but I can predict much of what will follow because the pattern is always the same.

There will be some people who will reflexively believe that the woman is telling the truth and that Roethlisberger is indeed a rapist. They will continue to believe that even if the woman recants her story and dismisses her lawsuit. There will be others that will reflexively insist that the woman is lying and that Roethlisberger is falsely accused. They will continue to believe that even if a jury says otherwise.

Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant, and William Kennedy Smith are all men who were accused of sexual assaults in recent years. Jackson and Smith were acquitted by juries but some people continue to insist that they were guilty. Tyson was convicted and sent to prison but some people insist he was innocent. Bryant’s criminal case was dismissed and he settled out of court with his accuser.

The woman said Roethlisberger struck up a friendly conversation at her desk during the golf tournament last July.

The next night, she said he telephoned her to tell her his television sound system wasn’t working and asked her to look at it. She said she was unable to find a technician so she handled it herself because she had been told it was important to please the celebrities.

In Roethlisberger’s room she said she determined the TV was functioning properly but as she turned to leave, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback blocked her exit, the suit claims.

The lawsuit said he grabbed her and started to kiss her. It said she was “shocked and stunned that this previously friendly man, that appeared to be a gentleman in her previous contacts with him was suddenly preventing her from leaving, was assaulting her and battering her.”

She said she feared that because he was a football player he could or would physically harm her if she tried to fight him off, but that she objected and protested several times.

“But instead of stopping, Roethlisberger began fondling plaintiff through her dress and between her legs,” the suit said. He then “held her against her will and physically moved plaintiff and pushed her onto his bed” where he raped her, the suit says.

Roethlisberger is not facing criminal charges so if he is guilty he will be getting off lightly even if he has to pay millions of dollars. On the other hand if he is innocent then his reputation and earning ability from endorsements will be damaged even if he never has to pay the woman a dime. Either way an injustice will be done.

Either way we’ll never be sure which injustice it was.