Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest
passes on an excellent idea about how to pay for the Iraq war, an idea which he attributes to commenter
Christian_Dem_NY at Open Left (see Dave's post for links):
... Enact a tax that applies ONLY to those that make $250,000 or more per year, and that only raises their top
rate to 50% (which was the LOWEST rate under Reagan). Name that tax the "Bush Iraq Debt" tax, and use every
penny from that tax to pay down the portion of the national debt that was created by Bush's war (with a built-in
"self destruct" feature that makes the tax expire once Bush's war has been fully paid for). The teabaggers and
Faux Noise and the rest of the right-wing noise machine will act as though Obama is the second coming of
Stalin... but when grassroots Republicans get pissed off about the tax increase, they will look at that name
"Bush Iraq Debt" tax and ask themselves: "Whom should I really blame for this tax? The man who spent the money
to attack the wrong nation [Bush] or the man who just collected the money to get us out of debt [Obama]?"
Now I don't believe for a moment that Republicans will think along those lines. Republicans always vote
Republican, period, while Democrats in the same time zone cannot agree on what time of day it is. But at the
least, such an act should provide a more concrete basis for rightly blaming the GOP in 2010 for the economic
catastrophe we find ourselves in the middle of. And in this cheerful political era, successfully assigning blame
in the eyes of the public is no small thing.
Besides, if it pays for the Iraq war, that's at least one step in the right direction...
Oh, and Christian_Dem_NY is wrong about one thing. The right wing doesn't think of Obama as the second coming of
Stalin... they think he's the first coming of Satan. It's important to represent our opponents accurately.
It looks as if a couple of Democratic members of Congress are likely to have their
butts in a crack,
big-time, over accepting huge amounts of campaign money in exchange for placing earmarks on defense-related
issues of interest to the contributors. Here's TPM's Justin Elliott:
It's a story involving what was one of D.C.'s biggest lobbying firms (until it was raided by the Feds and closed up shop), several powerful Democratic appropriators, and the defense industry.
A federal criminal investigation has touched two House Dems, and another three, along with two Republicans, are
under scrutiny by a pair of congressional ethics panels in matters related to the defunct lobbying firm, PMA
The investigation appears to have two focal points, according to reports: that PMA may have funneled sham
donations to members of Congress through so-called "straw donors" who would be reimbursed, and that there may
have been a quid pro quo, exchanging defense earmarks for campaign donations.
There's nothing really new here except the names and the specific earmarks... and the relative infrequency with
which one finds Democratic members on the take compared to those of the GOP, which has been a veritable criminal
enterprise since approximately the 1980s.
But you know what? As the Democratic Party has adapted to the times by
becoming more and more like the Republican Party in its aggressive, marginally legal fundraising, as that
Democratic Party has become competitive in a kind of arms race that one wishes had never gotten started, we are
liable to see more of this kind of incident. Those of you who courageously stuck with the Party (as I did not;
please note the name change on this site a few months back), at least those of you who have consciences about
this sort of thing, have some serious thinking to do. Which is worse, "D" congressmen who take bribes, or "R"
congressmen who take bribes AND vote in some of the most repressive policy legislation the nation has
ever known? Do you think we could perhaps, just maybe, have another option? (Don't bother answering by naming an
existing third party; I've interviewed too many of their candidates, and they're all incompetent.)
Back in 2006, the always willfully controversial Newt Gingrich had some
new ideas about
freedom of speech and terrorism...
well, not really new; they've been around since before our nation's founding, but few Americans have advocated
them. Tom Head, frequent author of books on civil liberties, discussed how Newt's proposal at a
First Amendment lecture at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications, Inc. was really his advocacy of a new
(We've had two of those in American history, which were two too many in the opinion of many of us.)
apparent radio spot
also apparently published in 2006 (hey, conservatives aren't big on specifics), Gingrich ritually shouts "terra
terra terra" before opining on what the First Amendment does and does not protect:
Before we lose a city in a terrorist attack – or, if we’re really stupid, after we lose a city – we’re going to
have to have a serious debate about the First Amendment, what it protects and what it should not protect.
