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Showing posts from April, 2009

Governor (D) Brian Schweitzer of Montana takes on the Federal government

This needs some careful consideration rather than a knee-jerk reaction of either the right or left. From AP /t Alphecca ] [h: HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana is trying to trigger a battle over gun control — and perhaps make a larger point about what many folks in this ruggedly independent state regard as a meddlesome federal government. In a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this month, the state is asserting that guns manufactured in Montana and sold in Montana to people who intend to keep their weapons in Montana are exempt from federal gun registration, background check and dealer-licensing rules because no state lines are crossed. That notion is all but certain to be tested in court. The immediate effect of the law could be limited, since Montana is home to just a few specialty gun makers, known for high-end hunting rifles and replicas of Old West weapons, and because their out-of-state sales would automatically trigger federal control. Still, much bigger prey lies in Monta

Attempting to move the debate (but not necessarily the fight) forward...

DelawareDem has a thoughtful piece up on our various differences regarding rightwing extremism and political rhetoric (and our mutual appreciation for a recent comment by Anonone, of all people), which contains this paragraph: But a problem remains. Right now, that violent fringe is being catered to in the extreme by the mainstream of the Republican party and the conservative movement, so much so that it is beginning to be difficult to tell the difference. They are being told that President Obama is a tyrant intend on taking their guns. They are being told that America is dying because of government spending. That Obama plans on opening large reeducation camps. That he is a terrorist, a muslim, a radical black Christian. That he is a fascist. That is both exploiting the violent fringe and empowering them. I want to try a little non-confrontational parsing here, paying particular attention to a couple of the charges. They are being told that President Obama is a tyrant intent on ta

Comment Rescue: Anonone and the best comment of the month

Anonone has become one of the ubiquitous commenters of the DE blogosphere: loved or hated depending on ... ... well, depending on a lot of things. A1 and Tyler, obviously, can't stand each other. But despite the fact that A1 has a habit of going for the throat (like comparing GOPers to Nazis on occasion), intellectual consistency forces me to admit to his/her having scored the Best Comment of the Month in response to another comment by Pandora: I am surprised that you repeated the idea that "political parties have to control their fringe." Even upon a moment of reflection, it is clear that such an approach is the antithesis of nurturing free expression of ideas within a political party. Who represents the "fringe" that should be controlled in the republican party? Sarah Palin supporters? Ron Paul supporters? John McCain supporters? Mike Castle? RSmitty? Tyler Nixon? And on the Democratic side, who represents the "fringe" that should be controlle

Delawareliberal misses the point; or, piranha swarm but do not think

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which my friends at Delawareliberal will travel to defend an untenable position. In lampooning their continued harping on conservative political views as providing cover for rightwing political violence, as I did yesterday with a brief post about a crafting organization in Colorado called the Handmade Militia, I was trying to make a point that most readers here got, but they somehow ... missed: Quoth DelawareDem : Steve, maybe I missed a post of Cassandra’s, but I don’t think she was concerned about the existence or use of the word “militia.” Rather, the intent behind dangerous right wing extremists in forming “militias” to perform another Oklahoma City Bombing as a means of protest, yeah, that is what concerns us. And, of course, cassandra was quick to play the wronged virgin: Thank you, DD. I stopped trying to fix the misreadings of my posts a long time ago . But there is in his post a great example of what I was pointing out — the n


Posted in the News-Journal online :

Freedom, safety, and the victory of Osama bin Laden

The last time I took of my shoes in the airport, which even the TSA now admits is done primarily to stop drug smuggling rather than to look for shoe bombs, I realized a very sour and sobering truth: Thus far, Osama bin Laden has won the so-called war on terror. This statement depends, of course, on my definitions of victory and defeat. To my mind, Osama bin Laden has won the war because he managed to wrench us almost completely out of the traditional American dynamic of freedom vs security, with the scales tilted toward freedom.... ... into a new dynamic of security trumping even political discourse about freedom, and not just security in the sense of avoiding fuel-laden planes flying into buildings, but security in the sense of having become so risk-averse that we are now in danger of losing something possibly essential to American society. We have accepted the creation of a dehumanizing bureaucracy that turns air travel into a masochistic exercise that has no demonstrable trac

