Are you Team Gates or Team Crowley? (Sorry, you have to have a teenaged daughter to get the reference.) I have to say, I'm a fence sitter. Not Team Gates, not quite Team Crowley. (Obama was right he had no reason to handcuff the guy in his own house.) As for why I'm not Team Gates, this video from The Daily Show says it better than I could...and the fact that the commentator is black really helps.
I'm on team lets stop talking about stuff like this and start talking about that fact that we spend twice as much money per captia on health insurance as other industrialized nations with comparatively poor health outcomes.
But whatever. No one cares. Too complicated.
Our national media is an utter disgrace. But then most news departments are part of corporate ENTERTAINMENT divisions. Who has better ratings? Madow or Oriley? Go go go go! So what do we expect.
It is perhaps inevitable that human beings ALWAYS think of themselves in terms of in/out groupings, Republican vs Democrat; Left vs Right, Atheist vs Theist, etc etc. We can't help ourselves. We MUST TRIBE UP!
I have no opinion on this matter. I don't WANT to have an opinion on this matter. I'm not sure what good it would do me, or if I would be able to justify it to my satisfaction. Or if I wouldn't be better served reasearching institutional racism, or the widening gap between rich and poor.
Ok that's a rant. But this stuff drives me nuts. It's a way for people to experience meaningless catharthis and reafirm what they already believe.
I'm disappointed by the health care debate. It doesn't seem like Obama is making the moral case for universal health care clearly enough, and the various solutions on offer are frighteningly complicated. They are sleep-inducing. Maybe that's why people would rather think about Gates vs. Crowley. I plead guilty. You're right. We ought to be thinking about health care.
It's very disapointing, Obama is not doing a good job with messaging. To be fair though he is at a nexus of power which has NO INTEREST in solving this problem. Insurance companies and big pharma make UNGODLY ammounts of money. They spending millions and millions of dollars lobying to maintain their hegemony (and in many states they have a health care monopoly). I read (but have not confirmed) that drug companies get TAX BREAKS for running drug commercials. It sounds like nonsense but I wouldn't be suprised if it were true.
By framing this in terms of fiscal discipline at the outset Obama fell right into the conservative trap and now he's hostage to the CBO reports.
To be fair to Obama he DID mention in his press conference that we spend vastly more money on health insurance than any other industrialized nation. But after the press conference I went to CNN.com and what was the headline:
OBAMA SAYS "POLICE BEHAVED STUPIDLY." Win!
Health care is a MORAL issue. Yes there are strong economic arguments to be made, but the fact that 1/6th of our nation has NO health insurance, and another huge chunk is underinsured SHOULD be regarded as a national embarassment.
My wife has Lupus and we spend probably 40-60 hours a year wrestling with the insurance companies and we have pretty good insurance. God save us if we become uninsured as she has a pre-existing condition.
Yes, it seems all wrong to make this about the economy, instead of about morality and even just self-interest. We could all wind up without a job and trying to get insured with a pre-existing condition. Or just underinsured. It's insane that getting good medical care in the country turns on keeping a good job. Makes no sense. When I tune in (maybe not often enough) I don't hear the right things.
What's to think about the health care issue? It's a no-brainer. Just do the political wrestling - no holds barred - and be done with it. There is no con, so I don't find it interesting.
But the Gates/Crowley teams! Black guy (scuse me - professor or even scholar he's sometimes called) barges into locked door in fancy neighborhood. Call police. Police: oh, he's black? Umm no, we can't do that. Or maybe it's an airplane situation. Guy (or mullah, whatever) points hand covered by paper bag at attendant. Nope, we don't want no steekin' profiling here. We can rightly point the finger to ourselves, who have so treated whole populations that the profiling has some base, but there it is.
So, invite the teams to the WH for a beer. A beer, Obama? Little profiling there, I would say. I prefer a sip of sherry.
I KNOW right? Health care is so simple! Booooring.
Here is one tiny thread of sometihng I did some research on. My research is limited so here is the provisional picture:
1) Arguing with a "America has the greatest health care system in the world" type, I was given this factoid: In England 1500 people die every year from being denied dyalisis.
2)Ok that's interesting. What's the context here? Do a little research. Turns out this is a talking point pushed by Michael Tanner of the Cato institute. Warning Bells!
3)Turns out that this fun fact comes from the 1980s and there was indeed an outcry in Britain when it was discovered that the criteria system used to distribute dyalisis was excluding people over the age of 55. It is unclear based on the limited documentation I could find whether this was a explicit policy or a de facto policy produced by medical criteria (because there are fitness criteria tied to renal treatment).
4)Due to public outcry this was adjusted in Britain in the 1990s, though I was unable to find specific statistics related to this change. Nevertheless Tanner continues to quote this figure even today without any additional historical context, as though it were a current statistic.
