09/07/2012 archive

Super-Random Thoughts–Since my Mind’s been racing:

Hi, everybody!  

Oops!  Again…sorry about being late…by a day, yet!  I’ve been very preoccupied lately;  my mind’s been absolutely racing, if one gets the drift.   Lots of stuff on my mind;   busy adjusting  scheduled appointments gone wrong, missing my normal life of silversmithing work, TKD,  bicycling, and whatever.  Oh well, at least I’ve had the use of my legs, so that I’ve been able to take long walks for exercise afew times a week.  

My Labor Day weekend was uneventful, except for going to see a screening of the mid=1970’s film, “Jaws”, which played to a packed house!   I kid you not….they sold out, so it’s a good thing that I’d purchased a ticket for  myself in advance of this movie screening.   I have to admit that this is another movie, which, while it certainly doesn’t hold the special place in my heart regarding movies as West Side Story, that it, too, is an enjoyable film, although the fakery in it (such as the mannequin’s leg when they found the young girl’s leg underwater later after she’d been avulsed by the Great White Shark, plus the construction of the shark itself for the movie) was quite obvious.  Richard Dreyfuss was quite good as the Marine Biologist, Roy Schneider was equally good as the Amity Chief of Police, and Robert Shaw was certainly cool as the rough, drunken seaman,  Quint, who volunteered to go out in his vessel and catch the Great White Shark  that had been terrorizing Amity’s beaches, attacking and killing people, to the tune of ten grand.  There was much clapping, laughter and (some ribald) comments and joking from the audience, but it was a fun evening.  

I wanted an aisle seat, but couldn’t get anything except on the left side of the theatre, in one of the front  rows, so I had to be content with what I could get, if I wanted an aisle seat.  I ended up sharing a row with three men from Boston’s Charlestown section,  who seemed okay, and I had a pleasant enough conversation with one of them.  So, I came to realize that maybe, just maybe,  there were plenty of C-Town’s oldtimers who were decent human beings and not all racist yahoos, bank robbers or other criminals.  We exchanged pleasantries prior to the movie, and, the guy I’d been conversing with asked me if I wanted anything before he went out to the concession stand.  I smiled, thanked him, and declined the offer, since I’d already eaten before the movie.  After the movie, another one of the guys said, pleasantly enough to me;  “have a good night”  Again, I smiled and said.  “Thanks.  You too.”.

That conversation re-enforced my opinions that the accents  in Ben Affleck’s movie  “The Town” sounded totally phony and forced, although I did not say so publicly.  

The movie “Jaws” that was shown was a beautifully cleaned up, re-printed and re-mastered copy of the film, which, ideally, is the way to really see a movie, and that’s one of the purposes of coming to a movie theatre like the Coolidge Corner Theatre.  Being a member definitely has its advaantages;  I can get in on a considerable discount, and they often have special screenings of certain movies that’re absolutely free to members.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of membership at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in which I can get myself and a guest or two admitted on a discount, or for free during special screening events, first because most of the other types of memberships they have are too expensive, and secondly, my friends aren’t as much into going to the movies as I am.  

One movie that I do not particularly want to see, however, is the new film  “2016”.  As everybody on here knows, I’m not a fan of Obama.  This film, however, sounds like a real piece of propaganda, which essentially refers to President Obama as a left-leaning Socialist, which, imho, he isn’t even the next fucking thing to!  Pardon my french, folks, but that’s how I see it.  Anybody who’d extend, expand and ante up G. W. Bush’s policies such as our stupid-assed, illegal and wrongheaded foreign wars, attacks on Civil Liberties,  start parroting AIPAC’s (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, i. e. the Israel Lobby) lines and caving into Benjamin Netanyahu the minute he takes office, and lacks the gumption to tell Israel to get the hell out of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and allow the Palestinians their own independent, sovereign nation-state alongside Israel, and to pass an 20 y/o POS GOP-written healthcare “reform” bill into law and furthermore, allow abortion rights to be taken off the table to get it passed, is no goddamed Socialist.  I mean, seriously…who are the people (including some of my friends) who call Obama a Socialist kidding?  The fact that Obama took both Single Payer and Public Option off of the table for healthcare reform also disqualify him as a Socialist, among other stuff that would take too long to mention.  

“There is but one evil party with two names”

Only the names have changed.

