After 54 years, the United States will finally do the right thing, normalize its relations with Cuba and end its embargo. The embargo may be the longest-lasting ineffective and nonsensical foreign policy in US history. This means that twenty years after getting my Masters in Latin American history, I will finally be able to legally visit one of the countries I read so much about. I’ve always supported the idea that the best way to “open” Cuba would be to normalize relations and expose Cubans to the flood of ideas–rather than trying to strangle it–ineffectually–into submission. Continue reading
Killing children is the new scare tactic. The Taliban of Pakistan have resorted to killing children. It’s like September 11, 2001 except only a weak echo. The death toll is 1/20th, and the fear factor is slightly less in light of current events.
It’s terrorism. It’s fear. It’s only fear. The thing that the terrorists hate most about us is that we are still not afraid. They cannot break us. We know the law, letter and spirit, and we believe in the spirit. If you know the law, no one can use it against you. Continue reading
The hazard of attempting to keep up with the full spectrum of the news/infotainment/propaganda establishment is that one actually becomes aware of the breadth and depth of the opposition. On any given day, when I click the “All Articles” button in my news reader, the one that spits out articles from over a hundred sources all mixed together without regard to topic or political persuasion, I’m as likely to see lolcats next to the latest advances in science as I am to see liberal politics mixed in with CNN’s feeble attempts at news coverage mixed in with headlines from The Blaze. I’ll be honest, there are times I actually do find valuable information at The Blaze. No end of the spectrum has cornered the market on the full story of the world we live in. So this isn’t necessarily to say that I only look at The Blaze and other sites of its ilk solely for the sake of disparaging them. Continue reading
What a fucking day.
Item: Congress has tentatively agreed on a bill that will keep the government from shutting down. Now, there’s a lot wrong with it, starting with the fact that the Republicans are insisting on a huge payoff to Wall Street, basically holding the best interests of the people hostage to the best interests of the insanely rich. The smart money says the Democrats will:
a) raise holy hell, then
b) fold like the Vichy little bitches they are.
In other news, the sun is expected to rise in the east tomorrow.
None of this is the fun part, though. First, the GOP plan would … well, just read it. Continue reading
Desert grasslands reveal a more nuanced view of illegal immigration
by Bruce Lindwall
A journal entry from a February day during an Expedition Education Institute semester in the Desert Southwest
I went out this morning and found some pictures down in the wash. This is how it happened and why it was so very important.
We were five altogether. Bill is the director of the grasslands research center here in southern Arizona; it’s his job to look after all 8,000 of the acres in his care. Four of us who had come to study up a bit on the ecology of desert grasslands: Thomas from my home state of New Hampshire, Antony from Montreal, and Khiet who was born in Vietnam but grew up in Pennsylvania. This morning we were all headed off a couple miles from the headquarters to pick up trash that falls by the wayside as immigrants slip across the border covered by darkness and becomes hidden in the folds and creases of the borderlands.
Bouncing along the dirt road we asked Bill about grassland ecology, successional stages, and alien species, thinking that we were pursuing the most important learning of the day. Little did we know how close that was to the truth. It was a short ride that ended at a seemingly random spot at the edge of the road. Our little crew outfitted itself with gloves, trash bags, and bottles of water.
It felt liberating to walk freely through the grassland. We had been limited to the roads these last few days for fear of trampling the many experiments laid out amongst the tawny brown stalks of sacaton and lovegrass. But now we were free to wander, and wander we did. Held together at first by habit and conversation, we gradually spread out to explore the small washes and gullies that so thoroughly wrinkle this land. Slowly our bags began to fill with the odd bits jettisoned by those who had come this way. There were empty food tins, torn trash bags, endless water jugs and lots of toilet paper, both used and unused.
Magazine’s story on college assault claim burdened with shaky sources, biased choice of UVA
Critics are panning Rolling Stone’s 9,000-word account of a sexual assault, an account that preceded protests at the University of Virginia and vandalism of the fraternity house at which, the article claims, the assault occurred.
