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Big Brass Blog is a group blog founded in February of 2005 by Pam Spaulding of Pam's House Blend and Melissa McEwan of Shakesville (formerly Shakespeare's Sister). The mission of this collaborative effort is to stand as the premiere forum where strong, enduring voices of Progressivism provide what liberal politics has been missing: the unapologetic, unrelenting voice of liberalism in the darkness visited upon our world by Right-wing extremists, their ruinous policies, and their hypocritical beliefs.

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18 March 2009

In Order To Form A More Perfect Union

by: Foiled Goil

We Are Entering a New Political Era, and We Need an Educated Public to Deal with It

The era of hearing that government is evil, that a "hands-off" government gives us freedom is over. Now it's time to think about the public good.


Doug Kreeger, AlterNet:
For thirty years, the ideologues in power convinced the very people who need a strong and competent government to protect them that government was evil. This ideal ultimately gave power to group who relentlessly worked against these people.

A generation of Americans has grown up hearing messages that government is evil, that a “hands-off” government gives them freedom. Meanwhile, the government was really taking away those freedoms. We no longer had a government that protected us from the abuses of powerful corporations that were willing to foul our air and water while creating a financial system that placed greed over economic well-being. Over the last thirty years, our national education policy has been more concerned with producing ideologues than creating scientists and critical thinkers. This “cultural” entity tried to turn schools into factories for reciting information for tests that were based on religious dogma and conservative ideology. The best and the brightest in the conservative movement were shuttled through colleges like Regent University (whose tagline is “Christian Leadership to Change the World”) to find their way into positions of influence in the Judicial Department, the EPA and the White House.
. . . . .

This crisis will only get better if we are willing to accept personal responsibility for helping to fix what is broken and make sacrifices for those in greater need then ourselves. It is not about an ideology based on believing in magic, but a real understanding of what hard work and dedication to serving each other means for a society to prosper. It is E Pluribus Unum.

As we face the challenges of Reconstruction 2009 we need to make sure we think as broadly as we can. While taking into account our short-term needs, we need to have a vision as to the legacy we are creating for our children and grandchildren. We need to re-educate a generation of people who truly believed that government was our enemy as opposed to an institution that exists for the common good. We need to overcome fear and distrust and replace it with caring and compassion. We are one nation and one world and are all connected to a common ancestor that needs to share a belief that what is good for one, should be good for all.

Barney Fife and the Preamble to the Constitution:




· ·
16 October 2008

Observations From The Poor Side Of Town

by: Debra

I really am tired of hearing people say that they can stimulate the economy and improve people's standard of living by cutting taxes.  They tend to forget one ittybitty little point.  One has to have a job in order to pay taxes.   Not only do you have to have a job, you have to have a job that pays over $10,000 a year before you start paying taxes and then you won't qualify to have your taxes cut because you don't make enough money.   As if an extra ten dollars on your refund would make that much of a difference in your life.

Looking at things from the poor side of town and almost making do with what we have,  it's hard to believe that people who make over $250,000 a year can't make ends meet and deserve a tax cut. They could always cut back on the caviar and champagne and replace it with beans and beer like the rest of us.

Two separate Americas?  You betcha!

Does Europe have homeless people living on the street? Just wondering.

Debsweb
12 September 2008

Yike! It's Ike!

by: blackdog

If you are down around Galveston, head your ass north right now.

From Group News Blog, maybe the best post I've seen on this, I should get some good rain and wind out of this tomorrow and Sunday.

And BTW, this is where the Minstrel hangs these days, so it's worth a look anyway.



This could screw the pooch real bad. I love Galveston, hope they make it.

And in Houston, get ready, have you ever noticed the height of the curbs downtown? Pretty tall.

I may be an Arkie, but I have many friends and relatives in Texas. And I do give a shit about them.



Here is my real choice for POTUS. With the honored four as top cabinet officials, and Gandalf as Chief of Staff, not that he does not have a damn good one.



I would be proud to sweep the steps after these, if only Eowyn and Arwen were around. Galadriel too.

Us hobbits know how to maintain the verbage.

Used to have a rabbit, and I named her evenstar.

Everyone raise a glass of whatever to Samwise Hamfast, he scored Rosie! Rosie Maggot who's father had the best mushrooms in all Hobbiton!



