Friday, 12/19/2014

Read The Constitution

Okay, this is after the video signoff, but HFS, what an awesome comment thread under Boner's SOTU invite:

Squinting really hard to see where there's any mention of a Speaker, let alone a required invitation for a SOTU in the Constitution.  Because, you know.  But originalists are right in decrying unconstitutional posts to Facebook...


December 19, 10:48 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Matthew 5:14

You got to stay bright...


December 19, 10:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Indeed, He knows what is declared and what is hidden."

From the Qur'an, Surah 33:40-47, for Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams:

Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Last of the prophets; and Allah is cognizant of all things.

O you who believe! remember Allah, remembering frequently,

And glorify Him morning and evening.

He it is Who sends His blessings on you, and (so do) His angels, that He may bring you forth out of utter darkness into the light; and He is Merciful to the believers.

Their salutation on the day that they meet Him shall be, Peace, and He has prepared for them an honourable reward.

O Prophet! surely We have sent you as a witness, and as a bearer of good news and as a warner,

And as one inviting to Allah by His permission, and as a light-giving torch.

And give to the believers the good news that they shall have a great grace from Allah.

Just being very positive and adding to his understanding.  Never forget, man, and Merry Christmas!


December 19, 9:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Damn It, Now We'll Have A Drinking Game

Fucking Boner invited Obama to give a SOTU.  I'd love it if the president simply replied he's busy since that is Date Night with Michelle, but he'll be happy to send them a copy of his address when he gets around to it.


December 19, 8:56 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Open Siddur Project

Aharon Varady writes in comments:

Researching and transcribing the Megillat Antiochus and several of its important translations was a labor of love for me. Happy you found this text at the Open Siddur Project. If you or any of your readers are interested, we're selling print copies of the Megillat Antiochus to raise money for the Open Siddur (an open-source, digital humanities project sharing Jewish liturgy and related work for the crafting and print of new siddurim and related works).

Just signal boosting.  It's good to have people doing this stuff, so throw some gelt their way if you can.


December 19, 8:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lepers And Outcasts

Not sure why, but I stared re-reading Name of the Rose recently.  And for some reason this struck me as germane today:

"The outcast lepers would like to drag everything down in their ruin. And they become all the more evil, the more you cast them out; and the more you depict them as a court of lemures who want your ruin, the more they will be outcast. Saint Francis realized this, and his first decision was to go and live among the lepers. The people of God cannot be changed until the outcasts are restored to the body."
“The flock is like a series of concentric circles, from the broadest range of the flock to its immediate surroundings. The lepers are a sign of exclusion in general. Saint Francis understood that. He didn't want only to help the lepers; if he had, his act would have been reduced to quite a poor and impotent act of charity. He wanted to signify something else. Have you been told about his preaching to the birds?”
“They were birds of prey, outcast birds, like the lepers. Francis was surely thinking of that verse of the Apocalypse that says: ‘I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together at the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great!’ ”
“For centuries, as pope and emperor tore each other apart in their quarrels over power, the excluded went on living on the fringe, like lepers, of whom true lepers are only the illustration ordained by God to make us understand this wondrous parable, so that in saying ‘lepers’ we would understand ‘outcast, poor, simple, excluded, uprooted from the countryside, humiliated in the cities.’

But we did not understand; the mystery of leprosy has continued to haunt us because we have not recognized the nature of the sign. Excluded as they were from the flock, all of them were ready to hear, or to produce, every sermon that, barking back to the word of Christ, would condemn the behavior of the dogs and shepherds and would promise their punishment one day.

The powerful always realized this. The recovery of the outcasts demanded reduction of the privileges of the powerful, so the excluded who became aware of their exclusion had to be branded as heretics, whatever their doctrine. And for their part, blinded by their exclusion, they were not really inter- ested in any doctrine. This is the illusion of heresy.

Everyone is heretical, everyone is orthodox. The faith a movement proclaims doesn’t count: what counts is the hope it ofiers. All heresies are the banner of a reality, an exclusion. Scratch the heresy and you will find the leper. Every battle against heresy wants only this: to keep the leper as he is..."

Replace 'leper' with, oh, I dunno...


December 19, 7:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Living By A Mythical Concept Of Time

VTDigger has a good bit about today's protest in Mount Peculiar, which made a little blip on the national radar:

Deb Richter, a longtime single payer advocate who regularly attends the Green Mountain Care Board’s meetings, tried to convince protesters that Shumlin is not their enemy.

“He’s the only governor in the country who raised this issue and put it in the forefront,” she said.

She urged them to have patience, and she says she is still optimistic Vermont will be the first state to have public universal health care, but that goal may need to achieved incrementally, as the governor indicated when he made his announcement Wednesday.

“This is like turning the Titanic,” she said, “Frankly, beating up on the governor I do not believe is really going to be helpful.”

