“Mr. Obama cited the Senate’s inaction four times in contrast to the House of Representatives. To add to his frustration, he cited the Republican leadership for insisting that “sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town.” What he did not do was to urge his fellow Democrats to change the filibuster rule by a simple majority vote. As a legal expert, Tom Geoghegan wrote to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (Dem. Nev) this week, ‘the Senate can act to change its rules, any rule, by majority vote, even a rule requiring a greater one.’ That means that the Democrats can change this rule with only 51 of their 59 votes in the Senate and get these bills passed.”— Ralph Nader on the State of the Union
Spokesmen for the so-called “Somali pirates” have expressed willingness to transfer part of their loot captured from transnational boats to send to Haiti. The “pirates” typically redistribute a significant portion of their profits among relatives and the local population.
”The humanitarian aid to Haiti can not be controlled by the United States and European countries; they have no moral authority to do so. They are the ones pirating mankind for many years,” said the Somali spokesman.
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”— Holden Caufield
The behavior of Justice Alito at last night’s State of the Union address — visibly shaking his head and mouthing the words “not true” when Obama warned of the dangers of the Court’s Citizens United ruling — was a serious and substantive breach of protocol that reflects very poorly on Alito and only further undermines the credibility of the Court. It has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with the Court’s ability to adhere to its intended function.
There’s a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It’s vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court’s pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court’s credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more “liberal” Justices do to the reverse (Citizens United is but the latest example). Beyond that, the endless, deceitful sloganeering by right-wing lawyers about “judicial restraint” and “activism” — all while the judges they most revere cavalierly violate those “principles” over and over — exacerbates that problem further (the unnecessarily broad scope of Citizens United is the latest example of that, too, and John ‘balls and strikes” Roberts may be the greatest hypocrite ever to sit on the Supreme Court). All of that is destroying the ability of the judicial branch to be perceived — and to act — as one of the few truly apolitical and objective institutions.
Justice Alito’s flamboyantly insinuating himself into a pure political event, in a highly politicized manner, will only hasten that decline. On a night when both tradition and the Court’s role dictate that he sit silent and inexpressive, he instead turned himself into a partisan sideshow — a conservative Republican judge departing from protocol to openly criticize a Democratic President — with Republicans predictably defending him and Democrats doing the opposite.
It was clear from Sam Alito’s confirmation hearing and his record of appellate opinions that he is a dogmatic, state-revering, right-wing judge. But last night, he unmasked himself as a politicized and intemperate Republican as well. Much of the public will view his future “judicial” and “legal” conclusions — and those of his fellow Court members — with an even greater degree of cynicism. And justifiably so. Whatever impulses led him to behave that way last night, they have nothing to do with sober judicial reasoning or apolitical restraint.
Okay, whatever. I just want to believe that good things can still happen in the next two years, that people will have really listened tonight, and will stop at least slightly with the kneejerk bullshit. Sorry, I mean you guys are funny, but I am actually really angry about a lot of shit, as we all are, and some days I just want to fucking believe that Frank Capra’s idea of the average American is a real thing.
You had me at ‘whatever’. I think it’s high time that I follow you.
I’d love to know how many people actually watched MSNBC when he said that, because EVERYONE is taking it out of context. I have watched Matthews for more than a decade and not only does he not have a racist bone in his body, I have seen him tear up on civil rights issues while talking about MLK and the Kennedys. He only meant that we have come so far in this country in such a short year that we don’t see color anymore; we just see this articulate, intelligent man fighting for our rights. I can’t believe how quick we are to chastise our fellow democrats without just cause.
If the new regulation is passed, thousands of dog restaurants and butchers will be shut down, and anyone eating pets would be slapped with a fine of up to 5,000 yuan or 15 days in jail and restaurants could incur fines of up to 500,000 yuan.
Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment.
Political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system by its rightful name, Inverted Totalitarianism: “The political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry.” In this system, as this court ruling illustrates, it’s not necessary to rewrite the Constitution, as fascist and communist regimes do. It’s enough to exploit legitimate power by means of judicial and legislative interpretation.
There is no national institution left that can accurately be described as democratic. Citizens, rather than participate in power, are allowed to have virtual opinions to preordained questions, a kind of participatory fascism as meaningless as voting on “American Idol.”
Our transformation into an empire, as happened in ancient Athens and Rome, has seen the tyranny we practice abroad become the tyranny we practice at home. We, like all empires, have been eviscerated by our own expansionism. We utilize weapons of horrific destructive power, subsidize their development with billions in taxpayer dollars, and are the world’s largest arms dealer. The Constitution, as Wolin notes, is “conscripted to serve as power’s apprentice rather than its conscience.”
The civic, patriotic and political language we use to describe ourselves remains unchanged. We pay fealty to the same national symbols and iconography. We find our collective identity in the same national myths. We continue to deify the Founding Fathers. But the America we celebrate is an illusion. It does not exist. Our government and judiciary have no real sovereignty. Our press provides diversion, not information. Our organs of security and power keep us as domesticated and as fearful as most Iraqis. Capitalism, as Karl Marx understood, when it emasculates government, becomes a revolutionary force, and this revolutionary force, best described as inverted totalitarianism, is plunging us into a state of neo-feudalism, perpetual war and severe repression. The Supreme Court decision is part of our transformation by the corporate state from citizens to prisoners.
