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A Propensity for Puritanism
Author: BobR    Date: 01/29/2010 12:47:42

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you've heard the news of J.D. Salinger's passing. He was most famous for his ground-breaking novel "Catcher in the Rye". Loved by most who read it, the book was controversial, not because of its ideas or philosophy, but because of the language and the topics that Holden Caufield (the story's protagonist) discussed. America was founded by Puritans, and it seems that influence has never really gone away.

The book itself was banned in numerous schools, teachers even lost their jobs for assigning it to high school students. You would think that after centuries of advancement, our society would have moved past this. Granted, this was way back in the 1970s... that's practically ancient history. We're way beyond that now, right?
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27 comments (Latest Comment: 01/30/2010 00:19:07 by Scoopster)

Don't run for the Hills
Author: Raine    Date: 01/28/2010 13:45:33

Well, that was that. the presidents first official State of the Union Address. Time will tell if Congress acts upon his directives. He directly called for Congress to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell. He called for Congress to change the way we fund elections. He punted on the environment, but if that is my biggest complaint, then so be it.

I was glad that that he didn't say the 'State of our Union is Strong' -- because it isn't. Instead, he chose these carefully crafted words:
It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable, that America was always destined to succeed.

But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain.

These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.

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58 comments (Latest Comment: 01/28/2010 22:53:19 by Mondobubba)

It's Getting Crazy Out There
Author: BobR    Date: 01/27/2010 13:47:04

There has been much speculation as to the meaning of the supposed end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. Some have taken that to mean that the world will self-destruct. Most rational people reject that as abject foolishness. Perhaps it means that society will self-destruct to the point that calendars are meaningless. The way things are going, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Beginning with last year, it seems craziness has completely run rampant. Last year were all the Tea Parties, populated by racists, lunatics, and idiots, from the "10thers" to the "birthers" to the plain overt bigots. Naturally, it came to be common knowledge that these rallies were sponsored by FAUX News and health insurance operatives. The one I streamed (briefly) in Atlanta even had an insurance executive as one of its prominent speakers! They weren't even trying to hide it.
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54 comments (Latest Comment: 01/28/2010 04:34:15 by livingonli)

Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/26/2010 11:31:39

Good Morning.

Today is our 2,505th day in Iraq and our 3,033rd day in Afghanistan.

We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from Iraq and Afghanistan, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

American Deaths
Since war began (3/19/03): 4374
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4235
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3911
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3515
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09): 146

Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 325
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 970
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 632
Contractor Employee Deaths - Iraq: 1,395
Journalists - Iraq: 335
Academics Killed - Iraq: 431

We find this morning's cost of war passing through:

$ 953, 471, 600, 000 .00

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29 comments (Latest Comment: 01/26/2010 23:41:15 by Scoopster)

We are the ones.
Author: Raine    Date: 01/25/2010 13:35:01

Last week sucked - bad. Personal family situations aside, it was just terrible. There is no getting around it. Massachusetts was a setback. The SCOTUS ruling a terrible setback. Health care reform in chaos.

So now what? We get up, start a new week, and keep on going. I have neither the time nor the inclination to keep on bitching about how terrible things are without doing something about it. It's easy to point out how awful things are; it is hard to come up with ways to rectify the situations at hand. I must admit, I tire of the crowd that says 'nothing can be done, so why bother?' Because so little was done over the past 25 years, we are here. Doing nothing will make things worse. The most important thing any of us can do right now is make phone calls and write letters. We've lost too much last week and we are running out of wiggle room here.

Everyone who was active and passionate about the 2008 elections needs to stay active -- or get reactivated -- be it on a local, state or federal level. I am not good at pep talks, but I can tell you that Yes WE Can didn't mean yes they would. In today's political environment, every ounce of push-back is needed. Elected officials need to know that they need to listen to 'we the people'. Even when it seems that it's not worth it, it is. Once the masses stop pushing back, once they quiet down, those that wish to control the system - will. We simply are not there yet, not unless we give up. After last week, many were thinking of that as a viable option, including me. The next question I asked of myself was, what are the other options? The answer: there are none.
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29 comments (Latest Comment: 01/26/2010 01:16:56 by TriSec)

Political Armageddon
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 01/24/2010 14:22:54

In case you missed this little tidbit: The Supreme Court recently handed control of our government, the one that is "by the people, for the people" to Walmart, Google, Haliburton, Bank of America, and quite possibly, The Bin Laden Company.

Not that this hasn't been happening previously - the corporations just had to do it in the form of PACs - and with a bit of red tape, now of course, the doors are open and they can freely give, or BUY, to their little hearts content. Exxon-Mobil may one day have their own President of the United States. Won't that be lovely? Drill baby Drill.

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5 comments (Latest Comment: 01/26/2010 21:39:13 by Raine)

Everyone's dead...let's Party!
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/23/2010 14:08:36

I just can't fathom this, and that's being kind.

Vacationing in Hell

It would seem that nothing, not even a devastating earthquake that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, can deter the American vacationer's drive to unwind. To prove the point, one cruise ship from Florida-based Royal Caribbean International landed in Haiti on Friday, the Guardian reports, and three more are due in this week.

Royal Caribbean cruise passengers visit Labadee Beach, a walled resort only 60 miles from the epicenter of the quake. On its Web site, the company advertises "pristine beaches," "breathtaking scenery" and "native charm." Armed guards patrol the perimeter, even under normal conditions.

Caribbean vacations have always provided a stark contrast between decadent resorts and the impoverished countries that house them, but not even the magic of the cruise ship could hide the horror at this uncommon port of call.

