Wednesday Reads: Get the vote out of MTV, Crimes and Punishment…of the Jesus Kind

Good Morning…

Last night Boston Boomer had a post about the recent change in diet for those Texas prisoners on death row.  So I thought I would start this morning’s post of with a story about another prisoner, this time in Alabama.

Alabama Inmate Sues to Read Southern History Book – NYTimes.com

Last Friday, Mark Melvin, who is serving a life sentence at Kilby, filed suit in federal court against the prison’s officials and the state commissioner of corrections, claiming they have unjustly kept a book out of his hands.

The book, which was sent to him by his lawyer, is a work of history. More specifically, it is a Pulitzer Prize-winning work of Southern history, an investigation of the systematically heinous treatment of black prisoners in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Mr. Melvin, 33, alleges in his suit that prison officials deemed it “a security threat.”

Melvin was charged when he was 14 for helping his brother commit two murders. He works in the prison’s library. A year ago, his lawyer sent him a few books, including the Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction, “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon.

The book chronicles the vast and brutal convict leasing system, which became nearly indistinguishable from antebellum slavery as it grew. In this system, people, in almost all cases black, were arrested by local law enforcement, often on the flimsiest of charges, and forced to labor on the cotton farms of wealthy planters or in the coal mines of corporations to pay off their criminal penalties. Though convict leasing occurred across the South, the book focuses on Alabama.

Mr. Melvin never received the book. According to his lawsuit, he was told by an official at Kilby that the book was “too incendiary” and “too provocative,” and was ordered to have it sent back at his own expense.

He appealed, but in his lawsuit he says that prison officials upheld the decision, citing a regulation banning any mail that incites “violence based on race, religion, sex, creed, or nationality, or disobedience toward law enforcement officials or correctional staff.” (Mr. Melvin is white.)

So he sued.

Blackmon, the book’s author, says his book has never banned before, and that the last convicts of the forced labor coal mines were moved out in 1923.  They were sent to Kilby, the very same prison that Melvin is being held at.

Of course, there is no comment from the Alabama Department of Corrections.  However, when you consider that Alabama’s criminal punishment practices were also in the news this past week, when it was reported that in one Alabama town, you must choose between iron bars or Jesus. Here is an article, with commentary, on Operation “ROC” written by George Mathis: Alabama criminals sentenced to time in church | News To Me with George Mathis

The separation between church and state has narrowed a bit in Alabama, where judges are now sentencing criminals to time behind bars or in a church pew.

City Judges in Bay Minette have begun a new program to non-violent criminals,

“Operation Restore Our Community,” which could be called “Operation We Lock Up More People Than We Can Afford,” will save the town of 8,000 a lot of cash, if offenders choose to get right with Jesus (or Allah).

Lawbreakers get to pick the church of their choice, but must check in with the pastor once a week for a year to get off the legal hook.

Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland told WKRG it costs his department about $75 per inmate per day to feed, house and delouse criminals.

So far, 56 churches in North Baldwin County are participating. I bet none are Wiccan.

Rowland says the program doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues, but must not have run across any scorned atheists or ACLU lawyers, who are already considering a legal assault.

“This policy is blatantly unconstitutional,” said Olivia Turner, executive director for the ACLU of Alabama in an article in the Mobile Press-Register. ”It violates one basic tenet of the Constitution, namely that government can’t force participation in religious activity.”

As you all know, I recently attended the funeral of one my very good friends.  Derrick was not one of those Baptist that went to church on Sundays…but at his funeral, the Sheriff’s Chaplain made sure to let all those people know that Derrick had been “saved.” The Chaplain said he was going to used Derrick’s death to “guilt” the sinners who came to the funeral into accepting Jesus as their savior.  (Cause you know, if you aren’t reborn you ain’t getting to heaven.) I almost walked out…I was so upset that this “preacher” was using Derrick’s death to “save the sinners.”  But there was one thing he said that I agreed with…He started the sermon with this statement, “Christians can be hateful people.” Yes, they certainly can be.  Especially when they are exploiting the sorrow of a community for their own fundamentalist gain.  Damn, I hate organized religion!

