Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Robert Lang

Robert Lang is just another "lone wolf," just another "isolated individual" who wants to kill abortion providers. Robert who?

David Pakman is quite right when he says, "If Robert Lang were a Muslim, everyone in America would know his name."

So why can't we go after these Christian fanatics?

Robert G. Wilmers

So, what kinds of new rules and regulations do we get out of Congress after the "Great Recession" of 2008-2009? Practically zip. Nada. After all, we don't DARE endanger ANY businesses profits, do we, especially the almighty "banks"? We might be called Communists or something equally stupid. And besides, it might reduce the donations to politicians. Can't have that. No. No. No.

The Good Banker
by Joe Nocera

Not long ago, as I was leaving a business lunch, my luncheon companion handed me a thin manila envelope. He didn’t tell me what was in it or why he had given it to me, but as soon as I opened it up, I immediately understood.

It contained a copy of the 2010 annual report to shareholders by a bank executive I’d never met: Robert G. Wilmers. For nearly 30 years, Wilmers has run the M&T Bank, based in Buffalo. When he took it over, M&T had $2 billion in assets; today, its assets exceed $68 billion, and it’s one of the most highly regarded regional bank holding companies. It has also been one of the best performing stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index; indeed, M&T was one of only two banks in the S.& P. 500 that didn’t cut its dividend during the financial crisis.

Wilmers’s report, however, was less about the company’s numbers than about the dismal state of his beloved profession. Wilmers, it turns out, is that rarest of birds: a banker willing to tell harsh truths about banking. That, for instance, much of the money the big banks earn comes from trading profits “rather than the prudent extension of credit that furthers commerce.” That derivatives had helped bring about the crisis and needed to be regulated. That bank executives were wildly overpaid. That the biggest banks — the Too Big to Fail Banks — were operating, as he put it, an “unsafe business model.”

My first thought upon finishing the report was: I need to meet this guy. So, a few weeks ago, I did.

In person, Wilmers does not immediately strike one as a rabble-rouser. At 77, he is soft-spoken, a bit reticent, and almost excessively polite. “I personally believe that there isn’t a more honorable profession than the banking industry,” he began. “Most bankers are very involved in their communities, and they can stand up and be counted. I saw a poll recently,” he continued, “that showed we are now considered the third worst profession. That bothers me.”

On the other hand, it didn’t exactly surprise him. In the run-up to the financial crisis, the giant national banks — which he viewed as a distinct species from the typical American bank — had done things that deserved condemnation. And, he added, “They are still doing things that I don’t think are very good.”

Such as? “It has become a virtual casino,” he replied. “To me, banks exist for people to keep their liquid income, and also to finance trade and commerce.” Yet the six largest holding companies, which made a combined $75 billion last year, had $56 billion in trading revenues. “If you assume, as I do, that trading revenues go straight to the bottom line, that means that trading, not lending, is how they make most of their money,” he said.

This was a problem for several reasons. First, it meant that banks were taking excessive risks that were never really envisioned when the government began insuring deposits — and became, in effect, the backstop for the banking industry. Second, bank C.E.O.’s were being compensated in no small part on their trading profits — which gave them every incentive to keep taking those excessive risks. Indeed, in 2007, the chief executives of the Too Big to Fail Banks made, on average, $26 million, according to Wilmers — more than double the compensation of the top nonbank Fortune 500 executives. (Wilmers made around $2 million last year.)

Finally — and this is what particularly galled him — trading derivatives and other securities really had nothing to do with the underlying purpose of banking. He told me that he thought the Glass-Steagall Act — the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banks — should never have been abolished and that derivates need to be brought under government control. “It doesn’t need to be studied for two years,” he said. “I would put derivative trading in a subsidiary and tax it at a higher rate. If they fail, they fail.”

As Wilmers continued on in this vein, I found myself nodding in agreement. I also couldn’t help thinking back on remarks I’d heard Jamie Dimon give at a recent Chamber of Commerce event. Dimon, who made more than $20 million last year at JPMorgan Chase, is widely viewed as the best of the big bank chief executives. But he’s also become the most vocal defender of the status quo. “To people who say the system would be safer with smaller banks doing traditional banking, well, the system would be safer if we also went back to horse and buggies,” he told the Chamber audience. “That is a quaint notion that won’t work in the real world.”

At the M&T annual meeting earlier this year, Wilmers told the company’s shareholders that the bank’s mission was to “find ways to continue to attract deposits, make sound loans and grow in accordance with our historic credit quality standards.”

How quaint, indeed. And how refreshing.


David Stockman

Fasten your seat belts? Head for the hills? Or the desert?

David Alan Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan administration, sat down to discuss the federal debt and the economy.

Q: What similarities do you see between the situation in Washington in the 1980s and the situation now?

A: I think it's dramatically different, a night-and-day difference. (In the 1980s) we had an economy that was encouraging and beckoning to entrepreneurs. I think we have an economy today that's on the edge of insolvency. We'll be dealing with an age of sacrifice, austerity and an age of pain. You have to stop pretending that we're in a normal business cycle.

Q: So what do we do about it?

A: The fall of 2008 and the financial market meltdown was simply a wake-up call that we were in an unsustainable debt spree. The first step is to recognize the new reality we're in, which is not something politicians ever want to do. They certainly do not like to tell people that we have to eat our broccoli and we have a political class in the Beltway that's totally out of shape, incapable of dispensing pain to the electorate. The stimulus spending got totally out of hand. We borrowed money from the Treasury and handed it out to people to spend. The Republicans are just focusing on tax cuts while Democrats are defending their spending and they aren't willing to compromise. You're going to need to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and, on top of that, find some new revenue sources. Now, we seem to think that we can have 3 percent of GDP deficits forever. It's like a runway, and the airplane is near the end of it. The Republican Party is being reckless in historic proportions, reckless to the extreme.

Q: What about Obama?

A: He's got to stop talking about taxing only the top 2 percent. Tax increases are going to have to include the middle class. On this path we're heading toward class warfare.

Q: What will it take to break that cycle?

