Archive for June, 2013

Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger

BoP sealThose who advocated for longer prison sentences failed to take the Law of Unintended Consequences into consideration.  We all know that prisons have become warehouses. There are several areas where the US leads the world. We lead all industrialized nations in infant deaths the first day of life. We lead the world in illegal drug use. In addition, we lead the world in number of people incarcerated.

The US prison population is about 2.3 million, more than any other nation. Those numbers come from a global study of prisons by the International Centre for Prison Studies, London.

China is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison, despite a population of 1.35 billion. (NOTE: That figure does not include political prisoners in administrative detention for “reeducation.”)

The unintended consequences are an aging prison population. Perhaps the for-profit prisons did not count on that glitch in their bottom line. However, prisons at both the state and Federal level are finding themselves running geriatric nursing homes.  In 2010, the last year for which we have accurate data, prisoners age 65 or over increased 94 times the rate of the total prison population in the three-year period 2007-2010.  During that same three-year period, the total US prison population grew 0.7%.

At the rate we are going, by the year 2030, estimates are that almost a half-million prisoners will be elderly.  Most prisons spend an absolute minimum on staffing and patient health.  Private prisons find the elderly cutting into their profit margin. Problems not anticipated for younger prisoners are cropping up.  What good does it do for a correctional officer to give orders to a prisoner with Alzheimer’s disease?  Prisons are not designed for accommodating walkers, wheelchairs and those who may have serious age-related illnesses.

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The Offending Contraband That Almost Got A UVa Student Shot

The Offending Contraband That Almost Got A UVa Student Shot

University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly thought she was doing a good thing buying some La Croix bottled water and cookie dough ice cream from the Harris Teeter Supermarket to share at a charity event.  It was 10:15 p.m. and the twenty-year-old, along with her female roommate were trying get to a police sponsored “Take Back The Night” event where she thought  she would be listening to stories from sexual assault victims and developing strategies to combat the scourge of most college towns. Instead, as she crossed the dark parking lot and got into her vehicle, she was set upon by six people, one of whom jumped on the hood of her SUV and another who pulled a gun.

“I couldn’t put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were … terrified,” Daly stated. Not wanting to become a victim herself, Daly heeded the words of her panic-stricken front seat passenger and took off.  As she did, she grazed two of the assailants.

“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform,” she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

We have all heard the stories about the federal education policy instituted under the George W. Bush administration referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  That program required schools to continually test students in order to gauge which schools are “failing” to produce students who were making sufficient educational progress.  The outgrowth of NCLB was the need for teachers to “teach to the test”.  Schools across the country stopped teaching important subject areas because they were not deemed important enough to be on the all important test.  Now, the latest federal educational program embraced by the Obama Administration, called Common Core standards, builds on the NCLB program and continues to force testing using standards that have not even been tested and are products of corporate sponsors tied to the testing industry! (more…)

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Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

President_Barack_ObamaPresident Obama has admitted that while in school he was a frequent marijuana smoker. George W. Bush also alluded to smoking marijuana and possibly to using cocaine. Bill Clinton claimed to have smoked it but not inhaled it, which is the type of ridiculous statement Clinton is capable of asserting for political gain. Thus the last three Presidents of the United States have admitted that one time or another they have broken the law and used a banned substance. While each of those Presidents presided over the continued witch hunt and prosecution of the “War On Drugs” I believe that Barack Obama has been the most hypocritical.

