Friday, August 28, 2009

Arguing CIA Torture Interrogations

Greg Sargent and Steven Hayes argue over the conclusions of the CIA Inspector General's report on interrogation techniques. Follow the links and read the thread, it is an interesting dialogue.

Ultimately Sargent is the victor in this debate. Hayes is not only an ideologue tool be is also a tool writing the official Dick Cheney biography. Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Georges Seurat
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grand Jatte, 1884
Oil on canvas Sphere: Related Content

Compromising on Health Care Reform, Maybe

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly suggests that Democrats should utilize the opposition talking points as areas of "compromise." Benen writes:
"With that in mind, I have two suggestions going forward. First, reform proponents should probably start telling the public that even Dick Armey thinks the idea of a public option sounds like 'a wonderful gift.'

And second, Democrats should declare, publicly and loudly, that in response to popular demand, they've decided to make the public plan purely optional. Conservatives drive a hard bargain, but reform proponents are not above compromise. As this item, posted by Josh Marshall, put it, 'I think Obama should use all the fictional friction points as bargaining chips. You want us to give up the tyranny of compulsory coverage? You win, Dick Armey. Will you support the bill now?'"

Sphere: Related Content

Dukakis Is A Good Choice For The Interim, And Not A Kennedy For The Long Term

With Gov. Deval Patrick publicly supporting the idea of an interim Senator from Massachusetts and with the legislative leaders seemingly supporting the idea that would that bring both houses back to Boston to fix their errors in succession laws for the U.S. Senate.

I support the appointment of Michael Dukakis to the interim position. My long term hope is that a Kennedy is not the Senator from Massachusetts. The impression of an entitlement to a seat in the Senate has gone on for too long. A Kennedy has been in this seat since 1953, except for the two years after John F. Kennedy was elected President.

If the Democrats want to run a liberal in the image of Ted Kennedy there are plenty of options. Sphere: Related Content

Has The Bank Bailout Hurt The Consumer Market

The Wash Post reports that the bank bailout during this financial collapse has hurt the market for banking as consumer choices are limited and big banks hold to much market power in the United States market.

The Post reports:
"J.P. Morgan Chase, an amalgam of some of Wall Street's most storied institutions, now holds more than $1 of every $10 on deposit in this country. So does Bank of America, scarred by its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and partly government-owned as a result of the crisis, as does Wells Fargo, the biggest West Coast bank. Those three banks, plus government-rescued and -owned Citigroup, now issue one of every two mortgages and about two of every three credit cards, federal data show."
Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said:
"'To favor one class of financial institutions over another class skews the market. You don't have a free market; you have a government-favored market,' he said. 'We will never have free markets again if you have the government picking winners and losers.'"
Sphere: Related Content

Want To Get Lost: Ask Bob Dylan For Directions

Bob Dylan may provide the voice for turn by turn direction GPS in a few cars over the next few years. That seems incredibly strange. Why not Ozzie if you are looking for indecipherable directions? Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Art Break - Enjoy

Liam Marc O'Connor
as Ramon Subercaseaux - 1880 - John Singer Sargent, 2008
Oil on Canvas
Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Art Break

Abstract Oil Painting Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art Break - Enjoy

Jack Morrocco
Morning Market, Place aux Herbes, Uzes Sphere: Related Content

How Many Words Do You Have To Type To Make $100,000

A-Rod makes 100g's every six pitches while Norm Duke, a pro bowler, has to throw 2,360 frames to make $100,000. Which would you rather do?

The WSJ reports how long athlete take to make $100,000
. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 24, 2009

From Cynicism And Immorality To The Moral And Ethical

Is it surprising that some politicians
"don’t want to do the right thing because their self-interest points them toward doing something bad. But it’s impossible to imagine these same Senators stabbing a homeless person in a dark DC alley to steal his shoes. And what’s more, the entire political class would be (rightly!) shocked and appalled by the specter of a Senator murdering someone for personal gain. Yet it’s actually taken for granted that “my selfish desires dictate that I do x” constitutes a legitimate reason to do the wrong thing on important legislation."
Perhaps the possibility of losing the next election is the catalyst for this cynical approach to governing but I don't think there is a direct relationship between what the politician does and what the voters know, believe or understand. The way the commentatorate frames the politicans actions is how the voters understand what happened. It is not the wrath of the voters politicians are afraid of it the rhetoric of the pundits.

