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Friday, September 30, 2011

Surf's Up In... Chicago?

Sept 30th, 2011

The waters of Lake Michigan were a little more menacing than usual today. It is quite a sight.


View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

There Was No $16 Muffin. Period.

Sept 30th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker

Kevin Drum is pissed and he has every reason to be. Having thoroughly and unequivocally debunked the Fox News meme about "muffin-gate," he noticed that Bill O'Reilly doubled down on it during his recent appearance on the Daily Show. It was an epic fail moment on Jon Stewart's part.

Drum writes:

"On the Daily Show last night, Bill O'Reilly was griping about the great $16 muffin affair and Jon Stewart had no idea what he was talking about. So the whole thing passed without any pushback, and now millions more people think Uncle Sam is paying $16 for hotel muffins.

Once again, then: it's a myth. There were no $16 muffins. It's just an artifact of the way hotels aggregate costs for events and bill them all to a few line items instead of breaking down every charge separately. In fact, for the event in question, DOJ came in exactly on budget. All the details are here.

Now, can we please hear no more about this?"

Not only is the story a staggering falsehood, the price tag was actually a bargain. I have a great deal of direct experience organizing and billing formal events from my years in restaurant management. A catered affair that comes in at $16 per person in Washington D.C. is a miracle of responsible spending

Period.

Really, Really, Really Reluctant Hat Tip

Sept 30th, 2011

More often than not, I simply disregard Fox Business anchor Gerri Willis. She is not as reactionary as some of her colleagues, Cavuto in particular, but she tends to pass along about the same level of incorrect and even propagandistic information at the behest of Ailes. However, her commentary on and reaction to the recent Bank of America fee-gouging is pretty entertaining.

Solidarity With The Occupation

Sept 30th, 2011

Yesterday, Russell Simmons spoke to Martin Bashir about his support for the Occupy Wall Street movement:

"Last time I got involved in a protest I brought a hundred thousand people there, for the Rockefeller Drug Laws. And if I get involved really heavily in this one, we find the agenda and have a common ground we can bring hundreds of thousands of people small seeds are planted, but it could grow into something very big."


California Vs The Banksters

Sept 30th, 2011

One less state is in on the big fix. From the LA Times:
"California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris will no longer take part in a national foreclosure probe of some of the nation's biggest banks, which are accused of pervasive misconduct in dealing with troubled homeowners.

Harris removed herself from talks by a coalition of state attorneys general and federal agencies investigating abusive foreclosure practices because the nation's five largest mortgage servicers were not offering California homeowners relief commensurate to what people in the state had suffered, Harris told The Times on Friday.

The big banks were also demanding to be granted overly broad immunity from legal claims that could potentially derail further investigations into Wall Street's role in the mortgage meltdown, Harris said."

Worth 1,000 Words - Westboro Church Edition

Sept 30th, 2011

Yup

Tweet Of The Year Nominee

Sept 30th, 2011

Talk about telling it like it is... A major HT to @OsborneInk

Today In WTF? Rumsfeld Edition

Sept 30th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker

Click for larger view. Image via
During the last ten years of Permawar, the reporters of Al-Jazeera have been attacked by our country in more than one location. Just prior to the capture of Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001, their affiliate was destroyed by American munitions. As Muftah Al Suwaidan, then London bureau chief, noted at the the time:

"Al-Jazeera's office is in the heart of Kabul. The building is the only one to have been hit so it looks like it was deliberate."

Then came the 8th of April in 2003 in Iraq. NPR reported dryly:

"Three journalists were killed in military operations in Baghdad Tuesday, including an incident in which a U.S. tank fired at a hotel housing hundreds of international reporters."

There have been allegations that these were very much intentional operations and that former President George W. Bush was all for them. There has even been reportage that Bush was so gung-ho about targeting Al Jazeera's journalists, he openly discussed bombing their headquarters in Doha, Qatar, with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair is alleged to have talked W out of it.

Think about it. This would have been akin to bombing Rockefeller Center to stop the free dissemination of information the W regime didn't want transmitted.

Image via wikileaks
The thing is, the targeted killing of journalists during the W. years was not altogether uncommon.

The sheer number of the dead and the scope of the coordinated killings is unlike anything our country has ever been guilty of before.

