Daily Archive: 04/05/2012

Apr 05 2012

ALEC Made Easy: At the Point of a Gun

Mark Fiore, a political cartoonist and animator has his character, Shoot-em-up Charlie, explain at the point of a gun how the American Legislative Exchange schemes with corporations (like Koch Industries), right wing organizations (read the NRA) and politicians (Bully NJ Gov Chris Christie) to pass legislation that favors their agenda and whittles away at individual rights.

Mark warns to view with caution, there are hoodies. 😉

Shoot-em-up Charlie Discovers ALEC

Coca-Cola, Facing Boycott, Cuts Ties With ALEC Over Voter ID Laws

Coca Cola Alec

Voter ID laws are quickly becoming a hot-button issue — and Coca-Cola is jumping back from the heat.

The soft-drink company has severed its ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a conservative lobbying group that drafts legislation and sends it out to lawmakers. ALEC’s fingerprints have been found on bills and laws in a number of states, and the group’s opponents have grown resistant to what they call ALEC’s efforts to shape the legislative agenda in a way that harms minority and low-income voters.

For more information on ALEC and what they’re up to read ALEC Exposed.org

h/t twolf @ Dependable Renegade

Apr 05 2012

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”.

Amy Goodman: Black in White Plains: The Police Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

“My name is Kenneth Chamberlain. This is my sworn testimony. White Plains police are going to come in here and kill me.”

And that’s just what they did.

In the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, U.S. Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. accidentally hit his LifeAid medical-alert pendant, presumably while sleeping. The 68-year-old retired corrections officer had a heart condition, but wasn’t in need of help that dawn. Within two hours, the White Plains, N.Y., police department broke down his apartment door and shot him dead. Chamberlain was African-American. As with Trayvon Martin, the black teen recently killed in Florida, there are recordings of the events, recordings that include a racial slur directed at the victim.

Henry A. Giroux: Hoodie Politics: Trayvon Martin and Racist Violence in Post-Racial America

The killing of a young African-American boy, Trayvon Martin, by an overzealous white Hispanic security guard who appears to have capitulated to the dominant post-racial presumption that equates the culture of criminality with the culture of blackness, has devolved into a spectacle. While there is plenty of moral outrage to go around, a recognition that racism is alive and well in America, and that justice has been hijacked by those who can afford it, the broader and more fundamental questions and analyses are not being raised. Complex issues get lost when spectacular events are taken over by a media frenzy that feeds on sound bites and simplified answers. Yet, under the intense spotlight on the personal defects of the two men involved, important issues such as the social and human costs of a corporate-driven gun culture, the privatization of security forces, the price paid by poor minority youth whose every act is criminalized, and the crimes committed through an all-embracing racism are shrouded in darkness, off stage and invisible. To bolster the incredulous claim that we live in a post-racial society, crimes such as these are often isolated from a larger set of socio-economic forces that might provide a broader understanding of both the needless death of a 17-year-old black youth but also its relationship to a much more all-encompassing war on youth that is causing massive suffering and needless deaths among many young people in America.

Jim Hightower: The ROBS Act

Hallelujah, Washington has finally heard the people’s cries for jobs! In an urgent bipartisan push, Democrats and Republicans have joined hands across the aisle to pass the JOBS Act. In this time of “The Great Hurt” – with widespread unemployment, middle-class incomes tumbling and the price of gasoline skyrocketing – we can all applaud our stalwarts in the capital city for meeting the No. 1 need of America’s hard-hit economy: deregulating Wall Street.

Huh? I thought this was a jobs bill?

We’ll get to that, but first (as always) Wall Street bankers must be served. Yes, them. The same priests of unmitigated arrogance who caused the disastrous financial crash that continues to rumble across our land. The same Wall Streeters we bailed out with trillions of public dollars. That Wall Street is now sulking and skulking around the U.S. Capitol, insisting that it is an economic victim, held back from its profiteering potential by government regulations to protect the public from finaglers and fraudsters. “Free Wall Street,” is their cry!

Simon Johnson: Volcker Rule Would Cause Irreparable Damage to The Muppets – And Much More Broadly

A major new research report – released this weekend by the renowned international consulting firm, IMS – finds conclusively that implementation of the proposed Volcker Rule would damage not just the irreplaceable Muppets but also “all children-oriented television or other media-based educational program content.”

The logic in the report is straightforward and, quite frankly, compelling.  The Volcker Rule – which aims to limit proprietary trading and excessive risk-taking by the country’s largest banks – would reduce the ability of “too big to fail” institutions to bet heavily on the price of commodities used to produce puppets (mostly cotton, but also apparently wood, aluminum, and some rare earths.)

