No Different than Yesterday

445px-Initial_s_Paulus_Frank_1601eems like forever.

I haven’t written here in nearly a year.  Three hundred and forty eight days, if you include today.    I have not been idle in all that time. Some, not all.   I have been writing a great deal, some of my best work I think.  If you want to read it it’s over on writeisland.wordpress.com;  It’s fiction, sci-fi, horror, crime noir, paranoid fiction.  Lots of short stories, serialized.

If you enjoy that kinda thing by all means head on over.

I thought it was time to come back here and again write about the real world.  The real world is a nice place that has some insanely horrible things happen in it, often because of our own hubris, or stupidity, or insanity, or … something.  Things that the best fiction writers could not come up on their best days.

Let’s get started.

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My last post, almost a year ago, was written about the fun things that occur on the Korean peninsula.  So why not start where I left off, give you some level of continuity with news coverage.

It seems that Kim Jong-un is committing crimes against humanity.  He has between eighty and one hundred and twenty thousand political prisoners held in four locations.  He uses starvation as a form of punishment in these prison camps.  The system of resource allocation that the DPRK uses causes “avoidable” starvation among the population.

Some media outlets are using the word Nazi in reference to the treatment of the people of North Korea.  The head ofUN_building the UN commission has detailed all the crimes in a downloadable document you can get directly from the U.N. here, and I must tell you it is a compelling read about a place that exactly fits every negative aspect of the word orwellian.

The worst part about this?  We know, not just presume they are doing bad things to their people along with Japanese and South Koreans, but know they are doing it.  So what happens next?

Nothing.

Not a god damned thing.

Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry has called the report “Unreasonable criticism” and the reporting I have read, from the NYT  and the VOA, China will veto any action by the U.N. in this matter.  According to the NYT, She said “We believe that taking human rights violations to the International Criminal Court is not helpful in improving a country’s human rights situation.”

…Is not helpful…

If that isn’t helpful, if removing the problem by putting the people who are systematically raping and killing it’s own people and starving and torturing those they don’t do that to, what does work?  Asking nicely?  Saying “Pretty please, with sugar on top?”

Note that in nothing that I have quoted, or seen, they never say that North Korea is innocent.  They are saying that, “yes, they are guilty.”  But they are also saying “We don’t care what you think, we condone this behavior.”

They sound like criminals protecting other criminals.  Because they are.  By not helping bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice, they become guilty of aiding and abetting that criminal activity.

By protecting the North Koreans, the Chinese themselves are guilty of crimes against humanity.

And by being so weak as to not be able to do anything about it, the United Nations proves itself a useless body when it comes to the dispensation of justice on a global level against any real criminal activity.

Crying damn shame.  But at the same time I can say that I am happy that I live in a country where those kinda things don’t happen. Because of the eternal vigilance of it’s people.

At least not yet.  Today things are fine, but the road ahead is murky, as always.

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I don’t know if I’m back to doing this here every day, but I know I won’t be ignoring it for another 348 days.

I’ll write to you again soon, America.  Catch you later.

Vox Populi

There comes not seldom a crisis in the life of men, of nations, and of worlds, when the old forms seem ready to decay, and the old rules of action have lost their binding force. The evils of existing systems obscure the blessings that attend them; and, where reform is needed, the cry is raised for subversion.

Benjamin N. Cardoza

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The focus is a little sharper, the look a little more tense, the feel a little more on edge.

Life is better when it’s like that.

That’s how it feels today, that’s how it feels lately.

Things are picking up, and that is a beautiful thing.

Not personally mind you.  I’m still broke, still don’t have enough money to buy an extra bag of cheezy poofs, but I don’t mind that, really.  Been there so long, been broke so long I forgot what it feels like to have.

So, when I see thousands come out to decry the conditions of the poor, of the vast majority of the populace of the earth, at the very doorstep of the rich who flaunt their excesses in our faces, I am moved.

My mind sings with joy at the prospect.  My heart leaps when it sees people say  “We have had enough”  because they are saying what I have been saying here in my own inimitable way for the better part of 4 years.

