NARAL Endorses Obama

by matttbastard

Press release:

NARAL PRO-CHOICE AMERICA ENDORSES SEN. BARACK OBAMA

Washington, DC – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, released the following statement today, announcing that her organization’s political action committee proudly endorses Sen. Barack Obama for president.

“Today, NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC is proud to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president. Sen. Obama has been a strong advocate for a woman’s right to choose throughout his career in public office. He steadfastly supports and defends a woman’s right to make the most personal, private decisions regarding her reproductive health without interference from government or politicians.

“Sen. Obama has been a leader on this issue in the United States Senate. Since joining the Senate in 2005, he has worked to unite Americans on both side of this debate behind commonsense, common-ground ways to prevent unintended pregnancy. Sen. Obama supports legislation to provide our teens with comprehensive sex education, prevent pharmacies from denying women access to their legal birth-control prescriptions, and increase access to family-planning services.

“We are confident that Barack Obama is the candidate of the future. Americans are tired of the divisive politics of the last eight years, and will unite behind Obama in the fall. We look forward to working with a pro-choice Obama White House in January.”

Keenan also praised Senator Clinton as a pro-choice leader. “Americans have been fortunate to have two fully pro-choice candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination. But only one can go forward to the general election. It is truly historic for us to have these two outstanding candidates in the race.”

For more information, please visit http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/elections/.

So, Obama now has in his corner John Edwards, who has broad appeal to white working class voters, and NARAL, which is quite obviously sending a message to Senator Clinton’s white feminist base. I highly doubt the timing of either announcement (ie, coming right after a brutal 40 point thumpin’ in WV that surprised no one) is coincidental. Big Media Matt may be correct here:

It seems that nobody’s going to “force” Hillary Clinton out of the race, but when you have her natural allies deciding that the time’s come to endorse in the Obama-McCain race you can see it’s over in more than just the mathematical sense.

More from NARAL president Nancy Keenan @ HuffPo on why the preeminent pro-choice advocacy organization in the US decided to back Obama.

Update: Even if the Democratic party race does appear to be “over in more than just the mathematical sense”, I think zuzu has a point here:

[W]here’s the fire? Why not let everyone get a chance to meaningfully participate before you start declaring the race over?

Again, I quote Alan Wolfe:

Recent elections have been marked by high levels of voter ignorance, low turnout, polarization between the parties and media coverage as broad as it was shallow. But within the Democratic Party this time, we have been witnessing the exact opposite: engagement and excitement. Pundits worry that the long race hurt the Democrats’ chances in the fall, but it’s hard to share their gloom when the whole exercise has been so good for our civic health.

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“Hold on one second, sweetie”

by matttbastard

This is definitely not the way for Obama to broaden his appeal with female voters:

Obama has subsequently apologized to WXYZ reporter Peggy Agar, but his explanation mainly serves to dig himself further into a hole:

“Hi Peggy. This is Barack Obama. I’m calling to apologize on two fronts. One was you didn’t get your question answered and I apologize. I thought that we had set up interviews with all the local stations. I guess we got it with your station but you weren’t the reporter that got the interview. And so, I broke my word. I apologize for that and I will make up for it.

“Second apology is for using the word ‘sweetie.’ That’s a bad habit of mine. I do it sometimes with all kinds of people [yes, he certainly does – mb]. I mean no disrespect and so I am duly chastened on that front.”

No, dig up, stupid!

Jesus tapdancing Christ. You wanna know how to better help make the case that you deserve the support of women? Step 1: DON’T BE A SEXIST ASSHAT.

Look, intent is irrelevant–habitually using reductive terms like “sweetie’ is both disrespectful and indicative that Obama may have a bigger problem with women than simply not getting their votes, regardless of whether his actions are conscious or otherwise. Not to say that this sort of thing is unique (gee, a man says something misogynistic and dismissive to a woman–film at 11!), nor is it definitive proof that Obama actively perpetuates misogyny (does anyone seriously think that Geraldine Ferraro burns crosses in her free time?) But a good ally is duty bound to call out the people on his or her team when someone fucks up (to be clear: my team is the ‘not John McSame’ team).

I’m very glad that Obama did apologize; however, I hope he takes the opportunity to reflect on exactly why he’s still having a tough go at making inroads with women.

*facepalm*

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Clapton May Be God, But Pierce is Jesus (Sorry, Obama)

by matttbastard

(video: The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis, by Bill Moyers [86 minutes])

Charles Pierce abso-flippin’-lutely knocks it out of the park:

More than anything else, the presidential election ongoing is — or, as a right, ought to be — about ending an era of complicity. There is no point anymore in blaming George Bush or the men he hired or the party he represented or the conservative movement that energized that party for what has happened to this country in the past seven years. They were all merely the vehicles through whom the fear and the lassitude and the neglect and the dry rot that had been afflicting the democratic structures for decades came to a dramatic and disastrous crescendo. The Bill of Rights had been rendered a nullity by degrees long before a passel of apparatchik hired lawyers found in its text enough gray space to allow a fecklessly incompetent president to command that torture be carried out in the country’s name. The war powers of the Congress had been deeded wholesale to the executive long before Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz and a passel of think-tank cowboys found within them the right of a fecklessly incompetent president to make war unilaterally on anyone, anywhere, forever. The war in Iraq is the powerful bastard child of the Iran-Contra scandal, which went unpunished.

The ownership of the people over their politics — and, therefore, over their government — had been placed in quitclaim long before the towers fell, and the president told the people to be just afraid enough to let him take them to war and just afraid enough to reelect him, but not to be so afraid that they stayed out of the malls.

