October 27, 2009 archive

Remember Mischief Night? It’s back, and it could get us statewide single payer in PA

In case you’re unaware, there is currently a bill in the Pennsylvania state legislature to establish a statewide single-payer (that’s something close to Medicare for all) system.  Governor Rendell has pledged to sign it if it gets to his desk, and there are currently 35 co-sponsors in the House – including 4 Republicans – and 9 co-sponsors in the Senate.  That’s out of a Senate of 50 and a House of 203.

This Friday, the 30th, there will be a protest at a Blue Cross/Blue Shield building in Philadelphia in support of single payer, and in my state of Pennsylvania this will have particular significance because of how close we are to real health care reform.

IMPORTANT:  If you can’t make it to the protest, but live in Pennsylvania, please contact your state legislators and/or the media to either thank them for their support or to urge them to support these bills (SB 400 and HB 1660).  You can do that here.

“The Lord Places People in This or That Country”

Columbus’s first voyage in 1492 combined with his religious motivations for making it led Pope Alexander VI to issue a Papal Bull in 1493.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  45 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Eight more US troops dead in Afghan war’s blackest month

by Lynne O’Donnell, AFP

1 hr 5 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – Bomb attacks killed another eight American soldiers Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, making October the deadliest month for US forces in their eight-year war against the Taliban.

The latest attacks, which were claimed by the Taliban, came the day after 14 US soldiers and narcotics agents died in helicopter crashes, piling pressure on US President Barack Obama as he mulls sending tens of thousands more troops.

Seven of the soldiers were killed along with an Afghan civilian in one attack in the south of the country, said NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The eighth died in a separate attack in another part of the south, said ISAF without giving further details about the locations.

Joe Lieberman to Filibuster with Republicans against HRC

Sen. Joseph Lieberman has stated that he will filibuster with the Republicans against HR 3200 because of the Public Option. Harry Reid should strip him immediately of his chairmanship of Homeland Security.  

Liberte, Egalite, and the Unity of Humanity, Back to the Beginning

In an effort to discuss the intersection of morality, spirituality and politics I am going to reprint a few essays and when I can write a few new ones. Here is a (slightly edited) reprint as a jumping off point.

(Please don’t cut off my head for changing from “fraternite/brotherhood” to the Unity of Humanity! )

When it comes right down to it those are the principles or the ideology of “The Left.” Freedom for all, Equality for all, and a spirit of “brotherhood”…or, cooperation.

It cannot be said much better, and in a way, anything else is commentary, lol.

So let’s get to the commentary! As some have said, perhaps the term ‘The Left” should not enter the discussion at all, and I agree in principle. But we are stuck with the fact that there are a large group of people who believe that these principles should be the blueprint for the human race and a large group of people who don’t. We could just as easily call them Humanists and Corporatists but those don’t really cover it either…mainly because each is a somewhat archaic term with it’s own baggage.

So perhaps one of the things we need to do for the purposes of the discussion we are having herehere…and here is to define our terms. But everyone knows how boring that is, lol.

For me the message in my sig line has always served as shorthand for the state of the world…”Reality is the result of war between two rival groups of programmers.” These two forces that shape the world we live in have had many, many names in the history of the world. But there have always been basically two opposing forces.

What are they? How old are they? How basic, or intrinsic are they, to the Human condition? Here is my answer….


No We Can’t: Obama sabotages Harry Reid’s PO efforts

President Obama and his staff (Rahm Emanuel) are actively undermining Senator Harry Reid’s efforts to get a Public Option through the Senate, with the opt-out provision, and instead favor the Insurance Company blessed “triggercharade that has been championed by Republican Senator Olympia Snow.

A sitting U. S. President has enormous power to influence wavering Senators on close bills, and keep unity within the Party on important goals. But Obama is not only sitting by passively and refusing to get behind Harry Reid’s effort, he is actually now scoffing at it, and projecting that Reid’s effort can’t work (i.e. sabotaging the momentum) while refusing to lend any proactive help to make it succeed.

NBC News reported that Obama administration officials called Reid’s decision to go ahead with an opt-out public option “dangerous.”

The administration basically told Reid, “You’re the vote counter. But don’t come crying to us when you need that last vote,” Chuck Todd said on MSNBC.

Obama privately discouraged Senate Democrats from pursuing the opt-out plan. “Everybody knows we’re close enough that these guys could be rolled. They just don’t want to do it” a senior Democratic source told the Huffington Post, saying that Obama is worried about the political fate of Blue Dogs and conservative Senate Democrats. “These last couple folks, they could get them if Obama leaned on them.”


Rising Star Quits Foreign Service–Over Afghanistan

I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan. I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.

