Injustice in Ferguson

Details From Ferguson

The details emerging from the Justice Department’s investigation into Ferguson are pretty ugly.  There is definitely racism is our criminal justice system and this is just the latest example.  If you don’t think there is, you are probably white, and you probably haven’t read enough.  Again, I think one of the best one stop shop reads you can have on this subject for modern times is Matt Taibbi’s The Divide:  American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.  But if you are somehow new to all of this just read the details in the above article, it won’t take very long.  A few samples:

  • Ferguson’s black drivers were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to be stopped and searched, according to records over two years. Black drivers were also 26 percent less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
  • According to the police department’s internal records concerning force, 88 percent of those cases involved force against blacks. All 14 canine bite incidents involved blacks.
  • Blacks were 68 percent less likely than others to have their cases dismissed in municipal court. An arrest warrant was more likely to be issued for blacks.

Netanyahu Speaks to Congress

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Salon On Netanyahu Speech

Above is Salon’s take on Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today.  Although I tend to agree with them, my point today isn’t really to focus on this one write up.  At the end of the day it is one write up and you should be reading a bunch of them, mixing and matching, and trying to come to your own conclusion.  However, this is an event that you should be reading about.  A foreign head of state is trying to sway US policy.  This is highly unprecedented in the fact that this head of state actually spoke directly to our congress to try and change our policy.

I have long viewed Netanyahu as a thug and a bully whose intentions do not run in accord with the best intentions of our country.  Nor do I think that his intentions have long term Middle East peace at the heart of them.  I think he is someone that is about self-serving political and military power above all else.

But don’t take my word for it.  Read, read, and read some more.

Canada and Keystone XL

Canada and Keystone XL

Well looking up a little background information on the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Obama thankfully vetoed, I came across this Rolling Stone article.  It explains Canada’s politics in connection to big oil and to the pipeline.  It’s worth a read if you want to get a broader perspective on the topic.

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline!

NYT: Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline

This is news I have been waiting a long time to read.  Obama has vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline.  This is not only a great day for the environment, but a great day for our country as well.  Our President has made the only sane decision concerning this bill.

For those of you that aren’t sure why this is such a good day for our our country, here is one of the many articles that points out why Keystone XL was a bad idea:

The Pipeline From Hell

Climate Change Worse Than Terrorism

Climate Change Greater Threat Than Terrorism

President Obama recently stated that the news media overstates the threat of terrorism compared to climate change.  Despite some initial waffling by his press secretary, who also eventually answered the question in agreement, this statement seems like a no brainer.  Here is an article on islands that are threatened because of sea level rise related to climate change:

Islands Threatened by Climate Change

Or check out the the predicted future for one of our country’s biggest cities:

Why the City of Miami is Doomed to Drown

My point is not to scare you about climate change, though I wish more people would get motivated to make the smart changes that we absolutely need to make, only to give some examples of arising problems related to climate change, as it is a serious issue.  Overall, the threats we face from terrorism pale in comparison.

However, this is just another example of a mainstream media that entertains more than it informs and a human brain that is good at identifying localized or regional threats, but not large systematic ones.

Obama Secretly Supported Gay Marriage In First Presidential Run

Obama Secretly Supported Gay Marriage All Along

Was just reading the above article over at Huffington Post that features an excerpt from David Axlerod’s new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.  In the excerpt Axlerod claims that Obama supported gay marriage all along, even while he claimed that he favored the more politically popular civil unions during his first run for the presidency.

I’m sure this will make some heads on the right explode.  I am also sure that even some of his supporters will claim this shows a lack of character.  However, this is really not out of step with politics in general.  Having been reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals about Lincoln, even our greatest president engaged in this kind of thing.  (Well, I was reading it until my Kindle exploded!  I will finish it as soon as possible.)  Lincoln was often told by the left wing of his party that he was not moving fast enough on slavery, even though he eventually was the president that put an end to slavery.

The idea is that leaders have to take the temperature of the populace on issues.  A good leader will be out front of the public on issues, “leading” them to do the right thing, but they can’t be too out front of the general population.  If they are too out front they risk a backlash and giving the opposition a chance to make political inroads.  So they have to have enough courage to move the ball down the field, but enough smarts to do it in a way where they don’t risk creating a situation where they don’t have enough political capital to get things done.

On top of this political leaders, especially at a national level, have a many other issues that they also need to treat in this same manner.  It’s a complex puzzle that is not an enviable task.  This is not to say that the general public should not express outrage if they believe a politician is acting against their interests.  It is expressly this growing political “heat” that will eventually give a leader enough cover to make it politically expedient to act.  Those that try to change the national dialogue through protests and other forms of peaceful serve a very important role in democracy, one that has often been ridiculously belittled in the mainstream media, but it is not the same role that a leader elected by popular vote has.

This is not to say that one can not criticize Obama on his decisions.  It is fair to say that Obama was not far enough in front of the general population.  If someone wants to make the argument that he lacked the courage to act in a timely manner, I don’t know if I would agree given all of the other issues at stake when he took the presidency, but it is again a fair criticism.  However, I think history shows that a political leader who has a different opinion in private and in public is not out of the ordinary, and might even be smart politics when trying to accomplish a larger goal.  Although it is too early to tell, and I am more willing to hear arguments against this belief, I think the gains that gay couples have made during Obama’s presidency will leave Obama looking favorably on this issue in the history books.  Change, important change, and I do believe that gay marriage is an important issue as everyone deserves the chance to find love and happiness, is not always pretty.  To change the way people think takes real people doing real work.  It requires those that are willing to stand up for justice on the front lines and, yes sometimes, it also requires political leaders that are willing to bend political will in using the often unseemly machinations of politics.

White House Israel Relations at a New Low

White House Israel Relations at a New Low

Above is a New York Times article about how the relationship between the White House and Israel is at a new low due to the actions of Benjamin Netanyahu and the GOP.  Normally anytime I typed the words “new low” it would be along the lines of something negative, but I think in this case it is a good thing.  Isreal’s treatment of the Palestinians under Netanyahu is atrocious.  The way that Israel and APAC have tried to influence U.S. politics is atrocious.  If we ever want to see peace in the Middle East Netanyahu and his fellow rightwing politicians need to be marginalized.