Friday, April 1, 2011

Debt More Dire than Anyone Thinks

By Bill Wilson

Adapted from a letter to the U.S. Senate.
The nation is risking a fiscal calamity that threatens a catastrophic default on the $14.2 trillion national debt and the collapse of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If something is not done to bring the nation’s fiscal house into order, soon the debt will become too large to even refinance, let alone be repaid.

That is why Americans for Limited Government strongly endorses the Senate Republican Balanced Budget Amendment and urges all members of the Senate to fight for its immediate adoption. Soon the gross national debt will become larger than the entire economy, and by 2021, the Office of Management and Budget projects it will soar to over $25 trillion.
Interest payments alone threaten to destabilize the nation’s finances very soon. In 2010, the Treasury paid a total of $413 billion in interest on the debt, including $216 billion to the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. The total interest is a real obligation that requires real borrowing to meet, and cannot be readily discounted as revenue to the entitlement programs when it is in fact a liability to taxpayers.

The total interest owed on the debt will actually be over $1.2 trillion in 2021. And since the government never anticipates the debt being paid down, the number will easily grow to over $2.4 trillion by 2030. Moody’s has warned that when interest owed on the debt reaches 18 to 20 percent of revenue, the nation’s gold-plated Triple-A credit rating will be downgraded. The trouble is that the Office of Management and Budget projects total interest owed for 2011 to be $430.4 billion.  By that measure, total interest is already 19.79 percent of the projected $2.174 trillion of revenue. That means time has already run out.

Currently, the $14.2 trillion national debt already stands at 95.5 percent of the nation’s $14.8 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While it is unclear at what percentage of debt-to-GDP that the debt will become too large to refinance, the warning signs are already there that we cannot even meet our current obligations honestly.

Get full story here.

Nuclear Meltdown

Permalink here.

And the beat-down goes on

By Paul Driessen

Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his policies would cause electricity rates to “skyrocket” and “bankrupt” any company trying to build a coal-fired generating plant. This is one promise he and his ├╝ber-regulators are keeping.

President Obama energetically promotes wind and solar projects that require millions of acres of land and billions of dollars in subsidies, to generate expensive, intermittent electricity and create jobs that cost taxpayers upwards of $220,000 apiece — most of them in China.
His Interior Department is locking up more coal and petroleum prospects, via “wild lands” and other designations, and dragging its feet on issuing leases and drilling permits. Meanwhile, his Environmental Protection Agency is challenging shale gas drilling and fracking, and imposing draconian carbon dioxide emission rules, now that Congress and voters have rejected cap-tax-and-trade. That’s for starters.

The beat-down of hydrocarbon energy goes on. Oil, gas and coal provide 85 percent of the energy that keeps America humming, but the administration is doing all it can to take it out of our mix. American voters, consumers and workers may want more drilling, mining and use of hydrocarbons, to get the economy going again. But the administration has a different agenda.
Get full story here.

Video: Libyan opposition offers ceasefire Al Jazeera

Potential GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, in Palm Beach, elaborates on Muslim remarks

Herman Cain signing copies of his book "They Think You're Stupid" at the Beach Club in Palm Beach

PALM BEACH — While a “Who’s Afraid of Islamic Law?” conference was going on about 75 miles south at the University of Miami today, potential Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain defended his recent statement in Iowa that he wouldn’t appoint Muslims to cabinet posts because of his concerns about Islamic sharia law.

“I have this bad habit of telling the truth and speaking my mind. Political correctness isn’t exactly on my agenda,” said Cain. The conservative businessman and former radio host, who has opened a presidential exploratory committee, spoke to a luncheon audience of about 50 at the Beach Club.

“I want people in my administration that are 100 percent dedicated to the constitution of the United States of America, not sharia law,” Cain said of his Iowa remark, which he said came in response to a reporter’s question.

“We have a First Amendment. They (Muslims) have every right to practice their religion, freely. Don’t try to force it on us and the rest of us and don’t bring sharia law into American courts. Its real simple — American law in American courts. That’s the way it ought to be.”

