Gov. Jindal Subpoenaed in Controversial Louisiana Health Care Privatization Move
On Monday, Scott Kipper, the man Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appointed to facilitate the privatization of that state's employee health insurance resigned. Five days prior, on June 1, Kipper had been questioned by members of the State Senate about his testimony -- namely, they accused him of lying. Now, the controversy brewing threatens to blow the lid off a privatization scheme that may have been utterly unnecessary, and involves a possibly missing $500 million surplus. Talking Points Memo reports:
The administration has said that privatizing the Office of Group Benefits, which manages the health insurance of around 250,000 state workers, retirees and their dependents, would save taxpayers money, and get the state out of the health insurance business. But critics have countered that OGB isn't broken, and doesn't need fixing, and some have raised questions about the fate of the agency's $500 million surplus.
At the hearing last week, though, the senators were particularly focused on the so-called "Chaffe report," an evaluation of OGB recently prepared by a New Orleans company named Chaffe & Associates. Lawmakers wanted to know why the administration has kept the report private, and Kipper struggled to come up with answers they liked.
The report, as one senator pointed out, "might tell you there's no need to privatize" OGB, to which Kipper agreed... but he also said he "hadn't read it" and had "no knowledge" of its existence.... stammering that led, presumably, to his resignation.
Yesterday, the Senators subpoenaed Governor Jindal for the Chaffe report, demanding its release within 24 hours. So, is this the start of a textbook GOP, big-business privatization scandal that shows how a major elected official is gambling with his constiuents' health and wealth? Who knows, but we'll find out soon. Here's an interesting tidbit: The former OGB head, Tommy Teague, was cut loose after he questioned the value and reasoning behind privatizing LA state health care.
Eventually, every one of these scum will be found out. And voters will still vote for the next one because, " they're good god-fearin family men, don't want big gubmint, hate socialism, hate any taxes and want to be sure the country stays pure."
Disgusting: Unregulated Private School Offers HS Diploma in Eight Days for $399
Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) — buoyed by legislators who received hundreds of thousands of dollars of special interest cash — signed into law legislation that would dramatically expand access to school vouchers, which funnel taxpayer dollars into private schools. Scott is doing this despite proposing nearly $3 billion in cuts to public education, meaning that he is essentially transfering money from public education to private education.
On the same day that Scott signed into law his latest attack on public education, Gus Garcia-Roberts of the Miami New Times published a story looking at the case of InterAmerican Christian Academy, a private school located in Doral, Florida. Garcia-Roberts amazingly enrolled at the school and earned a diploma after only eight days of schoolwork and $399:
It began with a poster on a streetlight in downtown Miami: “High School Diploma. (305) 716-0909.” I dialed, and a chipper female voice answered, “Hello. High school.” Eight days and $399 in cash later, at the school’s Doral “campus” — a cramped third-floor office next door to US Lubricant LLC and across the hall from a hair extensions company — I was grinning widely, accepting a framed diploma and an official transcript sporting a 3.41 GPA.
The diplomas that the school is offering are actually getting students admitted to local colleges. The paper found that at “least 88 graduates have used its diplomas and bogus transcripts to gain admittance to Miami Dade College, according to that institution’s registrar.” Remarkably, the state’s Departmenf of Education (DOE), when asked about the school, said that it is powerless to stop it from rewarding diplomas. “If a school like that exists,” said Cherry Etters of the Florida Doe, “we might know about it, but we can’t really do anything.”
As Garcia-Roberts concludes, “There’s no telling how many of Florida’s 1,713 private schools — which educate a third of a million students — are run like InterAmerican. Even as Gov. Rick Scott leads a charge to privatize education on a historic scale, our state’s private schools are among the least regulated in the nation.” Indeed, Florida currently leads the country in “school choice” programs that include tax credits for private schools, voucher programs, and privately managed charter schools. The case of InterAmerican Christian Academy provides a cautionary tale about some of the pitfalls of the proliferation of lightly-regulated or unregulated private schools.
And the conservative scams just keep right-on-a-comin.
