August 15, 2013 at 12:01 am #94764
The Criminal Republican North Carolina Voter ID Law is The REAL Fraud
Last Gasp of The Racist Right: N.C. Gov. Signs Sweeping Voter Suppression Laws
As you make it through the day, don’t forget JJP at TWIB.
Drop those links. Engage in debate. Give us trivia and gossip too.
And always, have a peaceful day.
How The Youth, Elderly & Minorities Are Fighting GOP’s Criminal Voter Suppression Laws
Racial Digital Divide: Only 40% of U.S. Households Below Poverty Line have a computer in the home.August 15, 2013 at 8:38 am #94765
Good Morning, EveryoneAugust 15, 2013 at 8:38 am #94766
Rand Paul, voting rights, and ‘objective evidence’
By Steve Benen
Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:00 AM EDT
There can be no doubt that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants to be seen as an inclusive, color-blind kind of politician. A few weeks ago, the senator insisted, “I don’t think there’s anyone in Congress who has a stronger belief in minority rights than I do.” Soon later, Paul added, “There is no greater defender, truly, of minority rights … than myself.”
The boasts of an easily confused, crass egomaniac? Perhaps, but there’s more to it than that.
Paul is absolutely convinced he’s the guy who’ll expand the Republican Party’s reach to racial and ethnic minorities. Sure, he’s on record opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sure, he’s long opposed the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act. Sure, he found a neo-Confederate who celebrates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, wrote a book with the guy, and then hired him to work on his Senate staff.
But never mind all of that, Paul says. When it comes to “minority rights,” the Kentucky Republican expects you to believe he’s every bit as bold a champion as John Lewis.
As is too often the case, the senator doesn’t understand what he doesn’t understand.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) says there’s no “objective evidence” of racial discrimination in elections.
“The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government,” Paul said Wednesday according to WFPL’s Phillip Bailey. “So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”August 15, 2013 at 8:44 am #94767
Questlove on Police Racial Profiling, Stop & Frisk, the Message He Took from Trayvon Martin Verdict
On the heels of this week’s historic ruling declaring the “stop-and-frisk” tactics of the New York City Police Department unconstitutional, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots joins us to talk about his own experiences being racially profiled by police. Questlove describes the first time he was harassed by police, as a young teenager in Philadelphia on his way to Bible study, to the most recent: being pulled over in his car by the NYPD two weeks ago, despite being one of the most acclaimed artists in hip-hop. He also discusses the message he took away as an African-American male from the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin: “You’re guilty no matter what, and you just now have to figure out a way to make everyone feel safe and everyone feel comfortable, even if it’s at the expense of your own soul.”August 15, 2013 at 8:50 am #94768
Heritage Action, the activist wing of the conservative Heritage Foundation, is out with a new poll today that’s getting some favorable coverage in the mainstream political press. According to Heritage, the survey shows that the GOP shouldn’t fear a government shutdown over Obamacare defunding. But there’s a catch.
The background here is that a group of conservative senators, including Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Marco Rubio, are trying to push Republican leaders to demand that Congress defund Obamacare in upcoming appropriations battles , even if it means forcing the government to shut down. Heritage supports the effort, so it took the poll to try to steel the spines of Republican leaders.
“Americans — including 57 percent of independents in ten critical congressional districts — favor defunding Obamacare,” said Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action. “House Republicans should be much more concerned with the fallout of failing to defund Obamacare than with the imaginary fallout of doing so.”
What Needham fails to mention, however, is that even this push poll that dramatically oversamples Republicans (more on that in a minute) finds respondents are more likely to say that the Affordable Care Act should be kept than scrapped — and that a plurality would blame Republicans if the government were to shut down.August 15, 2013 at 8:51 am #94769
@britters_43 @LoisLnae swear, that is exactly what he said. I took notes!
“In order for a resurgence to occur in the Rep party, we have to get the black vote. I’ve been to the west end 4 times.” #RandPaulquotes
“We have to talk about injustice and fairness. That’s important to them.” #RandPaulquotesAugust 15, 2013 at 8:53 am #94770
Funeral director says Chicago gun violence destroying city
The Leak and Sons funeral home has been on Chicago’s South Side for 80 years. Spencer Leak Sr. arranges 2,000 funerals a year. More and more, they are for shooting victims.
