Daily Archive: 10/03/2013

Oct 03 2013

2013 Senior League Division Series: Pirates @ Cardinals Game 1

Baseball will always break your heart.  This Series pits the Pirates (Argh) against the Cards (Squirrels!, Squirrels!) and I sure hope the eventual League Champion emerges from this bracket instead of the Dodgers (traitors), Braves (evil opponents of my Mets) one.

The Cardinals clinched their Division with 2 to go in the season and rode a 6 game winning streak to the end.  As you can tell by the seeding they’re considered the best on the Senior circuit.

Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA R), tonight’s starter, is generally considered the best pitcher left playing, though both team have outstanding staffs.  He was 1 – 0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against Pittsburgh this season.  He’ll be available on full rest for a deciding Game 5 if necessary.

The Pirates won the season series 10 – 9, but were swept at home by the Cards in early September.

They’ll start A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30 ERA R), late of the Yankees.  He’s 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA in his career against the Cardinals, but the last time they faced each other he was chased after 5 runs in 3 innings.

Pirates fans should not be discouraged, these teams are very evenly matched and pitching ought keep the games very close.

Oct 03 2013

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 thea Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: The Economics and Politics of Chaos

The best commentary I’ve seen on what just happened is visual, and can be seen here. Unfortunately, I don’t think I should put that image on a Times web site. [..]

It’s very important, I think, to realize that while right now the GOP seems to have been taken hostage by its radical wing, the general strategy of responding to a lost election by trying to gain through blackmail what the party couldn’t gain at the polls was a consensus decision, arrived at way back in January. If the leadership is now dismayed by where it finds itself – leading a party of “lemmings with suicide vests” – it has only itself to blame. [..]

And nobody knows how it ends.

New York Times Editorial Board: The Cost of the Shutdown

Many Republicans seem to be celebrating the government shutdown as an opportunity to show that less spending isn’t really so bad. “People are probably going to realize they can live with a lot less government than what they thought they needed,” said Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee on Fox News. Her upbeat attitude helps explain why so many in her party thought nothing of shutting down a government they distrust, all to dismantle a health care law they oppose.

What these lawmakers aren’t telling Americans is that the shutdown will actually be very expensive and will wind up costing the taxpayers and the economy far more than the regular operations of government. The same people who have built their careers on railing about the deficit are actually increasing it.

Gail Collins: Congress Breaks Bad

As the government shutdown dragged on, gloom mounted. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, warned that foreign intelligence services might swoop in and recruit furloughed C.I.A. workers. That seemed a little paranoid, but then we’re talking about spies.

The C.I.A.-doom scenario sounded a bit like the problems facing the cast of “Homeland” this season, except for the part where a member of Congress is a terrorist mole who falls in love with an intelligence agent who frequently fails to take her bipolar disorder medication. Reality in Washington has gotten so muddled that the land in “Homeland” is looking sort of attractive.

Eugene Robinson: Warm Enough for You

Skeptics and deniers can make all the noise they want, but a landmark new report is unequivocal: There is a 95 percent chance that human-generated emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are changing the climate in ways that court disaster.

That’s the bottom line from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which Monday released the latest of its comprehensive, every-six-years assessments of the scientific consensus about climate change. According to the IPCC, there is only a 1-in-20 chance that human activity is not causing dangerous warming.

You may like those betting odds. If so, let’s get together for a friendly game of poker, and please don’t forget to bring cash.

Robert Sheer: The Government Leakers Who Truly Endanger America Will Never Face Prosecution

Secrecy is for the convenience of the state. To support military adventures and budgets, vast troves of U.S. government secrets are routinely released not by lone dissident whistle-blowers but rather skilled teams of government officials. They engage in coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to influence public opinion. They leak secrets compulsively to advance careers or justify wars and weapons programs, even when the material is far more threatening to national security than any revealed by Edward Snowden.

Remember the hoary accounts in the first week of August trumpeting a great intelligence coup warranting the closing of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies in anticipation of an al-Qaida attack? Advocates for the surveillance state jumped all over that one to support claims that NSA electronic interceptions revealed by Snowden were necessary, and that his whistle-blowing had weakened the nation’s security. Actually, the opposite is true.

