Everyday Erinyes #105

 Posted by at 8:15 am  Politics
Dec 162017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

Heaven knows there are petty little things I could be including here, like the 11-year-old black girl who was arrested and handcuffed by police who had a warrant for a 40-year-old white woman (yes, you read that right, and I am not making it up).  Or like the woman in Walnut Creek who raised a stink in Starbucks because two other patrons were “speaking Oriental” (did you know that was a language?  I didn’t.  Ummmm… I still don’t.)  But, instead, I want to bring up good old Core Civic.

Core Civic, you may remember, is the new (in 2016) name for what used to be Corrections Corporation of America.  In other words, private prisons.  well, private prison corporations have been seeing some handwriting on the wall for a while.  The push to legalize marijuana is gaining steam, and the more states it is legal in, the more the prison populations in those states will go down.  The other big private prison provider, GEO Group, has been expanding to non-prison services such as ankle monitors, halfway houses, substance abuse treatment, and the like.

But several years ago, both competitors changed their status on paper so that both are now real estate companies – technically, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).  This has allowed them

to score a massive tax break. In 2015 alone, the corporations used their REIT status and other avenues to avoid a combined $113 million in federal income taxes.

But Core Civic is taking their REIT status beyond paper and into the real world.

In September, the publicly traded corporation that owns and operates prisons, jails, immigration detention centers, and halfway houses bought properties in North Carolina and Georgia that are leased to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA).

In their words, the deals are part of a plan to make “additional investment via acquisition in mission-critical government real estate asset classes outside of our traditional correctional detention residential reentry facilities.”

In other words, CoreCivic wants to be a landlord of all types of government buildings.

And

They’ve almost got Kansas convinced to let them build and maintain a new prison that they can lease to the public, despite it being the more expensive way to go(emphasis mine)

I see this as a move from completely despicable theft of public funds into plain old ordinary graft.  Some might say that is less malignant – but every public dollar that goes to them is one less to be spent on actual governing, and actually providing what our communities really need.  One more dollar that goes into killing people instead of keeping people alive.

Alecto, it would seem to me to make sense to start in Kansas, if indeed it can be done cheaper without them.  A state reduced to selling sex toys to supplement the budget doesn’t need to be throwing money around.  On the other hand, a state that dumb may never listen.  You know your job and do it well, I won’t try to micromanage.

The New Mexico Political Report frequently concerns itself with matters of New Mexico polirics.  But, when it takes on national issues, it takes them on well.  A case in point is an article this week regarding mandatory federal sentencing, derived from work by ProPublica.

During Ronald Reagan’s first term (I’ll bet you all see red lights already),

Congress identified what it said was a grave threat to the American promise of equal justice for all: Federal judges were giving wildly different punishments to defendants who had committed the same crimes.

In 1984, Congress created the U.S. Sentencing Commission, with bipartisan support we could only dream of today.  The commission set firm sentencing rules (called “guidelines”) for every Federal offense.

In 1989, the case Mistretta v U.S. came before the Supreme Court.  Mistretta and the government both petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari before judgment, and the Court took the case.  The issue was: Was Congress’s creation of a United States Sentencing Commission (with the power to establish binding sentencing “guidelines”) constitutional?

This was the Rehnquist court.  Thurgood Marshall was still alive,  Sandra Day O’Connor was on this Court.  Justice (Harry) Blackmun gave the opinion for the majority.

The Court held that, as society increases in complexity, Congress must delegate authority “under broad general directives.” The broad delegation of power to the Commission was undoubtedly “sufficiently specific and detailed to meet constitutional requirements.”

The only dissenter was Antonin Scalia.

If Scalia was right, as new evidence suggests he MAY have been, it will of course have been for the wrong reasons.

Mistretta was a momentous decision, but it’s now clear the high court relied on evidence that was flimsy and even flat-out wrong.

The Court used one study based on two reports from the early seventies.  The two reports appear to have been riddled with errors.  “Average” sentences cited for a district in which there had only been one case of the kind supposedly being “averaged.”  Other averages computed with mathematical errors.

The existence of the commission led to sentencing increases caused by fewer defendants being granted probaton.  And the creation of sentencing “enhancements” (think the opposite of “mitigation”) also increased sentences.