Richter called on the protestors to take their message to the Legislature, which she said is now the most fertile ground for making progress on health reform.

“There’s a Legislature that can bring this up also, and I don’t think it would take much arm-twisting for the governor to go along with that,” Richter said.

“If they get 50 calls in every district, believe me they will bring this up,” she added.

I like Deb, have corresponded with her during the lead up to our first baby steps, and know she's wicked smart and dedicated to the cause.  I don't discount her counsel--yes, now we must ratchet pressure on the Leg, and most progress involves setbacks--but she makes an empty point about Shummy's raising the issue.  

So the fuck what?  Doesn't help us for him to use the issue over 3 election cycles only to bail 3 years before implementation.  He deserves our ire and whatever political consequences he suffers.

Shummy also needs the message so he doesn't do anything else stupid, like vetoing necessary legislation or stacking the GMCB with pro-biz Trojan horses or whatever else he can do to derail our efforts more than he has.  Being an Executive means he is a convenient focus for statewide efforts.

And now one hopes part of that focus will be more insistent challenge from the left:

The Vermont Progressive Party did not run Progressive challengers against Governor Shumlin in the last three cycles, in large part because of his unwavering promise to lead on single payer. While we are outraged by Shumlin’s broken promises, we are not terribly surprised. Progressives have long raised the same challenges Shumlin is now using as his excuses for why we can't move ahead on single payer. We have long pushed for discussions about how we can equitably fund our new system, and live up to our promise of healthcare as a human right. But rather than work through these issues or scale back the project, Shumlin decided to scrap it entirely (and with it, many Vermonters' hopes of a just and accessible healthcare system).

Governor Shumlin only seems concerned about the projected future economic burden to businesses, not the burden that working people are bearing right now. There are significant and meaningful steps Vermont can take as we transition to a fully publicly financed health system-- a system that doesn't punish working families who can't afford the high costs of health insurance premiums. We can't be afraid to examine ways to fund a more fair, more efficient, universal system of healthcare delivery (like they have in virtually every other country in the industrialized world). Vermont needs leaders who aren't afraid of having these tough conversations, who aren't too scared to stand up for what's right. We owe that to the people of our state. Anything less is a betrayal of all Vermont's working families who struggle with the costs of healthcare every day.  

It's hardly leadership to throw in the towel before doing the real hard work required to get us over the hump into a system that pays off for all.  Contrary to his fatuous assertions, the time is NOW to do this.  But perish the thought that his plutocrat constituency kick in when there are profits and mansions to be expanded.


December 19, 5:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

"Dude, Jewish people don't celebrate Christmas!"

Yeah, okay, so I'm in an irreverant mood thanks to Mr Williams.


December 19, 4:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Space Is 3D

This is extremely cool:

[H]ow do you email a socket wrench into space?

The story starts back in November, when Wilmore put together the ISS's very first 3D printer, a collaboration between NASA and company Made In Space. About a month later, Wilmore noted to mission control that a socket wrench would be helpful to have. Instead of putting it on the supply, however, Made In Space mocked up a quick model on CAD on Earth and emailed the design to Wilmore, who ran the designs through the printer and assembled the 20 separate parts into the exact socket wrench he had requested.

What would be cooler is teleportation, but this is a nice application of current technology. 


December 19, 4:41 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mister Garrison Is The Reason For The Season

And Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams travels 'round the world and says Merry fuckin' Christmas to you...


December 19, 1:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jesus Fucking Christ On A Menorah

For the enlightenment of readers who aren't on Facebook:

A city official shocked onlookers Tuesday in Massachusetts with his pronouncement during a ceremony marking the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.

“Jesus is the reason for the season,” said Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.
Williams, who is Baptist, said he mentioned Jesus after previous speakers referenced “the bright light” from 2,000 years ago, which he took to be an allusion to the birth of Christ.

“Jesus was Jewish,” Williams said. “To me, Jesus is the messiah … I thought I was being very positive.”

“Jaws dropped,” reported the Springfield Republican, but Williams said some participants, including rabbis, thanked him for his remarks afterward.

However, none of them have commented on the record.

“I thought it added something to the service, it didn’t take away,” Williams said.

What an ignorant asshole.  Oh yes, Jesus was part of a revolt 160 years before he was born. 

Added something?  Yeah, you injected your own belief of Jesus' messianic identity into a cermony that has fuck all to do with him, for people who don't share that belief.  That does, really, take away from the service.  

It comes from the sense of entitlement certain Christians positively cling to in this "Christian" nation.  Hey, you don't mind if I tell you who to marry, what to do with your body, how best to worship under the protection of the Christian First Amendment, do you?  A bright light mentioned during the Festival of Lights?  Clearly you must mean Jesus.

