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The latest debates and debacles reveal a schizophrenic attitude toward the death penalty in general. On the one hand, the majority is for the death penalty, falsely convincing itself that it works as a deterrent and that the condemned "deserve" it. That works out psychologically to implementing the death penalty as revenge. But we as a society are not willing to state it so bluntly.

On the other hand, we are squeamish about the brutality and so have moved to the lethal injection fantasy as if it were as painless as putting down a pet. But the medical community is unwilling to play along with that self delusion.

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This is an essay I wrote some years ago as a student of German literature. I hope by posting it here I can offer some hope of insight for tolerance and peace.

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During the last debt ceiling crisis, there was talk of President Obama invoking the clause in the 14th amendment to the Constitution, which states:

Sect. 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.

He was then loathe to do so because it would open new territory in constitutional law and there would have been a huge legal upheaval. He was fortunately spared from that by reaching a compromise with the Republican bandits that were holding the country hostage at that time. The compromise included the present sequester that at this point has not satisfied the Republicans, who are demanding even more concessions. Fortunately, Obama has recognized that and is no longer willing to concede more to the insatiable extortionists.

At this point, not willing to give any more ground, he is faced with a choice.Either the Republicans cave and agree to a continuing resolution and a raising of the debt ceiling or the entire world economy is thrown into chaos. The latter alternative is completely unacceptable and I think Obama knows that full well. So the choice comes down to a Republican defeat or the invocation of the 14th amendment. This foray into uncharted constitutional territory appears to be the better alternative for reasons explained beneath the curly-cue.

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Tue Aug 07, 2012 at 12:36 AM PDT

The Ballad of Romney Hood

by Cardshark

Today President Obama made a beautiful characterisation of Mitt Romeny as the "reverse Robin Hood," or as Mr. Obama put it,"Romney Hood."

This reminded me of the old 1950s television series titled "Robin Hood" and its catchy theme song, the "Ballad of Robin Hood." The song was later parodied by Monty Python in the version of "Dennis Moore" who was obsessed with lupins. Anyway, for those of you who do not remember the series, here is a link to the song and its melody. Robin Hood.

Of course we cannot now resist writing an appropriate ballad for Romney Hood. And it follows after the orange squiddle.

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For too long we have been subjected to accusations from the right of pursuing “class warfare” and advocating “redistribution of wealth.” Has anyone bothered to point out that we have been engaged in class warfare since at least the Great Depression? Has it not occurred to anyone that there has been an ongoing redistribution of wealth since at least the late 1950s? The only problem is that these accusations have been made in the opposite direction of that in which they are actually being pursued.

Of course the class warfare has been continually waged from above against the middle class by the moneyed elite, who have eventually become known as the one percent—those who now own a staggering forty percent of the wealth of this nation. These are now the plutocratic upper class whose wealth is currently engaged in buying control of the United States to further enrich them and increase their wealth and power even more. Yes, there is indeed a redistribution of wealth taking place. It is a transfer from the hard-working home-owning (and mortgaged) middle class to rapacious bankers and financial institutions that have gamed the system, thoroughly corrupted our financial institutions and caused a massive transfer of wealth via rampant foreclosures from innocent mortgagees. And this is real wealth—land, homes and real estate—whose values have been manipulated and distorted through incredible accounting tricks.

The growing result is that not only real property but also liquid assets are in the hands of what only can be called criminals. In addition, these wealthy elites and huge corporations are sitting on mountains of cash that they are not investing in useful enterprises that could result in well-paying jobs that in turn could make revenues available to consumers who could then again, with their purchases, spur further job growth and prosperity for the vast majority of this country. But the one percent is not in any way interested in that. They are only interested in sitting on vast wealth and acquiring political power to further enrich themselves to no purpose that is useful to the greater society. Like the dragon Fafnir in Wagner’s Rheingold lying on its horde of gold, they simply say, “I sleep and possess.”

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UC Berkeley Physicist Richard Muller is making headlines and got a positive glow on Rachel Maddow's show Monday night for dramatically changing his views on global warming. First, he had concluded--long after the vast majority of the scientific community--that is was actually happening. Second, he has finally decided--also with significant tardiness--that is is certainly caused by human activity. If it were just one late-to-the-conclusion scientist, it would not seem like a big deal

But this scientist founded, with his daughter Elizabeth, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature in 2010, which has received at least one $150,000 grant from the Koch brothers. So now it's being spun as the turnaround of a Koch-funded scientist coming out with the raw facts. Let the chips fall where they may.

Not so fast. This is looking very fishy. Follow beyond the orange fishy below.

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To this day to celebrate the force that drives the pulse of life, that stares in the face of black-robed nay-sayers, I offer this with the joyous face of love and delight, my "Hymn to Her" who embodies all pulsing desire and fulfillment.

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Wed Mar 16, 2011 at 09:03 PM PDT

Damn Walt Disney!

by Cardshark

I am a baby boomer, born in 1946. In 1957, I was 11 years old in the 6th grade in Richmond, California. In 1956 the biggest event I can remember was the visit to Disneyland, with my parents and I visited that same year.

Unknown to my child's perception there was another event looming--the advent of commercial nuclear power. The Shippingport atomic power station would open in Pennsylvania the next year. What I didn't realize was that as a child I was being prepared to accept this untested and later proven unsafe industry that was quietly being prepared by vast economic and political forces beyond my knowing.

A major element in that brainwashing of young children was the 1957 Disney film, "Our Friend the Atom."

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Mon Jan 24, 2011 at 09:37 AM PST

Moscow Airport: The New Paradigm

by Cardshark

During all the brouhaha over the introduction of $$$, intrusive, dangerous full-body scanners and their attendant alternative obscene pat-downs, one remark on one of the cable news shows was ignored.
I don't remember who it was, but somebody noted that a suicide bomber did not need to get a bomb onto a plane to wreak utter havoc.

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Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 07:28 PM PST

Environmental Poetry: Emerald Heart

by Cardshark

So I just saw an offering of an environmental poem by ANxxxxxxUs that received mixed revues.
Still, the idea of environmental poetry is something that engages me, so I will offer the following, which is dedicated to the eco-warriors who protest, demonstrate and try to raise our awareness of the peril to our world.
It can often be a lonely struggle, but for this there is solace . . .

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I've just come from the German edition of Der Spiegel and there is an amazing phenomenon underway. Wikileaks is being mass-mirrored all over the globe. The new sites are being attacked but as fast as they get taken down, new ones pop up. At the moment on there are 123 sites listed as good, 322 as outdated and 332 as down for a total of 776. Hackers and supporters around the world are determined to save the site and its mission from the attacks of nation states.

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There are those who claim that the US was founded on Judeo-Christian tradition and values. There are also those who claim that the great founding documents stem from the European enlightenment. I happen to belong to the latter camp, but what is more important is that the First Amendment is an expression of tolerance in the service of civility. It is not a barrier to any religion but a haven for all--even for atheists. We seem to be tearing that apart, which leads me to want to offer some insights from a source relatively unknown in America. Several postings have referred to the quote from Jewish German poet Heinrich Heine--one of the great masters of the German language, who said, "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." or, "Where they burn books, in the end they will also burn human beings." Heine's own books were burned by Hitler and we know what followed.

I offer here another insight by a figure of somewhat earlier German literature, Gotthold Lessing, whose parable of tolerance is also little known in the US, but can offer insight for these increasingly troubled times from his play, "Nathan the Wise."

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