politicalprof

The Divide

politicalprof:

While running for President in 1980, Ronald Reagan famously quipped, “I’ve always felt the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’”

As funny — and as effective — as these lines were in 1980, they have come to define the profound divide the exists in American politics today. Lots of people — call them conservatives, or tea partiers, or even skeptical pragmatists — think Reagan got it absolutely right. It isn’t hard, after all, to come up with a long list of government abuses and failures ranging from Iraq to Solyndra to No Child Left Behind to pepper-spraying students at the University of California-Davis … and many, many more.

For such people, the prospect of Obamacare is a sincere nightmare: now, the same people who brought you the debacle in Vietnam and the poverty barns of mega-housing projects like Chicago’s (now destroyed) Cabrini Green, want to “help you stay healthy” — and all for just a few dollars, too.

Others — call them liberals, or progressives, or hopeful pragmatists — find Reagan’s comments absurd. After all, it’s not like other institutions of social and political life have covered themselves in glory when it comes to matters of human freedom: corporations regularly cheat, steal and lie, often with deadly effects for the people who use their products; likewise, many private businesses reflected and reinforced the racial, gender, sexual orientation and other biases of their times. Such bias was buttressed by state governments that were particularly vicious towards the civil rights of many of their (minority) residents.

Those people who see the failures of the private sector and/or state governments to defend or expand freedom and liberty look to the federal government to do what no other agency of social and political life can: counter the power of the corporate, local and state-level actors who promote and practice discrimination, exclusion and the manipulation of power against the dignity of the individual.

Which story one tells defines one’s politics. Obamacare, economic stimulus, regulation of Wall Street, whatever: do you think the federal government helps or hurts? The answer to that question matters.

Welcome to the divide that cleaves contemporary American politics.

girlwithalessonplan

girlwithalessonplan:

infoneer-pulse:

Public education struggles with two conflicting facts. First, public schools are small craft organizations that require close teamwork and constant adaptation to the unpredictable development of students. Second, they are government agencies always subject to constraints imposed through politics and legal processes.

In the more than half-century since Brown v. Board of Education, the second set of facts has dominated the first. Public schools have been subject to court orders about how particular students must be educated; federal and state regulations that dictate how money is used, students are grouped, and teachers work; and labor contracts that force schools to employ teachers who are poorly matched to the needs of students and the strengths of other teachers.

School leadership, personal responsibility, and accountability have been driven out of schools, especially in big cities where local politics adds to the burden of regulation. This is not, as some have claimed, inevitable when adults educate other people’s children. Private schools govern themselves, attract like-minded faculty members and parents, and can turn on a dime when students’ needs change.

» via GOOD

It’s like infoneer-pulse reads the dash and then finds something RELEVANT.

(All the love for i-p.)

letterstomycountry

Our system, as any historian will tell you, was built by men who hated parties and anticipated their absence from American politics. That didn’t quite work out. But for much of American history, and particularly for much of the 20th century, our political parties have been unusually diffuse and unable to act as organized, ideological units. That left them well-suited to a system that, for reasons ranging from the division of powers to the filibuster, required an unusual level of consensus to function.

But as the two parties have polarized, we’ve learned that a system built for consensus is not able to properly function amid constant partisan competition. The filibuster has gone from a rarity to a constant. Compromise has become rare. Crises of gridlock, such as the recent showdown over the debt ceiling, have become common. And no one can say that this is what the American people want: The approval ratings of Congress have been on a downward slide for decades, and they have never been lower than they are today.

Polarization is with us now and will be with us for the foreseeable future. The question is whether we will permit it to paralyze our political system and undermine our country or whether we will accept it and make the necessary accommodations.

Doing so would require taking on cherished, consensus-promoting features of the old system, like the filibuster. But in today’s girdlocked world, those features no longer promote consensus. They simply promote gridlock.

Ezra Klein, discussing Olympia Snowe and Ben Nelson’s retirement.  Read it.

I’ve never discussed this much here, but I am actually a big believer in the Parliamentary system of representative democracy.  I think our Constitutional Republic has certain fatal flaws that either must be reformed to address political reality, or scrapped entirely (Klein addresses a few of them above).  Even Britain has a vibrant 3rd party that was recently instrumental in forming a ruling coalition government with the Tories.  That coalition was able to pass an austerity program, reflecting their policy preferences, relatively quickly.  

