May 10, 2010 archive

Obama Oil Spill Response: Swift And Decisive

Excellent News !!!

No Effort Has Been Spared in Massive Operation !

The USS Gravely (DDG-107) an arleigh burk-class guided missile destroyer sits in the Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi surrounded by oil containment booms to prevent oil from the Deepwater Horizon from reaching it’s hull while in port. Deepwater Horizon was an ultra-deepwater oil rig that sank April 22, causing an oil spill threatening the waters near the U.S. Gulf Coast. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (EXW/SW) Corey Truax/Released)

The USS Gravely is Safe !

Safe I tell you.

What could be better.

Sen. Leahy: Obama could nominate Moses, GOP would demand his birth certificate

     I think Al Franken is writing jokes for his fellow Democratic Senators, and I like it.

Witness teh funny

     “We have some Republicans who would automatically oppose anybody who was nominated,” Leahy said. “The President could nominate Moses the Law Giver. In fact I told the President, I said you realize if you’d nominated Moses the Law Giver, somebody would raise, ‘but he doesn’t have a birth certificate! Where’s his birth certificate!'”

   The bigger news is Senate Judiciary chairman Leahy’s statement that Kagan should get confirmation vote before August .

But for more of teh funny and the reality deprived GOP’s reaction, just go below the fold . . .  

Obama Nominates Bush-friendly Corporatist to Supreme Court

From the article: Obama Supreme Court Nominee Endorses Indefinite Detention:

Elena Kagan told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last year she backed the Obama Administration’s policy of “indefinite detention.”

From the article: Shafting progressives:

For more than 15 months, evidence has mounted that President Obama routinely combines progressive rhetoric with contrary actions. As one bad decision after another has emanated from the Oval Office, some progressives have favored denial — even though, if the name “Bush” or “McCain” had been attached to the same presidential policies, the same progressives would have been screaming bloody murder.

But enabling bad policies, with silent acquiescence or anemic dissent, encourages more of them. At this point, progressive groups and individuals who pretend that Obama’s policies merely need a few tweaks, or just suffer from a few anomalous deficiencies, are whistling past a political graveyard.

If President Obama has his way, Elena Kagan will replace John Paul Stevens — and the Supreme Court will move rightward. The nomination is very disturbing, especially because it’s part of a pattern.

The White House is in the grip of conventional centrist “wisdom” [Neocon/Corporatist]. Grim results stretch from Afghanistan to the Gulf of Mexico to communities across the USA.

It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills,” President Obama said in support of offshore oil drilling, less than three weeks before the April 20 blowout in the Gulf.

One can almost hear those exact same words of absurdity tumbling (or bumbling) out of the mouth of George W. Bush.

On numerous policy fronts, such conformity to a Neocon/Corporatist baseline has smothered hopes for moving this country in a progressive direction. Now, the president has taken a step that jeopardizes civil liberties and other basic constitutional principles.

“During the course of her Senate confirmation hearings as Solicitor General, Kagan explicitly endorsed the Bush administration’s bogus category of ‘enemy combatant,’ whose implementation has been a war crime in its own right,” University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle noted last month. “Now, in her current job as U.S. Solicitor General, Kagan is quarterbacking the continuation of the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional positions in U.S. federal court litigation around the country, including in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Boyle added: “Kagan has said ‘I love the Federalist Society.‘ This is a right-wing group; almost all of the Bush administration lawyers responsible for its war and torture memos are members of the Federalist Society.”

The departing Justice Stevens was a defender of civil liberties. Unless the Senate refuses to approve Kagan for the Supreme Court, the nation’s top court is very likely to become more hostile to civil liberties and less inclined to put limits on presidential power.

Here is yet another clear indication that progressives must mobilize to challenge the White House on matters of principle. Otherwise, history will judge us harshly — and it should.

From the article: Kagan Pro-Tribunal, Anti-Justice Record

Kagan opposed legislation designed to prevent terrorists convicted in military tribunals from using civilian courts to challenge their arbitrary convictions.

She even compared Congress’s effort, on a bipartisan basis, to clarify the laws governing the War on Terror to the “fundamentally lawless” actions of a “dictatorship.”

This is going to be a judge with a Cheney-esque, authoritarian, pro-detention, anti-Habeaus Corpus, pro-Torture(?), illegal Worldview.

Open Invention


Sunday Train: Working on the Railroad for Energy Independence

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

Well how the frack d’ya like me now?

I’m not going to say “toldya so”, since many who will be reading this diary said much the same during the “Drill, Baby, Drill” absurdity in 2008 … but the undersea oil volcano underlines, boldfaces and highlights in red the basic facts of the situation that we face:

  • Our country produces about twice as much crude oil per person as the world average
  • Our country consumes about five times as much crude oil per person as the world average
  • And we have been producing oil a long time, have passed our peak of domestic oil production, and aint ever getting back to it.

And, anyway, we already tried Drill, Baby, Drill. Its played itself out already.

Obviously, the direction to go to insulate ourselves from oil price shocks and the recessions they cause is to cut our consumption. Which means, in part, Train, Baby, Train.

Lena Horne, June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010

Lena Horne, Singer and Actress, Dies at 92

Lena Horne, who was the first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer, died on Sunday night at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She was 92 and lived in Manhattan.

Worldly Accomplishment or Spiritual Satisfaction?

