••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

from ACLU

Anti-choice forces in Congress wasted no time trying to limit access to abortion. Their opening salvo: a proposal that penalizes women and businesses and would eliminate insurance coverage of abortion. It would revive the Stupak Amendment that the last Congress rejected.

Here's how the proposal breaks down:

The bill would allow public hospitals to refuse medically necessary abortions to pregnant women who are rushed in with life-threatening emergencies.

It would permanently deny abortion coverage to women who depend on the federal government for their health care, including Native Americans, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, poor women and women in federal prisons.

The proposal would prohibit anyone who receives a federal subsidy to buy insurance in the new health care exchanges from purchasing a plan that includes abortion coverage (i.e. reinstates the Stupak abortion coverage ban).

It would change tax laws in order to penalize businesses that offer abortion coverage and prevent women from deducting medical expenses related to abortion care.

Send a message to your representative: "Don't play politics with women's health."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

more on bill to nowhere

when i said the health care repeal bill was a time waster, i should've added that it doesn't just waste time in the house of representatives. senate minority leader mitch mcconnell has promised a vote on the bill, so to force that vote he will surely exhaust every possible parliamentary maneuver allowed by senate rules.

when congress wastes time it wastes money.

whose money?

i know you already know the answer, but i'll say it anyhow:

yours & mine!
read this last night at elkins park library, along with a couple pieces i've posted before:

pledge allegiance
pledge allegiance to
pledge allegiance to the
       allegiance to the
                  to the
republic for
republic for which
republic for which it
republic for which it stands
         for which it stands
             which it stands
                   it stands
with liberty
with liberty and
with liberty and justice
with liberty and justice for
     liberty and justice for
             and justice for
                 justice for

"...the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God."

"Let the word go forth.....that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans."

"Let every nation know... that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

"The world is very very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life."

"Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country"

"For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed."

"All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin."

"...let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."
[wikipedia article]
An Appeal from Daniel Ellsberg for RootsAction on Afghanistan

It is a dangerously misleading myth that U.S. wars in the Middle East serve to protect Americans at home. That false claim is used to justify U.S. troop casualties, vast military spending, countless foreign deaths and illegal acts such as torture, kidnapping, indefinite detention and warrantless domestic surveillance.

The Taliban, discredited and unpopular from its reign in Afghanistan, has gathered strength in recent years from nothing other than its resistance to foreign occupation by the U.S. and NATO forces. As in Vietnam, the more U.S. troops in their land, the more militants we are forced to confront -- no matter how many we kill.

The more that drones and cruise missiles kill civilians along with armed fighters, the larger and more determined the resistance and the numbers of volunteers elsewhere to retaliate against the U.S. itself.

The growing hatred of America in Pakistan and other Muslim countries bodes well for the health of Al Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden undoubtedly wishes for our occupations and attacks on Muslims to expand and continue indefinitely. Why do we gratify his hopes?

Whatever interests might be served by our military interventions in the region, making our own citizens safe is not among them.

It will be inexcusable if spending cuts aimed at deficit-reduction do not begin with drastic cuts in the budget for our hopeless occupation of Afghanistan and for continued bases and operations in the Middle East. These operations, far beyond being wasteful, actually reduce our security at home.

Please join me in signing the new petition "We Oppose the War in Afghanistan."

Daniel Ellsberg

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

mr boehner, tear down this bill!

WASHINGTON – The Republican-controlled House has voted to repeal the health care law President Barack Obama signed last year.

The 245-189 vote marks the fulfillment of a promise many Republicans made in last fall's political campaigns.

The measure has little or no chance of passing the Senate, where Democratic supporters of the law have a majority. And Obama has vowed to veto it if it reaches his desk.

Republicans said repeal was necessary because the law provides for a government takeover of the health care system, raises taxes and would destroy jobs.

Democrats denied that, and said repeal would strip Americans of new protections against insurance industry abuses that deny them coverage they have paid for.
[H.R. 2: Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act]

the main job-killers i see are the guys killing the job of congressional representative by voting for this asinine time-wasting bill. so to job-killer boehner, job-killer cantor, and their job-killing followers, i repeat:
tear down this bill!
strike while the barrel is hot
-- 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abusers and others from buying guns.

-- 91 percent of Americans and 93 percent of gun owners support requiring federal agencies to share information about suspected dangerous persons or terrorists to prevent them from buying guns.

-- 89 percent of Americans and 89 percent of gun owners support full funding of the law a unanimous Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed after the Virginia Tech shootings to put more records in the background-check database.

-- 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.
[huffington post article]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

belated birthday

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

actually, that's not what he criticized

In Afghanistan, loose lips sink careers, it seems: First, commanding general Stanley McChrystal got the boot for speaking too freely about his Commander in Chief. And now NATO has fired a colonel serving as a staff officer in Afghanistan for daring to criticize the most important tool we have in the fight against insurgents: PowerPoint.

