Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Grab Bag

Weather Underground Prosecuter Bashes McCain Campaign
From Church of What's Happening Now:

"In a letter to the New York Times on Friday, the lead prosecutor of the Weather Underground "Weathermen" in the early 1970's, William Ibershof, expresses outrage and amazement at the efforts to link Barack Obama to William Ayer's former criminal activities."
He would know.

More on [Disgusting] For-Profit Immigrant Detention Centers
From Facing South, more about the profoundly disturbing GOP-driven practice of profiteering on immigrant detention:
"We've been hearing horror stories about detainees being put into prison with other criminals when all they have done is be here without documentation. Our goal is to keep them safe," Spates said. "But I want to be honest with you. We do stand to gain financially from this."

During a public meeting in Farmville [VA], ICA spokesperson Ken Newsome projected that at 85 percent capacity the facility will generate $322,000 annually in fees for the city in addition to an estimated $450,000 in tax revenue for Farmville and Prince Edward County. According to the Washington Post, if the facility does run at the projected capacity, ICA stands to gross $20 million in federal tax dollars annually.

Privately-run immigrant detention centers of this type have been plagued by scandal, lawsuits and controversy. The private-prison watchdog group Grassroots Leadership has documented a pattern of abuses. They cite examples including a center in Elizabeth, N.J. that was shut down temporarily when immigrants were awarded $2.5 million in damages after an investigation showed that poorly trained guards served rotting food and physically and mentally abused prisoners. ICE turned the facility over to Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), despite this group also having a documented history of abuses in its facilities. In March of last year, nearly 1,000 immigrant prisoners in the 1,500-bed facility run by CCA in Lumpkin, Ga. went on a hunger strike protesting conditions including lack of medical care.

Private companies like ICA [the start-up in question] profit from inefficiency in the immigrant detention system. A recent article by the Washington Post documents immigrants languishing in ICE custody for months even after signing a voluntary deportation order. This means more days of space "purchased" from companies like ICA at taxpayer expense.

The demand for these spaces is at an all-time high with the recent increase in ICE raids, and all indications are that it will continue to rise. Under the Secure Communities plan, ICE will be expanding enforcement efforts and initiating deportation proceedings against any noncitizen, documented or not, who is arrested.

Viable alternatives to immigrant incarceration do exist at a fraction of the cost. With their Appearance Assistance Program, the Vera Institute for Justice achieved a 93 percent appearance rate in court including final appearances at a cost of $12 a day. ICA's $63 dollar per day rate is at the low end of the range of per diem charges in the region where Alexandria tops the list at $113 daily.
Can anybody miss noticing the direction of incentives here? That's one of the two main things wrong with private, for-profit prisons. The other is the authority/legitimacy thing. If you'll pardon a stretched comparison, they're kind of like political churches. There's no way to know for sure who's talking. [Emphasis added throughout. Please see original for significant links.]

Was Civil Rights Hero Rep. John Lewis Wrong?
Not "No." "Hell no!" One of the clearest signs that Palin isn't qualified is her blissful recklessness. Apart from the fact that her kind of "otherizing" points to her fascistic inclinations and her hypocrisy to her struggle to cover it up, this kind of thing--equating Obama with terrorists--is nothing if not inciting the crowds to a level of rage that she can't control even if she wanted to. When a guy like John Lewis speaks of the dangers of mob violence, people should sit down, shut up, and listen.

Those were hideously dangerous times. They were days of rage built up, on the Right, by decades of racism and by escalated terrors of Communism evoked by Kruschev, Castro, and Joe McCarthy, and on the Left, by waves of protest against a culture twisted by a myriad inequalities, an insatiable lust for violence, and out-of-control materialism.

We still haven't gotten over the 1960s. But today, ten factors in addition to racism and the spectre of a foreign devil are at work. The first is the resentment borne of the whole of the Vietnam experience--the war, the results, and the return. The second is an intentional 30-year secular and religious media campaign devoted to demonizing the Left. The third is the politics of Lee Atwater brought to full fruition by Karl Rove and the swiftboaters, and the resulting rage. The fourth is an extreme, highly politicized Christianist Right active in politics and zealous in creating a theocratic society in the name of Jesus. The fifth is the economic crash and the desperation that has created nationally, especially among the poorest and least educated. The sixth is the systematic outsourcing of working class and middle class jobs. The seventh is a privatized military and privatized, for-profit prisons that depend for their daily bread on a steady crop of "criminals." The eighth is the so-called "Patriot Acts" and "legalized" domestic espionage, dedicated to providing them. The ninth is a systematic attack on the idea of education and on public schools, resulting in a less educated population less capable of navigating change and challenge. The tenth is the unparalleled speed with which today's news and disinformation travel, and the closely related capacity for organizing bestowed by the Internet.

Arguably, today's environment is much more volatile, and the people much more divided, than in the 1960s. I was there then, too, and I think it is worse today. It's just different now: It's a systematized, establishment fascism today threatening chaos from the top down. That's way scarier than a rag-tag bottom-up movement of peaceful pro-Constitution activists.