Meanwhile, who can reasonably question that ideological partisanship, combined with procedural abuse, has prevented policymakers from implementing their solutions in America?  Britain’s austerity package did not face nearly the political hurdles that the Stimulus or Affordable Care Act did.  The latter was passed in the midst of what was possibly one of the most bitter political battles in recent memory.  It’s legitimacy continues to be contested to this day, even.  Yet Britain’s Tory-Lib Dem coalition was able to implement an austerity program quickly and with little trouble, at least when compared to what happened in America as we debated economic stimulus and healthcare reform.

Parliamentary systems have the advantage of allowing elected officials a certain degree of procedural leeway to act on their platform.  Under our system, an intransigent minority can essentially prevent the other side from achieving any of its policy goals; and quite often, the policies that do come through are half-measures and patch-work compromises that are incapable of completely addressing the problems they purport to solve because they don’t contain the full range of resources or legal instruments that are needed to facilitate the policies themselves.  The Affordable Care Act is a perfect example: you can bet that we would have a Public Option right now if Congress ran more like a Parliament.  

It also warrants mention that those who like the idea of a government that acts less are simply fooling themselves: grid-locked government more often just results in bad legislation squeaking through than it does in bad legislation being stopped.  Politicians who want to be re-elected need something to show for their constituents.  Often, that means passing a healthcare bill without a public option, or caving to tax cut extensions that are bankrupting the U.S. treasury.  For everything else, there’s always the filibuster.  The end result is that we’ve flirted with a completely avoidable economic disaster during the debt ceiling debate; we have a healthcare bill that is hopelessly flawed despite its good provisions; and we have a judiciary that is literally suffocating under Congressional obstruction of judicial nominees.

We can take the easy way out and blame one of the major parties.  Lord knows I’ve done plenty of that myself.  But the real problem is the system that allows all this to happen.  Perhaps adopting a European Parliamentary model isn’t necessarily the best course for America.  But we need, at minimum, procedural reforms in how our Constitutional Republic works.  Without them, our government will continue to be divided, impotent, and institutionally incapable of addressing our nation’s problems.

(via letterstomycountry)

cancerninja
cancerninja:

theatlantic:

Symbolic Legislation to Nowhere: Why Statehouses Fail in Governance

The fact that Virginia lawmakers evidently didn’t understand what their law would mean to women, and what it would require of doctors, didn’t stop the legislators from pushing forward with the measure anyway. Ignorance of the law may be no legal defense to you and me, but ignorance of the law among those who are passing the law surely is the definition of bad governance. For the politicians now scrambling away from Virginia’s measure, however, pleading ignorance perhaps is easier today than confessing the truth, which is that the pols who supported the measure probably didn’t care in the first place if its mandated procedures offended women. That was the whole point, wasn’t it?
At a minimum, the barely-averted disaster in the commonwealth raises questions about whether the same intellectual disconnect is happening in New Hampshire, where the Republican-dominated legislature is pressing ahead with anti-abortion measures over the objections of medical experts. Or in Iowa, where a GOP lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would ban abortions and generate potential life sentences in prison for doctors who perform what the law calls “feticide.” Or in Nebraska, where legislators are considering a bill that would create a legal defense — justifiable homicide, it’s called — for the murder of a doctor who intends to harm a fetus.
[…]
America, sadly, has grown accustomed to “symbolic” legislation which is designed not to advance the public good, or even to become sustainable law, but rather to appease particular interest groups. The campaign promise becomes the pending measure; the donor’s crusade becomes the subject of public hearings. And what is squeezed out of the legislative process as a result of such pandering is the more moderate legislation, the more practical measures, which do stand a chance of passing constitutional muster and which do solve real problems in sensible ways. That’s no way to run a country — or even a state.
When public outrage forced them into a choice this week between appearing stupid about the ultrasound law or appearing venal toward it, Virginia’s Republican lawmakers, and the Commonwealth’s governor, chose to act stupid. It’s a choice that zealous lawmakers all over the country would be forced to make if their own senseless, unlawful legislation ever made it to the Supreme Court. But chances are those bills never will. Instead, America’s pet legislation will continue to whistle to all the political dogs out there while wasting everyone else’s time and money.
Read more. [Image: Associated Press]


relevant.

cancerninja:

theatlantic:

Symbolic Legislation to Nowhere: Why Statehouses Fail in Governance

The fact that Virginia lawmakers evidently didn’t understand what their law would mean to women, and what it would require of doctors, didn’t stop the legislators from pushing forward with the measure anyway. Ignorance of the law may be no legal defense to you and me, but ignorance of the law among those who are passing the law surely is the definition of bad governance. For the politicians now scrambling away from Virginia’s measure, however, pleading ignorance perhaps is easier today than confessing the truth, which is that the pols who supported the measure probably didn’t care in the first place if its mandated procedures offended women. That was the whole point, wasn’t it?