Michael Lerner: Democrats: Stop Being Wimpy in Implementing the Governmental Shut Down

Spiritual progressives are not wimps. While we bend over backwards to avoid violence and to affirm the humanity in everyone, including those who are doing evil deeds, we do not back away from opportunities to powerfully challenge those deeds. Unfortunately, President Obama and the Congressional Dems don’t seem to have that kind of chutzpah.

Instead, they appear to be wimps, and that doesn’t encourage much trust. So even though temporarily they are slightly winning the battle about who is to blame for the government shut down, they keep missing opportunities to challenge the Tea Party and their supporters.

Oct 03 2013

Grand Bargain Circus – Red Clowns Ready?

Jugglers_Circus_Amok_by_David_Shankbone

There’s a big deal brewing in the Beltway Bigtop that’s been years in the making.  The Grand Bargain is now officially on the red clown leadership’s radar.  But can they get their ducks in a row?  Will the rank and file blue clowns have an attack of conscience?  And what about the audience – will they meekly accept the shears as the Ringmaster and clowns together begin to fleece them?  Or will they bombard the clowns with rotten tomatoes, imprecations, incantations and entreaties frightening them away from yet another of the Ringmaster’s big plans as they did with the Ringmaster’s recent plan to engage in yet another stupid and expensive war of choice?

Here’s a wrap up of the past couple of days under the Beltway Bigtop.

Bigtop Blame-a-Rama – Juggling the Hot Potato of Blame

The lights have been doused under the Beltway Bigtop as the red clowns and blue clowns could not come to agreement over how best to rob the audience.  The blue clowns adamantly protected the Ringleader’s plan to demand tribute of the audience for his donor cronies in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in return for health care insurance products of dubious utility.  The red clowns would not give up their demands to kill the Ringleader’s program as well as demands for a smorgasbord of environmental destruction, means-testing for medicare, limitation of court awards for medical malpractice, repeal of taxes on some of their cronies and a contraceptive-free dessert bar.

Killer-Klowns-from-Outer-Space-pies

As the sun came up on the Beltway Bigtop Tuesday morning there were lines of circus employees leaving the parking lot as the tall order of the day began – the search for a scapegoat.

While both the red clowns and the blue clowns stayed up until the wee hours juggling the hot potato of blame back and forth between the red clown-controlled Ring 1 and the blue clown-controlled Ring 3, the Ringmaster called the red clowns “irresponsible” and upbraided them for their, “ideological crusade.”

The US government shut down early Tuesday for the first time since 1996 after lawmakers divided over Obamacare failed to reach an agreement to fund federal agencies through the next fiscal year.

President Barack Obama called it the “height of irresponsibility.”

Speaking Tuesday afternoon, Obama slammed Republicans for shutting down the government as part of an “ideological crusade” designed to kill his signature health care law.

“I urge House Republicans to reopen the government,” Obama said at the White House Rose Garden, while surrounded by Americans he said would benefit from the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile one of the red clowns’ leaders, Boner T. Redclown, did impressions of the Ringmaster over in Ring 1 as he passed juggling potatoes back and forth with Harry T. Blueclown over in Ring 3.  Harry T. Blueclown, for his part, returned the relentless hail of hot potatoes with all of the speed and bravado he could muster.

House Speaker John Boehner imitated the president on the House floor as he described their ultimately fruitless conversation Monday evening in the hours before a U.S. government shutdown.

“I talked to the president earlier tonight,” the Ohio Republican said before dropping his voice to sound more like President Barack Obama. “‘I’m not gonna negotiate. I’m not gonna negotiate. We’re not gonna do this.’ Well, I would say to the president, ‘This is not about me. This is not about Republicans here in Congress. It’s about fairness for the American people.'”

House Republicans repeatedly sent bills that would have temporarily funded the federal government but cut funding or delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate’s Democratic majority repeatedly stripped those bills of their anti-Obamacare provisions and sent them back to the House for approval, setting up the impasse that led to the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years.