David Frum has recently laid out a polemic for the right and has been strongly shunned and criticized for his stand on a principle of what he believes is the right thing to do. Most analysis of his actions are framed in the form of Apostasy. Turning on a politician is much more appealing to the pundit because they know who they are talking to, the pols constituents.

We don't have politicians that have the long term goals of the country in mind. If the oath congress takes to the constitution meant something they would be less willing to fold to pundits or voters in favor of the "moral and ethical dimensions of political disputes and political action." Perhaps this is an argument for term limits but would we get better people? We should also ask when were we at a place where the "moral and ethical" trumped the cold political choices?
Sphere: Related Content

Bigotry Homosexuals And Capital Punishment

I am not one to advocate violence but Steven L. Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church, needs to be hit up-side the head with his own bible. Here is a taste of this bigod's hate and stupidity:
"You want to know who the biggest hypocrite in the world is? The biggest hypocrite in the world is the person who believes in the death penalty for murderers and not for homosexuals. Hypocrite. The same God who instituted the death penalty for murderers is the same God who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals - sodomites, queers! That's what it was instituted for, okay? That's God, he hasn't changed. Oh, God doesn't feel that way in the New Testament ... God never "felt" anything about it, he commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed."
I'm more "Christian" than this man and I am not even religious.

An example of his wife's Christianity from her blog:
"With any luck, this guy will get killed in a car accident while he is out trolling around in his squad car. It might save a Mom's life. Shame on his mother for raising such a worthless excuse for a human being. Yes, I did just say all that. And let me remind you that if you do not enjoy reading my blog, you never need to visit here again, and you will not be missed."
Sphere: Related Content

A Child Is Released From Gitmo

The United States has sent Mohammed Jawad home to Afghanistan. Mr. Jawad was picked up in Afghanistan as child and essentially forced to confess to crimes.

Here is the NY Times story about his release and an excellent interview by Glenn Greenwald with Jonathan Hafetz, Mr. Jawad's lawyer. Sphere: Related Content

Glenn Beck's New Book

Has Glenn Beck's use of Nazi imagery over the past month or two has been to promote his new book? Anything for a dollar. Sphere: Related Content

Addicted To The Internet

Finally there is help. Sphere: Related Content

The GOP's Winning Arguments?

Fred Barnes writes in a Wall Street Journal essay today, "What the GOP has done best has been to make and win arguments."

That claim may be sort of true. The GOP has been talking a lot but I would not call what they say sound arguments based on truth.

Barnes claims:
"consider Sarah Palin's controversial statement that Mr. Obama's health-care plan would establish 'death panels' capable of denying care to seniors."
This line of 'argument' has been proven to be lies and huge distortions by a bi-partisan group of commentators.

Barnes writes:
"Better yet, they've stopped bad policies in their tracks. Consider Dick Cheney's decision to challenge Mr. Obama's inclination to go soft in the war on terror in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in May. By winning the argument that the nation needs a vigorous defense against al Qaeda, Mr. Cheney left Mr. Obama little choice but to stick with such Bush era policies as rendition of captured terrorists, immunity for telecommunication companies that cooperated with wiretapping possible terrorists, and targeting terrorist leaders for assassination."
Unfortunately, President Obama and Cheney did not have an argument in this area. How could the GOP win if the President's position is so similar to the GOP's position. Michael Crowley at the TNR writes:
"Cheney won the argument that we need a vigorous defense against al Qaeda? When exactly was Obama arguing it the other way?

