Monday, March 30, 2009
Luzerne County Pennsylvania
I’ve written here before about the “school to prison pipeline.” Goolgled that today and got 786,000 results, many about the efforts of the A.C.L.U. and the N.A.A.C.P. to decriminalize childhood.
Last week the Houston Chronicle-Lite ran an item off the AP wire about the Luzerne County Pennsylvania Juvenile Court system as shocking as anything that’s happened in Texas in recent years. Two Juvenile Court Judges pled guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud charges that will bring them each at least seven years in prison for sending thousands of juveniles to two private detention centers in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks. Authorities are investigating other elected officials as well as Robert Powell, owner of PA Child Care LLC of Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, who says that he was a victim of extortion.
Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center began raising questions about the court with state authorities in 1999. Proceedings in the court were averaging less than two minutes each, and lawyers were telling families of the accused children not to hire them because they wouldn’t be allowed to speak anyways.
Now the state must decide how to deal with these thousands of tainted convictions ranging from assaults and drug dealing to one girl arrested for dissing the vice-principle on her MySpace page. All are entitled to new trials, but some are now too old to be tried in the juvenile system.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has appointed Berks County Judge Arthur Grim to grant relief as quickly as possible with two conditions:
Records of juveniles who wish to collect information and documents for use in pending civil lawsuits will be preserved and the expungements may be delayed, and the Luzerne County Probation Office must release copies of Juvenile Court daily case lists from Jan. 1st ’03 – May 31st ’08 to the County DA’s office and to attorneys for the Juvenile Law Center, the group that has advocated for the juveniles.
I’d be surprised if we don’t have similar scandals right here in Texas. We’re second to nobody when it comes to fear-mongering politicians capitalizing on crime victims and appealing to racism and xenophobia with a lock’em up and throw away the key rhetoric that’s a perennial winner with voters. Combine that with the Republican mantra of privatizing any government function that can be found in the yellow pages and you have a situation ripe for abuse.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
His opening remarks were sparkling, I found myself speculating whether one day historians will rank his words alongside FDR’s fireside chats, the radio addresses that reassured a crashed nation over seventy-five years ago.
“This budget lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity.”
“We can get there if we travel this road as one nation, as one people.”
“Our economy only works if we recognize that we’re all in this together, that we all have responsibilities to each other and to our country.”
And then he took questions from the press for most of an hour. I find it most refreshing to see the president think on his feet; extemporaneous, yet articulate. He told us where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. Persistence.
I can’t wait to see the ratings. His first press conference got super-bowl numbers. I hope this one did even better.
And the polls, he’s been at 60% approval lately, but after this week’s full court press expect a bump there too. I just hope the sluts in Congress get the message.
Dear Congressman Olson,
Dear Congressman Olson,
I’ve just watched President Obama’s second formal press conference. I believe that most Americans who watched his performance without the distraction of the Fox News Crawl were heartened to see the caliber of man we elected to the toughest job in the world.
I have been unimpressed with the Republican strategy of obstruction and distraction, and I don’t think that I’m alone in that. If you persist in voting against the administration on every issue, come the next election, you may find that your base has gotten out in front of you. The rump is no place from which to lead.
I urge you to support the President as he works to lead us back to peace and prosperity.
Fox News Crawl
While watching President Obama’s press conference tonight, I switched over to Fox News for a while. I was curious about how they would cover it, because Republican presidents generally don’t believe in holding regular press conferences. You can look it up. The last tory president to meet regularly with the press was Warren G. Harding, and he was a newspaper publisher himself. I think he just met with reporters so he had somebody with which to drink and play poker.
Anyways, since Fox doesn’t appreciate presidential press conferences, they misuse and diffuse them with their insidious Fox News Crawl, so it’s nearly impossible to understand what is being said. I’ve long been suspicious of the content they run across the bottom of the screen so I took notes this time. Have a look..
