February 7, 2009 archive

Nonviolently taking back our country part II: breaking the formula

In my last essay I proposed the short term fix of the poor, middle class and unemployed helping each other via barter of self-produced goods and services and the use of Freecycle. The long-handled spoons allegory I brought in was particularly apt because it strongly resembles the situation we have today. The handles are so long on our spoons because there is a great deal of mileage and a lot of corporate infrastructure between the stuff on the end of the spoon and our hands. It’s like we’re on the wrong end of a pyramid scheme where we’re paying a hundred people to do something as simple as provide a package of raspberries in the grocery store.

In the summer I wrote about the irony of harvesting a good seven quarts of wild raspberries growing near the railroad tracks close to where I live, while the store down the road was selling the same thing for $4.99 for 4 ounces. The store-bought total value for what I harvested ended up being something around $360.00.

I wrote about how people have become so dependent on thinking that there’s only one way to solve problems – the “acceptable” way, the status quo; that people who lived 15 miles away from midtown Manhattan spent the night sleeping on the sidewalk during the northeastern blackout of August 2005 rather than simply… walk home.

It would have taken the average person about five hours to walk those 15 miles. They could have walked along the railroad tracks – the trains certainly weren’t running. They could have slept in their own beds that night. But no… they slept in their clothes on the sidewalk. Because that’s what everybody else was doing. Because they’ve become so dependent on the idea that they couldn’t get home without a car, a bus or a train that they didn’t even THINK to walk. They’ve become fixated on the idea that because it takes them an hour to get into the city during rush hour, they surely live more than fifteen miles away from it. To cite the Dead Kennedys album title, “Give Me Convenience Or Give Me Death”.

To save our economy and our nation, we need people willing to think outside the box.

The problem is, we have an awful lot of people who do NOT want us to do that. Because the box is of their making, and they’re very proud of it.

I spent some time the other night listening to the clip of FDR’s first broadcast to the nation that Edger posted in Pluto’s essay on the subject, and while I recognized many a good intention and wise goal in FDR’s plan, I also caught a sentence here and there that got my inner cynic smirking; and furthermore I recognized that there were some interesting peripheral things going on both before and after this speech was made.

I recognized a pattern, a formula. It’s a bad scene that’s going to see some daylight here and now, because we’re being set up to be shoved into that box again and we need to stop the madness.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Now with World News Update!

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 A-Rod reportedly tested positive for steroids

Associated Press

14 mins ago

NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in his MVP season of 2003 with Texas, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.

The New York Yankees star failed a drug test for two anabolic steroids, four sources told the magazine in a story posted Saturday on its Web site.

His name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in a 2003 baseball survey, SI said. He reportedly tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone while playing for the Rangers.

Barack Obama is @#$% tired of this @#$%!

Note: The MP3 links will open in Windows Media Player, or your default MP3 player.

Barack Obama is @#$% tired of this @#$%!

Published Feb 05 2009, 04:16 PM by Mike Miliard at The Boston Phoenix


(Or, a NSFW plan to ram the stimulus bill home, told via downloadable mp3 ring tones.)

In his bestselling autobiography, Dreams From My Father, President Obama introduces us to his high school friend, “Ray,” who, like him, is bi-racial. Who, also like him, is casting about to find his place in the world. But, who, unlike him, has a potty mouth that would make a sailor blush.

Best of all? When reading the audiobook version of his bio, Obama does impressions of Ray’s manner of speech. Swear words and all. It’s fucking awesome. And it’s a way of talking we probably won’t be hearing from him now that he’s POTUS.

Or will we?

In case you haven’t heard, it’s becoming clearer by the day that Obama is losing the communication war, and ceding this stimulus battle to the GOP. (If that article doesn’t get the point across, read this one too.)

He’s starting to amp up the rhetoric. But it’s not enough.

It’s time to stop this mealy-mouthed stuff about bipartisanship altogether. It’s pointless. Those flat-earth neanderthals are just gonna throw it back in his face.

No, it’s time for Obama to lay it all out on the table.

Time to start talking tough.

What’s he got to be afraid of? Rush Limbaugh?

Fuck no! Say it loud!

You know that guy ain’t shit. Sorry-ass motherfucker ain’t got nothing on me.” (MP3)

So let’s roll up our sleeves and cut to the chase.

