Daily Archive: 07/04/2011

Jul 04 2011

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”.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.:What Our Declaration Really Said

Our nation confronts a challenge this Fourth of July that we face but rarely: We are at odds over the meaning of our history and why, to quote our Declaration of Independence, “governments are instituted.”

Only divisions this deep can explain why we are taking risks with our country’s future we’re usually wise enough to avoid. Arguments over how much government should tax and spend are the very stuff of democracy’s give-and-take. Now, the debate is shadowed by worries that if a willful faction does not get what it wants, it might bring the nation to default.

This is, well, crazy. It makes sense only if politicians believe-or have convinced themselves-that they are fighting over matters of principle so profound that any means to defeat their opponents is defensible.

We are closer to that point than we think, and our friends in the tea party have offered a helpful clue by naming their movement in honor of the 1773 revolt against tea taxes on that momentous night in Boston Harbor

Paul Krugman: Corporate Cash Con

Of tax cuts, tax holidays and trickle-down.

Watching the evolution of economic discussion in Washington over the past couple of years has been a disheartening experience. Month by month, the discourse has gotten more primitive; with stunning speed, the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been forgotten, and the very ideas that got us into the crisis – regulation is always bad, what’s good for the bankers is good for America, tax cuts are the universal elixir – have regained their hold.

And now trickle-down economics – specifically, the idea that anything that increases corporate profits is good for the economy – is making a comeback.

On the face of it, this seems bizarre. Over the last two years profits have soared while employment has remained disastrously high. Why should anyone believe that handing even more money to corporations, no strings attached, would lead to faster job creation?

New York Times Editorial: It Gets Even Worse

New anti-immigration laws in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina are cruel, racist and counterproductive.

If you thought the do-it-yourself anti-immigrant schemes couldn’t get any more repellent, you were wrong. New laws in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina are following – and in some ways outdoing – Arizona’s attempt to engineer the mass expulsion of the undocumented, no matter the damage to the Constitution, public safety, local economies and immigrant families.

The laws vary in their details but share a common strategy: to make it impossible for people without papers to live without fear.

Eugene Robinson: Assassination by robot: Are we justified?

The skies over at least six countries are patrolled by robotic aircraft, operated by the U.S. military or the CIA, that fire missiles to carry out targeted assassinations. I am convinced that this method of waging war is cost-effective but not that it is moral.

There has been virtually no public debate about the expanding use of unmanned drone aircraft as killing machines – not domestically, at least. In the places where drone attacks are taking place, there has understandably been great uproar. And in the rest of the world, questions are being raised about the legal and ethical basis for these antiseptic missile strikes.

David Swanson: Memoirs of Torturers

On September 18, 2009, seven former heads of the CIA publicly told President Barack Obama not to prosecute CIA torturers. On April 16, 2009, Obama had already publicly told Attorney General Eric Holder not to prosecute CIA torturers. On September 18th, Holder publicly reassured the CIA.

The coast was clear. The books started flowing. George W. Bush and John Yoo put their books out in 2010, Donald Rumsfeld in 2011, and Dick Cheney’s also later this summer.

Just as the torture techniques drifted down the chain of command from these dealers in death to the rank and file, so too the book contracts. The cogs in the machine are now documenting their bit parts in the past decade’s torture epidemic with pride and publishing deals.

Dave Johnson: The Not-So-Loyal Opposition

In the debt-ceiling debate Republicans are holding the country hostage again, demanding that the country shift to a radical pro-big-corporate/big-wealth agenda as the ransom. At the same time the Tea Partiers say don’t raise the debt limit, period, and let the country default, hoping that out of the resulting chaos and desperation they can rebuild the economy in an Ayn Randian, rule-by-the-rich vision.

Either way, this is a radical, unprecedented attempt to redefine our form of government, largely privatizing for a few the wealth of We, the People while stifling our voice. If we give in to this extremist vision of cut and gut, America will lose the engine that made us prosperous.

Jul 04 2011

Stuff

Republished from our first day on line.

I have stuff. Lots of stuff and not just the tangible kind that you can put your hands on and touch. When I suggested to ek hornbeck that we start this site and began working on diaries that I should write to help fill the pages as we attract readers and participants here, I began by looking at some of the “stuff” in my bookmarks and went WOW, I need to “clean” out all this stuff. Then I said “Wait, I  now have a place to put this “stuff” that I am about to “delete” forever into the infinity of cyberspace”.

Jul 04 2011

“A Paddle for Your Boat”

Republished from our first day on line.

