Martin O'Malley was the architect of Baltimore's failed plan to reign in crime, the New York Times reported yesterday:
Civil rights advocates and some elected officials here trace the tensions to “zero-tolerance policing,” a crime-fighting strategy championed by Martin O’Malley, the former governor and a potential Democratic candidate for president, when he was the mayor of Baltimore from 1999 to 2007. Aides of Mr. O’Malley note that on his watch, the number of annual homicides dropped below 300 per year for the first time in more than a decade, and that violent crime in Baltimore dropped by 41 percent. Steve Kearney, a top aide to Mr. O’Malley when he was the mayor, described the policies as “appropriate for the time.”
The policies have only served to undermine the confidence that the people there have in their police officers. And furthermore, it is not even clear that Mr. O'Malley deserves the credit for the drop in crime in Baltimore. Even if a good argument can be made that Mr. O'Malley's policies helped drop crime in the short term, the problem is that there will likely be a long-term increase in crime given the loss of confidence that the public has in its officers.
Pope Francis' recent snub of France's ambassador, Laurent Stefanini, shows that while the Catholic Church has made some laudable reforms, it has not done enough to make itself a relevant institution for the 21st century. Mr. Stefanini, who is openly gay, has had extensive experience with the French government, including serving as the number two man for the French Embassy to the Vatican.
Stéfanini has been described in the French media as a “brilliant” diplomat. He is a graduate of France’s elite Ecole Nationale d’Administration. He knows the Vatican well, having been first councillor to the French embassy there between 2001 and 2005, and has served as an adviser to the French foreign affairs ministry. He has been head of protocol for former centre-right president Nicolas Sarkozy and the socialist Hollande.
So, there is no question about Mr. Stefanini's qualification; there are no scandals that we are aware of. This is a matter of a church that is losing members due to a reluctance to accept change and which is continuing to become increasingly irrelevant.
In today's paper, we read that an American drone strike killed two hostages, one an American citizen and one an Italian citizen, who were being held by Al-Qaeda in January. By all accounts, proper procedure was followed, and the site in question was surveyed extensively to ensure that it was a legitimate target of war. But the fact that two civilian hostages were killed shows the limits of the President's drone policy, even when everything is done according to the book.
The problem is that there is no way to account for the possibility that civilians are present when strikes occur. The hostages, Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto, are just two of over 3,000 civilians who have been killed by drone strikes under the program, began by President Bush and continued by President Obama. Each one of these people killed by these drone strikes will only serve to polarize this country and antagonize more people, who could choose to sign up for Al-Qaeda and ISIS. With each one of these civilians killed, Al-Qaeda and ISIS become stronger than if those strikes had not occurred.
The Guardian reports that nearly all of the 150,000 or so of refugees who are attempting to cross into Europe will be sent back to Africa and only 5,000 or so will be settled in Europe. This is a misguided policy which will only exacerbate the massive humanitarian crisis in Libya and the Middle East and which does not address any of the underlying causes. This despite the publication of a letter from 50 people across the political spectrum calling the current indifference and police state tactics a "stain on the conscience."
The summit comes as a joint letter to EU leaders signed by more than 50 former European prime ministers, foreign ministers and business leaders, condemned the death toll of migrants in the Mediterranean as a “stain on the conscience of our continent” and demanded the immediate restoration of expansive search-and-rescue operations. Signatories include the former EU commissioner and Conservative party chairman, Chris Patten; the former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bilt; French former foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner; and George Soros of the Open Society Foundation.
The letter appeals to EU leaders to go beyond the 10-point plan agreed by foreign and interior ministers on Monday and instead calls for an immediate restoration of expansive rescue operations “with a mandate and level of funding that match the humanitarian emergency that confronts us”. The letter says the decision to withdraw support last October for Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation had only succeeded in vastly increasing the number of deaths.
As the TPP deal is being fast-tracked through Congress, Zeynep Tufekci writes that even having a college degree will not necessarily protect your job from being outsourced. More and more, jobs which we thought were safe are being taken over by machines. This, Tufekci notes, gives employers even more leverage over employees anytime they try to form a union.
We are being told that TPP includes protections for not just manufacturing workers, but service workers whose jobs are being displaced by TPP.
To further sweeten the deal for Democrats, the package includes expanding trade adjustment assistance — aid to workers whose jobs are displaced by global trade — to service workers, not just manufacturing workers. Mr. Wyden also insisted on a four-year extension of a tax credit to help displaced workers purchase health insurance.
These are concessions that Republicans agreed to in order to win Wyden's support.
No reasonable person can argue that Hillary Clinton is no better than any of the 16+ or so Republicans who are lining up to face her. Her focus on pocketbook issues is a welcome focus, something that has even tea partiers saying they might vote for her in 2016. When her husband, Bill, was in office, we experienced a period of record job growth and deficit reduction that the Very Important People (TM) said could not be done. All that in the face of an impeachment trial as the GOP sought in vain to reverse the outcome of the 1996 election.