Had either G.W. Bush, or Bill Clinton been arrested for smoking marijuana there is no doubt in my mind that they would have neither served jail time, nor would they have had their careers stained by a criminal record. Bush, as the scion of a great political family would have had his record expunged, or possibly have had the police back off when they discovered who he was. Bill Clinton was a student at a prestigious University and while not rich, came from a politically connected family in Arkansas. What they also had in common was that they were White men. Barack Obama on the other hand would have likely been arrested, despite his status as a Harvard student and while he probably would have escaped jail time he would have been forced to take a plea which would remain on his record. If such a thing had occurred it is highly probable that Barack Obama would never have been elected Senator, much less President. There is a likelihood that he might never even have been allowed to enter the Bar as an attorney, since that entrance requires extensive background checks. Whatever you might think of him Barack Obama is a very intelligent man. Surely he must realize how fortunate he was to not get caught smoking grass and yet as President he has stepped up the War On Drugs and has allowed egregious prosecutions in States that have passed medical marijuana laws. To my mind this is blatant hypocrisy, but beyond that political position lies a destructiveness that can only rationally be seen as the continuance of the oppression of Americans of color, particularly Blacks, by our Federal Government. I will deal with our President’s hypocrisy and use it as the basis of my condemnation of the War On Drugs. (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

misdirectionWhile the NSA is, perhaps unconstitutionally, intercepting your electronic data, our media is focusing on whether Snowden should be charged with treason. One of reasons Snowden was charged with espionage is so the media would follow that meme. While James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, is getting away with lying to the Senate, our media is playing Where’s Waldo with Snowden. Instead of a debate on the constitutionality of the NSA programs out media is focusing on insignificant details regarding the private lives of Snowden and Greenwald.

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chalking1It appears there is a thin chalk line between us and anarchy. Police in various states are cracking down on a criminal epidemic sweeping the nation: sidewalk chalk protesters. We just discussed the case of a California man who was not only arrested but hit with 13 charges for writing protests in chalk in front of a Bank of America. Now in Pennsylvania, a blog is reporting that AJ Martin, a health care protester, has been arrested for disorderly conduct for writing the above statement on the public sidewalk in front of the home of Governor Tom Corbett.

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18213After the historic victory in the Windsor case, gay state Rep. Brian Sims (left), D-Philadelphia, rose to speak about the decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act on the floor of the Pennsylvania House. He did so during a time when members are allowed to discuss any subject of importance. However, he was blocked by Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe who objected on the basis that any such comments would constitute a “rebellion against . . . God.”

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half gallon-ICDeptofJusticeRandy and Karen Sowers are not your typical terrorists or mob financiers. They run the popular South Mountain Creamery and sell their produces at farmer’s markets and local events. The Somers however were confronted recently by FBI agents who informed them that the Justice Department was moving to seize their accounts under a law designed to thwart mob and terrorist financiers. They had made repeated deposits under $10,000. The Justice Department has seized their account of $62,936 under the law as illegal “structuring.” The criminal provision is written in a way to avoid the need for actual intent or knowledge of the illegality.

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220px-Whaling_harpoon220px-Minke_Whale_(NOAA)Australia has called Japan to account for its openly fraudulent claims of scientific research as an exception to the moratorium on whaling. Australia accused Japan in the International Court of Justice in The Hague of commercial whaling in using the claim of research to kill hundreds of whales every year in the Southern Ocean.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

While the rulings in Fisher and Windsor justifiably garnered the most attention this week, it is important to note an important but little discussed decision to accept a case. President_Barack_ObamaI have previously testified and written about President Barack Obama’s use of recess appointments, which I viewed as flagrantly unconstitutional. Recently, the D.C. Circuit agreed with that view and found that the Obama Administration had violated the recess appointment powers. Then a second appellate court has joined that view, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. I have two law review articles coming out on these appointments and more broadly the abuse of recess appointment powers in modern presidencies. See Jonathan Turley, Recess Appointments in the Age of Regulation, 93 Boston University Law Review ___ (2013) and Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Adverse Possession: Recess Appointments and the Role of Historical Practice in Constitutional Interpretation, 2103 Wisconsin Law Review ___ (2013). The case accepted for review is Noel Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

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ph_leeU.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee has issued a sweeping victory for the Obama Administration and its contractors in seeking to bar any recourse for people injured or killed in U.S. camps or prisons like Abu Ghraib. Lee dismissed a lawsuit detailing well-supported accounts of abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison — holding that the injured parties could not use U.S. courts to seek judicial review and relief for the abuse. He closed the door to the U.S. judicial system to four Iraqi plaintiffs under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as well as one plaintiff who was deemed as barred under Iraqi law.