Oops, went off on a tangent there.

Sticking with the crime and punishment theme…

Wisconsin’s Voter Rewards Programs Under Investigation | Crooks and Liars

The subpoenas are flying fast and furious in Wisconsin. This time, the story is over the “voter rewards” programs mounted during the recalls.

Via JSOnline:

Details of the secret investigation are sketchy, but it is clear the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office is investigating charges that Wisconsin Right to Life offered rewards for volunteers who signed up sympathetic voters in the recall races. Several people familiar with the investigation said subpoenas were being distributed “like candy.”

Prosecutors had earlier acknowledged that they also were looking into complaints about get-out-the-vote block parties sponsored by a liberal group, Wisconsin Jobs Now.

There’s a little false equivalence in this article, at least, that’s how it appears to me. Yes, there are two investigations, but let’s compare and contrast the specific voter rewards programs, which in some cases were a lot like the benefits you get for signing up for a new Visa card at the low, low interest rate of 23 percent per year.

Here’s the Wisconsin Right to Life Voter Rewards program:

During the recall races, the group had sent an email that described the elections as putting “a pro-family, pro-life state Senate at stake.”

It then offered “rewards for volunteers who make an impact over the weekend by educating and encouraging family and friends to vote by absentee ballot.”

Those who signed up 15 “pro-life/pro-family voters” by July 5 would get a $25 gift or gas card as a reward. The person signing up the most people in each Senate district would win a $75 gift or gas card.

Awesome. Nothing says vote integrity like a $25 gift card. You might also recall this group as the one who sent out the phony absentee ballot notices to registered Democrats so they’d mail in their ballots a day late.

It looks like the Wisconsin Republican Party has hired big guns, James Bopp to get to the bottom of all this…Bopp is one of those who orchestrated the Citizens United, corporations are people too, lawsuit.  Back to the C&L article:

Turning the snark off for a moment, there is a real problem here; indeed, across the nation. Our voting system is being corrupted by Voter ID laws and hackable voting machines. As silly as I think it is to offer voting rewards programs, I also think we have a far deeper and more serious problem. Sending mailers with bogus dates on them is a far more egregious problem than having a barbeque or even handing out payola for voter quotas.

I’m not sure how this is all going to turn out, but I hope people start realizing how precious their votes are, and how easily they can be corrupted.

Have you noticed the sound of crickets coming from many of the main stream media outlets when it comes to the Occupy Wall St. protest?  From what I understand, NPR has avoided it as if the people occupying Wall St. were lepers. Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street | The Dissenter

The organizers, who pride themselves in being “leaderless,” have sought to bring together a diverse crowd of various political persuasions. They have rallied behind the slogan, “We are the 99%,” to show they will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the top 1% in America. They have rallied against banks that engage in tax dodging while at the same time foreclosing on Americans’ homes and charging exorbitant interest rates on student loans putting young citizens in deep debt. They are rising up against increased unemployment and war against the poor in America. And they have used what is known as the General Assembly process to make decisions, which democratically gives all people present an opportunity to influence the continued organization of Occupy Wall Street.

Traditional media have characterized the plurality of voices and the number of issues the occupation is seeking to challenge as a weakness. Establishment media has been openly condescending. Ginia Bellafante’s report in the New York Times has generated significant attention for her focus on the fact that some “half-naked woman” who looks like Joni Mitchell to her is the leader of this movement of “rightly frustrated young people.” Bellafante accuses the protesters of lacking “cohesion” and “pantomiming progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably.” NPR reiterated NYT’s focus on the “scattered nature of the movement” in its coverage of the occupation (and tellingly used a photo of a man holding a sign that reads “Satan Controls Wall St”). Local press have treated the occupiers as if they are a tribe or a group of nomads focusing on occupiers’ behavior instead of trying to understand the real reason why people are in the park.

Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’t worn decent clothing.

