More Random Thoughts

Oil is at the highest prices they have been at in a long time.  Brent crude is up over $121 a barrel.  Why?  Iran.  They have cut oil supplies, having decided to cut off both French and British companies.  They also happen to be in the middle of a major dispute with Israel.  And Iran has warships in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. Close enough to help Assad in Syria if they like, or reach Israel should they feel the need.

Prices will continue to go up so long as they continue to act as provocatively as they are.  Do we get to see the additional craziness of Iran shelling the citizens of Syria that are fighting against Assad, the man who is killing his own people for demanding anything even vaguely democratic?

Or shelling Israeli targets?  One wonders.

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Pic of the day: The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse, By Albrecht Durer

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There is a law that is under consideration in Virginia that says embryos will have the same rights as “other persons”. Really?  They are people, with the same rights and responsibilities as “other persons?”

So, when will these lazy fucking Virginia embryos start pulling their own damned weight and get fucking jobs?

Fucking hippie embryo fucks.

To be serious tho, these god-damned self important right wing ass clowns with delusions of gender superiority are a pain in all moral Americans asses.  Abortion has been around for thousands of years. You cannot legislate it away, or make people more moral with legislation.  That has been tried.  It has unquestionably failed.  This will simply push abortion underground.  You will kill young women for mistakes.  You will kill your own daughters trying to save their children.

You cannot stop people from doing what they want to do.  Morality cannot be legislated, you cannot make godless people fear God.  No legislation can make any of that happen.  None.

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Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99% of them are wrong.

H.L. Mencken

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Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson both belong in the Baseball hall of fame.  They were both among the best players to ever play their sport.  For that alone they belong in.  How can any sport that doesn’t have it’s best individual performer at the games most basic level in it’s “Hall of Fame” be meaningful in any way whatsoever?  Hitting is the most basic thing a player does in baseball, that and pitching.  If Rose isn’t in the Hall, the hall itself, with it’s exclusion of him, becomes a meaningless institution.

And if Rose belongs in, how can you keep Joe Jackson out?  He did the same thing, gambled on his team, and he unlike Rose admitted it.  He said he did it, and was ashamed of it by all accounts.  Should we not let this great player who was taken advantage of by gamblers much to his detriment into Baseballs hallowed halls where he belongs for his other feats on the diamond? How do you keep a man with a career average of .356, who struck out only 158 times in over 1300 career games out of the hall of fame?

Even if it was so, these guys are too good to be out of the hall of fame.

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I copied Jackson’s style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He’s the guy who made me a hitter.

Babe Ruth

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

Section 4

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, section 4

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The debt ceiling has been used by both sides of the political divide in order to try to protect it’s agenda while at the same time using it as agitprop against the other party.  But there is an argument that is far above the political crap that has been going on here.  The argument is that section 4 of the 14th amendment of the constitution protects the government from defaulting on it’s debt.  It makes the point that the government is obliged to pay it’s debts.  To ignore our debt, or to let the debt ceiling lapse (for lack of a better term) causing the government to default is unconstitutional.

Both sides of the political debate have made this point, albeit to themselves more or less. It is no surprise then, that the combination of bumping into the debt ceiling, and the breakdown in negotiations due to the political hostage taking that the political right has been foisting on the American people, has brought this argument to the fore.

Any attempt by congress to even attempt to drop the ball here is blatantly and simply against the law, entirely unconstitutional. Any argument that allows our debts to go unpaid goes against the law of the land, of the Constitution of the United States itself.

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Viddy of the day: Breakingviews: U.S. default argument–it’s unconstitutional.  The first two minutes are about the debt ceiling argument, the second half is about tech stocks.  Good stuff.

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I do find it curious, but not surprising, that with this little piece of knowledge about the 14th amendment floating around that there are people, even people in the know, who continue to argue about this subject like the debt ceiling is somehow important.  How could it be, if the law simply states that DEBTS GET PAID, NO IF’S ANDS OR BUTS?  I find it curious indeed.

But then again, with the amount of arguing that people have been doing on this subject, and knowing that when people invest that much sweat into an argument, they are generally loathe to give that argument up, it isn’t a surprise that this debt ceiling horse-crap has lasted as long as it has.

Most people usually think they are right simply because they hold an opinion.  Usually up until the point that the wrongness of their points are rubbed, figuratively, in their faces (and sometimes even that won’t suffice.)  So, it really isn’t a surprise that the debt ceiling, as an argument used to score political points, or as anything but the anachronistic thought that it is, is still here.

One wonders why those who knew this, who thought about this issue in it’s proper light from the beginning didn’t simply scream this from the mountaintops.  I for one never even thought about reading the constitution when thinking about the debt.  Silly me.  Why I do not know.  Perhaps because I was reading this as a news and economic event, rather than in it’s true light.  Which is that it is a legal matter.

That is what I get for attaching myself too closely to my normal sources of information.

And this whole story begs other questions, on which I may write on at a later date, one which I will ask but not answer, not yet anyway.

Why have we worked with and lived with the idea of a debt ceiling for the better part of 90 years, when it is clearly unnecessary horse manure, when it hasn’t kept us from spending, hasn’t made us more fiscally responsible, and hasn’t had any real legal strength since it’s inception?

