Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sen Webb And Criminal Justice

Sen Jim Webb (VA-D) is pretty sure we need to do something about our system of criminal justice and he lays out some reasons why he's right.
With 5% of the world's population, our country now houses 25% of the world's reported prisoners.

Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980.

Four times as many mentally ill people are in prisons than in mental health hospitals.

Approximately 1 million gang members reside in the U.S., many of them foreign-based; and Mexican cartels operate in 230+ communities across the country.

Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often nonexistent, undermining public safety and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.

It has been fashionable for Republicans to claim Democrats and other liberal types are soft on crime but these kinds of numbers and facts seem to make a case that the hardliners may have made some mistakes. While crime rate drops matched the aging of the population they didn't seem to have squat to do with draconian punishments. We are closing on a situation of putting nearly an entire generation of black males in prison. If you consider our 25% of the world's prison population with 5% of the population you would have to decide that either we have most of the world's bad people or we are doing something radically wrong - I'm not exactly sold on the bad people proposition.

S714 would establish the National Criminal Justice Commission to look at what the failures are in law and sentencing and to look to other systems for solutions. The numbers are astonishingly bad and point to failure of monumental proportions. 2.38M people are in prison, 32% of black males will be imprisoned in their lifetime, one in 31 people are either in prison, on parole or probation a 290% increase since 1980. Having 3/4 million people returning to their communities from prison annually can only mean trouble and on average 2 of 3 will be rearrested and half will return to prison within 3 years. The War on Drugs is not only grammatically stupid, it is also an abysmal failure, the percentage of high school students reporting a drug is "very easy" or "fairly easy" to obtain marijuana ranked 86%, cocaine 47%, crack 39%, and heroin 27% in the face of a 1200% increase in prison population since 1980 of drug offenders.

We are bankrupting the government with prison costs and evidently failing across the board with the system. Granted that while commissions are a good way to bury problems they can also be formative of solutions when there is little political benefit to using one as a burial ground. Maybe some pressure to not only establish this committee but also do something with it wouldn't be misplaced. Along with Webb are Specter, Reid, Leahy, Durbin, Graham, Schumer, Murray, Wyden, Kennedy, Brown, Warner, Gillibrand, McCaskill, Cardin, and Burris; if your Senator is missing a note of suggestion might be in order.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Masters Of The Universe Need Friends, Too

Now I'd guess that laying any more tax on multi-billionaires than a carpenter would make no sense in the world of the Confederate Party of Republicanism. You could bring up small business, who in the face of a double hit on FICA/SS of 15.7% might scoff at the idea that a tax increase on hedge fund managers from 15% to 40% was a horrid thing.

It is funny how for this bunch anything that dings the uber-wealthy is bad for the little guy, the guy they're actually looking out for. You know, like the way the wealthy have cleaned up and everybody else watched wages flat line or go in the toilet.

What I'd like to know is how this idjit Cantor managed these lines with a straight face and the rest of the room didn't dissolve in laughter?

Friday, March 27, 2009

The GOP And Dunce Caps

Since the roll out of the Republican Road to Recovery Budget plan Thursday I've seen people wondering when the GOP became the Party of Epic Fail - how we lost to them or what happened to the ones we lost to? I suppose it's fair to postulate that the Republicans have gotten so used to being stenographed by the media that they didn't realize that running out a Budget that was lacking any numbers beyond a goofy tax cut wouldn't cut it with the media because it said mean things about the 'Democrat Party' budget. Maybe they thought that between Boehner's Faux Tan (is he now darker than Obama?) and Cantor's star power nobody would notice the entire and complete lack of information and the silliness of whatever those circles were supposed to be. [in the spirit of honesty the crew at Balloon Juice gets credit for some of the humor]

But the topic was "how did they get this bad?" There is a little matter of when the last time they had to do any work occurred. Bill Clinton presented certain challenges to the Republicans in Congress, he was a good politician and he was President, since then... George II (Rove) told them what to do and like good little soldiers they did. Thinking was not required and the only political calculations required were just exactly how to scare the electorate a little more this week. There is something to be said for practice in politics and having more than one arrow in your quiver. Multiple approaches bring experience in what works and doesn't, how to modify and tweak, and how to capitalize on successes. Try real hard to remember the last time they had to do the work of governing.

Most of the moderate Republicans are gone, the 2010 Senate race may well take out most of what's left of them. Spector has shifted right to stave off a Primary challenge and it may be a question whether he can, but he has now lost a lot of credit with the electorate outside the right wing. Maine voters are going to be asked why they're hanging on to not quite Democrats when they could have the actual thing - not a bad question if the country is looking better. Boehner and Cantor are creatures of the right and while they know how to lie and be snotty and hold their caucus together in the matter of actual public discourse around ideas - not so much.

Why they took the school yard dare tossed at them by the President is open to question, it certainly isn't smart strategy to provide something that should have numbers without them or to provide numbers that can be tested. Statements of ideology absent numbers aren't really testable in the public argument unless the opposing side makes them up. The Republican mess masquerading as a budget cannot pass that kind of scrutiny when providing its own numbers, it is flatly impossible to dump out of the federal budget sufficient funds to cover not only the Bush hole but the accumulating hole going forward created by Bush policies. The Republicans are providing nice fat targets for Democrats.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Adults In Charge?

Yesterday Rachel Maddow reported on Sec State Hillary in Mexico and her taking on some US responsibility for Mexico's problems, drug demand and guns. Rachel was pleased, the adults are in charge she crowed. Excuse the hell out of me, hardly.

This is trade of Kindergartners for 3rd graders. What exactly is adult about saying we're part of the problem and then asserting more of the same failed policies will fix it? More enforcement, assault weapon ban all adds up to exactly what adult reaction. the government has used the drug war to stomp mud holes into civil liberties, so more must be better - especially since it hasn't worked already. Guns... does she have any idea how many serious felonies are committed in gun running?

Let's see, more of the same drug laws and head into a gun banning debate to see if the Democrats can't reverse this winning streak. Oh yes, adults my ass.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gus 'n Pals

Friends for Gus, Matt, my son, and Emily, his fiance, in from Florida to be here for us.

Matt is a good guy and Emily is as sweet as she is beautiful and that's quite a combo. For scale, I believe Matt is 6-2, they've just returned from a walk.

***As always click pic for full size

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Becoming A Non-smoker Does Suck, Really, Lots

Whew, I started my relationship with RJR Camel non-filter - better known as straights - in 1971, awhile ago, somewhere over thirteen thousand packs ago or two hundred sixty thousand cigarettes ago. Yep, little paper tubes filled with the finest blend of domestic and Turkish tobaccos, so expensive that you were not to look for coupons or other incentives. Right up until that day a few weeks ago when I quit liking the taste I went along with that. I went along with the addiction and the expense because I enjoyed it, now I don't.

Oh boy, what I'm left with is my addiction. If you noted the numbers I gave you I think you can see that I am addicted at a very deep level, maybe cellular. I tossed coffee, a risky bet on whether I'd still have a marriage and friends, and the nicotine has been slashed. The first day of quitting involved 3 cigarettes and I held that until the day after Nick died which I think involved half a dozen and the last three days I've managed a couple puffs off my wife's cigarette, but today it's riding me hard. I tried a patch (wife's left over) the first day and decided that was stupid, my problem is nicotine not playing with my mouth.