After all, the Constitution does not guarantee all speech. Lewd and libelous speech is not shielded by the First
Amendment. So should speech that calls for the murder of Americans be protected?
More recently, in an appearance in June,
Gingrich made the statement,
"the ACLU is a hateful, antireligious system designed to drive God out of America." Funny thing... I
hadn't noticed that, and I was a member for over 30 years before I ran out of money for such things. I thought
the ACLU did a rather good job of protecting religious liberties.
Now this nut-case... remember, he was once Speaker of the House, but he's still a nut-case... says he
How seriously should we take his statement of intent? I don't know... how many nut-case voters are out there?
And won't Sarah Palin get most of them anyway?
Via Off the Kuff,
early voting information for the December 12 joint runoff in Harris County may be found
(.pdf). Here's a summary of the times; note that there are only nine days of early voting instead of the usual
12, and that not all usual early voting polling places are available:
November 30th - December 4th
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
December 7th - December 8th
7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
See the .pdf linked above for polling locations. Aside to my near neighbors: the Fiesta Mart IS a polling
place as usual in early voting.
According to the AP, which I will not quote outright for reasons discussed below,
the FBI says hate crimes were reported more frequently for the year 2008,
increasing overall by 2 percent. The numbers for sexual orientation-based crimes increased 11 percent;
religion-based crimes rose by 9 percent. The numbers for race-based crimes dropped, but only by less than
1 percent. It is possible the increases were due in part to changes in reporting practices.
Still, you don't think... it can't be... is it possible the fearmongering campaign by the GOP in 2008 was
responsible for giving the crazies permission to do what they've wanted to do all along? Nah. Surely not! After
all, they're the conservative party, and conservatives would never spread fear and loathing and divisive false
rumors as a mere political tactic. Would they?
'Scuse me now... as an evil liberal, I've got to go join my all-white cohort to disrupt an election recount and
a town hall meeting, and threaten violence against members of my political opposition. That's what evil liberals
do, right? in pursuit of freedom'n'democracy? <irony />
Wine Enthusiast magazine (no, I'm not a subscriber, but somebody drops recent issues at Stella's
workplace) recently featured a review of Atlanta restaurants. One statement about the relatively new Parish
Restaurant caught my eye:
... a new look at Southern food, but through a different lens. Housed in an old forgery, Parish's
New Orleans-inspired Creole and Cajun menu...
How to get there: from the intersection of Fraud and Graft, go north two blocks just past Larceny until you see
a robbery on your left. Turn left onto Larceny just past the robbery; you'll see the forgery immediately on your
I looked this up in my 10-volume 1937 OED and of course online, and I'm pretty well convinced the word the
author sought is "forge" used as a noun. There's "forgery" as a crime and "forgery" as the object being forged
(in either sense of "forged"), and "forger" as one who creates false documents or art and "forger" as one who
forges metal objects, but when a forger forges a forgery, she does not, as far as I can tell, do so in a
forgery, but rather in a forge. Clear?
Oh, and don't expect to be found in a foundry. If you do, you may founder there...
I've mentioned before that Samantha likes to sit on a pillow, especially if it's in your lap... but who knew she
would also condescend to sit on a human pleasure device like this one! No, the vibrating back massager was
NOT running at the time; neither Stella nor I has quite had the nerve to try that.
(Actually posted around 5:30pm CT Thursday, because there is so much web host downtime anticipated Friday.)
Republicans, who have criticized the Democrats' initiative as a step toward government control of the healthcare
system, are already planning a series of delaying tactics, including forcing the entire bill to be read aloud on
the Senate floor.
"It's going to be a holy war," Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said Wednesday evening.
So tell me... how is Hatch different from, say, Osama bin Laden? Somehow, I don't think "government by crusade"
is what our founders had in mind.