“terror attack/failed states/may not survive/checkmate/Arlen Specter will vote against/aircraft Iran components/Iranian military/weapons of mass destruction/deportation/three Irishmen/Iraqi police arrest four/kill twenty-seven Kurds/China blocks access to you tube Chinese troops beating blocked 2007/ 2008/unrest Tibet/Afghans arrest TV station manager/Taliban banned TV/Muslim clerics/prohibited and hypocritical/anti Muslim/Obama says White House has put in place comprehensive strategy/will create jobs/restart lending/Obama says signs of progress/his budget will build economy/similar crisis twenty years from now/cut deficit in half/continues very same policies”
-How can you think straight with all that going on?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Shut Up and Get Out of the Way
Right-wingers in Congress and on the corporate media were all frothy over Congressional Budget Office estimates last week of the Obama budget deficits running into ten trillion dollars over ten years.
Where were these guys when Bush and company were squandering the Clinton surplus and doubling the debt to world record levels? They applauded as wealth was redistributed upwards and jobs and investments sent overseas. No corporate piracy or financial freebooting was beyond the pale for these plutocrats. Suddenly they got religion?
Obama should at least get credit for including war spending in his budget, something that Bush, Cheney, and their rubber stamp Congress were never honest enough to do.
As the Congress grandstands over claw-back tax schemes to recover bonus money paid to execs of companies that received TARP funds and other bail-outs, I wonder how many of them voted for the Gramm/Leach/Bliley Act in 1999 that repealed banking regulations from the Glass Steagall Act of 1933, or voted for Gramm’s Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000? These measures brought about the financial meltdown that the new administration’s been left with. There’s sure to be at least a couple of hundred of these guys still in Congress, how about if they cough up half of their salaries in reparations?
I have to say that the thought of Ten Trillion Dollars got my attention. It’s sad that so much of it is just pissed away because our captains of finance and industry all invested us in tulip bulbs. At least much of this stimulus package is targeted at public works, because we got work to do.
In Jesse Jones’ book he wrote about ‘self-liquidating loans.’ Some of these were for commodities; the RTC bought cotton, lumber, corn, wheat, even whiskey and was able to eventually sell of most of it at a profit because they had supported the prices by keeping these goods off the market when it was glutted. But these self-liquidating loans also built projects that employed people, created a market for suppliers, and left us with things of value. The RTC financed power lines in 46 states that supplied electricity to 2 million rural customers, built paper mills in Texas and Arkansas, creating jobs and a market for local timber. The Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge, the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and the Huey P. Long Bridge were all built with RTC money. We spent ourselves out of the depression and later had something to show for it.
If we borrow trillions and use it to become energy independent, we’ll have made our country more secure. If we spend to reverse environmental degradation, our health and safety is enhanced. If we invest in wireless networks in the inner cities and computers in schools, we will give poor children a leg up instead of shoving them into the prison pipeline. Mass transit and rapid transit systems will stimulate commerce in a cleaner, greener way. And reform of our abusive healthcare system will bring us a healthier and more just society while bringing costs under control.
What an opportunity.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Glen Beck took time out from crying for his country (His country? probably Assholand) to broadcast the biggest Chuck Norris joke yet. Norris announced that he may run for President of Texas someday.
“That need may be a reality sooner than we think,” Norris later wrote for right-wing blog World Net Daily. “If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.
“From the East Coast to the "Left Coast," America seems to be moving further and further from its founders' vision and government.
“For those losing hope, and others wanting to rekindle the patriotic fires of early America, I encourage you to join Fox News' Glenn Beck, me and millions of people across the country in the live telecast, "We Surround Them," on Friday afternoon (March 13 at 5 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. CT and 2 p.m. PST). Thousands of cell groups will be united around the country in solidarity over the concerns for our nation. You can host or attend a viewing party by going to Glenn's website. My wife Gena and I will be hosting one from our Texas ranch, in which we've invited many family members, friends and to join us. It's our way of saying "We're united, we're tired of the corruption, and we're not going to take it anymore!"”
-Want to join one of Chuck’s cell groups? Maybe you can end up IN a cell like lunatic separatist Richard McLaren, who capped off his campaign of frivolous lawsuits and liens with a 1997 hostage standoff in Fort Davis that finally landed him in prison. At least he didn’t get all his crazy followers burned up like Vernon Howell did.
As batshit Glenn Beck says on Fox and Clear Channel, “You’ve got to believe in something, even if it’s wrong, believe in it.”
