As 2010 fades into history, no living, sentient American will remember the year as anything other than the year when progressives came for the Constitution. And the same year in which the same Constitution provided for elections in the 50 states. The people exercised their constitutional right to vote many of the would-be tyrants out on their disgusting derrieres.
The United States has some immutable traditions, which, to be fair, are based on the French Revolution and the European Enlightenment. The United States' Founding Fathers took those further, and the federalism of the United States also, of relatively powerful states trying to constrain federal government from becoming too centralized. Also added some important democratic controls and understandings. So there is a lot of good that has historically come from the United States.But after World War II, during World War II, the federal government of the United States started sucking the resources to the center, and the power of states started to diminish. Interestingly, the First Amendment started overriding states' laws around that time, which I see as a function of increasing central power in the United States. I think the problems with the United States as a foreign power stem from, simply, its economic success, whereby it's, historically at least, a very rich country with a number of people and the desire left over as a result ofLet me explain this a bit better. The U.S. saw the French Revolution and it also saw the behavior of the U.K. and the other kings and dictatorships, so it intentionally produced a very weak President. The President was, however, given a lot of power for external relations, so as time has gone by, the presidency has managed to exercise its power through its foreign affairs function.
White House aides say they are working up an executive order to allow the U.S. to hold enemy combatants indefinitely. “One reason Mr. Obama has been forced to allow indefinite detention is because he seems unwilling to allow more military commission trials at Guantanamo,” according to the Journal.
That is an extraordinary turn of events. Mr. Obama ran for president by lacerating his predecessor for acting in ways that were, he said, lawless and unconstitutional, in violation of basic human rights, and an affront to international law, and in ways that discredited and disgraced America’s name around the globe. And now we learn that Mr. Upholder of International Law himself, Barack Obama, is going to continue his policy of holding enemy combatants indefinitely.
At least the Bush policy of military tribunals, which was based on wartime precedent and previous Supreme Court rulings, allowed suspects a lawyer and a trial by jury. When in 2006 the Supreme Court struck down military tribunals (in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld), the Bush administration and Congress effectively rewrote the law, passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The administration was trying to find the right balance between indefinite detention on the one hand and not providing suspected terrorists with the full array of constitutional rights an American citizen possesses on the other. (The Supreme Court’s 2008 terribly misguided ruling in Boumediene v. Bush, which for the first time in our history conferred a constitutional right to habeas corpus to alien enemies detained abroad by our military force in an ongoing war, made striking this balance far more complicated.)
President Obama, because he appears unwilling to allow military commission trials at Guantanamo, seems to have settled on indefinite detention. This is a significant moral step backward.
“People from Telluride don’t have any business around here,” said Ms. Mathews, 31, who works as a school janitor and ardently supports the idea of bringing back uranium jobs. “Not everyone wants to drive to Telluride to clean hotel rooms.”
When they were top executives at Citigroup Inc., Sallie Krawcheck and Todd Thomson had a well-known rivalry.
Mr. Thomson, Citigroup's swaggering young chief financial officer, would regularly challenge Ms. Krawcheck's performance numbers during her presentations to the management committee, according to Citigroup executives. Ms. Krawcheck, the high-profile head of the Smith Barney unit, would visibly roll her eyes during Mr. Thomson's flashy speeches, in which he would sometimes wear a leather jacket and blare rock music. Both were part of the horse race to succeed Citigroup founder Sanford I. Weill as CEO.
Gideon Rachman at the Financial Times says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange deserves a medal rather than prison. “He and WikiLeaks have done America a massive favour,” he writes, “by inadvertently debunking decades-old conspiracy theories about its foreign policy.”
He’s right. And I suspect Rachman’s tongue is firmly planted in cheek when he says Assange should be rewarded. If the United States wanted all that information made public, the government hardly needed his help getting it out there.