You, wall street, you moneyed interests, have acted with impunity for too long.

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Viddy of the day:  “Something has started”  Michael Moore on Occupy Wall St. protests that could spark movement.

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You have paid us less than we deserve.

You have asked us to be happy with less, as you took more.

Our 401k’s have dwindled to nothing in the light of your excess.

Our health has diminished because we work so hard for less and less every year, and on top of it, you make us feel as if you are doing us a favor by paying us what you do.

Your wild unbalanced actions with derivatives and such nearly destroyed our economy.  And who has had to pay for it?

Us.  Food costs more.  Gas costs more. Medicine costs more.  Everything costs more. All of it thanks to your lavish stupidity, or evil, one is as good as the other, the end result being what it is.

You have taken our democratic processes from us, with lobbyists and with money we could not hope to match in our wildest dreams, and bought representatives, Senators, Governors, and Presidents.

With all that said, What do we want?

Freedom from the evils of a market unrestrained, the wrongs of unregulated greed and wanton gluttony that has poisoned the entire nation.

The right to work for a wage that can enable us to live a life that is better than those who came before us, like every generation that came before, and that was to be ours as well, until you ripped it from our hands.

Protection from the predations of millionaires and billionaires who buy government officials the way we buy food, and peddle influence with money that flows like an avalanche coming down a mountain, irresistible, crushing us where we live.

You have taken too much.  We want it back.  We want our nation and our future back.

And we want it now.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

They Did It

They did it.

They executed him.

He was innocent, from most accounts, of the crime which he was charged with. 

I understand that the family of the victim wants closure.  I really do.  But here is where the rubber meets the road; He didn’t do it.

The supreme court didn’t allow a stay of the execution, and because of that an innocent man is dead.

The testimony was circumspect, 7 of 9 recanted.

Bastards killed him, in the name of justice.

But what is justice but the upholding of moral rightness?  And where is moral rightness upheld in killing an innocent man.

That off duty cop that was killed was an innocent man, but he was not killed, by all accounts, by the man executed tonight.

So we now fall back on a different meaning of justice, the administration of punishment.

The man who killed that cop is walking free, and a second innocent man is dead because of it, and us.

Such is life and death in terms of justice.  That cop will never breath again, and a second innocent had to die to appease the concept of justice in the minds of those who have to administer it.

Someone had to die after all.  Why not an innocent?  The people demand blood, and they got what they wanted.  The justice of getting that blood made no difference to them.

Blood always follows blood.

Following the Canons

I don’t know why supreme court justices are not held to the same code of conduct that other federal judges are made to abide by. That code of conduct, aka the Canons,  is arranged as follows:

Canon 1: A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
Canon 2: A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities
Canon 3: A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Office Fairly, Impartially and Diligently
Canon 4: A Judge May Engage in Extrajudicial Activities That Are Consistent with the Obligations of Judicial Office
Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity

When you look at the  list of Canons, and the commentary within the guide to judiciary policy, when you see what all judges that are not supreme court justices are asked to follow, it makes one ask a question.  Why isn’t the Supreme Court asked to follow these same canons?

They say that they follow those canons voluntarily.  And yet the news is out that there is a justice that has very much gone out and broken these canons. That he has failed to refrain from political activity by appearing at a private political retreat.That the prohibition against fundraising has been expressly broken by Supreme court justice Clarence Thomas.  That he has violated the 1978 ethics in government act by failing to disclose his wife’s employment at a political organization.

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Life is a roar of bargain and battle, but in the very heart of it there rises a mystic spiritual tone that gives meaning to the whole. It transmutes the dull details into romance. It reminds is that our only but wholly adequate significance is as parts of the unimaginable whole. It suggests that even while living we are living to ends outside ourselves.

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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He claims he didn’t understand the paperwork involved.  That might from some people sound reasonable.  But from a man with a mind as formidable, and quick as Justice Thomas, sounds disingenuous.   He cannot lay claim to a lack of understanding for those clear breaches of the canons.

