Wednesday, 12/17/2014

Ma'oz Tzur

Rock of Ages:

The Greeks gathered against me, in days of the Hasmoneans.
They broke down the walls of my towers, and defiled all the oils.
But from the last remaining flask a miracle was wrought for the Jews.
Therefore the sages of the day ordained these eight for songs of praise.

Deliverance has too long been delayed, and the evil days are still rollin'...


December 17, 4:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Embargo Worked!

It only took 50 years, but finally we'll be able to get some non-Dominican Cohibas (well, maybe).  Relations between very old Cuban exiles and the Vatican have soured, but anything that can poke Putin and Rubio in the eye is clearly good for humanity.


December 17, 3:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This Is What Unprivilege Looks Like

The moral high ground in America: beatings and torture are fine ways to maintain the status quo, and there's no such thing as property rights if you're in the way.  But hey, it's not my fault!


December 17, 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If You Can't Take The Crucifixion, Don't Join The Roman Legion

Aggressively defensive much, tough guys?

Gabe Crocker, president of the St. Louis County police association, which opposed the Rams players' public displays, outlined the group's position in a Tuesday phone interview with TPM. While noting that local law enforcement is attempting to bridge the divides exacerbated by the Brown shooting, he said that the Rams' protest was "offensive" to members of the police community.

As for the call for discipline of the players, Crocker defended the decision.

"What's interesting is that it's the same kind rhetoric that's used against us," he said. "Why can't a police union demand that, after what it deems as misconduct, why can't it demand discipline?"

What's interesting is that when the Rams players put their hands up, they didn't kill anybody.  And police kinda work for the people calling for accountability.  Other than that, it's exactly the same.


December 17, 10:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

'Tis The Season For Weird Christmas Weather Thanks To Climate Change


The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.

A fair amount of snow on the ground right now, but there's rain in the forecast some days, sun others, and snow a cople times including perhaps on Xmas day.  I hate it when Nature can't make up its mind.


December 17, 9:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 12/16/2014

Celebrating The Birth Of A Great Light In Our Starry Firmament

Kinderman: "many aspects of the Choral Fantasy anticipate Beethoven's later setting of Schiller's text in the choral finale of the Ninth Symphony."


December 16, 10:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Another NASA Coverup

There's clearly life on Mars.  They're doing it to us again.


December 16, 9:18 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Unwind Your Bloody Flag, Chelsea

Why the hell not have 2 Clintons run in the primary?

BTW Chelsea Clinton becomes constitutionally eligible for the office in February. (If you turn 35 after the general election but before the Electoral College vote are you eligible? What about after the College but before the inauguration? What if you’re from a culture that calls people “35″ during their 35th year of life? I’ve heard Germans do this. They’re not constitutionally eligible though).

I'd say if you're the requisite age upon inauguration, you're eligible.  I'll also note that Bush I is still eligible for another term since he lost to Clinton I.  It's like a Shakespearean thing at this point:

King Pepin, which deposed Childeric,
Did, as heir general, being descended
Of Blithild, which was daughter to King Clothair,
Make claim and title to the crown of France.
Hugh Capet also, who usurped the crown
Of Charles the duke of Lorraine, sole heir male
Of the true line and stock of Charles the Great,
To find his title with some shows of truth,
'Through, in pure truth, it was corrupt and naught,
Convey'd himself as heir to the Lady Lingare,
Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
Of Charles the Great. Also King Lewis the Tenth,
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfied
That fair Queen Isabel, his grandmother,
Was lineal of the Lady Ermengare,
Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorraine:
By the which marriage the line of Charles the Great
Was re-united to the crown of France.
So that, as clear as is the summer's sun.

King Pepin's grandfather died on this date in 714.  I think.  Whatever, all this incestuous political stuff is confusing and a bit annoying.  Not at all clear as the summer's sun (which is why Olivier's version is funny).


December 16, 8:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Worst Court Decision Since Marbury Or Dred Scott

Oh, since this is the judicial activism that conservatives whine about:

A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled on Tuesday that President Barack Obama's recentexecutive actions on immigration are unconstitutional.

"The Court holds that the Executive Action is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers and the Take Care Clause of the Constitution," wrote U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab, who was appointed by George W. Bush.

Schwab determined that Obama's actions — which pave the way for three-year work permits for more than 4.4 million people (those brought to the U.S. as children and undocumented parents of American citizens) — were illegal because they permit "substantive rights" for "broad categories" of individuals.
Schwab wrote in his ruling that Obama was legislating. "Congress's lawmaking power is not subject to Presidential supervision or control," he wrote. "Perceived or actual Congressional inaction does not endow legislative power with the Executive."

The case concerns a Honduran man who was arrested and detained by the Department of Homeland Security for re-entering the U.S. illegally after he was removed. The case is about "arguably unequal and arbitrary immigration enforcement" in the U.S., the judge wrote, noting that he moved to consider Obama's executive action out of concern for whether it "would impact the sentencing of this Defendant."

Yeah, well, quite a reach to attack a constitutional question not actually brought up by the case.  And briefly for now, I'll just cough and say, "Chaney and Arizona."  Oh, but if the new superfiscallyresponsible GOP Congress wants to fully fund the removal of 11.5M undocumented aliens, rather than the 400k that's possible annually, they're welcome to try.


December 16, 6:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"Justice is a right that every American should have."

The Browns' WR, Andrew Hawkins, responds:

I utterly respect and appreciate every police officer that protects and serves all of us with honesty, integrity and the right way. And I don’t think those kind of officers should be offended by what I did...

I’m not an activist, in any way, shape or form. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred I keep my opinions to myself on most matters. I worked extremely hard to build and keep my reputation especially here in Ohio, and by most accounts I’ve done a solid job of decently building a good name. Before I made the decision to wear the T-shirt, I understood I was putting that reputation in jeopardy to some of those people who wouldn’t necessarily agree with my perspective. I understood there was going to be backlash, and that scared me, honestly. But deep down I felt like it was the right thing to do. If I was to run away from what I felt in my soul was the right thing to do, that would make me a coward, and I can’t live with that. God wouldn’t be able to put me where I am today, as far as I’ve come in life, if I was a coward.

[My 2-year-old little boy] is my entire world. And the No. 1 reason for me wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin scares the living hell out of me. And my heart was broken for the parents of Tamir and John Crawford knowing they had to live that nightmare of a reality...

[T]his is America, everyone has the right to their first amendment rights. Those who support me, I appreciate your support. But at the same time, support the causes and the people and the injustices that you feel strongly about. Stand up for them. Speak up for them. No matter what it is because that’s what America’s about and that’s what this country was founded on.

A fight for justice anywhere is a fight for justice everywhere.  Even on the football field.


December 16, 5:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

O, Ir Kleyne Likhtelekh

You do indeed have tales to tell:

Oh little candles, 
your old stories 
awaken my anguish; 
deep in my heart there stirs 
a tearful question: 
What will be next?

I was going to kick off the Festival of Lights with Isaiah 60:19, but this fit my mood better...