In a brief interview afterward, Cain was asked if he believes a Muslim can be loyal to the constitution.
“They could be,” Cain said. “But I haven’t done any surveys to find out how many Muslims are loyal to the constitution. But I don’t know any Muslims who will subvert sharia law for our laws. That’s the problem I have. And I don’t have time to do the research to find out. I’d have a country to run.”

by George Bennett

Obama Official: GOP Budget Would Kill 70,000 Kids

Posted By Pat Dollard.

Fox News:
House Republicans offered delayed outrage to President Obama’s point man on U.S. development and humanitarian missions, who testified before Congress this week that a budget plan House Republicans passed last month would lead to 70,000 kids dying.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah told the House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee on Wednesday that the budget plan, which would cut $61 billion in federal spending, would lead to the deaths of 30,000 kids in a malaria control program that would have to be scaled back, 24,000 from a lack of immunizations and 16,000 from a lack of skilled attendants at birth.

“There’s a way to do this that does not have to cost lives and we’re very focused and very much want to work with the committee to identify a path forward that can allow us to be effective at doing so,” he said.

Shah is seeking $59.5 billion in funding for his agency, up 22 percent, or $10.7 billion, from the current level.
None of the Republicans, who control the committee, challenged what Shah called a “conservative estimate.” The subject quickly changed to agricultural production in Afghanistan and food security in Guatemala.

But subcommittee member Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., sent a statement to Thursday saying, “Nearly every administration witness appearing before the Appropriations Committee has put forward nightmare scenarios and dire numbers to argue why we should not be reducing spending in any program.

“Republicans won’t be drawn into a debate over what might happen based on speculation and hype,” he said. “We understand that if we don’t rein in these trillion-dollar-plus deficits, programs like this one may have to be eliminated entirely in the near future.”

Lewis noted that the GOP plan reduced the overall USAID account but left it entirely up to the administration on how to find the savings.

“I have faith that the administration will find a way to reduce spending without leading to the deaths of children,” he said.

Shah’s comments contained echoes of former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson’s explosive charge two years ago that the Republicans’ idea of health care was wanting sick people to “die quickly.” Grayson lost his Florida seat in November’s midterm elections.

President Obama and Senate Democrats, who want to cut significantly less federal spending, have argued that the House GOP budget plan to cut $61 billion will force a government shutdown in one week if the two sides can’t reach a compromise.

Republicans have also offered their share of frightening futuristic scenarios should its $61 billion in proposed cuts — or 3.7 percent of the year’s projected $1.6 trillion deficit — not pass Congress, including questioning whether military members will be left on the battlefield without pay or the country will default like Greece.
Shah isn’t the first Democrat to ratchet up the rhetoric in a budget battle. Some have suggested that all manner of health and safety issues, including tsunami warning centers and foster care programs, will go unmanned.
Earlier this month, Vice President Biden likened the GOP budget plan to rape victims being blamed for rape.

“It’s amazing how these Republicans, the right wing of this party — whose philosophy threw us into this godawful hole we’re in, gave us the tremendous deficit we’ve inherited — that they’re now using the very economic condition they have created to blame the victim — whether it’s organized labor or ordinary middle-class working men and women,” he told a lavish Philadelphia fundraising luncheon that raised $400,000 for Democratic congressional campaigns.

Report: Md. Hispanic Population Far Exceeded Estimates

According to newly released census data, Americans are fleeing the Great Plains for sunnier climes in record numbers, the decades-long trend only accelerating in the 21st century.

The data, as mapped by the site New Geography, shows that North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas all had more counties with total population decreases than increases between 2000 and 2010. Meanwhile, southern California, southern Nevada–especially the Las Vegas area–Arizona, Florida, and eastern Texas all saw big population gains.

The metro areas that grew the fastest were all in the west or south. In descending order, they were: Las Vegas, Nevada; Raleigh, N.C.; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Riverside, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Houston, Texas; and San Antonio, Texas.

The data also offer information about changes in America’s racial makeup. Many of the counties that saw the largest increases in their Hispanic populations were in traditional Hispanic strongholds, including southern California, Arizona, and south Florida. But others were more surprising: Counties in eastern Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma all saw an influx of Hispanics, reflecting a trend over the last decade in which many recent Latino immigrants have spread beyond urban centers like Los Angeles and Phoenix into more rural parts of the country.
America’s African-America population, too, saw changes. In a reverse of the Great Migration of the 1920s-50s, many younger and more educated blacks moved out of the declining industrial centers of midwestern states like Michigan and Illinois and back to the south, including areas of Florida, Georgia, and even Mississippi. Atlanta replaced Chicago as the metro area with the largest number of blacks, after New York. Today, 57 percent of black Americans live in the south — the highest percentage since 1960.

Posted by Shera Crossan

Britain in talks with 10 more Gaddafi aides

Inner circle turn their backs on besieged Libyan dictator
Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s leading henchmen may be beginning to desert his embattled regime
By Cahal Milmo, Oliver Wright and Donald Macintyre
The London Independent

The British Government said it was in urgent talks with up to another 10 senior figures in Colonel Gaddafi’s creaking regime about possible defection following the dramatic arrival in Britain of the Libyan dictator’s chief henchman for much of his 40 years in power.

As former foreign minister Moussa Koussa was reported to be “talking voluntarily” to British officials yesterday, the Libyan regime was desperately struggling to limit the damage of the stunning desertion, suggesting he was exhausted and suffering from mental problems.

But its capacity to stop the domino effect appeared to be limited. The Independent understands that British officials are already in contact with up to 10 leading Libyan officials about following Mr Koussa’s lead and deserting Gaddafi. As Libyan diplomats at the United Nations said they expected further defections and reports emerged that a senior figure in the country’s London embassy had changed sides, David Cameron said others should now “come to their senses”. Meanwhile, speculation was rife in Tripoli that a series of defections was imminent. And it was reinforced by the confirmation that Ali Abdussalam Treki, a top Libyan official who had also served as Foreign Minister and UN ambassador, had quit over the “spilling of blood” by government forces.

But despite official denials, unverified rumours circulating in Tripoli, fuelled by an Al Jazeera report, focused most closely on Abuzed Omar Durda, head of the external intelligence service, Mohammed Zwei, the Secretary of the General People’s Congress, and Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulati Al Obeidi, who accompanied Moussa Koussa at least as far as Tunis on the first leg of what turned out to be the Foreign Minister’s flight to the UK. A fourth official, the urbane Shokri Ghanem, Oil minister, denied he had fled and told Reuters he was in his office in Tripoli.

Rebels claimed that Mr Durda had been sent to “liquidate” Mr Koussa but instead joined a group of Libyan officials at Tunisia’s Djerba airport who were planning to defect.

There had been speculation last month from Washington that Abdullah Senussi, a top security adviser and brother-in-law of Colonel Gaddafi’s, could have been looking for an exit route from the crisis, either for the country or for himself personally. But there was no evidence last night that he had deserted, or intended to do so.

It is also understood that British officials have spoken to Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, who visited London recently. The contact was part of the concerted attempt by the Foreign Office to reach out to members of the Gaddafi regime to encourage them to defect or at least disassociate themselves from the regime.

Last night, British government sources played down the significance of the contact with Mr Ismail but confirmed that there were ongoing discussions with a number of Libyan contacts – which were built up around the time of Britain’s rapprochement with Libya – in an attempt to build on Moussa Koussa’s defection. “This is very much part of business as usual,” one source said.

The defection of Mr Koussa, who flew into Farnborough airport in Hampshire aboard a private jet from Tunisia on Wednesday night, was seized upon by David Cameron as evidence that the Tripoli regime was crumbling.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Cameron said: “The decision by the former Libyan minister to come to London to resign his position is a decision by someone at the very top. It tells a compelling story of the desperation and the fear right at the very top of the crumbling and rotten Gaddafi regime.”

But while British officials were eager to capitalise on the strategic significance of the 62-year-old former Libyan spy chief’s vow that he was “no longer willing” to represent Gaddafi on the international stage, it was made clear his arrival will also raise uncomfortable questions about atrocities including the Lockerbie bombing, which happened when he was a senior figure in Libya’s foreign intelligence service.

