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Lonnie was standing outside of a CVS in downtown Miami, panhandling for change.  He needed $7 more, so he would buy an ice chest.  "It's just bad right now," he said.  But it wasn't always that way.  

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Fri Aug 14, 2009 at 03:22 PM PDT

The Tort Reform Myth  

by Justashotaway

If you've been following the healthcare debate - or, more accurately, the Republican-led efforts to shut down that debate - then you've probably heard that tort reform is making a comeback.  Hell, if you believed the RNC's communications director Danny Diaz, you would think that tort reform was a ginormous factor in the soaring cost of healthcare in America.  If you believed Rush Limbaugh, you'd think that tort reform was a silver bullet that could solve most of the problem.  You'd probably feel the same way as this anonymous commenter over on ABC.com:

Obama will NEVER throw TORT REFORM on the table and that is a good 60% of the problem right nothe w! Cowards and hypocrites


That's just plain wrong.

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Thu Aug 13, 2009 at 04:39 PM PDT

Glenn Beck & the 7-percenters.

by Justashotaway

The newspapers are calling it a groundswell of fierce opposition to President Obama's healthcare plan.  On conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh has declared that the "silent majority" will be silent no more.  Americans of every political persuasion, says Glenn Beck, sense deep in their guts that something just ain't right.  Lou Dobbs tells us that a growing number of citizens are fighting back.  

Based on the media's portrayal of this debate, one might reasonably conclude that the nation was split down the middle on healthcare: That the folks showing up at these townhalls were representative of fully half the nation.  Well, if one reached that conclusion - that these townhall protesters represent a silent, angry majority - one would be dead wrong.  They aren't a majority.  They aren't one half.  They aren't even one-forth.  

Time for some real talk:  Try 7-percent.  These people are 7-percenters.  

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By now, everyone is aware of the arrest of Harvard Professor Louis Henry Gates, which occurred outside of is Cambridge home last week.  Just this afternoon, police officers and their representatives rallied in Boston, to hold a press conference, deny any wrongdoing, show their support for Officer Crowley, and request an apology from President Obama.  

Let's begin, with a couple assumptions.

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Mon Apr 20, 2009 at 02:32 PM PDT

For the Fat People

by Justashotaway

Last week, user Pale Cold wrote a diary entitled I am a Fat Lady in a Thin Lady's Body.  The responses to this diary were, for the most part, overwhelmingly sympathetic.  People thanked the diarist for sharing her story.  People shared similar feelings and stories about their struggles with obesity and body image.  Then, one individual, in what struck me as a very genuine, heart-felt comment shared his story and some advice.  He said that he, too, had struggled with obesity for much of his life.  And that the only way he got healthy was by taking control of his life: by watching what he ate, and by ensuring that he exercised regularly.  

The response?  In classic DailyKos fashion, a poster lashed out at the aforementioned individual for his "bootstrapping" approach, and quipped that he was acting like a - yes - Republican.  So let me get this straight.  If a diarist at DailyKos says that people have to take control of their health... monitor their diet.. get regular exercise...  then he's a Republican?  Right.  Way to go.    

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I talk to Ryan, an old friend of mine from back home in rural Pennsylvania.  He saw a comment I made on Facebook, something about President Obama.  Said he was getting ready to watch the news conference tonight.  Things are bad.  Times are tough.  Folks are hurting.  And he wanted to know what Obama was going to do about it.  

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In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act.  At the time, the plan was pitched as a military necessity: We needed highways to move convoys during a time of war.  The inital price tag?  $25 billion dollar, or, some $160 billion in 2008 dollars.  Eventually, the interstate highway system would be developed over decades at a cost of more than $400 billion in today's dollars.  

That's what I call big government spending.  

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So, yesterday, I made a post about the whole New York Post Cartoon/Chimp/Obama/Racism controversy.  I basically said:

(1) That I understood why some people find the cartoon offensive.

(2) That I thought there were some other plausible interpretations.

(3) I thought that the cartoon was not done in good taste.

(4) At either rate, I thought the outrage was excessive.

(5) And finally, I thought that this sort of excessive outrage from the left gave The New York Post exactly what it wanted.

This diary isn't about the cartoon.  It's about the reaction to my post.  I have no interest in rehashing a debate over whether or not the cartton was racist.

In response, I was called everything from a jackass with no critical thinking skills, to an ignorant racist who was speaking from a position of "white privilege".  Let start with that one.  Here's my white privilege:


 

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Apparently, thousands of people are up in arms this afternoon about an image from the New York Post:

According to half of the folks on DailyKos, the image is racist.  The monkey is clearly a stand-in for president Obama.  And we should all be outraged.

Let's get a grip.  This is why lots of people in the political mainstream don't take DailyKos seriously.  

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You know who loses out in this one?  The kids.  And they aren't red kids or blue kids.  They're just kids.  Like the ones in my hometown in rural Pennsylvania:  the Chambersburg Area School District lost $1.5 million.  Like the kids I taught in inner city Baltimore: the school district stood to gain $72 million under the House's version.  That's a lot of money.  That's a lot of kids.

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Welcome to America, where 2.3 million people are locked up, and each year 600,000 of those individuals will be coming home, often to communities near you.  For the most part, they will leave prison uneducated, unskilled, unprepared, and angry at having spent years locked away in a warehouse.  This is the legacy of the law-and-order movement and the prison boom of the 1990s: America is in the midst of an incarceration and post incarceration crisis.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Part VI: Transitional Jobs for Individuals Exiting Prisons

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Welcome to America, where 2.3 million people are locked up, and each year 600,000 of those individuals will be coming home, often to communities near you.  For the most part, they will leave prison uneducated, unskilled, unprepared, and angry at having spent years locked away in a warehouse.  This is the legacy of the law-and-order movement and the prison boom of the 1990s: America is in the midst of an incarceration and post incarceration crisis.

Please note, this article focuses on the reentry and rehabilitation component of correctional policy.  Although it does - at different times - discuss the war on drugs, sentencing policies, and other critically important issues, its central focus remains reentry policy.  

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V: Mandating Official Photo Identification for All Exiting Prisoners

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