The judicial system’s new “crack” cocaine fix


crack vs powderRemember how the punishment for possessing or dealing in crack was substantially higher than for cocaine, even though “crack” was nothing more than cocaine on steroids?  That disparity was eliminated when President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010 because quite frankly is disproportionately negatively impacted minorities.  The Act was unanimously approved by both Houses of Congress meaning it faced no serious opposition from Republicans.

As usual, the criminal justice system has found other ways to exacerbate racial divisions in enforcement and punishment and have filled the gap with “suspended license” offenses.  Like all bad policy it has not yielded the intended results of increased revenue for the “State” simply because it was not well thought out and unfair public policy.  Basically what happens is suspended licensestates “suspend” a person’s drivers license if they are unable to pay court costs for appearances before the judicial system for any offense meaning the only way a driver can retrieve or if they don’t have one get a license is by paying all past due court costs. Of course it doesn’t matter if you have to drive to get to work or not, and in the case of  places with large rural populations like Tennessee where public transportation is sparse in some areas, tough! Such poorly planned law means a person commits the other illegal act of driving with a suspended license and when caught only increases their debt and criminal record…..if they’re lucky enough to survive the encounter with police when ticketed for such an offense.   The NYT piece goes on to say

Going through the legal system, even for people charged with nonviolent misdemeanors, can be expensive, with fines, public defender fees, probation fees and other costs running into hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Many people cannot pay.

As a result, some states have begun suspending driver’s licenses for unsatisfied debts stemming from any criminal case, from misdemeanors like marijuana possession to felonies in which court costs can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars……..Most states also suspend licenses for failure to pay traffic fines, another policy that critics say creates a quicksand of debt.

Though the law was projected to raise more than $20 million a year, it has not come close, according to state agencies. Revenue from litigation taxes, the primary court fee collected by the state, has remained flat and even declined a bit in 2014, and license reinstatement fees have increased far less than was anticipated.

But since suspensions under the law began in mid-2012, almost 90,000 licenses have been suspended. Over the same period, 170,000 Tennessee licenses were suspended for unpaid traffic tickets. In both categories, more than 40 percent of the suspended drivers were black, compared with 16 percent of state residents.

Bad policy often gives bad results that are of no benefit to the state or its citizens.  This trend in the justice system is another example of bad policy.  Fix this America!!

 

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Another dose of reality


I really believe in the inherent good of humankind….but there is also an inherent evil that can overtake and even surpass our divinity.  We chronicled just the other day how something as innocent as starting one’s car can ignite a firestorm in the eyes of some.  water fountain
Perhaps one might say that Janelle Ambrosia of the infamous Cheektowaga, NY meltdown has a mental defect or disease and isn’t in full control of her senses and I might be inclined to agree…however the vitriol she spewed far exceeds mental illness, rather it is a sociopathic illness that permeates American culture and this latest example in Memphis, Tennessee shows how widespread the pathology is in this country.

If this country doesn’t learn how to exorcise this cancer from its midst it will consume and destroy us.  We’ve seen examples of it in our past where the destruction and annihilation of America was imminent; if we don’t learn from that history we are doomed to repeat and perhaps even exceed it.  Fix this America!racism

Could this be the terror threat


We heard about a terror threat centered around the 9/11 anniversary remembrance taking place.  I don’t think this is the terror threat the corporate media had in mind, but it is terror nonetheless

Authorities say an anonymous caller threatened to detonate a bomb inside a mosque in Tennessee on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

According to a police report, an unidentified person made the threat Monday in a voicemail left at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. The report says the message included extreme profanities and derogatory remarks toward Muslims.

Murfreesboro Police spokesman Kyle Evans told The Associated Press on Wednesday that security at the mosque has been increased and that marked and unmarked vehicles are patrolling the area.

Evans says federal authorities are helping in the investigation.

The mosque has been the target of vandals who defaced signs at the site where it plans to build a bigger site of worship. Last year, arsonists also torched construction equipment there.

 

Islamophobes in Tennessee are at it again


A cartoon threatening that the KKK would lynch...

Image via Wikipedia

The folks in the great state of Tennessee are at it again whipping up racist fervor against Muslims in ways that are so comical they look downright stupid and  state representative Bill Ketron is willing to take up that mantle of stupidity.  How could any legislator from Tennessee talk about outlawing material support for terrorist organizations without first talking about the role his/her state played in terrorism with the formation of the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1865.  With all the talk about people wanting to honor that organization and by people we’re talking about high ranking  officials as well as states it will be interesting to see whether Tennessee will sanction such groups in much the same way as they are calling for with Islamic organizations.  Look at the possibilities of ridding the South of any connection with or support of such clearly racist groups as the Klan, the Imperial Klan of America, Knights of the White Camelia, et.al. who have more poignantly soiled the American fabric than any Muslim or Islamic group has to date.  I think Muslim groups should welcome Ketron’s Material Support for Designated Entities Act demand the state of Tennessee begin cleaning out its own backyard of racists, supremacists and any reference to them by the state.  Let’s see how eager he is to embrace that idea.