   “In response to the changing demands of their customers, banks have expanded their role of providing financial resources and services to include risk management and intermediation services to [various kinds of puppets]” (p. ES2)

Robert Reich: The Choice in 2012: Social Darwinism or a Decent Society

The returns aren’t all in yet on today’s Republican primaries but President Obama didn’t wait. He kicked off his 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney with a hard-hitting speech centered on the House Republicans’ budget plan – which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed.

That plan, by the way, is the most radical reverse-Robin Hood proposal propounded by any political party in modern America. It would save millionaires at least $150,000 a year in taxes while gutting Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, transportation, child nutrition, college aid, and almost everything else average and lower-income Americans depend on.

Tom Engelhardt: Data Mining for a New American World

I was out of the country only nine days, hardly a blink in time, but time enough, as it happened, for another small, airless room to be added to the American national security labyrinth.  On March 22nd, Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Jr. signed off on new guidelines allowing the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a post-9/11 creation, to hold on to information about Americans in no way known to be connected to terrorism-about you and me, that is-for up to five years.  (Its previous outer limit was 180 days.)  This, Clapper claimed, “will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”

Joseph K., that icon of single-lettered anonymity from Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, would undoubtedly have felt right at home in Clapper’s Washington.  George Orwell would surely have had a few pungent words to say about those anodyne words “practically and effectively,” not to speak of “mission.”

Apr 05 2012

Another Bush Era Torture Memo Released

” Others who say torture is a big deal but we have to move on are complicit not just in these crimes but also the ones that will inevitably occur in the future because nothing was done about these.” ~ Meteor Blades

In 2009, former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Philip Zelikow revealed that he had written a memo in 2006, carefully arguing that the Geneva conventions applied to Al Qaeda. It was written to rebut a memo written by Stephen Bradbury (pdf) for the Department of Justice that argued the CIA’s “advanced interrogation techniques” were in compliance with the Convention against Torture. At that time, it was believed that all the copies had been destroyed by the State Department, until now. A copy had been preserved (pdf) by The National Security Archive and it has been released through  Freedom of Information Act request  by the National Security Archive, a group dedicated to real government transparency.

In the 5 page memo. Zelikow argued that techniques such as waterboarding, cramped confinement, stressed positions, slamming the prisoner’s head against a wall, and dousing with ice water were degrading and in violation of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture.

According to Kevin Kosztola at FDL, ZElikow was prompted to write the memo after the McCain Amendment was passed that sought to prohibit the inhumane treatment of prisoners in US custody:

In the memo, he begins by noting the State Department agreed with the Justice Department in May 2005 that Article 16 of the CAT (“to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture”) “did not apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.” But, the McCain Amendment had “extended the application of Article 16 of the CAT to conduct by US officials anywhere in the world.”

   “The prohibitions of Article 16 of the CAT now do apply to the enhanced interrogation techniques authorized for employment by CIA. In this case, given the relationship of domestic law to the question of treaty interpretation, the responsibility of advising on interpretation is shared by both the Department of State and the Department of Justice.

Zelikow’s State Department memo would not have been binding on the CIA, but he felt because of his history as a constitutional lawyer he had to put forward an argument that challenged the idea that these “enhanced interrogation techniques” were legal.

He told the Associated Press on April 3, “I believe that the Department of Justice’s opinion was an extreme reading of the law and because the Justice Department opinion was secret, the only way the president could hear an alternative interpretation was for someone like me to offer it.”

At least there were some people in the Bush government who had some common legal sense and humanity. So where does that leave us now? The Obama administration has conveniently hidden evidence against the guilty behind the cloak of state secrecy and refused to investigate many of the higher ups who were most agreeable to torture and actually authorized it. As Spencer Ackerman at the Danger Room points out:

Zelikow’s warnings about the legal dangers of torture went unheeded – not just by the Bush administration, which ignored them, but, ironically, by the Obama administration, which effectively refuted them. In June, the Justice Department concluded an extensive inquiry into CIA torture by dropping potential charges against agency interrogators in 99 out of 101 cases of detainee abuse. That inquiry did not examine criminal complicity for senior Bush administration officials who designed the torture regimen and ordered agency interrogators to implement it.

“I don’t know why Mr. Durham came to the conclusions he did,” Zelikow says, referring to the Justice Department special prosecutor for the CIA torture inquiry, John Durham. “I’m not impugning them, I just literally don’t know why, because he never published any details about either the factual analysis or legal analysis that led to those conclusions.”

Also beyond the scope of Durham’s inquiry: The international damage to the U.S. reputation caused by the post-9/11 embrace of “cruel, inhuman and degrading” interrogation methods; and the damage done to international protocols against torture.

