02/16/2011 archive

from firefly-dreaming 16.2.11

Regular Daily Features:

Essays Featured Wednesday, February 16th:

come firefly-dreaming with me….

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 58 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Clashes erupt as Libya braces for ‘Day of Anger’


1 hr 28 mins ago

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Dozens of people were injured in clashes in Benghazi, a hospital in Libya’s second city said on Wednesday, on the eve of a nationwide “Day of Anger” called by cyber-activists in a bid to emulate revolts in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia.

The director of the eastern city’s Al-Jala hospital, Abdelkarim Gubeaili, told AFP that 38 people were treated for light injuries.

The Quryna newspaper said security forces and demonstrators clashed late on Tuesday in what it branded the work of “saboteurs” among a small group of protesters.

Hello Cruel World!!!

Welcome, welcome, welcome. Bienvenidos!  This is a blog welcome mat.  Welcome to a wonderful, corner of the Leftblogosfero that you might not have encountered before.  Especially if you are leaving the Orange Giant and looking for a new place to hang out.  And, of course, welcome to the Writers Port Alliance!

If, like me, you miss the free-for-all (one with some basic, human rules of respect and decency for others) of the old group blogs, and if you’re looking for a new “home” for your pajama clad (or unclad or formally attired) self, you’ve found the right place for joining once again in the unrestrained, unsegmented joy of reading and writing in the Leftblogosfero.

A blog free-for-all.  That’s what I was looking for when I originally came here.  The fun of a crowd of participants.  The excitement of learning others’ views.  A free-for-all.  A “place” where everyone and everything got mixed together and you could pick and choose at your leisure.  It’s a noun (a phrase?) I haven’t used in decades.  In fact, it’s been so long, that I wanted to check its connotation:  

Definition of FREE-FOR-ALL:

a competition, dispute, or fight open to all comers and usually with no rules : brawl; also : a chaotic situation resembling a free-for-all especially in lacking rules or structure (the press conference deteriorated into a free-for-all) …

Synonyms: affray (chiefly British), broil, donnybrook, fracas, fray, free-for-all, melee (also mêlée), rough-and-tumble, row, ruckus, ruction

Antonyms: order, orderliness

Ooops.  Free-for-all.  Well, so maybe it was the wrong word after all.  I don’t think of this blog as a fight or a donnybrook.  Truth be told, donnybrook is one of those words I know, but it isn’t in my primary vocabulary.  And when it comes to my brothers and sisters in the typing class, we all know and dread what can happen when the basic rules of human decency are breached.  So it’s not about creating chaos, or biting off other combatants’ ears, it’s about freedom and excitement that group blogging is so very good at.

There are eight blogs in the Writers Port Alliance.  You can find their links at the top of the page.  Two of these (The Dream Antilles and Ignoring Asia) are solo acts; the others, group blogs with varying points of view and characteristics.  They are much smaller than the mega-blog, which means that they are slower to gather comments, and that essays are available for longer before they are disappeared and pushed off the page.  Items printed in one space might fit in all or some or none of the others, and the members and writers cross-post freely.

Welcome!  As a favorite band says, “Just poke around.”

originated at The Dream Antilles

Good News?

Sitting at the Stars Hollow News Desk is kind of draining most times.  It’s not really the 2 hours a day, which you get used to, it’s that the news is almost uniformly bad.

However since yesterday a few items have come to my attention that are at least somewhat encouraging.

Firstly, the Japanese "scientific research" whale hunt has been suspended about a month early and with only about 10% of the projected catch of 1000.  Japan is blaming Sea Shepherd for creating “unsafe conditions” for its crews, but in fact the decision is probably based at least as much on declining demand for whale meat (over 6000 tons, a record, is in cold storage and annual per capita consumption is a mere 4 sashimi style slices a year) and growing international opposition including a suit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague from Australia, a top Japanese trading partner, that is expected to be adjudicated in 2013.  This is a pleasant surprise after last year’s effort to raise quotas at the International Whaling Commission.

There are also rumors that David Patreus is going to be rotated out of his position as commander of the ISAF.  The down side of this is that he’ll probably fail upwards to Chairman of the JCS, the up side of this is that it will provide an opportunity for Obama to break with Patreus’ strategy of endless occupation and airstrikes.

Well, we can hope.

Finally, even though the controversial Patriot Act Extension passed, it will only be for 3 months.  As dday puts it-

Ultimately, this probably only means that the Senate will spend a week of debate three months from now and then extend the whole thing past the Presidential election. But it’s so rare that civil libertarians see even a minor speed bump in the rush to deprive liberty, and even with the three-month extension, that’s what this represents.

My niece works at a T-Shirt kiosk in the Mall and this year for Christmas she got me one that says-


… like that does any good.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

Harold Meyerson: Workers toppled a dictator in Egypt, but might be silenced in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s governor is acting like an autocrat.

