Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Wednesday, April 29, 2009


How much more can the Republicans take? Demoralized, shrinking and seemingly lacking an agenda beyond the word "no," Republicans today saw their ranks further thinned with the stunning news that Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter is switching parties and will run for reelection in 2010 as a Democrat.

Specter is worried about his own survival -- and particularly a primary challenge from the right. Many in the GOP might say good riddance.

After supporting President Obama's stimulus package, Specter was persona non grata in his own party. So it may be easy for some Republicans to conclude that they are better off without people like Arlen Specter.

But his defection is a reminder that the Republican Party continues to contract, especially outside the South, and that it appears increasingly less welcome to politicians and voters who do not consider themselves solidly conservative. Northeast Republicans have gone from an endangered species to a nearly extinct species. Republicans lost ground in the Rocky Mountains and the Midwest in the last two elections. That's no way to build a national party.

The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows the depth of the party's problems. Just 21 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as Republicans. That's the lowest since the fall of 1983, when just 19 percent identified themselves as Republicans. Party identification does fluctuate with events. But as a snapshot indicator, the latest figures highlight the impact of Obama's opening months on the Republican Party. From a high-water mark of 35 percent in the fall of 2003, Republicans have slid steadily to their present state of affairs. It's just not as cool to be a Republican as it once was.

The Republicans have many demographic challenges as they plot their comeback. Obama has attracted strong support from young voters and Latinos -- two keys to the future for both parties and once part of the GOP's calculation for sustaining themselves in power. Suburban voters have moved toward the Democrats. Specter can see that problem acutely in the suburbs around his home in Philadelphia home. Obama is also holding a solid advantage among independents, the proxy measure for the center or swing portion of the electorate.

Reihan Salam, co-author of "Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save America," said this week that the danger for Republicans is to believe they now represent a vast, silent majority that is waiting to reassert itself. A louder voice from a smaller cadre of supporters is not the answer, he warned. That will just prevent Republicans from reassessing their old agenda, developing new ideas and once again learning to reach out broadly.

The Post-ABC News poll points to the progress Republicans have not made since Obama was sworn in last January. The approval rating for congressional Republicans has slipped from 38 percent in February to 30 percent today. Congressional Democrats have seen their support drop too, but still remain 15 points higher than the Republicans.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Wow! Senator Arlen Specter has switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. When Al Franken is certified in Minnesota, that will give the Dems 60 senators!

That doesn't necessarily mean Specter will vote with the Dems on all the issues, but it DOES give the Democrats a wonderful filibuster-proof majority that will help President Obama facilitate his policies.

Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate, said Tuesday that Arlen Specter's abandonment of the GOP is "devastating," both "personally and I think for the party."
"I've always been deeply concerned about the views of the Republican Party nationally in terms of their exclusionary policies and views towards moderate Republicans," said Snowe, who has been approached, she said, by Democrats in the past about switching parties.
Specter's switch to the Democratic Party "underscores the blunt reality" that the GOP is not a welcome place for moderates, she said.
So far, she said, she's staying put. "I believe in the traditional tenets of the Republican Party: strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, individual opportunity. I haven't abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles.
She added that being a Republican is simply part of who she is. "It's my ethnic heritage, Spartan side, that continues to fight," she said.
The radical right wingers, like Boss Limbaugh, suggested that John McCain and his daughter join with Senator Specter and leave the Republican Party.
Great. All that will be left for the Republicans to be proud of are the Baggers: a gasbag (Limbaugh); a douchebag, (Hannity); and a scumbag (Beck).
The GOP will become the GOB: Grand Old Baggers.
What a tragedy! The GOB has only themselves to blame for putting their hope for the future in the Baggers and their followers.


but unlike his position during the investigation of President Clinton and of the allegations that he lied under oath and violated the law, Senator McCain doesn't think that the Bush administration's breaking the law and null and voiding our treaties should be investigated or punished.

Apparently, in Mr. McCain's world as well as in other GOPer's, it's only unlawful when a DEMOCRAT violates his oath of office.

Here is John McCain in his own hypocritical and outrageously partisan words:

"But we are not asked to judge the President's character flaws. We are asked to judge whether the President, who swore an oath to faithfully execute his office, deliberately subverted--for whatever purpose--the rule of law," - John McCain arguing for the impeachment of Bill Clinton for perjury in a civil suit, February 1999.

"Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot," - John McCain, October 2007.

"We've got to move on," - John McCain, April 26, 2009, reacting to incontrovertible proof that George W. Bush ordered the waterboarding of a prisoner 183 times, as well as broader treatment that the Red Cross has called "unequivocally torture."

So let's get this straight: John McCain was a defender of the rule of law when Mr. Clinton lied under oath about sexual misconduct, but believes we should "move on" concerning the issue of the Bush administration breaking the law and torturing.

There is no defending this rank hypocrisy and stupidity.

More hypocrisy, this time from John Boehner:

House GOP leader John Boehner has called on the Obama administration to release unspecified intelligence documents that supposedly will demonstrate that torture has been effective.

