Aug 192014

I ran across the problem of private probation companies on Upworthy, and decided to research it further, because of my prison volunteer work.  The video there led to a second video, but they did not list all the locations where this perverse injustice takes place, and that led to ever more digging.

0819debtors_prisonEvery year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

“Many of the people supervised by these companies wouldn’t be on probation to begin with if they had more money,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, senior researcher on business and human rights at Human Rights Watch. “Often, the poorer people are, the more they ultimately pay in company fees and the more likely it is that they will wind up behind bars.”

Companies refuse to disclose how much money they collect in fees from offenders under their supervision. Remarkably, the courts that hire them generally do not demand this information either. Human Rights Watch estimates that, in Georgia alone, the industry collects a minimum of US$40 million in fees every year from probationers. In other states, disclosure requirements are so minimal that is not possible even to hazard a guess how much probation companies are harvesting from probationers in fees…

Inserted from <Human Rights Watch>

Here is the HRW video.

And here are the two videos from Brave New Films. (petition there)



Most of the states were the ones I expected, but there were a couple surprises. They are Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Missouri, Michigan, Montana and Idaho.  I strongly suspect that in the Blue State and two purple states, it is red counties that use the services.  Perhaps we can get some feedback from residents.  Wherever they are, the companies miszt be outlawed.

May 252014

I’m writing for tomorrow.  It’s safe to drink Portland water again, without treating it with alcohol. ;-)  I’m surprised that I functioned at all yesterday, as tired as I was.  Today, I still am a bit foggy.  It can be difficult to find interesting material on a holiday weekend.  Day 33.

Late (early) update:

I overslept again.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:55 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: In April, the Mustang, Oklahoma school board announced they had voted to to implement a Bible course developed by the president of Hobby Lobby, Steve Green.

Daily Kos user ProgLegs shared the news report:

Mustang will be the only public school district in the state to pilot the program.  Green hopes the course, which teaches about the "narrative, history, and impact" of the Bible, will be in "hundreds" of schools in 2015 and thousands the year after.

Now new information has come to light that Hobby Lobby president Steve Green met privately with school board members, which appears to be a clear violation of the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act:

Authentic Christians respect the law. If their conscience demands they break it, they do so openly, standing ready to suffer the consequences for their protest, just as Jesus did. Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians consider themselves above the law they demand everyone else follows, while they violate it themselves in secret.

From NY Times: A man who had shot to death his four young children, for reasons known only to him, sat in the wooden chair reserved for him at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. His body was strapped tight and his head was freshly shaved, to enhance the conductivity.

I could see him, but he could not see me. We sat perhaps 30 feet apart, on opposite sides of a one-way glass partition that separated those who would walk away that September night in 2007 from one man who would not.

The electric chair had not been used in Tennessee since 1960, a reflection of a nation’s discomfort with a procedure that had come to be seen as gruesome, if not cruel. But the condemned man, Daryl Holton, 45, had been given a choice between lethal injection and electrocution. To the dismay of prison officials, he had chosen the latter — again, for reasons known only to him.

Perhaps he preferred the quicker torture of feeling his eyeballs fry and pop out to the longer term torture of feeling like his body is on fire for several minutes. What does this say about those who debate how we torture people to death instead of joining the civilized world community that has evolved beyond such barbarity?

From TPM: Earlier this week Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) 2012 comments surfaced. "I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote," he told a cheering audience.

Alexander Keyssar, Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard University and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network, weighed in on the multitude of reasons why Yoho (pictured, right) is just plain wrong:

Congressman Ted Yoho’s interest in re-imposing property requirements to vote is yet another sign of his party’s interest in rolling back two centuries of progress in American political life. Property requirements were, indeed, the norm for the first several decades of our history (as were gender and racial restrictions), but they were overturned almost everywhere by the middle of the nineteenth century.

Today’s Republican Party would like nothing better than kick both civil rights and voting rights back into the 1800s.



How long must we wait before more Republican 1% criminals are convicted?

Dec 272013

It is popular among the young today to say they are Libertarian, because Libertarians are typically anti-war and pro-marijuana legalization.  Sadly, most who identify with libertarianism do not realize that it is usually just a front for Republican InsaniTEA.  Here is an article that projects some key Libertarian assumptions forward, so you can see the dystopias that would result.

1227LibertarianThese four libertarian/conservative dystopias are offered, as Rod Serling used to say in "The Twilight Zone," "for your consideration."…

1. What if you cut all benefits?

You’ve heard it from Sen. Rand Paul and other conservatives this winter: unemployment benefits increase unemployment. It’s an enormously destructive idea, though absurd on its face. It’s like the argument that hospitals create sick people; after all, there are so many of them there.