December 16, 4:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

If It's Good Enough For The Bloody Christ

Who would Jesus torture?  Whomever the fuck he wants, that's who.  And he knows from torture.


December 16, 12:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Still Working On My Third Cup Of Joe Myself

The Tea that bainfull weed is arrived. Great and I hope Effectual opposition has been made to the landing of it. 

 - Abigail Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, December 5, 1773

Time to revisit a classic FB meme that bugged the crap out of me last year:

So I have to ask once again: have none of these motherfuckers actually read the Declaration of Independence beyond its preamble?  There were 27 (TWENTY-FUCKING-SEVEN) grievances enumerated, 1 (ONE) of which was "imposing Taxes on us without our Consent" about 17 (SEVENTEEN) from the top.

Anyway, I'll be a little charitable on the 2% increase claim, though I don't find it convincing.  It's all a little muddy, but it appears to me that the Townshend Revenue Act reduced the tea tax essentially from 12 cents (4 shillings) to 3 cents (well, pence) per pound of tea (weight, not sterling).  The original principle at stake was Parliament's assertion of the right to tax Colonies at all--it was now to be actually collected and spent in America--but once all the other taxes were repealed, revolutionary ardour cooled a bit.

With the Tea Act, however, Colonials were really pissed about giving the East India Company a goddamned monopoly and corporate tax break.  Here's John Dickinson, writing as RusticusNovember 27, 1773:

Are be given up to the Disposal of the East-India Company, who have now the Assurance to step forth in Aid of the Minister, to execute his Plan of enslaving America?

Their conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given ample Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Meu. They have levied War, excited Rebellions, dethroned lawful Princes, and sacrificed Millions for the Sake of Gain. The Revenues of mighty Kingdoms have centered in their Coffers. And these not being sufficient to glut their Avarice, they have, by the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions and Monopolies, stripped the miserable Inhabitants of their Property, and reduced whole Provinces to Indigence and Ruin.

Fifteen hundred Thousand, it is said, perished by Famine in one Year, not because the Earth denied its Fruits, but this Company and its Servants engrossed all the Necessaries of Life, and set them at so high a Rate, that the Poor could not purchase them. Thus having drained the Sources of that immense Wealth, which they have for several Years past been accustomed to amass, and squander away on their Lusts, and in corrupting their Country, they now, it seems, cast their Eyes on America, as a new Theatre, whereon to exercise their Talents of Rapine, Oppression and Cruelty.

The Monopoly of Tea, is, I dare say, but a small Part of the Plan they have formed to strip us of our Property. But thank GOD, we are not Sea Poys, nor Marattas, but British Subjects, who are born to Liberty, who know its Worth, and who prize it high. We are engaged in a mighty Struggle. The Cause is of the utmost Importance, and the Determination of it will fix our Condition as Slaves or Freemen.

It is not the paltry Sum of Three-Pence which is now demanded, but the Principle upon which it is demanded, that we are contending against. Before we pay any Thing, let us see whether we have any Thing we can call our own to pay. [JD's emph.]

So it wasn't the extremely small tax that angered Colonials, but rather a variety of other issues: that old saw, "no taxation without representation"; the revenues being used to pay salaries of colonial officials, taking away accountability from the People; a huge government loan and corporate tax break for EIC, undercutting American, traders; etc.  I mean, really, if the Framers were against taxation, would they have codified Congress' plenary power to tax in the Constitution?  And, of course, the Tea Act effectively REDUCED the price of tea for Americans, who were also taxed less overall than subjects in England, but whatever.

Since we're talking tea, we have to look at the British East India Company's role in this passion play.  Chartered in 1600, EIC was essentially the commercial and colonial arm of England, who at the time wasn't powerful or rich enough yet to dominate the world on its own.  By 1757, EIC had won the Battle of Plassey, which essentially marked the beginning of the company's and country's Indian empire.  

None other than Adam Smith held the company in rather low regard:

[A] company of merchants are, it seems, incapable of considering themselves as sovereigns, even after they have become such...It is the interest of the East India company, considered as sovereigns, that the European goods which are carried to their Indian dominions should be sold there as cheap as possible; and that the Indian goods which are brought from thence should bring there as good a price, or should be sold there as dear as possible. But the reverse of this is their interest as merchants. As sovereigns, their interest is exactly the same with that of the country which they govern. As merchants their interest is directly opposite to that interest.

It appears his treatise (and Dickinson's) was informed by the Bengal Famine of several years earlier, caused in large part by EIC's mismanagement.  As he notes later:

Negligence and profusion, therefore, must always prevail, more or less, in the management of the affairs of such a company. It is upon this account that joint stock companies for foreign trade have seldom been able to maintain the competition against private adventurers. They have, accordingly, very seldom succeeded without an exclusive privilege, and frequently have not succeeded with one. Without an exclusive privilege they have commonly mismanaged the trade. With an exclusive privilege they have both mismanaged and confined it.

Even with a monopoly, EIC was sucking wind.  They had over 17.5M pounds of tea sitting around (my back of the napkin estimate is 2-3 times more than England and America consumed annually, but I have no exact source) in 1773, thanks to foreign competition.  The company also was heavily in debt (1.3M Pounds), including to the British government, for a variety of reasons.

So they turned to drug running and getting the aforementioned tax break.  On the latter, we'll let one of the real tea partiers summarize:

While the inhabitants of Boston and the British colonies were thus exquisitively sensible to whatever they deemed hostile to their rights, resenting with equal indignation the most trivial as the most serious attack a resolution was taken in England, which if executed, would have given the victory to the government, and reduced the Americans to the condition to which they had such an extreme repugnance.

Their obstinacy in refusing to pay the duty on tea, rendered the smuggling of it an object, and was frequently practiced, and their resolutions against using it, although observed by many with little fidelity, had greatly diminished the importation into the colonies of this commodity. Meanwhile an immense quantity of it was accumulated in the warehouses of the East India Company in England.

This company petitioned the king to surpress the duty of three pence per pound upon its introduction into America, and to continue the six pence upon its exportation from the ports of England ; such a measure would have given the government an advantage of three pence per pound, and relieved the Americans from a law they abhorred. But the government would not consent, as they were more solicitous about the right than the measure.

The company, however, received permission to transport tea, free of all duty, from Great Britain to America, and to introduce it there on paying a duty of three pence.

This angered folks enough that they did a little dumping of tea in the harbor.  That act of defiance was actually a demonstration against corporatism.  

So about that.  John Adams' recorded the event in his journal the next day (December 17, 1773):

Last Night 3 Cargoes of Bohea Tea were emptied into the Sea. This Morning a Man of War sails.
This is the most magnificent Movement of all. There is a Dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity, in this last Effort of the Patriots, that I greatly admire. The People should never rise, without doing something to be remembered -- something notable And striking. This Destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences, and so lasting, that I cant but consider it as an Epocha in History.