Nine months spent in Washington, DC, has provided valuable insight.  Beltway insiders and area professions are their own breed.  As I’ve gotten my sea legs, more and more of their world makes sense to me.  Once I arrived here that I was immediately given some particularly infuriating advice, namely that other people were just as smart as I was, if not smarter, and that I ought to get used to it.  I think he assumed I was just like everyone else—the latest newcomer eager to play the game in a town with more than its share of naked ambition and power plays.  Perhaps he was the latest candidate for burnout, having recognized that institutional idealism is often an exercise in minutia.  Though my background and my academic career may be relatively humble, I am no stranger to elitism when I see it, and I am just as repulsed by it now as I ever was.

On This Day in History: May 10

On this day in , lead singer of U2, Bono was born Paul David Hewson in Dublin, Ireland. He has written almost all of the lyrics to U2’s song using political, social and personal experiences. Bono’s philanthropic work have made him one of the world’s best known performers. he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II and named Time’s Persons of the Year in 2005. His work and performance for Amnesty International, Band aid and Live Aid. His advocacy for third world countries has brought the AIDS epidemic in Africa to the attention of the world and it’s leaders.

Happy Birthday, Bono, and thank you.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


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Morning Migraine: It’s Elena Kagan for the Supremes

President Barack Obama, on a roll after his Attorney General floated the idea to the Sunday morning talkie tubes that the Miranda rule should be optional in the War on Terra, had his anonymous spokesperson let loose with the news late this evening that Elena Kagan would be his Supreme Court pick to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Elena Kagan, a Clinton era leftover,former Dean of Harvard Law School, and current Solicitor General, would be the 3rd female on the Supreme Court at the same time, which presumably would signal the Beginning of the End Times for certain fundamentalists.  Kagan has never been a judge.

Like most things in the Obama administration which start out sounding wonderful, there has to be a catch:…

Her nomination is unlikely to cause a damaging fight in the Senate ahead of congressional mid-term elections in November or distract the Obama administration from other issues like jobs, financial regulation and climate change legislation.…

Has plenty of ties to Obama and his administration. In addition to being solicitor general, was hired by chief White House economics adviser Larry Summers to be dean of Harvard Law School. And while at the University of Chicago, Kagan tried to recruit Obama — then a part-time lecturer in constitutional law — to a full-time job in academia.

***  Seven Republicans voted for her confirmation: Coburn (OK), Collins (ME), Gregg (NH), Hatch (UT), Kyl (AZ), Lugar (IN), Snowe (ME). Newly minted Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter voted against her.

Won praise — from both liberals and conservatives — during her tenure as dean of Harvard Law. Hired some of the best law professors in the country, including Obama friend (and administration official) Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago.

Larry Summers, Orin Hatch, and Cass Sunstein.  It’s like the Bermuda Triangle.

And Arlen Specter doesn’t like her, but remember, the Tea Party hates Arlen Specter.

One reason why she’s the nominee:…

Yesterday, I read everything Elena Kagan has ever published. It didn’t take long: in the nearly 20 years since Kagan became a law professor, she’s published very little academic scholarship-  three law review articles, along with a couple of shorter essays and two brief book reviews. Somehow, Kagan got tenure at Chicago in 1995 on the basis of a single article in The Supreme Court Review-a scholarly journal edited by Chicago’s own faculty-and a short essay in the school’s law review.

…. joining Harvard as a visiting professor of law in 1999. While there she published two articles, but since receiving tenure from Harvard in 2001 (and becoming dean of the law school in 2003) she has published nothing. (While it’s true law school deans often do little scholarly writing during their terms, Kagan is remarkable both for how little she did in the dozen years prior to becoming Harvard’s dean, and for never having written anything intended for a more general audience, either before or after taking that position.)

Kagan’s handful of publications touch on topics like regulating offensive speech, analyzing legislative motivations for speech regulations, and evaluating the process of administrative law-making. But on the vast majority of issues before the Court, Kagan has no stated opinion. Her scholarship provides no clues regarding how she would rule on such crucial contemporary issues as the scope of the president’s power in wartime, the legality of torture, or the ability of Congress to rein in campaign spending by corporations.

Nightride and Sunrise

Sibelius is frequently grouped with the ‘Romantic Nationalist’ composers (think Wagner or Tchaikovsky).  Certainly Finlandia is one of his best known works though contrary to some opinions it is not the National Anthem of Finland (that would be Maamme), but was used as the melody of the National Anthem of the short lived African country of Biafra (Land of the Rising Sun).

But rather than point you at the short (7 to 9 minutes) and cliche, I’d much rather bore you with the obscure and trivial.  The piece I have selected, Nightride and Sunrise, is a tone poem meant to evoke the emotions of an actual experience, in this case a night time ride and the rise of the sun (duh).

This recording is not the famous 1956 version by Boult and the London Philharmonic but the rather less famous undated performance of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra posted by billystewart4.

Sibelius lived quite a long time despite an early diagnosis of throat cancer.  He died in 1957 at the age of 91.  However after his 7th Symphony in 1926 his published output was very slight and in 1945 he destroyed many personal papers, presumably including the score of an unfinished 8th Symphony.

While he’s considered a national hero by the Finns, his music has received uneven reviews in other quarters with many critics calling it ‘conservative’ and ‘simplistic’ (among less kind opinions).

His reply?

“Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic.”

The Ouzo Effect Redux – the cost of doing nothing

  When the stock market plunged 1,000 point in half of an hour on Thursday, the immediate rumors were of a “fat finger” trader who punched in $16 billion instead of $16 million. It’s a disturbing idea, that a single trader could cause such financial destruction, but its better than the alternative – that the stock market plunge happened while the markets were functioning the way they were supposed to.

 Since the original rumor, the facts have been revealed – there was no “fat finger”. The stock market crashed on Thursday because that is the way the system is set up to function. Thus was should expect this event to happen again in the not so distant future.

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