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House GOP Didn't Get Pope’s Memo On Poor Before Slashing Food Stamps

September 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

The GOP's war on the poor can now be seen in new and harsher light.


There’s nothing new about the House GOP’s war on America’s poor. They want people to go hungry. They want to deny people healthcare. Those were the bottom lines in votes on Thursday and Friday.

The first vote cut $40 billion from food stamps over the next decade, which today assist one in seven households. The second vote cut funding for implementing the Affordable Care Act, including outreach to the poor. 

Now the GOP’s critics don’t just include progressives and Democrats, they include Pope Francis, who called on people to help the poor after his election in March, and in a just-published interview, decried those with “dogmatic” and “obsessed” views inside the church, especially over human sexuality.

The papel interview, which surfaced within hours of the Republican-led House voting to cut billions from food stamps and then from healthcare, underscored just how extreme the GOP’s obsessions have become. There are 61 Republicans who are Catholic in the House; only 15 Republicans opposed the food stamp cuts; only one opposed cutting Obamacare.

“This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people,” the Pope said, chastizing idealogues. “I often associate sanctity with patience… as a constancy in going forward, day by day.”

There was little that was patient or inclusive in the House Republican’s ongoing tirade against the poor. If anything, their speeches calling for food stamp cuts were notable for their lack of understanding. They ignored the impact on the poor and presuppose that America is filled with people who don’t want to work and are waiting for government handouts.  

“There are workfare programs, there are options under the bill for community service,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, speaking of the bill's language cutting off food stamps after several months until the recipient has a job. “This bill that points to the dignity of a job—to help people when they need it most with …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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“Why Are You Looking for My Son?” The Day Troy Davis Was Wrongfully Accused of Killing a Police Officer

September 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Jen Marlowe, Martina Davis-Correia, Haymarket Books

On the anniversary of Troy Davis' execution, the new book “I Am Troy Davis” recounts the years leading up to his execution.


The following is an adapted excerpt from I Am Troy Davis. Copyright © 2013 by Jen Marlowe and Martina Davis-Correia with Troy Davis. Reprinted with permission of Haymarket Books, Chicago, IL.

Editor's note: On September 21, 2011, Troy Anthony Davis, who maintained his innocence, was executed for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail. Human rights groups, activists from around the world, and Davis' family and friends fought until the end to save his life. The following excerpt tells the story of the day police singled Davis out as the main suspect in the shooting death of officer Mark MacPhail.

August 19, 1989:

It was after 2 a.m. when Troy finally got home. He shook his head as he climbed into bed. He didn’t know the source of the gunshots he had heard as he was leaving the Greyhound bus station/Burger King parking lot, but whatever had gone down, it was messed up. Mama and Daddy had warned him about hanging out with the wrong crowd and spending time at places like the pool hall across from the bus station. Maybe it was time to start listening to them.

It seemed to Troy that his head had barely hit the pillow when Mama was knocking on the door and calling him to breakfast. He checked the clock. Just before ten. “Five more minutes, Mama,” he groaned, pulling the pillow over his face. Mama would have none of it. “You all get up!” she hollered, knocking more vehemently on his door and the girls’ door. After breakfast, Virginia asked Troy to do the dishes.

“Ma, that’s a girl’s job!” Troy protested. Mama raised her eyebrows. “That’s what your daddy fed to y’all, that men don’t wash dishes. Boys can wash dishes!” Troy pushed his plate away and stood up. “I’ll take the trash out, Mama.” He hoisted the garbage bag onto his shoulder and headed to the front door. “Clean the whole yard while you’re at it, since you won’t do the dishes!” …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Plundering The Provinces

September 20, 2013 in Economics

By Joseph Salerno

While incomes and living standards in the rest of the U.S. have been declining since the beginning of the new millennium thanks to the ever-increasing depredations of Big Government, Central Banking  and Crony Capitalists on productive Americans, things have been going just swimmingly in the Imperial City of Washington, D.C. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, average household (inflation-adjusted) income has jumped by 23.3% to $66,583 in D.C. between 2000 and 2012. During the same period median household income for the rest of the country has fallen by 6.6%, from $55,030 to $51,371. Disaggregating the data for the rest of the U.S., only 4 states enjoyed gains while 35 states suffered declines in real income.

When we expand the survey area a bit to include the D.C. suburbs in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, where most of the high-level Federal bureaucrats, government contractors, and lobbyists working in D.C. reside, median household income leaps to $88,233. This puts the D.C. metro area at the very top of the list of the 25 most populous metro areas in the U.S. in terms of median household income, revealing an even more glaring and growing income disparity between the political predators and their cronies on the one hand and the private producers of wealth on the other.