Anyway, Rachman points out that many rightists in China and Russia, and leftists in Europe and Latin America, assume that whatever American foreign-policy officials say in public is a lie. I’d add that Arabs on both the “left” and the “right” do, too. Not all of them, surely, but perhaps a majority. I’ve met people in the Middle East who actually like parts of the American rationale for the war in Iraq — that the promotion of democracy in the Arab world might leech out its toxins — they just don’t believe the U.S. was actually serious.
And let’s not forget the most ridiculous theories of all. Surely somewhere in all these leaked files there’d be references to a war for oil in Iraq if the war was, in fact, about oil. Likewise, if 9/11 was an inside job — or a joint Mossad–al-Qaeda job — there should be at least some suggestive evidence in all those classified documents. If the U.S. government lied, rather than guessed wrong, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, or if NATO invaded Afghanistan to install a pipeline, this information would have to be written down somewhere. The State and Defense department bureaucracies are far too vast to have no records of what they’re up to.
Ms. A told the police that arrangements had been made for Mr. Assange to begin his visit to Sweden by staying at her Stockholm apartment for a few days while she was out of town. But the report said she returned Aug. 13, sooner than expected and, over dinner with Mr. Assange, agreed to allow him to stay in the apartment.
The details of their sexual encounter that night were redacted from the copy of the police report obtained by The Times. But The Guardian reported Saturday that Ms. A told the police that Mr. Assange had stroked her leg, then pulled off her clothes and snapped her necklace. The report quotes her as saying that she “tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again.”
According to The Guardian, Ms. A told the police that Mr. Assange pinned her arms and legs to stop her from reaching for a condom. Eventually one was used — but, she told her police interviewer, he appeared to have “done something” with it, resulting in its tearing.
Ms. W, 25, lives in the town of Enkoping, about 30 miles north of Stockholm. A few weeks before Mr. Assange arrived in Sweden, she saw him on television, according to the police interview in The Times’s version of the police report, and found him “interesting, brave and worthy of admiration.” When she discovered that he would be speaking in Stockholm, she contacted Ms. A to volunteer her help.
Her offer was not taken up, but she decided to attend the lecture anyway, where she met Ms. A in person. After the speech, she told the police, she sat next to Mr. Assange at a group dinner. He flirtatiously fed her bread and cheese, she said, and put his arm around her.
The group dispersed after dinner, leaving Mr. Assange and Ms. W alone, the police report said. They decided to go to a movie, where, the report said, the couple began caressing, then moved to a back row, where they continued. Two days later, Ms. W and Mr. Assange met again and walked around the city’s old town together, according to the police report. It said they decided to go by train to Enkoping after Mr. Assange balked at staying in a Stockholm hotel. Ms. W then bought his rail ticket, for about $16, after Mr. Assange told her that he did not have any money, and that he feared he could be traced if he used a credit card.
The unredacted police report obtained by The Guardian says that after arriving at her apartment the two had sex using a condom. In the report, she described waking up to find him having sex with her again, without a condom. Later that morning, Ms. W told the police, Mr. Assange “ordered her to get some water and orange juice for him.” She said “she didn’t like being ordered around in her own home but got it anyway.”
Captain Beefheart, avant garde rocker, died today aged 69.
Real name Don Van Vliet, the singer passed away at a California hospital due to complications from multiple sclerosis, reports Entertainment Weekly.
Beefheart is best known for being an iconic experimental musician, from 1967 through to the early '80s.
He famously enjoyed challenging his fans and expectations about rock 'n' roll. In 1978 he said:
"People like music to be in tune because they've heard it in tune all the time.
"I really tried to break that down."
Beefheart not only left an impression on his fans, but other musicians too.
According to Spin magazine, his 1969 album "Trout Mask Replica" inspired everyone from Tom Waits and John Lennon, to Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey.
Beefheart retired from making music in 1982.
His overall record sales were low compared to the large influence his music had on others.
He spent most of the 80s focusing on his visual artwork.
