By Jueseppi B.
White House Tweets – August 13, 2013
FACT: Our deficit is down 37.6% through July—and on track to be the lowest in 5 years.
President Barack Hussein Obama and the First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Obama after enjoying dinner at The Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs,
From The ACLU Blog:
Attorney General Eric Holder just called mass incarceration a moral and economic failure. He just outlined several major proposals that he says will help to ease major overcrowding in federal prisons. And he just suggested that federal prosecutors should avoid harsh mandatory minimums for certain low-level, non-violent drug offenses.
What should we make of the nation’s top prosecutor calling out the US for throwing too many people behind bars and challenging the failed war on drugs?
First off, we should acknowledge that this is a big deal! This is the first speech by any Attorney General calling for such massive criminal justice reforms. This is the first major address from the Obama Administration calling for action to end the mass incarceration crisis and reduce the racial disparities that plague our criminal justice system. In the same speech, the Attorney General committed to take on the school-to-prison pipeline and called on Congress to end the forced budget cuts that have decimated public defenders nationwide. This is great news.
The ACLU can proudly say that it has been deeply engaged in policy discussions with this administration, and Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Many of the reforms that we have long championed made it into the Attorney General’s speech, including:
- Developing guidelines to file fewer cases
- Directing a group of U.S. Attorneys to examine sentencing disparities and develop recommendations to address them
- Directing every U.S. Attorney to designate a Prevention and Reentry Coordinator
- Directing every DOJ component to consider whether regulations have collateral consequences that impair reentry
- Reducing mandatory minimum charging for low-level drug offenses
- Expanding eligibility for compassionate release; and
- Identifying and sharing best practices for diversion programs
- Calling into question zero tolerance policies and other policies that lead to the school to prison pipeline
- Challenging the legal community to make the promise of Gideon (right to counsel) more of a reality
The Attorney General has assured us that this is just the beginning, and he is taking on the bipartisan spirit that has produced state level reforms and has fueled the reduction in state prison populations. These changes are long overdue because the federal prison population continues to grow and is 40% overcapacity. What’s worse, as a soon to be released ACLU report will show, a stunning 2,074 federal inmates are serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole for nonviolent crimes.
Mandatory minimums are partially to blame, leading to a situation in which billions of federal dollars currently go to incarcerating people convicted of low-level drug crimes. It’s great Holder is leading the way, but there is a limit to what he can accomplish by executive action alone. Congress needs to step up. While the ACLU advocates for the repeal of all mandatory minimums, we strongly support bipartisan bills introduced by Senators Paul and Leahy and Senators Durbin and Lee to lessen the impact of mandatory minimums. We welcome the Attorney General’s support of this legislation and his urging of Congress to take swift action.
Too many people are caught in the criminal justice system who don’t need to be there; diverting those people out of the system makes sense economically and morally.
Many sick and elderly people can be safely released from prison and jail. The ACLU has issued numerous reports including this one, noting that approximately 13.5% of federal prisons are age 50 or older and calling on states and the federal government to make both short-term reforms and systemic changes to our country’s extreme sentencing practices.
People with criminal convictions have for too long been excluded from the economy. We should support Holder in calling for reforms to help people leaving the system, such as federal reentry coordinators and fewer collateral consequences facing people with criminal convictions (which would, in turn, make it easier for people with criminal convictions to obtain employment and housing).
But Holder’s proposal to avoid the harsh impact of mandatory minimums won’t accomplish everything because it is totally dependent on prosecutors’ following his lead. And this is not an example of executive overreach—federal prosecutors have always had the authority to avoid mandatory minimums. Whether they’ll exercise that discretion now remains to be seen. The Justice Department must be vigilant in tracking prosecutors’ charging practices to make sure they do the right thing.
These are welcome reforms, but more can be done to deepen their impact. We need to keep pushing the Justice Department to take action to eliminate racial disparities throughout the criminal justice system by updating the Ashcroft guidance on the use of race in federal law enforcement and to be even more outspoken with Members of Congress and the US Sentencing Commission in reducing the extreme sentencing laws that caused the mass incarceration crisis in the first place.
The ACLU will continue to work with the Justice Department to advance the types of reforms announced today, and we’re thrilled to see the Attorney General taking action in this area.
