June 18, 2011 archive

Reporting From NN11: Russ Feingold Keynote Address

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Thursday night’s opening speakers to the nearly 2500 bloggers attending this year’s Netroots Nation were former Vermont governor, Dr. Howard Dean, WI State Senator Chris Larsen, AFT President Randi Weingarten and Yemeni blogger Afrah Nasser. The highlight of the night was the keynote address by former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold who was introduced by Marcy Wheeler of FDL.

Russ Feingold is a hero, and for good reason, to progressives. Russ was one, if not the only one, of the Democratic Senate, make that Senate as a whole, who really stood up for civil liberties in the face of the bipartisan onslaught that has occurred over the last decade, both under George Bush and Barack Obama.

Russ Feingold: ‘The Democratic Party Is In Danger Of Losing Its Identity’

By Amanda Terkel

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold issued Democrats a dire warning at the annual Netroots Nation conference here on Thursday, saying the party was in danger of losing its “soul” if it accepts corporate contributions in the 2012 elections.

“Sometimes we have to be very direct with the Democratic Party,” said Feingold to the crowd of progressive activists and bloggers at the Minneapolis Convention Center. “Just as you have long pushed our Democrats to stand up for their ideals, I’m here this evening to ask you to redouble your efforts. I fear that the Democratic Party is in danger of losing its identity.”

Feingold pointed to Priorities USA, a new Democratic independent expenditure group — known as a super political action committee (PAC) — that is allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of corporate money. It was launched by former deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton and former senior adviser Sean Sweeney in April.

“Creating those kinds of super PACs for Democrats is wrong. It is not something we should do. I disagree,” Feingold said. “I think it’s a mistake for us to take the argument that they like to make — that what we’re going to do now is, we’re going to take corporate money like the Republicans do, then after we win, we’ll change it. When’s the last time anyone did that? Most people don’t change the rules after they win.”

This Week In The Dream Antilles

You never give me your money

you only give me your funny paper

And in the middle of negotiations you break down

I never give you my number

I only give you my situation

And in the middle of investigation I break down

This Week your Bloguero’s vehicle (Note: this does not mean the Mahayana) ended up in the breakdown lane.  Actually.  This is partially homophonic and also

oddly metaphorical: the brakes broke. Your Bloguero appreciates these heavily coded messages from the Universe.  But does it mean that the brakes were defective, or used too much, or used too little?  Likewise the driver, your Bloguero: too much brakeage, too little? Not enough breaks? Not enough braking? Time for vacation? It is, as Churchill said, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside and enigma.  Your Bloguero contemplates these messages and their significance, believe it or not.  He has taken out his secret decoder ring and is working diligently on it.  So far he has no results to report. If you dear reader know what it means, if you know what any of it means, please write the answer on a $50 bill and mail it to your Bloguero.  Meanwhile, your Bloguero’s negotiations with the Universe’s mail room continue with your Bloguero’s quest for greater explication meeting a certain persistent opaqueness.

Wednesday your Bloguero celebrated Bloomsday, an actual holiday in Ireland, and the only holiday anywhere based on a novel. Your Bloguero hears you muttering.  The Bible is not a novel.  Regardless, your Bloguero thought about a breakfast made of the “inner organs of beasts and fowls” but managed instead only a Gorgonzola sandwich, a salad, and a glass of claret.  Poldo would have been proud that his lunch of 107 years ago was so beautifully and joyfully duplicated.

New York State, where your Bloguero finds himself at the moment, is trying to get to a vote on marriage equality.  Something with the misleading name of National Organization For Marriage (which is actually against the marriages in question) has been making repeated, annoying Robo Calls to your Bloguero’s several phone lines.  And even leaving messages on the voicemail that it called to take an important survey.  Hah.  What a bogus waste of money, what an annoyance.  Stop The Robo Calls, Please explains who is paying for this insanity.  And as your Bloguero posts this digest, the question of whether the vote will occur and whether there are enough votes for it to pass the New York Senate appears still undecided.

