The chocolate ration is being increased to 25 grammes per week.

Monthly Archives: April 2011

These town halls are going really well!

That is all.


This bears repeating

bored_lurking commented on a NYT article about Krugman being all that’s left of the left:

“whether a Democrat or a Republican was in the White House. Since World War II, Bartels found, wealthy families in the 95th percentile in income had seen identical income growth under both parties. But for families in the 20th percentile, the difference was astonishing: Under Democratic presidents, their income grew at six times the rate it did under Republican ones.”

I have seen many times people arguing that republicans and democrats are just two sides of the same coin. Amazing how two faces of the same thing could have such different effects for poor people.


New Orleans: no limits to the law

New Statesman has a new article, No limits to the law in NoLa, which is at the same time fascinating and horrifying. For example:

Henry Glover, a 31-year-old African American, was shot by a police sniper as he picked up goods behind a shopping mall during Katrina. He was taken by his brother, a friend and a passer-by to a nearby school that police were using as a special operations centre. There a Swat team let Glover bleed to death and beat his rescuers. Another policeman took the body in the rescuer’s car to the levee and torched it, putting two shots into the body (he later called that “a very bad decision”). The incinerated car with Glover’s remains inside it lay a block from the police station for weeks.

Last December, three policemen were convicted for the crime: one of manslaughter, one of burning the body and one of falsifying evidence. Eleven other officers who admitted they had lied in testimony or withheld knowledge were reassigned to desk duty or suspended.

This is but a small taste of what happened during and after the disaster.  Residents were treated like they were trapped in some nightmare Nazi movie.

I know what you’re thinking.  I just invoked Godwin’s law.  I’m not.  How can one read passages like this and not think of the Nazi’s?  It refers, ironically, to a conversation that Scahill had with a veteran of the Israeli special task forces:

He wrote in his notebook at the time: “Both say they served as professional soldiers in the Israeli military and one boasts of having par­ticipated in the invasion of Lebanon. ‘We have been fighting the Palestinians all day, every day, our whole lives,’ one of them tells me. ‘Here in New Orleans, we are not guarding from terrorists.’ Then, tapping on his machine-gun, he says, ‘Most Americans, when they see these things, that’s enough to scare them.’ They were helicoptered in by powerful businessman James Reiss, who serves in Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration as chairman of the city’s regional transit authority.” As Scahill told me: “Reiss was talking openly of the need to change the ‘demographics’ of NoLa [New Orleans, Louisiana] after the hurricane.”

Think about that.  An Israeli sniper who was part of a militia that indiscriminately kills blacks, at the behest of his employer, to change the demographics of the City of New Orleans.  Sounds like systematic extermination to me.

I remember, a short time after Katrina, about these rumors of horrific treatment of the locals. Make that local Afrian-Americans.  At the time, I remember thinking the stories were just too far fetched to be true.  This was year 2005, after all.  People in authority couldn’t act like animals without the acts being pushed into the light.  So, I wrote it off as lies created for some unknown purpose, perhaps no purpose at all.  Well, apparently many of the things I heard were true.  For a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg, read the article.

Apparently the DoJ has had enough, too, and will put the New Orleans police department (NOPD) under the supervision of a federal judge. The article goes on:

Paul Craig Roberts, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant secretary to the treasury under Ronald Reagan, who wrote recently: “Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public.”

The WSJ and Reagan administrations are not bastions of liberal thought.  This is undoubtedly a conservative saying this.  So, this is deadly serious.

My only personal connection to New Orleans is that my late step Mother was the victim of a hit-and-run by a commercial van while on a business trip there.  She or a bystander did write down the license plate, however the NOPD were completely uninterested in finding the driver.  This was in the 90’s and my father, who is not easily dissuaded by bureaucracy, was unable to get anywhere with them.

It occurred to me more than once while reading the article: unless I have to for business, I will not visit the southern US, and New Orleans in particular, until problems like these are a thing of the past.

Read the article to get your daily dose of outrage.

Obama revealed: A moderate Republican

The Washington Post has a new column by Ezra Klein: Obama revealed: A moderate Republican.

I’ve been saying this for some time.  For me, this is the money quote:

… as Democrats moved to the right to pick up Republican votes, Republicans moved to the right to oppose Democratic proposals.

This inevitably means that Republicans will oppose ideas they previously supported or even originated.  That has become the calculus of the GOP.