In the ten years since 1984, when the Commission was created, and 1995, the Federal prison population went from just over 40,000 to over 100,000 – an increase of 150%.

It also hasn’t helped that once Congress had created the Commission, and the Court had decided it was Constitutional, Congress failed to leave it alone to do its job.  It was Congress which made the punishments for crack cocaine convictions a hundred times more severe than those for powder cocaine.  The Commission more than once tried without success to get Congress to back off.

Megaera and Tisiphone, I fear we have gotten ourselves into an imposssible position.  We desperately need sentencing reform – we need it at all levels of our multiple judicial systems.  But I also admit the thought of giving any more power to judges who are now being appointed scares the bejeebus out of me.  I won’t even try to tell you what to do.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.

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Dec 092017
 

I’m tired.  Portland is still under an Air Stagnation Warning, and it’s not severe, but it is irritating my COPD.  Tomorrow is a holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  It’s the Jets turn to humiliate my Broncos.  The game is not televised here, of course.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:17 (average 6:07).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (RWW Channel): RWW News: Dave Daubenmire Wonders If Vaccines Are Making People Gay

Barf Bag Alert!!

 

What’s injected into Republican pseudo-Christian hypocrites to make them gay is semen. RESIST!!

From Washington Post: \This week, Quinnipiac University released a new poll that included a question about Trump’s attitudes toward people of color. Most respondents — 57 percent — said that they did not believe that Trump respects people of color as much as he does white people. Among whites, 50 percent held that view. Among black Americans, the number was 86 percent.

50% of white Americans and 14% of black Americans are wrong! RESIST!!

From The New Yorker: Donald J.Trump slurred his speech during his announcement about Jerusalem on Wednesday because of “low-battery issues” with Vladimir Putin’s remote, the White House said on Friday.

Speaking to the White House press corps, the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that Trump’s slurred speech was “a case of what happens when President Putin doesn’t change the batteries in his remote frequently enough.”

“President Trump makes public appearances several times a day,” Sanders said. “In the course of those appearances, President Putin’s remote can drain its battery very quickly.”

Andy, I think you figured it out! RESIST!!

Cartoon:

1209Cartoon

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Dec 082017
 

The sun only hit the wall for an hour today, so it’s a chilly day.  Portland is in an inversion, so the air is overly polluted, and it’s setting off my COPD.  TGIF!!

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 2:55 (average 5:40).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?  If I win, some other puddy tat may have that bird.

Short Takes:

From YouTube (MoveOn Channel):

Appalachian Grandma

 

Amen Granny! The false god of Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians, the opposite of real authentic Christians, has horns and a pitchfork. RESIST!!

From NY Times: Michael T. Slager, the white police officer whose video-recorded killing of an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston, S.C., starkly illustrated the turmoil over racial bias in American policing, was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison, after the judge in the case said he viewed the shooting as a murder.

The sentence, which was within the range of federal guidelines, was pronounced in Federal District Court in Charleston about seven months after Mr. Slager pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Walter L. Scott when he shot and killed him in April 2015. The case against Mr. Slager is one of the few instances in which a police officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.

“We have to get this type of justice, because being a police officer is one of the most powerful jobs in the country, and it should be respected,” L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Mr. Scott’s family, said after the hearing, which was punctuated by tears and grief. “But that doesn’t mean you’re above the law. That doesn’t mean you can do as you please.”

This is an all too rare win for justice against deadly abuses of power by the thin blue line. I hope that Slager takes advantage of prison programs to help him correct the criminal thinking that empowers his Republican authoritarianism and Republican Racism. RESIST!!

From Alternet: Steve Curtis, the former chairman of the Colorado GOP, has been found guilty of voter fraud for forging his ex-wife’s signature on a ballot.

As The Denver Post reports, Curtis may face up to three years in prison for forging his ex-wife’s signature on a Colorado ballot in November 2016 after she’d moved to South Carolina in 2015. He was arrested in February after handwriting analysis and DNA testing revealed he’d committed the forgery.

Isn’t it ironic that, contrary to Republican claims, voter fraud virtually never happens, but when it does, the perpetrator are virtually always Republicans? RESIST!!

