Saturday Reads: It’s not easy being green…or blue!

Good Morning!

Minx here today and I have some interesting stuff for you to look over. So let’s get down to it…
As I have mentioned before, I have no idea why Obama is so impressed and pushing for a national jobs training program based on the Georgia Works program. It is an awful answer to the unemployment situation we are in. I am sure that any “this jobs program sucks ass” warnings Obama is getting from his “advisers”  is going to get the proper attention anyway.  Georgia Jobs Program Draws Federal Attention – NYTimes.com

Desperate to find a way to get the nation’s long-term unemployed back to work, President Obama and Republican leaders are supporting the expansion of a novel jobs program in Georgia to any other state that wants it.

Whether the program can be replicated on a scale big enough to make a dent in the unemployment rate, though, is far from clear.

Since the recession began, the Georgia program has been held up as a national example, and a close look shows that it has pleased employers and produced steady paychecks for workers. But economists say there is little evidence that participants find work faster. And a lack of promotion, limited oversight and budget constraints have limited the program, Georgia Works, to a tiny portion of the state’s nearly half a million unemployed workers. Only about 120 people have been hired because of it this year.

That such a blip of success has been hailed as a central plank of the president’s jobs plan, and one of the few with consistent bipartisan support, shows just how few viable solutions have emerged for perhaps the nation’s most intractable problem — how to get 14 million unemployed people working again.

Believe me when I tell you, that Georgia not only has a f’d up justice system…this slave labor jobs program doesn’t work either.

Supporters of the effort say that hirings are not the only measure of success. The program keeps the unemployed tethered to a workplace environment. It can provide training — in fact, under federal labor laws that forbid unpaid labor, it is required to, although the state labor department’s own literature refers to it as a “free trial” for employers.

You got that? A free trial…

Unions and labor advocates like the National Employment Law Project have criticized the program as free labor for employers rather than training. The White House has tried to neutralize that complaint by ensuring that under its proposal, called Bridge to Work, the worker would receive the equivalent of minimum wage. States may apply for money to bolster unemployment benefits and to provide stipends for travel and child care, which would come out of a $4 billion federal fund meant to cover that and other re-employment programs in the jobs bill.

But Ross Eisenbrey, the vice president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, faulted the program for not requiring any investment from employers. “It doesn’t take much to create a situation where employers’ expectations about what they have to pay really diminish and employee expectations about what their employers should give them just go into the toilet,” Mr. Eisenbrey said.

Obama says he will make sure that companies who repeatedly use the program and do not hire people will be barred from the show…personally, I think even with this slight change…the works program still sucks!

Timothy J. Bartik, the senior economist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, said that he saw no problem with trying out programs like Georgia Works, but that wage subsidies would have a greater impact, even if they were more expensive. “As far as I can see, there’s nothing in this that creates jobs,” he said. “It’s mainly reshuffling jobs among the folks that are unemployed.”

Yup, in other words this jobs program appears to be full action and really getting something done…but Georgia Works is nothing but a pile of broccoli on your plate, that you keep playing and moving around the dish with your fork…to make it look like you ate a lot more than you actually did. (But you can’t fool mama…can you?)

And if this is a single mama, I am sure she wouldn’t be able to afford that broccoli anyway….

Cost Of Raising a Child Increases 40 Percent, No Wonder More Women Are In Poverty | Care2 Causes

Feel like it’s getting harder and harder to make ends meet these days, especially if you are raising a family?  It’s not your imagination.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child have increased dramatically — 40 percent in just the last 10 years.  Everything that is associated with trying to care for a family, be it child care, gas, food costs, medical insurance or even clothing has shown a large increase that by far has outpaced inflation, even as the recession has continued and wages have remained nearly stagnant.

The cost of raising a child for just one year is now nearly $14,000, compared to the just under $10,000 it cost back in the year 2000.  And as that $4000 a year builds up over time, you are looking at a nearly $60,000 increase in spending just to get your child to age 18.

And we aren’t even talking about college.

It’s difficult enough to meet these expenses with two incomes, but for the 25 percent of children who live in single parent households, most of them women, it grows even harder.  Single parent and especially women headed households have a much higher rate of poverty, primarily due to child care costs and lack of other resources that could financially support these families — resources that are being cut daily in the name of state and federal fiscal management.  In fact, 40 percent of households headed by women are currently in poverty.