The chief complaints: First, Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s Nov. 19 story about a woman identified as “Jackie” relied too heavily on the woman making the accusation and failed to show attempts to interview those accused. Second, Erdely “shopped” for a context that best fit her own agenda in proposing and crafting the story. Here’s Washington Post media reporter Erik Wemple:
Rolling Stone thought it had found the “right” campus and the right alleged crime: Following her Nov. 19 story on Jackie’s alleged assault in a dark room at the Phi Kappa Psi house, the university suspended all fraternity activities and a national spotlight fell on the issue of campus rape. Continue reading
That’s the first search result, accompanied by the following text:
3 hours ago – … pilloried at home for voting with the president, and has watched helplessly while her Democratic base has eroded like a cheap levee.
It’s 6:55 PM MT, so that’s about 1:55 Eastern, for whatever that’s worth. Continue reading
Ferguson, MO is currently a dumpster full of flaming grease and it’s a long way from being extinguished.
1: Let’s just get this out of the way first: there were two distinct groups in the streets the other night. Group A comprised people with legitimate grievances about this case and its place in a much longer running history of injustice for minorities in the US. Group B was made up of punks and hooligans looking for any excuse to cause trouble. There’s no defending this element’s behavior in the wake of the announcement that no indictment for officer Darren Wilson was forthcoming. I mean, you done me wrong, so to show you how pissed off I am I’m going to burn down my own house? Not a lot of rocket surgeons in that crowd, huh? I never ate at Red’s Barbecue, but I bet it was good and I hate to think what the owners are going through right now sifting through the ashes and trying to figure out what to do next. Continue reading
Obama’s Ferguson ‘speech’ says little, offers less, provides no national direction
I just finished watching President Obama’s remarks last night after the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting.
Shortly after the shooting, a friend and I were discussing the president’s response at that time. We asked, “Where is his anger? Where is his outrage?” It’s fair to ask those questions again.
It’s fair to observe that much of what the president said last night has for a long time been evident to anyone who knows about the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in Selma, Ala., in 1965, where police attacked the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. It’s been evident to anyone who knows about the racist ugliness surrounding the integration of public schools in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. It’s been evident to anyone who knows about the murder of Emmett Till, 14, who was dragged from his bedroom by three men, beaten, shot, and dumped into a river for flirting with a white woman in a grocery store in 1955. And the long history of racism and violence includes thousands of additional incidents, some known, many others not.
Sadly but predictably, President Obama relied last night on the two pillars of political speeches: stating the obvious, and saying nothing of substance. For example, the president said of the grand jury’s decision, “There are Americans who agree with [the decision] and there are Americans who are deeply disappointed, even angry. That’s an understandable reaction.” As if none of us could figure this out on our own.
We may or may not ever get to see “all the evidence,” but that the grand jury did is itself an issue
As I’ve noted before, if I’m not privy to the evidence, and you’re not privy to the evidence, at this time all we have is speculation and opinion, perhaps reinforced by deeply ingrained biases one way or the other. That still leaves a valid question, and ThinkProgress tackles that question.
Was this grand jury handled in the usual manner, and, if not, why the irregularities? Take 11 minutes of your time, watch the statements of the two attorneys addressing this matter, and if you’re still not sure where you fall on this issue, ask yourself…how would you have wanted the grand jury to be handled if you were facing the possibility of charges? Do you see any conflict of interest here? Were it you, if you don’t happen to be wealthy or politically connected, do you at least have the interests of the establishment to back you up such that you get the kind of special treatment Darren Wilson got? If not, is this how you think justice functions, one way for those without the resources, and another for those that do?
In a Sunday interview, President Obama defended his recent controversial executive order that shields some, but not all, illegal immigrants from deportation. The president also fielded questions about other issues during the interview. Regarding the tensions in Ferguson in anticipation of the grand jury’s indictment decision, he had this to say: Continue reading
Next up: Issa to investigate House Intel Committee?
Associated Press reports, as seen here at Time, that the House Intelligence Committee has released a new report on the Benghazi tragedy. Or, as AP put it, “The House Intelligence Committee report was released with little fanfare on the Friday before Thanksgiving week.” Why might that be? What could possibly be in a Republican-led Intelligence Committee report about Benghazi that the GOP wouldn’t want plastered all over the place for everyone to see? Read on. Then get the report straight from the horse’s mouth.
Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.