Why I Won’t Vote

By W.E.B. Dubois, The Nation, 20 October 1956

This article was republished in Hartford Web Publishing.

Since I was twenty-one in 1889, I have in theory followed the voting plan strongly advocated by Sidney Lens in The Nation of August 4, i.e., voting for a third party even when its chances were hopeless, if the main parties were unsatisfactory; or, in absence of a third choice, voting for the lesser of two evils. My action, however, had to be limited by the candidates’ attitude toward Negroes. Of my adult life, I have spent twenty-three years living and teaching in the South, where my voting choice was not asked. I was disfranchised by law or administration. In the North I lived in all thirty-two years, covering eight Presidential elections. In 1912 I wanted to support Theodore Roosevelt, but his Bull Moose convention dodged the Negro problem and I tried to help elect Wilson as a liberal Southerner. Under Wilson came the worst attempt at Jim Crow legislation and discrimination in civil service that we had experienced since the Civil War. In 1916 I took Hughes as the lesser of two evils. He promised Negroes nothing and kept his word. In 1920, I supported Harding because of his promise to liberate Haiti. In 1924, I voted for La Follette, although I knew he could not be elected. In 1928, Negroes faced absolute dilemma. Neither Hoover nor Smith wanted the Negro vote and both publicly insulted us. I voted for Norman Thomas and the Socialists, although the Socialists had attempted to Jim Crow Negro members in the South. In 1932 I voted for Franklin Roosevelt, since Hoover was unthinkable and Roosevelt’s attitude toward workers most realistic. I was again in the South from 1934 until 1944. Technically I could vote, but the election in which I could vote was a farce. The real election was the White Primary.

Retired “for age” in 1944, I returned to the North and found a party to my liking. In 1948, I voted the Progressive ticket for Henry Wallace and in 1952 for Vincent Hallinan.

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. There is no third party. On the Presidential ballot in a few states (seventeen in 1952), a “Socialist” Party will appear. Few will hear its appeal because it will have almost no opportunity to take part in the campaign and explain its platform. If a voter organizes or advocates a real third-party movement, he may be accused of seeking to overthrow this government by “force and violence.” Anything he advocates by way of significant reform will be called “Communist” and will of necessity be Communist in the sense that it must advocate such things as government ownership of the means of production; government in business; the limitation of private profit; social medicine, government housing and federal aid to education; the total abolition of race bias; and the welfare state. These things are on every Communist program; these things are the aim of socialism. Any American who advocates them today, no matter how sincerely, stands in danger of losing his job, surrendering his social status and perhaps landing in jail. The witnesses against him may be liars or insane or criminals. These witnesses need give no proof for their charges and may not even be known or appear in person. They may be in the pay of the United States Government. A.D.A.’s and “Liberals” are not third parties; they seek to act as tails to kites. But since the kites are self-propelled and radar-controlled, tails are quite superfluous and rather silly.

The present Administration is carrying on the greatest preparation for war in the history of mankind. Stevenson promises to maintain or increase this effort. The weight of our taxation is unbearable and rests mainly and deliberately on the poor. This Administration is dominated and directed by wealth and for the accumulation of wealth. It runs smoothly like a well-organized industry and should do so because industry runs it for the benefit of industry. Corporate wealth profits as never before in history. We turn over the national resources to private profit and have few funds left for education, health or housing. Our crime, especially juvenile crime, is increasing. Its increase is perfectly logical; for a generation we have been teaching our youth to kill, destroy, steal and rape in war; what can we expect in peace? We let men take wealth which is not theirs; if the seizure is “legal” we call it high profits and the profiteers help decide what is legal. If the theft is “illegal” the thief can fight it out in court, with excellent chances to win if he receives the accolade of the right newspapers. Gambling in home, church and on the stock market is increasing and all prices are rising. It costs three times his salary to elect a Senator and many millions to elect a President. This money comes from the very corporations which today are the government. This in a real democracy would be enough to turn the party responsible out of power. Yet this we cannot do.