Mike Matthews and the Boast Who Slumbers

There has always been debate around the DE blogosphere regarding anonymity, pseudonymity,and "outing" people's blog identities. The one thing that can get you bounced in most places (with no appeal) is "outing" somebody's blog name. Which has always been fascinating to those of us who choose to own what we write, and risk our real names as our bylines. Recently, when a commenter at Down With Absolutes outed Delawareliberal's El Somnambulo, Mike responded by deleting the comment. But the incident also led him to think about the posts that the Boast Who Slumbers was writing about State politics, and the innate dishonesty of trading on insider information but not letting people know honestly that you have a lot of your own baggage attached: Wouldn’t it be cool if you could work for the State Legislature, get fired, and then be taken in by one of Delaware’s most popular blogs, only to spread hyperpartisan bullshit with impunity? You could, like, swoop i

About that "free markets failed us into crisis" narrative...

... it's really worth reading Bill Bonner at Fleet Street Invest today: Even Henry Kaufman, writing in today’s Financial Times, says that the Fed’s "libertarian dogma" prevented it from controlling the banks properly. But the Fed is hardly a libertarian organization. It’s a banking cartel. As a cartel, it looks out for its member banks - and doesn’t hesitate to use state power to do so. There is nothing libertarian about it... and no dogma associated with it - except as Greenspan’s eyewash - that is even vaguely libertarian. The Fed colluded with member banks to fix interest rates. In so doing, it helped create the biggest bubble in credit the world had ever seen. It was a terrible thing for the average fellow - who was lured deep into debt by rising house prices and cheap credit. But it was a great thing for the members of the Federal Reserve cartel. Profits in the financial sector - notably, the big Wall Street investment banks - soared. But bankers are vulnerabl

Let's examine some absolutist, leftwing rhetoric and see what we find....

First, a semi-random sampling of a local blogger doing her bit to sell the narrative that anyone who is not a liberal Democrat should have to spend all his/her time running around condemning violent extremists because they are to be portrayed as responsible for everything from Glenn Beck to the guy who killed cops in Pittsburgh: This kind of violent rhetoric is exactly the refuge of the worst of the current wingnuts and exactly why they got their outrage on over the DHS report. You can’t protect your own bullying and violent speech without having to cover for the terrorists in your midst too. This comes from the same little merry band that lined up to label a potentially violent rightwing extremist group that should be on a DHS watch list somewhere. When I examined all their material and failed to find the slightest inkling of violent intent (in fact, quite the opposite), the rejoinder was--I kid you not: What do they mean by keep the powder dry ? Bath powder? So

Question of the Day

Earlier this year I wrote a piece about some developments in hydrogen production , particularly promising in the context of fueling combustion engines in automobiles. In part, I raised some questions about the push towards EV's (electric vehicles), in particular that the electricity will necessarily (in the forseeable future) be derived from the same polluting resources (primarily coal) as the rest of the grid is, and would put an enormous new strain on renewable energy resources slowly coming on line, should millions of these vehicles eventually come into use. The question is a practical one and asked in all seriousness : Given that EV's will be best suited to urban environments, with short-range driving and the worst vehicle emissions concentrations, what of the millions of households for which vehicles must be parked on the street or "off-site", nowhere near the owner's source (or possibly any readily-accessible source) of electricity, such as from the owner

An open apology to Chairman Jim Rash and the Libertarian Party of Delaware

Some insider baseball: last year, during the controversies dogging the national Libertarian Party following the nomination of Bob Barr for President and the continuing party infighting (that in part I reported here), I advocated that the Libertarian movement could only benefit from having State parties contemplate disaffiliation. I even argued that some State parties might choose instead to affiliate with the Boston Tea Party. I don't disagree with my assessment of the national Libertarian Party, which I view more than ever as something of a lost cause, but I have come to realize that the BTP is not going to do anything either. However, at that time I wrote a post on a BTP blog in which I said I had discussed with leaders of the Libertarian Party of Delaware the possibility of disaffiliating with national and going over to the BTP. Here's the problem: I should have said that I met with some Libertarian leaders in Delaware or that I met with some leading Delaware libertar

Is the administration contemplating major military intervention in Pakistan?

