01/01/2012 archive



en-TEL-uh-kee\ , noun;

    1. A realization or actuality as opposed to a potentiality.

    2. In vitalist philosophy, a vital agent or force directing growth and life.

My husband pecks my cheek and heads off through the cacophony of clanging metal, buzzers, and  ringing bells that is his playground. We are on the road, and have forgotten to get cash for lunch. It would be an easy crisis to remedy, but it gives him an opportunity to show off his talent. I stand at the edge of the action, unable to banish my ill ease at seeing the money in our pockets put at risk so he can exercises his inexplicable power.

He cruises up and down the rows of noisy machines, looking from side to side. Other patrons sit with their backs to him, focused on their own trials with fate. A Native American woman offers him a drink, but he declines. Instead, he tilts his head, like a spaniel listening to a whistle pitched too high for the human ear. He turns away from her, and takes a seat in front of a one armed bandit. In five pulls, the machine gives up its bounty with the loud clang of coins dropping into the metal tray below the spinning symbols of fruit. He scoops up the riches and stalks another machine. Eight pulls later he has enough for both our meals at the best restaurant in the casino.

The first time he did this, the logical one in the family informed him that he was playing into the casino’s evil plan by deluding himself that he had some sort of gift. The house plays the odds, which clearly can not be altered. He might win here and there, but, over time, they have the better odds, and will always get more money than they give. Now, I have seen him do it so many times, I no longer try to make my case.

As it turned out, science weighed in on the talents of gamblers and handed the logical one her ass in the process. Not only is my husband right to believe that he can sense a gambling machine about to pay out, but part of his talent is probably altering the odds that it will pay with nothing more than the power of his resolve.

So shove that testy white rabbit out of the way, and follow the girl with the apron down the hole. On this day of resolutions, I am taking you on a walk through the Wonderland of science. Today, we peer into the power of intent.

Reclaiming Our Democracy (Part 2 of 2): Nullification

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
— Thomas Jefferson

What is Government?

Why do we submit to the law?

We can’t run very fast. We have no sharp teeth or claws. Long ago it became obvious that it was in humanity’s self interest to ban together for our mutual security. We each give up a small amount of personal freedom, for the greater good of the whole. That is the basis of the social contract.

As citizens, our responsibility is to uphold the laws of government. The government, in turn, also has obligations. The bare minimum of those obligations are to protect the majority of people from enemies both foreign and domestic. What enemies do we wish to protect ourselves from? At the very least hunger, disease, invasion by hostile forces (external security), and threats to our self-governance (internal security).

So how are we doing in that respect? Lousy.

We all but wiped out hunger in the US shortly after the Kennedy administration (ended 1963), but the government intentionally reintroduced it in the Reagan administration to drive down worker wages. What is left of our health care system is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Foreign NGO’s have been invited by the Supreme Court to financially manipulate campaigns and thus our government. Internal threats to self-governance are too numerous to recount here, and in any case the Supreme Court has abandoned all pretense that this was a democracy and officially ruled the US a plutocracy.

We are in essence living in a failed state. Just because I am writing about the US, don’t think your country is doing any better. Most of the Western world is in the same boat.

Other articles have detailed the complex road we took to get here. That is not the purpose of this series. This series discusses how we get out.

Specifically, how to tell our government “No!”

Rant of the Week: Chris Hayes

The Emperor has no clothes and must be exposed.

Protests, uprisings, and massive mobilizations of international dissent.

Occupy Wall St.: Happy New Year, We’re Still Here

“All week! All year! We’ll still be here!”

“Whose park? Our park!”


The New York City Occupiers took back Zucchotti Park a couple of hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve despite the presence of NYPD and private security:

About 100 people arrived at the park at about 7 p.m., according to witnesses, and someone put up what was described as a small multicolored tent, about two feet tall, made for a child. Two young girls, who were at the park with their mother, began playing inside.

Though the New York City Police Department had officers fanned out throughout the city for the holiday, there were police officers lined up across the street from Zuccotti Park, at the ready alongside private security guards. They stepped in.

Police officers and security guards, who stood at the ready across the street, told protesters to remove the tent, saying it violated rules issued by the park’s owner, Brookfield Properties. Meanwhile, an officer and a guard blocked other protesters, and at least one reporter, from entering the park. Some people disregarded their instructions and squeezed through the spaces between metal barricades along other parts of the perimeter.

