Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Lock The S.O.B.s Up

Joe Biden and The Get Tough Reckoning:

In September 1994, as President Bill Clinton signed the new Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act in an elaborately choreographed ceremony on the south lawn of the White House, Joseph R. Biden Jr. sat directly behind the president’s lectern, flashing his trademark grin.
For Mr. Clinton, the law was an immediate follow-through on his campaign promise to focus more federal attention on crime prevention. But for Mr. Biden, the moment was the culmination of his decades-long effort to more closely marry the Democratic Party and law enforcement, and to transform the country’s criminal justice system in the process. He had won.
“The truth is,” Mr. Biden had boasted a year earlier in a speech on the Senate floor, “every major crime bill since 1976 that’s come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the State of Delaware: Joe Biden.”
And now ol' Lock 'Em Up Joe, who is currently in the lead for the Democratic race for president, is trying to walk back his rhetoric and record as one of the premiere charlatans on the issue of crime and punishment.
Mr. Biden arrived in the Senate in 1973 having forged close ties with black constituents but also with law enforcement, and bearing the grievances of the largely white electorate in Delaware. He courted one Southern segregationist senator, James O. Eastland of Mississippi, who helped him land spots on the committee and subcommittees dealing with criminal justice and prisons, and became a close friend and legislative partner of another, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.
While Mr. Biden has said in recent days that he and Mr. Eastland “didn’t agree on much of anything,” it is clear that on a number of important criminal justice issues, they did. As early as 1977, Mr. Biden, with Mr. Eastland’s support, pushed for mandatory minimum sentences that would limit judges’ discretion in sentencing. But perhaps even more consequential was Mr. Biden’s relationship with Mr. Thurmond, his Republican counterpart on the judiciary panel, who became his co-author on a string of bills that effectively rewrote the nation’s criminal justice laws with an eye toward putting more criminals behind bars.

Over the next decade — first with Mr. Thurmond as chairman and then Mr. Biden after Democrats won back the Senate in 1986 — the pair wrote roughly a half-dozen crime bills together, laying the groundwork for three of the most significant pieces of crime legislation of the 20th century: the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, establishing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses; the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which dictated much harsher sentences for possession of crack than for powder cocaine; and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a vast catchall tough-on-crime bill that also included money for prevention, including Mr. Biden’s signature initiative, the Violence Against Women Act.

In 1989, with the violent crime rate continuing to rise as it had since the 1970s, Mr. Biden lamented that the Republican president, George H. W. Bush, was not doing enough to put “violent thugs” in prison. In 1993, he warned of “predators on our streets.” And in a 1994 Senate floor speech, he likened himself to another Republican president: “Every time Richard Nixon, when he was running in 1972, would say, ‘Law and order,’ the Democratic match or response was, ‘Law and order with justice’ — whatever that meant. And I would say, ‘Lock the S.O.B.s up.’”
I've taught this topic, these bills, the sheer monstrosity of the politics of punishment, for almost 20 years, and it's incredible how people are just now treating this like it's news or something. 

So two things then: number one, much has been made recently of his comments regarding his work with racists and segregationists like Eastland and Thurmond, as being evidence that he can work across the aisle with people he vehemently disagrees with, and how he should apologize for that (which he refused). What was overlooked in his "didn't agree on much of anything" comment was the vast support those two jugheads would play in creating the crime/punishment axis which sent more black people to prison in twenty years than had gone in the previous 100 years.

