What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...
- Paul Ryan hates babies, by Denise Oliver Velez
- Why it's so important for rape to be legitimate, by Dante Atkins
- The Father, the Son and the Holy Vote, by Jon Perr
- Going hungry: Nearly one in five Americans has been short of money for food in the past year, by Laura Clawson
- Book review: Don't Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense about the Economy by Anat Shenker-Osorio, by Susan Gardner
- What's the Media good for? Jake Tapper demonstrates the answer: nothing, by Armando
Republicans are weighing a delayed start to the Tampa convention due to Tropical Storm Isaac, GOP sources said Saturday. No final decision has been made but anxiety is running high as the storm churns northward. -Politco
You want to try shooting yourself in the foot again, Willard Mitt? And to do something about it, click here...
?and I think this was a pretty tidy wrapup of the Repug presidential nominating circus (hat tip to Crooks and Liars)?
?and RIP Neil Armstrong?
?probably too easy of a selection as a tribute, but there you are (sorry, no video, just some pics).
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As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. As he stepped on the dusty surface, Armstrong said: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” Those words endure as one of the best known quotes in the English language. [REUTERS]
IT WAS 1969, the end of a decade that ravaged American idealism.
For one brief shining moment, Neil Armstrong reminded us again of what had been, as we lived the Nixon era that made us learn the worst of what we could be.
Armstrong passed today. He will never be forgotten.
Perverts: Father Denis Lyons of Orange County & Don Vito Lopez of Brooklyn
When you want to talk about corruption in Brooklyn the discussion begins with Party Machine Boss and Bushwick Assemblyman Vito Lopez. The Ethics Committee found that he had sexually harassed two female employees (yes, he's a Democrat, so it wasn't underage boys) and unanimously recommended that he be removed as chairman of the Housing Committee. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) fired him and stripped him of his seniority. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) went further, calling on him to resign from the Assembly and as chairman of the Brooklyn Democratic Party. ?In light of the reprehensible conduct revealed by the Ethics Committee, I call upon Assembly Lopez to do the only honorable thing by immediately resigning his positions as a Member of the Assembly and as the County Chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party."
Lopez tried kissing one and made a dirty grab between her legs. Apparently there was no rape that we'd need to ask Todd Akin about being legitimate or otherwise. The NY Daily News summed it up by explaining Lopez had "created a hostile work environment through 'unwelcome verbal and physical conduct' that escalated over time, including one instance where he placed his hand 'as far up between [a staffer?s] legs' as he could go, according to an Assembly ethics committee report made public Friday."
Driving Lopez out of Democratic Party politics will be the bright side of this sordid story. Brooklyn progressive activist George Martinez is well acquainted with Lopez's corrupting influence on local politics. "What so many of us have known for far too long in Brooklyn has come to light once again," George told us Friday afternoon. "Politics in Brooklyn is a cesspool of corruption embodied in the powerful Democratic County machine and its leader, Vito Lopez. Lopez was one of the power brokers working to marginalize my congressional candidacy through his proxy City Councilman Erik Dilan.
"This latest scandal however, is not the run of the mill landlord extortion, judicial bribery, campaign embezzlement or other 'political scandal'. This time Vito, the Don, crossed the line of sexual harassment, in a case so egregious, even his long time political ally and Speaker of the Assembly, Shelly Silver, had to get tough with him and stripped him of his leadership positions in the Assembly. Worst of all, this is another damaging blow to the public trust which is already been shattered by these by types of scandals. I am calling on Vito Lopez to step down as the Democratic county chair and to resign as a member of the NYS Assembly. But if he is unwilling to do that under his own integrity, then I am calling on the Democratic district leaders and the voters of his district to 'bum rush the vote' and remove him with the power of the vote."