A: I think it'll take a thundering conflagration in the global bond market. The budget deficit isn't going to be addressed, and we have not had a two-way market of supply and demand. We now have what I call a "monetary roach motel," where the bonds come in and never come out. China has now got an economy that is so overheated - it means that they will be buying less dollars and far fewer bonds. Over half of the $9.5 trillion in U.S. Treasury debt is owned by central banks and has been purchased recently. I think we're at the last days of the artificial interlude and we're going to be entering the real days.

Q: Is the situation in Europe going to speed this process?

A: It should be a loud wake-up call. We're basically following the same path as the Greeks and the rest of Europe, and there's going to be a great day of reckoning, of reawakening. Once that starts, there could be a rapid, severe and even violent adjustment.

Q: What happens with that adjustment, and what does it do to the economy and corporations?

A: Everything is priced off the 10-year Treasury debt, so if that adjusts, it will ricochet in the fixed income market. That's why it's so dangerous. They're rolling the dice with an unstable market. This year, we're borrowing 43 cents on every dollar we spend. It's a violation of every canon of sound finance that has been believed in the Western world for the last 200 years. There's been no recovery; there's just been a massive medication. The (Rep. Paul) Ryan plan has been said to be brave and heroic as he faces the problems. He doesn't. The problem is here and now and the so-called modest recovery has come out of borrowed money. Since the peak of the last cycle in the fall of 2007, disposable personal income is up $1.1 trillion, but of that $1.1 trillion gained in the last 40 months, $700 billion is due to transfer payments and $300 billion is due to cutting taxes to the lowest point they've been at since 1948. A trillion is borrowed money. The point I'm making is that it's not sustainable.

Q: If some politicians could explain this to people, would they get votes?

A: The politicians have had their head in the sand for so long about this issue that I really don't think they can compute reality anymore. We had the tech bubble, the housing bubble and now the Feds are stimulating what I call the "risk-on" bubble. We've gotten the worst of both worlds: a false signal to Congress that sovereign debt is virtually free and a message to Wall Street that says, 'Go back to reckless speculation.' This is not causing the real economy to recover, and it's creating this massive IOU of unfunded public fiscal action that sooner or later is going to have to be paid.

We need a drastic downsizing of our war machine, especially after they got Osama bin Laden. As welcome as that event was, that kind of problem is a police problem at home, not something that needs a globe-spanning war machine. We should be rethinking whether we need an $800 billion defense budget. That's a vital part of the equation.

Q: What happens if suddenly there are no more defense contracts?

A: If you finance a military budget honestly out of savings, it has an immediate offsetting effect, but if you finance it dishonestly, as Bush did, by simply having the Fed print the money, then you're setting up the economy for a bad headache the morning after. (With the Arab Spring), it's pretty clear we've been fired as the world's policeman.

Q: So bottom line, what can we do?

A: In a pure world, I think you could cut a lot of spending. There would be a way of getting back to a government where we do a social safety net on a means-tested basis, but that is never going to happen in this world.

Revenue is absolutely necessary, both as a practical matter and a matter of numbers. We should put a variable levy on imported oil at $100 (a barrel); whatever the price is coming in, you pay a levy to bring it to $100. We increase the power of the economy, both supply-side and demand-side, if we give investors a certainty of the price.

If we have a Tobin tax - a small tax on every transaction in this casino we used to call the stock market - we can easily generate $100 billion in revenue. We have a massive high-frequency churning in these markets today, and they're not accomplishing anything that's productive for the rejuvenation of the private economy.

Q: Are you still a fan of entrepreneurial capitalism?

A: Yes, but we don't have entrepreneurial capitalism anymore, we have crony capitalism. We've had a tremendous reverse Robin Hood redistribution of income to the top. I don't think it's Armageddon. I think it's just one crisis after another.

David Alan Stockman
Born: Nov. 10, 1946, Fort Hood, Texas
Education: Bachelor's degree, Michigan State University. Graduate work, Harvard University. Politics and public service: Former three-term congressman from Michigan; director of the Office of Management and Budget, 1981-85, in the Reagan administration.
Business career: Former managing director of Salomon Brothers; founding partner, the Blackstone Group; founder, Heartland Industrial Partners LP, a private equity firm in Greenwich, Conn.
Legal problems: Indicted in 2007 in an alleged fraud scheme in relation to a troubled auto-parts manufacturer he ran, Collins & Aikman. "I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Stockman said, maintaining that the company's travails were due to the industry's collapse, not to fraud. In 2009, federal prosecutors agreed and announced that they would not prosecute him.
Books: "The Triumph of Politics: How the Reagan Revolution Failed," Harper & Row, 1986; and "The Real David Stockman," St. Martin's Press. 1986. Working on another book, due in 2012.
Personal: Married, father of two, resident of Greenwich, Conn.

This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, May 30, 2011

Harry Truman

Now more than ever, we need a guy like Harry Truman to lead the Democratic Party in the charge against the Republicons. But instead, we get Barack Obama and endless talk of bipartisanship while the Republicons continue to sabotage anything they can. If anything, the Republicons are worse now than they were in Truman's day.

The 10 Truest Things Harry Truman Said About Republicans

#1. “The Republicans believe in the minimum wage — the more the minimum, the better.”

#2. “Richard Nixon is a no good, lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he’d lie just to keep his hand in.”

#3. “A bureaucrat is a Democrat who holds some office that a Republican wants.”

#4. “Republicans don’t like people who talk about depressions. You can hardly blame them for that. You remember the old saying: Don’t talk about rope in the house where somebody has been hanged.”

#5. “It's an old political trick: "If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em." But this time it won't work.”

#6. “A leader in the Democratic Party is a boss, in the Republican Party he is a leader.”

#7. "Carry the battle to them, don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don't ever apologize for anything."

#8. "When a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me."

#9. "Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home--but not for housing. They are strong for labor--but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights. They favor minimum wage--the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all--but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine--for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing--but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it."

