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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 28th, 2012

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

-- Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 27th, 2012

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 22nd, 2012

"Parting is all we know of heaven and all we need of hell." 

-- Emily Dickinson

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 21st, 2012

"Excess of grief for the dead is madness; for it is an injury to the living, and the dead know it not."
-- Xenophon

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 20th, 2012

"A majority is always better than the best repartee."
-- Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 19th, 2012

"The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are."

-- Harry G. Frankfurt

The Dream Act & Filibuster Abuse

June 19th, 2012

In light of the controversy surrounding the President's recent immigration policy change, it's important to address why the administration was forced to act in the way that it did. Had the DREAM Act come to a vote prior to 2007 it would, in all likelihood, be the law of the land now. Filibuster abuse is the reason it is not.

Via The Center For American Progress
Republicans have transformed the 60 vote majority into the new normal. Ben Frumin and Jason Reif wrote not long ago:
"It's true that there has been a decades-long uptick in the use of cloture filings -- often to overcome filibuster threats -- by whichever party is in the majority, but the best measurement of that trend shows an explosion since Republicans were consigned to minority status after the 2006 election."
If I were a GOP strategist, I would be considering the possibility that retaking the Senate might not be all that it's cracked up to be. Does anyone honestly believe, after the legislative sabotage the GOP has engaged in for the last several years, that the Democrats aren't going to follow their lead and continue to misuse this tactic in the event that the body flips?

Filibuster reform remains the single most important task in returning functionality to this branch. There is no larger institutional threat to representative government today.

Many of the disaffected liberals and progressives grumbling that Obama hasn't accomplished enough of what they expected would be wise to direct their outrage here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

We Are Not Number One

June 18th, 2012

The uninformed can chant that "we're number one" all they want... it doesn't make it so. Our international standing in measures of child poverty is shameful and should outrage every American. It's worth noting that the country with the least child poverty is the only developed nation smart enough to have jailed its criminal bankers during the ongoing global crisis.

Sourced from Upworthy

Quote Of The Day

June 18th 2012

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of."

-- Confucius

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Gender Pay Gap

June 17th, 2012

Via The Center for American Progress
"In 2010 the median full-time working man took home $47,715 in earnings, while the median full-time working woman made only $36,931—77.4 percent of that amount, or $10,784 less."
Here's what an American woman could do with that money.

Creeping Dominionism

June 17th, 2012

Paul Froese writes:
"Today, economic conservatism is inextricably linked to theology. Americans who believe in an Authoritative God simply do not make the same distinction between economic and religious spheres that researchers routinely do. Therefore, it is not enough for a Republican candidate to define himself or herself as mainly a “fiscal conservative” or a “person of faith” to be embraced by believers in the new religious-economic idealism. If he or she is to appeal to the religious-economic idealists, both these things must be claimed in equal measure."
It is time to stop trying to convince this section of American society of anything. They are not to be reasoned with.

Mitt Watch: What Is Romney's Position On The Immigration Order?

June 17th, 2012

It's anyone's guess.

Today, on CBS' "Face The Nation," Mitt Romney was asked a direct yes or no question about whether or not he would repeal the new Obama administration policy on immigration. He dodged. So, he was asked again. He squirmed. So, host Bob Schieffer asked him again. And again. And again. He was asked a full five times. Not once did he give a yes or no answer.

I am sure this provided great solace to those far-right pundits and activists, already wary of Romney's slippery history, who have all but declared the new policy of prosecutorial discretion to be an act of treason.

Sleep tight, far right. You helped paint him into this corner.

There's really no way of knowing what Romney believes. I increasingly suspect, as frightening as it is, that he believes in nothing at all.

Members of his team, on the other hand, have some absolutely firm views on the matter. They just don't remotely seem to agree with one other.

Judd Legum writes:
"In an interview on Friday, Kris Kobach, an immigration advisor to the Romney campaign, told ThinkProgress that the new Obama policy was "illegal." Another Romney advisor told CNN that Romney’s position was "the same" as President Obama."
This is what we call message-failure. It's been two full days since the announcement of a major new policy initiative from the incumbent and the challenger has no clear response to the most obvious question everyone knew he would be asked. Meanwhile, his immediate advisers have failed to coalesce around a single non-contradictory position.

The bottom line? Romney is going to have to actually commit. He has to tell us all what he will do if he's elected. Will he repeal the policy outright or will he leave it in place while he formulates his own approach?

Either way, he will have to displease someone. If he can't handle that, he shouldn't be running.

Quote Of The Day

June 17th, 2012

"America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts."

-- James Madison

Prosecutorial Discretion Is STILL Not Amnesty

June 17th, 2012
Follow up to yesterday's post

President Obama didn't issue an "executive order" on immigration. He directed the DHS to exercise existing authority under the law.The reactionary right is still going nuts. Worse, they continue to misrepresent the change in policy.

