Sunday, July 24, 2011

R Pig Coburn: Budget Cuts Will Only Hurt "The People Sucking Off The Program"

This week, the so-called Gang of Six — composed of Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Kent Conrad (D-ND) — released the outline of a plan that would reduce deficits by about $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years, with about $3 trillion of that coming from spending cuts. The plan closely mirrors that of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission. But according to Coburn, it doesn’t really matter which programs get cut, because, as he told Al-Jazeera English, it’s only people who are “sucking off the program” that are going to feel any change:

COBURN: The point is where’s the efficiency in that? The actual service going to people isn’t going to decline, the people sucking off the program are going to be the ones that lose.
Think Progress
It's a war on the poor and middle class. And it's long past time for days of rage. Folks must wise up and rise up. To save this corrupt system for the rich, they're screwing seniors and children. The "least among us," as Jesus said in Mathew 25.

Some days I wish for a John Brown. Now I'm not advocating what he did in our circumstances, although his cause was just.

Non-violent direct action is what we need.

It is a class war. Unless we fight back, we lose.

And while I'm frustrated with the President on a number of things, he's not the real enemy. Wall Street is. And the people like Coburn are. The dumbshit Ayn Rand losers.

If they prevail this time, there must be a way to make them pay. The electoral route is one way, but it really is time to get in the streets. It is time for civil disobedience. It's time to throw something into the gears of this system.

They never pay a cost for the evil they do. The rich debate on how to screw poor folks and they never pay a price.

As they impoverish working people, they will reach a point where there is little left to lose. And there will be a reckoning. The arc of history is long, but it does bend toward justice.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rise of a New "Confederacy": Race, Privilege and President Obama

It is hard to process sometimes the belief that a mixed race, poor kid from a broken family, abandoned by his dad literally, "abandoned" by his mom figuratively (ask some children who have been given to grandparents to raise, even if it is the best choice for them), who was one of few African-Americans at virtually all levels of education, with an international-but-not-European-name, who attended two Ivy Leagues, including graduating from Harvard Law - as the first Black editor of the Law Review, who became a State Senator, a U.S. Senator and then President of the United States before turning 50...

It is hard to process the condescension towards him, the portrayal of him as naive and, indeed, stupid, the entitlement that insists that despite their considerably lesser education and accomplishments (as evidenced mainly by their writing skills, unshakable opinions that lack or defy research, limited approach to logic and reliance on ad hominem attacks, and sheer statistical likelihood of doing all he has done)...

It is hard to process their unassailable belief that they are smarter, wiser, savvier, more moral and more visionary than this particular man is.

In the event it has been a while since the President's accomplishments have been reviewed and reflected upon, let's revisit below, with a final thought-for-the-day at the end. I have removed his name, just so we can all read the list objectively.

2008 to present President of the United States of America

2009 Recipient, Nobel Peace Prize

2005-2008 U.S. Senator, State of Illinois

2007 Time Magazine: One of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"
2006 The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Crown Publishers (NY Times Best-Seller)

2005 Time Magazine: One of the "100 Most Influential People in the World"

1997-2004 State Senator, State of Illinois

1995 Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Times Books (NY Times best-seller, reprint 2004)

1993 to 2002 Associate Attorney, Davis, Miner & Barnhill, Chicago, IL

1992 to 2004 Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School

1991 J.D., Magna Cum Laude, Harvard Law School,

1990 President, Harvard Law Review (first African-American)

1983 B.A., Political Science, Columbia University

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Deficit Is Not Default of Obama

by: Greg Palast, Truthout

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 11, 2011.Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" gave debtors' prison a bad rap. Too bad. I'd say that locking away GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a penitentiary for deadbeats seems like a darn good idea.

Let's talk about how we ended up in this pickle, bucking up against the "debt ceiling." From 2001 to 2008, a Republican president took an annual surplus of $86 billion left for him by Bill Clinton and ran up the budget deficit to over half a trillion in a year ($642 billion in 2008). Altogether, George W. Bush blew up the national debt by over $3 TRILLION - then left the bills to Barack Obama.

For eight years, Bush spent like a drunk monkey. The world was the GOP's Bergdorf and they had our credit card. If there was a shiny, new war on the shelf, they just had to have it: Iraq, Afghanistan, and let's not forget the Fantasy Wars, the half a trillion dollars a year on fancy-ass weapons for a war that won't happen. (Example: the Virginia Class submarine. (The V-class was designed to attack Soviet subs. There are no more Soviet subs, but Bush ordered three dozen anyway - at $1.8 billion each.)

And tax cuts? Don't get me started!

The Bush administration acted just like Sarah Palin when she was set loose in that Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis - grabbing whatever she could carry because Sarah could put it on someone else's account.

The GOP's fattened frat boys feasted - but when the waiter arrived with the bill, the belching rich kids looked around, pointed at some poor schmuck sweeping the floor, Mr. John Q. Veteran, and said, "THAT GUY will pay."