The “other” party has surrendered all party differences in foreign affairs, and foreign affairs are our most important affairs today and take most of our taxes. Even in domestic affairs how does Stevenson differ from Eisenhower? He uses better English than Dulles, thank God! He has a sly humor, where Eisenhower has none. Beyond this Stevenson stands on the race question in the South not far from where his godfather Adlai stood sixty-three years ago, which reconciles him to the South. He has no clear policy on war or preparation for war; on water and flood control; on reduction of taxation; on the welfare state. He wavers on civil rights and his party blocked civil rights in the Senate until Douglas of Illinois admitted that the Democratic Senate would and could stop even the right of Senators to vote. Douglas had a right to complain. Three million voters sent him to the Senate to speak for them. His voice was drowned and his vote nullified by Eastland, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who was elected by 151,000 voters. This is the democracy in the United States which we peddle abroad.

Negroes hope to muster 400,000 votes in 1956. Where will they cast them? What have the Republicans done to enforce the education decision of the Supreme Court? What they advertised as fair employment was exactly nothing, and Nixon was just the man to explain it. What has the Administration done to rescue Negro workers, the most impoverished group in the nation, half of whom receive less than half the median wage of the nation, while the nation sends billions abroad to protect oil investments and help employ slave labor in the Union of South Africa and the Rhodesias? Very well, and will the party of Talmadge, Eastland and Ellender do better than the Republicans if the Negroes return them to office?

I have no advice for others in this election. Are you voting Democratic? Well and good; all I ask is why? Are you voting for Eisenhower and his smooth team of bright ghost writers? Again, why? Will your helpless vote either way support or restore democracy to America?

Is the refusal to vote in this phony election a counsel of despair? No, it is dogged hope. It is hope that if twenty-five million voters refrain from voting in 1956 because of their own accord and not because of a sly wink from Khrushchev, this might make the American people ask how much longer this dumb farce can proceed without even a whimper of protest. Yet if we protest, off the nation goes to Russia and China. Fifty-five American ministers and philanthropists are asking the Soviet Union “to face manfully the doubts and promptings of their conscience.” Can not these do-gooders face their own consciences? Can they not see that American culture is rotting away: our honesty, our human sympathy; our literature, save what we import from abroad? Our only “review” of literature has wisely dropped “literature” from its name. Our manners are gone and the one thing we want is to be rich–to show off. Success is measured by income. University education is for income, not culture, and is partially supported by private industry. We are not training poets or musicians, but atomic engineers. Business is built on successful lying called advertising. We want money in vast amount, no matter how we get it. So we have it, and what then?

Is the answer the election of 1956? We can make a sick man President and set him to a job which would strain a man in robust health. So he dies, and what do we get to lead us? With Stevenson and Nixon, with Eisenhower and Eastland, we remain in the same mess. I will be no party to it and that will make little difference. You will take large part and bravely march to the polls, and that also will make no difference. Stop running Russia and giving Chinese advice when we cannot rule ourselves decently. Stop yelling about a democracy we do not have. Democracy is dead in the United States. Yet there is still nothing to replace real democracy. Drop the chains, then, that bind our brains. Drive the money-changers from the seats of the Cabinet and the halls of Congress. Call back some faint spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln,and when again we can hold a fair election on real issues, let’s vote, and not till then. Is this impossible? Then democracy in America is impossible.

H/T to Black Agenda Report for some of the emphasis.

“Corporations Are Not People”

No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.

~Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democratic candidate for the US Senate.

Full transcript of Ms. Warren’s speech can be read here. h/t Market Watch

Disclaimer: This is in no way an endorsement of any candidate. We at The Stars Hollow Gazette and Docudharma are neutral and encourage open discussion of all candidates and policies.

New Evidence of More Torture by the US

While everyone was watching the hoopla in Charlotte and the Super Bowl champion Giants lose to the comeback Cowboys, Human Rights Watch released a report “Delivered into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya,” that revealed new allegations of rendition, torture and deaths of prisoners in the custody of the CIA.

A new report by the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch, based on documents and interviews in Libya after the fall of its dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, includes a detailed description of what appears to be a previously unknown instance of waterboarding by the C.I.A. in Afghanistan nine years ago. [..]

The investigation by Human Rights Watch had its origins in a trove of documents related to detainees transferred to Colonel Qaddafi’s prisons, including several by the United States. The papers became available last year as a result of the uprising against the Libyan leader, which was supported by the United States and other NATO allies.

Researchers used the names on the files as part of their broader efforts to track down former prisoners transferred to Libyan custody and interview them, opening an unusual window into American detention, interrogation and rendition operations nearly a decade ago. Many of the former detainees are now living freely in Libya, and some are active in politics or have positions in the new government.