The Department of Homeland Security, under the guidance of the President, is exercising their right of prosecutorial discretion. Period. Putting aside the fact that the new approach to some 800,000 of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants within our borders is simply humane and the right thing to do, it's also the most practical approach fiscally (we addressed that yesterday HERE and HERE).

There is also no question that DHS does have the authority to do this. This is established law under Heckler v. Chaney.

The Immigration Policy Center explains the parameters available under that ruling:
"Prosecutorial discretion may be exercised at any stage of an immigration case. Specifically, prosecutorial discretion may be exercised when deciding whether to: issue a detainer; initiate removal proceedings; focus enforcement resources on particular violations or conduct; stop, question, or arrest a particular person; detain or release someone on bond, supervision, or personal recognizance; settle or dismiss a removal case; stay a final order of removal; pursue an appeal; and/or execute a removal order. Examples of the favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion in the immigration context include a grant of deferred action; a decision to terminate or administratively close removal proceedings; a stay of removal; or a decision not to issue a charging document in the first place." EMPHASES MINE
It's cut and dry. I am not alone in this assessment. Greg Sargent spoke to Utah's conservative GOP Attorney General Mark Shurtleff:
"This is clearly within the president’s power," Shurtleff said. "I was pleased when the president announced it."
Shurtleff, a Mitt Romney supporter who is a diehard conservative on many other issues, is perhaps the nation’s most prominent Republicanstaking out an alternative to the GOP’s hard line on immigration. His support for the president's policy represents a larger split within the party, between those who see Arizona as a model for the nation and those who want the party to adjust to demographic (and related political) realities with another approach.
Republicans and conservatives have argued either that Obama did this by executive order or more broadly that ignoring Congress represents dictatorial rule by fiat. But Shurtleff rejected that view, noting that this decision was not made via executive order and that the administration has the discretion to decide whom to prosecute.
"Law enforcement makes decisions based on the resources available to them — until Congress acts, we'll be left with too many people to deport," Shurtleff said. "The administration is saying, `Here's a group wecould be spending our resources going after, but why? They’re Americans, they see themselves as Americans, they love this country.'" EMPHASES MINE
The attempts by congress to deal with this very issue were sabotaged by the GOP through yet another act of filibuster abuse. For all intents and purposes, they forced the hand of enforcement authorities. Someone had to make the hard and practical decisions in the face of that failure. The administration not only did so, they did so legally.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What Would Deporting 11 Million People Cost? cont...

June 16th, 2012

Beyond the costs of a mass detention and expulsion of undocumented immigrants, what would the long term impact be? Numbers high enough to guarantee another recession or even a depression. Via the Center For American Progress:
"...legalization of undocumented immigrants and more flexible immigration channels would significantly expand the economy—by a cumulative $1.5 trillion in gross domestic product over 10 years—through increased consumer spending, higher tax receipts, and other related factors. A deportation approach, by contrast, would have the cumulative effect of draining $2.5 trillion over 10 years from the U.S. economy. That is a $4 trillion swing in GDP depending on which policy approach we adopt." EMPHASIS OURS
The right wing's dream solution to the issue would collapse us.

What Would Deporting 11 Million People Cost?

June 16th, 2012

The numbers associated with the operation alone would be staggering.

Prosecutorial Discretion Is Not Amnesty

June 16th, 2012
by F. Grey Parker

Although a certain knuckle-dragger distracted us from the actual substance of yesterday's Presidential announcement on immigration policy, the new DHS guidelines are still the real story.

What's the bottom line here? What does it mean? As the AP reports:
"The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods." EMPHASIS MINE
Reliably, the right wing went nuts. Malkin called the it a "stunt" that violates the "rule of law." Limbaugh shrieked that the administration had "broken the law." Rick Moran declared that the President was "pandering" and "acting like a king." The editors over at NRO labeled it "illegal amnesty" and accused the President of being "a little fuzzy on the subject of judicial review."

More rhetorical manipulation using the phrase "amnesty" was found HEREHERE and HERE.

The push to smear the new guidelines as an "amnesty" is easily understood when this PEW poll on the impact of that particular phrase is taken into account. Language matters.

The problem is that it's not "amnesty." It's also neither a new fast-track to citizenship nor a scheme to suddenly expand the voter rolls with Democratic sympathizers as some on the fringe have implied.

What President Obama unveiled yesterday simply formalizes and ensures continuity for certain policies of prosecutorial discretion which immigration authorities have exercised for decades. What's more, the facts tell us that the Obama administration has been anything but soft on illegal immigration. Deportations since 2009 have been dramatically higher than under both W. terms combined (corroborations HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.)

They've also been smarter.