The Senate's healthcare reform bill (healthcare "deform," as the late Molly Ivins might have called it) is out,
and it's a "hairy buffalo." Remember the hairy buffalo? I tasted one once, though I was never a fraternity
member. At frat parties, boys with more money than sense would place a barrel in the middle of the room, into
which each boy would dump whatever liquor he brought to the party. The result was downright toxic. Well, the
main difference between that hairy buffalo and the emerging healthcare deform bill is that in the hairy buffalo,
at least the individual ingredients were mostly palatable.
Here are a few features that have been discovered so far:
And, if you're a woman of reproductive age, you get this bonus:
A George Washington University study shows that the House's Stupak amendment (the Senate bill hasn't been
analyzed yet) will, over time, eliminate abortion coverage for all women,
not just those who choose the public option. (Added after posting...) This includes women who have private
insurance, and women seeking medically indicated abortions.
Please note that this is what we get, despite having a "Democratic" president and a solidly "Democratic"
Congress. Do you understand now why I changed the name of this site a while back?
UPDATE: it appears Harry Reid, for once, is doing the right thing, offering
similar to the more moderate language of Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) that was stripped out of the House bill. Get
ready for the involuntary mother of all battles...
Negligent Or Premeditated? Unconscionable Either Way
I delayed posting this, thinking about how it should be presented. At last I decided simply to put it before you
and let the awful circumstance speak for itself.
Reuters via TPM:
U.S. says 14 pct of Americans short of food ...
Charles Abbott and Christopher Doering
Reuters US Online Report Health News
Nov 16, 2009 16:07 EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 49 million Americans -- one in seven -- struggle to get enough to eat, the
highest total in 14 years of a federal survey on "food insecurity," the U.S. government said on Monday.
While Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said programs such as food stamps softened the impact of an economic
recession, anti-hunger groups pointed to the huge increase from the preceding year when 36.2 million people had
trouble getting enough food and a third of them occasionally went hungry.
The last time I remember comparable levels of hunger in the U.S., Ronald Reagan was in office, homelessness was
common in Houston, and I did occasional volunteer work for a church hunger program connected with a local hunger
coalition. I remember in those days cycling on bicycle paths under bridges, occasionally waving to the homeless
individuals camped out there, and noticing that many of them had alarm clocks... meaning they had jobs but still
couldn't afford housing.
Almost 30 years have passed, 30 years of rule by Republicans or New Democrats, and one important thing has
changed: you can be confident those homeless people do not have jobs anymore.
Hunger is an equal-opportunity
affliction. You can be hungry in an abode or without one. You can be unemployed, and if you're lucky, you get
to keep your home, but not everybody is lucky. This is in a society that was once the wealthiest in the world.
Thirty years of allegedly conservative rule have wrecked it, or at least the part of it in which ordinary
nonwealthy people could participate, and now 14 percent of our families experience hunger for part of the year.
Notice that that number grew by 13 million families in just a year, according to a survey in December 2008. The
official end of the recession was announced last month, but as our jobless "recovery" continues, I cannot
imagine that the number hasn't grown again over the course of 2009.
How many hungry families are "acceptable" in America? None, you say? I agree. Then why do we have hunger, when
the resources are clearly available to alleviate it? Maybe large portions of the stimulus should go, not to
Wall Street and huge corporations who seem to be doing little or nothing to stimulate the economy with their
bonuses, but to the poorest among us, who will, at a minimum, purchase food and (if possible) housing with what
they get. Two sectors stimulated are certainly better than none.
Or maybe the hunger is by design. Hunger does make people easier to control, and for many conservatives,
charity is one of Dick Cheney's "personal virtue[s]" that shouldn't be the business of government. If you do not
understand the mindset any better than I do, read John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience; you still
won't understand it, but at least you'll have a context for it.
Here ends the sermon for the day. I know some will take it that way, those who cannot stir themselves to view
other people's very real troubles as in any way their problem. Those hard-hearted people have always been
here... welcome to America, land of the free (free to blow off others' legitimate grievances) and home of the
brave (brave except when they have "other priorities")... but in the last 30 years we have raised callous human
indifference to an art form. O brave new world...
