My worlds collide: Progressive Politics and Progressive Rock

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If you are a regular reader of DailyKos, then you probably know of Bill in Portland Maine and his extremely entertaining and informative “Cheers and Jeers’ feature.  Today, he is interviewing one of the regular contributors to the DailyKos community – Malacandra a/k/a Miles Kurland.  He’s a web developer and designer with strong political feelings and, apparently, great taste in music:

What kind of music makes you feel invincible to the GOP horde?
Progressive Rock, of course!  These days, it’d be the Decemberists. As luck would have it, they were doing a gig in Pittsburgh during Netroots Nation, just a few blocks away from the conference center. I had the unforgettable experience of seeing both a rousing speech by Howard Dean and a kick-ass Decemberists concert all in one evening.

Two great tastes that taste great together!

(via UK70sProgRock and it’s kick ass twitter feed)

Inciting hate (and violence?!), getting rich

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I’m pleased to see that some sponsors are starting to take note.

Anyone who cares to pay attention will have seen the strong protests at town-hall meetings, which were designed to educate the public about Obama’s proposed health care reform.   Such protests are in keeping with the highest ideals of the 1st Amendment and should be welcome by Democrats as an opportunity to stimulate discussion and public debate.  There appear to be some strategy memos that have been circulated among protest groups that urge ‘disruption’ instead of debate – the goal being to drown out the message of those who would promote Obama’s goal.  But even this approach should be welcome, as it forces proponents of reform to make their message louder and clearer and simpler.  I know this is not a simple topic and I don’t want to see it dumbed down to the point where discussion is irrelevant, but when I am trying a case before a jury, the most important thing is to make my message as clear and easy to understand as possible.

Of course, the thing about civil litigation is that it’s ‘civil.’. Most judges will protect me from a shouting match and interruption. Both sides get a fair chance to present opposing points of view.

And I’m also not worried about being shot or poisoned.

But the trouble with Glenn Beck is not that he’s a revolutionary or an agitator.  He is neither.  All the time that he reinforces a message of hated and racism to his millions of viewers and listeners, he is exploiting them for the purpose of profit.  We see a similar phenomena with former governor Palin.   She has left office to cash in on her popularity among the right-wing fringe.  Without the burdens of being an elected official, Palin will be free to earn enough without excessive oversight.  It may be questionable how well her book will ‘sell’ (many of Glen Beck’s books are given away through conservative website promos), but this of little moment compared to the millions she will be advanced by a publisher desperate for a best-seller.  Palin is free to take advantage of such an entity in the same fashion that she took advantage of the people of Alaska, who foolishly thought she would serve her entire term in office, but there is a problem.

When Palin tells you that Obama is going to have death panels that will come and kill your aged and infirm parents or your infant who has a disability, she, a person of note and respect, a former elected official, is telling you that your family is at risk of death at the hands of the government. That is incitement to violence.  It is also newsworthy.  Which means her face will be on TV and everyone will be talking about her outrageous comments.  That also means that a publisher will pay a higher number based on her significant popularity.  As long as she is a relevant voice, her earning potential will continue to be high.

The worry is that, in her efforts to create a financially secure future for herself and her family (a laudable goal), she is telling lies.  Again, that’s not anything that hasn’t happened before, but people look to her to understand the frightening world around her.  They trust her.  Does she care about them?  Does she care how they will react when she advises them of the imminent assault on their persons that will be coming from the Obama administration?  Or does she, like Rush and Beck, just care about the money?

We knew Erik Prince was a bad dude, but this is off the hook!

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Blackwater, now known as Xe Services LLC is the paramilitary outfit contracted by the Bush administration to massacre Muslims secure Iraq after the glorious well planned invasion that resulted in the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Now, sworn statements filed in Federal Court in Virginia y ex employees, and reported on by The Nation (maybe I should renew for another year) indicate that company President Erik Prince may be responsible for the murder of individuals who were coopoerating with Federal investigators.  In other words, this has nothing to do with the countless Iraqis who were undoubtedly killed by Blackwater, this is Prince killing people to save his himself from prosecution.

There’s also a lot of other classy stuff in the statements, like the following:

The former employee also alleges that Prince “views himself as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe,” and that Prince’s companies “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.”

Nice.

Read the whole Nation article here.

Birthers don’t deserve any attention in the media… unless it’s from Jon Stewart

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People who don’t believe that the President is eligible to serve because he is supposedly not an American citizen have achieved a level of crazy that bears absolutely no relation to the world as it is. There is no way to explain how these folks have become so derranged and, frankly, I don’t really care.

Although the brain-dead media has indulged this story ever since before the election, my feeling has always been this: any mention of these escaped mental patients, no matter how critical, legitimizes their lunacy.  Of course, leave it to Jon Stewart to prove me wrong.

Shannyn Moore – This is your moment

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Have you ever been to Alaska?  It is truly the most beautiful part of this country.  Denali (Mt. McKinley) is pretty much the biggest protrusion on the planet.  The wildlife and natural wonders are as big as the massive territory Alaska occupies.  And though it was many years ago that I visited, I was so taken with the people, the food and everything about the place.  It felt so amazing and so different and so far away, but it also felt like I was still home, even more so than the times I’ve visited Canada.  Maybe it’s my legal training, but there’s something about being within the bounds of the USA, even if not the ‘lower-48’.

Shannyn Moore is a writer and radio host I had never heard of until Sarah Palin decided to dump a bucket of crazy all over the political news cycle.  Palin abruptly resigns for no discernible reason and then gets her lawyer to threaten Shannyn Moore, thus elevating anything Ms. Moore had to see from the level of opinion and anlysis to national news story.  If we were talking about any other failed vice presidential candidate, I would think there was some scheme at work, some nefarious plot to draw our attention away with spectacle and distraction.  But Sarah Palin is not like the stage magician who shows you a puff of smoke with his right hand while deceptively making the trick happen with her left.  I can’t give her (or her lawyer) that much credit.