Of course, that can be said of us on many fronts since the abandonment of Just War Theory by our government.

The now infamous "collateral murder" video, which helped to make wikileaks a household name was not the most brazen act of violence against the non-combatant press corps... it is simply the only one for which we have seen the military's video record.

These facts make this morning's news a heck of an eye opener. Via HuffPo:

"Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has given an interview to Al Jazeera, ending his feud with a channel he once described as "vicious".

Questioned by Sir David Frost, Bush’s former right-hand man, who many see as the architect of the second Gulf War, struck a conciliatory tone in the interview.

"Its audience has grown and it can be an important means of communication in the world," he said of the channel.

"I am delighted you are doing what you are doing."


What Rumsfeld is trying to accomplish is anyone's guess. Distance from the last regime? Denial of complicity in outright war crimes? Who knows.

It is more than perplexing. It is disgusting. And here I thought the Dick Cheney "torture is good" tour promoting his "book" was beyond the pale.

Voting To Ban Rights

Sept 30th, 2011

The report below by Rachel Maddow is chilling. One more time, I'd like to harp on the "disappointed" 2008 Obama voters who stayed away from the polls in droves last year. If they still think there is no difference between the parties, they are simply, flat-out insane. The assault on marriage equality is but a part of the result of liberal non-participation. Face it. If we had solid Democratic majorities in most of the states where basic rights, which we have taken for granted for decades, are under siege, this would not be happening.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 30th, 2011

Image via WNET
"As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever."
-- Clarence Darrow

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Worth 1,000 Words

Sept 29th, 2011

Image via 

"Outside Approved Channels"

Sept 28th, 2011

If a handful of Tea Party activists, with marching orders from a manufacturing and petrol conglomerate, show up almost anywhere, anytime and carry American flags made in China... well, by golly, that's "news." But, when more than 7,000 citizens without pre-printed talking points gather to protest systemized corruption and inequality in the heart of the most important financial district on the face of the Earth?

cue crickets...

For the most part, American news outlets have taken two approaches to the Occupy Wall Street action; disrespectfully dismissive reports or none. It is ridiculous. It was also thoroughly predictable.

Glenn Greenwald puts it succinctly:

"It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive andscornful of the ongoing protests on Wall Street. Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists. That's just the nature of protests that take place outside approved channels, an inevitable by-product of disruptive dissent: those who are most vested in safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives (which, by definition, includes establishment media outlets) are going to be hostile to those challenges. As the virtually universal disdain in these same circles for WikiLeaks (and, before that, for the Iraq War protests) demonstrated: the more effectively adversarial it is, the more establishment hostility it's going to provoke."

Whatever structural critiques can be made about the movement, an area where Greenwald and I don't see things eye to eye, the broad refusal to objectively report on the events in lower Manhattan is a betrayal of the most basic principles of journalism.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 29th, 2011

"We cannot, by total reliance on law, escape the duty to judge right and wrong.... There are good laws and there are occasionally bad laws, and it conforms to the highest traditions of a free society to offer resistance to bad laws, and to disobey them."
-- Alexander Bickel

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How To Tell "News" From "Not News"

Sept 28th, 2011

How do we tell the difference between what is and what is not "news?" Who knows. I do somehow think corporate sponsorship just might actually have something to do with it.

Of course, in the last 24 hours, I have been called  a "Marxist," a "Communist," and a "Fascist" who is "going to die" when "the Tea Party restores freedom and kills" me.

So what do I know. Anyway, here's an easy visual guide to what is and is not "news."

NEWS
Image via PoliticsUSA
NOT NEWS
Image via Digital Journal

Things You Can't Make Up - Limbaugh Edition

Sept 28th, 2011

Rush Limbaugh has declared himself the actual "leader of the free world." I kid you not.

Perfect Timing

Sept 28th, 2011

Everyone has been talking about the Howard Kurtz profile of Fox's Roger Ailes. I think it pertinent to highlight this particular section today:

"Ailes raises a Fox initiative that he cooked up: “Are our producers on board on this ‘Regulation Nation’ stuff? Are they ginned up and ready to go?” Ailes, who claims to be “hands off” in developing the series, later boasts that “no other network will cover that subject … I think regulations are totally out of control,” he adds, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to “sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.” It is a message his troops cannot miss."

