Saturday, June 5, 2010

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Is this story a good thing, or a bad thing?
A San Bernardino mother whose children were kidnapped 15 years ago was able to finally track them down using Facebook.

San Bernardino’s Deputy District Attorney says it’s the first time his office has handled a case like this one. But in this digital age, it may not be the last.

Faustino Utrera, father of two toddlers, a boy and girl, vanished with them in 1995. Their mother reported them missing and 15 years passed. "At the time, they were 2 and 3 years old. So they’re now 17 and 16," said Kurt Rowley, San Bernardino Deputy District Attorney.

But in those years, the Internet exploded and social networking sites revolutionized the process of tracking people down.

"The mother got on to Facebook and typed in one of the children’s names and hit a Facebook page," said Rowley.

It was her daughter, and they started corresponding. The mother even sent the teenager a family photo, dating back to before the split. But the relationship stalled. "The teenager said, 'Not interested in a relationship. We just have a happy life. Leave us alone,'" said Rowley.

The teen’s Facebook page disappeared. The mother, who still lives in San Bernardino, contacted Rowley and his investigators. They tracked the Facebook profile and the girl to Orlando, Fla.

Utrera was then arrested and is now charged with two counts of kidnapping, and two counts of violating child custody orders.

As for the mother and her children, they will have to build a new relationship.

"There is no relationship there," said Carrie Hoeppner of the Florida Department of Children & Families. "You don't have that immediate joyful reunification. If in fact that is what will progress, it will take time. These children will have to build a relationship, and that is something that will not happen overnight."
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, a mother finally found her missing children after a decade and a half. On the other hand, these kids had a life with their father and were essentially raised by him, and now he's in jail and they have a mother they haven't seen in 15 years.

Which was better for the kids, the life they had or the one they have now?  The law clearly sides with the mother here justice being served here?  Is there any justice to be served in a situation like this?

Underclassmen (And Women)

As Digby points out, the gulf is growing between haves and have-nots.
The other day Brad Delong asked if we are seeing the creation of an underclass of long term unemployed. Here is some more evidence that we are:

In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a "Quality Engineer." Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, "Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason."

In a nearly identical job posting for the same position on the Benchmark Electronics website, the red print is missing. But a human resources representative for the company confirmed to HuffPost that the The People Place ad accurately reflects the company's recruitment policies.

"It's our preference that they currently be employed," he said. "We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed -- with the economy being what it is, we've had a lot of people contact us that don't have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we're interested in.
There's more evidence that this is fairly widespread at the link.

I don't even know what to say about this except that it appears we are definitely seeing a sort of systematic stigmatization of the unemployed, from the sick caterwauling of the wingnut gasbags about "lazy" people who just want to stay on the dole, to employers claiming that they are advertising for jobs that nobody wants to this. Apparently, many of the people who have jobs think that they are unique and special John Galtian super-workers, unlike those losers who can't find work. I'm guessing most of those are people who vote Republican.
Anyone surprised by this hasn't been paying attention.  Republicans have been systematically demonizing Muslims as the Enemy, gays as destroying our culture, African-Americans as criminals and thugs, Latinos as illegal parasites, and liberals (the most horrible of all) as enablers of all the above with special privileges. I'm surprised it took this long to add the long-term unemployed to the list of "those people who need to be dealt with".

Cross off several million more folks who no longer count as Real Americans and need to be targeted as yet another reason why "America is going to Hell."

What do all these groups have in common?  Why, they might come to see the federal government getting involved in helping them as a force for good and not as The Ultimate Evil.  They might even...gasp! for a Democrat!

Can't have that.  You lost your job?  Republicans don't want you anymore.  You're one of Them now. Get thee hence!

It goes back to what I said yesterday:  There are people who will never accept Them. They will do everything they can to marginalize, emasculate, enervate, and stigmatize Them.

Ever notice that with Republicans, the list of Them grows by millions and millions every time they find a new scapegoat?  By this point, Them has to outnumber the Brave Crusaders. 

Shhh, but don't tell Them that.