Scottish prosecutors told the Foreign Office they want to interview Mr Koussa in relation to the destruction of Pan Am flight 103 with the loss of 270 lives. He could also face questioning about the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in 1984.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said his Libyan counterpart had not been offered immunity against prosecution in return for his defection. But privately, Downing Street sources suggested Mr Koussa was more likely to be treated as a witness. It is believed he is now being held at Farnham Castle in Surrey, a conference centre, wedding venue and tourist attraction.

Educated in the US and a fluent English speaker, Mr Koussa played a key role in the rapprochement between Libya and the West. The spy chief negotiated a multibillion-pound compensation package for the victims of Lockerbie and other atrocities as well as ending its “weapons of mass destruction” programme. He led efforts to secure the release of the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

The priority for the coming days will be to debrief Mr Koussa on the state of the Gaddafi regime, in particular what military capabilities it still possesses and the identification of other defectors, possibly with his co-operation as an intermediary.

Amid concerns about Mr Koussa’s mental state, officials have been careful to surround him with familiar figures, including the ambassador to Tripoli, Richard Northern, who is now back in Britain following the closure of the British embassy. Libyan opposition figures made clear they have little sympathy for the high-profile refugee. Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the Libyan rebel government, said Mr Koussa was implicated in the assassination of opposition figures in exile and brutal internal repression.

He said: “This guy has so much blood on his hands. There are documented killings, torturing. There’s documentation of what Moussa Koussa has done. We want him tried by Libyan people.”

The response in Tripoli, meanwhile, did not initially suggest much knowledge of the factors leading to Mr Koussa’s exit. Moussa Ibrahim, the regime’s spokesman, told reporters that the Foreign Minister had had health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure, and that he had been given permission to leave the country for medical treatment. He said later he had been expected to have political discussions while in Tunisia but had not mentioned going to the UK. Nor had he been in touch with officials in Tripoli since his departure. “We understand that he has resigned from his position,” he said.

Meanwhile, buoyed by news of covert US support on the ground, rebels began massing on the edge of Brega, preparing for a counter-attack on the town they lost on Wednesday. The rebels had withdrawn rapidly after coming under rocket fire from Gaddafi’s forces.

The other defectors – and those who may follow
Defected: Mustafa Mohamed Abud al-Jeleil
Libya’s former justice minister resigned on 21 February over the regime’s “excessive use of violence against protesters”. He later alleged Colonel Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing.

Defected: Ali Abussalam Treki
The senior Libyan politician reportedly defected yesterday after decades of service to Gaddafi’s regime, including stints as foreign minister and United Nations representative.

May be next: Adbdullah Senussi
The whereabouts of Colonel Gaddafi’s brother-in-law – who is also his top security adviser – were unknown yesterday, leading to speculation that he could have joined the ranks of defectors.

May be next: Shukri Ghanem
Libyan opposition television reported that Libya’s Oil Minister was one of four officials waiting at Tunisia’s Djerba airport on Wednesday in the hope of joining Moussa Koussa in London.

May be next: Abuzed Omar Durda
On hearing of Moussa Koussa’s defection Gaddafi ordered the head of Tripoli’s foreign security agency, Mr Durda, to “liquidate” him, according to sources. Mr Durda was later reported to be one of the officials at Djerba airport.

Others who may follow: Mohammed Zwei (Secretary of People’s Congress), Abdulati Al Obeidi (Deputy Foreign Minister), Abdel Fattah Younes al-Abidi (Interior Minister) and former UN ambassador Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham.