Audience reaction was mixed to the impressions and the rapid-fire juggling spectacle, however, the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions was quick to assign responsibility for Boner T. Redclown’s performance to a subset of the most effusive and animated of the red clowns.  Some in the Beltway Bigtop’s Office of Promotions claim that a conspiracy is afoot amongst some of the red clowns to force Boner T. Redclown into his behavior, while others claim that Boner T. Redclown and his leadership group

held a meeting outside of the Bigtop and stole the schtick of the more animated red clowns.

Bozos_Circus_postcard_1960sMonday was a frantic day on Capitol Hill, though all the activity ultimately came to nought: A flurry of last-minute legislative feints failed to prevent the government from shutting down at midnight. But in the process, House Republicans’ total crackup was on full, public display.

The breaking point was Speaker John Boehner’s penultimate proposal, a bill that would have funded the government — and Obamacare — while delaying the health-care law’s individual mandate and canceling congressional staffers’ insurance subsidies. To Boehner, this was a major concession from the House’s previous offering — a delay of the entire law. To the White House and Senate Democrats, it was just as unacceptable and no concession at all.

But within the GOP, it provoked a freakout on both Boehner’s right and left flanks. Moderate Republicans, long silent for fear of the party’s angry base, correctly viewed the proposal as inexorably leading to shutdown, and threatened to rise up and block it. “This is going nowhere,” New York Representative Peter King told National Review. He claimed to have 25 members on his side and demanded that Boehner instead put a “clean” government-funding bill — one that didn’t touch health care — on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, conservatives were also in revolt. The Senate Conservatives Fund sent an email to its supporters denouncing “the Republican establishment in Washington” for telling “lies to help them fund Obamacare.” It accused GOP leaders of using the mandate delay as cover to disguise the fact that they were allowing the rest of the law to go into effect — something the group called unacceptable.

Many in the Beltway Bigtop Office of Promotions are eager to sell the narrative that the clowns have cracked up and become completely dysfunctional, creating new norms for governance.

Many of the contributing media outlets in the Beltway Bigtop’s Office of Promotion apparently can’t seem to remember previous government shutdowns as they swoon from the vapors from their, “discovery” of the, “new governing norms.”

In the past the blue clowns have been quite willing to press their advantage as a majority to protect their constituency just as the red clowns are doing now:

There were four shutdowns over abortion funding in the 1970s, a Democratic-led shutdown over funding for the notorious MX missile in 1982, a Democratic-led shutdown over a Supreme Court civil rights ruling in 1984, a Democratic-led shutdown over expanding Aid to Families with Dependent Children (that’s welfare) in 1986, and a Democratic-led shutdown over aid to the Contras and the Fairness Doctrine(!) in 1987. So shutdowns were for quite a while part of the normal business of government. And as I said, there’s a cruel logic to them. When Congress and the White House are held by different parties, Congress has no bigger chip at their disposal than the power of the purse. So they use that, over and over again, to extract often unrelated policy concessions from the executive branch. It may have stopped for a while for various reasons, but it’s back because it’s a very inviting way for a Congressional majority to assert their will.

Weirdo with a hula hoop.

Why Can’t the Blue Clowns Play the Game?

While one set of red clowns stalks the Ringmaster holding out hoops for him to jump through, another group of red clowns is sneaking out towards the fringes of the tent brandishing torches and threatening to burn the Bigtop down.

The Ringmaster remains impassive and, out of one side of his mouth refuses to negotiate, while out of the other makes promises to negotiate, but, on his terms:

Placing blame squarely on House Republicans, Obama said “the bottom line is that the Senate has passed a bill that keeps the government open, does not have a lot of extraneous issues to it, that allows us then to negotiate a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues but that ensure that we’re not shutting down the government and we’re not shutting down the economy at a time when a lot of families out there are just getting some traction in digging themselves out of the hole that we’ve had as a consequence of the financial crisis.

Given that the blue clowns control both the Main Ring and Ring 3, one would assume that the party of the Four Freedoms and the Great Society, friend of the working man and the underprivileged, would have pressed their advantage to make some serious gains for their constituency.