Maybe There's Real Hope After All

Despite the US Congress being in complete lockstep behind Israel (with the exception of Dennis Kucinich) it's looking like the White House is indeed fighting back against the notion that Israel has the right to do whatever it wants to Palestinians in Gaza.
"We are working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza," said Mike Hammer, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

"The current arrangements are unsustainable and must be changed. For now, we call on all parties to join us in encouraging responsible decisions by all sides to avoid any unnecessary confrontations," Hammer said in a statement.
That's...something.  Not much, but something. It is at least criticism that the current blockade situation is no longer acceptable to the United States.  I'm not sure if anything's going to change and I actually very much doubt it.  But it's something.

And The Meek Shall Inherit...Nothing?

News that a major Democratic consultant firm has gotten on board with Charlie Crist is raising some very pointed questions about the White House hedging their bets over whether Dem Rep. Kendrick Meek has any shot at winning Florida's senate seat in the three-way race there.
SKDKnickerbocker, a leading Democratic political strategy and communications firm, has agreed to work on Crist's up-hill campaign as an independent for the U.S. Senate.

The decision will be widely viewed as a slap at Democratic frontrunner Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is trailing badly in the polls and many Democrats believe is hopeless for winning in November.

Making it all the more ominous for Meek is that SKDKnickerbocker is helmed by Anita Dunn, who most recently served as senior advisor to President Obama and is one of the administration's most valued political operators outside the White House.

One Democrat familiar with the situation tamped down the notion that Democrats and the White House are walking away from Meek pointing out that N.Y. strategist Josh Isay, and not Dunn, will be working on the campaign.

But said another Democrat: "They never would have signed on to the Crist campaign unless it was okay at the highest levels."
And that's true.  Why help Crist at all unless you believe that he has a better shot than the Democrat already in the race?  On the other hand, both Crist and Marco Rubio have serious corruption scandals to deal with.
Wednesday’s arrest of Florida’s former state Republican Party chairman is the latest incident that could tip the scales in the state’s three-way race for the Senate.

A longtime friend and ally of Gov. Charlie Crist, former state GOP chairman Jim Greer was arrested at his Oviedo home on six felony charges connected to a money-laundering scheme during his four-year stint as chairman.

Given Greer’s closeness with Crist, some believe the case is more likely to hurt Crist than former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the anointed GOP candidate. Crist has left the GOP and is running for the seat as an independent.

Rubio, however, faces a reported IRS investigation into charges he used a state GOP credit card for personal expenses. Possibly also damaging, Rubio led the state House of Representatives at the same time that his Appropriations Committee chairman, former state Rep. Ray Sansom (R), is alleged to have engaged in an illegal appropriations scheme with a Northwest Florida college. Sansom later stepped down as House speaker and faces third-degree felony conspiracy charges in a trial that could prove embarrassing for Rubio.

The only Senate candidate untouched by any of the scandals: Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee.
Backing Crist right now over Meek, especially given Jim Greer's arrest, is not a smart play.  It smacks of bailing Crist out with a major political consultancy firm with White House clout right as Crist faces questions over his relationship with Greer.  Why not back Meek here instead and go on the attack against both Crist and Rubio?

I don't like this one bit.  Meek doesn't have the greatest progressive record but for God's sakes he'd be better than Crist or Rubio in the Senate.

What's the White House's play here, and why are they helping Crist in a situation where they should be kicking him when he's down (no offense folks, but the point of elections is to win.)  What has Crist promised the White House should he win, and why are they cutting Meek off?

This smells funny.

Worst-Case Scenario With Barack Obama

The White House says it's prepared for a worst-case scenario with the Deepwater Horizon spill as the president laid out his case in his weekly address today:

"Now, over the last few days BP has placed a cap over the well, and it appears they’re making progress in trying to pump oil to the surface to keep it from leaking into the water.  But as has been the case since the beginning of this crisis, we are prepared for the worst, even as we hope that BP’s efforts bring better news than we’ve received before.  We also know that regardless of the outcome of this attempt, there will still to be some spillage until the relief wells are completed.  And there will continue to be a massive cleanup ahead of us." offense there, big guy...but "some spillage" if this doesn't work is gonna be more like "triple what's coming out now."

I don't think it's fair to be dogpiling on the President for something he just doesn't have the superpowers to fix.  But lowballing the reality of what all of us are facing here is not going to win him over any supporters, either.  There's a reason why most Americans are upset with the President's response to this.  It's not a matter of anger, or emotive capability or empathy or ability.  It's about leveling with us.

Tell us the truth.  That's something you do have full control over.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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