Your Bloguero fell hook, line and sinker for the Amina Abdallah hoax.  First, your Bloguero, incensed that the blogger who wrote the Gay Girl in Damascus blog had been targeted by Syrian government goons, kidnapped by thugs, and silenced if not disappeared, urged readers to Free Amina!.  But then questions about the authenticity of the blogger arose, and your Bloguero dutifully wrote that maybe he (and others) were being snookered in How Many “L’s” Are There In “Gullible”.  These early reports led eventually to an admission that Amina was actually an American man in Scotland.  And a fiction. Your Bloguero could have let the issue drop.  But no.  He put up a mea culpa, It Was A Hoax.  There Is No Amina, thus capping a three-essay hors d’oeuvre to what had by then become a five course meal of crow sushi, which your Bloguero dutifully ate.  Face meet egg.

As if the embarrassment of Amina weren’t enough to leave The Dream Antilles abandoned in the breakdown lane, there was Anthony Weiner’s apology (before resignation) to that thug Andrew Breitbart.  Your Bloguero responded in disgust with Time To Change The Channel On The Weiner Affair.  The entire affaire may have set a new world standard for narcissism and hubris, but the folks at Guinness World Records haven’t reported out yet.  They may be considering it for another award in another category, political ineptitude.

The week couldn’t have been complete without your Bloguero complaining about the US Men’s National Soccer Team.  Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game was a discussion of the US’s embarrassing loss in the Gold Cup (Copa de Oro) to Panama.  Your Bloguero is no fan of that prima ballerina Landon Donovan, but your Bloguero’s contempt for him is nothing compared to his disgust at what tries to pass for the US defense.  Put another way, there are players on the field, but they are not a defense.  They are an embarrassment to your Bloguero.  And they’d be an embarrassment to the nation if the nation, like your Bloguero, cared about futbol.  But enough recrimination.  This weekend the US plays Jamaica.  So if the loss to Panama qualified as a national disgrace, your Bloguero is sure it will be topped by this event. Your Bloguero thinks Jamaica will eliminate the US, 2-0.  To the US team your Bloguero thumbs his nose and says, “Jamaican me crazy.”  In any futbol oriented country in the world, the US coach and many of the players would be the focus of a media hail storm.  It only furthers the disgrace that it won’t happen here, no matter how terribly the team plays this weekend.

Your Bloguero notes that this Digest is a weekly feature. Your Bloguero, though needs encouragement to continue.  From you.  It’s easy to give him that.  If you read this Digest, please click the “encouragement jar” in the comments.  That’s the only way your Bloguero will know that you visited.  And sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps him going.  Hasta pronto.


On Fathers Day ‘Think!’ of the ‘Gold Star Children’

And yes I do realize there are ‘Gold Star Children’ who have lost Mothers, especially in these two long conflicts, not minimizing the fact that many of the women soldiers killed were possibly Mothers as they all were Daughters, Sisters or Nieces and Aunts, the greater numbers killed still in war are male.

CBS sought out a message with meaning for Fathers Day, that aired June 17 2011, and I totally agree with the one they found which among many messages it should send ties our long war of choice, Vietnam where this Country said it would remember the lessons of, to both current wars of choice, Afghanistan and Iraq, lessons forgotten five minutes after Vietnam and so many DeJa-Vu’s of then repeated with many enhanced and coming on faster.

Six In The Morning

Obama pressed for swift U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) urges president Obama to quickly pull out at least half of the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, another sign of Congress’ unease with the conflict.

By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau  

Reporting from Washington– A leading antiwar congresswoman established a new marker in the Afghanistan war debate Friday, calling on President Obama to swiftly withdraw at least 50,000 U.S. troops in a further indication of Congress’ growing unease with the 10-year-old military operation.

The push from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) offers the president a view from the political left as the White House engages in internal deliberations over the scale of the drawdown Obama plans to announce in July. Lee said anything less than a halving of the 100,000 U.S. troop presence would be too modest.

