Archive for June 6th, 2011

June 6, 2011

Weighing the Consequences of Our Take on the Drug War

by Vince

Conor Freidersdorf helps us out. You either see legalizing drugs as Sean Hannity: you become complicit in drug use and abuse. Or you see the following by keeping drugs illegal:

The impoverishment of farmers in Colombia and Afghanistan, drug cartels undermining democracy in multiple South and Central American countries, tens of thousands dead in Mexico, violent drug gangs on the streets of America, millions of non-violent offenders in US prisons — these are just some of the actual consequences of the black market in narcotics, and if prohibitionists actually confronted the moral destruction caused by their policies, they wouldn’t need Gary Johnson, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, or anyone else to persuade them that by defending the status quo they do harm.

Gary Johnson’s comments on the Hannity show are helpful in this conversation.

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June 6, 2011

Evening Reads

by Vince
  1. Does serving as First Lady count as executive experience?
  2. Discerning the differences between loyalty, patriotism, and looking to transform your city or nation.
  3. Tired of hearing quasi-religious political platforms that serve the interests of “killing our enemies” or benefiting the filthy rich? Check these out.
  4. Refocusing the education reform discussion.
  5. A bipartisan discussion on the extension of the PATRIOT act.
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June 6, 2011

A Marriage Proposal via Mural

by Vince

TDW:

28-year-old Jeff Gurwin commissioned Bronx-based muralists TATS CRU to create “the world’s most creative marriage proposal” for his girlfriend Caitlin on a wall in the East village.

June 6, 2011

Andy Griffith on the PATRIOT Act

by Vince

H/T: Balko

June 6, 2011

Biden on Auto Industry, Economy

by Vince

The economy is growing yes, but at a slow (and expectectly so) rate.

I don’t think those who didn’t want to bail out the auto industry didn’t care about those industries and workers but see the failing of some companies as creative for new industries to emerge (and not keeping certain industries on life support).

June 6, 2011

What the Money Spent on “Defense” Can Buy Us

by Vince

AllGov shows what domestic programs we could spend the $7.6 trillion defense budget since 2001 on:

Fill the Medicare Gap: If Congress redirected just one-fifth of the budget increases from 2000 to 2011 for defense spending, it would be enough to eliminate the long-term budget hole in the Medicare program.
 
Fund Head Start for 15 Years: Instead of 10 years of warfare in Afghanistan, the U.S. could have secured 15.6 years of early childhood education and support through Head Start for the same price.
 
Insure the Uninsured: Another way to spend the Afghanistan war chest would be on the uninsured. The budget for fighting the Taliban is enough to cover every American without health insurance for 1.7 years.
 
Help State Capitols: A total of 46 states are facing budget shortfalls this fiscal year. Collectively, they need about $130 billion. Ending the war in Afghanistan and getting entirely out of Iraq would save $170 billion—more than enough to wipe out the red ink from Albany to Sacramento.
 
Instead of Iraq…: Even with the end of combat operations in Iraq, the U.S. is still spending $50 billion annually to maintain a large contingent of troops in the country. For this same amount of money, Washington could ensure a year’s worth of health care for 24.3 million poor children, or salaries for more than 725,000 elementary school teachers or nearly 830,000 firefighters.
June 6, 2011

Remembering Grandpa

by Vince

Vovô from Luiz Lafayette Stockler on Vimeo.

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June 6, 2011

Fasting for the Billions

by Vince


Jim Wallis from Sojo, above, fasts during the U.S. budget crisis.

June 6, 2011

Too Big To Fail

by Vince

In 80 seconds.

June 6, 2011

Defending Palin’s Revere Gaffe

by Vince


Weigel gives her fair treatment:

The original video, from Channel 7, really makes it look like Palin got a historical question she wasn’t expecting, and then flubbed it. The way she grits her teeth on the phrase “riding HIS HORSE THROUGH TOWN!” is agonizing, for all involved. And look, if someone asked me, on the spot, to explain exactly what happened during Paul Revere’s ride, I’d struggle a bit to access my elementary school memory banks. The twist, with Palin, is that she has a bona fide army of supporters who will sic themselves on anyone and anything that threatens to damage her image.

