Oct 122014
 

Hat tip to Merri Rudd.

In Defense of Obama | Rolling Stone By Paul Krugman | October 8, 2014

president obama

As you can see, there’s a theme running through each of the areas of domestic policy I’ve covered. In each case, Obama delivered less than his supporters wanted, less than the country arguably deserved, but more than his current detractors acknowledge. The extent of his partial success ranges from the pretty good to the not-so-bad to the ugly. Health reform looks pretty good, especially in historical perspective – remember, even Social Security, in its original FDR version, only covered around half the workforce. Financial reform is, I’d argue, not so bad – it’s not the second coming of Glass-Steagall, but there’s a lot more protection against runaway finance than anyone except angry Wall Streeters seems to realize. Economic policy wasn’t enough to avoid a very ugly period of high unemployment, but Obama did at least mitigate the worst.

And as far as climate policy goes, there’s reason for hope, but we’ll have to see. … [A]s with financial reform, acknowledging the inadequacy of what has been done doesn’t mean that nothing has been achieved. Saying that Obama has been the best environmental president in a long time is actually faint praise, since George W. Bush was terrible and Bill Clinton didn’t get much done. Still, it’s true, and there’s reason to hope for a lot more over the next two years.

Am I damning with faint praise? Not at all. This is what a successful presidency looks like. No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to. FDR left behind a reformed nation, but one in which the wealthy retained a lot of power and privilege. On the other side, for all his anti-government rhetoric, Reagan left the core institutions of the New Deal and the Great Society in place. I don’t care about the fact that Obama hasn’t lived up to the golden dreams of 2008, and I care even less about his approval rating. I do care that he has, when all is said and done, achieved a lot. That is, as Joe Biden didn’t quite say, a big deal.

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty

In Defense of Obama | Rolling Stone By Paul Krugman | October 8, 2014

 Posted by at 3:04 pm on Sun 10/12/14
Oct 122014
 

Seizures of cash from Americans fuel police spending nationwide

The Washington Post

Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly steps down from the department's Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. © Carl D. Walsh/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly steps down from the department’s Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.

Police agencies have used hundreds of millions of dollars taken from Americans under federal civil forfeiture law in recent years to buy guns, armored cars and electronic surveillance gear. They have also spent money on luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.

The details are contained in thousands of annual reports submitted by local and state agencies to the Justice Department’s Equitable Sharing Program, an initiative that allows local and state police to keep up to 80 percent of the assets they seize. The Washington Post obtained 43,000 of the reports dating from 2008 through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents offer a sweeping look at how police departments and drug task forces across the country are benefiting from laws that allow them to take cash and property without proving a crime has occurred. The law was meant to decimate drug organizations, but The Post found that it has been used as a routine source of funding for law enforcement at every level.

“In tight budget periods, and even in times of budget surpluses, using asset forfeiture dollars to purchase equipment and training to stay current with the ever-changing trends in crime fighting helps serve and protect the citizens,” said Prince George’s County, Md., police spokeswoman Julie Parker.

Brad Cates, a former director of asset forfeiture programs at the Justice Department, said the spending identified by The Post suggests police are using Equitable Sharing as “a free floating slush fund.” Cates, who oversaw the program while at Justice from 1985 to 1989, said it has enabled police to sidestep the traditional budget process, in which elected leaders create law enforcement spending priorities.

“All of this is fundamentally at odds with the U.S. Constitution,” said Cates, who recently co-wrote an article calling for the program’s abolition on The Post’s editorial page. “All of this is at odds with the rights that Americans have.”

Of the nearly $2.5 billion in spending reported in the forms, 81 percent came from cash and property seizures in which no indictment was filed, according to an analysis by The Post. Owners must prove that their money or property was acquired legally in order to get it back.

Seizures of cash from Americans fuel police spending nationwide

 Posted by at 1:58 pm on Sun 10/12/14
Oct 092014
 

Republicans should fear winning the Senate almost as much as Dems do. A Republican victory makes Obama the underdog, raises his popularity, and increases the odds that the Dem will win in 2016. (Gotta go throw up now.)

As of Tuesday afternoon, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, which turned the academic discipline of computer models into a media game, gives Republicans a 57.6 percent chance of taking the Senate. (Decimal points are particularly compelling.) The New York Times’s model goes with 61 percent, DailyKos 66 percent, Huffington Post 54 percent and PredictWise 73 percent. The Princeton Election Consortium gives a 54 percent advantage to Democrats . Apparently they forgot to add the toe of frog.

Predicting the Senate election down to the decimal point – The Washington Post

 Posted by at 8:06 pm on Thu 10/09/14
Oct 072014
 

This is the oldest photo I could find of John Stewart and me, along with Dave Stilwell (who is my second-oldest friend) poolside at Pine Street in Alexandria, Virginia. This was taken nearly 40 years ago, more than likely by my Mother, Ernestine Justice Hinton.

