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Hunger strike

I’ve never understood why liberals seem so horrified by torture — but apparently only when it takes place in another country. The conditions in our jails continue to be a disgrace, and in many places, they’re getting worse because they’ve been outsourced to for-profit companies (and we all know what that means). Yet jail reform is far down on the list of liberal priorities. It’s easy to look away because, well, they’re the bad guys.

I’m not suggesting that maximum security prisoners be “coddled”, as conservatives like to accuse. Yes, I realize inmates are not angels — but let’s get real: Neither are their guards, some of whom sell contraband drugs and other black market items, and trade sexual favors for special treatment. Insisting on human dignity and humane conditions is not some crazy liberal idea, it’s simple human decency. And of course, that’s not even considering the long-term mental-health damage done to these prisoners by extended isolation. There are other options, including the state freeing enough low-risk drug offenders at other facilities to free up space.

I hope this story gets more traction, because it needs a wider audience:
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‘Not a preferred option’

So is multimillionaire President Obama is something different than a Third Way-loving neoliberal? I can’t wait to hear multimillionaire talking head Lawrence O’Donnell explain this one:

WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday closed the door a little more on the debt proposal being floated by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) [Ed. note: apprx. $17 million; wife Elaine Chao, board member of Wells Fargo and other boards, compensation unknown], a measure already under siege by conservatives.

“This is not a preferred option,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney [Ed. note: annual salary $172K, married to ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman, believed to be $700K per annum] said of McConnell’s proposal in his daily briefing.

McConnell’s proposal for avoiding debt default — to transfer full power to raise the debt ceiling to the White House for the remainder of Obama’s current term, cutting Congress out of the process — does nothing to address deficit reduction, Carney said. And Obama is set on making sizable cuts.

“The president is firmly committed to significant cuts in spending and to dealing with our deficit and debt problems in a balanced way,” he said. “Bigger is better. … It’s an opportunity for a game-changer, to put the United States on much firmer ground as we really get into the 21st century and the economic competition that confronts us.”

You got that, people? This is from the White House press secretary: “Bigger is better.” You say “rope-a-dope,” I say “watch your wallets.”
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Drama Queen Mitch

As Atrios said yesterday, “Governing by crisis is an undemocratic way for our overlords to try to avoid accountability.”

We’ve seen a lot of that lately. This is a problem with both parties, but it’s especially egregious in the Republican party because they quite literally believe that any positions but their own are inherently illegitimate. Like Our Drama Queen Mitch, who sputtered up a storm over this:

The time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces Washington to balance its books. If these debt negotiations have convinced us of anything, it’s that we can’t leave it to politicians in Washington to make the difficult decisions that they need to get our fiscal house in order. The balanced budget amendment will do that for them. Now is the moment. No more games. No more gimmicks. The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’re tried elections. Nothing has worked.

Wow. Now, in a rational world, real conservatives would be calling for his head, because what he’s calling for here is a figurative coup. Elections have consequences, Mitch. But his reaction? Screw those voters, we don’t need them!

This is, after all, how they operate. From Bush v. Gore on down, that’s what Republicans have done: lied, cheated, stolen, suppressed votes — you name it. Why?

Because whenever voters understand what Republicans really want, they reject it.
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Michele and Marcus explain marriage

Who knew

That the Barbie doll was based on a German sex toy?

I promise

This is going to be the strangest thing you read today.

Rebuilding the American dream

I wasn’t going to go to this, but when I discovered the local meeting is literally about a hundred yards from my house, I figured it was a sign.

‘Blogging isn’t really writing’

Finally, somebody gets it.

Florida

Speaking of crooked politicians, look what Gov. Rick Scott’s minions are up to!

A lead foreclosure fraud investigator for the state said she and a colleague were forced to resign from the Florida attorney general’s office, unexpectedly ending their nearly yearlong pursuit to hold law firms and banks accountable.

Former Assistant Attorney General Theresa Edwards and colleague June Clarkson had been investigating the state’s so-called “foreclosure mills,” uncovering evidence of legal malpractice that also implicated banks and loan serv­icers.

Despite positive performance evaluations, Edwards said the two were told during a meeting with their supervisor in late May to give up their jobs voluntarily or be let go. Edwards said no reason was given for the move.

“It all happened very abruptly,” said Edwards, who had worked in the attorney general’s office for about three years.

The foreclosure investigations were launched under former Attorney General Bill McCollum, but Edwards said she sensed changes were coming under Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“I think they wanted to put people in there that were more in line with their thinking,” Edwards said.

Bondi’s press secretary said Tuesday that foreclosure investigations are still open and are being personally led or supervised by Division Director Richard Lawson.

“The division has made these investigations a top priority and will continue to actively pursue all of our investigations into foreclosure law firms,” said Jennifer Krell Davis.

Uh huh. Sure you will.

The gaping class divide

Go read Taibbi.

If you think your local Andy Griffith is a greedy pig because he retired in his forties and built an addition to his garage with your tax money, try hanging out with a guy who eats $400 crabs, throws himself $5 million parties where he is serenaded by Rod Stewart and Patti Labelle (who sang “Happy Birthday”), and then compares the president to Hitler when word leaks out that he might have to pay taxes at the same rate as a firefighter or a kindergarten teacher.

But America never gets to meet that guy, because all of those parties are invite-only, and the only reporters that go tend to do so with kneepads on — like the extraordinary Andrew Ross Sorkin, who as Sirota notes, predictably wrote a slurpilicious “In Defense of Schwarzman” piece after the event (his thesis, to the extent that I could make it out, seemed to be that there are even bigger assholes than Schwarzman). As a result, the popular outrage gets steered toward state employees greedily living off their own pensions, not toward the truly deserving targets hiding in the Hamptons and Gstaad and St. Tropez.

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