My mouth is wrong, it is constantly searching for a sensation, my throat is tight, and my head is somehow twitchy and clogged. I'm not sure how much role caffeine is playing, but I'm skirting around the edges of non-functional. I do have another issue right now, that is somewhat less painful than a couple days ago, it is lurking around ready to jump out and bite me - resulting in tears. All this adds up to ... challenging. Well, I'm up for it - I do keep telling myself that, over and over and...

Damn, if you haven't started smoking or fairly recently did please think about this. You really don't want to be 38 years into this habit/addiction and trying to get off it. There is always an excuse, I used still liking it for a long time. It is true that I did still like it but I also was aware that I was deepening my addiction cigarette by cigarette. I'm not going to talk about how bad it is for you, you know it is at least hard on your lungs. Nope, I'll approach this from the addiction aspect, this isn't like a drink or two on odd occasions, there is scarcely such a smoker, the rest are addicts. I don't care for that label, but it sure is true, and it sure does suck when you decide to break it.

At 21 years clean and sober there are a couple differences going on with quitting cigarette versus alcohol and drugs. You see there are some things that happen with alcohol and drugs that are pretty immediate consequences, things like DUIIs, hangovers, broken stuff, police problems, visits to judges, unhappy employers (or EX), unhappy associates and with cigarettes it is pretty much potential problems well downstream. Pretty easy to minimize and rationalize at that, as though there wasn't that issue with A&D. That said, I have no intention of losing this one, but I do reserve the right to whine once in awhile.

Thanks Bloggers

I'm hoping Technorati has a good comprehensive listing of blog links because I'm going to use it. These folks linked in to my memorium to Nick and drove an unprecedented amount of traffic, over 4500, and a probable total 300 plus condolences in comments and emails and cards. Outside of the blog the only people I directly reached out to were very immediate family. Hopefully some in the 4500 took something of personal value from that posting, I also hope the three hundred or so who have reached out to us took something away for themselves. The great part of these people came because the bloggers linked in, they saw an opportunity to help and stepped up. Naming the ones I've tracked down is an expression of my gratitude.

Balloon Juice
Jon Swift
Mad In The Middle
Life's Journey
Real Oregon Reality
Skippy The Bush Kangaroo
Brilliqan At Breakfast
Bryan Strawser
Blue Oregon
Opinion Forum

If this misses anyone let me know and I'll fix that because it counted when we needed it most.

Thank you my friends for leaving us less alone,
If you like serial fiction check out Kathleen Maher's Diary Of A Heretic which you will now find on the side bar for your convenience. Take her up on the offer to go to the beginning post.

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Do You Limit Greed

Greed. There it is, the word that has come to define the building blocks of this current economic debacle. I have been holding forth for years that there is something obscene going on it this country with the economic structure as is. We have allowed a situation to exist where our allocation of wealth toward the top has surpassed third rate third world dictatorships. It takes the bottom half of the economic strata to make what the top one percent do, and that is, for god's sake, what the tax form says they make. Not only is the game fixed, the measuring stick that says it's this bad is fixed.

If ethical sense or the government isn't driving the compensation rates how to approach it? Be under no delusion that I have a problem with people getting rich or that I am jealous of them. What I object to is the crushing of everyone downstream in that pursuit. I am quite comfortable asserting that ethical sense has played absolutely no part in the accumulation of wealth over the last thirty years. I have no problem with the idea that government setting compensation rates is socialism and not really applicable to our system. That does not mean that we're helpless in this regard.

We have used taxes to both encourage and to discourage behavior for a very long time. What we have done for the last thirty years is encourage the accumulation of extravagant amounts of wealth, there is absolutely no downside to it. Thirty Six percent marginal rates may sound discouraging and fifteen percent capital gains may seem stiff, but we levy much more discouraging taxes on those who will never see one hundred thousand dollar incomes. Reality is a bitch and it's damn real to be not rich in this country. Sales taxes eat you on virtually all your income, FICA/SS gets you for 15.7% of all your income, state income tax eats some more, sin taxes and necessity taxes pile up and pile on, unemployment and workman's comp slide by your notice but you're paying for it. You should certainly feel for wealth and do all in your power to enable them, they'll ship your job overseas or insource it if it can't move. But you buy the game sold you, the creators of wealth, the masters of the universe need not be accountable.

There is a tool that discourages the non-disbursement of wealth and it is called taxes. With progressive rates you don't discourage creation, not unless you set the sky high marginal rates too low. You avoid that by tying them to the median income and at certain multiples you make it unreasonable to try for more. That is simply behavior modification - don't go on about targeted goals, not in the face of tobacco taxes and alcohol taxes. Don't even go there in the face of 15% capital gains taxes.

So, you think maybe now you know how you do limit greed? Now just try to get somebody to pay attention to you...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Outrage? That's A BIt Mild

How'll it be if we do a little mathematics on Chuck for... today? I don't propose to start trouble...but I sure don't mind stoking some, I will gleefully throw gasoline on this fire. Here's some numbers we'll be working with:
AIG Bonus Payments - $179,000,000
Oregon Median Income - $43,000

Now what we'll do is this 179,000,000/43,000 and we'll know how many Oregonians could have made a year's wages. 4,162.8 Oregonians would have made wages of the median sort, that's 4,162.8 Oregonians buying cars, houses, college educations, you know - stuff. Stuff that other people make money creating. Creating is the word - not toilet paper securities, not the ruin of a company and a run on the US taxpayer.

The Titans Of Finance don't get those numbers, it is flat out meaningless to those cretins. They deserve it for all the hours spent wrecking an economy. Now these people are held up as experts, the ones that haven't already quit, and they are important. They deserved it, they're important, they earned it. What they earned and what they deserve and what is important about them is that they should be burnt out of house and home and beaten within an inch of their lives if not a bullet to the brains (except I disapprove of capital punishment). If you think this is the first of their bonuses over the past 8 years and some you also probably think the Moon is green cheese.

You might be excused for thinking that they've sucked forty one hundred jobs out of the economy with their greed for a fair number of years. You might be forgiven for noticing that what they were doing was leveraging assets to an unprecedented degree, an obvious catastrophe in waiting to anyone with economic knowledge. You needn't concern yourself with how complicated these instruments were, that's damn immaterial - they created over ten times the money out of thin air...imaginary, and they goddamn good and well knew that was the upshot of what they were doing. If you leverage $1.25 on a $1.00 and lose that $1.00 you're out $1.25, if you do it to the tune of a ten spot on a dollar - you've got one hell of a hole. Everybody knows that and that is why it isn't done. Well, except my the Titans Of Finance, it isn't. Which of these bankers would lend you a million dollars with your one hundred thousand dollar house as collateral? What? You don't think they would? You mean the rules are different for the masses?

One goddamn percent of the economic scale makes as much as the entire bottom one half of the economic scale. Do you get that? You do realize that you pay a larger percentage tax on your pittance than they do? Now it might be reasonable to wait a bit and see what the politicians will make of it this time around. I don't mean something like the decades the St Ronnie mytholigizers have had, I'm thinking maybe the end of the year kind of patience. About that time if it is obvious that the game is going to stay that badly rigged it might be entirely reasonable to make it demonstrably dangerous to be these people.

That sounds pretty...extreme? Does it seem so in the face of a broken social contract? If that contract is broken and the legal system will not readdress it, then all bets are off. No allegiance is owed to such a system and while it may try to enforce it, it has no such power to do so. I am way past giving a good goddamn if these pricks get hurt. I only talk about patience for the sake of the decent people who will undoubtedly get hurt in the process. At a point it becomes meaningless to talk about their hurt in the face of what they will suffer anyhow.

