dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] seawasp made a an observational post on the current political situation in the US. I recommend it. (I also particularly liked this comment.)
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
This true tale of flying while brown should never have happened. How can we have fallen so far in a decade.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
In the safest, most boring country, the worst lone gunman shooting happens. The worst in the world, in history. But it will not make our country worse. The safe, boring democracy will supply him with a defense lawyer as is his right. He will not get more than 21 years in prison as is the maximum extent of the law. Our democracy does not allow for enough punishment to satisfy my need for revenge, as is its intention. We will not become worse, we will be better. We lived in a land where this is possible, even easy. And we will keep living in a land where this is possible, even easy. We are open, we are free and we are together. We are vulnerable by choice. And we will keep on like that, that’s how we want to live. We will not be worse because of the worst. We must be good because of the best.
—Ola, a Norwegian on the Something Awful Forums
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)

On Urbanism, Smart Streets, and Urban Livability



Check out the 11-minute video and short post Complete streets mean more than bike lanes over at Greater Greater Washington, a blog i read regularly and very much enjoy.

Also, might images of a skeleton slow down drivers in New York City?

Greater and Lesser Washington is a Flickr pool of images from the DC area, highlighting the best and the worst. Here's a breathtaking photo of Rosslyn, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia:


On Politics and Social Commentary



The wealthiest 1% in the US doesn't live like you or me does.

A case against corporate tax subsidies, not least for the oil companies.

Social commentary true to both current US happenings, but to the Star Wars Galactic Empire. I found this one chilling.

Frank Kameny won a well-deserved award for his ground-breaking work in civil rights for homosexuals. If you're not familiar with Kameny, here's a link to his Wikipedia entry.

And on a Lighter Note


dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
What Is ‘America,’ Anyway? is an excellent piece by Wonkette. A quote:
End the wars. All of them. Every American in Afghanistan needs to be shipped home. Today. Ditto in Iraq. Every American solider and sketchy mercenary must leave. Now. The robot-bombing of Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya must also end. Every CIA rape prison must be dismantled. Gitmo must be closed forever. Same with Bagram. We also need to stop murdering Gaddafi’s infant grandchildren, if there’s any left unmurdered.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
Remember that tax cuts on the wealthy caused the budget crisis in WI, and the tax cuts on the wealthy in OH contributed to the problems there too.

dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
I like his take on things, and i think its a worthwhile read regardless where you may be in the political spectrum.

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] fritterfae at Against All Enemies Foreign and Domestic
When I became a federal employee 9 years ago (during the Bush administration mind you), I was required to take an oath of office.  In my oath I was required to swear or affirm that I would defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic.  I took that oath, and I meant it.  Lately I have been thinking long and hard about that oath, and what it means.  I still stand by it, and in so doing I want to share why I believe that the Republican Party has become a domestic enemy of the Constitution.

Over the last few weeks states in the midwest have been in turmoil as Republican led legislatures and executives have been directly attacking public employee unions.  In Wisconsin, the governor makes no bones about the fact that he's willing to just fire all the public employees and say to hell with them if they don't accept the total destruction of all collective bargaining for public sector employees. The railroading of this bill through the Wisconsin legislature has forced the democrats in there to flee the state to prevent a quorum, and thus killing the bill by default. Similar things are happening in Indiana, Ohio, and New Jersey as well.

The problem with this big picture, is not that public sector salaries are out of control.  Ask any teacher, they get paid shit.  Same with cops, firefighters, librarians too.  Salaries in the public sector are dismal.  Even our benefits are crap.  Many of us no longer have pension plans, instead we have deferred investment funds that go into money market accounts that are subject to the vagueries of Wall Street.  Public Sector union employees often times don't even have the right to strike.  In Wisconsin, the money was there until the Republican governor pushed through a bunch of tax breaks that gave to corporations the $140 million that they wound up losing.  Why the hell would they do that?

Because the reality is that the Republican party as a whole wants to dismantle the entire system of American government. 

I have felt that this was true for years.  It took me until this moment to feel confident in expressing what seems like the most heinous thing anyone could say.  But hell, they've been saying it themselves.

