January 11, 2006
The BuzzFlash Mailbag
The opinions expressed in the Mailbag are not necessarily those of BuzzFlash. More reader opinion is at "Contributors." You can write to Mailbag at http://www.BuzzFlash.com/contact/mail.html. Guidelines for submissions are at BuzzFlash FAQ #18.
THIS IS PART 2 OF THE JANUARY 11, 2006 BUZZFLASH MAILBAG. CLICK HERE FOR PART 1
Subject: Another Bush administration program to screw the poor
Two news stories today in the New York Times
I.R.S. Move Said to Hurt the Poor (NY Times)
and the Washington Post posted on truthout
IRS Froze Refunds without Informing Taxpayers, Report Says (Washington Post/truthout)
... report that the IRS's own taxpayer advocate told Congress that the IRS has devoted more resources to investigating $9 billion in possible fraud and holding up tax refunds of the poor, many of whom qualify for the Earned Income Tax, than it has used for investigating $100 billion not paid by those who are paid in cash, fail to file returns, or underreport income.
God forbid a poor person should make a mistake (or even lie) and get $100 they're not entitled to. And the other $100 billion. Well, as Rumsfeld said about looting in Iraq, what can you do? "Stuff happens." I guess it's a crime to be poor.
This is the kind of story that goes a bit under the radar because those being shafted may not even know and they certainly don't have lawyers or even public exposure to help them out.
Alito, Iraq, spying, and lying aren't our only problems!
Even an agnostic like me can hope that there's a vengeful and all-knowing power that will make these "compassionate conservatives" (remember them?) suffer in the end.
Subject: Children of Incarcerated Parents
Thanks so much for the interview with Nell Bernstein. Here in Madison, WI we have a program that is run by Madison Urban Ministry, with the help of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Children of incarcerated parents are matched with a mentor. In daily practice the program is pretty much the same as Big Brothers/Big Sisters except that the mentors are given training to handle issues that may arise from their situation.
One of the best aspects of the training is "Returning Prisoner Simulation." Members of the community who are mostly returned prisoners take on roles of parole officer, banker, DMV clerk, landlord and so on. Trainees take the role of a returned prisoner who, with limited access to transportation, have to get to their parole appointment, AA/NA appointment, social worker appointment, find an apartment, and all the other aspects of returned prisoner life. All this with 300 bucks in their pocket. I wish everyone could experience the simulation. It left me, white suburban soccer mom, threatening to ice my parole officer, who was never available.
We heard, through his victim, the comments of a young man serving a long sentence for a violent crime. He said that had one person--just one person--showed that they cared when he was a child, he was sure he would not be in jail today. He said he's asked other inmates if they felt the same way. Almost to a man they said 'yes'.
My mentee's dad is in jail. So is her Grandpa. Her mom is a good, if overloaded, woman. My job, as a mentor, is to reinforce how special my mentee is. The role of our organization is to have the community reinforce that. (In fact, at Christmas time, Governor Doyle's wife Jessica invited all the children of incarcerated parents to the Governor's mansion for an afternoon of juice and cookies where she treated the children with utmost respect and asked which of them would like to someday be Governor and live in her house.)
BuzzFlash readers, check with your local Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization to see if your community has such a program. If not, contact Madison Urban Ministry. (Google them.) I'd like to add that our local program was begun only a year ago with grant money from the Faith-Based Initiative. Just so you know that some good has come from the Faith-Based Initiative. Consider working with at-risk children, it can be frustrating, annoying and richly rewarding. Consider becoming a foster parent. It is one thing to kvetch on how social workers are too overloaded. It's another to step up and put a child in a good, safe, secure home which eases the work a social worker needs to do.
Again, to BuzzFlash: Thanks so much for shining your light on this problem. And to think liberals have no grasp of 'moral values'.
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: So Much for Freedom of Speech! (“We Had To Destroy the First Amendment in Order To Save It…” )
Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime. Create an e-annoyance, go to jail ! Squeal on a neighbor today, why don’t you? Ah…the pleasures of mob rule…
COMMENT: So I guess there is a “right” not to be offended after all … WELCOME TO THE FUTURE … The Constitution isn’t a suicide pact! So … just shred it!
A BuzzFlash Reader
Subject: Just a Thought
Watching MSM outlets lately would lead you to believe that a major scandal is brewing in this country. The purveyor of lies and deceit has been exposed and the end is neigh for his fabrications. Although not proven yet many journalists and reporters can’t help but lick their lips in anticipation. An article I read just this morning asked what the ramifications this trail of lies would have if proven true. Finally the blood has drawn the media sharks and they are ready to tear at flesh to get to the core of the story. It’s hard to say how long speculation will go on, but it seems as if Congressional hearings may be necessary. It’s comforting that the media is willing to lead the battle in exposing James Frey and his misanthropic ideals. God willing the media can create enough of a stir that a major probe of misconduct will be carried out to determine whether Oprah was simply misled or a co-conspirator. It brings joy to my heart that of all the potential scandals ready to rock the nation our media remains complacent until an author’s book may not be rightfully placed in the non-fiction section.
