Monday Reads: By the NumbersPosted: June 11, 2012
I’m really glad that some people are focusing on the Plutocrats behind the SuperPacs. We should at least know who they are and what they want of their the overlords of our politicians. Jim Hightower writes on 7 of the billionaires that are bankrolling the GOP. Read the link at Alternet to learn more about the Super Seven and what they want.
As of May 4, this corporate clique had poured an unprecedented $94 million into the SuperPACs of the leading five GOP contenders (with $52 million of that going to Renew Our Future, Romney’s money funnel). This firepower was all the more potent because it was targeted at only the few thousand voters in each state who participated in the caucuses and primaries. And it bought just what the moneybags wanted–the lockstep commitment by all contenders that–no matter how they might differ on abortion, gay-bashing, and such–they would govern according to the Holy Kochian vision of a regulation-free, union-free, tax-free America. Thus, no matter which horse any of the multimillionaires and billionaires bet on, they would cash-in as winners, for this tiny group now owns one of America’s two major parties (and, yes, often rents the other).
Bobby Jindal is radically transforming the state of Louisiana and there’s no real Democratic party to organize and stop him. I’ve written before about his take down of public schools. Here’s “5 Ways Louisiana’s New Voucher Program Spells Disaster for Louisiana”. Did you notice he’s been up in Wisconsin and Illinois campaigning again? Look out! The man is a menace to civilization!
This latest pet project of popular Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, called Louisiana Believes, is now regarded as the most extensive voucher system in the United States — out-privatizing even the state of Indiana, where nearly 60 percent of the state’s students are eligible for vouchers. By eroding caps on family income levels, and thereby providing voucher assistance to both low- and middle-income families, Indiana’s plan aimed to remake public education in the state more extensively than any voucher system in US history – until now.
Like Indiana’s program, Louisiana’s new voucher plan is so wide in scope that it could eventually cut the state’s public education funding in half. But in a number of crucial ways, the Louisiana model works even harder to destroy public education than Indiana’s program does. Already approved by the Louisiana state legislature, the program sets an alarming precedent for undermining public education in other states.
Suevon Lee of Pro Publica writes about 5 ‘Stand your Ground’ Cases that are important. Damn! Louisiana’s on the shit list again!
But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law’s reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions, jury acquittals or a judge’s call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn’t die.)
The law removes a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be 2013 so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm. Among the Stand Your Ground cases identified by the paper, defendants went free nearly 70 percent of the time.
Although Florida was the first to enact a Stand Your Ground law, 24 other states enforce similar versions. Using the Tampa Bay findings and others, we’ve highlighted some of the most notable cases where a version of the Stand Your Ground law has led to freedom from criminal prosecution:
· In November 2007, a Houston-area man pulled out a shotgun and killed two men whom he suspected of burglarizing his neighbor’s home. Joe Horn, a 61-year-old retiree, called 911 and urged the operator to ” 2018Catch these guys, will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go.’ ” Despite being warned to remain inside his home, Horn stated he would shoot, telling the operator, ” 2018I have a right to protect myself too, sir. The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.’ “
Two months earlier, the Texas Legislature passed a Stand Your Ground law removing a citizen’s duty to retreat while in public places before using deadly force. In July 2008, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict Horn of any criminal charges.
· In Louisiana early this year, a grand jury cleared 21-year-old Byron Thomas after he fired into an SUV filled with teenagers after an alleged marijuana transaction went sour. One of the bullets struck and killed 15-year-old Jamonta Miles. Although the SUV was allegedly driving away when Thomas opened fire, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said to local media that as far as Thomas knew, someone could have jumped out of the vehicle with a gun. Thomas, said the sheriff, had “decided to stand his ground.”
Louisiana’s Stand Your Ground law was enacted just a year after Florida introduced its law.
William Cohan believes that Congress wants a 2nd economic meltdown due to bad bank behavior and points to a Taibbi article listing 9 obscure pieces of legislation introduced by Congress to tank Dodd-Frank.
A sad truth remains: Despite all the public hand-wringing about the need to finally nail down the details of the regulations that will govern risk-taking at big banks, Wall Street’s well-paid army of lawyers and lobbyists continues to make a mockery of the whole re-regulation process.
It seems increasingly likely that, by the time the charade is over, the American people will end up with fewer substantive rules and limitations on the crazy risks Wall Street can take than we have now. By some counts — including that of Matt Taibbi, at Rolling Stone — there are nine obscure pieces of legislation introduced in Congress this year that are designed to in one way or another weaken the already weak provisions of the Dodd-Frank law, passed in July 2010.
Most of the legislation is intended to do little more than waste time, and hold off real accountability until the public has lost interest. Other laws are more pernicious. Consider H.R. 3336, the so-called Small Business Credit Availability bill. Under the guise of helping community lenders, it would limit who is considered a “swap dealer” under the provisions of Dodd- Frank, allowing more and more swaps to be written with less and less oversight. It passed the House in April.
Lastly, I’d like to point to this article in The Economist that basically says exactly what I feel about the sinking of the Paycheck Fairness Act last week. This also applies to getting rid of DOMA type laws. “Protecting individual rights is not Stalinist. “
THIS week Republicans in the Senate once again blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would take further steps to guarantee access to the legal system for women who charge they’ve been paid less than men for doing the same job. (That’s illegal, in case anyone was thinking of trying it.) Justifying his vote against the act, Rand Paul compared it to Soviet communism. This is sort of a dog bites man story; on a given day, Rand Paul probably compares several dozen things to Soviet communism. But here, for what it’s worth, is why he thinks legislation to make it easier for women to sue when they’ve been paid less than men for doing the same job is just like Soviet communism:
“Three hundred million people get to vote everyday on what you should be paid or what the price of goods are,” Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. “In the Soviet Union, the Politburo decided the price of bread, and they either had no bread or too much bread. So setting prices or wages by the government is always a bad idea.”
Mr Paul does not appear to understand either the law which he has just voted against, or the class of economic transaction about which he is speaking. If a woman sues because she has been paid less than a man for doing the same work, and a judge rules in her favour, that is not an instance of “setting prices or wages by the government”. The wage in question was set by the employer. What the judge has ruled is that the employer cannot offer different wages to different employees based on their sex. Why might such a hypothetical judge make such a ruling? Because, as noted above, offering different wages to different employees based on their sex is against the law, and has been so since 1963.
Senator Aqua Buddha obviously has a room temperature IQ.
We’re all in the Village now. That’s my contribution today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?