It had been happening, bit by bit, over nearly forty years. Ronald Reagan sold the idea that “government” was something alien. The notion of a political commonwealth fell into a desuetude so profound that even Bill Clinton said, “The era of Big Government is over” and was cheered across the political spectrum, so that when an American city drowned and the president didn’t care enough to leave a birthday party, and the disgraced former luxury-horse executive who’d been placed in charge of disaster relief behaved pretty much the way a disgraced former luxury-horse executive could be expected to behave in that situation, it could not have come as any kind of surprise to anyone honest enough to have watched the country steadily abandon self-government over the previous four decades. The catastrophe that is the administration of George W. Bush is not unprecedented. It was merely inevitable. The people of the United States have been accessorial in the murder of their country

Read the whole goddamn thing.

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Mike Webster Nails It at the Braidwood Inquiry

by matttbastard

I’m glad to see that someone involved in law enforcement is rightly disturbed by widespread TASER misuse:

A police psychologist blasted Taser International at the public inquiry probing the controversial use of Tasers, claiming Tuesday that Canadian police have been “brainwashed” by the manufacturer to justify “ridiculously inappropriate” use of the electronic weapon.

Mike Webster accused the company that makes Tasers of instructing police in Canada that when they encounter a person suffering from a “mythical” condition that Taser calls “excited delirium,” police have few options other than jolting the person with the controversial electrical weapon, which delivers a five-second shock that incapacitates a person.

“When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail,” Webster told the inquiry in Vancouver.

[…]

“It may be that police and medical examiners are using the term [excited delirium] as a convenient excuse for what could be excessive use of force or inappropriate control techniques during an arrest,” Webster said.

“My own opinion on this is that Canadian law enforcement, and its American brothers and sisters, have been brainwashed by companies like Taser International and the Institute for the Prevention of In-custody Deaths,” he added.

“These organizations have created a virtual world replete with avatars that wander about with the potential to manifest a horrific condition characterized by profuse sweating, superhuman strength and a penchant for smashing glass that appeals to well-meaning but psychologically unsophisticated police personnel,” Webster said.

The chair of Taser, Tom Smith, told the inquiry Monday that Tasers save lives and reduce injuries to police and suspects.

Webster, however, said he has been shocked and embarrassed by recent “ridiculously inappropriate applications of the Taser” in low-risk situations involving people who are mentally imbalanced, likely suffering from “plain old delirium.”

Please make sure to read the entire article, which includes some examples of incidents in which Webster contends a stun gun should never have been deployed.  Transcripts of the Brainwood Inquiry are available here (note: as of today, archive only includes transcripts sessions on or before 05/09).

h/t Alison, who also provides an extensive list detailing more intances of “embarrassing” TASER misuse.

Flashback (originally posted here): The Lede has more on…‘excited delirium’, which, as noted earlier this year by an NPR report, “is not recognized by professional medical associations, and [is not] listed in the chief psychiatric reference book.” Part 2 of the report is also entirely relevant, focusing on the vested interest law enforcement officials and Taser International have in marketing the dubious disorder and includes the following abridged list of individuals who have died in police custody after being [stunned], with the cause of death listed as ‘excited delirium’:

  • June 13, 2005 – Shawn C. Pirolozzi, 30, of Canton, Ohio, dies after police tried to subdue him with a Taser. His death certificate listed excited delirium as the cause of death. The Taser was not listed as a contributing factor.
  • April 21, 2006 — Alvin Itula, 35, dies after a struggle with Salt Lake City police. Itula led officers on a foot chase, then fought with them when the officers caught up, according to police. Officers tased Itula and also used pepper spray and a baton. Itula stopped breathing soon after. The medical examiner found that Itula died of excited delirium brought on by methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • April 24, 2006 — Jose Romero, 23, dies in Dallas police custody. He was in his underwear, screaming and holding a knife on his neighbor’s porch. Police tased him multiple times. He died shortly thereafter. The Dallas County medical examiner ruled Romero died of excited delirium.
  • Sept. 5, 2006 — Larry Noles, 52, dies in Louisville, Ky., after a struggle with police. Noles, an ex-Marine, was standing naked in the middle of a street when police were called. Police said he was agitated. They tased him two or three times. He died a few minutes later. The Jefferson County medical examiner ruled Noles died because of excited delirium and not the Taser.
  • Oct. 29, 2006 — Roger Holyfield, 17, dies after police in Jerseyville, Ill., shocked him twice with a Taser. Holyfield had been walking down a street, holding a phone in one hand and a Bible in the other, yelling that he wanted Jesus. After policed shot him with the stun gun, Holyfield went into a coma; he died the following day. A medical examiner ruled the death was probably a result of excited delirium.
  • Dec. 17, 2006 — Terill Enard, 29, dies following a disturbance at a Waffle house in Lafayette, La. He was naked and yelling, with a broken leg bone piercing his skin. Police stunned Enard with a Taser; he died several hours later. Police said the forensic report from the Lafayette Parish coroner’s office found Enard died as a result of “cocaine-induced excited delirium.”

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Kathleen Frydl – Is Iraq Another Vietnam?

by matttbastard

Dr. Kathleen Frydl, Assistant Professor of History at U.C. Berkeley, draws parallels between the Vietnam War and the current war in Iraq.

Related: Der Spiegel interview with Lawrence F. Kaplan: “Before the war, Iraq was an abstraction, an idea. Once you have seen the place you can’t help but be much more cautious with the ideas that you put on the table.”

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