Leak says he’s arranged about 45 gun-violence-related funerals so far this year.
That’s about the number of murders last year in Seattle and Tampa, combined.
“A significant portion of my day is spent trying to counsel with mothers who have lost sons through gun violence,” Leak says. “I saw three mothers over the weekend. I’m waiting to see a mother today, possibly another.”
“My heart goes out to her, because I know what’s happening to her … I just can’t turn her down or away,” he says.
Leak says the hardest part of his job is “the age of the young people.”August 15, 2013 at 8:55 am #94771
Jobless claims improve, reach lowest point in nearly 6 years
By Steve Benen
Thu Aug 15, 2013 8:37 AM EDT
It’s been quite a long time since initial unemployment claims reached a level this low. How long? Nearly six years.
Signaling a slower pace of layoffs, the number of people who applied for new jobless benefits fell 15,000 to 320,000 in the week that ended Aug. 10, hitting the lowest level of initial claims since October 2007, according to government data released Thursday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a claims level of 333,000, matching an original estimate for the prior week. On Thursday, the government slightly revised the initial claims level to 335,000 for the week that ended Aug. 3. The average of new claims over the past month, a more reliable gauge than the volatile weekly number, fell 4,000 to 332,000, also reaching the lowest level since the weeks leading up to the start of the Great Recession.August 15, 2013 at 8:58 am #94772
and she didn’t know this before she appointed him?
Preckwinkle asks her Metra Board appointee to step down over residency
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter August 14, 2013 7:30PM
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle asked a Metra Board member to step down Wednesday after learning his current address did not meet residency requirements.
Stanley Rakestraw lives in Chicago. His position requires him to live in suburban Cook CountyAugust 15, 2013 at 9:00 am #94773
Jesse Jackson Jr. and wife Sandi: From power couple to prison inmates
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND LYNN SWEET Staff Reporters August 14, 2013 8:34AM
They were congressman and alderman, candidate and campaign chief.
They are also husband and wife, father and mother.
And on Wednesday, in an extraordinary sentencing hearing, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sandi Jackson added another layer of complexity to their relationship: Both will be prison inmates.
Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars for stealing $750,0000 from his campaign fund while former Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) is to serve one year for filing false tax returns.
Sandi Jackson, 49, appeared stunned by the imposition of a prison term, her face frozen and drained of color after the judge ordered a 12-month sentence that offers no ability to earn time off for good behavior.
The former alderman later retreated to her defense chair and dropped her head. Sandi Jackson’s lawyers had vigorously argued for probation.August 15, 2013 at 9:01 am #94774
Mary Mitchell: Jackson and his wife got what they deserved
By MARY MITCHELL
Last Modified: Aug 15, 2013 02:18AM
In the end, former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi Jackson, got what they deserved.
The prison sentences handed down by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson — 30 months for him and 12 months for her — was a humiliating comeuppance for a couple who were often treated like royalty.
For weeks, Jackson foes have speculated that the court would go light on the couple because of their political pedigree.
But Judge Jackson (no relation) imposed a sentence that fits the crime.
Jesse Jackson Jr. will have to go behind the wall for 2½ years. When he gets out, his wife will serve 12 months.
Unlike most of the Illinois politicians who have been swept into jail on corruption charges, Jackson’s financial scheme directly involved his wife.
Jackson pleaded guilty to stealing $750,000 from his campaign fund while his wife admitted to filing false tax returns by under-reporting the couple’s income.
Besides paying for celebrity memorabilia, a Rolex watch and elk heads, some of that pilfered money went for fur coats, salons and spa treatments.
Even though Jackson had pleaded that he alone be held accountable for the theft, the judge saw otherwise.
“You and Sandra used campaign money to support a way of life you could not afford,” she said, chastising the couple.
But it was Sandi Jackson’s use of the couple’s 13- and 9-year-old children to make the case that she should get probation that was repugnant.