But of course, who gives a damn about these former fetuses…life begins at fertilization? No…it begins at arousal.

At least there is this news out of Idaho: Woman wins court order against 1972 Idaho abortion law – baltimoresun.com

An Idaho woman prosecuted for terminating her own pregnancy with abortion pills she ordered online won a temporary court order on Friday barring enforcement of the decades-old law under which she was charged.

It is only the beginning of this case, and there is a bit of a hiccup:

But the federal judge in the case also rebuffed her separate bid to block a newly enacted state law that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless there is proof the woman’s life is in danger.

On that issue U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Jennie Linn McCormack, 33, lacked legal standing to seek a temporary restraining order against Idaho’s new “fetal pain” abortion law because she was no longer pregnant and could not demonstrate imminent harm from the statute.

Her lawsuit is believed to be the first federal court case challenging any of several late-term abortion bans enacted in Idaho and five other states the past two years, based on controversial medical research suggesting a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of gestation.

(Y’all remember that study that shows the fetal pain claim is bogus…)

Moving on, have you all seen this?  Pope ‘deeply shaken’ in meeting with sex abuse victims in Germany – CNN.com

Pope Benedict XVI met Friday with a group of people who had been sexually abused by clergy in his native Germany, where disenchantment with the Roman Catholic Church has grown in the wake of the scandal.

The meeting, which occurred at a seminary in Erfurt, came on the second day of the pontiff’s four-day visit to his homeland. Besides talking with victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and church personnel, he also met with people “who care for those injured by these crimes,” according to a statement from the Vatican press office.

“Moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims, the Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families,” the statement added. “He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to effective measures for the protection of children.”

Words….words….words…. I find it difficult to believe that the Vatican is committed to protecting these children, I think they are more that committed to just transferring abusive priest that prosecuting them.

Here is a recent article from Mac McClelland that came out this past week: Putting the Pope on Trial | Mother Jones

Like most people who went to Catholic school, I have a long list of offenses I feel the church inflicted on me, which is probably partly why I sort of love the idea of an international police force arresting the pope. That’s what a group of victims’-rights advocates is hoping for; last week, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court against Pope Benedict XVI and three senior Vatican officials.

It sounds like a publicity stunt to charge the pope with crimes against humanity. But the lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights who are handling the case sure sound like they mean business: “The Vatican officials charged in this case are responsible for rape and other sexual violence and for the physical and psychological torture of victims around the world both through command responsibility and through direct cover-up of crimes. They should be brought to trial like any other officials guilty of crimes against humanity.”

There are two issues at hand in this matter, jurisdiction and responsibility.

First, jurisdiction. The court can only prosecute abuses that occur in a country that’s a signatory to the ICC—or abuses that are perpetrated by a national of one of those signatories. Afghanistan, for example, is a signatory to the ICC; the United States is not. But the ICC would have jurisdiction over a crime against humanity committed by, say, an American soldier on Afghan soil. Which is precisely why the United States tried to block the creation of the ICC in the first place. The Vatican is not an ICC signatory, but theoretically, that’s not a deal-breaker. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an ICC signatory, and one of the cases cited in the Vatican filing took place there. Another case involves a priest from Belgium, which is also a signatory.

As for the responsibility, there is a bit more gray area here.  There is no evidence that the Vatican ordered their priest to sexually abuse children. The ICC may not have the ability to go after those who neglect the abuse and do not try to stop it from happening, or those who cover the abuse up. Mac continues her article by writing:

My hunch is that it’s extremely unlikely this complaint, one of many thousands the ICC has received, is going anywhere. But it is an important step in raising the issue of accountability. Though the ICC is a long, long, long shot for these victims of sex abuse, it is probably more likely than the Vatican to hold the responsible parties accountable. Even priests who abused hundreds of disabled children weren’t punished by the church. And though headlines have been screaming about the priest-rape scandal since I was in grade school, it took the church years to clearly order its bishops to prioritize fighting sexual abuse in their dioceses. As in, it finally issued the directive this May.