But why'd they dress as Mohwaks?  Bruce E. Johansen on explains:

As the tea symbolised imported British oppression and taxation without representation, the Indian symbolised its antithesis – a 'trademark' of an emerging American identity, and a voice for liberty, against British oppression. The Indian symbol (particularly the Mohawk) appeared not only at Boston's tea party, but also at anti-tea protests the length of the seaboard. Through the pre-revolutionary years, the American Indian, to the colonists becoming Americans, symbolised a sense of liberty and independence, as well as American-ness, which appeared in many forms of propaganda, from songs, to slogans, to political engravings, which served the purpose of modern editorial cartoons.

Paul Revere, whose 'midnight ride' became legend in the hands of Longfellow, played a crucial role in forging this sense of American identity, contributing to the revolutionary cause a series of remarkable political engravings which cast an Indian woman as the symbol of a nation being born, long before Brother Jonathan or Uncle Sam came along. Revere was far from being alone in this regard. The image of the Indian as a symbol of liberation and American identity fits finely the popular conception of the time that America's native people had much to teach Europeans on both sides of the Atlantic. In the pre-revolutionary years, in its most graphic form, the Indian again became a counterpoint to European political tyranny and class stratification.
The Indian as a symbol of an oppressed America made its debut along with the earliest agitation against British taxation. In a cartoon titled 'The Great Financier, or British Economy for the Years 1763, 1764, 1765', George Grenville, First Lord of the Admiralty, holds a balance, while a subordinate loads it with rubbish. William Pitt, the Prime Minister, leans on a crutch as an Indian (representing America) groans, on one knee, under the burden of Grenville's taxes. In the earliest engravings, America is enduring the pain of taxation. Later, the Indians of revolutionary propaganda would take the offensive, shooting bows and arrows at their oppressors, a prelude to armed rebellion by the colonists themselves.

Symbols are powerful and important.  This one worked so well that there were actually a number of other such parties.  F'rinstance, there was one in Annapolis back in October of '74, when the Peggy Stewart was burned:

In the summer of 1774, Thomas Charles Williams, the London representative of an Annapolis merchant firm, tried to smuggle tea across the Atlantic into Annapolis by disguising nearly a ton of it in 17 packages labeled as linen, and loading it among the rest of the cargo on the brig Peggy Stewart. The captain of the brig, Richard Jackson, only discovered the true nature of the "linen" while at sea. A few years before, an Annapolis precedent had been set when its customs officer refused to allow any ships to unload any portion of their cargo until the tax on all of it had been paid. This now alarmed Captain Jackson because most of the rest of the Peggy Stewart's cargo consisted of 53 indentured servants.

The ship reached Annapolis on October 14, 1774, and Williams's business partners decided they wanted nothing to do with his attempt at smuggling. They could not think of risking the lives of the indentured servants by sending the ship back across the Atlantic during the storm season which had just begun. They paid the customs tax due and quickly got the human cargo ashore, leaving the tea onboard. The presence of tea aboard ship had inflamed public opinion in Annapolis. Williams and his business partners were threatened with lynching; their store and their homes, with destruction. To avoid that, the business partners offered to burn the Peggy Stewart, which they owned, along with its cargo, which they did, on the night of October 19. This came to be called the Annapolis Tea Party. The city of Annapolis marks this each year with a ceremony.

And beyond these very real acts of property destruction (which people condemning Ferguson protesters should recall), Colonials started changing their drinking habits. John Adams again:

I believe I forgot to tell you one Anecdote: When I first came to this House it was late in the Afternoon, and I had ridden 35 miles at least. "Madam" said I to Mrs. Huston, "is it lawfull for a weary Traveller to refresh himself with a Dish of Tea provided it has been honestly smuggled, or paid no Duties?"

"No sir, said she, we have renounced all Tea in this Place. I cant make Tea, but He make you Coffee." Accordingly I have drank Coffee every Afternoon since, and have borne it very well. Tea must be universally renounced. I must be weaned, and the sooner, the better.

His saucy wife:

You must know that there is a great Scarcity of Sugar and Coffe, articles which the Female part of the State are very loth to give up, expecially whilst they consider the Scarcity occasiond by the merchants having secreted a large Quantity. There has been much rout and Noise in the Town for several weeks. Some Stores had been opend by a number of people and the Coffe and Sugar carried into the Market and dealt out by pounds.

It was rumourd that an eminent, wealthy, stingy Merchant (who is a Batchelor) had a Hogshead of Coffe in his Store which he refused to sell to the committee under 6 shillings per pound. A Number of Females some say a hundred, some say more assembled with a cart and trucks, marchd down to the Ware House and demanded the keys, which he refused to deliver, upon which one of them seazd him by his Neck and tossd him into the cart. Upon his finding no Quarter he deliverd the keys, when they tipd up the cart and dischargd him, then opend the Warehouse, Hoisted out the Coffe themselves, put it into the trucks and drove off.

It was reported that he had a Spanking among them, but this I believe was not true. A large concourse of Men stood amazd silent Spectators of the whole transaction.

Thus we have a great beverage divide between our two countries to this day.  Now skip ahead a few years, and it seems that Gouverneur Morris was on target during the Constitutional Convention:

The Rich will strive to establish their dominion & enslave the rest. They always did. They always will...

A firm Governt. alone can protect our liberties. He fears the influence of the rich. They will have the same effect here as elsewhere if we do not by such a Govt. keep them within their proper sphere. 

We should remember that the people never act from reason alone. The Rich will take advantage of their passions & make these the instruments for oppressing them. The Result of the Contest will be a violent aristocracy, or a more violent despotism. The schemes of the Rich will be favored by the extent of the Country.

How does a firm government protect our liberties?  Through things like regulationtaxesproviding services and responding to the will of the People rather than business concerns.  Sadly, the rich, like...say, the Waltons have convinced poor people that government alone is a threat to their liberties.  

As one participant (Plough Jogger, perhaps a pseudonymous homage to John Adams?) said in a protest convention back in 1780:

The great men are going to get all we have and I think it is time for us to rise and put a stop to it...


*sips coffee thoughtfully*


December 16, 11:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 12/15/2014

Taking A Walk

The people far below are sleeping as we fly into the Festival of Lights...


December 15, 10:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ides Of December


In the middle of December
to start over

to assume again
an order

at the end
of wonder

to conjure
and then to keep

slow dirty sleet
within its streetlight

Nate Klug.


December 15, 9:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Little Better Than Whipsyllabub

[T]hey are not those solid and substantial amendments which the people expect; they are little better than whipsyllabub, frothy and full of wind, formed only to please the palate; or they are like a tub thrown out to a whale, to secure the freight of the ship and its peaceable voyage.

 - Congressman Aedanus Burke (AF-SC) on the proposed Bill of Rights, August 15, 1789

On December 15, 1791, the requisite number of States approved what we've come to know as the Bill of Rights.  Despite calling for such amendments during ratification of the Constitution, Virginia was tail-end Charlie because of its rather interesting, complicated politics.

I thought it would be fun to go look at the debates and various original documents to see how it played out.  I won't go into huge detail, but some of the evolution and nuance is fascinating.