Supreme Court revokes $14million awarded to innocent man who spent 18 years in prison.

by Slaus
The Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out a $14 million jury award in favor of a former death row inmate who was freed after prosecutorial misconduct came to light.
The 5-to-4 decision divided along the court’s ideological fault line and prompted the first dissent read from the bench this term, from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The former inmate, John Thompson, had sued Harry F. Connick, a former district attorney in New Orleans, saying his office had not trained prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. Prosecutors in the office had failed to give Mr. Thompson’s lawyers a report showing that blood at a crime scene was not his.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said that only a pattern of misconduct would warrant holding Mr. Connick accountable for what happened on his watch.
Mr. Thompson spent 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row. “I was delivered an execution warrant in my cell seven times,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. “I was only weeks from being executed when my lawyers got the killing stopped.”
The blood evidence would have proved Mr. Thompson innocent of a 1984 armed robbery. Soon after he was convicted on that charge, prosecutors tried him for an unrelated murder. After the failure to turn over the blood evidence came to light in 1999, prosecutors dismissed the armed robbery charges. A state appeals court later reversed the murder conviction, reasoning that Mr. Thompson’s armed robbery conviction had dissuaded him from testifying in his own defense in the murder case. In 2003, Mr. Thompson was retried for the murder and found not guilty.
“The role of a prosecutor,” Justice Thomas wrote, “is to see that justice is done.”
“By their own admission,” he continued, “the prosecutors who tried Thompson’s armed robbery case failed to carry out this responsibility. But the only issue before us is whether Connick, as the policy maker for the district attorney’s office, was deliberately indifferent to the need to train the attorneys under his authority.”
The answer to that question was no, Justice Thomas wrote, given what he said was an absence of proof concerning a pattern of misconduct.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined Justice Thomas’s opinion.
Justice Scalia, in a concurrence joined by Justice Alito, said the misconduct in the case was the work of a single “miscreant prosecutor,” Gerry Deegan, who suppressed evidence “he believed to be exculpatory, in an effort to railroad Thompson.” No amount of training, Justice Scalia wrote, would have countered such willful wrongdoing.
In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg wrote that “no fewer than five prosecutors” were complicit in a violation of Mr. Thompson’s constitutional rights. “They kept from him, year upon year, evidence vital to his defense.”
The prosecutors’ conduct, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “was a foreseeable consequence of lax training.” Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr., the current district attorney in New Orleans, expressed relief over not having to pay a judgment that with interest was approaching $20 million, more than his office’s annual budget. He said his office “should not be held financially responsible for the intentional, unethical and illegal acts of a rogue prosecutor.”
Mr. Thompson expressed frustration about the Supreme Court’s ruling in his case, Connick v. Thompson, No. 09-571.
“If I’d spilled hot coffee on myself, I could have sued the person who served me the coffee,” he said. “But I can’t sue the prosecutors who nearly murdered me.” [source]
At this point, considering I already spent 18yrs in prison for a crime I didn’t commit, AND was gonna be put to death for it… I’d just go find that prosecutor and put a bullet all up IN his azz. Then walk back into prison like, fuggit.

Once again…. the justice systems fails the very people it is supposed to protect.

Oil Prices Soar to Highest Price Since 2008 on Obama’s Libya War … Up 100% Under Obama

Welcome to Obama’s QUAGMIRE …

It is amateur hour in the White House and “We the People” are feeling the brunt of the inexperience. Obama truly is the worst President ever. 

Thanks to Barack Obama’s “Kinetic Military Operation” WAR in Libya oil prices have climbed to their highest level since 2008. Obama claimed that the military operation in Libya would last days not weeks. The community organizer and “Ditherer” in Chief could never have been so wrong. Who but an inexperienced and completed over-matched individual could ever have thought that a any military action would have ended so quickly.
Instead of a quick outcome and slam dunk in Libya as stated by Obama, fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi pushed back rebels from key areas in eastern Libya and have dealt the rebels a severe setback. Today, a spokesman for the Libyan leader said that Gaddafi will stay in Libya “until the end”.  The result … oil prices rose to a 30 month high and the pain at the gas pumps will be felt by American workers trying to get to work. More ‘Hope & Change’ from Obama … rising gas prices.