Instead, the blue clowns, in concert with the Ringmaster have been working to apply increasing levels of austerity to their constituency while their policies reward the Beltway Bigtop funderswho want austerity.

And the blue clowns aim to please their masters:

Virtually all of the services that will go unfilled during this shutdown, for example, are services for the poor or near-poor. A sclerotic governing system empowers a status quo that is biased toward elites, who are often the only ones able to break the gridlock, when it suits them and their pocketbooks.

Consider also how the nature of the gridlock itself empowers elite goals in this case. Democratic pundits and allies have talked themselves blue about the doomed Speakership of John Boehner, the lunacy of Ted Cruz, and whether the Republican fever will break. Precious few words, by contrast, have been written about the fact that the SOLUTION here, the position that Democrats have been pushing, is a “clean” continuing resolution, which will enforce sequestration limits, a spending cap below societal need and economic demand, into Fiscal Year 2014. And while that would only hold for a couple months, anyone who thinks sequestration will somehow be cancelled (or even “replaced,” which does the economy next to no good from a macro standpoint) by the same people who just shut down the government over “defunding” Obamacare, which is by its nature mandatory spending and not defunded today, is nuts. But Democratic politicians benefit from the virtual silence about how the country is doomed to austerity spending caps for what could be an entire decade. And elites enjoy advantages from such a state of affairs as well.

When the Ringmaster speaks of, “negotiat[ing] a longer-term budget and address a range of other issues,” he’s not talking about a bold plan to meet his constituency’s demands.  The Ringmaster is talking about another round of his “Grand Bargain” negotiations.  

The Ringmaster’s base constituency is certainly not demanding cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare or other similar cuts to social programs.

American People Fight Obama’s Treacherous Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

The vast majority, left, right and in-between, have repeatedly made it clear that they do not want cuts to either of these vital programs. A CBS News poll conducted last month shows that 80 percent of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, opposed cutting spending on Medicare to reduce the budget deficit, while 79 percent were against cutting Social Security for that reason.

The people don’t want the cuts, and the facts don’t support them. There are certainly no economic excuses: The federal deficit politicans howl about is shrinking, as none other than Goldman Sachs’ chief economist has attested. And even if it wasn’t, Social Security doesn’t affect it – a fact that many Americans have copped onto despite the best efforts of politicians to deceive them. Clearly, in a time of growing economic inequality, there is no justification for taking more money out of the hands of the elderly and the vulnerable.

 

The only people demanding entitlement cuts are, hmmmm… the Beltway Bigtop funders:

Mark Thoma has an excellent column at the Fiscal Times linking the fight over the debt ceiling to the larger issue of extreme inequality. … I’d like, however, to suggest that the reality is even worse than Thoma suggests.

Here’s how Thoma puts it:

Rising inequality and differential exposure to economic risk has caused one group to see themselves as the “makers” in society who provide for the rest and pay most of the bills, and the other group as “takers” who get all the benefits. The upper strata wonders, “Why should we pay for social insurance when we get little or none of the benefits?” and this leads to an attack on these programs.

How, then, are things even worse than he says? Because many of the rich are selective in their opposition to government helping the unlucky. They’re against stuff like food stamps and unemployment benefits; but bailing out Wall Street? Yay! …

The point is that the superrich have not gone Galt on us – not really, even if they imagine they have. It’s much closer to pure class warfare, a defense of the right of the privileged to keep and extend their privileges. It’s not Ayn Rand, it’s Ancien RĂ©gime.

And this just in… the red clown leadership is taking the bait!

Boehner to GOP: Grand Bargain in the Works

House Republicans tell me Speaker John Boehner wants to craft a “grand bargain” on fiscal issues as part of the debt-limit deliberations, and during a series of meetings on Wednesday, he urged colleagues to stick with him.

The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package.

“It’s the return of the grand bargain,” says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.”

But can the red clown leadership bring along the rank and file?