TPM LiveWire Palin Cites Lieberman As Source Of Comfort During Campaign
Rachel Slajda | November 16, 2009, 9:01AM
It's clear that Sarah Palin spends much of her new memoir attacking reporters and various McCain campaign aides. But, the Wall Street Journal points out, at least one person earned her praise: Sen. Joe Lieberman.
Palin says Lieberman (I-CT) offered her encouragement on the trail, especially before the vice presidential debate.
Remind me: why is the Democratic Party always so accommodating to Revoltin' Joe? What has he ever done for them,
except lighten their wallets occasionally, and threaten to filibuster their major legislation? The Dems seem to
have a sort of cringing "please don't hurt me" relationship with Joe, and this is the kind of crap they get in
return. Maybe it serves the party right... but what about the rest of us?
Feds move to seize 4 mosques, tower linked to Iran Feds move to seize 4 mosques, skyscraper owned by foundation linked to Iranian government
Nov 12, 2009 17:29 EST
Federal prosecutors Thursday took steps to seize four U.S. mosques and a Fifth Avenue skyscraper owned by a
nonprofit Muslim organization long suspected of being secretly controlled by the Iranian government.
Go read the damned thing. I do very little quoting from AP these days because they're so fucking touchy about
copyright (a discussion for another time) and because they're just to the right of Genghis Khan. But go read
the article anyway; it's what we've got at the moment.
You may reasonably have already presumed that I am aghast at the sheer, deep stupidity of any agency of the U.S.
federal government seizing four houses of worship of any religion whatsoever. And as for its being in pursuit
of the "global war on terror" (sorry, the Feds don't get to change the name so easily to something more benign),
this action will have consequences as bad as anything our government has done, under Bush and under Obama,
anywhere in the world. Even having no information and at the moment personally knowing no Muslims, malevolent or
otherwise, I nonetheless fully expect retaliation for this head-wedged-so-far-they-see-through-their-mouths
act. Could it be worse? Who knows; stay tuned.
For the record, one of the mosques
is in Houston.
I know nothing about it, and did not even recognize it from the picture, though that location is one I am sure
to have driven past many times. The other mosques were listed as being in New York City, Maryland and
California... no obscure, low-population areas there; clearly the Feds want to stir up the maximum possible
amount of fear and anger.
And just a few months ago, you were worried about who would become President, as if that makes any difference...
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the most powerful particle accelerator ever built (by a factor of seven), has been
repaired after being damaged in initial testing a year ago, apparently by a bird dropping a baguette into the
works (I am not making this up), and is undergoing preliminary tests for the start-up of actual experiments
sometime this month. CNN, in an article with the silly title,
Huge $10 billion collider resumes hunt for 'God particle',
of course tells us about it in the most ludicrous way possible...
Some alarmists expressed fear last year that the accelerator could produce a black hole that might swallow the
universe -- a theory that LHC physicists, including Myers, dismiss as science fiction.
Another fringe theory holds that the LHC will never function properly because it is under "influence from the
future," according to physicists Holger Bech Nielsen and Masao Ninomiya. They suggest in recent papers that no
supercolliders that could produce the Higgs boson, an as-yet-unseen particle that would help answer fundamental
questions about matter in the universe, will work because something in the future stops them.
This also explains the "negative miracle" of Congress canceling the Superconducting Supercollider project in
Texas in 1993, Nielsen wrote in a paper on arXiv.org, a site where math and science scholars post academic
"One could even almost say that we have a model for God," one who "hates the Higgs particles," Nielsen wrote.
(Awwww, c'mon, gimme a break!)
The Higgs boson,
a particle named after one of the many theoreticians who asserted its necessity in 1964, is arguably more
interesting to scientists studying the underlying workings of the universe than any other particle in the
Standard Model. It has never been seen
in an experiment because it is too massive (i.e., requires too much energy) to be created in particle
accelerators prior to the LHC. (Did I mention that the LHC is located along the border between France and
Switzerland? The U.S. had a good opportunity to build such a device in the 1980s and 1990s; politics killed it.)