But Boehner won’t say whether the CIA should release a key classified report that is said to find no proof that torture foiled terror plots, according to his office.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Washington — So far, the model for President Barack Obama is less FDR and more Ronald Reagan, in a liberal incarnation.

From his ambitious effort to reverse the direction of government to the abrupt shift in style and tone from his widely unpopular predecessor, Obama in his first 100 days has laid the groundwork for a new Democratic era.

He has signed the most expensive single piece of legislation in American history with the nearly $800 billion fiscal stimulus that reshapes the role of government in energy, education, health care, infrastructure and science.

He has ordered troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. He has sought to forge a new American image on three foreign trips, including major summits in Europe and Latin America. He has reversed limits on stem cell research, ordered the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and released secret legal memos on terror interrogations.

He has set in motion a monumental change in environmental policy with the Environmental Protection Agency finding that global warming is a threat to public health.
He has presented a budget that would raise taxes on the wealthy and slash major weapons programs.

Republicans marvel at his poll numbers. The polling also, according to Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, bears a striking resemblance to former President Reagan’s: Obama enjoys huge personal approval, even among many Republicans, with 73 percent of those polled saying they view him favorably. At the same time, many express skepticism about his policies, especially on deficit spending.

Polls also show that party polarization is more intense than ever, but Obama has demography on his side, said John Kenneth White, a professor of politics at Catholic University.

“The old Reagan majority, which was white, middle-class, suburban and married with kids at home, now gets you 46 percent of the electorate, which is what McCain got,” White said.
Facing an economic downturn early in his first term, Reagan didn’t panic, White said. “People sensed there was a crisis, and they were willing to give him time. So while he took a beating in 1982, they weren’t willing to give up on him or Reaganomics, and I think the public is more willing to accord Obama time than a lot of people think.”

WASHINGTON – As America’s first African-American president prepares to mark his 100th day in office on Wednesday, spin doctors from around the globe already have begun weighing in.President Barack Obama’s initial accomplishments have covered a lot of territory:

Barack Obama took the oath of office on Jan. 20 with the world watching the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president. (Photo by Worsom Robinson/Real Times News Service)• Development of a plan to address the housing crisis and nation’s failing economy, amidst which he now sees “glimmers of hope”;

• The reversal of a string of executive orders by the Bush Administration viewed as anti-union;

• The establishment of the Middle Class Working Families Task Force;

• An executive order providing for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay lockup for terrorism suspects within a year;• His tour of Europe with First Lady Michelle Obama, which generated good will for America abroad during the G-20 economic conference;

• His trip to Mexico for discussions regarding the violent drug cartels and immigration issues.

• His efforts to improve the relationship with Cuba, supported by the Congressional Black Caucus.

• A new commitment to pour millions of dollars into the prevention and awareness of HIV/AIDS in America.

But, specifically, how is the new president doing on issues pertaining to civil rights? Though many leaders caution that 100 days is a very short time period, those interviewed gave him an “A” so far; however, most awarded him ‘incompletes‘ on the grassroots economy.

“There are some A’s and a couple of incompletes,” says the Rev. Jesse Jackson in a phone interview from Thailand. “I think the position against torture, an A; the G-20 conference, putting a credible face on America’s foreign policy where he has trust capital and Bush had trust deficit disorder.”Jackson also listed Obama’s reaching out to Cuba, Venezuela and the overture toward Iran as all A’s along with his dealing with the student loan industry, which Jackson described as a “$95 billion a year rip off.”

But, the incompletes – mainly in the area of economics - are clear, he says.“There’s an incomplete on the stimulus because it must be more targeted to get to the bottom. As the states get it, they’re using the term shovel ready. But, shovel-ready for those who don’t have a shovel because of the lack of capital and lack of credit means they may not be ready. That could be seen as boot straps without the boots.

“We have to be certain that it gets down to the most unemployed the most in need of training, the most in need of business development. That’s an ongoing struggle there.”With the Black unemployment surging above an average of 14 percent, National Urban League President Marc Morial agrees.On a scale of 1-10, Morial said the President scores a 9 for his first 100 days.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Remember when the head of the Republican National Committee said this:

"You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point."

Well, Mr. Steele has, again, proven himself to be correct.

The race in New York's 20th Congressional district was finally decided on Friday. Mr. Steele predicted this about that race in an op-ed on the Politico blog:

"Tedisco’s victory will be a credible repudiation of the spending spree that Obama and Congress have been on since January. Even the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee acknowledged over the weekend that the race was “a referendum on the Economic Recovery Act and Barack Obama’s policies.” Well, the DCCC is right — this likely Republican victory is a referendum on the president. [...]

Well, the voters have spoken, and while the results are still pending, Republicans are confident that the final vote tallies will show those voters have rejected the president’s approach. [...]

The ground has shifted, and is shifting, as the voters become increasingly worried about Obamanomics. [...]

Tuesday’s election was a vote of "no confidence" in the Democrats’ tax, spend and borrow approach. I hope Obama and congressional Democrats are listening."

Before the election, Mr. Steele said this:

"Our game is not up...our message still rings true with countless Americans, specifically with those in the 20th congressional district."

