Wednesday Reads: Get the vote out of MTV, Crimes and Punishment…of the Jesus KindPosted: September 28, 2011
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.
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…
The subpoenas are flying fast and furious in Wisconsin. This time, the story is over the “voter rewards” programs mounted during the recalls.
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.
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.
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!