She adds this update:

*Thanks to Wronging Rights‘ briliant and actually-trained-and-qualified-to-pontificate-on-legal-issues Kate Cronin-Furman for hollering with the correction. The charges in the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba—some of whose trial I caught in April—she wrote me, “are not that Bemba ordered his guys to commit atrocities in [the Central African Republic], but that he could have prevented them from doing so, and failed to. This is known as command or superior responsibility doctrine. It’s how you convict military commanders for actions taken by their subordinates that they should have prevented.” Not that that, and the fact that the pope is at the top of the church’s hierarchy, should necessarily give these rape victims hope that the ICC will act. It is a “neat idea,” Cronin-Furman says, but concurs that it’s “a stretch.”

Some of you may have noticed the Google sketch today celebrating the 75 birthday of Jim Henson. I grew up with Sesame Street and the muppets when they first hit the PBS airwaves. Some of the segments are ones that I remember so vividly, that even now when I see them, I can remember being a little girl sitting on the shag carpeted floor…watching Kermit interact with another little girl on the TV screen. My sentimental connection to that green frog warms my heart…

I will end with this…the ending of the Muppet Movie, enjoy and I will catch y’all later in the comments.


SDB Evening News Reads for 091511: Attack and Plead and Hope

Good Evening…

There are some very important timely links I want to bring to your attention, so I have just a couple things to mention before I get to the meat of this evening’s news post.

When I saw the image of the newest website in the Obama 2012 Campaign arsenal, I honestly thought it was a GOP wingnut site…look at this screenshot:

Get the facts. Fight the smears. — AttackWatch.com

Well, this is what Tommy Christopher over at Mediaite had to say about it.  Barack Obama | Attack Watch | Fight the Smears | Mediaite

The Obama campaign has launched a new version of 2008′s “Fight the Smears” website (also a rejected Windex slogan) that debunked guano from every source, but with some new twists. AttackWatch.com does a 180 on the old site’s shiny, happy design, and includes a nifty crowd-sourcing feature that allows supporters (or not) to report an attack, and even to attach a file. Hmmm, we’ve got a report from a supporter named Haywood D’jablowmee, let me just open that attachment…

In an email to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said, “There are a lot of folks on the other side who are chomping at the bit to distort the President’s record. It’s not a question of if the next big lie will come, just when — and what we’re prepared to do about it.”

I love this next bit of commentary:

Great. Sounds like a terrific content-generating resource for right-wing bloggers, too. Everybody wins!

…If there’s a guy at OFA whose job it is to sift through these submissions, his is officially the worst job in the world. Let’s not even think about what kinds of attachments that poor guy is going to have to look at.

Wow, I don’t know what to say about this site…it bothers me.

Here’s the full text of OFA’s “AttackWatch” email:

Expose the attacks

Friend –

If you’re someone who cares about seeing a campaign focused on substance between now and November 2012, I need you to become a part of one of our most important teams.

It’s called AttackWatch.com, and it launches today.

Here’s the deal: We all remember the birth certificate smear, the GOP’s barrage of lies about the Affordable Care Act, and the string of other phony attacks on President Obama that we’ve seen over the past few years.

There are a lot of folks on the other side who are chomping at the bit to distort the President’s record. It’s not a question of if the next big lie will come, just when — and what we’re prepared to do about it.

AttackWatch.com is exactly what it sounds like: a resource that allows us to nip these attacks in the bud before they show up on the airwaves and in emails — and then fight back with the truth.

By signing up, you’ll be on the front lines — you’ll hear about false claims as soon as they come up, and we’ll count on you to spread the truth to your friends and personal networks and let us know about new smears whenever you hear them.

Will you sign up now to be a part of AttackWatch.com?

Yes, I want to be on the team that fights back.

Not right now, but I’ll donate $5 to fund the 2012 campaign and support this work.

I remember the smears from 2008 well, and I’m sure you do, too.

They didn’t just attack Barack Obama and Joe Biden. They went after everything this movement is built on, and everyone who supports it.

This time, they’re not just out to personally attack the President — they’re also out to mislead Americans about the record of accomplishments that he’s compiled. Just the other day, a Republican financier actually quoted Saddam Hussein in telling a group of millionaire donors that defeating President Obama will be “the mother of all wars.”

We’re launching AttackWatch.com today to make sure we’re ready for the attacks we know are coming — and armed with the ability to fight back quickly.

Sign up for AttackWatch.com now, and let’s get the facts out:

http://my.barackobama.com/Join-Attack-Watch

Thanks,

Messina

Jim Messina
Campaign Manager
Obama for America

Hey, at least you can donate your $5 bucks and feel like you are part of the “team” right?  But what’s with that “friend” intro…are they channeling McCain?

Personally I think Obama should be worried about the “livid” people he represents.

Some jobs numbers came out today that should be a warning to the Obama Administration..but they aren’t listening to any advice from the left anyway…  Georgia jobless rate hits highest level in 6 months | The Biz Beat

Georgia’s unemployment rate hit its highest level in six months, rising to 10.2 percent in August from 10.1 percent in July, the state labor department said Thursday.

There has been no improvement from a year ago, when the state’s jobless rate was also 10.2 percent.

August marked the 49th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, the labor department said.

The August unemployment rate increased because 5,500 new job seekers — as well as more of those already unemployed — were unable to find work.

The number of long-term unemployed — those jobless for at least 27 weeks — increased by 3,000 to 254,100. There were 15.5 percent more long-term unemployed than in August of last year. The long-term unemployed account for 52.7 percent of Georgia’s 482,321 jobless workers.

Oooo, that “thair”  Georgia Works program sure does look like a good idea!

According to the Georgia Work Ready site:

Georgia Work Ready is transforming our state’s workforce into our number one competitive advantage. By ensuring Georgia workers have the best skills and training opportunities, we can guarantee businesses have the talent they need to succeed today and the resources they need to meet future challenges.

Yeah, the program is working out just fine: Georgia Works Not Working; Just Twelve Applicants in August | FDL News Desk

YMMV, but for me the worst element of the mostly-fine American Jobs Act is the plan modeled on Georgia Works, the job training program for the long-term unemployed. Businesses get free labor (let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot of “training” that goes into the perfunctory data entry or office slug jobs that would likely be filled here), and the worker gets to show up without the hope of a job at the end. It may be a foot in the door with a particular company, or it may be a two-month distraction from a deeper job search, with nothing to show for it at the end. It’s just an unpaid internship in the end, and if companies are getting away with that, why wouldn’t they just cycle through another round of unpaid interns under the guise of “training” rather than make a hire?

Dayen points out that only 12 applicants signed up in August, bring the total of people who have applied to Georgia Works up to 92…and that is since February of this year.

The Democrats got a kick in the balls today from the Orange Tangerine himself: Boehner says no new taxes for debt panel in economic speech on Thursday – The Washington Post

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) rejected Thursday any increase in tax revenue and instead said that a special committee seeking long-term debt reduction should find $1.5 trillion in savings entirely from cutting federal agency spending and slash popular entitlement programs.

Nothing new there, we expected it…right?

Moving on to crime in America, Casey Anthony is getting headlines again: Casey Anthony ordered to pay nearly $100,000 in costs | Reuters

Judge Belvin Perry ruled that Anthony must reimburse $97,676.98 in investigative costs incurred between July 15, 2008, when Anthony first told detectives that her daughter had been kidnapped by a nanny, and September 29, 2008, when detectives determined Caylee likely was dead rather than missing.

I could really give two batshits about this ruling…that $100,000 is a drop in the bucket to what she is going to get in movie deal cash…There is something way more important in the crime news today…

(Here is the meat I was talking about.)

To update y’all on the Troy Davis case: Troy Davis supporters deliver 600,000 petitions to Pardons and Parole | jacksonville.com

Supporters of condemned murderer Troy Davis delivered more than 600,000 petitions today to the Pardon and Paroles Board seeking to prevent his execution scheduled on Wednesday for killing off-duty Savannah policeman Mark MacPhail.

[…]

Also present was Gary Drinkard, who spent six years on Alabama’s death row before he was exonerated. He brought petitions from 25 others who had also avoided a death sentence through new evidence proving there innocence.

“We were there,” he said. “We know what it’s like.”

The case has drawn attention from across the globe. Politicians, entertainers and professional athletes have lent their names to groups supporting Davis. Many are participating in a social-media campaign on Twitter and Facebook on his behalf.

The Parole Board holds a hearing Monday with lawyers for Davis. Because it’s not bound by the rules of evidence and other court procedures, Davis supporters said today they hope the board will use its discretion on his behalf.