#10. “The Republicans … will try to make people believe that everything the Government has done for the country is socialism. They will go to the people and say: "Did you see that social security check you received the other day—you thought that was good for you, didn't you? That's just too bad! That's nothing in the world but socialism. Did you see that new flood control dam the Government is building over there for the protection of your property? Sorry—that's awful socialism! That new hospital that they are building is socialism. Price supports, more socialism for the farmers! Minimum wage laws? Socialism for labor! Socialism is bad for you, my friend. Everybody knows that. And here you are, with your new car, and your home, and better opportunities for the kids, and a television set—you are just surrounded by socialism! Now the Republicans say, ‘That's a terrible thing, my friend, and the only way out of this sinkhole of socialism is to vote for the Republican ticket.’"


Dead zones in the GOM

This season's massive, once-in-a-lifetime flooding of the Mississippi River is going to have an aftereffect that I have heard no one discussing yet. The massive flooding is going to wash untold amounts of pesticides, fertilizers and topsoil downstream into the Gulf of Mexico (GOM).
Link Info on the GOM dead zones here.

The dead zone in the GOM is already one of the largest in the world. This spring's flood is probably going to exponentially increase the size of that dead zone. The poor residents of Louisiana, and especially New Orleans, are going to suffer yet another blow when the flooding finally resides. As if Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill were not enough to kill off Louisiana's fishing industry, this years floods might just finish the job.

A sample here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

One Way Trip to Mars

I’m gonna die, right? So why not die doing something really cool?” he said.

Wow. That's a mind-bender. Over 1,000 people have volunteered to take a one-way trip to Mars, for the science, for the adventure. Would you?

One-Way Ticket To Mars

By Marc Kaufman, Published: May 23

How would you like to take a trip to Mars? That’s right, only to Mars. There would be no coming back.

You don’t have to make up your mind right now, because there are no missions planned or even on the horizon. But when the idea of a one-way ticket to Mars was first broached last year in a cosmology journal, the response was rather overwhelming: More than 1,000 people said they’d be eager to go.

It was not proposed as a suicide mission, although the chances of a long life on Mars probably aren’t great. Rather, it was pitched as what would potentially be the greatest scientific adventure and exploration of all time.

The idea was floated by two scientists, Paul Davies of Arizona State University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of the University of Washington, in an article in the Journal of Cosmology. One of the journal’s editors, Ron Becker, said that as the hundreds of e-mails flowed in from prospective Mars explorers, the initial reaction of both researchers and journal staff was to dismiss them as not serious. But that changed as it became apparent that many of the correspondents were quite sincere.

“Our initial goal was to find a way to develop a human mission to Mars that could actually take place, that wouldn’t cost so much that it would be impossible to pull off,” Davies said. “And the one-way trip, as we costed it out, would be about one-quarter the price of a there-and-back mission.”“But the response told us the spirit of exploration remains alive around the globe and that some people understand that the science involved would be extraordinary,” he said. “Just like with earlier explorers, they are prepared to set out knowing they won’t come back, but willing to do it because their time on Mars would be so remarkable.”

The idea, which is clearly not what NASA managers have in mind for Mars exploration, has now led to the release of “A One Way Mission to Mars: Colonizing the Red Planet,” a compilation of articles from the Journal of Cosmology, plus some additions from scientists with the Mars Society and others.

Among the articles in the book are “The Search for Life on Mars,” “Medical Care for a Martian Transit Mission and Extended Stay on the Martian Surface” and “Sex on Mars: Pregnancy, Fetal Development and Sex in Outer Space.” The authors include dozens of NASA researchers, some former astronauts and some scientists and advocates who have pushed for decades (with no success) for a human mission to Mars.

The whole effort, authors say, is geared to sparking public interest in a human mission to Mars, something long discussed by NASA and others but receding into the distance with diminished NASA budgets expected in the years ahead. With that dynamic in mind, the book’s authors say they are looking to the burgeoning private space industry as the ticket to the Red Planet.

Schulze-Makuch said the idea would be to start a colony on Mars, not simply to send astronauts there and abandon them. He imagines them living in the shelter of a lava tube or some habitat they take with them, and imagines that a stream of others would follow. Robotic exploration has shown there is substantial water ice below the Martian surface, so many of the ingredients for survival are present.

But enormous challenges are present as well: The temperatures are frigid, the atmosphere is too thin to protect people from deadly radiation, and it consists primarily of carbon dioxide, with little oxygen. Ultimately, Mars colonists would need to develop means for growing their own food in controlled and protected areas.

“Yes, these people will be isolated and, yes, they will probably die sooner than they otherwise would,” he said. “But they would have all of society behind them, and their time on Mars would be unlike anything experienced before. Thinking more about it, I’m not surprised so many people came forward to volunteer.”

‘Why not?’

NASA officials were reluctant to discuss the idea, which goes very much against the grain of the agency’s idea of human exploration in space. But in a statement earlier this year, NASA officials responded to the Journal of Cosmology articles by saying: “Mars is not the current focus for NASA’s human exploration efforts but it is our ultimate goal. Last April, President Obama informed NASA in a speech that the agency would be sending astronauts to an asteroid by 2025. The President also said that he ‘believed by the mid-2030s that we could send humans to orbit Mars and safely return them to Earth. And that a Mars landing would soon follow.’

“So the President is not considering one-way trips to Mars and neither is NASA. We want our astronauts to safely return home to Earth.”

Elon Musk, founder of the private rocket company SpaceX and a great advocate of Mars exploration, also demurred. He said that a one-way trip is inconsistent with his idea of building a fleet of spaceships that would one day take not a handful but thousands of people to colonize Mars.

But as a thought experiment and a challenge to how human exploration of space is now conducted, the proposal has found some traction. Not necessarily much financial support, but some strong feelings among the public.

The initial volunteers are a broad range of people — old and young, male and female, military and civilians.

Jeff Lane, for instance, is 45 and a police officer in Youngstown, Ohio. He said that his kids would be grown by the time any Mars mission would be ready and that the mission would need some kind of law enforcer on the flight.

“Growing up, I watched the moon shots and shuttle missions and would have loved to have been a part of it. Never came to be, so I thought I would volunteer. Strange for some people to think that way but why not? I’m gonna die, right? So why not die doing something really cool?” he said.

Jessica Sloan of Rosslyn, a 27-year-old business developer for nonprofits, said in an e-mail that she was always fascinated by space and admired “good old- fashioned American frontierism.”