According to the Geneva Convention the covering up of torture and war crimes is a violation of the Principles.

Marcy Wheeler, aka emptywheel, has an in depth discussion here. The memo can also be read in Ackerman’s memo.

Apr 05 2012

On This Day In History April 5

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.

April 5 is the 95th day of the year (96th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 270 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1774, Benjamin Franklin publishes “An Open Letter to Lord North”.

On this day in 1774, Benjamin Franklin writes an open letter to Great Britain’s prime minister, Frederick, Lord North, from the Smyrna Coffee House in London. It was published in The Public Advertiser, a British newspaper, on April 15, 1774.

Franklin’s tongue-in-cheek letter suggested that the British impose martial law upon the colonies and appoint a “King’s Viceroy of all North America.” Franklin satirically went on to suggest that such centralized power over “Yankee Doodles,” who had “degenerated to such a Degree” from their British ancestors, “that one born in Britain is equal to twenty Americans,” would allow the crown to collect its taxes, then sell their impoverished colonies and colonists to Spain.

Smyrna Coffee House on St. James Street in London had been a meeting place of Whigs, or political liberals, since the 17th century. For Franklin to sign a letter drafted at Smyrna’s “A Friend of Military Government” was an obvious use of irony. The details of his purported plan for a military government, including the exclusive use of military courts in colonies known for their commitment to trial by jury, and “One Hundred to a Thousand Lashes in a frosty Morning” for offenders made Franklin s disdain for Lord North and his heavy-handed tactics clear.

An Open Letter to Lord North

For The Public Advertiser.

To Lord North.

My LORD, All your small Politicians, who are very numerous in the English Nation, from the patriotic Barber to the patriotic Peer, when big with their Schemes for the Good of poor Old England, imagine they have a Right to give Advice to the Minister, and condemn Administration if they do not adopt their Plan. I, my Lord, who have no mean Opinion of my Abilities, which is justified by the Attention that is paid to me when I harangue at the Smyrna and Old Slaughter’s, am willing to contribute my Mite to the public Welfare; and have a Proposal to make to your Lordship, which I flatter myself will be approved of by the Ministry, and if carried into Execution, will quiet all the Disturbances in America, procure a decent Revenue from our Colonies, make our royal Master (at least there) a King de facto, as well as de jure; and finally, as it may be managed, procure a round Sum towards discharging the national Debt.

My Scheme is, without Delay to introduce into North America a Government absolutely and entirely Military. The Opposition which some People suspect would be made by the Colonies, is a mere Bugbear: The Sight of a few Regiments of bold Britons, appearing with Ensigns displayed, and in all the Pomp of War, a Specimen of which may be seen every Summer at the Grand Review on Wimbledon Common, with that great Commander G —— l G —— e at their Head, accompanied with a Detachment from the Artillery, and Half a Dozen short Sixes, would so intimidate the Americans, that the General might march through the whole Continent of North America, and would have little else to do but to accept of the Submission of the several Towns as he passed. But as the Honour would be too great for one Man to reduce to absolute Subjection so great an Extent of Territory, I would propose that a separate Command be given to L —— d G —- G —— e, who by his animated Speeches in the House, and coinciding so entirely with your Lordship’s Opinion on the proper Methods for humbling America, deserves a Share in the Fame of such a grand Exploit. Let him have one half of the Army under his Direction, and march from New York to South Carolina. No one can object to the Nomination, as his Military Prowess is upon Record. The Regiments that are in America, with those who are about to embark, will be amply sufficient, without being at the Expence of sending more Troops. Those who served in America the last War, know that the Colonists are a dastardly Set of Poltroons; and though they are descended from British Ancestors, they are degenerated to such a Degree, that one born in Britain is equal to twenty Americans. The Yankey Doodles have a Phrase when they are not in a Humour for fighting, which is become proverbial, I don’t feel bould To-day. When they make this Declaration, there is no prevailing on them to attack the Enemy or defend themselves. If contrary to Expectation they should attempt an Opposition, procure Intelligence when it happens not to be their fighting Day, attack them and they will fly like Sheep pursued by a Wolf. When all North America have thus bent their Neck to the Yoke designed for them, I would propose that the Method made use of by the Planters in the West Indies may be adopted, who appoint what they call a Negro Driver, who is chosen from among the Slaves. It is observed that the little Authority that is given him over his Fellow Slaves, attaches him to his Master’s Interest, and his Cruelty would be without Bounds were he not restrained; but the Master is certain, that the utmost Exertion of Strength will be exacted by this cruel Task-master for the Proprietor’s Emolument. Let all the Colonists be enrolled in the Militia, subject of course to Martial Law. Appoint a certain Number of Officers from among the conquered People, with good Pay, and other Military Emoluments; they will secure their Obedience in the District where they command. Let no other Courts be allowed through the whole Continent but Courts Martial. An Inhabitant, who disobeys an Order, may by a Court Martial be sentenced to receive from One Hundred to a Thousand Lashes in a frosty Morning, according to the Nature of his Offence. Where Punishment is thus secure, this Advantage will accrue, that there will not be the same Necessity of hanging up so many poor Devils as in this free Country; by which Means the Service of many an able Man is lost to the Community. I humbly propose that the General and Commander in Chief be vested with the Power, and called by the Name of the King’s Viceroy of all North America. This will serve to impress the Americans with greater Respect for the first Magistrate, and have a Tendency to secure their Submission. All Orders issuing from this supreme Authority to have the Force of Laws. After this happy Change of Government, how easy to collect what Taxes you please in North America. When the Colonists are drained of their last Shilling, suppose they should be sold to the best Bidder. As they lie convenient for France or Spain, it may be reasonably expected one of those little Powers would be a Purchaser. I think Spain is to be preferred, as their Power hath more of the Ready than France. I will venture a Conjecture, that the Ministry might get at least Two Millions for the Soil, and the People upon it. With such a Sum what glorious Things might he not atchieve! Suppose it should be applied towards the Payment of one hundredth Part of the National Debt, I would give him an Opportunity of drawing down upon him the Blessing of the Poor by making him to take off the Halfpenny Duty on Porter. Considering the probable Stability of the present Ministry, this Honour may be reserved for your Lordship.