Second, the idea he did this with the support of the black community and its leaders during the 80's and 90's, and now denied by most black leaders today, is absolutely true. People forget the frenzy of the 80's and 90's and how the rush for Republicans and Democrats to jump in bed and outdo one another in terms of crime and punishment prowess was not just bipartisan, it was bi- or mutliracial. These laws were wildly popular in ALL communities during that time period, and the few dissenting voices were absolutely lost in the cacophony of chest-thumping and dick-waving (which is essentially what these bills absolutely were).
That tough-on-crime stance, Mr. Kaufman said, was “a very popular position to take in the African-American community.” But in interviews with community leaders in Wilmington, not everyone agreed. Though they remembered Mr. Biden fondly and said he remained widely popular in the black community, several stressed that their focus had been on systemic problems like economic inequality and failing schools — not on getting more police officers and prisons.
“We thought job opportunities would reduce the number of people on the corners resorting to drugs and crimes,” said the Rev. Dr. Vincent Oliver, a Wilmington pastor and longtime civil-rights activist.
Added James M. Baker, a former Wilmington mayor, who is black, “We knew you couldn’t arrest your way out of the problem.”
Sure, but again almost  no one actually said so. The African-American community was sold a bill of goods by its own leaders, who were more interested in having the ear of a powerful Senator, than they were the practical implications of what these bills would do to their communities (which btw, WE in academia and penology DID know, and tried to warn people about, but were squashed as well).
The legacy of the 1994 crime bill is mixed. While some studies show that it did lower crime, there is also evidence that it contributed to the explosion of the prison population. Biden aides and supporters often note that the trend toward mass incarceration began much earlier, in the 1970s, and that states — not the federal government — house an overwhelming majority of the nation’s inmates.
This is nonsense. There are NO studies showing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act had an impact on crime rates. None. Weirdly, the article even notes before this assertion that, "violent crime had hit its peak in 1991, with 758 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans, federal statistics show — more than twice the 1970 rate. By the time the 1994 bill was passed, the crime rate was on the decline." Yeah, for three years prior. 

The VCCLEA was nothing more than re-election red meat for both parties, at the expense of human suffering and mass incarceration. Neither it nor the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of '86 or the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of '84 had ANYTHING to do with crime rates, and EVERYTHING to do with the mass incarceration of African-Americans.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Lock 'Em Joe handles this. The disdain for these bills, and the dunderhead belief that "lock 'em up and throw away the key" is nothing more than red meat for the dumb political masses, is much greater now than at anytime since the advent of the get tough on crime movement in the 60's. Trump's election viewed as an anomaly aside, the dehumanizing and sheer sinister nature of this rhetoric has finally caught up with people, and "smart on crime" and other reentry initiatives have become bipartisan the last few years.

It will be interesting to see if the Democratic party base, which benefited from this self-imposed human misery for decades (including the Obama/Biden years), will throw Joe under the bus and complete the "reckoning" going on*, or whether he'll survive this as he has other attempts to knock him out of the lead position so far. First debates are tonight and it will be interesting to see how much of his legislative record is appropriately attacked or whether they'll stick with the ageist, handsy, #MeToo pc bromides and try and derail him that way.

* Side note: unless you're from the south or really like R.E.M. you should never use the word reckoning as some sort of euphemism for payback.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Porky's II: Let's See Your SCOTUS

80's Movies Show Boys Had It Made, Girls Were The Joke:

The top movie of 1982, by a wide margin, was “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” Steven Spielberg’s fantasy about a group of boys who try to get an alien back to outer space. Below it, at No. 5, was “Porky’s,” about a group of boys who try to have a lot of sex. It coasted on the pre-J.F.K.-assassination nostalgia that made huge hits of “American Graffiti,” a decade earlier, and “Animal House,” five years after that. But “Porky’s” wasn’t innocent, or for that matter, nostalgic. All that the boys long for is girls — to talk to, sure, but mostly to peep at, ogle and harass.

The gang visits a sex shack in the sticks, where at least six of them plan to take turns with the same prostitute. They scheme their way into a roadhouse nudie bar (Porky’s) so that one guy — Pee Wee — can more expediently lose his virginity. And a horny male gym teacher finds out why a pert co-worker — it’s Kim Cattrall — has been nicknamed Lassie.

By 1982, if you were a teen male, your fantasies no longer had to live under a mattress. In a movie theater, you were free, say, to do some vicarious peering into the girls’ shower after gym. The drooling voyeurism, the casual racism, the aggressive anti-Semitism, the backhanded homophobia: None of it is quite the reason to bring “Porky’s” up now.

