8
   

This is Biden's America

 
 
bulmabriefs144
 
  -1  
Mon 18 Apr, 2022 05:51 am
@bobsal u1553115,
This motto was to get little kids to stop having integrity enough to defend their loved ones, and become little Quislings, snitches for the state.

But no, I have no desire of that sort. Guns are inelegant, I prefer swords. With a sword you can control how much power you exert on a cut, which makes a difference between someone who bleeds alot and becomes unconscious, and someone whose organs are pierced or neck severed. A sword allows restraint and nonlethal force. A bullet punches a hole through someone and they die. I also like swords as a history buff.

I am showing you that while there are other ingredients you can use, it is pretty much impossible to ban the production of gunpowder. Someone insane enough to use their own urine is not gonna get stopped by these laws. They will kill people, while a dozen honest citizens are unable to fight back. Raise the amount of guns, and violent crime goes down. Houston, Texas (open carry, though lefties are working on Texas) is not the region with the highest gun crime. Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles. All of these have banned guns, yet murderers with guns get them from illegal arms traders. Rather than do the good you imagine, it left a defenseless population. The government uses gun violence to push the gun control narrative. But a man walking into a bar to make trouble in Texas will quickly find they have to stand down, as at least ten guns are leveled at them before they can fire a shot. People looking to shoot folks go for easy targets (schools), where there are signs outside the building warning that there are no guns allowed. Simply sneak around the security, and they kill with impunity. Meanwhile schools become like prisons.
And if guns are ever successfully done away with, you know what? People have knives. Are you willing that cooking be ground to a halt, so that you can feel more safe?
https://www.snopes.com/news/2015/06/22/save-a-life-surrender-your-knife/
Or will you let go of your stupid irrational fear of death, and understand that the worst murders don't use anything that can be recognized as a weapon. They beat other people to death with their bare hands, or strangle them with a rope, or whack them with a rock. These are common objects. You also gonna report me for having a boulder? Ban hands!

0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Mon 18 Apr, 2022 05:57 am
Medicare is new cash cow for insurers

Written by Wendell Potter
In a move generally ignored by most media outlets, the Biden administration this week made the shareholders of a small number of for-profit health insurers much richer.

As I’ve noted many times in recent years, insurers’ new cash cow is the federal government’s Medicare program, which has become increasingly privatized since former president George W. Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act into law in 2003. That law is best known for establishing the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, which, as I wrote in Nation on the Take, was largely written by lobbyists for pharmaceutical and health insurance companies to ensure an ongoing stream of billions of dollars in profits.

Of even greater significance to the insurance industry, though, was a provision of that law that took a languishing private alternative to Medicare–known until 2003 as Medicare+Choice–and began throwing enormous sums of money at private insurers to entice them into participating in what became known as Medicare Advantage plans.

In various ways, the federal government since 2003 has overpaid private insurers hundreds of billions of dollars as an incentive to continue offering those plans. And every year, the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has given those insurers raises, to the point that Medicare Advantage plans–which were touted by many politicians as a way to save taxpayers money–actually cost the government considerably more per enrollee than Traditional Medicare.

This week, CMS announced that private insurers would get one of the biggest raises in the history of the Medicare Advantage program–8.5%. That was even more than the 7.9% increase CMS had previously signaled it would approve and that had triggered outrage among many health care reform advocates and some members of Congress.

As I suspected, the news of that generous pay hike sent the stock price of the biggest Medicare Advantage players soaring yesterday.

Investors were so pleased that yesterday morning they rushed to buy shares of Anthem, Centene, Cigna, Humana, and UnitedHealth Group, all of which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange and all of which are big players in the Medicare Advantage marketplace.

