Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ex-Presidents and Former Presidents

I get emails from all kinds of folks. I make it a point to get emails from both liberal and conservative groups, and I make it a point to actually read as many of them as possible. So, there was nothing strange about me scanning over the roundup of "headlines" from I got distracted right away when I saw them refer to President Clinton as "ex-President Bill Clinton."

I thought it interesting that they used the word "ex" instead of "former." My immediate thought was, they are trying to attach a bad connotation to him. It implies that his exit was... well... not-so-nice. I would love to say that the petty word tricks like this do not work, that it is usually best to ignore it. But they do matter. The Republican National News Network, you know, Fox, understood that calling it the "government option" instead of the "public option" would have an affect on its popularity (ultimately, they were a little late to the game and the term "public option" was far too ingrained into common rhetoric to simply be replaced because some news anchor wanted it so).

Back to I decided to employ the awesomeness of google and do a little analysis of their use of the terms "ex-President" and "Former President." The latter was used almost exactly the same number of times to describe Republicans and Democrats. Nothing really to note about that. Yet their use of the term "ex-President" tells a different story.

That term has, as far as google knows, only been used thirteen times at Once, was quoting FORMER President Jimmy Carter speaking about himself. Every other time, they are speaking about FORMER President Clinton.

I am sure that the partisan nature of the anti-choice movement has nothing to do with this. It is simply a coincidence that while more often than not refers to past U.S. Presidents as "former President," 100% of the times they have used the term "ex-President" it has been in reference to a Democrat who served two full terms and remains popular to this day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

PA-Sen Primary Eve: Recap from PA Progressive Summit

cross-posted from Sum of Change

As Pennsylvania gets ready to vote in, arguably, the most-watched primary of the year, we thought folks might appreciate one last look at the two candidates, Senator Arlen Specter and Congressman Joe Sestak, back-to-back on the issues. (Videos from the PA Progressive Summit)

--Question 1- What Do You Think of a Partial Spending Freeze?

--Question 2- What Would You Do To Increase Manufacturing Jobs in the US?

--Question 3- What is Your Opinion of Same-Sex Marriage?

--Question 4- Will You Vote For The Employee Free Choice Act With Card Check?

--Question 5- What Are you Going to do About the Trade Deficit?

--Question 6- Do You Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

--Question 7- What Should We Do About the Filibuster?

Video from K Street Protest

cross-posted from Sum of Change

Today, despite the persistant rain, thousands of people showed up on K Street in Washington, DC to protest the actions and lobbying efforts of big banks and to demand economic justice. The Washington Post is comparing the anger to what we have seen at Teaparty protests.

--Mark Freeman, foreclosure victim and SEIU member

--Kia Alvarez, member of Alliance to Develop Power

--Trenda Kennedy, Illinois People's Action

--Al Marshall, SEIU Local 1021

Interview with Neil Franklin of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

cross-posted from Sum of Change

On Friday, May 14th 2010, I got the chance to sit down with Neill Franklin, the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). (Full interview at the bottom)
Neill Franklin, LEAP's incoming executive director, is a 32-year law enforcement veteran who spent more than two decades with the Maryland State Police (leading the drug division's education and training) and then moved to Baltimore PD. Like a character from HBO's "The Wire," Neill could tell you stories of colleagues being gunned down in the line of fire, as he did in this Washington Post op-ed.

--Neill Franklin Shares His Story
To sum up: Mr Franklin is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Many things he experienced doing that work led him to speak out against drug prohibition, but there were two events that really changed him. First off, he served on Mayor Kurt Schmoke's Board for Needle Exchange in Baltimore. Mayor Schmoke was an advocate for rethinking our policies regarding the war on drugs. But it was not until 2000 when he lost a good friend named Edward Totely. Mr Totely was assassinated while making an undercover drug buy. That is when Mr Franklin began to examine the negative consequences of the war on drugs.

--On the Obama Administration's Drug Policy
To sum up: Mr Franklin feels that President Obama's "balanced new approach" is balanced in rhetoric only because two thirds of the money goes to enforcement (not including the costs of incarceration).

--On the Gateway Drug Theory
To sum up: Mr Franklin feels it is a fallacy and that cigarettes and alcohol are greater gateway drugs yet remain legal.

--Drug Laws and the Fourth Amendment
To sum up: Mr Franklin argues that the laws surrounding drugs create an environment where police are under pressure to search for drugs, which leads many officers to unintentionally push the limits of the law.

--The CA Ballot Initiative and the Federal Response
To sum up: Mr Franklin congratulates the people of California for putting this issue on the ballot, and encourages people to get involved with that campaign. As for the federal response, he has some concern that the federal government may try to "flex their muscles and go into California and start arresting people." He says the federal government should allow that state to go ahead with control and regulation. "They should be bringing smart people together to figure out what the future policies will look like."

--Law Enforcement Reaction to Franklin's Work
To sum up: Mr Franklin finds that most law enforcement officials respond positively to his position.

Full, Unedited Interview