I also think the tea party is a factor in their new look.  The main issue of the tea party, fiscal responsibility, was stolen from the GOP.  This has forced the GOP to double down on their old platform, so they can further differentiate themselves.  This is why you see Paul Ryan talking about spending cuts in the trillions.

I also think that Obama is moving to the right to insure his re-election, because he is worried if he doesn’t he will be too big a target for the GOP in 2012.  If this is true, and he does win in 2012, it means it will likely shift to the center a little.  Only then will we see the real Obama, the Senator who condemned many of the things President Obama has done, or the President who thinks Senator Obama was an idealistic young punk.

The same old lies, but this time the stakes are high

I like this summary from Will Hutton’s Guardian article:

The Republican position, set out in detail by Paul Ryan, the Republican chair of the congressional budget committee, is not really a budget plan at all. It is a map for dismantling the US state so that it would do little more than provide threadbare pensions and healthcare for the very poorest and almost nothing else, with even defence in the line of fire.

That is exactly the reaction I had a couple of weeks ago when I heard part of Ryan’s speech. There is much irony in Paul Ryan’s position, sure, but it is a deeply serious move to change the fabric of our political system.  His vision is the culmination of decades of GOP desires, the dismantling of government for a two reasons: reducing 1) taxes on the wealthy, and 2) regulations on business so they will be free to compete in a truly free market.  The latter is worthy of a separate blog/rant, so I will leave that one alone for now.

After Obama grew some balls and started pushing back, Ryan’s reaction was hilarious.  Really, Paul?  You and your colleagues are trying to build bridges?  Perhaps you’ve forgotten about some of your previous statements, which appear more demolition and building to me (all comments on healthcare reform by Rep. Ryan):

  • [Healthcare reform is] “a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.” 1
  • “The best outcome is if we stop this — then the Democrats will have a failed presidency on their hands, and then they’ll have to work with Republicans to get something done that’s bipartisan.”2
  • “I believe that is completely antithetical to the American idea, the American project, and what America is about.”3
Jon Stewart summed it all up best when he transformed Ryan’s crazy budget graph, which showed a straw-man “Democratic” budget through 2050 literally killing us with debt: Stewart replaced Trillions in budget cuts with pre-Bush era tax rates for the wealthy, which showed the same “after” graph as Ryan.  (And, the budget as a share of GDP isn’t bad at all, but Ryan doesn’t want you to know that.)

Make no mistake: this is a battle over what we will become.

School is wasted on the young

When I was in school, I hated stuff like this.  Now that I’m older, I guess I like it.  I’m 50% through lecture #4.  That’s 3.5 hours in!  It’s a Philosophy course recorded at Harvard.  (I’m not sure when, but the references make me think it was several years ago.)  My plan is to watch all 12 parts (almost 12 hours).


That is all.

Home, also?

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Not as sure about this one. The houses all look so different.

Some memories:

  • Gravel driveway that Uncle Bobby helped pave.
  • The basketball goal in the backyard.
  • Mom getting stung on the nose by a wasp.
  • Jeff and Nancy, the neighbors in back.
  • The large family across the street.  Kilroys?
  • Learning to ride a bike in the front yard.  From there, freedom.
  • Getting stung by a bee and finding out I was allergic to them.

Home, again

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Some memories:

  • The golf course in back.
  • The airport in back.
  • The stream.
  • The winter days of sledding down the hills of the golf course.
  • The nearby park.  Huge.  Riding my bicycle all around it.
  • Doris.  Andy.
  • Bert and his Manhattan dispensary.  Crazy inventor.

Home, once upon a time

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Some memories:

  • A flood in the middle of our block that turned the street into a swimming pool.
  • A giant, collaborative snowman put up in the yard next door.  From my perspective as a 4 yr old (approximately), it was 10ft high.
  • The barn in the back yard that was off limits.  It was filled with rusting farm equipment and spider webs.  And a dead opossum.  Did I mention the spiders?
  • The open spaces.
  • The family across the street, the Bottom’s, who had several Great Danes that were scary as hell.  And the family that was well over 6ft tall, each of them.  Well, that’s what it seemed like to me.
  • My brother getting his ear almost bitten off by a dog down the street.
  • The main house on the property on which we lived.  I would sometimes walk the rent check up with her.  The old lady was ancient and the house was huge and dark.
  • I thought the elementary school I went to was only a block away, but I see on the map it was two.  Did they put a new cross street in since I was there?