Indeed, this theme has been spun hour after hour, day after day, for weeks on the Murdoch Device. It's no longer clear if Fox parrots the GOP or vice versa. However, it is worth contextualizing their mission to deregulate pretty much everything with this breaking news via HuffPo:

"Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday – including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas – surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak."


If it's a choice between "job-killing" regulations and a people-killing absence of regulations, which do we prefer?

It seems clear. If you aren't a sociopath. Speaking of sociopaths, here is part of the Fox editorial response to the aforementioned outbreak. Below is the headline. That's their message. It's really your fault when food kills you. So there.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 28th, 2011

"It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong." 
-- Voltaire

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The President Asks Us To "Push Back"

Sept 27th, 2011

A strong report from Maddow on the broad media misrepresentation of President Obama's recent speech to the Congressional Black Caucus.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 27th, 2011

"Laws are only words written on paper, words that change on society's whim and are interpreted differently daily by politicians, lawyers, judges, and policemen. 


 Anyone who believes that all laws should always be obeyed would have made a fine slave catcher. Anyone who believes that all laws are applied equally, despite race, religion, or economic status, is a fool." 
-- John J. Miller

Monday, September 26, 2011

What Separation?

Sept 26th, 2011

James Madison once famously said, "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries."

The following video is real. This is not a parody. This is an event in a public school. But remember, the hand-wringing over indoctrination and establishment attempts by Dominionists are just something we progressives are making up. Right?

Via Dred Pirate Rob:

Public School Proselytizes to Children by OnKneesforJesus

Quote Of The Day 2

Sept 26th, 2011

"The subject of every State ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State."
-- Adam Smith, 1776

Another Market View

Sept 26th, 2011

Earlier, we posted the BBC interview with American stock trader and analyst, Alessio Rastani. His pronouncement was basically that the sky will soon be falling and the grounds wil shake. Seriously. Here's a somewhat less alarmist (although not by much) report from Europe via PBS.


Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

O'Donnell Breaks Down The Police Riot

Sept 26th, 2011

Once again, the irony that the violence was consistently caused by the "white collar" Commanders and not the "blue collar" rank and file officers is amazing.


"The Stock Market Is Finished"

Sept 26th, 2011

This exchange between American stock market trader Alessio Rastani and a BBC interviewer is genuinely shocking.

via IBT:

"Stock market trader Alessio Rastani commented on the current economic crisis to the BBC on Monday, saying, "Governments don't rule the world" but rather Goldman Sachs does and he "dreams of another recession."

"This is not a time right now for wishful thinking that governments are going to sort things out," Rastani told the BBC. "The governments don't rule the world,Goldman Sachs rules the world."



Um... Sleep tight.

The Public's Opinion On The Public's Opinions

Sept 26th, 2011

I suppose you could call it a poll about polls. In an recent sampling by Gallup, a larger majority of self-identified Republicans than Democrats feel the country would be better off "if the leaders of our nation followed the views of the public more closely." How that squares with the fact that vast majorities are consistently opposed to specific Republican policy positions when asked is anybody's guess. What's more, the higher the level of education completed by those sampled directly correlates to lower agreement with the supposition.

The Next Phase Of Occupation

Sept 26th, 2011
The live-stream of events from New York can be viewed at AnonOps

Image via David's Camera Craft
Yesterday, I wrote at some length about the inherent problems with the intentionally diffused and leaderless structure of the Occupy Wall Street action.

There was a great deal of response, more positive than not.

The Continuing Decline...

Sept 26th, 2011

The screenshot below is just the current result (6:30am EDT 9/26/11) of a totally unscientific web poll regarding police behavior this past Saturday from the NY Daily News. There is no way of discerning the actual demographics of the respondents. All this really shows is that 46% of them are nuts.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 26th, 2011

"Dare to do things worthy of imprisonment if you mean to be of consequence."
-- Juvenal

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why They Are There

Sept 25th, 2011

I have written and argued over the last day about the relative disorder and even incoherence at times of the Occupy Wall Street protest. That doesn't mean I don't stand with them. In fact, I wish I could join them.

However much I continue to push for a simple 3 to 5 point set of demands with very specific targets, only a fool could fail to understand their need to be there.