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121223010629-nr-lemon-dental-assistant-fired-00001202-story-topWe previously discussed the alarming ruling in Nelson v. James H. Knight, DDS, where the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in December that a dentist did not commit gender discrimination in firing an attractive female employee, Melissa Nelson, at the request of a jealous wife. The “irresistible attraction” rule led many of us to question the standards applied by the Court. Now, the Court has taken the exceptionally rare step of withdrawing the December 2012 decision and announcing that it will reconsider the case.

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Terrehaute_gurneyperryYesterday presented what some would view as a striking contradiction as Texas Governor proclaimed that Texas “values life” in pushing for a bill that would have imposed strict new regulations on abortion while the state marked its 500th execution with the death of Kimberly McCarthy. She is the 500th to die in Texas since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

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Raveesh KumraThere is an interesting story out of San Jose where a man was falsely accused of being an accomplice to murder despite being in a hospital at the time of the crime. Defense attorneys often argue contamination in DNA cases and the attorneys for Lukis Anderson, 26, insisted that either contamination or sheer negligence had to be the reason for the finding of his DNA on the body of robbery victim and Monte Sereno businessman, Raveesh “Ravi” Kumra (LEFT). It turns out that that is precisely what happened. The same ET crew that had worked on Anderson earlier responded to the home invasion of Kumra and used the same equipment — transferring the DNA to the body.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

As many of us predicted, Justice Anthony Kennedy supplied the fifth vote today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  I just returned from offering legal analysis in front of the Supreme Court (and roasting in the DC summer weather with CNN).  I will be discussing the case tonight with BBC.  The surprise was not in the outcome or the split but the scope of the decision.  Kennedy could have rendered the same decision on a narrower basis but chose to render a more expansive endorsement of the constitutional protections for gay couples.  These are marriages, plain and simple, and cannot be simply discharged by Congress. Kennedy wrote: “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

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220px-Chalkimages-1Jeff Olson, 40, is facing a potential 13-year jail sentence for perhaps the world’s most costly sidewalk art. A former aide to the U.S. Senator from Washington, Olson used water-soluble statements like “Stop big banks,” and “Stop Bank Blight.com” outside Bank of America branches last year to protest the company’s practices. He eventually gave up his protest but prosecutors later brought 13 charges against him. Now a judge has reportedly banned his attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.” It appears someone associated with Bank of American could finally go to jail, but it will not by the bank officials in the financial scandal. It is the guy writing slogans in chalk in the sidewalk.

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300px-Bullets_270_Sierra-1300px-pigs_july_2008-1In Idaho, South Fork Industries appears to have found a way to turn Islamophobia into a windfall. The ammunition manufacturer is selling a new line of pork-laced bullets that they say will keep Muslim terrorists from entering heaven. However, the theory that these “Jihawg Ammo” bullets are “haram” and thus a barrier to heaven is contested by actual Islamic scholars. If true, could the company be sued for false advertising or does such a claim require proof of a divinely excluded terrorist who was shot by an unclean bullet? The website calls it “Peace Through Pork.”

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300px-Giotto_-_Scrovegni_-_-27-_-_Expulsion_of_the_Money-changers_from_the_TempleMatthew (6:24) says that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” but we have recently seen ministers who seem focused on the latter than the former in their personal matters like St. Louis Pastor Alois Bell who scratched out a 18 percent tip for a large party and wrote in a “0″ next to “I give God 10% why do you get 18.” The waitress was later fired from Applebee’s after Bell complained about her going public with the slight. Rev. Bell was widely ridiculed as a craven hypocrite. However, she could apparently open a new ministry of the “Good Work of Mammon” Church with Australian Rev. Terry McAuliffe, of St Paul’s Anglican Church. A couple, Clyde and Lesley Bevan, own the Friends Restaurant and dropped a $6500 gold and diamond bracelet in the carpark. It was missing for months. They were delighted when a new “friend” called to report that he picked up the bracelet until he told them that he wanted half the value if they wanted it back. Rev. McAuliffe insists that it is just a case of mammon from heaven: “I have been given a gift fallen from the sky.”