The Times suggests that this might be the case: AMERICA made clear last week that it would attack Taliban forces in their Swat valley stronghold unless the Pakistan government stopped the militants’ advance towards Islamabad. A senior Pakistani official said the Obama administration intervened after Taliban forces expanded from Swat into the adjacent district of Buner, 60 miles from the capital. The Pakistani Taliban’s inroads raised international concern, particularly in Washington, where officials feared that the nuclear-armed country, which is pivotal to the US war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and against Al-Qaeda, was rapidly succumbing to Islamist extremists. “The implicit threat - if you don’t do it, we may have to - was always there,” said the Pakistani official. He said that under American pressure, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency told the Taliban to withdraw from Buner on Friday. However, reports yesterday indicated that the Taliban withdrawal w

For those of you who naively think the nanny state is not in your future....

... you're going to have to breathe on the old biddy just to start your car, apparently. From Overlawyered : Mothers Against Drunk Driving is anything but an uncontroversial organization, as the Washington Times, Radley Balko, and our own archives make clear. Among the bad, sometimes awful ideas with which it has been identified are a reduction of the blood alcohol limit to .04 (meaning that for some adults a single drink could result in arrest), blanket police roadblocks and pullovers, the 55 mph speed limit, traffic-cams, and the imprisonment of parents who knowingly permit teen party drinking, to name but a few. Of particular interest when it comes to the policies of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) , it has backed proposed legislation demanding that costly breathalyzer-ignition interlock systems be foisted on all new cars, whether or not their drivers have ever committed a DUI offense ; it’s also lined up with the plaintiff’s bar on various dubious

So much for the "Ticking Bomb" scenario...

The mantra I now hear daily on talk radio is that investigations into torture (excuse me, enhanced interrogation techniques) will only target the people who kept us [the ungrateful wimps who care about human rights] safe . They argue that if it took 183 applications of water to Khalid Sheik Muhammed or 83 to Abu Zubayah in a single month to gather actionable intelligence that saved American lives, then even torture is justified... Except that information is now coming to light that the harsh treatment of KSM and AZ may not have occurred in pursuit of actionable intelligence after all , but was instead ordered by the Bush administration to create a pretext for the invasion of Iraq . From McClatchy : WASHINGTON — The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official a

Playing In The Garden...

As in Madison Square Garden! Tonight I'll be in New York to see the remaining members of the Grateful Dead perform there. On my 22nd birthday (September 16, 1993) I was lucky enough to have 4 mail order tickets (directly from Grateful Dead Ticketing) in the 8th row, right in front of Jerry Garcia. Man, what a show that was...just like every show I saw the Grateful Dead play at the Garden...intense, with incredible crowd energy. Literally the entire place, which is suspended on some sort of cable system (at least according to drummer Mickey Hart), rocked to all the could feel it almost bounce you slightly off the floor. Here is Maggie's Farm from 6 years earlier at the Garden, September 19, 1987. Obviously the band is now in their twilight and will never whip up the musical frenzy they did when Garcia was alive. But it will still be a great time amongst old friends. Since I don't have links to any of The Dead's recent reunion shows, here is that

Our military JAG officers emerging from the shadows as heroes of civil liberty

Rear Admiral Jane Dalton Colonel Morris Davis Major David J. R. Frakt Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld Colonel Stephen Henley The Military Commissions Act was an unconstitutional abuse of power, but the story is slowly emerging of a dedicated cadre of JAG officers throughout the last eight years who have stood up for the rights of the accused, and have stood up against torture and--when necessary--their superior officers. From the ACLU [This report was originally published--and I missed it--on 13 January 2009, which explains the seemingly anachronistic reference to the Bush administration]: WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition for habeas corpus today in federal court in the District of Columbia to challenge the unlawful detention of Mohammed Jawad, who has been held for over six years at Guantánamo Bay. Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the former lead prosecutor in Jawad's military commission case, is supporting the ACLU's legal challenge.

I don't want Janet Napolitano's apology...