David Graeber of The Guardian writes:

"Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation –despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down."


This can only be done one brick at a time. This is why I continue to challenge the protesters to do better and unify more succinctly. It is our duty to help them pull the bricks.

Hey, Occupiers, Maybe This Is A Good Thing

Sept. 25th, 2011

Photo via PoliticsUSA
What looked like a large contingent of biological and chemical response specialists, who apparently are part of the Department of Homeland Security, showed up today at the perimeter of the Occupy Wall Street protest.

Bunches of folks are freaking out about it.

They say they were just at the 9/11 Memorial and wanted to see what was happening. Maybe they are tourists. Or, maybe they are there for a reason. If the latter is true, it just may be that reason is a good one.

Ask yourselves a question. After the apparent criminal assault of five women yesterday by police using a chemical agent, don't you want them there? Do you think some thug with a badge who has just lost his cool is actually going to repeat that particular act of violence in front of a dozen or more of these guys? Perhaps, cops like that will think twice about it after they're gone.

Just food for thought.

Identifying The Bad Guys

Sept 25th, 2011

In the footage and on the scene reports from the Occupy Wall Street rally in New York, it does seem to be the white collar police officers in particular who are instigating a majority of the violence.


We don't know who they are, but we need to find out. If they are not charged criminally, they should should at least be subjected to civil suits.

The MSM Starts To Pay Attention

Spet 25th, 2011
If anyone can identify officers who have used violence or excessive force during Occupy Wall Street, contact the New York ACLU at 212-607-3300

The coverage is biased, but at least it's something.
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Inequalstan

Sept 25th, 2011

I must admit, the new Chris Hayes weekend show is off to a fine start. Yesterday, he did a great job of exposing just how dishonest one very familiar conservative talking point really is. Oh, and he took a righteous shot at David Brooks, as well.

Great. We're Mad. We Still Need A PLAN To Get Even.

Sept 25th, 2011
F. Grey Parker (NSFW post)
Ongoing streaming coverage of events in New York can be viewed at AnonOps

There has been a lot of discussion in the last 24 hours about the ongoing Wall Street protests. What, exactly, are the goals? I have asked this. Other folks that I genuinely respect have asked this.

Even some of those who are on the scene in New York have begun asking this.

The pushback against these legitimate questions has been fairly intense.

These petulant reactions to reasonable queries need to stop and they need to stop right now.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 25th, 2011
"Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves."
-- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moderation On Display

Sept 24th, 2011

Thousands of Muslims gathered publicly today in London to condemn extremism.

From AP via NPR:

"Thousands of Muslims held a rally in London on Saturday against extremism and to promote a moderate, inclusive version of Islam.

The event in Wembley Arena was led by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a respected Pakistan-born Islamic scholar, who gained recognition outside the Muslim world after he published a detailed fatwa — or religious ruling — against terrorism and suicide bombings last year.

"I want to address those who are lost, who have a total misconception of jihad I want to send them a message come back to normal life. Whatever you're doing is totally against Islam," he told the audience, which included families with young children and students.

Some Islamic scholars, including Tahir-ul-Qadri, have warned that a power vacuum in North Africa and the Middle East could lead to militant and extremist groups gaining ground in upcoming elections caused by the so-called Arab Spring.

"If these elements come into power, it will be a big disaster," Tahir-ul-Qadri told The Associated Press."

The Spineless GOP Hopefuls

Sept 24th, 2011

We've now heard Republican audiences cheer for the death of the uninsured and boo a soldier serving in Iraq because he's gay. Ryan Lizza is aghast at the unwillingness on the part of the hopeful GOP candidates during the last two debates to show leadership and condemn these outbursts on the spot:

"These debates have exposed a strain of conservatism that usually only exists in liberal caricatures. My experience covering Republican politics for years is that these sentiments don’t represent the majority of G.O.P. voters, and everyone knows that political events attract some exotic characters. But I don’t recall a field of Presidential candidates—ostensibly, the top political leaders of their party—so fearful to speak out when these eruptions do occur. It’s been shameful."

It is not merely shameful, it is also inexplicable. Do these candidates actually think a plurality in America wants a President and Commander in Chief who is afraid of confronting ugly, rabble-rousing outliers in a dark room?

Where Are All The Terrorists?

