Daily Archive: 08/04/2014

Aug 04 2014

The Breakfast Club: 8-4-2014

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Everyone’s welcome here, no special handshake required. Just check your meta at the door.

Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Aug 04 2014

On This Day In History August 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

August 4 is the 216th day of the year (217th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 149 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the remains of three civil rights workers whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

On Junr 20, Schwerner returned from a civil rights training session in Ohio with 21-year-old James Chaney and 20-year-old Andrew Goodman, a new recruit to CORE. The next day–June 21–the three went to investigate the burning of the church in Neshoba. While attempting to drive back to Meridian, they were stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price just inside the city limits of Philadelphia, the county seat. Price, a member of the KKK who had been looking out for Schwerner or other civil rights workers, threw them in the Neshoba County jail, allegedly under suspicion for church arson.

After seven hours in jail, during which the men were not allowed to make a phone call, Price released them on bail. After escorting them out of town, the deputy returned to Philadelphia to drop off an accompanying Philadelphia police officer. As soon as he was alone, he raced down the highway in pursuit of the three civil rights workers. He caught the men just inside county limits and loaded them into his car. Two other cars pulled up filled with Klansmen who had been alerted by Price of the capture of the CORE workers, and the three cars drove down an unmarked dirt road called Rock Cut Road. Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were shot to death and their bodies buried in an earthen dam a few miles from the Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

Aug 04 2014

Sunday Train: Fast and Slow Transit Should be Friends

As noted this week at The Overhead Wire:

There has been a lot of chatter recently on the issue of fast vs slow transit.  This week is the perfect time for this discussion as two major United States transit projects of differing stripes opened up; the Metro Silver Line in Washington DC and the Tucson Streetcar.

On the one hand you have neoliberal Matthew Yglesias as the neoliberal “let us explain to you why There Are No Alternatives (TINA)” site Vox saying:

Without a dedicated lane, a streetcar can’t really run much faster than a bus under ideal conditions. And since unlike a bus, a streetcar can’t shift out of its lane to avoid an obstacle, in real-world circumstances it’s likely to move slower than a bus. There are some objectives related to real estate development and tourism that this kind of project can serve, but they’re nearly useless in terms of transportation.

And on the other hand you have the piece by Robert Steuteville at Better Cities and Towns, Place Mobility: Sometimes good transportation is slow, which observes:

The Portland streetcar has been a catalyst for $4 billion-plus investment and up to 10,000 housing units in the Pearl District and other neighborhoods close to downtown. All of these people and businesses have Place Mobility. They use the streetcar for quick trips and to make connections – it doesn’t matter that it moves very slowly because they don’t have to go far. But the new people and businesses in the Pearl and downtown are not the only beneficiaries. All of the existing businesses and residences also benefit from rising Place Mobility.

When a streetcar — or other catalyst — creates a compact, dynamic place, other kinds of mobility become possible. The densest concentrations of bike-share and car-share stations in Portland are located in the area served by the streetcar. That’s no coincidence. You can literally get anywhere without a car.

Of course, much of the “debate” falls into the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy, as if there is a choice between either having slow transit or having fast transit, when the reality is that we not only need both, but that improving either one improves the utility of the other.

Aug 04 2014

Dear President Obama, Eat My Sanctimonious Shorts

I believe that you have crossed a line, Mr. Obama. At your recent press conference you very casually stated that “we tortured some folks” :

With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong.  We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.  We did some things that were contrary to our values.

How long is the “immediate aftermath of 9/11” (of 2001)?  Is it hours, weeks, months, years – how long?

I only ask because it seems that now, almost 13 years later, you are still presiding over the administration of torture on people allegedly connected with 9/11/01.

When will you cease and desist “torturing folks?”

You go on to state:

I understand why it happened.  I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had.

So, some “folks” tortured some other “folks,” but “we” shouldn’t be too “sanctimonious” because the “folks” who ordered and performed the torturing in extreme secrecy for the past 13 years had tough jobs?

Who the hell is this “we” of whom you speak when you say that, “it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect.”

When were “us” consulted about this?  When did “us” demand that “folks” get tortured?  Didn’t “us” have some, um, laws about torture?

It seems to me that “us” weren’t in the loop. I don’t remember at any time a movement of “us” demanding that the US withdraw from the UN Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Sanctimonious? Eat my shorts! Some of us “folks” are just asking you to do your job. Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture.

So, let’s continue with your statement.

And my hope is, is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard.  And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line.

 

President Obama, this is where you have crossed a line.  You have determined that a horrendous crime has been committed. However, in contradiction of the constitutional requirement of your office to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” you have opted not to enforce the law and “look forward.” Your desire for political expedience has trumped justice for far too long.

You say that you understand why “folks” committed torture and that “it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious” about it, however, while I am not a constitutional scholar, it seems pretty obvious that it is explicitly not your job to let these “folks” who ordered and committed these crimes escape prosecution.

Frankly sir, if you are going to let “folks” off the hook for torture, I can’t think of any crime that “folks” should be accountable for. “We” may as well open up the prisons and let all the “folks” out. Even murder is arguably not as bad as torture where sadists kill a person’s spirit and then day after day, year after year brutalize the remains of the person’s body and mind, for no damned good reason.

You continue:

And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted.  And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.

You want “us” to take responsibility for this?  Seriously sir, no stinking way.

The best way for “us” as a country to “take responsibility” for this disgusting episode is for “us” to refer this to the courts. Under our constitution, they are the finders of facts and the means for “us” to decide whether mitigating circumstances should be taken into consideration in determining accountability. As president you have the power to issue pardons, but those come after a judgement and sentence have been issued.

Frankly sir, you have been getting away with acting as judge, jury and executioner for far too long.

It is time for “us” to have a say in this matter, regardless of whether you think that “we” are a bunch of “sanctimonious purists.”

Thank you for your attention. I hope to see you at The Hague.