Building a National Consensus Means Being Hated

News Flash! The last 50 years of Culture War has polarized the United States.

To the truly absurd point where the two sides of this polarization have come to the point of literally having their own facts. Each side takes any and all new information and pushes it through the sausage grinder of their own political and cultural leans and viewpoint. What emerges, unsurprisingly, is one ‘fact’ interpreted two different, exactly opposite, ways. Each side then uses this ‘fact’ to bolster it’s own viewpoint. If you can’t agree on the facts, and we can’t, if you can’t agree on what is true, and we can’t, you can never achieve a consensus.

If you can’t reach a consensus, all you can reach is a half baked ‘agreement’ that nobody likes. Since nobody likes it it probably won’t work. Since no one likes it, both sides will attack it….and the divide continues, as both sides blame each other for ‘it’ not working.

Obama, the poor fool, is trying to heal this divide. Despite the fact that the divide has grown so wide that most of the participants that are on the firing line, the media, pundits, politicians…and bloggers are so immersed in the process and so entrenched in their positions that they haven lost the ability to think in any other terms.

Including me. Because, hey, The Republicans are after all lying shit stains who will lie cheat steal torture and kill to advance their power and agenda of hate. So….when any concession or compromise occurs…It pisses me off to no end. I hate it. And I condemn who ever did it. Bastards.

Obama is trying to end that, end it enough at least, to achieve some sort, any sort of national consensus. He is not trying, ultimately, to achieve political bi-partisanship to achieve the change he envisions. He is trying to achieve enough of a consensus, enough bi-partisanship among citizens to allow him to change the way that politics works in the US. That means rejecting ALL ideologies and sides and producing a series of minor changes that eventually translate into weakening both ‘sides’ and building the middle….the only place that consensus can occur.

To do that…..he has to piss everybody off.

It is working!

No matter what he does, both sides will play out their part in the partisan play. Both sides will use the same tactics that they have been using for so very, very long. The only advantage he has is that everything sucks SO bad that it is obvious that the way we have been doing things doesn’t work. If he can prove to the ‘middle’ that he can make things work even marginally better, the middle will untie to defeat both sides….and THAT will be the Change.

That will take time. Time to produce results….and time for both sides to ‘recover’ from the extreme bloodletting on both sides that The Republicans thrive on and the Democrats suck at to calm down a bit.

Which sux, because dammit we are right! Even though being right hasn’t gotten us jack shit for a very long time. They are wrong and we are right. our facts prove that. But until we can regain enough of a national consensus to once again agree on what even the word fact actually means, we will never win.

As usual, Obama is fighting the bigger war, while we wrangle over the small ones. As we must. His ultimate goal is VERY large. I hope he wins. But until he does, I will keep fighting those lying assholes.

And keep trying not to hate him for cooperating with them, as he tries his best to destroy the power of both the Left and the Right and build a national consensus more powerful than both…that actually makes our government work.

Damn, being a grownup is hard!

Saving 49, strike that, make it 51 Lives (Part 8)

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

This may be my final, daily essay on this topic. This is my essay for Sunday, February 8, 2009, but I’m putting it up now.

This essay is about reason number 2,781 for signing this petition and for emailing Attorney General Holder at Whitehouse.gov or  at askDOJ@usdoj.gov to ask the Attorney General to reconsider whether prosecutors should seek the death penalty in the pending 49 50 51 federal death penalty cases, and when he determines that these cases are not appropriate for that extremely barbaric, horrific, inhuman penalty (no cases in actuality are ever appropriate for the death penalty), to direct prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.  


How Bad? This Bad.


If you are having trouble reading the fine print: The blue line shows job losses in the 1990 recession; the red line is 2001, and the green line is the path we are on now.

To clarify, these are not projections. This is actual job-loss data.

Indian Mascots & Death Threats to a 15 yr. old

The FBI told us that American Indians are still the most assaulted in hate crimes, and I had thought there that “some or many will not admit that violence against Native Americans is made more probable because of the institutionalized racism that is American Indian sports teams mascots, even if it is true – and it probably is.”

Well, it is. Death threats against a 15 year old have spawned, because a coward published a 15 year old American Indian’s name in a newspaper.

A local businessman placed a quarter-page ad in the local newspaper explicitly naming and targeting Eli Cordero, the young student who originally brought the issue to the school board.