Way across the country, in good ole Orange County, there was another kind of sexual harassment case finally coming to a conclusion. Denis Lyons, a Roman Catholic priest, was sentenced to a year in prison for molesting a 14 year old alter boy at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa from 1992- 1995. Lyons, who pleaded guilty to "lewd acts with a child" would have faced 14 years without the plea deal. He's now 78. He finally left the priesthood in 2004, a decade after sexually assaulting a boy on two occasions in the rectory and two different occasions in the sacristy. The D.A. read a statement from the victim: "I have spent the last 16 years living in pain, living in shame. He took away my innocence as a child. This man has ruined my life and many others besides me." Other boys-- as young as 7-- have also complained that Father Lyons molested them as well. Two cases were dismissed of rapes in 1978 and 1981 because of the statute of limitations. The Catholic Church protected Lyons for years and paid off his victims in return for non-disclosure. Is there anyone anywhere that would still allow their underage child to be alone with a Roman Catholic priest under any circumstances?
Of course, as far as I know, there's nothing inherent about being a priest that has anything whatsoever to do with child molesting. It's all about the frustration and mental illness that comes from being forced to live a life in the closet. That's probably the reason most child predators are Republicans, priests and other conservatives. They're the ones menatlly torn apart about their sexual identities. Normal gay people are cool with it and accept themselves and don't molest young boys-- at least not usually. There are still some Democratic politicians with the Republican problem of living in the closet, not many... but a few. Minnesota state Rep. Kerry Gauthier (D-Duluth) isn't one of them. He's not in the closet. Wednesday he ended his reelection campaign because of a rest stop encounter with a 17 year old boy. (The boy had told Gauthier he was 18 and, in any case, the legal age of consent in Minnesota is 16, so there are no criminal aspects to this story. Gauthier had advertised on CraigsList for a sexual encounter and there was no money involved.)
When the scandal first broke Gauthier said he wouldn't resign and would, in fact, seek reelection. That announcement went badly. He wound up in a hospital after overdosing on painkillers.
"I took an overdose of pills to not feel any pain and this resulted in my hospitalization," he said in the statement, adding that he has been in recovery from chemical dependency for 30 years with one relapse.
Gauthier told the station his unwillingness to accept he is gay led him to engage in the inappropriate liaison in a public place. He said he is getting counseling. He also said he feels badly for the teen and wouldn't talk specifically about the incident to protect the boy.
"I can change my behavior, but I cannot change the fact that I am a gay man, and have known this since my college days. I simply must act like a mature gay man would act, and not as the incident portrays me," the network quoted him as saying.
His decision drew condemnation from Democratic leaders including Dayton, who urged Gauthier to drop out of the race. Democrats need to gain at least six House seats in November to take control of the chamber. Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin and House Minority Leader Paul Thissen said Gauthier would get no support from the party or the House DFL caucus.
"It's a terrible mistake on his part," Dayton told reporters at the Capitol. "I think it's just something that goes beyond the morals of Minnesotans-- to solicit on Craigslist sex with a minor and do it in a public area, publicly owned area, as a state legislator, and come back to the parking lot with his clothes disheveled. It's not about whether it's a same-sex or a heterosexual act. It would be the same if it were the same circumstances involving a heterosexual individual."
Sen. Roger Reinert, DFL-Duluth, who shares a district with Gauthier, earlier urged Gauthier to skip a Friday special session on flood relief for his district and surrounding areas hit by severe flash floods in June. Reinert said Gauthier would be a distraction and could end up being censured by majority Republicans, or even blocked from taking his seat in the House chamber.
"That's not what we need right now," Reinert said. "What we need is all eyes and efforts focused on recovery."
Republican leaders called on Gauthier to resign immediately, but Dayton and other Democrats have not.
Dayton said his signed agreement for the special session with top Republican and Democratic legislative leaders would preclude a House vote on Gauthier's conduct because it limits the scope of the special session. A spokeswoman for the GOP House caucus had no immediate comment.
Rep. Tom Huntley, a Democrat whose Duluth district adjoins Gauthier's, told the Duluth News Tribune he considers Gauthier a "child molester."
"Why would anybody support someone that did what he did?" Huntley said in an Associated Press interview. "I am a strong supporter of gay rights, but that does not mean 55-year-olds with 17-year-olds. And I just can't imagine the public would approve of that."
But Gauthier has support from labor activists, including Alan Netland of the Northeast Area Labor Council.