By the way: Congressman Cantor, the guy leading the Republicans' refusal to lift the debt ceiling, voted for the V-class sub as well as Bush's bogus scavenger hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But now Cantor doesn't want to pay the bill.

Y'know, Congressman, maybe you think my parents were fools because they taught me: If you buy it, you pay for it.

Apparently, that's not the rule at Cantor's country club.

The sick assumption of this entire debt ceiling debate, as we hear from talking heads whether on Fox or PBS, is that this is our deficit; as if you and I got a tax break or Amazon delivered that submarine to our door.

And the flapping lips on TV also assume that there must be some kind of "compromise" in which the spending spree by the rich must be paid for by the working class. The Washington elite agree we must pay for tax holidays for hedge funds by closing health clinics.

Of course, the GOP is right about one thing. President Tiger Wuss will do just that: make the poorest among us pay the debts of the richest. Here we have a bunch of economic terrorists - "Agree to all our demands or the economy gets it!" - and Obama's idea of leadership is to offer the berserkers three-quarters of what they demand.

Thank the Lord and Michele Bachmann that 75 percent isn't enough for these greedsters.

Solution: Don't pay the banksters

There's another wrong assumption controlling this debate over debt, that the banks, the debt holders, must be paid. When the bankers and the Chinese and the Saudis lent Bush three trillion dollars for his wild-ass buying party, they were betting, like any investor, on the good faith of the borrower to pay it back.

So, let Hu Jintao and King Abdullah stick a collection agency on Cantor and the other Republican shirkers. Repossess their limousines or send The Boys around to remind Cantor what happens when you don't pay what you owe.

The president should say to Hu, the Sheik and Goldman-Sachs:

"I have identified $3 trillion in Treasury notes issued between 2001 and 2008 which were lent to fund President Bush's expenditures. Unfortunately, those who borrowed your money don't want to pay it back. You made a bad investment - but that's how the free market works. Therefore, I am suspending payments on these Treasury notes until we can round up the deadbeats and make them live up to their commitments.

"As president, I have the constitutional duty to pay the bills of the Veterans Administration, the Social Security fund, and other vital services already voted and appropriated by Congress. Military pay before banker pay. Get used to it."

Will the bankers have heart attacks? I hope so. (Maybe if bankers are ill, the GOP will vote for universal health care.) Will China refuse to buy more US debt? Not a chance: The Chinese cannot afford a devaluation of the $2 trillion to $3 trillion in US Treasury notes they have in their pokey, a devaluation which would surely follow their abandoning the US treasuries.

Note: Argentina defaulted and thrived. We can tango, too. But that's all detail for me to argue out with other economists in some effete what-if seminar.

Ultimately, "default" is not the issue. "Default," dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in that age-old battle between Them and Us. They spent the money and now they want Us to pay.

Default lies with the Republican spendthrifts, Mr. President. So, I suggest you issue an executive order creating a new wing at Guantanamo: a debtors' prison for trillion-dollar deadbeats.

(Don't you think Eric Cantor would look good in orange?)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Study Finds that Black Men are Healthier in Prison than When They are Free

by Dr. Boyce Watkins.

Many of us have seen the dismal statistics for black males in America. African American men are at the bottom of the barrel in nearly every category of life, including healthcare, education, incarceration, and unemployment. Many of us raise our black boys with little to no understanding of how many of these statistics are perpetuated by a series of systems that serve to enhance and promote a lifestyle that leads to an early death. That is one reason why we’ve expressed concern for hip-hop music, fueled by corporate America, that promotes a self-destructive lifestyle that many young men emulate.

It turns out that the facts might be worse than many could have speculated. According to a recent study, black men are half as likely to die in prison than if they are free. The authors of the study claim that easier access to healthcare, protection from drugs and alcohol, and the ability to avoid deadly black-on-black violence leads to a longer life span for those who are incarcerated. African American males are the only group for which these facts hold true, according to the authors of the study.

The authors of the research, set to be published in the Annals of Epidemiology, also claim that the study reflects a pattern that those from disadvantaged groups live longer in prison primarily because they are protected from violent injuries and murder that can happen on the outside.

"Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans," said Hung-En Sung of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

"Typically, prison-based care is more comprehensive than what inmates have received prior to their admission," Sung, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said to Reuters Health.

The study examined 100,000 men between the ages of 20 and 79 being held in North Carolina prisons between 1995 and 2005. Sixty percent of the men being examined were African American. The authors found that while in prison, the death rate between whites and blacks was the same. But outside of prison, black males were far more likely to die than whites.

"What’s very sad about this is that if we are able to all of a sudden equalize or diminish these health inequalities that you see by race inside a place like prison, it should also be that in places like a poor neighborhood we should be able to diminish these sort of inequities," said Evelyn Patterson, who studies correctional facilities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

"If it can be done (in prison), then certainly it can happen outside of prison," Patterson said to Reuters Health.