Battles between Gadhafi’s troops and rebels have seesawed back and forth in Libyan ports and towns since mid-February, with the price of oil rising more than $20 a barrel since then. Energy consultants Cameron Hanover said traders are beginning to view the Libya uprising as a standoff for now. ‘Without control of the air, Gadhafi’s troops have been unable to hammer home their gains. And, without strong and well-trained ground forces, the rebels seem incapable of holding onto their gains. Optimism that Libyan oil might return to the market, seen earlier this week, was dashed.”
Libya’s oil exports, which went mainly to Europe, are shut down. The rebels have said they plan to start shipping oil again, although how soon that could happen is unclear.
As per ABC News, the weekly national average gas price showed the highest price ever during the month of March and the seventh consecutive increase this week,
Under President Barack Obama, oil prices have doubled and are up 100%. THANKS BARACK. Not only has this President been a complete incompetent failure in creating a $787  billion stimulus plan that created no jobs, added a ridiculous amount to the federal debt with Obamacare and has hampered job creation by an over-reaching and over-regulative government … the “Not Ready for Prime Time” President has not got the US into a hornet’s nest in Libya as oil prices skyrocket.
According to the GasBuddy gasoline price tracking web site, the price of a gallon of regular gas was around $1.79 when Mr. Obama took office. Today the national average is $3.58. The lowest average price in the continental United States is $3.31 in Tulsa Oklahoma, the highest is $4.14 in Santa Barbara, CA.
Who would ever have thought that during the 2008 Democrat primaries in the run up to the 2008 Presidential election that Joe Biden would have been the sage of sages and stated the following regarding the rank amateur Barack Obama. Watch VIDEO.

Biden said that Obama was not ready for the job and the Presidency is not one that lends itself to on the job training. Biden’s reply, “I stand by that statement”. Looks like Joe was 100% correct. However, as we are reminded by the Gateway Pundit Jim Hoft, Peggy was wrong. Obama was not going to pay for our gas, he doubled it instead. I wonder what peggy has to say for herself today? Sadly, the Kool-Aide drinking Obamaite would blame it still on George W. Bush.

Libya's Rag-Tag Rebels Badly Need Training: US

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday Libya's rag-tag rebels needed training more than guns in their battle against Moamer Kadhafi's army but that other nations should do the job. Facing lawmakers concerned that armed intervention in Libya could end in stalemate, Gates and top military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said a NATO-led air campaign had damaged Kadhafi's forces but not yet brought them to a breaking point.

With the outgunned opposition in retreat, the United States and its allies were now looking at how to assist the makeshift force, with weapons or other help, Gates said.


Tea Party becoming albatross for GOP?

In case you haven’t noticed, the Tea Party movement pretty much has the Republican establishment exactly where it wants it.

And in case you haven’t noticed, the Tea Party movement pretty much has the Republican establishment exactly where the Democrats want it, too.

As the American public takes an increasingly negative view of the Tea Party (HERE), Democrats are becoming ever more eager to paint the GOP as a captive of the Tea Party. And a captive it is.

Yes, Republicans benefitted from the Tea Party insurgence in last year’s midterm elections. But the relatively moderate GOPers (if you can actually call them that) now live in mortal fear of facing primary challenges if they dare defy the Tea Party extremists on matters of spending cuts or social issues. The GOP regulars are, in effect, captives.

Witness the SQUIRMING by House Speaker John Boehner in the face of possible Tea Party wrath if he dares make any deal with the demon Dems on the budget.

And witness the INSTRUCTIONS from Sen. Chuck Schumer to his Democratic colleagues the other day to portray Boehner and the Republicans as painted into a box by the Tea Party.

Linn Washington: Black leadership ignores racist mass incarceration

Written by Linn Washington Jr.

Herman Garner doesn’t dispute the drug charge that slammed him in prison for nine years.

Garner does dispute the damning circumstance that doing the time for his crime still leaves him penalized despite his being free from the penal system.

Garner carries the former felon stain, a status that slams employment doors shut in his face despite his having a MBA degree and two years of law school.

“I’ve applied for jobs at thousands of places in person and on the internet but I’m unable to get a job,” said Garner, a Cleveland, Ohio resident who recently published a book about his prison/life experiences entitled “Wavering Between Extremes.”

Last Friday Garner joined hundreds of people attending a day-long conference at Princeton University entitled “Imprisonment of a Race” that featured presentations by scholars and experts on the devastating impact of mass incarceration in America.