I hope the Board does the right thing…but I want to bring another execution up for discussion…

There is another man in Texas who is scheduled for execution later today.  I don’t think he will get any stay of execution from Perry, but at least there are people trying to do the right thing.

Duane Buck lawyers appeal to Rick Perry for stay of execution | World news | guardian.co.uk

Lawyers for a death row inmate in Texas who was sentenced to death on the basis of testimony from a psychologist who argued he was a risk to the public because he is black are making frantic eleventh-hour efforts to spare him from the execution chamber on Thursday.

If their pleading fails to sway the Texas authorities, Duane Buck, 48, will be put to death by lethal injection at 6pm local time. His lawyers are appealing to the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, to use his powers to delay the execution to allow for the case to go to resentencing given the racially tainted nature of the original punishment.

Here is some background on this case: US Supreme Court asked to halt Texas execution amid questions about racial reference at trial – The Washington Post

Duane Buck, 48, faced lethal injection for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend and a man in her apartment. In an appeal to the Supreme Court on Thursday and in a letter to Perry, Buck’s lawyers said a psychologist testified that black people were more likely to commit violence. Jurors in Texas must decide on the future danger of an offender when they are considering a death sentence.

“The State of Texas should not condone any form of racial discrimination in the courtroom,” attorney Katherine Black wrote Perry, urging the governor to use his authority to issue a one-time 30-day reprieve for Buck. “The use of race in sentencing poisons the legal process, undermines the reliability and fairness of the sentence, and breeds cynicism in the community toward the very institution entrusted with protecting the rights of all persons equally.”

Buck’s case is one of six convictions that then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn — a political ally of Perry who is now a Republican U.S. senator — reviewed in 2000 and said needed to be reopened because of the racial reference.

I am posting this next quote from Tim Murphy at MoJo in full because I think it is too important not to…The Elephant in the Room in the Duane Buck Case | Mother Jones

Barring a last-minute reprieve from Governor Rick Perry, sometime after 7 p.m. on Thursday Duane Buck will become the 235th person to be executed in Texas in the last decade. Buck’s case has drawn attention because of the role race-based testimony may have played in obtaining the death sentence. As I reported previously, a psychologist summoned by Buck’s attorney testified under cross-examination that Buck’s race (he’s black) made him a greater threat to society; that testimony was then cited in the prosecutors’ closing argument.

Buck’s case is noteworthy because the racial argument was made so explicitly, and under oath. But the reality is that race is a determining factor in capital punishment sentencing whether a psychologist says so out-loud or not. As Amnesty International notes, “the single most reliable predictor of whether someone will be sentenced to death is the race of the victim.” Among other things, they point out that:

  • A report sponsored by the American Bar Association in 2007 concluded that one-third of African-American death row inmates in Philadelphia would have received sentences of life imprisonment if they had not been African-American.
  • A January 2003 study released by the University of Maryland concluded that race and geography are major factors in death penalty decisions. Specifically, prosecutors are more likely to seek a death sentence when the race of the victim is white and are less likely to seek a death sentence when the victim is African-American.
  • A 2007 study of death sentences in Connecticut conducted by Yale University School of Law revealed that African-American defendants receive the death penalty at three times the rate of white defendants in cases where the victims are white. In addition, killers of white victims are treated more severely than people who kill minorities, when it comes to deciding what charges to bring.

That kind of institutional bias means that it’s a lot harder to point to specific cases, a la Buck, in which race impacted the sentence—which means that, unlike Buck, most defendants will have a hard time making the case that their sentencing was in any way mishandled. But taken in sum, the numbers are pretty damning.

I won’t be here to update the Buck Execution situation, so if anyone has some news about it, please post it in the comments…I would appreciate it tremendously.

Let’s end on a funny note, because it is too damn upsetting to think that Perry’s execution numbers may be increased by one in just a few hours.

Here is a clip from Jon Stewart, about the NY District 9 Special Election.  The funniest part for me is the parody Stewart does of the “New York Jewish Mother” who answers the phone when Ed Koch robo calls to offer his support for the GOP candidate.

I will check back later tonight after the UCMS football game…I hope I do not come back to bad news out of Texas…