December 18, 2007 archive

On Baseball

In a few short months, the cold of winter will give way to the smell of fresh cut grass. On fields in Florida and Arizona, veterans will work out the kinks of the winter break, fresh faced kids will take their hacks hoping to make the big clubs. It is a ritual performed for decades, the precursor to that magical time of year…

Baseball season.

Four at Four

Some afternoon news and Open thread.

  1. Torture doesn’t work… even the FBI knows this. According to the Washington Post, the FBI and CIA disagree on significance of terror suspect.

    Al-Qaeda captive Abu Zubaida, whose interrogation videotapes were destroyed by the CIA, remains the subject of a dispute between FBI and CIA officials over his significance as a terrorism suspect and whether his most important revelations came from traditional interrogations or from torture.

    While CIA officials have described him as an important insider whose disclosures under intense pressure saved lives, some FBI agents and analysts say he is largely a loudmouthed and mentally troubled hotelier whose credibility dropped as the CIA subjected him to a simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding and to other ‘enhanced interrogation’ measures…

    FBI officials, including agents who questioned him after his capture or reviewed documents seized from his home, have concluded that even though he knew some al-Qaeda players, he provided interrogators with increasingly dubious information as the CIA’s harsh treatment intensified in late 2002…

    A rift nonetheless swiftly developed between FBI agents, who were largely pleased with the progress of the questioning, and CIA officers, who felt Abu Zubaida was holding out on them and providing disinformation. Tensions came to a head after FBI agents witnessed the use of some harsh tactics on Abu Zubaida, including keeping him naked in his cell, subjecting him to extreme cold and bombarding him with loud rock music.

  2. According to the AP, Judge orders hearing on CIA videos. “A federal judge has ordered a hearing on whether the Bush administration violated a court order by destroying CIA interrogation videos of two al-Qaida suspects. U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy rejected calls from the Justice Department to stay out of the matter. He ordered lawyers to appear before him Friday morning. In June 2005, Kennedy ordered the administration to safeguard ‘all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.’ Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos.”

  3. The Bush administration is racing against the deadline to reward the corporate ‘news’ organizations that helped them gain and keep power. The Washington Post reports, FCC’s contested cross-ownership rule set for vote. “The Federal Communications Commission is pushing ahead to pass a rule today that would allow more consolidation of local media ownership in the nation’s largest cities, despite the fresh threat of a legislative rebuke and continued protests from advocacy groups. The rule, proposed by Chairman Kevin J. Martin, a Republican, has been assailed by members of his own commission, denounced by a unanimous vote of the Senate Commerce Committee and called harmful to media diversity by a number of groups who say Martin is rushing it through without adequate public comment… Martin’s action is backed by the White House”.

  4. This is how our Congress works. Behold! War Pork! The Hill reports Rep. Courtney scores submarine funding win for Connecticut. “Freshman Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) came to Congress this year with one obsession: getting more money for attack submarines, a staple of significant employment in his district… That victory, widely considered a strong boost for the vulnerable Democrat, stemmed in part from a decision of several powerful lawmakers to push Courtney’s cause… Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee; Murtha’s Senate counterpart, Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii); House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.); and Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee.”

A bonus, if you can even call it that, story about Willard Mitt Romney is below the fold.

Leaving “No Child Left Behind” Behind

this is crossposted from Daily Kos, which will explain some of the dkos specific references

Our No. 1 education program is incoherent, unworkable, and doomed. But the next president still can have a huge impact on improving American schooling.

   So says perhaps the most cogent writer on educational matters, Richard Rothstein, in a piece in he American Prospect whose title, like that of this diary, is Leaving “No Child Left Behind” Behind   Before The New York Times lost its senses, Rothstein wrote columns regularly on educational matters.   Those of us who try to help the general public and policy matters  understand the reality of educational policy have often drawn some of our bgest arguments from his work.

The article, which became available online yesterday, presents the key issues as well as they can be presented, and there is little I can add, although I will offer a few comments of my own.  The notable educational figure Deborah Meier has said that we should blog about this and distribute the article as widely as possible.    I urge you to consider doing what you can, including if warranted recommended this diary, to make the article as visible as possible.

No coin out of my pocket.

I have been thinking a lot about the spontaneous secularism that has swept most western cultures. One of the greatest kinds of movements, this one occurred on an individual level without any kind of central figures. The individual choice just happened to happen in roughly the same time as everyone else making the same choice, unbeknownst to one another.

Cultures are making a liberal (In the traditional sense of the word, not the taint modern American political entertaiment has applied to it.) jump, a liberal progression for religion beyond even reformation, the ability to denounce a supreme being in public without being ridiculed, or worse.

This also happened when most western cultures were snug as bug in a rug with their universal health care and eduction. Feeling secure in this never before heard of safety net, they no longer felt the need to go to church. Their prayers had been answered, they had found sanctuary. But as a people they had provided it. God was MIA again.

And then there is America.

America is still a little to theocratic for my taste. I don’t know what is worse. Knowing the theocrats would never allow Brazilian MTV to be shown in America, or that they use people’s love of Jesus to justify their wars. This small minority is oppressive to American culture as a whole. They dominate almost every facet of our lives, and will continue to do so until we get universal health care and education like every other civilized western culture.

See, that is why the the theocrats and the corporate Right are in cohots. For outdated economic reasons, the corporate Right thinks universal health care is a bad idea. The theocrats though, they don’t want America to get health care because then people might flee the pews. How very Christian.