We usually consider such thinking "primitive" in modern societies.

Yet that’s exactly what libertarian/conservatives are arguing when they say that unemployment benefits increased or extend unemployment. There is no credible evidence to suggest that this is true. There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that unemployment is caused by other factors, including poor consumer demand and lack of business confidence.

Right now there are nearly three job seekers for every job opening. That means there are no jobs available for two out of the three. They will not “go out and find work” once their unemployment benefits stop. They will simply plunge into deeper economic misery. They will become like accident victims who are denied hospital care because it would “foster an attitude of dependency.”

But, as absurd and unkind as this thinking is, there’s something even more frightening about it: This kind of thinking never ends. If you believe that unemployment benefits cause unemployment, you’ll cut those benefits off. That could throw millions of people onto the welfare rolls. But if you believe that welfare causes dependency, you’ll cut those benefits off, too. That will leave people utterly dependent on programs like heating oil subsidies, food assistance, and even homeless shelters.

But if you believe that those programs create dependency, too….

It never stops: Close down the homeless shelters. Shut down the Salvation Army. Make it illegal to throw a starving person a coin or toss a blanket over them as they lay on the sidewalk. This logic only ends one way: in a hellish dystopia where the underclass is starving, homeless and dying in droves.

If that seems melodramatic, ask a libertarian/conservative this question: When will you know that your theory is wrong?…

Inserted from <Alternet>

I have given you just one of the four scenarios that the article presents, so I urge you to click through for the other three.  While Libertarianism talks of individual rights above all, they ignore the consequences of situations in which the rights of one person or group impinge on the rights of others.  When they do, Republicans call it freedom.  I call it InsaniTEA.

Nov 082013

I’m writing for tomorrow and am sufficiently ill that I had to cancel my interview this morning with Trimet’s Disability Specialist for lift bus access when going to my distant doctor.  This will be tomorrow’s only article, and I doubt I shall be able to reply to comments.  I feel as pictured in today’s cartoon.

Jig Zone:

Today’s took me 4:38 (average 5:13).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: I Couldn’t Be More Impressed By A Group Of Students Cutting Class

If your express goal was to totally destroy public education and cheat hundreds of thousands of kids out of a decent future, I think your plan would look a lot like this one. So take note, evil overloads around America!

The whole "money" thing gets put into brilliant perspective at 1:45, but then the incredible stories and disturbing figures just keep coming. Starting at 6:00, you’ll see that at least somebody cares about this issue … but can you guess who’s fighting the hardest for students’ futures?


Our Schools Are Not For Sale from Media Mobilizing Project TV on Vimeo.

This is the Republican War on Education in action. Stupid voters are more manageable sheeple. It’s not just the leaders. Every Republican must go

From YouTube: Rachel Maddow – Corporate cash sways voters on GMO foods


The reasons these corporate liars gave are not the real reasons. The real reason is much more simple than that. If more people knew what is in their products, or how their products were processed, more people would buy less of those products.

From Right Wing Watch: Conservative talk show host Steve Deace spent yesterday talking with Michael Peroutka of the Institute on the Constitution, and asked Peroutka what he thought of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which Deace called “the single greatest threat to religious liberty.” After Deace ironically cited the Pilgrims as champions of religious freedom, Peroutka called ENDA an attempt in “federalizing perversion” that is unconstitutional…just like all civil rights laws.

Peroutka is a leader [Sedition delinked]and board member [Sedition delinked] of the white separatist League of the South, so his opposition to civil rights laws come as no surprise.


I guess these Republicans are not content to deprive LGTB of their rights. They would extend the deprivation to all minorities.



Nov 052013

As the time grows near for the senate vote to break the Republican filibuster against ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), it appears likely that just enough Republicans will join the Democrats to clear the 60 vote cloture hurdle.  Now that passage in the Senate appears likely, Republicans are trying to water it down.  Fortunately, my Senator, Jeff Merkley is leading the fight to keep ENDA whole.

1105JEFF-MERKLEYAs backers of the Employment Non-Discrimation Act hustle to round up extra support before an expected vote Monday evening, there are murmurs that the bill would be more palatable to Republican senators if it didn’t include protections for transgender individuals.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), for example, stated last week that he would only consider supporting a bill that was not fully inclusive.

But Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the leader of the effort to pass ENDA in the Senate and the man who introduced the legislation in the current Congress, said that’s not happening.