That number swelled to over 500 by 10:30 as text messages and signal went out across the city. They draped the piled barricades with Christmas lights and the lighted Christmas tree was wrapped with the Occupy Wall Street banner as the OWS “bat signal” was projected on the side of a building. As the protesters were chased from the park, they took to the nearby streets, drumming and chanting as they marched. Most of the arrests were of demonstrators who were obeying police directions or walking peacefully on the side walk. Many of the protesters and others not involved in the demonstration were “kettled” into groups then arrested for obstructing pedestrian traffic or for moving as directed by the officers. Even legal observers and the press were again arrested and threatened by the NYPD. The observer from the National Lawyers Guild was later released.

Welcome to the United Police State of America where you can be “legally” detained indefinitely on the president’s word.

The Democratic Party’s Feminist Agenda

The Party’s Over

By Taylor Marsh

01 January 2012

As a recovering partisan these days and after watching Pres. Obama’s compromising conservatism, I no longer feel the urgency to support a political party who has threatened dire consequences if I don’t vote for them. Beyond foreign policy, economic, and civil rights issues mentioned above, Pres. Obama has also chosen to short-change women again and again on our freedoms, starting in the health care bill, then by executive order that empowered conservatives of both parties, and finally by making the decision on Plan B that would have come from Mitt Romney, too.

Pres. Obama has helped Democrats deliver a climate that this party has threatened since the ’70s would happen if I didn’t vote for them.

For over 30 years, modern feminists like myself have been hearing that we must support Democrats, because if we don’t our freedoms will be on the line yet again. After supporting Democrats since my one vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980, what has finally happened through Pres. Obama is exactly what I was told this political party would guard against. So now, as the 2012 elections approach, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are once again relying on the theory that because Republicans are worse women like me can be suckered into falling in line one more time.

The latest political move against women of all ages came recently when Pres. Obama decided to put politics over science on Plan B, even though it was conclusively proven safe for women, regardless of age. He said he was squeamish about it as a father. What made it worse is that he hid behind Kathleen Sebelius’s skirt, also saying he had nothing to do with the decision.

This kind of cowardice in a grown man is unattractive; in a president it is unacceptable.

It’s now even considered an extreme position to think women’s individual freedoms are important. On Obama’s conservative Plan B decision, you get replies like “it’s smart politically” or his fans argue from the right using parental rights over individual female freedoms.

Is it enough that the 111th Congress passed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which Pres. Obama signed? Women of all political persuasions need to expect all 21st century politicians to support economic equality. We should also demand that when it’s found out we aren’t being treated equally we have recourse, which is what Ledbetter is all about. Would any other Democratic president not have signed the Ledbetter Act? To laud something so simple as financial equality for the same job done reveals women are expecting way too little from politicians that depend on our support to politically survive.

Obama’s constant chant on reforming entitlements, including changing COLA on Social Security, would hit women the hardest, because in older age we are more likely to depend on it, a subject I’ve written on before (here, here).

On “reforming” entitlements, Pres. Obama comes down the same place as Republicans, though he’s the moderate conservative, so we can expect entitlement “reform” to happen regardless of who is in the White House. In his last political term, why wouldn’t Mr. Obama join with Republicans? If the Senate goes GOP, he’ll even have an excuse. Meanwhile, there’s no one suggesting that the limit on income taxed for Social Security be raised for the wealthy, with Democrats caving again and again on a millionaire surtax, so the progressive argument is not only weakly offered, but also never fought strategically.

Pres. Obama proved his economic timidity in the 2010 midterms, when you didn’t hear anything close to the speech he gave in Kansas, which didn’t come until he began campaigning for his own reelection. At least he always has his own back. Back in 2010, he and his pal at the DNC, Tim Kaine, now running for senator in Virginia, refused to make any Democratic case at all on economics. Obama then followed that up by caving and extending the Bush tax cuts. Obama and the Democratic midterm shellacking is what delivered state houses in record numbers to the right, which led to an assault on unions, the middle class, as well as women’s individual freedoms. At a time when we all needed an economic champion what we got was a total Democratic collapse.

Pres. Obama not being able to find a reelection slogan boils down to the fact that “hope and change” has been reduced to Republicans are worse.

For 30 years I’ve unflinchingly supported and voted Democratic. Over the last thirty years I’ve held my nose to vote for some pretty uninspiring Democratic candidates. Many of my colleagues, friends, readers and people I hear from via email, now put Pres. Obama in the “hold your nose” category, too. He’s earned the spot, so, boy, do I understand how they feel. Cenk Uygur wrote recently that he’s "uncommitted."