But even as workers were helping topple the regime in Cairo, one state government in particular was moving to topple workers’ organizations here in the United States. Last Friday, Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s new Republican governor, proposed taking away most collective bargaining rights of public employees. Under his legislation, which has moved so swiftly through the newly Republican state legislature that it might come to a vote Thursday, the unions representing teachers, sanitation workers, doctors and nurses at public hospitals, and a host of other public employees, would lose the right to bargain over health coverage, pensions and other benefits. (To make his proposal more politically palatable, the governor exempted from his hit list the unions representing firefighters and police.) The only thing all other public-sector workers could bargain over would be their base wages, and given the fiscal restraints plaguing the states, that’s hardly anything to bargain over at all.

You might think that Walker came to this extreme measure after negotiations with public-sector unions had reached an impasse. In fact, he hasn’t held such discussions. “I don’t have anything to negotiate,” Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week. To underscore just how accompli he considered his fait, he vowed to call in the National Guard if protesting workers walked off the job or disrupted state services.

It’s a throwback to 19th-century America, when strikes were suppressed by force of arms. Or, come to think of it, to Mubarak’s Egypt or communist Poland and East Germany.

Remind me, where it is that I live?

Dana Milbank: Boehner the budget hawk shifts his course

Boehner wants to cut the budget, but not in his back yard.

“So be it.”

That was House Speaker John Boehner’s cold answer when asked Tuesday about job losses that would come from his new Republican majority’s plans to cut tens of billions of dollars in government spending this year.


Let’s assume that Boehner is not as heartless as his words sound. Let’s accept that he really believes, as he put it, that “if we reduce spending we’ll create a better environment for job creation in America.” A more balanced budget would indeed improve the jobs market – in the long run.

But in the short run, the cuts Boehner and his caucus propose would cause a shock to the economy that would slow, if not reverse, the recovery. And however pure Boehner’s motives may be, the dirty truth is that a stall in the recovery would bring political benefits to the Republicans in the 2012 elections. It is in their political interests for unemployment to remain higher for the next two years. “So be it” is callous but rational.

Boehner could dismiss the forecasts of job losses as the work of liberal administration critics. But Boehner himself is well aware that the cuts will lead to more unemployment; that’s why he’s fighting hard to shield his Ohio constituents.

Robert Reich: Why We Should Raise Taxes on the Super-Rich and Lower Them on the Middle Class

My proposal to raise the marginal tax to 70 percent on incomes over $15 million, to 60 percent on incomes between $5 million and $15 million, and to 50 percent on incomes between $500,000 and $5 million, has generated considerable debate. Some progressives think it’s pie-in-the-sky. Here, for example, is Andrew Leonard, a staff writer for Salon:

  A 70 percent tax bracket for the richest Americans is pure fantasy – even suggesting it represents such a fundamental disconnect with the world as it exists today that it is hard to see why it should be taken seriously. I would be deeply worried about the sanity of a Democratic president who proposed such a thing.

Fantasy? I don’t know Mr. Leonard’s age but perhaps he could be forgiven for not recalling that between the late 1940s and 1980 America’s highest marginal rate averaged above 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent. Not until the 1980s did Ronald Reagan slash it to 28 percent. (Many considered Reagan’s own proposal a “fantasy” before it was enacted.)

On This Day in History February 16

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 16 is the 47th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 318 days remaining until the end of the year (319 in leap years).

On this day in 2006, the last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army. The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) refers to a United States Army medical unit serving as a fully functional hospital in a combat area of operations. The units were first established in August 1945, and were deployed during the Korean War and later conflicts.

The MASH unit was conceived by Michael E. DeBakey and other surgical consultants as the “mobile army surgical hospital.” Col. Harry A. Ferguson, the executive officer of the Tokyo Army Hospital, also aided in the establishment of the MASH program. It was an alternative to the system of portable surgical hospitals, field hospitals, and general hospitals used during World War II. It was designed to get experienced personnel closer to the front, so that the wounded could be treated sooner and with greater success. Casualties were first treated at the point of injury through buddy aid, then routed through a battalion aid station for emergency stabilizing surgery, and finally routed to the MASH for the most extensive treatment. This proved to be highly successful; it was noted that during the Korean War, a seriously wounded soldier that made it to a MASH unit alive had a 97% chance of survival once he received treatment.

The MASH unit made its way into popular culture through the 1968 novel M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker, the 1970 feature film based on the novel, and the long-running television sitcom (1972-1983) based on the movie. A 1953 film, Battle Circus, also took place at a MASH.