The Party of Righteous Indignation
By Joe Conason
Grossly distasteful may be the most dignified way to describe the behavior of Rep. Anthony Weiner, but it is impossible to discuss what he has confessed to doing without words like crazy, predatory, repulsive, irresponsible and immature. If he hopes to preserve his sanity and his marriage, he might well consider abandoning politics for psychiatric care. Without professional help, he will never recover from the narcissism that has warped him and injured everyone close to him.
Bright as he is, Weiner appears to have believed quite stupidly that his online misconduct could remain concealed. To those who have observed the New York Democrat for years, his callowness and arrogance have been no secret. Those obvious defects were balanced by his political instincts, dogged liberalism and sheer capacity for the hard work of public life—until now. He hasn’t changed and he won’t go without a struggle.
It is hard to imagine that Weiner could reject the growing bipartisan demands for his resignation without the quiet support of his wife, Huma Abedin. Those who know her well are universally admiring. But it is still harder to imagine any elected Democrat joining her in an endorsement of another term in Congress for him—especially given the evidence that he committed some of these acts during the first year of their marriage, even after learning that she is pregnant.
Let’s hope that we will soon be able to dismiss this distracting scandal, at least for a while. Weiner is actually a very minor figure in Washington; neither his salvation nor his doom can solve the real problems that the nation confronts. He cannot escape the growing disgust of his district’s constituents, the obvious anger of his party’s leaders or the eventual judgment of the House Committee on Ethics.
Which brings us to the difference between Democrats and Republicans whenever scandal erupts. Republicans present themselves as the party of moral rectitude; Democrats present themselves as the party of modern tolerance. But in fact, congressional Democratic leaders are far less tolerant of corruption in their own ranks than their opponents, whose tacit acceptance of all brands of turpitude is boggling.
Consider the matter of David Vitter, the Louisiana senator who has confessed to patronizing prostitutes without losing the financial and political support of his fellow Republicans. Vitter may not be as repellent as Weiner, but paying for prostituted sex is still a crime in most parts of this country. Luckily for him, the Republican bosses on Capitol Hill don’t mind. In The Huffington Post, Paul Blumenthal points out that the same Republicans calling for Weiner to step down have donated many thousands of dollars to ensure that Vitter stayed in the Senate—and so he has.
Most Republican politicians have shown the same nonchalant attitude toward Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who finally stepped down while awaiting a Senate Ethics Committee report that he must have known would recommend a federal criminal probe of $96,000 in payoffs to his former mistress and her family. The Justice Department may reopen its investigation of Ensign, but his party let him stay in office as long as he liked.
The Senate report reveals that Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a loud voice of the religious right, conspired to help Ensign hush up the affair with his staffer, including millions of dollars in secret payments from his family trust. Coburn’s role may have been felonious, but don’t expect the Senate Republican leadership to complain about him.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader and former speaker, immediately urged the Ethics Committee to pursue Weiner’s offenses. Other Democratic leaders have already said that Weiner should step down. As New York Times blogger Nate Silver suggests, Democratic leaders in his home state may well decide to erase him in redistricting.
His odds of surviving politically would be greater if only he were on the other side of the aisle, in the party of righteous (and phony) indignation.
The author omitted many more examples of conservatives protecting (or trying) their own based on conservative contempt for what's right.
Anyone remember, 'wide-stance' Craig?
GOP Literally Censors Dems' Medicare Message
The word “censorship” is often misused, but in a case like this, it fits.
Democratic House Members are lashing out at Republican leadership over rejected mass mailings, saying their messages lambasting the GOP budget plan and its effect on Medicare are being censored.
They say Republicans on the House franking commission, which screens the content of mass mailings paid for with Congressional funds, have become more sensitive after Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) won a special election May 24 after campaigning against the plan authored by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Five Democrats wrote to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday asking him to intervene.
Members of Congress are entitled to use public funds to send mailings to their constituents. A franking commission reviews the mailings for potential abuses — lawmakers can’t use these materials for explicit campaign purposes, for example — but it takes quite a bit to have a piece rejected.
Suddenly, that’s changed.