As a feminist having listened to the Democratic Party’s warnings on what could happen if we let the right take charge, I’m no longer buying their propaganda or that the Democratic Party is worthy of support. On individual freedoms the entire Democratic structure has caved, including the first female Speaker of the House in U.S. history, Nancy Pelosi, all the way down to the so-called “Progressive Caucus.” This includes on economics, where Democrats, with Pres. Obama leading, never made the progressive Democratic economic case, whether it’s for tax increases on Social Security taxed income, higher taxes on multi-millionaires, all of which would have required a barnstorming campaign to pigeon hole recalcitrant Republicans, then shame them into submission.

The two political parties have been under siege for some time, because Americans just don’t trust Republicans or Democrats anymore. Barack Obama was the last chance for political parties, specifically the Democratic brand, with George W. Bush having already given rise to rebellion inside the GOP, which is seen best through Ron Paul and the Tea Party. Meanwhile, Congress long ago ceded their importance as an equal branch of government, preferring loyalty oaths to their political party, as well as the boss in the Executive branch, which has become a marketing tool for itself, an American kingship of sorts, with no difference between Republican or Democratic presidents. Once in the White House, the presidents club rules.

On this Day In History January 1

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.


January 1 is the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years).

During the Middle Ages under the influence of the Christian Church, many countries moved the start of the year to one of several important Christian festivals – December 25 (the Nativity of Jesus), March 1, March 25 (the Annunciation), or even Easter. Eastern European countries (most of them with populations showing allegiance to the Orthodox Church) began their numbered year on September 1 from about 988.

In England, January 1 was celebrated as the New Year festival, but from the 12th century to 1752 the year in England began on March 25 (Lady Day). So, for example, the Parliamentary record records the execution of Charles I occurring in 1648 (as the year did not end until March 24), although modern histories adjust the start of the year to January 1 and record the execution as occurring in 1649.

Most western European countries changed the start of the year to January 1 before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. For example, Scotland changed the start of the Scottish New Year to January 1 in 1600. England, Ireland and the British colonies changed the start of the year to January 1 in 1752. Later that year in September, the Gregorian calendar was introduced throughout Britain and the British colonies. These two reforms were implemented by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750.

New Year’s Day

Probably observed on March 1 in the old Roman Calendar, The World Book Encyclopedia of 1984, volume 14, page 237 states: “The Roman ruler Julius Caesar established January 1 as New Year’s Day in 46 BC. The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings. The month of January was named after Janus, who had two faces – one looking forward and the other looking backward.” This suggests that New Year’s celebrations are founded on pagan traditions. Some have suggested this occurred in 153 BC, when it was stipulated that the two annual consuls (after whose names the years were identified) entered into office on that day, though no consensus exists on the matter. Dates in March, coinciding with the spring equinox, or commemorating the Annunciation of Jesus, along with a variety of Christian feast dates were used throughout the Middle Ages, though calendars often continued to display the months in columns running from January to December.

Among the 7th century pagans of Flanders and the Netherlands, it was the custom to exchange gifts at the New Year. This was a pagan custom deplored by Saint Eligius (died 659 or 660), who warned the Flemings and Dutchmen, “(Do not) make vetulas, [little figures of the Old Woman], little deer or iotticos or set tables [for the house-elf, compare Puck] at night or exchange New Year gifts or supply superfluous drinks [another Yule custom].” The quote is from the vita of Eligius written by his companion, Ouen.

Most countries in Western Europe officially adopted January 1 as New Year’s Day somewhat before they adopted the Gregorian calendar. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, was the first day of the new year until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. The March 25 date was known as Annunciation Style; the January 1 date was known as Circumcision Style, because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day counting from December 25 when Christ was believed to be born. This day was christened as the beginning of the New Year by Pope Gregory as he designed the Liturgical Calender.

As you can see there were a lot of events that happened on this day over the centuries. Some of them significant, even momentous, some not so much but interesting as a kind of trivia. I am not even going to attempt to edit that list today.

Thank you all so much for your work and contributions to this site. We at The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.  

No Galadriel

I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown;–yet ’twas not a crown neither, ’twas one of these coronets;–and, as I told you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him again; then he put it by again: but, to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. And then he offered it the third time; he put it the third time by: and still as he refused it, the rabblement hooted and clapped their chapped hands and threw up their sweaty night-caps and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown that it had almost choked Caesar; for he swounded and fell down at it: and for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air.

