Category Archives: civil liberties

Dear 1%: Stop whining, you cry babies. #OWS

If the 1% “job creator” class doesn’t like seeing people out on the street “whining” who don’t they go out an create some more jobs in the U.S.? When unemployment drops to 2% then they can complain about “slackers”. Until then, shut up, build the wealth that apparently only they, with their non-taxable income can create, and be thankful the protestors aren’t competing in the same dwindling job pool and the rest of us.

Statement of Gratitude to #OccupyWallStreet #OWS

Through the last couple weeks I’ve heard various commentators who find the protests offensive trot out the old cliches: “got a job!” “They’re just a bunch of slackers!” “They have no clear agenda!” “It’s just a bunch of aging hippies/ skateboarding slackers / what-have-you / all without real world experience or responsibilities”.  The irony of crying GET A JOB! amidst 9% unemployment is lost on these critics. (And we know that the real unemployment numbers are much higher than that; that the stats have been cooked for years to excluded the chronically unemployed, those who have had their spirits broken by winner-take-all capitalism, and have given up. They are not supposed to count. But they exist. So they count.)

I want you to know, that your critics are not fooling everybody. Sustained political protest is hard. It’s hard because many of the people hurting have too much on their plate to commit to it. They have jobs, they have families. They have crushing debts. They have health problems in a society that sees healthcare as a profit-making opportunity, and not a fundamental right like police protection of fire departments. They may hate that the corporations that cut their paychecks have the rights and privileges of “personhood” but not the accountability, but they need those paychecks.

So it falls to the young, or the fanatical, or the misfits, to begin the movement. It’s always been that way. To horribly mix a metaphor, it’s the outsiders, the people on the margins, that start the tide. Now the movement you began is starting to grow.

I won’t say don’t give up, because that would be arrogant. I will say: Keep at it as long as you can. But mostly I want to say: Thank you. You are fighting for me. You are fighting for us. The middle class, the formerly-middle-class, and the impoverished. I know this. A lot of people know this. Your passion, your desire for justice, is noted.

3 Things Obama can do on January 21st 2009 …

to restore the rule of law, begin rebuilding our reputation abroad, and aspire to make the Unites States a just nation.
1. Close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
2. Re-ban torture.
3. Begin Iraq withdrawal.
There is a fourth and a fifth, but I don’t have faith that any President, even Barack Obama will do it, and that is: work to repeal the Patriot Ace, and call for the criminal prosecution of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld for war crimes.

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McCain’s “macaca” moment.

"That One," McCain Calls Obama in Debate (VIDEO)


This could be McCain's "macaca moment" not that one was needed. Some are saying that too much is being made of this phrase: McCain contemptuously referring to Obama as "that one." But that's a very dismissive way to speak about another human being, let alone a candidate for the most powerful office in the world. A lot of women, a lot of people of color, a lot of young people, a lot of people who have felt social disadvantage of one kind or another in their lives, will recognize that tone and that phrase of McCain's, will recognize what it feels like to be on the receiving end of this dismissive objectifying characterization, and they will not think better of McCain for it, nor should they.

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What do Tarzan of the Apes, Twelfth Night, and Death of Salesman have in common?

  1. A. They are all known beloved stories stories.
  2. B. Among my personal favorites.
  3. C. Mayor Sarah Palin tried to ban them from her hometown public library.
  4. D. All of the above.

If you said “D.” you win a front row seat to the decline and fall. Here is a list: Stop Sarah Palin! The Books She Wanted BANNED! « Mike Cane 2008. These books she wanted banned from the PUBLIC library, not, say, a school library (which would have been bad enough)> Honestly, I’ve never heard of a public servant trying anything on the level in book banning. I’m sure there are others, but I just haven’t heard about them. Palin later tried to fire the librarian.

It’s not sexist to bring this stuff up, is it Mr. McCain?

Update: This list has not been validated (or vetted). The article in TIME discusses the allegation that Palin sought to bans books she found objectionable, and also that she tried to fire the city librarian as well as other city officials over “loyalty issues” but so far I can’t find any confirmed list of what books, if any, she actually identified for banning.

Get over it. She’s qualified.

At least Palin strikes me that way, after seeing her at the announcement. She strikes me an engaged, energetic, intelligent, competent person — all striking opposites to my impression of W. for example. I hope the Obama people realize that. I like her personally, and think a lot of other people would also. I hope Obama doesn't discount the value of that to McCain either.