Sept 24th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker

Did you know that the "Ground Zero Mosque" and its army of evil-doers in waiting is, gasp, open to the public?!


Well... it is.

The Park 51 Community Center, which is not a mosque per say, held its first major event this past Wednesday evening.

What kind of horrible, anti-American propaganda was being spewed?

What kind of venomous calls to impose Sharia Law were made?

How many demands for the destruction of Israel were issued?

NONE

L.S Carbonnell writes:

"Centering around a exhibit of Danny Goldfield’s photographic essay of the multinational, multi-cultural scope of New York City’s children, the Park 51 Islamic Community Center has opened its doors to give the City a taste of things to come. A small orchestra of Middle Eastern musicians played in the background as people representing the breadth of New York’s ethnic mix mingled and admired the photographs."


Goldfield's work is remarkable. The exhibit and the space are a great contribution to New York and, frankly, the world. This is something to proud of.

The occasion of its opening is also time for those of us who fought in defense of Park 51's very right to exist to loudly and forcefully shame those that opposed it. They are worse than mere bigots, racists and Islamaphobes.

Their battle against this community center was, and is, un-American.

Do you remember when Larry Klayman wrote that its construction was a "dastardly scheme" and that it was "crazy and evil?"

I do. Feel free to contact him on Twitter HERE. Or, you can call him at 310-595-0800


Do you remember when Dick Morris wrote that "It would be — as many mosques throughout the nation are — a terrorist recruitment, indoctrination and training center"?

I do. Feel free to contact him on Twitter HERE. Or, you can e-mail him HERE

Perhaps you might recall RedState rushing to the defense of the ADL after they had publicly smarmed that building the center was "not a question of rights, but a question of what is right."

Class Warfare?

Sept 24th, 2011

When it comes to voting rights, your damn straight it is.

Big Time Republican Flip Flops

Sept 24th, 2011

Yesterday, Joshua Holland shined some light on nine issues about which the Republican party has gone through the looking glass altogether over the last few decades, most notably, the concept of a health care "mandate."

"Late last year, when a federal judge ruled against the mandate (two other courts disagreed, and the Supreme Court will end up deciding the question), Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, rejoiced. "Today is a great day for liberty," he said. "Congress must obey the Constitution rather than make it up as we go along." It was an odd testament to freedom, given that Hatch himself co-sponsored a health-care reform bill built around an individual mandate in the late 1990s.

Journalist Steve Benen noted that while "the record here may be inconvenient for the right ... it's also unambiguous: the mandate Republicans currently hate was their idea."
It was championed by the Heritage Foundation ... Nixon embraced it in the 1970s, and George H.W. Bush kept it going in the 1980s. For years, it was touted by the likes of John McCain, Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennett, Tommy Thompson, Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham, John Thune, Judd Gregg, and many other ... notable GOP officials.
According to NPR, the mandate was the Right's response to progressive proposals to establish a single-payer system. Mark Pauly, the conservative economist widely credited with the idea, explained that "a group of economists and health policy people, market-oriented, sat down and said, 'Let's see if we can come up with a health reform proposal that would preserve a role for markets but would also achieve universal coverage.'"

Yup. I am sure they were secret-communists all.

Class Warfare?

Sept 24th, 2011

Krugman looks at the numbers:

"Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, but the basic picture surely hasn’t changed — show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.

Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.

So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare?"


No.

What Next?

Sept 24th, 2011

Troy Davis is gone. As along as there is a death penalty, there will be more Troy Davises.

What comes next? Greg Bluestein asks that very question over at HuffPo:

"Minutes before he was put to death, Troy Davis asked his supporters to "continue to fight this fight" – but will they, and how?

The Georgia inmate's case outraged hundreds of thousands of people around the world who found the evidence against him weak, and opponents of the death penalty hope their anger provokes a backlash against capital punishment. Some activists say a fitting legacy of the case would be laws that bar death sentences for those, like Davis, whose convictions are based on eyewitness testimony.

With Davis gone, however, the loose coalition of groups who pushed for his freedom may simply crumble. Much may depend not on the death penalty's most strident opponents, but on less politically active people who were drawn into the debate by Davis' two-decade struggle."



The attention of America and the world is quickly moving elsewhere. This is unacceptable. I implore those of good conscience to become more regularly involved in the movement to abolish capital punishment.

