A hula troupe dances for flight passengers:
For most of my adult life, I’ve tried to explain (often from first-hand knowledge) how very expensive, time-consuming and demoralizing it is to be poor. This Barbara Ehrenreich piece does a really good job:
When the Parentes finally got into “the system” and began receiving food stamps and some cash assistance, they discovered why some recipients have taken to calling TANF “Torture and Abuse of Needy Families.” From the start, the TANF experience was “humiliating,” Kristen says. The caseworkers “treat you like a bum. They act like every dollar you get is coming out of their own paychecks.”
The Parentes discovered that they were each expected to apply for 40 jobs a week, although their car was on its last legs and no money was offered for gas, tolls, or babysitting. In addition, Kristen had to drive 35 miles a day to attend “job readiness” classes offered by a private company called Arbor, which, she says, were “frankly a joke.”
Nationally, according to Kaaryn Gustafson of the University of Connecticut Law School, “applying for welfare is a lot like being booked by the police.” There may be a mug shot, fingerprinting, and lengthy interrogations as to one’s children’s true paternity. The ostensible goal is to prevent welfare fraud, but the psychological impact is to turn poverty itself into a kind of crime.
This is why it drives me crazy when people say they don’t have a problem with drug-testing people on welfare, or unemployment. Obviously, they haven’t been there.
For the not-yet-homeless, there are two main paths to criminalization, and one is debt. Anyone can fall into debt, and although we pride ourselves on the abolition of debtors’ prison, in at least one state, Texas, people who can’t pay fines for things like expired inspection stickers may be made to “sit out their tickets” in jail.
More commonly, the path to prison begins when one of your creditors has a court summons issued for you, which you fail to honor for one reason or another, such as that your address has changed and you never received it. Okay, now you’re in “contempt of the court.”
Or suppose you miss a payment and your car insurance lapses, and then you’re stopped for something like a broken headlight (about $130 for the bulb alone). Now, depending on the state, you may have your car impounded and/or face a steep fine — again, exposing you to a possible court summons. “There’s just no end to it once the cycle starts,” says Robert Solomon of Yale Law School. “It just keeps accelerating.”
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That allowing a dog in the courtroom could be considered an infringement of the defendant’s rights.
In this case, those who would impose the Christian fundamentalist version of sharia law (and seriously, everyone should read this):
Once Christians are in charge, according to Gary North, rather than turning the other cheek to our enemy, we “should either bust him in the chops or haul him before the magistrate, and possibly both.” North adds, “It is only in a period of civil impotence that Christians are under the rule to ‘resist not evil.’”
How far would the Reconstructionists go? North, writes, “The question eventually must be raised: Is it a criminal offence to take the name of the Lord in vain? When people curse their parents, it unquestionably is a capital crime (Exodus. 21:17). The son or daughter is under the lawful jurisdiction of the family. The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death. Clearly, cursing God (blasphemy) is a comparable crime, and is therefore a capital crime (Leviticus. 24:16).”
Dylan Ratigan gets furious with Obama:
But let’s keep this in mind: We need to differentiate the desire for a strong leader with the desire for a so-called strongman – which is the kind of thing that leads to fascism. We need to do the work of democracy ourselves and stop leaving all the power in the hands of politicians.
Democrat Bob Perry has won a special election held Tuesday to fill a vacant New Hampshire House seat, according to New Hampshire Democrats.
Perry, a former state rep, beat Republican opponent Honey Puterbaugh 2,110 to 1,517, according to numbers provided by the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
Perry took five of the six towns in Strafford County House District No. 3, a Republican-leaning district where the GOP will hold seven of the eight seats, Perry being the one exception.
The race is viewed as a bellwether on how the state is being run and a win for either candidate was viewed as a victory for their party.
“Bob Perry’s victory tonight is a complete and total rejection of Republican House Speaker Bill O’Brien’s reckless job-killing agenda,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley. “In a historically Republican district, New Hampshire voters turned out in the middle of summer to send a loud and clear message to the out-of-control Republican majority. Its relentless attempts to make cigarettes cheaper but college more expensive, slash women’s health care, and kill jobs by taxing hospitals must stop immediately. “
Think about how much cheaper it would have been if the UK hadn’t shoved “austerity” down their country’s throat.
When the recession began there were many wise words about having learnt the lessons of both the Great Depression and Japan’s long malaise. Now we know we didn’t learn a thing. Our stimulus was too weak, too short and not well designed. The banks weren’t forced to return to lending. Our leaders tried papering over the economy’s weaknesses – perhaps out of fear that if we were honest about them, already fragile confidence would erode. But that was a gamble we have now lost. Now the scale of the problem is apparent, a new confidence has emerged: confidence that matters will get worse, whatever action we take. A long malaise now seems like the optimistic scenario.