The biggest winner was the biggest Medicare Advantage player of all – and the biggest for-profit insurer – UnitedHealth. United’s stock price hit an all time high of $526.97 yesterday before settling down to close at $517.76 a share. That’s around $500 a share more than what a share of the company’s stock was worth when Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act in June 2003.

https://justcareusa.org/medicare-is-new-cash-cow-for-insurers/?link_id=6&can_id=855d6133b6e7cfa658d46dbe9b0d5678&source=email-medicare-advantage-what-you-see-is-not-what-you-get&email_referrer=email_1510322&email_subject=when-medicare-advantage-plans-mislead-regulators-shrug&fbclid=IwAR22K2mP5Ky0qJ6yAR_z-StwQGfnJv64l-K3MPQbxbGizz9QYuS8DM2a7SQ
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:47 am
In case I haven't won your undying enmity as yet, here is the piece that will ensure it. I don't enjoy telling what frightens the **** out of me, but you can't face the truth if you hide from it. - eb

This from today's The Lever newsletter, received by me by email

“Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” — The Joker

“I’m going to become the Joker” is some of the Internet’s most poignant shorthand. Referencing Todd Phillips’ 2019 film noir, the phrase describes becoming so thoroughly disillusioned that one loses faith in everything.

The process is a dark descent: Individual indignity after interpersonal insult after institutional injustice prompts a downward spiral from George Costanza screaming “we’re living in a society!” to nihilists barking “we believe in nothing, Lebowski” to finally just a depressed clown laughing at the idea of anything mattering at all.

Data about mental health suggests that even the most preternaturally chipper among us have tasted the Joker pill during the pandemic. But what if that Jokerfication isn’t fleeting? And what if it’s happening at a cultural, societal, and institutional level?

What happens then?

This is the epochal question — because both parties’ leaders have accepted Jokerfication as the new permanent normal, and the Biden White House is actively convincing a generation to believe nothing will fundamentally change.

The timing of this tailspin couldn’t be worse: An America still reeling from the meltdown of the early Obama years, the Trump presidency, and the pandemic seemed ready to hope against hope that Democrats’ unexpected Washington trifecta would provide one last opportunity to put the country back on track. For a brief moment, Democrats would have the lawmaking power to mitigate at least one of the myriad stresses — health care, housing, education, retirement, climate survival — that working-class Americans must worry about every day.

But with corruption and capitulation winning the day in Washington, George Bush’s butchered aphorism describes the present mood of a demoralized Democratic electorate: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…can’t get fooled again.”

President Joe Biden started out in a much different direction. Right after being sworn in, he signed an American Rescue Plan that rejected President Barack Obama’s top-down bailouts for bankers, and rightly provided direct economic aid to millions of non-rich people. As poverty subsequently dropped, Biden’s poll numbers temporarily skyrocketed, seemingly halting the ascent of Republicans’ authoritarian mob.

But now less than seven months before the midterm elections, things have stalled, and Biden seems intent on accelerating — rather than combating — a rising tide of disillusionment.

Tossing the GOP a lifeline, he has reverted to his familiar formula that some warned about during the Democratic presidential primaries: Amid intensifying crises, he promises big changes that could help the working class — and then prevents those changes from actually happening.

It’s occurred over and over again:

He speechifies about the need to address crises he then makes worse.

He blames Congress for gridlock but won’t pressure lawmakers or use his executive authority to do things.

He promises policy reforms that his own agencies decline to implement.

The baiting and switching is a feature, not a bug — a deliberate strategy predicated on a corporate media ecosystem that ignores the gap between White House rhetoric and action.

Ensconced in a bubble of blue-wave emojis, Team Blue hashtags, and genuflecting punditry, Biden and his staff likely assume they can rhetorically placate voters and yet enrich the Biden campaign donors crushing those voters — and they expect nobody will catch on to the ruse. They appear to assume that as a pile of unsigned executive orders sit in the Oval Office, voters will believe his media loyalists’ claims that “there’s just not much President Joe Biden can do” about anything.

But despite the dearth of accountability journalism, the public seems to sense the gaslighting: Biden’s approval ratings are plummeting and anti-government sentiment has spiked as his strategy Joker-pills the country.

Mainlining The Joker Pill
In response to the midterm election trendlines, Democratic lawmakers and pundits are now panicking. Seeing a so-called “enthusiasm gap” among rank-and-file Democratic voters, party officials are lashing out at their own message machine and the disempowered left, rather than admitting Democratic leaders are putting the stick in their own bike wheel. As usual, “just do anything to help lots of non-rich people” is not considered by Democratic strategists to be a more viable political path than, say, unpopular deficit reduction, austerity, and donor enrichment.


As his poll numbers crater, Biden appears to be offering no course correction, and he still hasn’t signed sign a stack of executive orders on matters ranging from debt cancellation to drug pricing. The Delaware president — who used his first State of the Union address to gloat about hailing “from the land of corporate America” — is now just leaning in to a ****-around-and-find-out nonchalance.

