I've spent the last 10 years doing almost nothing but studying politics and the super-rich. I'm very fortunate in that I don't have to work. I make my money as a writer and am able to devote my time to whatever I want. What I wanted, and had wanted for[...]
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Despite record declines in prices, sales of new homes flattened out in August following four months of strong increases, the Commerce Department estimated today. New homes sales rose a 0.7% in August to an annual…
In the House, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
FLOOR SCHEDULE FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2009
House Meets At... 9:00 a.m.: Legislative Business
First Vote Predicted... 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
Last Vote Predicted... 1:00 p.m.
“One Minutes” (5 per side)
Conference Report on H.R. 2918 - 2010 Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill and Continuing Resolution (Rep. Wasserman Schultz – Appropriations) (Subject to a Rule)
- Conference Reports may be brought up at any time.
- Motions to go to Conference should they become available.
- Possible Motions to Instruct Conferees.
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
Resume consideration of H.R.3326, Defense Appropriations.
There will be no roll call votes on Friday.
At 3:30pm, Paul Kirk will be sworn in as senator from the state of Massachusetts.
How about that, huh? For all the talk of Republican lawsuits over the Massachusetts appointment, that swearing in is going forward at 3:30pm today. You gotta like that.
It's a Friday DC workday, which we haven't seen in a little while. And it looks like any other last-day-of-the-week. Convening early, limiting "one minutes." All the things that indicate that the House wants out. But there's some work to get done first, and it's not a bunch of suspensions, either. This time it's the conference report on the Legislative Branch appropriations bill, packaged up with the continuing resolution we knew has been coming.
Over in the Senate, they've finally finished up the Interior appropriations bill and have moved on to Defense. The CR will give them some breathing room, but if they're going to have any real hope of finding the time to deal adequately with some form of this insurance reform bill without extending the October 30th target adjournment date, they're either going to have to fly through these appropriations bills and conferences, or buy themselves considerably more time than is usually the case with CRs.
With most members looking to get out of town ASAP, there's a minimal committee schedule today, which appears below. Senate Finance watchers are back on, with some of the first amendments dealing with the public option possibly coming up today.
Here's a PR put out by Accountability Now. Ben Tribbett and I went over to watch the Redskins with their hapless win this past Sunday, and he was filling me in on all the details here. He's heading over to Nashville this week, to scout out the potential[...]
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A Suffolk Superior Court judge will decide by noon on a Republican Party appeal for an emergency injunction to block the appointment of Kennedy family confidant Paul G. Kirk Jr. as interim U.S. senator.
The state GOP contends Gov. Deval Patrick overstepped his authority by attaching an emergency preamble to the Senate vacancy law signed yesterday so the legislation would be enacted immediately. The usual waiting period for enactment is 90 days.
Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly took the matter under advisement this morning and said he will make a decision by noon today. Patrick and Secretary of State William F. Galvin have defended the emergency preamble move, saying Gov. Mitt Romney used it.
Assuming the judge does not give the injunction, Kirk will be sworn in at 3:30 today.
Paul Kirk is set to be sworn in to the U.S. Senate today at 3:30 p.m. eastern, temporarily[...]
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I don’t think we should underestimate the influence of significant numbers of Americans who believe in the Rapture, Armageddon, the Mayan Calendar and other myths. This belief works against taking the long view, in planning for big projects for the common good and sacrificing today for future generations. A paradigm of this mindset is a quote from former Secretary of the Interior, James Watt…
Watt periodically mentioned his Christian faith when discussing his approach to environmental management. Speaking before Congress, he once said, “I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns, whatever it is we have to manage with a skill to leave the resources needed for future generations.”
This eased Secretary Watt’s conscience as he sold our public lands to private interests.
If the apocalyptic mindset works against looking forward, it would be a good idea to look back, and see how many times the world failed to end on schedule. Salon.com has a post about it today. So brothers and sisters, don’t cash in your IRA just yet.
Originally posted at The Springfield, Mo. News Leader you are welcome to go there, log on and help me refute the local wingnuts... bear in mind the audience I write for there and the limit of 500 words I'm allowed.