“My great-grandfather came to the United States in the cargo hold of a Russian ship and slept in a bathtub in New York City,” she said. “He, like so many others before, left his home to start a new life in an unknown land. I’m not saying that I think Mars is the promised land or that I’m fleeing any great adversity. But space really is the ‘final frontier’ and perhaps humanity’s last great adventure.”

Paul Gregerson of Clarno, Wis., is a 61-year-old former Marine, now a clergyman in the United Methodist Church. He said that mental health is important in such an endeavor and qualified caregivers would need to come along.

“I feel that spiritual advisers would also be necessary,” he said in an e-mail. “That would be where I come in, along with my other background experiences as a combat engineer (I doubt we would need the combat part) and administrator. I am a firm believer in a God that created the universe and all that is in it. So where we go, God is already there, and folks of faith will be going.”

The ideal candidate

Given the long lead time for such a mission, Gregerson would no doubt be too advanced in years. But Davies and Schulze-Makuch said that the ideal candidate would not be a young person but rather someone who has had many of the experiences that make up a rich life: marriage, child-rearing, satisfying work, long-term friendships.

The crew would certainly need engineers and a pilot, as well as scientists who could conduct the testing needed to determine if Mars has life. But there would also be room for the kind of eager, disciplined and well-rounded people who don’t get selected to be astronauts, Davies and Schulze-Makuch said.

The trip to Mars would be inherently dangerous, as are many sports, journeys and other nonessential endeavors on Earth, the authors point out. They acknowledge as well that while setting up one small Mars colony would be an enormous and costly undertaking, following up with more would be even more of a stretch.

Yet the authors say it is both important for the long-term survival of humanity to do it and it is in keeping with the most basic nature of human beings.

“The culture has become risk-averse, and creativity and the pioneering spirit get lost in that kind of atmosphere,” Davies said. “This is an opportunity to do something remarkable for science, and we’ve seen many, many people are willing to take up the challenge.”


Countdown on CurrentTV

Yea!! Keith Olberman returns to TV on June 20, on Current TV. Click here.

Organic To Be

Further to Gene Logsdon's book "Holy Shit," Gene also runs a blog titled "Organic To Be." I know it's already hard to digest all of the sites, blogs and information already out there, but I will be checking in with Gene on a regular basis. Or try to....

Click here.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Holy Shit

Just finished reading Gene Logsdon's latest, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind. Very good read, only 200pp, and I learned all sorts of things about shit and managing shit that I didn't know. I would recommend it for anyone who has a farm, grows vegetables, fruits or flowers, or is off of the grid. (Dennis, you and Jan are way ahead of the curve, buddy.) Or, anyone who has ever taken a shit.

There's a good review of the book here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fujita Scale

They say the tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri was an F5 on the Fujita Scale. It looked a lot like Japan looked after their earthquake and tsunami.

I didn't know there was an F6 on the Fujita. Dayyum.

Every day, devastation somewhere. And thanks to the media, I am aware of more, and more, and more devastation. With a little good stuff now and then, between all the celebrity gossip and reality TV.

F-Scale NumberIntensity PhraseWind SpeedType of Damage Done
F0Gale tornado40-72 mphSome damage to chimneys; breaks branches off trees; pushes over shallow-rooted trees; damages sign boards.
F1Moderate tornado73-112 mphThe lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads; attached garages may be destroyed.
F2Significant tornado113-157 mphConsiderable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light object missiles generated.
F3Severe tornado158-206 mphRoof and some walls torn off well constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in fores uprooted
F4Devastating tornado207-260 mphWell-constructed houses leveled; structures with weak foundations blown off some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.
F5Incredible tornado261-318 mphStrong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel re-inforced concrete structures badly damaged.
F6Inconceivable tornado319-379 mphThese winds are very unlikely. The small area of damage they might produce would probably not be recognizable along with the mess produced by F4 and F5 wind that would surround the F6 winds. Missiles, such as cars and refrigerators would do serious secondary damage that could not be directly identified as F6 damage. If this level is ever achieved, evidence for it might only be found in some manner of ground swirl pattern, for it may never be identifiable through engineering studies

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Fab 40

The Fab 40, a group of 40 Houston musicians, channels The Beatles to recreate Abbey Road from start to finish on Saturday, May 28 at 7 pm.

See this special tribute for free at Discovery Green, along with a few musical surprises including Betel Leaf, a tribute to the Indian-influenced music of The Beatles and George Harrison. Friends and family will Come Together for a magical evening tribute to the UK’s most famed rockers. Please bring a non-perishable food item as a donation to the Houston Food Bank. For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The People's Budget

The 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus has developed a "People's Budget," which is so sensible and fair that it doesn't stand a chance in hell of passing.

How did we get to such a place in America where what's wrong is common and what's right is impossible? Until we get some actual sensible people and laws in D.C., we will continue to have an apathetic, disconnected populace out here.

The only people involved in the system are the kooks (Tea Party) and the crooks (the corporate clowns) who are controlling everything with their loads of cash. The vast majority of us out here are just tired of the bullshit and disillusioned.

The People's Budget

by Jeffrey Sachs

Just when it seemed that all of Washington had lost its values and its connection with the American people, a bolt of hope has arrived. It is the People's Budget put forward by the co-chairs of the 80-member Congressional Progressive Caucus. Their plan is humane, responsible, and most of all sensible, reflecting the true values of the American people and the real needs of the floundering economy. Unlike Paul Ryan's almost absurdly vicious attack on the poor and working class, the People's Budget would close the deficit by raising taxes on the rich, taming health care costs (including a public option), and ending the military spending on wars and wasteful weapons systems.

There are now four budget positions on the table.

Far to the right is Paul Ryan's plan, an artless war on the poor that would take a meat-cleaver to Medicaid (health care for the poor), food stamps, support for child care, the environment, and the rest of government other than the military, Social Security, and Medicare (that is, until 2022, when the slashing would begin on Medicare coverage as well). Ryan would keep taxes below 20 percent of GDP (specifically, 19.9 percent of GDP in 2021), at the cost of destroying entitlements programs and other civilian spending.