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100px-Amnesty_International_logo.svg228px-Picture_of_Edward_SnowdenAmnesty International has issued a statement criticizing the Obama Administration’s prosecution of Edward Snowden. While the media has largely yielded to demands from the White House not to call Snowden a “whistleblower,” Amnesty International views him in this light and specifically objects to the use of the Espionage Act by the Obama Administration in this case. I discuss the charges against Snowden in a column today in USA Today.

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There is disturbing video out of Lakeland, Florida where a police officer, Dustin Fetz, is under attack for ordering a woman to shake her bra during a search for drugs at a traffic stop. There appears no basis for the drug search, which are becoming more and more common on the roads as drivers find themselves accused of minor traffic violations but then subjected to full drug searches.

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AF cover 4Below is my column today in USA Today on the criminal complaint against Edward Snowden. I have been criticizing the charge under the Espionage Act as abusive and a mistake by the Administration. President Barack Obama has been criticized for years for his use of the controversial 1917 Act. He is responsible for six of the nine total indictments ever brought under the Act. More than all presidents before him and putting Richard Nixon to shame. He has used the act against sources for journalists and only recently was criticized for the attacks on the free press under his Administration. I do not question the basis for prosecution of Snowden for the disclosure of classified information or any theft of such documents. However, the effort to put him away for life does raise an interesting contrast with prior cases, which is the subject of today’s column (slightly expanded from the print version).

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175px-Stanley_Cup_no_background200px-ChicagoBlackhawksLogo.svgOur civil liberties and our economy may be in the tank, but all is right with the world today as the Stanley Cup returns to its natural resting place: Chicago.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

This morning I will be in front of the Supreme Court to discuss the expected rulings on same-sex marriage, voting rights, and racial diversity in college admissions.  It is the last ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas Austin that brings back many personal memories for me.  I will be with Jake Tapper giving legal analysis from virtually the identical place I was standing in 1977 when Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was argued before the Court.  I was a 16 year old congressional page during the large protests for and against affirnative action.  I remember walking out of the House of Representatives where I was a leadership page and getting swept away by the crowds.  I found a spot near today’s CNN site to watch this passionate display of free speech.  What is most striking is that 36 years later little has truly been resolved in how race can be considered by universities — or the struggle of the Court to find a consistent approach to the question. Update below: The Court ruled 7-1 to impose a higher standard for review under strict scrutiny.
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nicubunu_open_mouthA troubling conviction has now become a troubling precedent for the first amendment. A right-wing Internet radio host, Harold C. Turner, was earlier convicted of threatening three federal judges. Turner, 48, posted comments attacking the three appeals court judges who had upheld a ban of handguns in Chicago. He was charged with a single count of threatening to assault or kill the judges with the intent of impeding their official duties. The referenced judges testified against Turner. They are Judges Frank Easterbrook, William Bauer, and Richard Posner. Now the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has upheld the conviction in decision that could expose more speech to criminal penalties.

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ad889af55f078a35d882f5828c82f7e7We have another controversial dog shooting case. Cathy Luu and her family say that an El Monte police officer shot their 2-year-old female German Shepherd, named Kiki inside their fenced-in front yard while looking for a runaway teenager. What is different about this case is that a home security camera recorded the scene and it contradicted the account of the two officers.

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220px-YellowLabradorLooking_newDOG1200Canine contraband is the newest crime wave in Beijing. China is cracking down on large dogs under a new law in classic Chinese authoritarian form: Police bearing nets and metal snares are roaming the streets in search of Labradors, Dalmatians and collies and other sizable dogs.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty-(Rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

We often hear the term “school reform” used often by politicians of all stripes.  Chicago’s politicians are no different when it comes to talking about and taking action on so-called school reform.  Recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is a big fan of the charter school program and a former investment banker, decided that the best way to “reform” Chicago Public Schools was to close 49 schools and terminate 550 teachers and another 300 school staff employees!