The time has come for accountability to become codified into law.  It is time for the Supreme court to be made to follow the canons.  Is it just to control one clearly politically activist member of the judiciary?  Yes and no.  Yes, he should be stopped, his actions that go against the canons besmirch all judges, and the entirety of the federal judiciary, are unconscionable.  But it is not just because of him.  It is because if one justice can do it , and there have been allegations that at the very least 2 others currently on the court have skirted the canons, that many others can.  Which creates a judiciary that is accountable only to themselves, who become a power untouchable, available to the highest bidder.

It is to preserve the power of the people, and of the constitution, that the canons need to be made applicable to supreme court justices.  To fail to do so would be foolish in the extreme.

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The actions of Justice Thomas at once flaunt his political views, and his disregard for any code of conduct that other judges are ordered to adhere to.  He has acted in a way that is both improper and injudicious, something that is incredibly twisted and wrong in someone whose job is to be just.

Justice Thomas Must Be Impeached!

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Teachers Make Too Much Money?

Teachers make too much money! is the title of a wonderful note I found floating on teh intarwebs(thanks for posting it Ed) about teachers salaries and how much they deserve for the job they do.  It is very àpropos with the complaints from the right-wing main stream media machine about how these teachers and others in Wisconsin are somehow stealing money from the public because they are in a union.  The text of the note follows:

Are you sick of high paid teachers? Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – baby sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan — that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children.

Now how many do they teach in day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE…. That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year.

(Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children

X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here!

There sure is!

The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)

WHAT A DEAL!!!!

END OF NOTE

You are damn right you’re getting a deal.  These teachers bust their asses to make sure YOUR kids get the education they need. If your kids are successful, whether it is in school or in a career, thank those teachers, those union teachers, who busted their asses to make sure YOUR kid got the tools and the training they needed to succeed.

You could make a similar argument for most of the other union workers affected by the events in Wisconsin. 

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In a slightly different vein…

“We The People”, union and non-union alike, don’t get paid enough to live in a society that is as expensive as this one is. I’ve gone over in an earlier post the high cost of living in the United States. I won’t hit you with all the numbers in this argument.  Suffice it to say that, between mortgage payments, homeowner/ car/ life/ medical/dental insurance, food, gas for the car, heat/ hot water/ taxes/ other incidental expenses, all of which are necessary to the smooth functioning of life in this society right now, most of the money we make disappears.  Any cut in salary would inhibit the people who make our society as strong as it is. 

With that said, the unions, teachers unions and all the others, have said they WILL accept pay cuts.

The unions, all the unions involved, have made one simple point, and the point is this.

UNIONS WILL ACCEPT PAY CUTS, WILL TAKE WHATEVER INCREASES IN PAYMENTS OR DECREASES IN SALARY OR BENEFITS THAT ARE NECESSARY TO MAKE SURE THE STATE STAYS AFLOAT FINANCIALLY, BUT WILL NOT ACCEPT HAVING THE RIGHT TO BARGAIN TAKEN AWAY.

I think that pretty much sums up the point the fine people of Wisconsin are trying to make to Governor asshat and his selfish, uncaring, deficit creating republican minions

The unions aren’t trying to make more than you, this isn’t a competition.  They aren’t trying to do anything unfair to the state of Wisconsin or taxpayers, and it’s cute if you think otherwise.  They are not trying to steal from the poor and give to themselves (Republican lawmakers have that market covered)

They are trying to make sure that all that is good in this society stays that way, and get paid a fair wage, negotiated in a fair way .

And one more thing.  Who are these tea party people who are calling teachers lazy? What is that? Who are you to call anyone lazy? These teachers are instructing YOUR kids.  YOU AREN’T, and until YOU do, you have no right to call ANYONE who does that job anything… except maybe sir or ma’am. They make our future brighter for the work they do, and any harm to them is harm to our society, direct harm, and in any context harm of that nature should be considered a criminal offense.

Standing against the job these fine people do is wrong no matter how you slice it. 

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That’s it from here, America.  Have a good one.