My Lord, excuse the Crudity of these indigested Hints, which your Wisdom is so capable of improving; and believe me, with infinite Respect, Your Lordship’s Most obedient Humble Servant, A Friend to Military Government.

Smyrna Coffee-House, April 5.

The Public Advertiser, April 15, 1774

Apr 05 2012

Naturally Dyed Eggs

eggs
NATURALLY DYED EGGS

Apr 05 2012

My Misspent Youth

Happy Bloggiversary to Me.

kos seems to think I joined on April 5, 2005 and while my memory is different (I contend it was April Fools Day) I can’t prove it.

That’s a total of 2557 days or 61,368 hours or 3,682,080 minutes or 220,924,800 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

Including 629 days of unexpected absence, because I didn’t just sit on my ass feeling sorry for myself.

My character is static and fictional (diary #4, but who’s counting?).  I haven’t changed a bit or grown any more than Jerry, George, Elaine, or Kramer, my level of obnoxiousness has remained constant.  I’ve never pushed a noun against a verb except to blow up something.  I do hateful things for which people love me, and I do loveable things for which they hate me.  I’m admired for my detestability.

Nor am I likely to learn hugging in the future.  I’m over 120 years old and they’re still trying to ban evolution in Tennessee where the trees of knowledge are almost extinct and ignorance bushes thick.  I don’t miss Hillsboro, a mélange of Moorish and Methodist, it must have been designed by a congressman.

Since I’ve only ever been in love with the sound of my own voice I’ll spare you the trouble of actual research and direct you to some milestones-

When you’re as old as I am you pile up some numbers-

Daily Kos

  • 4/5/05 (2,557 days)
  • 46,147 comments (18 a day)
  • 426 diaries (1 every 6 days)

DocuDharma

  • 8/20/07 (1,690 days)
  • 8,033 comments (4.75 a day)
  • 1,974 essays (1+ a day)

The Stars Hollow Gazette

  • 6/12/10 (663 days)
  • 10,611 comments (16 a day)
  • 1,797 diaries (2.7 a day)

Overall (2,557 days)

  • 64,791 comments (25 a day)
  • 4,197 diaries (1.64 a day)

I had never blogged before I came to Daily Kos, but I’ve always been a writer (and a critic, NOT a reporter Jim) even when it was just poetry for machines.  While I remain timeless I have taken my craft in different directions and I’m much more involved with the sites I manage and edit- The Stars Hollow Gazette and DocuDharma than I am concerned about minutia at the moment.  Still, I’ve not forgotten where I got my start and should I happen on topics of mutual interest I don’t hesitate to share.

I hope all of you enjoy your time online as much as I do mine.

Apr 05 2012

My Little Town 20120404: Personal Tribute and Family Secrets

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Today, my father would have been 93 years old.  He lived to be 85, which is not bad.  His dad lived to be 91 (passing away in 1968 or 1969), so I have some pretty good genes in my paternal line.  My maternal grandfather died at about 55 from heart disease, but my maternal grandmum lived to 101 and a half, lucid until the almost the end.

Roy Willard Smith, my father, was born on this date in 1919.  That year is also know for the first year that Ford offered an electric starter as an option for the Model “T”.