The difference is that she hasn’t yet retracted her error. Yes, as a quasi-POTUS candidate you are still a human with room for error. Own up to those errors. When was the last time Palin retracted one of her own comments?

June 6, 2011

Perpetual War is More of a Hazard than Terrorism

by Vince

Conor Friedersdorf makes the case:

Give the hawks their due: terrorism is an ongoing threat to the United States. In fact, it’s likely to pose a bigger threat with every year that passes, insofar as technological advances are permitting people with meager resources to obtain ever deadlier weapons. Heaven forbid they get a nuke or a killer virus. What the hawks fail to recognize, however, is that perpetual war poses a bigger threat to the citizenry of a superpower than does terrorism. Already it is helping to bankrupt us financially,undermining our civil libertiescorroding our values, triggering abusive prosecutionsempoweringthe executive branch in ways that are anathema to the system of checks and balances implemented by the Founders, and causing us to degrade one another.

Alas, we still have an ambiguous exit strategy from the Middle East.

June 6, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” —Mother Theresa

June 6, 2011

Oprah, the Evangelist

by Vince

Mark Oppenheimmer analyzes the religious approach by her show and compares her to antebellum evangelist Charles Grandison Finney:

Ms. Winfrey has religious antecedents besides the black church. Kathryn Lofton argues in her new book, “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon,” that to understand Ms. Winfrey it helps to know Charles Grandison Finney, the great antebellum evangelist.

In his 1830 revival campaign in Rochester, Mr. Finney formalized the “anxious bench,” a pew or altar where sinners congregated while members of the crowd prayed for them to repent or become Christians. A whole plotline revolved around the bench, and worshipers eagerly anticipated its ritual. Who would sit there? Would they be saved? “At every point,” Dr. Lofton writes, “the preacher prodded, focused, named and decried.”

Dr. Lofton argues that in an atmosphere suffused with Ms. Winfrey’s beliefs in miracles, angels and pervasive spirituality, audience members got to see guests participate in “the familiar ritual turn of daily confession and rejuvenation.” Whether the day’s show featured the organization expert decluttering somebody’s home or “confessions of a once-upon-a-time Haitian child slave,” the redemptive plot arc, the payoff of deliverance, was the same.

And like the best hellfire preachers, Ms. Winfrey could be merciless in exacting those confessions. “Guests are forced to admit their worst transgressions,” Dr. Lofton writes, “to say precisely how they felt when they pulled the trigger, for example, or, in Governor McGreevey’s case” — that is James E. McGreevey of New Jersey, who resigned after cheating on his wife and coming out as gay — “to describe the sordid locations of his clandestine sexual encounters.”

Oppenheimmer doesn’t like Oprah’s use of “seeing your suffering as a desirable experience” for change. Oprah did rise from being raped at age 8 (or 9) to where she is today. But many know (Oprah included) that you do not have to have such terrible experiences to reach the stars.

June 6, 2011

Legislating Morality in Chambersburg

by Vince


Public Opinion columnist Matthew Major writes as if a moral and societal emergency is about to be upon Chambersburg residents. What is he writing about? Out of control yardsales. In his eyes, its worth raising taxes to enforce borough laws about yardsales.

Borough council will consider an ordinance June 13 that would limit residents to one yard sale per month, with a maximum of four per year. Each sale would be limited to three days’ duration, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. It would require “all evidence of yard sale activity” to be stored out of sight outside of permitted hours.

It strikes us as an aggressive, but necessary, crackdown on people who effectively run underground commercial operations out of their yards every day of the week. Greencastle, Mont Alto and Washington Township have also had to rein in yard sales with similar restrictions.

Underground commercial operations. Striking use of terms there. Now some more strikingly logical and deep reasoning behind the need to enforce yardsales:

People have always needed to get rid of unwanted stuff that somehow piles up in their homes. But cultural and economic trends have conspired to emphasize the deals over the house-clearing. For example, we now have numerous TV shows glorifying the nation’s pawn shops and junk circuits.

Major finishes with some final words:

And so with the inevitable overreach on the part of yard retailers comes the correction from the authorities. If people cannot conduct yard sales without becoming a nuisance to their neighbors, someone will have to do it for them.

It’s a shame to have to legislate proper behavior and consideration for others, but Chambersburg’s proposed yard sale restrictions should become law as soon as possible.

