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    The Economist opens its article on Democrats and the War with a picture of a button showing The Kiss.  In a rather condescending manner the article uses the Lamont campaign to paint a picture of the terrible dilemna of the Democratic party as they fail to march in lockstep.  Is there some new drummer playing somewhere?  Yes, indeed.

    "Like Mr Dean, Mr Lamont did not so much start a campaign as stumble upon a network of angry people looking for someone to support. They communicate with like-minded souls online. They call themselves "netroots", ie, grassroots campaigners linked by the internet. There are a lot of them: their most popular meeting-place, a blog called the Daily Kos, attracts hundreds of writers and perhaps half a million readers a day.

    They are the most disruptive force in Democratic politics today. Their aim is to transform the party by backing candidates who will "fight back" against Mr Bush. Mr Lamont is top of their list."


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    On the NY Times site an article by Mark Mazzetti indicates new information that the CIA destroyed tapes of interrogations because they feared that the tapes would provide evidence that could be used to document actions that would place the inflictors at legal risk.

    The existence and subsequent destruction of the tapes is likely to reignite the debate over the use of severe interrogation techniques on terror suspects, and raises questions about whether C.I.A. officials withheld information from the courts and from the presidentially-appointed Sept. 11 commission about aspects of the program.

    The agency of course claims that it acted legally, and that it was only trying to protect its officers and their families from retribution.  However:


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    I've been adamant that I would continue to support and vote for JRE and the issues that I believe he best addressed, and I've said that I would vote for him today no matter what.  I went to the polling place to fill out my ballot and found that I just could not vote for John, not because I didn't want to-somehow I've been registered as a fu**ing gooper!  How the hell did that happen?  Did I register unknowingly when filling out some ballot measure?  Did I do it wanting to throw a monkey wrench in some gooper primary?  I don't think so, the last primary I voted in was the 04 election.


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    New York Times reports that an $85 Billion loan is being given to AIG in return for an 80 percent stake in the "troubled" insurance company.  This continues a trend of bailing out those corporations that are too big to fail, but apparently not important enough to the country to be properly regulated and monitored.

    It has been widely bruited about that the government is no longer going to bail out the poorly run Masters of the Universe companies, but that means that pretty soon we are going to quit, not just yet.  It is a dilemna, of course because the failure of the behemoths would, indeed, put a real hex on the economy and they are important to the continued functioning of the economy, like heroin is to the functioning of a junkie.

    It will be the next administration who will have to try to pick up the pieces-and 85 Billion dollars is just a piece-of the economy.  The room for maneuver and for instituting new and better social programs is being squeezed by the socialism for the rich policies of the elites.  The only answer I can come up with is to tax the beejeebus out of the rich so that we can get the money back in the system and out of their estates.


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    I write few diaries, so I'm glad to be able to offer this as a follow-up to this important diary

    The flow of information is a critical matter in the working of a democracy, the greatest pushback we have seen in the quarter-century after the Reagan devolution has been the rise of the internet community.  We are more difficult to shut-out, and we are no longer little atoms floating around, we can connect.  We may not agree wholly, and we get a bit snotty sometimes, but we are all we have to count on.


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    I certainly don't know if it will stay there, but the Dow just dropped under 9000.  I just got back from a visit in Hoosierland, and things were grim there last week, they are grimmer now.  GM a big employer, and a huge provider of insurance to the many, many thousands of retired workers intends to cut off insurance provision for its retired salaried workers at the first of the year.  The giant RCA/Phillips picture tube plant in Marion In, once the largest in the world, and employer of me and Barney Smith in the 70's, is shut down and the whole county is much the poorer for it.

    Crops are pretty good this year, they had about half the soybeans in when I left and were starting on the corn, but the number of people who directly work in agriculture is much less than it was in past decades so the benefits of a prosperous agriculture are not as significant as they once were-important, certainly, but not enough to make up for the awful catastrophe that has hit the state's manufacturing base.


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    What could we do with the money we are wasting by throwing it into the financial sector of the economy?  With these many billions, we could rebuild the rail system, we could retool Detroit, and the hundreds of towns that have manufacturing plants that feed Detroit.  We could end the necessity for taking out loans for going to college and just make it free, we could repair every damned bridge that needs it in the whole country.  Instead we are pouring into a rathole.  The executives of the financial firms don't plan on losing much.

    From MSNBC business section

    "Even though the banking sector may be returning to normal, the economy still isn’t. The economy continues to face a host of other problems," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at ChannelCapitalResearch.com. "We’re in for a tough ride."

    .  Well, we are in for something that goes beyond a "tough ride".  We are going to be losing our houses, our insurance, our savings, our retirements and we are going to be in hock up to our elbows-but the banking sector will be back to normal.


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  • 11/13/08--10:44: Spat upon by Hippies
  • You probably think I mean the myth that real soldiers got "spat upon by hippies" don't you?  Well, I was a semi-real soldier (or would that be a real, semi-soldier, since I was in the USAF) who was stationed in Northern California in the 70's, and spent much time in the great hippie bastion of San Francisco where I was treated....well, I really wasn't treated any particular way, generally I was either ignored or accepted after some conversation.  Like "Do you like the new Quicksilver Messenger Service album or something like that.  Hell I even stood in line on Thanksgiving '76 around winterland with the longhairs waiting to get into the Last Waltz and we all shared what we had....