“On June 14, the Chicago Public Schools sent layoff notices to 850 school employees, including 550 teachers. The layoffs will hit hardest at those teachers working in African-American and Latino communities. These are the communities that were targeted in the system’s recent decision to close 49 schools – the largest single school closure in US history.” Truth-out (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

deenI never much liked Paula Deen’s cooking. Filled with butter and gravies and things like Krispy Creme Donuts for hamburger buns, Paula seemed too culinarily eccentric … to foodie excessive … too health oblivious even for a southern cook in 1813 much less 2013. Her story though, like her southern twang, had a certain charm to it: single mother of two left penniless makes ends meet by selling food-to-go out of her home kitchen and works her butt off until she reached the top of the sundae’s cherry with three shows on the Food Network and some spin off shows for her two sons.

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Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe) Guest Blogger

Kirby Cowan memorial plaque

Kirby Cowan memorial plaque
Gennevillers, France

It was 69 years ago today. 7:27PM, Paris, France. The B-17G serial number 42-102552 was shot down by flak over Paris. Some of the crew managed to get out of the destroyed plane, some did not. Kirby Cowan, whom I wrote about here, was the only one of the crew captured by the Gestapo. He was one of the 168 allied airmen who ended up in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp instead of a POW camp.

This story is not really about Kirby Cowan, as much as it is about the 6600 American service members who died per MONTH, during WWII (about 220 a day).  No one who was not alive then has any idea of the magnitude of the losses. 40,000 airmen were killed in combat theaters and another 18,000 wounded. Young men who climbed into thin aluminum coffins and flew into the stratosphere–and into history.

ImageAlso shot down that day at 7:24 PM, three minutes before Horn’s Hornets, was the B-17G #42-975432 flown by Second Lieutenant George Martin. That plane was also special because Staff Sgt. Carl E. Carlson was a member of the crew. SSgt. Carlson was the father of one of our own Turley blog commenters, Darrel Carlson.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

USCISMargaret Doughty, a 64-year old woman originally from the UK, and living in the US for 30+ years applied for US citizenship. She was asked, like all candidates, if they’d be willing to take up arms in defense of the United States of America. She responded that her “duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms … my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God.” The USCIS in Houston, Texas, informed Doughty that conscientious objection must be based on religious grounds and she was to “submit a letter on official church stationery, attesting to the fact that you are a member in good standing and the church’s official position on the bearing of arms.”

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

taranto-waronmen1As a male who met his wife at age 36, I had many years as a single male and many relationships with women. While being experienced sexually the idea of forcing myself on a woman was not only repellant, but emotionally I was and am unable to understand why men would do something like that.  Emotionally even as a fantasy, on film, or in literature I find nothing the least bit stimulating, or manly about forcing oneself upon an unwilling partner. Yet I understand it very well intellectually as a power trip having little to do with sex and much to do with an innate hostility towards women.. One of the places where it seems rape and sexual assault has run rampant has been the military.  A recent AP story has related that one third of fired military commanders were canned for sexual misconduct.  http://jezebel.com/5977856/nearly-a-third-of-fired-military-commanders-were-canned-because-of-their-penises Congress is discussing harsher military penalties for rape and sexual molestation. This is a disgraceful situation in my opinion and a continuance of women being treated as second class citizens.

In May, the Department of Defense released its “Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military,” which found that up to 26,000 service members may have been the victim of some form of sexual assault last year, up from an estimated 19,000 in 2010. The report also found that 62 percent of victims who reported their assault faced retaliation as a result. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel responded to the report by calling the assaults “a despicable crime” that is “a threat to the safety and the welfare of our people,” and General Martin Dempsey affirmed that sexual assaults constitute a “crisis” in the military.