Is this more important than dealing with local poverty, local runaway educational costs, or local unemployment (which on a Pennsylvania county level, Franklin County is dead last)? Then again, these regulations would employ a few individuals (at the cost of higher taxes, mind you).

June 6, 2011

Picture of the Day II

by Vince

Pictured: Anna-Marie Mitroi Spenger of Utah spells a word in the semifinals of the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee contest at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, on June 2, 2011. (Reuters/Larry Downing

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June 6, 2011

Sarah Palin in 2012

by Vince


Sarah Palin gets the same treatment from me as Rick Santorum: she is a divider who plays us versus them, black and white scenarios out in politics, religion, and culture. It is somewhat scary to think about that on a world scale instead of just in Wasilla.

Lexington gives her the benefit of the doubt in the face of poll numbers having her behind Obama by 20 points:

Polls suggest that Barack Obama would trounce her by almost 20 percentage points (Mr Romney trails the president by less than 7%). So it is not only her immediate rivals but also the Republican establishment who have cause to worry. What if she is another Barry Goldwater, who wowed the right but led the Republicans to a crushing defeat by Lyndon Johnson in 1964?

The trouble is that Mrs Palin is not the sort to step aside just because people tell her she cannot win. She thrives on rejection. Twitting intellectuals and the “lamestream” media is part of her brand. She harbours a grudge against the Republican “blue-bloods” who blame her for Mr McCain’s failure to beat Mr Obama in 2008, and would love to prove them wrong. She may not be able to win the presidency herself, but so long as she stays in the headlines, hinting at a run, she makes the party’s sobersides look dull by comparison. For them, the phenomenon from Alaska has gradually mutated into the problem from hell.

June 6, 2011

Rick Santorum in 2012

by Vince

Kathryn Jean Lopez gives some love to her Catholic brother, Rick Santorum, as he begins his campaign to run for POTUS after a crushing loss for reelection as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania in 2006:

The question many of those who follow the news are asking is: “Why would he bother?”

Well, he would bother because he believes, as do so many who have shown up at Tea Party rallies in the last two years, that America is in existential jeopardy if we don’t make some swift and hard choices, rooted in who we are and who we want to be. He would bother because he has experience working in Washington, working with people of a variety of views, moving legislation forward that provides humane solutions to problems sometimes created by well-intentioned government programs. He would bother because he loves people and policy, and sees the connections between the two. He would bother because he feels called to do it, not from a messianic complex, but in service.

Santorum may love people, but his religious outlook (worldview may work better in this case) is a divide and conquer approach. He may be a note less strident than Sarah Palin, but his ultra-conservative views on marriage and abortion (which I don’t fully disagree with him on. It’s his ultra-emphasis that rubs me the wrong way) may not fly with many people (most notably moderates, independents, and democrats) outside of the religious right.

June 6, 2011

Why a Two-State Solution Won’t Come Soon

by Vince

It is nothing less than throwing gasoline on a fire when Israel kills 22 unarmed, non-violent Palestinian protesters.

June 6, 2011

Mental Health Care Needed?

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan really makes the case for Sarah Palin after her comments on Paul Revere have been used as fact by her followers in attempt to edit the Wikipedia page.

June 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

Pundits speak of her lack of professional organization. What they don’t speak of so often is her willingness to say and do things very few politicians will. She will play the race card powerfully, often and repeatedly. She will run a campaign against Obama as an un-American. She will run on hatred of elites, will turn every sad gaffe, lie or untruth into “truth”, she will deploy religious motifs more effectively than any Republican candidate in modern times. In the last campaign she accused Obama of being a friend of terrorists, and was prevented from using Jeremiah Wright in the last few weeks of the campaign. She will make the Willie Horton ad look like happytalk.

Most responsible politicians do not throw gasoline on a cultural tinderwood. But remember Tucson. Even then, she could show no restraint, no regret, no responsibility. Even when a politician was shot in the head, she tried to divide and conquer. And the MSM have no idea how to handle her, how to cope with her, how to expose her. She destroyed them last time and somehow perpetuated the meme that they destroyed her. This is a dangerous, dangerous person.” —Andrew Sullivan responding to Howard Dean’s remarks on Palin being a legit 2012 candidate.

Some amusing “according to Palin” tweets.