aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Obama references Genarlow (video)
Here’s stunning video of Barack Obama hearing live the news of the commutation Scooter Libby’s sentence for perjury. It strikes me as revealing that Obama immediately sees a parallel to the way a young black man is being railroaded by the justice system, with no recourse.
The video precedes Obama’s reference to Genarlow at the NAACP convnetion Thursday.
Help stop Georgia from killing the wrong man
The clemency hearing for Troy Anthony Davis before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is Monday. The NYTimes today:
Though prosecutors have considered the case solved for nearly two decades, a chorus of eyewitnesses say the police arrested the wrong man. Now, on the eve of execution, scheduled for Tuesday, they have joined his family and his lawyers in an effort to get the courts to hear new evidence they say proves he is innocent. [...]
Legal experts, including William S. Sessions, a retired federal judge, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a self-described supporter of the death penalty, have sounded the alarm over Mr. Davis’s case. They say it underscores the many ways the death penalty is unevenly and wrongly applied, particularly in the South, the region with the most death penalty cases.[...]
It is rare for the board to commute a death sentence but not unprecedented. Since 1973, the board has granted 50 clemency hearings and commuted 8 sentences.
The last was granted more than three years ago, however, and even Mr. Davis’s lawyers acknowledge that despite the outpouring of support for their client, undoing 15 years of what previous defenders have admitted was poor legal work on behalf of their client would be a long shot.
A friend of Troy’s emailed:
I read online tonight that he declined asking for a final meal. Of course he didn’t tell us anything about that. Joe, this is just terrible… We need a miracle.
She asks that we fax the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Troy’s behalf. The number is (404) 651-8502. Or via Amnesty International here. Please do.
WSJ: Happy Blogoversary
The WSJ invited twelve commentators—including Tom Wolfe, Newt Gingrich, the SEC’s Christopher Cox and actress-turned-blogger Mia Farrow—to write on what blogs mean to them. From the intro:
We are approaching a decade since the first blogger—regarded by many to be Jorn Barger—began his business of hunting and gathering links to items that tickled his fancy, to which he appended some of his own commentary. On Dec. 23, 1997, on his site, Robot Wisdom, Mr. Barger wrote: “I decided to start my own webpage logging the best stuff I find as I surf, on a daily basis,” and the Oxford English Dictionary regards this as the primordial root of the word “weblog.”
The dating of the 10th anniversary of blogs, and the ascription of primacy to the first blogger, are imperfect exercises. Others, such as David Winer, who blogged with Scripting News, and Cameron Barrett, who started CamWorld, were alongside the polemical Mr. Barger in the advance guard. And before them there were “proto-blogs,” embryonic indications of the online profusion that was to follow. But by widespread consensus, 1997 is a reasonable point at which to mark the emergence of the blog as a distinct life-form.
Some of what Newt had to say:
We’ve already seen the effects on the Democratic Party. Web sites such as Daily Kos and MoveOn.org—which I find fascinating as models of online activism—have made it quite clear that their aim goes beyond stopping President Bush; they’re also targeting leaders in their own party viewed as unresponsive to the grassroots. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s primary loss is the most visible example. If Republicans remain out of step with their base for too long, expect a similar insurgency on the right.
RELATED: In this interview of Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas ZÃƒÂºniga by Dave Weinberger, Kos explains why the web inherently favors Democrats. Just as talk radio is a Republican’s medium (liberals have consistently failed at it) liberals flower under the influence of the Internet. Republicans less so. Sorry Newt.
Europeans get serious about smoking
Exchange students arrived from Spain with this cigarette pack. They say the law was passed a few years ago requiring the explicit warnings. It’s in english because they bought this pack at the airport.
Doug’s just back from a study abroad program in Germany, where smoking bans are beginning to take hold. And counter advertising (sponsored by cigarette companies?) urges the public to be kind to smokers.
“Almost one-half of the smoking difference,” they write, “appears to be the result of differences in beliefs about the health effects of smoking; Europeans are generally less likely to think that cigarette smoking is harmful.” This is an intriguing argument, to say the least.
And apparently one that’s losing ground.
The Democrat divide over the farm bill
A coalition of Democratic-leaning environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups and church organizations are pushing to redirect some subsidies to conservation, wetlands preservation, rural development and nutrition. But top Democrats are reluctant to push too hard for changes that could put at risk Democratic freshmen from “red” states, which backed President Bush’s reelection in 2004 and where the farm vote is still a factor in close elections.
At stake in the new farm bill are billions of dollars affecting the fortunes of farmers, as well as groups that include soft-drink manufacturers using corn sweeteners and poor families relying on food stamps. In 2006, more than 475 organizations reported lobbying on agricultural issues, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. [...]
The debate over subsidies is coming in the midst of nearly unprecedented prosperity in U.S. farming. Farm income and the value of farmland and farm assets have been rising, spurred by strong exports and a boom in the demand for corn, which is used to make ethanol.
This week, the Agriculture Department predicted that the value of harvested corn will reach $40 billion this year, up from $22 billion in 2005. The prices of wheat, milk and livestock are at or near record levels.
RELATED: Farm Bill Girl Argues that farm subsidies are a symptom of a worse disease: agri-business’s hijacking of the government. (Dump Terry McAuliffe). The Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has a good Farm Bill Action Center. (Via MyDD’s Food & Farm policy for all post.) And don’t miss Slate on ethanol madness.
Cigarettes: the real gateway drug
The Today Show just had a report on how preliminary indications are that local cigarette smoking bans have positive health effects. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and one of the U.S.’s leading addiction researchers, Nora Volkow, interviewed on Fresh Air the other day, suggests we may find yet another benefit from such bans:
GROSS: So, you know, a lot of people say, `Well, marijuana is a gateway drug.’ Do you see it differently? Do you think, like, for somebody who’s prone to using drugs, who has that kind of like, you know, the right kind of dopamine receptors and genetics and everything, that for them getting started on marijuana might lead to other drugs, but it’s not something inherent about marijuana as a gateway drug?
Dr. VOLKOW: Well, I would put it differently. I would basically bring forward that two are possible, and also I would like to take one step behind and say, before marijuana, what studies have shown that appears preceding marijuana is nicotine. So actually very early experimentation with cigarettes increases the likelihood that then you will experiment with marijuana and that then you will experiment with other drugs. So it’s not just the concept of marijuana being the gateway drug, but the possibility that early exposure to certain drugs, and what are the drugs that young people are more likely to get access if you’re a child? They’re much more likely to get cigarettes than it is to get marijuana.
We’re trying to understand actually whether, indeed, in a person that may not have the genetic vulnerability, that, because of an environment that’s very permissive, they get access to cigarettes, and they smoke. Would that in and of itself increase the risk of taking other drugs, or is it that they have the genetic vulnerability that made them want to experiment very early on?