If the ballot is proven meaningless in the face of the power of their wealth and their ability to blackmail or terrorize the political arm, what recourse remains? They have no power beyond their paper and the few thugs they can hire. They're starting to hire guards now, something is starting to leak into their greed soaked noggins. There is nothing to say that they can't be wealthy and left in peace, other than the extent of their greediness. They didn't need to put their foot on the neck of the populace to be rich, but rich wasn't enough. They could step off, but I'll bet you large the only reason they would do so would be naked fear.

If they start hearing serious rumblings that their time of unopposed rape is about to come to an excruciating end they might make some smart decisions. If not, that rape can be paid for in coin they've never seen minted and I'd not only not give a damn, I'd help out.

You'll hear concern for the working class called socialism by the Randian half wits that still stand with the Confederate Party of Republicanism and I'm ashamed to have to admit that Eastern Oregon has a member representing it, and you can call it a bribe to keep the above postulated action from happening. I'd call it smart thinking rather than names, but I'm not their lap dog lick spittle ass kisser. I know that I'm not alone in having faced a lot badder shit than anything they can bring to the table. Some of you real nice lefty types have histories...

Outrage? Kiss my ass.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oregon Online Voter Registration?

House Votes to Let Voters Register Online

Online registration plan is simple, secure and has proven successful

SALEM – The House today voted in favor of HB 2386, which would allow Oregonians to register to vote online. Online voter registration creates a new avenue to register that is simple, hassle-free and, above all, secure.

"Oregonians pay bills online, check bank accounts online, rent movies online, pay taxes online. We can change our address with the US Postal Service and DMV online. With this bill, we will move our voter registration system into the 21st century by allowing people to register to vote online,” said Representative Ben Cannon (D-Portland), who is the Chief Sponsor of the bill. "This bill takes a significant step toward a secure, hassle-free system of voter registration."

House Bill 2386 would allow eligible voters with valid Oregon Driver Licenses or ID cards to register to vote online through a secure connection on the Secretary of State website. A registrant’s signature from DMV will be used to match against the signature on the ballot. A registrant would first have to indicate under penalty of law that they are a citizen and that they are 17 years old, just like on the current form.

“Oregon needs laws that make registering to vote accessible and easy for every eligible voter,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “This is simple, stable and will bring more voters, especially younger voters, into the process of shaping Oregon’s future.”

HB 2386 would model Oregon’s online voter registration system on those of Washington and Arizona, where the programs have proven extremely popular. In 2003, the first year of Arizona's Online Voter Registration program, 25% of all new voter registrations were done online. In 2007, that percentage jumped to 72%. After Washington implemented online voter registration, 1,634 online applications were recorded in the first three days and 38% of all Washington voter registrations in 2008 were done online.

“The passage of this bill represents the culmination of a lot of work by folks who are passionate about access to democracy,” said Representative Jefferson Smith (D-Portland). “The passage of this bill is part of a necessary movement around voter access – democracy works better if more people do it.”


I think this is a good idea. I am in favor of any legitimate means of increasing the voter pool. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Giving A Damn, Whatever You Might Have Thought

This has to be said and I will say it forcefully. There are many who scoff at the ability of the electronic communications structure to connect people in meaningful ways. My family has sustained a horridly tragic occurrence, we are in pain. Around 6 PM nearly 150 people had commented on my memoriam to my son and closing on 100 emails have come in. These people took time out of their day to read something they knew was going to make them sad and then took the time and emotional energy to write condolences. There is not a much lonelier position to be in than parents who have lost a child to suicide. People have flooded our life with care, people want my wife and myself to know that they are touched and that it matters.

If it meets some sociological thesis of yours that the internets corrupt and degrade human communication you need to read So Long My Boy and scroll through the comments and educate yourself. If this does not qualify as a high degree of humane behavior then come and see me so I can slap some sense into you.

There is nothing shallow or phony about the comfort my wife and I have taken from the expressions of caring by our fellows. It touches us and assures us of the nature of people. We will carry the memory of these people with us for a very long time, these folks have given of themselves to people they know only somewhat. They have given and they have taken us into their hearts, people have struggled to express what is beyond our ability to express - beyond the implication of the heart.

We are grateful and we are humbled. The intellect understands what has happened, the rest of the brain does not accept that, it is outside experience and it is outside of expectations - it is flatly wrong. This war between the intellect and the lizard brain hurts, imaginary scenarios keep trying to work their way into play. The what ifs, if only's, why's keep requiring pushback. There is no answer to why, if god himself came down and stated a reason it would be rejected. This is why the condolences and even the thanks hold so much meaning, they are a part of that firewall.

The funny snarky iconoclastic lefty crew from Balloon Juice is mixed together with the hard core car guys from the Novalistserve, and politicians to help with that firewall, to give. You folks should give yourselves a standing ovation, if not yourself - then your fellows. The applause should be deafening...scattering bytes like windblown butterflies.

So Long, My Boy

Nicholas Andrew Butcher died tonight. He was my son and I loved him, he was a good kid who lost his way. He lost his way enough that tonight in the county jail he took his life. At 3:00 AM the police knocked on our door and brought us the news. Two distressed cops and a chaplin came to my door to tell me that our son had committed suicide. It wasn't a long conversation, there was no need for them to have to watch my wife fall apart and there was nothing anyone could do to comfort her and my grief was bone deep enough that an outsider was no more than an annoyance.

Nick started his life as one of those people who charm you with no particular effort on his part. Things stopped working out for him by the time he went to school, school was a struggle and outside his interest. He couldn't stick with things long, even things he was good at. By age seven he could burn me out of a ball glove and throw accurately, a pitching standout in the making. A couple years of baseball and he no longer cared about it, he kept at it a bit longer, I think to please us, and quit. By the time he quit he was no longer a desirable team mate because he just didn't care. Much of Nick's childhood was like that, things he liked and was good at stopped mattering. Drag racing entranced him for a season and then he wanted nothing to do with it. It became the ordinary course of events that short term interest was followed by disinterest of a fundamental nature.

By high school he had started to get into trouble, pissant stuff, but sufficient until he finally stole my wife's car and cracked it up. That launched a couple years of trouble and involvement with the courts and juvenile department. He pulled himself together enough to get a GED and he enlisted in the Oregon National Guard. We went to his graduation in Columbus GA and I spoke to his Drill Instructor who allowed that Nick had been a stand out after a rough start. Allowed is the proper word, DIs aren't nannies and their job isn't reassuring parents. He moved over to the Portland area and got a decent job and quickly moved up and true to pattern lost interest in it and his girl friend and walked back into troubles. When they got deep enough he moved back home.

This is a small enough town that you become known and if you become known for troubles, you will be watched. Nick couldn't seem to keep away from things that would cause him troubles. He's been in the county jail for the last two months awaiting trial, and it seemed that there wasn't anything against him and he insisted that this he hadn't done. Despite practice Nick wasn't a good liar, it seemed as though the part that lied was always in conflict with the part that knew better, whatever; he was no good at it. Nick's pattern was to do well and get tired of it and make bad decisions mostly involving the easy way out.