The Captain was - along with the Velvets and Zappa - one of the original avant-garde rockers; a guy from the California desert who mixed Howlin' Wolf-style blues, free jazz, and goofy poetry into an instantly recognizable sound. Here he is with his classic Trout Mask Replica era Magic Band
OK, so it's not Paul Anka. That's the whole point. He was the guy you listened to if you didn't want to be a square or a hippie*. And, he was worth listening to at least for his inspired word play. Just look at the track listing for Lick My Decals Off, Baby. (one of the great album titles)
- "Lick My Decals Off, Baby" – 2:38
- "Doctor Dark" – 2:46
- "I Love You, You Big Dummy" – 2:54
- "Peon" – 2:24
- "Bellerin' Plain" – 3:35
- "Woe-is-uh-Me-Bop" – 2:06
- "Japan in a Dishpan" – 3:00
- "I Wanna Find a Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go" – 1:53
- "Petrified Forest" – 1:40
- "One Red Rose That I Mean" – 1:52
- "The Buggy Boogie Woogie" – 2:19
- "The Smithsonian Institute Blues (or the Big Dig)" – 2:11
- "Space-Age Couple" – 2:32
- "The Clouds Are Full of Wine (not Whiskey or Rye)" – 2:50
- "Flash Gordon's Ape" – 4:15
Honestly, don't you at least want to hear what a song with a title like "I Wanna Find a Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go" sounds like?
Beefheart was inevitably "embraced" by the Europeans, even as he was "rejected" in his own country. Meh. Those Euro-weenies need to be descended from a member of the House of Lords, and go through years of art school to do a fraction of what the Captain - did he even finish high school? - accomplished. As strange as he was, he was that classic American archetype: the self-invented original who seemed to arise fully formed from the great American wilderness. Good bye, Captain.
*if you want to hear him do some semi-"regular" music listen to Hot Rats, the album he made with Frank Zappa.
For some years, we have assumed that 2011 would see a massive tax increase. That this will not happen is a great benefit to both taxpayers and the economy. That the Republicans could achieve this result despite not controlling any of the three entities involved in the negotiations--the House, the Senate and the White House--is rather remarkable. I think it was made possible by the fact that many Democrats, including President Obama, recognized the damage that a tax increase would do to the economy.
For this reason, the symbolic value of the agreement for conservatives is huge. For nine years, Democrats have gnashed their teeth at the "Bush tax cuts" and have vowed to reverse them. Democrats have now controlled Congress for four years, and have made no effort to do so. When they couldn't put off the issue any longer, what happened? A majority of House Democrats and a large majority of Senate Democrats voted to perpetuate the Bush administration's tax policies. By doing so, the Democrats have implicitly admitted (in some cases, the admission was explicit) that the Republicans were right all along: the sort of punitive tax burden for which the Left hungers is economic poison.
I'm not a smoker, but if I were, I would light a cigar to celebrate the day when Congressional Democrats and the leader of their party's left wing, Barack Obama, gave in to reality and endorsed the Bush tax cuts.
Tonight may indeed may be a “seminal moment,” as McCain said. This was to be the appropriators’ last hurrah. In the end, they couldn’t see it through, and it’s not going to get any better for them next year.
Why did it go down? You had Jim DeMint rallying outside opposition, and pushing Reid’s back against the wall procedurally with the threat to have the whole monstrosity read on the floor; that was time Reid presumably couldn’t afford to waste given everything else he wants to jam through.
Then, you had Mitch McConnell on the phone all day with Republican appropriators–Reid’s base of support on the bill–twisting their arms to come out against it. My understanding is that by the end he had all the appropriators committed against it, with the exception of two who were undecided. McConnell told the appropriators that passing this bill, and passing it this way, would represent a rejection of everything the mid-term election was about, and ultimately he prevailed. Again and again over the last two years, McConnell has done what a minority leader needs to do–keep his troops united.
And, finally, there was McCain. He was out there, too. On “Hannity” last night, he sounded like a tea-partier, urging people to use social media and to flood the phone lines in opposition. It must have been particularly sweet for him, after all these years battling appropriators, doing a victory jig all over the bill on the senate floor a little while ago.