So why does anyone care about the Higgs particle? Well, as some physicists put it, "the Higgs gives the other
particles their mass." Finding it would give scientists a starting place for discovering why many of the
constants of nature in our universe have the values they do, and thus in turn, why atoms can form which allow
chemistry to take place which allows life to form and evolve which allows intelligence to emerge... you get the
idea. "How does the Higgs boson behave?" is another version of the ancient and possibly ultimate question, "Why
are we here?"
Go read the article, if you're interested in that sort of thing. Please excuse me, but by now most of those who
walk their pups along the sidewalk in front of my house will be gone for the day, and I need to go looking for
the dog particles...
Our always helpful
ACLU Blog of Rights
reminds us that a spokesman for President Obama's Justice Dept.
to begin announcing decisions on Guantánamo prosecutions by the self-imposed deadline of Nov. 16.
OK, who will bet Gitmo will begin the closing process... after all, that's what happens once they decide whom to
prosecute from among the 215 men still held there... by next week? Any takers? Awwww, c'mon, surely somebody
Right. I fear it is more likely that Obama will learn the hard way, or perhaps not at all, that the rule of law
and nothing but the rule of law actually works in dealing with terrorists. The longer our president fails to
acknowledge that, the longer our nation remains in needless danger.
As you know, I'm pro choice. But I think we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not
financing abortions as part of government funded health care. Rather than wade into that issue at this point, I
think that it's appropriate for us to figure out how to just deliver on the cost savings, and not get distracted
by the abortion debate at this station.
Now you seem prepared to sign a healthcare reform bill even if after reconciliation it still contains the
which effectively eviscerates all government funding of a woman's healthcare if any part of her insurance plan
covers elective abortion. You know that such plans will immediately cease covering abortion. This, of course,
has the effect of making abortion available to women of your socioeconomic class but not to women who cannot pay
for an abortion out-of-pocket. It also is a direct infringement on millions of contracts between women and
insurance companies, to the disadvantage of policyholders, an infringement that would send the insurance
companys howling in faux outrage if the provision were to their disadvantage instead.
What should women who are lower-income and unwillingly, perhaps involuntarily pregnant hope for? I can assure
you, they did not ever hope for this. Is this another example of your "oh-dash-it-all" of hope? Or
are you merely tossing women under the bus as a matter of political expediency? And just what political gain do
you hope for? The Conference of Catholic Bishops will never support you, no matter what you do. American women,
on the other hand, supported you in vast numbers in 2008. Even if you don't really care... and believe me, you
ought to care... is this move even good politics?
Once again disappointedly yours,
for pointing out the comment in Couric's interview of Obama.)
I have the misfortune to live in your district, and I wish to offer a comment regarding the House vote on the
Democratic healthcare reform bill which just passed 220-215.
Your behavior, along with that of several of your fellow Republicans, was like that of petulant children who
didn't get what they wanted for their birthday. Your deliberate shouting down of Democrats speaking in favor of
the bill... mostly you men shouting down women who had no way of overriding your shouts, during their allotted
time... was, for full-grown adults, utterly deplorable. I am far from young, and in all my years of watching
floor debates in the House of Representatives, I have never seen such execrable rudeness as you committed today.
What would your sainted mothers think of your being so rude?
I would draw an analogy to another creature rather than to a petulant child, but I do not wish to insult asses
Randall's is a grocery chain in Houston, formerly family owned, now owned by Safeway. I shop there perhaps
twice a week; it takes the place of Whole Paycheck, um, Whole Foods until I resume shopping there, which I will
do once healthcare "reform" is resolved. I can also pay utility bills through Randall's, much more reliably
than through the USPS, which barely works at all from our new location. In other words, for better or worse,
and through no intent on my part, Randall's has become an essential institution in my life.