And consider the positions into which Barnes says Obama was supposedly badgered by the former vice president. Rendition? It's true that Obama hasn't prohibited the snatching of terror suspects off the streets. But in February he signed an executive order outlawing the extrajudicial 'extraordinary renditions' that were an innovation of the Bush-Cheney era, and will no longer send them to countries where we can expect them to be tortured. Telecom immunity? Obama voted to support it while he was still in the Senate, outraging the liberal left. Targeting terrorist leaders? Obama vowed during the 2008 campaign to do just that--a position conservatives both distorted and ridiculed."
If the arguments are so powerful and true why aren't the independents in the "mass migration" from the President's corner supporting the GOP? Because the GOP is not making and winning arguments. Barnes writes:
"That's not the way politics works. Political recovery comes in two stages. The party out of power must first discredit the majority's ideas and agenda. Public approval comes later. It shows up on Election Day."
Barnes is correct that the Democrat's plan has been somewhat discredited, albeit by lies not arguments, but as David Frum asks what do you do then? If the GOP does not have its own idea how to fix these problems beyond discrediting Democratic proposals, who is going to vote for them. Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Arthur Dove
Nature Symbolized (or Reefs), 1924
Sphere: Related Content

Benen On Steele

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly has a good reaction to the Michael Steele essay. Benen writes:
"If one sifts through the nonsense, looking for something substantive, what we're left with is Steele's uninformed opposition to the creation of an Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC). The idea is to have appointed IMAC members -- physicians and medical experts, appointed by the White House and confirmed by the Senate -- who would have some added authority to help control what Medicare pays doctors and hospitals. The panel would probably help lower costs more effectively than Congress, which isn't especially good at these technical, medicinal, and scientific questions.

The idea was originally proposed by conservatives, embraced by Democrats, and would serve as part of a larger effort to save money and take political considerations out of the process.

And now Michael Steele wants seniors to think big bad Democrats are trying to undermine Medicare."

Sphere: Related Content

I Think Michael Steele Needs To Go On The Daily Show

Michael Steele, the inept chair of the Republican National Committee, needs to pay a visit to the would be HR department that Jon Stewart runs on the west side of Manhattan. In a essay at the Wash Post today, Steele put forth the same misrepresentations, or lies, that Betsy McCaughey uncontrollably spewed last week. Steele:
"Third, we need to outlaw any effort to ration health care based on age. Obama has promoted a program of "comparative effectiveness research" that he claims will be used only to study competing medical treatments. But this program could actually lead to government boards rationing treatments based on age. For example, if there are going to be only so many heart surgeries in a given year, the Democrats figure government will get more bang for its buck if more young and middle-aged people get them."
Steele goes on to call for a bi-partisan approach on health care. The mind of Steele must have forgotten that President Obama has put health care reform in the hands of our only bi-partisan branch of government only to have anything but flexibility or compromise from the Republican party. Steele writes:
"Reversing course and joining Republicans in support of health care for our nation's senior citizens is a good place to start. Doing so will help him restart the reform process to give Americans access to low-cost, high-quality health care."
Perhaps this faux call for bi-partisanship should start with Michael Steele telling us where the party he leads is flexible and willing to compromise on it core values. I don't think he can do it, obstructing and killing legislation is not a core value. Sphere: Related Content

Is Max Baucus Fighting With Max Baucus

Jonathan Chait at TNR is concerned with the Dem Congressional Health Care leadership. Chait writes:
"So first Baucus announces a deadline. Then he says we don't need no stinking deadline. I'm at a loss. I have been told by somebody in a position to know firsthand that Baucus, to put it delicately, is not an intellectual giant. But is he such an affable dolt that he simply agrees with whoever speaks with him last? Do other Senators routinely trade him shiny new dimes for drab old dollar bills? Just how mentally feeble is this man?"
Sphere: Related Content

Should Dems Make Health Care Debate Last

Mickey Kaus thinks the health care deabte is a much happier place to be as oppoesed to the other big issues that are coming. The longer the Dems are on health care the farther away is immigration reform. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is Mike Wallace Disappointed With His Son

Chris Wallace calls Tammy Duckworth a liar while not telling the truth about VA end of life counseling. The documents from the VA are very clear and Wallace is boldly telling lies to power.