Dave Stilwell, John Stewart, mjh poolside at Pine Street (photo probably by Ernestine Justice Hinton)

More photos of John Stewart and friends

 Posted by at 4:55 pm on Tue 10/07/14
Oct 042014
 

It doesn’t take any imagination or pessimism to see the inevitable. An imam will get Ebola and his followers will kiss him and his infected clothing, then get on airplanes to the US and Europe. Surely people willing to die with a bomb attached to their bodies won’t hesitate to doom themselves this way.

Even more likely are infected Hajis on their way to Mecca. The Saudis are blocking people from 3 African nations, but they can’t keep ebola out.

We can’t (won’t, shouldn’t) reject all Muslim visitors nor quarantine them all for 20 days.

Gaia may have finally concocted the right antibody.

 Posted by at 2:21 pm on Sat 10/04/14
Sep 092014
 

WP_20140909_09_54_49_ProGreetings from my old friend, Teddy. Oh, the things we’ve been through together.

National Teddy Bear Day – September – Festivology

National Teddy Bear Day takes place in the US on September 9th. Initially a US specific holiday this is increasingly being celebrated by bear lovers across the world. There appears to be no record of the origin of this holiday or why this particular date was chosen – perhaps the bears themselves know?

Teddy bears are, of course, named after US President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. The name came about after a 1902 hunting expedition. The hunt had found no game, so at the end of the day someone brought out a baby bear and suggested that Roosevelt might like to shoot it instead. Roosevelt understandably felt that this was not exactly sporting and refused. The incident was illustrated in a newspaper cartoon entitled “Drawing the Line” – which also referred to the political situation at the time. An enterprising New York toymaker saw an opportunity and brought out a cute stuffed bear named “Teddy’s Bear”. The rest, as the say, is history.

National Teddy Bear Day – September – Festivology

And speaking of Teddy Roosevelt…

July 1975

 Posted by at 10:12 am on Tue 09/09/14
Sep 052014
 

It’s been about 5 months since a problem cop killed a teenage girl with a shot in the back. Among the many unanswered questions was how officer Jeremy Dear connected Mary Hawkes with the trailer park APD stormed in the early hours, flushing her out and gunning her down as she fled. Now we know: officer Sonny Molina broke the law to locate her. Had Molina followed the rules, a young girl might have been arrested and brought to justice, instead of killed in haste. The City will face another huge lawsuit over police misconduct and APD will feel even more besieged and certain the citizens who employ them are the enemy. It was all avoidable.

Note also that APD went to the trouble to obtain a search warrant 10 days after Hawkes was killed. Brazen ass-covering.

Warrantless cellphone search led police to Mary Hawkes | Albuquerque Journal News By Nicole Perez / Journal Staff Writer, PUBLISHED: Friday, September 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm

.Albuquerque police might never have found 19-year-old Mary Hawkes in the early morning hours before she was fatally shot by an officer had they not searched a cell phone found in a stolen truck Hawkes had abandoned.

Whether that search was proper is questionable, some attorneys now say.

Warrantless cellphone search led police to Mary Hawkes | Albuquerque Journal News

Another Person Dead and APD is stingy with facts in the matter » mjh’s blog 4/25/14

I’ve rearrange the info from the linked article into a more cogent timeline. It doesn’t make sense.

  1. The truck was reported stolen April 10 [2 weeks prior to shooting]
  2. police spotted Hawkes driving a stolen Ford F-150 pickup truck at 3 a.m [she said ‘hi’ to officer Sonny Molina at a stoplight!]
  3. An officer tailed her, but she disappeared [officer Jeremy Dear]
  4. officer spotted the truck abandoned and identified Hawkes through items left inside the truck [what items?]
  5. officer then found a prior address of Hawkes, at a nearby trailer park [see next item]
  6. Hawkes has never been a resident at the park [see previous two items]
  7. At 5am, police blockade park and announce they will release dogs [two hours after sighting Hawkes]
  8. multiple residents saw Hawkes jump the park’s east wall and run across Wyoming minutes before shots were heard
  9. Hawkes encountered Dear on the east side of Wyoming.
  10. Eden said “preliminary evidence” suggests Hawkes pulled out the handgun and pointed it at Dear

It is crucial for APD to specify what items were found and how they led to a park Hawkes was not a resident of. Note that Hawkes was known to sleep in vehicles.

Another Person Dead and APD is stingy with facts in the matter » mjh’s blog

All blog stories on Hawkes

 Posted by at 7:47 pm on Fri 09/05/14