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Don’t touch that $1T defense budget!

Hardly anyone in Congress ever asks why. From TomDispatch:

… Think of it this way: National security accounts for one quarter of every dollar the federal government is projected to spend in 2013. And if you pull trust funds for programs like Social Security out of the equation, that figure rises to more than one third of every dollar in the projected 2013 federal budget.

Yet the House recently passed legislation to spare the defense budget from cuts, arguing that the automatic spending reductions scheduled for January 2013 would compromise national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said such automatic cuts, which would total around $55 billion in 2013, would be “disastrous” for the defense budget. To avoid them, the House would instead pull money from the National School Lunch Program, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, food stamps, and programs like the Social Services Block Grant, which funds Meals on Wheels, among other initiatives…

The American injustice system

From Guardian UK:

The US criminal justice system is a broken machine that wrongfully convicts innocent people, sentencing thousands of people to prison or to death for the crimes of others, as a new study reveals. The University of Michigan law school and Northwestern University have compiled a new National Registry of Exonerations – a database of over 2,000 prisoners exonerated between 1989 and the present day, when DNA evidence has been widely used to clear the names of innocent people convicted of rape and murder…

Deja vu as Florida scrubs voter rolls

So they’re planning to steal the presidential election again:

Florida Congressman Ted Deutch (D) told ThinkProgress today that Gov. Rick Scott was engaging in a “blatant attempt to supress voter turnout.” Scott is currently involved in a massive effort to purge up to 180,000 from the voting rolls. The list, purportedly of non-citizens, has proven unreliable. Earlier this week, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, a Republican, posted a picture on Twitter of a voter on the list falsely identified as ineligible, with his passport.


Congressman Deutch said that his office has heard from several constituents who have recieved a voting inelibility letter in error. In light of these errors, Deutch will soon send a letter to Scott demanding the purge be immediately suspended. An excerpt:

It is out of grave concern that we write to ask for the immediate suspension of the Florida Division of Elections’ directive that county supervisors of elections purge up to 180,000 names from Florida’s voter rolls in advance of the November 2012 elections.


While we all agree that the right to vote should be reserved only to those who are eligible, any process that could strip Floridians of their voting rights should be conducted with the utmost caution and transparency, and certainly not within six months of a major federal election and within 90 days of the primary.Providing a list of names with questionable validity – created with absolutely no oversight – to county supervisors and asking that they purge their rolls will create chaotic results and further undermine Floridians’ confidence in the integrity of our elections. A rushed process will undermine both Florida and federal law requiring voter rolls to be maintained in a uniform and nondiscriminatory manner.


The letter was circulated to the entire Florida Congressional delegation and Deutch expects several of his colleagues to sign on. Deutch noted that while Florida has “no history of mass voter fraud” it does have a history of “mass voter disenfranchisement” that proceeded the presidential election in 2000.


In 1998, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris hired a private company to create a “scrub list” of duplicate registrations, deceased voters and felons prohibited from voting in Florida. The company’s list, however, was riddled with errors. One person flagged as a felon by the list was actually a Florida judge. A county elections supervisor discovered the list was unreliable when she received an erroneous letter informing her that she was a felon and could not vote. By one estimate, 7000 Florida voters were wrongfully removed from the voter rolls for the 2000 presidential election — 13 times George W. Bush’s margin of victory in that state after the Supreme Court halted the post-election recount.


Deutch said that, in this election, “Governor Scott wants to play the role of Katherine Harris.”


African-Americans made up 88 percent of the voters removed from the rolls in the purge that preceeded the 2000 election, even though they account for only about 11 percent of Florida voters. In Florida, 93 percent of black voters cast a ballot for Al Gore.

In case you missed it: Jodi Kantor’s front-page piece in Sunday’s New York Times, headlined “Romney’s Faith, Silent but Deep,” was one of the most cringe-worthy puff pieces about a political candidate published in recent memory. More here.

Nancy, Nancy, Nancy

When Democrats try to be Republicans, the Republicans always win.

The big picture is disgusting — the fact that the Obama administration is letting the big banks get away with grand-scale fraud and harassment in foreclosure proceedings against millions of desperate homeowners. But the individual stories, including that of Norman and Oriane Rousseau, are infuriating. Norman, as you may have read, killed himself two weeks ago, at the point when the couple’s long battle against Wells Fargo seemed lost:

From The Raw Story:

[The story] began in May 2009, when Wachovia, now part of Wells Fargo, told the Rousseaus they had missed a mortgage payment on their home in Newbury Park, an hour outside Los Angeles.

Even though the Rousseaus had made the payment – and had the receipt to prove it – that kicked off a foreclosure process they were never able to escape, battling against the seemingly careless bureaucracy of a major American bank that eventually took their home…

…Wells Fargo still intends to evict Oriane, though it has temporarily suspended proceedings.

Read the whole story.

Man of constant sorrow

Union Station:

Helplessly hoping

I was at the WXPN studios the day this album arrived, and everyone was very excited:

R.I.P.

Paul Fussell, 88. Author of the book “Class: A Guide Through the American Status System.”

Falling in and out of love

Pure Prairie League (featuring Vince Gill in his younger days):

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