The Justice Department finally filed suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, accusing the Arizona official of engaging "in a pattern or practice of unlawful discriminatory police conduct directed at Latinos in Maricopa County."
Federal authorities allege that Arpaio and his office have unconstitutionally and unlawfully targeted Latinos during traffic stops and during crime suppression operations. DOJ alleges that MCSO unlawfully detained Latino drivers and passengers and conducted unconstitutional searches and seizures in addition to illegally targeting Latino workers during worksite raids.
DOJ's suit, filed in the District of Arizona, accuses jail officials of referring to Latinos as "wetbacks," "Mexican bitches," and "stupid Mexicans." The suit says Arpaio "voiced his biased opinion of Latinos and Latino culture" in a book he coauthored in 2008.
"Arpaio singles out Mexicans and Latinos as different from all other immigrant groups in America," the complaint says. "For example, Arpaio states that Latinos maintain 'language [,] customs [and] beliefs separate from the mainstream,' and are trying to "reconquest" American soil through migration to the United States.
Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who heads DOJ's Civil Rights Division, flew to Arizona to announce the lawsuit, which is the result of a three year long investigation. DOJ first announced the findings of their investigation back in December but tried to work with Arpaio to settle the issue and come to an agreement over the past several months. They acknowledged the negotiations had failed in April.
"Leadership starts at the top," Perez told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. "All of the alleged violations that our outlined in the complaint are the product of a culture of disregard for basic rights within the culture of MCSO that starts at the top and pervades the organization."
The amount of time that it takes to settle the issue is "entirely in the hands of Sheriff Arpaio and the leadership of MCSO," Perez said.
"We stand ready and continue to stand ready to actually try and work toward a comprehensive tomorrow, but that's proven elusive," Perez said in response to a question from TPM.
"I'd like to say that the answer to that is we can resolve it in short order. We can resolve it in short order, but it requires the will to do so. And the stakes are high, because this is not simply a case that impacts the Latino community, this has a public safety impact across the board for the residents of Maricopa County. I am confident that we could forge solutions that are sustainable that make the community safer, but you have to have the will on both sides to do so," Perez said. "Thusfar, that will on the part of the Sheriff's office and the Sheriff himself has proven to be elusive."
This isn't the first time the Justice Department has sued Arpaio's office for alleged civil rights abuses. In 1997, the federal government accused the agency of a pattern of using excessive force on inmates in Maricopa County jails. While the lawsuit ended in a settlement, some of Arpaio's critics now say the agreement was largely unenforced and resulted in little lasting change.
Perez said that the prior suit, which related only to the jail practices, had no oversight.
"As a result, the reforms proved not to be sustainable. So history in the jail process is repeating itself in today's complaints. And that's why it's so important to put together the blueprint for reform but then to make sure in the implementation you have independent eyes and ears looking at it, offering assistance and making sure that the reforms are actually taking place and are successful," Perez said.
Additional reporting by Nick Martin.Complaint
THE RELIGIOUS PROTECTION RACKET is torn down again, this time the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is the target, in a story by the New York Times today.
The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.
Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis?s mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she ?did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to??
… The small cadre of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have tried to call attention to the community?s lack of support for sexual abuse victims have often been targeted with the same forms of intimidation as the victims themselves.
There is nothing more worthy of criminal prosecution than the molestation of a child.
That this heinous act is being perpetrated by men masquerading as religiously pious likely doesn’t surprise anyone at this point.
The woman of the child in a wheelchair mentioned above is not fit to call herself mother.
That the disabled are involved in the molestations should bring the wrath of society down on the ultra-Orthodox community and shame them into dislodging their cozy protection racket that has turned a synagogue into a molesters’ refuge.
The Times cites Our Place, in Brooklyn, as a place that discovered abuse, but then they, too, “received threats” for trying to bring child molesters to justice.
This is actually quite phenomenal:
Some people say Arkansas' 3rd congressional district in the northwestern part of the state is the reddest CD in The South. It may have been at one time but even if it isn't any longer, it's certainly the reddest district in Arkansas-- by far... and has long been. The only Democrat who's even come close was a young Bill Clinton who ran in 1974 against long time incumbent John Paul Hammerschmidt and got 48% of the vote. It's been all downhill since then. Right now Blue America is supporting another young candidate, Ken Aden, for that seat and he's running against an elitist and unpopular freshman, Steve Womack. Ken just completed a 253 mile run through ten counties to bring hunger awareness to people there-- and to collected cans of food to help feed hungry families. Blue America is giving away a guitar signed by the band Filter to one lucky supporter of Ken's efforts.