A Nation Of Laws

The following was inspired by reading book reviews of Thom Hartmann’s “Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became “People” – And How You Can Fight Back“.  I am thinking about getting that book. I like Thom, whip smart, good guy, on top of stuff like this, he’s everything that is right with the progressives of the world, and it sounds like a good read. 
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You could say a great many things about America, and have them disputed by someone somewhere.  We are a center left nation. We are a center right nation.  Health care is a right.  Taxation is theft.  All of these statements are disputable, because they are creations of opinion.  You can feel as strongly as you like about a subject, that does not make it true.

There is one statement however that you can make, insofar as the United States of America is concerned, that is not opinion.  It is fact.  Truth. Bedrock upon which all other opinion about the nation is built.

We are a nation of laws. 

Argue about your own personal interpretation of the constitution, you are arguing about us being a nation of laws.  Talk about the ills of government, or the greatness of government, you are talking about an interpretation of us as a nation of laws. Yell about any subject that makes it to any of the shows the polititainers are on, and you are talking, in part, about “A Nation of Laws”

A decision of the Supreme Court of this nation, a little over a year ago, permanently altered the people’s relationship with business, and Corporate America’s(and the rest of the corporate world’s as well) relationship with the body politick.  This happened with the Citizens United V. Federal elections commission, which overturned an important part of the McCain Feingold election law.  The concept of corporate personhood, it is said, was strengthened by this decision by ostensibly giving corporations free speech rights. 

Many on the left were appalled by the judgment, saying that special interests and lobbyists got more power and that we the people lost power.  This is true, as far as I can see it.  The monied interests of this country, and throughout the world for that matter, through this ruling, now have much stronger rights than the common man and woman, by dint of the fact that they can now use their far greater monetary resources, with impunity, to spread their speech further and wider than most individuals are capable of.  It is, as far as that goes, an ugly episode in the history of this nation of laws.

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Viddy of the day:  Sen. Leahy on Supreme Court Campaign Finance Decision, from january last year.

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Because the laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the weak.

No country can afford to have its prosperity originated by a small controlling class. The treasury of America lies in those ambitions, those energies, that cannot be restricted to a special favored class.

-+Woodrow Wilson

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But the corporate personhood argument is just a hair off, is in fact incorrect, as least from what I know about the subject.  I am about as left wing as you can get, left wing Americans like myself generally dislike this concept, and I am no different.  But just because I dislike it, doesn’t mean that it is automatically illegal, or even immoral.  “We The People” live in a “Nation of Laws”, AND “Corporate Personhood” is part of that landscape we should get used to, at least until we specifically put a law into place to alter the law of the land that makes Corporations equivalent to individuals as far as the law is concerned.

Because in the eyes of the law Companies ARE people. U.S. Code, Title 1, Chapter 1, Subsection 1 states, and I quote:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise— … the words “person” and “whoever” include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals;

I know not the origin of this part of the U.S. Code, whether it is as old as the Code itself , or a more recent creation.  But regardless, it is, as of now, written in stone, into the laws of the land,this concept of “Corporate personhood”, and as plain as day at that. 

I dislike it, but then again there is that one portion at the beginning of that “unless the context indicates otherwise”   Now,  Citizens United vs F.E.C. no doubt, strengthened the monied interests, we hit that concept already, but it did NOT strengthen corporate personhood, which is a simple reality. It is fact that, unless otherwise stated, Corporations, groups of people, have just as many rights as individuals.

To state that groups of people should not have some level of “equal protection” under the law that individuals have, is something of a silly concept.  The individual and the group can co-exist, even if they are at odds ideologically.  What the law needs to do, and I think generally does an admirable job of, is making sure that while we are equals in having rights, since the individual generally does not and cannot have the economic power of a group of individuals, is that the rights of the individual should always come first, and should be deferred to.

We the people should ALWAYS be first amongst equals.

Perhaps, at some point, I will again cover in detail (i’ve done it before, but it’s been awhile) the clear abuses of power that corporations manage to pull off that make “corporate personhood” such a contentious issue.  Maybe a look at BP, AIG, and other corporate criminals.  The corporations of this nation, because of their vast monetary resources, hold great power, I see them as equal AT LEAST, to the vast power of the federal government, and they are not checked by the documents that check the power of government, placed there, and wisely so, by the founders of this great nation. 