Then there is President Obama's budget, which is really a muddled proposal in the center-right of the political spectrum. It would keep most of the Reagan-era and Bush-era tax cuts in place. Like the Ryan proposal, Obama's tax proposals would keep total taxes at around 20 percent of GDP. The result is a major long-term squeeze on vital programs such as community development, infrastructure, and job training. Also, Obama's plan never closes the budget deficit, which remains as high as 3.1% of GDP in 2021.

In the progressive middle is the People's Budget. Like Ryan's plan, the People's Budget would cut the budget deficit to zero by 2021, but would do so in an efficient and fair way. It would close the budget deficit by raising tax rates on the rich and giant corporations, while also curbing military spending and wrestling health care costs under control, partly by introducing a public option. By raising tax revenues to 22.3 percent of GDP by 2021, the People's Budget closes the budget deficit while protecting the poor and promoting needed investments in education, health care, roads, power, energy, and the environment in order to raise America's long-term competitiveness. The People's Budget thereby achieves what Ryan and Obama do not: the combination of fairness, efficiency, and budget balance.

The fourth position is the public's position. The Republicans often say that they want Congress to respect the voice of the people. The voice of the people is crystal clear. In one opinion survey after the next, the public says that the rich and the corporations should pay more taxes. The public says that we should tamp down runaway health care costs through a public option, one that would introduce competition to drive down bloated private health insurance costs. The public says that we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce Pentagon spending. (Just yesterday, Defense Secretary Gates let loose the predictable Pentagon canard that we should stay in Iraq if the Iraqi government asks for it. Better yet, we should respond to what the American people are asking for: to bring our troops home).

The fact is that the People's Budget is the public's position. That's why it is truly a centrist initiative, at the broad center of the U.S. political spectrum. Ryan reflects the wishes of the rich and the far right. Obama's position reflects the muddle of a White House that wavers between its true values and the demands of the wealthy campaign contributors and lobbyists that Obama courts for his re-election. Many Democrats in Congress have also gone along with the falsehood that deficit cutting means slashing spending on the poor and on civilian discretionary programs, rather than raising taxes on the rich, cutting military spending, and taking on the over-priced private health insurance industry. Only the People's Budget speaks to the broad needs and values of the American people.

The current budget negotiations have been a dialogue among the wealthy. The big debate has focused on which programs for the poor should be axed first. There has been no discussion of raising taxes on the rich, and quite the contrary, the White House and the Republican leadership agreed to further tax cuts last December. Obama has repeatedly expressed regret at slashing community development, energy support for the poor, and other programs, but he is not fighting the trend, only regretting it.

Most of Washington has stopped listening to the people. Campaigns are now so expensive that most politicians do anything to court the favor of the rich. Yet ultimately the public will prevail. Twice before in American history -- during the Gilded Age of the 1880s and in the 1920s, just before the Great Depression -- big corporate money effectively owned Washington. But in both eras great progressive leaders (including the two Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin) came along to restore the true meaning of American democracy: a government truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. With public protests against government by the rich now spreading in Wisconsin, Ohio and beyond, and with the launch of the People's Budget by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a great national movement to restore American democracy has begun.

Read the People's Budget by clicking here.

Word of the Day




1 : lack of feeling or emotion : impassiveness
*2 : lack of interest or concern : indifference

Example Sentence
Every electoral season, editorials in the local newspaper complain about voter apathy and cynicism.

Did you know?
There's no reason to be uncaring about the origins of "apathy" — though there is a clue to the word's beginnings in that sentence. "Apathy" was borrowed into English in the late 16th century from Greek "apatheia," which itself comes from the adjective "apath─ôs," meaning "without feeling." "Apathes," in turn, was formed by combining the negating prefix "a-" with "pathos," meaning "emotion." Incidentally, if you've guessed that "pathos" is the source of the identically spelled noun in English (meaning either "an element in experience or in artistic representation evoking pity or compassion" or "an emotion of sympathetic pity"), you are correct. "Pathos" also gave us such words as "antipathy," "empathy," "sympathy," "pathetic," and even the archaic word "pathematic" ("emotional").

This is how I'm feeling again lately It comes in waves, where I just don't seem to give a sh*t about much. Gee, I wonder if a pharmaceutical might help?

Is it ideopathic? Is it genetic?

Actually, it has come in waves over and over throughout my life. When I was in high school, the word was that we were one of the most apathetic senior classes ever. When I was in college, student apathy was rampant on campus. I know it's all in my head, and there is much to be grateful for, but ... it's in my head. A hundred years ago, I'll bet it wasn't as rampant, even though the word has been around since the 16th century. There wasn't as much leisure time available for people to get jaded. (sigh)

Monday, May 23, 2011

One of these days ...

One of these days I'll finally get around to posting a travelogue of our recent trip to Washington D.C. and New York City. Got some good pictures and had a great time, but I can't seem to remember "early" enough in the evening before I get all ... *yawn* ... sleepy.

And I'm long overdue for a gardening update, which is just beyond words good.

What is it?

Can anyone identify this particular type of cactus?

It's the '60's!!

Oh, this is choice. It can't be the church's fault! It's gotta be something else!

When are people going to realize that religion is simply toxic to the soul, to society and the world at large. Pull your nose out of the "Good Book" and take some personal responsibility, people!!

Church study blames Swinging Sixties for deviant priests

May 20, 2011

If you hadn’t already given up hoping the Catholic Church would belatedly awake to the seriousness of the sex abuse scandal that has driven untold numbers of formerly-faithful Catholics from their pews, this should do it for you: A study commissioned by U.S. bishops has concluded that the inability of priests to keep their hands off young boys is not a reflection of anything inherently wrong with the Church itself. It’s all the fault of Woodstock.

The study, conducted by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, and billed as the most expensive and extensive study of sexual abuse in the Church to date, maintains that priests fell victim to the expanded permissiveness of society, especially way back in the 1960s, when they found themselves inadequately prepared to deal with the temptations and social upheaval of the times.