Thank you The ACLU Blog.
From The Huffington Post:
A Florida woman accidentally shot her friend in the leg while waiting in line at a Starbucks on Saturday.
Police say Pamela Beck and Amie Peterson were getting coffee at the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg when Beck moved to set her bags down in order to pay for her drink.
Her purse “hit the ground hard,” St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz told The Huffington Post, and a fully loaded .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun that was in the bottom of the handbag fired, striking Peterson above the knee.
Beck told investigators that her father had given her the gun about a year ago, and she hadn’t intended to bring it out in public. “She had forgotten about it,” Puetz said.
Beck does not have a concealed carry weapons permit, according to police, and the case has been referred to prosecutors.
Peterson was treated and released at a nearby trauma center. Other victims of recent accidental shootings have not been so fortunate: this month a three-year-old boy in Tampa fatally shot himself after finding his uncle’s gun in a bedroom, a 2-year-old Kentucky girl died after being accidentally shot by her brother, and a six-year-old girl was critically wounded outside Fort Lauderdale after her brother found a handgun.
Strangely, the incident isn’t the first time a gun has fired from inside a woman’s purse at Starbucks. The Associated Press reported a 2011 incident in which an underaged girl, encouraged to carry a gun by her father, was cited after it fired inside her purse and narrowly missed customers.
Recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show almost seven people are wounded by gunfire every 60 minutes in the U.S.
The Huffington Post.
BY HAYES BROWN ON AUGUST 12, 2013
Proponents of conspiracy theories about what the Obama administration is hiding about the 2012 attack on an American outpost in Benghazi have a new target in their sights: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).
“I don’t think at this point in time that it’s necessary,” Boehner told Fox News in May about the desire from some in his party to form a “special committee” in the House of Representatives to investigate the the attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. That denial has true believers in President Obama’s malfeasance the night of the crisis — whatever that may be — turning on Boehner, despite the Speaker having reportedly made clear that he believes the Benghazi issue is a winner for the GOP.
The advocacy group Special Operations Speaks (SOS) recently announced that it is circulating a petition and would be placing billboards in Boehner’s congressional district calling out the Speaker for turning his back on the cause. “ONE MAN stands between the American people and the Watergate-style Select Committee needed to get to the truth and deliver justice. It’s not Barack Obama. It’s not Eric Holder. It’s not John Kerry either,” the email announces, “House Speaker John Boehner is the ONE MAN blocking a real investigation of Benghazi.”
“Boehner’s stonewalling is helping Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and the rest of Obama’s corrupt administration get away with the deadliest scandal in American history,” the email goes on to read, referencing the various debunked theories about the supposed cover-up. According to SOS, by not taking action on forming a special committee, Boehner “continues to help hide the truth by denying a vote to form a Select Committee.”
Boehner is also receiving push back from rank-and-file members on his unwillingness to treat Benghazi as a Watergate-level scandal. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), the leading advocate for the creation of a special committee,filed a bill to do just that, signing up 163 co-sponsors onto H.Res. 36. Boehner has refused to allow that bill to hit the floor, however, leaving it for now in the House Rules Committee. In response, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) in late July filed what’s known as a discharge petition to help get the bill out of committee and up for a vote, which SOS’s billboard urges Boehner’s constituents to call him in support of.
Stockton, Wolf, and Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) all took part in an unveiling of a 60-foot long petition — at a press conference sponsored by SOS — calling on Boehner to act swiftly on the discharge petition, an event that Fox News heavily promoted. Fox News contributor and former Congressman Allen West (R-FL) has also weighed in on the matter, accusing Boehner and other Republicans of complicity in the alleged “cover-up” for not supporting the special committee. The Speaker’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the discharge petition and the billboards going up in Ohio.
The irony of the situation is that Boehner as recently as May had been described as being “obsessed” with Benghazi. Working closely with House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and other relevant committee chairs, Boehner has allowed for hearing after hearing into the incident, hoping to expose some form of Obama administration cover-up. To date, these fishing expeditions have come up empty, something that has not discouraged the conspiracy theorists.