Soon after the Constitution was sent to the People, James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson about the factional landscape on December 9, 1787:

The body of the people in Virgina., particularly in the upper and lower Country, and in the Northern neck, are as far as I can gather, much disposed to adopt the New Constitution. The middle Country, and the South side of James River are principally in the opposition to it. As yet a large majority of the people are under the first description. As yet also are a majority of the Assembly. What change may be produced by the united influence and exertions of Mr. Henry, Mr. Mason, & the Governor, with some pretty able auxiliaries, is uncertain.

My information leads me to suppose there must be three parties in Virginia. The first for adopting without attempting amendments. This includes Genl. W and ye other deputies who signed the Constitution, Mr. Pendleton, (Mr. Marshall, I believe,) Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Corbin, Mr. Zachy. Johnson, Col. Innes, (Mr. B. Randolph as I understand) Mr. Harvey Mr. Gabriel Jones, Docr. Jones, &c., &c.

At the head of the 2d. party which urges amendments are the Govr. & Mr. Mason. These do not object to the substance of the Governt., but contend for a few additional guards in favor of the Rights of the States and of the people.

I am not able to enumerate the characters which fall in with their ideas, as distinguished from those of a third class, at the head of which is Mr. Henry. This class concurs ar present with the patrons of Amendments, but will probably contend for such as strike at the essence of the System, and must lead to an adherence to the principle of the existing confederation, which most thinking men are convinced is a visionary one, or to a partition of the Union into several Confederacies. 

Indeed, Patrick Henry was no fan of the proposed government frame (and was no democrat).  He spoke near the end of Virginia's Convention:

[A]fter observing that the proposal of ratification was premature, and that the importance of the subject required the most mature deliberation, proceeded thus: — The honorable member must forgive me for declaring my dissent from it; because, if I understand it rightly, it admits that the new system is defective, and most capitally; for, immediately after the proposed ratification, there comes a declaration that the paper before you is not intended to violate any of these three great rights — the liberty of religion, liberty of the press, and the trial by jury. What is the infercnce when you enumerate the rights which you are to enjoy? That those not enumerated are relinquished. There are only three things to he retained — religion, freedom of the press, and jury trial. Will not the ratification carry every thing, without excepting these three things? Will not all the world pronounce that we intended to give up all the rest? Every thing it speaks of, by way of rights, is comprised in these things. 
Is it not worth while to turn your eyes, for a moment, from subsequent amendments to the situation of your country? Can you have a lasting union in these circumstances? It will be in vain to expect it. But if you agree to previous amendments, you shall have union, firm and solid.

I cannot conclude without saying that I shall have nothing to do with it, if subsequent amendments be determined upon. Oppressions will be carried on as radically by the majority when adjustments and accommodations will be held up. I say, I conceive it my duty, if this government is adopted before it is amended, to go home. I shall act as I think my duty requires. Every other gentleman will do the same. Previous amendments, in my opinion, are necessary to procure peace and tranquillity. 1 fear, if they be not agreed to, every movement and operation of government will cease; and how long that baneful thing, civil discord, will stay from this country, God only knows. When men are free from restraint, how long will you suspend their fury? The interval between this and bloodshed is but a moment. The licentious and wicked of the community will seize with avidity every thing you hold. In this unhappy situation, what is to be done r It surpasses my stock of wisdom. If you will, in the language of freemen, stipulate that there are rights which no man under heaven can take from you, you shall have me going along with you; not otherwise.

[Here Mr. Henry informed the committee that he had a resolution prepared, to refer a declaration of rights, with certain amendments to the most exceptionable parts of the Constitution, to the other states in the confederacy, for their consideration, previous to its ratification. The clerk than read the resolution, the declaration of rights, and amendments...]

Madison, who really wanted a clean ratification, embraced the amendment proposals but as something to be pressed for AFTER ratification:

I am persuaded that the gentlemen who contend for previous amendments are not aware of the dangers which must result. Virginia, after having made opposition, will be obliged to recede from it. Might not the nine states say, with a great deal of propriety, "It is not proper, decent, or right, in you, to demand that we should reverse what we have done. Do as we have done; place confidence in us, as we have done in one another; and then we shall freely, fairly, and dispassionately consider and investigate your propositions, and endeavor to gratify your wishes. But if you do not do this, it is more reasonable that you should yield to us than we to you. You cannot exist without us; you must be a member of the Union."

The case of Maryland, instanced by the gentleman, does not hold. She would not agree to confederate, because the other states would not assent to her claims of the western lands. Was she gratified? No; she put herself like the rest. Nor has she since been gratified. The lands are in the common stock of the Union.

As far as his amendments are not objectionable, or unsafe, so far they may be subsequently recommended--not because they are necessary, but because they can produce no possible danger, and may gratify some gentlemen's wishes. But I never can consent to his previous amendments, because they are pregnant with dreadful dangers.

After a plea by Governor Edmund Randolph to vote for Union (despite his having voted against the final Constitution in Philadelphia) so Virginia wouldn't be left behind, Henry stayed his course and introduced a resolution to delay of ratification until the States could also consider Virginia's proposed changes.  That was narrowly defeated, 88-80.  The main question on approving the Constitution passed by a similar margin, 89-79.

Now to the Bill of Rights.  There were shenanigans in the Virginia Legislature and during various electoral campaigns.  But as Madison promised, a slate of amendments made its way through Congress.  Edward Carrington filled Madison in as to the workings in the Virginia Legislature on December 20, 1789 (including Henry's taking his ball and going home):

During the session, there has been much less intemperance than prevailed last year. Mr. H—— was disposed to do some antifederal business, but having felt the pulse of the House on several points and finding that it did not beat with certainty in unison with his own, he at length took his departure about the middle of the session without pushing any thing to its issue...

[He pushed] to refer the amendments sent forward by Congress, to the next session of Assembly, in order that the people might give their sentiments whether they were satisfactory, alledging that in his opinion they were not. To this purpose he proposed a resolution, but finding the disposition of the house to be otherwise, he moved that it might lie on the Table, and went away without ever calling it up again.

Somewhat later in the session the subject of the amendments was taken up—the ten first were, with the exception of perhaps not more than ten Members, unanimously agreed to—on the eleventh and twelfth some difficulty arose...

Through the whole course of the business in that house there was on the several questions equal divisions of the members, so, as to leave the decision to the chair. Notwithstanding the unequivocal decision in the house of delegates for adopting the amendments, yet in the course of the discussion some intemperance was generated—this led to propositions which in the earlier parts of the session none would have thought of, and it was with difficulty that a proposition for demanding a compliance with the amendments proposed by our convention, so far as they have not been agreed to, by Congress was prevented from passing.

This proposition was presented to the house as often as three times, at first it was rejected by a great majority, at the next attempt it was rejected by a less majority, and at the third by the vote of the Speaker. Had Mr. Henry conceived that such would have been the temper in the latter stages of the session, he would not have left us.

