Ferguson Grand Jury – Unsurprising, Far too Typical and Despair Inducing

Martin Longman’s take at Washington Monthly is apt:

Officer Darren Wilson should have been given the opportunity to defend his actions in a court of law. He could well have won an acquittal. But what’s clear is that the moment after he ended Michael Brown’s life, the system went into overdrive to protect him and to justify what he had done. They made sure that killing Michael Brown was not a crime. It wasn’t even maybe a crime. It was just what police officers do in America without having to worry that they might have to answer for it in court.

16 Comments

Report: Police Killings Rank Second In Utah Homicides

Hunt police shooting protest

The Salt Lake Tribune:

Through October, 45 people had been killed by law enforcement officers in Utah since 2010, accounting for 15 percent of all homicides during that period.

A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahns kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence.

Is this a problem? Until recently, I believed that the rules governing the use of deadly force in self-defense were the same for law enforcement officers and ordinary citizens. The media attention that has been focused on the issue of police shootings of unarmed suspects has revealed that, in practice, wearing a badge allows far more latitude. Police officers hardly ever face criminal charges for using their guns.

There has been very little effort to systematically track shootings by police. Fatal Encounters and the Deadspin Police-Shooting Database are two efforts to remedy the lack of data.

More info:
Police Shot Darrien Hunt 6 Times In The Back (October 29)
Equal Justice Under the Law – NOT (August 14)
Why Cops In Britain And New Zealand Don’t Carry Guns

15 Comments

Nick Hanauer: Another Thing Obama Can Do Without Congress

Nick Hanauer

Seattle-based venture capitalist Nick Hanauer offers a smart policy proposal that President Obama could implement with a stroke of the pen. The President could raise wages and create jobs by directing the Department of Labor to expand the number of workers who can receive overtime pay. Sign the petition.

More from Democracy for America:

President Obama: Expand overtime pay!

We urge you to instruct the Department of Labor to significantly expand the number of workers eligible for federal overtime pay. By raising the salary threshold to $69,000, we would finally achieve the same eligibility for overtime pay that we had in 1975.

We also urge you to revise the rules in order to reduce the number of exemptions from overtime pay. Teachers, federal employees, doctors, computer professionals (anyone who uses a computer), and many more professional workers have been working overtime and increasing their productivity but aren’t seeing the benefits of their labor. They should also be eligible for overtime pay.

Revise the rules to expand overtime pay without delay.

More info:
Whatever Happened to Overtime?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Immigration: ‘We’re going as far as we possibly can without Congress acting’

Don't deport my mom

Obama Moves To Protect Millions From Deportation

WASHINGTON — In the boldest move on immigration policy of his presidency, President Barack Obama announced plans Thursday evening to dramatically increase deportation relief for an estimated 4.4 million undocumented immigrants. The executive action will protect parents, as well as those who came to the U.S. as children and others with long-standing ties to the country, from being forced out of their homes.

Oh, the quote at the top of this post? President George W. Bush’s press secretary Dana Perino, describing the Bush administration’s executive action on immigration in 2007.

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Erick Erickson to Tea-GOP: ‘Shut. It. Down.’

Via Media Matters.

Faux News Channel political analyst Erick Erickson, an influential voice among Tea Party Republicans, is calling on the new GOP Congress to push for a government shutdown. In a November 18 post to his RedState.com website headlined “Shut. It. Down.”, Erickson says that the 2013 shutdown provides an excellent model for Republicans to follow now that they control both houses of Congress.

He thinks that President Obama will get the blame for another Tea-GOP government shutdown.

Block Obama. Let him show himself again to be the petulant man-child Americans have started recognizing. And this time, when he shuts down the government, keep it shut till you have your way and then hold public hearings to show how Obama selectively shut things down to hurt the voters intentionally.

Bring. It. On.

UPDATE:
Erickson To GOP: Shut Government Down — There Are No Consequences!

“[T]he voters did not elect the GOP to do any part of their own agenda,” he wrote. “The GOP did absolutely nothing but run on ‘we are not Obama.’ If that is the image they rebuilt, then they need to not be Obama and need to not fund Obama’s agenda.”

UPDATE:
Heritage vetoes Republican ‘rescission’ plan

Republican leaders on the Hill may be looking for a way out of the hole they dug for themselves, but finding a solution that the right considers acceptable will probably be even more difficult than it was the last time the GOP shut down the federal government.

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How Fast Will YOU Be Able To Innovate?

Get Ready To Wait

Get Ready To Wait

No matter what political stripe you are, you are excited about Obama’s fierce defense of Net Neutrality lately. The problem is that he is standing up for something he can’t personally affect. It’s the FCC that will make that decision and the big downer is that the man Obama appointed to head the FCC , (Tom Wheeler), used to be a cable lobbyist.

