04/24/2011 archive

Rant of the Week: Rachel Maddow

Why a Michigan high School is Ground Zero for Politics

Rachel takes a look at one of the effects of the emergency finance law, particularly on a remarkable Detroit high school that faces closure.

Never Mind the Birth Certificate, Show Me Your Law Degree

We’re a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.

I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even pretend to be one on the Internet but the above statement, according to the Constitution of the United States, is just so egregiously wrong that it is hard to believe that it was uttered by a lawyer much less one that purports to be a “Constitutional Law Professor” and sits in the Oval Office. If I were a lawyer, I’d be embarrassed by this man claim to be a member of my profession. As a citizen of the Unites States, I am more than embarrassed, I am ashamed.

Not just worse than Bush but worse than Richard Nixon, too. I can’t imagine Eric Holder telling Obama to say he “mispoke”.

Teddy Partridge: On Bradley Manning’s Guilt, Who Will Be Barack Obama’s John Mitchell?

Immediately upon reading Michael Whitney’s post about President Barack Obama’s statement to Logan Price about Bradley – “we are a nation of laws…. he broke the law!” – I was reminded of Richard Nixon’s statement about Charles Manson in the midst of his trial:

   “Here was a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”

What I didn’t recall from that time was that John Mitchell, easily American history’s crookedest Attorney General ever, was at Nixon’s side when he made that statement in Denver. He recognized right away that there was a serious problem with Nixon’s statement:

   “This has got to be clarified,” he told Presidential Aide John Ehrlichman immediately afterward.

Even in an era of news moving only as fast as the wire services, reporters rushed to telephones and the story moved. In half an hour, White House press secretary Ron Ziegler appeared before reporters:

   After some minutes of verbal fencing, Ziegler agreed that Nixon’s words about Manson should be retracted. When Ziegler told Nixon what had happened, the President was surprised: “I said ‘charged,’ ” he replied.

Which, of course, Nixon had not said. And, as in Obama’s case, there was video.

   During the 3½-hour flight back to Washington, Mitchell persuaded Nixon to put out a statement backing Ziegler up. It read in part: “The last thing I would do is prejudice the legal rights of any person in any circumstances. I do not know and did not intend to speculate as to whether or not the Tate defendants are guilty, in fact, or not.”

Michael Whitney: Obama on Manning: “He Broke the Law.” So Much for that Trial?

This is the President of the United States speaking about a US military soldier detained for almost a year on charges of leaking classified (but not top secret, the level of files released by Ellsberg) documents. Manning’s lawyer is considering considered (corrected: his transfer made the writ moot) filing a writ of habeus corpus for the length of time and totality of abuse suffered by Manning while in military custody.

President Obama has already made up his mind. He thinks Manning “broke the law.” It’s no wonder he considered Manning’s abuse to “meet our basic standards” when he thinks Manning is already guilty.

This is vile.

As a reminder: the Pentagon plans to hold Manning indefinitely. Might as well, since they think he’s guilty already.

Glen Greenwald: President Obama Speaks on Manning and the Rule of Law

But even more fascinating is Obama’s invocation of America’s status as a “nation of laws” to justify why Manning must be punished. That would be a very moving homage to the sanctity of the rule of law — if not for the fact that the person invoking it is the same one who has repeatedly engaged in the most extraordinary efforts to shield Bush officials from judicial scrutiny, investigation, and prosecution of every kind for their war crimes and surveillance felonies. Indeed, the Orwellian platitude used by Obama to justify that immunity — Look Forward, Not Backward — is one of the greatest expressions of presidential lawlessness since Richard Nixon told David Frost that “it’s not illegal if the President does it.”

But it’s long been clear that this is Obama’s understanding of “a nation of laws”: the most powerful political and financial elites who commit the most egregious crimes are to be shielded from the consequences of their lawbreaking — see his vote in favor of retroactive telecom immunity, his protection of Bush war criminals, and the way in which Wall Street executives were permitted to plunder with impunity — while the most powerless figures (such as a 23-year-old Army Private and a slew of other low-level whistleblowers) who expose the corruption and criminality of those elites are to be mercilessly punished. And, of course, our nation’s lowest persona non grata group — accused Muslim Terrorists — are simply to be encaged for life without any charges. Merciless, due-process-free punishment is for the powerless; full-scale immunity is for the powerful. “Nation of laws” indeed.

And lest we forget that last year this same president appointed himself not only judge and jury but executioner as well.

U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric

By Scott Shane, April 6, 2010

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

The Bush/Cheney cabal may have shredded the Constitution, this president wants to bury it.

On This Day In History April 24

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.

(Click on images to enlarge)

April 24 is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 251 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1916, Easter Rebellion begins.