That’s Matthew Hoh, an Iraq combat veteran who spent most of this year as this country’s senior civilian in chaotic Zabul Province. He just quit the State Department, despite pleas and offers from his superiors, in the full realization that he is putting himself in the hot seat.

Most of the Afghanistan discussion here and in the broader left-liberal blogosphere focuses these days on the administration’s “policy review” and the known unknowns of Cabinet and Pentagon debates. Unfortunately, the “sides” in these debates seem to ignore the people of this country who in increasing numbers tell pollsters they want the war over with, most ricky-tick (to say nothing of the wishes of the people of Afghanistan).

There are those of us who have been arguing, some with restraint and patience, some hollering like our hair is on fire, that the job of progressives is not to speculate on those debates, nor to defer to officials who are said to know more than we, nor yet to mute our criticism of the President lest his enemies take comfort from our words.

Now Matthew Hoh, fresh from the battlefield, says he quit because he knows what must happen if this quagmire is not to claim more thousands of lives, more billions of dollars:

I want people in Iowa, people in Arkansas, people in Arizona, to call their congressman and say, “Listen, I don’t think this is right.”

As we say in the Iraq Moratorium: It’s Got To Stop. We’ve Got To Stop It.

Crossposted from DKos.

Kerry on Afghanistan

I’ll start this out with a short clip of a speech Senator, and brother ‘Nam Veteran, Kerry gave on his return from a fact finding and diplomacy trip to Afghanistan. In this clip, in just a couple of sentences, he lays out the reality as to what one leading ‘chickenhawk’, and to many war criminal, has been blathering lately. Though Kerry doesn’t mention it also speaks as to what that chief ‘chickenhawk’s’ spokesperson, his daughter, fast becoming the leading ‘chickenhawkette’, has also been spreading around, allowed to and rarely, if ever, challenged.

The New American System is Much Like the Old

One-hundred and eighty-one years ago, this nation was engaged in similar debate over similar issues.  A recently elected Democratic president by the name of Andrew Jackson had won the office by vowing to uphold the rights of the people, not the small circle of well-connected and powerful brokers that had run Capitol Hill for close to a quarter of a century.  Had there been highways then, or, for that matter, cars, one might have dubbed these new money, self-proclaimed, unapologetic aristocrats the Beltway elites.  Jackson’s election was nothing less than an abomination to these sorts, since they placed no faith, nor any trust in what they considered to be the under-educated, ill-informed grumblings of the partisan rabble.  Government of the people, by the elites was their governing philosophy, and it had gone unchallenged since the beginning of the Republic.    

Though Old Hickory sought to carry the banner of the common person, this didn’t necessarily mean he supported progressive reform in all of its incarnations.  

…Jackson fretted about what were drily known as internal improvements–projected roads and canals that were to be funded by the federal government.  The issue was at the heart of a philosophical argument.  Was Washington’s role to be a limited one, leaving such matters to the states except in truly national cases, or was the federal government to be a catalyst in what was know as “the American System,” in which tariffs and the sales of public land funded federally sponsored internal improvements?  As President, Jackson favored the former, John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay the latter.  Related, in Jackson’s mind, was the issue of the national debt (the money owed by the federal government).  To him, debt was dangerous, for debt put money in the hands of creditors–and if money was in the hands of creditors, it could not be in the hands of the people, where Jackson believed it belonged. (Bold mine)

American Lion:  Andrew Jackson in the White House by John Meachum

A true son of the South, Jackson was understandably squeamish to impose too much federal authority upon state government, even if it promised desperately needed infrastructure to industrialize and modernize a country which was still largely agrarian and rural.  However, his reluctance to take on debt for any purpose, no matter how worthy, is not the same sort cited by Republican politicians of our day.  Perhaps the question we ought to ask ourselves in age is “Who holds our debt and do they have our own best interest at heart?”  Jackson did not live in an age where globalization had complicated and expanded monetary policy to the degree that foreign investors were heavily involved in the process;  he did, however, hold an oversimplified point of view that saw money as belonging either to the moneychangers or the people with no overlap in between.  Today’s GOP eagerly sounds the warning regarding our spiraling national debt but certainly has no credible plan, nor plausible solution that would place it firmly in the hands of their primary constituents.  If such a thing were proposed by a Democrat, Republicans would surely claim that doing so would “spread the wealth around” in a radical redistribution scheme that, once enacted would destroy the country’s economic structure.    

Meanwhile, we have now commenced with hand-wringing in response to a less active electorate this time around.  The below passage disproves the idea that fickle and transitory voter participation is unique purely to our day.  

A Scottish visitor to Albany in the late 1820s noted an American love of what he called “the spirit of electioneering, which seems to enter as an essential ingredient into the composition of everything.”  But it was a highly personal kind of electioneering:  “The Americans, as it appears to me, are infinitely more occupied about bringing in a given candidate, than they are about the advancement of those measures of which he is conceived to be the supporter.” (Bold mine.)  