Caught between the electorate and Democrats’ campaign sponsors, Biden appears to have decided that he either can’t — or doesn’t want to — stop the spread of the Joker pill. So he is now just mainlining its active ingredients into America’s veins with bold promises and even bolder betrayals that seem deliberately designed to prompt voters to angrily smear their faces with circus makeup.

Consider a brief list that reads like a recipe to smash the last hopes and dreams of millions of voters:

Biden promised to enact a $15 minimum wage, and then he and his party promptly abandoned that initiative, never to be heard from again.
Biden pledged to halt drilling on federal land and spent the first year of his presidency promising climate action — all while he outpaces Trump’s drill-baby-drill initiatives and deploys his spokespeople to brag about flooding the world with fossil fuels amid the ecological emergency.
Biden promised an “immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 of federal student loan debt” — which he has the executive authority to do at any moment he chooses. But he’s been refusing to do it and has been trying to overturn bankruptcy court victories for the most beleaguered debtors — even as he faces polls showing one in five of his own party’s voters will not vote to reelect him if he keeps betraying his student debt promise.
Biden pledged to protect traditional Medicare and “give Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option.” Then he never again mentioned the public option when he became president. Instead, he is helping his health care industry donors further privatize Medicare and reap even more federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies as insurers reduce coverage, rake in record profits and jack up premiums — and as data show middle-aged Americans are souring on the ACA. Oh, Biden has thrown in cuts to the VA medical system, too.
Biden continues to insist he wants to lower the predatory cost of medicine and distribute vaccine recipes to halt the global spread of COVID. At the same time, he has refused to invoke his executive authority to reduce the price of medicines that were developed with public funding, and he has effectively abandoned his COVID vaccine pledge.
Biden periodically gets lauded by pundits and liberal advocacy organizations for his promises to close tax loopholes, crack down on billionaire tax evaders, and bust Russian oligarchs — but he refuses to use his executive authority to shut down Wall Street’s most egregious tax loophole and force sanctions evaders out of the shadows.
Biden portrays himself as a union supporter and promised to “ensure federal contracts only go to employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns.” And yet he abandoned his campaign pledge to rein in union busting federal contractors, he hasn’t implemented his own labor task force’s weak recommendations, and his administration gave Amazon a $10 billion contract while the company fought labor organizers.
The Biden administration continues to incessantly tout deficit reduction, which helps austerians cast the end of the child tax credit as pragmatic belt tightening. At the same time, he is making headlines proposing massive increases in the bloated defense budget.
Biden sat by as millions lost their pandemic unemployment benefits — and now his Labor Secretary is tweet-boasting about the decline in jobless aid.
The Biden administration continues to claim the United States is on track to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030, a target reified in an executive order one year ago. But Biden has been using his executive authority to ramp up methane-emitting natural gas exports (which have tripled since 2019), lease public land to oil and gas companies for drilling, and institute a “gag order” to quash any discussion of the clean energy tax credits legislation killed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) last winter.
If this pile of Joker pills wasn’t poisonous enough, down-ballot Democrats have followed with an if-you-can’t-beat-em-join-em celebration of nihilism.

For example, when they haven’t been partying on a yacht or jetting off to California wine country, corporate Democratic senators Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been on a tour defending billionaires, fossil fuel companies and pharmaceutical conglomerates. Their Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, has been busy pushing a $52 billion no-strings-attached handout to tech CEOs that they can use to boost their own pay if they want.

Over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a media spectacle out of defending legislators profiting off well-timed stock trades as they receive inside information from their government jobs. Her Democratic colleagues from affluent suburbs are also demanding self-enriching tax cuts that almost exclusively benefit their fellow coastal millionaires.

Out in the states, Democrats’ most prominent governors are generating local headlines by abandoning their health care promises, pushing hundreds of millions of dollars of subsidies for a billionaire NFL owner, and defending tax giveaways to the rich.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Caucus leadership has spent its time demoralizing the progressive base, some of which was already disillusioned both by Democratic Party officials’ vicious campaigns against Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind.-Vt.), and by Sanders’ own deference to Biden. CPC members have mostly accepted the Biden administration’s capitulations. They’ve also betrayed promises to hold the line. And now they’re intervening in a high-profile primary to back a candidate who refuses to co-sponsor Democrats’ major climate legislation, and who is being boosted by a super PAC that is bankrolled by an oil titan.