The reason to bring up “Porky’s” now is the laughter — the uproarious laughter. Last week, when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was asked what she most remembered about the night she says Brett M. Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her, she offered, with some quavering, that it was the laughter between Mr. Kavanaugh and his friend. She told the Senate Judiciary Committee: “indelible in the hippocampus” — Dr. Blasey’s a professor of psychology — “is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
Suddenly having so many flashbacks to the 80's reading this article, but the author is precisely correct: the movies of that era, which were catering to Gen X's older wave of teenage males, are horribly sexist and brutally dumb by today's standards. Actually, not that I was a prude or anything back then, but I remember not wanting to see most of those movies when they came out in the 80's. And my initial reaction to not wanting to waste my money on stupidity was pretty much always confirmed. 
Judge Kavanaugh, who denies Dr. Blasey’s accusation, mentioned “Animal House” in his opening statement. But my mind suddenly found itself on a journey back to “Porky’s.” Laughter accompanies most of the movie’s pranks, many of which are at the girls’ expense. For a comedy, that tends to be lousy filmmaking. It means the movie is hoping its laughter is contagious. The boys laugh at one another and, later, at Porky himself. But women tend to be the object of the most uproarious laughing, especially the Germanic battle-ax gym coach, Ms. Balbricker, who, in the movie’s meanest scene, asks the principal to open an investigation into a shower room peephole. She’s sure she can ID the penis she caught poking through the wall.
I was too young to see most of the movies referenced in this next paragraph (Porky's, Zapped, Fast Times, Risky Business, etc) in the early 80's, but would catch up on most of these later via HBO and cable. And by the late 80's I did see a lot of these in the theater such as Weird Science and Can't Buy Me Love. 
In stories envisioned by grown men, boys in movies — smartass, horny, fun-loving white boys — had it made. They ran brothels (“Risky Business”); punked the principal (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”); battled the school psycho (“Three O’Clock High”); committed all kinds of battery (“Revenge of the Nerds”); excelled, albeit brutally, at juvenile detention (“Bad Boys”); combed the Caribbean for a family vacation (“Hot Pursuit”); invented women to boost their popularity (“Weird Science”); turned into werewolf jocks (“Teen Wolf”); and lied about passing their driving test (“License to Drive”), being a finance executive (“The Secret of My Success”), being cool (“Can’t Buy Me Love”) and being black (“Soul Man”).

Deflowering odysseys stretched from Florida (“Porky’s”) to Tijuana (“Losin’ It”), and somebody even made a movie called “The Last American Virgin.” There was usually a system for spying on women and girls, although, to be fair, lots of men did that in the 1980s, in “Stripes” and “Sharky’s Machine” and “Stakeout” and every other rock video on MTV. It all lasted from about 1981 to near the end of the decade, when, in “Like Father, Like Son” and “Big,” magic started turning boys into men. The terrain was divided among nerds, sensitive weirdos and jocks like Josh Brolin in “Goonies,” and the pools seemed full of beer.
The Goonies I never had much of a problem with, in fact it's become more of a cult classic and generational touchstone since the 80's. But there's a lot of cringe today in movies like Revenge of the Nerds, Last American Virgin, or Soul Man. Even Ferris hasn't aged well... what seemed like one of the funniest movies ever made now, 30 years later, seems completely out of touch. 
From the sounds of what Judge Kavanaugh has disclosed about his high school and college self, he seemed part of that landscape. Though, movie-wise, he also appeared to be into the harder stuff, too. His opening statement last week described his class’s ambitions for the 1983 yearbook as being “some combination of ‘Animal House,’ ‘Caddyshack’ and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ which were all recent movies at that time.” He was trying to explain and apologize for the book’s general crassness and its perceived cruelty toward one girl in particular, who had to wait 35 years to learn that he and his buddies had formed a club in her name — a teen movie in reverse.
Which tells you all you need to know about Kavanaugh and his friends. As I wrote already, I remember dopes like that... they seemed like the kind of popped collar asshats who weren't particularly smart, coasted on on their white privilege, wore Members Only jackets, and smashed empty beer cans against their foreheads while listening to Bon Jovi. Whether they sexually assaulted Dr. Ford or any other women, I have no idea. But given the culture of the time, and remembering the kind of privileged knuckle-draggers who not only were drawn to those movies, but thought they could act them out in real life? Probably more a function of privilege than the movies.

Being a drunk douche in the 80's and thinking you're the next Bluto at the frat house shouldn't DQ one from being on the Supreme Court. And enough senators feel, apparently, that the accusations of sexual assault from that time made by multiple women don't disqualify him either. 

Frankly, it's astonishing that sexual assault allegations and endless discussions of brewskis and keggers were the things that almost derailed his nomination, and not the fact that his judicial opinions, which are poorly written, sloppily reasoned, and filled with a lot of turgid, conservative dogma, should have gotten him rejected. 

"The most qualified nominee ever," said old three-chins... LOL. I can't think of a more unoriginal thinker or writer to ever ascend to SCOTUS, save for Anne Burford's kid last year.