Julius Ceasar, Act I, Scene 2

Start Out the New Year with Indefinite Detention

By: emptywheel

Saturday December 31, 2011 4:03 pm

Shorter Obama: we were prepared to continue indefinitely detaining people based on my Executive Order until they die off. What’s wrong with that?

At one level, it’s nice to see Obama affirming that he won’t indefinitely detain us in military custody. Partly, though, Obama is still signing a law that President Mitt or Newt or Santorum could-and would-use to indefinitely detain Americans. As I said, “Vote for me, or President Newt will indefinitely detain you.”

But Obama isn’t even making that campaign promise! Note the trick here. Section 1021 pertains to all indefinite detention, not just military detention. But Obama only promises not to put Americans into indefinite military detention. I guess promising that Americans wouldn’t be indefinitely detained, period, was too much of a stretch.

Remember, "other applicable law" includes Scott v. Harris, which authorizes the use of deadly force when you’re pretending to try to detain someone.

A belated defense of civilian law. And an attempt-one even more timid than I imagined-to pretend that Obama objects to the principle of indefinite detention, even including the possibility of indefinite civilian detention for American citizens.

The Worst Part of the Signing Statement: Section 1024

By: emptywheel

Saturday December 31, 2011 4:49 pm

Section 1024, remember, requires the Defense Department to actually establish the provisions for status reviews that Obama has promised but not entirely delivered.

Lindsey Graham (and other bill supporters, both the right and left of Lindsey) repeatedly insisted on this review provision. Lindsey promised every detainee would get real review of his status.

And yet, in spite of the fact that Section 1024 includes no exception for those detained at Bagram, Obama just invented such an exception.

Section 1024 was one of the few good parts of the detainee provisions in this bill, because it would have finally expanded the due process available to the thousands of detainees who are hidden away at Bagram now with no meaningful review.

But Obama just made that good part disappear.

This seems to be saying two things. First, DOD doesn’t have to go back and grant everyone they’ve given the inadequate review process currently in place a new review. The 3,000 detainees already in Bagram are just SOL.

In addition, this says DOD gets to decide how long new detainees will have to wait before they get a status review with an actual lawyer-and Congress is perfectly happy making them wait over six months before that time.

Obama seems to have taken that language and pushed it further still: stating that DOD will get broad discretion to decide which reviews will carry the requirement of a judge and a lawyer.

It sort of makes you wonder why the Obama Administration wants these men to be held for over six months with no meaningful review?

New Year’s Eve News Dump: Obama Signs Defense Authorization Bill

By: David Dayen, Firedog Lake

Saturday December 31, 2011 12:58 pm

The problem with this bill was always about the codifying of indefinite military detention into the law, available for any future President to pick up and use. The vagaries of the language in the statute, which allows for detentions of people “associated” with Al Qaeda, and the burden on Presidential waivers to avoid military detentions rather than an opt-in kind of process, make the language extremely unadvisable from the standpoint of the civil liberties community. However, it’s important to recognize that the Obama Administration really was already in practice allowing for the indefinite military detention of terrorist suspects. They didn’t want language that hindered their counter-terrorism processes, particularly those of the FBI. That’s what they got out of the changes, so the codification really didn’t matter to them at that point. There are painfully few political actors in Washington opposed to this complete breach of the Constitutional right to due process.

Three myths about the detention bill

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Friday, Dec 16, 2011 6:56 AM Eastern Standard Time

(T)here is simply no question that this bill codifies indefinite detention without trial (Myth 1). There is no question that it significantly expands the statutory definitions of the War on Terror and those who can be targeted as part of it (Myth 2). The issue of application to U.S. citizens (Myth 3) is purposely muddled – that’s why Feinstein’s amendments were rejected – and there is consequently no doubt this bill can and will be used by the U.S. Government (under this President or a future one)  to bolster its argument that it is empowered to indefinitely detain even U.S. citizens without a trial (NYT Editorial: “The legislation could also give future presidents the authority to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial”; Sen. Bernie Sanders: “This bill also contains misguided provisions that in the name of fighting terrorism essentially authorize the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens without charges”).

(New York Times link added but previously cited- ek)

The NDAA, 2011 & a Happy New Year

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Saturday December 31, 2011 7:34 pm

(H)ours before 2011 came to an end, as ACLU executive director Anthony Romero stated, President Obama became “a president who will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”

“The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield,” adds Romero. This is all deeply troubling. But, the provision for indefinite detention is even worse. As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, US citizens would not be exempted.

