June 14, 2009 archive

Playing With Fire

In Put Up Or Shut Up, Sara Robinson asks conservatives if they are deliberately trying to start a civil war . . .

Just answer the question.  Yes or no.  Don’t insult us with elisions, evasions, dithering, qualifications, or conditional answers.  We need to know what your intentions are and we need to know NOW.  People are being shot dead in the streets of America at the rate of several per month now.  You may not want responsibility for this–but the whackadoodles pulling the triggers make no bones about who put them up to this.

You did.

The assassins themselves are ratting you out.  They’re telling us, straight up, that they were inspired to act by the hate radio talkers that you empowered–one of whom is now the de facto head of the Republican party.  They got it from media outlets owned by your biggest donors.  They got it from bloggers who receive daily talking points faxed in from the GOP.

Conservatives are playing with fire.  It’s what they do.  It’s all they do.  They played with fire by invading and occupying Iraq, and we all got burned.  They played with fire by deregulating Wall Street and the banking industry, and we all got burned.  They played with fire by torching the Bill of Rights, and we all got burned.  If you disagree with them, prepare to be blowtorched.    

Avignon (A Photo Blog)

By the beginning of the 14th Century, Italy was wracked by wars between rival religious and political factions, rival merchant states, and rival factions within these factions and merchant states. The “Holy” “Roman” “Emperor” Heinrich VII invaded, but failed to take Rome. And amidst this violent turmoil, Giotto reinvented art and launched the southern Renaissance, while Dante and Petrarch reinvented poetry. And also amidst this turmoil, and with his papacy threatened, Pope Clement V, under pressure from the French King Philippe IV le Bel, moved the papal court to Avignon, which was not actually in France, but was in the Venaissan enclave granted to the papacy by its Angevin clients. The next seven popes would be French, but not all Catholic nations would accept them. The Catholic Church again would be torn by schisms.

The 14th Century saw Europe torn apart and reinvented, and France was at the heart of it. The Black Death would kill perhaps eight million people, in France alone. Jews and lepers would be burned, on order of King Philip V. The Hundred Years War with England would rage. The Capetian dynasty would end. The Dukes of Burgundy, who controlled not only that modern French region, but also what are now the modern Benelux nations, sided with England, attempting to form a sort of middle kingdom, between the war-ravaged France and Germany. Under their patronage, Claus Sluter would launch the northern Renaissance.

In the 1330s, Pope Benedict XII began the massive renovation of the Avignon ecclesiastical palace, tranforming it into the grand Palais des Papes. In 1377, St. Catherine of Siena convinced Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome, which soon led to yet more schisms within the Church, including the election of an alternate pope in Avignon.

(Photo intensive, after the jump…)

Considered Forthwith: Senate Finance Committee

Welcome to the 12th installment of “Considered Forthwith.”

This weekly series looks at the various committees in the House and the Senate. Committees are the workshops of our democracy. This is where bills are considered, revised, and occasionally advance for consideration by the House and Senate. Most committees also have the authority to exercise oversight of related executive branch agencies.

This week, Considered Forthwith looks at the Senate Finance Committee. This committee is the other half of the health care reform debate equation. I detailed the other half, the Senate HELP Committee, last week.

In general, the Finance Committee handles tax measures and government-funded health insurance programs. As a result, this is a very powerful committee. Moreover, if health care reform dies, it will likely find its grave in this committee.

HR 2835: Marijuana reform, or, is that like just your opinion, man

Crossposted at http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

    Representative Barney Frank has introduced H.R. 2835, a bill which is intended to reschedule marijuana for medical use and end federal interference in state laws.

    To provide for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States.


   Moving the Overton window happens one step at a time. We need to take bigger steps. This bill does not address the problems inherit in the drug war or the marijuana prohibition issue. If you want a national drug policy that makes sense, this bill does not address the problem, and right now our national drug policy is a big part of THE problem.

    The bill, which was co-sponsored by 13 bipartisan Members of Congress at the time of introduction, would change federal policy on medical marijuana in a number of ways. Specifically, the Act would change marijuana from a Schedule I drug, classified as having no medical value, to a Schedule II drug, which would recognize marijuana’s medical efficacy and create a regulatory framework for the FDA to begin a drug approval process for marijuana. The act would also prevent interference by the federal government in any local or state run medical marijuana program.


    What seems like a valiant effort to protect medical marijuana users is not quite the problem. Of course I want medical marijuana users to be able to get the medicine they are prescribed, but that is not the Problem.


Private vs Public Options — What’s the Difference?

Private vs. Public Schools: What’s the Difference?

Your goal is to find a school that will meet your child’s needs. But how do you choose between a public school and a private school?

[… interesting list of Pros and Cons …]

The Bottom Line

There are a few fundamental differences between public and private schools, but here’s the bottom line: There are great private schools and there are great public schools. The trick is finding the school that best fits your child’s needs. You may also want to consider public charter schools or homeschooling. It’s a good idea to research the schools that interest you and, to get a true picture of the school, visit in person.

(emphasis added)


Has Competition from Public Education “killed” the thriving Industry of Private Education?


Neither will Competition from a Public Option in Health Care, “kill” the thriving Industry of Private Insurance — assuming they actually have a Product, that People are willing to pay for!

and if they don’t …?

ExGitmo Detainee in Bermuda Speaks on CNN

Here’s something for anyone who’s in a pissy mood with no one to piss at. Or on. Grrr.

I saw this late last night, I had CNN on my teevee, looking for News on the Iran situation. So this comes on.