So the lower House had passed the BoR.  The Senate was expected to follow suit, but the Anti-Federalists took another stand and rejected the amendments:

We are satisfied that the people of Virginia would never have ratified the Constitution of the United States, but from a confident hope and firm persuasion of speedily seeing it much more materially altered and amended than it would be by ratifying the propositions lately submitted by Congress to the State Legislatures. That although we consider some of the amendments offered as similar, and others nearly equivalent, to a part of the amendments proposed by Virginia and other States, yet that some of them which seem analogous to other amendments so proposed, are not substantially the same and fall short of affording the same security to personal rights, or of so effectually guarding against the apprehended mischiefs of the government...

Ah well.  In the meantime, Vermont became a state and the overall political reality was such that the Constitution was here to stay.  Even Patrick Henry conceded on January 24, 1791:

[A]ltho' The Form of Governt into which my Countrymen determined to place themselves, had my Enmity, yet as we are one & all imbarked, it is natural to care for the crazy machine, at least so long as we are out of Sight of a Port to refit. I have therefore my Anxietys to hear & to know what is doing, & to what point the State pilots are steering, & to keep up the Metaphor, whether there is no Appearance of Storms in our Horizon?

Still took several months, but Virginia finally ratified the BoR on December 15, 1791, about which Congress was informed on December 30.  Oddly enough, Vermont had passed the amendments on November 3, but Congress didn't find out until January 18, 1792.

Thus, after yet another couple years of debate, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson issued his anticlimactic certification.  Professor Lucas A Powe, Jr writes about it:

One would think that the document announcing ratification of the Bill of Rights would have a special prominence in bicentennial celebrations and would, perhaps, be a fit subject for public readings like Washington's Farewell Address. But then one reads the letter of the secretary of state to the state governors announcing the ratification of the Bill of Rights and such thoughts evaporate. "I have the honor to send you herein enclosed," the usually eloquent Thomas Jefferson wrote,

two copies duly authenticated, of an Act concerning certain fisheries of the United States, and for the regulation and government of the fisherman employed therein; also of an Act to establish the post office and post roads within the United States; also the ratification by three fourths of the Legislatures of the Several States, of certain articles in addition and amendment of the Constitution of the United States, proposed by Congress to the said Legislatures, and being with sentiments of the most perfect respect, your Excellency's &c.

The ordering in Jefferson's transmittal is quite consistent with the view that the Bill of Rights originated in a desire to kill the Constitution. The goal of the Antifederalists was to defeat, in any way possible, ratification. Pointing to the failure to include a declaration of rights was the most effective way of creating opposition to the Constitution. That it was a ploy is demonstrated by the fact that the Antifederalists were far less interested in the "necessity" of a Bill of Rights after the Constitution was ratified than they were when it might have been defeated. Thus Jefferson got it right: fish were more important, and the Bill of Rights ran a poor third.

As I've noted before, there was a parallel set of flip-flops on the BoR, with Federalists and Antis essentially adopted each other's positions, so it is not surprising that Jefferson's proclamation would be a bit muted.  Hey, ain't that the same thing as we've seen with Obamacare?  Republicans used to love the mandate, now they hate it once it's been co-opted by the Dems.  And after years of fighting against it, they do seem to have (mostly) gotten over full repeal and are nibbling at the margins.

It's almost like politics has always been weird and nuanced and contradictory and stuff.  Because people are.


December 15, 7:37 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

We Really Weren't More Than Focus Groups

This isn't a bad observation:

We’ve become increasingly fond of saying that there was no debate in 2003. But there was a debate, and our side lost.  It wasn’t fair and square, but such debates rarely are.  We were right at the time, and we were decisively proved right by the course of the war. War supporters have not suffered the public opprobrium they deserve, especially given how solid the consensus now is that the conflict was a mistake. The other side lied relentlessly, although I still doubt whether it really needed to. But we should be hesitant about mythologizing how hard it was to be right at the time, and we shouldn’t paint ourselves as martyrs of latter-day McCarthyism.

I'll also add that we ALL could've done a fuckload more.  Something I will always deeply regret...


December 15, 6:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

It Wasn't Even Compelling Fiction

Oh, this is shocking:

The grand jury witness who testified that she saw Michael Brown pummel a cop before charging at him “like a football player, head down,” is a troubled, bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a “complete fabrication,” The Smoking Gun has learned.

In interviews with police, FBI agents, and federal and state prosecutors--as well as during two separate appearances before the grand jury that ultimately declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson--the purported eyewitness delivered a preposterous and perjurious account of the fatal encounter in Ferguson.

Referred to only as “Witness 40” in grand jury material, the woman concocted a story that is now baked into the narrative of the Ferguson grand jury, a panel before which she had no business appearing.

Yet she somehow trumps the majority of other witnesses who confirm Brown had his hands up, thus he deserved to die.


December 15, 5:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stop Shooting People Then Nobody Will Be Mean To You

As a Browns fan, I know from disappointment.  For most of my life, they've ranged from sucky all the way to mediocre, with brief moments of pretty-goodness when Brian Sipe or Bernie Kosar were tossing the ball.  I've never been prouder of them than this weekend.

So the Cleveland police can go fuck themselves:

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins became the latest player to join on-field protests against recent police shootings of black men on Sunday, when he walked onto the field with a t-shirt that read “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” over his jersey.

Rice was the 12-year-old who Cleveland police shot in November after they received calls that he was playing with a toy gun in a park near his home; Crawford was killed by police in August in an Ohio Walmart while holding an air gun. Both were black.

Now, the Cleveland police union is demanding an apology from Hawkins and the Browns, saying that players like Hawkins don’t understand the law enough to take a stand.

“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” Jeff Follman, the president of the Police Patrolman Union in Cleveland, said in a statement to Cleveland news station newsnet5. “They should stick to what they know best on the field. The Cleveland Police protect and serve the Browns stadium and the Browns organization owes us an apology.”

It's pretty pathetic when cops think they can intimidate atheletes who are exercising their First Amendment rights and showing solidarity in a struggle for justice for unarmed black people being gunned down.  Whiny assholes.


December 15, 3:11 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

It Did Happen Here

Driftglass noticed (h/t Tommy T):

This is the real world.
And here in this very real world -- in this country, at this time -- we give our monsters the run of the place. We let them have their own teevee networks, their own publishing houses and newspapers, their own churches, their own political party and to them is ceded around 70% of the on-camera real estate during what I took to calling The Mouse Circus 10 years ago when I started writing down what I was seeing on our national Sunday Morning Gasbag cavalcade.