President Obama finally addressed the nation today regarding the executive actions he’s taking in regard to our broken immigration system. If you’re looking for a strident pro or con piece, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a call to see him impeached, yeah, good luck with that. If you’re acting like this is the first time a sitting president has ever had the temerity to go it alone on the issue, maybe you might want to bone up on the administrations of Ronnie “Golf? I NAP!” Reagan and creepy ex-chief of the secret police George “I Threw Up on Helmut Kohl and All I Got Was this Lousy T-Shirt” Bush, the Elder. Even so, I’m here to throw our friends on the right a bone. Continue reading
This was originally going to be a comment at Democratic Underground. The more I typed, the more I thought I should just go ahead and stir the pot far more broadly, but I’ll still do my left-leaning compatriots there the courtesy of linking back to this for their consideration.
See, I don’t understand why some folks there are taking issue with a NYT article as though it were a hit piece. The article? As Sharpton Rose, So Did His Unpaid Tax Bills. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking on Obama’s recent outbreak of backbone. Standing up to his FCC appointee on Net Neutrality was a fun start, and a lot of folks are welcoming the fact that finally, after six long years, he’s beginning to act with a little courage.
Maybe. Maybe he realizes that he has two years left and no more elections to deal with, and this is his chance to go out swinging.
Or maybe not. How many times since 2008 – go ahead and count them up, I’ll wait – have you heard somebody say that X was the best he could have hoped for with all that GOP opposition? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this with respect to health care alone I could buy us all a nice steak dinner somewhere.
There are times when that has almost felt like his brand: Obama – the best that could have been done under the circumstances. See if we can get that on a bumper sticker. Continue reading
And who can blame Governor Nixon for that?
Like most folks who keep up at least a little with the news, I’ve heard a thing or three about Ferguson. Of late, I’ve actually stopped keeping up with news in general to the extent I used to. Partly that’s burnout. Partly it’s that I’ve found a few other things to keep me fiddling while Rome burns. But I still scan the headlines at least a few times a week. Maybe it’s like a junkie getting a half-assed fix. Maybe it’s just a good idea to keep some fresh idea of what’s going on in the world. Anyone blow up Russia yet? Has the ebola outbreak spread to my neck of the woods? What about Kim Kardashian’s ass? You know, the usual important stuff. Continue reading
A political list I’m on has been having some interesting discussions running in parallel of late surrounding a variety of issues (Obamacare being the big one), and at the core of it all is a basic question: how do progressives aggregate and assert the power needed to effect the policies they support. (Which is ultimately the core question of all politics, I guess.)
So, if you’re a progressive, and you’re sick to death of being ignored, marginalized, gamed, played, punk’d, and told to eat your shit sandwich and like it because it’s prime rib, bitch, what can you do? How can you get from point A (shit sandwich) to point B (prime rib for all Americans, not just Art Pope, Sheldon Adelson and the Koch crime family)? Continue reading
There is a boot on the neck of our democracy. It is the boot of the Tea Party.
Identical laws in Texas and North Carolina strangled voter turnout. From 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM on election day, people waited in long lines to vote. Many people took one look at the line and turned around. Kay Hagan lost by less than 19 votes per precinct. I watched people walk away from the line all day in Wilson. Some people came back three times, left to go to work, left to take care of their kids, came back with their kids, and stood in the cold looking on when the deputy was posted at the end of the line to turn people away.
The deputy and the State Board of Elections are just pawns in this game. In Wilson, there were only two laptops in use to verify voter identity. Voting machines stood empty all day long. No sign anywhere indicated that this was a place to vote. Orange road cones partially blocked each entrance and numerous parking spaces. Mr. Walsh, the chief judge, soldiered on, watching his voters walk away, wishing he had another laptop. Continue reading
S&R co-founder Mike Sheehan had a really funny comment on my “Dems need their own Tea Party” post. As in, I laughed until my sides hurt. Checkit:
Well, what’s stopping you from running for office?
If I’d had soda in my mouth I’d have spewed it all over your computer. He continues:
Er wait, never mind… intelligence is a liability in US politics… makes you look godless and America-hating.
He gets it. But seriously, I’ve been bitching for decades. Why don’t I run? I think I have solutions for everything, right? Continue reading
I’ve been sifting through the various analyses and post-mortems, and I don’t know that I have anything insightful to say that others haven’t said better. Also, I just don’t have the energy. I think it’s clear from what I have had to say in recent years – and I have said it in various forms more times than I can recall – that I am incredibly disenchanted with the Democratic Party in its current incarnation. Anytime the best thing I can muster to say about you is that you’re not quite as bad as the Republicans, you know the bar can’t be set a lot lower without bringing in a backhoe.