Cartoon:

1208Cartoon

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Dec 042017
 

Yesterday was a crazy day.  WWW had a great time with her niece at Santa’s pancake breakfast and got here at about 10 AM.  After we de-stunk the TomCat, I worked getting the blog published and messages out.  By the time we got done, I was completely pooped, so I fell asleep during meditation upon the Ellipsoid Orb.  I had thawed a package of turkey bird leftovers, do I feasted on bird and stuffing.  I still have a 2 lb. pkg. of frozen turkey in addition to the frozen soup base.  Store to door will be off two weeks at the end of December, so I’m trying to arrange alternative delivery to avoid Safeway.com.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:17 (average 5:17).  Top do it, click here.  How did you do?

Religious Agony:

1203Broncos9-Dolphins35

They are now effectively out of the playoffs, so that leaves only next season.  Each loss increases the draft value.

Short Takes:

From YouTube (MoveOn Channel): Dreamers send Paul Ryan a Billboard Pushing for a Clean Dream Act

 

I support them, but expect to see the Stanley Cup played in Hell before Republicans pass it. RESIST!!

From The New Yorker: Breaking his silence on Alabama’s embattled Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that dumping Roy Moore could start a “dangerous trend” of believing women.

“I think we need to be very, very careful here,” Trump told reporters. “This is not just about Roy Moore. This is about our country deciding that we are going to start believing women, something that we have never done before.

“This is a very dangerous road we’re heading down,” he said.

Trump cautioned that, if instituted, a new practice of believing women would “totally destroy” the system that the country already has in place. “For years we’ve had a system of believing men,” he said. “It’s worked very well. It’s done a great job.”

Andy, are you planning a return to satire? RESIST!!

From Alternet: President Donald Trump’s lawyer claims his client cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice because he is the president.

John Dowd, the president’s outside lawyer, insisted he drafted Trump’s tweet over the weekend that seemingly confessed to obstruction but argued the social media posting did no such thing, reported Axios.

“The tweet did not admit obstruction,” Dowd told the website. “That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”

The attorney insisted Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstruction because he was the chief executive.

That sounds like Crawford Caligula’s Unitary Executive hypothesis. RESIST!!

Cartoon:

1204Cartoon

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Everyday Erinyes #103

 Posted by at 8:42 am  Politics
Dec 022017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can’t include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as “unceasing,” “grudging,” and “vengeful destruction.”

You may remember from last August a small protest in a little place called Charlottesville, VA.  And that a car ran into a group of unarmed peaceful protesters, injuring 19, and killing one – Heather Heyer.  You may even remember that a comment made on Facebook about a news story at the time went viral because it was so ugly.

“Hahahaha love this, maybe people shouldn’t block roads,” Conrad Lariviere commented on a news story noting “one dead, 19 injured.”

If so, you’ll be happy to know that Officer Lariviere has been fired from the Springfield (MA) Police Department.

“It was determined that Officer Lariviere impaired the operation of the Springfield Police Department or its employees and discredited the department,’ Commissioner [John] Barbieri explained. 

The mayor of Springfield agreed.  “I stand by and agree with Commissioner Barbieri’s decision to fire Officer Conrad Lariviere over his insensitive and uncalled for Facebook remarks,” Mayor Domenic Sarno stated.

But you’ll likely be less happy when you hear that the police union wants him reinstated.  And one City Councilor agrees with the union.  The union statement includes “His point was that such disorderly behavior has serious consequences, and both sides of the dispute bore responsible for the disruptions,” which sounds to me sort of like “His point was that no matter how peaceful you are, if someone doesn’t agree with you, it’s open season on you.”

The City Councilor has a different viewpoint.  His beef is that there is another office on the force who deserves to be fired even more, but hasn’t.  And, actually, he is right.  The problem is, with this other officer, the city’s hands are tied.  The union contract includes what is essentially a 90-day statute of limitations, and this officer’s misdeeds were not discovered within that time period.  So the Department is forbidden by the contract from taking action, other than suspending him for 60 days and demoting him to the records department.

Alecto, what I think is that, when the union contract comes up for renewal (which I hope is soon), the Department needs a tougher and better negotiator.  And smarter.  Better able to foresee contingencies.