Back to 1974 for a moment. Or, more to the point, 1976. Instead of getting trapped in a treacherous congressional maze, Clinton's remarkably close defeat led immediately to him getting the Democratic nomination for Attorney General, an easy victory and then, two years later, to the governorship. In 1978 Clinton became the youngest governor in America. Two years later, as he joked, he became "the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history," having lost, 52-48%, to a ConservaDem who joined the GOP just in time for the race. He started running again the day after he was defeated. To understand the lesson that Clinton learned from his 1980 rejection by the voters-- and he was a very smart man who would have looked very closely for lessons from the experience-- let's take a look at some of the issues that were raised against him. He had angered a lot of people by doing what he thought was the right thing a leader should do-- like increasing taxes on gas and on annual auto license fees to pay for road construction. Voters didn't like that. To this day Clinton insists that the license fees cost him re-election although he also aliented many of the most powerful business interests in the state. The trucking industry was hard hit by those increases (as well as by his opposition to raising the weight limits for big rigs on Arkansas highways. Even back then the poultry industry was a major power in Arkansas and they were as angry by the highway weight issue as they truckers. The state's powerful timber interests flipped out over his opposition (which was unsuccessful) to clear-cutting forests and he managed to alienate the state's banksters by his overtly populist suggestion that idle state funds be distributed among banks based on their lending policies. Utilities went nuts because he tried bringing a populist perspective to the regulation of rate increases, and he was at war with the state's largest electric utility, Arkansas Power and Light, over their successful effort to make Arkansas ratepayers bear a large share of the costs of a big nuclear power plant in Mississippi. Those interests got their revenge in 1980. Clinton learned to temper his populism. He learned to not act without taking polls. He learned to suck up to the rich and powerful. In 1982, he was again elected governor and kept this job for ten years.
When he was reelected there was barely a trace of the young populist and in his place was Clinton the ConservaDem icon and DLC leader. He was for competence tests for all teachers long before Michelle Rhee. No one will be surprised to know that while he was governor he pushed welfare reforms aimed at forcing welfare recipients into the workforce-- even before Mitt Romney invented the concept. And he was proving his conservative bona fides and a tough-on-crime approach with showy displays of capital punishment long before George W. Bush did the same.
Most Democrats seem to always think the lesson to be gotten out of defeat (or victory or anything else) is to move right and to adopt conservative talking points. Most but not all. I asked Alan Grayson what he learned last year from his defeat at the hands of the corporate interests he had offended with his populist agenda. His perspective was nothing like Bill Clinton's. In fact, he told me there were no worthwhile lessons to be learned from what happened.
I represented a district that had been Republican for 34 years. I did the job in the way that I considered best for the people who were depending on me, knowing full well that it would invite vicious attacks from the other side, and it did. I was treated to a $2 million carpet-bombing from the health insurance lobby, $2 million more from the Koch Brothers, etc. But if you want to do the job properly, you have to accept that you might lose it. That's the way it goes. If I return to Congress, I won't do anything differently, because I'm still willing to take it or leave it-- as long as I can get things done for people who need help. If that makes the Koch Brothers hate me and attack me, then as FDR said, "I welcome their hatred." If all you care about is just being a Congressman, then you're no good to anyone but yourself."
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Stephen Colbert took Sean Hannity and painter Jon McNaughton, who as Colbert noted, "is quickly becoming the darling of conservative art lovers" to task for Hannity's purchase of McNaughton's painting portraying President Barack Obama burning the Constitution.
News Hounds has more on the "one masterpiece" as Colbert put it, that Hannity was able to afford to buy: Hannity Decides To Buy Guest's Anti-Obama Painting:
How much does Sean Hannity hate President Obama and liberals? So much that when he interviewed anti-Obama artist Jon McNaughton, Hannity offered to buy one on the spot. For extra hatriotism points, Hannity said he wanted to loan it to a museum and then attack liberals as biased if they don't take it.
At about two minutes into the interview with McNaughton - which of course, provided plenty of time to display McNaughton's paintings, Hannity asked if any of them had been sold.