"He had a personal problem but it doesn't affect the fact that he's a great representative for working people," Netland said.
Duluth firefighter Erik Simonson launched a bid as a write-in Democratic candidate for Gauthier's seat Tuesday. Duluth City Councilor Jay Fosle also has filed paperwork to run as a write-in candidate. Republican Travis Silvers already is on the ballot.
Via ProgressNow New Mexico, a story so bizarre, it's bad even for a Republican! This is really shocking, especially in a place with such a strong Native American population. I guess they're so used to thinking of anyone who isn't a white male as lesser, he didn't think he was saying anything wrong. Either that, or he was drunk:
A RNC National Committeeman told Governor Susana Martinez's staff that her agreeing to meet with Native Americans is disrespectful to the memory of Col. George Armstrong Custer, the infamous cavalry officer who killed thousands of Native Americans in the 1800s, according to emails obtained by ProgressNow New Mexico.
In a June 8, 2012 email to the governor's senior staff and personal attorney, Pat Rogers wrote in response to an article regarding the governor's annual meeting with the state's tribal leaders:
Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [Janice Arnold Jones]
The state is going to hell. Col. Weh would not have dishonored Col Custer in this manner.
I hope who ever recommended this is required to read the entire redist [redistricting law suit] transcript and sit through the entire meeting with the Gov.
Rogers is referring to the governor's attendance at the annual state-tribal leaders summit, a meeting the governor is required by law to attend.
George Armstrong Custer may be regarded as a kind of military hero by Pat Rogers, but to the Native peoples of America Custer represents the bellicose imperialism that was responsible for the systematic slaughter of American Indians throughout this continent.
Pat Rogers is a high-powered GOP lobbyist, partner and Vice-President of the Modrall law firm of Albuquerque, RNC National Committeeman and recent member of the RNC Executive Committee. He has represented Presidential candidates George Bush, Ralph Nader, Congressman Heather Wilson and the Susana Martinez for Governor Committee.
"Such a blatantly racist statement against our native people is offensive from anyone, but to come from a national GOP leader and lobbyist for some of our country's largest corporations is indefensible," said Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico.
"These emails show the contempt and disrespect New Mexico's Republican leadership has for our native people. Unless they drop Pat Rogers immediately, we can rightly assume that those organizations he speaks for, including the RNC, Modrall Sperling and his lobbying clients, feel the same way."
Rogers, through his law firm Modrall Sperling, is a registered lobbyist for some of the nation's largest companies, including Verizon, General Motors, Scientific Gaming, The University of Phoenix, Molina Healthcare and CYRQ Energy. Many of those companies have direct business with the native governments in attendance at that meeting and with native communities across the country.
New Mexico enjoys one of the country's largest Native American populations, with almost 200,000 native persons representing 22 pueblos, tribes and nations, including the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American government in the country.
In 2312, Robinson has taken us 300 years into the future, shifting beyond the near times of most of his works to a time when the consequences of our actions now play out in a devastated yet still home planet Earth. And Robinson reminds us, when 2312?s[...]
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So this happened this week:
Brown: ?I think I?m pretty clear on where I stand. I don?t need Professor Warren talking or speaking or commenting on my votes.?
Or maybe Brown was reacting so defensively because he knew this was coming: his endorsement from a right-to-life group in Massachusetts because, in the words of Anne Fox, president of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life, "what we're looking for is someone who votes pro-life, and he does."
No wonder he wants his voting record to be off-limits to Elizabeth Warren.
Well... almost everyone. It certainly doesn't hurt the private company or corporation that gets the juicy government contracts but in the long run it sure as hell hurts everyone else. I've got two words that should stop a privatization advocate dead in his tracks... Walter Reed. I say should stop one in his tracks. Unfortunately, the attention span of your average conservative voter has been shrunken to the point of nonexistence these days by the constant barrage of propaganda roaring at him from all directions as the corporate noise machine unleashes its full fury going into election season. So now a conversation between me and a guy we'll just call T.P. Jones (T.P. standing for Tea Party) who thinks we ought to outsource all government functions kind of looks like:
TP: Private enterprise can do anything more cheaply and efficiently than government can.