House Dems routinely used these mailings to criticize Republican plans to “end” Medicare, but after the Democratic win in upstate New York, the House GOP is now preventing Dems from sending materials with identical language.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), for example, was told his mailing wouldn’t be sent unless he changed the language to say the GOP plan would “change” or “could privatize portions” of Medicare. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) ran into the same problem, except this time, the franking commission prohibited the use of the word “voucher.” They’re not alone.
Keep in mind, the Dems’ messages were entirely accurate. Republicans, however, are saying the Democratic mailings can’t go out unless Dems use the specific wording the GOP prefers.
Connolly called this “Orwellian,” adding, “It is the most extreme censorship I have ever encountered.”
Also note when the policy changed. In April, Dem mailings were approved with the word “end” and “voucher.” Hell, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) had a leaflet with a tombstone emblazoned with “RIP Medicare,” and it was approved to.
But when Kathy Hochul won, suddenly, the GOP decided it was time to start dictating to Dems which words were permissible, and which weren’t. Republicans just don’t have a leg to stand on here — if certain words were permissible before May 24, there’s no reason to censor those identical words after May 24.
Democratic Reps. Connolly, Perlmutter, Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), and Joe Courtney (Conn.) have not only written to House Speaker John Boehner about this, they’ve also presented a detailed case noting that “the documentation in question uses terminology and phrases that have been approved in previous documents.” The Dems added, “The rising lack of popularity of the House Republican Plan for Medicare hardly justifies the use of the Franking Commission to obstruct legitimate communication between Members and the Americans that we serve.”
Even for House Republicans, this is a cheap move.
I guess it's okay for those that don't like an opposing view TO STOP ANY OTHER VIEW FROM BEING PRESENTED. That's who they are!
Bush & Co. sought to smear Juan Cole, ex-spook charges.
By JAMES RISEN
WASHINGTON — A former senior C.I.A. official says that officials in the Bush White House sought damaging personal information on a prominent American critic of the Iraq war in order to discredit him.
Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.
In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.
It is not clear whether the White House received any damaging material about Professor Cole or whether the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies ever provided any information or spied on him. Mr. Carle said that a memorandum written by his supervisor included derogatory details about Professor Cole, but that it may have been deleted before reaching the White House. Mr. Carle also said he did not know the origins of that information or who at the White House had requested it.
Intelligence officials disputed Mr. Carle’s account, saying that White House officials did ask about Professor Cole in 2006, but only to find out why he had been invited to C.I.A.-sponsored conferences on the Middle East. The officials said that the White House did not ask for sensitive personal information, and that the agency did not provide it.
“We’ve thoroughly researched our records, and any allegation that the C.I.A. provided private or derogatory information on Professor Cole to anyone is simply wrong,” said George Little, an agency spokesman.
Since a series of Watergate-era abuses involving spying on White House political enemies, the C.I.A. and other spy agencies have been prohibited from collecting intelligence concerning the activities of American citizens inside the United States.
“These allegations, if true, raise very troubling questions,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former C.I.A. general counsel. “The statute makes it very clear: you can’t spy on Americans.” Mr. Smith added that a 1981 executive order that prohibits the C.I.A. from spying on Americans places tight legal restrictions not only on the agency’s ability to collect information on United States citizens, but also on its retention or dissemination of that data.
Mr. Smith and several other experts on national security law said the question of whether government officials had crossed the line in the Cole matter would depend on the exact nature of any White House requests and whether any collection activities conducted by intelligence officials had been overly intrusive.
The experts said it might not be unlawful for the C.I.A. to provide the White House with open source material — from public databases or published material, for example — about an American citizen. But if the intent was to discredit a political critic, that would be improper, they said.
Mr. Carle, who retired in 2007, has not previously disclosed his allegations. He did so only after he was approached by The New York Times, which learned of the episode elsewhere. While Mr. Carle, 54, has written a book to be published next month about his role in the interrogation of a terrorism suspect, it does not include his allegations about the White House’s requests concerning the Michigan professor.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Mr. Carle said. “People were accepting it, like you had to be part of the team.”
Professor Cole said he would have been a disappointing target for the White House. “They must have been dismayed at what a boring life I lead,” he said.