Yesterday and today I've seen some video clips from Rachel Maddow.  I know, she's biased, she admits it herself, but that doesn't mean that she's wrong.  Just watch this clip, if you will indulge me for a minute.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

At the 6:20 mark she nails it. The purpose of busting these unions in Wisconsin and other places is solely to destroy Democratic campaign contributors who can compete with the multi-million dollar message organizations funded by other millionaires to help preserve the wealthy elite who run corporate America.  At the 7:00 mark she shows side by side who were the top campaign contributors in the 2008 and 2010 elections.  In 2008 it was the public sector unions who dominated campaign spending and pushed Obama and a ton of other liberal democrats into office.  In 2010, they were outspent by conservative political action groups, and a ton of tea party conservatives, like Scott Walker came into power.

We can ask the question til we're blue in the face if this is fair or not.  That's immaterial given the circumstances we find ourselves in today.  Electoral politics is driven by who can spend the most money on a campaign and drown out the message of the competition.  Sadly Americans are that easily swayed. 

But dismantling unions are only a part of a much larger picture. 

Take a look at these charts that show the disastrous legacy of President Reagan

Let's look at the cost of the war on drugs.  The big legacy of Reagan era politics was his declaration of the drug war.  Now, admittedly, drugs were pretty fucking rough in the 80's.  But the cost of the war on drugs on greater society was devastating.  With the drug war came hundreds of thousands of convictions of criminal drug charges.  Before 1980 we barely cracked a total of having 500,000 people in prison.  By 2006 under Bush II we had over 2 million people in prison.  That's four times as many, and the federal government had to scale up the federal prison system accordingly.  Costing us hundreds of billions of dollars in police, corrections officers and court costs.  This was a calculated move to increase spending and to change public opinion about the justice system. 

Similarly under Bush II there were massive government expansions.  The creation of the Department of Homeland Security was the creation of the largest federal government agency in history.  It combined dozens of other agencies into one unwieldy leviathan that will cost $57 billion in 2012.  And what's the agency in DHS that most people have transactions with: The Transportation Safety Administration. Again, a calculated move to increase spending and to change public opinion about the efficacy of public safety.

But Bush II was also responsible for the No Child Left Behind Act.  The Act was touted to bring about education reform in public schools, by enforcing regular and rigorous standardized testing. Funding for the Department of Education grew from $42 billion to $57 billion, and teachers across the country were forced to teach students to meet the requirements of these regularly planned exams.  School districts around the country began failing and the credibility of public education was undermined.

Each of these moves led to a credibility gap in public institutions, and bloated spending.  But wait, where's the money coming from?

At the same time that the Republicans were increasing government programs they were also simultaneously decreasing the government's revenue stream from taxes.  The primary cuts in the federal taxes went to those in the top 1% of earners.  And these tax rates increased wildly under the Bush Era tax cuts.  Take a look at these infographics from Mother Jones.  In 1945, at the pinnacle of WWII, a person earning a million dollars a year was paying out 66% of their salary in federal taxes.  Since then it's dropped about 10% every decade, such that under the Bush tax cuts a millionaire only pays 32% toward federal income taxes.  So government loses revenue on that front.  However, if you look at the next chart on that page you see who most benefits from tax cuts, businesses.  As corporate taxes go down, payroll taxes creep up and up. 

Remember that Rachel Maddow piece I brought out?  Who funds those conservative PAC's?  Businesses and millionaires.  Businesses and millionaires consistently donate to Republican candidates, because Republicans keep giving businesses tax breaks.  With the Union busting going on in multiple states, they seek to eliminate any real Democratic donor competition in elections, and thus sweep the government entirely.  What happens then?

Now let's take a look at this handy chart about the increases in the national debt.

Increases in the national debt under different presidents from news junkie post You don't have to be a statistician to understand this chart.  Under Reagan and both Bushes the Republican Party has increased the national debt to astronomical levels.  Only in that brief period of sanity under Clinton was there any kind of exercise in restraint against deficit spending. 

Both of these deficit spending booms came during eras when tax breaks were coming left and right.  The Reagan Era tax cuts sent billions of dollars back to corporations and the wealthy.  The Bush II tax cuts were huge and deep, and as a result the government was forced to borrow to pay for itself.  

Why?  

Why would the Republican party build huge convoluted government programs, increase spending, decrease tax revenue and force the government to borrow to pay for itself? 