The 156-page report, “Delivered Into Enemy Hands: U.S.-led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya,” written by Laura Pitter, recounts interviews with 14 Libyans who it says are former detainees who were sent back to Libya around 2004, after Colonel Qaddafi agreed to renounce his nuclear ambitions and help fight Islamist terrorism. At least five, Ms. Pitter writes, had been held by the C.I.A. in Afghanistan before their rendition.

As reported in the New York Times article, the report focused on the ordeal of Mohammed Shoroeiya, who was reportedly detained in Pakistan in April 2003 and held in American custody in Afghanistan before being transferred to Libya. Spencer Ackerman of Wired gives the graphic details:


A drawing by a Libyan of a 1- by 1-meter box into which he says he was placed during his harsh interrogation by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Image: Human Rights Watch

Click on image to enlarge.

This is a drawing of a locked box which a Libyan man says U.S. interrogators once stuffed him into. It’s said to be about three feet long on each side. Only once during his two years in detention was the detainee put in the box; his confinement there lasted over an hour. The circles are small holes, into which his interrogators “prodded him with long thin objects.”

It wasn’t the only box that the CIA allegedly placed him inside. Another was a tall, narrow box, less than two feet wide, with handcuffs at the top. The detainee, Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, says he was placed into that one with his hands elevated and suspended by the handcuffs, for a day and a half, naked, with music blasting into his ears constantly through speakers built into the box. A different detainee describes being placed into a similar box for three days and being left with no choice but to urinate and defecate on himself.

Getting shoved into those boxes was only the start of Shoroeiya’s woes. The CIA would later deliver him and at least four others into the hands of the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who further brutalized them for opposing his regime. Accordingly, a new Human Rights Watch report telling the stories of those detainees strips away a euphemism in the war on terrorism: how the CIA says it holds its nose and “works with” unsavory regimes. “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats,” spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood told the Wall Street Journal. What may indeed come as a surprise is what that actually means in practice, as recounted by at least five Libyan ex-detainees Human Rights Watch interviewed.

Media reports on Thursday morning understandably focused on what Human Rights Watch called “credible allegations” of waterboarding by CIA officials, since the U.S. has only ever acknowledged waterboarding three detainees. But what Human Rights Watch has uncovered in Libya tells a broader story. It’s a story about how repressive governments used the war on terrorism to get the U.S. to deliver their political opponents to their custody. It was as easy as calling them terrorists – which was enough for the U.S. to play along.

Writing for The Dissenter at FDL, Jeffrey Kaye aka Valtin, a psychologist active in the anti-torture movement, writes:

Perhaps the most explosive new information in the report concerns charges by one of the prisoners that he was waterboarded. US authorities have long maintained that only three CIA-held prisoners were ever waterboarded, and the Department of Defense maintains it never waterboarded prisoners in DoD custody. [..]

Khalid al-Sharif, who was another LIFG leader captured at the same time as Shoroeiya, told HRW that he also was subjected to water torture while in U.S. custody. Today, Sharif is head of the Libyan National Guard. [..]

The UN Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. is a signatory, states, “No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

Sharif has said the Libyans placed him in “extreme isolation.” Shoroeiya said initially the Libyans told him he would not be maltreated because they had made assurances to U.S. authorities as to his safety as part of his transfer. Nevertheless, after six months, the Libyans began to torture Shoroeiya, including both “long periods of solitary confinement” and beatings by guards, who used “sticks, steel pipes, and electrical cables that were used as a whip” to bloody the prisoner.

U.S. Water Torture of Teen

The new revelations concerning waterboarding and waterboarding-like torture of detainees comes a year after a two-part series at Truthout in August 2011 which revealed that, despite denials by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other DoD authorities, waterboarding-like torture was used in DoD facilities, including Guantanamo.

While the HRW report is certain to get wide U.S. coverage, the recent release of documents related to the incarceration of Omar Khadr, a long-term Guantanamo detainee who was brought to that prison as a 15-year-old teenager, has so far not gained much attention.

In one of the documents published August 31 by Macleans Canada, US Army psychiatrist, Brigadier General (retired) Stephen Xenakis, wrote to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews last February, describing his psychiatric evaluation of Khadr, based on hundreds of hours of meetings with the former child prisoner.