“My heart breaks every day with the pain this has caused my babies,” she told the judge, weeping.
“I ask to be a parent, provider and support system that my babies will require in the difficult months ahead.”
“It is not the court that put your children in this position,” Judge Jackson said before handing down a sentence that Mrs. Jackson spends one full year behind bars.
“It is not the government that put your children in this position. These children have two parents,” the judge added.
Had Sandi Jackson been sentenced to 12 months and a day, she could have been out of prison in 10 months. The judge’s sentence of exactly 12 months signaled that she wasn’t moved by the former alderman’s pleas.
Actually, the judge cut the couple a lot of slack by allowing Sandi Jackson to remain free until her husband completes his prison time.August 15, 2013 at 9:16 am #94775
Sweet – August 14, 2013 4:45 pm
Four takeaways from the Jesse and Sandi Jackson sentencings
WASHINGTON–Takeways in the wake of the sentencing of Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi on Wednesday….
MENTAL HEALTH, NOT SO MITIGATING
Mental health issues melted away as a mitigating factor in reducing the sentence for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is suffering from bipolar disorder and depression.
Last April 26, federal prosecutors told U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson (no relation) in open court that if Jackson planned to raise his bipolar disorder as a mitigating factor when is comes to sentencing-—which defense lawyers by then had signaled they were going to do–the prosecutors would want to have Jackson checked out by government doctors.
It turned out that Jackson’s defense team never presented much detailed information about his mental illness beyond short letters from his doctors to the judge in the months before the Wednesday sentencing.
In a June filing pleading for a shorter sentence, Jackson’s lawyers said it was “unlikely” he would be able to relate to a prison psychiatrist, though no specifics were provided.
So what happened? Either there was not enough there there–or the defense did not want to risk a hearing pitting defense doctors against government experts—or Jackson wanted to keep his health issues private and did not want all the details out in court.
The result? The judge said she was at a loss to consider how, for example, his bipolar diagnosis led to an episode of binge spending at Best Buy.
Prosecutor Matt Graves told the judge it was up to the defense team to make the mental illness argument and there was not even agreement between Jackson’s doctors as to what, exactly, he was suffering from.
The judge–right before she sentenced Jackson– said she was not “given enough information” to make his mental illness a substantial factor for her to consider.
“The mitigating circumstances do not mitigate,” she said.
DOWN-TO-EARTH JUDGE BRUSHES OFF MOM FACTOR
Judge Jackson turned out to be quite interesting. She was at times very sympathetic to Jackson, far less so to Sandi. She was brisk, wry in a common sense way and seemed very down-to-earth.
The judge lamented the fact that she was meeting the Jacksons’ for the first time on their sentencing day. Another judge handled the guilty pleas in February.
She said she was “distressed” from the beginning that the “first time I laid eyes on these people is at the sentencing.”
Sandi Jackson’s lawyers main argument for probation—in lieu of prison time—was how much the Jackson kids, a son, age 9 and a daughter, who is 13 needed their mom.
The judge noted that Sandi was hardly a “passive spouse” in this case, pointing out a day when she spend $8,500 for clothes and furs from looted campaign funds.
A lot of defendants are devoted parents—whose kids are hurt when they go to prison.
Said the judge to Sandi, right before handing down a year in prison, “It’s not the court that put your children in this position.”
When she pled guilty in February, Sandi Jackson agreed to pay restitution of more than $168,000 to the IRS. The judge reduced this to $22,000.August 15, 2013 at 9:18 am #94776
The Wrong Lesson From Detroit’s Bankruptcy
By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ
When I was growing up in Gary, Ind., nearly a quarter of American workers were employed in the manufacturing sector. There were plenty of jobs at the time that paid well enough for a single breadwinner, working one job, to fulfill the American dream for his family of four. He could earn a living on the sweat of his brow, afford to send his children to college and even see them rise to the professional class.
Cities like Detroit and Gary thrived on that industry, not just in terms of the wealth that it produced but also in terms of strong communities, healthy tax bases and good infrastructure. From the stable foundation of Gary’s excellent public schools, influenced by the ideas of the progressive reformer John Dewey, I went on to Amherst College and then to M.I.T. for graduate school.