As Steve Martin said, “I believe that robots are stealing my shorts.”
Friday, March 20, 2009
A Populist Prayer
I enjoyed Oberman's rant last night entitled "Enough." I love it when Cabeza Gigante gets all worked up.
The most interesting part was his threats of future real socialistic policies but he really just seemed to relate that policies of a truly worker-oriented government would cause Wall Street to wax nostalgic for the days when they were able to commit "class-based economic rape" of the American taxpayer with impunity. Hopefully, from a jail cell; or if not, from the isolation of their wistful dream of a galt island republic where they can roll naked in their dough and worship crude tiki idols of Aynn Rand.
This idea of economic fairness cast as "socialism" intrigues me. He's right, Republicans led by Rush, et al, haven't a clue about what true economic fairness looks like.
I don't pray for Jesus to come back; rather, my prayers are reserved for the return of Eugene V. Debbs, The Kingfish, FDR, Jesse Jones (wink) and LBJ.
Grab those pitch forks and torches! Workers of the World Unite!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Shop Till It Drops
Chicago- based real estate investment trust General Growth Properties asked holders of more than $2 billon in its bonds to put off calls for payment this year while it tries to refinance.
General Growth owns a 50% stake in master-planned community The Woodlands, and owns Baybrook Mall, Deerbrook Mall, First Colony Mall, The Woodlands Mall, and Willowbrook Mall.
The company stated that it “may seek legal protection from our creditors due to the weak credit and retail environment.”
GGP stock, which traded at over $40 per share last spring, closed today at 61 cents.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Out of work? Out of luck.
This week, while 77,000 Texans lost their jobs, Governor Rick Perry appeared at Berings Hardware in Houston and announced that he had decided to turn down $550 million in stimulus money for unemployed Texans.
Berings Hardware is a high-priced house and garden store near the Galleria, the sort of place Martha Stewart would frequent if she lived in West U. or River Oaks.
Berings owners say that new unemployment rules would cost them $1000 per month to cover their 170 full and part-time employees.
Excuse me? That works out to $5.80 per worker. I bet most of them would pay the buck-forty-five a week it cost so they’d be covered.
But don’t miss the big picture. Berings, like many companies, likes to staff their store with part-timers exactly because they don’t have to provide them any benefits.
The hell with Rick Perry, and if Kay Bailey thinks she has to go all right-wingey to beat him out of the governors mansion, the hell with her too. I liked the letter to the Chronicle this morning that said that if Perry had any cojones he would have made this announcement at the Houston Food Bank.
Friday, March 13, 2009
-Governor Rick Perry is declining a half a billion dollars in federal money for Texas unemployment benefits, even though the state unemployment fund will run short of money this year after Perry last year suspended collection of employer payments into the insurance fund.
This means that at least some of the unemployed Texans who are denied unemployment benefits this year will be people who voted for Perry last year.
I don’t have much sympathy for those folks. If they’d only gotten a little better informed last year and voted in their own self-interest, maybe it would be Rick Perry that was unemployed now instead of pandering to the chock-full-of-nuts minority that votes for his denying aid to those that need it while he doles out millions in corporate welfare every year.
-GOP Chairman Michael Steele has been busy backpedaling since GQ magazine quoted him saying abortion “was an individual choice.”
Now he’s trying to placate his angry base, who, of course don’t approve of choice in these matters.
He said: “You can choose life, or you can choose abortion,” noting that his own mother chose life.
Steele was born in Maryland in 1968. Prior to the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, abortion was a crime in Maryland except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.
Dear Congressman Olson,
Sorry to hear that you were in the hospital.I Hope that you are up and around in no time. Please take a moment to consider where you would be today without the government-sponsored healthcare coverage you receive as a Navy Veteran and Member of Congress.
Have you heard that Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wisc, has declined his health coverage until all his constituents have the same options?
I urge you to look at HB 676, the Medicare for all bill that now has over 60 sponsors in the House. Not a perfect bill, but an improvement. I believe we could help a lot of folks with the $350 billion a year our healthcare industry spends every year on profit and overhead. (the better to dispute and deny customer claims)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The New Low Income Housing
I heard the Republicans claiming that Obama "owns this recession." Looks to me like we had a head start.