As I said elsewhere, I'm sure Williams won't mind when a Muslim mentions the fact that Christ was merely one of Allah's prophets and that Muḥammad was the most perfect of His creatures at the next Midnight Christmas Service.  It's just adding to the festivities, right?


December 19, 8:50 AM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 12/18/2014


Speaking of lights...


December 18, 9:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Golly, Hope Nobody Is Offended By This

I'd mentioned King's Letter from Birmingham Jail elsewhere in relationship to my earlier post.  This is one part I especially had in mind:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate...Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

That just might've pissed a few people off.  Might also have enlightened a couple.  


December 18, 9:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Megillat Antiokhus

From The Scroll of Antiochus:

62 [T]hey sought pure olive oil with which to light the Menorah, but they found only one little vessel sealed with the seal of the High-Priest and they knew it to be pure. And it contained but sufficient oil for one day.

63 But the God of Heaven Who caused His presence to dwell in the Sanctuary, gave His blessing and it sufficed to light the Menorah eight days.

64 Therefore did the sons of the Ḥashmonai together with the Israelites

65 ordain that these eight days be ever celebrated as days of joy and feasting along wth the festivals ordained in the Torah; that candles be lit to commemorate the victory they achieved through the God of Heaven...

You know, just to get back to basics.


December 18, 5:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

I Don't Know What To Do With White People Offended By This

Seriously, I'm having a hard time understanding how ostensible allies can be offended by this article:

Over the past two weeks, I've seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I'd prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency. We are not like those other white people. See how enlightened and aware we are? See how we are good?

Over the past two weeks, I have fluctuated between anger and grief. I feel surrounded by Black death. What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life.
We all want to believe in progress, in history that marches forward in a neat line, in transcended differences and growing acceptance, in how good the good white people have become. So we expect racism to appear, cartoonishly evil like a Disney villain. As if a racist cop is one who wakes in the morning, twirling his mustache and rubbing his hands together as he plots how to destroy black lives.

I don't think Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo set out to kill Black men. I'm sure the cops who arrested my father meant well. But what good are your good intentions if they kill us?

When my friends and I discuss people we dislike, we often end our conversations with, "But he means well."

We always land here, because we want to affirm ourselves as fair, non-judgmental people who examine a person not only by what he does but also by what he intends to. After all, aren't all of us standing in the gap between who we are and who we try to be? Isn't it human to allow those we dislike—even those who harm us—a residence in this space as well?

"You know what? He means well," we say. We lean on this, and the phrase is so condescending, so cloyingly sweet, so hollow, that I'd almost rather anyone say anything else about me than how awful I am despite how good I intend to be.

Really, how much empathy do you have for people smacked down by our society's inherent racism if you can't even hear what she's saying, and fall back onto glib dismissals on the order of "all lives matter"?  Fine, you're great, now will you stop being offended--which, yes, is making it about you and comes from privilege--so we can get back to actually talking about the problems of injustice?  Jesus fuck.


December 18, 4:47 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Chilling in the April sun back our first year together (2006).


December 18, 8:39 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 12/17/2014

Mankind Was My Business!

Can't find a good B&W version of Marley's scene--this looks lovely and adds depth, but I prefer the ambiguous, moody, shadowy feel of the non-colorized original.


December 17, 10:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I Don't Know How To Say It Other Than, "Fuck You, Governor Shumlin."

God knows you wouldn't want to ask your plutocrat drinking buddies for any coin:

In a striking reversal, Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday abandoned his chief policy initiative, saying “now is not the right time” to pursue single-payer health care reform.

Shumlin dropped the political bombshell with no warning Wednesday afternoon at a crowded Statehouse press conference. He said that new cost estimates provided by his team last Friday made clear that the plan he envisioned was “just not affordable.”

Continuing to fight for single-payer when it would likely hurt Vermont’s economy, he said, “is not good for Vermont and it would not be good for true health care reform.”

Shumlin vowed to pursue more modest measures to slow the growth of health care spending, but his decision to forgo a looming battle in the legislature over how to finance his plan marks the end — for now — of a four-year effort to dramatically restructure the state’s health care system.

It also represents a major political blow to a politician who rode to the governorship on the promise of enacting the nation’s first single-payer system. As Shumlin himself said Wednesday, “This is the greatest disappointment of my political life so far.”

For some people, it's not a disappointment, but more denial of necessary services for them to live.  For some people, it's not a disappointment, but a complete betrayal.

You are not just a disappointment, but a traitor who has cynically and ignorantly undercut all our arguments for, and hard work toward, the best, most cost-effective reform that is desperately needed.  You are not just a disappointment, but clearly a huge mistake made by the voters who trusted you for several years.

I'm not just disappointed, but ready to abandon you and a Democratic party that was at least somewhat on the side of the People here in Vermont even if still way too spineless and right leaning nationally.  Go fuck yourself, loser.


December 17, 7:59 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

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)