Anyway, while this article was certainly a trip down memory lane for those of us who were teenagers in the 1980's, it's a misnomer to suggest that "all teen males" were somehow like or products of those movies. While it certainly seems like "Bart" and his friends were, most of us, in fact, weren't running around trying to reenact what was on the silver screen.

Most of the movies discussed do not hold up today upon further review. I saw a bit of Fast Times recently over the summer and gagged over several of the scenes that once seemed so "classic." Ditto Caddyshack and Animal House, which I always thought were overrated anyway. 

We've certainly come a long way from the outright misogyny and sexism and sexual objectification on display in these 80's teen movies (as an example "8th Grade" was one of the best movies I've seen in decades). But let's not try and excuse the allegations leveled against Bart and his friends as being "boys would be boys" or "everyone did that in the 80's." 

Only a small minority of males ever did the things he was accused of, and it's the same minority of males who still commit sexual assault today. In that sense, the movies may have gotten better, but nothing really has changed.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Concentration Camp Update: The Fisher-Price Set

Nearly 13,000 Children Held in U.S. Concentration Camps:

Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United States.
Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.
The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors, the data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services suggests. Some of those who work in the migrant shelter network say the bottleneck is straining both the children and the system that cares for them.
In other words, we know the line from the administration, that "they're flooding over the border" is bullshit, because immigration levels, both of a legal and illegal nature, from Mexico and other Latin American countries have dropped precipitously over the last decade. In fact, we now know that the largest influx of immigrants into the U.S. today is coming from Asia. I guess the wall they keep yapping about building is gonna have to be 30,000 feet high to keep all those planes from landing.

Also, those coming to the U.S. are not the "immigrant criminal" itinerant masses the administration keeps portraying either.
The Census Bureau’s figures for 2017 confirm a major shift in who is coming to the United States. For years newcomers tended to be from Latin America, but a Brookings Institution analysis of that data shows that 41 percent of the people who said they arrived since 2010 came from Asia. Just 39 percent were from Latin America. About 45 percent were college educated, the analysis found, compared with about 30 percent of those who came between 2000 and 2009.
So, political capital, wedge issues, beat up on unpopular subgroups for votes, etc., in some ways it's the same old tired cycle of stupid and misanthropy that wins elections.

But a key difference here is that the collateral damage of said rhetoric is way more than just another election outcome. With 13,000 children being warehoused in concentration camps throughout the United States, you are going well beyond xenophobic rhetoric for the knuckle-dragging masses, and headlong into the territory of literally destroying innocent children and their lives. 

Deplorable indeed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stop the Bleed

U.S. Wants Students to Learn Bleeding Control Methods for School Shootings:

In a nod to the sad reality that shootings at the nation’s schools are far too prevalent, the United States government will award a $1.8 million grant to create a program to teach high school students proper bleeding-control techniques.
The goal of the program, called School-Age Trauma Training, is “to enhance a bystander’s ability to take decisive, lifesaving action to assist victims with traumatic injuries,” according to the Department of Homeland Security, which posted notice of the grant online last month.
“Similar to how students learn health education and driver’s education, they must learn proper bleeding control techniques using commonly available materials,’’ according to the notice, “including how to use their hands, dressings and tourniquets.”
LOL. "Similar to health or driver's education?" I don't remember any part of driver's ed focusing on how to tie off tourniquets or perform emergency tracheotomies in case you're in a car wreck. And we damn sure never learned such things in health.

This is sick, beyond the level of depravity that allows an organization like this (below) to even exist with a straight face.
The Stop the Bleed campaign, a national campaign by the Department of Homeland Security, encourages bystanders to act before emergency medical workers arrive. Some groups have based similar trainings on the campaign or started their own.
More than 1,000 people have attended a program put together by Ujimaa Medics, a grass-roots organization in Chicago that hosts workshops for residents on “urban emergency first response,” according to its website. It notes that five gunshot victims have been helped by the organization’s trainers and that the organization has eight trainers younger than 18.
Cathy Wilson, the outreach and injury prevention coordinator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in an interview on Monday that she teaches at least one Stop the Bleed session a week. When she teaches high school students, she said, she mentions cases of active-shooter situations, but lets them know the training they get will be useful in everyday life. Learning bleeding control techniques is another useful tool, like CPR, she said.
"Stop the Bleed"... can you imagine? I wonder what the reaction would be if we started, say, "Stop the Free Fall," a campaign that says before you get on an airplane again, you have to take a course on first-aid and other life saving measures, "just in case the plane goes down." How many people would either A. choose never to fly again, or B. choose never to fly again? And why should we expect students not to have the same reaction?