Granted this is my impression based on seeing her once, but that's the position McCain has put us in, choosing someone so unknown. No, we don't know much about her stance on a variety of major issues, and perhaps McCain is thinking that is a plus too. The fact that she was a teen beauty queen — irrelevant. W. was a Yale cheerleader. The fact that she has a newborn — irrelevant, I don't know how she and her husband divide up the child raising duties. She can lead people, she can hold meetings, she can ask questions, she can meet with foreign leaders and engage them — she has the personal confidence and presence to do that. She can be president. An actor was president, a rich lazy son of president who failed in every private venture he ever tried is president today, and Palin would be a much better custodian of the office than he has been.* Get real.

And frankly, if I lived in a country that had never elected a man as P or VP in two centuries, and Palin were the first man even nominated by the Republicans I might, might, take a second look. And then I'd consider what I really care about.

This is what I care about: Palin in a religious right's and neocon's dream candidate, an absolutist on abortion, rejecting even exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother (however, that's the only intellectually honest position for a pro-lifer to take). Rush loves her. On "Arrested Development" Michael Bluth's dim older brother GOB, once said "I hear the jury's still out on science" and that thinking may qualify him for a high-level cabinet position in a future Palin administration. She believes Intelligent Design should be taught in school. She wouldn't directly answer the question on whether she believes in evolution or not. She believes human activity does not contribute to global warming. I don't want Sarah Palin making judicial appointments. She flipped-flopped on the "bridge to nowhere," apparently she only decided she was against it yesterday. She's qualified enough to be president but I don't want her as my president.

She also, by the way, imposed windfall taxes and the oil companies in Alaska, to bolster the Alaskan state budget, and she called for a time-table for Iraq withdrawal. Those are two great ideas. And, I promise you, you won't hear the McCain/Palin campaign touting those two ideas any time soon.

Barack Obama for President!

*Update: My point here is not that the job of president is easy, or that "W. turned out okay, didn't he?" or any such nonsense, but just that there's nothing magical or supernatural about the position, and human beings, flawed vessels that we are, are the only game in town. God does not appoint the president, nor is there a magic sword buried in a sword somewhere in Georgetown to be pulled out by the rightful one every four years.

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Why I am still for Obama

Yes, yes he has all those horrible qualities like charisma, optimism, and hasn’t spent the last twenty years in Georgetown, but …

I like Obama because he spent time overseas in school as a kid, has a varied and multi-cultural background, and might be able to stand on the world stage with other world leaders and not be so arrogant. He’s the anti-Bush. I really think a President can only set a tone (or invade stuff).
No matter who is the next President there won’t be any universal health care and we will be Iraq for another decade.
But the longer this goes on, the more Clinton makes me sick.

Any other the three front runners would be better than Bush because they are all competent. McCain is the hardest to read, because he has reversed himself this year on almost everything he has ever stood for, in order the get the Republican nomination. So the hope with him, is that he is really just I liar and isn’t really planning on serving W.’s third term. One thing about him that is consistent is his world view — namely that war is the natural state on humankind. Maybe that comes from his background from a family of officer-class military elites, maybe it is even true, but it’s a little too Julius Caesar for me.

Clinton just depresses me, because she is really invested in the 50/50 blue/red divide. She enjoys perpetual political war. She courts it. In ’92 the thinking in congress was that they were going to have to give something in terms of health care reform to the Clintons. Maybe not everything they wanted but something. However, she walled herself and her team off completely, came up with a giant plan in secret, presented it in a take-it-or-leave it manner and accomplished the near impossible in allowing a Democratically-controlled congress to reject it. As President I don’t believe she will work with people. She will work against them. Why? Because she would rather fail and be self-satisfied in her superiority, then get something achievable. If nothing gets done in her administration she will always have the Republicans and the media, or sexism to blame. I see it every day in the way she campaigns. Temperament-wise she is closest to W. than anyone else who has run this cycle: “I am right. My side has all the good ideas. If you aren’t with us, you’re against us.” It scarcely matters what the issue is, or who the opponent is: could be Obama, or Kenneth Starr, or MSNBC, or whoever. It doesn’t matter to Clinton, an enemy is an enemy.

I don’t want to sit through four more years of that.

I think getting a new guy in there, one who hasn’t been entrenched in Washington power for close to 20 years is the best chance of shaking things up. The worst thing for our decaying republic is to continue the concentration of power into the few. A McCain or a Clinton presidency won’t do much to reverse the Bush years of steady-slide into soft fascism, because it keeps the same people in power that have been in power, and those Bush power plays against the constitution won’t be given up easily because power is difficult to give up. But if you get a new group, there is a chance at least. Maybe. The alternatives are either rewarding the party that has destroyed the economy by borrowing billions from China to prosecute an unnecessary war for fun and (by openly embracing torture and trashing habeas corpus) given aid and comfort to radical Islam. Or to put the spouse of a popular former leader into power like a banana republic would.

