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Archive for the ‘shame’ Category

Louisiana Supreme Court states that the right to an attorney only applies if you state a request for an attorney in standard English. Speak Spanish? Tough shit. Speak vernacular Creole? Tough shit.

I mean, look. Gotta send them darkies to prison, y’all. You know they’re all criminals, after all. As for the Constitution? Yeah, well, according to the U.S. Constitution, the amount of justice you receive isn’t supposed to be different based upon the language that you speak (that whole “equal protection of the law” thingy in the 14th Amendment). But hey, the Constitution is just a piece of paper, right? Right?!

And people wonder why I would never move back to Louisiana even if I had a million bajillion dollars and was wanting to start up a business… shit, their “justice” system is so goddamn corrupt, it’s worse than India. Like in India, if the rich and powerful who control the state decide they want your shit, they’ll use corrupt D.A.’s and judges to take it. At least in India the judges will take bribes to stop the process. In Louisiana, the judges are basically selected by the rich and powerful, so they just rubber stamp whatever the rich and powerful in the state want rubber stamped. It’s a “justice” system, not a justice system.

– Badtux the Corruption Penguin

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A little over sixty years ago, nine teenagers, fifteen years of age, were looking forward to attending high school. It was going to be scary, they knew, being in a big new school with lots of kids they’d never seen before. But they weren’t thinking much beyond that. One of the kids dreamed of all the things she’d do at this fine new school she was about to start, about the classroom discussions she’d have with interesting new people, about attending the prom. They were kids, after all. They were innocent.

They did not stay innocent. They lost their innocence hard.

And it was all in vain. Today’s schools are as segregated as they were in 1957. Even in cases where they’re supposedly desegregated, the white kids attend white classes, and the black kids attend black classes, and never the twain shall meet. At the elementary school I taught at in inner city Houston, supposedly 1/3rd of the students were white. I never saw them. They had their own wing of the building. They ate lunch at a different time from the black kids. They had recess at a different time than my kids. I could walk out my classroom door into the hallway and look out at the playground and see them playing, but that’s the closest I ever got to any of the white kids. My kids, of course, were all brown. Us Teach for America interns were the ones thrown into the classrooms with brown kids, because the school board figured that their parents didn’t have the political pull to complain about untrained novice teachers in the classrooms. They were right.

Segregation and violence. Those are America’s heritage. Says Minnijean Brown Trickey bitterly from her home in Canada, where she has lived for most of the past thirty years after the election of Ronald Reagan convinced her that America would never change: “What kind of country doesn’t see education for all children to be the primary value? I think the US has two values: segregation, which they do so well, and violence.”

I can’t say she’s wrong.

– Badtux the Somber Penguin

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So, the question is, what percentage of able-bodied poor people between ages 18 and 64 do *not* work? I.e., are lazy bums that just hang around the outside of the store smoking cigarettes all day?

So my first stop was the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They helpfully tell me that 7.2% of the population between ages 18 and 64 was a) poor, and b) working, in 2010. Okay.

My next stop was the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau tells me that the poverty rate for people aged 18 to 64 was 13.7 percent.

My final stop was the Social Security Administration. They tell me that disabled beneficiaries aged 18–64 in current-payment status accounted for over 4.6 percent of the population aged 18–64 in the United States. I assume that all of these people are poor, because disability benefits are *not* generous.

So: 7.2% of the working-age population is poor and working, 4.6% of the working age population is poor and disabled, for a total of 11.8%. Which means that 1.9% of the working age population is a) poor, b), able to work, and c) neither working nor looking for work.

Which is 14% of the poor (1.9%/13.7%).

Which is pretty much the same for the population as a whole. Yet this very small percentage of the poor is what gets all the attention, rather than the vast majority of able-bodied poor who are either working or looking for work. Now why do you think that is? Hmm?