On Easter Monday in Dublin, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret organization of Irish nationalists led by Patrick Pearse, launches the so-called Easter Rebellion, an armed uprising against British rule. Assisted by militant Irish socialists under James Connolly, Pearse and his fellow Republicans rioted and attacked British provincial government headquarters across Dublin and seized the Irish capital’s General Post Office. Following these successes, they proclaimed the independence of Ireland, which had been under the repressive thumb of the United Kingdom for centuries, and by the next morning were in control of much of the city. Later that day, however, British authorities launched a counteroffensive, and by April 29 the uprising had been crushed. Nevertheless, the Easter Rebellion is considered a significant marker on the road to establishing an independent Irish republic.

Following the uprising, Pearse and 14 other nationalist leaders were executed for their participation and held up as martyrs by many in Ireland. There was little love lost among most Irish people for the British, who had enacted a series of harsh anti-Catholic restrictions, the Penal Laws, in the 18th century, and then let 1.5 million Irish starve during the Potato Famine of 1845-1848. Armed protest continued after the Easter Rebellion and in 1921, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties won independence with the declaration of the Irish Free State. The Free State became an independent republic in 1949. However, six northeastern counties of the Emerald Isle remained part of the United Kingdom, prompting some nationalists to reorganize themselves into the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to continue their struggle for full Irish independence.


The Act of Union 1801 united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland, abolishing the Irish Parliament and giving Ireland representation at Westminster. From early on, many Irish nationalists opposed the union and what was seen as the exploitation of the country.

Opposition took various forms: constitutional (the Repeal Association; the Home Rule League), social (disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; the Land League) and revolutionary (Rebellion of 1848; Fenian Rising). Constitutional nationalism enjoyed its greatest success in the 1880s and 1890s when the Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell succeeded in having two Home Rule bills introduced by the Liberal government of William Ewart Gladstone, though both failed. The First Home Rule Bill of 1886 was defeated in the House of Commons, while the Second Home Rule Bill of 1893 was passed by the Commons but rejected by the House of Lords. After the fall of Parnell, younger and more radical nationalists became disillusioned with parliamentary politics and turned towards more extreme forms of separatism. The Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League and the cultural revival under W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, together with the new political thinking of Arthur Griffith expressed in his newspaper Sinn Féin and the organisations the National Council and the Sinn Féin League led to the identification of Irish people with the concept of a Gaelic nation and culture, completely independent of Britain. This was sometimes referred to by the generic term Sinn Féin.

The Third Home Rule Bill was introduced by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith in 1912. The Irish Unionists ], led by [Sir Edward Carson, opposed home rule in the light of what they saw as an impending Roman Catholic-dominated Dublin government. They formed the Ulster Volunteer Force on 13 January 1913.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) saw an opportunity to create an armed organisation to advance its own ends, and on 25 November 1913 the Irish Volunteers, whose stated object was “to secure and to maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland”, was formed. Its leader was Eoin MacNeill, who was not an IRB member. A Provisional Committee was formed that included people with a wide range of political views, and the Volunteers’ ranks were open to “all able-bodied Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics or social group.” Another militant group, the Irish Citizen Army, was formed by trade unionists as a result of the Dublin Lockout of that year. However, the increasing militarisation of Irish politics was overshadowed soon after by the outbreak of a larger conflict-the First World War  and Ireland’s involvement in the conflict.

What’s Cooking: Sweet Potato Mash

I love sweet potatoes and not just at Thanksgiving. I like them baked, boiled and mashed and dipped in tempura batter and fried. They are great in breads and baked desserts. They are very nutritional, an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of potassium and vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, copper, pantothetic acid and folic acid. Sweet potatoes are native to Central America, grown in the Southern US states since the 16th century and are in the same family of plants as Morning Glories. The plant is a trailing vine with a large tuberous root.

Sweet Potatoes are often confused with yams which are native to Africa and relate to lilies and grasses. Even though they are both flowering plants, botanically they are different.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’ Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually found in an international market, you are probably eating sweet potatoes!

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, my daughter decided to ditch the “traditional” candied version topped with marshmallow that would put a normal person into a diabetic coma and went “surfing” for something different. The recipe she found now makes it to our table more often than once a year. It is still sweet but not overwhelming. It’s great served as a side with pork or ham, as well as turkey. Nummy as a midnight snack with a little whipped cream, too.

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash


   4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes

   1/2 cup whipping cream

   6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter

   1/4 cup pure maple syrup

   2 tablespoons bourbon

   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

   1 teaspoon ground allspice

   3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

   1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped


Preheat oven to 350°F. Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cool slightly. Scoop flesh into large bowl; discard skins. Mash hot potatoes until coarse puree forms.