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

We’re Working On It

I have a part-time job, and I am going in, on Friday, for my only day of work for the week.    Better than nothing. There are signs that not only is my employment future looking up, but the country’s are as well, thanks to our President and the previous congress and the clearly strong business acumen of American businesses large and small. 

Each light is a person with a new job

Payrolls are up 217,000 in February, according to ADP’s numbers, after a revised increase of 189,000 in January. Initial unemployment claims dropped by over 20,000 last week, and by 25,000 the week prior.  The monster employment index, which looks at the amount of on-line job application, increased 7 points last month.  The ISM non manufacturing index increased for the 15th consecutive month.  Non farm productivity increased by 2.6% on the month.

All of that pointing to one prospect, that the American economy is finally starting to get moving after several years of lethargy. 

And I have gotten a great many phone calls from interested employers over the last few days.  Got two more today, including setting up an interview for an art handler position, a job that I have written about here before, one that I loved doing at Sotheby’s, and one which I hope I will be hired to do after my interview on monday.  There have been a few other calls, but that one was the most promising.  One caller seemed to want me to work security/front desk type work, waiting for a call back from them. 

I fully plan on whistling while I work when I finally get a full time job, which hopefully will be next week.  Hell, I might even begin to toy with the idea of retiring when I turn 75 or so, rather then working until I die, which has been the plan since the economic uncertainty in my life started back in … whatever year I started working in Manhattan.  1987 or 88 or some year or other. 

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Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.

Thomas A. Edison

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Viddy of the day: Jobless claims sink to 2-1/2 yr low

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Wisconsin State Capitol, circa 2004

It drives me crazy that the Governor of Wisconsin and his cronies are holding their own people, the people they are supposed to be governing, hostage.  Threatening 1,500 people with layoff if legislators don’t do their bidding is, being my usual mild self about this, is fucking insane.  On top of this clear abuse of power, there have now been issued warrants for the arrest of the 14 senators who fled the state rather than allow the republican abuse of power to go unchecked. 

The governor is a dictator, or a wannabe dictator, and his men in the senate are the epitome of the term thugocracy.  There is a difference between governing, and abusing the people you are meant to be governing, and Gov. Wanker seems to have crossed this line a long time ago. 

If the people you are trying to work with run the hell away from you so you can’t do wrong to people, that is a message.  A simple message. 

Don’t tread on me.

How else could you put it?  Walker has stepped on the rights of workers, he has created an atmosphere of fear and loathing about himself and his entire political party by being too stubborn to understand that he simply won’t win by the clear abuse he is heaping upon his people.

These republicans are simply Un-American.

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

Bullsh*t isn’t Illegal

Strange it is that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free speech but object to their being “pushed to an extreme”, not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case.

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

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Viddy of the day: Westboro Wins In Court; Marine’s Family Saddened

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No surprise that the loons from the Westboro church won the Supreme court case they were involved in. 

It’s really simple, actually. 

Yes, the language that the Westboro church protesters use is ugly, nasty, and evil, but that doesn’t mean they should not be allowed to use it.  Most, but not all speech is protected against government interference. To stop the Westboro churchgoers from speaking their piece, no matter how vile, would be to say, here we will stop free speech.  And once you argue for stopping free speech for one group, how long before other groups are silenced by the government? 

Regardless, this is a thorny road to travel down, and the supreme court made the right decision in deciding this particular free speech case as broadly as possible.

Are the people from westboro evil, immoral, anti-social, and rude?  Damn right.  That doesn’t mean that their speech should be deemed illegal.  These closeted ass-clown right wing nut bags who hate America really can’t help themselves, but that is no reason for the court to shut them up.  The hate in their hearts is clear and it is about as un-christian as can be.  But that does not mean that “we the people” should somehow ask the court to cut into the first amendment rights of anyone just to shut these few nuts up.

Not that I don’t feel for the petitioner here.  This man has been truly hard done by, and if anyone deserved to win a case of this nature, it is him.  Mr. Snyder, the man who filed suit against Westboro was burying his son, a fine young man, killed in Iraq.  These nuts protested at this young mans funeral, approximately 30 minutes before the actual funeral, according to the writ of certiorari filed by the court.  Mr. Snyder said he didn’t realize what the signs said until he saw it on the news.  He claimed in the suit that, among other things that the protest was an intrusion on his privacy. He won millions from a lower court winning this case.  The westboro church claimed this was excessive and sought to have the cases reversed on free speech grounds.

The appellate court agreed with Westboro.  They held that the signs held at that protest were protected by the first amendment because they were: statements on matters of public concern; not provably false, and; were expressed solely through hyperbolic (but apparently not obscene in the eyes of the court) rhetoric.

Matters of public concern, stated, as in this case, on public property, which are not provably false and hyperbolic, are legal free speech. 

It is up to the states to make their laws more stringent to protect the families of the soldiers, not the federal government.

These loons can hold those signs for the same reason that tea party patriots can hold signs that speak to their opinions on health care, and left-wing protesters can carry anti-war or anti-tax cuts for the rich signs.   It’s speech, political speech, which means free speech.  It might be a stupid bullshit opinion on the part of the westboro ass clowns, but it’s  protected stupid bullshit.

Moral of the story:  This is America, and in America, bullshit isn’t illegal. 

If it was, we’d ALL be in prison.

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

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)