It is the soul that must be preserved

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m finding myself exhausted. Its only been about 2 1/2 weeks with this new administration, but I feel like my pace of trying to keep up with things has been pretty frenetic. I’m trying very hard to read, listen and collect my thoughts about what I think is happening. And between a hyped-up media and a progressive blogoshpere that is analyzing every move anyone in DC makes, its an awful lot to absorb.

That’s why this morning, I felt a need to go back and read An Open Letter to Barack Obama that was written by Alice Walker the day after the election. I remember that it moved me greatly and I thought it was wonderful advice that she gave. Its just that now, maybe I need it too.

Docudharma Times Saturday February 7

The 42%  Tax Cut Stimulus

How Lucky for The Rich

Saturday’s Headlines:

Jobless numbers soared in January at worst rate since ’74

Far-right Israel politician gains momentum

Iranian Revolution revisited 30 years after it changed the world

US dismay as ‘father’ of Pakistan A-bomb freed

Revealed: Burma’s human exports

In Zimbabwe the coffin is a wardrobe and the hearse is a trolley

Priest’s mission in Kenya went beyond church

EU’s Barroso Demands Russian ‘Reliability’ in Relations

Italian right-to-die move blocked

The Mystifying Life and Many Deaths of Cuba’s Talisman

Senators Reach Accord on Stimulus Plan as Jobs Vanish


Published: February 6, 2009

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats reached an agreement with Republican moderates on Friday to pare a huge economic recovery measure, clearing the way for approval of a package that President Obama said was urgently needed in light of mounting job losses.

The deal, announced on the Senate floor, was a result of two days of tense negotiations and political theater. Mr. Obama dispatched his chief of staff to Capitol Hill to help conclude the talks and reassure senators in his own party, and he called three key Republicans to applaud them for their patriotism.

Earlier, when it looked as if a vote might take place Friday night, officials said, a government plane was dispatched to Florida to bring back Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who has brain cancer.

A Lebanese Political Satirist With Hezbollah Among His Targets



Published: February 6, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon

EVERY weekday, Lebanon’s large and fractious cast of politicians appears on television in news conferences and speeches. And every night at 7:45 they appear all over again – only this time as rubber puppets who sing, dance and babble their way through the day’s news.

The wizard behind this nightly transformation is Charbel Khalil, a small, round-faced and very brave man of 41. His new show, “Democracy,” which first went on the air in September, is the latest in a career-long series of comedic broadsides aimed at the vanities of Lebanese politics and society.

It is not an easy profession. Mr. Khalil has been threatened more times than he can count, briefly driven into exile and forced to sit waiting for hours in the offices of offended Syrian commanders.



Ginsburg’s Illness Puts Focus on Choices Ahead for Obama

By Carrie Johnson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, February 7, 2009; Page A02

The announcement this week that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer served as an early reminder of the weighty judicial choices ahead for President Obama, who must fill urgent vacancies on appeals courts and federal trial courts as well as potential seats on the nation’s highest court.

Ginsburg, 75, had surgery Thursday at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York to remove a small cancerous tumor from the center of her pancreas. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said yesterday that Ginsburg intends to come back to the court in time for three days of oral arguments beginning Feb. 23

What does it mean to Be Guilty?



The fact of being responsible for the commission of an offense. See synonyms at blame.

Law. Culpability for a crime or lesser breach of regulations that carries a legal penalty.

Remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.

Self-reproach for supposed inadequacy or wrongdoing.

Guilty conduct; sin.


OK.  I dared to crosspost it:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

Late Night Karaoke

Hey You Yes, You

Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven

Democracy Now Debate: Horton vs Ratner on Renditions, Appendix M

A fascinating debate took place at Democracy Now! yesterday. With Amy Goodman as host, Harpers Magazine’s Scott Horton, and President of Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, went at it on the subject of Obama’s renditions and interrogation policies, including the existence of coercive interrogation instructions in the Army Field Manual. These policies have been a matter of some debate ever since Obama issued his executive orders regarding the issues a few weeks ago.

(An excellent companion piece to this debate would be the interviews Goodman did with former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman and Michael Ratner last November, when it was announced that Obama was staffing his transition team with John Brennan and Jami Miscik. The former was a supporter of wireless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition, while the latter was involved in the scandals around “faulty” intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq.)

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