In 2005, after a long career in the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Mr. Carle was working as a counterterrorism expert at the National Intelligence Council, a small organization that drafts assessments of critical issues drawn from reports by analysts throughout the intelligence community. The council was overseen by the newly created Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Mr. Carle said that sometime that year, he was approached by his supervisor, David Low, about Professor Cole. Mr. Low and Mr. Carle have starkly different recollections of what happened. According to Mr. Carle, Mr. Low returned from a White House meeting one day and inquired who Juan Cole was, making clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to gather information on him. Mr. Carle recalled his boss saying, “The White House wants to get him.”
“ ‘What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?’ ” Mr. Low continued, according to Mr. Carle.
Mr. Carle said that he warned that it would be illegal to spy on Americans and refused to get involved, but that Mr. Low seemed to ignore him.
“But what might we know about him?” he said Mr. Low asked. “Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?”
Mr. Carle said that he responded, “We don’t do those sorts of things,” but that Mr. Low appeared undeterred. “I was intensely disturbed by this,” Mr. Carle said.
He immediately went to see David Gordon, then the acting director of the council. Mr. Carle said that after he recounted his exchange with Mr. Low, Mr. Gordon responded that he would “never, never be involved in anything like that.”
Mr. Low was not at work the next morning, Mr. Carle said. But on his way to a meeting in the C.I.A.’ s front office, a secretary asked if he would drop off a folder to be delivered by courier to the White House. Mr. Carle said he opened it and stopped cold. Inside, he recalled, was a memo from Mr. Low about Juan Cole that included a paragraph with “inappropriate, derogatory remarks” about his lifestyle. Mr. Carle said he could not recall those details nor the name of the White House addressee.
He took the document to Mr. Gordon right away, he said. The acting director scanned the memo, crossed out the personal data about Professor Cole with a red pen, and said he would handle it, Mr. Carle said. He added that he never talked to Mr. Low or Mr. Gordon about the memo again.
In an interview, Mr. Low took issue with Mr. Carle’s account, saying he would never have taken part in an effort to discredit a White House critic. “I have no recollection of that, and I certainly would not have been a party to something like that,” Mr. Low said. “That would have simply been out of bounds.”
Mr. Low, who no longer works in government, did recall being curious about Professor Cole. “I remember the name, as somebody I had never heard of, and who wrote on terrorism,” he said. “I don’t recall anything specific of how it came up or why.”
Mr. Gordon, who has also left government service, said that he did not dispute Mr. Carle’s account, but did not remember meeting with him to discuss efforts to discredit Professor Cole.
Several months after the initial incident, Mr. Carle said, a colleague on the National Intelligence Council asked him to look at an e-mail he had just received from a C.I.A. analyst. The analyst was seeking advice about an assignment from the executive assistant to the spy agency’s deputy director for intelligence, John A. Kringen, directing the analyst to collect information on Professor Cole.
Mr. Carle said his colleague, whom he declined to identify, was puzzled by the e-mail. Mr. Carle, though, said he tracked Mr. Kringen’s assistant down in the C.I.A. cafeteria.
“Have you read his stuff?” Mr. Carle recalled the assistant saying about Professor Cole. “He’s really hostile to the administration.”
The assistant, whom Mr. Carle declined to identify, refused to say who was behind the order. Mr. Carle said he warned that he would go to the agency’s inspector general or general counsel if Mr. Kringen did not stop the inquiry.
Intelligence officials confirmed that the assistant sent e-mails to an analyst seeking information about Professor Cole in 2006. They said he had done so at the request of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which had been asked by White House officials to find out why Professor Cole had been invited to CIA-sponsored conferences.
John D. Negroponte, who was then the director of national intelligence, said that he did not recall the incident, but that the White House might have asked others in his office about Professor Cole. A spokeswoman for the office said there was no evidence that anyone there had gathered derogatory information about him.
Around the time that Mr. Carle says the White House requests were made, Professor Cole’s conservative critics were campaigning to block his possible appointment to Yale University’s faculty. In 2006, conservative columnists, bloggers and pundits with close ties to the Bush administration railed against him, accusing Professor Cole of being anti-American and anti-Israeli. Yale ultimately scuttled the appointment.