    No, the guy that got spat on wasn't a soldier for his country, he was a Soldier for Reagan.  Now he is governor Tim Pawlenty, but back in the day he "passed out brochures for him [Reagan], on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota and got spat on by hippies"


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    I just got an alert from the NY Times that the House has approved the stimulus bill to the tune of $819 billion.  244-168 is the vote tally listed by the NYT.

    I hope this is just a start, and I'm sure it will take much more fighting to get it spent properly.  There is no guarantee that this will be anywhere near sufficient, and if we are not careful it will just go into the rathole of corporate compensation and disappear without a trace.

    If we are vigilant, I think we can make this the start of a re-deal that will end the fiasco that the current gilded age has spawned.  Make no mistake, though, the fight has just begun.


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  • 04/21/09--09:53: The World Turned Upside Down
  • The 4th amendment received a shot of life from the Supreme Court today.  In Belton (453 US 454), the rule was taken that once the police arrest someone in a car they have the right to search the vehicle under the theory that the suspect might grab a weapon from the vehicle, even though he was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed.  The Supremes now say that is not what they meant, that the law

    authorizes police to search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only when the arrestee is unsecured and within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search.

    There are exceptions, including the right to search for evidence of the crime the suspect is arrested for that might still be in the car, and inventory searches were undiscussed (on a quick reading), but this is a major change from the current state of the case law, and will require in California that many of the awful cases that our supreme's have decided are overturned.


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  • 04/29/09--08:48: 5 Million Jobs Lost
  • According to the NY Times, the economy shrank at the rate of 6.1% the first three months of this year instead of the predicted 4.7% decline.  This steep drop is evidence of the task before the country of putting the economy back on track, and the numbers behind the number don't look good to me (with my 3 decades old undergraduate Econ training.  Business spending plummeted

    Companies slashed their capital investment at an annual rate of 38 percent, and cut their inventories at a pace of $103.7 billion as they rushed to reduce their costs. Business investment in software and equipment declined by an annualized 33.8 percent, and investment in new structures was down 44.2 percent.


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  • 04/30/09--09:29: Bankruptcy for Chrysler
  • It is with very mixed feelings that I read that Chrysler is going into bankruptcy.  According to the NY Times,

    a swift, "surgical" process, was set to be filed in United States Bankruptcy Court in New York. It marks the first time a major American car company has tried to restructure under bankruptcy protection since Studebaker in 1933.

    .

    As a former factory worker for GM (Fisher Body), and the son and nephew and cousin of many GM employees, I was never a Chrysler fan, but it was a friendly rivalry rather trhan a wish for the demise of a company that has produced so many great cars, some dogs, and which supports many people in my old state of Indiana through its factories.  I hope this is a good thing in the long run, though I am very sceptical that we are sacrificing our manufacturing base.

    The article indicates that up to $8B may go into pulling this company through bankruptcy and back into business and that there is no expectation of significant layoffs at this time.


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  • 05/04/10--16:50: Pimping away for a sad day
  • This is just a very short diary, more of a pimping project, actually.  I remember Kent State 40 years ago.  Its disconcerting to think that it was so long ago, and that these kids would be getting senior discounts now and worrying about their grandkids.


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  • 11/29/10--13:56: While we fight the meta war
  • While I think the Meta-war is necessary and I'm not unwilling to take my part in it, the real deal is going down all around the industrial world.  The price of US exceptionalism is that we seem to think we don't have anything to learn from the rest of the world. Right now, and I mean at this very minute, the same forces that we want President Obama to confront are raking in the dough from the capture of the Pension Funds of Ireland and making a  nice attempt to snag them from Spain.


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    I'm sitting here at work, waiting to get called into the arena and killing a little time, when all of a sudden my computer breaks into an audible commercial.  I can't even figure out what is going on so I start closing things and it all goes away when I close dkos.  Open things back up and when I open up the front page it starts in again with some ad.


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  • 03/07/11--12:51: I Will Close Gitmo
  • Heh, and I thought that meant sometime soon. And I thought that meant sometime within the first year he took office, I can't remember exactly why I thought that, something I heard somewhere I guess.  But now I know!  According to the New York Times President Obama has clarified exactly what was meant

    However, the White House said Obama remained committed to eventually closing the prison at Guantanamo, at some point.

    Can't ask for fairer than that I guess.  And we will continue to hold people indefinitely without trial-because as I've been repeatedly told, "He is a Constitutional Scholar".

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  • 07/28/11--15:31: Your Best Job
  • Meteor Blades has a piece up about Jobs and Deficit reduction.    In a poll he cites it says that 54% of Americans believe that Manufacturing is most important or 2nd most important as an underpinning of the economy, with 32% saying it is THE most important component in the economic structure.  Health Care comes in next with 37% listing it first or 2nd and 19% listing it 1st.