The game IS up, Mr. Steele, the Democrat, Scott Murphy, won in the tradionally Republican district. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed by NY Gov. Patterson to fill Hillary Clinton's vacated senate seat, was hardly a leftist Representative, and the district she represented had been previously represented by a moderate Republican, Benjamin Gilman, for thirty years. The Republicans should have won this race, but they couldn't. I'm beginning to think that damaging the GOP label through repeated blunders is all part of Steele's master plan. He'll wait until the Republicans are further demoralized after the 2010 elections, and then shout into the wind "We've got 'em now!"

Mr. Steele, you are again correct in saying we Americans should not believe a word you, as the head of the RNC, say.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Steve Schmidt, John McCain's campaign director in the 2008 presidential election, has some interesting things to say

On the Republican Party:

"It is near-extinct in many ways in the Northeast, it is extinct in many ways on the West Coast, and it is endangered in the Mountain West, increasingly endangered in the Southwest . . . and if you look at the state of the party, it is a shrinking entity."...

"As a political proposition, his [Barack Obama] first 100 days have been successful," he said. "His approval rating is in the 60s, there has been dramatic improvement in the 'right track' number, he's had success . . . at passing legislation, and the Republican Party as a matter of reality in the first 100 days has not done anything to improve its political condition."

On Gay Rights:

Schmidt voiced his support for gay rights at meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group. Schmidt, when referring to the group, said "I just wanted to take a second to come by and pay my respect and the campaign's respect to your organization and to your group. Your organization is an important one in the fabric of our party."

Schmidt referred in positive terms to his lesbian sister and her life partner: "On a personal level, my sister and her partner are an important part of my life and our children's life. I admire your group and your organization and I encourage you to keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come," said Schmidt.


All one has to do is read the comments in my posts to see how out of touch and extreme the Republican Party of today has become. And yet it stubbornly elevates and admires the nutjobs whom a majority of Americans reject--Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck [a particularly toxic and unbalanced extremist.]

How many more centrist Republicans will the party ignore before it realizes it has become a regional party of negativism and clownish politicians who astoundingly support illegal torture AND, in Texas, secession?

Could the Republican Party get any crazier than this?

Oh, wait...

Thursday, April 23, 2009


It is not just liberals/Democrats who are enraged over the Bush administration's breaking the law and using torture on prisoners. Shepard Smith works for Fox News, not exactly a bastion of liberal thought. Here is what The Huffington Post is reporting:

Fox News viewers witnessed a rather incredible scene on Wednesday as anchor Shepard Smith and Fox contributor Judith Miller (of CIA leak infamy) repeatedly and passionately condemned torture, with Smith declaring at one point, "We are America, we don't torture! And the moment that is not the case, I want off the train! This government is of, by, and for the people -- that means it's mine. That means -- I'm not saying what is torture, and what is not torture, but I'm saying, whatever it is, you don't do it for me! I want off the train when the government starts -- I want off, next stop, now!"

The full segment is worth a watch. And Smith felt strongly enough about the issue to speak out about it again as he was heading into commercial break.

"They better not do it," he said. "If we are going to be Ronald Reagan's Shining City on the Hill, we don't get to torture. We don't do it." Fade to black.

On's online show The Strategy Room, Smith took his opposition to a whole other level. "We are America!" he shouted, slamming his hand on the table. "I don't give a rat's ass if it helps. We are AMERICA! We do not fucking torture!!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Philip Zelikow--Thoughts from a Dissenter on Torture

The OLC "torture memos": thoughts from a dissenter
Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:17am
By Philip Zelikow

I first gained access to the OLC memos and learned details about CIA's program for high-value detainees shortly after the set of opinions were issued in May 2005. I did so as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's policy representative to the NSC Deputies Committee on these and other intelligence/terrorism issues. In the State Department, Secretary Rice and her Legal Adviser, John Bellinger, were then the only other individuals briefed on these details. In compliance with the security agreements I have signed, I have never discussed or disclosed any substantive details about the program until the classified information has been released.

Having been the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, I'm aware of what some of these captives did. The Commission wondered how captives were questioned (for details on that, see this previously disclosed report), and the matter is now the subject of a federal criminal investigation by special prosecutor John Durham. Nonetheless, the evidence against most -- if not all -- of the high-value detainees remains damning. But the issue is not about who or what they are. It is about who or what we are.

Based on what had earlier been released, I have offered some general views on "Legal Policy for a Twilight War." With the release of these OLC memos, I can add three more sets of comments, each of which could be developed at much greater length.

1. The focus on water-boarding misses the main point of the program.

Which is that it was a program. Unlike the image of using intense physical coercion as a quick, desperate expedient, the program developed "interrogation plans" to disorient, abuse, dehumanize, and torment individuals over time.

The plan employed the combined, cumulative use of many techniques of medically-monitored physical coercion. Before getting to water-boarding, the captive had already been stripped naked, shackled to ceiling chains keeping him standing so he cannot fall asleep for extended periods, hosed periodically with cold water, slapped around, jammed into boxes, etc. etc. Sleep deprivation is most important.