The deal which Conservative struck with the devil long ago was really very simple; in exchange for giving their leaders money and power and unswerving fealty, the rank-and-file were forever relieved of the burden on admitting error of any kind, ever.  They would never have to suffer pangs of conscience...because their conscience would be methodically cauterized.  By excising their basic humanity, they would never again be forced to apologize or atone for a fucking thing...and and never, ever have to own up to the fact that Liberals have been right about their filthy "movement" all along.   in exchange for the right to never, ever admit they were wrong about anything, 

And so, with the perfect totalitarian logic, we arrive now at that place where, in order to protect the Big Lie by which they live, Conservatives must now actively celebrate sadism and torture,  They must cheerfully dance around the rack and the gibbet as they were maypoles, and they'd fucking well better mean it or the magic will not work, 

Conservatives have made themselves into the perfect, mindless tools for the annihilation of everything they pretend to hold dear, and they did it voluntarily, with their eyes wide open.  They did it without one of them ever being waterboarded a hundred times or twisted and manacled to a dungeon ceiling for days on end.  
In the other hand, I would be willing to bet real money that if Dick Cheney were suspended naked and freezing from the ceiling in shackles, forced to shit himself, repeatedly waterboarded and occasionally beaten with, oh, say, a claw hammer, eventually he would sign a piece of paper making a very sincere and detailed confession reversing everything he just said on Meet the Press and, if told to do so by his torturers, take the blame for the assassination of John Lennon and a head of state to be named later.
Because forcing someone to say exactly what you want them to say is the only function of torture.

How come the Germans didn't stop Nazi atrocities?


December 15, 8:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 12/14/2014

Goodnight, Moon

We'll meet again someday...don't know when...


December 14, 10:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Taking Flight

Today's an interesting day in aviation history.

First of all, the Montgolfier brothers appear to have made their initial test flight in 1782.  I haven't been able to find out a great deal about the experiment, and there is a bit of confusion.  Some sites say that the balloon broke free from its mooring ropes because of the tremendous force from the hot air lifting it and went over a mile--this part's not generally disputed in the sources I've found--and when the thing landed, it allegedly was destroyed by some number of passersby.

Yet, I see another source suggesting that the destruction was actually of a hydrogen balloon launched by one of the Mongolfiers' competitors.  An account:

A small crowd gains courage from numbers, and for an hour approaches by gradual steps, hoping, meanwhile, the monster will take flight. Eventually, one bolder than the rest takes his gun, stalks carefully within range, fires and witnesses the monster shrink, and so gives a shout of triumph causing the crowd to rush in with flails and pitchforks. When one tears what he thinks is the monster’s skin, it causes a poisonous stench (the hydrogen gas!), causing the mob to retire. Shame, no doubt, now urges them on, and they tie the monster to a horses tail, causing it to gallop across the countryside tearing it to shreds.

Whatever the full story, it's still neat.  Of course, most accounts focus on the first public demonstration in June of 1783, but all of this illustrates how the development of science technology happens: you crash a lot in the beginning.

In honor of their overall achievements, here's a video snip from John Adams that most assuredly has little basis in historical reality (notwithstanding this), yet is fun all the same.

Then there's this from Wilbur Wright to his dad and sister, December 14, 1903:

We gave machine first trial today with only partial success. The wind was only about 5 miles an hour, so we anticipated difficulty in getting speed enough on our short track (60 ft.) to lift. We took to the hill and after tossing for first whack, which I won, got ready for the start. The wind was a little to one side and the track was not exactly straigh down hill, which caused the start to be more dficult than it would otherwise have been. However, the real trouble was an error in judgment in turning up too suddenly after leaving the track, and as the machine had barely speed enough for support already, this slowed it down so much that before I could correct the error, the machine began to come down, though turned up at a big angle.

Toward the end it began to speed up again but i was too late, and it struck the ground while moving a little to one side, due to wind and a rather bad start. A few sticks in the front rudder were broken which will take a day or two to repair probably. It was a nice easy landing for the operator. The machinery all worked in entirely satisfactory manner and seems reliable. The power is ample, and but for a trifling error due to lack of experience with the machine and this method of starting, the machim would undoubtedly have flown beautifully.

There is now no question of final success. The strength of the machine is all right, the trouble in the front rudder being easily remedied. We anticipate no further trouble in landings. Will probably have made another trial before you receive this unless weather is unfavorable.

They did indeed enjoy final success after the stall and crash.  Others enjoyed final success after being inspired by their example, such as one of the Original Seven Mercury astronauts, John Glenn:

[M]y feelings are that this whole project with regard to space sort of stands with us now as, if you want to look at it one way, like the Wright brothers stood at Kitty Hawk about fifty years ago, with Orville and Wilbur pitching a coin to see who was going to shove the other one off the hill down there. I think we stand on the verge or something as big and as expansive as that was fifty years ago.

But before Colonel Glenn could become the first American to orbit the earth, our rockets always blew up...


December 14, 9:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Understand Who Will Become Dragons

Paul Éluard:

The reasonable victim
In the ripped frock
With the eyes of a lost child
She who resembles the dead
Who have died of being desired

A girl made for bouquets
Now spar upon
By gloomy mouths of night

A girl for pleasure dressed
like an aurore of May
Most amiable beast

Soiled and not understanding
That she is soiled
A creature caught in the trap
Of beauty's amateurs

Reminded me of something from Orwell:

Tribune, 8 September 1944

I have before me an exceptionally disgusting photograph, from the Star of August 29, of two partially undressed women, with shaven heads and with swastikas painted on their faces, being led through the streets of Paris amid grinning onlookers. The Star -- not that I am picking on the Star, for most of the press has behaved likewise -- reproduces this photograph with seeming approval.

I don't blame the French for doing this kind of thing. They have had four years of suffering, and I can partially imagine how they feel towards the collaborators. But it is a different matter when newspapers in this country try to persuade their readers that shaving women's heads is a nice thing to do. As soon as I saw this Star photograph, I thought, "Where have I seen something like this before?" Then I remembered. Just about ten years ago, when the Nazi regime was beginning to get into its stride, very similar pictures of humiliated Jews being led through the streets of German cities were exhibited in the British press -- but with this difference, that on that occasion we were not expected to approve.

Recently another newspaper published photographs of the dangling corpses of Germans hanged by the Russians in Kharkov, and carefully informed its readers that these executions had been filmed and that the public would shortly be able to witness them at the new theatres. (Were children admitted, I wonder?)

There is a saying of Nietzche which I have quoted before, but which is worth quoting again:

He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you.

"Too long," in this context, should perhaps be taken as meaning "after the dragon is beaten."

We're not just gazing into the abyss...


December 14, 8:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NTodd's Law

As an online discussion about racism in America grows longer, the probability of a white guy denying white privilege approaches 1.


PS--Corollary: then there will be some shit about colorblindness soon thereafter.

December 14, 7:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Solidarity Doesn't Have To Be On My Terms

A while back I saw somebody post a story to demonstrate how racist all these justice protests were because, in this example, white students in MO were "told" (really requested) to let only people of color do the die-in whilst everybody else stand holding hands in solidarity.  The horror!  Poor white people, always bossed around and made to stand on the sidelines.  I wonder if they'll ever recover their dignity?

Which brings me to this great series of tweets from scared black youth:

I found that to be quite powerful.  Just as with other well-intentioned action, our participation can really come from a place of privilege when we should be listening and getting out of the way, however our friends want us to be.

Otherwise we end up being faux allies not far removed from lecturers like Geraldo and Rudy9/11.  I expect cries of "reverse racism" from people who prefer the status quo, but if you genuinely want to help, there's no room for petulant whining.  It ain't about you.


December 14, 6:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What I Believe History Will Record

We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. "Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."