“Kind Of Mysterious”
In the face of all this, Democrats’ campaign apparatus has gotten downright desperate. It is now airing ads boasting about a ”historic middle-class tax cut" tax credit that has already expired and about an insulin price cap (for insured Americans only) that hasn’t actually been passed into law — as if no one will be infuriated by those realities, even though data suggests many voters already are.

Amid an explosion of child poverty following the end of the expanded child tax credit, the Washington commentariat sees solid macroeconomy data and wonders why so many polls show an electorate enraged at Biden and Democrats — and it’s certainly true that right-wing media has successfully duped a chunk of voters into not believing some basic economic realities.

But the real story here is far more profound than the Fox News Effect, the lingering pandemic, and inflation malaise.

It’s full-scale Jokerfication.

Americans’ lived experiences with the climate crisis and with skyrocketing costs for health care, housing, energy, higher education, and retirement have made two things crystal clear:

1) Though corporate media and the Democratic operatives are quick to boast about job numbers, the economy has been so rigged by regressive tax loopholes, trade deals, deregulation, and corporate subsidies that even with good macro data, many Americans are getting pulverized. Indeed, inflation-adjusted wages are declining, most people are still getting crushed by the costs of basic necessities, and the threat of climate ecocide is growing.

2) Politicians may say lots of encouraging stuff on television and Twitter feeds, but they are not doing what’s necessary to improve things for anyone other than corporate and billionaire donors — whose profits and net worths are skyrocketing.

You can see how these realizations are Joker-pilling the country by looking closely at three emblematic data points.

There is the poll showing Democrats losing their edge among voters who were cut off from the child tax credit. For a while, goodwill from this policy was actually improving Democrats’ standing among Trump voters. Now, they may even be seeing former beneficiaries of the tax credit turning against them.

There are surveys showing Biden’s plummeting numbers among core Democratic constituencies that feel betrayed by his policies and actions.

And now there are polls showing his numbers have so disintegrated among younger voters that he is below where even Trump was among that age group, which has seen a rise in deaths of despair.

This latter collapse is the most telling of all — as is the response to it.

The Democratic establishment is evincing a glib attitude, exemplified by a party guru’s much-touted Politico piece scoffing at young people — an update on Biden himself eye-rolling millennials’ struggles.

The Washington press corps is concurrently stumbling around in a bewildered haze, doing their best Steve Buscemi impressions. Vox’s Zack Beauchamp this week declared that “Biden's collapse with young voters is kind of mysterious” — and then quickly made clear he had zero interest in hearing any answers.

Beauchamp was one-upped by former Voxsplainer and current professional troll Matt Ygelsias, who theorized that young people are just moving away from Biden because they are “less settled in their political commitments,” pointing to a chart showing that Democrats lost ground among young voters in 2010. But Obama was never underwater with those voters like Biden is now.

CNN’s reliably out of touch pundit Chris Cillizza chimed in by saying “you really wouldn't expect” such a precipitous decline in support among the kids.

The derision, confusion, and shock among Washington’s Gang Of 500 illustrates the larger let-them-eat-cake attitude fueling the mass disillusionment not only with politicians, but with the entire media and political class.

Millions of young people face “almost no chance of being able to afford a house,” can’t afford the cost of having children and are being hammered by college debt — leading the vast majority of them to tell pollsters that the economy is bad.

This same generation saw a United Nations climate report just tell them that they are “firmly on track toward an unlivable world” — and then days later saw Biden plow forward with more drilling.

In short, millenials are quite literally “the unluckiest generation in history” — and every day, they see the president and an ancient political leadership lock their generation out of power, actively worsening problems that the gerontocracy won’t even be around to experience.

With that kind of lived experience, is it really surprising or a “mystery” why young people are so mad?

They may not be Arthur Fleck dancing down stairways to Gary Glitter’s anthem, but the Gotham City vibe of desperation, anguish, and rage is real — and it’s not hard to understand. It is being engineered by deliberate choices by Washington and the media.