2. Measuring the value of such methods should be done professionally and morally before turning to lawyers.

A professional analysis would not simply ask: Did they tell us important information? Congress is apparently now preparing to parse the various claims on this score -- and that would be quite valuable.

But the argument that they gave us vital information, which readers can see deployed in the memos just as they were deployed to reassure an uneasy president, is based on a fallacy. The real question is: What is the unique value of these methods?

For this analysis, the administration had the benefit of past U.S. government treatment of high-value detainees in its own history (especially World War II and Vietnam) and substantial, painful lessons from sympathetic foreign governments. By 2005, the Bush administration also had the benefit of what amounted to a double-blind study it had inadvertently conducted, comparing methods that had evolved in Iraq (different Geneva-based rules, different kinds of teams) and the methods the CIA had developed, with both sets being used to against hardened killers.

Opponents should not overstate their side either. Had a serious analysis been conducted beforehand (it apparently was not), my rough guess is that it might have found that physical coercion can break people faster, with some tradeoff in degraded and less reliable results.
Which underscores the importance of moral analysis. There is an elementary distinction, too often lost, between the moral (and policy) question -- "What should we do?" -- and the legal question: "What can we do?" We live in a policy world too inclined to turn lawyers into surrogate priests granting a form of absolution. "The lawyers say it's OK." Well, not really. They say it might be legal. They don't know about OK.

3. The legal opinions have grave weaknesses.

Weakest of all is the May 30 opinion, just because it had to get over the lowest standard -- "cruel, inhuman, or degrading" in Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture. That standard was also being codified in the bill Senator John McCain was fighting to pass. It is also found in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, a standard that the Supreme Court ruled in 2006 does apply to these prisoners. Violation of Common Article 3 is a war crime under federal law (18 U.S.C. section 2441), a felony punishable by up to life imprisonment. (The OLC opinions do not discuss this law because in 2005 the administration also denied the applicability of Common Article 3.)

The OLC holds, rightly, that the United States complies with the international standard if it complies with the comparable body of constitutional prohibitions in U.S. law (the 5th, 8th, and 14th Amendments). Many years earlier, I had worked in that area of the law. I believed that the OLC opinions (especially the May 30 one) presented the U.S. government with a distorted rendering of relevant U.S. law.

At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.

Stated in a shorthand way, mainly for the benefit of other specialists who work these issues, my main concerns were:

the case law on the "shocks the conscience" standard for interrogations would proscribe the CIA's methods; the OLC memo basically ignored standard 8th Amendment "conditions of confinement" analysis (long incorporated into the 5th amendment as a matter of substantive due process and thus applicable to detentions like these). That case law would regard the conditions of confinement in the CIA facilities as unlawful.

The use of a balancing test to measure constitutional validity (national security gain vs. harm to individuals) is lawful for some techniques, but other kinds of cruel treatment should be barred categorically under U.S. law -- whatever the alleged gain.

The underlying absurdity of the administration's position can be summarized this way. Once you get to a substantive compliance analysis for "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" you get the position that the substantive standard is the same as it is in analogous U.S. constitutional law. So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.

In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest -- if the alleged national security justification was compelling. I did not believe our federal courts could reasonably be expected to agree with such a reading of the Constitution.

WE DON'T TORTURE...except we did,

we just lied about it, and that makes it all right! Jon Stewart tells the truth. Again:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
We Don't Torture
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

And Peggy Noonan says "You gotta walk and don't look back." But Peter Tosh said it waaaay better, and he wasn't talking about torture:

Monday, April 20, 2009


A little boy said to his mother, "Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white?"

His mother replied, "Don't even go there, Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!"

We are NOT post-racial. It is alive and well and flourishing in the south. This was sent over the internet and I received it today in my email. Congratulations you people in South Carolina, Houston, and North Carolina. for your "post-racial" slime. You are what makes us an embarrassment to the ourselves and the world. And you are so not mainstream. Why don't you all move to Idaho, join the skinheads and wallow in your pestilential sick jokes about bestiality and Mr. Obama's mother. It's a good bet these folks all belong to a Christian church.

It's been amusing how loudly the extremist right wingers complain that we see racism whenever we hear them complain about anything to do with Mr. Obama. This piece of hateful, dehumanizing rot puts everything into perspective.

And here are the people who sent this around:

Ron Chilton, President & CEO

National Trench Safety, LLC

15955 W. Hardy Rd., Suite 100

Houston, Texas 77060

Tele: 832.200.0988

Fax: 832.200.0989

Best Regards,

Tom Coble


3137 Cedar Park Road

Greensboro, North Carolina 27405

(336) 908-7650 (Mobile)

(336) 398-3000 (Office)

(336) 398-5065 (Office Fax)

(704) 625-9030 (E-Fax)

Best Regards

Randy Rooker

Coble Trench Safety

7615 South Rail Rd

N. Charleston SC. 29420

843 514-8906 (mobile)

843 735-5130 (Office)

843 735-5131 ( Fax)

Friday, April 17, 2009

The redoubtable cephalapod, (O)CT(O)PUS has generously offered the above for your elucidation.
I will send you over to the Swash Zone where you can educate yourself on what tea baggers don't want you to know.
Here's a teaser:
Our current national debt, also known as sovereign debt, is currently $11 trillion dollars. Deficit spending by three, successive Republican administrations accounts for $9 trillion of the total … a whopping 82%. Yet, Republicans want to pin their transgressions on the Democrats, and specifically the Obama administration, in an attempt to derail important legislation designed to fix this mess.
H/T to the octolly armed and demurely brilliant (O)CT(O)PUS.
The guy says Mr. Obama is a fascist, but doesn't give any evidence for his idiotic claim. "He just is." says the poor benighted dope.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sinfonian a/k/a DFH of Blast Off! on Keith Olbermann's Show!