Perfect. :(

Anyway, the best debate you’ll probably hear about the issue was on the Diane Rhem show from November 12th, since I don’t think there’s any way a public hearing will take place. The last time the FCC did that, it was an embarrassing spectacle for the commission as they faced an auditorium of very angry citizens back in the Bush days.

Diane likes to have a fair discussion, but I thought I could tell what side she was on. It’s not hard to be on the side of “Net Neutrality” because 4 million Americans have sent letters to the FCC about the issue, and I can guarantee you that a tiny fraction of the letters were for letting internet providers discriminate about the speed of the websites we choose.

It was a sensible discussion except for one panel member who was obviously there to bolster a corporate controlled internet. he’s Rob Atkinson, the president of something called, “The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation”. I get weary when ever I see the word innovation these days, because it usually means something like ‘get out of the way little man; we’ll decide what’s best’.

Atkinson doesn’t waste much time using the fear of government meme so popular with liars these days.

ROB ATKINSON:

All the major carriers, Verizon, Comcast, all the rest of them have committed never to block legal content, never to degrade legal content.It’s a red herring that the other side is doing because what they want is they want a regulated utility model and ultimately they want a government-owned model. That’s their game.

MARVIN AMMORI, (attorney in private practice, affiliate scholar, Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet & Society):

… When you look at the people who have lined up against net neutrality, it’s just the big cable and phone companies and the organizations like Rob’s that got funding from them. That’s it.

I’ve never heard Diane Rhem prod all other panel members to give their opinion on whether another guest was lying before, but I was delighted to hear this part of the show:

ROB ATKINSON:

In the famous case that Marvin’s talking about with what’s called the Comcast BitTorrent Case, Comcast did not block anything

DIANE REHM:

Marvin.

MARVIN AMMORI:

So I think Rob is just trying to throw some fud out there. The FCC found that Comcast was blocking. We proved it.

ROB ATKINSON:

No, they did not.

MARVIN AMMORI:

They did. It’s in the order. I litigated that decision. I argued that decision. I wrote the complaint in that case. And the CE…

DIANE REHM:

Did they or did they not?

GIGI SOHN, (special counsel for external affairs, Federal Communications Commission):

Yes, they did.

ROB ATKINSON:

They were slowing up…

MARVIN AMMORI:

The CEO of BitTorrent is a friend of mine and we collaborated the entire time during that case, both CEOs then and now.

DIANE REHM:

Cecilia, did they or did they…

CECILIA KANG, (reporter, The Washington Post):

They did, they did.

Oops!

I also thought it was funny that Atkinson was trying to make the case that most people really don’t care that much about high speeds after a question from a caller:

ROB ATKINSON:

What is true is very, very few consumers will pay even 5 or $10 more a month for the next tier up. So there — I can get 100 megabits to my house where I live in Washington, D.C. I don’t get it because I don’t want to pay the extra. Most consumers are like that. They just won’t pay a few dollars more for high speeds.

CECILIA KANG:

…So the idea that people don’t want to upgrade, I mean, I would love, if I could afford, to get the fastest no matter what. Nobody would say no to that if possible.

Amen and amen Cecilia!

It’s an interesting debate and, as usual, the transcripts and audio can be found at Rehms site.

37 Comments

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’

Gargantuan black hole

“Interstellar,” Christopher Nolan’s ninth film, is the most ambitious thing he’s ever done (this is the director of “Inception” we’re talking about here). It’s a $165 million visual masterpiece about an ambitious attempt to save the human race, trapped on a dying Earth. The science is shaky to say the least, and there’s an excess of melodrama IMHO. But it’s well worth seeing. Features include:

  • Big ideas
  • Terrific cast & acting
  • Plenty of plot twists
  • No sound in space (like “2001: A Space Odyssey”)
  • A wormhole to another galaxy
  • Time dilation
  • A gargantuan black hole (which doubles as a plot hole)

And Matthew McConaughey gets to say, “We don’t have time to argue about relativity right now.”

9 Comments

Are Our Public Lands Up For Grabs Now?

High in the Morning - Maynard Dixon

Tea-GOP Congresswoman-elect Mia Love regarding our public lands: “I support returning ownership back to the state of Utah.” The premise of this statement (not to mention the grammar) is completely wrong, because the public lands in Utah have always been in federal ownership since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. The State of Utah did not exist until 1896, nearly a half-century later.