But beyond that, Ketron made another faux pas by passing out a video wherein a Muslim imam in it said homosexuality is a sin punishable by death, meaning to imply such a person uttering that remark is clearly a terrorist.  Such sentiments however are not just the belief of Muslims.  Many Christians hold the view that homosexuality is not compatible with Christian doctrine, including Ketron’s own United Methodist Church.  That’s probably one of the more mild remarks made by members of Ketron’s faith.  Would Ketron apply his material support legislation against the people, all Christians, who rallied in New York recently, with some who also said homosexuals are worthy of death?  Hello, Mr. Ketron?

Various and sundry news


First the “good” news. The folks in Tennessee are removing religious references from the bill they wanted to introduce regarding foreign laws not being applied in state matters which would amount to treason and a 15 year jail sentence.  It was obviously designed to persecute Muslims.  The state’s lawmakers were too dumb to realize they are  pawns in a much bigger battle between American jurists who assert the right to reference other countries’ laws in their decisions and those xenophobes who vigorously opposed that idea.  More on that later.

But, and there’s always a “but” isn’t there?  For every step America makes forward they seem to take several back.  Check out this story of a true blue American Muslim who was put on the no-fly list because he refused to cooperate with federal officials who want to infiltrate America’s Muslim population.  Seems his refusal to do so was based on his family situation, he’s married with 4 children and probably doesn’t trust the government to help support his family while he’s out and about spying on people…….isn’t that the kind of self-reliant, no trust government but do for self citizen the “Right” and their neo-con allies wanted?…….and most likely he’s not too keen on the idea because he doesn’t feel comfortable being around Muslims, since according to him he’s gone to church with his Christian wife more times than he’s been in any mosque.

Finally there’s this bit of crab barrel politics of an aspiring politician who wants to make a name for himself on the backs of America’s Muslim population.  A black David Duke or a blacker Allen West, the Florida congressman of the same political bent, Herman Cain has taken his Godfather’s Pizza moniker a bit too seriously.  You remember the one don’t you, ‘the pizza you can’t refuse’ slogan that rocketed that franchise onto America’s consciousness back in the 80s.  He thinks that the idea of religion and not being able to choose extends to America’s Muslims as well.  What’s more dastardly about Cain is he joins a long list of former slaves who now want to be slave owners, emotionally and mentally that is.  He hasn’t learned anything from the history of his people or his country; he’s too drunk with success and money to realize the error of his ways, but he wants to be president of the United States.  The more things change…….the more they remain the same.

America Under Attack!!


No, it’s not by the red horde (native Americans) or the brown horde (Muslim Americans).  Rather it’s from fear mongering elected officials who’ve given into the politics of fear and are attempting to enact legislation that would make it illegal for a particular religious group to practice their faith

Increasing media attention is focusing on Republican state lawmakers who have proposed a bill that would make following Sharia a felony punishable by 15 years in jail.

The bill, by state Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and state Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, states that it exempts the peaceful practice of Islam, but it also labels any adherence to Sharia “which includes peaceful religious practices ” as treasonous.

We’ve written about the Oklahoma attempt to do the same thing with the initiative they asked for voters to approve during the last election.  We wrote about that misdirected political stunt here and here.  The Tennessee bill is even worse than what Oklahoma proposed and some of the worst America has to offer are on board with this attempt to deny Americans of their right to religious freedom.

the bill was drafted by none other than Pamela Geller associate David Yerushalmi, a raving racist who has written that “blacks” are “the most murderous of peoples,” who advocates criminalizing Islam itself and imposing 20-year sentences on practicing Muslims, and who wants to return to a pre-Bill of Rights Constitution, restricting voting rights to white male land-owners.

The irony is we’ve often heard how Islam wants to return people to the 8th century, but now it’s being opposed by “enlightened” Americans who want to return this country to the darkest days of American history, when Africans were slaves and women were disenfranchised, when we fought one another over the right to legally oppress human beings.

What those yelling from the sidelines don’t realize is any attempt at removing the rights of the “hated group” of the day, could end up with the abolition of their rights as well which is why every American should resist the attempt to de-legitimize  or marginalize the rights of ANY American.  Why don’t Americans understand that?

 

 

How Low Can You Go?


When you hate people irrationally, you can go this low

Look at David Koresh. He had a religious institution until the government decided to load up their missiles and blowed it up and killed everybody.

That from Joe Brandon Jr, attorney for the plaintiff’s in the suit to stop the construction of the Murfreesboro, TN mosque from being built.  Brandon wants to deny citizens their right to religion based on what he thinks the federal government may do to them if they exercise that right.  In other words blame the victim. Perhaps he was giving a backhanded victim status to himself and all those who oppose the construction by saying Murfreesboro will become another Waco, Texas  and the good “other” citizens will be the worse for it because the presence of a mosque made the US government go Waco on it.  The devil made me do it is an even better excuse than the one Brandon was offering.

The judge ruling in the case, Judge Robert E. Corlew III who wasn’t persuaded by the absence of Brandon’s logic declared that county officials had legally approved the building of the mosque and the construction could proceed, declaring ‘Islam is still a religion’. That simple declarative statement, which Brandon and the plaintiffs he represented tried to nullify with innuendo guarantees the followers of Islam the same right to worship as  any other religious denomination in the country.   The rule of law, so preciously trumpeted by neocons for marauding, invading armies of empire was competently and successfully applied to several hundred families of Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tennesse.