Professor Cole, 58, is still teaching at Michigan, and still writes his blog on the Middle East, called Informed Comment.
Juan Cole Wants Investigation Into Claim by Former Official That White House Asked
CIA to Smear Him.
A professor at the University of Michigan said Thursday "it was criminal" that the White House, under President George W. Bush, reportedly asked the CIA at least twice to dig up negative information about his personal life in order to discredit his views on the Iraq war. And he called upon congressional committees to launch an investigation into what he said was illegal spying on an American citizen.
"The Bush White House request that the CIA spy on me to discredit me clearly violated the American constitution, U.S. law, the CIA charter, and my civil and human rights," Professor Juan Cole told the Free Press. "It was criminal."
According to Thursday's New York Times, a CIA official, under pressure from the White House, asked his staff to spy on Cole, a noted history professor from Ann Arbor who writes a popular blog about the Middle East called Informed Comment. Cole started the blog in 2002to talk about the war against al-Qaida and in Iraq. At times, he is critical of U.S. efforts in the Middle East, but he is not seen as a radical.
The Times' article was based on the accounts of Glenn Carle, a former CIA officer who was a counterterrorism official. In 2005, his CIA supervisor, David Low, reportedly spoke with Carle after returning from a White House meeting.
"The White House wants to get him," Low said, according to Carle. "What do you think we might know about him, or could find out that could discredit him?"
Low added, according to Carle, "Does he drink? What are his views? Is he married?"
At one point, a memo on Cole was written that included "inappropriate, derogatory remarks" about Cole's lifestyle, Carle said in the New York Times article.
"Carle's revelations come as a visceral shock," Cole wrote on his blog Thursday. The White House and CIA have "no business spying on American citizens."
In Langley, Va., CIA spokesman Preston Golson denied that Cole was targeted.
"We've thoroughly researched our records, and any allegation that the CIA provided private or derogatory information on professor Cole to anyone is simply wrong," Golson told the Free Press on Thursday.
Golson added that: "We value the insights of outside experts, including respected academics. ... Diversity of thought is essential to the business of intelligence analysis."
Cole called upon the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to launch investigations into what happened because it is illegal for the CIA to domestically spy on Americans. But a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Howell, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said "the Department of Justice is the most appropriate venue to respond." The Department of Justice and the Senate Intelligence Committee could not be reached for comment.
Cole said that the Bush administration's efforts may have succeeded in blackballing him from certain conferences attended or sponsored by the U.S. government.
Just remember - conservatives are the party of law and order; family values; patriotism; and many other 'good things'.
Clarence Thomas Decided Three Cases Where AEI Filed A Brief After AEI Gave Him A
In 2001, a conservative, corporate-aligned think tank called the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) gave Justice Clarence Thomas the gift of a $15,000 bust of Abraham Lincoln. At the ceremony presenting Thomas with this very expensive gift, AEI president Christopher DeMuth explained that the bust was “cast in 1914 by the great neo-classical sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman.” Watch it:
AEI, however, is not simply in the business of giving luxurious gifts to Supreme Court justices — it is also in the business of litigating before the United States Supreme Court. ThinkProgress uncovered three briefs that AEI filed in Thomas’ Court after Thomas received their $15,000 gift. Thomas recused from none of these three cases, and he either voted in favor of the result AEI favored or took a stance that was even further to the right in each case:
Riley v. Kennedy : AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision preventing a change in Alabama’s voting law from going into effect. Justice Thomas did not recuse, and he joined the Supreme Court’s decision reversing the lower court.
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 : AEI filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decisionupholding a local school district’s desegregation plan. Thomas joined the majority opinion reversing the lower court’s decision, and he filed a lengthy concurrence defending that result.
Whitman v. American Trucking Association: AEI joined a brief asking the Supreme Court to allow the EPA to consider the costs of implementing new air quality standards before it issued them. Thomas’ concurring opinion went much further than AEI asked him to go, suggesting that the law authorizing EPA to issue these standards is unconstitutional.
