Archive | Class War

Social Security and Medicare: At stake, again

Social Security Disability Insurance Denial Help

I assume you all know we need a Democratic president to veto anything Paul Ryan manages to get through, right? Because the funding erosion has already begun:

The need for Social Security staff services has increased as baby boomers begin to retire. Instead, these services have been cut back since 2011. And in late July, as the American Federation of Government Employees noted, “the House Appropriations Committee cut President Obama’s proposed budget for the Social Security Administration (SSA) by $1.2 billion. If they get their way, SSA will be forced to operate on $263 million less than it does now — even though it’s already struggling to meet public demand.”

These congressional cuts would even force workers to take a two-week furlough. Crippling Social Security’s ability to function just when it’s needed most is the epitome of what Republican public policy has become. It’s part of a familiar right-wing strategy to degrade the quality of government services, then use that degradation to argue for privatization.

Not only does Social Security lift tens of millions of retirees out of poverty, but in 2014 3.2 million American kids directly received Social Security benefits, mostly in the form of survivor benefits. Another 10 million disabled workers were covered as well. But it’s not just these many millions of people who benefit: Retirement security for grandparents means more money for parents to invest in their children’s future. Security for orphans and disabled workers have similar spillover benefits as well. So attacks on Social Security really are a threat to Americans of all ages, now as well as in the future.

Those attacks are already well under way, thanks to the austerity measures imposed since the Tea Party first arrived in Washington with the GOP congressional wave of 2010. (The money comes directly from workers — not from the overall Federal budget — but Congress controls the spending.) During the current budget cycle, the attacks are getting worse, even as baby boomer retirements continue to swell the rolls. This erodes confidence in the system, thereby weakening it for even further attacks, privatization and dismantlement — the true conservative dream.

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Judge goes after Texas after they defy previous voting rights order

GregAbbott_4814

As most of you already know, the voting suppression tactics have kicked into high gear this year. (Maybe because they’re so worried.) And because recent polls have shown a tiny glimmer of Democratic hope in Texas, why, Greg Abbott is willing to defy a federal judge. He’s not getting away with it:

Earlier this month, the Justice Department informed a federal court that Texas is violating a recent court order that sought to keep the state from disenfranchising voters. After an appeals court struck down the state’s voter ID law, a common form of voter suppression favored by conservative lawmakers, the state agreed to be bound by an order that would permit voters to cast a ballot in the 2016 election if they “cannot reasonably obtain” photo ID.

Despite this order, Texas published press releases, voter education materials, and training manuals for poll workers that effectively stated that a voter without ID cannot vote unless it is literally impossible for that voter to obtain a photo ID. Thus, for example, a voter who had to make multiple day long trips to a government office and make burdensome document requests to obtain an ID would not be able to vote, under Texas’ standard, unless that voter was willing to jump through all of these considerable hoops.

On Tuesday, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, the judge overseeing this case, weighed in on Texas’ defiance of the court order. And, if the order she issued on Tuesday is any indication, she’s pissed.

For one thing, as the Huffington Post’s Cristian Farias notes on Twitter, Judge Ramos’ Tuesday order is stronger than a proposed order drafted by some of the plaintiffs in this case. The proposed order would have largely clarified that the court’s original order meant what it said. Judge Ramos’ Tuesday, order, by contrast, requires Texas to take several specific actions. It also subjects Texas to a kind of federal supervision similar to the oversight it faced before conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

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Elizabeth Warren kicks Wells Fargo CEO’s ass

This was a thing of beauty, to watch Sen. Warren give this guy the treatment he deserves:

And if you really want to torture yourself, you can watch her interview last night with Rachel Maddow in which she says that yes, there were criminal referrals against banks in the 2008 crash — and she wants to know why the FBI didn’t charge them:

Now, I have long since accepted that Obama believed what was left of the financial and economic system would not survive criminal charges. Who knows? I was not in his position, I don’t know. But I do know he told the American people there was nothing that rose to the level of criminal acts.

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Trump idiot: Something seem ‘different’ about this Obama fella to you guys?