– Badtux the Numbers Penguin

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An insider inside one of the most secretive government bureaucracy leaks internal documents showing that the government has been doing some evil things and lying about them for a number of years. The government promptly issues an arrest warrant, but meantime he manages to get copies of the documents to a number of prominent newspapers. One of the newspapers decides to publish them. Meanwhile, the leaker is arrested, and released on bail to fight the charges of releasing classified information. The administration gets an injunction against the newspaper prohibiting them from publishing the documents, and the newspaper publishes them anyhow and fights the injunction all the way to the Supreme Court and wins.

It was another country, a country where someone leaking secrets of government misdeeds was a hero who spent a whole day in jail, when newspapers dared take on the politicians who ruled the country rather than being puppy training tools. It is, alas, as Daniel Ellsberg points out, not our current country. Daniel Ellsberg points out that in our current country he would have been placed in solitary confinment for years in a SuperMax for releasing the Pentagon Papers, and only after years had passed would have been allowed a show trial before a jury of intelligence officers or their relatives or neighbors in Alexandria, Virginia, and the only newspapers that would publish the documents would be foreign ones.

It was another country. The Teabaggers whine about how they “want their country back.” I do, too. But the country I want back is not their country of the 1950’s with its KKK murders and repression of women, but, rather, the country that Daniel Ellsberg lived in where a man of principle could stand upon that principle without having to flee to another country to avoid spending years in a SuperMax.

– Badtux the Remembering Penguin

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Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?

Bruce Springsteen, “The River”, from his album by that same name.

Bruce Springsteen wrote this song in 1980. He saw the dream dying as the steel industry died, gutting a hole in the middle of industrial America, and wrote this song. Since then, the America Dream has been gutted and filleted, until during the past ten years median family income declined for the first time since the Great Depression. Today the four hundred richest people in America make more money in a year than the bottom 150,000,000 Americans *combined* (note I don’t say “earned”, since for the most part they do no work for a living, this is mostly “investment income” i.e. rents extracted from other Americans, rather than the results of anything they themselves actually produced or created).

I think we can answer Bruce’s question now.

— Badtux the Sombre Music Penguin

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Back during the cold and rainy part of the year he set up at an underpass on the main drag. He had two shopping carts festooned with American flags full of random things he’d picked up during his wanderings, all in plastic garbage bags to deal with the rain, and he had a folding chair that he sat in when he wasn’t panhandling where the off-ramp hit the main highway. His sandwich board cardboard sign that he used when panhandling was also festooned with tiny little American flags. I looked at him and I thought, “here’s this old bearded black man wearing rags on the main drag of a mostly-Asian community, someone is going to complain and get him arrested.”

He lasted there a week. When the police came, they came with an ambulance and orderlies and a city dump truck with a couple of city sanitation workers. They forced him to lie down on a stretcher and be strapped down to the stretcher. The orderlies pushed him into the ambulance and drove off, presumably to take him to the county hospital for psychiatric evaluation, the usual destination for the chronic homeless that the city wants off the streets for a few days. The city crew spent some time throwing his stuff into the dump truck and then cleaning up the vicinity cleaner than it’d been in the eight years I’ve lived in this area, then drove off.

I’ve seen him again a few times the past couple of months, shuffling slowly down the main drag behind his shopping cart, probably new stuff since his old stuff likely went to the dump. He looks like his feet hurt. But if he stops shuffling, he will be arrested again, will be strapped down on that stretcher again, so shuffle he does. His shopping cart no longer is festooned with American flags.

— Badtux the Observant Penguin

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Army Spc. Joseph Patrick Dwyer dies of wounds from Iraq, five years after his service there.

There is an “official” list of those soldiers who have died as a result of the Iraq war. Then there are the thousands like Army Spc. Joseph Patric Dwyer who shall never be acknowledged as casualties of Dear Leader’s war to make Iraq safe for… what? A democratically-elected President who spent Saddam Hussein’s regime as a guest of the Iranians? Oil concessions for Big Oil? For what? I don’t know, and nobody has ever been able to give me any reason that made sense. Is profit for Vice President Halliburton’s company it? Is that all? I don’t know. All I know is that too many have died, and so many of them, especially those whose injury was mental rather than physical, will never be listed on whatever monument of ignominy is ever set up for the veterans of the Iraq war.

— Badtux the Memorial Penguin

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