At a minimum, the barely-averted disaster in the commonwealth raises questions about whether the same intellectual disconnect is happening in New Hampshire, where the Republican-dominated legislature is pressing ahead with anti-abortion measures over the objections of medical experts. Or in Iowa, where a GOP lawmaker recently introduced a bill that would ban abortions and generate potential life sentences in prison for doctors who perform what the law calls “feticide.” Or in Nebraska, where legislators are considering a bill that would create a legal defense — justifiable homicide, it’s called — for the murder of a doctor who intends to harm a fetus.

[…]

America, sadly, has grown accustomed to “symbolic” legislation which is designed not to advance the public good, or even to become sustainable law, but rather to appease particular interest groups. The campaign promise becomes the pending measure; the donor’s crusade becomes the subject of public hearings. And what is squeezed out of the legislative process as a result of such pandering is the more moderate legislation, the more practical measures, which do stand a chance of passing constitutional muster and which do solve real problems in sensible ways. That’s no way to run a country — or even a state.

When public outrage forced them into a choice this week between appearing stupid about the ultrasound law or appearing venal toward it, Virginia’s Republican lawmakers, and the Commonwealth’s governor, chose to act stupid. It’s a choice that zealous lawmakers all over the country would be forced to make if their own senseless, unlawful legislation ever made it to the Supreme Court. But chances are those bills never will. Instead, America’s pet legislation will continue to whistle to all the political dogs out there while wasting everyone else’s time and money.

Read more. [Image: Associated Press]

relevant.

preservearchives
preservearchives:

Today is the anniversary of Marbury v. Madison, a case that established the right of the  courts to determine the constitutionality of the actions of the other  two branches of government. This was an important step to creating “checks and balances” to prevent any one branch of the Federal Government from  becoming too powerful.
This historic document bears the marks of the  Capitol fire of 1898, in which a gas  explosion and fire damaged the original north wing of the Capitol, where records  of the U.S. Supreme Court were stored. Roofs above the Statuary Hall wing and  original north wing were rebuilt to include fireproofing. The risk to  government records stored in attics of Congress and even in the White House  garage lead to the construction of the National Archives building in DC, a state-of-the-art fire-proof facility in the 1930s.  
As you can see, information that is lost to fire cannot be replaced. The document was stored folded (in a tri-fold fashion), which caused more damage than if it had been stored unfolded. It was later laminated to keep it intact.
In part because of our experience with fires in our past, we are always thinking about how to safeguard records for the future. National Archives facilities have records emergency plans in place that assess risks to the records from hazards such as fire, flood, water leak, pipe burst, and earthquake, just to name a few. 

preservearchives:

Today is the anniversary of Marbury v. Madison, a case that established the right of the courts to determine the constitutionality of the actions of the other two branches of government. This was an important step to creating “checks and balances” to prevent any one branch of the Federal Government from becoming too powerful.

This historic document bears the marks of the Capitol fire of 1898, in which a gas explosion and fire damaged the original north wing of the Capitol, where records of the U.S. Supreme Court were stored. Roofs above the Statuary Hall wing and original north wing were rebuilt to include fireproofing. The risk to government records stored in attics of Congress and even in the White House garage lead to the construction of the National Archives building in DC, a state-of-the-art fire-proof facility in the 1930s.  

As you can see, information that is lost to fire cannot be replaced. The document was stored folded (in a tri-fold fashion), which caused more damage than if it had been stored unfolded. It was later laminated to keep it intact.

In part because of our experience with fires in our past, we are always thinking about how to safeguard records for the future. National Archives facilities have records emergency plans in place that assess risks to the records from hazards such as fire, flood, water leak, pipe burst, and earthquake, just to name a few. 

abokononist-deactivated20120714

somepolitics:

sinidentidades:

Seattle cop caught threatening to make up evidence

A Seattle police officer has been caught on tape telling a recently arrested young African American man that he was going to make up evidence against him.

Josh Lawson and Christopher Franklin were arrested at gunpoint in November of 2010 after police spotted them several blocks away from where an assault had been reported. Neither man was charged with any crime after their arrest, and they have sued the city for excessive force and wrongful arrest.

Both men allegedly suffered facial bruises after being kicked and thrown on the pavement as the police officers arrested them. While Lawson and Franklin were being taken to the police department, one of the officers also said he was going to make up evidence against them, an audio recording obtained KOMO 4 News revealed.