One of every four Oakland students - including 40 percent of its highest achievers - fled the district's public schools after finishing fifth grade in the spring, shunning the city's middle schools in favor of private, suburban or charter schools.
The exodus, which crosses all ethnicities and income levels, meant a loss of at least $6 million in state revenue. But perhaps more importantly, it shows the staggering brain drain that consistently leaves middle schools heavily weighted with struggling students.
It's a confounding problem for Oakland administrators: How can they improve the middle schools' test scores when the brightest students leave?
A federal judge rejected a key provision of the Obama administration's health care law as unconstitutional Monday, ruling the government cannot require people to buy insurance, in a dispute that both sides agree will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson is the first federal judge to strike down the law, which has been upheld by two other federal judges in Virginia and Michigan. Several other lawsuits have been dismissed and others are pending, including one filed by 20 other states in Florida.
The government had argued the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives the government the power to require individuals to buy health insurance or face a penalty, a provision due to take effect in 2014.
But Hudson sided with Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli in saying the mandate overstepped the Constitution.
"This case, however, turns on atypical and uncharted applications of constitutional law interwoven with subtle political undercurrents," Hudson wrote. "The outcome of this case has significant public policy implications. And the final word will undoubtedly reside with a higher court."
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
Some health insurers are bumping up rates yet again to reflect changes mandated by the new federal health overhaul law as well as state reforms that will go into effect Jan. 1.
Blue Shield of California, for example, has sent letters informing customers with individual policies that their premiums will go up in the low single digits because of the federal law.
Some of those same policyholders also could see their rates go up as much as an additional 17.7 percent to account for a new state law that will prohibit insurers from charging women more for insurance than men.
For consumers, many of whom already have been hit this year with hefty premium increases to accommodate higher medical costs, the additional raise attributed to health reform will further strain their budgets.
While women tend to use more services in their younger years, the difference often evens out as people age.
The son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour issued a public apology Friday for climbing atop of one of Britain's most important war memorials during violent student demonstrations against rising university fees.
Charlie Gilmour, 21, said he was sorry for the "terrible insult" to the thousands who died for the country. Gilmour — a Cambridge University history student — said he did not realize that the monument he climbed was the Cenotaph, which commemorates Britain's war dead.
"I feel nothing but shame," he said. "My intention was not to attack or defile the Cenotaph. Running along with a crowd of people who had just been violently repelled by the police, I got caught up in the spirit of the moment."
Yes, Gilmour is a "rock guitarist." He is also an incredibly wealthy man whose band, I'll bet, has made more money than Michael Jackson and Madonna put together. Charlie is practically the stereotype of the child of privilege playing at Revolution! to the applause of the media and his fellow students. At least he was man enough to apologize immediately.
UPDATE: just read through the linked article again. This ponce who didn't know he was climbing on a war memorial is a history student. Geez. Even if he's been getting free tuition up to now, he's been ripped off.
Outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a last-ditch effort Monday to help close California's budget deficit by proposing deep cuts to social services and prisons, ideas that had been rejected by lawmakers in previous budget negotiations.
The Republican governor on Monday declared a fiscal emergency and called the Legislature into a special session to deal with part of the deficit, which is $25.4 billion over the next 18 months.
He called for spending cuts and other solutions worth $1.9 billion in the current fiscal year, which ends in June, and $7.9 billion more in the next fiscal year, which takes Schwarzenegger's proposal well into the term of Gov.-elect Jerry Brown.
Schwarzenegger was not concerned about overlapping with the incoming Democrat, who takes over Jan. 3.
I think Professor Bainbridge gets this right:
You know the expression about locking the barn door after the horse has bolted? Here's a Star Wars version:
Pulling the fire alarms on Alderaan five minutes after the Death Star shoots.
It's easy to blame Schwarzenegger alone, but he was guided by Republican establishment types like Pete Wilson. Where were these guys during the past three years when the Governator was negotiating "debt & taxes" deals with the legislature?
Democrats at least manage to rally around the cry of "protecting Pat Brown's legacy." Why haven't state Republicans been trying to save Governor Reagan's legacy?