Categories
politics

Two Party System Screws Us All

Proto Union Man - Haymarket Riot

Obama’s quick and easy capitulation to every budget cut the GOP asks for is symptomatic of a larger problem, namely that neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party cares much about the citizens of the US. Where is the party who represents you and me?

For instance, as The Hill reports, most of the cuts affect people more than corporations. For instance, slashing 16% out of a an already underfunded EPA seems to encourage polluting corporations to continue doing what they want without fear of fines. I don’t see any cuts to the bloated Pentagon budget, don’t see any elimination of corporate tax cuts. Instead, nutrition programs for low-income families is deemed less important.

Compared to 2010 levels, there are big cuts to cherished Democratic-backed programs. The Women, Infants and Children nutrition program is cut $504 million, foreign food assistance by $194 million and assistance to state and local law enforcement by $415 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency is cut by $1.6 billion, a 16 percent reduction, and lawmakers from Western states were able to include a rider allowing states to de-list wolves from the endangered species list.

The Homeland Security Department sees significant cuts as well: $226 million is cut from the southern border fence at the suggestion of the Obama administration, and the number of Transportation Security Administration workers is capped. FEMA first-responder grants are cut by $786 million.

Health funding also takes a serious hit. Community healthcare centers lose $600 million while HIV and other disease-prevention funds are cut by $1 billion. But Democrats noted that the health centers would not have to close altogether under a cut of this size.

On the other hand, Democrats were pleased that the Pell Grant award remains at $4,860 and there is a modest increase for Head Start. They also highlight that Race to the Top education awards continue.

The Food and Drug Administration will be able to implement last year’s new food-safety bill, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission will be able to implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform under the levels spelled out in the bill, Democrats said.  The Clinton-era COPS program is cut by $296 million. Low-income heating assistance is cut $390 million, while Community Development Funds are cut $942 million.

Contributions to the U.N. and other international institutions are cut $377 million; federal highway investment is cut $650 million.

The largest cut in the bill is from the Commerce Department, but this is something of an accounting trick since it relates to unspent Census money totaling $6.2 billion.

(click here to continue reading Six-month spending bill unveiled: What’s cut and what’s not – TheHill.com.)

Sickening, it is as if the Democrats have already decided to join the Republicans in everything except name. They aren’t going to be satisfied until the US turns into Somalia.

and then, predictably, Obama is going to support the so-called Cat Food Commission, which we mocked previously

Now it’s getting a little clearer: Obama will throw his support behind the bipartisan effort in the Senate to turn the Simpson-Bowles plan into legislation. This will raise as many questions as it answers — if Obama is such a fan of this approach, for instance, why didn’t he say more about it during his budget? — but it is, at base, a more realistic plan both in terms of policy and politics.

For one thing, it’s plausibly bipartisan. Ryan’s budget was almost a calculated effort to appall Democrats, which means it has little chance of passing through the Senate. Simpson-Bowles was an effort to attract votes from both parties. The reason it can be bipartisan is that, unlike the House GOP’s proposal, it doesn’t use deficit reduction as cover to sneak in ideological changes to the state: there’s no effort at privatizing Medicare or block granting Medicaid, no decision to go after programs for the poor while exempting both revenues and defense cuts. The plan’s theory is that cutting the deficit is hard enough without also engaging a couple of long-running ideological wars about the shape and responsibilities of the America state. So it dodges those wars, and in endorsing it, Obama will too.

But if the president was actually interested in passing Simpson-Bowles, this was a bit of an odd way to go about it. Leaving it out of his budget and State of the Union speeches meant it didn’t become the central issue on the table. That gave Ryan room to make his proposal, and the early signs are that his proposal has turned many Republicans against Simpson-Bowles, as they’d prefer Ryan’s plan and don’t want to weaken their negotiation position. If the process then becomes a compromise between a centrist plan like Simpson-Bowles and a hardline conservative plan like Ryan’s, that’s not going to produce something Democrats are happy with, and Obama will be blamed for not taking the initative and forcing everyone to simply consider Simpson-Bowles when he had a chance.

(click here to continue reading Wonkbook: Obama to back Simpson-Bowles – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post.)