December 14, 4:22 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scalia's Torturous Hobgoblin

Oh, Steve, you know if torture's allowed by the Constitution, it must be okay morally.  Just like slavery.

Besides, torture isn't punishment (so no 8th Amendment objection) but rather is an inherent part of due process (so no 5th Amendment objection).  With that time bomb ticking since 2008, we'd better hurry and get the info to save BILLIONS OF LIVES! 


December 14, 3:51 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Psychic Costs

The fork thing below?  Clearly can apply to the trap of poverty as well on many levels, including cognitive and practical.  Oh yeah, and when dealing with structural racism.

It's easy to lecture poor people, or oppressed people, and give them simple "solutions".  Reality is naturally a lot more complicated, and the lecturers only reveal their own privilege and ignorance.


December 14, 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Depressing Sporks

Via Facebook:

The spoons model of disability works like this:

Imagine that you have a certain number of spoons. Every time you do something, you have to pay a certain number of spoons: eating is one spoon; showering is three spoons; going out and socializing is ten; having to give a speech in front of ten thousand people is a hundred. If you’re out of spoons, you can’t do anything. Most nondisabled people have more than enough spoons to do everything they want to do. Their spoons are overflowing the kitchen drawers. However, disabled people often have to watch their spoons. If they shower today, they might not have enough spoons to go to class.

The spoons model has been elaborated upon in various ways. Two of my favorites are the concept of multiple kinds of spoons, so you may be out of language spoons but not out of self-care spoons, and the concept of “borrowing” spoons– using emotional energy now at a high cost in the future.

The spoons model is an excellent model. However, in thinking about my own mental illness, I have discovered that it is, in fact, the exact opposite of how my mental illness works. Therefore, I have decided to coin the forks model.
You would think that you would start doing productive things and then wind up in a beautiful virtuous cycle where you do things, and the things give you more forks, and then you spend more forks on doing things, until the forks are not only spilling out of the drawer but they’ve filled the kitchen and are making headway into the bedroom. This is probably true of some people: they’re triathletes with four successful startups who are considering going for a PhD in physics (you know, just for the fun of it).

Unfortunately, some people– like me– are, for whatever reason, stuck with chronically low forks. Chronically low forks leaves you in one of the most perverse situations ever: when you know that if you did a particular thing, you would be happier and more able to do things, but you don’t have enough forksnow to do the thing. (Unlike spoons, you cannot borrow forks from future selves.) If I worked on my homework, after like fifteen minutes I would feel like I could take on the world, but right now all I have the energy to do is browse Tumblr. If I ate, I would totally be able to cook an awesome meal, but right now I’m too hungry to cook.

The utensil construction is a bit goofy, as the author notes, but my dog, this is precisely something I have never been able to articulate well.  I'll also add one more problem to the scenario: it costs forks to not do the things you know would make you happier.  

So if you have something hanging over your head that you desperately need to get done, there's an extra emotional burden.  A heavy amount of guilt, maybe, or just spinning your wheels thinking about thinking about thinking about maybe thinking about getting started as soon as you have enough forks to think about starting, etc, which takes away forks.  That makes it harder to deal with the damned task.  

It becomes a negative feedback loop, and the loss of forks in that instance can hamper other aspects of your life as you lack forks to deal with those, too.  Then exogenous things can become problematic because you don't have the forks to handle them, or you spend your forks on those things and thus can't address the regular parts of life, even the most basic, that are always there (work, housekeeping, self-care).

So there it is.  Although I'd use coins or chits or something instead of forks.


December 14, 10:07 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 12/13/2014

Hot Chocolate

Samuel actually let his cool...


December 13, 9:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Washing Our Hands

Pilate defends gruesomely crucifying lestai on Golgotha to protect Rome.


December 13, 6:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 12/12/2014

I'm Depending On Time

You can never explain...


December 12, 10:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

#throwbackthursday On Friday

Tweens Lola and Dear Departed Vinnie ponder the snow dumped here during the Valentine's Day Storm of 2007.


PS--Got about 32" all told at my house.  Made me miss a teaching gig for the USPTO, and our road wasn't dug out for a couple days.  I snowshoed to the General Store for wine.

December 12, 10:32 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 12/11/2014

The Space Between Us All

Life flows on...


December 11, 10:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Progress Is Hard And Never Perfect


The problem with waiting for the perfect, risk-free time to pass major reform legislation is that there’s never a perfect time. There have been three major periods of progressive reform legislation in Congress between the Civil War and 2008. (The fact that there have been only three should give pause to those who think that Obama, Reid, and Nancy Pelosi are worthless sellouts because they failed to completely transform the American political economy in Obama’s first two years.) In 1966, Great Society Democrats lost 47 seats in the House and three in the Senate, a preview of the crack-up of the Democratic coalition that would (with a detour created by Watergate) lead to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. In 1938, New Deal Democrats lost 72 seats in the House and seven in the Senate, and this tally doesn’t account for the failure of FDR’s efforts to defeat anti-New Deal Democrats in the primaries. In 1874, the Reconstruction-era Republicans lost 93 (out of 293) seats in the House and a net of seven seats in the Senate, effectively ending Reconstruction.

Does this mean that Lyndon Johnson shouldn’t have signed the Civil Rights Act? That FDR should have waited until he didn’t need Southern segregationists to pass New Deal legislation? That Republicans should have nominated Andrew Johnson rather than Ulysses S. Grant in 1868? Of course not.

The perfect response to these kind of arguments was made by Pelosi: “We come here to do a job, not keep a job. There are more than 14 million reasons why that’s wrong.” This is exactly right. The window for progressive reform in the United States is always narrow and treacherous — you get the best you can get when you have the chance.

I fought against the ACA.  I celebrate Obamacare.  Onward.


December 11, 9:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

That Country

By Grace Paley:

This is about the women of that country
Sometimes they spoke in slogans
They said
       We patch the roads as we patch our sweetheart’s trousers   
       The heart will stop but not the transport
They said
       We have ensured production even near bomb craters   
       Children let your voices sing higher than the explosions
                                                    of the bombs
They said
       We have important tasks to teach the children
       that the people are the collective masters
       to bear hardship
       to instill love in the family
       to guide the good health of the children (they must
       wear clothing according to climate)
They said
       Once men beat their wives
       now they may not
       Once a poor family sold its daughter to a rich old man   
       now the young may love one another
They said
       Once we planted our rice any old way
       now we plant the young shoots in straight rows
       so the imperialist pilot can see how steady our
       hands are
In the evening we walked along the shores of the Lake   
                                                of the Restored Sword
I said   is it true?   we are sisters?   
They said   Yes, we are of one family

We could use a lot more of such teaching in this country.


December 11, 8:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Oh, man, we're level with the top of the Massifs, now."

Oh, are we coming in. Oh, baby.