Shit Creek Paddle Store

The Commission for Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, better known as the “Cat Food Commission” has targeted Social Security and Medicare for some serious reductions that will put many senior citizens and future senior citizens in jeopardy of being relegated to homeless shelters or the streets. Sound harsh, over the top? Well listen to the co-chair former Sen. Alan Simpson, who was hand picked by President Barack Obama, in the video below the fold. And how about Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi who purposely put a “requirement that the House will vote on the deficit commission’s recommendations in the lame duck session if they pass the Senate“?

Jul 04 2011

On Patriotism

(a reprint from our initial offerings)

It’s an interesting coincidence that exactly 50 years after The Declaration, Jefferson and Adams died within hours of each other.  Ironically Adam’s last words were- “Jefferson still survives.”  In fact Jefferson preceeded Adams which could have caused some embarrassment provided you believe in an afterlife and that Jefferson and Adams could have ended up in the same place.

Me?  Not so much.  People forget that our founders were revolutionaries and the establishment of The United States of America led to a string of more or less successful rebellions in Haiti, South America, and France.

It’s certainly not a historical leap of faith to call The Council of Europe and the Age of Metternich a reaction to a little fight we picked on the road between Lexington and Concord.

History is real, and not so very long ago.

These were people just like us.  Every bit as smart, twice as tough, and doing the best they could with the tools they had available.

Recently they’d been through 30 years of Civil War based on religious sectarianism and class warfare.  Fighting the French and Indians was kind of intermittent by comparison.

They were not rubes by any means though it’s a classic American gambit going back to Franklin at least to put a dead beaver on your head and pretend to be an idiot.  It makes the women want you.

My favorite Ben who is not a traitor was considered the head of the committee that composed The Declaration, but the principal Author was Thomas Jefferson whom we find recently to have made a last minute substitution of ‘citizen’ for ‘subject’ that I found reflective of his principles as a Founder.

Revolution is not all skittles and beer.

America had its Cincinattus and a Republic if we could keep it, but political feuding between the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists was little short of open warfare in the election of 1800.  People were literally shot down like dogs.

Adams had to suffer Jefferson as a Vice-President (Mr. Heartbeat) and successor.  Two Term Jefferson left his office to James “Mr. Constitution” Madison and the rest, as they say, is history until AndrewKingfishJackson (but that’s a story for another day).

The democratic impulse and enlightenment values embodied in the work of our Founders, little things like the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the institutions of the Congress, Presidency, and Court have always been under attack by powerful elites who seek to influence outcomes in their favor.

The very least honor we owe these brave and principled patriots is to resist those efforts and defend justice and the rule of law to the best of our ability.

Jul 04 2011

Why Blog?

(a reprint from our initial offerings)

I’ve always identified myself as a writer, even when it was poetry for machines and deadline dreck for newsletters, pamphlets, and flyers.

I like words and written communication better than verbal or theatrical presentations because of the random access you have to the information as a reader.  With a speech, or Radio, or a Play, TV, or Movie the information is under control of the deliverer, not the audience.  It’s inherently a serial exposition, a sales pitch, designed by arrangement and order to lead you from reasonable premises to a predetermined conclusion without allowing you to revisit the path of the argument unless you repeat the experience from scratch.

You may call reading the last chapter to find out ‘who done it’ cheating, I suggest instead that it’s a challenge every Author should be willing to face.  If you can’t make your middle memorable it’s probably better suited for a Short Story than a Novel.

So that’s what’s in it for me.  It’s a form of self expression in a broadly accessible format that’s not really very expensive except in terms of the time it takes to produce the content.

What’s in it for you?

There are 2 parts to this answer.

As a Reader only, you get to bask in my brilliance and wallow in my words and if passive entertainment suits your style I’m grateful for your eyeballs.  By that I mean you’ll get a lot more of me if you can stand it and love or hate it I don’t really give a rat’s ass what you think about me as long as you pay attention.

But the beauty part of a blog is that you can have your voice heard too.  It’s called a Vent Hole for a reason and it accepts both positive and negative feedback.  If your ambition exceeds a Tweet or two you can contribute longer pieces that I will be more than happy to evaluate and feature.  There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than promoting the work of others.

I hope that The Stars Hollow Gazette will develop into a Group Blog where regular participants as well as muse driven Authors will provide a stream of fresh content that will make us a several time a day destination.

Activism

I think that blogs are both more and less powerful platforms than conventionally recognized.  Many people have a nostalgic affection for storming the Bastille and I don’t despise those who are willing to wear no pants.

My legs are not what they once were, though that doesn’t mean I won’t ‘kilt up’ if the occasion calls for it.