Oops.

With kudos to Father Tyme, and if I may, a possible Wraith.

Haven't been paying attention, but i just noticed an almost full moon rising. Could the storm surge be rising on a higher tide?

Shit

Foosball here tonight, muggy and nasty, may the worst team win..

31 August 2008

Gustav Heading To Gulf Coast, NOLA

by: Foiled Goil

Hurricane Gustav


Tropical/Hurricane Advisory:

Statement as of 7:00 PM CDT on August 31, 2008

... Gustav continues northwestward... tropical storm force winds about to reach the southeastern tip of Louisiana...

a Hurricane Warning remains in effect from just east of High Island eastward to the Alabama-Florida border... including the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

A Tropical Storm Warning remains in effect from east of the Alabama-Florida border to the Ochlockonee River. A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the warning area within the next 24 hours. [snip]

At 700 PM CDT... 0000z... the center of Hurricane Gustav was located near latitude 26.9 north... longitude 87.7 west or about 175 miles... 280 km...south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. This position is about 260 miles... 415 km... south-southeast of New Orleans Louisiana.

Gustav is moving toward the northwest near 17 mph... 27 km/hr. This general motion is expected to continue with a decrease in forward speed during the next couple of days. On the forecast track... Gustav should make landfall on the northern Gulf Coast on Monday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 115 mph... 185 km/hr... with higher gusts. Gustav is a category three hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Some intensification is forecast tonight... and Gustav is forecast to be a major hurricane until landfall.

Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 70 miles... 110 km... from the center... and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 220 miles... 350 km. Data from hurricane hunter aircraft indicate that the area covered by hurricane force winds has expanded... particularly in the northwest quadrant of Gustav. Tropical storm conditions are about to reach the southeastern tip of Louisiana... and hurricane force winds are expected to reach the coastline after midnight.

The latest minimum central pressure estimated from Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft data is 952 mb... 28.11 inches.

An extremely dangerous storm surge of 10 to 14 feet above normal tidal levels is expected near and to the east of where the center of Gustav crosses the northern Gulf Coast. Above normal tides in the Dry Tortugas should diminish tonight.

Gustav is expected to produce total rainfall accumulations of 6 to 12 inches over portions of Louisiana... southern Mississippi and southern Arkansas... with isolated maximum amounts of up to 20 inches possible through Wednesday morning.

Isolated tornadoes are possible over the central Gulf Coast tonight.

Repeating the 700 PM CDT position... 26.9 N... 87.7 W. Movement toward... northwest near 17 mph. Maximum sustained winds... 115 mph. Minimum central pressure...952 mb.

The next advisory will be issued by the National Hurricane Center at 1000 PM CDT.

$$
Forecaster Franklin


Hurricane Radar


·
17 March 2008

Monday Morning Blues

by: Debra

Help the little people? Not on your life. But help a company that produces nothing but paper that says it is worth something, the candle burns all weekend until there is a solution. Even a bad one. Our tax dollars at work, doing everything but provide services to the citizens.Remember when they refused to bail out New York City?
The Fed will provide special financing to JPMorgan Chase for the deal, JPMorgan Chase said. The central bank has agreed to fund up to $30 billion of Bear Stearns' less liquid assets. Risky bets on securities tied to subprime mortgages -- loans given to customers with poor credit history -- crippled Bear Stearns, the nations' fifth-largest investment bank.
Hell, no. $30,000,000,000 of our money goes to guarantee the purchase of Bear Stearns because they were incompetent greedy bastards and have 'less liquid assets'? That's just outrageous. Why are we providing our money to help one business acquire one grossly incompetent business?

We can't fund programs helping our veterans.

We can't fund programs that give children insurance.

But over one damn weekend, we find $30 billion to fund greed. It's ridiculous. Pathetic enabling crap.

And it's money wasted, completely wasted. Just like the billions poured down the gullet of Detroit. Because you pull the Band-Aid off slowly or quickly, we're trying to allow these people to feel no pain, when pain is exactly what they deserve.
When you are poor and have financial problems, it's always your fault and it's up to you to figure your way out. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is willing to help someone who already can't pay their bills. Something about not being a good risk. If it only worked like that for the people at the top, maybe a little more thinking (such as simple arithmetic instead of compound interest) would have provided a few level heads and prevented what looks like the second Depression in my mother's lifetime.