Media Matters Sphere: Related Content

Old People Don't Think They Know Someone Gay

Interesting research from Columbia University of attitudes on gay marriage. It is odd that the percentage of people reporting knowing someone gay is so low. I would think that people between 20 and 40 years old would report knowing at least one homosexual. The older folks don't realize they know homosexuals.
Sphere: Related Content

Is Water Scarcity The Most Pressing Environmental Problem We Face

Robert Glennon writes in the Wash Post:
"The idea of charging for water offends many people who think that would be like charging for air. Is it immoral to extract fees for an essential resource? Precisely because water is a public -- and exhaustible -- resource, the government has an obligation to manage it wisely.

Think of our water supply as a giant milkshake, and think of each demand for water as a straw in the glass. Most states permit a limitless number of straws -- and that has to change."

One proposed solution sounds like something out of fiction, possible the Simpson's:

"Some dreamers gaze upon distant sources of water and imagine that the problem is solved. Plans to divert water from rivers in British Columbia or tow icebergs from Alaska periodically arise."

Towing icebergs, really?

Photo is from

Sphere: Related Content

Art Break - Enjoy

Wosene Worke Kosrof
Color of Jazz II, 2008
Acrylic/linen Sphere: Related Content

Barack Obama Has To Find His Partisan Balls

The White House needs to abandon dreams of bi-partisanship and get their Democratic Ducks in order.

There will be no health care bill that gets more than one to two Republican votes. It is time for the White House to play harder with the Democrats in Congress, particularly the Senate Dems.

Over the next two election cycles there are eight Democratic Senators running for re-election. It may be time for the party and the President to take advantage of this reality. I don't think it helps these eight Democrats to have a new president under cut on what is likely the biggest policy initiative of his presidency. It would pay off for congressional Democrats to strengthen Barack Obama's political power by passing reform in the strongest form possible.

Since the President, and politics in general, is fond of sports methaphors we can call this last week of August half time. The President needs to set the tone for the team that he leads and have them running out of the locker room with a new game plan and all on the same page. If he can't get firm commitments from the Democrats that strayed from the pack he and the party needs to use real internal party pressure on these politicians. Right now Barack Obama is still the most popular figure in the country and the fundraising possibility is amazing. If the Congressional Democrats want a piece of that they need to get in line. They should be told to imagine the possible electoral and fund raising power of a President that passed a major policy initiative and what that power does for them. Remind them that avoiding huge losses in the mid-terms is good for them as much as it is for the White House.

This week while vacationing in Martha's Vineyard Barack Obama should also make time to sit with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Democratic legislative leaders to stress the importance of changing state succession laws for the US Senate seats as soon as possible. Along with Patrick, President Obama stress to Senator Kennedy the need to resign if the State does change the succession law. It secures the Senator's legacy if a strong bill passes with him in retirement not if a weak bill fails with him kind of in office. A similar conversation should take place with Senator Robert Byrd in West Virginia.

What is likely to be the most important piece of legislation to come out of the Congress in nearly forty years and will create huge changes in our society over the next forty and beyond should not be held up by the lack of congressional and presidential leadership.

Eleanor Clift of Newsweek writes:
"Obama's message of conciliation worked perfectly in the '08 campaign in part because it's an authentic reflection of his personality. Axelrod harbored doubts about whether Obama's aversion to confrontation when it becomes nasty and personal would hamper him as a candidate. 'When it comes to taking a punch, I don't know whether you're Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson,' Axelrod wrote to Obama in a November 2006 memo reported in a new book that reprises the campaign by Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz and former Post writer Haynes Johnson. Now Obama supporters are wondering about their man. If they're to see what he's made of, Obama has to first get in the ring. Forget the niceties, it's time to fight."

It is past the time for Barack Obama to get involved in this process. He needs to put out some strong speeches about the moral obligations we have to secure health care for everyone but he needs to get the politics in his party together first.

Photo is from Newsweek Sphere: Related Content
Add to Technorati Favorites