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Fred Rogers is the man!

From Larry Lessig’s Free Culture:

[A] court in California had held that the VCR could be banned because it was a copyright-infringing technology: It enabled consumers to copy films without the permission of the copyright owner. No doubt there were uses of the technology that were legal: Fred Rogers, aka “Mr. Rogers,” for example, had testified in that case that he wanted people to feel free to tape /Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood/.

“Some public stations, as well as commercial stations, program the “Neighborhood” at hours when some children cannot use it. I think that it’s a real service to families to be able to record such programs and show them at appropriate times. I have always felt that with the advent of all of this new technology that allows people to tape the “Neighborhood” off-the-air, and I’m speaking for the “Neighborhood” because that’s what I produce, that they then become much more active in the programming of their family’s television life. Very frankly, I am opposed to people being programmed by others. My whole approach in broadcasting has always been “You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions.” Maybe I’m going on too long, but I just feel that anything that allows a person to be more active in the control of his or her life, in a healthy way, is important.” [23]

23. /Sony Corporation of America/ v. /Universal City Studios, Inc.,/ 464 U.S. 417, 455 fn. 27 (1984). Rogers never changed his view about the VCR. See James Lardner, /Fast Forward: Hollywood, the Japanese, and the Onslaught of the VCR/ (New York: W. W. Norton, 1987), 270-71.

Nevada Teacher’s union tries to block in-casino caucusing

Which would hurt Obama and voters in the Obama-endorsing Culinary Workers Union. Clinton’s side seems to think that voter suppression works to their advantage. How Republican of them.

via Sullivan.

Huckabee wants to change a fundamental definition of who is American

Namely, if you’re born here, you are a citizen. Not if Huckabee gets his way. Then your pedigree would count as well. This would never pass, but tells you something about the guy, doesn’t it? And this is sure to be a voter getter among the Republican faithful.

Mike Huckabee wants to amend the Constitution to prevent children born in the U.S. to illegal aliens from automatically becoming American citizens, according to his top immigration surrogate — a radical step no other major presidential candidate has embraced.


What she said

Arianna Huffington is zeroing in on the crucial issue – the consquences of the Bush powergrab for years after the administration leaves office. Who among the current candidates, once elected, will have the courage or the understanding to give some of that power up. Once upon a time George Washington was offered the highest office for life — a Crown if he wanted it. He said no. Who today is capable of saying no to sweeping powers of the executive once they begin to feel the draw of that power January 20, 2008? Anyone?


Looking back over the last year, it’s one of the most important issues America faced. Looking ahead, it could turn out to be the “sleeper issue” of the 2008 presidential race.

I’m talking about executive power, the way it is used — and has been abused over the last 7 years.

In a very revealing piece in the Boston Globe, Charlie Savage lays out the results of a questionnaire the Globe sent to the presidential candidates on the limits of executive power, asking their views on the Bush administration’s expansive view of presidential authority.

It’s hard to overstate how vital this issue is, or how far off the media radar screen it remains. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another issue in which the importance-to-the-public/attention-paid-by-the-media ratio is as out of whack.


It’s easy to imagine the next president saying: Sure, Bush used his increased prerogatives to do damage but, trust me, I’ll use them to do good.


And for a 150-page primer on the current threats to our rapidly-vanishing open society check out Naomi Wolf’s July 2007 book: The End of America: Letter’s of Warning to a Young Patriot. Not a cheery read — though Wolf does attempt to remain optimistic, and never attempts to seduce by overstating her case. It’s a disturbing work, but perhaps being disturbed is preferable to the increasing anxiety and feelings of helplessness that come of not admitting to myself what is really going on in this country.

Nah … I can’t happen here.

The good old days: NYT: Hoover Planned Mass Jailing of 12,000 in 1950. The sad thing is that I won’t be a bit surprised if I see bloggers, pundits, or some of the Republican presidential candidates offering defenses of such a scheme. Along the lines of “well, err the intent was reasonable, I’m sure. I mean, you can’t have people running around speaking unfavorably about the government, about the military, not in a time of war. But we don’t advocate taking anyone’s rights away — just suspending them for awhile. Detainees who can manage to prove their innocence of acts of dissent to the satisfaction of designated authorities will eventually be released.”


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