5)Even stranger, it appears that in the US virtually ALL dialysis is government funded because dialysis is so expensive that no insurance companies are willing to take it on. So we have a de facto government subsidization of dialysis in the US.
6)Thus paradoxically in England an ostensibly free health care for all system ran into difficulty due to rationing while in the US the government pays for dialysis treatments pretty much no matter what. The extent of this policy is somewhat unclear.
7) What does this say about health care? It's complicated and minor research on one issue yields bizzare and counter intuitive results. And also that Michael Tanner is a complete bullshitter.
What can you expect from The National Review? Boo hiss.
I don't know what your policy is for linking to other blogs so delete this if it's not OK
Anyway here is some boring analysis of some portions of the propoganda war.
Faust, Everybody's all upset about the specter of rationing, but we already have rationing. The people with good jobs get the rations. Everyone else gets either nothing or bad govt subsidized medical care. Not good.
Now about race relations. I think Gates failed to do something rather tricky--remember that he was both the suspect in this case and the homeowner being protected from a robbery. If he'd identified with himself fully as homeowner, he might have been more grateful to have police protection from the suspect.
I'd like be a fly on the wall at the beer bash tomorrow at the White House. It is my prediction that both men will cry, hug... and then go away and file suit against each other.
JK: Your comment about identity as housebreaker or home owner. Good! I hadn't thought of that.
Oh I agree we have de facto rationing. People make complaints that "Oh no! If I am over 55 the government might deny me X procedure." When of course in our country it's "Oh no! I don't have a job/don't make enough money/have a preexisting condition and therefore I will be denied X procedure." Which is worse: denying a certain proceedure to a certain percentage of the elderly? Or denying care to 15-20% of the population?
My point with the little story above was how bizzare things started getting when I did a little research. Tanner is using rationing by the government in England as an example of why governement is bad when in our country OUR governement ALREADY covers dialysis patients. That's a (potential) argument FOR the superiority of our "government run system" (in this one tiny area). Of course it's more complicated than that even on this one point, it's just the whole result of my (tiny) investigation was even more counter-intuitive than I thought it would be.
As to your original question: there are two points I really don't get about the whole Gates incident.
1. What, precisely, did Gates do or say that would make it appropriate to arrest him for "disorderly conduct" in his own home?
2. How is the issue of racial profiling relevant to this case at all? Officer Crowley was responding to a report of a possible breaking and entering. The woman who made the report didn't say anything about race--she just saw two men try to force their way into a home.
Of course racial profiling happens and of course there is a history of white cops mistreating African-American men. But this case seems to me to be one in which two people simply overreacted. Well, actually, given the President's initial comments, make that three people overreacted.
Oh what the hell, I'll jump on board.
It is indeed overeaction. What everyone is overreacting to is the question of why was there an overraction. The whole thing becomes circular: Crowley (allegedly) overreacts because Gates is black, Gates (allegedly) overreacts because Crowley is keepin the black man down in his own home, and the whole culture goes off on a rocket ship because we get to wring our hands and participate in in group/out group rhetorical warfare.
Fun links for relevant evidence:
And here is the police report:
Notice how in Crowley's report he suggests that spoke with Whalen and that she told him "that she had seen "two black men with backpacks on the porch."
But of course according to the dispatch and according to Whalen's lawyer see here:
SHE NEVER MET CROWLEY. So unless she is lying to her lawyer, that portion of the police report is a flat out lie. Which makes the rest of it suspect in my opinion. But hey cops lie. Duh.
And there are obviously no racists in the police department there. I mean this guy:
Who called Gates a "bannana eating jungle monkey" is a model of virtue. Nope nothing going on there.
OH! I FELL LIKE A PIG IN MUD! It feels so good to roll around in this stuff! MORE MORE MORE!
White guilt! The race card! Stupid lying cops! Our idiot media circus! MORE RATINGS! MORE MORE MORE!
My lunatic rantings aside here is an interesting and related case:
My reading of the thing is that there was no racial profiling (I'm with you, Tom--I have no idea why it ever got reported that way). A woman saw two guys who might have been trying to break in. She never even said they were two black men. The NYT says there had been 24 break-ins in that neighborhood in the previous something or other, so the police investigated. All well and good.
But Gates, for lots of reasons, thought it was racial profiling, so got very angry...and said this and that.
And then a crowd gathered (or so I gather), and Crowley felt his authority was being challenged and he needed to teach everyone a lesson. So he took Gates in. That seems to have been his only boo boo. Nothing to do with race, though. He just lost his cool.
Today's meeting is going to be simply adorable. Wish I could be a fly on the wall.
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