Sinfonian was featured on Keith Olbermann's show tonight! Woo-Hoo!

He spoke at one of the tea bagger parties in Pensacola, Fla., but it wasn't a speech the audience was expecting. In fact, he was calling out the Bush administration for the mess we're in today and it was a while before the listeners understood that he was most definitely NOT one of them! LOL!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

DFH blogger speaks at Pensacola Tea Party ... and lives to tell the tale

If you were following my livetweeting today from the Pensacola Tea Party, then you already know: I gave a little speech. Hey, I'm a sucker for Open Mic Night ... what can I say?

Seriously -- I didn't realize there would be an opportunity to speak, but they were practically begging folks to come up and say a few words ... and I was right there ... well, with apologies for the picture quality, now you can see and hear for yourself:

"I enjoyed the part when I asked, "How many here make less than $250,000 a year?" and there's a big cheer ... then it goes quiet again when I tell them they'll pay less in taxes under the Obama plan. That's about when the murmuring started ...

My favorite part, though, is as I continue to gripe about the years from 2000 to 2008 (yeah, it's '01 to '09, but you have to "speak to your audience," y'know), and then I hit them with "place the blame where it belongs: squarely on the Republican Party and the Bush administration," they pretty much lost their shit at that point. That was fun.

But, like all good villains, I reveled in the booing just a bit ... although I should have closed with "Enjoy the rest of your teabagging!" Maybe I should have paid more attention in rehearsal ..."


Seen at a teabagger protest in Philadelphia.
Perry's advocating secession for the state of Texas because of the federal government's profligate ways. Of course, we never heard from this grandstanding twit while Texas' Favorite Son, George "National Embarrassment" Bush never vetoed one spending bill and while the gummint grew under him. But oh, now that a Democratic president is in office for three whole months, Gov. Perry has his little jockey shorts all in a twist over taxes and sovereignty.
Another great Republican idea, when the going gets tough, cut and run! Secede!
You go Texas!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Report from the dailykos:

Today's "Party" in Boston is Weak Tea
by Dana Houle
Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 04:50:05 PM PDT

On December 16th, 1773, three ships were docked in Boston harbor filled with cargoes of tea from the royally chartered East India Company. The previous year, in a scheme to help fund colonial rule in India through the East India Company, the crown had decided to dump tea cheaply on the American colonies, but with a tax added to raise revenue.

American colonists drank prodigious amounts of tea, but it was almost all contraband tea. Dumping cheap tea on the American market would hurt the business of the contraband smugglers, many of whom had high status in the colonies. It also was a tax on colonial tea-drinkers, who had no representation in Parliament. Thus, it was taxation without representation.

A crowd of about 7,000 people assembled near the harbor. That night, after a town meeting in Boston's South Meeting House, around a hundred men, led by Sam Adams, boarded the vessels and dumped all 342 chests of tea in to the harbor.

A quick search of the intertoobz doesn't give the population of Boston at the time. But 17 years later, the first official US census found Boston's population at a little over 18,000; given the population growth trends of the time, it's probably safe to say that Boston's population in 1773 was around 15,000.

So, for the Boston Tea Party, the crowd was a little under half the size of the entire population of Boston.
Today, some people angry that they have both taxes and representation, got together in Boston. Fox News, which has been trumpeting these gatherings for days if not weeks, reported that the crowd was about 500 people. The current population of the city of Boston is over 600,000 people, and the population of the Boston metro area is close to 5 million.

So, fun with numbers: Crowd at Boston Tea Party=7,000, equal to 46% of population of Boston
Crowd at Boston Teabaggers's Party= 500, equal to 0.08% of population of Boston.
BTW, the original Boston Tea Party didn't have free advertising from Fox News


The tea parties are AstroTurf -- fake grassroots. But there is a real movement growing against corporate greed and government malfeasance. This afternoon, groups of angry conservatives will gather on street corners and in parks across the country to protest. They will carry signs and deliver speeches expressing outrage over the Democrats' stimulus bill, over entitlements, over budget pork, over taxes. They will dump boxes of tea on the ground and wear three-cornered hats. The leading lights of the Republican Party will be on hand to cheer them on.

But as with so much on the right, these apparent displays of populist rage are not what they will seem.Six weeks ago, two of us (Mark Ames and Yasha Levine) published an investigation exposing the nascent "Tea Party" protest movement for what it really is: a carefully planned AstroTurf (or "fake grassroots") lobby campaign hatched and orchestrated by the conservative advocacy organization FreedomWorks. Within days, pieces of the scam had crumbled, exposing a small group of right-wing think tanks and shady nonprofits at its core.

