November 10, 2009 archive

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  52 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Suicide car bomb kills 32 in Pakistan market: officials

by Lehaz Ali, AFP

2 hrs 15 mins ago

CHARSADDA, Pakistan (AFP) – A suicide car bomb tore through a crowded shopping street in Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 32 people in the third militant attack to strike the nuclear-armed country in as many days.

The bomber blew up his vehicle in the heart of the northwest town of Charsadda on a road lined with fruit and juice shops, ripping off shop roofs and littering the ground with slippers, human flesh and broken push carts.

The United States has put Pakistan on the frontline of its war against Al-Qaeda and has been increasingly disturbed by deteriorating security in the country where attacks and bombings have killed about 2,500 people in 28 months.

Action Alert: Money bomb today to fund a documentary about direct democracy, plus other activism

There’s been a lot of talk about “direct democracy” since Obama was elected – about how his campaign involved people at a level never before seen in national politics, how his White House has been using online programs to get peoples’ input, and so on.  But what if we as Americans could participate on a level even beyond this – what if we had the power of lawmaking?

I’m not saying we should get rid of Congress, I’m saying that we should add to it by embracing The National Initiative for Democracy (aka NI4D), a campaign for ballot initiatives at all levels of government.

Together with a few dozen other people, I am helping to create a documentary about the history of democracy and how the NI4D is the next natural step in that process.  Even though we’re making the movie with volunteers, we still have some small costs, and that’s where you come in.


Find out more below the fold.

In case you didn’t see it, former Senator Mike Gravel also had a diary about this yesterday.

The Lysistrata Movement

Ah, Aristophanes! How well you understood the martial excesses of your times, and how delightfully did you sketch the true power that need only assert itself in the face of patriarchal ambitions to grasp its ultimate power in this world.

For twenty-five long years during the last of the fifth century b.c.e. the Athenian democracy fought the Spartan oligarchy over the shape and nature of the ancient world. The endless war sucked away the wealth and strength – and sons – of the city-states and territories and spread civil strife throughout the Aegean region. Originally staged in Athens in 411 b.c.e. – seven years before the end of the war – Aristophanes’ brilliant and funny Lysistrata was so popular it still serves as a humorous reminder nearly 2500 years later that the ultimate power of life and continuance, the power men most fear above all things, belongs to women.

Most of us are familiar with the plot line of Lysistrata, how she rallied the women of Athens to seize the Acropolis and convinced the women of Sparta to join in a Sex Strike to bring an end to the conflict. The sex strike theme has been borrowed here and there, and the play recast in modern, more feminist terms many times during the 20th century, and staged every year since 2003 (beginning with an Iraq peace protest) in the 21st. Yet here we are all these centuries later, suffering a new patriarchal shove-down of women’s rights and power by a fearful warrior class and the government that commands them into endless wars for the profit of soul-less oligarchs.

The Stupak amendment is the final insult for me. I have NO reason to believe the misshapen, grotesquely immoral oligarchs in D.C. when they claim they didn’t ‘mean’ to strip us of a long-enshrined constitutional right to privacy for our own bodies and important health decisions when they voted this abomination into the HCR bill. Thus I have NO reason to believe their lying lips when they claim it will never make it to the final law. I would have to be a much bigger fool than I already am to play along with that sort of pure garbage at this point in time – Congress does nothing by accident.

Open Valley


My $11,000,000 Book: Excerpts From Chapter 2

(I’m so very pleased and also proud to continue bringin’ ya some excerpts from my soon-to-be released book there.  In addition to publishing these excerpts, I’ve been helpin’ Todd build a trophy case for my inevitable Nobel Prize for literature.  Hey, if Obama won it for peace I can win it for literature, right?  Also we’re makin’ the trophy case extra big in case a Pulitzer or Peabody should come my way.

If you haven’t read Excerpts from Chapter One, go and read it this instant!  If ya haven’t read Chapter One first, Chapter Two will just seem like a bunch of nonsensical gibberish.  I mean, gosh, ya wouldn’t start watchin’ a hockey game in the second period, would ya?  Then again, based on the ratings nobody is watchin’ the first or third periods of hockey games either…(sigh)…remind me to make hockey game viewership mandatory when I get to be President.

So let’s get the ball rollin’ with Chapter Two, a behind-the-scenes look at my meteoric rise in Alaska politics, takin’ on the ol’ establishment there like a pit bull wearin’ lipstick . . .)