December 11, 7:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ron Paul Must Mourn This Date Every Year

As I must mark it.  Anywayz, Wikipedia reminds us that in 1815:

The U.S. Senate created a select committee on finance and a uniform national currency, predecessor of the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

This was a direct response to President Madison's 7th Annual Message to Congress on December 5th:

Although the embarrassments arising from the want of an uniform national currency have not been diminished since the adjournment of Congress, great satisfaction has been derived in contemplating the revival of the public credit and the efficiency of the public resources. 
The arrangements of the finances with a view to the receipts and expenditures of a permanent peace establishment will necessarily enter into the deliberations of Congress during the present session. It is true that the improved condition of the public revenue will not only afford the means of maintaining the faith of the Government with its creditors inviolate, and of prosecuting successfully the measures of the most liberal policy, but will also justify an immediate alleviation of the burdens imposed by the necessities of the war.

It is, however, essential to every modification of the finances that the benefits of an uniform national currency should be restored to the community.

To put it into context, the War of 1812 created a great deal of chaos in our nation's financial state.

The war had...led the federal government to rack up significant debt. Without the First Bank, the government had to rely more heavily on state banks to help finance the war. The influx of federal government deposits to these institutions led them to issue greater quantities of banknotes and loans.

The proliferation of banknotes increased money in circulation and resulted in inflation, because too much money was chasing too few goods. Without the First Bank’s ability to limit the state banks’ issuance of paper currency, there was no longer an entity that could control the amount of money created. In addition, strong demand for loans during the war increased interest rates and thus bank profits. Without the restraining hand of the Bank of the United States, state banks became less cautious in their lending habits and credit expanded rapidly.

In effect, the country found itself in circumstances similar to those after the Revolutionary War: mounting debt from a war with England, soaring prices, and devalued money from rising inflation. These problems and the resulting economic consequences would soon lead the United States to make another attempt at creating a national bank. In 1816, President James Madison signed the bill that would create the second Bank of the United States.

Leading up to the Bank Act, the debate included this little morsel from Representative Randolph, Democratic-Republican from Virginia:

All banking institutions were alike in their desire to swell their profits to the greatest extent, howsoever correct and virtuous the directors might be in their private characters; and he would guard against every public robber of every grade, whether he be a Governor General of India or a Bagshot highwayman. He would put it out of the power of this bank to commit frauds on the community, without ruin to itself.

Anyway, the constitutionality of the National Bank was challenged and upheld in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819):

Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consist with the letter and spirit of the constitution, are constitutional.

Yet when President Andrew Jackson vetoed the Second Bank 16 years later, he noted:

The Congress, the Executive, and the Court must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each public officer who takes an oath to support the Constitution swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others. It is as much the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval as it is of the supreme judges when it may be brought before them for judicial decision. The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress has over the judges, and on that point the President is independent of both. The authority of the Supreme Court must not, therefore, be permitted to control the Congress or the Executive when acting in their legislative capacities, but to have only such influence as the force of their reasoning may deserve.

And it was all downhill from there...


December 11, 5:29 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sinful Indifference

RMJ has additional/similar thoughts about the poverty of Rick Perry's and Texas' soul.


December 11, 12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 12/10/2014

Hot On The Run From The Grip Of The Power Game

Lead us away, away, away...


December 10, 10:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Remember What I Posted About James Madison?

Yeah, well:

Fayetteville residents voted in a 52 to 48 percent split to overturn Ordinance 119, a nondiscrimination law that “prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, real estate transactions, city services, business transactions and public accommodations based on ‘race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.”

Duggar joined the effort to overturn the law in late summer, recording robocalls that went out to every phone in Fayetteville in which she described LGBT people as a threat to the community.
Local minister Duncan Campbell told Fayetteville’s Channel 5 News that the right to discriminate against lesbians, gays, trans men and women and bisexuals is a free speech issue.

“We wanted to repeal the ordinance because we didn’t believe it made Fayetteville a fairer city or a freer city,” he said. “It did just the opposite. It was called the Civil Rights Ordinance, but it was misnamed. It was an ordinance that actually took away civil rights and freedom from people. It criminalized civil behavior. It didn’t accomplish the stated purpose of the ordinance and it was crafted by an outside group, it wasn’t something Fayetteville residents put together.”

Badash at New Civil Rights pointed out that the Duggars are also using the newfound wealth from their reality TV series to influence the outcomes of local elections.

Good to know that they would fully support the rights of businesses that discriminate against Christians.  It's the only way to be fair and free in a civil society.


December 10, 8:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Engage In The Fucking Debate

Hardly surprising, but more than a little disappointing:

The C.I.A. maintains that the brutal interrogation techniques it used on terrorism suspects a decade ago worked. The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that they did not. And on that, at least,President Obama is not taking sides.

Even as Mr. Obama repeated his belief that the techniques constituted torture and betrayed American values, he declined to address the fundamental question raised by the report, which the committee released on Tuesday: Did they produce meaningful intelligence to stop terrorist attacks, or did the C.I.A. mislead the White House and the public about their effectiveness?

That debate, after all, has left Mr. Obama facing an uncomfortable choice between two allies: the close adviser and former aide he installed as director of the C.I.A. versus his fellow Democrats who control the Senate committee and the liberal base that backs their findings.

“We are not going to engage in this debate,” said a senior administration official close to Mr. Obama who briefed reporters under ground rules that did not allow him to be identified.

Dude, you are a lame duck with a Republican Congress about to take over.  You're correct on the moral and legal issue, and there is absolutely no political upside to hedging on the pragmatic.  

You want a fucking legacy?  You'd better evolve quickly on this like you did marriage equality if you ever hope to be on the right side of history.

God DAMN, sometimes you can really be an infuriating shithead.


PS--He could still pardon the assholes.

December 10, 6:43 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Snow Day

Dog help me if school's closed tomorrow, too.


December 10, 5:26 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Be nice to see more of this:

"I've never seen anything like it, not in Richmond, not anywhere," said longtime resident Mary Square, who stood on the north side of Macdonald Avenue watching the protesters on the south side of the street. "All these police, and the police chief, holding signs calling for an end to police violence. ... I'm going to tell my kids."

Richmond Chief of Police Chris Magnus stands with demonstrators along Macdonald Ave. to protest the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths during a peaceful

About 100 protesters lined Macdonald Avenue at 41st Street by noon Tuesday, holding signs and listening to a stereo that boomed speeches by Martin Luther King Jr.

Police Chief Chris Magnus, who has drawn acclaim for his community-policing approach and helping drive down both crime and use of force by his officers in recent years, was front and center, facing the street while holding a white sign that said "#blacklivesmatter." The photo quickly went viral on social media, the image of the uniformed chief with the popular hashtag a stark contrast to the anti-police sentiment many associate with it.

"I spoke with my command staff, and we agreed it would be nice to convey our commitment to peaceful protest and that black and brown lives do matter," Magnus said after the protest. "And to help bridge the gap that we understand sometimes exists between police and community around certain issues."

Granted, every community is different and has its own issues, so I can't say whatever Richmond does in general or in this specific instance is possible to the same extent.  Yet a greater commitment by those sworn to protect and serve to actually work with people instead of viewing them as an enemy would go a long way.


December 10, 4:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)