Tonight he made another one of those decisions. It's no one's fault, not the jail or anyone else, he just made another one of those Nick decisions. I'm sure that he didn't consider that despite our disappointment and anger with him that this would break our hearts. It does. Now an hour later as I type this tears have finally started to run down my cheeks. My boy is gone and it hurts. I kept hoping he would find his way back, that my pal would win out in the end. There are inumerable good memories of the kid I loved and now that's what I have. I choose to let the bad stuff fade and to keep alive pictures like the 4 year old lugging his toy gun throught the woods trying to sneak and still keep up with Dad on an elk hunt and his pride in learning woods craft and ability to spot animals no human should be have been able to. Squatting in the back yard catching for him in fear of being broken if a pitch got away and his absolute laughing pleasure when I had to pull the glove off and rub a badly stung hand.

In a couple hours I have to start calling my parents and sister in Michigan and tell them. My mother is not going to take this well. She's too old to have this kind of news, that her grandson has preceded her. It certainly is something no parent ever wants, to outlive their child. I have now done that and it is wrong on so many levels of experience that an explanation would only have meaning to some one who already sadly knows.

I share this with you because it is the only monument he will have beyond a small family. His friends are not the sort to carry anything forward from this, from his life and death. There will be no funeral or services, they are for the living and the only ones who would find it meaningful don't need it or the pressure to travel long distances to commemorate something this sadly pointless. He knew that my own life had been a mess and that I'd started over again right before he was born and that there is such a thing as a come back. He decided to do what he did, and that's how that is going to have to be. He'll have no more failures to deal with, but there is so much that he will have lost out on. We'll deal with this, because we have to deal with it but it will never be right. He almost made it twenty one years, almost.

So long my boy.

(Because this keeps getting accessed I'm adding a 1/25/11 postscript - you should read this, also:

Giving a damn whatever you might think as a response to the folks who've spent time on this post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Political Enemies To Have

I have pointed out several times that in politics you will have allies, friends, opponents, and enemies and that making enemies out of any of the others is foolish behavior. If you maintain anything like honorable behavior there is only one category that is of concern and those are your opponents. Opponents can turn into allies in some cases where they see an advantage or their interests also being served as long as you don't turn them into enemies. But you will have enemies and in some ways you are defined by the enemies you have, if you play that right.

Down page I throw some rocks at Gov. Mark Sanford (R) of SC for the political games he's playing with the unemployed and wrapping himself in the NEW and IMPROVED Republican mantle of fiscal responsibility. He'd like to have the rest of America pay for SC's Republican approved debt, on top of their $1.37 received from Uncle Fed for every $1.00 they contribute to Uncle. Sanford has used every media opportunity possible to trash the Obama stimulus and Democrats, he is an enemy. A useful one in that he demonstrates exactly what use his type have for ordinary Americans and the results of electing his ilk.

Rush Limbaugh is a lot more than a successful talk radio host. With his personal life and his over heated rhetoric and willingness to dispense with truthfulness and ordinary politeness he is unpopular with a large majority of the populace. He is an unremitting enemy of Democrats and unafraid of being known as such and glories in the influence he wields in Republicanville.

Minority Leader John Beohner (R-OH) makes no secret that his goal is to harm the Democratic Party and has made it quite clear that whatever methods and at whatever cost to Americans he will pursue that. You can expect that whenever he talks about Democrats or Democratic policies a large percentage of the rhetoric will be lies. Yes John, you are a liar and you coordinate the lies with others in your Party. Principle matters not the least in his pursuit and that reflects on the so-called principles he stands for, Exactly what principles does a liar stand for and why should you ever have trust in dealings with them. Eric Cantor stands in exactly the same shoes.

These are exactly the sorts of enemies that you'd hope to have, you want these people to have access to media, to be given every possible opportunity to help you out. Dick Cheney is a bit different story, his previous office deserves some respect but the man himself is making that difficult. He has decided to be an enemy, not surprising because he has openly held Democrats and Democratic policies in contempt. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Cheney's latest fear mongering and historical revision:
"I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy so they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal."

He finished with a straight rebuttal and that may be the way to deal with this particular individual who makes Congress look popular.

If there is a trick to having enemies it lies in their public presentations of their cases. When you take notice of them you raise their public profile and harden their support. That means taking notice has to be effective and timely. This means having your team ready to outline the lies and show the consequences of the enemies' plans in a public forum and do it in a manner that is winning with the public. Each case is somewhat different, Rush is not elected and casts no votes, Sanford is not in Congress, Cheney is out of office, but both potent and risky. Boehner and Cantor are great shining targets, the media loves to talk to them, they vote, and they lie. The targeting needs to be accurate and civil.

OK Mark, What Were You Thinking?

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R) sent a letter to President Obama telling him how he wanted to spend the stimulus bill. He objects to the whole idea, but specifically the $700M aimed at extending and expanding unemployment insurance. That piece he wanted to use to pay down SC's debt.

Not real surprisingly Peter Orszag wrote back that it wasn't happening. Perhaps nicely he told Sanford that the President doesn't have that authority. Peter seems to be a nicer man than I, because I'd have told Sanford to stick his politicking someplace rude. Unemployment insurance is a matter of pennies on the dollar wage paid, it is one of the most insignificant costs of having employees and even with South Carolina's sliding scale it seems to run around $0.06/$1.00. One is tempted to ask Mark Sanford just what the sales tax in South Carolina is since it is nearly equivalent and falls most heavily on the lower incomes. The last report I had put South Carolina's official unemployment numbers at 10.6%, the second highest in the nation following Michigan. You might think there's a reality in that kind of number that might be meaningful to a Governor.

Unemployment dollars are one of the most directly stimulative pieces of the pie, unlike other rebates or credits, those dollars will be spent and spent virtually immediately. Now the distinguishing characteristics of the beneficiaries of this element are pretty simple, they tend to be the bottom of the work force in any affected business, which means the poorest and the most numerous, in fact at that unemployment percentage it is safe to guess that the unemployed outnumber the employers considerably, but Sanford has made it clear whose interests count most heavily in his thinking.

Consider who SC elects in state wide elections, we've dealt somewhat with Sanford, the US Senators are Republicans Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham. Judas Priest, that's a cohort. Jim Sanford is pretty pissed that the Federals think they can tell SC how to spend Federal money, an odd and ungracious attitude for a state that sucks the Federal Teat to the tune of $1.37/$1.00 they send to Washington DC. You could contrast that with nasty liberal old New Jersey at $o.55/$1.00. The flat truth is that the nasty old blue states have subsidized principled old SC for a long time now, I guess it's real easy to make big talk about drowning government in the tub when it's keeping your rat hole afloat.

I am no more bothered by Sanford taking this tack than I am that Rush keeps shooting off his trap and Republicans keep licking his, um, boot. It looks as though the SC legislature will do an end around on Sanford and take the funds so the workers may not be the losers, but this makes pretty clear the regard the conservative Republicans of Sanford's stripe hold ordinary Americans. Because DNC is not populated with idiots, they also see it and see political capital to be gained. Sanford objects, this is not the Obama model of new politics. Maybe he mistakes reaching out with capitulation and is surprised that there's a ball bat in the hand that didn't reach across. Well Mark, what were you thinking, I'm thinking we'll take your political games and beat you about the head and shoulders with them and maybe extinguish your career.

LTEs are a good thing...

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Is Going To Really Suck

I'm fifty five years old and I've smoked Camel straights (non-filters) since I was 18 and until about a couple weeks ago I've enjoyed them. I noticed that I wasn't smoking a cigarette because I enjoyed it, I was smoking because I needed to - a very real difference. That's not to discount the addiction of about 40 years standing, but once it is simply about addiction it becomes different. That, alone, was not good; but a $6.25 per pack price also is not good and not a price I'll pay to feed an addiction. Hell, even as a pleasure it wasn't worth $180 per month. So now I'm into day three of quitting.

