Prison Reform

reformThe narrow prison reform bill backed by the White House and being considered by Congress is an incomplete starting point for fixing our broken justice system, ….–Brennan Center for Justice

Giving men and women in prison the opportunity to earn a college degree costs our state less and benefits our society more. New York State currently spends $60,000 per year on every prisoner in our system, and those who leave have a 40 percent chance of ending up back behind bars. Existing programs show that providing a college education in our prisons is much cheaper for the state and delivers far better results. Someone who leaves prison with a college degree has a real shot at a second lease on life because their education gives them the opportunity to get a job and avoid falling back into a cycle of crime.–Gov. Cuomo

New Yorkers are faced with enough taxes and mandates — they do not need to worry about funding college for convicted criminals when they are trying to care for their own families.–Rep. Tom Reed

Governor Cuomo’s “college classes in prison” reform is evidence based, yet it was decried by opponents as “wasteful spending.”

President Donald J. Trump supports prison reform legislation that builds on evidence-based programs to reduce prisoner recidivism rates. The President has called on Congress to help former inmates who have completed their sentences to have a second chance to become contributing members of society.–White House Briefing Statement

President Trump’s statement sounds fine; can it be all that easy? Maybe not. The central question is whether to settle for limited reforms which the Trump Administration and others support or insist that such reforms be accompanied by sentencing reform.

Those backing the Trump Administration’s bill include:

  • President Trump
  • Jared Kushner
  • Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)
  • Van Jones
  • National Urban League
  • Grover Norquist
  • Koch Brothers

Opponents:

  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
  • Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
  • Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • NAACP
  • National Council of Churches
  • National Organization for Women
  • The United Methodist Church
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • United Church of Christ

The bill is H.R. 3356; it will be interesting to see if Republican leaders Ryan and McConnell can assemble enough centrist support to pass it. H.R. 3356 currently has 21 cosponsors; Rep. Reed isn’t among them.

Note: the bill currently being  considered is H.R. 5682 for which no summary is available. Tom Reed is said to support this bill.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5682

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-launches-initiative-provide-college-classes-new-york-prison

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/government-oversight/199287-should-taxpayers-fund-college-courses-for-inmates

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-supports-legislative-action-reduce-recidivism-prison-system

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/18/prison-reform-democrat-infighting-597620

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/letter-congress-prison-reform-and-redemption-act

https://civilrights.org/letter-concern-h-r-3356-prison-reform-redemption-act/

https://www.charleskochinstitute.org/issue-areas/criminal-justice-policing-reform/

https://www.thenation.com/article/beware-of-big-philanthropys-new-enthusiasm-for-criminal-justice-reform/

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3356

 

 

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Movies about guns

stray dog.jpg

Making gun violence about mental health is a crazy idea.–Jonathan M. Metzl, professor of sociology and psychiatry, and director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, at Vanderbilt University.

Comments seen on Tom Reed’s facebook page:

  • It’s the guns, Tom.
  • Let’s talk about requiring insurance for gun owners.

Two movies dealing with the responsibility of ownership:

  • Stray Dog (野良犬, Nora Inu), a 1949 Japanese crime drama film, directed by Akira Kurosawa starring Toshiro Mifune.
  • Babel, a 2006 drama film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu written by Guillermo Arriaga.

We are often told that responsible gun owners have certain rights. These movies address the question of responsibility.

Stray Dog–A policeman’s gun is stolen. The policeman considers himself personally responsible for the loss of his weapon. As the stolen gun is used in crimes, the policeman relentlessly works to arrest the thief and recover the stolen gun.

This movie gives one an idea of how seriously firearms are taken in Japan, which helps one to understand why crimes with firearms are rare there. Haruki Murakami’s novel, “1Q84,” is also enlightening. The book’s heroine, Aomame, contemplating suicide, asks her bodyguard to procure a gun. He tells her that it can be done, it is difficult and dangerous, and it would be far better for all if it were never used.

Babel–A Japanese hunter gives his Moroccan guide his hunting rifle. The guide passes the rifle on to his son, who soon is in big trouble. The hunter, back in Tokyo, is eventually questioned by the police.