The Red Clowns Try To Put Their Scary Monster Back In the Closet

The Ringmaster is clearly ready to do the business and the bidding of the Beltway Bigtop funders.  

In order to signal this to one and all, the Ringmaster has taken to the center ring, lit a fire and is sending up smoke signals to announce that he has appointed his former “opponent,” Mitt T. Redclown’s policy director, currently a fellow at the Hoover Institution Clown College, to the Social Security Advisory Board.

Given the red clowns’ expressed desire to “roll back the new deal,” will they come to the table to take down the programs that red clown funders and the blue clown funders both want gone?

It looks like the red clowns will have to deal with the remnants of a rather unweildy stage prop that they made for previous shows in order to get down to business:

Frankenstein 1 by Mazzastick[T]here is no doubt that the Republican right in the age of Obama, and to some extent before that, in its desire to roll back what’s left of the welfare state, what’s left of the New Deal, and back in the Reagan era, in order to crush what was left of the New Deal era, did call, has called into being an almost Frankenstein-like monster in the form of Fox News, a far right-wing talk radio network, and has really created a kind of almost frothing constituency in these very tightly gerrymandered, often rural, white congressional districts. …

And these people seem to have gone just completely off of the reservation. And it’s gotten to the point that the big capitalist elites that called them into being are now sort of horrified of them. And you see The Wall Street Journal in particular, and some of the old-line more centrist type of Republicans like John McCain and Senator Corker from Tennessee, calling them “wacko birds” and being horrified by them. But, you know, the GOP establishment created all of this in many ways. …

[T]hey’ve really cultivated a group of people who are motivated by some pretty dark, almost proto-fascistic, certainly racist … people who don’t seem to know where to stop and really are just sort of, you know, Ted Cruz stand your ground, who are willing to go all the way, you know, go to the wall to stop this horrific Obamacare, which they have been told by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing talk machine noise machine is some sort of incredible socialist government intervention in the health care system, which is, of course, completely preposterous, ’cause Obamacare is a fairly center-right corporate-friendly health care intervention. It was designed in part to head off the real social democratic and majority-supported health reform, which was single-payer.

Ironically it is the red clowns’ “Frankenstein Monster” (courtesy of the Koch Clowns, Rupert T. Redclown and Rush T. Redclown among others) that has so far saved the audience from the implementation of cuts to “socialist” entitlement programs which are opposed by the vast majority of the audience.

As the clock ticks down to the Debt Limit Doomsday, can the red clowns tame their Fractious Frankenstein monster?

The Ringmaster and most of the blue clowns are happy to enact much of the red clowns’ agenda (because it is also the blue clowns’ agenda) so long as the red clowns can conveniently be the final recipient of the hot potato of blame. The blue clowns are just too cowardly to enact the corporate agenda of the Beltway Bigtop funders all at once; they mean to implement it in tiny pieces, much like the effect of the Ringmaster’s chained cpi, in hopes that the slow implementation will suppress audience outrage.

Stay tuned! And stay tuned after the main event, because the  blue clowns and the red clowns are already making plans for a joint project to benefit the Union of Pickpockets and Banker Bozos just as soon as the center ring goes dark between acts.

Wall Street Deregulation Bills Likely To Attract Bipartisan Support After Shutdown Negotiations

Attention aux PickPockets (dans La Tour Eiffel) by dullhunkWhen the drama surrounding a government shutdown abates, the House of Representatives expects to take up legislation to expand taxpayer support for derivatives, the complex financial products at the heart of the 2008 meltdown. And while traditionally straightforward tasks like funding the federal government have become raucously contentious in recent weeks, a bill subsidizing Wall Street banks is likely to garner significant bipartisan support.

Also on the post-shutdown agenda is legislation that would prevent the Department of Labor and the SEC from implementing new consumer protection standards for 401(k) accounts and other retirement funds.

Both bills are efforts to roll back reforms that passed under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. A small cadre of liberal Democrats are marshaling opposition to the bills, but still expect dozens of Democrats to join a united Republican Party in passing the legislation.

“As we’re trying to forestall a government shutdown, we’ve got these ugly financial services bills on the horizon,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. “It’s a multi-pronged attack on the middle class.”