RNC Masters in Politics Alex Castellanos Episode

Also, he doesn’t have a good American-sounding name like ‘Castellanos’ Thank goodness the Trump campaign has put that whole “birther” thing behind it with Donald Trump’s 30-second disavowal of the whole thing, which was Hillary Clinton’s fault anyway. But you know, the fact remains that this Barack HUSSEIN Obama sure is a lot different from real… Continue Reading →

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New PA bill to pay reparations for wrongful incarceration

I guess I just assumed this wasn’t a problem:

In Pennsylvania, people who have been wrongfully incarcerated for crimes they did not commit do not receive any reparations for the damages that resulted from years spent in prison.

This was the case for a former inmate named Tony Wright who served twenty-five years in jail for a murder he did not commit. He was wrongfully convicted in 1991, just avoiding the death penalty in a jury trial that voted 7 – 5 against it. On August 23, 2016 he was finally able to return to his life after the charges were dropped during a retrial in which the jury’s deliberation took under an hour to decide he was innocent.

The National Registry of Exonerations found that Wright’s case is one of fifty-four in Pennsylvania in which prisoners were later acquitted of criminal charges after serving out part or all of a prison sentence.

PA is one of only a handful of states that provide zero compensation to exonerated prisoners upon their release and is one of twenty states that requires a person to go through the judicial process of a civil lawsuit for hardships and damages that resulted from the years spent in jail.
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So remember when the Kochs denied they were funding all those groups?

Charles Koch - Caricature

Not so much now:

Billionaire Charles Koch is consolidating the array of conservative advocacy groups financed by his donor network, merging all the organizations into the main political arm, Americans for Prosperity, officials announced Friday.

Network leaders cast the surprising move as a way to operate more efficiently and better coordinate their organizing reach on the ground, which has increasingly become the focus of the operation. The change means that three smaller groups that target Latinos, veterans and millennials will now operate as part of AFP. The leaders of the LIBRE Initiative, Concerned Veterans for America and Generation Opportunity are all expected to remain in place, but will be running their organizations as branded projects under the AFP banner.

[…] The network’s financing of various advocacy groups began when the operation was far more low-profile, seeking to shield the role the Kochs and other donors played in its financing. In early 2014, when The Washington Post and Center for Responsive Politics used tax filings to map out the maze of groups financed by the network, officials declined to confirm how the organizations were connected. But in the years since, the network has taken a more public posture, inviting reporters to attend its twice-a-year donor seminars.

Scott Walker’s dark money runs deep

The Koch Brothers walking their dog, Scotty.

Two years ago, prosecutors investigating Scott Walker for illegal campaigning, alleged that he was the center of a “criminal scheme”: Prosecutors allege that Gov. Scott Walker was at the center of an effort to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups to help his campaign and those of Republican senators fend off recall elections during 2011 and… Continue Reading →

Court rules searches cannot be made based on someone’s residency

Let there be Peace among us

Huh. I didn’t even know this was still being done:

On Tuesday August 23, 2016 the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that police officers and law enforcement cannot stop and search out-of-state individuals based on where they live or what state license plate they have. The judges, in Denver, Colorado, voted two-to-one based on the case of Colorado resident Peter Vasquez.

Vasquez was pulled over by Kansas police who decided to search his vehicle. He had been driving alone during the night on Interstate 70, and the cops used his Colorado license plate to justify them searching through his car. The cops also justified their search by saying that the state of Colorado is a “drug source” where marijuana can be legally purchased.

The justices on the Tenth Circuit rejected these justifications because they are essentially another way for people to be discriminated against. Except for this time, instead of using a person’s gender, sexual orientation, or race, you are doing it based on the state where they live. Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero wrote in his opinion that: “It is time to abandon the pretense that state citizenship is a permissible basis upon which to justify the detention and search of out-of-state motorists.”

This ruling by the court means that Vasquez’s civil case can be reinstated. He was seeking damages from the two police officers for crossing the boundaries set by the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment is of course famous for its protections against unreasonable searches.

Vasquez, who turned 37 years old this year, feels vindicated by this decision because it backs up his belief that “police officers shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want” just because they have a badge or a job that yields significant power.
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