Today, fewer than 8 percent of American workers are employed in manufacturing, and many Rust Belt cities are skeletons. The distressing facts about Detroit are by now almost a cliché: 40 percent of streetlights were not working this spring, tens of thousands of buildings are abandoned, schools have closed and the population declined 25 percent in the last decade alone. The violent crime rate last year was the highest of any big city. In 1950, when Detroit’s population was 1.85 million, there were 296,000 manufacturing jobs in the city; as of 2011, with a population of just over 700,000, there were fewer than 27,000.
So much is packed into the dramatic event of Detroit’s fall — the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history — that it’s worth taking a pause to see what it says about our changing economy and society, and what it portends for our future.
Failures of national and local policy are by now well known: underinvestment in infrastructure and public services, geographic isolation that has marginalized poor and African-American communities in the Rust Belt, intergenerational poverty that has stymied equality of opportunity and the privileging of moneyed interests (like those of corporate executives and financial services companies) over those of workers.
At one level, one might shrug: companies die every day; new ones are born. That is part of the dynamics of capitalism. So, too, for cities. Maybe Detroit and cities like it are just in the wrong location for the goods and services that 21st-century America demands.
But such a diagnosis would be wrong, and it’s extremely important to recognize that Detroit’s demise is not simply an inevitable outcome of the market.
For one, the description is incomplete: Detroit’s most serious problems are confined to the city limits. Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, there is ample economic activity. In suburbs like Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the median household income is more than $125,000. A 45-minute drive from Detroit is Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, one of the world’s pre-eminent hubs of research and knowledge production.August 15, 2013 at 9:22 am #94777
Aug 14, 2013
A Fine Bromance
By Charles P. Pierce at 5:00PM
Remember when a whole bunch of suckers from our side of the aisle got all gooey about Rand Paul, because Aqua Buddha and Aqua Buddha alone stood between us and a Hellfire missile fired up our keisters from a drone because we said mean things about the president? Well, in the days since, Aqua Buddha’s shown that he has more than a small sweet-tooth for the days when Freedom meant states could keep black people from eating in restaurants and, of course, voting.
“So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”
May I introduce Aqua Buddha to Pastor Willie D. Whiting?
Voters such as Willie David Whiting, a Tallahassee pastor who has never been convicted of a crime, testified that they were denied their rights to vote because the lists conflated him with felon Willie J. Whiting. The purge list parameters considered him a “derived,” or approximate, match (see November 7, 2000). Whiting had to threaten to bring his lawyer to the precinct before being allowed to vote. “I felt like I was slingshotted back into slavery,” he testified. He tried to understand why he and so many others were denied their right to vote. “Does someone have a formula for stealing this election?” he says he asked himself. Overall, the new purge lists are hugely disproportionate in including black citizens. Hillsborough County’s voting population is 15 percent black, but 54 percent of its purged voters are black. Miami-Dade County’s voting population is 20 percent black, but 66 percent of its purged voters are black. Leon County’s voting population is 29 percent black, but 55 percent of its purged voters are black.August 15, 2013 at 9:28 am #94778
The Big Savings Obamacare Critics Miss
BY JONATHAN COHN
Obamacare critics keep insisting that Obamacare is a bad deal for most people buying insurance on their own. And a big reason is that they don’t think much of the subsidies.
I know. You’re getting tired of hearing about the subsidies. Bear with me, because today we have some new and important information, thanks to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
To review: Obamacare provides offers tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. If your income is less than four times the poverty line, and if you’re buying through one of the new insurance exchanges, then the tax credit will operate like a discount. The less money you have, the bigger the discount. Nowadays, most Obamacare critics acknowledge that the subsidies exist. But they tend to dismiss them as trivial. “Some low-income people will get subsidies,” Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote on Monday. “But that doesn’t change the essential facts.”
Actually, it does change the essential facts—by quite a lot. The study, by Larry Levitt, Gary Claxton and Anthony Damico, shows it.
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