According to the Religion News Service, the study blames a spike in abuse cases in the ’60s and ’70s to ill-equipped priests who “lost their way in the social cataclysm of the sexual revolution.” Trained mostly in the 1940s and 1950s, they found themselves overwhelmed by an era in which liberalized attitudes led to greater acceptance of drug use, premarital sex, divorce and a general questioning of values and accepted behaviours. It also concluded that:

• Priests were no more likely to abuse children than anyone else in society.

• Fewer than 5% of abusive priests could be classed as paedophiles because most of their victims were between ages 11 and 14.

• Priests’ vow of celibacy did not make them any more likely to abuse children.

• Gay priests were no more likely to abuse children than straight priests.

• Better screening by seminaries wouldn’t have helped, because “no single psychological, developmental, or behavioral characteristic differentiated priests who abused minors from those who did not.”

Put another way, here’s the argument the Church is hoping you’ll buy:

• You can’t blame us for the fact that an army of deviant priests spent years abusing helpless children, since there were a lot of temptations around. (Ignore the fact that the entire basis of Catholic teaching is the resistance of temptation.

• Priests are no more likely to abuse than anyone else (and hey, why should we expect people who have devoted their lives to God to be any less abusive than the rest of society?)

• They weren’t really abusing kids. Most of the victims were almost teenagers!

• Gay priests and straight priests are pretty much even on the abuse front, which proves…. Um, we’ll have to get back to you on that.

• Celibacy “is not directly to blame”, so presumably married priests would be just as enthusiastic about abusing young boys. By the same token, if abusers hadn’t joined the priesthood, they could be out there teaching in schools or coaching kids’ hockey teams, where the opportunities to abuse are just as great, if not greater.

• It’s all old hat anyway, since the big increase in abuse was in the 1960s, and priests today actually abuse far fewer children than they used to.

All of which suggests that, despite a decade or more of revelations, accompanied by sickening details of abusive priests being shuffled from one parish to another while their crimes were hushed up by a Vatican hierarchy skilled at mouthing the words of repentance … Despite all that, the upper echelons of Catholicism remain overwhelmingly concerned with finding a way to absolve themselves of blame while paying reparations and hoping the problem will finally go away. What they don’t seem to understand is that it can’t go away as long as they refuse to accept that the fault lies at the heart of the Church itself, not in Woodstock, or the Sixties, or the difficulties of spotting bad priests when they turn up at the seminary door. Until then, all the cockamamie studies in Christendom won’t change a thing.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The rapture!

Will you be raptured today? Check out this chart to see. Thanks to Claire! Click it to enlarge.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bike to work?!

As many of you may have figured out, May is National Bike Month and next week will be National Bike Week, May 17-21, which includes National Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21. BikeHouston has set up a nice schedule for organized events that will be going on that week as shown.

May 19 will be Houston’s Ride of Silence at 7PM, which is a national event to remember those who have passed away while cycling. Please attend as we pay our respects to those individuals.

May 20 is the Bike Bash, which will be held at the great St. Arnold Brewery from 6-8PM. Bikes and Beer. Mmm!!

May 21 will be the Ride to City Hall with Mayor Annise Parker at Memorial Park Picnic Loop to City Hall at 7:30am. Please be there at 7:00am to meet up as the ride will leave promptly at 7:00am. (Memorial Drive will be closed to automobile traffic!)

If there are any other local events, you don’t see here or want to get out there, let PedalHouston know! Let’s see as many bikes as we can out there. Also, be safe out there! Use proper judgment and share the road wisely. Keep pedaling.

Chickens in Houston?

Following are the regulations in the City of Houston Code concerning fowl, e.g. chickens.

Poo! It's doesn't look like we'll be able to raise chickens at the MCG.


Sec. 6-31. - Location restrictions for fowl.

It shall be unlawful, except as provided in sections 6-33 and 6-34 of this Code, for any person to keep, possess or maintain in the city any chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, pea-fowls, or any other bird or fowl, except parakeets, canaries, parrots, cockatoos, macaws or similar size birds, or any pens, enclosures, or other structures in which any such fowl are kept or possessed within 100 feet of any actual residence or habitation of human beings, or within 100 feet of any church, school or hospital, other than the residence of the keeper, possessor or owner of such fowl, such distance of 100 feet to be measured in a straight line from the nearest point of any pen, enclosure, or other such structure in which such fowl are kept to the nearest point of such actual residence or place of human habitation, or church, school or hospital.

(Code 1968, § 6-37 ; Ord. No. 70-1448, § 1, 8-25-70; Ord. No. 99-404, § 2, 4-28-99)

Sec. 6-32. - Location restrictions for rabbits and guinea pigs.

It shall be unlawful, except as provided in section 6-33, for any person to keep, possess or maintain in the city any rabbits or guinea pigs, or any pens, enclosures, hutches, cages or other structures in which any such rabbits or guinea pigs are kept, possessed or maintained, within 100 feet of any actual residence or habitation of human beings, or within 100 feet of any church, school or hospital, other than the residence of the keeper, possessor, or owner of such rabbits or guinea pigs, such distance of 100 feet to be measured in a straight line from the nearest point of any pen, enclosure, hutch, cage or other such structure in which such rabbits or guinea pigs are kept to the nearest point of such actual residence or place of human habitation, or church, school or hospital.

(Code 1968, § 6-38

Sec. 6-33. - Keeping for commercial purposes.

It shall be unlawful for the owner or keeper of any geese, ducks, turkeys, chickens or other domestic fowl or rabbits or guinea pigs, where such fowl or animals are kept for sale or for any purpose other than domestic use or home consumption, to allow such fowl or animals to roam in open pens on the ground; but such owner or keeper may keep such fowl or animals for sale or commercial purposes, provided he keeps such fowl or animals in batteries or coops arranged inside of buildings and kept in a sanitary condition, and he shall remove all droppings from such buildings, batteries or coops at least once each day, and disinfect and deodorize such buildings, batteries or coops at least once each day.

(Code 1968, § 6-39)

Sec. 6-34. - Keeping for public showing.

Notwithstanding anything in this article, it shall be lawful for any person to keep, possess and maintain chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, pea-fowls, guineas, rabbits and guinea pigs for the purpose of a legitimate showing of such fowl and animals for purely public exhibition, provided the conditions provided in this article are observed.