The establishment media and many economists and other social scientists continually bemoan the varying income differences generated by voluntary and ever changing consumer choices on the market. In fact, these differences are not a problem at all,  but rather the necessary and benign outcome of a dynamically efficient market economy, which rewards all market participants according to their productivity in serving consumer wants. Furthermore, the obsession with “income inequality” obscures the enormity and the very existence of the real problem, which is ”income plundering” of the productive class by the political class. The latter class is composed of politicians, bureaucrats and their allied special interests in the private sector. In the U.S., the political class regularly and forcibly extracts a massive amount of income from productive workers, investors, and entrepreneurs via taxation and money creation (“quantitative easing” and “zero interest-rate policies”) and funnels these stolen funds into its own pockets and those of privileged financial institutions, giant agribusiness corporations, government military contractors, construction unions, etc. Recently, in the U.S. this plundering of productive incomes has grown to an enormous scale, enabled by the huge Federal budget deficits financed by the Fed’s money printing. Plutocratic exploitation, therefore, and not …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Paula Deen's Comeback: Proof Racism Still Sells in America

September 20, 2013 in Blogs

By David Dennis , The Guardian

Despite her racist past, Deen's career will continue unscathed.


 

Paula Deen has been rather quiet since a June deposition exposed her use of slurs and racial discrimination; a revelation that led to a loss of all of her endorsements and her television show. On Saturday, she made her first public appearance since the big scandal as part of a cooking demonstration in Texas. When Deen walked on stage, she received a 10-minute standing ovation.

She told the crowd:

I've said all along that the one place that I would want to make my first step back out was Texas. Y'all's hearts are as big as your state.

Before that event, a survey of Georgia Republicans showed that Deen – with 73% support – was more popular than Martin Luther King Jr, who only received 59% positive reaction.

Appalled? I'd imagine so. Surprised? You absolutely shouldn't be.

When the revelation was made that Paula Deen had a past (and not-so-distant past) of racist behavior and use of racial slurs, I knew one sad fact about her career moving forward: she is going to be as popular as ever before. Sure, Deen lost endorsements and television shows, but she earned a passionate fan base. Paula Deen guaranteed that she'd always have a substantial population of fans who would support her after she was revealed as a racist. Because racism will always have a market in America.

Paula Deen is the perfect symbol of perpetuating racism in America. For some in the south, she doesn't represent bigotry as much as she represents a tribute to the past. Southern pride is indelibly linked to a racist past. I'm not saying everyone in the south does this. It's perfectly normal and prominent for southerners to celebrate their rich history without embracing its roots of slavery and racism, and I've seen people do this firsthand growing up in Mississippi. However, it's so easy to accept and recreate even the nastiest parts of the south under the guise of tradition so many hold on to so tightly. That's where Paula Deen comes in.

Deen's racism …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Understanding the Doctors Who Perform Late-Term Abortions and the Women who Get Them

September 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

The makers of the new documentary “After Tiller” discuss the controversial procedure of late-term abortion and the four doctors in the U.S. who perform it.


In the United States, Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of late-term abortions—abortions after the 25th week of pregnancy. A 2013 Gallup poll found that while 61% of people in the U.S. believe abortion should be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, only 14 percent believe that abortion should be legal in the last three months.

A new documentary that premiered at Sundance is shining a light on late-term abortion, which account for fewer than 1 percent of all abortions in the U.S. Directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, After Tillerfollows the only four doctors in the U.S. who openly provide these third-trimester abortions. The film paints a picture of their daily lives, which often start with walking past anti-abortion protesters to enter their offices and end with the time they spend with their loving families. In between, the documentary shows them interacting with their patients, who come to seek late-term abortions for a variety of reasons, from finding out a child would be born with extreme deficiencies to being in denial about a pregnancy after being raped.

Throughout the documentary, the doctors face a myriad of obstacles, including moral dilemmas at work and danger in their personal lives. One doctor is even forced to move to Maryland after the Nebraska state legislature passes a ban on abortion after 20 weeks.

While Roe v. Wadelegalized abortion in 1973, it allowed states to ban abortions in the third-trimester, with exceptions for the life or health of the woman. Only nine states allow third-trimester abortions without legal constrictions, which continue to grow rapidly nationwide. Over the past three years, nine states have passed a 20-week abortion ban.

Martha Shane and Lana Wilson recently discussed their film with AlterNet.

Alyssa Figueroa: Where did the idea to make a documentary on late-term abortion come from?

Lana Wilson: It came from watching the news coverage of Dr. [George] Tiller’s death in 2009. It was such a shocking event, but I remember being …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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RIP, the Middle Class: 1946-2013

September 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Edward McClelland, Salon

The 1 percent hollowed out the middle class and our industrial base. And Washington just let it happen


 

I know I’m dating myself by writing this, but I remember the middle class.

I grew up in an automaking town in the 1970s, when it was still possible for a high school graduate — or even a high school dropout — to get a job on an assembly line and earn more money than a high school teacher.

“I had this student,” my history teacher once told me, “a real chucklehead. Just refused to study. Dropped out of school, a year or so later, he came back to see me. He pointed out the window at a brand-new Camaro and said, ‘That’s my car.’ Meanwhile, I was driving a beat-up station wagon. I think he was an electrician’s assistant or something. He handed light bulbs to an electrician.”

