Tag Archives: Mike Riggs

Subterranean Agenda Blues

Kenneth T. Walsh at US News:

On March 12, 2010, President Obama welcomed me into the Oval Office for an interview for this book. Dressed in an elegant dark blue business suit and tie with an American flag pin in his left lapel, he was serene and confident. Behind him was the portrait of George Washington that has hung in the Oval Office for many years. Flanking that portrait were two busts added by Obama, reflecting his own values and heroes—behind him on his right was a likeness of Martin Luther King Jr., and on his left was one of Abraham Lincoln.

Obama was in a reflective mood. He began the interview by saying he had been “fully briefed” on my topic and was ready for me to “dive in.” He proceeded to methodically defend his effort to build a race-neutral administration. “Americans, since the victories of the civil rights movement, I think, have broadly come to accept the notion that everybody has to be treated equally; everybody has to be treated fairly,” the president told me. “And I think that the whole debate about how do you make up for past history creates a complicated wrinkle in that principle of equality.”

[…]

But Obama, in his most candid moments, acknowledged that race was still a problem. In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent “Tea Party” movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn’t helping them nearly enough, he said.

A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to “take back” their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn’t dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a “subterranean agenda” in the anti-Obama movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.

His goal, he said, was to be as effective and empathetic a president as possible for all Americans. If he could accomplish that, it would advance racial progress for blacks more than anything else he could do.

Mike Riggs at Daily Caller:

Pres. Obama has successfully avoided reducing the complex populist outrage of the Tea Party to racial anxiety–in public, that is. Behind closed doors, however, he allegedly has no problem distorting the motivations of anti-government types.

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

That was May 2010, according to Walsh. Ironically, only a few days before, on April 29, 2010, your humble scribe wrote the following:

The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism is that contemporary America-style liberalism is in rigor mortis. Liberals have nothing else to say or do. Accusations of racism are their last resort.

The European debt crisis — first Greece, then Portugal and now Spain (and Belgium, Ireland and Italy, evidently) — has shown the welfare state to be an unsustainable economic system. The US, UK and Japan, according to the same Financial Times report, are also on similar paths of impoverishment through entitlements.

Many of us have known this for a long time, just from simple math. Entitlements are in essence a Ponzi scheme. Now we have to face that and do something serious about it or our economy (the world economy) will fall apart.

Liberals, leftists or progressives — whatever they choose to call themselves — have a great deal of trouble accepting this. To do so they would have to question a host of positions they have not examined for years, if ever, not to mention have to engage in discussions that could threaten their livelihood and jeopardize their personal and family associations.

Thus the traditional wish to kill the messenger who brings the bad news: the Tea Partiers. And the easiest way to kill them — the most obvious and hoariest of methods – is to accuse them of racism.

When I wrote that, it was a month after Andrew Breitbart issued his as yet unanswered $100,000 challenge for evidence of racism at a Tea Party demonstration. So this is now already a relatively old debate. And the same arguments keep coming up again and again. The left keeps accusing the right of racism and the right keeps denying it, demanding evidence, which is never forthcoming. Not once. But that doesn’t stop the left. They continue the accusations — and the president, at least according to Walsh, believes them.

Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

There was, of course, no evidence at all that the Tea Parties had any racial motive whatsoever, and there still isn’t. None. They’re not motivated by race, but by policy. They consider Obama’s policies to be dangerous and destructive, and they’re right on both counts.

But this president, and the people he hires (think Eric “nation of cowards,” “my people” Holder, Van Jones, etc) can’t seem to abide opposition based on policy. Either that, or they’re using race cynically as a way to freeze the shallower thinkers around them and try to put legitimate critics out into the political outer darkness. Charges of racism do both quite nicely.

Tom Maguire:

I think (hope?!?) he was being polite to some fat-cat donors rather than describing his own convictions (and I am bitterly clinging to the notion that he has some convictions).  Huckabee going on about Obama’s Kenyan attitudes would be an example from the right of pandering to the nutters rather than challenging them.

Obviously, your mileage may vary.

THEN AGAIN:  The First Panderer is also the First Condescender, so he might very well believe the worst of these lowly Tea Partiers…

Patterico at Patterico’s Pontification:

Of course, it’s difficult to know what he said and how he said it from this report, as it is admittedly full of paraphrases, and lacks the clarifying aids of a recording or even direct quotes longer than two words. Depending on what he said, he may have been accurate — there clearly is a racial component to some of the opposition to Obama. The issue is how widespread he portrayed this aspect of his opposition to be. Because most of us really don’t care about the color of his skin. The color we’re worried about is red — all the red ink required to document the effects of his disastrous policies on our national balance sheet. (Look at it as a stimulus program: Obama will save or create thousands of jobs at the manufacturers of the red ink hues!)

Given how uncertain it is what he said, how’s about a journalist asks him at his next press conference? Let’s get some clarification on just how racist he thinks Tea Partiers really are.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

What a horrible disappointment this man has been as president.
2012 cannot get here soon enough.

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More NYC Snow Posts, More Use Of Simpsons Songs To Explain NYC Snow Problems

Sally Goldenberg, Larry Celona and Josh Margolin in NY Post:

These garbage men really stink.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts — a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

“They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,” said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department — and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan — at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

J.P. Freire at Washington Examiner:

I reported yesterday how well compensated these people are:

…[T]he top salary of $66,672 is only the tip of the iceberg for active sanitation worker compensation because it excludes other things like overtime and extra pay for certain assignments. For example, one worker in 2009 had a salary of $55,639 but actually earned $79,937 for the year.

Sanitation workers don’t pay a dime for premiums on their cadillac health care plan, which includes prescription drug coverage along with dental and eye care for the whole family. Many continue to receive the full benefit upon retiring after only 10 years. And then there’s the matter of their pension:
…Nearly 180 retired [sanitation workers] make over $66,000 year — in other words, over and above the maximum salary of currently working employees. In fact, 20 retirees make upwards of $90,000 in retirement, up to $132,360.

Keep that in mind when reading lines like this:

…[M]ultiple Sanitation Department sources told The Post yesterday that angry plow drivers have only been clearing streets assigned to them even if that means they have to drive through snowed-in roads with their plows raised.

And they are keeping their plow blades unusually high, making it necessary for them to have to run extra passes, adding time and extra pay.

One mechanic said some drivers are purposely smashing plows and salt spreaders to further stall the cleanup effort.

Sure, Mayor Bloomberg planned poorly and should have announced a snow emergency. But this story makes it clear that even if he did, it wouldn’t have made a difference. The question is whether Bloomberg will do anything about it.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

Among the victims of this crime: A newborn baby died after waiting nine hours for paramedics to arrive.

Doug Mataconis:

Assuming this is true it’s likely to provide much more ammunition to the arguments of those on the right who have started speaking out against the very idea of a public employees being allowed to unionize. Personally, I don’t think it would be appropriate to ban people from voluntarily associating just because they’re public employees. However, situations like this do raise the legitimate question of whether public employees in certain positions should be legally permitted to engage in some of the tactics that unions in the private sector engage during work disputes. When you’re a position where your job is one that is essential to the operation of the city — like a policeman, fireman, or sanitation worker — I think it’s highly questionable to concede that you should the right to go on strike. Essentially what happens in that situation is that the Union has a huge negotiating advantage over the city because leaders would not want to deal with the backlash that would result from the fact that garbage hasn’t been picked up in a week.

Ronald Reagan set the precedent for this in 1980 when he fired every air traffic controller in the country for going on a strike that they were not legally permitted to call. Of course, no American city would be able to do the same thing with it’s police force for fire department, which is why forbidding essential public employees from going on strike seems to me to be an entirely reasonable idea.

Megan McArdle:

On the face of it, it’s not implausible–it wouldn’t be the first time that New York City unions chose the worst possible time to show their displeasure with working conditions.  (Two of the last three transit strikes, for example, have taken place during the holiday season.)

Nonetheless, the charges are serious, and I’d like to see some better backup than a politician claiming he has secret union informants.  If it is true that the trucks were driving around with their plows up, refusing to plow any but the streets they were specifically directed to plow, presumably there will be witnesses who saw this.  Similarly, I assume that people noticed if their streets were plowed with the plows set too high, requiring a second pass.
In individual cases, that won’t tell you whether it was an organized plan, incompetent individual workers, or workers who were simply trying to score a little extra overtime for themselves.  But in aggregate, it should be possible to detect a pattern.  Couldn’t the Post find anyone in Queens or the Bronx who claims to have seen this misbehavior?
Hopefully, Bloomberg will appoint some sort of investigative committee–after all, it’s his political price to pay.  Of course, even if it turns out that the sanitation workers did make things worse, that won’t absolve the mayoral administration that apparently decided to ignore the storm warnings rather than pay the sanitation workers expensive overtime for working the Christmas holiday.