I'm quite sure that it was more than sufficient to make my life uncomfortable to quit smoking, but I had to toss a bit more into the mix. Along with the cigarettes goes my coffee - strong, black, dark roasted coffee to the tune of 1 gallon per day. No that's not a typo or exaggeration, two 2 quart Stanley thermos a day. Coffee is my Ritalin, I have been over-amped my entire life - I have 110 volt circuitry running 220 volts. The problem is that coffee calls for a cigarette, they are hand in glove and that just isn't happening.

I've never been a heavy smoker, when I've gotten up to a pack a day it was unusual and something I would remark on. Forty years is a long time, though, and the addiction is bone deep - it probably infects my very cells. My nicotine intake in a day has probably been of a moderate nature, but my delivery system is real damn effective; Camel straights are pretty hard core smoking materials.

I'm not having much fun with this. My faculties are seriously scrambled, the backspace key is getting a lot of use right now. My hands know the key board and I'm a pretty fair speller but without corrections this would be gibberish. Damn good thing I'm not having to use white-out. I've yanked a couple pretty effective drugs out of my system and the results are predictable - and so is my whining about it. I'm real uncomfortable and without the caffeine my brain is racing around and nothing holds my interest.

Boy this is going to suck for awhile, I don't think it will involve bloodshed but I wouldn't want to be around me...well I am kind of stuck with that, but...

Since I am my proof reader my stuff may suffer for awhile.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dying Newspapers

Kathleen Parker in the Sunday WaPo would like to blame the "drive by pundits" for the demise of the print newspapers, that their never ending blather of bias and media elite is finally having terminal effects. Quite frankly the endless drum beat of primarily conservative Republicans is irritatingly stupid and has had some effect, but the question of why isn't answered by blaming the noise. The "drive by" was a slam at Rush and his ditto platoon for his usage of "drive by media" attacks headed his (and their) way. Obviously if you don't like what someone says about your facts then they are biased - liars in fact - is a solid defense. The existence of that tactic is scarcely surprising, nor is its existence defining of the problem. There is a reason that tactic and the falling interest in newspapers are seemingly joined.

If people are to spend money for a newspaper there must be a reason to spend that money. That would be that the money is well spent, that a good return on on the investment occurs. That return would be trustworthy information, information that will stand the test of being put up against multiple sources. While Fox News may thrive by telling people what they want to hear people are bit more demanding of what they read. After September 11 newspapers became cheerleaders for the Bush Administration and followed its party line. Questions were not asked about the detentions that followed or why certain factions seemed unquestionable. This carried forward through the Afghanistan campaign and into the Iraq War with the narrow exception of Knight-Ridder (now McCalatchy) and even farther through the Bush Administration and including the 04 campaign and voting irregularities. There were bits and pieces of pushback against the stenography of Administration talking points and some potent reporting did occur. The problem is that the reporting began to involve actual journalistic endeavors about the time the Administration's popularity began to fall and it looked pretty opportunistic.

Organizations that draw primarily from one field of study will have blind spots, these may be ideological or more sociological in nature, but they do tend to exist. My experience with journalists has been that they are abjectly ignorant in regard to firearms as objects. Because firearms play such a large role in entertainment they assume they do know something or don't care that they don't know and that is reflected in their work and immediately discredits them with those who do know.

Even as infrequent occurrences these things add up, it is death from a thousand cuts. The public remembers being let down and doesn't like it and resents the idea of being asked for money to be let down. The advances on the Internet in ability to not only get multiple sources but also fact check at original points makes the errors and omissions more egregiously obvious. When politicians make unfounded statements or out right lies and the media simply reports them, the people who find out that the media has not challenged these statements are unhappy. It doesn't take a lot of that for people to think that the newspaper isn't doing its job.

At the time radio became widespread, it was thought it would mean the end of newspapers - it wasn't. The rise of television was then to be the death of newspapers - nope. Now the idea is that the Internet is killing newspapers. There is a problem with the idea, there is little evidence that the Internet provides much in the line of original reporting and particularly little investigative work. This lack is clear to users, but what is also clear is that free trumps paid when the product isn't what you expect have. Newspapers have no boot time, they weigh a couple ounces, and they are quite portable with no power requirement. But you're already paying Internet access fees and you can get a version of the paper there.

Elites? Bias? How about doing the job?

Political Bravado And Sainthood

There are saints in Catholicism and some other variants of religion, John McCain is apparently worried about some damn Republican idea of political sainthood. Now once we've gone so far as to use saint and Republican in the same sentence you're way ahead of me and filled in St Ronnie Reagan. Yes folks, one of that Obama character's nominees, one for the second slot at Interior, an ill-spoken oaf named David Hayes said something nasty about St Ronnie back in April 2006, in fact this clod had the nerve to make a comparison between the Invisible Republican George W and St Ronnie.
"Like Ronald Reagan before him, President Bush has embraced the Western stereotype to the point of adopting some of its affectations--the boots, brush-clearing, and get-the-government-off-our-backs bravado."

Now what the hell John Sidney? You object to bravado or the cowboy stuff? I gotta tell you McPOW - that was movie magic, I know ranchers and cowboys and of those two Republicans neither qualify as more than hobbyists.

This nonsense you Republicans have made of Ronnie Reagan is pathetic. You make up all kinds of metrics to create something that never existed - and that's OK if you want to believe that crap. The problem is that a whole bunch of us have looked at the record and the results and we're real unimpressed. We don't have to be impressed with your myth making, there is absolutely no requirement of good government that says we have to buy a bit of it. In fact on the basis of the record one could call him a cowardly son of a bitch with as many of the mythologized founders' principles as a goddamned rock has.

Let's just agree to disagree about his sainthood. That would be best for you and the myth. The facts stand on their own and if you want to have that particular tussle you'll lose and it won't be opinions. Voting against confirmation on this basis is childish at best and attracting the interest of the knowledgeable without a Republican agenda is stupid.

Think about this, some people actually voted for this numbnuts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

CNBC Infomercial Network

With all the media noise many of you have seen John Stewart's Cramer episode. The accuracy and ethics of Cramer's analysis for CNBC was a large part of the interview; what I'm interested in is the larger framework - what is CNBC?

CNBC touts itself as The Financial News Network, there are others but they do seem to have the market share. If financial news network means running stock tickers then I suppose their track record qualifies them. The problem with this is that a lot of news organizations run tickers and don't claim to be financial news. CNBC's claim is based on their analysis shows and reporting. Fox also claims to be a news organization, rather than the Republican infomercial it is.

It is not news reporting to simply commit stenography. Any power center has its agenda and wants that point of view propagated and that is the line they will give. The media failure in the run up to the Iraq war was of this nature and demonstrably so. While the media in general cheerleaded GWB's agenda Knight-Ridder (now McCaltchy) got it right by asking those without power what was going on. Not simple opposition, asking what is going on is real. Being sceptical of those exercising power is not opposition, it is an acknowledgement that desires and facts do not always coincide.

