Former Governor Terry Branstad plans to officially declare his candidacy next month. Since he started campaigning for governor in October, I've been hoping that Bob Vander Plaats could capture the attention of national right-wingers looking to "take[...]
Read The Full Article:
Ezra Klein attempts to rebut Jane's reasons for opposing the bill. Many of his arguments are weak at best.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Many of us celebrated when the Justice Department announced it had indicted three police officers for obstructing justice in the case of the bias-crime murder of a Latino named Luis Ramirez in the rural town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.
But as Maegan La Mamita Mala at Vivir Latino observes (be sure to read the whole post):
Civil rights and the more expansive human rights matter little when you?re dead. So longer sentences make us feel better, like all the marching, chanting, petition signing, mouse clicking and text messaging meant something. Whatever the outcome of the Federal case, no one will go to jail for taking Luis Ramirez from his children and this world. So while we need to support this case, it has to be done in a larger context. Whatever the outcome of the Federal case, it still will be dangerous to be a Latino in the United States.
This reality is underscored by the details as they emerge in the Ramirez case. Indeed, the conditions that gave rise to the attempt to cover up the bias crime by local officers are present in nearly every small rural town in America.
Consider, for instance, what the local prosecutor saw going on with the case as he handled it:
The Pennsylvania prosecutor who failed to secure felony convictions against two teens in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant says he thought his case was "compromised" from the start.
Like many residents in the small, tight-knit eastern Pennsylvanian community of Shenandoah, Schuylkill County District Attorney James Goodman knew that an officer investigating the death of Luis Ramirez was in a relationship with the mother of one the teens involved.
Goodman also believed the investigation and evidence hadn't been handled as it should have been.
"They didn't interview the perpetrators, the boys. In fact, not only did they not interview them, they picked them up, gave them rides, helped them concoct stories, brought them back and told the boys what to say," Goodman told CNN.
The son of Shenandoah Police Lt. William Moyer also played on the same football team as the teens who were involved in the July 2008 street brawl, according to court documents.
"It's clear they were trying to help these boys out, for whatever reason -- they were football players, these police officers were trying to help these boys out and limit their involvement in the death of Luis Ramirez."
Likewise with the local eyewitnesses to the crime:
Residents say they witnessed or long suspected the culture of corruption, nepotism and coercion among the town's law enforcement described by federal prosecutors in indictments and at hearings this week. The police chief and his second-in-command also face federal charges of extorting payments from illegal gambling operations.
Eileen Burke, a former Philadelphia police officer who moved back to her native Shenandoah, said she saw its bleakest example firsthand. After the beating, Ramirez lay about 15 feet in front of her house at Vine and Lloyd streets. From her porch Thursday, she pointed to a manhole cover in the middle of the street where she kneeled over him as he convulsed on July 12, 2008.
A nearby utility pole once had "RIP" scrawled onto it, but it has since been painted over. Now there is only a faint orange blob to mark the spot.
"I knew there was a cover-up," Burke said. "I knew."
Police from other municipalities and state police responded to the scene before a single Shenandoah police officer arrived, she said.
"I sat on my porch that night, from when it happened at approximately 11:15, until 2:30 in the morning," Burke said. "No one came to me to ask what I saw, what I did."
It wasn't until 10 days later that Shenandoah police dropped off a paper on which she was asked to write out a witness statement, Burke said. In the months after, she said she watched the teens walk around town as if nothing wrong had happened. People coddled and protected them, she said, because they were star athletes in a town where Blue Devils football is the primary preoccupation and where the newest immigrants, Latinos who come to work on farms or in factories, are often seen as aloof and unwelcome.
"They made them heroes," Burke said. " 'Free the three.' They wanted to make shirts up and everything, because it was our illustrious football team."
When she walked around town, some people called her a "Mexican lover" or told her to "go see a Mexican," Burke said.
"I had people who said, 'Why didn't you just close the curtains?' "
Having worked for many years in small rural communities, I can attest that this kind of corruption is common, especially when it comes to crimes against people who are considered "outsiders".
Indeed, this very problem is the major subject of my 2003 book, Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America, which focused on another hate crime in a small rural town in which the outcome was reversed, similarly revealing the nature of what goes on in hundreds if not thousands of small towns across the country: hate crimes are ignored, covered up, and go unprosecuted at a disturbing rate in small towns.
One Justice Department study found that the actual occurrence of bias crimes is about fourfold what are actually recorded in FBI statistics, for a variety of factors -- one being that the victims themselves, fearful of further persecution or public exposure, often refuse to press charges or file a complaint. Gays and lesbians and Latinos are particularly unlikely to act because of such fears, and it becomes especially acute in rural areas.
Compounding this, of course, is the reality that local law enforcement is likely to be either ignorant and poorly trained in the nuances of identifying and investigating bias crimes, or as in the Shenandoah case, they are actively hostile to a bias-crime prosecution, and are thus prone to victimizing the victims a second time (as we saw in Ocean Shores).
All the more reason that we should be glad we finally passed a federal bias-crime law.
They can be so sentimental sometimes.
In an unusual take on the season of giving, a London law firm is offering Christmas gift vouchers for divorce advice.
The firm, Lloyd Platt & Company, which normally charges 325 pounds ($530) an hour, said it had been swamped with enquiries since it launched the vouchers early last week.
So far, more than 60 have been sold -- a snip at 125 pounds for a half hour session with a divorce lawyer.
Consider this an open thread... What's on your mind tonight?Tags: Open Thread (all tags) [...]
Read The Full Article:
What you missed on Sunday Kos ....