"Not too many," McNaughton said. "I didn't paint them because I was trying to sell them. I painted them because I felt like I needed to make a statement about what was happening in this country."
"Would you sell me that painting?" Hannity asked, referring to one of Obama holding up a burning Constitution. "And I wonder how liberals, if they'd be hypocritical, those that supported crucifixes in urine or the Virgin Mary with elephant dung thrown on it (McNaughton laughed and nodded with appreciation). I wonder if I bought that and went to the very same museums and offered it on loan... Would you sell it to me and I could offer it on loan to these, these museums?"
McNaughton said he'd sell it.
Colbert broke down the "nuance" in McNaughton's painting for anyone that might not have understood it:
COLBERT: There's the President, pointing to the Constitution that he has set on fire. It could mean anything. As the artist says "I like to use metaphor and multiple levels of meaning." It's complicated, so let me explicate the painting's message on multiple metaphorical levels.
Barack Obama represents, President Obama. And the burning Constitution represents, the Constitution on fire. I didn't get it at first either. I'm just glad the art world finally has a great conservative master to balance out all the liberal hacks.
After critiquing some of McNaughton's other paintings, Colbert said of one of them:
It's like where's Waldo, only what you're searching for is the smallest hint of subtlety.
After showing a clip of McNaughton saying that one of his paintings is "going to change America." "It's going to make people think about what's happening," Colbert agreed:
COLBERT: True. After seeing this painting, the only thing I could say was, "What's happening?"
Sadly "what's happening" is that a propagandist like Sean Hannity and his entire network should not be allowed on the air with the garbage like this they broadcast every day. Hannity has jumped the shark so many times, he ought to be losing advertisers just like Beck and Limbaugh. He's as bad or worse than both of them.
Mitt Romney is campaigning for president on fiscal responsibility. “The mission to restore America begins with getting our fiscal house in order,” he says. At the same time, the presumptive GOP nominee says he wants to increase military spending. His campaign website claims that a President Romney will peg the Pentagon’s budget to Gross Domestic Product “at a floor of 4 percent of GDP.” What will that mean in dollars? CNNMoney reports that under Romney’s plan, “the additional spending really piles up in future years”:
With the Pentagon’s base budget — which does not include war costs — forecast to hit 3.5% of GDP in 2013, a jump to 4% would mean an increase of around $100 billion dollars in defense spending in 2013. [...]
Compared to the Pentagon’s current budget, Romney’s plan would lead to $2.1 trillion in additional spending over the next ten years, according to an analysis conducted for CNNMoney by Travis Sharp, a budget expert at the Center for a New American Security.
And that number assumes a gradual increase to 4% of GDP. The additional spending would hit $2.3 trillion over a decade if the Pentagon’s budget were to immediately jump to 4% of GDP.
CNN charts the numbers:
And Romney has not said how he’d pay for it. CNN notes that the “lack of detail means that Romney’s claim of moving toward a balanced budget requires a great deal of trust.” On top of increased military spending, Romney plans on expanding on the Bush tax cuts but has also not said how he would pay for them.
Budget experts criticized Romney’s defense plan. Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said the plan for additional spending does not “reflect fiscal reality,” while Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said “spending should be determined by the security environment — not the size of your economy.”
“Romney’s plan might reduce military risk in some areas,” Sharp said. “But you can never eliminate all the risk — no matter how much you spend.”
Perhaps Romney will take cues from his friends on the House Republican caucus, who want to cut programs that help the poor to prevent necessary reductions in military spending.
Planned Parenthood helped knock a 28-year incumbent out of the North Carolina General Assembly after the conservative Democrat sided with Republicans to vote in favor of a controversial anti-abortion bill last year. State Rep. Jim Crawford (D) joined four other Democrats who helped Republicans override Gov. Bev Perdue’s (D) veto to pass legislation that requires women get ultrasound exams, receive counseling, and wait 24 hours before having an abortion.
Planned Parenthood responded by supporting Rep. W.A. ?Winkie? Wilkins’ (D) campaign against Crawford in a redrawn district that favored Wilkins. The women’s health organization claimed victory in statements released after Tuesday’s election:
?There is no question,? says Melissa Reed, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund. ?Women were watching as Jim Crawford cast the deciding vote in support of legislation to undermine a woman?s right to make personal health decisions without government intrusion.? [...]