(photo: David Shankbone )

The latest show of contempt from a liberal comes from Mother Jones magazine. Lauren Ellis claims that the action, which “says it stands for the 99 percent of us,” lacks traction. She outlines why she thinks Zuccotti Park isn’t America’s Tahrir Square. She chastises them for failing to have one demand. She claims without a unified message police brutality has stolen the spotlight. She suggests the presence of members of Anonymous is holding the organizers back writing, “It’s hard to be taken seriously as accountability-seeking populists when you’re donning Guy Fawkes masks.” And, she concludes as a result of failing to get a cross-section of America to come out in the streets, this movement has been for “dreamers,” not “middle class American trying to make ends meet.”

Granted, some of the images of bare breasted women smiling for the cameras are annoying to me for obvious reasons, but the protest has gotten some momentum.

Ellis conveniently leaves out the fact that Occupy Wall Street is inspiring other cities to get organized and hold similar assemblies/occupations. Second, if the protesters did have one demand, does Ellis really think that would improve media coverage? Wouldn’t pundits then be casting doubt on whether the one demand was the appropriate singular demand to be making? Third, so-called members of Anonymous are citizens like Ellis and have a right to participate in the protest. It is elitist for Ellis to suggest Occupy Wall Street should not be all-inclusive. And, finally, there is no evidence that just “dreamers” are getting involved. A union at the City University of New York, the Industrial Workers of the World, construction workers, 9/11 responders and now a postal workers and teachers union have shown interest in the occupation.

You can read the rest at the link, it is a long post…so check it out if you can.  I wonder how many of those protesters voted for Obama?

Did you all catch the news that MTV has ditched Obama’s Get Out the Vote campaign? MTV Scratch | Get Out the Vote | Says They Can’t Help Obama Campaign | Mediaite

I remember these hipsters and young voters fawning over Obama…like he was the golden boy of the cool millennial crowd.

MTV told Obama‘s re-election campaign that they’re going to have to go it alone this year. According to a New York Post “exclusive,” the President’s Get Out the Vote campaign-within-a-campaign was declined service by MTV’s internal ad agency, MTV Scratch, which does not engage in political work. If they need to know what the kids want, they are going to have to figure it out themselves.

Get Out the Vote — a campaign run by Deputy Director of Public Engagement Buffy Wicks and aimed at increasing participation among young voters — is hoping to win back the affections of the millennial generation who helped elect Obama in 2008 but have since become discouraged by high unemployment rates. “The youth initiative is having trouble with big donors and youth votes,” says the Post‘s source. “They asked, ‘Can you tell us how we should be talking to them?’ ”

MTV Scratch apparently does know the millennial “speak” and can reach this pocket of the population, but what they don’t know…

…is politics. And so, several weeks after they’ve submitted their application, Get Out the Vote has been turned down. MTV has a long history of political involvement, running campaigns to get young voters registered and informed and hosting hard hitting town halls, and will likely find another way to be involved this cycle. Their involvement, however, has typically been non-partisan, and they have not, so far as I can tell, directly engaged with a particular campaign as this Post item suggests Get Out the Vote was hoping they would. Direct engagement between a Viacom property and a presidential re-election campaign sounds complicated for both parties.

With Obama losing the black vote, the Jewish vote and the small donor vote…this is a clear signal that he is losing the hipster-doofus vote. (Of course I jest about the doofus part.)

That is it for me, 2 am and I am beat, so I will stop here…but I’ll catch ya later in the comments!

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25 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: Get the vote out of MTV, Crimes and Punishment…of the Jesus Kind”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Here are a couple new items of interest: Cantaloupe outbreak is deadliest in a decade – Forbes.com

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

    The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday – including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas – surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago.

    And this from Libya: Nightmare in Libya: Thousands of Surface-to-Air Missiles Unaccounted For – ABC News

    The White House announced today it planned to expand a program to secure and destroy Libya’s huge stockpile of dangerous surface-to-air missiles, following an ABC News report that large numbers of them continue to be stolen from unguarded military warehouses.

    Currently the U.S. State Department has one official on the ground in Libya, as well as five contractors who specialize in “explosive ordinance disposal”, all working with the rebel Transitional National Council to find the looted missiles, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.