Categories
government politics

U.S. Will Enforce Marijuana Laws, Despite Wishes of Voters

Disappointing decision by Eric Holder and the Obama administration. What purpose does locking up non-violent drug users accomplish anyway? Other than let politicians check off the box that says, “tough on crime” on their reelection mailers, that is.

Single serving pod

LOS ANGELES — The Department of Justice says it intends to prosecute marijuana laws in California aggressively even if state voters approve an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to legalize the drug. Related

The announcement by Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general, was the latest reminder of how much of the establishment has lined up against the popular initiative: dozens of editorial boards, candidates for office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other public officials.

Still, despite this opposition — or perhaps, to some extent, because of it — the measure, Proposition 19, appears to have at least a decent chance of winning, so far drawing considerable support in polls from a coalition of Democrats, independents, younger voters and men as Election Day nears. Should that happen, it could cement a cultural shift in California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and where the drug has been celebrated in popular culture at least since the 1960s.

But it could also plunge the nation’s most populous state into a murky and unsettling conflict with the federal government that opponents of the proposition said should make California voters wary of supporting it.

(click to continue reading U.S. Will Enforce Marijuana Laws, State Vote Aside – NYTimes.com.)

Grass Fed Change

So which officials in California are for the bill?

The state Republican Party has officially come out against Proposition 19 and plans to urge people to vote no, said Ron Nehring, the party chairman. He called repeal a “big mistake” and mocked the notion that placing the proposition on the ballot would help Democrats.

“We call that their Hail Mary Jane strategy,” he said.

John Burton, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, said his party had decided to stay neutral on this issue. Asked if he supported it, Mr. Burton responded: “I already voted for it. Why not? Brings some money into the state. Helps the deficit. Better than selling off state buildings to some developer.”

Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, noted that polls showed the measure breaking 50 percent, but said that given the history of initiatives in the state, that meant its passage was far from assured.

Opposition has come from a number of fronts, ranging from Mr. Baca and other law enforcement officials to the Chamber of Commerce, which has warned that it would create workplace health issues.

Still, the breadth of supporters of the proposition — including law enforcement officials and major unions, like the Service Employees International Union — signal how mainstream this movement is becoming.

“I think we consume far more dangerous drugs that are legal: cigarette smoking, nicotine and alcohol,” said Joycelyn Elders, the former surgeon general and a supporter of the measure. “I feel they cause much more devastating effects physically. We need to lift the prohibition on marijuana.”

Categories
Business government politics

Hey, Small Spender: The False Narrative

Paul Krugman writes in response to the oft repeated assertion that Obama is ballooning the federal government:

Recovery.gov

Here’s the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can’t create jobs

Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.

Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn’t kicked in yet, so that can’t be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where’s all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.

(click to continue reading Paul Krugman – Hey, Small Spender – NYTimes.com.)

Daughter to a Sister of Thought

and the reason why people think there was a massive increase in federal programs is a familiar, if discouraging reason, namely lies, more lies, and a partisan and or ineffective media.

The answer to the second question — why there’s a widespread perception that government spending has surged, when it hasn’t — is that there has been a disinformation campaign from the right, based on the usual combination of fact-free assertions and cooked numbers. And this campaign has been effective in part because the Obama administration hasn’t offered an effective reply.

Actually, the administration has had a messaging problem on economic policy ever since its first months in office, when it went for a stimulus plan that many of us warned from the beginning was inadequate given the size of the economy’s troubles. You can argue that Mr. Obama got all he could — that a larger plan wouldn’t have made it through Congress (which is questionable), and that an inadequate stimulus was much better than none at all (which it was). But that’s not an argument the administration ever made. Instead, it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right, a position that has become increasingly awkward as the recovery stalls.

And a side consequence of this awkward positioning is that officials can’t easily offer the obvious rebuttal to claims that big spending failed to fix the economy — namely, that thanks to the inadequate scale of the Recovery Act, big spending never happened in the first place.

But if they won’t say it, I will: if job-creating government spending has failed to bring down unemployment in the Obama era, it’s not because it doesn’t work; it’s because it wasn’t tried.