They even mention the "education secretary" Betsy Devos in this article from Time and her brilliant response to the obvious re school shootings:
But some gun control advocates worry that training students on responding to gun violence is not enough of a solution, and they have called on the Trump Administration to pursue measures that prevent shootings in the first place. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in charge of the Federal Commission on School Safety — established after the deadly Parkland shooting “to address school safety and the culture of violence.” But she has said the group won’t look into the role of guns in school shootings.
Of course not, because guns don't kill people, remember. And people with AR-15's and other semi and automatic weapons, they don't either, apparently. Not even the crazies. No, it's the failure of shell-shocked and hysterical students who can't "stop the bleeding" that are the real culprits here.

It really makes you wonder who's in charge of the nuthouse: the guns everywhere nuts, the spineless politicians they've bought over the years, or the poor students, who are now being asked to slide limb amputation right in between AP World and PE?

We should be ashamed of ourselves. As I've written previously, this isn't prevention, it's surrender.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Nebraska: The Corn Hustle State

Nebraska Plans First Execution in 21 Years:

Carey Dean Moore, who faces the death penalty next week for killing two taxi drivers in Omaha in 1979, has stopped fighting his looming execution. But his life may be extended by a German drugmaker that says it produced two of the drugs that are to be injected into Mr. Moore’s veins.
Fresenius Kabi, one of Germany’s largest companies, has asked a judge to block the use of its drugs in Nebraska’s first execution in 21 years and its first-ever lethal injection. Use of the drugs, the company says, will cause grave harm to its reputation if products intended to help treat people are used to kill.
Fresenius says it takes no position on capital punishment, but that it has strict contracts with distributors that ban sales to prisons for executions or to anyone other than hospitals and other medical users. It says Nebraska illegally obtained both a muscle relaxant and a drug that, when given at extremely high doses, can stop a beating heart.
And like any good junkie or drug hustler, Nebraska is pulling out all the stops to conceal the source of their smack.
Nebraska is fighting separate legal efforts to force it to disclose where it got the drugs. A statement issued by Attorney General Doug Peterson said the drugs “were purchased lawfully and pursuant to the state of Nebraska’s duty to carry out lawful capital sentences.”
But neither the statement, nor state officials on Thursday, said which company manufactured the drugs, what temperature they are being stored at or whether an injunction would delay the execution. The offices of Mr. Peterson and the Nebraska governor, Pete Ricketts, did not respond to messages on Thursday.
I discussed the allegedly Catholic Governor Ricketts, who told the Pope to go to hell recently, in my last post.
Leslie Rutledge, the attorney general of Arkansas, one of the 15 states, argued that the companies “are being pressured by anti-death-penalty advocates to stop supplying the drug to carry out lawful executions,” adding: “The families of these victims deserve justice.”
The other states supporting Nevada’s effort to execute Mr. Dozier over the drug companies’ objections are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
LOL. You knew Texas and Georgia would be involved somehow. Tennessee is a surprise, given the botched execution that took place last week. 
On Thursday night, Tennessee carried out its first execution since 2009, putting Billy Ray Irick to death for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in 1985. The state used a combination of drugs that Mr. Irick’s lawyers had argued could make the condemned feel like they were burning alive and drowning.
According to The Tennessean newspaper, Mr. Irick “was coughing, choking and gasping for air” and “his face turned dark purple as the lethal drugs took over.”
Good ol' Rocky Top.

Should be interesting to watch as these junkie states, desperate to get their next fix of killin' drugs, keep going to court to defend themselves from allegations of drug hustling and dealing. 

I guess it's true, you really can't embarrass some people.