MASH units continued to serve in various conflicts including the Vietnam War. In October 1990 the 5th MASH, 44th Medical Brigade, XVIIIth AirBorne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, deployed to Saudi Arabia and was the first fully functional Army Hospital in country. This unit moved forward six times, always as the first up hospital for the region. In March 1991 the 5th MASH was operationally attached to the 24th Infantry Division to provide forward surgical care (often right on the front battle lines) to the combat units that attacked the western flank of Iraqi Army. In March 1991, the 159th MASH of the Louisiana Army National Guard operated in Iraq in support of the 3rd Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm.

In 1997, the last MASH unit in South Korea was deactivated. A deactivating ceremony was held in South Korea, which was attended by several members of the cast of the M*A*S*H television series, including Larry Linville (who played Frank Burns), and David Ogden Stiers, (who played Charles Winchester). MASH units have since been replaced by the U.S. Army’s Combat Support Hospitals.

Worldwide, the last MASH unit was deactivated on October 16, 2006. The 212th MASH – based in Miesau Ammo Depot, Germany – was the first U.S. Army hospital established in Iraq in 2003, supporting coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was the most decorated combat hospital in the U.S. Army, with 28 Campaign streamers on the organizational colors. The 212th MASH’s last deployment was to Pakistan to support the 2005 Kashmir earthquake relief operations. The U.S. State Department bought the MASH’s tents and medical equipment, owned by the DoD, and donated the entire hospital to the Pakistani military, a donation worth $4.5 million.

The 212th MASH’s unit sign now resides at the Army Medical Department’s Museum in San Antonio, Texas.


Out of necessity, the “4077th MASH” unit depicted in the television series was considerably smaller than many of the MASH units deployed by the United States in the Korean War. In the series, about four surgeons depicted as being assigned to the unit, the administrative staff consists of the C.O. and his assistant, and few soldiers were shown to be present. By comparison, the 8063rd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital had personnel including twelve nurses, eighty-nine enlisted soldiers of assorted medical and non-medical specialties, one Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer, one Warrant Officer and ten other commissioned officers of assorted specialties. On one occasion, the unit handled over 600 casualties in a 24 hour period.

Domestic Terrorism Aided by the State

Remind again, what country am I living in?

Rachel Maddow details the abuse of power by ex-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline to intimidate women who had appointments with the late Dr. George Tiller, and a proposed South Dakota Law that would effectively legalize the murder of abortion providers , and asks what the US is willing to do to protect its citizens lagal rights from such abuses of the law.

It would seem that the Republican anti-abortion crowd can’t get the message either. From David Dayen at FDL:

South Dakota has been at the forefront of anti-abortion efforts in recent years. The legislature tried to ban all abortions in the state in 2006. This led to a ballot initiative overturning the legislation. The people spoke and said they didn’t want their state turned into a war zone for women. A separate abortion 2008 – this time with an exception for rape – went on the ballot in 2008. Again the people spoke and voted it down.

Now, the legislature has responded with another attack on women and the doctors who provide legal medical services for them.

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus-a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

   The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion-even if she wanted one.

From Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones:

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus-a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion-even if she wanted one.

Greg Sargent at the Plum Line, spoke with the legislation’s chief sponsor, State Representative Phil Jensen who defended the bill arguing that it would not legalize the killing of abortion doctors. :

Jensen insisted that the bill’s primary goal is to bring “consistency” to South Dakota criminal code, which already allows people who commit crimes that result in the death of fetuses to be charged with manslaughter. The new measure expands the state’s definition of “justifiable homicide” by adding a clause applying it to someone who is “resisting any attempt” to murder of an unborn child or to harm an unborn child in a way likely to result in its death.

When I asked Jensen what the purpose of the law was, if its target isn’t abortion providers, he provided the following example:

“Say an ex-boyfriend who happens to be father of a baby doesn’t want to pay child support for the next 18 years, and he beats on his ex-girfriend’s abdomen in trying to abort her baby. If she did kill him, it would be justified. She is resisting an effort to murder her unborn child.”

Pushed on whether the new measure could inflame the unhinged to kill abortion doctors, as some critics allege, Jensen scoffed. “You can fantasize all you want, but this is pretty clear cut,” he said. “Never say never, but if some loony did what you’re suggesting, then this law wouldn’t apply to them. It wouldn’t be justifiable homicide.”

Tell it to the jury, Phil, the first time some lame brained jerk is on trial for killing an abortion provider.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 15, 2011-


Prime Time

Well, if you’re any kind of hip at all you’ll be liveblogging the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with us (on USA @ 8 pm ET, Best in Show), but there’s no accounting for taste.  Otherwise you have a bunch of premiers including the next episode of V and 2 NCISes (not to be confused with R.O.U.S.es).

There are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch.


Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.

Dave hosts more swimsuit models, Forest Whitaker, Joy Philbin, and Josh Groban.  Jon has January Jones, Stephen David Albright.  Conan hosts Phil McGraw and Ginnifer Goodwin.

You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That’s where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

from firefly-dreaming 15.2.11