Please join me in supporting the ACLUAmnesty International and the NCADP

Quote Of The Day

Sept 24th, 2011
Please join Amnesty International, the NCADP and the ACLU in our commitment to ending state sanctioned murder

Image via
"Death is not only an unusually severe punishment, unusual in its pain, in its finality and in its enormity, but it serves no penal purpose more effectively than a less severe punishment."
-- Justice William J. Brennan

Friday, September 23, 2011

State Sanctioned Murder Is Always Wrong

Sept 23rd, 2011
by F. Grey Parker
Please join Amnesty International and commit to ending state sponsored murder

Troy Davis image via
There has been some vulgar pushback following the state sanctioned murder of Troy Davis in Georgia. Those of us who have been steadfast in our opposition to the practice of capital punishment for years have been accused of only recently taking an interest. It has been suggested, with ominous undertones, that we "didn't care" about the other victim in the Davis case, the late Mark MacPhail. Our motives have been made suspect. This is not only dishonorable, it is vile.

What's more, we have been called "hypocrites for "ignoring" the execution in Texas of the notorious Lawrence Russell Brewer that same evening.

L.R. Brewer image via
We weren't ignoring it. We were also fighting against Brewer's execution on general principle. However, having a provably reasonable doubt in the Davis case made it a greater imperative not only for us, but for millions of educated and informed citizens of the world. Let's face it. The cause of Brewer was not a popular one. The public's reluctance to sign our petitions on his behalf isn't exactly hard to fathom.

S.D. Crowe image via
Others have spent time today lamenting the decision of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the death sentence of Samuel David Crowe yesterday evening. This is wrong. 

Is it shocking that his sentence was not carried out and that he will now spend life in prison, rewarded for simply having said he is "sorry" for his crime?

Yes, it is.

Is it suspicious that this commutation came just a day after after Davis' execution?

Absolutely. 

The apparent hypocrisy begs a serious inquiry into the workings of the Georgia system.

That said, we who fought for Troy Davis should celebrate the Crowe decision. We should also condemn the killing of Brewer. That this penalty is allowed at all is the problem.

There is no deterrent value. It is revenge. Some receive it while others don't at the whim of judges and juries.

Allen Ault, the former warden of the Jackson, Georgia prison in which the Davis sentence was carried out, was one of six former penal officials who called for clemency in the Davis case. Mr Ault, a man who has overseen executions in that very death chamber, had this to say to MSNBC in the hours following Davis' death:

"When you're in the death chamber ordering an execution, and even if in your mind, if you're a man of conscience, actually believe somebody is guilty, it's still a very premeditated murder. I mean, it's scripted and rehearsed. It's about as premeditated as any killing that you can do."

It's murder. You can dress it up, you can engage in hyperbole about the "worst of the worst," you can argue about and distort "tradition" and you can generally find a good number of Americans who are willing to do as many rhetorical back flips as they need to in order to call it something else. It's still murder.

Lawrence O'Donnell did a fine job of pointing out why commitment to the end of all capital sentences is a moral duty. You might not be aware that there was a third execution yesterday. The cameras weren't there. They had already folded up shop. We didn't get very many supporters for Derrick O'Neill Mason. There was no question of his guilt and his crime was monstrous. And yet, some of us were fighting for him. Yes, even him. Here's why...

In O'Donnell's words, "as long as we have Derrick O'Neill Masons and Lawrence Russel Brewers we are going to have Troy Davises." Period.

As If We Didn't Know

Sept 23rd, 2011

via Media Matters:
"Ari Rabin-Havt on Current TV's Countdown: News Corp. is "a news company that exists to lie to its viewers."

Warren Is Scaring The Hell Out Of The GOP

Sept 23rd, 2011

"Washington Is Rigged." So said Elizabeth Warren last week in announcing her bid for the Massachusetts senate seat now held by Scott Brown.


Well, she certainly has already caused a stir. Robert Kuttner notes:

"Elizabeth Warren’s surprise lead in Massachusetts polls only days after she got into the Senate race to oust Republican Scott Brown has thrown GOP operatives off balance.

Their first storyline was that Warren was either a creature of the Beltway or a pointy-headed Harvard professor. Neither seems to be sticking.

