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There’s “Freedom and Liberty” the abstract big idea that all Americans bow to and exalt as God granted rights, or at the very least the minimum aspirations of man. And then there’s the complex reality of freedom and liberty which immediately and mercilessly sets us in the Thunderdome of ideas to do battle with the eternal struggle to balance individual liberties against the greater good of society. (Two ideas enter, one idea leaves?) Thinking Americans of all political persuasions have always understood that the former was a great, lofty and motivating goal, but the latter was the thorny business of self-governing. Where the idealistic individualist rubber meets the collectively paid for and publicly accessible road.

Only those simple minded “Freedom and Liberty” loving people have neglected the road, allowing it to become so pitted with potholes that the only answer they can imagine is to break up the road previous generations had built and let it go back to gravel.

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Cross posted at The Polislice

The Houston Chronicle now regrets the election of Ted Cruz.

But hold on because the Op-Ed is a brilliant piece of head-explodingly silly burying of the lede.

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Sat May 18, 2013 at 07:38 PM PDT

F*ck Convenience

by jetfan

Convenience is killing us.

I say that in regard, mostly, to how “convenience” food is anything but for ones health and well being, but what got me thinking about this was bank fraud.

I had to write a check on the joint account I have with my father to pay for his long term care facility so I went online to check the account. There’s virtually no activity in that account: his pension and SS come in and I write checks to the facility. So it was pretty noticeable when there were two checks written against the account for $1100 that should not be there. Two checks by a dude named “Richard Jones” in PA written to Kay Jewelers and, laughably, a bar (a bar that takes checks, apparently). The account numbers were the only legitimate part of the checks so “Richard Jones” in Bridgeport, PA gets to write checks on my father’s NJ account to buy cheap tequila and expensive earrings for his ladylove.  

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Cross posted at

Big “food” manufacturing companies like General Foods, Kraft, General Mills, Nestle, Nabisco, etc. have long relied on old favorites fat, sugar and salt to make their chemically laden and extruded “food products” taste, um, good.  

I know what you’re thinking – when you have awesome chemicals like:

Polyoxyethylene (40) Stearate
Phenethyl Isobutyrate
Ammonium Phosphate, Dibasic

why would you even need fat, sugar and salt? That just sounds good already.  But these massive companies have a lot at stake so they gild the lily and add as much fat, sugar and salt as they can jam into a pop tart, hot pocket or Double Stuft Chocolate Dildo Oreo Madness Supreme (trademark and patent pending).

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Cross posted at

That construction has several fathers (Jefferson, Lincoln and Justices Jackson, Goldberg, Posner) but I think Jefferson’s is the best for illustration purposes. He wrote this when the constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase was questioned (sounds awfully tea party to question the constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase doesn’t it?):  

“[a] strict observance of the written law is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to the written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the ends to the means.”
Essentially, while the law is good, if following it would threaten life, liberty and property then choose life (to mix Jefferson and Frankie Goes to Hollywood for the philosophical win!).
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Crossposted at

In the Summer of 2011 my 92 year old father was faced with a diagnosis of terminal heart failure – maybe 3 months to live, unless he underwent heart valve replacement surgery. For someone of his age this is a rarity, but he was judged healthy enough otherwise to withstand the surgery. He came through the surgery beautifully, a miracle, no? With the new valves he could now reasonably expect to make it to 95, 100, who knows? But then while spending a month in a rehab facility to get his strength back he caught Clostridium difficile (commonly called C.diff), a nasty and very communicative intestinal infection that causes extreme diarreah and weakness, can lead to colitis, and is very, very difficult to beat. It is one of the many superbugs plaguing medical science today.

For his advanced heart failure there was a miraculous answer. For the superbug he caught during his hospital/rehab experience, no miracles. In fact, the quality of life promised by the heart surgery was negated by the infection. Like a cruel joke, the surgery gave him hope, the infection gave him despair. The infection ended his independent life and nearly killed him outright.