“Well, you’re going to jail for robbery that’s all,” the officer said.

“For robbery?” Franklin asked.

“Yeah, I’m gonna make stuff up,” the officer responded.

Seattle Police Sergeant Sean Whitcomb told KOMO 4 News that the comment was inappropriate, but that the department’s had investigated the complaint and exonerated the officer.

Fucking pig.

seriouslyamerica

"What Conservatives say they want is “Small Government”.

leftish:

What they are working on this year is Government that prohibits you from using contraception, that forcibly collects your urine, hair and blood, and that puts you in prison or deports you if it does not like the speeches you attend.  This stuff is happening all over, all the time now.  This is what Conservative Government is like this year.  It sort of seems to me that this ought to be a bigger National Story.”

~ Rachel Maddow

kileyrae

The problem with selecting a candidate to “beat Obama”

kileyrae:

cognitivedissonance:

MSNBC and Fox News are both hammering home that out of all the candidates in the GOP primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich’s support was the highest among people who said the most important factor in their selection was a candidate who could defeat Barack Obama. Coincidentally, beating Obama was the most important factor in candidate choice to nearly 50% of voters. Fox News is also pointing out his strong performances in debates with his zingers at the media and fellow candidates and his stubborn refusal to go gently into that good night as factors in his rise in the polls, and his overall victory in South Carolina.

Um, guys?

You know that after January 20, 2013, the president-elect is now the president. That means said president has to actually do shit. Things will not be magically fixed just because you voted out Barack Obama. In fact, much of what Gingrich wants to do in office could make things worse. 

I imagine the thought process of many voters when considering Gingrich goes like this:

  1. Doughy white guy says shit I like. He sounds smart. He says he’s going to beat Obama. He sounds confident, unlike that sputtering asshat with tax problems. Plus, he’ll end Obama’s war on my religion.
  2. Fuck the lazy-ass poor people. Get jobs, douchebags. He’ll even put kids to work, too.
  3. Open marriage? Shit, at least he could beat Obama.
  4. Vote Newt Gingrich. 
  5. *POOF* Teatopia, y’all!

image

This is remarkably similar to liberal pals of mine who are pissed Obama didn’t unbreak everything in four years and bring about the opposite of Teatopia. If you listened to Obama and examined his voting record, you’d see he’s fairly moderate. In fact, compared to past Republicans, i.e. Richard Nixon, he’s more to the right.

But in the 2012 Electoral Race to the Bottom, sponsored by Citizens United v. FEC (2010), the facts don’t matter and Barack Obama must be defeated. Even if it means nominating a man with absolutely no character or ability to lead. Why is it so tough to wrap my brain around voters supporting Newt Gingrich?

  • Speaking of the Citizens United decision, Gingrich Productions has “produced three films on religion and one each on energy, Ronald Reagan and the threat of radical Islam.” These films are little more than GOP talking point advertisements. Gingrich’s funding partner? As The Wall Street Journal points out, these were “all done as joint projects with the conservative activist group, Citizens United. The latest project: A film on American exceptionalism, another likely campaign theme.” 
  • He’s admitted to multiple affairs, while attacking others on “family values” and holding himself up as a moral paragon. His personal life is irrelevant until he begins throwing stones in his obviously glass house.
  • He doesn’t use a racism dog-whistle so much as a racism air-raid siren. Gingrich defended his diatribe from the Jan. 16th GOP debate, which he launched into when Juan Williams asked him about the racial overtones of his comments regarding poor children lacking “work habits”, employing children as janitors in poor, urban neighborhoods, and the black community needing to demand food stamps versus paychecks. And how did he choose to defend this? 

    Newt Gingrich decided to attack Juan Williams, claiming on Friday, “I had a very interesting dialogue Monday night in Myrtle Beach with Juan Williams about the idea of work, which seemed to Juan Williams to be a strange, distant concept.” So in order to defend himself against charges of racism, he essentially states Williams is lazy. Williams was the African-American man who had the audacity to ask him a tough question, and that does not seem to sit well with Newt several days later.
  • As a US House Representative, he kited twenty-two personal checks using the now-defunct House Bank, charges uncovered during the “Rubbergate” scandal - including a check for over $9,000 to the IRS. One of the whistleblowers on this scandal? Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn.
  • He blasted colleagues for ties to lobbyists and corruption, yet Gingrich accepted a check from Employment Policies Institute lobbyist Richard B. Berman for $25,000. This particular check, supposedly given to Gingrich as a donation for a college course he was teaching, led former Rep. Ben Jones (D-Ga.) to demand an ethics investigation by the US House because the note attached to the contribution raised questions of possible criminal wrongdoing by suggesting Gingrich used his influence on behalf of the lobbyist at a 1993 congressional hearing.
     
