What It Means for America to Have the Largest Prison Population in the World
When You're Imprisoning More People Than North Korea, You've Got a Problem

This video from the Hank portion of the VlogBrothers doesn’t follow where the $75 billion a year goes, nor does it discuss prison privatization, which drives the spending, but maybe it’s better to start, as the video does, by describing the problem’s scope.

Punitive measures that continue punishment even after the convicted have paid their debt to society turn every prison term into a life sentence

What is covered is something a criminal justice system employee once told me: the vast majority of people in prison today will at some point get out, and we are not only doing almost nothing with that day in mind, such as preparing them to do something different, but we are helping ensure their failure with punitive measures that are designed to continue punishment even after the convicted have paid their debt to society. This turns every prison term into a life sentence. And that’s good for neither them nor society, i.e., us.

I hope someone will do a similar video on the facts behind the DUI privatization rip-off, but that’s a subject for another day.

Obama’s Weekly Address Isn’t So Ho-Hum

Week in and week out, the president posts his “Weekly Address,” a reiteration of the best answer to the most pressing problem of the time, which will never see daylight because of Republican opposition to anything Obama-related. It’s easy to tune out Obama’s message, just to save a little heartbreak.

This week, in the wake of the proposed budget from Republicans (which will also go nowhere, since Democrats still rule the Senate*) the president again frames the sensible solution but kind of kicks butt with a little extra womp around the 1:17 mark:

The Republican budget begins by passing out massive tax cuts to the households making more than a million dollars a year. Then, to keep from blowing a hole in the deficit, they’d have to raise taxes on middle class families with kids. Next, their budget forces deep cuts to investments that help our economy create jobs, like education and scientific research.

What’s the bottom line, my president?

Policies that benefit the fortunate few while making it harder for working Americans to succeed — that’s not what we need right now. Our economy doesn’t grow best from the top-down, it grows best from the middle-out.


* Be sure to vote in November! It really, really matters this time.

Scientists Agree that Humans are Responsible for Global Warming/Climate Change

James L. Powell found 10,885 peer-reviewed scientific articles published in 2013 about global warming or climate change, and of those, only two attributed it to something other than human activities.

Writes Powell:

Very few of the most vocal global warming deniers, those who write op-eds and blogs and testify to congressional committees, have ever written a peer-reviewed article in which they say explicitly that anthropogenic global warming is false. Why? Because then they would have to provide the evidence and, evidently, they don’t have it.

What can we conclude?

1. There a mountain of scientific evidence in favor of anthropogenic global warming and no convincing evidence against it.

2. Those who deny anthropogenic global warming have no alternative theory to explain the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 and global temperature.

These two facts together mean that the so-called debate over global warming is an illusion, a hoax conjured up by a handful of apostate scientists and a misguided and sometimes colluding media, aided and abetted by funding from fossil fuel companies and right wing foundations.

On the one side, we have a mountain of scientific evidence, on the other, ideology and arm-waving. On that basis, we are endangering our grandchildren’s future and pushing humanity toward the destruction of civilization.

How to Make the 2014 Hurricane Season Way More Interesting

They’re serious about this too. You can sign the petition from 350Action at climatenamechange.org.

Fox News Compares Missing Malaysian Flight to Benghazi
Two weeks after the plane was lost - what took them so long?

At 5:42pm ET on Thursday, March 20th:

During a segment on The Five about the distressed families of the missing passengers, [Andrea] Tantaros remarked that they reminded her of the families of the four Americans killed in Benghazi …

Note to Republicans: Most Poor Americans Are White

Source: The Dish

Despite the stereotypes — and the reality behind them that blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately poor — the largest group of poor people in America are white people.

Pres. Obama’s ‘Between Two Ferns’ Interview Has Upset Republicans – Because It’s Working

Republicans say they are agitated that Pres. Obama went on Zach Galifinakis’ fake interview show, “Between Two Ferns,” to promote the Affordable Care Act because he should be spending all of his time on the crisis in the Crimea — never mind that George H.W. Bush, who ordered the invasion of Kuwait, took his cigarette boat out for a spin during the Gulf War.