... for the DHS report on rightwing extremism, even though she's apparently trotting it out all over the place: WaPo : Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano apologized directly today to Commander Dave Rehbein, head of the American Legion, after a recently leaked DHS intelligence report suggested that right-wing extremist groups might recruit military veterans returning from overseas deployments. The 45-minute meeting occurred at DHS headquarters in Washington this afternoon. A detailed account of the meeting from the American Legion states that "Hunched forward with head bowed, the Secretary of Homeland Security looked the National Commander of The American Legion straight in the eye and said, very quietly, 'I’m sorry, Dave.'" “The report was not worthy of this department, or of veterans,” Napolitano said to Rehbein, according Legion spokesman Craig Roberts, who attended the meeting. "It was very badly written and should never have been released,&q

Eventually karma bites you in the ass...

... and I can certainly claim to be no exception. Two points of view on the latest little DE blogosphere flap over commenters being banned, which now hits home here with Anonone being banned from commenting on Tyler's posts. Yesterday A1 and Tyler got into one of their not-uncommon pissing contests. A1 has a thing for Tyler that often goes well past issues, and approaches jason's spleen for Dave Burris. And Tyler finally got tired of it, deleting a comment he found to be too far over the line. I reversed him on that when I found out about it (on another blog, actually; I wasn't following the thread), because it has always been my policy to delete comments only for spam, outing, and actual threats. But Tyler came back to me with the point that when I asked him to join DE Libertarian I told him that his posts were his intellectual property, with two minor exceptions (there are two local content areas I have asked my fellow bloggers to stay away from, due to a potential

Speaking of Outer Space...

How did I miss this one? Former astronaut: Man not alone in universe (CNN) -- Earth Day may fall later this week, but as far as former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell and other UFO enthusiasts are concerned, the real story is happening elsewhere. Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, asserted Monday that extraterrestrial life exists, and that the truth is being concealed by the U.S. and other governments. ............ Mankind has long wondered if we're "alone in the universe. [But] only in our period do we really have evidence. No, we're not alone," Mitchell said. "Our destiny, in my opinion, and we might as well get started with it, is [to] become a part of the planetary community. ... We should be ready to reach out beyond our planet and beyond our solar system to find out what is really going on out there." Mitchell grew up in Roswell , New Mexico, which some UFO believers maintain was the site of a UFO crash in 1947. He said residents

Ya Gotta Love This Headline for a News Story...

I'm surprised it isn't "BREAKING"... Giant mystery blob found near dawn of time Galaxy-sized object puzzles astronomers; is it related to a black hole? By Seth Borenstein updated 6:39 p.m. ET, Wed., April 22, 2009 WASHINGTON - A strange giant space “blob” spotted when the universe was relatively young has got astronomers puzzled. Using space and ground telescopes, astronomers looked back to when the universe was only 800 million years old and found something that was out of proportion and out of time. It was gaseous, big, and emitted a certain type of radiation, said study lead author Masami Ouchi, an astronomer at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif.

Definition of a Crybaby

Normally I wouldn't waste a moment of my time posting about an anonymous blog stalker, but I can't let this pass. We have the infamous anonymous coward known as " anonone " who spews sweeping monomaniacal borderline-exterminationist garbage around the Delaware blogosphere, and who in past comments has falsely accused me, for example, of supporting the Bush administration to the point of saying I somehow 'aided war criminals', amongst other various distortions about me personally. Of all those with whom I politically or ideologically disagree around the Delaware blogosphere, no matter how strenuously we might argue, none except this particularly nasty troll has ever made such ridiculous and false accusations. Even those with whom I have had the most heated exchanges or personal friction are honest enough to admit, for example, that I have consistently and vigorously displayed nothing but contempt and condemnation, in the blogosphere and even on public airwav

Rip out another little fragment of Constitutional protection, why don't you?

I hate to say this more than you know or would believe, but as the first hundred days comes to a close, the new boss is looking a lot more like the old boss--at least in court. Today, the Obama/Holder Department of Justice is trying to overturn a 1986 Supreme Court ruling protecting the rights of defendants: The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to overrule long-standing law that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer is present, another stark example of the White House seeking to limit rather than expand rights.... The case at issue is Michigan v. Jackson, in which the Supreme Court said in 1986 that police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one, unless the attorney is present. The decision applies even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers. Anything police learn through such questioning cannot be used against the defendant at trial. The opinion was written