Don Suber

Mike Riggs at Daily Caller

Ed Morrissey:

I’m a little skeptical, but mainly because the primary source for the conspiracy theory is an elected official who can expect to be held accountable for the poor performance thus far in the Big Apple.  Also, the Twin Cities had the same level of snowfall a few weeks ago, and snow removal was a problem for us, too.  Minneapolis/St Paul and the first-ring suburbs have a large amount of infrastructure to deal with heavy snowfalls and about a fifth of the population, and we still have huge piles of snow blocking sidewalks downtown.  Heck, we can’t even get the Metrodome fixed; now, the estimate for repair and reinflation is the end of March.  I’m not sure that NYC could have done better, with its relatively smaller snow-removal infrastructure, lack of places to put the snow, and population density.

Is it possible that this was a coordinated slowdown effort by public-sector unions to make Bloomberg and city officials look incompetent?  Sure, but the simpler answers are usually closer to the truth.  The simpler answers here are that this was freakishly heavy snowfall in a city not used to such things, and, well, it has a mayor more interested in salt use in restaurants than on the roads.

 

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They Shoot Doggies, Don’t They?

Radley Balko:

In February, I wrote the following about a drug raid in Missouri:

SWAT team breaks into home, fires seven rounds at family’s pit bull and corgi (?!) as a seven-year-old looks on.

They found a “small amount” of marijuana, enough for a misdemeanor charge. The parents were then charged with child endangerment.

So smoking pot = “child endangerment.” Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.

Just so we’re clear.

Now there’s video, which you can watch below. It’s horrifying, but I’d urge you to watch it, and to send it to the drug warriors in your life. This is the blunt-end result of all the war imagery and militaristic rhetoric politicians have been spewing for the last 30 years—cops dressed like soldiers, barreling through the front door middle of the night, slaughtering the family pets, filling the house with bullets in the presence of children, then having the audacity to charge the parents with endangering their own kid. There are 100-150 of these raids every day in America, the vast, vast majority like this one, to serve a warrant for a consensual crime.

But Jonathan Whitworth won’t be smoking that pot they found in his possession. So I guess this mission was a success.

Mike Riggs at Daily Caller:

Daily Tribune reporter Brennan David submitted a public information request for the video immediately after the charges were filed in February and was denied because the video was being used in criminal proceedings. “I knew that SWAT video was available and that SWAT teams use video. The deputy chief told me that he had watched it a few times,” David said.

He requested the video again after Whitworth pleaded down to possession of paraphernalia and paid the possession fine earlier this month. David says his request was granted within 72 hours and that it does not show the corgi being shot.

Columbia PD spokeswoman Jessie Haden told David on Monday that an ongoing investigation of the use of firearms inside an occupied home is “expected to be completed within the next two weeks,” and that “Internal Affairs is conducting the review because the incident involved multiple shots and was inside an occupied residence. This allows Internal Affairs sergeants to review the incident independent from the SWAT command.”

According to the Tribune’s first report in February, “SWAT members encountered a pit bull upon entry, held back and then fatally shot the dog, which officers said was acting in an uncontrollably aggressive manner.”

John Cole:

This is what happens when you give a bunch of cowboy assholes heavy weapons and fill them with a God complex. Although I’m sure Joe Lieberman would suggest we strip this family of their citizenship.

Oddly enough, I doubt the tea partiers screaming about individual liberty will notice this. After all, it isn’t like the cops were going to raise their taxes or provide them with affordable healthcare coverage. They were just shooting his dogs in front of his family and then made up some bullshit excuse to try to take away the kid. No big deal.

Mark Thompson at The League:

What is so remarkable about this video is precisely that it is so unremarkable, depicting something that happens up to 40,000 times a year.  Indeed, perhaps nothing proves how common this is more than the calm, cool, and thoroughly routine manner in which the agents of tyranny carry out their task, quickly disposing of the family dogs (one of which was a corgi) and filling the victim’s home with bullets within, literally, moments.  All in front of what looks to be the victim’s six or seven year old son.

The cops did recover a “small” amount of marijuana though, which was apparently enough to charge the parents with child endangerment.  Somehow, the people who riddled that child’s home with bullets, killed that child’s pets, and forcibly removed that child’s father – all while the child was looking – were not charged with child endangerment.

When the government has the right to bust into tens of thousands of homes in the middle of the night, unannounced, with guns drawn and in full military armor, to take the life of beloved family members, and to menace 6-year old children, all because the homeowner is believed to possess a few grams of a plant or a non-explosive substance, tyranny cannot be said to be on the way.  It’s already here.  And President Obama wasn’t the one who created it, either.

I will believe that conservatives and the American Right view the words “liberty” and “tyranny” as something other than politically effective platitudes when they make putting an end to 40,000 raids like this a year a higher priority than whether they are taxed to provide someone else with health care or the unrealized hypothetical consequences of cap and trade.