UPDATE: Got eem
Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than two decades on Tuesday with a drug combination never tried before, including the first use of the powerful opioid fentanyl in a lethal injection.
Carey Dean Moore, 60, was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m. Moore had been sentenced to death for killing two cab drivers in Omaha in 1979. He was the first inmate to be lethally injected in Nebraska, which last carried out an execution in 1997, using the electric chair.
Moore’s execution comes a little more than three years after Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty, only to have it reinstated the following year through a citizen ballot drive partially financed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. The governor, a wealthy former businessman, has said he was fulfilling the wishes of voters in the conservative state.
Better get right with the Lord, Pete.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Execute... And Burn In Hell

Pope's Death Penalty Ban Won't Stop Nebraska Execution, Catholic Governor Says:

When Nebraska lawmakers defied Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2015 by repealing the death penalty over his strong objections, the governor wouldn’t let the matter go. Mr. Ricketts, a Republican who is Roman Catholic, tapped his family fortune to help bankroll a referendum to reinstate capital punishment, a measure the state’s Catholic leadership vehemently opposed.
After a contentious and emotional battle across this deep-red state, voters restored the death penalty the following year. Later this month, Nebraska is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murder, in what would be the state’s first execution in 21 years.
The prospect has renewed a tense debate in a state that has wrestled with the moral and financial implications of the death penalty for years, even before the 2015 attempt to abolish it. Protesters have been holding daily vigils outside the governor’s mansion to oppose Mr. Moore’s execution.
Complicating matters, Pope Francis this week declared that executions are unacceptable in all cases, a shift from earlier church doctrine that had accepted the death penalty if it was “the only practicable way” to defend lives. Coming only days before the scheduled Aug. 14 execution here, the pope’s stance seemed to create an awkward position for Mr. Ricketts, who is favored to win a bid for re-election this fall.
Ricketts is the same clown I wrote about back in 2015 when, over the will of the duly elected representatives of his state, he footed the bill for and rammed through an unconstitutional referendum on the death penalty that managed to bring it back.  

And now clowny is having to rectify his zest for killing with the Church's admonition that executions are wrong in all circumstances (an announcement, btw, that caught the world by surprise, including this writer).
Mr. Ricketts, who in the past has said that he viewed his position on the death penalty as compatible with Catholicism, on Thursday issued a statement about the pope’s declaration.
“While I respect the pope’s perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people and the law of the state of Nebraska,” Mr. Ricketts’s statement said. “It is an important tool to protect our corrections officers and public safety. The state continues to carry out the sentences ordered by the court.”
LOL. Of course it has nothing to do with public safety or corrections officer's safety. In fact, death rows and working there is more of a danger to correctional officer safety than regular maximum security facilities. 

But facts don't matter when you start mixing faith and politics while ignoring the people's wish and desire to get rid of the death penalty.
While 31 states still have death penalty statutes, only 10, including Texas, Ohio and Florida, have carried out executions since 2014, according to the center. During the past decade, several states have placed moratoriums on capital punishment or abolished it altogether. The most recent was Delaware, which banned the death penalty in 2016.
“No one’s happy a man’s life is going to be taken,” said Michael Fischer, 35, a Republican and a financial planner in Omaha who, like many along the streets here, said he supported capital punishment. “But if you take the death penalty off the books, the fear is there won’t be strong discouragement for people to commit crimes.”
Even though crime is at an historic low in states without the death penalty, not to mention the rest of the civilized world which long ago got rid of it.

But old times in Nebraska ain't forgotten, etc. And another guy will perish needlessly while the trend continues to abolish the death penalty.

I will say, however, that the Pope's anti-death penalty order is a helluva twist (forgive me father) in the debate. For decades now, Catholic pols, largely of a Republican nature, have tried to jump over the "pro-life" conundrum of being anti-abortion and pro-death penalty with a lot of mental gymnastics and gobbledygook. How many of them will follow the Church's teachings on this remains unknown, but at least this latest order puts the Church in a consistent pro-life track now. 

And it puts those pro-dp Catholic politicians in an existential conundrum regarding faith and eternity

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Scam of Private Detention

So, while the country was up in arms over the Trump administration's "crackdown" on migrants and their children coming over the border, sharper eyes were noticing the connection between this latest fracas, private detention companies, and Wall Street (because, as I've noted for more than a decade on this blog, ALWAYS follow the money):