    The note stated in a postscript: “Newt - Thanks again for the help on today’s committee hearing.” The subsequent investigation into this charge, shady book deals, and other fundraising activity lead to over 80 ethics charges against Gingrich and a plea deal with an unprecedented $300,000 fine. Gingrich resigned as well.

A side note from Esquire on the ethics investigation: [Emphasis mine]

The House Ethics Committee started investigating GOPAC’s donations to his college class and caught him trying to hide his tracks by raising money through a charity for inner-city kids called the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation. Another charity of his called Earning by Learning actually spent half its money supporting a former Gingrich staffer who was writing his biography… The Ethics Committee found him guilty of laundering donations through charities, submitting “inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable” testimony, and making “an effort to have the material appear to be nonpartisan on its face, yet serve as a partisan, political message for the purpose of building the Republican party.”

And yes, it’s those same inner-city kids he wants to make janitors

Gingrich is running what he claims to be a revolutionary campaign of ideas. Yet those ideas are little more than attacking fellow candidates, the media, and Barack Obama for issues ranging from corruption and immorality, to favoritism and anti-Americanism. Gingrich employs a set of cliches and fiery debate invective that gets voters in the booth on primary day as evidenced by South Carolina. Can he continue this into the general election?

As multiple news outlets discussed today, Gingrich’s unfavorability rating is the highest of any candidate among moderates and independents. This is a significant voting bloc the GOP will seek to court from Obama. Gingrich is not stupid. He is effective in debates. He calls other candidates “Washington elites” (when he spent significantly more time in Washington than any other candidate running) and the crowd goes wild.

Mitt Romney, the ostensible front-runner, is a terrible candidate in debates. He is easily rattled and incapable of answering a direct question. The GOP field is in disarray and looking for unity. The former Speaker of the House is an experienced politician - though divisive - and may be the one to watch going into Super Tuesday in the next several weeks. Perhaps a theory posited by Gingrich in 1988 explains his success: “In every election in American history, both parties have their cliches. The party that has the cliches that ring true wins.”

The 2012 primary season promises to be a dog and pony show until the bitter end - or until the money runs out. This election cycle reinforces the idea that American politics is little more than contemporary bread and circuses, only less bread and more circuses. Elections are ideally about issues and governance. This year, the only stated mission of the GOP is to rid the White House of Obama, and Gingrich is the candidate best at smearing Obama as somewhere between Benedict Arnold and Benito Mussolini.

Voters are responding well in the primary to this kind of messaging, but the GOP will hopefully discover it’s difficult to run on a platform of needing to do nothing besides regain control of the presidency. To run on a platform that consists of “beat the other guy and BAM! TEATOPIA!” is simply intellectually dishonest. But if it’s intellectually (and morally) dishonest they want, the GOP has their man in Gingrich. If it’s beat Obama they want, they may get it. However, January 21, 2013 and every day after is another day Obama will no longer be available as the executive target, and another day when the new president will be expected to lead. The GOP may be content to run a cliche-machine, powered by egomaniacal bile, but it is my belief that the American voters deserve more than just some guy nominated to beat Obama.

Case in point.

kileyrae
kileyrae:

sinidentidades:

Gingrich signs pledge forbidding adultery
New GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich has signed a pledge from Iowa social conservative group The Family Leader that forbids committing adultery, according to the political blog The Iowa Republican.
The pledge has already been signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Rick Santorum. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul(R-TX) have said they would not sign the pledge.
Gingrich chose to sign today after initially declining to do so in August, when the text of the pledge claimed that African-American children were better off under slavery than they are today. That text has since been removed. He also vowed to uphold The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits same-sex marriage.
POT, MEET KETTLE

What is it with Republicans always signing away their allegiance? Maybe they should stop pledging loyalty to Grover Norquist and The Family Leader and align themselves with the American people.

kileyrae:

sinidentidades:

Gingrich signs pledge forbidding adultery

New GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich has signed a pledge from Iowa social conservative group The Family Leader that forbids committing adultery, according to the political blog The Iowa Republican.

The pledge has already been signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and Rick Santorum. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul(R-TX) have said they would not sign the pledge.