Tim Lynch at Cato:

In America today, lawmaking is discussed much too casually.  The consequences are not seriously considered.  We allow agencies to issue regulations without having a formal vote in the legislature.  “Too cumbersome.”  Compliance is automatically assumed.  Few want to consider whether the use of brute force can be justified against someone who resists, or the danger that might be created for the innocent who get swept up in investigations.   We now have thousands of rules and regulations on the books.

We suffered through the painful lessons of liquor prohibition, but have been slow to see the parallels in the drug war.  A few years ago, Cato published a report on these paramilitary raids, called Overkill. The author of that study, Radley Balko, has been vigilant about highlighting these raids and dispelling the idea that they are just a few “isolated incidents.”

Conor Friedersdorf at The American Scene:

The longer I’m around, and the more I despair about movement conservatism as a whole, the more I’m impressed by two right-leaning organizations, Cato and Reason, for bankrolling the important work done by Mr. Balko, Julian Sanchez on surveillance, and other staffers too numerous to mention here, whose output I don’t just respect, but judge to be vital. The same goes for the Institute for Justice’s work on asset forfeiture, and a few other organizations on the right whose work often overlaps with left-leaning folks at the ACLU and similar organizations.

Health care and cap and trade are important issues, and the policy choices made do have implications for personal and political freedom, but one effect of demagoguery about “liberty and tyranny,” and the supposed embrace of statism by the whole left, is that it obscures or even poisons alliances between right and left against actual abuses that are going on now, and all that is gained are cheap, largely inconsequential political points on issues that at most concern predicted abuses at the end of a slippery slope that we aren’t yet careening down.

I don’t know if Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson can succeed at their very-much-worth-trying liberaltarian project, but I wish that one way or another, liberty-minded folks on right and left can refrain from demonizing one another about their disagreements enough to cooperate on drugs, prison, detainee policy, and all other matters related to wars without end.

Von at Obsidian Wings:

Put aside the wisdom or morality of the drug war.  Balko and Sullivan both pivot that way.  I want to talk about something different.  Something a bit larger.  Folks talk about the banality of evil.  It’s one of those cliches that you hear from time time.  But I don’t think that folks stop very often to think about what that phrase means.  Or what it looks like in action.  Evil becomes banal when people — good people — stop recognizing it, stop appreciating it, and come to accept it as normal.  When evil becomes so routine that good people accept it as the way of doing business.

I am not comparing the cops in the video to Nazis (whence the phrase comes).  But it’s hard for me to see their actions, here, as anything other than evil.  Maybe I’m overly influenced by having kids; maybe I’m not thinking straight.  But my reaction to watching these cops, dressed to kill, bashing down a door and shooting two dogs (a pit bull and a corgi) in front of a seven year old child all because his father had a little bit of pot … well, my initial reaction was shock.  This video literally took my breath away.  Followed, quickly, by anger.  This kid could easily have been killed for nothing; he certainly will be scarred.

The second greatest trick the Devil ever played was to convince folks that being good, and having good intentions, means that you can’t do evil.  That is bullshit.  These cops are likely good people who do a lot of good in their community. But this was a cheorographed raid.  They had overwhelming force.  There was no resistance.  This wasn’t a war.  They weren’t being shot at.  The target was clear.  Their acts were premeditated.  This wasn’t stupidity, or error, or chance.  No conceivable hypothetical — no matter how outlandish — justifies the behavior of these men. There was no ticking time bomb.  (They were simply looking for “a large amount of marijuana at the location.” Which wasn’t there.)

This is what evil looks like.  On this night, these cops decided to be thugs.

Mark Kleiman

Andrew Sullivan

Megan McArdle:

This is our nation’s drug enforcement in a nutshell.  We started out by banning the things.  And people kept taking them.  So we made the punishments more draconian.  But people kept selling them.  So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders.  Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better.

I don’t know how anyone can watch that video, and think to themselves, “Yes, this is definitely worth it to rid the world of the scourge of excess pizza consumption and dopey, giggly conversations about cartoons.”  Short of multiple homicide, I’m having trouble coming up with anything that justifies that kind of police action.  And you know, I doubt the police could either.  But they weren’t busy trying to figure out if they were maximizing the welfare of their larger society. They were, in that most terrifying of phrases, just doing their jobs.

And in the end, that is our shame, not theirs.

Kevin Drum:

CPD Internal Affairs continues to investigate whether this was an appropriate response to the “tip” they received that started all this.

UPDATE: Radley Balko at Reason

E.D. Kain

John Cole

Dan Riehl

UPDATE #2: Scott Horton at Harper’s

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Filed under Crime, War On Drugs