There Is No Punchline
Heading into the midterm elections, both corporate media and the Republican Party see their self-interest in helping Democrats completely Jokerfy the entire country into believing absolutely nothing can be done — other than burn everything to the ground.

The former is lately focused on flogging the idea that inflation isn’t about what it’s actually about: corporations using monopoly power to jack up prices, lobbyist-written trade policies that offshored supply chains, pandemic-related production shortages, and huge pay increases for the yacht set. Instead, media millionaires paid by billionaires are promoting all nihilism all the time, asking viewers to believe inflation is mostly the result of the government trying to temporarily help poor people survive COVID.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are promising nothing but the business end of a legislative flamethrower.

The House GOP is proposing budget cuts that would light Medicare and Medicaid on fire. Medicare fraud millionaire Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) — the leader of Senate Republicans’ 2022 campaign — is proposing to scorch the poor with tax increases. And private equity mogul Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — the alleged “moderate” who made his personal car-elevator fortune off retirees’ savings — suggested that rather than raising taxes on his fellow millionaires to better fund the safety net, America should consider torching retirement benefits in a country where 4 in 10 people have less than $25,000 in retirement savings.

And so here we are, arriving at Jokerfied America — a conflagration that Franklin Roosevelt feared, where more and more people don’t believe in democratic government at all.

If this inferno feels familiar, that’s because it is. It was not long ago that Obama’s Wall Street fealty, Hillary Clinton’s “it will never, ever happen” campaign, and the Democratic establishment’s corruption helped Republican nihilists so disenchant voters that the country elected an actual edgelord Joker to the presidency.

That could have been temporary — and for an instant, it seemed like it might be when Schumer acknowledged mistakes that were made during Obama’s presidency. But it now looks like the 2020 election may end up being merely a momentary rest stop on a road trip hurtling toward 2022 and beyond.

That journey doesn’t mean all is lost or that nothing good is on the horizon. In fact, the accelerated disillusionment with politicians and electoralism may end up prompting a different, more direct kind of constructive politics outside the two-party system.

For example, it is no coincidence that as young people and workers lose faith in the political system, America has experienced an upsurge of labor organizing campaigns, and the population’s approval of unions has hit record highs. The same trend may happen with the climate movement and ballot activism for economic causes that actually help workers. In Joker America, more and more people now know that there’s no Bruce Wayne oligarch with a Batman suit coming to save us, and so they are taking collective action on their own — which is good news and long overdue.

But those positive developments will compete for attention, resources, and power with the noxious effects of the Joker pill — bigotry, xenophobia, self-centric greed, misinformation, right-wing vigilantism, and incitements to violence.

With Donald Trump as its clown face, the MAGA movement is already catalyzing those toxins with its grievance politics. The right is channeling mass disaffection into ever-more-malicious culture wars that demonize minorities, the LGBTQ community, socialists, unionists, academics, protesters, and anyone else who can be other-ized and scapegoated. And on economics, the right now sees Democrats becoming an affluent party as a new opportunity for the old Reagan trick — call it “worker-washing” — that launders oligarchs’ reactionary agenda with populist blue-collar lingo and jeremiads against “woke capital.”

Those right-wing tactics are so cynical they almost seem like a gag. But as Joker reminds us, there is no punchline. In a country where “I don't believe in anything” is fast becoming the zeitgeist, the scheme is likely to work — unless those currently in power start delivering for the working class.


thack45
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 08:50 am
@edgarblythe,
Thanks Edgar. For anyone interested in the inline links from the author, here is the same piece
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 09:08 am
First of all...I consider myself to be to the LEFT of Bernie Sanders...and I love the guy and his hopes for this country and world.

BUT...the Bernie people helped put Trump in office presidential election before last...

...and seem intent on putting him back in office next presidential election.

Makes me hope there is a Hell...

...and that there is a special place there for them.
izzythepush
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 09:10 am
@Frank Apisa,
On another forum someone compared Jesus to Sanders.

"He's alright, I actually quite like him, but his followers are a ******* nightmare."
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 10:01 am
These next three years I predict will be the end of the road.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 10:05 am
The Superpredator Myth Did a Lot of Damage. Courts Are Beginning to See the Light.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/20/opinion/sunday/prison-sentencing-parole-justice.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Guest%20Essays

April 20, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
Credit...Jamiel Law

By James Forman Jr. and Kayla Vinson

Mr. Forman is the faculty director of Yale’s Law and Racial Justice Center, where Ms. Vinson is the executive director.