On Tuesday, when the Democratic-affiliated polling firm, Public Policy Polling, reported Warren narrowly leading Brown, 46 to 44 among likely voters, Brown spokesman Colin Reed put out a statement contending that "we have always known that Scott would be the underdog against whichever candidate wins the Democratic primary next September."

But this past summer, before Warren enjoyed decent name recognition, Republicans were touting early polls showing Brown leading Warren 53-28, and declaring him a winner."


The establishment GOP is scrambling. Scott Wong and John Bresnahan carried some of their water in a borderline hit-piece over at Politico yesterday. The article casts doubt on Warren's integrity by alleging a "lack of transparency" during her tenure as the head of the Congressional Oversight Panel which controlled TARP. Wong and Bresnahan should be ashamed. The fact that the panel adhered to all of the requirements placed upon it by congress and that congress has all of the information she is portrayed as having kept from the public is spun to the margins. It's not on a website for the masses, you see.

One wonders if the Wong/Bresnahan piece hadn't been ghost-written by longtime foe, Rep Patrick McHenry (R-NC).

This week also saw the GOP's fear of Warren exposed elsewhere in the form of some truly frantic antics, as Julie Ryan Evans points out:

"When it comes to politics, we've seen so many crazy moves and outrageous tactics, we're almost numb to them, but I have to say I'm shocked by the Massachusetts Republican Party's latest attack. They are demanding that Harvard University stop paying Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren her salary for doing her job as a professor there.

Their reasoning, according to the Boston Globe: It sends a message that Ivy League schools support Democratic candidates. Can you say desperate?

The salary is in exchange for her services to the university. She will certainly be busy campaigning, but lots of professors have outside employment. She will still be expected to fulfill her obligations to Harvard, and the salary is just in exchange for those obligations, not to fund her campaign."

They don't have much to work with. That fact leads me to expect new lows in both ugliness and innuendo as the campaign heats up.

Quite coincidentally, I am sure, Rush Limbaugh found it necessary today to breathlessly warn his listeners that Elizabeth Warren is a "parasite." One might surmise from this that the Kochs are now involved.

via Media Matters

DOJ Slams Texas Redistricting

Sept 23rd, 2011

Via TPM:

Image via
"The Justice Department said late Friday that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have been "adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress."

DOJ's Civil Rights Division is specifically contesting the changes made to Texas Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice.

They say they need more information on the congressional plan to determine what the purpose of the redistricting plan was for sure. But the federal agency came out stronger against the state House of Representatives plan, which they flat out said "violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in that it was adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the Texas House of Representatives."


Just a small part of the big GOP disenfranchisement plan for 2012

"The Ultimate Recipe For Revolution"

Sept 23rd, 2011

A video from Anonymous for the Occupy Wall Street action.


The full text from the video via Ampedstatus

Perry Watch - It Should Really Be Over

Sept 23rd, 2011

The conservative consensus is that last night was a train wreck.

Perry Watch - Foreign Policy Nonsense

Sept 23rd, 2011

There isn't really an issue in foreign policy that should currently concern us more than the potential insecurity of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Except, of course, the prospect that a President Perry would have to deal with the situation. Gov. Perry has been legitimately savaged for his response to a question on that topic during last night's debate.


Kevin Drum writes that the answer was little more than a "Palinesque bit of word salad." I think this is unfair to Palin. So obtuse was his response that it should end his candidacy. First of all, Perry is wrong on the facts of our strategic arms agreements with India. Second of all, what the hell good does a "relationship" with India do in the event that the Taliban actually gains control of one or more warheads? Lastly, trying to score points with his party's old school hawks by bringing up arms sales to Taiwan simply made no damn sense.

One of Romney's advisors is quoted by the Weekly Standard as having described the statements as "completely unintelligible." That didn't stop Perry's biggest backer, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, from piling on in his defense

"You gotta have a relationship to know what’s going on. I’ve worked with the Pakistanis, and particularly in Pakistan you need a relationship, because the country’s a pretty unstable place, and it’s run by the army. You gotta know the guy that’s the head of the place."

Mkay. Except the "relationship" Perry discussed was with India.

Team Perry, mired in stunning yokelism, has no business running an American state much less the Armed Forces.