So basically, until we get universal health care, we live in a theocracy.

Merry Christmas Franklin and Jefferson!

Does Activism Work? …You Bet Your Ass It Does! The Dodd Report

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Very Important Note! The numbers below are JUST from Dodd’s site, they do not count the vast numbers of folks from all the other blogs who were pushing on this. When we DO rise up as activists and bloggers and unite, we DO make a difference. Good Work everyone!

h/t to mcjoan

Some Stats on FISA Activism

posted by Matt Browner-Hamlin, Campaign Blogger

I thought you might be interested to read some of the statistics for what people have done through our site to lobby the Senate to stop retroactive immunity.

11,300+ people emailed the Senators (16,000 people visited the page, a 75% follow through rate)…

506,000+ emails were sent to the Senate…

5,700+ comments were submitted through the website (350+ were posted on Twitter) in 7 hours…

135+ people joined the Facebook group since 11am…

340 people reported the phone calls they made to the Senate…

Quite simply, between Chris Dodd’s leadership and your activism, we were able to stop retroactive immunity today. The fight will continue next month, but with support like this I am confident that we can resume this fight and move towards victory.

Kucinich ‘Peace Train’ rolls through California this weekend w/poll

Ah, the days of a whistle stop tour!  One can just imagine Lincoln as he moved from Springfield to Washington DC in 1861:


The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations While We Aren’t Asking and Telling

Don’t ask don’t tell came to visit my house on Sunday.  It hasn’t been a huge issue for me.  I didn’t see where people were being hurt and we know people in the Army who are gay and we just don’t talk about it and they don’t share their lives with us but as Armando pointed out not long ago where racism and America intersects, the status quo of silence is not going to be able to stand the test of time.

On Sunday I was hurt by don’t ask don’t tell.  I was hurt in the motherhood part of my soul and that’s my most tender part.  We live close to a gay military relationship but I’m not going to give details because people could be hurt.  Funny thing is that the person I’m most exposed to in the gay relationship that lives close to us doesn’t like me and I don’t like her.  Our personalities just clash.  I respect her humanity though and her personhood and would never desire to harm her so I’m going to be mostly silent here as I am in my real life and only speak about my exposure to her life in ways that make my point and leave her and her family safe.

DocuD Stats and Related Info

The SoapBlox software is doing a wonderful job of getting us to the top of google search results.  But that wouldn’t be possible without the community members, you, doing such a good job at researching and presenting your information.  We have students and teachers looking for background information on everything from Greek Goddesses to Steroids.  We have political types tracking important developments in Washington, we have advertisers researching our domain to see how many links are on google and then returning to place ads (as witnessed by our two new ads today).  We have new visitors from all over the world clicking on your response essays to the top News Publishers.

Your diary didn’t get many responses?  Well, just consider that your diary is not only being published on the web site, it is also being sent out to newsreaders, myYahoo pages, Google Home Pages, etc.  So even if people aren’t logging in to DocuD they could still very well be reading your stories.  In time more and more of them will make there way here to find you.

Stats and stuff below the fold:    

John Edwards for President


A candidate diary at Docudharma? Oh Noes!

Not really, just one man’s opinion. Just to get it down somewhere kinda official looking. So without further ado…

Realistically, only three can win the nomination.

Clinton, Obama, and maybe if the stars align Edwards.

From The “Pols Are Pols” File

So when you discuss politicians, some folks seem intent in believing pols are not pols. My old refrain remains the same. During primary season, the cult of the candidates is strong. Consider this discussion of the non/tepid support for Ned Lamont and the strong support from Establishment Dems of Joe Lieberman.

As you can see, for members of a candidate cult, this is irrelevant. The most honest answer is this is what Establishment politicians do. They act in their own political interests as they see them. I never railed about these Establishment pols’ actions during the Lamont/Lieberman campaign because that is what I expected them to do.

Of course, some pols act against the Establishment position when they perceive it is in their best political interests. Chris Dodd’s admirable actions yesterday are an example of that.

Folks put too much stock in the motivations of pols. What matters is what they do, not why they do it. The answer to the why is always the same – to win elections.

Judge the what. Reward the actions you approve of. Condemn the actions you disapprove of.

Be a smart consumer of your politics. Remember that pols are pols and they do what they do.

NYT Asks a Deep Question: What Are Laws of Nature, Anyway?

The New York Times has a good article up today about one of the deepest questions that can be asked: What are “laws of nature”?

Physics describes the universe on the scales of the very large and the very small.  But are the equations which accurately track the antics of galaxies and quarks merely tracking those movements or do those equations themselves refer to deep truths about “laws” that govern the universe?  

If the former, why are the regularities of nature . . . well, regular?  If the latter, whence come the laws?  What are they, really?  And how much variability could there have been in those laws?  To put it differently, how different could the universe have been?

There are two seperate questions here.  The second, and less deep, question is, “How many different laws of nature could have resulted in a coherent world?”  The first, and deeper, question is, “Are there laws of nature, really?  Do they exist in the same way that electrons and elephants exist?”

In season of celebration, remember those who suffer

From our friend Dennis O’Neil at the Iraq Moratorium:

This Friday, December 21, is Iraq Moratorium Day #4.

The end of December is a time of celebration. On the 22nd, the days

start getting longer once again. Friends and family gather to observe

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. Whatever the stresses of the holiday

season, it is a time to rest, to renew ties, to be grateful for having

made it through another year.

But let us keep in our hearts those with less reason to celebrate:

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