I don’t think a failure to summon musket armed militia is an indication of weakness.  The information battlefield has numerous hedgerows, stone walls, and trees to snipe from behind of.  If you think it doesn’t hurt you’re not listening to the howls of outrage from the ego struck elite you ungrateful cur.

My activist brother thinks the most important function of blogs is as a source of information and a historical record, an alternative to the monopolistic media with its competitive barriers.  I think it’s equally as important to amuse and distract.  Your eyeballs are money.  Your passive consent, complicity.

I call you to a life of resistance in the small and easily done things.  Move your money.  Use cash when you can.  Turn off your lights when you leave the room and properly inflate your tires.

If just two people do it, in harmony, they’ll think they’re both faggots and won’t take either of them.

I’ve been called worse things than a stick.  Whom would fardels bear to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all and the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought, and enterprise of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.

In thy orisons be all my sins remembered.

Civility

No one has any obligation to treat you any particular way on the internet.

Indeed, one of the things I most despise about our inbred Versailles Village political/media culture is their false politeness and evasion of the truth.

Calling people liars and cowards and idiots is not ‘hate speech’.

Saying that Jew controlled financial, media, and political elites are stealing victory from our brave troopers and using the blood of Christian babies to make Matzoh IS.

If you can’t tell the difference between those things it’s simply useless to talk about subtleties and I won’t bother to do so.

In general however you may attribute to me personally any vice- I claim them all, particularly sloth.  If you have something new and inventive you’d care to share I’m always interested in novelty.  On the other hand you can hardly complain when I return the favor and if I happen to do it bigger and grander than you and you leave impressed…

That’s envy, my dear.  There’s a little bit of envy in the best of us.

Evolution

If you’d bother to learn anything about me at all you’d know I’m not a great believer in it.  It seems to me contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. – Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

But change is only to be expected, and while most of it is merely increasing entropy, intermittently self organizing systems emerge and flourish for a time.

And if you’re lucky you can be a part of it.

Jul 04 2011

Happy Anniversary

So a year ago The Stars Hollow Gazette went public and since then we’ve published 3,396 pieces or an average of 9.3 a day.  We’ve had some 40,27 visits and 216,845 views for an average of 111 and 468 daily during the course of our initial year, not so bad for a start up with minimal linkage and whoring.  Considering most political commentary community sites perish well before this I consider it an auspicious omen.

On that first day I had 4 posts, punching a little above my average-

I’ll be republishing Why Blog? and On Patriotism because it’s always good to remember where you came from.  Now might be a good time for members and potential members to visit the FAQs and refresh your memories though they haven’t changed a bit.

If you’re interested enough to take a full trip in the wayback machine this link tries to strike a moving target, we’re nothing if not prolific.

During the coming week I’ll be visiting several topics related to our past year including some experiments that didn’t work so you can point and hoot at my mistakes.

I have an agenda of change that I hope is going to make our past, present, and future content more accessible and easier to find and link to.  Soapblox has a new 2.0 platform to which we may migrate.  I’m hopeful some linux script genius will come up with one that allows us to do independent site backups based on the sequentiality of the diary urls.

TheMomCat and I are both working on making the site even more self sustaining by developing a larger community of Authors and a revenue stream to carry the hosting fees and add site improvements.  If you sell patchouli or tie dyed T-Shirts I’m sure we can come up with some reasonable rates.

We’re open to running sourced and linked pieces from advocacy groups.  Your press release isn’t a sure promotion but we’ve no objection to our readers seeing it (for the most part, editorial decisions are capricious and final).  Soapblox is capable of handling 50 member contributions a day out of the box and you can easily add extensions to handle arbitrary amounts with reasonable currency.  I think I’ll keep the Front Page no hotter than 1 every hour.

Well, you should plan for success.

And that relies on you.  I like to think The Stars Hollow Gazette has developed into a site of character and interest, a place you visit several times a day to read the latest and are proud to contribute at.  If you feel the same I urge you to send us your eyeballs and read, link, quote, comment, and recommend.

Thank you for your support.

Jul 04 2011

Le Tour 2011- Stage 3

Olonne-sur-Mer to Redon (123 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

More exciting than you thought eh?  Especially if you are rooting for or against Contador who’s team did much better than expected, finishing 8th after starting in last (22nd) position, but still didn’t advance his standing materially.

At the end of yesterday’s Team Time Trials, Contador advanced from 82nd to 75th by rank but added 22 Seconds to his time deficit.  Among the contenders ahead of him are Thor Hushovd (1st), Cadel Evans (3rd) and Andy Schleck (10th).