    • paper doll says:

      “And this from Libya: Nightmare in Libya: Thousands of Surface-to-Air Missiles Unaccounted For – ABC News”

      omg, this is sooo like Iraq and the huge ammo despots that went “missing” there …trust me, we are selling them on the black market right now. Libya is the last time I’m swallowing the” humanitarian ” angel…that’s not why we went and stayed there. It’s the oil and money laundering opportunities of course . Like we give a damn about Gaddafi’s crimes against the people …we and Europe wanted Libya’s goodies and killed plenty of its civilians to get them, putting our” terrorists one day , freedom fighters the next ” shock troops in charge of the take over.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    And an update on the punishment for a Saudi woman charged with driving:
    Saudi woman to be lashed for defying driving ban | World news | guardian.co.uk

    A Saudi woman has been sentenced to be lashed 10 times with a whip for defying the kingdom’s prohibition on female drivers.

    It is the first time a legal punishment has been handed down for a violation of the longtime ban in the ultraconservative Muslim nation.

    Police usually stop female drivers, question them and let them go after they sign a pledge not to drive again. But dozens of women have continued to take to the roads since June in a campaign to break the taboo.

    The sentence comes two days after King Abdullah promised to protect women’s rights and decreed women would be allowed to participate in municipal elections in 2015. Abdullah also promised to appoint women to the all-male shura council advisory body.

    The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonising the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.
    Abdullah said he had the backing of the official clerical council. But activists saw Tuesday’s sentencing as a retaliation from the hardline Saudi religious establishment that controls the courts and oversees the intrusive religious police.

    “Our king doesn’t deserve that,” said Sohila Zein el-Abydeen, a prominent female member of the governmental National Society for Human Rights. She burst into tears in a phone interview and said: “The verdict is shocking to me, but we were expecting this kind of reaction.”

    • Branjor says:

      That poor woman.

      The mixed signals highlight the challenge for Abdullah, known as a reformer, in pushing gently for change without antagonising the powerful clergy and a conservative segment of the population.

      That may not be possible. The sentence shows they are antagonized no matter how gentle the push for change.

      “Our king doesn’t deserve that,”

      The woman does not deserve that.

  3. paper doll says:

    great round up!

    “Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’t worn decent clothing.”

    where to freaking begin??

    I have said for a long time we have no professional liberal press in the US. We have groups who play a liberal press in order to manipulate the liberal base for the powers that be .Now they are proving my point for me…

    We have no liberal press. We have style network helpmates of the top 1 % .

  4. Peggy Sue says:

    If there was ever an indictment of the MSM, it’s the total blackout of the Occupy Wall Street protest. If you’re not plugged-in to alternative sources, you’d never know it was happening or what the police response has been. Without doubt, the blackout is deliberate as is the snarky dismissal by so-called liberal-based outlets. Unless the liberal rags are telling people what to think or who to support, the ideas/complaints are not legitimate [according to them].

    I give the protestors real kudos for perserverence. What they’re doing isn’t easy or a great deal of fun. But they’re standing up for themselves and a lot of others who have had it with business as usual. It’s heartening to hear that other groups are following suit across the country and that several of the unions are taking notice. I understand there were buses coming from Madison, Wisconsin and somewhere in Maine to show support. There have been protests in San Francisco and Chicago and there’s a scheduled sit-in for DC in early October.

    The tiger is awakening.

    One of the most remarkable articles I read reported on the police abuse over this past weekend and the fact that there were several mentions of people on the balconies above the street, dressed to the nines, sipping champagne as they watched the mayhem below. I don’t know whether the story is completely accurate but it’s a stinging metaphor for what’s going on, the stark divisions of class, privlege and money. Made me recall the famous Gandhi quote:

    “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    Good roundup, Minx!

  5. paper doll says:

    Half of Americans cannot afford prescribed medications

    http://tinyurl.com/3kdw3xx
    ________________________________________-

    A new study by Consumer Reports has documented a dramatic increase in the number of Americans forgoing needed medications and health care for financial reasons.