Categories
Film

Bill Murray Interviewed by Dan Fierman

Fun little GQ interview of Bill Murray, who truth be told, has been in some great films over the years. With the exception of Garfield, but according to Murray, he thought it was a Coen brothers film. Here’s the setup:

When I arrived, he was standing alone in the corner of a New York hotel room, talking on a cell phone and wearing a ratty black polo, jeans, and yellow “tape measure” suspenders. I had been waiting for over an hour, which didn’t seem like an unreasonable amount of time. Bill Murray famously does not give interviews—he’s sat down for exactly four prolonged media encounters in the past ten years—and when he does, it’s never clear what you’re going to get. You just have to pray he’s in a good mood.

The very thing that makes Bill Murray, well, Bill Murray is what makes sitting down with him such an unpredictable enterprise. Bill Murray crashes parties, ditches promotional appearances, clashes with his friends, his collaborators, and his enemies. If you—movie director, journalist, dentist—want to speak to him, you don’t go through any gatekeeper. You leave a message on an 800 number. If Bill Murray wants to speak with you, he’ll call you back. If his three and a half decades in the public sphere have taught us anything about the 59-year-old actor, it’s that he simply does not give a good goddamn.

His career is known to most any fan of modern comedy: the years on SNL; the series of epochal comedies like Stripes, Groundhog Day, and Caddyshack. And his current artistic period, which could be described as Reclusive National Treasure. He lives in Rockland County, New York, emerging only to make movies for directors he’s interested in: Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, Sofia Coppola. This summer he’ll release a period indie called Get Low, in which he plays an undertaker throwing an early funeral for Robert Duvall. Today, Murray was in an expansive mood. Then, after he spoke about Ghostbusters 3, Barack Obama, and Garfield, he decided the interview was over and was gone. As best as I can tell, he was not fucking with me. But who knows? Bill Murray doesn’t need you to be in on his joke. His life is all one performance-art piece—and he does everything for an audience of one.

(click to continue reading Bill Murray on Ghostbusters 3, Get Low, Ron Howard, Kung Fu Hustle: Celebrities: GQ.)

Obama palooza

You should read the whole thing if you have a couple minutes to spare, but I wanted to save this part where Bill Murray responds to a question about what he watches on television:

I watch sports, I watch movies, Current TV on the satellite—I kind of like that. Honestly, I’m just easily bored. C-SPAN can be really great. Like the night Obama won the election, C-SPAN was the greatest. There were no announcers, just Chicago. It was just that crowd in Grant Park, and it was just fuckin’ jazz. You know, it was just wow. And that’s my town, you know? It was just: “Oh, my God, it’s gonna happen! [getting genuinely excited] It’s gonna happen!” You just saw the pictures of it, like, oh, there’s someone from the Northwest Side, there’s someone from the South Side, someone from the suburbs. It was the most truly American thing you’ve ever seen. [pause] Oh God, I get jazzed just thinkin’ about it. I don’t know anyone that wasn’t crying. It was just: Thank God this long national nightmare is over.

 

Categories
politics

Politico are Hacks

Morning editorial meeting at Politico

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DwiBNZxN6Y

Or

Smelled the Summer on the Smoky Wind

Politico founders John Harris and Jim VandeHei haven’t got a clue:

The liberal blogosphere grew in response to Bush. But it is still a movement marked by immaturity and impetuousness — unaccustomed to its own side holding power and the responsibilities and choices that come with that.

“Immaturity and impetuousness”? Yeah, that describes us to a T, unlike mature and patient (and very, very serious) folks like Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin who somehow find their every utterance transcribed in Vandehei’s publication.

(click to continue reading Daily Kos: People say the dumbest things sometimes.)

or

It’s one thing to criticize liberal bloggers for having unrealistic expectations, given whatever we’re supposed to agree represents “reality” in Washington. I don’t happen to agree with that argument. Many liberal bloggers are advocates and activists. They are supposed to push the White House and Dems in a more liberal direction, even if it doesn’t always pay off. That’s their function as they’ve defined it. But reasonable people can disagree about how realistic the liberal blogosphere’s expectations have been.

However, to make the argument that liberal bloggers have their heads in the sand about Dem losses this fall is just flat out false. All VandeHarris are revealing is that they don’t regularly read liberal blogs — and that they know they can count on the fact that the Beltway insiders who will snicker knowingly about this article don’t read liberal blogs either. And that’s fine: Don’t read them! But please don’t make stuff up about them and call it journalism

(click to continue reading The Plum Line – Politico’s theory: Liberal bloggers don’t care if Dems sustain large losses this fall.)

or

Fountain Square South at night

Today’s big Politico piece, by John Harris and Jim VandeiHei, “Why Obama loses by Winning”, has been rightly dubbed by Jay Rosen as “an instant classic in Church of the Savvy lit.” It truly is a marvel!