All the riders that got dropped managed to struggle across the finish under the +30% cutoff time so we will start all 198 of them today with no withdrawals so far.  This is actually not so bad as there’s usually a lot of early carnage.

Today’s stage is considered a sprinter’s course so you’ll see several attempted break aways most of which will be easily reeled in by the Peloton if they look likely to succeed.  There’s just the one sprint checkpoint this year so it’s barely possible that some team managers will be complacent and let things get out of hand.  The expected result is that teams will cut their best sprinters loose to finish as high in the points as they can and use the second stringers to drag their General Classification hopefuls across the line in a bunch.

Bottom line is that barring accidents you’ll see movements of 10s of Seconds or so, not earth shattering changes.  Saxo Bank might be lured into attempting something (which would be a mistake in my opinion) since they looked pretty desperate yesterday.

I’m extraordinarily pleased we’ve been joined by BruceMcF as a commenter since he seems to understand cycle racing much better than I do.  Here’s his explanation of double jerseys for the competition outside the maillot jaune General Classification/Overall lowest time-

Phillipe Gilbert wears the Green Jersey tomorrow ~ it was his today, but if you hold two or three, you wear the highest ranking, so Evans, second in the GC (Yellow) and Points (Green) competition wore the Green Jersey.

That mostly happens in the first week ~ by the time they hit the mountains, the Green Jersey contenders will be half an hour behind on the GC (Yellow) competition, and the serious King of the Mountain (polka dot) contenders will deliberately dump time so they will be allowed to get away on a breakaway through a big mountain stage.

The main “double jersey” situation in the second and third weeks is if a Young Rider (White) holds yellow, since white jersey is counted on time just like the yellow jersey.

Coverage starts at 8 am on Vs.  

Jul 04 2011

On This Day In History July 4

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.

July 4 is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 180 days remaining until the end of the year. The Aphelion, the point in the year when the Earth is farthest from the Sun, occurs around this date.

On this day in 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents of the United States, respectively, die on this day, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

After the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Adams was elected vice president to George Washington, and Jefferson was appointed secretary of state. During Washington’s administration, Jefferson, with his democratic ideals and concept of states’ rights, often came into conflict with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who supported a strong federal government and conservative property rights. Adams often arbitrated between Hamilton and his old friend Jefferson, though in politics he was generally allied with Hamilton.

In 1796, Adams defeated Jefferson in the presidential election, but the latter became vice president, because at that time the office was still filled by the candidate who finished second. As president, Adams’ main concern was America’s deteriorating relationship with France, and war was only averted because of his considerable diplomatic talents. In 1800, Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans (the forerunner of the Democratic Party) defeated the Federalist party of Adams and Hamilton, and Adams retired to his estate in Quincy, Massachusetts.

As president, Jefferson reduced the power and expenditures of the central government but advocated the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France, which more than doubled the size of the United States. During his second administration, Jefferson faced renewed conflict with Great Britain, but he left office before the War of 1812 began. Jefferson retired to his estate in Monticello, Virginia, but he often advised his presidential successors and helped establish the University of Virginia. Jefferson also corresponded with John Adams to discuss politics, and these famous letters are regarded as masterpieces of the American enlightenment.

John Adams’ Death

Less than a month before his death, John Adams issued a statement about the destiny of the United States, which historians such as Joy Hakim have characterized as a “warning” for his fellow citizens. Adams said:

   My best wishes, in the joys, and festivities, and the solemn services of that day on which will be completed the fiftieth year from its birth, of the independence of the United States: a memorable epoch in the annals of the human race, destined in future history to form the brightest or the blackest page, according to the use or the abuse of those political institutions by which they shall, in time to come, be shaped by the human mind.

On July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Adams died at his home in Quincy. Told that it was the Fourth, he answered clearly, “It is a great day. It is a good day.” His last words have been reported as “Thomas Jefferson survives”. His death left Charles Carroll of Carrollton as the last surviving signatory of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams died while his son John Quincy Adams was president.

His crypt lies at United First Parish Church (also known as the Church of the Presidents) in Quincy. Originally, he was buried in Hancock Cemetery, across the road from the Church. Until his record was broken by Ronald Reagan in 2001, he was the nation’s longest-living President (90 years, 247 days) maintaining that record for 175 years.

Thomas Jefferson’s Death

Jefferson’ health began to deteriorate by July 1825, and by June 1826 he was confined to bed. He likely died from uremia, severe diarrhea, and pneumonia (?). Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and a few hours before John Adams.

Though born into a wealthy slave-owning family, Jefferson had many financial problems, and died deeply in debt. After his death, his possessions, including his slaves, were sold, as was Monticello in 1831. Thomas Jefferson is buried in the family cemetery at Monticello. The cemetery only is now owned and operated by the Monticello Association, a separate lineage society that is not affiliated with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation that runs the estate.