The Tea Party movement was born on Feb. 19 with a now-famous rant by second-string CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli, who called for a "Chicago Tea Party" in protest of President Barack Obama's plans to help distressed American homeowners. Santelli’s call blazed through the blogosphere, greased along by a number of FreedomWorks-funded blogs, propelling him to the status of a 21st century Samuel Adams -- a leader and symbol of disenfranchised Americans suffering under big-government oppression and mismanagement of the economy.That same day, a nationwide "Tea Party" protest movement mysteriously materialized on the Internet.

A whole ring of Web sites came online within hours of Santelli's rant, like sleeper-cell blogs waiting for the trigger to act, all claiming to have been inspired by Santelli's allegedly impromptu outburst.At first glance, the sites appeared to be unconnected and unplanned. But many were suspiciously well designed and strangely on point with their "nonpartisan" and "grassroots" statements. It was as if all of them were reading from the same script.

The Web sites heavily linked to each other, spreading their mission with help of Facebook and Twitter feeds. FreedomWorks, as if picking up on rumblings coming from the depths of the conservative netroots, linked to them, too.But as our investigation showed, the key players in the Tea Party Web ring were no amateurs, but rather experienced Republican operatives with deep connections to FreedomWorks and other fake grassroots campaigns pushing pro-big-business interests.
FreedomWorks has a long history of using such campaigns. Founded in 2004 by Dick Armey, the former Republican House Majority Leader and lobbyist from Texas, and publishing titan Steve Forbes, FreedomWorks represented the consolidation and rebranding of two older think tanks, Citizens for a Sound Economy, founded by the notorious Koch family, and Empower America, a powerful lobbying firm that has battled health care reform and minimum-wage bills while championing deregulation, corporate tax cuts and whatever else their corporate clients desire.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Well do I remember the conservative punks who were flown into Florida in 2000 (I was living there at the time) to stir up anger and stop the ballot counts. I also clearly remember them holding signs that read 'SORE LOOSERMAN!" which was supposed to be their clever interpretation of "GORE/LIEBERMAN."

Now the proverbial shoe is on the other proverbial foot. Norm Coleman is beginning to look like the Miss Havisham of the Republican Party.
The ruling isn't expected to be the final word because Coleman immediately announced plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. He has 10 days to do so. That appeal could mean weeks more delay in seating Minnesota's second senator.
"It's time that Minnesota like every other state have two" senators, a jovial Franken said outside his Minneapolis town home with his wife, Franni, at his side. "I would call on Senator Coleman to allow me to get to work for the people of Minnesota as soon as possible."
After a statewide recount and seven-week trial, Franken stands 312 votes ahead. Franken actually gained more votes from the election challenge than Coleman, the candidate who brought it.


Monday, April 13, 2009


Some rightwing malcontent came to my comment section in the post below to castigate President Obama on his handling of the pirate hostage situation in the Indian Ocean. The wingnut unbelievably brayed that Mr. Obama was doing nothing to deal with the crisis, and, therefore, was weak and ineffective. Not known for their ability to actually think and reason, these sorts of idiots shoot their mouths off first and then, when we learn what the reality is, deserve all the ridicule and contempt we can heap on them when the facts bear out their outrageous incompetence and stupidity. Here's what the pathetic troll posted:

"Obummer will be a disaster for America, on the other hand, he is the right color for the left (yellow) and doesn't his wife dress well!! In the space of two months, he's already become America's Gordon Brown. He is a complete incompetent.Proposing an amnesty for the 12-20 million illegal immigrants at this time of economic crisis? Declining to pay his respects to the American war dead in Normandy? Look what he's doing offshore Somalia. Nothing.I think it far more significant that the US isn't dealing with pirates"This is very strange isn't it?"

Actually, what is strange is that this commenter has the ability to use hand-eye coordination to even type, let alone turn on a computer. But even well-fed pigeons can learn to poke out letters on a keyboard, so I'm told.

Go here to read what the estimable TAO has posted regarding the sad state of the GOP over at his blog.

Here is the report on what actually happened and how Mr. Obama handled the crisis.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is showing only glimmers of life and two costly wars remain in the balance, but President Barack Obama's "no drama" handling of the Indian Ocean hostage crisis proved a big win for his administration in its first critical national security test.
Obama's quiet backstage decision to authorize the Defense Department to take necessary action if Capt. Richard Phillips' life was in imminent danger gave a Navy commander the go-ahead to order snipers to fire on the pirates holding the
cargo ship captain at gunpoint.

For Obama, the benefits were instantly clear: an American life saved and a major victory notched against an increasingly worrisome scourge of the seas off the Horn of Africa.
Obama's handling of the crisis showed a president who was comfortable in relying on the U.S. military, much as his predecessor, George W. Bush, did.

But it also showed a new commander in chief who was willing to use all the tools at his disposal, bringing in federal law enforcement officials to handle the judicial elements of the crisis.