America imprisons more people per capita than any country on earth — accounting for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners despite having just five percent of the world’s population.

More than 60 percent of the two-million-plus people in American prisons are racial and ethnic minorities.
“The U.S. imprisons more than South Africa did under Apartheid. A nation that promotes democracy has a racial caste in its prisons. We must break that caste system,” said the special guest speaker at the “Imprisonment” conference, Pa. death row journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who telephoned from prison.

Racism is written all over the economically/socially debilitating practice of mass incarceration.

African Americans are 13 percent of America’s population and 14 percent of the nation’s drug users, but are 37 percent of persons arrested for drugs and 56 percent of the people in state prisons for drug offenses noted the 2009 congressional testimony of Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project and a conference panelist.

A University of Wisconsin study found that 17 percent of white ex-cons job seekers received interviews compared to only five percent of Black ex-con job seekers — a race-based disparity impacting people like Garner.

Michelle Alexander
Ohio State University law professor Michelle Alexander, featured speaker at that Princeton conference streamed live on the Internet, said a major reason why imprisonment rates soared during the past four decades despite decreases in crime rates is anti-crime policies craftily manipulated by conservative Republicans for political purposes.

Pennsylvania’s prison population, for example, soared from 8,243 in 1980 to 51,487 in 2010 stated a report released in January 2011 by Pa.’s Auditor General that noted Pa. now spends $32,059 annually to imprison one person — a cost that exceeds the annual $20,074 tuition for the MBA degree program at Penn State University.

Harsh anti-crimes policies were largely a “punitive backlash” to advances of the Civil Rights Movement said Alexander, author of the hugely popular 2010 book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

America’s corrosive War on Drugs — that basically ignores drug kingpins — has devastated Black families, Alexander said.

“A Black child today is less likely to be raised in a two parent household than during slavery,” she said.
“In major urban areas almost one-half of Black men have criminal records thus they face a lifetime of legalized discrimination” — encompassing exclusions from employment and financial assistance required to secure a viable quality of life.
Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr

Interestingly both Herman Garner and Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of Princeton’s Center for African American Studies, which facilitated the conference, expressed similar views on the impacts of mass incarceration.
Dr. Glaude said mass incarceration is a “moral crisis with political and social consequences for America’s future” during his opening remarks at the conference.

Garner, in an interview, described the prison system as the “biggest problem” in the Black community.
While politicians pushing punitive policies help drive mass incarceration its budget busting persistence implicates the blind-eye of society said one conference panelist, history professor Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the new director of the fabled Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.

“Middle-class whites and Blacks in the U.S. are a new kind of ‘Silent Majority’ regarding mass incarceration,” Dr. Muhammad said. “This ‘Silent Majority’ supports unjust policies of increased law enforcement and incarceration as the only way to address crime” ignoring proven approaches like “jobs, education and ending societal inequities.”

Dr. Cornell West
Famed Princeton professor Dr. Cornell West criticized both the Black middle class and Black leadership for inaction on mass incarceration which consumes over $50-billion annually across America — money better spent on creating jobs and improving education.

“The new Black middle class and Black leadership are not attuned to the suffering in poor Black communities,” West said during the conference’s Keynote Conversation between him and Professor Alexander.

“We need more middle class people with genuine respect for the poor. This is more than serving as role model mentors.”

Author Alexander said ending the “mind boggling scale” of mass incarceration requires “a major social movement.”
Daryl Mikell Brooks

One who attended the conference, Daryl Mikell Brooks, an activist in Trenton, N.J. who operates the popular “Today’s News N.J.” blog, backs Alexander’s suggestion.

“To fix this problem we need mass boycotts. America only understands money and violence. We need to shutdown businesses like during the 60s,” said Brooks, who spent three-years in prison for a conviction he says was false, aimed at crushing his activism.

“Blacks leaders allowed this incarceration to happen by doing too little to challenge this repression.”

Linn Washington Jr. is an award-winning writer who and a graduate of the Yale Law Journalism Fellowship.