I couldn't fit in Dallas, Houston, Nashville, and Ventura.
This is Seattle
Check out http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/21689 for the real news on "Bushvilles"
More Jesse Jones
Every day I see more pompous Tory schmucks in Congress and the whore media bemoaning the socialization of the American economy, as if President Obama is the second coming of Vladimir Lenin. If you were to believe these people, you’d soon come to think that Obama was himself responsible for doubling the national debt these eight years past with tax give-aways and ill-conceived wars.
I am reading Jesse H. Jones’ book “Fifty Billion Dollars,” about how he bailed this country out of the Great Depression and financed World War Two as head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. I am holding a copy of the book that he autographed in 1951. Holy grail!
Today I would like to share a bit from his book that speaks, I think, to some of the obstructionist Republican talking heads that have been annoying the living shit out of me lately..
“During the depression many of the big boys suffered as well as the little ones.
“Their predicament and that of millions of other people may aptly be illustrated by a story told by my friend Will Rogers, the humorist. One day in the spring of 1934 Will told in his syndicated newspaper column of attending a dinner of the United States Chamber of Commerce.
“It is the caviar of big business,” he wrote. “Last time they met I happened to be in Washington and was the guest of Jesse Jones (head of the Reconstruction Finance) at their dinner. Now the whole constitution, by-laws and secret ritual of that Orchid Club is to ‘keep the government out of business.’ Well, that’s all right for every organization must have a purpose but here was the joke, they introduced all the big financiers, the head of this, that and the other. As each stood up Jesse would write on the back of the menu card just what he had loaned him from the RFC (I’ve got that menu card yet) yet they said ‘keep the government out of business.’ “
Did you see this in "Kiss My Big Blue Butt?"
Ms. Juanita is the finest kind, check this out..
March 9 - According to the Texas Legislature, the problem with Texas universities isn't that there isn't enough learning, the problem is that there isn't enough guns, dammit.
AUSTIN -- If some Texas lawmakers have their way, concealed weapons will soon be allowed on UTEP's campus.
A bill filed by state Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, and state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, would make Texas the second state to allow concealed handguns on college campuses. Eleven senators and 56 representatives have signed on as authors or co-authors.
Since 1996, Texans have been able to carry concealed handguns, but they cannot carry at schools, in courts, polling places, race tracks or airports.
Okay, I'll make them a deal. I'll support this the session after they approve the carrying of loaded and functional weapoinery in the balcony of the Texas State Legislature. No, I'm serious. Think about it. If we're allowed to carrying all manner of guns, particularly my shotgun, in the balcony overlooking the Texas House for a full session and no one gets shot, then I'll agree it's a workable idea to carry guns on college campuses, churches, and liquor stores. And the other upside is that if someone does get shot, it's no big loss. This is a win-win for everyone!
Sunday, March 08, 2009
March 6, 2009 04:31 PM EST -AP
PUTNAM LAKE, N.Y. — A state assemblyman said he found a dead goat outside his suburban New York home and believes it represents a death threat against him. Republican Greg Ball said Friday he has been battling corruption in Putnam County and believes the threat comes from "entrenched interests" he would not name.
State Police Sgt. Ted Daley says the incident is under investigation. He would not comment on any threat.
Ball said he found the goat Wednesday night with a sign around the animal's neck that said "Viva MS-13," designating a gang made up largely of Central American immigrants.
Ball is a vocal opponent of illegal immigration but said he doubts MS-13 is the source.
Ball has expressed interest in running for Congress.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Stop the Presses?
Been hearing a lot about the end of print lately. In one sign of it today, my Monday Houston Chronicle today totals forty pages long. The Business and Metro sections have been combined, including a one-page op-ed section with one editorial, two columns reprinted from the New York Times, four letters, and a bible verse; something about the apocalypse, probably.
NPR had a man that works in home delivery saying that the paper doesn’t weigh enough to throw anymore.
The smart-shopping sirens at my house have always saved enough couponing to make the paper pay for itself, but I have to wonder about buying it for that reason.
I worry for our republic if the electorate gets their information from TV news. It’s bad enough having only one paper in town, I can’t get my mind around the number zero.