Royal Caribbean is continuing to ferry passengers to its Haitian resort at Labadee despite the misery wrought by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

"I just can't see myself sunning on the beach, playing in the water, eating a barbecue and enjoying a cocktail while there are tens of thousands of dead people being piled up on the streets," one commenter wrote on an Internet forum about cruises.

While Royal Caribbean's decision to cruise on to the destroyed country might seem callous, the company defends its decision, saying its ships are transporting not just cruise passengers but also foodstuffs for Haitians. The company has promised to use 100 percent of the proceeds from its cruise visits to Labadee to benefit victims of the quake.

"In the end, Labadee is critical to Haiti's recovery; hundreds of people rely on Labadee for their livelihood," Vice President John Weis told The Guardian. "In our conversations with [Haiti's special envoy to the U.N.] Leslie Voltaire, he notes that Haiti will benefit from the revenues that are generated from each call."

Cruises and resorts suffer from the same moral difficulties as sweatshops. On one hand, the symbolism behind impoverished workers slaving to provide luxuries to Western consumers is repulsive, while on the other hand, those industries are vital to the economies of developing nations. Guardian columnist Gwyn Topham points out that Friday's visit was really just business as usual -- the only difference was scale.

"Tourism provides a microcosm of modern globalized inequality, with all the advantages or injustices it bestows on those on different sides of the divide," he wrote. "From the Caribbean to Southeast Asia, cheap labor and land allow holidaymakers to relax in style for less."

Some passengers are determined to make the best of their sunny day in hell. "I'll be there on Tuesday, and I plan on enjoying my zip line excursion as well as the time on the beach," one told The Guardian.

Royal Caribbean says it is providing "at least $1 million in humanitarian relief" to Haiti


Has a certain "Let them eat cake" ring to it, doesn't it?

Turning to Massachusetts...let's see how the Massachusetts GOP is exploiting Scott Brown's victory. I'm expecting a surge beginning with the election of Charlie Baker, followed by contested races for every seat in the State House next time around.

Or not.

It seemed like a solid strategy for Bill Hudak, Republican candidate for the state’s Sixth Congressional seat and a political novice: latch on to the sudden popularity of Scott Brown.

A day after Brown’s improbable election to the US Senate, Hudak announced that the victorious Wrentham Republican had endorsed his candidacy. Hudak released a video featuring him and Brown campaigning together. In it, he mentions the name Scott Brown six times in just over a minute.

The strategy has backfired. Badly.

And the aftermath has inserted an unfortunate wrinkle into an otherwise glorious week for Brown, whose defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley brought him national fame as a candidate for the people and a barrier-breaker in a state that almost always votes Democrat. It also served as a harbinger of challenges Brown faces as politicians attempt to draw on his sudden status as the face of the Republican Party.

The brouhaha began Thursday, when Brown denied he had made an endorsement. That came as several political blogs cited news reports from the 2008 presidential campaign, when Hudak erected a poster on his lawn in Boxford that depicted Barack Obama as Osama Bin Laden.

According to the reports, Hudak voiced an argument popular among far-right Republicans at the time that Obama was not born in the United States and therefore could not serve as president.

Hudak initially brushed aside the reports and denied he was a birther, as supporters of the argument are called. He insisted that Brown had endorsed him, and accused the senator-elect’s advisers of backpedaling.

But Hudak issued an apology yesterday and retracted his statement about the endorsement, saying things were “misinterpreted.’’

There are some political ties between the two. Brown had used Hudak’s campaign office as a telephone center, and the two appeared at events together. But Hudak evidently hoped to parlay that into much more, particularly now that Brown’s star is soaring.

It is something Brown is going to have to get used to and deal with.

“There’s going to be a lot of people saying, ‘We helped you win, and we want you to help further our cause,’’ said Dan Mulcare, a political science professor at Salem State College who specializes in American government. “He has a lot of political capital, a lot of legitimacy, and he’s inspired a lot of people in Massachusetts.’’

Given the new campaign finance rules, I wonder if GE or Raytheon is going to buy Scott first?

3 comments (Latest Comment: 01/24/2010 00:45:20 by trojanrabbit)

Political Whiplash
Author: BobR    Date: 01/22/2010 12:08:55

We are only 22 days into the new year, and already my neck is sore from all the excitement. One story after another has driven us to the edge of despair, only to be updated with new details, or new analysis that pushes our emotions to the opposite side. My vertebra can't take this much longer.

We had a prelude of this at the end of last year. Martha Coakley, the party-appointed heir-apparent to Ted Kennedy's senate seat held a comfortable double-digit lead heading into the holiday break. A week later, the polls showed the Republican challenger had pulled dead-even with her.

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25 comments (Latest Comment: 01/23/2010 03:06:44 by TriSec)

Open Thread
Author: BobR    Date: 01/21/2010 13:08:29

Please excuse the lack of a real blog today. Personal events of the last couple days have taken their toll, and today's blogger is getting some much-needed rest.
40 comments (Latest Comment: 01/21/2010 22:03:59 by Raine)

Damn Right, I got the Browns, er, Blues!
Author: clintster    Date: 01/20/2010 13:24:36

Truth be told, I had another blog ready to post this morning. It was in the can and ready to be released. However, as I watched, heard and read the news on the Massachusetts senate race, I felt more and more that I had to change course and address this.

So Scott Brown is now a US Senator (elect). To be honest, I have several emotions running through my mind right now. The first, naturally, is sadness. Seeing a seat that had been held for so long by Ted Kennedy go to someone who seems to stand against everything he stood for is, to be honest, more than a little disheartening.
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36 comments (Latest Comment: 01/21/2010 03:46:31 by Mondobubba)

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