(Code 1968, § 6-40)

Sec. 6-35. - Limitation on number to be kept.

No more than 30 chickens, or 30 turkeys, or 30 geese, or 30 ducks, or 30 pea-fowls, or 30 rabbits, or 30 guinea pigs, and no more than 40 of any combination of such chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, pea-fowls, rabbits and guinea pigs shall be kept upon any lot or enclosure of the size of 65 by 125 feet or less. In the event that such fowl or animals are kept in a larger enclosure, the number so kept and maintained may be increased only in the ratio that the above figures of 30 and 40 bear to the increase in the square footage of such larger enclosure.

(Code 1968, § 6-41)

Sec. 6-36. - Maintenance of premises where kept.


Pens, hutches, or houses or any enclosure in which fowl, rabbits or guinea pigs are kept must be cleaned and disinfected daily, must be limed every two days and must be kept in a clean and sanitary condition at all times.


Litter and droppings from such fowl, rabbits and guinea pigs must be collected daily and stored in a flytight container and hauled away at intervals of not to exceed seven days. Rabbit and guinea pig hutches must have traps or floors to keep droppings or urine from such animals off the ground.

(Code 1968, § 6-42)

Sec. 6-37. - Keeping guineas prohibited.

It shall be unlawful to keep or maintain within the limits of the city any guinea fowl or guinea hens.

(Code 1968, § 6-43)

Sec. 6-38. - Permit to keep chicken hens.

Notwithstanding anything in this article it shall be lawful for any person who has obtained a permit therefor from the director to keep, possess and maintain no more than seven chicken hens for the purpose of providing such person with fresh unfertilized eggs. A revocable permit therefor may be issued by the director for the keeping of seven or less chicken hens under the following conditions:


The applicant shall furnish or cause to be furnished to the director written certification from a licensed physician that in the opinion of such physician the applicant has need of fresh unfertilized chicken eggs for serious reasons pertaining to said person's health.


The director, after inspection by him or his authorized representative, has determined that the premises where the applicant proposes to keep the chicken hens is adequate for the number of chicken hens for which a permit is sought, and that if properly maintained, the keeping of the chicken hens will not create a health hazard or nuisance.


The permit, if granted, may be revoked upon finding pursuant to a public hearing conducted by the director that the permittee cannot or will not maintain the premises in a sanitary condition or that the permittee has failed to permit inspection by the director of the place where the hens are kept, provided that the permittee shall be given prior notice of the date, time and place of the hearing setting forth the grounds upon which the revocation is based and affording the permittee an opportunity to appear in person or through counsel, present evidence and cross examine witnesses appearing at such hearing.

(Code 1968, § 6-44; Ord. No. 68-308, § 1, 2-27-68; Ord. No. 2010-398, § 6, 6-2-2010)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Medicare for All

THIS is the answer to many of our healthcare issues, but it's too simple and it sweeps away too many special interests that have invested too much money in too many of our elected officials for it to have any realistic chance of passing. Fucking shame.

Medicare for all is about the only way that people are going to be able to retire without the dread of how they will pay for health insurance. I would love to retire right now, while my body is still (relatively) functional, but there's no way we can afford health insurance in the private market.

Like so many other things, the answer is right there in front of our noses, if we could just re-focus long enough to see it, and if we had the will to pursue it.

Instead, this country will lurch and stumble along, seemingly incapable of getting anything serious done. Politics has become a bad joke in this country.

Following on the passage of a single-payer healthcare system in Vermont (awaiting the governor's signature), Bernie Sanders and Jim McDermott issued a news release announcing their Medicare-for-All bill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced today that he introduced legislation to provide health care for every American through a Medicare-for-all type single-payer system.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) filed a companion bill in the House to provide better care for more patients at less cost by eliminating the middle-man role played by private insurance companies that rake off billions of dollars in profits.

The twin measures, both called the American Health Security Act of 2011, would provide federal guidelines and strong minimum standards for states to administer single-payer health care programs.

"The United States is the only major nation in the industrialized world that does not guarantee health care as right to its people," Sanders said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "Meanwhile, we spend about twice as much per capita on health care with worse results than others that spend far less. It is time that we bring about a fundamental transformation of the American health care system. It is time for us to end private, for-profit participation in delivering basic coverage. It is time for the United States to provide a Medicare-for-all single-payer health coverage program."

McDermott said, "The new health care law made big progress towards covering many more people and finding ways to lower cost. However, I think the best way to reduce costs and guarantee coverage for all is through a Single-payer system like Medicare. This bill does just that - it builds on the new health care law by giving states the flexibility they need to go to a single-payer system of their own. It will also reduce costs, and Americans will be healthier."

Sanders and McDermott were joined at the press conference by leaders of organizations supporting the measure, including Arlene Baker-Holt, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO; Jean Ross, co-president of the National Nurses United; and Greg Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

While making the case for a single-payer system nationwide, Sanders applauded the Vermont Legislature which earlier this month voted to put the state on the path toward a single-payer system. Vermont, Sanders said, could become a model for the nation.

Last year's health reform law is projected to cover 32 million more Americans. Despite that important step forward, however, 23 million people living in the United States will remain uninsured by the end of this decade while health care costs continue to skyrocket. Some 60 million Americans, both insured and uninsured, have inadequate access to primary care due to a shortage of physicians and other like providers in their community.

Under the current health care system, 45,000 Americans a year die because they delay seeking care they cannot afford. Health care eats up one-fifth of the U.S. economy, but we rank 26th among major, developed nations on life expectancy and 31st on infant mortality.

Drug companies charge Americans twice as much or more for the exact same drugs manufactured by the exact same companies than citizens of Canada or Europe. Some insurers that gouge policy holders spend 40 cents of every premium dollar on administration and profits while lavishing multimillion dollar payouts on their CEOs.

"This is unacceptable," Sanders said. "Until we put patients over profits, our system will not work for ordinary Americans."