Oct 03 2013

I have a question, please.

I have a question, please.

If Boehner refused to bring the Senate’s clean CR to the floor for a vote by all congresspersons, would that be a violation of the Constitution?  Also, is there a rule that congresspersons should not be drinking while voting to shut down the government?

Thank you.

Oct 03 2013

It’s a ‘good’ thing.

70% of intelligence staff out in government shutdown

Al Jazeera

October 2, 2013 12:04PM ET

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that roughly 70 percent of the intelligence workforce – including staff from the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency – have been furloughed.

“I’ve been in the intelligence business for about 50 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Clapper said at the hearing on the controversial spy programs.

“I think this, on top of sequestration, seriously damages our ability to protect the security and safety of this nation and its citizens,” Clapper said.

He added that the agencies risk losing valuable staff, especially after layoffs forced by the so-called “sequestration” budget cuts that went into effect earlier this year.

Clapper: U.S. shutdown ‘a dreamland’ for foreign spy services

By JOSH GERSTEIN, Politico

10/2/13 10:39 AM EDT

Clapper said the law only allows civilian workers to be kept at work if their work addresses “an imminent threat to life or property.”

“Our applying that standard is what results across the board in furloughing roughly 70%,” he said. “I think that will change if this drags on.”



The ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said he was puzzled by reports that 72% of intelligence agency civilian workers have been furloughed as non-essential.

“The intelligence community either needs better lawyers who can make big changes to the workforce or are you over-employing in those areas?” he asked.  “It can’t be that 70% of the intelligence community is being furloughed and we’re still able to meet our national security responsibilities.”

Oct 03 2013

“One of the smartest bankers we got”

Talking Jamie Dimon With Sam Seder of ‘The Majority Report’

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

POSTED: October 1, 11:20 AM ET

Pareene hilariously told the CNBC panel that anybody could do Jamie Dimon’s job as badly as he’s done it, offered himself in half-seriousness as an option and made the absolutely accurate point that any other boss in any other industry who had overseen the regulatory problems that took place at Chase under Dimon would be looking for work.

“If you managed a restaurant, and it got the biggest health department fine in the history of restaurants,” Pareene said sensibly, “no one would say ‘Yeah, but the restaurant’s making a lot of money. There’s only a little bit of poison in the food.'”

I hadn’t seen the exchange until yesterday when Sam played it on his show. It’s an amazing piece of tape that tells you everything about why the financial press constantly misses major scandals – their only sources of information are bank spokestools and they have no clue about even the most obvious things, like the fact that the whole country north of TriBeCa and south of Battery Park cringes at the sound of Dimon’s name.

Oct 03 2013

On This Day In History October 3

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.

October 3 is the 276th day of the year (277th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 89 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1967, Woody Guthrie, godfather of the 1950s folk revival movement, dies.

In 1963, Bob Dylan was asked by the authors of a forthcoming book on Woody Guthrie to contribute a 25-word comment summarizing his thoughts on the man who had probably been his greatest formative influence. Dylan responded instead with a 194-line poem called “Thoughts on Woody Guthrie,” which took as its theme the eternal human search for hope. “And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin’?” Dylan asks in the poem, before proceeding to a kind of answer:

You can either go to the church of your choice

Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital

You’ll find God in the church of your choice

You’ll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land”, which is regularly sung in American schools. Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton have acknowledged their debt to Guthrie as an influence.

Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California and learned traditional folk and blues songs. Many of his songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression, earning him the nickname the “Dust Bowl Troubadour”. Throughout his life Guthrie was associated with United States communist groups, though he was never an actual member of any.

Guthrie was married three times and fathered eight children, including American folk musician Arlo Guthrie. He is the grandfather of musician Sarah Lee Guthrie. Guthrie died from complications of Huntington’s disease, a progressive genetic neurological disorder. During his later years, in spite of his illness, Guthrie served as a figurehead in the folk movement, providing inspiration to a generation of new folk musicians, including mentor relationships with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan.