The people who report or analyse on CNBC had to be aware of the degree of leveraging of mortgages that was going on. The CNBC people also had to be aware that housing was a bubble market and that bubble markets end and values fall. If they were unaware of these things neither the words news or finance belong in their description. Because it is almost impossible to feature an organization that size with that degree of ignorance the alternatives are that they considered it immaterial or it didn't match their agenda to report it. What they have managed is to get some of their personnel on other news programs as credentialed opiners on financial issues and political issues. They are, of course, entitled to whatever opinion they might have, the credentials are the question.

There honestly is little available on financial new channels that is very relevant to ordinary Americans. Playing about in the market with small numbers is foolish, ordinary Americans would see any gains eaten by fees. The little guy will only see real gains by holding long term and even then there are points at which investing is foolish - one year ago, say. If real reporting had been done there might have been an awareness that the market was topping out, a bad time to buy anything. What we got was cheerleading passed off as news on CNBC and others and their appearances on regular shows carrying the same water. That isn't what the infomercial hosts on shopping channels get - evidently more honest brokers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taking Public Action

In the last couple weeks two things have figured large in the news media, one was the linking of Rush Limbaugh to Republicans and the other is the theme that the Administration is trying to do too much during this crisis. Both issues have been noisy and a matter of bringing forward very public figures and both have longer term outcomes.

One of the features of the Limbaugh dustup should be obvious, a fairly small number of very noisy people are having a large impact. Elected Republicans are not very happy to have that a publicly viewed fact. A generally unpopular figure is being linked to their political careers and actions, their problem is that attempting to create distance between themselves and this figure causes immediate backlash but staying linked creates electoral backlash. This is an obvious outcome of this public debate in political terms. The Republicans are squalling about this because it doesn't work in their favor, but it is a demonstration of the power of an active group versus a silent one. Republicans cannot fight the fact of Limbaugh so they push against the public nature of the debate by accusing Democrats of a conspiracy.

The 'doing too much' reporting bubbling up all over the place plays on fears about the economy. The theme states that the economic mess can't be solved with any attention on other matters. It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the 'other matters' are of a liberal thrust. The attention to health care reform is framed as a distraction to fixing the economy, along with too expensive and socialistic. Heath insurance costs are going up nearly 20% this year, if you have insurance and will get any of the taxpayer relief of the stimulus plan that is gone and you're still searching your pocket to come up with the rest. The net effect is that the tax reduction portion of the stimulus becomes a subsidization of the health insurance industry. People will choose groceries and rent or house payments over insurance payments, minus that change in income policy holder numbers will decrease in large numbers. The issue has immediate consequences along with long term consequences - financially. Employment numbers have two large factors, the most obvious is having something for an employee to do, the other is what it costs to have an employee - or more employees. It is a drastically important issue in economic terms and yet it is being put forward as a distraction.

Delay is the enemy of change when there is an actual opposition to change. In this particular case, along with other liberal changes Obama proposes, the public is currently concentrating ire on the very figures who oppose these changes due to the economic bust. Weekly or more often another example of greed and plutocratic enabling is paraded before the public and the general public grows more dissatisfied with their actions. This situation did not exist two years ago, at that time there was little to no focus on something that has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. If you take the behavior of the past 30 years by the public as indicative of its future behavior those with something to gain from opposition to change will hope for a recurrence as the economy stabilizes. If the economy continues into the toilet they will have that weapon to use against the liberal politics currently winning. Delay is, in their eyes a win-win situation and the fact that it is getting media attention shows that it has some public interest. The media's presence in this is as indicative of a political agenda as the Rush flap.

Silence is the ordinary American condition, the Nixonian 'The Silent Majority' is best described by reversing the words, the majority is silent and they will continue to be so. Somewhat more than half of Americans actually vote and most of those voters believe they have attended to their public duties by doing so every two years. This is the friend of the status quo, when the only voices are news and politicians, the system is controlled and damped. It is also the friend of the small voices when their energies are concentrated. Rush's ditto-heads aren't powerful because they are numerically significant over all, they are powerful because they are noisy. Republican elected officials aren't swayed by the rhetoric of Rush, they're swayed by the flooded switchboards an insignificant number marshal.

A single Letter To Editor is not influential, it might cause a person or two to think about the subject but carries the weight of a single opinion without backing. A week's worth of one or several per day begins to carry the weight of shared opinion with readers and the volume begins to attract the notice of politicians. A single phone call to an elected official carries just about the weight of that individual's regard from the official, hundreds begin to express a sense of will and organization. Politicians discriminate between expressed will and organization. Politicians know the attention paid to the squeaky wheel when there are lots of them even if they are not a determining number for election because politicians are quite used to the majority being silent.

To be sure there are formal organizations that a person can join, and as a concerned partisan I always tout the County Democratic Parties, but it goes well beyond that. Some folks read this blog and others that express agendas, you may read something that kicks at your sensitivity buttons and that is a sign that you should express yourself. It does take a few minutes to write a letter or make a phone call but you extend the reach of your ideas. This is important, if the discourse is left to those paid to do it or those who benefit financially or politically from it, the interests of the ordinary American get lost. I'm not suggesting that most people should take up the role of activist or blogger or both - that is a lot of work with no remuneration. Not many have the time or energy or interest to spend that kind of time, but reacting to what is laid before you on occasion doesn't have those kinds of requirements. If I miss a day or two of posting the readership plunges because people come here to see something new, that isn't the case with an LTE or contacting an official these remain in the consciousness if they are polite and reasonable.

You don't come around for pictures of naked people or song downloads, you come around for politics. Something you've read here struck you enough to come back, take that one bitty step forward and tell people that you were struck. I don't mean plug this blog, I mean plug your own reaction. That is a multiplier effect, that puts some real meaning into me spending this time. The thirty years of political history leading to here and now happened to a great extent because the push back was so limited and failed so spectacularly in the face of the Republican theocratic plutocrat's game at taking charge of the discussion. Push back.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Boehner's Boner, IOCIYAR

The Minority Leader in the House is a Republican from Ohio named John Boehner, he is what he is. He wrote an OpEd for the WaPo called Democrats' Diversionary Tactics. Boehner isn't happy to be the "Party of No," with "Rush the Leadership." You should be able to take his first paragraph seriously if you're to take any of it seriously.
And in a carefully calculated campaign, operatives and allies of the Obama administration are seeking to divert attention toward radio host Rush Limbaugh, and away from a debate about our alternative solutions on the economy and the irresponsible spending binge they are presiding over. This diversionary tactic will not create a single job or help a single family struggling in today's economic crisis. And that is where our focus should be.

Um, John we had a debate about jobs and stimulus, you bragged up your unity in voting Nay. You were presented a program of nearly 40% of spending in tax cuts. Now, admittedly, the beneficiaries were not your usual suspects who benefited from 7 years of increasing and accelerating income disparity. The numbers are clear and unassailable, compiled by the government your Party controlled.
Markets are plunging, businesses are cutting jobs and families are growing more anxious every day. Moments like this demand the kind of cooperation and new way of doing business that Obama has promised. Instead, those around him are taking to the airwaves and the pages of our nation's newspapers to carry out a campaign intended to change the subject and divert attention from what matters most: finding a way to work together to get our economy moving again.

Mr Boehner you had a chance to participate in the stimulus bill, what you offered was your same old tax cut and attacks based on fictitious items and fictitious reports. You voted 100$ no and used the same words and tactics a blowhard radio host used. You followed his lead, your members lick his boots if they are unfortunate enough to have asserted he is not the leader of your party.