    The Consumer Reports National Research Center found that over the last year nearly half of all Americans (49 percent) who were prescribed medication and other health procedures reported holding back for financial reasons, up from 39 percent a year earlier…..
    _______________________________

  6. Peggy Sue says:

    Picked this up at Naked Capitalism, another example of people waking up and taking action:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/protestors-disrupting-foreclosure-auctions-in-california.html

    • Woman Voter says:

      Yes, the banks are making money on foreclosures via government insurance and the Obama Administration is working on speeches. People are beginning to say ENOUGH!

  7. bostonboomer says:

    What a fantastic roundup!!

    The Bible-aholics down in Alabama and Georgia are out of control. They need rehab badly.

    That Mother Jones article makes me sick. The author must be jealous of the Occupy Wall Street people who are actually having some impact while she’s sitting around on her a$$. Sour grapes!

  8. dakinikat says:

    Jailed for covering the Wall Street protests

    Getting arrested alongside citizen journalists gave me a taste of the risks these non-professionals take

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/09/28/wall_street_protest_arrested

    As more people spilled into the street, police started to demand that protesters stay on the sidewalk. But as people seemed to be retreating from harm’s way, police began pushing the protesters. I saw police use large nets to corral people en masse. I watched as police pepper sprayed several young women in the face. (An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the use of pepper spray to MetroFocus.) I saw senior citizens and teenagers get arrested. I saw about 20 or 30 police officers tackle people and prod them roughly with police batons.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Dak I just saw this:
      Glenn Greenwald
      What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?

      • bostonboomer says:

        That is interesting. I need to run out for a bit, but I’m going to give that a good read when I return.

      • Peggy Sue says:

        That’s one of Greenwald’s better pieces. Thanks for the link!

      • paper doll says:

        “In Vancouver yesterday, Dick Cheney was met by angry protests chanting “war criminal” at him while he tried to hawk his book, which prompted arrests and an ugly-for-Canada police battle that then became part of the story of his visit. Is that likely to result in Cheney’s arrest or sway huge numbers of people to change how they think? No. But it’s vastly preferable to allowing him to traipse around the world as though he’s a respectable figure unaccompanied by anger over his crimes — anger necessarily expressed outside of the institutions that have failed to check or punish (but rather have shielded and legitimized) those crimes. And the same is true of Wall Street’s rampant criminality…..”

        Glenn Greenwald

        Wow…Thanks for the heads up MM !

    • Peggy Sue says:

      Whatever happens with the Wall St. protest, I think they’re building a platform for other dissent actions. I’d be surprised if the organizers of the DC event aren’t watching very closely, taking notes to avoid some of the mistakes made in New York. I read one of the police roundups followed an unplanned march towards the UN. One of the mistakes [or possible mistakes] was not having control of the open mike on the square. It means any provocateur can steer the group right into a dragnet–think the cops call it kettling with the use of nets. In fact, shortly before part of the group was steered into the spontaneous UN march, there were people at the protest picking up the police radio scans, asking about where the ‘kettling’ would begin.

      This is learn as you go event, methinks! But it makes me genuinely hopeful. I wish them well.

  9. dakinikat says:

    The amateur trader, Alessio Rastani, who said he dreamed of another recession explains who he really is …

    that’s the video about GS owning the world that came from the BBC and how he’d make money off a recession so bring it on

    http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/business/2011/09/28/seg-boulden-amateur-trader.cnn

  10. northwestrain says:

    Good job — as usual!

    On the road again to day.

  11. dakinikat says:

    Here’s BAR Glenn Ford on the Harris Perry article we discussed on Monday

    Obama Apologist Harris-Perry Says Support Prez Because He’s a “Competent” Black Man

    http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama-apologist-harris-perry-says-support-prez-because-he%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Ccompetent%E2%80%9D-black-man

    Obama has increased the military budget with utmost competence, surpassing George Bush and putting Bill Clinton to shame in his service to the Pentagon. And, when it comes to mounting a frontal assault on the New Deal and the Great Society, nobody can touch Obama, who came into office with a promise on his lips to put all entitlements on the chopping block, and has succeeded in doing so. He is, without question, not just competent, but a most excellent destroyer of social safety net