Monday, December 21, 2009
Dollar Traders Returning to Traditional Fundamentals
Today?s rally in the U.S. Dollar appears to be a sign that risk sentiment may not be the driving force behind price action much longer. The action today suggests that funds are being
reallocated into the Dollar and stocks in an effort to capture a rise from the continuing improvement in the U.S. economy. The positive trade in both the stock and Dollar markets is a sign that
investors are shifting back to watching traditional fundamentals for …
Not even a week after Washington DC legalized gay marriage, Mexico City follows suit. That?s right folks, a city in Latin America legalized gay marriage. In a Catholic country. How much longer are ?Christians? and Republicans going to keep up this charade in the U.S.?
Read The Full Article:
I luv Jane Hamsher. I'd totally marry her, given half a chance. But there are some reasons to disagree with her on the Dems' health care reform. So here's a point-by-point response to her "10 Reasons" post. Some of these are questions, rather than rebuttals. I'm not as immersed in the details of this as others. Corrections are welcome.
1. "Forces you to pay up to 8%" Under present circumstances, the uninsured force everyone else to pay more, whether through taxes or higher premiums. The tax burden is at least leavened by the fairness of the Federal tax system, not so for premiums or state and local taxes. And for that 8%, you get some health care. If you are uninsured and become ill, you could end up paying much more. And if you don't, somebody else will be paying for you.
2. Penalties if you don't buy insurance. See #1. In general, the uninsured are shifting their risk onto everyone else. Many of them are of modest means and it's not illegal, so you can't fault them. But collective provision of health care means everyone pulls some of their weight. There is no way to move forward without redressing the aforesaid shift of risk.
3. High maximum out-of-pocket expenses. This is if you get very ill. The correct comparison is with your costs without this bill, with little doubt much higher.
4. Can't speak to the abortion provisions. Any contraction of access is bad. Bad enough to sink the rest of the bill? You tell me.
5. Taxes on middle class insurance. Hey, somebody has to pay for this stuff. As noted above, the middle class is paying now. The question is whether they pay more or less at the end of the day.
6. Taxes now, benefits starting in 2014. The public is massively undertaxed to begin with, in light of all Federal spending in the pipeline. And taxes are going to go up eventually in any case. The question is for whom. Anti-tax rhetoric is not constructive. Better to prepare for the next battle with the Obamas, regarding hysteria over deficits and entitlements.
7. The 300% thing is with respect to others within the new pool, for the individual market. This is not the right comparison. The right one is what the elderly and unhealthy would pay presently in the individual market (a prohibitively costly amount) compared to under this bill.
8. Monopolies to drug companies. Not good, but like all other bad stuff in the bill, needs to be weighed against the whole scheme.
9. No drug reimportation. Ditto, #8.
10. Cost of medical care will rise. Yup, but that happens otherwise and it isn't necessarily our destiny. We aren't done with health care reform.
One pwog talking point is how happy providers are with this bill. A gleeful Joe Scar likes to rant about Big Pharma stock market prices. In passing, let's note that the bulk of money in health care goes to providers, nor insurors. The latter's profit margins are of secondary importance. The main point is that this goes with the territory of a WELFARE STATE, as distinct from socialism. Under a welfare state, the Gov buys stuff from business firms for the public, rather than producing goods and services itself. Many worthwhile programs subsist on the political strength of provider lobbies, since the beneficiaries don't swing enough weight by themselves. The crowning example is Food Stamps, whose patrons included dumb-ass farm state reps like Bob Dole.
The political gambit now of the Right and the mainstream media is to give progressives a big platform so they can rain on the Democratic bill. Why do you think that is? Because they have seen the light? No, they want to make this whole thing implode for political reasons. If the Right thought this bill was so awful it would improve their political prospects, they wouldn't have fought so hard to stop it.
Like everyone else, I would have much preferred this whole exercise to unfold differently, but we are where we are. I've seen no good scenarios for health care if this bill fails to pass. Social Security started out badly also. Now we can't imagine being without it.
The bottom line for this bill is not the litany of bad features, but whether it leaves people better off than they are now. The 10 or 20 reasons not to vote need to be lined up next to any reasons to vote for, the better to make the relevant comparison.
There is talk about blowing up this bill in order to use reconciliation to get some desirable pieces of reform. But you go to the reconciliation war with the Senate you have, not the one you want. We've already established the Senate Dems are weenies. The likelihood of them coming out of a collapse more aggressive than now seems dim. That applies as well to hopes the Senate Dems would endeavor to reduce the filibuster super-majority rule.
A common model of the conflict we are witness to is of an ambitious Administration, marshalling forces of varying loyalty and strength in the House and Senate, arrayed against a united Right. From a progressive standpoint, I don't think that's the way things stack up. What we have is a White House bent on risk-averse social policy combined with balls-out defense of the commanding heights of finance and commitment to American exceptionalism. On the foundational questions, THEY ARE THE ENEMY. It is not a matter of choosing one or the other side. They both suck, albeit to varying degrees.
The right model for the left is asymmetric warfare. Mobilizing in independent organizations, employing salami tactics within existing institutional structures. All the pressure that can be exerted on this bill has been. I see no profit in persisting. The organizations outside the "veal pen" should be nourished and extended. But for them I think it's time to regroup, transitioning from pressure groups to more formal, democratic organizations. Other initiatives could be worth blowing up. Financial reform, an "entitlement commission," and the Afghan intervention come to mind. The health care bill provides a new field to play in. That is its achievement. Square one is not a superior alternative, and that's where we will be with no bill.
"I don't think the White House recognizes how much trouble they're in," said one former Democratic official. "I think they're miscalculating what's happening with progressives and the left."Failing to understand the intensity of progressive anger,[...]
Read The Full Article: