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As people in Wisconsin probably already know, there's a constitutional amendment on the ballot this year about transportation funding:  it's designed, so it says, to prevent "raiding" the transportation fund to cover general budgetary needs of the state government, and it will prevent using transportation funds for anything other than transportation (if you follow the link, you will see how that benefits some of Scott Walker's best friends). How did I, a Maryland resident, find out about it? Well, I was trying to decide how to vote on a similar amendment on Maryland's ballot.

After many years of fighting the right wing, my gut-level response to constitutional amendments of any kind--except for those that extend human rights protections--is suspicion. It's not so much that I object to amending our state constitutions, or even the Constitution itself; it's that, in recent years, such amendments have usually been the products of right-wingers trying to cause trouble, most often by hiding the true impact of their amendments either behind obscure legal language, or behind some fallacious moral outrage i.e., "How dare they `raid' the transportation fund!" (I wish they cared as much about Wall St raiding our pensions and our city and state investment portfolios, or about cops raiding our actual houses and farms, often with horrific effects, but that's another story).

So when I see a Constitutional amendment on the ballot and I don't entirely understand its impacts, I look online to see if I can discern ALEC's friendly face smiling at me over the horizon.

Bingo!

The Center for Media and Democracy in Madison states that this bill not only restricts the use of revenue unnecessarily, but also favors certain kinds of transportation policy over others (guess which kinds!). If you guessed fossil-fuel based transport, you win a signed copy of Scott Walker's autobiography, Everything For Sale.

So, ALEC has been pushing this since 2008, and apparently haven't yet gotten what they wanted out of WI and MD, and here they are again trying to amend constitutions under the guise of being responsible stewards of the public money.

Wisconsin and Maryland voters take heed! Tell your neighbors. Forward these links around. I could have been fooled by this amendment when I first read it, were I not such an automatically suspicious grump.

Discuss

Dear exemplars of venality:

It is time to seek a better way. Or, failing that, to pretend you care about the purported responsibilities of your jobs. This does not apply to the one of you who actually favors the ability of the American people to communicate freely with one another. We the people feel certain we can rely on her.

For the other four of you, the three corporate lackeys and the one fanatic, I suggest strongly that you adhere to the basic truth that the airwaves are public, and that the Internet should be reclassified as a public utility. In other words, private-sector corporations do not get to charge money to access the airwaves so that communication becomes a purchasable commodity belonging more to the rich than the poor, and data generated by the extraordinarily wealthy does not get priority over the data generated by the not-so-wealthy, just as Thomas Paine did not have to pay more to publish his ideas, word for word, than did Edmund Burke. (You may remember Thomas Paine. He believed people had rights, including the right to free communication.)

One of the things you ought to give back, by the way, is a respect for the commons which has sustained your ability to make lots and lots of money.  As well as respect for the basic rights of your fellow citizens.

Why should you choose this moment to temporarily abandon, or perhaps simply constrain, your venality? Because what you and your friends in the private sector may not fully understand is that you are going to piss off everyone if you change the Internet into the unwillingly sodomized playground of the ultra-wealthy and legally chant "neener neener neener" at the rest of the world. You will piss off liberals. You will piss off conservatives. You will piss off independents. You will piss off small businessmen. You will piss off some large businessmen (certain people in Silicon Valley have not entirely sold their souls to the devil. Yet.) You will piss off researchers. You will piss off coders. You will piss off the young. You will piss off the old. Just about the only people you won't piss off are those so poor they have no Internet access to speak of anyway. And they, being so excluded from all our society's power and privilege, will not be able to help you, even if they would.

When the world becomes enraged with you, the only people on your side will be the corporate behemoths that are egging you on to this unspeakable act of anti-civilization in the first place--well, not counting your own employees. Speaking of your employees, I hope they have very good digital skills indeed, because, while I am the digital equivalent of someone just learning her ABCs, you are about to anger every digitally-skilled person in the world who isn't getting a paycheck directly from you or your corporate friends.

Think well what you're about to do. Think wisely.

Is it so important that you make sure your corporate friends are able to dominate every arena of public discourse? Wouldn't it be better for them to accept this one slight limitation on their total power and dominance, while they continue to accrue obscene amounts of wealth in exchange for fairly piss-poor service?

As people with careers in the public sector, more or less, you no doubt have heard the acronym NIMBY. What you perhaps don't yet fully understand is that the Internet is the largest NIMBY issue in the history of man. Everyone who uses it views it as their back yard, except for those who view it as their home itself.

This is an international issue, but to bring it down to a more homegrown, national level:

Your wealthy friends should take a step back and realize that, having deprived Americans of their personal homes (their houses) and their national home (their democracy) it would be highly inadvisable at this moment to deprive them of their digital home as well.

We have had enough of this:

What we want is this:
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978),
We have had enough of this:
What we want is this:
Do your jobs. Make it so.

Comment to the FCC at this link. Click on the top item, 14-28. Balance out my rant with sweet-talking reason, or rant along at my side.

Discuss
‘An Epitaph on a Government of Mercenaries’
2000-2008

It is a God-damned lie to say that these
Saved, or fought, or knew, anything worth any nation’s pride.  
They wrecked two countries and used their servile press
To justify heinous torture and unearned death,
Crutching their lame arguments along on the bones of the dead.
They were unelected scoundrels, and they took
Their blood money, and their callous risks, and lied.
When  they were done, (though they suppressed the facts)
Near half a million had fallen to their heartless acts.

In spite of all their kind some elements of worth
With difficulty occupy a still-living earth.

h/t Hugh McDiarmid

Discuss
Ah, the Third Way. Helping Democrats shoot themselves in the foot since the nineties.   That's the "third way" as an ideology. The "Third Way" NGO has only been helping Democrats shoot themselves in the foot since 2005.

It’s fairly obvious by now that Social Security cuts don't play well with the American people.  And, in fact, they never have.  In no other way, with the possible exception of war, does the divide between the American people and their government show itself so vividly. The majority even of Republican voters stands to the left not only of Republican politicians on this issue, but to the left of Democratic leadership as well.

And yet, heading into what is likely to be a tough midterm election, with the fate of the Senate on the line, Steny Hoyer, second in command of House Democrats, chooses this moment to do this:

House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered a speech this morning, hosted by Third Way, on the imperative for Congress to keep working toward the goal of long-term fiscal sustainability and how Congress can make progress this year to improve our nation’s fiscal outlook.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Whoa boy. Brace yourselves.

Excerpted:

“Since my speech in 2010, we saw bipartisan commissions led by Bowles-Simpson and Rivlin-Domenici call for a balanced approach to deficit reduction combining revenues and spending reforms. Unfortunately, the framework put forward by the Bowles-Simpson commission was rejected, with all three House Republican Members voting no, and its recommendations were never considered by Congress.
"Unfortunately" we didn't implement the Simpson-Bowles cuts to Social Security and Medicare, beloved of Steny Hoyer, the Third Way, the Beltway punditocracy and 12% of America's voters.
Seventy percent of our budget is tied up in interest payments on our debt and other mandatory spending, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, C.H.I.P., the farm bill, veterans’ health, and other programs.  This pressure has been growing over time, according to a Third Way report last July: ‘In the mid-1960s, the federal government spent three dollars on public investments for every one dollar it spent on the major entitlement programs.  By 2012, the ratio was reversed...  And the ratio will be five to one in 2022.’ "
There's something almost deliciously intellectually bankrupt about making your case to cut Social Security to the Third Way, a political organization which has always had a strong desire to cut Social Security, based on a report written by the Third Way. (I wonder what the report will find regarding the ongoing health of Social Security?) But if the Third Way's own undoubtedly objective work isn't enough, Hoyer has another reason to cut Social Security. America needs to get its swag on:
“In November 2011, I attended a dinner hosted by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, along with Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists, to talk about the debt crisis facing our nation. During the discussion, Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, made a clear and compelling point: that it was time for America to ‘get its swagger back.’ "
I think Congressman Hoyer might have misunderstood the song "Whip My Hair Back and Forth." Willow Smith wasn't trying to encourage Mr. Hoyer to sway reluctant Congressmen to support Social Security cuts when she penned the immortal lines: "Hop up out the bed turn my swag on/Pay no attention to them haters cause we whip 'em off."

There's almost an absurdity to it...can't the Third Way read its own report? If Steny Hoyer wants to let Third Way know he agrees with the report, wouldn't a phone call to Third Way offices suffice? "Hey, Jim. Just wanted to call up and tell you, kudos on that new report on Social Security. That'll make the liberals squeal! Yeah, see you at that Mark Warner fundraiser.  I hear Indra will be there, and she's always the life of the party."

Now, even if Hoyer feels this way, and even if he feels the need to maintain a good relationship with the Third Way for some reason, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind would dictate that he not declare the causes which impel him to support this crappy policy. The most cynical, “pragmatic” political view I can muster, one which disdains all quaint morality and silly concerns over the well-being of the nation, suggests that eight months out from Election Day is a bad time to publicly endorse a policy position with which 70% of the American public disagrees. Hell, another poll not so long ago showed 82% of respondents opposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

In other words, this ridiculous policy position is also ridiculous political messaging, particularly  when it comes to special elections and midterm elections. We’ve seen one recent example.  While there are many explanations for why Alex Sink lost her election, it is indisputable that her Republican opponent triangulated around her on Medicare cuts—in Florida, no less—and he won. Nobody was impressed with Alex Sink’s “centrist” position on Medicare.

Perhaps that's because it's not really centrist. It's hard to imagine how the opinions of 12%-30% of the American electorate could constitute the "center" of American political thought. What are the other 70%-88%? A really big fringe?

But let’s pretend for a second that the Third Way political worldview is correct and they are in the Big Moderate Middle of American Political Thought. They aren’t, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend they are. Even if Third Way positions on earned benefits actually appealed to a broad swath of the American electorate, supporting them would still be bad politics in midterm and special elections. In any election, you either have to inspire unlikely voters to vote, or appeal to likely voters, or both.

Who votes in midterm elections? Hyper-partisans, ideologues, and the elderly.

Which hyper-partisan Democrats does Hoyer hope to rally by once again performing political black magic over the corpse of the Grand Bargain? Suppose he does get the thing up and shuffling around again. Does he think that’s going to send the hyper-partisans rushing to the polls in greater numbers? Social Security is viewed by most partisan Democrats as the crown jewel of the party’s achievements. Is this rotten (and rotting) Grand Bargain likely to inspire them?

Which brings us to the ideologues. If Hoyer wanted to discourage left-wing ideologues from voting for Democrats, he couldn’t do better than publicly endorse a Grand Bargain. The only worse thing would be starting a war, which is kind of out of the reach of the House Minority Whip.

And then there’s the elderly.

To quote Ms. Maddow:

FAIL!

So attacking Social Security is not going to appeal to likely midterm voters. That leaves the more difficult task of inspiring unlikely midterm voters to show up at the polls. Exactly who among these unlikely midterm voters is going to be inspired by throwing millions of elderly Americans into poverty? These guys?

This just doesn't make electoral sense. Which presents me with a conundrum.

Follow me below the orange rail for more disturbing ruminations. (And be careful stepping over it—that thing is live.)

Poll

Why does the management wing of the Democratic party keep attacking Social Security?

16%21 votes
60%78 votes
5%7 votes
6%9 votes
10%14 votes

| 130 votes | Vote | Results

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Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 08:56 AM PDT

Big Tent, My Big Ass

by SouthernLiberalinMD

I've noticed this thing about bullies. Rather, I've noticed this thing about a particular kind of bully.  I call it the Veruca Salt syndrome.

1.    They are never satisfied. They scream for what they want, and when they get it, their near-immediate response is to scream some more. (Any intervening period of smug gloating is brief).

"Pink macaroons and a million balloons and performing baboons...give it to me NOW!"
2.    They demand absolute loyalty, but give none.
"I want today, I want tomorrow. I want to wear in my braids in my hair and I DON'T MEAN TO SHARE THEM!"
3.    The moment they don't get everything they want, they portray themselves as victims to anybody who will listen. The most fun version of this is when they walk up to someone, verbally punch them in the mouth, and then get hurt and teary because the punchee has some choice things to say about being hit in the mouth unprovoked.
Veruca Salt: "They're not even trying! They don't want to find it! They're jealous of me!"
Having been on this site a long time, I know that the response of the other side of the Great Divide is going to be the immortal I-am-rubber-you-are-glue strategy, also known as "Back atcha."

But I am not talking about the other side of the Kossack Great Divide and the fun meta we'€™ve been having lately. I'm talking about the Third Way.

As many of you know, Markos wrote a diary Tuesday attempting to reframe our ten-year-long history together as a successful attempt at moving the party leftward. It's difficult to make that argument based on policy, since in 2007 we had a party that successfully fought off a Republican attack on Social Security, and now we have a party that unsuccessfully attacks Social Security. But Markos did a credible job of making the argument based on people:  to wit, we have a lot fewer Blanche Lincolns and Joe Liebermans and Bart Stupaks in the party, or at least, there are a lot fewer of them holding elective office. Therefore, his argument went, we have made some strides in moving the party leftward.

Enter Veruca.

Veruca: "What's the matter with those twerps down there?"

Apparently, the Third Way must either have some people on here, or they monitor this site fairly closely, because a hit piece on Markos and his diary appeared yesterday in Politico.

The title? Markos Moulitsas folds the Big Tent.

There are a lot of things one could say to that.

You could say "Wow! Markos has the power to take down the Big Tent? All by himself? Yowza!"

You could say "€œThe Third Way is upset with Markos? After he has toed the party line so faithfully? Regardless of how far to the right the party has gone, Markos' criticisms of Democrats over the past four years have been extremely few. €”I mean, he has only broken with them on SOPA, Social Security, and the Syrian war. And you can hardly expect a web entrepreneur to support SOPA, nor a veteran to support wading into another Middle Eastern quagmire, can you? After Markos told Democratic critics to get the hell off his site in the fall of 2012? After the solid support of the FP for Hillary Clinton? The Third Way does a hit piece on Markos?"

That'€™s just how it is with Veruca sometimes. It doesn'€™t matter how much you have given her in the past; all that vanishes if you displease her NOW.

But the main point I want to make here is not so much about Markos, but about the Third Way itself.

Follow me below the orange gobstopper.

Poll

Are we the music makers, and are we the dreamers of dreams?

33%96 votes
4%14 votes
59%169 votes

| 283 votes | Vote | Results

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Here is my comment to State.

The State Department has forsaken all credibility in embracing such a corrupt process as the one which created your EIS. Hiring long-time associates of the company that wants the permit...to let you know if giving the permit is environmentally sound? Shame on you--doubly so because, once having investigated the matter, your conclusion was that corruption doesn't really matter much.

Further, the State Department's willingness to endanger the United States' supply of potable water, including our largest Western aquifer, in exchange for 30 permanent jobs and the dubious privilege of being the landscape through which foreign corporations ship goods to foreign markets in search of massive profits for low-grade fuel, spilling pollutants in our water and seizing the land of our citizens along the way, is contemptible. Its refusal to acknowledge the fact that dilbit once spilled in water is notoriously difficult to clean up (the Kalamazoo spill cleanup is still ongoing after 3 years and has cost 1 billion dollars) should be of deep concern to any American who truly values the security and prosperity of her nation, because there can be neither security nor prosperity without an adequate supply of potable water. The further dangers that extracting and burning this fuel pose to the atmosphere are being dismissed as inevitable, but it's really not acceptable for the government to accept widespread catastrophe which could destabilize our society and kill our citizens with a shrug and upturned hands.

It appears that the main results of this project for the American nation, apart from the 30 lucky individuals who will receive permanent jobs, are poisoned water, onerous costs for pollution cleanup, property seized from American landowners, and a climate future which is not only mortgaged, but underwater. The fact that State is even considering giving a go-ahead for this project demonstrates the extent to which our government is willing to do literally anything to please the richest stakeholder in the room at any given moment.

If State has any concern left for the well-being and prosperity of the American nation, it will say no to this proposal.

Poll

Should State give the go-ahead to this project?

0%0 votes
0%0 votes
9%2 votes
4%1 votes
4%1 votes
0%0 votes
72%16 votes
9%2 votes

| 22 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Oct 01, 2013 at 02:48 PM PDT

We Accept Your Resignation

by SouthernLiberalinMD

I don't usually post diaries this short. But here's the gist:

Congress, we accept your resignation.

It's pretty clear things haven't been working out between us, Congress. We, the People, only want to do what's best for both of us.

Move On has not yet approved this petition. Let's all sign it, and encourage MoveOn to approve it. It's an accurate statement of the relationship between 99% of us and Congress.

Poll

Should we accept Congress' resignation?

58%25 votes
4%2 votes
37%16 votes

| 43 votes | Vote | Results

Discuss

I know things are looking good for us right now. Meteor Blades just wrote a diary that says the Nay votes on Syria are gaining in the House:  Nays gaining  But as MB said himself in that diary:

But a lot of those purported stances are soft. After House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House get through cranking the vise, a portion of those "leaning nay" among Democrats could easily be bent into the "lean aye" category—and vote that way.
Although Politico is not always the greatest source for political journalism, they're not bad on whip counts and such, and they agree with Meteor Blades.  On the one hand, if the vote were today, the AUMF would probably be defeated:
If the House voted today on a resolution to attack Syria, President Barack Obama would lose — and lose big.
That’s the private assessment of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who are closely involved in the process.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/...

But as that article goes on to say, some serious pressure to vote yes is coming our way--or rather, our Congresscritters' way--next week:

POLITICO reported on Thursday that Obama administration officials have reached out directly to one-third of Congress in the last two weeks — at least 60 senators and 125 House members — with more contacts to come, according to a White House aide.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/...
And AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, is poised to mount a major blitz next week in support of the Syria resolution, officials with the group said. AIPAC lobbyists and their supporters have been speaking directly to a number of lawmakers, especially senators, said House and Senate aides.
(Also on POLITICO: AIPAC to go all-out on Syria)

And here's the rub, for those who care about the future of the Democratic party. If this passes, and a war with Syria ensues, it's going to be the Democrats' war. Support from the Republican Caucus for this war is incredibly low. Some analysts are predicting that at most, 60 Republicans will stand with Cantor and Boehner at the end of the day. Obama is going to have to turn to the Democratic Caucus to push it through. And there's some indication that, through a typical fear of making the President appear weak, a lot of leaner Democrats are going to come around to an AYE vote.

“At the end of the day, a lot of these Democrats are going to be with the president,” said a House Democratic aide close to the issue. “Because the choice is to vote against [the Syria resolution] and turn the president into a lame duck and destroy his credibility, or swallow it and vote for something that you’re not wild about. When you’re faced with that kind of decision, most of these fence-sitters are going to come aboard.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/...

A united Democratic Caucus supporting the President and keeping him from being a lame duck? Why isn't that a wonderful thing for those who love the Democratic party?

Because the people of this country despise the idea of going to war in Syria. Tallies of those calling Congress are running in the 100s to 1 against. A recent poll shows around 2/3 of Americans opposed, including an overwhelming number of independents. HuffPo has a good collection of the most recent polls None shows good news for the supporters of intervention.

If we break it, we've bought it. If this war passes the House, we own it. It will do absolutely no good to try and tell voters that we thought we'd be out by Christmas, or tell them stories of how evil it is to use poison gas. It will do absolutely no good to tell people we never imagined the war would spread to Iran, or perhaps even to Russia (God and the saner diplomats in both countries forbid).  If we support this war and it isn't over by Christmas with minor casualties and no further involvement, it will be the major issue in the 2014 election. And that means losing the independents and swing voters big (they have the highest levels of opposition to intervention in Syria). And it also means opening the door to a Tea Party surge of historic proportions. Because Michelle Bachmann notwithstanding, the Tea Party is taking a strong stand against this war. If Democrats, joined by Republican leadership, are all seen by the American people to be supporting an unbelievably unpopular war, while the Tea Party very visibly opposes it, what do you think is going to happen amongst a populace that already has record levels of distrust against its government?

Poll

What are you willing to do?

60%9 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
6%1 votes
0%0 votes
6%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
6%1 votes
20%3 votes

| 15 votes | Vote | Results

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This is a summary diary. Here you will find a list of the actions we suggested yesterday in the Caucus Diary on Syria.  I have tried to organize them in a helpful way. Time is very short, both for us in the lead-up to this vote and for me this morning as I have to run to a rally at Chris Van Hollen’s District Office. Things are heating up here!

So please don’t mind it that I’m not giving each Kossack credit for his/her idea. I’m throwing these together as quickly as I can. No lack of appreciation for your ideas is intended!

What We Came Up With Yesterday:

Traditional tactics (not to be despised!)

Since time is very very short, we may need to rely on the traditional ways of lobbying our legislators more than I’d like. But these tactics are not to be despised, though there are more effective ones, I think (the more effective ones often take more time, unfortunately).

1) Go in person and lobby. Especially veterans.

2) Use MB’s whip count diary, and focus on undecideds, especially those outside MIC interest. In other words pick the easiest ones first then dig in on the tough ones towards vote time.

3) Focus on the House; we have a better chance there.

4) But people with high-profile Senators can use them to generate publicity.

5) When they get to the floor we should flood c- span phones. People will be watching.

Follow the money

1) Boycott donors, and be loud about it. Either do it simultaneously with all of them or do a rolling boycott.

2)This may take a lot of time, and thus perhaps all we could do right now is call for a boycott with an online web page/petition—signers will be committing to boycott; funders of the Aye vote Reps would be listed, and phone numbers of their corporate offices included. In order to do this, necessary to go to MB’s whip count page and looking up the donors of the Aye vote representatives on Open Secret or Maplight. Could also be publicized on Twitter and elsewhere, once page was up.

Follow me below the orange squiggle for messaging ideas, PR, and legislative tricks we could use to stop this march to war.

Continue Reading
This is a Caucus diary, created by The Caucus Project group at DailyKos.

The goal of this diary is not to debate the policy position of the diarist; it is for people who support the position statement to discuss and debate proposed ideas for action, and to organize.  The diarist will post a position statement, which will include a solicitation for possible courses of action or a proposal for action, tactics and strategy.

Please read this diary, Caucus Diary Mark II, before commenting here if you are not already familiar with the new Caucus community diaries.

After a week of discussion, many of us on Daily Kos are opposed to military intervention in Syria. My personal opinion is that, at the very least, any military action by the President should 1) have Congressional approval, and 2)follow the Powell Doctrine.

For those not familiar with the Powell Doctrine, here it is:

The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:
1) Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2) Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3) Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4) Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5) Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6) Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7) Is the action supported by the American people?
8) Do we have genuine broad international support?
The position of this diarist is that the requirements of the Powell Doctrine have not been met, and that, at the very least, questions #2,#3,#5, and #6 must be answered in the affirmative, with reasonable specific proofs of why the answer is yes provided to the American people and to Congress, before military action is contemplated.

This is even more true if engaging in Syria is merely one more step toward engaging Iran (there are some indications that may be true:  Possible implications for future relations with Iran; Original source article in NYT)

Since the President is going to go to Congress for authorization, one obvious and important course to take is influencing our representatives and senators to vote `no.' I would like to focus on that next step.

Follow me below the orange squiggle for initial ideas and resources.

Continue Reading

Fri Aug 30, 2013 at 07:17 AM PDT

Seamus Heaney has died.

by SouthernLiberalinMD

A great, gentle, and truthful man.

I wish I were a W.H. Auden, so that I could write for him as Auden did on the death of Yeats.

I had the privilege of meeting him some years ago, when I was in grad school.

I don't have a poem for his death (yet), so I'll post one of his here.

Digging

BY SEAMUS HEANEY

Between my finger and my thumb  
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound  
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:  
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds  
Bends low, comes up twenty years away  
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills  
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft  
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.  
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney, "Digging" from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

Continue Reading

We are about to move ahead with the Caucus Project, and look forward to having some focused, lively, productive discussions that hopefully will lead to actions both online and off. Many thanks to all those who have participated in the conversation thus far, and for all of your good ideas (many of which I have incorporated below).  So, this is the Next-to-Last Meta Caucus diary.

It was going to be the Last, but it seemed to me that the discussion of finding/creating an offsite working space is not part of the discussion of how Caucus diaries are going to work, but more a discussion of how we’re going to continue to organize as a community if they don’t work (by getting an offsite place to do the work and then publishing it here). So there will be one more diary after this, to discuss Plan B:  Offsite Options..

Summary of how we got here

Many of us on Daily Kos were getting very tired of the constant flame wars, which we felt were actively impeding our ability to have any other kind of productive conversation on the site.  To address this, I proposed a new kind of diary:  the Caucus Diary. First Caucus Diary

My belief was that there’s a place in political activism both for fierce debate with opposition, and for meetings of like-minded people to plan action. In other words, if a group of people want to repeal the Patriot Act, they should be able to write a diary entitled Let’s Figure Out How to Repeal the Patriot Act, and strategize and plan actions in that diary, without having to debate in that diary whether the Patriot Act was good or bad. (Of course, anyone who disagreed with the premise of a Caucus diary was free to publish their own diary disagreeing with it).

Markos ruled that Caucus as a space where debate was limited was not allowable on his site. However, enough people still wanted to do Caucus that I wrote another diary with a proposal for how to effectively have Caucus diaries within Markos’ rules. Second Caucus Diary

Follow me below the orange squiggly for Caucus Mark II.

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