The HRW report, which was released after US Attorney General Eric Holder announced the end of the investigation of torture allegations without charges, makes these recommendations:

To the United States Government


  • Consistent with obligations under the Convention against Torture, investigate credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment since September 11, 2001 and implement a system of compensation to ensure all victims can obtain redress.
  • Acknowledge past abuses and provide a full accounting of every person that the CIA has held in its custody pursuant to its counterterrorism authority since 2001, including names, dates they left US custody, locations to which they were transferred, and their last known whereabouts.
  • Ensure that any person subject to rendition abroad has the right, prior to transfer, to challenge its legality before an independent tribunal, including any diplomatic assurances made; to legal counsel; and to appeal a transfer before it is carried out.
  • Prohibit reliance upon diplomatic assurances against torture and ill-treatment (and make public the procedures used to ensure compliance) if there is any credible evidence the person subject to transfer faces a risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
  • Include in required periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, the Human Rights Committee, and other relevant international and regional monitoring bodies detailed information about all cases in which requests for diplomatic assurances against the risk of torture or other ill-treatment have been sought or secured in respect to a person subject to transfer.

To the President of the United States


  • Direct the attorney general to begin a criminal investigation into US government detention practices and interrogation methods since September 11, 2001, including the CIA detention program. The investigation should examine the role of US officials, no matter their position or rank, who participated in, authorized, ordered, or had command responsibility for torture or ill-treatment and other unlawful detention practices, including enforced disappearance and rendition to torture or other ill-treatment.
  • Make publicly available the August 2009 report of the Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfers (an inter-agency task force set up by the Obama administration in January 2009).

To the US Congress


  • Create an independent, nonpartisan commission to investigate the mistreatment of detainees in US custody anywhere in the world since September 11, 2001, including torture, enforced disappearance, and rendition to torture. Such a commission should hold hearings, have full subpoena power, compel the production of evidence, and be empowered to recommend the creation of a special prosecutor to investigate possible criminal offenses, if the attorney general has not commenced such an investigation.

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Cleaning Up the Economy

Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention was a remarkable combination of pretty serious wonkishness – has there ever been a convention speech with that much policy detail? – and memorable zingers. Perhaps the best of those zingers was his sarcastic summary of the Republican case for denying President Obama re-election: “We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.”

Great line. But is the mess really getting cleaned up?

The answer, I would argue, is yes. The next four years are likely to be much better than the last four years – unless misguided policies create another mess.

In saying this, I’m not making excuses for the past. Job growth has been much slower and unemployment much higher than it should have been, even given the mess Mr. Obama inherited. More on that later. But, first, let’s look at what has been accomplished.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Silence is Golden: What Democrats Aren’t Saying in Charlotte

Here’s a new Zen riddle: What is the sound of money not talking?

Sure, it talks sometimes. We heard it loud and clear at the Republican Convention. But sometimes the sound of money in politics is the sound of silence. It’s the sound of crooked bankers being let off the hook, of economies left at risk, of Social Security and Medicare being weakened, of growing inequity being ignored.

They’re talking about the economy at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, which calls itself “the Wall Street of the South.” But as of this writing (see update below), nobody’s talked about stronger oversight of Wall Street and other corporations, and nobody’s promised to defend Social Security and Medicare from benefit cuts.

Los Angeles Times Editorial: The Case for Organic Food

Stanford’s research showing that organic produce probably isn’t any more nutritious than the conventional variety is mostly remarkable for what it omitted.

So a new study from Stanford University shows that organic produce probably isn’t any more nutritious than the conventional variety. We doubt the folks at Whole Foods are trembling in their Birkenstocks. We’re not aware of too many people who thought otherwise – it doesn’t make a lot of sense to assume the application of pesticides would have much impact on a fruit’s vitamin content. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t safer to eat.Perhaps the most valuable thing about the study of available research undertaken by Stanford’s Center for Health Policy is that it points up how little is yet known about the benefits of organics and the harms done by widespread pesticide use. The review, which looked at 240 studies from around the world on the health effects of eating organic and the comparative levels of nutrients and contaminants, made headlines because it supposedly struck a blow against the perception that cheaper, conventionally grown produce – which usually involves both pesticides and chemical fertilizers – is bad for you. “There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health,” concluded senior study author Dena Bravata.