Go to Buzzflash

Monday, May 9, 2011

Uh, excuse me

It's getting thick. Republicans are breaking their backs bending over backward trying to give Bush all the credit for Obama's team killing Osama bin Laden. I heard one suggest that Obama has been "thumping his chest too hard" and shows "too much pride." Irony and sarcasm is lost on these poor, malevolent, traitorous bastards.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Osama dead

Well, well, well. Osama bin Laden is dead, we are told. I tend to question authority and am skeptical by nature, so I hope to see some sort of evidence, be it photographic, video, DNA, whatever. I'd tend not to take Bush's word for it and I'm not that inclined to take Obama's word for it either, considering all of Obams's betrayals to date. Anything can be faked these days.

I would have rather they take Osama alive and put him on trial. Perhaps he would spill some beans that might implicate our own or others military or governments in complicity with Osama's organization. Perhaps not, but dead men tell no tales. On the other hand, if he were jailed and put on trial, he would become a rallying point for his supporters and ugly things could ensue.

I also find the spontaneous celebrations of Osama's death rather distasteful. The world is better off without Osama, but seeing people jumping for joy at the news is just a little unsettling.

As happens so often, the first blush of news gets revised. First we heard that Osama used a woman (one of his wives) as a human shield during the assault on him. What a coward, eh? Then later we hear that, actually, no, he didn't use a woman as a shield.

We also heard that he defended himself and shot at his assailants. Then we hear that, actually, no, he was unarmed when killed.

We've also heard that our special forces had orders to take him alive or dead. Will we also soon hear that the orders were to simply assassinate him? Dead men tell no tales.

Osama bin Laden saves America

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm hereby delighted to report that many on the hard right, that fantastically insane cluster of hyperclenched beerchuggers who fully believe that Obama is a not only a Muslim, but also a Nazi commie socialist Mexican immigrant robot with lasers for eyes and molten pacifism for blood, do not actually believe Osama bin Laden is dead.

It's actually a dastardly CIA conspiracy, is what it is. Or if he is dead, well, lame ol' President Obama certainly had nothing to do with it, and it's all probably some giant PR stunt anyway, and that highly suspicious "burial at sea" was far too courteous given how everyone knows OBL's body should have been ripped apart by ravenous tigers in the middle of a NASCAR racetrack before the star-spangled eyes of tearful Wonderbread schoolchildren, etcetera and ad nauseam.

In short, we can rest in our reassurance that the more insane and mistrustful of our country are just as ridiculously askew as ever. Hell, we've got the hugely tasteless T-shirts to prove it.

As for everyone else, well, electric possibility reigns. You may right now be noticing that a rather delightful hush has fallen over the GOP, a reluctant reverence, a simple understanding that even the slightest peep in the direction of decrying Obama, or trying to shift the focus back to their whimpering agendas -- that, say, gas prices are somehow more important than the destruction of the global symbol of evil in the world -- any such puling would be horrifically immature, trifling in the extreme, politically fatal.

And no wonder. No matter where you land on the spectrum of overt weirdness that is celebrating a ruthless targeted killing, no matter how you view the brutality of warfare, the distorted costs of justice or America's creepy, cheerful bloodlust, there is right now a palpable shift, an irrefutable tang to this unexpected turn of events unlike many others in our short, spastic history.

Parse it as you will, but it's not every day the global symbol of all that is vile and wrong with the human animal gets taken out by the global symbol of all that is decent and right with American-style democracy.

An oversimplification? Probably. But it all points to a possible radical rethinking for (and of) Obama himself, a grand opportunity to regain both momentum and message lost. It's also a perfect occasion to reignite the entire "Change We Can Believe In" mantra for a newly electrified populace.

Question is, can he do it? Has he learned anything from the past 2.5 years of brutal pushback and opportunities squandered? Or will it all slip away in a maelstrom of mishandled message and twitchy Rush Limbaugh blubbering?

At present there is little doubt: The potency of the moment is Obama's to lose. There are those calling this the "man on the moon" event of this generation, on par with the Berlin wall collapse, a triumph of American will and sophisticated military cunning so significant the temperament of the country will never be the same.

So historic is the shift, in fact, that all Obama really has to do now is let the astonishing details of the clandestine operation trickle down and word of his direct, daring involvement penetrate the collective consciousness, and not only will any current agenda items be supercharged with new vigor, but many of his administration's previous, unsung achievements will take on a fresh luster as well.

The details are as mesmerizing as they are dark and unsettling. The undisclosed meetings. The careful orchestration. The strategic refining. The incredible secrecy, months of training by the most enigmatic facets of our elite military, the final call to make it happen. It's as gruesome and somber as advanced military craft gets.

It's also overwhelmingly cinematic, the American good-versus-evil fantasy writ large, even as it speaks to Obama's powerhouse strengths of focus and intention. No waste. Minimal collateral damage. Precision and timeliness and absolute clarity of purpose.

(Meanwhile, mere hours before it all goes down, effortlessly singe your critics and enemies alike at the correspondents' dinner, and travel to survey the damage in Alabama. Not bad for a couple days' work, really).

Or perhaps not. Perhaps all we'll feel now is an overheated jolt of jingoism, a warped sort of respect for the billion-dollar special forces military teams -- the same groups reportedly responsible for some of the most brutal torture and rendition under Bush and Obama alike. A mixed blessing, to be sure.

Or perhaps all we get now is this strange sense that bin Laden was, after all, just a symbol, and without a massive effort on the part of Obama to upheave the acidic political and ideological tone in America, a new symbol will simply emerge elsewhere to enrage and divide us anew. America loves its demons. It seems we always must find something, someone upon whom we can transfer all our fears. Can Obama change that? Is it even up to him?

One thing is absolutely clear: We don't get many such moments in a given lifetime, especially one containing such a strange and dazzling bolt of irony.

It goes like this: Osama bin Laden successfully poisoned much of the American spirit, brought tragedy, pain and unwanted, devastating war, was leveraged as an excuse to commit all manner of despicable misprision by the Bush administration, and changed the complexion of a nation for the worse.

And now, his bloody demise a full decade later at the hand of a far more measured, intelligent, focused president could actually, in a way, bring America back to life, give it a focus and purpose like it never quite had before. The same pitiful demon that caused much of our pain could, if handled correctly, turn out to be the source of a new, more thoughtful kind of liberation. How's that for wayward poetic justice?