Their house brand (also called Safeway) offers frozen veggie potstickers that I'm very fond of. Today I stopped
at a Randall's other than our usual one, which was out of veggie potstickers, found them, checked out and
rolled my cart toward the door. For some reason, the lobby contained about a dozen men in business attire sans
coat (mentally I dubbed them "lobbyists"). As I rolled the cart between the inner automatic door and the outer
one, a wheel suddenly locked up, and the cart stuck. I still had no clue what was going on, and leaned down to
attempt to free up the stuck wheel.
No such luck: several of the men approached my cart, first demanding my receipt, then placing some sort of
hand-held scanners near each wheel of the cart. They shook their heads, muttering things like "still not
working" and some technical references I didn't understand. Finally, even as mentally slow as I was at the
moment, I got it: somehow, the locking cart wheels were part of a theft prevention device they were
testing. I don't know what was supposed to have triggered it (or not), though I could make some guesses.
As the men continued examining the cart, I lifted my sack out of it (no easy matter, considering I was also
transferring my own weight from the cart handle to my cane) and asked the men, "So... is it going to snatch the
bag out of my hand?" They laughed heartily. I shook my head and moved on. I hope I didn't give them ideas for
their next product.
I am opposed to theft. And I am certainly amenable to technology in pursuit of solutions to problems. But I
cannot help thinking this device will ultimately be counterproductive unless they can make it work perfectly,
with 100% certainty, every time. Think about it: you put up with a device with a similar purpose in a
bookstore or a library or a clothing store, but all it does is shriek its disapproval to draw attention. But the
device at Randall's literally stops you in your tracks, impeding your forward progress (and that of anyone else
who happens to be behind you). How many times will you, a legitimate paying customer, tolerate being arrested
(i.e., stopped bodily) before you simply decide to shop elsewhere?
And if you are stopped by a cart, and the cart behind you keeps rolling, and you are pinned between them...
can you spell "personal injury lawsuit," children? I knew you could!
Good grief. It's November. What are we doing with an honest-to-Dog
Ida threatens Nicaragua and Honduras, not Texas, Louisiana or Florida. But... WTF is going on? I cannot remember
a "real" storm this late in a long, long time. Even if it doesn't come into the Gulf of Mexico, this is not good
UPDATE about 8:00am Thursday: They say that a blues song should begin with the
phrase, "Woke up this mornin'..." OK. Woke up this mornin', and Ida was a hurricane. If that were not
in itself enough to make you sing the blues, the computer models are beginning to converge; it looks like Ida
may be headed north across the Gulf toward the long-suffering Florida panhandle. I hope those good people
haven't given away their hurricane food stock already. I guess I'd better check my own supplies, just in case
Ida changes course.
Revoltin' Joe's Wife Lobbies Against Healthcare Reform
tells us the revoltin' news: Hadassah Lieberman lobbies against healthcare reform. She argues that she
doesn't have to register as a lobbyist, but she got salary from Hill & Knowlton, a major lobbying firm, in
which (quoting Conason) "the clients she served were in the controversial pharmaceutical and insurance sectors.
Exactly what she did for those clients has never been disclosed."
Could there be a clearer, more blatant conflict of interest on Revoltin' Joe's part? And... is anybody surprised?
Shorter Texas off-year election results: wait for the runoff Dec. 12.
My favored mayoral candidate, Annise Parker, made it into the runoff against Gene Locke. If you watched ABC
News, either national or local, you'd think the only issue, and I do mean the only issue they even mentioned,
was the fact that Parker is openly gay... never mind that none of the three major candidates ever mentioned it
once during the campaign. That tells you everything you need to know about... Parker? Locke? no, about ABC News.
In any case, I can live with either of these candidates as mayor. Texas-bashers, please note that Houston,
choosing among a lesbian, a black man and an older white guy, sent the older white guy home... remember that
your crow will taste better with salsa.
Parker is currently Houston's city controller. In the race to replace her, only one major candidate, city
councilmember Pam Holm, didn't make it into the runoff. I remarked that her slogan can now be
"Go Holm!" Her robo-calls were the most frequent by a factor of two at least; I'm glad we won't be
getting more of them. Speaking of robo-calls, I'll be interested to see if the dishonest anonymous calls hostile
to Ron Green, who did make it to the runoff against M.J. Khan, will stop now.