?Nowhere has the attack on women?s health been waged more viciously than in North Carolina? added Paige Johnson, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Central North Carolina. ?Yesterday?s defeat of Jim Crawford by Winkie Wilkins shows clearly that women have had enough. We are mobilizing to help elect candidates like Winkie Wilkins, who will stand strong for women?s health in 2012 and beyond.?
Planned Parenthood also got involved in a Pennsylvania election, spending $100,000 on an ad attacking Republican Ryan Mackenzie for his support of an invasive ultrasound bill. And as state legislatures have approved another round of restrictive abortion regulations so far this year, it’s likely that women will continue to target Republicans who voted to limit their health care options.
The nation’s most famous climatologist, NASA’s James Hansen, has written a scathing NY Times op-ed, “Game Over for the Climate.” He also lays out an “apocalyptic” but science-based description of what happens if we keep doing nothing.
GLOBAL warming isn?t a prediction. It is happening.
That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves ?regardless of what we do.?
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada?s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now.
Hansen lays out why the scientific case for why exploiting the tar sands and unconventional fuels in general would be “game over” for modern civilization:
The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events ? they were caused by human-induced climate change.
We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising ? and it?s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon ? 240 gigatons ? to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. ? a level that would, as earth?s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.
This is an op-ed, so Hansen can’t provide his underlying scientific analysis and charts. Here is the key chart:
CO2 emissions by fossil fuels [1 ppm CO2 ~ 2.12 GtC, where ppm is parts per million of CO2 in air and GtC is gigatons of carbon] via Hansen. Significantly exceeding 450 ppm risks several severe and irreversible warming impacts. [Estimated reserves and potentially recoverable resources are from EIA (2011) and GAC (2011).]
Hansen himself has been increasingly vocal on just what it would mean to stay anywhere near our current emissions path. This piece lays out the picture bluntly:
That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet?s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California?s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
If this sounds apocalyptic, it is.
Again, this is all from the recent scientific literature.
Hansen is tough on Obama — and all of us:
This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground….
We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies…. [T]he reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.
But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world?s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.
President Obama speaks of a ?planet in peril,? but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world?s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public ? which yearns for open, honest discussion ? explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.
The science of the situation is clear ? it?s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait ? we can?t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.
The time to act is now.
NOTE: Hansen also has a new piece on his website, “Our Government and the Case for Young People.” It’s about the U.S. District Court hearing this Friday here in DC on “a request by the U.S. government and the National Association of Manufacturers to dismiss a climate change lawsuit that has been brought against the U.S. government.”
The ability of American workers to be upwardly mobile in the economy depends heavily on where they live, according to a state-by-state analysis from Pew Charitable Trusts. The study, the first of its kind, found that workers in a group of states largely clustered in the Northeast and Midwest are more likely to achieve upward mobility, while workers in southern states are far less likely.
For the most part, the states in each group differ on one major characteristic: the states where upward mobility is more likely are almost all union states, while the states where mobility is less likely almost all are not. Of the eight states that outperform the national average for upward economic mobility, seven are union states, with Utah the lone exception. Eight of the nine that underperform the national average, however, are so-called “right to work” states, with Kentucky the only exception:
When relative mobility is considered, union states look even better. Every state but one (Utah) that outperforms the national average on relative mobility, defined as the percentage of residents starting in the bottom half of the national distribution who move up 10 or more percentiles in a 10-year period, is a union state. Meanwhile, 14 of the 15 states that come in below the national average are right-to-work states, with Missouri the only exception:
Though the study didn’t find (or attempt to find) a direct correlation between union representation and mobility, an economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan told USA Today that higher mobility there is likely linked to higher wages in manufacturing and public sector jobs, both of which tend to be more heavily organized. Those ties also exist in the other union states, which rely more on manufacturing than the right-to-work states.
As ThinkProgress has previously noted, unions played a significant role in the construction of the American middle class, boosting the mobility of lower-income workers. The decline in union representation, meanwhile, correlates closely with a sharp rise in income inequality over the last 40 years. Other studies have shown that workers who join unions earn higher wages and are more likely to have health and retirement benefits, and that union membership increases the likelihood of upward economic mobility.