 

Here's the plan as I see it laid out.  The Republican Party wants to destroy America.  This is a long term goal. So they begin by promising tax cuts, which sounds great, and the lower and middle class see a little bit, but the wealthy and corporations see massive gains.  The wealthy want to continue this so they keep funding Republican campaigns.  The Republicans then begin increasing government programs and government spending, thus creating an artificial budget shortfall.  They gut agencies they don't like (Arts and Humanities), overcomplicate others (Education), and bloat others (Defense, DHS).  In order to pay for these programs they borrow from foreign countries and rack up trillions of dollars in debt. Then they push candidates who really don't know what they're doing into office (Bush, Palin, etc.), so that they will continue to make the government look like it's worthless, useless and incompetent.  And then when the economy collapses, the entire complex of government systems will be forced to close.  In the absence of government, corporations will take control of America, dragging us back into the abusive corporate past of wage slavery, poor working conditions, company towns, and family fortunes that last for generations.

The Constitution of the United States was established to protect the people of this country.  Over time the ability of actual people to influence government has diminished so greatly that only the most wealthy lobbying groups and political action committees can even crack a dent into the political arena.  The Onion even parodied this inability of actual people to make a difference by saying that the American people need to hire our own lobbyist to do influence peddling in Congress. 

It is my sincere opinion, that the actions taken by the Republican Party are an attempt to subvert and eradicate the Constitution.  They want to enshrine in law discrimination, and have done so in the past.  They want to create discord between different economic classes by creating vast inequalities in income and tax burden.  They want to do away with any general welfare programs such as public housing, food stamps, welfare (except to corporations), social security, veterans benefits and medicare.  One could even claim that they wish to do away with common defense by overstretching the military in unnecessary global conflict.  Each of these elements are basic parts of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.  I believe that these actions combined provide a case that the Republicans are launching a direct assault against the constitution and all that it stands for.  As an aggressor against the constitution they should be considered a domestic threat.

Reading back through this article I feel as though I sound like some crazed conspiracy theorist, like Glenn Beck on his little chalkboards pointing out figures and drawing lines to where we realize that Reagan was the Anti-Christ.  I don't think that Reagan was the Anti-Christ.  I actually went to the funeral and stood in line for hours waiting to get into the rotunda to see the casket lying in state.  He was a terrible president with a terrible legacy, but you don't have to be supernatural to be evil.  Reagan, Bush, Bush II, Karl Rove, a host of conservative think tanks, corporations and millionaires want this country to be less equal, more to their advantage, and to have no one to tell them otherwise.  They want to solidify power, and destroy the last few things left in their path to creating the kind of country we were at the turn of the last century.

Though I am not in a union, I stand with the unions.  I believe in the necessity of public services, and I believe in resiliency of our country.  I don't believe that corporations will fail if they have to pay higher taxes.  I don't believe that a person who earns $27 million a year will bat an eye to lose even two thirds of that sum.  They're still fucking millionaires.  I also think that there can be government reform without destroying everything we've worked so hard to create. 

March on Wisconsin.  Give 'em hell.  They've earned it.

dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] ebonypearl wrote a piece that i think each and every one of yall should read.


Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] recalcitranttoy and [livejournal.com profile] vvalkyri.
dcseain: (Blue Meanie)
Glenn Beck Bingo over at Slacktivist. It opens

So I've been asked to comment on the "Principles and Values" of television host Glenn Beck's "912 Project." OK.

Beck's "principles" are horrifically unprincipled, which is to say that they were created backwards. These are not the principles from which his political agenda emerges, these are post-facto rationalizations used to bolster a predetermined (but variable) political agenda. That accounts, I think, for the confusion and incoherence of these so-called principles. ...
dcseain: (Her! vs. Pig (Dead Pig) 196d)
This baffles and appalls me all at once. What think you?
Tip o'the hat to [livejournal.com profile] telemann

dcseain: (The City of Washington in the District o)
Primary voting tomorrow in the VA 8th, 10th and 11th congressional districts. In the 8th, seems there's a stealth Republican running against Moran. So get your vote out, esp in the VA 8th.

The VA 11th has Connolly against Byrne, among others. Greater Greater Washington has some interesting comments on the race in the 11th. Poltically Purple has some comments on the race in the 11th also, from a very different point of view from the former link.

So, Virginians, get your vote out tomorrow!

Huh.

May. 24th, 2007 11:56 pm
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
Did you know about this? I recommend its article about the POTUS. I could get behind Miss Piggy for Prez, myself. I think Kermit would be too much like Carter.