Mohammed Suleiman is a six-year-old boy who carries Down syndrome 21.  He is sufficiently developmentally disabled that he is not able to speak.  Yet, a substitute teacher called the police and filed a report that the child is a terrorist, because he kept repeating the words “Allah” and “boom boom boom.”

If you listen to the video on the site, you may also gather the teacher said the child “sexually harassed” her.  Right.

The Police Department is no longer investigating the matter of the report.  I personally would have thought that filing a false police report was a crime and that they ought to be gathering information to charge the teacher, but I do realize that some things are challenging to get legal evidence for.

Child Protective Services are also still investigating  I hope that means they are investigating the teacher, who is obviously so dangerous she should not be around any children ever, and not the child’s family.  But one never knows.

Megaera, if no one is investigating the teacher, maybe you can.  And, if they are, maybe you can help.

There are two other incidents I want to give some attention to without a lot of detail.  The first – which comes with a strong TRIGGER WARNING – is that of the little girl, aged 10 years, who was bullied to the point that she hanged herself.  A few more details are available, but some are also missing.  It happened in Colorado, in Aurora, and her name was Ashawnty Davis and she was adorable.

The second incident – well here’s the title:  Alt-righter insists his ‘Pepe the Frog’ hot sauce isn’t racist — it’s meant to mock people with autism.  And, you know, that’s exactly what he said.

“So it was originally intended to be a chicken-tendie sauce, like, you know, ‘These autistic kids go crazy about chicken tendies.’  So it’s a spicy tendie sauce. But it’s actually a very tasty hot sauce.”

Matt Furie’s attorneys have sent this dude a cease and desist order, which he intends to ignore, because “He never trademarked it.”  No, you jerk, he didn’t need to trademark it, because he HOLDS THE COPYRIGHT.  And he has the books to prove it.  He’s not required to register the copyright in order to hold it (although registering it give one a few additional rights, so he probably did.)

Tisiphone, in between dealing with bullies, I realize it’s going to be somewhere between difficult and impossible to get some sense into this dude.  But maybe you can make him cease and desist.

Late update:  Sarah Sims charges DROPPED.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 HERE.

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Nov 282017
 

I’ve had another busy day, and catching up with sleep just makes me sleepier.  I ordered groceries from Store to Door.  I also spoke with the Safeway Store Manager.  She was highly apologetic and offered me $50 in compensation as an apology.  I refused, and told her I would reconsider, if they demoted the .com manager.  She said she will take my complaint to senior management and let me know what happens.  I doubt that I’ll hear back, but I take pride in refusing to be bought off over the principal that they can’t just dismiss cursing a justifiably irate crippled senior.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:09 (average 4:07).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Fantasy Football Report:

Here’s the latest from our own fantasy football league, Lefty Blog Friends.

Scores:

12Scores

Woooo Hoooo!!  Did I put that Sasquatch under foot, or what? Winking smile

Standings:

12Standings

Congrats to Vivian and Seth, who lead the league.  Condolences to Jack, who is still eating Sasquatch toe jams.  There are only two weeks left before our playoffs.

Short Takes:

From YouTube (GQ Channel): Trump is Finished

 

On the one hand, I fully agree with Keith. On the other, I feel devastated over Keith’s retirement from political commentary. We still need his clarity, integrity, and depth. RESIST!!

From YouTube (MSNBC Channel): Elizabeth Warren: This Is Donald Trump Bringing His Chaos

 

As of 12:30 PM PST the CFBP was still in limbo. Liz spelled it out with crystal clarity. May she win the White House in 2020. RESIST!!

From The New Yorker: Casting further doubt on the authenticity of his notorious “Access Hollywood” tape, Donald J. Trump said on Monday that the voice on the tape was actually that of Hillary Clinton, imitating him.

“That’s not me on the tape,” he said. “That’s Hillary faking like she is me.”

Trump said that he had a theory to explain how Clinton came up with the infamous “locker-room talk” that appeared on the tape. “It’s so obvious that Bill came up with that,” he said.

Dang Andy!  Now that you gave him the idea, that’s coming next! RESIST!!

Cartoon:

1128TCFatBurp

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