ME: Walter Reed.
TP: I don't care about all that crap. Private enterprise can do anything more cheaply and efficiently than government can.
According to Paul Buchheit at Common Dreams there are Five Ways Privatization Degrades America . I'm sure that with just a few quick glances at some stats and at least a fourth grade reading comprehension level we could probably come up with a lot more than five but let's just go with five MAJOR ways privatization degrades our fair republic.
1. We spend lifetimes developing community assets, then give them away to a corporation for lifetimes to come.
The infrastructure in our cities has been built up over many years with the sweat and planning of farsighted citizens. Yet the dropoff in tax revenues has prompted careless decisions to balance budgets with big giveaways of public assets that should belong to our children and grandchildren.
In Chicago, the Skyway tollroad was leased to a private company for 99 years, and, in a deal growing in infamy, the management of parking meters was sold to a Morgan Stanley group for 75 years. The proceeds have largely been spent.
The parking meter selloff led to a massive rate increase, while hurting small businesses whose potential customers are unwilling to pay the parking fees. Meanwhile, it has been estimated that the business partnership will make a profit of 80 cents per dollar of revenue, a profit margin larger than that of any of the top 100 companies in the nation.
2. Insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over and expecting different results.
Numerous examples of failed or ineffective privatization schemes show us that hasty, unregulated initiatives simply don't work.
A Stanford University study "reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well as their traditional public school counterparts." A Department of Education study found that "On average, charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress."
Our private health care system has failed us. We have by far the most expensive system in the developed world. The cost of common surgeries is anywhere from three to ten times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany.
Studies show that private prisons perform poorly in numerous ways: prevention of intra-prison violence, jail conditions, rehabilitation efforts. The U.S. Department of Justice offered this appraisal: "There is no evidence showing that private prisons will have a dramatic impact on how prisons operate. The promises of 20-percent savings in operational costs have simply not materialized."
A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. Various privatization abuses or failures occurred in California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
California's experiments with roadway privatization resulted in cost overruns, public outrage, and a bankruptcy; equally disastrous was the state's foray into electric power privatization.
3. Facts about privatization are hidden from the public.
Experience shows that under certain conditions, with sufficient monitoring and competition and regulation, privatization can be effective. But too often vital information is kept from the public. The Illinois Public Interest Research Group noted that Chicago's parking meter debacle might have been avoided if the city had followed common-sense principles rather than rushing a no-bid contract through the city council.
Studies by both the Congressional Research Service and the Pepperdine Law Review came to the same conclusion: any attempt at privatization must ensure a means of public accountability. Too often this need is ignored.
The Arizona prison system is a prime example. For over 20 years the Department of Corrections avoided cost and quality reviews for its private prisons, then got around the problem by proposing a bill to eliminate the requirement for cost and quality reviews.
In Florida, abuses by the South Florida Preparatory Christian Academy went on for years without regulation or oversight, with hundreds of learning-disabled schoolchildren crammed into strip mall spaces where 20-something 'teachers' showed movies to pass the time.
In Philadelphia, an announcement of a $38 million charter school plan in May turned into a $139 million plan by July.
In Michigan, the low-income community of Muskegon Heights became the first American city to surrender its entire school district to a charter school company. Details of the contract with Mosaica were not available to the public for some time after the deal was made. But data from the Michigan Department of Education revealed that Mosaica performed better than only 13% of the schools in the state of Michigan.
Also in Michigan, an investigation of administrative salaries elicited this response from charter contractor National Heritage Academies: "As a private company, NHA does not provide information on salaries for its employees."
Education writer Danny Weil summarizes the charter school secrecy: "The fact is that most discussions of charters and vouchers are not done through legally mandated public hearings under law, but in back rooms or over expensive dinners, where business elites and Wall Street interests are the shot-callers in a secret parliament of moneyed interests."
