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PA power grab

Oddly enough, this isn’t one of the pieces of legislation pushed by our friendly corporate interests at ALEC – in fact, they’re on the record opposing elections by popular vote. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they dreamed up this twisted variation on what they oppose, since they do get control of redistricting:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that the state divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. The system is used by Maine — which, despite the system, has never actually split its four electoral votes — and by Nebraska, which gave one of its five votes to Barack Obama in 2008.

Pennsylvania, however, will have 20 electoral votes in the 2012 election. What’s more, the measure would give even greater meaning to the state’s redistricting for the House of Representatives, giving it a powerful effect over the presidency in addition to the House.

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992, and voted for Barack Obama by 55%-44% in 2008. Indeed, over the past 50 years it has only voted Republican in presidential landslides for the GOP: 1972, 1980, 1984, and finally 1988. While the results have sometimes been narrow for the Dems, it is a state that can be expected to vote Democratic for president in the context of a close national campaign, such as its votes for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.

Had this proposed system been in place in 2008, when Obama won the state by a ten-point margin, he in fact would have only taken 11 out of the state’s 21 electoral votes at the time — due to a combination of past Republican-led redistricting efforts to maximize their district strength, and Obama’s votes being especially concentrated within urban areas.

As can be expected, the Post-Gazette reports that Democrats are attacking the proposal as a partisan power-grab, while Republicans are standing by it as a reform that would focus attention on districts throughout the state:

Blasting the idea as “a disturbing effort to put their self interests and party interests ahead of the people,” Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said the plan would dangerously link the presidential vote to redistricting. In a written statement, Mr. Costa asked: “Will we now be looking at state gerrymandering that serves a larger, national agenda?”

Mr. Pileggi and others disagreed, saying congressional districts that are more competitive would receive more attention and would not be overshadowed when the state leans one way or another politically.

Law and order, Texas political style

Texas’ Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, Don Clemmer, later testified that his office didn’t have the resources to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at a TYC facility in Ward County because at the time the local agent was busy investigating charges of voter fraud by a 68-year-old Hispanic woman.

For six years, Gov. Rick “Law and Order” Perry dragged his feet on attacking systemic problems with child rape in the state’s Texas Youth Commission facilities. I’m sure his reluctance had nothing to do with his major donors from the GEO Group, the company to whom he’d bestowed prison privatization contracts:

Mary Jane Martinez’s son Jimmy entered the Texas criminal justice system in 2003 because he missed his school bus. He was charged with truancy and destruction of property (for throwing rocks) and sent to live in a county juvenile detention center for a sentence of six months. After five months, instead of being released, he was transferred to an academy 400 miles away, managed by the Texas Youth Commission, the agency that oversees detention and treatment centers across the state. Jimmy finally came home, four years after he was sent away, a period his mother now describes as a living hell. His best friend had been murdered, and Jimmy had been beaten and raped—both, Mrs. Martinez testifed, by TYC guards.

“It just made him worse,” Martinez says of the treatment. “My son has PTSD now. He’s schizo.” Unable to find a job after getting out, he was arrested for burglary and landed in a prison facility eight hours away from his native San Antonio.

He wasn’t the only victim. Go read the rest.

In response to the outcry, Perry appointed his former chief of staff, Jay Kimbrough, to investigate the abuses, and hired an independent ombudsman to sit on the board.

But reports continued to pile up. In late 2007, Texas shut down three TYC facilities in quick succession, the last coming in October, when it shuttered a Coke County juvenile detention center after the ombudsman reported unsanitary conditions, such as feces in the shower and blocked-off emergency exits. Two months later, seven former inmates filed suit alleging that they had been sexually abused by guards at the facility, which was operated by the Florida-based private contractor, GEO Group.
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Ron Paul

You heard his “let them die” speech from the other night, right? Turns out he practices what he preaches. Ron’s 49-year-old former campaign manager died of pneumonia, penniless and uninsured. Ron didn’t lift a finger to help him, and the guy’s mother was stuck with the $400,000 bill. Freedom!


Just got up. I finally got to sleep around 4:30. I was sick all night with the same symptoms (only worse) that sent me to the hospital the last time, this time with the added feature of vomiting. (Sorry.) And the vomiting actually had nothing to do with the $20,000 bill I got from the hospital yesterday for that last little excursion.

I wish I knew what what I was doing wrong so I could stop doing it.

UPDATE: A friend points out that I’m describing symptoms of a classic gallbladder attack — which is much more common after weight loss. So I’m sick because I lost weight to be healthier? Yay.

More poor

Let’s be clear: It wasn’t the bank failures alone that caused this economic disaster. It was the administration’s continued support for economic policies that deepened and extended the economic fallout and widened the class divide in hundreds of ways, and a Republican House that not only refused to support stimulus spending, it actively obstructed any attempts by the White House or Democrats to push any policies or nominations at all. It was a Federal Reserve that ignored their mandate to lower unemployment, and a Democratic president who echoed and validated the “deficit emergency” mantra of the Republican party:

We have so many people out of work that it will be a very long time until we have a low unemployment rate again:

Reporting from Washington— In a grim portrait of a nation in economic turmoil, the government reported that the number of people living in poverty last year surged to 46.2 million — the most in at least half a century — as 1 million more Americans went without health insurance and household incomes fell sharply.

The poverty rate for all Americans rose in 2010 for the third consecutive year, matching the 15.1% figure in 1993 and pushing many more young adults to double up or return to their parents’ home to avoid joining the ranks of the poor.

Taken together, the annual income and poverty snapshot released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau underscored how the recession is casting a long shadow well after its official end in June 2009.

And at the current sluggish pace of economic growth, analysts don’t expect many of these indicators of economic and social well-being to turn better soon.

Census officials wouldn’t say definitively what caused the surge in poverty, but it was evident that the root of the continuing misery was the nation’s inability to create jobs. The total number of Americans who fell below the official poverty line last year rose from 43.6 million in 2009. Of the 2.6-million increase, about two-thirds of the people said they did not work even one week last year.

Those with jobs were much less likely to be poor, but the recession and weak recovery have wiped out income gains of prior years for a broad spectrum of workers and their families. Inflation-adjusted median household income — the middle of the populace — fell 2.3% to $49,445 last year from a year ago and 7% from 2000.

“It’s a lost decade for the middle class,” said Sheldon Danziger, a poverty expert at the University of Michigan.

But don’t worry. The right-wing Heritage Foundation assures us that living in poverty isn’t all that bad:

“Poor children actually consume more meat than higher-income children consume, and their protein intake averages 100 percent above recommended levels,” wrote Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, authors of the study: “Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?”

Occupy Wall St.

Legal information you should know if you’re taking part.

I’m not sure what it is about muppets and indie rock videos on youtube, but I think this one is just as good as the Cookie Monster/Tom Waits mashup.

Everything to everybody

This song reminds me of a few people. Everclear:

Listen to more Todd Rundgren at Wolfgang’s Vault.

This must be the place (naive melody)

Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view.

David Byrne:

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