The rescue appeared to vindicate Obama's muted but determined handling of the incident. What won't be known for some time is whether Obama will benefit politically.

When Obama campaigns for re-election, he may take Bush's approach of turning any such incident into evidence of his leadership acumen.

On the other hand, Obama didn't go before the cameras Sunday to trumpet the success, instead releasing a written statement that saluted the bravery of the military and Phillips but claimed no credit for himself.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Arizona State University has invited President Obama to give its commencement address. It is also the custom for ASU, and most other universities, to award an honorary degree to the commencement speaker. Not so this year. The geniuses responsible at ASU have decided not to award Mr. Obama the customary degree because as they so disingenuously put it he hasn't accumulated a large enough body of work to merit a degree.

I see.

Barack Obama has reached the pinnacle of American politics and fame in being elected not only the POTUS, but as a result of attaining this distinction, the Leader of the Free World. Mr. Obama did this without benefit of having a father who was a past president of the US, nor a grandfather who was a US Senator. He accomplished this without having had his father and grandfather serve as admirals in the US Navy. Mr. Obama's father, in fact, abandoned him, his mother was absent for a good deal of his formative years, and he had the extra burden of being a bi-racial young man in a country still struggling with its racist past.

Mr. Obama, by dint of his own determination to succeed and through hard work and dedication to learning, earned scholarships to some of America's most prestigious institutions of learning. He was elected the first African-American head of the Harvard Law Review, graduated magna cum laud and became a community organizer instead of heading for a fast-track lucrative job in a first-tier law firm.

He was elected to the Illinois state legislature, wrote two best-selling books himself--no ghostwriters involved, got elected to the US Senate, ran for president and beat out one of America's most powerful, popular, and well-known political families-- the Clintons, won the Democratic nomination, and went on to vanquish a long-established US Senator and Vietnam war hero, while carrying traditionally Republican states, like Virginia and North Carolina.

Apparently, those accomplishments are paltry compared to the honorees who have had the benefit of ASU's degrees conferred upon them in the past--one of which was a Chinese Communist.

"His body of work is yet to come," said Sharon Keeler, a spokeswoman for the university. "That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency."

ASU's decision, announced on Thursday, has already floored members of the academic, political and media communities. At once bizarre and insulting, critics are curious as to what, exactly, a sufficient body of work resembles under the university's standards. After all, in addition to being the first African-American elected to the office of the president in our nation's history, Obama has served in the United States Senate and authored two best selling books.

In light of it all, it's worth looking back at who Arizona State University has offered honorary degrees.

Here is a list. And here is the honor give to the Chinese Communist fellow:

Wu Qidi: the vice minister of education of the People's Republic of China was given an honorary degree at ASU in May 2006."

Mr. Wu Qidi wasn't even the CHAIRMAN of education--only a vice chairman.

Incidentally, ASU gave both Sandra Day O'Connor and Sen. Barry Goldwater honorary degrees when O'Connor was only 3 years into her 25 year career on the Supreme Court and when Goldwater was eight years into his 30 years of serving in the US Senate. Those examples are hardly representative of a "body of work."

It's very clear what ASU and the people who made the decision are up to.

No matter.

Mr. Obama received REAL degrees from far more prestigious universities than ASU. He hardly needs their pissy sheepskin adornment to validate his very real, very honor-worthy accomplishments.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Stewart cuts through the crazies of the GOP like a warm knife through butter. Make no mistake, they are lunatics. There's no other explanation for their paranoid fantasies.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Baracknophobia - Obey
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Great news! Another New England state joins heartland Iowa in standing up for civil rights. Vermont becomes the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Good for Vermont, good for the country. Congratulations to everyone for all the hard work and dedication. On to Maine!

Vermont approves gay marriage

Vermont today became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature’s vote.

The Burlington Free Press reports that Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry was overturned by a 23-5 vote in the state Senate and 100-49 in the House. Under Vermont law, two-thirds of each chamber had to vote for override.

Vermont becomes the fourth state to permit same-sex marriage, joining Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I don't understand why soccer isn't as popular here as it is in the rest of the world...

I'll be in and out of here over the next few weeks. I thought these links were interesting and would inspire everyone to join in a lively discussion on any of the subjects. I'll pop in to see what, if anything, my visitors have to say.

Science, Religion, and Evolution

William Black on Bill Moyers' Journal talk about the bailout and liars' loans

Europe Falls Hard for Michelle

Natural mechanism for medieval warming discovered, disputes global warming deniers' claims

Saturday, April 4, 2009


UPDATE: When you finish reading Billy Collins' poem, go here and read what rockync wrote on the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination. You don't want to miss it.

April is poetry month. I've chosen this Billy Collins poem because I can understand where the impulse came from for him to write it. I've been in dozens and dozens of poetry workshops, and believe me, what he writes is not only hilarious, but true. I have heard several of the stanzas Collins writes in this poem many times as the people in the workshops I've attended tore apart my poems.

Enjoy poetry month. Read one; write one. Heck, write two!

by Billy Collins

I might as well begin by saying how much I like the title.
It gets me right away because I’m in a workshop now
so immediately the poem has my attention,
like the Ancient Mariner grabbing me by the sleeve.