Jefferson wrote his own epitaph, which reads:

   HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON

   AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

   OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

   AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.

John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States (1825-1829), was at his father’s bed side when he died. He was 7 days short of his 59th birthday

Jul 04 2011

Welcome to Stars Hollow: One Year and Going Strong

The Stars Hollow Gazette is still here and, from the looks of things, will be for some time to come. Just one year ago I posted this diary:

Welcome to Stars Hollow

The “park” and its benches are open. It is quite a liberal place, very liberal in fact and not ashamed to say so. We hope to give a space to those who want to feel comfortable expressing their views and ideas, a comfortable place for give and take, discussion, agreement and disagreement. None should expect a Utopia, we all have our own views and ideas, there will always be conflicts and opposition.

Besides the current news, this is an environment for creativity, a place to put your “stuff” for others to enjoy. A place for music, art, fiction or just chit chat about what ever moves the moment, a place to stream your thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

We chose the Fourth of July to debut as a subtle reminder that this country was born out of agreement to dissent. As responsible citizens, we have a right to voice our opinions. Democracy does not end at the voting booth, it begins there.



We wanted a place for people to be able to say that the president is a “dick” and why. A place where if you have a cause, an special interest, something that moves you to tears or rolling on the floor laughing, you have a place in our park. We believe that the more you write, the better you get. If we has a second motto here, it would be “Write More And Often“.

I want to thank everyone who contributes to Stars Hollow, especially those who contribute everyday.

ek hornbeck, my partner in this endeavor, who worries more than you can possibly know. It is his devotion to the “art of blogging” that caught my interest years ago at Daily Kos and then Docudharma, which we also administer. I could not do this without him.

Edger, the technical artist behind the curtain that has made this site so pretty. He has my special thanks and respect.

Translator, aka Dr. David W. Smith, for the some of the most informative, interesting diaries. Not just science but entertainment and insight into small town living. Thanks, Doc, I hope you are comfortable here.

mishima, our steadfast Japanese partner, who without fail and in the face of the worst disaster, has given us the news in the morning and insight into living in Japan every Saturday. He will be on hiatus from the news while adjusting to his new work schedule. Thank you so much, my friend, stay well.

Special thanks to davidseth, our “bloquero” from Dream Antilles, JekyllnHyde for his fantastic Editorial Cartoon diaries, BruceMcF for Sunday Train. You all help to sustain this place and have my deepest appreciation for your writing and work.

My last thank you is to a special friend who passed away before he could diary here, Ben Masel, a true activist, perpetual Wisconsin candidate and dear, dear friend. John Nichols in his tribute to Ben wrote

A few weeks ago, on a break between radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Masel was outside the Willy Street Co-op promoting the latest of his political projects when a manager informed him that the activity was not allowed. Masel stood his ground. The police were called and they informed the veteran of 40 years of speaking truth to power that he had to cease his campaigning. Actually, Masel informed the officers, he had every right to exercise his rights in so public a place. He directed them to review a specific section on a specific page of a specific set of rules and regulations. The manual was retrieved and reviewed and, when all was said and done, Masel’s assessment of his rights – and those of all who dare dissent – was accepted.

“Ben knew the laws better than the police did,” explained his longtime friend Amy Gros-Louis, echoing a sentiment shared by judges, lawyers and the many police officers who came to regard Masel with a mix of frustration, awe and, eventually, respect.

I blog in your memory, Ben.

Thanks to all who comment, read and just lurk. Lurking is a good thing, we encourage it because if you read enough, we hope, eventually, you’ll create an account and express yourself.

So welcome, sit on a bench or stretch out on the grass and enjoy the company.

Have a Happy and safe 4th of July and keep on reading and writing.

Jul 04 2011

Pique the Geek 20110703: Annual Fireworks Essay and a Fantasy

I have written pieces about fireworks in this space for several years now.  This year is no different, but instead of describing how modern fireworks operate, we shall, courtesy of The Doctor, take the TARDIS back to 1784, the first Independence Day after ratification of the Treaty of Paris, so for the first time the United States was a truly independent Nation on 04 July.

Unfortunately, my video camera was not working at the time, so I shall have just to describe what fireworks looked like at the time.  The Doctor told me that he would come again and that we would go to the 1785 one for next year, and make sure that I had a functional video camera.

Except for color, fireworks in that era were similar to some of the least advanced ones that we have today.  The complex aerial effects are quite modern, bright color is modern, and set pieces are also modern.

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