Friday, June 24, 2011

NC woman sterilized because state deemed her ‘promiscuous’

By David Edwards

The day that Elaine Riddick had her first and only child at the age of 14, the state of North Carolina had her sterilized on the orders of a court. Riddick had been raped but the state said she was promiscuous.

“They said that I was feeble-minded, they said that I was promiscuous,” Riddick, now 57, told CBS News. “I’ve always been able to take care of myself – I’ve never been promiscuous.”

“So how can people use these things to describe a child that had been abandoned? Or that had been raped by the neighbor and then again, raped by the state of North Carolina?”

North Carolina is the first state to consider a $20,000 payment to victims of sterilizations, but it is doubtful that the Republican-controlled legislature will set aside the necessary funds.

CBS News noted that more than 60,000 women in 32 states were sterilized from the 1920′s to the 1970s to keep down welfare costs. The practice is no longer in use.

Watch this video from CBS News, broadcast June 23, 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Justices Have Been Forced To Resign For Doing What Clarence Thomas Has Done
By Ian Millhiser on Jun 19, 2011

Justice Clarence Thomas is an ethics problem in a black robe. Just eight months after ThinkProgress broke the story of Thomas’ attendance at a Koch-sponsored political fundraiser, we learn that Thomas doesn’t just do unethical favors for wealthy right-wing donors — they also do expensive favors for him.

Leading conservative donor Harlan Crow, whose company often litigates in federal court, provided $500,000 to allow Thomas’s wife to start a Tea Party group and he once gave Thomas a $19,000 Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass. The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank which frequently files briefs in Thomas’ Court, also gave Thomas a $15,000 gift.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because America has seen this movie before. Indeed, the Thomas scandal is little more than a remake of the forty year-old gifting scandal that brought down Justice Abe Fortas. Like Thomas, Fortas liked to associate with wealthy individuals with potential business before his Court. And like Thomas, Fortas took inappropriate gifts from his wealthy benefactors.

Fortas’ questionable gifts first came out when President Johnson nominated him for a promotion to Chief Justice of the United States in 1968. Fortas had accepted $15,000 to lead seminars at American University — far more than the university normally paid for such services — and the payments were bankrolled by the leaders of frequent corporate litigants including the vice president of Phillip Morris. Fortas survived this revelation, although his nomination for the Chief Justiceship was filibustered into oblivion.

Just a year later, the country learned that Fortas took another highly questionable gift. In 1966, one year after Fortas joined the Court, stock speculator Louis E. Wolfson’s foundation began paying Fortas an annual retainer of $20,000 per year for consulting services. Fortas’ actions were legal, and he eventually returned the money after Wolfson was convicted of securities violations and recused himself from Wolfson’s case, but the damage to Fortas — and the potential harm to the Supreme Court’s reputation — were too great. Fortas resigned in disgrace.

It is difficult to distinguish Fortas’ scandal from Thomas’. Like Fortas, Thomas accepted several very valuable gifts from parties who are frequently interested in the outcome of federal court cases. One of Thomas’ benefactors has even filed briefs in his Court since giving Thomas a $15,000 gift, and Thomas has not recused himself from each of these cases.

Of course, Thomas is also the least likely Justice to actually follow the command of precedent. Thomas embraces a discredited theory of the Constitution which would return America to a time when federal child labor laws were considered unconstitutional. His fellow justices criticize him for showing “utter disregard for our precedent and Congress’ intent.” Even ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia finds Thomas’ approach to the law too extreme — in Scalia’s words “I am a textualist. I am an originalist. I am not a nut.”

But Thomas’ disregard for what has come before him changes nothing about the precedent he faces. If Abe Fortas had to resign his seat, so too should Clarence Thomas.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Anthony Weiner Resigns, Prostitute Enthusiast David Vitter Continues To Be Embraced By GOP Leadership

Yesterday at 2PM, Rep. Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress following revelations that he sent lewd texts to women he met over the internet. The move comes after nearly every prominent Democrat — from Leader Nancy Pelosi to DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to President Obama — called on Weiner to step down.