And I like the first couple of stanzas,
the way they establish this mode of self-pointing
that runs through the whole poem
and tells us that words are food thrown down
on the ground for other words to eat.
I can almost taste the tail of the snake
in its own mouth,
if you know what I mean.

But what I’m not sure about is the voice,
which sounds in places very casual, very blue jeans,
but other times seems standoffish,
professorial in the worst sense of the word
like the poem is blowing pipe smoke in my face.
But maybe that’s just what it wants to do.

What I did find engaging were the middle stanzas,
especially the fourth one.
I like the image of clouds flying like lozenges
which gives me a very clear picture.
And I really like how this drawbridge operator
just appears out of the blue
with his feet up on the iron railing
and his fishing pole jigging—I like jigging—
a hook in the slow industrial canal below.
I love slow industrial canal below. All those l’s.

Maybe it’s just me,
but the next stanza is where I start to have a problem.
I mean how can the evening bump into the stars?
And what’s an obbligato of snow?
Also, I roam the decaffeinated streets.
At that point I’m lost. I need help.

The other thing that throws me off,
and maybe this is just me,
is the way the scene keeps shifting around.
First, we’re in this big aerodrome
and the speaker is inspecting a row of dirigibles,
which makes me think this could be a dream.
Then he takes us into his garden,
the part with the dahlias and the coiling hose,
though that’s nice, the coiling hose,
but then I’m not sure where we’re supposed to be.
The rain and the mint green light,
that makes it feel outdoors, but what about this wallpaper?
Or is it a kind of indoor cemetery?
There’s something about death going on here.

In fact, I start to wonder if what we have here
is really two poems, or three, or four,
or possibly none.

Friday, April 3, 2009


WOW! From the heartland of America! It looks like Vermont may be next, if the legislature can override Gov. Douglas' veto.

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Supreme Court legalized gay marriage Friday in a unanimous and emphatic decision that makes Iowa the third state — and first in the nation's heartland — to allow same-sex couples to wed.

Iowa joins only Massachusetts and Connecticut in permitting same-sex marriage. For six months last year, California's high court allowed gay marriage before voters banned it in November.

The Iowa justices upheld a lower-court ruling that rejected a state law restricting marriage to a union between a man and woman.

The county attorney who defended the law said he would not seek a rehearing. The only recourse for opponents appeared to be a constitutional amendment, which could take years to ratify.


This was in the comment section of "From The Left," and it is just beautiful.

I found this joint statement from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Iowa House

Speaker Pat Murphy on today’s Supreme Court decision:

“Thanks to today’s decision, Iowa continues to be a leader in guaranteeing all of our citizens’ equal rights.

“The court has ruled today that when two Iowans promise to share their lives together, state law will respect that commitment, regardless of whether the couple is gay or straight.

“When all is said and done, we believe the only lasting question about today’s events will be why it took us so long. It is a tough question to answer because treating everyone fairly is really a matter of Iowa common sense and Iowa common decency.

“Today, the Iowa Supreme Court has reaffirmed those Iowa values by ruling that gay and lesbian Iowans have all the same rights and responsibilities of citizenship as any other Iowan.

“Iowa has always been a leader in the area of civil rights.

“In 1839, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War decided the issue.

“In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa, 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

“In 1873, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations, 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision.

“In 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

“In the case of recognizing loving relationships between two adults, the Iowa Supreme Court is once again taking a leadership position on civil rights.

“Today, we congratulate the thousands of Iowans who now can express their love for each other and have it recognized by our laws.”


and he speaks to them as an adult instead of a petulant teenager. What a change. He promised change, and Europe is witnessing it.

President Obama pointed to both the US and Europe's tendency to mistrust and misinterpret each other. We need each other to confront the economic, ecological, and social problems facing the planet. Coopeeration is need, not name-calling. Remember when the Bush administration's cheerleaders called the French a bunch of "cheese eating surrender monkeys?" And the Congressional Republicans changed French fries to Freedom fries? Embarrassingly juvenile behavior. But then, we had a president who tended to act like one himself--"Bring it on!" That was the tone set by the Bush administration--bullying was in, diplomacy was out. But on November 7, 2008, our long national embarrassment ended.

STRASBOURG, France (CNN) -- President Obama on Friday called on Europe and the United States to drop negative attitudes toward each other and said "unprecedented coordination" is needed to confront the global economic crisis.

Speaking at a packed town hall meeting in Strasbourg on his first overseas trip as president, Obama said, "I'm confident that we can meet any challenge as long as we are together."

It's easier to allow "resentments to fester" than "to forge true partnerships," the president said. "So we must be honest with ourselves. In recent years, we've allowed our alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy. But we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship.

"But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad.

"On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise; they do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated."

Obama's comments came after the G-20 meeting in London, England -- which Obama called "a success" of "nations coming together, working out their differences, and moving boldly forward" -- and on the eve of a NATO summit in Strasbourg marking that organization's 60th anniversary.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Compare and contrast.

Actually, who really cares.