Wired's Spencer Ackerman reports that Col. Lawrence Sellin, a 61-year-old Army reservist, has been dismissed from his post in headquarters with NATO's International Security Assistance Force less than 48 hours after he published an op-ed, via UPI, complaining that the "war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information." Sellin clearly anticipated that his tirade, which NATO says he didn't clear for publication in advance, would serve as a resignation letter. It opened with, "Throughout my career I have been known to walk that fine line between good taste and unemployment. I see no reason to change that now. Consider the following therapeutic." He went on to excoriate the meaningless, self-serving, metastasizing military bureaucracy that holds sway in Afghanistan and justifies its existence via PowerPoint slide: "Little of substance is really done here, but that is a task we do well."

would've thought a straight shooter would get a tighter group, like this gal:


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

By Norman J. Ornstein
Saturday, January 1, 2011

During the debate over health reform, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Sarah Palin and others railed against the "death panels" that would result from the bill. Government bureaucrats, critics said, would decide who would die and when. The bill passed - and indeed there are death panels. But they do not come from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare." They come from Republican administrations in states such as Arizona and Indiana.
fresh air

In the past four years, more than 30,000 people have been killed by gunfire in Mexico. But the guns don't originate in Mexico. The one gun store in the country, located in Mexico City, is operated by the Mexican military and under very tight security.

Instead, the thousands of guns used by Mexican drug cartels trickle in through the United States. Since 2006, more than 60,000 of the weapons used in Mexican crimes have been traced back to the U.S.

For the past year, Washington Post reporter James Grimaldi and a team of Post reporters have been investigating the hidden life of guns, including how guns from the United States have ended up on Mexican streets. He says it's not surprising that the vast majority of weapons used in Mexico can be traced back across the border.

"We're the closest country, it's easy to get guns, it's not difficult to cross the borders with the guns when you get them, and there's very little stopping gun runners from doing that," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "The efforts by the United States and Mexican authorities have not really been a very strong deterrent in stopping the flow of guns south of the border."

Part of the problem, Grimaldi says, is straw-purchasing: when legal buyers purchase guns on behalf of illegal buyers, who remain largely untraceable.

"What is happening is dozens if not hundreds of people are going into gun stores along the border, buying guns for this trafficking and then taking them across the border," Grimaldi explains. "Those straw purchases really put the gun stores in the front lines of defending or preventing this flow of guns to Mexico."

But which U.S. dealers sell guns taken from Mexican crime scenes remains largely unknown. Though the information used to be freely available to anyone who filed a Freedom of Information Act request, the 2003 Tiahrt Amendment passed by Congress prohibits the ATF from releasing gun tracing data.

"The gun lobby — the National Rifle Assocation and gun manufacturers — went to Congress and asked them to [make gun tracing] off-limits," Grimaldi says. "It basically shut down any news stories that had been published in the past exposing where the guns were coming from — showing which stores tended to be the ones that criminals went to buy their guns. It [also] took the focus off of those stores that were engaged either knowingly or unwittingly in gun trafficking to criminals."

But Grimaldi and other Washington Post reporters managed to break the secrecy....
marketplace listener comment
Michael DeSiano of Brooklyn, N.Y. -- in what will probably be this week's most commented-upon listener comment -- thinks giving cyclists the run of the road is a terrible idea:
The very serious issues left unmentioned pertain to lack of enforceable rules for cyclists, lack of insurance for bicycles that involve accidents with pedestrians and cars and lack of licenses for cyclists who choose to be oblivious to rules of the road and courtesy.
original story:

"...Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."
—Spencer Bachus, incoming chair of the House Financial Services Committee

In the years preceding the financial crisis, we saw Bachus's worldview at work.
[read or listen]

Monday, January 03, 2011

whaddaya bet it never reaches O's desk?

WASHINGTON – Eager to show who's now in charge, the House's new Republican majority plans to vote to repeal President Barack Obama's landmark health care overhaul before he even shows up in their chamber to give his State of the Union address.
can anyone tell me what this means?

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Monday it will allow 13 companies to resume deepwater drilling without any additional environmental scrutiny, just months after saying it would require strict reviews for new drilling in the wake of the BP oil spill.

The government said it was not breaking its promise to require environmental reviews because the 13 companies — which include Chevron USA Inc. and Shell Offshore Inc. — had already started drilling the wells without detailed environmental studies.

later on the story says they'll have to follow new rules, but i don't see why they get grandfathered out of doing detailed reviews.

the typical excuse is jobs, but isn't that why the macondo drilling wasn't halted before the blowout?
The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.

Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.