What they’re actually upset about is the fact that episodes of “Between Two Ferns” often get about 13 million page views and its viewers skew young, compared with the 2 million old folks who watch O’Reilly on Fox, the top rated cable news show, on a given night. And it appears that Obama’s appearance is working — USA Today: Healthcare.gov gets traffic boost after Obama’s ‘Funny or Die’ video:

$27 Million Down the Drain? Doh!
Koch Brothers Just Can't Catch a Break in Obamacare Battle

Bad news for whoever is writing the checks at Americans for Prosperity (AFP). The Koch brothers’ political organization has spent $27 million since last August, with millions more planned, on ads attacking Senate Democrats who voted for healthcare reform and who are up for re-election this year.

A new poll shows they are likely wasting that cash.

Poll: Support for candidates who voted for the health-care law has improved dramatically

Support for candidates who voted for the health-care law has improved dramatically in recent months, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday shows.

The survey found respondents almost exactly split on the question of whether they would be more or less likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports the Affordable Care Act, with 34% saying they would be more likely to vote for the candidate and 36% saying they would be less likely to do so. Some 27% said it would not make a difference.

That’s a significant jump in support levels from November—a month after the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance exchange that serves 36 states—when just 21% said a candidate’s support for the law would make them more likely to vote for them, compared to 37% who said it would make them less likely to do so. A much larger percentage—40%—were indifferent.

AFP’s ads are termed “misleading” by neutral fact-checkers, and “absolutely false” by Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The organization put all its eggs in the “Obamacare will be hated” basket so if the public approves of the reforms and the costs of coverage decrease, the Kochs lose. Some Republicans have sniffed the wind and moved away from criticizing Pres. Obama over the Affordable Care Act to criticizing him over every other initiative instead.

On Fox, Issa Walks Back His Apology for Cutting off Ranking Member’s Microphone

Congress-watchers cannot recall another incident in which a committee chairman silenced a ranking member by turning off the member’s microphone — but it happened Wednesday when GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chair of the House Oversight Committee, cut off the microphone as Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, was speaking.

But when the time came for apologies, in today’s topsy-turvy tea party world, it was Issa who claimed to have been insulted.

Texas Tea Party Politician Steve Stockman Threatens to Sue Anyone Who Publishes the Mugshot from His 1977 Drug Arrest

Mugshot from tea party pol Steve Stockman’s 1977 drug arrest

Mugshots are made at taxpayer expense and are therefore public records — a fact that anyone who serves in a high position should know.

Apparently, however, tea bagger Rep. Steve Stockman, who was soundly defeated on Tuesday in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas, does not know this. He has has threatened to sue anyone who publishes the mugshot from his 1977 drug arrest.

In 1977, a young man who would later serve in Congress was charged with possession of Valium in Madison Heights, Mich.


  • 52%

    Percentage of Americans who don’t see President Obama as black but instead consider him mixed-race, a new Pew Research poll finds.

  • 48% to 42%

    Margin by which Democrats have staked out a lead over Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot, a new McClatchy-Marist poll finds. However, just 45% approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 52% disapprove.

  • 52%

    Of Americans say the amount they have to pay in federal income tax is “too high,” while 42% say it is “about right,” according to Gallup. The percentage who say their taxes are too high has hovered around 50% since 2003, although the current 52% is up from 46% two years ago.

Poetic Justice

What’s an angry white supremacist to do?
They don’t make ‘em wear stars like they used to.
So it’s prudent to inquire
Before you open fire
Whether your intended targets indeed are Jews.


  • The president has made some tough decisions. But it’s been a mixed record, and the concern is, the president defining what America’s role in the world is in the 21st century hasn’t happened. Hopefully, he’ll do it and certainly, she would.

    — Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, telling the New York Times that President Obama had a “mixed record” on making difficult national security decisions and suggested that Hillary Clinton would be better.

  • I don’t have sizzle.

    — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, quoted by ABC News, when asked if he’d consider running for president again.

  • I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.

    — Michael Bloomberg, quoted by the New York Times.



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