Heat cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes. Stir in syrup, bourbon, and all spices. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm in microwave. Sprinkle nuts over and serve.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”. (Click on images to enlarge)

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: “It’s a special Easter edition of This Week. You won’t want to miss it.”

Actually, you most likely can pass on this.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: This week’s guests on Face the Nation are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) along with Representatives Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.).

The freshman class

The Chris Matthews Show: This Week’s Guests Katty Kay, BBC Washington Correspondent, Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast Editor, The Dish, Gillian Tett, Financial Times U.S. Managing Editor and Matt Frei, Washington Correspondent BBC chatting about these topics:

The Special Relationship Between the U.S. and Britain

How Brits See the Monarchy of the Future

THE Wedding is Friday

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Guests are Sen John McCain (R-AZ), who never saw a war he didn’t like and two members of the “Gang of Six”, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who want to throw anyone who doesn’t own a corporation or makes millions under the train. Never mind the bus.

The round table guests, columnist for the New York Times and author of the new book “The Social Animal,” David Brooks; columnist for the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson; Republican strategist, Alex Castellanos; and former communications director for President Obama, Anita Dunn will babble about “The Donald” and the “Budget/Debt Battle”

I think they should include interviews with Ivana and Marla

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Guests, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I(diot)-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. George Joulwan (Ret.) and former Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, all get a turn adding their two cents or less about Libya.

Now, you can either go back to bed or eat some Easter candy for Breakfast. I’m going to have some coffee with a chocolate filled croissant. 😉

Mike Lux: The Base and the Swing, Part 7132

There is no doubt at all that there are demographic groups that can be accurately categorized as base voting blocs (of both parties) and as swing voting blocs, and politicians must appeal to both to win elections. The key is to position yourself in a way that genuinely does appeal to both — that both fires up your side and resonates with those in the middle. The great fallacy for Democrats is in thinking those two kinds of voters are so far apart on the most important issues in determining their voting. This debate keeps raging in Democratic circles, and I expect it will continue to for the foreseeable future.

Historically, swing voters tend to be, as Lee Atwater and most Republican strategists for the last 50 years have understood, economically populist. That is especially true in tough economic times, when more people are hurting and angry. Swing voters intensely dislike the idea of cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They don’t like Wall Street bankers at all. They hate outsourcing jobs and are not fans of trade deals. They support taxing people making over $250,000 a year. They like the idea of firefighters and cops and nurses being able to unionize. Now, there’s no doubt: they are swing voters for a reason — they don’t like “big government” in general, they aren’t crazy about their own taxes going up, they are worried about government deficits. But here’s the deal: if the goal is to have a message and platform that appeals to both base and swing voters, you can do no better than populist economics. And here’s the other key thing: it is hard to unite them any other way. D.C. conventional wisdom centrism sure doesn’t do it.

John Nichols: A Responsible Republican Rejects Paul Ryan’s Fiscal Folly

Susan Collins slipped the knife in gracefully.

The Republican senator from Maine said that it took “courage” for House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, to advance what he would have Americans believe is a deficit reduction proposal.

But, she explained Friday, “I don’t happen to support Congressman Ryan’s plan…”

Collins’ announcement, made in an interview with a Maine television station, signals a break by a key Senate Republican with the Ryan bill, which received lockstep GOP support in the House. And Collins may not be the only senator from her side of the aisle to break ranks.

Indeed, while Collins is considered to be something of a moderate, honest conservatives should have just as much trouble with the fiscal folly that Ryan proposes.

No one who is serious about reducing deficits, responsible budgeting or the maintenance of a functional society could back Ryan’s scheme — a bait-and-switch scheme that does not even propose to balance the federal budget until 2040.

Michele Chen: The Growing Food Crisis, and What World Leaders Aren’t Doing About It

If all goes as planned for the G-20 this year, leaders of the world’s most powerful economies will convene to issue bold proclamations, talk past each other, and quietly agree to do virtually nothing. The stakes might be a little higher now, though, as the political poker table will be stacked with millions of the world’s hungriest people. Guess who’ll come away empty handed?

World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned at a recent World Bank-IMF meeting that the planet was hurtling toward a food crisis, akin to the chaos that erupted in 2007-2008 across the Global South. The context this time is in some ways more daunting: a perfect storm of social and economic upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East, natural and nuclear disasters in Japan, debt crises in Europe and the U.S., and epidemic unemployment worldwide.