On a really sad note, Tom and Steve Hilton from If I Ran The Zoo are experiencing the physical loss of their father after the recent loss of their mother. My heart goes out to the guys (we've shared a few beers, which was cool because one of them lives on the other side of the country) and hope that this next few days and months eases the pain and returns the happy memories of childhood. And Steve per one of our conversations, another good one is "when you get to the dead skunk, turn right. Quickly."

Oh no, it's that green drinking day. Again. Just without the music, Guiness or soda bread but I am making the non-tradtional Corned Beef and Cabbage, otherwise known as a New England Boiled Dinner.

Don't you wish you owned gold instead of dollars? I own neither, but I can dream. This is going to be a really bad roller coaster ride. Like one of the ones where the majority of riders gets killed. It took a lot for me to ride Revolution at Six Flags after watching that movie.

Speaking of movies, I watched Waitress a few weeks ago, I had put it off because I knew it was going to be painful to see all that talent go to waste. What a great movie and what a supreme loss of talent. Adrienne Shelly definitely had a lot to contribute. Nathan Fillion wasn't bad either.

Debsweb


·
08 January 2008

Myth America

by: Debra

Let's start with the fiction that Americans are pro-life. They aren't. Pro-birth, certainly. But once you're born all bets are off. From a third world infant mortality rate to trying to use the death penalty against juveniles and the mentally impaired, to showing up last on the list for preventable deaths among nations that have health care, quality of life issues are reserved for the haves and the have mores. The have nots can work until they die and they should be grateful that their betters let them contribute.

Our economy is robust and healthy. That's a good one.

That Fox News is fair and balanced. As long as you stick with the party line of neoconservatism, otherwise you will be disappeared.

That the crew without a clue care for the world and its denizens more than they care for money and profit.

That Bush and Israel aren't trying to start World War III. Again. The only thing that Bush has read carefully was My Pet Goat and we all know how well that turned out.

That global warming doesn't exist and that all our weather patterns are normal.

That freedom of speech still exists in this country and that business owners can determine appropriate behavior on their own property.

That drugs are designed to help you prevent the natural consequences of aging and that the side effects are worth it since walking, weight training and a good diet aren't enough. Or even more helpful, eliminating the drinking of sodas in childhood. For all kinds of reasons.

The usual place.


· · ·
26 December 2007

Red State/Blue State: Capital Punishment

by: Konagod

As Phydeaux noted in the comments of this post, Texas is responsible for 60% of executions in the U.S.

Thankfully, the New York Times seized an opportunity to report on this with a front page article in today's edition.
But enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states, none of which executed more than three people. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.

Indeed, said David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented death-row inmates, the day is not far off when essentially all executions in the United States will take place in Texas.

“The reason that Texas will end up monopolizing executions,” he said, “is because every other state will eliminate it de jure, as New Jersey did, or de facto, as other states have.”

And when virtually all executions in the U.S. are taking place in one state, this has got to raise a few eyebrows, particularly in the Supreme Court.

Click here for a graphic showing the distribution of capital punishment around the world.

The countries in blue have abolished the death penalty entirely, while the countries shaded in brick red maintain the death penalty for certain crimes. And it's quite clear the United States is not among the progressive leaders of the world on this issue. In fact, we are bedded down with some of the most horrific purveyors of death on the planet.

From Wiki:
Executions are known to have been carried out in the following 25 countries in 2006:

Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, the United States of America, Vietnam, Yemen.

And as mentioned in the Wiki entry, 91% of worldwide executions were carried out in only six of these countries. The U.S. was 6th in the list contributing to that 91% total -- thanks in very large part to Texas.

Crossposted from konagod


·
02 October 2007

Housing's Toll Rises

by: Jersey Cynic

NEW YORK - Citigroup Inc. and UBS AG warned that they suffered significant loan-related losses in the third quarter, becoming the latest and biggest banks to reveal huge ill effects from the spike in mortgage defaults and freeze-up in the credit markets.

Shares in both companies rose, though, and the Dow Jones industrial average jumped to a record above 14,000 as investors who sold off the financial sector this summer bet that the worst is over for the banks.

I bet that The President's Working Group on Financial Markets aka the PPT (plunge protection team) is going to be working hard today!

