Too Big A Taboo?

The most important takeaway from the whole Gates thing...

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Too Big A Taboo?

You might remember that bizarre story of the Democratic fundraiser out in the San Diego suburbs where an out of control Sheriff's Deputy ended up pepper spraying and throwing to the ground a group of harmless middle aged Dems and taking a couple of them into custody. This Gates story, while it adds the potent addition of race, in many ways gets at a similar issue. Police officers don't get fancy wages. But they put themselves in harm's way for us everyday. And they deserve our respect and our appreciation. But they also work for us. And you do have these cases where people get arrested or knocked around for basically nothing, or at worst mouthing off a bit or not being deferential enough.

Along those lines, TPM Reader NL has this to say ...

I was taken a little aback when Obama used the word "stupidly" last night to describe the actions of the Cambridge Police. Even if his statement could have been worded more carefully, I think the whole controversy brings up an issue that needs to be discussed and is very rarely discussed in a public policy sense. I am not referring to racism. I am referring to the power of the police. With good reason, we praise our police officers on a local, state, and national level. They put their lives on the line for us everyday. No one can doubt the nobility and honor of the profession. It is seldom publicly acknowledged or debated that the police wield great power in the lives of everyday citizens. A decade ago, I worked as an attorney in a fairly large Public Defender's Office. My clients were indigent and many of them were people of color. So, I know a little about police power as well as how persons of low income and color are treated in our criminal justice system. For me, though, the issue is not about race only. It is about the power the police have to arrest someone whether or not a crime took place. Sure, mistakes will happen, and most officers will try not to make an arrest if it is unnecessary. We all know (maybe not Prof. Gates) not to anger a police officer. I had so many cases in which someone cursed at an officer or made a gesture to an officer and ended up spending the night in jail. Prof. Gates spent four hours in jail. Even though his charge was dropped, I'm sure that time in jail for a law-abiding citizen was utterly horrendous. There simply is no reason to arrest someone for hurting your feelings or making an ugly gesture at you. It is not against the law in most contexts. In addition, I can assure you that most people who walk into a court room in a case in which it is the officer's word against him or her (a law-abiding citizen) is at a superior disadvantage. An overwhelming majority of judges simply will not believe the law-abiding citizen over the police off...


Washington Post offers access for cash

From Talking Points Memo:

Don't Look Good

We're just digging into this story the Politico broke this morning about the Post offering lobbyists access for cash payments. But I'd say the Post has a real problem on its hands.

Here's the lede ...

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post has offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few": Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and -- at first -- even the paper's own reporters and editors.

The astonishing offer was detailed in a flier circulated Wednesday to a health care lobbyist, who provided it to a reporter because the lobbyist said he felt it was a conflict for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its "health care reporting and editorial staff."

And Dave Weigel has an email Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli just sent out to the editorial staff saying reporters now will not participate.

It's worth noting the obvious competitive backstory behind the story. Politico is lead on the editorial side by a team of ex-Posties and it has targeted a big part of the paper's business. But facts are facts. And Politico seems to have gotten some that the Post really needs to explain.