So now, thanks to Palin’s threats of defamation and protracted and expensive (and frivolous) litigation, all of the sudden tens of thousands of people who didn’t know Ms. Moore’s name are now regular readers and commenters on her blog.  Now a story of corruption that no one really cared about or reported on (except, perhaps a handful of concerned Alaskans, including Ms. Moore) is front and center.  Why?  Because the pit bull with lipstick started barking again.

So my hope is that Ms. Moore will now have an opportunity to become another progressive voice of reason in our national discourse.  She already has a presence at Huffington Post and her circulation should only grow wider from here.  GOPer and hard-line conservatives can Governor Mrs. Palin bringing a new voice into the fold – one that is strong and brave and proud of her heritage as an Alaskan; one that reminds me how lucky I am to live in a country that includes such an amazing place.

Sin Tax

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Rendell, the illustrious governor of my Commonwealth, has proposed to bridge the $3.2 billion budget gap by raising income taxes for a three years.  As a second term lame duck in this world-wide recession, he can get away with that suggestion, but that still doesn’t mean it’s going to fly.

Personally, I don’t really have a problem paying higher taxes for a few years, especially considering the alternative of living in a major city without the appropriate civic services of education, police, fire, etc.  The argument against is that we will quickly fall down the ever-popular ‘slippery slope’ and taxes will never go down.  I simply don’t think that is a concern when politicians must stand for election and taxes are a total no-brainer for the elctorate.

But it made another idea jump into my head.  We should be paying higher taxes and we should have been paying higher taxes starting back in 2003, when our elected federal governemnt decided we sould go to war in Iraq.  Residents of this country have been getting their heads blown off and having their internal organs reduced to a pulpy mess of blood and sinew ever since that decision was made.  From the moment we went to war, we should have been compelled to make sacrifices and to pay higher taxes.  But instead, we all sat home and watched reality TV.

Reality TV is bad for you.  American Idol is bad for you.  Cigarettes are bad for you.  Are you starting to get the picture?  Tax viewers of American Idol and you’ll accomplish two important goals.  You’ll raise revenue and you’ll make the show go away.

Overdoing it

As I contemplate the way in which I over ate tonight (burrito night – too much of a good thing!), I can’t help but reflect on Ms. Lithwick’s observations about how smart people can act stupid. This regularly happens in connection with selecting Supreme Court Justices (and burrito night).

So we can expect a lot of stupidity and histrionics. Something just happens when the bright shining lights of the Judiciary Committee’s fancy chamber come on.  I know that most of those senators like to be on TV.

Maureen Dowd should lose her job for this

She ripped off Josh Marshall, the founder of Talking Points Memo, and one of the top two or three most influential web journalists in recent history.  This guy’s investigation of the Bush Administration’s overly politicized Justic Department actually led to the firing of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.  Marshall is a modern day Woodward and Bernstein and he’s read by hundreds of thousands of people.  Did she think no one would notice?  How stupid can a person be?

SHE FREAKIN’ COPIED HIS STUFF AND PRINTED IT IN HER SUNDAY COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES.  That’s her saying that she’s too busy or lazy or old to do any real work on her own.  That’s her saying she doesn’t want her job anymore because it’s just too difficult – and it happens to be, like, one of the easiest jobs in the world.  AND THEN SHE LIED ABOUT!!!

Like it or not, newspapers will soon be gone forever.  This kind of insanely stupid behavior is one of the reasons why.

Torture Photos – Obama fumbles

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After talking a big game about openness in government, Obama has changed his mind and is, apparently, going to oppose the release of more photos.  These are photos of Americans torturing ‘detainees’ in several locations, not just at one ‘rouge’ facility.  This is all coming out of the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act request, so it is moving through formal, legal channels.  The United States Department of Defense has already lost its appeal to the Circuit Court, which means there is only one place left to go – you guessed it!  Paging Justices Scalia, Alito, Roberts, Thomas, et al.!

So, if Obama is going to keep these pictures secret, here’s the procedural posture, as reported in DailyKos:

Which leads us to today.  By my calculations, the government has about a month left to file a petition for a writ of certiorari before the Supreme Court.  As to whether the Court will review the opinion below, the question is generally whether the circuit court’s interpretation of the relevant FOIA exemptions or the Geneva Conventions created a split in the governing law with its sister circuits, or has otherwise “so far departed from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings, or sanctioned such a departure by a lower court, as to call for an exercise of this Court’s supervisory power” or otherwise presents “an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by this Court.”  Put in other terms, the government needs four justices to believe that there are five justices who’d overturn the opinion below … and given the way the Court operates, the nine justices involved will include Justice Souter’s successor, whomever she may be.

So, first they have to decide if this is something they even want to look at – the all important ‘Writ of Certiorari.’  If the answer at that stage is yes, then the parties will file briefs, everyone else will file amicus briefs (just to have their two cents on the record), and argument will, eventually, be scheduled.   The wheels of justice turn slow.

The post quoted above really does a nice job of laying it all out.  The government’s argument (this dates back to the Bush administration) is that the lives of certain people may be put at risk if the pictures are made public.  The appeal court, which has already sided with the ACLU in favor of disclosure, based it’s ruling, in part, on the government’s failure to identify specific people that might be harmed.  The current administration is stuck with that argument.  they can not now go back an argue that national security will be jeopardized.  That issue is not part of this case.  This is a perfect example of how the Courts work – they decide cases, they don’t make law.

And also, remember that they can’t now go and name the people who might be endangered.  Once the case is on appeal, evidence is closed.