It begins with a willful misread-slash-hyperbolic reduction of a “widely read” Eric Alterman column (the authors enable this misread by skillfully denying their readers a link to the Alterman piece, which actually describes the structural conditions that have prevented President Barack Obama from enacting a full-blooded progressive agenda), which in turn allows them to make this silly case that even though Obama has managed to get major pieces of legislation through Congress, his presidency is a failure because it makes bloggers sad.

Naturally, the whole thing is built upon a foundation of anonymous sources. We hear from all the old mainstays: the “top Obama advisor,” the “top White House official,” and another random adviser. Given the fact that Harris and VandeHei claim that the piece is underpinned by “interviews with officials in the administration and on Capitol Hill, and with Democratic operatives around town,” the dearth of sources is pretty glaring.

But here’s where we are. The editors claim that independents are leaving Obama because he “has shown himself to be a big-government liberal.” Mind you, they have already stipulated that Obama has had success enacting his agenda. That agenda included many things that he ran on, like health care reform, financial regulatory reform, winding down the war in Iraq, and prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. You can call that “centrist” or “liberal” if you like, but that’s precisely what those independent voters signed up for in November 2008. So, either these independent voters are addled — and thus unworthy of bellwether status, or there is another dominant factor in the political environment that’s causing them unease.

(click to continue reading Politico: Obama Loses By Winning?.)

yadda yadda. Sad that any intelligent person would even bother reading such a partisan rag as Politico, but then I don’t make my living by fellating the right wing blowhards on Fox either.

Categories
politics Sports

Obama gives Cameron a decent Goose Island

Maybe the Bud Light schtick was calculated1, but when Obama met British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama gave him a decent local brew.

 

Cameron is a Conservative, but a moderate presiding over a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after 13 years of Labor rule, and at least one of Obama’s former aides, Anita Dunn, worked for him during his election campaign.

Goose Island Beer Company

The two leaders have bonded over sports, one of Obama’s signature means of connecting. They culminated their friendly trash talk over the World Cup Saturday.

Seated in dark leather chairs, with the G8 and G20 logo serving as a backdrop in the small room, Obama and Cameron satisfied a wager they had made on the U.S-Britain soccer match.

“Since it ended in a tie, we’re exchanging, by paying off our debts at the same time, this is Goose Island 312 beer from my hometown of Chicago,” Obama said, holding a yellow-tagged bottle of beer.

Cameron then handed his beer to a smiling Obama. “This is Hobgoblin,” he said.

“I advised him that in America, we drink our beer cold,” Obama quipped. “He has to put it in a refrigerator before he drinks it, but I think that he will find it outstanding.”

(click to continue reading ‘Special relationship’ under strain as Obama and Cameron meet – POLITICO.com Print View.)

Beer doesn’t have to be ice cold to be enjoyable, and I’ll have to look for Hobgoblin when2 I’m in London this August.

Footnotes:
  1. of course, maybe the craft beer choice could be calculated, and Obama really does drink Bud Light Lime, ewww []
  2. if? []
Categories
government politics

The Runaway General and the Runaway War in Afghanistan

General McChrystal ignited a bit of a shite-storm with intemperate remarks about various White House officials. Not so much about policy differences with Obama, but personality conflicts, and an eagerness to speak ill of his civilian bosses, on the record. He should be fired, or demoted, or chastised in some form.

However, the more important fact I gleaned from the article is that we are fighting a useless and futile war in Afghanistan, wasting blood,1 resources, and intellectual energy. Meanwhile our own country needs some infrastructure investments that are ignored: water pipes, public schools, mass transit, clean energy, yadda yadda. Al Qaeda isn’t even in Afghanistan anymore, as far as we know.

When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal’s side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan – and he wasn’t hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny. The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France’s nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose. “Even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan,” he says. But even if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which has shifted its operations to Pakistan. Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock. “It’s all very cynical, politically,” says Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the region. “Afghanistan is not in our vital interest – there’s nothing for us there.”