The principal difference between Obama's enforcement of immigration law and that of his predecessors has been the targeting of the most dangerous and criminal violators and the prioritization of their deportations first. In fact, deportations of non-citizens convicted of crimes has increased by 70% since Obama took office.

This rational strategy has, predictably, drawn attacks from the GOP. Their 'who cares' approach insists upon a refusal to differentiate between otherwise law abiding young people who have lived here most of their lives, even those who have served in our armed forces, and violent criminals. They would deport them all without consideration for the contributions the former have made or the threat the latter present. They also give no thought to how we would pay to achieve their vision of the wholesale round-up, internment and expulsion of millions upon millions of people.

It does seem as if the biggest problem the right has with the announced policy is that it's not both stupid and cruel.

Just over a year ago, David W. Leopold, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, wrote a paper addressing the legal options available to the President and outlining precisely the parameters announced as policy yesterday:
"Deferred action is merely a temporary relief that confers no legal immigration status upon the noncitizen and therefore does not provide long‐term stability for the individual. DHS can initiate enforcement actions when the deferred action grant expires. But by temporarily choosing to delay an enforcement action against a foreign national, the agency can address humanitarian concerns which would otherwise be triggered by arrest, detention or removal. The regulations enable DHS to grant travel authorization for recipients of deferred action. DHS also has the authority to grant employment authorization for those granted deferred action. In this regard, deferred action provides a solution that temporarily suspends the enforcement of immigration laws when DHS determines that execution of enforcement is not warranted at that particular time." EMPHASIS OURS
This isn't amnesty. But it is legal, practical and humane. And that is driving the right crazy.

The President's Full Statement On Immigration

June 16th, 2012

The full transcript of POTUS' remarks is below the video.

Transcript via the NY Times:

Quote Of The Day

June 15th, 2012

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality."

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Neil Munro's Conduct Unbecoming, cont...

July 15th, 2012

In a stunning turn of events, Daily Caller reporter Nicholas Ballasy managed to land an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller's Neil Munro and it's available HERE at the Dally Caller!


Creeping Sharia?

June 15th, 2012

The entire premise is still nonsense. NRO's Matthew J. Franck takes a look at a study being hawked by the Islamophobic crowd and comes up empty:
"That’s all there is to the Center for Security Policy’s “Top 20 Cases.” Thirty-five years’ worth of American law, and we have a whopping seven cases in which some “foreign law” was honored (not even Sharia in every case), and not enough information even to tell if something truly unjust happened in any of the seven. In the other thirteen cases, Sharia-law principles were rejected either at trial or on appeal. Some Top 20."
Somebody tell Pam Geller. I can't wait to hear her spin this.

Neil Munro's Conduct Unbecoming

Jun 15th, 2012

"Why'd you favor foreigners over Americans?"

Let's all be really clear about today's vulgar display by the Daily Caller's Neil Munro; this was how he interrupted the President in mid-sentence during his immigration speech in the Rose Garden.

Set aside issues of respect or decorum. This was not journalism. Frankly, Munro's outburst wasn't even a question. It was an accusation. It was also bottom-feeding race-bait. Period. It's indefensible. Watch it for yourselves.

And just how did Tucker Carlson's rag deal with their bomb thrower?
Every time I think Carlson has hit bottom, his rabble dig deeper. HERE's the convoluted statement they issued shortly after their tweet.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 14th, 2012

"The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without."

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Mitt Watch: What His Ease With Lying Says About Him

June 14th, 2012

Thom Hartmann agrees that it's a symptom of a pathology.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 13th, 2012

"Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal – that there is no human relation between master and slave."

-- Leo Tolstoy

Telling It Like It Is

Jun 13th, 2012

Meet Pastor Frederick Haynes III. His moving response to President Obama's support for marriage equality is making the rounds and for good reason.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 12th, 2012

"A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

-- John F. Kennedy

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 10th, 2012

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
-- Patrick Henry

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quote Of The Day

Jun 9th, 2012

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." 

-- Albert Einstein

A Poem For A Friend

June 9th, 2012

"Darkness" by Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came, and went and came, and brought no day,

And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires - and the thrones,

The palaces of crowned kings, the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other's face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye 

Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
Forest were set on fire but hour by hour
They fell and faded and the crackling trunks
Extinguish'd with a crash and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremolous; and vipers crawl'd
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless, they were slain for food:
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again; a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corpse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress, he died.
The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive, And they were enemies;
They met beside 

The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath

Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Wich was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and
Each other's aspects. saw, and shriek'd, and died, beheld
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless,
A lump of death, a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal; as they dropp'd
They slept on the abyss without a surge
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expired before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them. She was the universe.

Headline Of The Year Nominee

June 9th, 2012

Sometimes, the interwebs really do make the world a better place...
Via Yahoo:

"A highway truck accident never sounded so delicious. A semitrailer hauling Hungry Jack pancake syrup collided with a highway median at the Buttermilk Pike overpass in northern Kentucky, causing the truckload of syrup to spill all over the highway.

