Author (#1)October 2007 Archives
Where is Congress? It's way past time for members to stand up. Historic matters are at stake. The Constitution is being trampled, the very form of our government is being perverted, and nothing less than American democracy itself is endangered -- a presidential coup is taking place. I think of Barbara Jordan, the late congresswoman from Houston. On July 25, 1974, this powerful thinker and member of the House Judiciary Committee took her turn to speak during the Nixon impeachment inquiry.
"My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total," she declared in her thundering voice. "And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution."Where are the likes of Barbara Jordan in today's Congress? While the BushCheney regime continues to establish a supreme, arrogant, autocratic presidency in flagrant violation of the Constitution, members of Congress largely sit there as idle spectators -- or worse, as abettors of Bush's usurpation of their own congressional authority.
Why it matters
Separation of powers. Rule of law. Checks and balances. These may seem to us moderns to be little more than a set of dry, legal precepts that we had to memorize in high-school history class but need not concern us now. After all, the founders (bless their wigged heads!) established these principles for us back in 17-something-or-other, so we don't really have to worry about them in 2007. Think again. These are not merely arcane phrases of constitutional law, but the very keystones of our democracy, essential to sustaining our ideal of being a self-governing people, free of tyrants who would govern us on their own whim. The founders knew about tyranny. The monarch of the time, King George III, routinely denied colonists basic liberties, spied on them and entered their homes at will, seized their property, jailed anyone he wanted without charges, rounded up and killed dissidents, and generally ruled with an iron fist. He was both the law and above the law, operating on the twin doctrines of "the divine rule of kings" and "the king can do no wrong."
With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think that a Democratic presidential candidate will win the White House, get us out of Iraq, and end our long national nightmare?
Think again - the mighty election theft machine Karl Rove used to steal the US presidency in 2000 and 2004 may be under attack, but it is still in place for the upcoming 2008 election.
With his usual devious mastery, Rove has seized upon the national outrage sparked by his electoral larceny and used it as smokescreen while he makes the American electoral system even MORE unfair, and even EASIER to rig. Thus the administration has fired federal attorneys when they would not participate in a nationwide campaign to deny minorities and the poor their access to the polls. It has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to install electronic voting machines that can be "flipped" with a few keystrokes. And under the guise of "reforming" our busted electoral system, it is setting us up for another presidential theft in 2008.
Washington, DC, October 10, 2007--The first-ever investigation of Wal-Mart's local property tax records finds that the retail giant systematically seeks to minimize its payment of taxes that support public schools and other vital government services. That is the key finding of Rolling Back Property Tax Payments, a report released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center in Washington, DC. The full text is available at www.goodjobsfirst.org/pdf/walmartproptax.pdf
"Wal-Mart, a company with $350 billion in annual revenues and $11 billion in profits, drains vitally needed funds from communities by regularly challenging the valuation put on its properties by public officials," said Philip Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First and principal author of the report. "When the company succeeds in one of these challenges, it diminishes the funds available to pay for education, police and fire protection, and other essential services provided by local governments."
Based on a large national sample of Wal-Mart stores and a review of all of its distribution centers open as of the beginning of 2005, Good Jobs First concludes that Wal-Mart has filed assessment challenges at more than one-third of its facilities around the country. At many facilities there have been appeals in multiple years. Overall, Good Jobs First estimates that the company has filed more than 2,100 property tax challenges nationwide.
Washington - The gap between America's richest and poorest is at its widest in at least 25 years, with the wealthiest taking home a record share of the nation's income that exceeds even the previous high in 2000.
According to recent data from the Internal Revenue Service, the richest 1 percent of Americans earned 21.2 percent of all U.S. income earned in 2005. That is a significant increase from 2004 when the top 1 percent earned 19 percent of the nation’s income.
The previous high over the past 25 years, when such data were compiled, was in 2000 when a bull market brought the figure up to 20.81 percent.
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, said the wealthy benefited in 2005 from a healthy, growing economy and higher-than-average price inflation.
Should we be worried about Google? Ten years after the search engine was launched by two Stanford University graduate students, Google has become an empowering force and a adopted behavior that has transformed the way we access news and information, shop for goods and services and--increasingly--how we engage in politics. Who would have imagined four years ago, that Google and its subsidiary YouTube would co-sponsor debates in which ordinary citizens could directly engage with presidential candidates?
Last week, Google's stock hit an all-time high, on the strength of reports that the company will earn more this year than the $10.6 billion it earned in 2006. But while Google has almost overnight become a trusted source of information for the technologically attuned, few have thought to question the extent to which its success poses threats to both our privacy and our aspirations for the positive potential of the Internet.
A Declaration of Life
I, the undersigned, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby in the presence of witnesses make this Declaration of Life,
I believe that the killing of one human being by another is morally wrong.
I believe it is morally wrong for any state or other governmental entity to take the life of a human being for any reason
I believe that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime and serves only the purpose of revenge.
THEREFORE, I hereby declare that should I die as a result of a violent crime, I request that the person or persons found guilty of homicide for my killing not be subject to or put in jeopardy of the death penalty under any circumstances, no matter how heinous their crime or how much I may have suffered. The death penalty would only increase my suffering.
For a printable copy:
Prohibition has failed-again. Instead of treating the demand for illegal drugs as a market, and addicts as patients, policymakers the world over have boosted the profits of drug lords and fostered narcostates that would frighten Al Capone. Finally, a smarter drug control regime that values reality over rhetoric is rising to replace the %u201Cwar%u201D on drugs.
When 16-year old Kharey Wise entered the Central Park Police Precinct at 102nd St on April 20, 1989, he didn't realize what he was walking into. It was the day after one of the most grisly crimes in official New York memory-the brutal sexual assault of a woman who would become known as the Central Park Jogger-and Wise had been asked to come in along with other black and Latino youths who had allegedly been in the park the night before. Wise was taken to the scene of the crime and shown graphic pictures of the woman's injuries, which included a fractured skull. Eventually, his visit to the police station would lead to an interrogation and, after nine hours of questioning, a videotaped confession that was confusing, convoluted, and chilling.
"Oh man, blood was scattered all over the place. I couldn't look at it no more," Wise told his interrogators. . . .We went to the park for trouble and got trouble, a lot of trouble. That's what they wanted and I guess that's what I wanted. When I was doing it, that's what I wanted too. I can't apologize because it's too late. Now we got to pay up for what we did."
The confession was as good as a conviction. By the time it was shown in court, the jury, the city, and the country were convinced Wise and his four co-defendants-who had also confessed-were guilty as sin. But at the trial a problem arose. Despite his taped confession, Kharey Wise now insisted he was innocent. His confession, he said, had been forced out of him by the police.