Bernie Sanders may filibuster if there ISN’T a ROBUST public option for everyone

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    The ONE Senator that I can safely say is NOT bought off, the one Senator that we can be certain is NOT owned by the banks is Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It looks like good ole Bernie is putting his left foot down on the public option and threatening a filibuster of his own if there isn’t a ROBUST public option that is available to everyone in the Senate version of the health care bill.

    I think this is GREAT news, and I’ll explain why below the fold, where you can find a full transcript of this video as well.

The Twilight of Class War

(Cross-posted from The Free Speech Zone)

As I write this, the assessment of what the Health Reform Bill has in it and what it provides is still being looked at, however there is only one thing that even the liberal news outlets don’t deny is in the bill yet they seem to not see any problems with this.

The plan calls for those who may suffer “hardship” to be waived from being responsible to purchase a health plan.  I picture many middle-aged liberals sipping their wine at their computer chairs thinking it covers all those that aren’t them, you know, the ones whose kids get “free lunch” at their children’s school.  

Well, this is not the case.

Act globally


Pall Corp. to pay $2M to clean Glen Cove waste site

One of Long Island’s  largest companies has agreed to pay New York $2 million to clean up hazardous waste at a state Superfund site in Glen Cove where the firm once manufactured high-tech filters.

The settlement with Pall Corp. of Port Washington will cover most of the state’s estimated $2.4 million cost to address pollution at the 5-acre site, according to state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office, which announced the deal Monday.

It covers contaminated soil and groundwater down to 60 feet below the surface at 30 and 36 Sea Cliff Ave. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is still investigating deep groundwater contamination there and could pursue further legal action, Cuomo’s office said.

Health Care: The Definition of Success is Failure

The political news streaming out of Washington, at least as reported by the major outlets, already casts a large, ominous shadow promising nothing but inevitable disappointment and tension headaches.  By strong implication, the ultimate effect produced no matter what health care bill is passed by both chambers and then signed into law will be that of bitterest disappointment.  The irony, however, is that no matter the outcome, whatever results from negotiation and finds its way onto President Obama’s desk will be deemed either insufficient or detrimental in the minds of both liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike.  I suppose I was of the silly opinion that success had many fathers while failure was an orphan.  That a bill so desperately needed could be so reviled, rather than revered upon enactment, (and, need I mention, years before it will even be fully implemented and tested for effectiveness) speaks to how we seem to judge winning and losing these days.

As Paul Simon wrote,

Laugh about it

Shout about it,

When you’ve got to choose,

Every way you look at it, you lose.

Regardless of one’s political allegiance, the Health Care Reform bill will be rightly deemed beneficial or detrimental when it is more or less fully integrated into the existing system.  It is at that point, which might be as long as five whole years from now that we will be able to make a credible judgment for ourselves as to whether or not it works.  Until then, we are merely gaming on probabilities and resorting to that eternal bane of every cagey politician:  speculating about hypotheticals.  Although hammering out the intent of the bill is highly necessary, our fiercest criticisms should be saved for much later down the road.  My thoughts now pivot to the words of the Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who, when discussing his opinion as to the root cause of that divisive conflict, stated,

“We failed to do the thing we have a true genius for, compromise.  Americans like to think of themselves as uncompromising but it’s the basis of our democracy, our government is founded on it; it failed.”

To highlight another current issue, some are already pronouncing the stimulus package either an outright failure or a disappointment, but the truth of the matter is that its impact is simply not as bombastic and instantly transformative as many of us were expecting.  A vast majority of the funds have not yet even been dispersed or spent and many others are tied up in bureaucratic red tape.  The lesson to be learned is that government works very slowly, it is heavily indebted to the status quo, and that no matter what promises of change are made, one must work within the established parameters of the system.  This does not mean, however, that in seeking massive reform that we had unrealistic expectations going into it.  Ideals are the only way that anything gets formulated and brought to the floor.  