I'm not EVEN going to try to figure this one out.

Don't EVEN get me started.

My forehead already hurts from repeated blows to it via my computer desk while reading this morning's headlines. I have to be careful. It's a glass top table.

I'm sure Citigroup has its very own PPT

Carry on soldiers.

Nothing we can do quite yet --wake me up when these bloggers are ready! I wonder what happened to them? It's been a few weeks now. I'm getting worried.


Ouch!

Crossposted at Blondesense
21 August 2007

it CAN happen here

by: astraea

Point 3. Develop a thug caste
A bodyguard from Blackwater USA protects former Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer in Iraq in 2004. Blackwater’s founder is a right-wing Christian whose paramilitary contractors may be operating outside constitutional restrictions imposed on the police and military
~Truthout

Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000.

Point 10. Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens. ...



*********

from tony

This is EXACTLY how it went down here in South Africa during Nationalist (mis-)rule – "apartheid" (I wont grace that ugly tragedy with a capital letter), in Zimbabwe as we speak (where the USA & UK are the enemy) , and in many countries throughout the world since the 1930's (especially Latin America, Africa). It is happening here (USA & to a certain extent the UK), and it IS happening now. On the current showing, I doubt a Democratic administration* would change much.


Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Guardian -- Naomi Wolfe
Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody... go. read.


__________________________

*On the Democrats: they are our only hope. Important -- essential -- as restoring the executive, is holding Congress, which sets the agenda of what will even see the light of day. In the Senate, it's the leadership of committees. In the House -- read this: THE MISERY OF BEING A HOUSE DEMOCRAT. Oppressed Minority
It's what got here. On the road to Fascism.
Read it all. Please. Extrapolate. Excerpt:
[...] But, on a Tuesday afternoon in mid-May, Van Hollen isn't grinning. He's waiting to ask permission, which will probably not be granted, to make an effort, which will almost certainly fail, to alter a piece of legislation. This has him standing in a hallway outside the door to H-313, a cramped, hard-to-find space on the third floor of the U.S. Capitol Building that serves as the hearing room of the House Rules Committee. While "Rules Committee" may sound like something that enforces dress codes, it is in fact one of the most powerful, if little-known, bodies in Congress. Rules dictates nearly everything that happens on the floor of the House of Representatives, from how long bills will be debated to which amendments and legislative alternatives--if any--will be granted a vote. With a crack of the gavel, the Rules Committee can, and often does, decree that even a bill or an amendment with clear majority support never comes up for a vote. In some ways, the House floor is merely a stage; H-313 is where the scripts are written, the outcomes preordained. Democrats often say that c-span would better serve the public by moving its cameras from the House floor to this room....



· · ·
02 July 2007

Howard Zinn is my hero

by: spyderkl

If you wonder why I'd say that, this from yesterday's Common Dreams news site.

There's not much more I can add, except for this:

I'm not sure whether or not nationalism is the greatest evil facing humanity - the list is pretty damn long, frankly - but it certainly is up there. This past weekend, we've been trying to explain to our 5-year-old what's so special about the 4th of July holiday here in the US. To me, it's become all tied up with all the messes our country finds itself in. We are no longer the world leader in so many things; not in education, not in fighting for the civil rights of others, not in being the champion of human rights throughout the world (hell, we're having trouble doing that here at home), not in scientific research, not in health care (seen SiCKO yet?) - the list goes on and on. I can't say that I'm ashamed to be an American, but I'm not very proud of it either. I hope that in my lifetime I can be proud to be an American. We'll see what happens. I should also say I had a hell of a time figuring out what category to put this in. I guess "United States" works as well as any.

11 December 2006

Prison Chaos in California

by: Konagod

Not surprisingly, California is at the top of the heap when it comes to "festering" prison problems.
By nearly every measure, the California prison system is the most troubled in the nation. Overcrowding, inmate violence, recidivism, parole absconders and the prison medical system are among its many festering problems.

State lawmakers seem poised to finally tackle the problem for the first time since the 1970s. Governor Schwarzenegger has even declared a state of emergency in the ailing system. And the system has been described as a "powder keg" by James E. Tilton, secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Overcrowding is so severe that 16,000 inmates are assigned cots in hallways and gyms; last month, the state began asking for volunteers to be moved to prisons out of state.