You stood on the floor of the People's House and lied and lied using the words of a two bit radio host. I don't get any glee from calling a US House Representative a liar, it discredits one of tenets of what I do, the idea that politics should reflect the good of the people. The good of the people cannot possibly be served by lying to them, not exaggerating, lying. The fact that a radio show host lies should not create much uproar, your lying synchronising with him might just tend to.

You can continue your agenda of making the current Republican Party mess about other people and other people's reaction to you, but you and Eric Cantor have both been very careful to hew to Rush's line and not deny him the leadership of Republicanism. Your very large problem is that very public behavior under cuts your entire thesis that Democrats are hiding something. There is no doubt that we are trying to make you pay for your choices - remember that "Personal Responsibility" thing? We understand It Only Counts If You Aren't Republican.

(oh, judging from your caterwauling, we're succeeding)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Republican's Full Plate

Now the RNC is trying to use Wall Street people like Larry Kudlow to bolster their...credibility. The argument is that Democrats propose to punish success with a 4% tax increase on the wealthiest bracket and getting corporations that do business here to pay taxes rather than duck them by renting a PO Box in a Caribbean Island. You can play a video of his tripe at the link, President Obama is engaging in a war with investors and businesses. Not long ago Santelli went on a rant about Americans paying for deadbeat homeowners, Press Secretary Gibbs suggested he ought to read the proposal. This is Wall Street.

Over on the noise side, radio, Rush is challenging the President to come to his studio and 'debate' him. People like Beohner and Cantor are accusing the President of creating a sideshow to distract from the economic news and his socialist agenda. I'm not sure who is the sideshow or is creating it, with Rush in the middle. You will note that they specifically did not challenge Rush for the leadership of the Confederate Party of Republicanism and neither did they assert that they speak for Republicans. This is in the face of their talking points and lies aligning with Rush's and having virtually no relationship with the truth - other than as a definition of what is not the truth.

I don't know how much more the Republican plate can hold of this mantra of punishing success and waging war on the rich. It seems as though outside the world of wealth everybody is either in trouble, getting in trouble, or knows somebody in one of those situations. The media reports not million dollar bonuses but tens of million dollar bonuses for the geniuses who wrecked investment banks in the face of the most favorable governmental oversight in modern history. Former executives of Countrywide Mortgage, issuers of lots of toxic mortgages, are now in the business of buying up foreclosed houses. A painting recently auctioned at $240+M, various very top end luxury items are selling well. There is the UBS mess with what looks like over 50,000 American clients using Switzerland as a tax evasion scheme.

Beginning with the recovery of 2001 median incomes fell several thousand dollars, a huge red flag was being waved in ordinary America's face. Instead we had a couple wars and lack of disaster response and a lot of rhetoric regarding terrorist sympathizers on the left. As deficits were skyrocketing and wars run off the books easy credit cushioned the blows. No one bothered, or rather other than a few, no one, to ask what exactly people thought housing was? A few people said, 'uh, these are stocks not magic money machines.' But now, it seems, there is a pretty widespread awareness that there was no magic, it was a shell game, and a lot of people are really screwed. In the face of all that, CPAC, Rush, and apparently, the Republican Party are filling their plate with the whining of the wealthy.

You suppose the crap will drool off the side?

I'm Sorry, Rush

As a Democrat I couldn't help but find myself wondering how a Republican knows what to say to apologize.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pardon My Paranoia, Mr Ex-President

So I guess that some of us who asserted that the BushCo was a 3rd rate dictatorship in the making were just really paranoid left wing loons...well, maybe not; as John Yoo's Authority for Use of Military Force To Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States makes a bit clearer. (pdf) This thing is a mess, but I'll try to cover at least some of the ground and save you 37 pages of mind numbing cites, redefinitions, and historical revisionism.

They state that the Posse Commitatus Act does not apply because 9/11 changed everything by making internal terrorists a military conflict as opposed to a law enforcement matter. In the same vein it is asserted that the 4th Amendment was inappropriate because of circumstance as well as the military nature of using the military; and further that fruits of such action would be legally admissible as law enforcement. (hmm) Finally they asserted that the 1st Amendment in regard to speech and press was disposable as a function of government necessity in such warfare. Suspension of Habeas Corpus is entirely within the scope of such actions, again at the convenience of the government. The memo assures the reader that the Courts would recognize the natural limits that the President or his agents would hold themselves to and not be troubled by these assertions.

I don't think anyone has argued that the government has no right to defend itself from armed or otherwise forceful attack. In the face of Iranian landing forces sweeping across Atlantic Beach I'm pretty sure military units being deployed would meet Constitutional muster as well as Statutory muster. This memo isn't aimed at such a scenario, it is aimed at 'secret' sorts of activity, the kind of thing that we actually understand to be law enforcement based business. No discussion of the 4th Amendment would be necessary in the event of a terrorist take over of a building or facility, nor would the request by local officials for federal assistance in such an event require the cover of such a memo. Nor would infringements of the 1st Amendment be in question.

If you don't want to go to the trouble of reading the thing most of the cites cover either foreign war or insurrection (particularly the Civil War) and touch on such ongoing conflicts as the American Indian Wars. Yes, the Indian Wars, a situation one would find fraught with legal difficulties to present as a basis for Constitutional behavior and rule of law. I will not even think about presenting the incidents of atrocities and abhorrent behaviors included in such a cover. The other cover used is such ongoing disturbances as the Detroit riots or the Civil Rights backlash disturbances and use of troops to enforce, in their face, law and Court orders.

The especially nasty part of the reasoning used is that outright and obvious war and insurrection are used as justification for military use against targets not in such a condition. Because September 11th happened we are to trust the President and his designees to determine that acts not obviously involving warfare are within his power to call warfare. Understand that a part of this memo is directly related to the inability of an oil company to recoup damages incurred in the Phillipines in WWII, thus the very real spectre of a full fledged military assault and attendant damage is envisioned on private property and with considerable loss.

The memo asserts that the President and designees have the Executive power to declare that a terrorist condition exists, he will determine the facts and actions and the Courts can butt out. The FISA Court is invoked as an authority and then dismissed within a few sentences as immaterial to the discussion of the granting of authority. Please keep in mind in this framework that this President had also assumed the authority to designate American citizens as foreign combatants.

If you were to mix up the order of presentation a bit, and law does do that, you would find that exercise of the 1st Amendment in a manner that the President was willing to call imminent terrorism or active support of it would be sufficient to provoke an air strike on the NY Times leaving the remnants no legal recourse under the 1st, 4th, or 5th. I would suppose that something like an ad referring to Gen Betrayus might qualify taking this out a ways into the weeds, but...

I'll leave it to Constitutional and Legal scholars to dissect this thing but it clearly bears no resemblance to the understanding that more than a handful of Americans have of their relationship with their President. Pardon me if I find it a bit odd that this thing wasn't disavowed until very shortly before the end of BushCo.

Sure, I just bet I want to talk about Truth and Reconciliation Commissions...how about fluorescent jumpsuits and irons?

Yes this is filed under 'Treason', what the hell would you expect?