    Currently, I work in an area called "Knowledge Services" and it comes in at 18% with all its votes apparently coming in as 2nd most important, but I used to work in manufacturing and later in health services.  I'm fortunate that my current job pays pretty well, better than most in the country, but I remember going to work at GM in 1971 for a wage that would have enabled me, as an 18 yr old to buy a house, car, and raise a family-all with nothing but some pretty good muscles and a high school education.

    Since we have a somewhat older, well-educated universe here at dkos, I wonder how many started in Manufacturing and now work in another area of the economy.


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  • 04/17/12--16:37: Prayers for Levon
  • According to a post by his wife Sandy and Daughter Amy, Levon Helm is in the last stages of his battle with cancer.  I am not much of the praying kind, but if you are send one his way.  Levon had one of the great voices in American music, both on his own and as one of the shared lead singers of the Band.  I had the great fortune to see him a number of times including in the company of Dylan at the Last Waltz and during the 74 tour.  Levon and the Band shifted the course of modern music and now it sounds like he's headed for the next show along with Rick Danko and Richard Manuel, the other two great voices of the Band.


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  • 11/28/13--12:03: 27 years to life
  • I spent yesterday with a man who was given a 27 years to life sentence.  The crimes were serious, but not violent and it was a shock when the sentence was handed out back in the last years of the previous century.  It wasn't the first time he had been to prison, he'd gotten 6 years for a home burglary and had violated previous grants of probation on other charges.  The sentencing hearing was a fiasco with the defendant getting pissed off at the prosecutor and jumping up and shouting during the hearing.

    A couple of years were spent up in the high desert in prison, and some time at Soledad and even a brief excursion to one of the lower rings of hell at Pelican Bay.  On one of the first days in the joint a southerner jabbed a shank all the way through the neck of a northerner.  As our prisoner sat there gawking, "some of the brothers grabbed me and told me not to look over there or they'll think you're involved." He learned the ways and stayed out of trouble except where it was necessary.  One day he was walking in the yard and began to cry.  This was May 2, 2002.  He signed up for various programs and became a model prisoner, he even became a sort of mentor to rookies who came in.  He had the rest of his life to live and even if it was in the joint, change had to be made.

    In 2012 the voters of California passed the ThreeStrikes Reform Act (Prop 36), and the first day permitted the Department Head of the Public Defender's office in the North Bay County filed the paperwork for a rehearing.  After some paper wrangling the case was brought to court and the original Judge that handed down the sentence was given the task of resentencing.  Options ranged from leaving the sentence intact, modifying it to include less time, release on Parole, to termination of the sentence and no Parole.

    Back in Court the Defendant was swinging back and forth from hope to despair on a minute by minute basis, but thought that going back in front of the original Judge was not a good sign.

    The Judge listed the Defendant's crimes and the resulting failures on Probation and Parole, he detailed the various chances that the Defendant had squandered, and then he noted the Defendant's prison record.  He noted the lack of incidents from 2002 on, and the various programs that the Defendant had finished, not with an eye to impressing a Judge, but rather to try to change.  The Judge concluded that the Defendant had changed and that he deserved a chance to try to live in society again.

    He released him from prison and did not impose any further supervision on him.  He went from a life sentence to the street.  One of his previous victims allowed him to stay in their guest room.  He stayed there for a short while, then had to leave because the daughter moved back in after a divorce.  Another friend let him stay on the couch.  His hips had gone bad and he was given double hip replacements under MediCal and applied for Disability, this was denied and an appeal was pending.

    I met him when the Public Defender asked me to try to find services for the Defendant, we've been to food banks, and other places like that and he has tried to make do with what he can get.  I worked with a wonderful Probation Officer who was active in the local Baptist Church and the ex-Defendant wanted to find a church to go to.  Yesterday we met up with the Probation Officer.

    It was a joy to see them connect.  The ex-defendant was sincere, open and vulnerable.  The PO was affirming and supportive and I witnessed a powerful conversation between two men who had much in common, and many differences.

    It costs $40k minimum to keep a person locked in prison.  A few thousand dollars spent on transition would make a big difference.  When I mentioned that the person who had gone from Defendant, to Ex-defendant to citizen told me that he was just grateful that he had a chance to be free again, he said that he deserved to be punished for what he had done, but that what he originally got was too much.  But he said that the facing up to a life sentence had changed him, and that he was already grateful for the change long before the law gave him hope for a 2nd chance.

    Thousands of good people sit in these jails and prisons that do not need to be there.  Spare a thought for them on this day of Thanksgiving.


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  • 07/07/14--14:38: No Charges in Boys Death
  • Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Gelhaus will not be tried in the shooting of Andy Lopez.  Jill Ravitch the Sonoma County District Attorney fresh from re-election has ruled that her office will not pursue charges against Officer Gelhaus because she said that he was

    lawfully acting in defense of himself or others, and no basis for seeking criminal charges exists,”
    .  Andy was walking along with a toy gun when the Deputy and another "trainee" pulled up behind him, Gelhaus got out of the car and shouted at Andy and when the kid turned, Officer Gelhaus shot him 7 times.  The "trainee" never fired a shot.

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