Instant Larry David classic from last night’s show:
Instant Larry David classic from last night’s show:
I write from Philadelphia, possibly the most stupidly governed major city in the country. If you don’t believe it, take a look at the Inquirer story about our delinquent-property-tax-collection system.
Guess what? They’re working to fill up private prisons with undocumented immigrants:
Jared Bernstein points out something interesting about economic theories:
Deregulated markets, “rational market” theories, eroded labor standards, the retreat of unions, regressive taxation, financial engineering, global arbitrage, low rates of job growth, growth that eluded the middle-class and the poor… all have contributed to almost unprecedented levels of wealth concentration.
Such dynamics are self-reinforcing. The narrow slice of winners, enriched beyond imagination by these forces, use their wealth to insulate themselves from new ideas that threaten their position by purchasing not just political power but even “ideas,” through bogus think tanks and media operations.
They and their representatives ensured that when history provided a unique, crystallized moment of clarity as to their fundamentally corrupt paradigm, too few would see it clearly and when those who did sounded the alarm, no one would listen.
And now we’re arguing about debt ceilings, budget cuts, and super-committees, not to mention whether evolution and climate change are real or conspiratorial notions of the left.
I know this is a dark vision of reality but before you get too deeply bummed out by it, let me say that I’m by no means alone in this analysis of the problem, and I’ve begun to see some hints that more and more of us are getting the picture. And that has the potential to create a welcoming climate for new ideas that challenge this paradigm, ideas that have been sorely missing for too long.
With a fine political tradition, Gov. Rick Perry blocked attempts to investigate expert testimony and allowed the execution of a innocent man:
The Innocence Project obtained, through the Freedom of Information Act, all the records from the governor’s office and the board pertaining to Hurst’s report. “The documents show that they received the report, but neither office has any record of anyone acknowledging it, taking note of its significance, responding to it, or calling any attention to it within the government,” Barry Scheck said. “The only reasonable conclusion is that the governor’s office and the Board of Pardons and Paroles ignored scientific evidence.”
LaFayette Collins, who was a member of the board at the time, told me of the process, “You don’t vote guilt or innocence. You don’t retry the trial. You just make sure everything is in order and there are no glaring errors.” He noted that although the rules allowed for a hearing to consider important new evidence, “in my time there had never been one called.” When I asked him why Hurst’s report didn’t constitute evidence of “glaring errors,” he said, “We get all kinds of reports, but we don’t have the mechanisms to vet them.” Alvin Shaw, another board member at the time, said that the case didn’t “ring a bell,” adding, angrily, “Why would I want to talk about it?” Hurst calls the board’s actions “unconscionable.”
[…] In 2005, Texas established a government commission to investigate allegations of error and misconduct by forensic scientists. The first cases that are being reviewed by the commission are those of Willingham and Willis. In mid-August, the noted fire scientist Craig Beyler, who was hired by the commission, completed his investigation. In a scathing report, he concluded that investigators in the Willingham case had no scientific basis for claiming that the fire was arson, ignored evidence that contradicted their theory, had no comprehension of flashover and fire dynamics, relied on discredited folklore, and failed to eliminate potential accidental or alternative causes of the fire. He said that Vasquez’s approach seemed to deny “rational reasoning” and was more “characteristic of mystics or psychics.”
What’s more, Beyler determined that the investigation violated, as he put it to me, “not only the standards of today but even of the time period.” The commission is reviewing his findings, and plans to release its own report next year. Some legal scholars believe that the commission may narrowly assess the reliability of the scientific evidence. There is a chance, however, that Texas could become the first state to acknowledge officially that, since the advent of the modern judicial system, it had carried out the “execution of a legally and factually innocent person.”
Jack Straw, former foreign secretary in Tony Blair’s government, was quick to his feet, following David Cameron’s speech on the UK riots in Parliament on 11 August.
“We need more prisons,” Straw told Cameron and the House of Commons.
He may get his wish, looking at some of the sentences that have already been handed down in the hundreds of cases rushed through emergency courts — no doubt at the government’s bidding, to show that instant retribution will take precedence over justice.
A mother of two, who was asleep at home during the riots, has been given a five-month jail sentence for accepting running shorts stolen by someone else.
A 23-year-old student got six months for stealing a £3.50 case of water from a supermarket.
A 43-year-old man is in jail pending sentence for stealing items worth £1 from a newsagent.
But, if Jack Straw is right and we need more prisons, he should be one of the first inmates, alongside Tony Blair, who he served so loyally throughout the 13 years of New Labour government.
Jack Straw was foreign secretary during the run up to the Iraq war in 2002-3. He was, the Iraq Inquiry tells us,the only member of Tony Blair’s cabinet to be fully informed of the prime minister’s discussions, negotiations and plans.
Straw knew that when George Bush and Tony Blair met at Bush’s Texas ranch in April 2002, they “signed in blood” a secret deal to invade Iraq, whatever the views of the United Nations or the people of the United States and Britain.
Just prior to that meeting, Straw told Blair in a secret memo that “legally there are two potential elephant traps“. Firstly, that “regime change per se is no justification for military action”. And secondly, that “the weight of legal advice here is that a fresh mandate [from the United Nations] may well be required”.
And it was Straw who was central in the attempt to bounce the United Nations into that second resolution to give a fig-leaf of legality to a war of unjustified aggression. He was rarely off our screens in 2002 telling us how Iraq was not giving access to the UN weapons inspectors, knowing that this simply was not true, as Hans Blix the chief UN inspector has pointed out, noting Straw’s “incorrect answers” — better known as lies — to the Iraq Inquiry.
And Straw knew it was a lie when on 11 February 2003, a few days before the biggest anti-war demonstration in British history, he said: “We have to strain every sinew, even at this late stage, to avoid war.”
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If there was ever any doubt what pulling the Republican lever stands for, I think this should clear things up:
The Corbett administration is de-emphasizing renewable energy and energy conservation, eliminating programs created by previous Democratic and Republican administrations as it focuses on natural gas energy from booming Marcellus Shale.
Quietly but systematically, the administration has all but shut down the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Energy and Technology Deployment — the state’s primary energy office — and removed directors and reassigned staff in the Office of Energy Management in the Department of General Services and the Governor’s Green Government Council.
It has also forbidden state executive agencies from signing contracts that support clean energy supply.