In mid-May, two weeks after visiting the troops in Kandahar, McChrystal travels to the White House for a high-level visit by Hamid Karzai. It is a triumphant moment for the general, one that demonstrates he is very much in command – both in Kabul and in Washington. In the East Room, which is packed with journalists and dignitaries, President Obama sings the praises of Karzai. The two leaders talk about how great their relationship is, about the pain they feel over civilian casualties. They mention the word “progress” 16 times in under an hour. But there is no mention of victory. Still, the session represents the most forceful commitment that Obama has made to McChrystal’s strategy in months. “There is no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years – in education, in health care and economic development,” the president says. “As I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed – lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier.”

It is a disconcerting observation for Obama to make. During the worst years in Iraq, when the Bush administration had no real progress to point to, officials used to offer up the exact same evidence of success. “It was one of our first impressions,” one GOP official said in 2006, after landing in Baghdad at the height of the sectarian violence. “So many lights shining brightly.” So it is to the language of the Iraq War that the Obama administration has turned – talk of progress, of city lights, of metrics like health care and education. Rhetoric that just a few years ago they would have mocked. “They are trying to manipulate perceptions because there is no definition of victory – because victory is not even defined or recognizable,” says Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq in 2006. “That’s the game we’re in right now. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn’t get run off. The facts on the ground are not great, and are not going to become great in the near future.”

But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn’t begin to reflect how deeply fucked up things are in Afghanistan. “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular,” a senior adviser to McChrystal says. Such realism, however, doesn’t prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. “There’s a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here,” a senior military official in Kabul tells me.

(click to continue reading The Runaway General | Rolling Stone Politics.)

Urban Melancholy

McChrystal should certainly get fired for insubordination – President Truman fired war hero General MacArthur, remember? And McChrystal is no war hero, he’s long been a loose cannon, responsible for the Tillman fiasco, detainee abuse and torture in Iraq, and other questionable judgements. On that front, the NYT reports:

An angry President Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan to Washington on Tuesday after a magazine article portrayed the general and his staff as openly contemptuous of some senior members of the Obama administration.

The military’s senior leaders joined in sharp criticism of the commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, and an administration official said he would meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House on Wednesday “to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes in the piece,” which appears in the July 8-22 edition of Rolling Stone.

General McChrystal was scheduled to attend a monthly meeting on Afghanistan by teleconference, the official said, but was directed to return to Washington in light of the article. The general apologized for his remarks, saying the article was “a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

The article shows General McChrystal or his aides talking in sharply derisive terms about Mr. Biden; Ambassador Karl Eikenberry; Richard C. Holbrooke, the special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan; and an unnamed minister in the French government. One of General McChrystal’s aides is quoted as referring to the national security adviser, James L. Jones, as a “clown.”

A senior administration official said Mr. Obama was furious about the article, particularly with the suggestion that he was uninterested and unprepared to discuss the Afghanistan war after he took office.

(click to continue reading McChrystal Is Summoned to Washington Over Remarks – NYTimes.com.)



Footnotes:
  1. our own, and Afghani blood too []
Categories
Links

Reading Around on January 30th through February 2nd

A few interesting links collected January 30th through February 2nd:

  • The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of the Swiss was beaten by 1,800 years | Mail Online – The world’s first Swiss Army knife’ has been revealed – made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart. An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade. It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick. Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails.
  • Hypocrisy Alert: 68 House Republicans Take Credit for the Economic Bills They Opposed | DCCC – Is this number higher by now? Wouldn’t be surprised

    The DCCC has unveiled the latest entries into the House Republicans Hypocrisy Hall of Fame, which has now grown to 68 Members. These Republicans have been caught trying to celebrate the benefits of projects they opposed in President Obama’s recovery bill, the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, and the Omnibus Public Land Management Act.