Saturday’s Headlines:

Drought and poachers take Botswana’s natural wonder to brink of catastrophe

Saudi women take to the road in show of defiance

Paris and Berlin unite behind new Greek aid package

TEPCO documents show problems encountered in venting, pumping water to damaged reactors

Deploying New Tools to Stop the Hackers

My encounter with Jane Curtin

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Inspired TheMomCat’s reporting from Netroots Nation.

I’m informed that the only reason John Aravosis (of Americablog) has been wearing shorts to his sessions is that mcjoan spilled something on his good pants.  And yet TheMomCat reports to me he’s been wearing the same shorts for two days!

I want to tell you the story of me and Jane Curtin.

I was at a conference in New York and it was lunch time and Jane was the featured speaker.  I was in my business clothes as befits an officer in my club and I and the rest of our delegation got in line to pick up our boxes.  Beverages were served from 2 Liter bottles buffet style and I felt fortunate when I got to the station they had Club Soda (though Seltzer is better for you because it has less salt) because it’s one of my favorite soft drinks, pure fizz, not too sweet, and no caffine which makes me twitchy.  There were no bottles open so I opened one and it proceeded to drench me in that Mentos and Diet Coke way that they do.

Hah, hah, hah.  My “friends” pointed and hooted at me as I squished to the table.  Good thing it was just Club Soda which not only dries, but you can use as a stain remover.

So we sat down and ate and predictably late Jane and her entourage came in and very democratically moved through the same line we had used.

Evidently others in the grander group also liked Club Soda and Jane did too but when she got there the bottle was empty so she opened a new one.

It was extremely gratifying she had no better results than I, the embarassing part was that I was the only one that couldn’t suppress my laughter.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan



The TMG discovered that opium poppies were being sold at home improvement centers in Tokyo and 18 other prefectures.

A tanker truck spilled 18 metric tons of milk after overturning in a single-vehicle accident in Shiga Prefecture late last month. The 32-year-old driver suffered minor injuries, mostly to his ego.

The education ministry announced that the number of Japanese studying abroad has declined every year since 2004.

A collection of drawings of coal miners by artist Sakubei Yamamoto (1892-1984) are the first Japanese works that UNESCO will list as a “Memory of the World.”

Two Japanese climbers were killed-likely by an avalanche-after summiting Mt. McKinley in Alaska.

Panasonic and eight other companies have banded together to build a “sustainable smart town” in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. The village will feature, among other energy-saving devices, “a system for sharing electric vehicles.”

Popular Culture (Media) 20110617: I Quit, and an open Letter to Keith Olbermann

This may be a bit of an enigmatic title, so I shall explain posthaste.  I have quit listening to and watching the extreme right wing talkers.  I have monitored them for years, so you do not have to do so, but I finally just had enough, and could not take it any more.  There are a couple of reasons, but the largest one was that I was stupider after listening than before.

Ma always told me that after I read a book, listened to a radio program, or watched a TeeVee show to ask myself one question:  what have I learnt?  In the case of the radical, hate filled, ultra right wing talkers, NOTHING lately.  I learnt some time ago who they were and what they were preaching, and it is nothing but hatred and fear.  I guess that I was just listening more recently for how they would do it.

That is enough.  I am gone.  I quit listening to the drug addled and deafened Limbaugh some months ago because all he does is bellow.  More to follow.

Successes and Failures

I’ve noticed recently the tendency to start reviewing this year’s legislative and governmental progress…as if this were the end of the year.  Admittedly it is in many cases the end of the legislative session, but my calendar still has a good six months to go.

Autumn Sandeen has a commentary in the San Diego LGBT Weekly, which highlights the fact that we have equality in three more states (HI, NV, and CT) and fought off a challenge to equality in Maine and that antidiscrimination protections were added administratively for federal employees.  And soon we should see that trans clients of our government (at least at HHS and the VA) have equal rights to the services we seek.

[For those who don’t know, transpeople will not gain anything from the repeal of DADT since we are excluded from service for other…administrative, not legislative…reasons.]

All that is good, but I was taught as a child that we learn more from our failures than from our successes.  So what of our failures this year?