Corporations, despite having constitutional protections and status that grants rights equal to ordinary citizens, have no such documents as the founders put in the Declaration of independence , the constitution, and the like holding them in check, have greed and avarice as a guide rather than the lofty concepts that guide the government in general.

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That’s it from here, America.  Catch ya tomorrow.

(minor edits and small additions 3:25 pm 2/2/11)

Guantanamo, DADT, and John Kyl, That Whiny Bastard

I try to read news stories that are perhaps somewhat out of the mainstream, as far afield as possible, while still being important and relevant.  The first one up involves a senate vote about Guantanamo Bay.  You’d be surprised that something this big from that powerful and influential a force in the body politick could fly under the radar, but it has.  I watched the news and heard nothing on it.  Watched all the news commentary shows, and heard nothing on it. 

According to the AFP story, the Senate will begin considering a bill blocking civilian trials for any of the 173 terror suspects still held in Guantanamo bay.  The bill wil also feature language halting the closure of said base.  According to Attorney General Eric Holder, there is no precedent for Congress to intrude in the prosecution of any particular individuals. 

So, if military tribunals are so much better than civilian ones,  what about the case of Binyam Mohammad?  Jabran Al Qahtani?  The resignations from Guantanamo due to ethical considerations of Maj. John Carr, Maj Robert Preston, and the 5 other prosecutors who walked away due to ethical considerations?  What about the cases of torture, enhanced interrogation techniques, and other weak-kneed vindictive bullshit that masquerades as justice?  This is a legacy we want to add to?

Seriously?

With the way things were run there, with the things that were allowed to occur, do you think you’ll see more of your alleged justice?  What you want has a different name in the real world.  Vengeance is it’s name.  The real deal is this.  Osama Bin Laden is still free, and still alive.  This is a poor substitute for vengeance against our real enemy, against people who are not the man you want dead.  How does this bring us closer to catching him? How does doing this bring us closer to real justice?  The courts have been successful at prosecuting the real criminals who took part in harming our nation and it’s people, more successful than military tribunals.

To ignore that reality is to ignore justice, real justice. That is something you do at your peril.

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Viddy of the day:  From the fine folks at Fora.tv, a short clip of a long talk about Guantanamo Bay, from January of this year.  To watch the entire talk, click here.

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I like to walk about amidst the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty.

George Santayana, soliloquies In England and Later soliloquies

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DADT looks to be going the way of the dodo, and that’s a good thing.  It’s not like there are no gays in the military, If there weren’t, there would have been no need for the legislation to begin with.  Some numbnuts general said some crap, bout it’d harm soldiers in the field.  Bullshit.  Saying it would harm soldiers is just plain dumb.  There are Gay soldiers already there on the battlefield.  Flying missions, on the ground,  in foxholes with other soldiers, in Helicopters, in all sorts of places. 

Saying your own men, who are already there will harm your men is a patently ridiculous statement.

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Apparently Republicans hate working.  John Kyl says that all this…  legislation that the Democrats are trying to pass is an assault on Christmas

Whiny Bastard

He’s bitching.  Please.

I took my cat out of the animal hospital(his butt exploded, anal gland abscess burst, poor dude) walked 2 miles to the store, bought a 30 pound bag of littler he needed, special litter that won’t get in his open wound, carried it home, in my arms (no car) all the way back (THAT was a hella workout, biceps are sore).  Came home.   Cleaned out the cats litter boxes, tossed the old litter, put in the new litter. Looked for work, sent out 7 more resumes(that actually took a few hours, dammit). Gave the cat his medicine, cleaned his wound, brought him food.  Cleaned up around the house, made dinner.  Ran 9.7 miles. Worked out.

With the exception of that 2 mile walk for the litter and the walk from the Animal hospital, much of this is a regular routine.

I think I did more than he did. 

John Kyl: Whiny little shit.

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That’s it from here, America.  12 notes tomorrow.