Yay!

Apr. 12th, 2007 02:44 pm
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
For a change, Richmond makes sense:

Saying that electronic voting machines are susceptible to fraud and error, lawmakers will require election boards to replace them with machines such as optical scanners that offer a paper trail.

This is a big happy. DC had changed to optical-scan while i lived there, and it is a very superior system to the black-box touch-screen dealies.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
mais je ne t'écris pas une poésie ce soir, au lieu de cela, je t'écris ceci:
(Tu ne sus pas que je pourrais écrire dans le français, eh?)

Well, enough of that. At least i know i've not forgotten it all, even if it's really rusty. I should revisit L'étrange or Le Petit Prince for a basic refresher. Tomorrow, or more likely today when you may actually see this, is Armistice Day, known here in The States as Veterans Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Germany signed an armistice on the Western Front, ending the war with France, Britain, Belgium, Holland, Spain, the US, Canada, and The Commonwealth.

My great-grandfather fought in that war for Germany, for which he won an Iron Cross. (cut for length) )
The memory of Uncle Fred weighs on me a little bit each Armistice Day; i wish it was still easy to buy poppies like it used to be. This year, with the current administration and the battles over whether people like me are people who deserve full rights or not, his memory and his stories haunt me more than usual this year.

So this year, i fondly, yet a bit melancholically, raise a glass in memory of my great-grandparents Schoenmann.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
In another forum, [livejournal.com profile] happylion said:
Traditionally, Jewish law says that marriage is about procreation. Therefore, the Pentateuch prohibits a woman from marrying a man whose testes have been damaged or removed. Also, if a couple do not succeed in having children for ten years, they are forcibly divorced and remarried (this happened to distant cousins of mine; they both had children in their second marriage).

American law does not follow the Jewish tradition. Therefore, an American marriage is not simply about procreation, and any arguments based on procreation are meaningless.
in response to this letter to the editor in Monday's Washington Post, page A14:

Therefore these rights are not absolute but curtailed by the laws of nature of that Creator, who clearly designed his creatures to procreate heterosexually, not homosexually. (It just doesn't work any other way.) )

Discuss.

Oy Gevalt!

Jul. 18th, 2006 04:05 pm
dcseain: (Broccoli!)
Mr. President tries to give Angela Merkel a massage. This is all over the European news, brought to my attention by a friend in Amsterdam. As if we needed anything more to be embarrassed about from this administration.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
A friend of mine is on a pre-med track. He's been assigned to research Religious, spcefically denominational, views of stem cell research. We found data on the topic from a variety of Abramic groups, including but not limited to: UUs, Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Reform Jews, Consevative Jews, Muslims, and and many other groups. One Abrahamic group we found no info on the topic for was the Religious Society of Friends.

So, if you be Friend, Buddhist, what-have-you, does your religious denomination/path have a position on stem cells and stem cell research? Please identify the denomination/path and provide references when possible. Thank you.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
In November, we in Virginia will vote on a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Virgnia. This is the text of the amendment, as it will appear on the ballot, and potentially be added to the Constitution of Virginia:
That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.
Governor Kaine is opposed to this ammendment; here's the press release. To say the least, this amendment is far-reaching, and discriminates against much more than lesbians and gay men.

As one born and raised here, i am apalled by this amendment. I fear it will lead to another case like Loving v. Virgninia 388 U.S. 1 (1967) Docket Number: 395, a recent, shameful, lowpoint in Virginia history.

Sunday 25 June, 7-9 p.m. at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ, 5010 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22207, there's an HRC event: It's Not Just About Marriage: Virginia Marriage Amendment Teach-In.

You may want to attend, or know someone who should attend. Details are behind the cut, and they would appreciate that RSVP. We MUST fight this amendment.

Info on the Teach-In )
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
I don't know [livejournal.com profile] doctortina, but this ad she made about her brother shipping out to iraq using the Chevy "make your own ad" thingy is amazing.

My inner cynic says they probably won't leave it up long.

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] nadyalec for bringing this lovely political work to my attention.
dcseain: Cast shot of me playing my violin in role of minstrel in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (Default)
I live in Virginia. I voted. If you live in Virginia, and you haven't voted yet, you have until 7PM EST. Get ye to the polls NOW!

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