If there were surprises in the City Council races, I didn't see them. And I'm off to review the results of the
state constitutional amendments. Non-Texans need to understand: if a county official wishes to trim her
fingernails in Texas, that requires a constitutional amendment; that, and the fact that many voters don't even
glance at them, makes such amendments a splendid place to hide nefarious projects benefiting one or a few
individuals or companies, projects that would never make it through as legislation. Is this a great state, or
what? (Answer: What.)
Only a third of eligible voters cast ballots yesterday, so you know people will rush to the polls for the runoff
on Dec. 12, the anniversary of GeeDubya Bush's selection by the Supreme Court in 2000. Mark your calendars;
don't miss the entertaining conclusion of yesterday's ho-hum event.
is some of the worst news I've read recently. You may remember the matter of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian
citizen detained by the U.S. while changing planes at JFK Airport in 2002, then designated a member of Al Qaeda
by the Bush administration and rendered ("abducted" would be more accurate) to Syria's intelligence agency for
a whole year's worth of interrogation by torture. The governments of Syria and Canada have reviewed Arar's case
extensively and both determined he is innocent of all the accusations made against him by the Bush government.
But now a U.S. court has determined that Arar's court case against our government may not go forward:
The court concluded that Arar’s case raised too many sensitive foreign policy and secrecy issues to permit
relief. It leaves the federal officials involved free of any legal accountability for what they did.
Welcome to America, Mr. Arar, where the executive branch can do anything it wishes to you, with no
accountability under law. And the rest of us... do we live in a great country, or what?
You can "petition the Government for a redress of grievances," but forget about actually obtaining that redress.
This may be the low point... so far... in the ongoing "global war on terror." I'm sorry, but until this sort of
injustice is ended, the Obama administration is no better than the Cheney/Bush maladministration when it comes
to civil liberties.
I voted early, last week, as I almost always do. No, I wasn't excited about the candidates, though I'm happy to
say I can live with any of Houston's three mayoral candidates. But I voted anyway... and so should you, if you
wish to exercise some future influence on your government. You still have the right to vote, however weakened
that vote and its consequences may be at the moment. Use the right, or lose it.
Via Attaturk of Firedoglake,
we have an
Asia Times article
on self-proclaimed messiah Reverend Sun Myung Moon's succession issues and his connection with... American
politicians? American politicians! Excerpt:
[The Washington Times, owned by Moon] reported that Moon received "congratulatory greetings" from Senator Joe
Lieberman, former secretary of state Alexander Haig and former president George H W Bush, "hand-delivered by his
son Neil Bush".
Draw your own conclusions. One of my high school buddies, an exceptionally talented musician and composer,
became the head musical Moonie for a while a few decades ago, so I suppose anyone can be
drawn into such a movement. But really... Joe LIEberman? isn't he, um, you know, Jewish? I wonder if Joe and
Hadassah have the prescribed framed picture of Moon over their marital bed.
Living in a neighborhood of homes gives Halloween a very different flavor. After years in the apartments, where
zero, one or two kids arrived for treats year after year, we found it overwhelming and delightful to find no
fewer than 20 or 30 kids, mostly young kids with their parents, at our door. We used up all of the two bags
of Halloween tooth decay, um, Halloween candy, and were forced to shut down and turn off the light. Stella
handed out the candy; I ran to the "organ" (the digital piano has a respectable "pipe organ" sound) and rattled
those same teeth with renditions of Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and similar spooky-silent-movie fare. Samantha
sensibly hid somewhere in a back room. A good scary time was had by all.
I still didn't follow through on my often-stated intention to buy a bunch of Halloween lawn and window
decorations to put up... at Christmas. Maybe next year.
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Halloween Cleans Your Clock
Here is someone who long ago forgot to set his clock back in the fall. Vani(tick), vani(tock); don't forget
to set your clock.