Although there is no evidence that AEI gave Thomas the $15,000 gift specifically to buy his vote in a particular case, Thomas’ decision to sit on cases where his benefactor has a demonstrated interest creates a very serious appearance of impropriety. No one would trust a judge to hear their case if they learned that someone on the other side of the case had given that judge a rare and expensive gift.
In an ethical, careful corporation, they have rules that prevent employees from accepting anything of value to avoid any impropriety or temptation that would lead to one. I am personally familiar with some of those rules.
Not so, apparently, in the 'Supreme Court', one filled with conservative ideologues.
There are plenty of recent examples of Scalia, Alito and Thomas doing unethical things. And they get away with it. Compared to this, Weiner's transgressions should have been ignored.
Where is the outrage?
See link for references.
Man robs a bank so he can go to jail and get some medical attention
James Richard Verone woke up June 9 with a sense of anticipation.
He took a shower.
Ironed his shirt.
Hailed a cab.
Then robbed a bank.
He wasn’t especially nervous. If anything, Verone said he was excited to finally execute his plan to gain access to free medical care.
“I prepared myself for this,” Verone said from behind a thick glass window in the Gaston County Jail Thursday morning.
Verone spoke calmly about the road that led him to a jail cell he shares with a young man arrested for stealing computers.
The 59-year-old man apologized for squinting. He hadn’t gotten his eyeglasses returned to him since being arrested a week ago.
He smiled from the other side of the glass, sometimes gesturing with his hands. A plastic, red bracelet with his mug shot clung to his left wrist.
Until last week Verone had never been in trouble with the law.
Now he hopes to be booked as a felon and held in prison where he can be treated for several physical afflictions.
Verone worked for Coca-Cola for 17 years. He prided himself on keeping his nose to the grindstone. Don’t make enemies. Sell the product. Make your deliveries and stick to your schedule.
When his career as a cola delivery man ended some three years ago, Verone was knocked out of his comfort zone.
He hopped back in the saddle driving a truck. But that employment didn’t have near the longevity, and Verone found himself jobless.
He lived off of savings and sought a part-time job.
Not his first choice, Verone became a convenience store clerk. But the bending, standing and lifting were too much for him. The Gastonia man’s back ached; problems with his left foot caused him to limp. His knuckles swelled from arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome made daily tasks difficult.
Then he noticed a protrusion on his chest.
Strapped for cash, Verone looked into filing for disability. He applied for early Social Security.
The only thing Verone qualified for was food stamps. The extra money helped, but he felt desperate. He needed to get medical attention, and he refused to be a burden on his sister and brothers.
“The pain was beyond the tolerance that I could accept,” he said. “I kind of hit a brick wall with everything.”
A couple of months ago Verone started weighing his options.
He considered turning to a homeless shelter and seeking medical help through charitable organizations.
Then he had another idea: commit a crime and get set up with a place to stay, food and doctors.
He started planning.
As his bank account depleted and the day of execution got closer, Verone sold and donated his furniture. He paid his last month’s rent and gave his notice.
He moved into the Hampton Inn for the last couple of days. Then on June 9 he followed his typical morning routine of getting ready for the day.
He took a cab down New Hope Road and picked a bank at random — RBC Bank.
Verone didn’t want to scare anyone. He executed the robbery the most passive way he knew how.
He handed the teller a note demanding one dollar, and medical attention.
“I didn’t have any fears,” said Verone. “I told the teller that I would sit over here and wait for police.”
The teller, however, did have some fears even though Verone never showed a weapon.
Her blood pressure shot up and once Verone was handcuffed by police, the teller was taken to Gaston Memorial Hospital to be checked out.
Verone said he was sorry for causing the woman any pain.
Verone says he’s not a political man.
But he has a lot to say on the subject of socialized medical care. He suspects he wouldn’t be talking to a reporter through a metal screen wearing an orange jumpsuit if such an option were available in the U.S.
“If you don’t have your health you don’t have anything,” said Verone.
The man has high hopes with his recent incarceration.
He has seen several nurses and has an appointment with a doctor Friday.
The ideal scenario would include back and foot surgery and a diagnosis and treatment of the protrusion on his chest, he said. He would serve a few years in prison and get out in time to collect Social Security and move to the beach.
Crime and punishment
Verone expected to be charged with bank robbery.