"I have fought for fully inclusive legislation in Oregon. I knew that fully inclusive legislation had worked very well in the states that had adopted it, and I thought it would just be wrong to leave any particular group behind on this," he told The Huffington Post in an interview.

ENDA would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, age or disability… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Huffington Post>

I could not be more proud of my Senator, or more pleased to have worked on his campaign in 2008.  He needs all the help[ he can get, because the Koch Brothers have him high on their target list.  Because of him and others, Oregon leads the way!

Unfortunately ENDA will likely die in the House without a vote, because Agent Orange, aka Mr. Two Inch, just announced his opposition.

So, Log Cabin Republicans, it’s time move out of those log cabins and dump the party that hates you.

UPDATE: ENDA survived cloture to bring it to the floor.

Nov 052013

I’m writing for tomorrow, and trying to get my body clock adjusted.  I hope that you are all having a fantastic week.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:34 (average 4:28).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: President Obama has imperiled his second term by lying to the American people, one of the nation’s foremost lying experts said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The accusation carried weight, observers said, coming as it did from a legendary figure in the high-stakes world of competitive lying.

He was harshly critical of Mr. Obama’s fibbing, calling it “amateurish at best,” contrasting the President’s lack of lying experience with his own half-century of dishonesty.

“The American people deserve a President who is a world-class liar,” he said. “Sadly, they do not have that President.” …

Little Lord Willard, aka Rmoney, certainly was the world champion at etching his sketch.

From NY Times: Few topics in American society have more myths and stereotypes surrounding them than poverty, misconceptions that distort both our politics and our domestic policy making.

They include the notion that poverty affects a relatively small number of Americans, that the poor are impoverished for years at a time, that most of those in poverty live in inner cities, that too much welfare assistance is provided and that poverty is ultimately a result of not working hard enough. Although pervasive, each assumption is flat-out wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, the percentage of the population that directly encounters poverty is exceedingly high. My research indicates that nearly 40 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 60 will experience at least one year below the official poverty line during that period ($23,492 for a family of four), and 54 percent will spend a year in poverty or near poverty (below 150 percent of the poverty line).

Most of us fall on hard times, at one time or another, and the Republican recession makes this more true now than at other times . Republicans like to couch the safety net as takers taking from makers, but that is just projection.   They are describing their own welfare for the 0.1%, because we are the makers, and they are the takers. The safety net is us helping us, and we should.

From Truthdig: A new oil reservoir holding as many as 3.5 billion barrels was discovered directly beneath the 1948 armistice line that formally divides Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel has moved the border to get access to the well. Will Palestinians get a cut?

I think they will… right under the chin, unfortunately.



Jun 242013

I’m writing early.  Tomorrow will be day 10.  The battle continues.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:56 (average 4:58).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: The most shameful achievement of the House Republican majority has been the elimination of $1.5 trillion in discretionary spending through 2022, which has already held back the economy from substantial growth and done real damage to people and communities that depend on government dollars. The widespread pain caused by this year’s sequester is the best-known aspect of these cuts, but caps that will continue to limit virtually every program for nine more years will also be extremely harmful.

Republicans, though, still aren’t satisfied, and are continuing their campaign to radically reshape Washington’s relationship to the country. The 2014 spending bills now emerging from the House Appropriations Committee are worse than in any previous year and would make some programs and departments unrecognizable…

…House Republicans, of course, have decided to exceed the caps for their favorite programs. They want to give the Pentagon a 5.4 percent increase — $26 billion it doesn’t need — along with a 3.3 percent raise to Homeland Security. To pay for that, and still shrink the budget, they are demanding severe cuts from spending bills for which they have little use: nearly 19 percent out of the labor, health and education bill; 15 percent from the financial services oversight bill; 14 percent from the interior and environment bill; and 11 percent from the energy and water bill.

Those percentages, just to be clear, represent cuts below this year’s already ruinous sequester levels… [emphasis added]

That is Republican class warfare: more for greed, NOTHING for need!

From MSNBC: A Biology 101 Lesson for Republicans


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

LOL! This is hilarious! Sadly it will have little effect, because even Republican skientists don’t believe science is real.

From Huffington Post: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he thought House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) might be at risk of losing his leadership role because of the battle over immigration.

During an appearance on Fox News Thursday [ReichsNoise delinked]with Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), host Sean Hannity asked if either Gohmert or King would consider challenging Boehner’s speakership if he chooses to push a controversial immigration bill through the House…

As much as I hate to side with Agent Orange on anything, with Louie ‘Go-Go Goose-step’ Gohmert as Speaker for a month, we would not have a country to win back.