This movie, Babel, is complicated, but it is clear, that while the hunter may bear no legal responsibility, he has a moral responsibility for his action.

https://newny23rd.com/2018/03/05/making-gun-violence-about-mental-health-is-a-crazy-idea/

Posted in Congress, Gun Violence, Political, President, Reed's Views, Trump | 4 Comments

fight fight, talk talk

mao.jpg

 fight fight, talk talk.–attributed to Mao Ze-dong

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.–Proverbs 16:18

To win without fighting is best.–Asian martial art maxim

I believe American army officers study Mao’s thoughts on war and international relations. Doubtless Kim Jong-un has read Mao’s writings. But Donald Trump is said not to read. Trump talks too much.

  • Boasts that N. Korea was forced to negotiate by Trump’s threats.
  • The idea that North Korea would unilaterally renounce nuclear weapons.
  • Threat to walk out of summit meeting.
  • Premature blather about a Nobel prize.

Trump and other officials talk too much; the Korean reaction is understandable and was predictable. Here are some excerpts:

High-ranking officials of the White House and the Department of State including John Bolton, White House national security adviser, are letting loose the assertions of a so-called Libya mode of nuclear abandonment: “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation”, “total decommissioning of nuclear weapons, missiles, biochemical weapons” etc, while talking about a formula of “abandoning nuclear weapons first, compensating afterwards”.

North Koreans respect and seek to understand their enemy; they pay attention to Washington talk. Bragging about anticipated Korean capitulation to US demands was stupid if there was a serious interest in negotiations. Talk aimed to please domestic reactionaries is inconsistent with success in reaching agreement on Korea.

We have already stated our intention for denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and made clear on several occasions that precondition for denuclearisation is to put an end to the anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmail of the United States.

Yes indeed, Kim sought negotiations and never offered capitulation. Any limitation on Korean nuclear weapons would reasonably depend on corresponding limitations on American nuclear threats.

If the Trump administration takes an approach to the DPRK-US summit with sincerity for improved DPRK-US relations, it will receive a deserved response from us. However, if the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the DPRK-US summit.

There is a clear formula for success: study, plan, prepare, be patient, negotiate, avoid counterproductive talk.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44136263

 

Posted in Trump, War | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Discounted

discounted.jpg
The stock market discounts news. In anticipation of events, prices rise and fall. When the anticipated event occurs, the market has already adjusted for it.

Politics discounts anticipated events as well; what would have been outrageous in the past is now taken for granted. Here is a list:

  • President Trump lies; no one is surprised  or cares.
  • Government reneges on nuclear agreement with Iran, and America shrugs.
  • White House staff insults John McCain; what else is new.
  • President won’t read or listen to briefings; staff must prepare a graphic.
  • President attacks the free press, discriminates against main stream news outlets.
  • President attacks Federal judges.
  • President flip-flops again and again, yet is said to always fulfill his promises.
  • Ill-considered tweets are the new normal.
  • State Department seriously understaffed?
  • Justice Department compromised by political interference?
  • A person suspected of war crimes is nominated to head the CIA?
  • Unprecedented chaos and turnover in the Trump Administration?
  • Israeli army kills dozens, injures thousands; ho hum.
  • Relations with traditional allies at a new low, c’est la vie.
  • President Trump appoints relatives to important government positions; so what?
  • EPA is swamped in scandal; Pruit is only doing what Trump promised.
  • Lawyer Cohen sold access; it wasn’t illegal, was it?
  • President paid off a porn star; yep, but what about Bill Clinton?
  • Tom Reed pays for fake web sites, yawn.
  • Tom Reed holds townhall meetings, but ignores constituents concerns.
  • Tom Reed sows dissension among his constituents as reelection strategy.
  • Widespread poverty in NY-23; we knew that.

There is no end to what no longer surprises us.

 

Posted in 2018, Reed's Views, Trump | Tagged | 4 Comments

North Korea’s nuclear test site

bomb

Trump, in a tweet Saturday, thanked North Korea for its plan to dismantle the nuclear test site, calling it “a very smart and gracious gesture!”– May 13 at 7:00 AM, Washington Post

North Korea offers to close their nuclear test site amid great fanfare. Is this meaningful; have we forgotten that this site reportedly is on the verge of collapse and is unusable? Does President Trump know this; does he care? Can Kim get credit for closing an unusable nuclear test site?