Nevertheless, the chairman of the GOP, Reince Preibus, attacked Democrats for inaction, saying, “We’ve got leadership and a Democratic Party that are defending a guy that deserves no defense.”

Today’s events stand in stark contrast to the treatment of Senator David Vitter, who admitted in 2007 to being a regular customer of a notorious prostitution service. Immediately following Vitter’s admission, McConnell was asked about Vitter on ABC News and flatly refused to address the issue or offer any criticism of Vitter’s conduct:

ROBERTS: Are you comfortable with him staying in the Republican Caucus?

MCCONNELL: Senator Vitter has addressed the issue that you’re referring to, and I’ll let him speak to that.

ROBERTS: Right. Is this something that you think he can recover from? I mean, does the Republican Party, the Republicans in Congress take a hit because of this?

MCCONNELL: Well, you’ll have to ask Senator Vitter about what he had to say about the episode that I think you’re referring to. He would be the one to address that.

McConnell wasn’t alone. Gannett reported that “few colleagues would go on record” following Vitter’s admission. One who did, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), offered only praise: “David Vitter is one of the most capable guys here. He was fabulous in the immigration debate. I think his constituents will respect that.” When Vitter returned to the Senate a few days later and addressed the GOP caucus, he was warmly received:

Applause could be heard inside the room. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who like most members wouldn’t disclose what Vitter said, reported that his comments went over well.

“People were very supportive,” Thune said. “People realize he has worked through this this past week. I think everybody is ready to move forward.”[...]

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, exemplified the forgive-and-forget view voiced by Senate Republicans.

“My attitude is he’s doing everything he can to rectify the mistake he made and should be allowed to do so,” Hatch said. “I’m a great believer in redemption.”

Despite moral transgressions that are more serious, from a legal perspective, than what is known of Weiner’s conduct, Vitter remains in the Senate with full seniority and committee memberships. When asked about Vitter’s potential legal violations, his GOP colleagues claimed ignorance of the law.

To this day, RNC chair Reince Preibus refuses to discuss Vitter’s conduct saying he doesn’t want to “relitigate” the situation.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Neal Boortz: "We need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta"

From the June 14 edition of Neal Boortz Show!

Boortz is just scum! From his radio show:

This town is starting to look like a garbage heap. And we got too damn many urban thugs, yo, ruining the quality of life for everybody. And I'll tell you what it's gonna take. You people, you are - you need to have a gun. You need to have training. You need to know how to use that gun. You need to get a permit to carry that gun. And you do in fact need to carry that gun and we need to see some dead thugs littering the landscape in Atlanta. We need to see the next guy that tries to carjack you shot dead right where he stands. We need more dead thugs in this city. And let their -- let their mommas -- let their mommas say, "He was a good boy. He just fell in with the good crowd." And then lock her ass up.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

GOP Can’t Handle The Truth: Taxes Are Lower Under Obama Than Reagan

By Pat Garofalo posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Jun 1, 2011 at 7:31 pm

President Obama met with House Republicans today at the White House to discuss ways to move forward on negotiations regarding the nation’s debt ceiling and the budget. During the discussion, talk evidently turned to taxes, and when Obama noted that taxes today are lower than they were under President Reagan, the GOP, according to The Hill, “engaged in a lot of ‘eye-rolling’“:

Republicans attending a White House meeting on Wednesday didn’t take kindly to President Obama telling them tax rates were higher during the Reagan administration. GOP members engaged in a lot of “eye-rolling,” according to a member who was on hand to hear Obama, who invited House Republicans to the White House for discussions on the debt ceiling. [...]

“[The President] made a comment like the tax rate is the lightest, even more than (under former President) Reagan,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) told The Hill following the meeting. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) joked that during the meeting, “We learned we had the lowest tax rates in history … lower than Reagan!”