The bill expands the scope of the “war on terrorism” and also puts Congress’ stamp of approval on powers that had previously been primarily exercised by the Executive Branch without institutional support from legislators.

The NDAA is a product of the US government clinging onto the belief that it must project itself into the furthest reaches of the globe and exercise unbridled power because there is this far-reaching network of extremists, declared and undeclared, that want nothing more than to bring America to its knees. It comes from the same government that sent in special forces to kill Osama bin Laden but, with clear evidence that al Qaeda would no longer be able to thrive, declined to admit how irrational it is continue to treat terrorism as such a great threat to America. And, it is the same government that just over a week ago showed its true authoritarian spirit as it revealed Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, is being charged with “aiding the enemy” because the government believes he knowingly released “intelligence” through WikiLeaks to Al Qaeda.

ACLU Blog Postings-

(h/t Jeralyn @ TalkLeft)

Obama Crowned Himself on New Year’s Eve

By: David Swanson, Firedog Lake

Saturday December 31, 2011 8:06 pm

To prevent the U.S. government from behaving like a king, the drafters of the U.S. Constitution empowered an elected legislature to write every law, to declare every war, and to remove its executive from office.  To further prevent the abuse of individuals’ rights, those authors wrote into the Constitution, even prior to the Bill of Rights, the right to habeas corpus and the right never to be punished for treason unless convicted in an open court on the testimony of at least two witnesses to an overt act of war or assistance of an enemy.

President Barack Obama waited until New Year’s Eve to take an action that I suspect he wanted his willfully deluded followers to have a good excuse not to notice.  On that day, Obama issued an unconstitutional signing statement rewriting a law as he signed it into law, a practice that candidate Obama had rightly condemned.  The law that Obama was signing was the most direct assault yet seen on the basic structure of self-governance and human rights that once made all the endless U.S. shouting of “We’re number one!” significantly less ludicrous.  The National Defense Authorization Act is not a leap from democracy to tyranny, but it is another major step on a steady and accelerating decade-long march toward a police-and-war state.

President Obama has claimed the power to imprison people without a trial since his earliest months in office. He spoke in front of the Constitution in the National Archives while gutting our founding document in 2009. President Obama has claimed the power to torture “if needed,” issued an executive order claiming the power of imprisonment without trial, exercised that power on a massive scale at Bagram, and claimed and exercised the power to assassinate U.S. citizens. Obama routinely kills people with unmanned drones.

My chief regret is that we have not seen the major resistance we could have, and without any doubt would have, seen to this if only Obama were a Republican.

And now at last it comes.

You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth.

All shall love me and despair!

Happy New Year.

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”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: According to MSNBC, Chris Hayes will be up and live at 8 AM. It isn’t announced who his guests will be but I’m sure lots of coffee will be on hand.

This Week with ??????: Who’s the host?? You’re gues is as good as mine. Christine Amanpour has returned to CNN. Christine has returned to CNN and international reporting. George Stephanopolis is doing double duty as host of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “This Week“. The website didn’t say who would be today’s host. Thye did announce the guests in case your awake, not hung over and really care about the Iowa insanity contest.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer:More Iowa Caucus/Republican clown parade.

The Chris Matthews Show: Chris and the Usual Suspects want to tell us about the best and worst moments of 2011.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: You can definitely skip this. Iowa has been now pureed.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: All Republican, all the time. An absolute waste of your time.

OK. If you’re up reading this it’s for one of several reasons:

your still up from last night (which I doubt);

you have insomnia;

you really do watch this stuff;

you need to get a life. 😉

Happy New Year

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

US president signs controversial defence bill

 Barack Obama signs into law new provisions regarding counterterrorism and fresh sanctions against Iran.

Last Modified: 01 Jan 2012 04:44

Barack Obama, the US president, has signed a wide-ranging defence bill into law, putting into place new provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of those suspected of terrorism, as well as imposing fresh sanctions on Iran.

In a statement accompanying his signature to the $662bn bill, Obama said that he was signing it despite having “serious reservations” about the provisions relating to terrorism, contending that politicians in the US congress were attempting to restrict the ability of counterterrorism officials to protect the country.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Syria accused of reneging on Arab League pledge to release 700 prisoners

China’s sights on moon

Cameroon pins hopes on Mobilong diamond field

Mexico’s drugs war: Lessons and challenges

Strange case of a fake Ibsen play that has gripped Scandinavia

Happy New Year 2012

To all of our friends and families may we all have a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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