Subject: Fantasy Confirmation Hearings
One of many confirmation Q and A's I wish I would see:
Alito: "I would approach the question [of abortion rights] with an open mind and I would listen to the arguments that were made."
Senator X: "Let me try to be clear about what "an open mind" means here. Do you mean that the anti-abortion arguments you once made, you no longer find convincing? I.e., that your mind is "open" in the sense that it is as yet undecided? Or do you mean that these arguments still convince you, but you would give them up IF you were convinced you should?"
A: "Well, naturally I .."
X: "Since there is not a human being on the planet who isn't "open minded" in the last sense, that is, who wouldn't give up a view IF convinced to do so, what I want to know is if you can now imagine ANY situation in which you would give up your current views."
A: "Senator, I don't."
X: "Because if you cannot, isn't that the very definition of a closed mind?"
Albert Clark, NY
Subject: Nell Bernstein - Children of Incarcerated Parents
Thank you, thank you, thank you for addressing this "hidden" issue.
I am the legal guardian of a 14-year-old girl whose father has been incarcerated since she was ten. He took her to school one morning, and when she came out that afternoon - no dad. Since he was extradited to a state 2000 miles away, she was not able to see him for 14 months.
This child's mother had left when the girl was an infant. Her father is her only parent. The child has a psychiatric disorder called Reactive Attachment Deficit Disorder. The disorder is primarily caused by lack of attachment to the mother. We entered her diagnosis with the court at the time of sentencing. Her lack of contact with her father has exacerbated her condition. I have tried and tried to get the various "justice" officials to help me help this child. To no avail.
The only thing I would add to the dialogue around Nell's book is the high percentage of wrongful convictions. Just Google that. There are now Innocence Projects in all 50 states. Many, many innocent people are incarcerated in this country.
Subject: A Keen Memory Is Crucial for a Supreme Court Judge
By now we all know the charade. The Supreme Court nominee's past record and behavior is exposed for all to see in the hearings, but he spins and dodges with feigned sincerity. When he doesn't have a credible dodge near at hand for some particular question, he consistently uses the Reaganesque "I don't recall" line.
Considering the number of times we've heard these claims of a failed memory during these hearings, isn't it about time the senators questioning him start taking into account his claimed inability to remember s**t? Isn't a keen memory an important attribute that should be sought after in a Supreme Court Judge? Leaving alone his politics for a split moment, isn't it crucial that the highest judges in the land are selected on their brain power, intellect, and the ability to remember s**t?
If Judge Alito continues to avoid answering questions with the failed memory line, it's time now for the senate to eliminate him from consideration due to insufficient recollection ability.
Subject: Letterman Vs. O'Reilly
Personally, I thought that Letterman looked like an ass when he made the remark that he believed that 60% of what O'Reilly said was crap, then admitted that he never watched O'Reilly's show. What a twit!
A BuzzFlash Reader
[BuzzFlash Note: Anyone who doesn't watch O'Reilly wins points, in our view. And Dave's dished out a lot of good political humor of late.]
Subject: Chicken-hawk Lieberman
Another Chicken-Hawk Yalie rich boy willing to fight to the last drop of other people's blood, to defend the lies of clueless george. What the hell do they teach at Yale?
Roy A Brophy
[BuzzFlash Note: Yale College, 1964, Yale Law, 1967. But he did turn down an invitation from Skull & Bones. Maybe we should be asking who was in charge of the Yale Admissions Office back then? It might not all be the professors' doing.]
Subject: Dems Rolling Over With Alito
I just read an article in op/ed news that said exactly the opposite of the NYTimes article featured here. Maybe that's the Times' spin on it, but that doesn't make it the gospel.
Fairness in the Alito Hearings (NY Times Editorial)
A BuzzFlash Reader
Every day I read about the sleazy stuff the GOP is doing to our country from the president on down and it seems that none of it ever gets reported on any mainstream tv or radio stations. How do we get the public to pay attention to what is really going on when the press is obviously biased to the right?
Subject: This Mess We Are In
I read BuzzFlash every day. I read the comments and letters that people send in and the editorials, and all the truths, all the solutions, but what do we do? How can we as American Citizens do anything to change out country? We do not have representatives or senators that will stand up for us. We email them, we write them, we call them, but in the long run, they are going to do what they want to do.
The hearings going on now, everyone knows that they are not going to stand up to Bush, we know they are not going to filibuster, we know they will confirm this judge, so why are they wasting our time and money playing with this guy, go ahead and confirm him, get it over with.
We know our elections are crooked, we know the republicans are going to keep the house and senate in 2006, I know, I know, I sound like a wimp. Well, I am tired of hearing people talk and nothing getting done. What can we as people do? How can we as people stop this man? Can we all stand outside the white house and demand that bush step down? Can we go to D.C. by the millions and block traffic, be so big in number that the town shuts down, camp in the streets, sit on the curbs, refuse to leave until the Democrats stand up for us?
We could, but will we? Who will lead us? I will go, will you?
A BuzzFlash Reader
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