Friday Mashup (3/1/13)

  • Did you know that conservatives are “leading” on prison “reform”? I mean, the Daily Tucker says it here, so it must be true, right (snark)…

    In conservative states like Texas, Georgia, and South Dakota, conservative policymakers have spearheaded statutory and budgetary reforms that prioritize prison space for violent and dangerous offenders while strengthening cost-effective alternatives that hold nonviolent offenders accountable.

    I have to admit that there’s a smattering of truth in that claim, but as far as I’m concerned, not much.

    To begin, I should point out that you really can’t talk about the state of prisons in this country without talking about the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA). And you certainly can’t talk about the state of prisons in Texas without mentioning CCA; as noted here from 2010 about a scheme to privatize prison health care under the banner of “deficit reduction” (sound familiar?)…

    Private prisons are a big business in Texas, where the combination of federal immigration policies and one of the nation’s largest inmate populations has led to a boom in construction over the last two decades. As governor, Perry, the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, has supported privatizing everything from public lands to highways, but according to Scott Henson, a criminal-justice watchdog who runs the blog Grits for Breakfast, the governor had remained largely quiet on the prisons issue—until this year.

    That coincided with an influx of campaign contributions from private-prison executives and lobbyists, among them his former top aide, Michael Toomey, a political powerbroker who represents the nation’s largest private corrections contractor…CCA, per its website, “provides health care services to male and female inmates and youthful offenders who are housed in local jails, detention facilities, and correctional institutions around the country.” (Toomey told Mother Jones he had not lobbied Perry’s office or the state Legislature on the prison health care plan; Perry’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)

    Toomey, who had not contributed directly to any of the governor’s previous gubernatorial campaigns, opened up his wallet for two separate $10,000 donations to Perry two months before Election Day in 2010. Thomas Beasley, the founder of CCA, has given $17,000 to Perry’s campaigns over the last decade. Another private prison firm, the GEO Group, poured $15,000 into Perry’s 2010 reelection effort in 2010 through its eponymous political action committee. Luis Gonzalez, a GEO Group lobbyist, meanwhile, gave $50,000 to Perry’s reelection bid.

    Hmm, I can smell the conflict of interest like some sizzlin’ Texas beef barbecue. Can you?

    Turning to the Peach State, I give you the following (here)…

    For inmates at one Georgia prison, a one minute phone call could cost them five times more than they earn for a day of work.

    The Correction Corporation Of America’s Stewart facility, a private prison in Lumpkin, Georgia, is forcing prisoners to pay five dollars per minute to use the phone, Alternet reports (h/t ThinkProgress). The exorbitant rate would break most people’s budget, but it’s especially costly for inmates that the prison who make just one dollar per day to work at the facility.

    Faced with huge budget shortfalls, states are increasingly relying on privatized prisons to house criminals in their state and the for-profit corporations behind those prisons are coming up with various ways to maximize revenue. The money the Stewart prison is collecting from its 2,000 prisoners to use the phone helped the prison net profits of $35 to $50 million a year, ThinkProgress reports.

    Also, as noted here, what we have in Georgia, among other places, is basically a de facto criminalization of immigration. And turning to South Dakota, this tells us that the inmate population grew from “550 inmates in 1977 to more than 3,600 last year, outpacing the national prison growth rate” (in South Dakota, which comes out to about 500 percent).

    Call me a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but I wonder if the so-called prison reform movement by conservatives emphasizing decriminalization for non-violent offenses, which apparently is actually accomplishing some good, is also in part a feint so people don’t pay more attention to locking up illegals, which we seem to do in this country in ever-greater numbers, as well as paying attention to what is transpiring from outfits like CCA, aided and abetted by the silence of politicians who could turn over what I’m sure are some pretty unseemly rocks (including the fact that, as noted here, it doesn’t take much to draw a line from CCA back to ALEC and the Kochs – CCA ditched them, but I would argue that they did so because they didn’t need them any more).

    (Oh, and let’s not forget how the supposed “savior” of the Repugs tried to get CCA into “The Sunshine State,” as noted here.)

    Given all of that, I don’t think anyone has a right to crow about how reform-minded we supposedly are in a country where we still incarcerate a higher percentage of our population than any other nation on earth (here).

  • Next (and sticking with Tucker Carlson’s crayon scribble page), someone named Jamie Weinstein brought us the following nonsense here

    Listen to (Minnesota Dem U.S. House Rep Keith) Ellison’s plan to solve our long-term debt problem. He mentions closing tax loopholes and ending certain deductions for large corporations, citing specifically tax breaks for oil companies and special tax deductions for corporate jets. If Congress took Ellison’s advice on these two proposals, America’s deficit would decrease, at the very most, much less than $5 billion dollars a year. Our deficit last year was over $1 trillion. Our total debt is over $16 trillion.

    At best, Ellison is ignorant and/or an idiot.

    (Definitely glad I didn’t watch this clown on “Real Time with Bill Maher” recently; I understand that Maher is, first and foremost, an entertainer, but if he isn’t going to have a conservative who actually makes sense sometimes like David Frum, Rich Galen or Fareed Zakaria, then he really shouldn’t even bother.)

