February 9, 2009 archive

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


…something wicked this way comes

Acts of abandonment

of common decency

litter our times

with inhumanity

so dense

as to require

skillful excision

using a scalpel

of hardened hope

and dreams made real

by the collective

efforts of people

with opened eyes

uncovered ears

and noses

capable of smelling

the stench of greed

which moves the planet

ever closer

to the edge

of catastrophe

But the scalpel is dull

and the hands too few

the will appears too weak

to wield it now

on the mouldering body

of what passes for

our culture

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–October 3, 2008

Late Night Karaoke

Monday’s Wake-Up Music

Iron Butterfly – In A Gadda Da Vida

Why Dems like the filibuster; it’s a fig leaf

Steve Burns at the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice asks a very timely question, as Congress takes it sweet time tinkering with a stimulus bill:

What is it the makes Democrats so committed to the Senate rule that allows the minority to tie things in knots?

Remember the "nuclear option" threat by the GOP when Republicans ruled the Senate? The threat, basically, was that if Dems didn't play ball they'd change the rules and eliminate the rule that says you need 60 votes to end debate and pass a bill.

It’s not like it was in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Says Burns:

After Democrats retook the Senate in the 2006, Republicans, now the minority, filibustered frequently, under a tacit agreement with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that they would never actually be required to go through exertions of Mr. Smith’s Senator Jefferson Smith. No thermos of hot coffee and wax-paper-wrapped sandwiches for them, Republican leaders merely needed to utter the word “filibuster” and Reid would quickly drop any proposed legislation that didn’t have a guarantee of 60 votes. This exercise became so routine that newspapers began to omit mention of the filibuster entirely, simply reporting that a piece of legislation failed because it didn’t have the “60 votes needed for passage.” An inattentive reader might be forgiven for thinking the Constitution had been quietly amended to require a three-fifths majority for passage of legislation in the Senate.

Why do the two parties have such differing levels of commitment to the filibuster? Republicans, when in the majority, are willing to discard it entirely, and agree to keep it only on the condition that it never be used, while Democrats cling stubbornly to the filibuster, even when it appears to ensure the defeat of their legislative program. Why?

I’ve thought for some time, during the last session of Congress, that Democrats should call the GOP bluff.  Make them actually filibuster.

I’ve been thinking it while watching this charade on the stimulus bill.  If Republicans want to stand up and talk for days to prevent passage of an economic stimulus package, while the economic handbasket careens closer to hell every day, let them do that.

Let the whole country see what they stand for.  Let the voters see that it’s not just Rush Limbaugh who is willing to put everyone at risk for the sake of political payback.

If they want to filibuster, I say bring it on.

It’s time for Dems to quit making nice and up the ante.

But WNPJ's Burns suggests that Harry Reid and others may actually like the rule, and the way it’s applied now, because it gives them a great excuse for inaction or half-assed action:

It places Senate Democrats in the enviable position of enjoying all the perks of being the majority party – like committee chairmanships and an increased ability to bring home the bacon – with none of the responsibilities that would normally accompany majority party status. “Want more money for Head Start? Sorry, we’d just love to do that, but those nasty Republicans won’t let us – the filibuster, you know,” is the standard Democratic refrain.

Read the rest of Burn's excellent piece on the WNPJ blog here.  

A Weekend of We Have Too!

Lamestream/MKULTRA/STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS LABORATORIES media bleats out the single meme of We Must Bailout.  It is THE only Solution.  Yet when I take a survey of my fellow peasants over the age of fifty all of them agree that IF “the package” passes America as they know it is over.  I am talking about those who don’t exhibit alzheimers symptoms.  When TeeVee tells me I have to then it must be the primary current theme of the Satanic Illuminati.  It has even taken on that sex sells connotation “The Stimulus” “Package”.

Ain’t enough Viagara injected intraveinously is going to jump start….

Torture Liability for Rendition Aircraft Company

On Monday, the Obama administration may answer some lingering questions about the parameters of our torture policies now that Bush is history. Oral argument is scheduled to address whether Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan can face trial on civil liability for torture based on its role in extraordinary rendition flights (pdf file).  Five men claiming that they were tortured by the US alleged that Jeppesen transported the rendered prisoners to countries known for torture or to CIA black site prisons. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit when Bush invoked the state secrets privilege. The issue is now on appeal before the 9th Circuit. This is not an either/or issue: The courts have authority to protect our national security, promote governmental transparency and redress harms to torture victims.  

A Message from History: Democrats, Attack!

I’m not normally one to rant – among the scores of diaries I’ve posted over the course of the past three years, only a handful are of the “screed” variety.  The sort of diaries I usually do don’t lend themselves to soapbox-style indignation – there’s not much to be gained, legislatively or electorally speaking, from a knock-down, drag-out flame war over, say, assigning blame for the outbreak of the First World War.

Yet, as I’ve often stated, sometimes the worst thing about being an historian is that one often has a pretty good idea of what’s coming next, decline-and-fall-of-civilizationwise.  Certain patterns are discernable, and seem to play out each time a civ rises to a leadership role in human development or the exercise of might – and no civilization has ever shown itself immune to the degrading effects of time.  Since often an understanding of the events of the past can inform the shape of responses in the present, it’s here that this historian perceives a role for an historical rant.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Updated with 63 Stories including Top, World, and U.S.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Summers warns that stimulus battle not yet over

By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 48 mins ago

WASHINGTON – One of President Barack Obama’s top economic advisers forecast Sunday a difficult struggle with Congress over Senate cuts of $40 billion for state and local governments from the administration’s massive spending and tax cut package to stimulate the failing economy.

The $827 billion Senate version of the plan – designed to bring the economy out of the worst downward spiral since the Great Depression – was expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday. The House had already passed its $819 billion version of the measure.

Lawmakers were likely to begin reconciling those differences later this week, with Obama still pressing to have the stimulus measure on his desk for signing by mid-month.

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Reinventing Our Relations With the Muslim World: An Interview With Former CIA Analyst Emile Nakhleh


The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Building consensus within America’s body politic and national security establishment for a new way forward with Muslims worldwide is a formidable challenge. Many Americans still don’t appreciate the complex nuances of Muslim society and remain stubbornly Islamophobic almost seven and half years after 9/11. Equally formidable is earning the goodwill of Muslims worldwide following the Iraq War as well as American atrocities perpetrated upon Islamic detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Hopefully, President Obama’s historic election has finally opened a path for constructive conversation about how America can most effectively engage the Muslim world.

The CIA’s former point man on Islam, Emile Nakahleh, has vigorously entered this conversation with his new book, A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America’s Relations With the Muslim World (Princeton University Press). From 1991 to 2006, Nakahleh served as the director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program in the Directorate of Intelligence at the CIA. He holds a PhD in international relations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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