CNN’s Don Lemon gets fmr. Security Advisor Townsend’s reaction to two freed gitmo detainees who claim they were innocent.

Townsend was a real piece of work.

It wasn’t all that easy to find. Click to watch -> “Ex-Gitmo Detainees Speak” over there.

Café Discovery: Writer’s Block

I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance … one should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write. You just shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing … I can imagine a person beginning to feel he’s not able to write up to that standard he imagines the world has set for him. But to me that’s surrealistic. The only standard I can rationally have is the standard I’m meeting right now … You should be more willing to forgive yourself. It doesn’t make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you’ve done it.

–William Stafford

(Warning:  Graphics inside)

Utopia 10: My Brother’s Keeper

“Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.” Hubert Humphrey

Is Obama a Criminal?

I am thinking of sending this to the local letters to the editor red newspaper so give me your best shot. Content,style, punctuation hell even spelling. Have at it.

We managed to get through two world wars and some others without having any state secrets or at least if we did then we did not withhold evidence upon that basis until 1953. This is the precedent upon which all future state secrete claims for withholding evidence is based. In this landmark case the judge was not allowed to see the evidence and ruled in the blind. After release of the classified documents, new litigation was attempted, based in part, on a complaint that the classified material contained no secret information. It appears the government lied to the court. Who would have thought it? Disgraceful! The president in 1953 was Eisenstein who won WWII with some help, lied to the court. Presidents relying on this precedent, well draw your own conclusions.

Destruction of evidence of a crime is its self a crime. Now suppose instead of burning or shredding the evidence it were made unavailable, say sealing in a container and dropping in the Marianas trench. How is that different from declaring the evidence a state secret and thus unavailable? What if the hidden evidence contained information of a serious crime, say a war crime. The president claiming the state secrete privilege would for certain be a criminal on the one hand but the criminally would be in theory justified by preventing damage to the nation, said damage theoretical –  unproved and unprovable.  

A judge would have to determine whether the evidence should be put at ocean bottom or made public. In many cases the judge is not given access to the material in question and must rely on affidavits submitted by DOJ attorneys, who as in the 1953 case have been less than truthful. He would have to weigh whether a serious criminal, or band of criminals, should be allowed to go free against the theoretical damage to the nation, said damage theoretical –  unproved and unprovable. The damage could be the destruction of an aircraft carrier or merely nonexistent. What should he do? Being a judge is hard work.

Of course if said president were invoking the state secret for a  reason other than to protect the nation, then assuming the evidence had information about a crime then he would just be in my opinion an uncommon criminal. Even the thought of having a criminal for president, especially since I worked so hard to get him elected is hard to take. But then again after eight years a fellow gets used to it, but it doesn’t make the next four easier.  

This discussion concerns the torture evidence and President Obamas efforts to pretend it never happened. He is disobeying court orders, using state secrets privilege where it cannot be justified, he is trying to get congress to pass a law making the information public illegal and lastly he is fighting a losing battle. The photos and other evidence are coming out either legally or otherwise. The demand for accountability cannot be ignored.  It is scentless to pretend that Al’ Queda, those tortured, those torturing, those watching and taking pictures of torture, those in charge of torture, those who ordered torture, those who tried to legalize torture, peoples around the world and you and I are ignorant or uncaring about torture.

It is hard for me to imagin how in six short months I have gone from reading progressive internet blogs which boil down to Obama = JFK to blogs boiling down to Obama = Bush. How in hell did that happen so quickly? I cannot grasp the idea supporting ” The way to a successful presidency and reelection is to do what Bush did.”.

Sunday music retrospective: Joni

Joni Mitchell

Both Sides Now


For “Flag Day”!!

Put this together a few years ago, and Still with No Accountability and a Collapsed Economy, done so by Greed, Extreme Corruption and Continued Incompetence, The Song and Thoughts Still Stand!!!!!

We have a failed Federal Government! No oversite, checks and balances, investigations, opposition, now for over Six Long and Ugly Partisan Years! Will the change in power, coming to the Peoples Congress change things, We’ll Be Watching! But there Must Be ‘Investigations’, in Many Area’s, but Especially as to this so called ‘War on Terrorism’, Iraq, War Profiteering……! Much Proof already in Public Domain, if investigations lead to ‘Impeachment’ so be it, than Indictments of ALL Involved!!


Beware of Geeks bearing VATs

Burning the Midnight Oil for a Brawny Recovery, cross-posted from My Left Wing.

If you wander around the fringes of economic discussion on these Interwebs, you may encounter sites extolling the wondrous virtues of the VAT. “If only we would adopt a massive VAT, our two decade long decline in manufacturing output would be gone, and we would be an exporting powerhouse once again.” … well, no, that would be a stereotyping of the argument. A real sample of the claims sound more like this, from tradereform.org:

I Squared R Element Company is in Akron, New York. It makes industrial heating elements which are used for many processes to make other things, including glass and computer chips. The company was the low bidder on a contract to export to China.

However, the company lost the bid. Why?

I squared R was told it did not include, in its bid, China’s 10% customs duty or the 17% value added tax(VAT) that must be paid at the border.

All our goods pay a 17% VAT at the Chinese border. And the uninformed say we are a high cost producer. Chinese exporters also get a 17% VAT rebate, i.e. they get paid to export.

And, yes, I have picked out this quote to pick on VAT-uber-alles advocates, precisely because it focuses on the part of the argument that is simply wrong.

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