That House Republicans find this preposterous is symptomatic of the hold Reagan mythology has over them. After all, for seven of Reagan’s eight years in office, the top tax rate was higher than the current 35 percent. In six of those years, it was 50 percent or more. And every year that Regan was in office, the bottom tax bracket was higher than the current ten percent.

For a family of four, the “average income tax rate under Reagan in 1983 was 11.06 percent. Under Clinton in 1992, it was 9.18 percent. And under Obama in 2010, it was 4.68 percent.” During Reagan’s time, income tax revenue ranged from 7.8 to 9.4 percent of GDP. Last year, it was 6.2 percent and is not projected to climb back to 9 percent until 2016. In fact, in 2009, Americans paid their lowest taxes in 60 years.

Republicans are very fond of saying that the U.S. has “a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” But the truth is that revenue has plunged due to the recession and to continued misguided tax cuts, and revenue needs to be raised to eventually bring the budget into balance. And Reagan knew that taxes were an important part of the budget equation. After all, he “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Black Former NFL Player Pulled Over For Looking Like Someone ‘Transporting Drugs And Guns’

By Scott Keyes and Tanya Somanader posted from ThinkProgress Alyssa on May 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Last week, former NFL star Warrick Dunn was pulled over outside Atlanta, Georgia by three police officers. Dunn has been involved in a number of charitable organizations since leaving the NFL, including founding the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation to help single parents find homes for their families. The former Atlanta Falcons running back has also received numerous accolades for his off-the-field service, including the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the Bart Starr Award, and former President Clinton’s Giant Steps Award. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution described Dunn as a “model citizen.”

So it was to Dunn’s surprise when he was stopped by police officers for having “the characteristic of people transporting drugs and guns” last Friday. Dunn, who is a 36 year-old black man, was also stopped for having tinted windows that were allegedly “too dark.” Dunn reported the incident on his Facebook account late last week:

Pulled over outside Atl because he said my window tint was too dark. During the stop he asked a lot of personal questions, said I had the characteristics of people transporting drugs & guns. So he searched my car and gave me a warning for my tint. Felt violated and I’ve had my car since ’08, nvr been pulled ovr for tint. Taken back bc I think the reasoning was bad. Ruined my day but not my spirit.

Despite the alleged rationale of illegally tinted windows, Dunn wrote that “my tint is not dark.” In addition, “it was cloudy and [the police were] 20 yards behind at an angle.”

Dunn was not charged in the stop, but did ultimately receive a warning from the officers.

The former NFL player’s ordeal is one that is already felt by many across the nation. Yet if conservatives had their way, profiling incidents like Dunn’s would not just become more commonplace, but would be legally justified as well. Indeed, racial and ethnic profiling is widely supported by Republicans. Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) called profiling “common sense” and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) justified it on the grounds that “all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners.”

But the GOP’s push to profile necessarily stems from the idea that such “common sense” is not actually racist. To Republicans like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, racism no longer exists. To him, America is inherently “colorblind” and “not a discriminate [sic] nation” because, after all, “we elected a black president.” In fact, a recent study reveals that white Americans actually view “anti-white prejudice” as the predominant race problem of the times, as opposed to “anti-black bias.” With this as the dominant view, the racism Dunn endured is too often perceived by many Americans as belonging to an era long gone and existing only in the margins of today’s society — no matter how prevalent.

Ever gracious, Dunn told TMZ after the incident, “As the son of a hard working police officer, I understand the stress that police officers are under.” “The real lesson in all this is that Twitter is a powerful tool but what happened to me is the same thing that happens to a lot of people every day,” he added.

ESPN has more information on Dunn’s life of service in the face of ordeal. When he was 18, Dunn’s mother, a Baton Rouge police officer, was killed in a robbery. Dunn helped raise his younger siblings while going on to a successful career at Florida State and the NFL.