We love the chase but then quickly lose interest with the implementation stage.  Media saturation, short attention spans, rock star politics, and all the other theories currently proposed that aim to explain why voter participation and interest is down from its height of this time last year might be simply explained as Americans acting like Americans.  To be sure, activists never lose their focus or their drive, but most of us are not activists.  Jackson was one of the first politicians to whittle down complex issues for the easy digestion of the average citizen.  Had there been television in his day, one might have called them sound bytes.  This, of course, oversimplified often contentious and complicated policy decisions, but Jackson’s belief was that the American worker had no time to devote from his busy day for in-depth political study and contemplation.  This assertion is one that frequently frustrates activists of our times—who demand larger participation but recognize too that the time and energy commitment needed to push reform is often more than many people are willing or able to devote.        

Regarding Presidential strategy, Jackson was cautious not to box himself in, even though this left him open to charges of playing politics when candor and taking a firm stand might seem to be a better strategy.  An immensely popular President upon taking office, he had a knack for strategic positioning and a marked refusal to provide his enemies an easy target, likely due in part to his years as a military man.  It was also a response to the well-known fact that the General had more than a few enemies in high places who coveted his office for themselves and would use any means necessary to achieve it.  

[Jackson’s] first inaugural…was purposely vague.  Gazing out on the admirers gathered at the foot of the Capitol steps, Jackson saw that he was the object of wide affection—but he was not yet certain of the depth of that affection.  The people hailed him today but might not tomorrow.  Better, then, to proceed with care, to be general rather than specific, universal rather than particular—for specificity and particularity would give his foes weapons to use against him.  Many leaders would have been seduced by the roar of that crowd, lulled into thinking themselves infallible, or omnipotent, or secure in the love of their followers.  

But Jackson knew that politics, like emotion, is not static.  There would be times where he would have to tell people what they did not want to hear, press a case they did not want to accept, point them in a direction they would prefer not to go.  Best, then, to preserve capital to spend on those speeches and those battles.

(Bold mine.)


President Obama is fortunate that the relative weakness of the Republican party and the still ample approval among those in his own party do not leave him vulnerable to direct challenges to his authority as Chief Executive.  Unlike Jackson, he does not relish making enemies and in so doing, challenging them to duels.  Some of us would prefer a President cut from that same cloth, though I do note that nothing unifies otherwise disparate elements only tangentially related to each other more than a common enemy.  This course of action does not make for theatrical governance or high drama, certainly, but perhaps the boring way is the best way.  Any President is compelled to occasionally be the bearer of bad tidings, the purveyor of necessary, but unpopular policy, and the leader pointing the way against a headwind of reluctance and even stubborn refusal.  The more change one pushes for, the more one must assume such mantles.  Many will feel short-changed, disregarded, and under-represented in the process.  Lament it, if you will, but be sure to acknowledge the substantial challenges that face those who attempt its removal.  This New American System combined with a still very New American President might not require as much patience as it does a fundamental understanding of the balancing act and slight-of-hand required of any politician.  Our response never changes, but what does change is how quickly we forget that these struggles are not exactly unique to our times.  

Correction: Obama could never = the last a$$clown no matter how bad he might Phuck Up

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    I felt a correction was in order after the diary I wrote yesterday. Upon deeper introspection I have come to the conclusion that no matter how bad Obama might phuck up he couldn’t possibly be worse at Presidenting than the last a$$clown who tried.

    And upon being reminded what a phuck up the last guy was, I would like to invite you all to please join me in remembering the EPIC and Ongoing FAIL that was the George W. Bush legacy.

    Former President George W. Bush told more than 11,000 people at the Fort Worth Convention Center that he was confident he made the right decisions as president, even if it hurt his popularity.

    “Every single day I was honored to be your president by bringing honor and dignity to the office,” Bush said Monday afternoon, during his first foray into motivational speaking, at the day-long “Get Motivated” seminar.


Bold text added by diarist

     Get Motivated! by the biggest Presidential Failure since Herbert Hoover!

   Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com  

    More EPOCHAL FAIL below the fold.

Docudharma Times Tuesday October 27

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Ex-A.I.G. Chief Is Back, Luring Talent From Rescued Firm

Statisticians reject global cooling

U.S. official resigns over Afghan war

New York race at epicenter of a GOP mutiny

Egypt needs more women in power

Israel accused of denying Palestinians access to water

France glued to saga of the fugitive

Fury as Karadzic refuses to turn up for war crimes trial

China champion banned for life for drugs use

Japan to create huge ‘manga’ library

South Africa: Should white students who made racist video be reinstated?

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

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The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂  

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

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