Knock Knock, Bang Bang

by Kieran Healy on December 12, 2005

“Jim Henley”:http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2005/12/12/4753 points us to “Radley Balko’s”:http://www.theagitator.com extensive coverage of the astonishing case of “Cory Maye”:http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&ned=us&q=cory+maye. Here is “Radley’s initial post”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025962.php#025962 on the case; and here are a series of posts of his updating and clarifying the details — “1”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025971.php#025971 “2”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025975.php#025975 “3”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025977.php#025977 “4”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025982.php#025982 “5”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025983.php#025983 “6”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025986.php#025986 “7”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025987.php#025987 and “8”:http://www.theagitator.com/archives/025989.php#025989 (the first and last will tell you a lot). He’s been talking to a lot of people involved in the case. Here’s a link to “a lot of commentary”:http://battlepanda.blogspot.com/2005/12/outrage.html by others.

_Update_: I’ve updated this summary to better reflect the facts of the case as I understand them.

I’ll put the details below the fold. I urge you to read them. The guts of it is that Cory Maye is a black man on death row for shooting a white police officer dead. The officer was part of a paramilitary no-knock drug raid which broke down the door of Maye’s apartment at 11:30pm, when he and his young daughter were sleeping. The building was a duplex and the officers had a warrant for Jamie Smith, the person who lived in the other half, and for “occupants unknown” in Maye’s half. It’s not clear that the officers expected anyone to be in that half of the duplex. There’s no evidence that Maye had anything to do with Smith, and Maye did not have a criminal record. When the officers broke in, Maye woke up, took his gun and ran to his daughter’s room. When Officer Ron Jones entered the room, Maye shot him. Jones later died. There is disagreement about whether the officers announced they were the police as they broke in, and what the exact sequence of events was once they were in there. (I don’t think it’s in dispute that Maye really had no reason to expect the police would come breaking down his door at midnight.) Jones was (1) first into the apartment but (2) not part of the SWAT team — he was invited along because he tipped off the Narcotics Task Force about the suspected dealer in the other half of the duplex. He was also (3) the son of a local police chief. Mayes was tried, apparently was not well-represented, and was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

[click to continue…]

Not in Kansas anymore

by Henry on December 12, 2005

I’d somehow missed this “fascinating paper”:http://www.princeton.edu/%7ebartels/kansas.pdf by Larry Bartels which “Ezra Klein”:http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/12/index.html#008600 links to today. It uses NES data to argue that the thesis of Thomas Franks’ _What’s the Matter with Kansas_ is completely wrong. Poor white voters have become _more_ likely to vote Democrat over the last few decades. While they’re less likely to identify with the Democratic party than they used to be, the decline in Democratic party ID has been less marked among poor white Democrats than among richer ones, and is entirely attributable to losses in the South in the post-Civil Rights era. Nor, if you look at the preponderance of evidence, is there good reason to believe that poor white voters are more interested in cultural than in economic issues; if anything the opposite seems to be true.

Of course, Bartels’ argument isn’t only discomfiting to Franks; it also undermines the self-justifying claims of right wing pundits who consider themselves, against all the odds, to be populists. The one part of Bartels’ paper that I disagree with is its conclusion, which implies that mistaken Democratic angst over the party’s appeal to poor white voters is what motivates arguments over whether the Democrats need to fundamentally rethink their political message. If I understand Bartels rightly, he’s suggesting that the Democrats don’t need to change what they’re doing. I don’t think that’s true, and indeed it seems to me that some of Bartels’ earlier “empirical findings”:http://www.princeton.edu/~csdp/research/pdfs/homer.pdf point in the opposite direction. If, as Bartels has previously argued, the general public has a difficult time in connecting public policy with economic inequality, Democrats are likely to succeed to the extent that they can draw these connections in their rhetoric, and show how inequality affects not only the working class but the middle class too. That said, this paper seems to me to be a lovely example of how political scientists and other social scientists should be speaking to broader public debates, by using their expertise to examine whether the fundamental assumptions underlying these debates are fundamentally right or wrong. _And_ it describes Peter Beinart’s arguments as “fatuous.” What more could you ask for?

Tookie Williams denied clemency

by Chris Bertram on December 12, 2005

I see from the “BBC that Tookie Williams has been denied clemency”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4523098.stm . I have no opinion about whether he was guilty or not, nor do I know whether the various good works he has engaged in in prison were sincerely motivated. I am generally opposed to the death penalty, for a variety of familiar reasons. But I’m moved to post now, not to articulate those general reasons, but out of a sense of incredulity. The crimes for which Williams was convicted took place in 1979, when he was in his mid-20s. Even if I thought it was right to execute people for such crimes, I think I’d baulk at the idea of killing someone in his 50s for an act committed more than a quarter of a century ago. To do that is almost like executing another person.

Survey shows majority of Iraqis disapprove of invasion

by Chris Bertram on December 12, 2005

I’d decided to self-impose a moratorium on commenting on the ramblings of the “pro-war left”, but I’m roused by a post on Normblog entitled “At variance with certain depictions”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2005/12/at_variance_wit.html in which Geras claims that “a new survey of Iraqi opinion”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/12_12_05_iraq_data.pdf (PDF) gives a more positive view of life there than we get from unspecified sources of whom he clearly disapproves. He specifically draws attention to a “vox pop”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/05/middle_east_views_from_iraq/html/1.stm section of “the BBC page”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4514414.stm where one ordinary Iraqi voices the opinion that:

bq. The US invasion was a really good thing and the presence of the US troops is really important now.

Now I’m sure that any selection of material by Geras was intended to be in line with the standards of balance and accuracy normally to be found on his site, but I fear he’s slipped up in failing to notice the responses to the following question:

bq. From today’s perspective and all things considered, was it absolutely right, somewhat right, somewhat wrong or absolutely wrong that US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq in Spring 2003?

Today 50.3 per cent of Iraqis polled answered that the invasion was somewhat or absolutely wrong. That’s an increase from 39.1 per cent in “last year’s survey”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/15_03_04_iraqsurvey.pdf .