Recently I used my 500 words to warn that Glenn Beck is the most dangerous demagogue in America. I revisit the subject not because I have altered my opinion, but rather to stress, with new evidence, why this is so.
His gloating revelation of the Acorn tapes (a 97 lb. weakling of scandal that Halliburton would sneer at) did not prompt this return, nor the 9/12 crankfest that he attempts to hype into a wingnut Woodstock. Such antics hardly represent a new act from Beck's circus worthy of mention.
Rather, a piece by Alexander Zaitchik at Salon.com profiling W. Cleon Skousen, the inspiration for Beck's profane rewrite of American history, compels me to keyboard. I had not known of Skousen, author of "The 5,000 Year Leap". I knew only that Beck's spiel smelled of right wing nutbaggery... now I know why.
Skousen was a right wing filbert of the highest order and, like Beck, a Mormon, who served fifteen years with the FBI before retiring to Joseph Smith land to four years as Police Chief of Salt Lake City then a teaching gig with BYU. During his colorful career Skousen authored a couple of compilations of misleading quotes and crackpot theories that pass for books in some circles, amassed a 2,000 page dossier with J. Edgar hisself coloring him a "domestic right-wing extremist threat" - especially after calling President Dwight Eisenhower a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy" - and, in 1981, produced his opus and Glenn's prayer book..."The 5,000 Year Leap".
Basically, Skousen asserts that the founders cribbed their ideas about democracy from Israel, King David and Moses... thus, the "5,000' Year Leap".
Richard Packham, an escaped Mormon who earned a Masters degree from Northwestern University, reviewed "5,000" and summarizes: "Skousen is very quick to jump to unwarranted conclusions. Rather than relying on well-reasoned arguments, he cites authorities, frequently distorting his sources. He fails to prove his view of Biblical law and its relationship to the American Constitution. He fails to provide any evidence for many of his most important points. He does not reveal that the source for many of his ideas is in Mormon theology."
Rather than celebrating the true genius of Jefferson and Madison, who placed man's liberty within the possession of their deistic God and so out of the reach of autocrats, than secured God himself in the hearts and minds of men and so finally out of the reach of theocrats, Skousen attempts to wed religion and government in a way that besmirches the intent of the founding fathers.
And Packham warns us why. "Mormons firmly believe that the Constitution will someday "hang by a thread," that is, be in danger of being overturned or destroyed, and at that point it will be Mormons, or the Mormon Church, which will save it. At that point America will be so grateful that the government of the country will be placed in Mormon hands."
Is this a mission Beck envisions for himself?
X posted @ Big O
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A 19-year-old Jordanian citizen named Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested in Dallas last night after he parked a vehicle laden with FBI-supplied fake explosives in the parking garage under a downtown office tower. He is expected to make his first appearance in federal court this morning.
The arrest was part of an FBI sting operation that began after an agent monitoring an online extremist Web site discovered Smadi espousing jihad against the U.S. more than six months ago.
As more undercover Arabic-speaking agents engaged him, Smadi, living illegally in the U.S. in the small town of Italy, about 45 miles south of Dallas, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and expressed a desire to kill Americans, authorities said.
In conversations with agents posing as members of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell, Smadi said he came to the U.S. to wage jihad, or holy war. He told agents he wanted to target military recruitment centers, but eventually settled on financial institutions.
"I want to destroy ... targets ... everything that helps America on its war on Arabs will be targeted," he told undercover agents in May.
The sting came to fruition last night when the suspect parked a Ford Explorer containing a fake bomb that was designed to resemble the one used by Timothy McVeigh in the parking garage of the Fountain Place. Believing he could spark it with a cell phone, he left the vehicle he was driving and got into another car with an undercover FBI agent to drive to safety. The agent offered him ear plugs, but he declined. He wanted to hear the explosion. When he took out his phone and dialed the number to detonate the bomb, there was no explosion. Instead, he was arrested on the spot.
And good, old-fashioned police work is how they nabbed him. "A coordinated undercover law enforcement action was able to thwart his efforts and ensure no one was harmed," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security in Washington.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert praised the FBI and the communication the feds had with the local authorities as the case was monitored and worked over the last six months. "We were clearly communicated to that there was not going to be a danger to anybody," he said.