“With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court’s conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.… …This issue should never have been before the court. The justices overreached and seized on a case involving a narrower, technical question involving the broadcast of a movie that attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign. The court elevated that case to a forum for striking down the entire ban on corporate spending and then rushed the process of hearing the case at breakneck speed. It gave lawyers a month to prepare briefs on an issue of enormous complexity, and it scheduled arguments during its vacation. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., no doubt aware of how sharply these actions clash with his confirmation-time vow to be judicially modest and simply “call balls and strikes,” wrote a separate opinion trying to excuse the shameless judicial overreaching. The majority is deeply wrong on the law. Most wrongheaded of all is its insistence that corporations are just like people and entitled to the same First Amendment rights. It is an odd claim since companies are creations of the state that exist to make money. They are given special privileges, including different tax rates, to do just that. It was a fundamental misreading of the Constitution to say that these artificial legal constructs have the same right to spend money on politics as ordinary Americans have to speak out in support of a candidate. The majority also makes the nonsensical claim that, unlike campaign contributions, which are still prohibited, independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” If Wall Street bankers told members of Congress that they would spend millions of dollars to defeat anyone who opposed their bailout, and then did so, it would certainly look corrupt.”—NYTimes.com (via azspot)
Many parents and teachers have become irritated to the point of distraction at the way the weed-style growth of “like” has spread through the idiom of the young. And it’s true that in some cases the term has become simultaneously a crutch and a tic, driving out the rest of the vocabulary as candy expels vegetables. But it didn’t start off that way, and might possibly be worth saving in a modified form. It was used by the leader of the awesome Droogs in the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess, who had possibly annexed it from the Beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, of Dobie Gillis. It was quasi-ironic in Scooby Doo by 1969, and self-satirizing by the time that Frank Zappa and Moon Unit deployed it (“Like, totally”) in their “Valley Girl” song in the early 1980s. It was then a part of the Californianization of American youth-speak. In an analysis drawing upon the wonderfully named Sonoma College linguist Birch Moonwomon’s findings, Penelope Eckert and Norma Mendoza-Denton phrase matters this way: “One of the innovative developments in the white English of Californians is the use of the discourse-marker ‘I’m like’ or ‘she’s like’ to introduce quoted speech, as in ‘I’m like, where have you been?’ This quotative is particularly useful because it does not require the quote to be of actual speech (as ‘she said’ would, for instance). A shrug, a sigh, or any of a number of expressive sounds as well as speech can follow it.” So it can be of use to a natural raconteur. Ian McEwan rather surprised me when I asked him about “like,” telling me that “it can be used as a pause or a colon: very handy for spinning out a mere anecdote into a playlet that’s full of parody and speculation.” And also of hyperbole, as in “She’s been out with, like, a million guys.”
The actual grammatical battle was probably lost as far back as 1954, when Winston announced that its latest smoke “tasted good, like a cigarette should.” Complaints from sticklers that this should have been “as a cigarette should” (or, in my view, “as a cigarette ought to do”) were met by a second ad in which a gray-bunned schoolmarm type was taunted by cheery consumers asking, “What do you want, good grammar or good taste?” Usage of “like” has now almost completely replaced “as,” except in the case of that other quite infectious youth expression “as if,” which would now be in danger of being rendered “Like, as if.”
I also just finished Undaunted Courage, the utterly amazing—and occasionally disheartening—tale of Lewis and Clark’s Jeffersonian voyage across the continent, a voyage that provided many an opportunity to haul large keelboats and makeshift canoes against currents, rapids and even falls. Sometimes while being fired upon.
In this riveting tale of frontier derring-do, you will find the answers to the following questions:
Why, probably, did Meriwether Lewis shoot himself in the most Coens Brothers-esque manner possible?
Who shot Lewis in the ass just before they returned home from their epic voyage?
Who enjoyed dog meat more: Lewis or Clark?
Just how gigantically awe-inspiring would the Rockies be if you had never seen nor even heard of them before?
What role did syphilis play among Lewis and Clark’s men as they crossed the Great Plains and beyond? (Hint: it was quite a large role.)
Why did everyone on the East Coast but none of Lewis and Clark’s men know that Clark was actually Lewis’ inferior in rank?
How did Lewis and Clark’s merry band almost die? (There are probably at least 47 answers to this question.)
Why was Sacagawea an even bigger bad-ass and less appreciated for it than you ever learned in school?
Why was Sacagawea’s French-Canadian husband such a complete wanker?
Why was the French-Canadian Drouillard really the biggest bad-ass of them all?
What was the political, economic and social legacy of the Lewis and Clark expedition?
What is an espontoon, and why do I want one so badly?
In short, this is a rousing, plain-told tale well worth your time and attention. When you get a break from your own daily barge hauling, please indulge yourself.
If you are not following Tragos, your days are not complete.