Many of the nonprofits, corporations and religious groups watching over migrant children detained at the southwest border have been in this business for years — and they have a history of political connections, donating millions of dollars to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Now, as new federal policies greatly expand the number of migrants held in detention, it is also becoming clear that some of the players in this billion-dollar industry have particularly strong ties to the Trump administration.
The president’s education secretary provided funding to one of the groups. His defense secretary sat on the board of another. Mr. Trump’s own inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies housing detained migrant families. And some of the contractors employ prominent Republican lobbyists with ties to Mr. Trump and his administration, including someone who once lobbied for his family business.
There is no indication that political favors or influence motivated any of the contracts, and the service providers have no apparent ties to the agency awarding most of the contracts, the Department of Health and Human Services. Many of the groups had federal contracts to work with migrant children long before President Trump took office.
True, but as I noted after the election in 2016, private dungeon stocks soared by more than 40% upon news of his election, in particular among the two largest dungeon companies CoreCivic and the GEO Group.
Two private prison companies are already operating a pair of family detention centers in Texas. Planned new emergency shelters at military bases are also likely to be operated by contractors, as were similar facilities that opened temporarily on bases as a result of a surge in border crossings during the Obama administration.
The two private prison companies that run family centers, the Geo Group and CoreCivic, are among the politically connected contractors. Each donated $250,000 to Mr. Trump’s inaugural fund. And the Geo Group’s political action committee, while bipartisan in its giving, allocates many of its biggest donations to Republicans. These include $170,000 to a joint fund-raising committee set up between the Republican Party and the Trump campaign; $50,000 to a “super PAC” supporting the president; and, more recently, donations to Republican Party organizations focusing on the House and Senate.
The Geo Group also hired a lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who lobbied for Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Florida before he became president. A recent disclosure form shows that, on behalf of the Geo Group, Mr. Ballard’s firm was registered to lobby about “immigration regulation.”
In a statement, the Geo Group said that its family center has “cared exclusively for mothers together with their children since 2014 when it was established by the Obama administration.”
LOL. It wasn't "established by the Obama administration." The contract may have been signed during the Obama years, but the administration didn't "establish" the GEO Group's system of immigration concentration camps.
The company said the political contributions “should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate,” adding that it does “not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration policies.”
Steve Owen, a spokesman for CoreCivic, said that the company’s donation to Mr. Trump’s inauguration was “consistent with our past practice of civic participation in and support for the inauguration process.” He added that “under longstanding policy, CoreCivic does not draft, lobby for, promote or in any way take a position on proposals, policies or legislation that determine the basis or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.”
No, they just support candidates who do, via their PAC contributions, which is good for business. And as the FEC filings showed in the postmortem of the 2016 election, these private dungeons gave WAY more to the Trumpers than they did the Clintonites, and then really turned on the spigot for the inauguration.

Worse is the participation in politics of so-called non-profit and "faith-based" organizations which stand to reap said quid-pro-quo benefits. True, they can't donate directly to campaigns, but as the article notes, their connections to the Trumpers was beyond coincidental.
Although these nonprofits are not doling out campaign donations, some nonetheless have ties to the Trump administration.
Bethany Christian Services, a social services group that provides foster care to migrant children, has long been backed by the family foundation of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s education secretary. Over the years, the group has received more than $419,000 in grants from the foundation, tax records show.
Another member of the Trump cabinet, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once sat on the board of General Dynamics, which over the last 18 years has received millions of dollars in contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services office that works with migrant children. The company does not operate or construct any migrant shelters, but instead offers training and technical assistance to the shelters and provides other administrative services to the government. The company, which has a number of government contracts unrelated to the migrant children program, said it has “no role in the separation of children and families.”
General Dynamics, which has registered to lobby on the issue of “border security,” also operates a PAC that has donated to members of both parties, including more than $1.1 million to Republican candidates and causes during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company, which says its PAC “supports Congressional candidates who support a strong national defense, regardless of their party affiliation,” made one of those donations to the congressional campaign of Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.
BCFS — a nonprofit group that operates a number of shelters housing migrant children, including a tent city outside of El Paso that has been the focus of protests — counts a former Republican congressman, Henry Bonilla, as a longtime board member and a lobbyist. In December 2016, Mr. Bonilla met with Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, to discuss joining his cabinet as agriculture secretary. BCFS has also long retained Ray Sullivan, a lobbyist and onetime chief of staff to Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who is now Mr. Trump’s energy secretary.
And on and on it goes. The point being, as per usual when some form of criminal justice crackdown happens (war on immigration, war on drugs, war on terror, war on whatever), the rule of thumb you should always apply is follow the money. Who's making money off this and why? How are corporations and other so-called non-profits making coin off of human tragedy?

And the answers will inevitably explain said crackdown phenomenon, along with the depravity of capitalism and for-profit companies operating in the criminal justice system.