Over the past decade, many Americans have come to agree that we lock up too many people, for too long, in miserable conditions. But despite a growing political movement against prisons, imprisonment rates remain stubbornly high, and the United States is still the world leader in incarceration. To meaningfully shrink the prison system will require states to do something few have wanted to do: reduce some of the extremely long sentences imposed in the 1990s.

Revisiting lengthy sentences, especially for people who committed acts of violence, has always been considered one of the third rails of criminal justice reform. But two recent developments in Connecticut — one from the State Supreme Court, the other from the Board of Pardons and Paroles — offer important examples of state officials overcoming this reluctance.

In January the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the 60-year sentence imposed on Keith Belcher, a Black teenager, for sexual assault and armed robbery committed when he was 14. Mr. Belcher was sentenced in 1997, at the height of the superpredator panic. The brainchild of a political science professor, John J. DiIulio Jr., the superpredator theory argued that America in the 1990s faced an unrivaled new crime threat: a large and growing generation of unusually violent teenagers. Tapping into the country’s long history of racialized fear, he argued that these superpredators would disproportionately be Black boys.

His claim quickly found a ready audience. The media, police and politicians lapped it up. Unfortunately for Mr. Belcher, so did Judge Michael Hartmere, who said this at Mr. Belcher’s sentencing hearing:

Professor DiIulio of Princeton University has coined the term “superpredator,” which refers to a group of radically impulsive, brutally remorseless youngsters who assault, rape, rob and burglarize. Mr. Belcher, you are a charter member of that group. You have no fears, from your conduct, of the pains of imprisonment, nor do you suffer from the pangs of conscience.

Judge Hartmere then imposed a sentence that could have kept Mr. Belcher incarcerated until his mid-70s. This is where the story might have ended, as it too often does. The convicted person goes to a prison cell, appeals and loses. The system moves on.

But Mr. Belcher got lucky. Because the trial judge explicitly cited a theory that had been proved wrong (in 2001, Professor DiIulio acknowledged as much), Mr. Belcher’s court-appointed attorneys, Natalie Olmstead and Alexandra Harrington, challenged the sentence on the grounds that it was based on “materially false information.” What could be more false, they asked, than a theory widely disavowed, including by its own author?

The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed and, to its credit, addressed the racist underpinnings of the superpredator theory. The court pointed out that “at the time that adolescence was being recognized as a distinct developmental stage for white children, many Black children remained enslaved and were viewed as subhuman.” Racism’s logic was that Black children didn’t need to be protected; they needed to be worked, disciplined and punished. Mr. Belcher’s 60-year sentence, the court concluded, could be understood only in the context of that history and its long afterlife.

The superpredator myth infected our legal system even when judges didn’t invoke it openly. Kristin Henning, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of “The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth,” told us: “Looking back to cases from the 1990s, you won’t see too many judges use the word ‘superpredator,’ but it was definitely in the air. You can see it in the juvenile transfer laws that allowed young people to be tried as adults and in the long sentences many teenagers got. They all stem from that same idea that Black children must be feared and controlled. The Belcher opinion rejects that way of thinking.”

As extreme as Mr. Belcher’s punishment was, it fits into a larger pattern: Excessively long sentences are pervasive in the American criminal justice system. In 2015 one in six prisoners in state prisons — more than in any other country — had been incarcerated for at least 10 years. In 2020 the Sentencing Project reported that more than 200,000 U.S. prisoners were serving life sentences, exceeding the entire prison population of 1970. Almost half of those lifers were Black. What are the pathways to relief in those cases?

In a few jurisdictions, prosecutors can review excessive sentences; in some others, judges can. But for most prisoners, the only source of relief is the state parole board.


That’s why it’s notable that even as the Belcher decision repudiated an ill-founded, punitive approach to teenage crime, Connecticut’s parole board adopted a humane alternative. The board considered the emerging brain science research showing that teenagers and young adults often lack the ability to weigh the long-term consequences of their actions yet are capable of change with age. In December 2021 and January 2022, the board commuted the sentences of 12 men who had committed crimes before they turned 25.