Gingrich chose to sign today after initially declining to do so in August, when the text of the pledge claimed that African-American children were better off under slavery than they are today. That text has since been removed. He also vowed to uphold The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits same-sex marriage.

POT, MEET KETTLE

What is it with Republicans always signing away their allegiance? Maybe they should stop pledging loyalty to Grover Norquist and The Family Leader and align themselves with the American people.

kileyrae
The suffering that [the Defense of Marriage Act] DOMA causes and will cause is very real and it’s cruel. DOMA hurts people who love each other and want to make a commitment to each other for life. DOMA hurts people who want to have kids and adopt kids and raise them and take care of them. DOMA hurts people who want to save up money and retire and live the rest of their lives together with some degree of comfort. DOMA hurts families.

Mr. Chairman, we need to pass this bill. And when we do pass it, straight people aren’t suddenly going to become gay. Straight people aren’t going to stop getting married. We’re going to be just fine, really.

What will happen is that millions upon millions of lesbian and gay Americans aren’t going to suffer the indignity of having their own government tell them that their marriages are no good. What will happen is that it will be easier for those people to start and to protect their families.

Sen. Al Franken at today’s hearing on the Respect For Marriage Act.

Franken sums up the very real, human issues behind DOMA so well. Video here:

I feel Neil Patrick Harris cheering is appropriate.

image

(via cognitivedissonance)

diadoumenos

The largest banks are larger than they were when Obama took office and are nearing the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data.

Wall Street firms — independent companies and the securities-trading arms of banks — are doing even better. They earned more in the first 2 1/2 years of the Obama administration than they did during the eight years of the George W. Bush administration…

Behind this turnaround, in significant measure, are government policies that helped the financial sector avert collapse and then gave financial firms huge benefits on the path to recovery…

Some of Wall Street’s success has moderated in recent months, with bank stock prices down and layoffs on the rise. This mostly has reflected the renewed slowdown in the U.S. economy this year and the European debt crisis buffeting global markets.

Representatives of the financial industry say regulations in last year’s Dodd-Frank legislation, which Obama pushed for and signed, also have crimped bank profits. But many analysts think the law will make the financial system more stable…

One of the main reasons Wall Street rebounded so quickly from its lows is government support.

Wall Street’s resurgent prosperity frustrates its claims, and Obama’s

Emphasis added above those right-wingers who believe government can do no right and that Obama is a Kenyan-born anti-capitalist trying to destroy America’s economy.

(via ryking)

truth-has-a-liberal-bias

Unlike the Tea Party, who see themselves as the customers of government, people in the Occupy Wall Street movement understand that we are the government. Stated most simply, we are trying to run a 21st-century society on a 13th-century economic operating system. It just doesn’t work.

Douglas Rushkoff

stfuconservatives

stfuconservatives:

Republicans like Rick Perry are skeptical of everything the government does—except when it executes people.

…In recent weeks, leading Republicans have made plain they don’t believe in government-run health care (lo, even unto death). They don’t believe in inoculating children again HPV (lo, even unto death). They don’t believe in government-run disaster relief (ditto, re death), the minimum wage, Social Security, or the Federal Reserve. There is nothing, it seems—from protecting civil rights to safeguarding the environment—that big government bureaucracies can’t foul up.

But there is one exception: killing people. These same Republicans who are dubious of government’s ability to do anything right have an apparently bottomless faith in the capital-justice system. Everything is broken in America, they claim—except the machinery of death.

[…]

[W]hen you hear Republicans moan about the bureaucratic burdens and failures of government-run education, health care, and disaster-relief systems, doesn’t any part of you wonder why they have such boundless confidence in the capital justice system that stands poised to execute Troy Davis […] in Georgia? […] Troy Davis has a claim of actual innocence in the death of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail. Since his conviction, more than 20 years ago, seven of the nine nonpolice witnesses against Davis have recanted their testimony, claiming they were coerced or intimidated by the police. There is no physical evidence tying Davis to the crime.

So grievous are the doubts about Davis’ guilt in this murder that William Sessions, the FBI director under Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton, wrote an editorial today arguing that Davis should not be executed next week because “serious questions about Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion, and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction.” Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr has similarly written that “even for death penalty supporters such as myself, the level of doubt inherent in this case is troubling.”

[…]

If you believe, as do the GOP presidential frontrunners, that government bureaucracies lead inexorably to error, cover-up, and waste, then there is no better place to start looking than the capital punishment system, which sentences and executes defendants in ways that are sloppy, racist, and corrupt….