A Related Newsweek Article

Bloggers Doing Good

Over at Balloon Juice, a formerly right wing blog gone hopelessly Democratic with John Cole's re-alignment, a commenter wrote about a problem a friend was having and was published yesterday.
I have an amazing friend on the west coast. She’s smart, funny, quirky and a fantastic artist, who designs intricately detailed, one-of-a-kind art quilts made from found textiles


Then a few months ago she got laid off from her editing job. She managed to keep up her health insurance, which is good,thing, because she was just diagnosed with liver cancer—treatable, but expensive, even with insurance. She was struggling to bring in some income (e-bay, on-line selling, freelancing editing, etc.) and seeming to do OK…then I didn’t hear from her. Called, e-mailed, nothing. 2 weeks go by. She e-mailed yesterday to say that she’d just got out of the hospital, where she was admitted after collapsing at home. Reason she collapsed? Malnutrition. Isn’t it lovely not to have enough money to pay for food AND medical expenses?/p>

John asked if his very active and rambunctious Comment crowd thought they could help. This site had raised many thousands of dollars for Barak Obama's campaign in the Primary and the General. Sometimes you find an astonishing and tear jerking ability of people to do good, and this is how that worked out today.
*****, I’m almost too overwhelmed to write. I am utterly agog. Over 200-some-odd people—utter strangers to me—have contributed to my health expenses through PayPal and as of right now it adds up to about $5,000! Tears are streaming here! I’m sputtering, blithering here, in amazement and gratitude and relief

There is more detail to this story and it is at Balloon Juice if you care to read more than my short excerpts.

This is an unruly frequently rude bunch who are both funny and deeply informative. I have been a daily reader for some time and only lately much of a commenter in great part for Cole's writing but the hook is the Comments section. I don't know if this says anything about politics and I'm unsure if it has any great meaning in regard to anything in particular - other than the capacity of people to individually do good when presented with an opportunity.

I doff my cap to these folks and I wanted to do so publicly. I'm sure this doesn't account for much of a reward but it's what I've got.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Ticket

From Balloon Juice via commenter 'Jay in Oregon'

Get you contributions ready...they'll need 'em.

LTE On Rush

***This is my LTE and I do not suggest it as a model or an outline, I am simply backing up my words. A 350 word limit places some restriction on eloquence in Baker City Herald.


Up front, I am the County Chair for DPO/Baker County Democrats.

Over the years as a construction worker I have listened to Rush Limbaugh’s show. I was never particularly impressed with either his reasoning or his brand of meanness. He is of course welcome to his opinion; he is not welcome to making facts out of air. The Republican Congress has used the same types of arguments from the time the stimulus bill was first proposed. There may have been problems, it was unnecessary to make things up and ape a radio talk show host.

Some Republican Party leaders have pushed back a bit against Rush’s rhetoric, only to immediately back away from their complaints. Rahm Emanuel Sunday postulated that Rush is the intellectual and philosophical leader of the Republican Party. There may be some Republicans who don’t very much care for that characterization; their problem is that their Congressional Leaders are in lock step with a radio show entertainer.

I do not like the explosion of national debt that started under GW Bush and is being increased now under Obama. I am faced with the utter destruction of our economy. Republican leadership proposes that Rush Limbaugh is correct. Rush clearly stated his wish that Obama fail. Stating Rush doesn’t have to face voters dodges the issue when the Republicans who face voters simply toe his line. House Republicans have repeatedly stated they did not get to read the stimulus bill and yet they appeared on national media with made up ‘facts’ regarding it and misapplied words within to create doubt about electronic medical records, Rush talking points.

If you are a voter who doesn’t care to have Rush Limbaugh direct policy and philosophy in Washington DC and many State Houses you have a clear option, quit sending his team members as your representatives. You can get rid of them in a Primary or choose another Party. Some of you are aware that I do not pretend to be a member of a perfect political organization, but I also am not represented by Rush Limbaugh or anyone like him.

Republicans Handed You Rope And Tied The Knot

Wind the clock back a bit, it's 2008 and the General Election is buzzing right along. The Democratic nominee is attacked as Muslim, terrorist sympathizing, socialistic, appeasing, and quite a few other somewhat mean things with no factual basis, but a lot of heat. The RNC was in the thick and JS McCain participated right up to the Arab part. One other big noise maker was, of course, Rush Limbaugh. Wind ahead a bit after the swearing in and you have a stimulus bill in the House, once again the rhetoric heats up and socialist and other non-factual matters are bandied about, along with a big fat 0 Republican vote. The Senate manages to find 3 Republican Senators frightened enough of their electorate to ignore the rest of the Party and in the face of threats vote Aye. A lot more noise erupts about punishing the turncoats, from RNC to, you guessed it. Rush Limbaugh. Imaginary projects were objected to, false outcomes stated and leading the charge of random lying was...Rush. He went on air and stated that he wanted the President to fail, despite the consequences. A House Republican objected, in terms that suggested Rush not only was wrong in his desire but also that he didn't speak for them. That lasted until the next day when he called into Rush and apologised and named Rush, Hannity, and even Savage as the lions of conservatism. During the broohaha in the negotiations the President suggested they not listen to Rush. In some circles he was roundly criticized for that.

Wind all the way up to the present and you have Rahm Emanuel speaking to Face The Nation about Rush.
He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party. He has been up front about what he views and hasn't stepped back from that, which is he hopes for failure.

There are signs the Republican leadership is getting nervous about that perception but they are being undermined quickly. Rush gave the closing speech at CPAC this weekend and it was pretty much the usual Rush stuff and generated this review in the Washington Times.
Conservative pundits, party leaders and movement bigwigs took special care to position themselves close by so they could hang on every word of the only person who actually could accomplish what the three-day conference was all about - jump-starting the flagging conservative cause.

It was an address that could have altered the election had it been delivered early last fall by any Republican presidential candidate.

But it has not been able to stop that mountain we call Rush. He is much more than an entertainer or a person who can "motivate the base" - as the media repeats like cheap talking points.

He has the uncanny ability to expose the intricate web of bias to those who do not yet know that they should doubt the media's sincerity. Many in the Regency Ballroom on Saturday night were once dupes or elitists like me who were shown the light by a guy who didn't even graduate college.

There's a lot more and it is quite a bit more overblown than these excerpts but I thought I'd give your funny bones a rest. This is right on top of the Republican leaders walk back from "hope for failure."

The speech transcript is here and I'm not going to pull it apart and mock it, though it is mockable. Despite the arrant stupidity of receiving the Constitutional Medal or some such and using "pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness" from the Declaration of Independence as the Preamble to the Constitution it isn't something like that. It is the tone and content that deserves being addressed.

Here is the point of this article, Rush Limbaugh set out in quotable words the de facto position of the Republican Party and this is one of those opportunities that seldom comes around, the opportunity to tie them to an unpopular position and personage. This exists, both in the memory of those curious enough to watch it and in the written record, it cannot be called a misquote or a slip of the tongue. The Republicans went out and bought the rope and tied the knot before they handed it to you and hanging them with it is only finishing the job. A blog article, and there are a lot of them, isn't going to do more than preach to the choir and irritate some trolls, this is the stuff of conversations and letters to the editor.

I'm not going to do the work of tearing this thing apart for you or framing it for you beyond this: because it is an opportunity to capitalize on the brutishness of an individual and a party it pays to be polite and courteous. It may be a struggle not to mock, it may be a struggle to not be furious, but the point is that this is a compare and contrast moment. You win this kind of political confrontation by appearing to be the reasonable and caring one in opposition to the other's behavior and emotional content.

The speech was 80+ minutes long but much shorter in reading and because the themes are repetitious culling what you need much quicker. Since most LTEs are limited in word count you needn't quote much. There are moments in political time when circumstances and opportunism meet with large pay offs and this is one. Take advantage of being handed a tied hangman's noose.