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Cross posted at

The National Memo printed this state of the state of politics piece from the A.P. on Thursday that lays out that, despite public opinion and the GOP losing the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 presidential elections, the country has moved rightward politically.  

Conservative efforts have pushed the government rightward on taxes, spending and other policies, despite losses on some social fronts. One might say Republicans keep losing battles but winning wars.
But they don’t have the courage to say why and how that happened.
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I was lucky.  My family got mortgage relief and we kept our home after I lost my job in 2009.  Of course, we had to go through 8 months of applications and faxing our financial information and pleading and sucking up and ultimately filing bankruptcy to force Chase to add our outstanding payments to the backend of the mortgage (which reset back to 30 years), all to get a 2% mortgage which I could then afford when I was (luckily!) rehired for $10k less than what I had been making.

Ultimately Chase will not lose a fucking penny.  But still, I know people who tried to get their mortgages renegotiated and have some forgiveness to desperately keep their homes and their bank lost their paperwork, more than once, starting all over again in the process while fearing that any day they could be foreclosed.  I know people who were foreclosed.  I know people who abandoned their homes, so underwater it didn't make sense to stay.  So I feel fortunate that it worked out for me and my family.  We kept our roof.  We can afford our mortgage.  We're underwater but not hopelessly.  Lucky!

But apparently not as lucky as the people who don't need the luck at all.

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When you look at your kid and say "hon, we really don't have the money for a new Xbox this month" it's responsible parenting and economic husbanding.  But when a state says no to a piece of desperately needed infrastructure 20 years in the planning, because it may well go over budget and costs "too much" it adds up to bad math, short-sighted economics and is a perfect example of how so-called "toughness" and the "willingness to make hard choices" in the real world manifests itself as just bad leadership.

Gov. Christie put the kibosh on a much needed, long planned addition to the tunnels under the Hudson River that connect NYC to the mainland and carry literally millions of passengers each year on NJ Transit and Amtrak.  Now a GAO Report shows that it wasn't just bad leadership, it was dishonest to boot.

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My longtime line in political arguments was always "The Republican party is the party of rich, white males.  If you make over $100K a year and are a white male I understand voting Republican, otherwise it's crazy."

About 1985 I added "If you make over $100K a year and are a white Christian male, go ahead and vote GOP."

But now?  Now!  Even if you're a white, male, Christian, Wall Street 1%er - the only people the GOP's policies do anything for, you are CRAZY to vote Republican.  Period!  PERIOD!!

The so-called Grand Old Party (which is younger than the Democratic Party, so how in hell did they ever get that stupid nickname to stick?) has gone so far off the edge of the ideological world as to be rendered ridiculous.  They've so renounced practical, utilitarian governmental management for partisan think tank generated powergrab nonsense that the only possible healthy denouement for that party is for them to dis-a-ppear.

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Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 02:52 PM PDT

Don't You Dare Abandon Cong. Weiner

by jetfan

Let he who has never flirted throw the first stone.  That's all he did, he flirted.  That's the word for it.  FLIRTING.

He stood up there for 40 minutes and answered every question.  People screaming "was it erect?" at him.  Intimations of him being a "predator."  "Will you support your love child?" was yelled from the peanut gallery!  

So afterwards the panel on Dylan Ratigan all believe he handled it as well as possible.  Then Tweety comes on to bury Wiener and his "wierdness."  He's given a two week to live prognosis by this panel.  AND I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE.

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When Jon Stewart draws false equivalence between Fox and MSNBC, or when Sen. Jay Rockefeller does, or anybody says things like  

"There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the F.C.C. to say to Fox and to MSNBC, ‘Out. Off. End. Goodbye.’ It would be a big favor to political discourse; to our ability to do our work here in Congress; and to the American people, to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and, more importantly, in their future."

I urge people to not bother noting that MSNBC doesn't make shit up, or that the only progressives are on from 6-7 and 8-11 and there's a Republican on for 3 hours in the morning, and a beltway hack on at 5 and 7.  The real difference is Roger Ailes.

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