Despite the current infighting over the issue, ordinary Americans still show no real urge to buy into the witch-hunt that the Republicans are trying to sell. House GOP aides have also grown weary of the attention many members are still according the incident. Despite that, the Republican National Committee continues to insist there’s a there there, releasing anew video attacking former Secretary of State — and possible 2016 presidential contender– Hillary Clinton for her role the night of the attack.
Thank you .
Republicans might want to hide their wingnuts from America — but Donald Trump and Steve King won’t let it happen
BY JIM NEWELL
Donald Trump, Steve King, Louie Gohmert (Credit: Reuters/Steve Marcus/AP/Carolyn Kaster/Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
OK, Republicans, let’s put it all on the table and see what you’ve got. Now’s your moment. It’s August, of a Democratic president’s fifth year in office. His poll numbers are slumping accordingly. Look at the old bum; guy’s on vacation and can’t even make a putt. He’s waiting to be crushed. You’ve got one hot month worth of recess time to make it happen, to bring out the GOP “big dogs” and assume leadership of this country for the next couple of political cycles. It’s your time. Whatcha got for us?
Ha ha ha, oh. This is it, huh? Let’s look at the hot shot GOP politicians who appeared on this weekend’s political television shows to give voice to the party’s rebirth, new offensive, etc., etc.
• Rep. Louie Gohmert, the flat-out dumbest member of the congressional GOP. (At least based on the constant stream of dumb things he says at all times. Maybe he’s “smart in real life.”) Gohmert appeared on ABC’s “This Week” to defend the dying congressional plan to commit political suicide, by defunding Obamacare through a budget showdown this fall. He referred to President Obama’s suggestion that the GOP is trying to prevent 30 million people from getting healthcare coverage, by trying to block funding for the program that would give 30 million people healthcare coverage, as an “absolute, blatant lie.” How’s that? “Whether or not they have insurance under an exchange or not does not prevent people from getting healthcare.” Everyone already gets healthcare now so it’s fine, got it.
As for the Big Plan: “Gohmert said he supports efforts to shut down government unless Obamacare is defunded, saying there aren’t enough votes for it now but there may be after August recess.” Once the masses see Gohmert the logician on TV a few more times, see, they’ll be all for suicide.
• Rep. Steve King, the current holder of the highly coveted most racist member of the congressional GOP title. King went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to discuss his well-publicized research in the field of dirty Mexicans’ calves. He insisted that his math on the Mexican valedictorian-to-drug-mule ratio still checks out, because, well, he’s seen some things in his time:
“My numbers have not been debunked,” he said. “I said valedictorians compared to people who would be legalized under the act that are drug smugglers coming across the border. My characterization was exclusively to drug smugglers.”
“What’s their number?” King asked of those who have condemned his remarks. “How many valedictorians do they suggest? And I’ll tell you, I’ve seen the drug smugglers.”
After GOP consultant Ana Navarro — who, like us, was wondering Jesus Christ why the shit is Steve King on “Meet the Press” – told King to get “therapy for his melon fixation,” King responded in perfect fashion by questioning her ability to understand the English language: “And if Ana understands the language, she should know that. I didn’t insult her or other Republicans.” You get-a what-a he say-ey, Ana?
• Donald Trump, an actual human-size cantaloupe, presumably snuck over the border inside one of those Mexicans’ calves some years ago. Trump sat down for an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” where he expanded his quest for BIRTH CERTIFICATES. After he “defended his previous accusation that President Obama may not actually have been born in the United States,” he laid the groundwork for the 2016 campaign, saying that he’ll never run against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is a mysterious Canadian Hispanic ghost, of some sort, it’s complicated.
During an interview for “This Week,” real estate mogul Donald Trump questioned whether Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would be eligible for the White House given his Canadian birth.
“If he was born in Canada, perhaps not.” Trump told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.
“I don’t know the circumstances. I heard somebody told me he was born in Canada. That’s really his thing,” he said.
“That’s really his thing.” See, he’s respectful nowadays.
Trump was in Iowa to give a speech to conservatives at the Family Leadership Summit. Think about that sentence for a minute.
The GOP is back, baby.
Jim Newell has covered politics for Wonkette and Gawker and is a contributor to the Guardian.MORE JIM NEWELL.
Thank you Salon.com.
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