The system’s medical program is in federal receivership and much of the rest of the system is under court monitoring. Cellblocks are teeming with violence. Seven of 10 inmates released from prison return, one of the highest rates in the country.

As I've indicated in a recent prior post, one of the causes of excessive incarceration rates is for relatively petty crimes and drugs, and particularly in the case of California, a system so rigid there is too little wiggle room when it comes to sentencing.
Like so many things in California, the scope of the prison problem stems largely from its size. The system houses 173,000 inmates — second-place Texas has 152,500 — and has an $8 billion budget.

Its population explosion is in large part an outgrowth of a general increase in the state’s population, its unusual sentencing structure and parole system, a legislature historically enamored with increasing penalties, and ballot measures like the three-strikes initiative.

And here's a clincher:
Further, most rehabilitation programs have been eliminated from the system in recent years, which some criminal justice experts believe has increased the rate of recidivism.

[...]

Under laws passed in the 1970s, ironclad sentences for crimes are set by the legislature, with little discretion left to judges. Looked at simply, people sentenced to prison for three years get out in three years, whether they have behaved, gone to school or stared at the wall.

Once out, prisoners are assigned to parole and can be sent back to prison for automatic sentences for technical or criminal violations.

States must not eschew their responsibility for rehabilitation efforts, nor should they rely on the one-size-fits-all metality of three-strikes-you're-out. These neglects, coupled with corruption and violence within the prison systems is a recipe for disaster resulting in outrageously overcrowded prisons with a war-zone atmosphere.

Let's hope California sets the standard for prison reform, starting with the concept of a sentencing commission.
...a consensus has been building over the last six months, with union officials, the governor, public policy experts and many members of the legislature agreeing that a sentencing commission is in order.

[...]

Used in many states, the commissions, armed with empirical data, establish sentencing grids, with the offense on one axis and the offender’s history on another, forming a narrow range of possible sentences.

These grids are presented to judges, who have discretion to go outside the range in light of extenuating circumstances. One of the system’s greatest advantages, its proponents suggest, is that it depoliticizes sentencing by taking it out of the hands of elected officials.

[...]

The best commissions, criminal justice experts agree, are those in which violent criminals spend more time behind bars than they did before the commission’s creation, and nonviolent offenders are placed in treatment programs, county jails or other alternatives.

Joan Petersilia, director of the new Center for Evidence-Based Corrections at the University of California, Irvine, and one of the state’s leading experts on prisons, summed up the situation succinctly:
“The way our current system works, all you have is sticks. But we want to give carrots, too. If in fact you can show us stable housing and drug treatment program for six months, you are off parole. The benefit of that is self-selection. Inmates who are low risk and who are motivated will do it, and then we reduce caseload size and let officers target very violent offenders.”

Correcting the problems in California, as in the rest of the nation, will be a huge challenge requiring some detailed self-examination, but it must be done. Too many lives have been destroyed already which could have been salvaged with the application of simple logic and compassion rather than all-too-common knee-jerk politically-inspired reactions.

Prior posts in the series:
Bribing Prisoners for Jesus
US: A Nation of Prisoners
Mama’s New House

09 December 2006

US: A Nation of Prisoners

by: Konagod

More news which casts the United States in an unflattering light is the prison situation. Prisons are popping up like dandelions in the spring. These statistics are absolutely embarrassing:

According to the International Center for Prison Studies at King's College in London, more people are behind bars in the United States than in any other country. China ranks second with 1.5 million prisoners, followed by Russia with 870,000.

It wasn't so long ago the United States was consistently in concert with Western European nations in a broad range of positive criteria. Increasingly we find ourselves lumped in with such non-luminaries as China, Russia, even Iran.

The U.S. incarceration rate is 737 per 100,000 people .... followed by 611 in Russia and 547 for St. Kitts and Nevis. In contrast, the incarceration rates in many Western industrial nations range around 100 per 100,000 people.

Reports such as this should be throwing up red flags in the minds of all thinking Americans, and I still cling to the belief that is at least 51% of us. Unfortunately, in our fear-based society this news will most likely be shrugged off or perhaps even praised, without so much as casual examination.

"The United States has 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's incarcerated population. We rank first in the world in locking up our fellow citizens," said Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports alternatives in the war on drugs.

Never mind the number of non-violent offenders, many of whom are locked away for drug charges, being given ridiculously long prison sentences.

Ryan King, a policy analyst at The Sentencing Project, a group advocating sentencing reform, said:

Drug offenders account for about 2 million of the 7 million in prison, on probation or parole, adding that other countries often stress treatment instead of incarceration.

Bingo!
The criminal justice system in the US is abysmal and getting worse.
"If these were public schools or publicly traded corporations, we'd shut them down," said Alexander Busansky, executive director of the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons, established by a private think tank in New York. Rather, the commission said, Americans view prisons with detachment or futility, growing interested when a riot makes the news and then looking away, "hoping the troubles inside the walls will not affect us."

Here are some highlights from the report mentioned in the link, titled "Confronting Confinement," by the National Prison Commission:
*Violence remains a serious problem in prisons and jails, with gang assaults, rapes, riots and, in Florida, beatings by "goon squads" of officers.

*High rates of disease in prison, coupled with inadequate funding for healthcare, endanger inmates, staff and the public, with staph infections, tuberculosis, hepatitis C and AIDS among the biggest threats.

*The rising use of high-security segregation units is counterproductive, often causing violence inside prisons and contributing to recidivism.

In California, the Office of the Inspector General acts as a watchdog, investigating reports of abuse, assaults and fatalities. But the media are limited in their access to the state's 33 prisons, and legislative efforts to overturn such restrictions have been vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his predecessor, Gray Davis.

All 20 members supported the report's findings, concluding that "we should be astonished by the size of the prisoner population, troubled by the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans and Latinos, and saddened by the waste of human potential."

Not only are we not astonished, the vast majority of Americans have no idea, nor do many of them have any interest in understanding this problem.

Another growing facet of this is the issue of privately-run prisons. As with any business, they are in it to make a profit. To make a profit, they need a steady supply of customers. How perfect that their customer base just happens to be delivered to them in large numbers.

Read the article at The Drug Policy Alliance site called A New Slavery.

Who is Profiting?

In the United States, prison architects and contractors, corrections personnel, policy makers and academics, and the thousands of corporate vendors who peddle their wares at the annual trade-show of the American Corrections Association - hawking everything from toothbrushes and socks to barbed-wire fences and shackles. And multi-national corporations that win tax subsidies, incentives and abatements from local governments -- robbing the public coffers and depriving communities of the kind of quality education, roads, health care and infrastructure that provide genuine incentives for legitimate business. The sale of tax-exempt bonds to underwrite prison construction is now estimated at $2.3 billion annually.(5)

Last year, the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation - which manages or owns 37 prisons in the U.S., 18 in the U.K and Australia and has one under contract in South Africa -- tried to convert a former slave plantation in North Carolina into a maximum security prison to warehouse mostly Black prisoners from the nation's capital. Promising investors to keep the prison cells filled these corporations dispatch "bed-brokers" in search of prisoners - evoking images of 19th century bounty-hunters capturing runaway slaves and forcibly returning them to the cotton fields.

I do not understand why this infuriating situation continues to fly under the radar.
Geo Group, Inc., located in Boca Raton, Florida, is a company that specializes in privatizing prisons. Recently, Geo Group, Inc. was awarded a $20 million contract just two months after giving a $10,000 contribution to Governor Schwarzenegger's Recovery Team. Not only have they given large sums of money to Schwarzenegger and his campaign, they also hired lobbying firms and consultants with close connections to the Schwarzenegger Administration.

Correctional Properties Trust, a spin-off of Geo Group, named former State Finance Director Donna Arduin to their board of directors. If that isn't bad enough, according to a recent article in the Palm Beach post, Geo Group overcharged the State of Florida by $5 million.

Not surprisingly, this has been very much on the radar in the financial sector...
3 prison stocks poised to break out.
In what might be a revealing commentary on our country's state of affairs, the nation's private prison companies look like solid investments for the next several years.

Sorry, I'm all for making a profit in the market, but not on the backs of the incarcerated. It seems rather... criminal.


Related post: Incarceration of women.
Crossposted from konagod
21 November 2006

You Bastards!

by: Konagod

Out-of-wedlock births are at an all-time high.

Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.

While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s.