Booing An Active Duty Soldier

Sept 23rd, 2011

One of the reasons I made a point not to subject myself to last night's GOP "debate" after liveblogging the previous gatherings was that I didn't want to sit through two solid hours of this. A question posed by a gay active duty soldier in Iraq was booed by the audience. What's more, not one person on the stage pushed back. Listen to the shrieking applause over Rick Santorum's commitment to reinstate the just repealed DADT policy.

Killing Regulations

Sept 23rd, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Sept 23rd, 2011

"Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing."
-- Edmund Burke

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Watching And Recording The State

Sept 22nd 2011

What might be the most important line of defense we citizens have in this new century? The lens. Very nearly all of us carry a camera on our persons whether or not we think about it. Reason TV, yes the libertarian mouthpiece network, has done a tremendous service in profiling just how much of a difference that has made in the case of the police murder of Kelly Thomas. Just yesterday, criminal charges were filed. If you see something questionable... pull out that camera phone. It may be the tool that begets justice.

It REALLY Gets Better

Sept 22nd, 2011

If you have not yet seen this, it is beautiful. Shortly after the official end of DADT, one young serviceman calls his dad... and tells him he is gay.

The Epidemic Of Not Watching, cont...

Sept 22nd, 2011

Yes, the #OccupyWallStreet protest is still happening. The "liberal" MSM might not be paying attention. However, a lot of us are.

Quote Of The Day

Sept 22nd, 2011

"The punishment of murder by death is contrary to reason, and to the order and happiness of society, and contrary to divine revelation."
-- Benjamin Rush

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Troy Davis' Letter To Supporters

Sept 21st, 2011

A letter Troy Davis penned to his supporters was published today by the Atlanta Post:

"I want to thank all of you for your efforts and dedication to Human Rights and Human Kindness, in the past year I have experienced such emotion, joy, sadness and never ending faith. It is because of all of you that I am alive today, as I look at my sister Martina I am marveled by the love she has for me and of course I worry about her and her health, but as she tells me she is the eldest and she will not back down from this fight to save my life and prove to the world that I am innocent of this terrible crime.

As I look at my mail from across the globe, from places I have never ever dreamed I would know about and people speaking languages and expressing cultures and religions I could only hope to one day see first hand. I am humbled by the emotion that fills my heart with overwhelming, overflowing Joy. I can’t even explain the insurgence of emotion I feel when I try to express the strength I draw from you all, it compounds my faith and it shows me yet again that this is not a case about the death penalty, this is not a case about Troy Davis, this is a case about Justice and the Human Spirit to see Justice prevail."

Quote Of The Day - Here and Now Edition

Sept 21st, 2011

"May God have mercy on your souls."
-- Troy Davis to his executioners moments before his death

The End Of Troy Davis

Sept 21st, 2011
by F. Grey Parker


UPDATE 10:15pm CST - Troy Davis was executed at 11:08pm EDT

9:45pm CST via ABC:
"The U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution for Troy Davis after a delay to weigh arguments."



There was no physical evidence in his case. He was convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony only for the killing of an off-duty police officer. 7 of the 9 witnesses against him have recanted. There are multiple allegations of police intimidation in the investigative phase. What's more, there is another suspect. It is more likely that this other suspect committed the crime.

The fight to prevent this miscarriage of justice has not merely been the latest cause celebre of committed opponents of capital punishment. For example, here is former F.B.I. direstor William Sessions:

"What quickly will become apparent is that serious questions about Davis’ guilt, highlighted by witness recantations, allegations of police coercion and a lack of relevant physical evidence, continue to plague his conviction. Last summer, an extraordinary hearing ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court to answer these questions instead left us with more doubt.

At Davis’ evidentiary hearing, witnesses called by Davis recanted trial testimony and made allegations of police pressure. Others testified that an alternative suspect had confessed to them that he committed the crime. One eyewitness testified, for the first time, that he saw this other suspect, a relative of his, commit the crime. Police witnesses for the state of Georgia alternatively asserted that the original trial testimony was the true version of events and that it was elicited without coercion."


For more background, here is last week's (very belated) CNN report:


More than a million informed Americans have acted on Mr. Davis' behalf. To no avail. Yesterday, the Georgia Board on Pardons and Paroles basically said "who cares."

And now, this.