But then the question is, which side is she on? Is she on the side of the working people, or is she on the side of the 1% and the wealthy corporations who SCOTUS Justice John Roberts thinks represent the highest form of good in this country? There are a lot of unanswered questions in that regard. The first involves her stance on the Fight for 15 struggle.
Today, in the papers, it was announced that the US has sent 300 military "advisers" to Ukraine to train their army. That measure seems for all the world like it is a safe choice for President Obama -- after all, it is much less than what hawks in Congress want. However, the problem is that our involvement in Vietnam started with us sending military "advisers."
Back in 1955, President Eisenhower began sending full-fledged military "advisers" to South Vietnam. President Eisenhower did not set out to create perpetual warfare in Vietnam. He thought that he was following a peaceful strategy while still containing communism. However, it turned into full-fledged involvement by 1965. In the same way, President Obama surely does not intend for his actions to lead to our full-fledged involvement in Ukraine by 2025. But that is what it will lead to if we are not careful. President Obama's decision does not account for the possible decisions that future administrations might make.
The topic of equal pay is a main point of debate in this country. Currently, women only get 78% of the pay that men do for equivalent work. I submit that it is a symptom of a much bigger problem -- that of everyday sexism. The hashtag #EverydaySexism has been trending on and off Twitter all day today as tens of thousands of people have plenty of examples.
Back in ancient times and during the Middle Ages, women were frequently considered to be property, first of their fathers and then of their husbands. They were expected to stay in their place and not ruffle too many feathers. Even in modern times, women are considered to be second class citizens. One rule of schoolteachers for 1872 that I recently saw stated that women who were teachers were not to be married and or engage in "unseemly behavior." Violation was grounds for immediate dismissal. Women were expected to spend all of their spare time either preparing for the next school day or reading scriptures or "other good books."
In the 1930's, after the Great Depression struck, the women were the ones who were expected to make all the sacrifices so that the men could go on to college. My grandmother, in line with the societal expectations at the time, gave all of her life savings back to her parents so they could get through the Great Depression even though she was valedictorian in her high school and could have gone far in college. Her younger brother, on the other hand, was allowed to go to college and become a professor.
President Obama is conducting a series of town halls with women about the success of Obamacare as well as the need to create equal pay for equal work. He traveled to Charlotte, NC and took questions from the BlogHer and SheKnows communities.
While Obamacare is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction towards the goal of healthcare becoming a basic right. The White House notes that 30 million people can no longer be denied healthcare due to a preexisting condition. Around 105 million people can no longer be kicked off their health plan because they have outlived the lifetime of their plan. 76 million Americans are benefiting from preventative health coverage. And 16 million Americans who had not had health coverage have now gained it.
But now, the next step is to create equal pay for equal work for women. In addition, there has to be more paid sick leave as well as more money for early childhood education.
Massive Black Lives Matter protests are hitting the streets in at least three cities (and possibly more) in this country -- New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. The hashtag #ShutDownA14 was, for a long time, one of the most trending topics on Twitter.
Certain people simply don't get it. While there have been some positive changes made after the Mike Brown shooting and the refusal of the authorities to indict Officer Wilson, the changes have not gone far enough. These protests are not going to stop until there is an expectation throughout the country that if you are an officer and you use excessive force on anyone, whether they are Black, White, Latino, or whatever, that you are going to be fired at minimum. At worst, the expectation should be that you are going to be charged with manslaughter or murder or assault, depending on the situation. And these protests are not going to stop as long as our criminal justice system disproportionately targets Blacks and other minorities for arrest, imprisonment, and the death penalty.
In the runup to Marco Rubio's Presidential announcement tonight, much has been made about his religious faith. He has been influenced by the Catholic Church, the LDS, and the Southern Baptist Convention. However, his call for war with Iran is incompatible with Biblical Christianity.
On the issues:
On the Middle East, Mr. Rubio has suggested that military action might be necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and has said the United States should have done more to help the more moderate rebels fighting the Syrian government. He has criticized the administration’s recent treatment of Israel as a “historic and tragic mistake.”
As usual, every single Democratic candidate would be better than any of the Republican candidates contemplating a run for President. Since Hillary Clinton has finally thrown her hat in the ring, it is time to swing into gear and vet some of the candidates. Hillary is the prohibitive favorite as far as money and organization. After all, class counts in this country and we love our political dynasties more than we care to admit. But that should not stop us from taking a look at some of the other candidates contemplating a run.
We will look at the established candidates and then look at a few who are on the fringes, but whose ideas still merit discussion. One significant omission is Elizabeth Warren. She has publicly stated that she will not run for President, and my working assumption is that she won't unless she says otherwise. The Green Papers contain a list of most of the people who have publicly declared their intent to run; it has an interesting look at the good, the interesting, and the crazy.