Because he only demanded $1, he was charged with larceny from a person. Still a felony, the count doesn’t carry as much jail time as bank robbery.
The bearded, gray-haired man plans to represent himself in court. He’s trying not to get too confident about his knowledge of the legal system. He just wants to prepare a statement for the judge and then take whatever active sentence he is given.
Verone is considering an ultimatum if the penalty isn’t great enough, he said.
The crime will happen again.
On the record
The day Verone set out to commit his first felony, he mailed a letter to The Gazette.
He listed the return address as the Gaston County Jail.
“When you receive this a bank robbery will have been committed by me. This robbery is being committed by me for one dollar,” he wrote. “I am of sound mind but not so much sound body.”
Verone wanted to talk to a reporter to make sure people knew why he turned to crime. He figured he had nothing to lose.
“I knew that a felony would not hurt me. I cannot work anymore,” he said. “That felony is going to hurt my reputation.”
Verone has been in jail for a week.
His $100,000 bond has been reduced to $2,000.
He doesn’t intend to pay it. His residence is now the Gaston County Jail.
He goes to breakfast and lunch each day but skips dinner. Dinner means nearly four hours in the general jail population, and Verone said he likes to minimize contact with other inmates.
“I stay very quiet,” he said.
Verone said he hears the other men talk about the revolving door that jail has become for them.
He hopes he doesn’t join the ranks of the repeat offender.
But today, he has no regrets about the robbery or where it landed him.
“If I had not exercised all the alternatives I would be sitting here saying, ‘Man I feel bad about it,’” he said.
But Verone said he thinks he made the right choice for his situation.
“I picked jail.”
Is Rand Paul as dumb as he sounds?
Or is the senator from the Tea Parties putting on an act?
By Alex Pareene
Here, via Oliver Willis and Steve Benen, is a clip of Sens. Al Franken, Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul discussing a bill that would help prevent senior hunger:
As Sanders and Franken explain: If we make sure old folks have money for and access to adequate nutrition, fewer of them will need to be hospitalized or placed in nursing homes. Because Medicare would pay a lot more money for hospitalization or nursing home care than it would cost to make sure these old folks don't go hungry to begin with, this program is cost-effective in addition to being humane.
Here is Rand Paul's rebuttal: "It’s curious that only in Washington can you spend $2 billion and claim that you’re saving money." Then he went "hyck hyck hyck" and looked sort of smug. When the basic idea -- sometimes spending a bit of money now saves a lot of money later! -- was explained to him again, his response was to say something about the government being bad, and to suggest that if this insane magical spending-to-save thing is true, why not spend a ZILLION dollars feeding old people? (The cheapest option, I guess, would just be to not pay for old people to eat or go to the hospital at all, and to let them die in their homes and be buried in pauper's graves, but it is maybe rude to suggest that that is Paul's "plan.")
Rand Paul is either presenting a misleadingly simplistic argument because he knows it will appeal to dumb conservatives (only a big-city liberal would think you could save money in the future by spending it wisely in the present!) or he's actually as dumb as I have always said he is.
He's obviously some combination of willfully obtuse and dimwitted, but how much of his dimwitted is calculated?
Like, for example, when he said he wanted to shut down the Department of Education because of "the idea of somebody in Washington deciding that Susie has two mommies is an appropriate family situation," he was obviously being an inflammatory bigot asshole, probably because he thinks his constituents are backward hicks who eat that kinda shit up. But does he also not actually know what the Department of Education does? Because they have no say in curricula!
And oh, also, when he said he would filibuster every budget that wasn't balanced, was he just making stupid and unrealistic promises because, again, he has no respect for the intelligence of Kentucky voters, or did he actually not understand that senators can't filibuster budgets?
The fact that he had no idea what happened in Harlan County is proof of his being incurious and ideologically sheltered, not necessarily dumb, but his criticism of the Americans With Disabilities Act showed that he doesn't know what the Americans With Disabilities Act does.
I vote dumb. There's obviously lots of pandering involved, but this guy really seems like Ron Paul's Patrick Kennedy, you know?
This is who they are. The know-nothings and proud of it!