Categories
Links

Reading Around on January 28th

Some additional reading January 28th from 18:37 to 21:45:

  • Hands-on with the Apple iPad – it does make sense :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Andy Ihnatko – The display is gorgeous — crisp, with strong color but lots of subtlety. A pro photographer friend with a best-selling photobook series told me he thought it was good enough to use as a commercial presentation portfolio
  • iPad About « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry – I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen should have written a companion piece to the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which everyone points at the Emperor shouting, in a Nelson from the Simpson’s voice, “Ha ha! He’s naked.” And then a lone child pipes up, ‘No. He’s actually wearing a really fine suit of clothes.” And they all clap hands to their foreheads as they realise they have been duped into something worse than the confidence trick, they have fallen for what E. M. Forster called the lack of confidence trick. How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”. I’m not advocating dumb gullibility, but it is has always amused me that those who instinctively dislike Apple for being apparently cool, trendy, design fixated and so on are the ones who are actually so damned cool and so damned sensitive to stylistic nuance that they can’t bear to celebrate or recognise obvious class, beauty and desire.
  • Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – Justice Alito's conduct and the Court's credibility – There's a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It's vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court's pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court's credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more "liberal" Justices do to the reverse
Categories
Film Links

Reading Around on January 24th through January 26th

A few interesting links collected January 24th through January 26th:

  • The Lakers Meet President Obama at Lakers.com BasketBlog – “I do want to point out that six of them came with the Bulls,” said Obama, a big time Chicago fan. “You remember that, Magic?”

    That one had all in attendance cracking up, particularly after Obama turned towards Magic to pantomime Michael Jordan’s right-hand-to-left-hand layup in the 1991 Finals, when Jackson’s Bulls defeated Johnson’s Lakers 4-1.

    “It was really a special moment in time that I’m going to always remember that the President of the United States trash-talked Magic Johnson,” said Johnson. “And me restraining myself not to come back at him. He was the only man on earth that ever trash-talked me and I (didn’t) say anything … it was a great moment.”

  • Wal-Mart Using Fake Community Group to Manufacture Support – Chicagoist – While Wal-Mart certainly has the right make its case to Chicago, the way they’ve gone about this – creating a fake community group that purports to represent a community’s residents and interests – is sneaky and underhanded. If what they have to offer Chicago is such a great deal, why did they need to go through the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to set up a bogus grassroots group? When I started asking questions around their tactics, they refused to talk to me
  • Love Story :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews – I was so put off by Erich Segal’s writing style, in fact, that I hardly wanted to see the movie at all. Segal’s prose style is so revoltingly coy — sort of a cross between a parody of Hemingway and the instructions on a soup can — that his story is fatally infected.
Categories
Links

Reading Around on October 29th through October 30th

A few interesting links collected October 29th through October 30th:

  • Chief drug adviser David Nutt sacked over cannabis stance | Politics | The Guardian – Alan Johnson, the home secretary, has sacked Professor David Nutt as senior drugs adviser after the scientist renewed his criticism of the government's decision to toughen the law on cannabis.

    Johnson wrote to Nutt saying he no longer had confidence in him as chairman of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and asking him to consider his position.

    Nutt had accused ministers of "devaluing and distorting" the scientific evidence over illicit drugs by their decision last year to reclassify cannabis from class C to class B against the advice of the ACMD

  • Think Again: Obama’s Commie Past Exposed Yet Again – Robert Fox, the millionaire brother-in-law of a GOP congressman, tried to prove the connection. He offered $10,000 to Dr. Peter Millican, an Oxford professor who had developed a computer program to make comparisons between texts. Times of London reported this on November 2, 2008. Millican told Fox that the initial findings made it “highly implausible” that the books shared authors. He also said that if further research was done, then the findings would be made public whether or not Ayers was proven to be the author. Fox withdrew his offer.
  • Excerpts From The Book The NBA Doesn't Want You To Read – Tim Donaghy – Deadspin – I'm still fucking bitter about this game six travesty
    :"If we give the benefit of the calls to the team that's down in the series, nobody's going to complain. The series will be even at three apiece, and then the better team can win Game 7," Bavetta stated.

    As history shows, Sacramento lost Game 6 in a wild come-from-behind thriller that saw the Lakers repeatedly sent to the foul line by the referees. For other NBA referees watching the game on television, it was a shameful performance by Bavetta's crew, one of the most poorly officiated games of all time."