I don’t know about you, but this study made my stomach turn. Dying and going to prison are among the easiest things for a black man to do in a world where it’s easier for him to get a gun than a good public school education. Most interesting is that black male political power is so weak that politicians in Washington have almost no incentive to pay attention to the crises occurring within our communities. Given that politicians don’t care about your son, brother or husband, here are some things you might want to do:

1) Raise your boys differently. If we allow our sons to be raised in a world where every song on the radio tells them to become the next Lil Wayne and every television commercial persuades them to be LeBron James, we’ll end up with a teenage boy who’s been wired to walk right into the traps that have been laid out for him. More interesting is that there are circles of violence among young black men that breed confrontation and a set of self-destructive behavior patterns being promoted by irresponsible television networks like BET which feature artists who make light of drinking and driving, sexual irresponsibility and gun violence. There is a prison bed and a casket waiting for your son on the day he is born. It is up to his mother, father and mentors to divert him from the pathway that has been created.

2) Black men must take responsibility for one another. Not only should black males work for continuous consciousness and awareness of the manner by which their psyches have been hijacked, but we must challenge one another to think differently about how we perceive education, fatherhood, community leadership, etc. In other words, BS must be stopped in its tracks when we see it, even if it means confronting our friends in ways that make them uncomfortable. We must challenge one another to embrace manhood and not the caricature of the shiftless, lazy, ignorant negro who spends more time thinking about going to the club than about making a better life for himself and his children.

3) Politicians must be held accountable at all costs. Without pointing fingers at any specific politician, the degree to which black male inequality is allowed to fester is sickening, insulting and unAmerican. Inequality in hiring, education, and criminal justice creates situations where even well-intended black males have their dreams eaten up by institutionalized racism. Black men, to some extent, are America’s cockroaches – our lives are deemed to be less valuable and our concerns less relevant. Any politician who buys into this rhetoric and shows inaction on such disturbing racial inequality does not deserve our support. Individual accountability without broader institutional modification is not the solution. The entire community must take a unified approach to solving these problems, for saving the black man is critical to saving the black family in America.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Syracuse University Professor and author of the forthcoming book, "RAPP: Rising Above Psychological Poison." He is also the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bill Clinton: GOP Voting Crackdown Worst Since Jim Crow

Benjy Sarlin | July 6, 2011,

Former President Bill Clinton weighed in on Republican efforts in several states to pass new restrictions on voting, comparing the measures to the Jim Crow laws of the past.

"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today," Clinton said in a speech at a Campus Progress conference in Washington.

He specifically called out Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) for trying to reverse past precedent and prevent convicted felons from voting even after they've completed their sentence.

"Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they've paid their price?" Clinton said. "Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics who tended to vote for Democrats. That's why."

Clinton is hardly the first Democrat to raise the alarm over a wave of Republican-proposed laws purportedly aimed at combating voter fraud. The Democratic Governor Association is raising money for a new voter protection project to counter the proposals, which they say violate minority voters' civil rights.

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz recently made similar comparisons to Jim Crow over the Florida policy as well as new voter ID laws in other states that civil rights activists have likened to a poll tax.

"You have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws and literally -- and very transparently -- block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates," she said. The Florida Congresswoman later walked back her remarks, saying the JIm Crow reference was the "wrong analogy."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Study confirms dark-skinned women get longer prison sentences

By Kase Wickman
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
A recent study of females convicted of crimes showed a disheartening correlation that would confirm accusations of racial injustice in the legal system: The lighter a convict's skin, the shorter their prison sentence tends to be, and the less time they serve.

Researchers at Villanova University examined the records of more than 12,000 women in North Carolina prisons to come to these results, reported. The study was published recently in The Social Science Journal.

Light-skinned women were sentenced to an average of 12 percent less time than their darker-skinned peers, and served an average of 11 percent less time in jail, the study found. The researchers used similar crimes to compare sentences, so that they could generate the most accurate, relevant results.

The study, called “The Impact of Light Skin on Prison Time for Black Female Offenders,” is part of a larger effort called The Sentencing Project, which has long examined the interactions of the justice system and race.

According to the summary on The Sentencing Project's website, the study provides a much-needed nuance. Discrimination is not as simple as black and white, but, "among blacks, characteristics associated with whiteness appear to also have a significant impact on important life outcomes."

A 2006 University of Georgia study of light-skinned versus dark-skinned black men showed that the light-skinned men had an advantage when applying for jobs, regardless of past experience and credentials.

A 2009 York University study published in Science found that many people unconsciously harbor racist attitudes and behaviors.

“Justice is not blind, in fact, it’s more accurate to describe justice as nearsighted,” said Lance Hannon, a sociology professor at Villanova and one of the prison study's co-authors.

“Justice is too often decided by one’s ability to sympathize with a defendant or crime victim. Sympathy, in turn, is often the product of larger social forces like segregation and media depictions of certain groups. Among blacks, characteristics associated with whiteness appear to have a significant impact on important life outcomes, such as the amount of time one spends in jail."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Keith Olbermann Says Farewell To Beck With Media Matters' Retrospective Of "The Crazy" From Beck's Show