Beyond prisons and schools, how many Americans know about the proposal for the privatization of Amtrak, which would, according to West Virginia Representative Nick Rahall, "cripple Main Street by auctioning off Amtrak's assets to Wall Street." Or the proposal to sell off the nation's air traffic control system? Or the sale of federal land in the west? Or the sale of the nation's gold reserves, an idea that an Obama administration official referred to as "one level of crazy away from selling Mount Rushmore"?
And here are some of those facts that old T.P. Jones doesn't have time to be bothered by:
4. Privatizers have suggested that teachers and union members are communists.
Part of the grand delusion inflicted on American citizens is that public employees and union workers are greedy good-for-nothings, enjoying benefits that average private sector workers are denied. The implication, of course, is that low-wage jobs with meager benefits should be the standard for all wage-earners.
The myth is propagated through right-wing organizations with roots in the John Birch Society, one of whose founding members was Fred Koch, also the founder of Koch Industries. To them, public schools are socialist or communist. Explained Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast with regard to private school vouchers in 1997, "we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime."
But the facts show, first of all, that government and union workers are not overpaid. According to the Census Bureau, state and local government employees make up 14.5% of the U.S. workforce and receive 14.3% of the total compensation. Union members make up about 12% of the workforce, but their total pay amounts to just 9.5% of adjusted gross income as reported to the IRS.
The facts also strongly suggest that wage stability is fostered by the lower turnover rate and higher incidence of union membership in government. The supportive environment that right-wingers call 'socialism' helps to sustain living wages for millions of families. The private sector, on the other hand, is characterized by severe wage inequality. Whereas the average private sector salary is similar to that of a state or local government worker, the MEDIAN U.S. worker salary is almost $14,000 less, at $26,363. While corporate executives and financial workers (about one-half of 1% of the workforce) make multi-million dollar salaries, millions of private company workers toil as food servers, clerks, medical workers, and domestic help at below-average pay.
I have to laugh when someone I know posts one of their little cut and paste jibes against public sector workers and I... having spent 35 years in public safety and therefore BEING one of those workers... call them out on it. "Oh no, Tom, I didn't mean YOU! I meant all those OTHER public sector workers. I've never known you to be ANYTHING but honest and hard working and...". Heh!
5. Privatization often creates an "incentive to fail."
Privatized services are structured for profit rather than for the general good. A by-product of the profit motive is that some people will lose out along the way, and parts of the societal structure will fail in order to benefit investors.
This is evident in the privatized prison system, which relies on a decreasing adherence to the law to ensure its own success. Corrections Corporation of America has offered to run the prison system in any state willing to guarantee that jails stay 90% full. "This is where it gets creepy," says Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal, "because as an investor you're pulling for scenarios where more people are put in jail."
The incentive to fail was also apparent in road privatization deals in California and Virginia, where 'non-compete' clauses prevented local municipalities from repairing any roads that might compete with a privatized tollroad. In Virginia, the tollway manager even demanded reimbursement from the state for excessive carpooling, which would cut into its profits.
The list goes on. The Chicago parking meter deal requires compensation if the city wishes to close a street for a parade. The Indiana tollroad deal demanded reimbursement when the state waived tolls for safety reasons during a flood.
Plans to privatize the Post Office have created a massive incentive to fail through the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which requires the USPS to pre-pay the health care benefits of all employees for the next 75 years, even those who aren't born yet. This outlandish requirement is causing a well-run public service to default on its loans for the first time.
Also set up to fail are students enrolled in for-profit colleges, which get up to 90 percent of their revenue from U.S. taxpayers. Less incentive remains for the schools after tuition is received, as evidenced by the fact that more than half of the students enrolled in these colleges in 2008-9 left without a degree or diploma.
And then we have our littler students, set up to fail by private school advocates in Wisconsin who argue that a requirement for playgrounds in new elementary schools "significantly limit[s] parent's educational choice in Milwaukee."
A. He wouldn't understand it.
B. He'd understand it but refuse to believe it.
C. He'd simply say, "I don't care about all that crap. Private enterprise can do anything more cheaply and efficiently than government can."
With recoveries like this one, who needs recessions?The average household income has fallen steadily for nearly everyone since the start of the economic expansion in June 2009, with average income dropping 4.8 percent in the three years since the upturn[...]
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