Michael Winship: Congress: Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks

For all their talk of the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and core principles, you’d have thought that the current freshman class of Congress, the sprouted seed of Tea Partiers and the 2010 midterms, would have made a similar tour their first priority on arrival. And for all I know, many of them did just that. But for some, the siren song of cash and influence has proven stronger, already luring them onto the rocks of privilege and corruption that lurk just inside the Beltway. They’ve made a beeline not for the hallowed shrines of patriots’ pride but the elegant suites of K Street lobbyists, where the closest its residents have been to Lincoln is the bearded face peering from the five-dollar bill — chump change.

So much for fiercely resisting the wicked, wicked ways of Washington. These new members were seduced faster than Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate.”

Six In The Morning

 Majestic views, ancient culture, money fight

Spectacular Skywalk is center of a legal battle between developer and tribe


GRAND CANYON WEST, Ariz. – Think of a Caribbean glass-bottomed boat hung out over the edge of the Grand Canyon and you have the idea behind the Skywalk, a modern, vertigo-inducing moneymaker that is drawing hundreds of thousands of people annually onto the Hualapai Indians’ reservation to stare down beneath their feet at the distant canyon floor.

That the views are spectacular, no one would dispute. But a fierce legal battle has erupted over whether these are million-dollar views or whether they are considerably more valuable than that.

What’s Cooking: Crab Cakes

I was raised by the sea and seafood has been a main part of my diet. When I was a kid, my Dad and I spent weekends at the beach nearly year round. We would catch out own bate, fish, dig for clams and set crab traps near the sea wall that lined the inlet. That was back when the water was clean. now all of my seafood comes from the local supermarket that has an excellent department and a manager that is quite knowledgeable.

One of my favorite dishes is Crab cakes. Crab Cakes are an American dish composed of crab meat and various other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, yellow onions, and seasonings. Occasionally other ingredients such as red or green peppers or pink radishes are added, at which point the cake is then sautéed, baked, or grilled. They can be served on a bun or, as in the recipe here, on a bed of lettuce either as an appetizer of main dish depending on how big they’re made. The ones in this recipe are sautéed.

Maryland Crab Cakes are the official food of The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a horse race that is run on the third Saturday of May each year.

Crab Cakes with Herb Salad



   1/2 cup grapeseed oil (I use a good extra virgin olive oil)

   1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

   1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

   1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

   1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

   1 tablespoon minced green onion

   1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Crab cakes

   1/4 cup mayonnaise

   1/4 cup minced green onions

   2 large egg yolks

   2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

   4 teaspoons minced fresh dill

   4 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon

   4 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

   1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

   1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

   1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

   1 pound blue crabmeat or Dungeness crabmeat

   2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs),* divided

   2 tablespoons (or more) butter

   2 tablespoons (or more) grapeseed oil (Canola oil is a good substitute)

   2 5-ounce containers herb salad mix

   Fresh dill sprigs

   Fresh tarragon sprigs

   Fresh cilantro sprigs

   *Available in the Asian foods section of supermarkets and at Asian markets.


For vinaigrette:

Whisk oil, lemon juice, dill, tarragon, cilantro, green onion, and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For crab cakes:

Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in crabmeat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crabmeat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly. Form crab mixture into sixteen 2-inch-diameter patties, using about scant 1/4 cup for each. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total.

Place salad mix in very large bowl. Add 1/2 cup vinaigrette; toss. Arrange crab cakes on platter. Garnish with herb sprigs, drizzle with some of remaining vinaigrette, and serve with salad.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for April 22, 2011-


Good Bye, Sarah Jane Smith 20110423

Most of you that read my posts know that I am an avid fan of Doctor Who.  I am not ashamed of that at all, and like the new ones very much, but they are not anything like the classic ones that ran from 1963 to around 1980 or so.  Those ones had the classic Doctors, Hartnell, Throughtan, Pertwee, and especially Baker.

They all had companions.  I liked lots of them, Jamie, Granddaughter (Susan, and they still have not explained that companion, his first, from 1963!).  But the most wonderful companion was Sarah Jane Smith, an investigative journalist.  She way played by the extremely attractive Elisabeth Sladen, who just departed from us this week.  Not only was she a companion for over three and one half years, she, unique of all others, returned many times to reprise the same character.  She was 65 years old, and had been married to the same man since 1968.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Fighting grips Misrata, drones enter Libya conflict

by Marc Bastian and Andrea Bernardi, AFP

41 mins ago

MISRATA (AFP) – Heavy fighting rocked Misrata on Saturday, overwhelming its hospital, after Moamer Kadhafi’s regime gave its army an “ultimatum” to take the besieged Libyan city and US drones entered the fray.

The United States said it carried out the first drone strike in the more than month-old conflict.

At least 25 people were killed and 100 wounded in street battles on Saturday in the western port city of Misrata, a doctor said, on a day on which NATO air raids struck near a compound in Tripoli where Kadhafi resides.