Categories
Links

Reading Around on October 21st through October 28th

A few interesting links collected October 21st through October 28th:

  • Eat More Black Pepper to Increase Your Food’s Nutritional Value [Health] – Black pepper is often thought of as a last minute ditch to save a flavorless dish, but it really plays a powerful role in your bodies ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat—even the healthy ones.The amount of nutrients your body consumes from a food is called bioavailability, which is always less than what your food truly contains.
  • They Eat Horses, Don’t They? : Horsemeat is a delicacy in many countries, but not America – CHOW – Eating horsemeat in America is perfectly legal, according to Steven Cohen of the USDA’s food safety and inspection service. If it seems wrong, that’s not the law—that’s, well, you. But bear in mind that the Japanese and many Europeans eat all kinds of horse: horse sashimi in Japan; horse tartare or steak in Belgium; pastissada, or horsemeat stew, in Italy’s Veneto. Fears of mad cow disease in recent years prompted a spike in horsemeat prices in Germany and Italy.If it seems wrong, that’s not the law—that’s, well, you.
  • Auto bailout: Steven Rattner on how the Obama team did it – Oct. 21, 2009 – We were shocked, even beyond our low expectations, by the poor state of both GM and Chrysler. Looking just at the condition of GM’s finances and Chrysler’s new-car pipeline, the case for a bailout was weak.…Everyone knew Detroit’s reputation for insular, slow-moving cultures. Even by that low standard, I was shocked by the stunningly poor management that we found, particularly at GM, where we encountered, among other things, perhaps the weakest finance operation any of us had ever seen in a major company.
Categories
Links

Reading Around on September 8th through September 10th

A few interesting links collected September 8th through September 10th:

  • dy/dan » Blog Archive » What I Would Do With This: Groceries

    – “The express lane isn’t faster. The manager backed me up on this one. You attract more people holding fewer total items, but as the data shows above, when you add one person to the line, you’re adding 48 extra seconds to the line length (that’s “tender time” added to “other time”) without even considering the items in her cart. Meanwhile, an extra item only costs you an extra 2.8 seconds. Therefore, you’d rather add 17 more items to the line than one extra person! ” I’d add – when I do the mental calculations as to what checkout line to choose, I also add gender and age into the mix (of cashier and customer both)

  • Pchela (Bee) No 5 1906..jpg
  • Post Office Buyer May Not Deliver | NBC Chicago – my photo used by NBC Chicago with a fairly crappy credit link: better than none I guess, but NBC didn’t ask either.
  • Peapod celebrates 20 years :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Business

    – Thomas Parkinson, co-founder with his brother Andrew of online grocer Peapod 20 years ago, recalls checking customers’ 1200- and 2400-baud modems while he delivered groceries in those early days.

    “There were moments of sweat rolling down my face as I thought I’d messed up someone’s hard drive,” recalled Thomas, Peapod’s chief technology officer. “One woman asked, ‘What do I use this foot pedal for?’ Turned out, it was the mouse.”

    Andrew Parkinson serves as president. The two brothers started Peapod 20 years ago in Evanston with $25,000 they’d raised from friends and family.”

    I find I use Peapod more frequently in the winter months

    William Blake - Ghost of a Flea.jpg

  • Tasty ways to use seasonal tomatoes | Frugal Village – “photo by swanksalot

    If you have an abundance of juicy tomatoes this season, consider yourself lucky to have escaped late blight. For folks not so lucky, I’m sharing recipes that don’t use a ton as the main ingredient but will let you savor every delicious bite.

  • Interview: Wallace Shawn – Chicagoist

    “I suppose I should say that all my roots are all in Chicago,” Wallace Shawn told us. “Both sides of my family. My parents were very identified with being from Chicago, really. My childhood memories of visiting the relatives in Chicago are central to my being. And all sorts of things that some people associate with New York, I associate with Chicago, like going to hear jazz. I went with my uncle to hear Erroll Garner in Chicago.” Shawn is usually thought of as the quintessential New Yorker (in fact his father William was the long-time editor of The New Yorker) but his new book is published by Chicago-based Haymarket Press.


  • Wonk Room » Joe Klein Compares ‘Left-Extremist’ Van Jones To ‘White Supremacist,’ ‘Nazi’ – ”

    Joe Klein, the prominent Time Magazine liberal columnist, has embraced the right-wing

    Hate that Joe Klein aka Joke Line is still called a liberal columnist, even after being a Republican suck-up for twenty years or more.