I find that the figure of 26,000 service members being victims of sexual assault this past year appalling. Almost all of those victims were females. Yet as we shall see there are some who minimize this behavior and seem to excuse it as just the natural workings of the male libido. I’ll explain. (more…)

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Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

President_Barack_ObamaThe election of Barack Obama, a Black Man, was certainly a landmark for this country with its history of slavery and of oppression of those considered non-Whites. That history includes the treatment of Native Americans which was replete with deception, broken treaties and examples of outright genocidal behavior.  The history is also one of ethnic and religious prejudice that was heaped upon the waves of immigrants “welcomed” to our shores. The American heritage of bigotry in thought and language was never limited to the vile epithets of “Nigger”, “Spic”, “Savage” and “Chink” commonplace and accepted through the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. We also had “Mick”, “Polack”, “Heinie”, “Kike”, and “Wop” considered acceptable, common parlance. Many dismissed the use of these derogatory terms as being merely good natured banter and descriptive terminology. For those to which these terms were directed though, they stung deeply. These were people trying to become accepted in a new land and who had for the most part fled their native countries to escape poverty and oppression. They came to America seeking “freedom” and financial stability. These immigrants yearned for acceptance and each instance of others characterizing them by their ethnicity, or religion, came as a blow to their self-esteem.

While the majority of Americans no doubt look back upon the prejudices of those times with discomfort and embarrassment, it is human nature to try to diminish these histories and the unpleasant picture they paint of this country. My grandparents immigrated to America before the turn of the 20th Century. They came from Hungary or Poland depending on where the borders were set in different eras. They were Jews, born to poverty and oppression in Eastern Europe coming here to build a better life for themselves and for their children. My paternal grandfather was a tailor and came to this country with some children and with a marketable skill. I never met him, since he died before I was born, but was honored to be his first male namesake in the Jewish tradition of only naming after the dead. All the stories I heard about him told that he was intelligent, warm and gentle.  My maternal grandfather was an orphan, who came to America at age 11. He was in the dry goods business at that age. He described to me how he had to literally fight his way towards success, which he achieved. Both my Maternal and Paternal families each had 9 children so I had a total of 16 Aunts and Uncles. Unlike some of his older siblings, my father was born in America. He described to me life in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and the ethnic warfare that took place between the various neighborhoods. My father was a large man and a brawler in his youth, which from his perspective was a necessity of his times. I was born near the end of World War Two into an America where the ongoing hatred of Jews was decreasing, nevertheless I did experience some of that prejudice even in Junior High School, where I was called a “Christ Killer” and subjected to various jokes ridiculing Jews.

pNo doubt many among our readers can relate similar histories of the tribulations suffered because of their heritage ethnicity and religion. Stories handed down to them by their families. This is a fact of the history of America and no euphemistic retelling of history can erase it. This was the true “melting pot” of our country. For the most part though, whether the ethnicity was Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, etc. there was one saving grace and that was the color of our skin. When I was younger I had blond hair, I still have blue eyes and my last name has little ethnic identity. Many people who’ve met me in my life  have been surprised that I was Jewish, taking me for Irish or Scandinavian, which had become acceptable ethnicities. Those of European Heritage, born of immigrants, they were able to eventually escape that initial prejudice because they were White and they could further escape their ethnicity by changing their last names if they desired. This fluidity has never been available to non-Whites and to my mind it still isn’t fully available, despite those who would hold up our President as proof that such bigotry is a thing of the past and that non-Whites face life in our country on an equal footing. (more…)

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In Memoriam: Idealist707

id707It has recently come to our attention that long time poster Idealist707 passed away in Stockholm, Sweden on June 10, 2013. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all his family and friends. To those of you who knew him from and from outside this blog, you know he was an outspoken and colorful character who added much flavor to the conversations here. As a tribute to him and his contributions, this thread has been established for you to share in not just in his loss, but share in your memories of him, for no one is truly gone so long as they live in our memories.

Rest in peace, Idealist707.

This blog is richer for having known you and poorer in your absence.

(Of note, thank you to poster Malisha who informed us of this sad news and to poster Darren Smith for suggesting a memorial thread.)