Not only is that debatable, but it fails to get to the heart of the reason most people spend extra for organics.

Mijin Cha: Fracking Water Hogs

As summer comes to an end, much of the country is still suffering from drought conditions. While rain brought relief to areas in the East, the Plains and Western parts of the country are still experiencing above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation levels. The impacted areas also happen to be where a lot of our food is grown and we’ve highlighted how we can expect higher food prices due to the reduced crop production.

Looking ahead, there seems to be little relief for farmers and ranchers in the short-term. The National Weather Service predicts that drought conditions will continue for the Plains and much of the West through the Fall with little indication that precipitation levels will return to normal, let alone to the level needed to alleviate drought conditions. Compounding this, the oil and gas fracking boom, especially in the Rockies, is starting to become a competitor for water resources. Fracking requires a significant amount of water. A recent report (pdf) highlighted that the amount of water currently needed for fracking operations in Colorado is up to 13 billion gallons per year, enough to serve nearly 300,000 people.

David W. Blight: Voter Suppression, Then and Now

SUPPRESSING the black vote is a very old story in America, and it has never been just a Southern thing.

In 1840, and again in 1841, the former Frederick Bailey, now Frederick Douglass, walked a few blocks from his rented apartment on Ray Street in New Bedford, Mass., to the town hall, where he paid a local tax of $1.50 to register to vote. Born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1818, Douglass escaped in an epic journey on trains and ferry boats, first to New York City, and then to the whaling port of New Bedford in 1838.

By the mid-1840s, he had emerged as one of the greatest orators and writers in American history. But legally, Douglass began his public life by committing what today we would consider voter fraud, using an assumed name. [..]

Should this fugitive, who had committed the crime of stealing his own freedom and living under false identities, have been allowed to vote? Voting reforms in recent decades had broadened the franchise to include men who did not hold property but certainly not to anyone who was property.

Leslie Savan: Clinton Tries to Teach Obama a Lesson in Humility

Why did Bill Clinton bow so deeply before Barack Obama after his amazing barn-burner of a speech Wednesday night?

I mean, his bow wasn’t a bob of the head; it wasn’t a slight slump of the shoulders or a passing nod. It was practically a salaam. He bent double at the waist, taking the kind of bow a courtier might make before a king. Did Clinton-right after defending Obama’s policies better than Obama ever has-feel he still had to overcome any lingering doubts about his loyalty?

Probably. But I think in that moment Clinton was also schooling Obama in humility.

The reason politicians find themselves transfixed by Clinton-whether they’re old opponents like George H.W. Bush or longtime allies like Rahm Emmanuel-has to do with the way he understands power as a source of personal struggle. Clinton subscribes to the ancient belief that every leader must give up something, usually something he or she loves, for power-as Odin gave his eye and MacBeth his honor. There’s a great scene in the HBO movie A Special Relationship in which Clinton takes the measure of Tony Blair’s character by asking him what he’d be willing to do to stay close to power under incoming President George Bush. That, as it turned out, was the right question to ask about Blair


Lesser Evilism

No Dancing VI

I’m going to Luke’s for some hangover pancakes and I don’t care how much he knows about Chris and the tequila.

Babylon Sisters

When you do the type of DJing I used to do, dinner and a dance, there’s always a question of what to play during dinner.  You want it quiet and mellow so people can talk and long format so you can eat.  We would solve this problem by popping on some Steely Dan and hitting the shuffle button.

On This Day In History September 7

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.

September 7 is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 115 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1813, the United States gets its nickname, Uncle Sam.

The name is linked to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812. Wilson (1766-1854) stamped the barrels with “U.S.” for United States, but soldiers began referring to the grub as “Uncle Sam’s.” The local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually gained widespread acceptance as the nickname for the U.S. federal government.

In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam. Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today.


On this day in 1813, the United States gets its nickname, Uncle Sam. The name is linked to Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812. Wilson (1766-1854) stamped the barrels with “U.S.” for United States, but soldiers began referring to the grub as “Uncle Sam’s.” The local newspaper picked up on the story and Uncle Sam eventually gained widespread acceptance as the nickname for the U.S. federal government.

In the late 1860s and 1870s, political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began popularizing the image of Uncle Sam. Nast continued to evolve the image, eventually giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that are associated with the character today.

Musical Chairs

Mitt who?

Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ‘the rat race’ is not yet final.