The first one to get relief was Michael Cox, a Black man serving a 75-year sentence for his role in two murders, aiding and abetting a manslaughter and an assault with a firearm that occurred when he was 19 years old. The teenage Mr. Cox was impulsive and quick to resort to violence. The 49-year-old Mr. Cox, appearing before the parole board, was a man eager to be involved in anti-violence work with young people after leaving prison.

What happened in the intervening decades? Mr. Cox signed up for every rehabilitative program he could find, earned his high school diploma and college credits, worked as a certified nurse assistant taking care of other incarcerated people and mentored younger men in his prison.

Like Mr. Cox, the 11 other men to receive commutations committed violent crimes as teenagers or young adults; most were in for murder. Like Mr. Cox, most had spent more years behind bars than they had lived before their crime. And like Mr. Cox, most had grasped at whatever rehabilitative or educational opportunities came their way.

Why are such commutations so rare? While some state legislatures constrained or eliminated parole in the 1990s, in most states the parole board still has enormous power to offer second chances to incarcerated people. But most parole boards — including for many years, Connecticut’s — have refused to do so. As the criminal justice scholars Kevin R. Reitz and Edward E. Rhine note, parole board members are risk-averse political appointees with little job security. “Members or entire boards,” they write, “have been forced to resign after a single high-profile crime committed by a released prisoner.” Typically, parole boards are most hostile toward those who have committed crimes of violence, often refusing to consider anything other than the offense itself during rote hearings that morph into decades of denials.

That’s why it matters so much that the Connecticut parole board has begun to chart a new course. Since more than 50 percent of people in state prison are serving sentences for violent crimes, we will never end the scourge of mass incarceration if we write off this group. Since decades of research have proved that older people are rarely violent, extremely long sentences can almost never be justified on public safety grounds. And since some incarcerated people have found ways to change and thrive in conditions few of us could tolerate, the system should have pathways to recognize their efforts.

The decisions of Connecticut’s Supreme Court and its Board of Pardons and Paroles offer hope to a generation locked up during the hyperpunitive 1990s. They remind us that nobody should be sentenced to death, whether by execution or death in prison. If we are ever to undo the ravages of mass incarceration, we will need many more decisions like them.
0 Replies
 
thack45
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 10:13 am
@edgarblythe,
edgarblythe wrote:

These next three years I predict will be the end of the road.

Because of the Bernie people?
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 10:15 am
Super predator is a frightening myth that too many still push forward.
edgarblythe
 
  3  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 11:02 am
@thack45,
thack45 wrote:

edgarblythe wrote:

These next three years I predict will be the end of the road.

Because of the Bernie people?

In spite of the Bernie people.
0 Replies
 
bobsal u1553115
 
  2  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 11:39 am
@edgarblythe,
It's another brick in the wall of the new plantation system.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 02:06 pm
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

On another forum someone compared Jesus to Sanders.

"He's alright, I actually quite like him, but his followers are a ******* nightmare."


Great quote, Izzy. And I sorta feel that way about both Sanders and Jesus.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 03:01 pm
@Frank Apisa,
At least not ALL the followers of Jesus!

0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  -1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:17 pm
One of my favorite things I felt in common with other Sanders advocates was that we all wanted the goddamn government to help people less fortunate than us and stop giving breaks to millionaires and billionaires. We hated politicians who sold votes.

We all wanted *every* politician to be held to account for their words, their actions, and their votes.

Many of us were willing to talk to a wide variety of people from different backgrounds to try to build bridges because Republican or Democrat or Independent— we all want a decent life for our families.

We all hated people who lied about their records and their motives.

Still my favorite people.❤️❤️

I think, actually, that was Jesus’ gig—but, it went wrong somewhere. (If you believe in that…)
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:19 pm
@Lash,
For shame.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:21 pm

0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  -3  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:32 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Yeah. Christians really slimed their Jesus with hate for their fellow man.

The greatest shame of mankind.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:39 pm
@Lash,
tsk tsk tsk.
Lash
 
  -3  
Wed 20 Apr, 2022 06:42 pm
@bobsal u1553115,
Right! Horrifying racist, sexist, homophobic, self-righteous closeted hypocrites!!

If Jesus did live, what a soul-crushing disappointment his followers have turned out to be.
0 Replies
 
 

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