State-level land grab attempts such as the Transfer of Public Lands Act (the 2012 Utah law that demands the federal government hand over public lands to the state by December 31, 2014) violate both the U.S. Constitution and the Utah Constitution. However, the U.S. Congress has the ultimate power over all federal lands. The Property Clause in Article 4 of the Constitution says: “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States…”

Now that the Tea-GOP controls both houses of Congress, will Mia Love get her wish?

Claire Moser on Think Progress:

For the Republican Party, the growing internal debate over whether America’s public lands should be seized and sold represents a choice between the conservation values of Republican President Theodore Roosevelt and the power of a special interest-driven agenda. Former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar observed in August that the RNC’s endorsement of land grabs would “cause Teddy Roosevelt to turn over in his grave.”

With the debate escalating over whether public lands should be seized or sold, candidates who dodged the issue but won on Tuesday will likely soon have to say whether they are with the party of Teddy Roosevelt or Cliven Bundy.

President Obama has the power (delegated by Congress to the chief executive in the Antiquities Act of 1906) to proclaim national monuments on public lands. He has already done so 13 times to protect more than 260 million acres of land and water, which is more than any other President. And he says he is “not finished” with national monuments.

There is a proposal for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument in Utah. The Tea-GOP has it coming. Will President Obama bring it?

More info:
The Sagebrush Gang Rides Again? (February 2012)

UPDATE:
Is possible San Rafael Swell state park another Utah land grab?

8 Comments

Election Turnout Sucked

Mid-terms have lower turnout than Presidential year elections. Nevertheless, turnout for 2014 was the lowest it’s been in decades – approximately 37% of eligible voters actually voted. By the time all the absentee ballots arrive, that figure may rise to 38%. The last time participation was this low was in 1942 (when people, it can be argued, had other things on their minds).

41 Comments

Senator Mark Udall’s Rare Opportunity: Release The Torture Report Now

In the Guardian, Trevor Timm points out that while Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) lost his bid for re-election, that gives him a one-time chance to bring transparency to the CIA’s secret torture program.

Udall’s loss doesn’t have to be all bad. The lame-duck transparency advocate now has a rare opportunity to truly show his principles in the final two months of his Senate career and finally expose, in great detail, the secret government wrongdoing he’s been criticizing for years. On his way out the door, Udall can use congressional immunity provided to him by the Constitution’s Speech and Debate clause to read the Senate’s still-classified 6,000-page CIA torture report into the Congressional record – on the floor, on TV, for the world to see.

How about it, Senator Udall?

31 Comments

Jonathan Chait Predicts Permanent Gridlock

Do nothing Congress

There is no shortage of gloom and doom today in the wake of the Democratic Party’s epic electoral fail. Jonathan Chait’s analysis is that the Dems may be locked out of the majority in Congress for the foreseeable future, although they might be able to keep control of the White House.

Mitch McConnell did not become the majority leader by cooperating. His single strategic insight is that voters do not blame Congress for gridlock, they blame the president, and therefore reward the opposition. Eternally optimistic seekers of bipartisanship have clung to the hope that owning all of Congress, not merely half, will force Republicans to “show they can govern.” This hopeful bit of conventional wisdom rests on the premise that voters are even aware that the GOP is the party controlling Congress. In fact, only about 40 percent of the public even knows which party controls which chamber of Congress, which makes the notion that the Republicans would face a backlash for a lack of success fantastical.

McConnell’s next play is perfectly clear. His interest lies in creating two more years of ugliness and gridlock. He does not want spectacular, high-profile failures that command public attention — no shutdowns, no impeachment. Instead, he wants tedious, enervating stalemate. McConnell needs to drain away any possibility of hope and excitement from government, so that the disengaged Democratic voters remain disengaged in 2016.

OTOH Majority Leader McConnell may not get what he wants, because Other Majority Leader Rafael “Ted” Cruz has different ideas.

UPDATES:
Right-Wing Media Outraged After Obama Declares Intent To Cooperate With GOP
“Stop Barack Obama”: Right-Wing Media Demand No Compromise

29 Comments

Too Close To Call

Owens and Love

According to the latest Dan Jones and Associates poll, Mia Love has 48 percent with Doug Owens at 43 percent. The five-point spread is roughly equal to the poll’s margin of error, and 6 percent of voters are still undecided. This election could easily go either way. Back in August, Love had a 12-point lead.

Love-Owens poll

Bryan Schott points out that Mia Love has never crossed 50% in any poll, while Doug Owens leads with independents 57% to 29%, and has support from 16% of Republicans.

Love has run a surprisingly lackluster campaign, and has gotten into trouble over false statements – for example, her recent claim that fewer Americans have health insurance now than before the Affordable Care Act was implemented.

What does everyone else think?

UPDATE:
Election Results: Mia Love beats Doug Owens 50% to 47%.

25 Comments

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