In our neighbors’ driveways, in their living rooms, in their backyards, I saw the evidence of prosperity distributed equally among the social classes: speedboats, Corvette Stingrays, waterbeds, snowmobiles, motorcycles, hunting rifles, RVs, CB radios. I’ve always believed that the ’70s are remembered as the Decade That Taste Forgot because they were a time when people without culture or education had the money to not only indulge their passions, but flaunt them in front of the entire nation. It was an era, to use the title of a 1975 sociological study of a Wisconsin tavern, of blue-collar aristocrats.

That all began to change in the 1980s. The recession at the beginning of that decade – America’s first Great Recession – was the beginning of the end for the bourgeois proletariat. Steelworkers showed up for first shift to find padlocks on mill gates. Autoworkers were laid off for years. The lucky ones were transferred to plants far from home. The unlucky never built another car.

When I was growing up, it was assumed that America’s shared prosperity was the natural endpoint of our economy’s development, that capitalism had produced the workers paradise to which Communism unsuccessfully aspired. Now, with the perspective of 40 years, it’s obvious that the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Prison Shocker: U.S. Imprisons Three Times as Many Black People as South Africa During Apartheid

September 20, 2013 in Blogs

By Rod Bastanmehr, AlterNet

Even Congressional Republicans were a bit disturbed by that stat.


The United States imprisons almost three times as many Black people than were jailed in South Africa during Apartheid, Rep. Spencer Bachus said Thursday during a subcommittee oversight hearing on the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While games of comparison are rarely productive, the American prison industrial complex has seen cries of racism for years now. And for once, both Democrats and Republicans are up in arms over the shocking state of affairs and say they are in favor of overhauling a system that many say is broken and biased. 

Bachus reported that the U.S. prison population hovered around 24,000 for most of the 1900s until suddenly, in the 1980s, the country saw a staggering rise in the inmate population to nearly a quarter million. The main causes? the War on Drugs that began in the 1980s under then-President Ronald Reagan, mandatory sentencing and three-strikes laws, all of which, most agree, disproportionately affect minorities.

The rise in prison population may have another less publicized cause: gradual privatization of the prison industry, with its profits over justice motives. If the beds aren't filled, states are required to pay the prison companies for the empty space, which means taxpayers are largely left to deal with the bill that might come from lower crime  and imprisonment rates. Most privately built prisons mandate 90%-occupancy rates,  according to the new report by In The Public Interest. The incentive to do so is big. When the state of Arizona recently failed to meet its 97% quota, the state paid the prison company Management & Training Corporation $3 million, the Huffington Post reports

Of all the contracts that the advocacy group assessed, nearly two-thirds of the quotas were met. The prisons in question then were found to use the profits to expand their reach, pulling a variety of strings in an effort to make lawmakers increase incarceration stats through new laws. The US currently leads the world in incarcerating its residents, with one in every 100 adults behind bars, making it a $6 billion annual industry. Over …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ralph Raico and David Gordon Discuss George Smith’s ‘The System of Liberty.’

September 20, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

At Liberty Matters Online:

This is a discussion of George H. Smith’s new book The System of Liberty: Themes in the History of Classical Liberalism published by Cambridge University Press (2013). Smith describes how he came to write the book, the works of the history of political thought which inspired him (in particular the writings of the German legal historian Otto von Gierke), and the methodology he uses in approaching the history of ideas (Locke’s idea of “the presumption of coherence”). He demonstrates his approach with a brief discussion of one of the key ideas he has identified in the history of classical liberal thought, namley, the idea of “inalienable rights,” or to phrase it in the terminology of 17th century natural rights philosophers like Pufendorf, the distinction between “perfect and imperfect rights.” His essay is discussed by Jason Brennan, assistant professor of strategy, economics, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown University; David Gordon, Senior Fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute; and Ralph Raico, Professor Emeritus of History at the Buffalo State College.

Lead Essay: George H. Smith, “The System of Liberty” [September, 2013]

Responses and Critiques

  1. Jason Brennan, “The Idea of Freedom: Little Is at Stake” [Posted: September 6, 2013]
  2. David Gordon, “Utilitarianism and Natural Rights” [Posted: September 9, 2013]
  3. Ralph Raico, “Why Only in the West?” [Posted: September 11, 2013]

The Conversation

  1. George H. Smith’s Reply to Ralph Raico, David Gordon, and Jason Brennan [Posted: September 13, 2013]
  2. Ralph Raico, “What Thou Meanest by Seizing the Whole Earth?” [Posted: September 18, 2013]

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Introducing ‘The Mises View.’ This Week: Peter Klein on Bernanke

September 20, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

The Mises View is a new video series examining timely issues related to the economy, booms and busts, government intervention, and more.

This week, Peter Klein discusses The Fed’s non-taper announced on Wednesday.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Ron Paul on Charlie Rose

September 20, 2013 in Economics

By Mises Updates

In this interview, Ron Paul discusses government vs. private sector regulation, the housing bust, the bailouts, stimulus, foreign policy and his new book.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE