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Saturday, May 01, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Email From Author Of Arizona Law Reveals Intent To Cast Wide Net Against Latinos

Source: Think Progress

EXCLUSIVE: Email From Author Of Arizona Law Reveals Intent To Cast Wide Net Against Latinos

Kris Kobach of the Immigration Reform Law Institute.

Wonk Room recently obtained an email written by Kris Kobach, a lawyer at the Immigration Reform Law Institute — the group which credits itself with writing the bill — to Arizona state Sen. Russell Pierce (R), urging him to include language that will allow police to use city ordinance violations such as “cars on blocks in the yard” as an excuse to “initiate quieries” in light of the “lawful contact” deletion:

To begin with, Kobach’s correspondence affirms that though the bill was proposed and passed in Arizona, the shots are being called by a small group of lawyers whose office is based in Washington, DC. It also indicates that after vigorously defending his bill and its “lawful contact provision” in the New York Times, Kobach may have had second thoughts about the constitutionality of the bill he prides himself with writing.

More importantly, Kobach is basically admitting to Pearce that by allowing police to use the violation of “any county or municipal ordinance” as a basis for inquiring about a person’s immigration status, the bill will still cast a wide enough net to help offset the effect of omitting the “lawful contact” language which would’ve allowed police to ask just about anyone they encounter about their immigration status. The examples Kobach provides, “cars on blocks in the yard” or “too many occupants of a rental accommodation,” suggest that net will mostly end up being cast over the poor.

Update In an email to Wonk Room, David Leopold -- president-elect of the American Immigration Lawyers Association -- wrote:

Kobach’s email to Pearce is chilling. Knowing full well that the phrase “lawful contact” must go (a flip flop from the position he took yesterday in the New York Times) he recommends tweaking the law in a manner that would appear to allow profiling. Why else would he be interested in using property or rental codes to ferret out undocumented people? Is he aware of some credible study that shows unauthorized aliens from say Ireland or Canada, or some other country tend to put their cars on blocks and/or overcrowd apartments? Kris Kobach and Senator Pearce owe Arizonans and the nation an immediate explanation. Note: it appears the email was written by Kobach on Wednesday evening before his op-ed ran in the New York Times the next morning. The op-ed argued that the Arizona law as written was legal. If he was working on changing it why then did he let the New York Times piece run? LinkHere
Goooooo Rachel

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Goldman Sachs Reveals it Shorted Gulf of Mexico

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) - In what is looming as another public relations predicament for Goldman Sachs, the banking giant admitted today that it made "a substantial financial bet against the Gulf of Mexico" one day before the sinking of an oil rig in that body of water.
The new revelations came to light after government investigators turned up new emails from Goldman employee Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre in which he bragged to a girlfriend that the firm was taking a "big short" position on the Gulf.
"One oil rig goes down and we're going to be rolling in dough," Mr. Tourre wrote in one email. "Suck it, fishies and birdies!"
The news about Goldman's bet against the Gulf comes on the heels of embarrassing revelations that the firm had taken a short position on Lindsay Lohan's acting career. More here.
Dave Martin / AP
Rough seas stymie the cleanup again as some fishermen throw back their catch. Full story

More than two dozen potential class-action lawsuits have already been filed. Full story

Obama Michigan Graduation Speech: FULL TEXT, VIDEO

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Drilling Dangers darken political zeal

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Ethics Issue?

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A Disgusting Little Email Making the Rounds on Wall Street

This hideous little piece of class warfare is supposedly making the rounds on Wall Street today. Its Us-Vs-Them theme is sickening. The lobbies of JPMorgan and several other banks were flooded with protesters downtown yesterday, I'm guessing that this was written by a frustrated Wall Streeter in response to the populist uprising.
Here goes:
"We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money. Whether it's a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn't matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn't hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone's 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I've never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.
Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.
Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you're only going to hurt yourselves. What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We're used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don't take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don't demand a union. We don't retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we'll eat that.
For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We're going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I'll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.
So now that we're going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we're going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren't going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We're going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.
The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it's really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.
We aren't dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?" LinkHere

Joe Mainstreets Reply

Dear Mr. "Sh*t-Don't-Stink" Trader,
While the forcefulness with which you speak will likely cause people
to nod their heads as they listen, a quick dissection of your points
will show them to be the fantasies of a narrow-minded individual with
an inflated opinion of their place in this world. In other words, you
remind us a lot of this guy:
"We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money."
You can't possibly believe that you have the right to make money any
way you see fit, regardless of the impact it has on the people around
you. If we determine that the choices of a business are negatively
impacting human society, we regulate their behavior with the goal of
preventing future harm. When choosing between the bottom line and
quality of life, we choose quality of life. That goes for cigarette
companies, that goes for auto manufacturers, that goes for Wall
Street. Yes, there is a risk of over-regulating and doing more harm
than good, but taking that risk is better than letting the harmful
behavior continue as is, unchecked.
"We're going to take your jobs!"
The fact that you actually believe the talents of a trader are the
same talents required to do any job out there (especially a teacher or
a landscaper) are proof that you are woefully unprepared to do our
jobs, let alone do them well. The fact that your current salary is
higher than ours does not mean you are better equipped to do our job.
You believe that your value as a human can be equated to a dollar
figure like your income because that is what your industry has taught
you. We believe that is precisely why you need to be regulated. You
are one sick f*ck.
"No more free rides on our backs"
Has your absorption with money created the delusion that you are the
one actually producing it? The unemployment rate is over 10%, and you
think that the loss of your "upside" will have a significant
incremental impact on us? That is like the fast food industry
thinking that if they go out of business we won't have any more food.
You don't make the money, stupid. You just move it around. That is a
fact that we learned very painfully when all that imaginary value you
helped create disappeared.
In summary, bring it on. We are not worried about you. We'll even
hire you to landscape our gardens.
Joe Mainstreet LinkHere

Wall Street Reportedly Circulates Class Warfare Email

The Reformed Broker and FT Alphaville have gotten a hold of an email that is reportedly making its way through inboxes on Wall Street.
For anyone with even a scintilla of knowledge of Wall Street's excesses in the past decade or so, the email itself is hard to stomach. By turns, it takes shot at unionized teachers, the Obama administration and "average Joes."
In fact, this screed is so idiotic it's a an unintentional argument for Wall Street reform. As The Reformed Broker puts it, it's a "hideous little piece of class warfare:
"We are Wall Street. It's our job to make money. Whether it's a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn't matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn't hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone's 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I've never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas...
Here's more:
"Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you're only going to hurt yourselves. What's going to happen when we can't find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We're going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We're used to not getting up to pee when we have a position.We aren't dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive."
And then there's this enraging piece of utter nonsense: "Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours." LinkHere

Friday, April 30, 2010

Louisiana Oil Spill Gets Worse: New Leak Increases Estimated Spill By Five Times

Rush Limbaugh blames ‘environmentalist wackos’ for massive oil spill

In this April 1989 file photo, an oil soaked bird is examined on an island in Prince William Sound, Alaska, after the Exxon Valdez spill. (AP)
VENICE, La. — An oil spill that threatened to eclipse even the Exxon Valdez disaster spread out of control with a faint sheen washing ashore along the Gulf Coast Thursday night as fishermen rushed to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes.

The spill was bigger than imagined – five times more than first estimated – and closer. Faint fingers of oily sheen were reaching the Mississippi River delta, lapping the Louisiana shoreline in long, thin lines.

"It is of grave concern," David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling." LinkHere

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Texas Rep. Debbie Riddle Introduces Similar Anti-Immigration Bill as Arizona's

Source: ABC News

A Texas lawmaker said today that she agrees with the controversial immigration bill passed in Arizona and plans to introduce a similar one in her own state to combat the flow of illegal immigrants.

Republican Texas Rep. Debbie Riddle told ABCNews.com that the bill she plans to introduce in the state legislature later this year "gives law enforcement officers additional tools, if they have the reasonable suspicion that there is a violation of a law, to inquire into an individual's immigration status."

Riddle, who is up for election in November, introduced similar legislation last session, but it never made it out of committee.

She says that like Arizona's Gov.Jan Brewer, who is under fire from both Democrats and Republicans over the state's new anti-immigrant law, her first priority is to "make sure that the safety and security of citizens is well established, not to determine whether I get positive or negative or no attention at all."

"The people who are saying (these laws) are racially motivated are trying to divert attention for their own selfish greed," said Riddle. LinkHere

Glenn Beck has lost 1/3 of its TV audience since January

Source: Media Matters

Should we blame it on the Massa Moment?

Will that Hindenburg performance soon be seen as the turning point for Glenn Beck: the pivotal moment when the Fox News show began to permanently leak viewers?

Who can forget the March day that will live in cable news infamy, when Beck invited embattled Democratic Congressman Eric Massa onto his show, for an entire hour, to blow the whistle on Democratic Party corruption? Or so Beck thought. Instead, Massa went on and on about tickle fights, and Beck became a laughing stock -- the butt of endless Geraldo-opens-Al-Capone's-vault jokes.

Prior to the Massa Moment, Glenn Beck was averaging 2.6 million viewers each week, and the show was still flying high. And in the short term, the wildly hyped Massa episode produced ratings gold, generating 3.4 million viewers that night, thank you very much. Long-term though, the effects have proven to be disastrous. LinkHere

Yesterday, TV ratings for April 2010 came out, showing that Fox News had “finished first in viewers and key demographics for 100 months in a row. In prime time, Fox News averaged about 1.9 million viewers for the month of April. That beat the combined audiences of MSNBC, CNN and HLN.”
To celebrate, Fox News placed a full-page ad in the print version of the Washington Post today declaring the network “The Most Powerful Name In News.” (It didn’t run in our copies of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.) The ad features Fox personalities Bret Baier, Shep Smith, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta Van Susteren. But what’s most interesting is who is NOT in the ad: Glenn Beck, who appears on air between Smith and Baier.
In recent months, Beck has seen his ratings fall, but the LA Times notes that he still is a powerhouse in the 5 p.m. hour:
Glenn Beck has seen his audience fall almost 30% since the start of the year, from about 2.9 million viewers in January to 2.1 million in April.
While the Beck sensation may be slowing, the decline in his audience has hardly made a dent on the lead he enjoys for his 5 p.m. festival of emotions. His rivals should hold off a little on popping the Champagne.
So why did the network leave Beck out of the ad? It’s not like the shot was too crowded — there’s even an open spot for him to be photoshopped in between Smith and O’Reilly, in front of the giant #1. He was also just named one of Time’s top 100 influential people. Additionally, three of the people in the ad — O’Reilly, Hannity, and Van Susteren — aren’t even considered part of the Fox “news” operation, which runs only from 6:00-8:00 p.m. each evening.
Beck has claimed that network executives stand behind his controversial, incendiary antics, with one vice president even reportedly telling him that he is the “key” to surviving a “global economic holocaust.” However, the fact that today’s ad leaves him out may indicate that Fox is finally getting frustrated with the fact that he is draining advertisers, with some sponsors abandoning the entire network because of Beck.
It’s hard to be a “rodeo clown” these days. LinkHere

Ken Blackwell, Author Of 'Blueprint,' Tries To Convince Jon Stewart That Obama Is A Tyrant, Fails (VIDEO)

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cretan, Ben Nelson Votes to Stall Financial Reform in Senate

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Shitty Shitty Bang Bang

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stewart Hammers Arizona Lawmakers For Immigration Bill

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Emmett Till 0001

Goldman Sachs Hearings: LIVE UPDATES, VIDEO

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Former GOP Senator Likes Health Reform: 'I'm Very Proud Of This Administration'

In October, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) broke with his party to argue that health care reform "is not socialized medicine" and suggested that he could have voted for the bill. ...Yesterday, during a panel at the American Hospital Association with Tom Daschle, Frist again characterized the new law as a moderate measure that he "sort of likes."
Read the whole story: The Wonk Room

Racists roots of Arizona

Big Oil Fought Off New Safety Rules Before Rig Explosion

As families mourn the 11 workers thrown overboard in the worst oil rig disaster in decades and as the resulting spill continues to spread through the Gulf of Mexico, new questions are being raised about the training of the drill operators and about the oil company's commitment to safety.
Deepwater Horizon, the giant technically-advanced rig which exploded on April 20 and sank two days later, is leaking an estimated 42,000 gallons per day through a pipe about 5,000 feet below the surface. The spill has spread across 1,800 square miles -- an area larger than Rhode Island -- according to satellite images, oozing its way toward the Louisiana coast and posing a threat to wildlife, including a sperm whale spotted in the oil sheen.
The massive $600 million rig, which holds the record for boring the deepest oil and gas well in the world -- at 35,050 feet - had passed three recent federal inspections, the most recent on April 1, since it moved to its current location in January. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.
Yet relatives of workers who are presumed dead claim that the oil behemoth BP and rig owner TransOcean violated "numerous statutes and regulations" issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.
Both companies failed to provide a competent crew, failed to properly supervise its employees and failed to provide Rushto with a safe place to work, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The lawsuit also names oil-services giant Halliburton as a defendant, claiming that the company "prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion." LinkHere

Monday, April 26, 2010


Nest Of Vipers
WASHINGTON — Undaunted by a Senate setback, Democrats appeared increasingly confident Monday they will be able to take advantage of Americans' anger at Wall Street and push through the most sweeping new controls on financial institutions since the Great Depression.
The Senate, in a 57-41 vote, failed to get the 60 supporters needed to proceed on the regulatory overhaul. One Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined with the Republicans.
But the evening vote was just part of a legislative ballet keeping bipartisan talks alive. At the end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote to "no," too, but that was just a maneuver that will enable him to call for a new tally as early as Tuesday.
Democrats believe that public pressure and the scent of a Wall Street scandal have given them the upper hand. Republicans themselves have taken up the Democrats' Wall Street-bashing rhetoric and have voiced hope that a bill will ultimately pass. In that light, the path to final approval seems clearer than it ever did during the contentious debate over health care.
The financial overhaul bill is a priority of President Barack Obama and, after health care, its passage would build on his legislative successes – an important political consideration in an election year. The House has already passed its version of new bank regulations.
Less than an hour before the scheduled vote, the White House issued its official endorsement of the bill, saying Obama would oppose adding any loopholes.
Following the vote, the president said he was "deeply disappointed" and urged Senators to put the interests of the country ahead of party.
"Some of these senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether," Obama said in a statement. "But the American people can't afford that."
Both the House and Senate bills, aimed at heading off any recurrence of the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, would create a mechanism for liquidating large firms that get into trouble, set up a council to detect systemwide financial threats and establish a consumer protection agency to police lending. The legislation also would require investment derivatives, blamed for helping precipitate the near-meltdown, to be traded in open exchanges.
Senate Republicans have been solidly opposed to the legislation so far, but Democrats are determined to force them to block the bill time and again until their unity cracks.
"I don't think it's a tenable political position for the Republicans to be in," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
And Reid mocked the Republicans' cohesion.
"As far as I can tell, the only thing Republicans stand for is standing together," he said. LinkHere
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 26, 2010
Statement by the President on Financial Reform
“I am deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted in a block against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these Senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy, and others may see delay as an opportunity to take this debate behind closed doors, where financial industry lobbyists can water down reform or kill it altogether. But the American people can’t afford that. A lack of consumer protections and a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly brought our economy to its knees, and helped cause the pain that has left millions of Americans without jobs and without homes. The reform that both parties have been working on for a year would prevent a crisis like this from happening again, and I urge the Senate to get back to work and put the interests of the country ahead of party.”

Here we go NO, No, No, No, again

Obama Ahead of Election 2010: The Secrets of His Success

Barack Obama's right-wing opponents cast him as a socialist failure. His left-wing hecklers see him as an overcautious hedger. But, critics notwithstanding, the President is on a path to be a huge success by the time of November's midterm elections.
Before the jabberers on the right (What about the huge debt, the broken tax pledge, the paucity of overseas accomplishments?), the yammerers on the left (Guantánamo hasn't been closed, gays aren't serving openly in the military, and too many policies cater to business interests) and the chides in the media (POTUS and party poll numbers are down, and Washington is more partisan than ever), look at the two key metrics that underscore Obama's accomplishments. It is too early to assess the ultimate measure of victory: whether the President's actions have been prudent and beneficial, domestically and internationally. But by Election Day 2010, Obama will have soundly achieved many of his chief campaign promises while running a highly competent, scandal-free government. Not bad for a guy whose opponents (in both parties) for the White House suggested that he was too green in national life to know how to do the job — and whose presidency began in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis that demanded urgent attention and commanded much of his focus. (See "Obama's Troubled First Year: Grading Him on the Key Issues.")
Let's start with the competence Obama has shown. As he proved in the campaign, he is a master of personnel decisions, choosing people who are excellent at what they do, but also requiring that they play nicely with others. In the two most vital areas, national security and economic policy, all the President's women and men generally get along well with one another, and have had critical roles in advancing the agenda. It is true that the economics team has some rivalries, and the Administration still hasn't figured out how to overcome its collectively weak public-communications skills on the economy. But overall, the White House is populated by hard workers who are rowing in unison to advance the cause and rarely take their disagreements public through damaging leaks.
Obama's two best personnel decisions are probably the two men serving right below him: Vice President Joe Biden and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Yes, Biden still falls victim to caricature as an irrepressible big mouth and is the butt of late-night jokes. And Emanuel can be overly brash and flutter nerves on Capitol Hill and among Administration allies. But Obama knew what he was getting in both men, and they have performed up to or above his expectations. With their West Wing offices across the hall from each other, Biden and Emanuel often work in tandem, each doing more heavy lifting than is publicly seen or commonly known. Obama — who proved during the campaign that he knows how to maintain control of his operation without micromanaging — sets the tone and overall goals, and then allows his Veep and chief, along with other senior advisers, to execute his plans. (See who's who in Barack Obama's White House.)
Biden has traveled extensively overseas and across the country and has helped coordinate both national security policy and congressional strategy, all while dealing with governors and mayors on the economy. Politically, he is expected to be an asset in the midterms, as he was in 2008, with white working-class voters who appreciate his homely truths and affable manner, and who still haven't warmed to Obama. LinkHere

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona embraces profiling

Papers Please

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The Arizona of 2010 is the Alabama of 1963

Those of us who are old enough will never forget the images of fire hoses being turned on children marching for their civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama - or the police nightsticks of Bloody Sunday at the Raymond Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Those images stirred a nation to act against racial segregation in the 1960's. The draconian anti-immigrant bill that was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is likely to do the same when it comes to the crisis of our broken immigration system.
The Arizona of 2010 is the Alabama of 1963.
For those who have not read a paper or turned on the TV in the last several days, the new Arizona law requires that all police officers with a reasonable suspicion that an individual might not be in our country legally, must demand to see that person's papers.
It also requires that each person who has immigrated carry those papers at all times or be in violation of the law themselves.
It even creates a private right of action that allows anyone, from an ordinary citizen to the Minutemen, to file suit against individual law enforcement officers who they believe are refusing to enforce the new act.
The new law makes anyone with brown skin, anyone who looks like he might be from Eastern Europe, the Irish guy who works behind the bar at a pub, anyone with an accent - frankly anyone who looks the least bit like they might be an immigrant - subject to the demand: "Papers please."
That phrase -- "papers please" - is something that the authorities asked you in the old Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. It has never been something we ever expected to hear uttered in the United States of America. It is as un-American as jack boots. Unless this law is stopped, thousands of people - many of them perfectly legal American citizens - will begin to hear it regularly in the state of Arizona.
Let's be clear. In a free society people should never have to worry that the plainclothes police officer around the next corner has the right - even the obligation - to demand to see their papers simply because they have brown skin or are chatting with their friends in Spanish, or Polish, or Italian.
This moral outrage will create an enormous backlash that will badly damage the reputation and economy of the state of Arizona. It will profoundly wound the state's massive convention and tourism business. It will make Arizona a symbol of racial profiling and conflict. As the controversy over the law explodes across the country, organizations of all types are already canceling conferences and meetings, and families are changing their vacation plans. Arizona will soon become the butt of jokes on late night TV, and its leaders will join the ranks of Bull Connor and George Wallace as symbols of what is not best in America.
The new law will not only cost the state in tourist dollars and reputation. Law enforcement officials consider it a danger to public safety. When this bill goes into effect, what family with an undocumented member will now call the police to report any ordinary crime? But ironically, the passage of this law may also serve as a wakeup call to people around the country who believe in fundamental American values. In the same way the excesses of Alabama's leaders helped pass the civil rights laws, so this un-American law may spur Congress to fix our profoundly broken immigration system.
The fact of the matter is that there are only three realistic choices when it comes to immigration: Link Here

Soldiers Call Army Trauma Units Established After Walter Reed Scandal 'Worse Than Iraq'

In Army’s Trauma Care Units, Feeling Warehoused
COLORADO SPRINGS — A year ago, Specialist Michael Crawford wanted nothing more than to get into Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion, a special unit created to provide closely managed care for soldiers with physical wounds and severe psychological trauma.
A strapping Army sniper who once brimmed with confidence, he had returned emotionally broken from Iraq, where he suffered two concussions from roadside bombs and watched several platoon mates burn to death. The transition unit at Fort Carson, outside Colorado Springs, seemed the surest way to keep suicidal thoughts at bay, his mother thought.
It did not work. He was prescribed a laundry list of medications for anxiety, nightmares, depression and headaches that made him feel listless and disoriented. His once-a-week session with a nurse case manager seemed grossly inadequate to him. And noncommissioned officers — soldiers supervising the unit — harangued or disciplined him when he arrived late to formation or violated rules.
Last August, Specialist Crawford attempted suicide with a bottle of whiskey and an overdose of painkillers. By the end of last year, he was begging to get out of the unit.
“It is just a dark place,” said the soldier, who is waiting to be medically discharged from the Army. “Being in the W.T.U. is worse than being in Iraq.” LinkHere

Fight On, Goldman Sachs!

Bet Against the American Dream from Alexander Hotz on Vimeo.

Published: April 24, 2010
MAYBE Lloyd Blankfein was doing “God’s work” after all.

When the Goldman Sachs chief executive made that tone-deaf remark to an interviewer in November, he became the butt of a million insults, the ultimate symbol of Wall Street’s abdication of responsibility for its sleazy role in the Great Crash of ’08. But now we’ve learned that Blankfein was actually, if inadvertently, on the side of the angels. It’s his myopic, unrepentant truculence that left Goldman exposed to a Securities and Exchange Commission accusation of fraud that will be litigated in public rather than bought off in private. And it’s that S.E.C. legal action that has, in a single week, radically transformed the politics and prospects for financial reform in America.
In just that week, the Party of No’s intransigent campaign of obstruction and obfuscation went belly up. The Obama White House moved to get its act together with an alacrity lacking in its health care campaign, abruptly adding Thursday’s New York speech to the president’s schedule. The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission at last issued its first subpoena — to Moody’s, one of the rating agencies that for a fat fee slapped AAA ratings on the toxic garbage Goldman packaged and sold to benighted suckers on the other end of a huge bet placed by a favored client, the hedge fund player John Paulson.
Salutary as this rush of events is, it still adds up so far to just one small step for mankind. We don’t yet know how many loopholes lobbyists will slip into the bill-in-progress. We don’t yet know the outcome of the S.E.C. case, let alone what other much-needed legal pursuit of Wall Street may follow it. And we still don’t know what, if any, true correction lies ahead for the financial sector’s runaway casino culture — much of it legal — that turned a subprime-mortgage bubble in a handful of overheated American states into an international economic meltdown.
But before we get to those gloomy caveats, let’s smell a few roses.
The farcical spectacle of the Republican retreat has been particularly enjoyable. It was only last Sunday that Senator Mitch McConnell went on CNN to flog his big lie that the Senate reform bill somehow guaranteed bank bailouts — a talking point long ago concocted for the G.O.P. by its favorite spin strategist, Frank Luntz. McConnell’s House counterpart, John Boehner, was meanwhile waging a campaign to portray the Democrats as shills for Goldman, a major source of Obama donations and personnel. Never mind that the Bush White House chief of staff, Joshua Bolten, was a Goldman alumnus and that both McConnell and Boehner had voted for the very bailouts they now profess to abhor (a k a TARP) after a sales job by Henry Paulson, the Bush Treasury secretary who was Blankfein’s predecessor as Goldman’s C.E.O.

In another bit of hubris, McConnell boasted of a letter signed by his caucus pledging 41-vote unity to block the reform bill. But on Monday, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican who had been negotiating with his Democratic peers in good faith, took to the Senate floor to start breaking ranks with his dear leader. The bill at hand, Corker said, was “anything but” a mandate for bank bailouts. On Tuesday, the House G.O.P. leadership distributed a spreadsheet publicizing Goldman’s donations to Democrats, and this too backfired. Politico reported the next morning that Goldman’s political action committee donated more money to politicians in March than in all of 2009, most of it to Republicans. The total take for Boehner was double that of Harry Reid’s.
That afternoon Charles Grassley of Iowa, up for re-election this fall, became the first G.O.P. senator to vote with the Democrats on part of the pending package. Maybe someone showed him another spreadsheet — a Pew poll finding that even in a divided America 61 percent favor financial regulatory reform. The unity pledge in McConnell’s pocket was now worth as much as a mortgage-backed security. LinkHere

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