Change will come to Washington, but the pace is not proportional to our anticipation of it.  We live in a lightning-quick, impulsive, short-attention span world fed by media but this is absolutely nothing like the world in which our elected representatives dwell.  Most people I know find C-SPAN to be an effective anti-insomnia cure and not edge-of-one’s-seat entertainment.  One of my friends chose to study international politics rather than American politics because in other countries, one was apt to see scenes of excitement and upheaval on a frequent basis:  coup d’etats, violence in the streets, huge rallies, transparent espionage, and moments of high drama.  In recent memory, with the notable exception of the 1960’s, one rarely observes such things here, and even then the unrest didn’t reach the fevered pitch of say, the Prague Spring.  By contrast, we are indebted to the example of our English forebearers whose one and only revolution produced a short-term attempt at Parliamentary democracy, an equally short-lived de facto military dictatorship, and then a prompt re-establishment of the monarchy, albeit with a few democratic concessions granted to English citizens.  Our own revolution did not, quite unlike the French, take on a radical component that attempted to sweep aside almost all established conventions in the process.                  

Some are quick to pronounce Americans as either center-right or center-left, but I think center by itself would suffice.  Most people, if asked, would probably identify themselves as moderate.  We are a centrist nation, by in large, and one which looks upon both unabashed liberal strains and conservative strains with a great degree of suspicion.  Our fear of radicalism and/or reactionary elements is hardwired into our DNA.  Most Americans are not inclined to march in the streets or to take on activist roles.  Being left alone to their own devices might be the attitude of a vast majority.  Regarding health care, what will probably be signed into law will be a slightly left-leaning proposal that contains concessionary measures to moderates while preserving a few key demands of liberals.  Love it or hate it, this is just how Democracy functions within a pluralistic society.  When Mussolini took control of Italy as a dictator, the saying goes, the trains ran on time like never before, but then again, the barrel of a gun has a persuasive power that an attack ad never does.    

Lest one think otherwise, I don’t want to seem as though I’m happy with accepting crumbs when promised a lavish dinner.  Certain elements of the House bill really trouble me, particularly the anti-abortion amendment tacked onto it as a means of placating anti-choice legislators.  Still, the place for changing minds and disseminating ideological stances is ours, not theirs.  The role of the politician is, as stated, to best represent the beliefs of his/her constituency.  If our stated duty is enlightening and educating the ignorant, then we might take this huge flap over health care as a reference point of where we need to allocate our resources and the strategies we propose to use to accomplish it.  We are not immune to the need for reform, either, and though we might make a living off of rocking other peoples’ boats, we need someone to rock our own every so often, too.    

Afghanistan: “These people just want to be left alone”

Crossposted from Antemedius

The Guardian’s Sean Smith spent a month embedded with the US Army’s 501st Parachute Regiment in June this year, and reports now that with inadequate vehicles, relations with Afghan security forces at a standstill and the constant threat of IEDs, US Troops in the country are losing heart for a fight they feel their presence is only prolonging, while many Afghanis say that the presence of the troops is causing problems for them because that is what is attracting the Taliban.

Real News Network – November 9, 2009

‘These people just want to be left alone’

In Afghanistan the US soldiers are losing heart for a fight they feel their presence is only prolonging

Docudharma Times Tuesday November 10

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Democrats Raise Alarms Over Costs of Health Bills

Editor of controversial magazine in China resigns after conflict with backers

Fort Hood suspect warned of threats within the ranks

Website listing addresses and aerial photos of celebrity homes comes under scrutiny

North and South Korean navies exchange fire

China executes nine people over riots that left 200 dead

Dictator’s wife defiant over forced adoptions

Aleksei Dymovsky in YouTube plea for Putin to end police corruption

American hikers charged with espionage by Iran

Lebanon finally forms government

Fear and secrecy cloak Eritrea, Africa’s hermit nation

Glorious vision in Kenya’s sky melts away

On Paying For Immoral Things, Or, Is Stupak On To Something?

There has been a great wailing and gnashing of teeth over the past day or so as those who follow the healthcare debate react to the Stupak/Some Creepy Republican Guy Amendment.

The Amendment, which is apparently intended to respond to conservative Democrats’ concerns that too many women were voting for the Party in recent elections, was attached to the House’s version of healthcare reform legislation that was voted out of the House this weekend.

The goal is to limit women’s access to reproductive medicine services, particularly abortions; this based on the concept that citizens of good conscience shouldn’t have their tax dollars used to fund activities they find morally repugnant.

At first blush, I was on the mild end of the wailing and gnashing spectrum myself…but having taken a day to mull the thing over, I’m starting to think that maybe we should take a look at the thinking behind this…and I’m also starting to think that, properly applied, Stupak’s logic deserves a more important place in our own vision of how a progressive government might work.

It’s Political Judo Day today, Gentle Reader, and by the time we’re done here it’s entirely possible that you’ll see Stupak’s logic in a whole new light.

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