Experts said the overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married. They said it also reflects the fact that having a child out of wedlock is more acceptable nowadays and not necessarily the source of shame it once was.


konagod has no opinion on the matter. I'm sure the fundies will.

08 November 2006

One Mission Accomplished

by: Missouri Mule

Last night's power shift was not a referendum upon what the Democratic Party offered but rather, what the GOP had provided for the past five years. Now we cannot afford to waste this most glorious opportunity.

The war must end. Its time to resuscitate the fundamental document of our republic. American dose not stand for torture. Its now time to go find the garbage can Habeas Corpus was tossed into so casually and put it back. It's now time for real investigations into Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. It is now time to get rid of "free speech zones" and signing statements indicating the president will not follow the law. It is now time to restore the image of the country and our basic moral character.

Forget voting reform, the system needs to be overhauled and it must happen in the next two years. Make no mistake democrats, you won because so many people voted that the GOP could not steal it.. But the apparatus is still in place.

Its time to call a spade a spade. The new trickle down economics has not worked any more than the original one did. It is time for the rich to start paying their fair share. NO more of this nonsense about tax cuts for everyone, which is really just GOP-speak for a tax cut for the rich. No more nonsense about Estate Tax. It is time to heal the middle class. It is now time for universal health care, at least for children for now.

It is now time to stop the special interest and lobbying priorities that suppress the real concerns of the people, over corporate interests. It is now time to balance the budget and bring back a shred of fiscal sanity to the those who actually pay the bills. It is now time to correct the horrific debt enslavement of "bankruptcy reform" paid for by the credit card lobby. It is now time to correct the injustices to Pell Grants and college financial aid amd to put education back within the reach for ALL students. It is now time to tell the GOP to stop trying to screw around with Social Security.

It is now time to uncover what happened early in the Chimp's administration in those closed door sessions when our energy policy was crafted by the energy lobby. It is now time to put to rest the scam of Health Savings Accounts. It is now time to correct the egregious problems with prescription drugs. It is time to restore the prospect of the American dream, sold off to corporate interests, to the American people!

This may seem like a daunting task but America deserves nothing less. The glee of victory must be quickly muted by the awesome responsibility that will now ensue.

Now I must sleep.
18 October 2006

Beginning The End

by: Foiled Goil

'Beginning of the end of America'

Keith Olbermann:
Special comment on the Military Commissions Act

We have lived as if in a trance.

We have lived as people in fear.

And now — our rights and our freedoms in peril — we slowly awake to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

We have been here before — and we have been here before led here — by men better and wiser and nobler than George W. Bush. [snip]

“With the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?”

Wise words.

And ironic ones, Mr. Bush.

Your own, of course, yesterday, in signing the Military Commissions Act.

You spoke so much more than you know, Sir.

Sadly — of course — the distance of history will recognize that the threat this generation of Americans needed to take seriously was you.

We have a long and painful history of ignoring the prophecy attributed to Benjamin Franklin that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

But even within this history we have not before codified the poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow.

You, sir, have now befouled that spring.

You, sir, have now given us chaos and called it order.

You, sir, have now imposed subjugation and called it freedom.

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And — again, Mr. Bush — all of them, wrong.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has said it is unacceptable to compare anything this country has ever done to anything the terrorists have ever done.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who has insisted again that “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws and it’s against our values” and who has said it with a straight face while the pictures from Abu Ghraib Prison and the stories of Waterboarding figuratively fade in and out, around him.

We have handed a blank check drawn against our freedom to a man who may now, if he so decides, declare not merely any non-American citizens “unlawful enemy combatants” and ship them somewhere — anywhere — but may now, if he so decides, declare you an “unlawful enemy combatant” and ship you somewhere — anywhere. [snip]

And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an “unlawful enemy combatant” — exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?

This President now has his blank check.

He lied to get it.

He lied as he received it. [snip]

Your words are lies, Sir.

They are lies that imperil us all. [snip]

Habeas corpus? Gone.

The Geneva Conventions? Optional.

The moral force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.

These things you have done, Mr. Bush, they would be “the beginning of the end of America.” [snip]

For the most vital, the most urgent, the most inescapable of reasons.

And doubtless, Sir, all of them — as always — wrong.


Transcript at Countdown.

Transcript and video at Crooks and Liars.

Good night, and good luck.

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