~ respectfully submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger, on behalf of the Res Ispa Loquitur family

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President_Barack_ObamaNational_Security_Agency.svgWe have seen a continuing array of spins by the White House and its allies to excuse the massive assault on privacy in the recently revealed warrantless surveillance programs. This effort has included perjury by high-ranking officials, an effort to redefine privacy in a new surveillance-friendly image, ever increasing claims of averting “plots” and misdirection toward other “threats” to privacy. However, one of the consistent claims has been that no content of communications was reviewed — an argument that itself is fallacious. Now however it appears that even that assurance is false. There are various reports that the content of the warrantless communications was accessible. Now, it has also been confirmed that there are two documents dated July 2009 and signed by Attorney General Holder allows the NSA to use “inadvertently acquired” communications.
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images-1Superior Court judge Carlia Brady, 41, is to stand trial for “knowingly harbor[ing]” a fugitive charged with armed robbery in her Woodbridge home and never calling the police. She was arrested on Tuesday and charged two counts of hindering the apprehension of Jason Prontnicki, 41.

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bildegavel2The Michigan Supreme Court voted yesterday 5-2 to remove Wayne Family Circuit Judge Deborah Ross Adams from office for lying under oath and other violations of judicial ethics. In removing Adams, the court found that a 180-day suspension recommended by the Judicial Tenure Commission was manifestly too low for a judge lying under oath. (more…)

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220px-Drinking_waterThe Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director Sherwin Smith is warning citizens to think before they start raising concerns about water quality because they could be charged with making terroristic threats. Smith told Maury County resident that unfounded complaints could be considered an “act of terrorism” and turned over the the police and the FBI. The meeting followed complaints about water quality in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee where children have become ill drinking the water. That left residents with the sense that they were being given a Sophie’s Choice by the TDEC: live with sick children or face a possible charge of being a terrorist.

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220px-MRAP04220px-155mmMustardGasShellsAs President Obama starts our intervention into yet another war in Syria and members call for even greater intervention, we have another measure of how costly our war in Afghanistan has been. Stars and Stripes is reporting that the U.S. will abandon or destroy $7 billion in equipment rather than ship it home under the tight schedule for withdrawal. Once again, history will record the insanity of both President Bush and President Obama in spending hundreds of billions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while cutting key educational, environmental, and scientific programs needed in this country. Members who rail against support for things like NPR will not even take note of $7 billion in equipment going up in smoke in Afghanistan. In the perfect metaphor, the billions of dollars of scrap metal will be turned into Afghan pennies.

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225px-dianne_feinstein_official_senate_photoimages>Civil libertarians have long viewed Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.,CA) as a menace to privacy and civil liberties in her role on the  Senate Intelligence Committee. She has worked to blocked investigation of torture while supporting warrantless surveillance of our own citizens. Recently, many Californians became aware of her role in seeking ever-expanding powers for the security state. Feinstein desperately tried to get citizens to embrace a new model of privacy that allows for their continual surveillance in the latest scandals under her tenure. That has not worked particularly well so now Feinstein is taking a new approach: she is proclaiming her concern over the dangers of privacy posed by . . . drones. That’s right. Like the street magicians distracting an audience, Feinstein is trying to get citizens to focus on the use of drones for surveillance and promising some form of “regulation” in the future. The obvious intent behind yesterday’s carefully constructed scene was to present Feinstein in the light of a fighter for, rather than an attacker of, privacy rights.

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spear-man-600 Jeffrey Allen Jones, 56, is clearly not going for that “this is actually quite fun” mugshot that we saw earlier.

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article-2326336-19A6AE47000005DC-939_306x423Police were investigating the alleged rape of Sara Ylen by two men in her home in Lexington, Michigan when her attending physician noticed something odd: her bruises were wiping off clean. She is now being prosecuted for falsely claiming rape and tampering with evidence. The most chilling aspect of the story is that prosecutors convicted a man previously of raping Ylen. It is the role of the prosecutors that needs to be investigated in this bizarre story.