Folk revival and Guthrie’s death

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a new generation of young people were inspired by folk singers including Guthrie. These “folk revivalists” became more politically aware in their music than those of the previous generation. The American Folk Revival was beginning to take place, focused on the issues of the day, such as the civil rights movement and free speech movement. Pockets of folk singers were forming around the country in places such as Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. One of Guthrie’s visitors at Greystone Park was the 19-year-old Bob Dylan, who idolized Guthrie. Dylan wrote of Guthrie’s repertoire: “The songs themselves were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them.” After learning of Guthrie’s whereabouts, Bob Dylan regularly visited him. Guthrie died of complications of Huntington’s disease on October 3, 1967. By the time of his death, his work had been discovered by a new audience, introduced to them in part through Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, his ex-wife Marjorie and other new members of the folk revival, and his son Arlo.

Huntington’s Disease Society of America

Oct 03 2013

2013 Junior League Wild Card Sudden Death: Tampa Bay @ Cleveland

Well, happy endings like that only happen in Madam Chao’s Massage Parlor and Hollywood, though Cleveland manager Terry Francona is looking forward to a rematch against the Red Sox, at team he only helped break an 86 year World Championship drought.  Can he have a sequel with the Indians?  After all it’s been a mere 65 years for them.

The fact that they’re forced to scramble for a Wild Card Sudden Death win after finishing up with a 10 game win streak (errorless fielding too) and going 15 – 2 down the stretch tells you everything you need to know about how badly they played in the beginning of the season.  They’ll be starting rookie Danny Salazar (2-3, 3.12 ERA R).

Tampa won four of the six games against Cleveland this season, but the teams haven’t met since early June so that tells you not much.

Alex Cobb (11 – 3, 2.76 ERA R) missed 50 games with a concussion, but he’s been a different pitcher since the injury, going 5 – 1 with a 2.41 ERA in nine starts.

The Rays have gone from inoffensive against Team W (for steroids) to obstacles in the way of the sentimental favorites.  Not that I’m ungrateful, just that in playoff Baseball your loyalties change depending on the opponent.

Game start @ 8 pm ET on TBS.

Oct 03 2013

Let the Victims Speak

It seems that the Obama administration’s state department does want the Pakistani victims of the US war on terror to speak to Congress

Shahzad Akbar, a legal fellow with the British human rights group Reprieve and the director of the Pakistan-based Foundation for Fundamental Rights, says the state department is preventing him from taking his clients to Capitol Hill next week. The hearing would mark the first time US lawmakers heard directly from drone strike survivors.

Akbar’s clients, Rafiq ur-Rehman, his 13-year-old son, Zubair, and his nine-year-old daughter, Nabila, are from the tribal regions of north Waziristan. The children were injured in the alleged US strike on the village of Tappi last year. Their grandmother – Rehman’s mother, Mamana – was killed.

Rehman and his children have spent months making preparations to visit Washington after being invited by US representatives to testify in the ad hoc hearing on drone strikes.

According to Akbar, his clients’ visas for the trip have been approved, but his has not. He believes the hold-up is political.

House Rep. ALan Grayson (D-FL), who was assisting the Rehman family coming to the US, stated that without their lawyer, said that the family would not be able to come without Mr. Akbar. He also told The Guardian that the State Department had not given a reason

“I don’t know why the State Department has taken this action, but I think it’s extremely important that when it comes to a national security matter like drone attacks, we hear not only from the proponents of these attacks, but also from the victims,” Grayson said.

“We have a chronic problem in Congress that when the administration is involved in one side of the issue, we rarely hear about the other side of the issue.

“This is true with regard to NSA domestic spying. This is true with regard to proposed military intervention in Syria. And it’s also true with regard to the drone attacks in Pakistan and in Yemen.”

He added: “I think Congress and the American people simply need to hear both sides of the story, and that’s why we invited these witnesses to come and testify.”

The Rehman family was devastated by a US drone attack on October 14, 2012 and the American people need to know what is being done in our names. You can sign the petition to issue Shahzad Akbar a travel visa so the Rehman family can be heard.