"Every lane of southbound I-75 was covered in pancake syrup," Fort Mitchell Police Officer Mark Spanyer told the Kentucky Enquirer. "It was a royal pain in the butt."

H/T to Charles for this one.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Attack We Do Not Speak Of

June 8th, 2012
by F. Grey Parker

45 years ago today, the U.S. suffered a brutal military humiliation as the result of a sneak attack.

Most Americans have never heard of it.

The conspiracy-minded traffic in fringe theories about it.

What little discussion there actually is of the event often results in accusations of racial or cultural bias against those who have the nerve to bring it up at all.

But it did happen...

Quote Of The Day - Here And Now Edition

June 7th, 2012

"Did you honestly think, ten years ago, that it would be OK to start a fight and then shoot your unarmed opponent?"

-- Justin Rosario on the effects of so-called "stand your ground" legislation.

Observing Our Decline

June 8th, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 7th, 2012

"Controversy equalizes fools and wise men - and the fools know it."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 6th, 2012

"Do not brood over your past mistakes and failures as this will only fill your mind with grief, regret and depression. Do not repeat them in the future."

-- Sivananda

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We Need Your Support

June 3rd, 2012
UPDATE: Thank you for your donation: Suzanne Shelton

As some of you know, I am a member of the anti-bullying activist-artist group Sister Soleil. Donations are needed so I can join them and travel the country this Summer to bring our music and our message to kids. Any help is greatly appreciated. You can donate using the PayPal widget on the right. Thank you and never stay silent when faced with injustice.

-- Grey

Quote Of The Day

June 3rd, 2012

"The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them."

-- Mark Twain

Scott Walker And A Dead Baby

June 3rd, 2012

Even in the post-Tea Party climate, the latest GOP dirty trick in Wisconsin is a genuine new low.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quote Of The Day

June 2nd, 2012

"I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process."

-- President Benjamin Harrison

Friday, June 1, 2012

Zombie Apocalypse Update

June 1st, 2012

There isn't one. At least that's the official word from the Center for Disease Control in an e-mail to the Huffington Post.
"CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms)." -- CDC spokesperson David Daigle.
Frankly, in light of recent events, I'd feel better if there was.

We cracked wise about it HERE and pushed back against some high-horse criticism HERE.

Quote Of The Day

June 1st, 2012

"A reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards."

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

We've All Been Told To Shut Up

June 1st, 2012

If you have an internet connection, it's a safe bet that you've read someone or another conflating certain recent acts of horror with the zombie apocalypse. I did. Nearly everyone I know personally has. Well, over at Jezebel, Lindy West is appalled with all of us and thinks we should be ashamed of ourselves. She writes:
"Stop. Make a new thing. But more specifically, please stop aggregating gruesome crimes committed by mentally ill and/or drug addicted people so you can make some big har-har zombie punchline on your Facebook wall. Zombies are not real. Human beings are." EMPHASIS HERS
Okay. Fine. To be fair, it never occurred to me that zombies were "real." I also agree wholeheartedly with her arguments that massive improvements need to be made to both access and funding for mental health services in our country.

But that's not her real point. She's offended at how millions of us have chosen to deal with our own fear in the face of the incomprehensible. She hedges her tirade with a "but" about how she doesn't think we should never "respond to unthinkable tragedy with macabre humor."

She just thinks we should do it when she thinks its okay to do it. Or something. With all due respect, the reason so many of us responded in the manner we did was to preserve our own mental health. This isn't some radical observation. This isn't some excuse I am making. It's established psychology. Alex Lickerman M.D. explains it better than I ever could:
"We're signaling ourselves that whatever horrible thing we've just encountered isn't really as horrible as it appears, something we often desperately want to believe.
This may explain why some psychologists classify humor as one of the "mature" defense mechanisms we invoke to guard ourselves against overwhelming anxiety (as compared to the "psychotic," "immature," and "neurotic" defense mechanisms). Being able to laugh at traumatic events in our own lives doesn't cause us to ignore them, but instead seems to prepare us to endure them."
I, for one, am not going to apologize for dealing with the media exploitation of this terrifying set of events with humor. It's also worth noting that, aside from quoting a writer in her hometown paper who blames "right wing propagandists" for the lack of resources available to the mentally ill, she doesn't address the systemic failures much and offers not one solution whatsoever.

What's more, I suffer from major depression. I have been through the process of seeking help for myself for years while I found most doors closed and others simply too expensive to walk through. Perhaps Ms. West would be kind enough to follow up her diatribe with a few pieces that would actually help us do something about that?

In the interim, if I need to laugh to survive being trapped in this particular culture, I am going to go right ahead and keep on laughing. As she pointed out herself without realizing it... there really aren't many alternatives.