The case also serves as a reminder that we do indeed face a very real threat of terrorism, and there really are people we need to work diligently to thwart in their efforts to kill random Americans just because we are Americans. Terrorism is very real and there are people who will never want to make nice with us. They are hell-bent on Jihad and they can't be reasoned with and no peace can be brokered. So we have to fight them.
And the best way to fight them is with law enforcement. They can do things that a battalion of soldiers simply can't pull off - like send agents who speak Arabic undercover to take in a would-be Jihadi and make sure the bomb he plants is a fake.
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People the world over must find non-violent ways to oppose American military force lest they suffer the fate of the Vietnamese and the Iraqis.
The Vietnamese lost four million civilians and the Iraqis to date have lost more than one million civilians as a result of U.S. aggression. Such losses---mainly of unarmed women and children---are unacceptable, as is the horrific physical destruction inflicted on those nations. Viet Nam has yet to recover from Pentagon bombing and the spread of Agent Orange. And Iraq may be centuries recovering from the ravages of U.S. radioactive ammunition fired there, euphemistically called ?depleted uranium.?
To this day, some Americans believe the U.S. ?lost? the Viet Nam war when the U.S. in fact emerged physically undamaged with no civilian deaths while its military lost but a fraction of the combatants lost by the Vietnamese. Still, the losses suffered by American families were devastating and those by Vietnamese families more so. A non-violent response by other nations could spare the lives of U.S. combatants as well.
Ominously, the Pentagon has spent over a trillion dollars in recent years on the refinement of deadlier killing instruments and the militarization of space from which it can control the planet with even greater authority than from its 1,000 foreign bases.
In an interview recorded in 2003 and published in ?Imperial Ambitions?(Metropolitan Books), MIT philosopher Noam Chomsky says the U.S. is arguing ?the only way we can have security is by expanding into and ultimately owning space.? And he further points out, ?The militarization of space means, in effect, placing the entire world at risk of instant annihilation with no warning.?
Referring to the doctrine of President George W. Bush, Chomsky said it means plainly ?the United States will rule the world by force, and if there is any challenge to its domination---whether it is perceived in the distance, invented, imagined, or whatever---then the United States will have the right to destroy that challenge before it becomes a threat.? This, he said, is ?preventive war.?
And this doctrine is being needlessly carried forward in Afghanistan by President Obama, who is widening the conflict into Pakistan.
In response to the menace of the U.S. military-industrial complex, non-violent soul force needs to be considered. Satyagraha needs to be brought to bear in international conflicts just as it was used by Mahatma Gandhi in India and by the Reverend Martin Luther King in the U.S.
Nations faced with illegal physical assault by the U.S.---here Iran is an example as the U.S. has even threatened to use nuclear weapons against it---could announce they will not fire back or oppose invasion. If this seems like a lot to ask, consider the alternative: the futility of stopping U.S. ?bunker busters? and ?daisy cutters? or missiles fired from offshore warships (as columnist George Will has recommended in Afghanistan).
It should be obvious the best way to fight fire is not with fire but with water. And the best way to oppose violence is not with more violence but with non-violence. While each situation is different, a nation facing illegal assault might consider the following steps:
Declare before the United Nations and to the media that it will not use force against any invader. In such cases, an invader that comes in shooting will betray its criminal intent before the world.
Request that the invader submit its grievance to international arbitration.
Request that spokespersons for religious groups and other public figures take up vigils on the rooftops or inside likely targets of attacks. Prominent clergy and leaders from other countries could be invited to participate.
Nations opposed to the aggression could be urged to shut down their ports and airports to people from the aggressor state. Its citizens could organize sympathy rallies and marches.
A global boycott could be launched against the exports of the aggressor nation.
The aggressor nation could be stripped of its veto if it is a member of the UN Security Council, a body created to prevent wars.
Surely, there are other, and probably more effective, steps that could be considered but these suggestions are made to convey the idea of how soul force might be put to work in a global setting.
Sherwood Ross formerly worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and as a wire service columnist. During the Sixties he worked in an executive capacity in a national civil rights organization and later served as press coordinator for the James Meredith March Against Fear in Mississippi in June, 1966. To contribute to his Anti-War News Service or to comment, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org