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220px-My_stepmother_is_an_alien_h353_w628_m6_otrue_lfalseSimon Parkes appears to be pressing the flesh with all the wrong people. The city council member and married father of three from Whitby Town Council has gone public with an account of a long affair with aliens, particularly an alien named the “Cat Queen” with whom he has had a child. He also claims that his “real mother” is a 9-foot green alien with eight fingers. The Labor politician has also reported the less surprising news that his wife is rather put out by the whole thing. He did raise a novel extraterrestrial defense to extramarital affairs. (more…)

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220px-Charles_J._HynesThe Brooklyn district attorney Charles J. Hynes is not have a particularly good week. First, Hynes had to fire one of his top people after Gang Bureau head Deanna Rodriguez used racist and anti-gay language. Now he will have to testify about allegations that his office ignores and even promotes prosecutorial misconduct. The testimony will occur in the case of Jabbar Collins, who has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the office of District Attorney Charles J. Hynes after he won his release after 16 years in prison for murder. He claims that his case is only one of an array of cases showing a pattern of egregious abuses and misconduct by Hynes’ office and prosecutors.

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XFPUfRbA Reddit contributor found an interesting example of formula magazine coverage. These are two different magazine covers published two years apart.  Civil libertarians see the same phenomenon in coverage of the surveillance scandals and the attack on the free press.

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George-W-Bush_jpegPresident_Barack_ObamaGeorge Bush was rightfully denounced for his Administration’s false statements to both the public and the United Nations on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — the rationale for our invasion of that country. There was little apparent concern from Bush or his aides over the veracity or proof of their assertions as opposed to the desired outcome. The same mentality is in open display with President Obama this month as he and his aides continue to increase the claims of “successes” from the warrantless surveillance programs as public opposition grows. In this case, the increasing claims are being made in a war on privacy, including an effort to redefine privacy in a new surveillance-friendly image. We are now up to over 50 “potential plots” and Obama is sounding distinctly Bush-like in statements today about how these programs “saved lives.” The public, which learned this month that it was openly lied to about the programs in earlier hearings, is expected to accept these assurances on faith alone.

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article-2233524-160C188B000005DC-149_306x423article-2232655-15EE65FC000005DC-48_634x350Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard ruled last Friday that a former housekeeper who filmed sex with former Waffle House CEO Joe Rogers had violated his privacy. The housekeeper, Mye Brindle, alleged that Rogers forced her to perform sex acts as a condition for her continued employment.

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1370887802000-AP-Police-Raid-Girl-Killed-1306181610_3_4_r343_c0-0-340-450The jury had deadlocked in the trial of Officer Joseph Weekley who is accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, 7, who was shot in the head during a raid on her home. The producer for the reality show “The First 48 Hours” is also charged in the case.

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taylor_royceCircuit Judge Royce Taylor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee is embroiled in an interesting controversy after he urged female attorneys to dress appropriately in courthouses. It is common for judges to instruct male attorneys on the need to wear jackets, ties, and appropriate shoes. However, for a male judge to write a memo on female dress is a different matter for some. It raises a long-standing issue for attorneys. Male attorneys privately grumble that there appears to be no serious limits on female dress codes while men are called to account before judges.

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article-2312730-196c26ea000005dc-284_634x354We previously discussed the case of Jared Marcum, 14, who was suspended and arrested for wearing a t-shirt supporting the Second Amendment and the National Rifle Association. While many of us derided the arrest of a student (and the continuation of a trend toward criminalizing our schools), most people assumed that some adult supervision would kick in at the police or prosecution offices and toss out the charges. Think again. We live in a world where adults no longer show such independent thought or discretion. Marcum is now formally charged with obstructing an officer and faces a $500 fine and a maximum of one year in prison.

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tumblr_mk8qcftYnJ1s2u4mho1_500Many of us have been distraught over the attacks on privacy and the press by the Obama Administration as well as authoritarian turn taken by presidents in Egypt and Turkey. I am pleased to announce that I have finally found a president who is not only a reformer but completely free of special interest influence. Yesterday, my son Aidan Turley was elected president of his elementary school. He was able to use both general and single issue campaign themes. Single issue voters seemed energized by his campaign to put air fresheners in all bathrooms — using the above picture on posters near bathrooms with the theme of “Need A Breath Of Fresh Air? Vote For Aidan Turley.” It is the elementary school version of a “chicken in every pot.”

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