Astonishingly, Kim was praised for releasing prisoners. These persons were arrested on phony charges and held for no fair reason. If Kim would arrest more people, would he be praised if he later released them?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43894394

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/12/asia/north-korea-missile-test-pledge-intl/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/trump-welcomes-n-korea-plan-to-blow-up-nuke-site-tunnels/2018/05/12/e16a974a-565a-11e8-a6d4-ca1d035642ce_story.html?utm_term=.23dade4a3b23

 

 

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Overreach on the Congressional Review Act

believe itRep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) writes:

The House considered S.J. Res. 57, Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection related to “Indirect Auto Lending and Compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act”. The resolution invalidates a five year old guidance document issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) expressing its position that lenders who provide auto financing through dealerships are still subject to compliance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act’s prohibition on discriminatory lending. After studying the issue, CFPB found that minority borrowers are often given financing at a higher cost and with less favorable terms. Issuing the guidance put the industry on notice that such behavior is illegal and can lead to enforcement action.

The mere fact that the lender is providing the loan indirectly using the car dealership as the intermediary does not absolve the lender from ECOA compliance. Indirect auto lenders include banks such as Wells Fargo and car manufacturers such as Toyota. While some members of Congress have introduced standalone legislation to repeal the CFPB guidance with provisions requiring the CFPB to revise its guidance, this use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal a federal agency guidance document is troubling and has consequences far beyond the auto lending issue. If Congress repeals an agency document under CRA, there is no judicial review of that repeal and the agency whose document was repealed is forbidden from issuing a substantially similar rule in the future unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the CRA resolution disapproving the original rule. Using CRA in this way could cause untold havoc throughout the federal government as any guidance, notice, or rule that Congress currently does not like – no matter how old, or how much reliance has been placed upon it, or how important to the public health and safety – could face repeal. Think of the worker protections, healthcare notices, environmental rules, civil rights guidance that could be on the chopping block now that Republicans in Congress have secured this “win”.

S.J. Res.  57 passed; two hundred twenty-three Republicans including Tom Reed voted AYE.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-joint-resolution/57

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2018/roll171.xml

Posted in Congress, Political, Reed's Views | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Drug prices

headacheAsk your doctor if waawa-woowoo (with a long list of horrifying side effects) is right for you.–Seen all too often on TV.

According to recent polling of American adults, lowering prescription drug prices is one of the most important public issues, regardless of party (Figure 1). Americans are understandably concerned about a reduction in affordability, the disparity between U.S. drug prices and prices overseas, and well-publicized episodes of price manipulation.CEA-Rx-White-Paper-Final2

There is much more in the referenced article than I understand or can explain. I am indignant about affordability and well-publicized episodes of price manipulation. I am not at all concerned about low prices overseas–I see high prices here as a result of collusion between our government and domestic manufacturers–there is a reason that a drug company–Novartis–showered money on Michael Cohen. I doubt that the solution to high prices at home lies in higher prices overseas. Do we really believe that drug companies won’t innovate unless they anticipate enormous profits?

The report concludes:

The objective of government in biopharmaceutical policy is to ensure that firms invest in meaningful innovations that lower the price of health, rather than provide incentives that dampen rather than promote competition between innovations. Additionally, it is also the role of government to help solve international problems such as global free-riding on drug innovation, which harms U.S. citizens. Bad government policies or insurance programs that prevent, rather than foster, healthy price competition often induce artificially high prices in the United States. The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is the engine of worldwide biopharmaceutical innovation and an important part of our economy. Preserving this industry and encouraging it to innovate while making drugs more available and affordable for all Americans is an attainable goal.

  •  ensure that firms invest in meaningful innovations that lower the price of health (care)
  • (avoid) incentives that dampen rather than promote competition.
  • solve international problems such as global free-riding on drug innovation.
  • (avoid) policies or insurance programs that prevent, rather than foster, healthy price competition.
  • The U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is the engine of worldwide biopharmaceutical innovation. (really, or is this political propaganda?)

I don’t believe drug companies are as likely to invest in innovations which will lower prices as they are likely to invest in innovations which will increase profits due to high priced products. They all want to find the wonder drug–expensive and popular with the public.

I’m from Missouri. Current government policy encourages high prices. Will that policy be reversed? Not likely if large drug company contributions to politicians can prevent it. We’ll see.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/CEA-Rx-White-Paper-Final2.pdf

 

 

 

Posted in Drugs, Health Care | 21 Comments