    I don’t know what exactly it says about Weinstein that he bothered to link to “Tiger Beat on the Potomac” for the item about oil industry subsides (worth about $40 billion) and didn’t mention the amount (here). I also don’t know what it says about him that he rather shockingly linked to a Center for American Progress post about closing the corporate jet loophole over 10 years ($3.2 billion) but didn’t provide the details, including how that would fund WIC, Head Start, Special Education, Title 1, and housing vouchers.

    And of course, Weinstein ignores what Prof. Krugman points out here – namely that the Obama Administration has already pursued deficit reduction (with the Budget Control Act and the American Taxpayer Relief Act), and all we need is about $1.2 to $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years to maintain our current debt-to-GDP ratio.

    Ellison has also proposed eliminating the damn sequester already here, along with fellow Dem Rep. Raul Grijalva, which automatically makes these two guys a lot smarter than many of the other horses asses on Capitol Hill (as noted here, Ellison did indeed vote against the Budget Control Act that created the sequester…more on Ellison railing against budget cuts, which really don’t do a hell of a lot to shrink our deficit anyway, here – also, based on this, the case can definitely be made that Obama has cut the deficit by $2.4 trillion already).

    Why Weinstein doesn’t point out any of this is a mystery to me. At best, he is either ignorant and/or an idiot (and speaking of idiots – Hannity, I mean…).

  • Continuing, I came across some true hilarity at clownhall.com here

    Liberals, whose connection with Hispanic America consists of lecturing their nannies about ensuring that little Bayley is raised in a gender neutral environment and doesn’t make toy guns out of his Legos, think all Hispanics are the same.

    In response to the life form named Kurt Schlichter who concocted this dreck, I give you this telling us, among other things, that President Obama is currently faring well with Hispanics.

    But of course it’s the “liberal establishment” that’s being driven by anger and fear.

    Sure it is.

  • Further, I give you the latest in that drama known as “As The Sequester Turns” from that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor (here)…

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Thursday blasted President Obama for touring around the country “scaring people, creating havoc” instead of working on a replacement for the sequester.

    “That’s supposed to be leadership?” Cantor asked on the House floor. “The president says to Americans that their food is going to go un-inspected, and that our borders will be less patrolled and unsafe.

    “His cabinet secretaries are holding press conferences and conducting TV interviews, making false claims about teacher layoffs.”

    I’m not going to bother pointing out once more that Number 44 is fundamentally correct on the impact due to hit us shortly, but instead, I’ll just link to this which lets us know that, as is the case on just about every other subject, Cantor has zero credibility when it comes to talking about the sequester.

    Cantor also said that the House supposedly passed an alternative and said that it’s time for the Senate to do the same – the first item is an utter lie (as noted here), and concerning the second, the Senate Dems offered a replacement, and Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao and his pals did what they do best – again (here).

    (And when it comes to the sequester, let’s not forget this.)

    Update: By the way, to get some idea of the cuts coming from the sequester and how they affect PA (and nationally), click here (thanks to the office of U.S. House Rep Allyson Schwartz).

  • LeBron1_LBJ

  • Finally, please allow me to try and leave my imprint on popular culture again after reading this story.

    This item really isn’t about basketball, but to me, it has more than a little bit to do with trying to equate someone idolized in professional sport with a legendary former President of the United States (yes, Vietnam took off on his watch, but you could argue that, between the two of them, Nixon, at a minimum, presided over at least as many casualties as Lyndon B. Johnson…probably more considering that Nixon escalated the war; being the filthy, unkempt liberal that I am, I tend to equate Number 36 more with The Great Society than anything else).

    36_lbj_1
    So for that reason, LBJ, to me, should be this guy…

    lebron-james-cory-mckee
    …and not this guy.

    And for anyone thinking that I’m making a mountain out of a proverbial molehill, let me point out the conservative apoplexy that would result if a serial killer was ever brought to trial who happened to be named Ronald Reagan: Irrational Spew, The Weakly Standard and others would be making every possible effort to make sure this person was referred to in the press as “Ronald B. Reagan,” “Ronald W.T. Reagan,” “Ronald Cleophus Reagan”…whatever – you see my point.

    Now I promise I won’t bring up this subject again unless and until the day comes when a superstar hockey player arrives from the Canadian junior leagues, holds out for a multi-million dollar contract, acts in a generally boorish way towards fans across the National Hockey League…and his name happens to be Jerry Francis Kinkaid :-).

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    2 Responses to Friday Mashup (3/1/13)

    1. We need a freeze of governement expenses. We should only maintain essential spending. After all, if it’s not essential, why are we spending money on it? Our children are getting further in debt before they are even born…

      • doomsy says:

        I respect your opinion and appreciate your comment, but the issue isn’t debt that our kids will inherit in and of itself. The issue is how much, of course, and whether or not deficit reduction is targeted properly so it doesn’t snuff out our economic recovery. My point, as well as that made by people far smarter than I on this stuff, is that the sequester’s cuts aren’t smart in that regard. Also, one person’s spending that is truly essential for them to survive is another person’s “pork” or “entitlement.” On top of that, what is hurting our kids more than anything else isn’t the deficit, which is actually going down. What is hurting our kids most is “austerity,” used as an excuse for not rebuilding our infrastructure, raising revenue so it comes closer to one-for-one in terms of spending cuts, and doing everything reasonably possible to reduce the rate of unemployment in this country.

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