  • Terror Slaves of the Nile - March 1963.jpg
Categories
Links Photography

Reading Around on August 14th

Some additional reading August 14th from 12:05 to 12:45:

William Blake:

0312-0057_elohim_creating_adam.jpg

  • Think You Can Rip Someone’s Image From the Internet and Use it For Free? Think Again, You Just May End Up Sued and Lose | Thomas Hawk Digital Connection – “It was interesting to hear yesterday from photographer Christopher Boffoli who has done a lot of freelance work lately for the West Seattle Blog. Boffoli wrote me and told me about a situation where a Seattle based Realtor, Laura Miller with Catalyst Commercial Partners, used an unauthorized photo of his for a real estate listing (photo above) of hers and ended up having to pay him a $1,000 small claims court judgment over it.

    I’ll let Boffoli tell part of the story”

  • Change of Subject: Getting aboard a health plan — it’s time to throw a lifeline to 60 million Americans – “they’re fine with the idea of providing coverage to everyone. But only if it costs them nothing and leaves them with all the advantages, priorities and prerogatives they currently enjoy. In other words, the old “I’d haul you up, but you might swamp my rowboat” argument.

    Others tell me they view access to quality health care as something they’ve earned — either by working hard or being related to someone who works hard. And if others want it, let them earn it too — the old, “Go build your own rowboat, you slacker!” argument.

    Still others say that those without coverage can always fall back on the patchwork of public hospitals, charity and Medicaid — the old “You don’t need a rowboat. Driftwood will do” argument.

    Obviously, though, too many swimmers are drowning:”

  • Krugman- Republican Death Trip – NYTimes.com
  • – “President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.”
  • Court extends Tribune Co. control of Chapter 11 case — chicagotribune.com – “A bankruptcy judge said Tribune Co. can keep control of its Chapter 11 case for three-and-a-half more months as it looks to sell off some assets, including the Chicago Cubs, in its bid to exit bankruptcy protection.

    Judge Kevin J. Carey of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., on Monday gave the publisher of the Chicago Tribune an extension to Nov. 30 to file its reorganization plan to emerge from bankruptcy and to repay creditors. He also set a March 15, 2010, deadline for the media giant to win creditor support for a plan.”

  • delicious blog » Sharing Made Easier: Email and Tweet Your Bookmarks – “If you use Twitter and want to send bookmarks to your Twitter feed, associate a Twitter account (only a single Twitter account can be associated at one time) by logging into Twitter under the Twitter panel. You have the option to send all your saved bookmarks to Twitter by selecting the “Tweet all bookmarks unless private” checkbox when you add the Twitter account. If you’ve selected this option, your Twitter account will appear by default in the Send field.”
  • Juan_Gris
  • Juan Gris
Categories
Links

Reading Around on August 4th through August 7th

A few interesting links collected August 4th through August 7th:

  • Whiskey – "I still hate myself,
    I still don’t believe in God,
    And that hole inside me has grown even bigger
    But I know better than to drink
    So much fucking whiskey
    For no good reason."
  • Backbeats – " The poem project is going fairly well; so far I have about a month’s worth of poems up, one per day. I’m trying to write at least a few per day so I have a backlog of poems ready in case I want to take a break, or go on a vacation, something, anything. I didn’t think I’d ever be writing poems again, but you know, it’s better than nothing. I’m just glad to have an outlet. What I do need, however, is exposure. It’d be nice to have a few inbound links from other people — if you’ve got any websites or leverage, that’d be pretty good. Or even better yet, encouragement, or pinging anybody you do know who’s into this kind of stuff."
  • A Glorious Gallery of Rot: Compost as Art (Pictures) | Lighter Footstep – " Nationally, food waste and spoilage amounts to losses in excess if $75 billion. In some sectors of agricultural production, waste can be as high as 40 percent. These autumnal fruits and vegetables — photographed being readied for compost by Flickr user swanksalot —  will get another shot at the table next season."
  • Obama Foodorama: President Obama Gives Birthday Love–and Cupcakes–To Legendary White House Correspondent Helen Thomas – "Helen Thomas is the oldest correspondent in the White House Press Corps, and today she turns 89, right alongside President Obama, who turns 48. During today's press briefing, the President personally delivered birthday cupcakes to Ms. Thomas in the White House briefing room, a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" was sung, and he gave her a birthday kiss"