I Just Have to Say

silence is not an option

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Coolest Thing I’ve Seen Today

I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of all things Google. Though I use GMail and Google Voice I don’t really like their UIs and I have no use that I can think of for Google Docs; Buzz and Wave I’ll leave for agents of the TSA to molest.

Google Chrome, on the other hand, I have found to be a very excellent browser and I think the Chrome team is probably, outside the Maps division, one of the most useful and productive units at the Mountain View, CA behemoth.

Check out the future of publishing in its nascent stages by clicking this link or the image above.

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Bipartisan Brilliance - Everybody’s a Winner!

Couple a young guys in congress, one a Democrat from Oregon, the other a Republican from Massachusetts (say, whaa??) have introduced a bill in the Senate that should help prove — once and for all — who walks the walk and who just talks the smack in Washington.

The “Empowering States to Innovate Act” would allow states to develop their own health-care reform proposals, preempting federal legislation set to take effect in 2014.

The federal plan, highlighted among a long list of the Obama administration’s accomplishments in its first two years, has been  simultaneously derided as a socialist plot by those on the right and as a Big Insurance - Big Medicine giveaway by some on the left.

It’s also become the focus of a rallying cry among the newly-elected Republican majority in the House of Representatives, who have pledged to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, though those in-the-know understand they have neither the intention nor the votes necessary to do much more than screw up even further a badly flawed piece of legislation.

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Get Your Story Straight, Honey

I may have to renew my subscription to Mother Jones.  One of my favorite D.C. journalists, David Corn, has a piece up on the MJ blog today showing that the everpresenteverywhere Sarah Palin is just as mealymouthed as any of the unprincipled, career politicians she makes such a big deal out of trying to contrast with her in-touch-with-the-American-people-commonsense-conservative self.

The quote from her now-legendary interview with Katie Couric illustrates classically Ms. Palin’s otherworldly grasp of the issues of the day and the piece in whole gives rise to the question why other journalists in the “lamestream media” don’t call her on her hypocrisy as a matter of course.

Oh, right; she won’t talk to anyone in that particular cohort.  

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Is There a Government Program More Worthy of Being Cut Than the TSA?

America’s security is in the news today, particularly with the verdict just in from the first trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee in a civilian court. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was charged by the Justice Department of conspiring to kill Americans in bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998.

After seven days of deliberations, a jury found Ghailani guilty of just one count of conspiracy, acquitting him of multiple other counts including murder and conspiracy to murder, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Perhaps the government has a few blockbuster detainees up its sleeve and just wanted to see how this whole civilian trial thing is going to work out before showing the world how torture and invasions of privacy are indispensable to protecting American assets and “the American way of life” in a post-9/11 world.  But it says here we won’t be seeing too many blockbuster verdicts out of Guantanamo detainee trials any time soon.

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You Knew This Was Coming

It looks like we can add to former President George W. Bush’s many appellations (including, but not limited to ex-cheerleader, reformed alcoholic, failed businessman and un-indicted war criminal) that of plagiarist.

Not surprising, actually, considering his past performance.

Be sure to click on the photo for more interesting information about our illustrious 43rd president and his interesting family.

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Infographic of the Day: Effects of Healthcare Reform

Click chart for High-Res image.

There’s a pretty smart lady out there named Lisa Cummings, who is a global benefits consultant advising Fortune 500 companies on best practices regarding plan design and legal compliance. An ERISA attorney by training, Ms. Cummings has a lot of experience analyzing health and retirement plans in the US and around the world and she’s written a detailed critique of what some are derisively calling Obamacare, the so-called Healthcare Reform legislation enacted by the most recent congress, some provisions of which are set to begin taking effect next year.

As you can see by the chart Ms. Cummings used to illustrate her analysis, the question of whether the legislation is good or bad — and on which groups it promises to confer both burdens and benefits — is rather complex.

Some in the newly empowered Republican delegation pining to flex its muscle in the next session of congress have vowed to repeal the legislation.  Many who have a credible understanding of how things work in Washington, DC believe that is an unlikely prospect.  I am inclined to anticipate that we should be prepared for a perfect storm in which poorly prepared, misguided legislators will make total hash of a badly flawed piece of legislation and leave all the interested parties — excepting Big Insurance, of course — far worse off than they are today and than they would be if the law were to be allowed to take effect as written.

Ironically, I think that puts me on the side of those who’d like to scrap the whole thing and start over.

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More Evidence for the Myth of Our Liberal Media

Conservatives love to whine and moan about the mainstream media in America having a decidedly liberal bias but the actual fact of the matter is that, outside a few small but prominent publications with out-front progressive editorial missions (such as The Nation or Mother Jones), almost every single widely-read publication skews center-right when it comes to voicing what’s considered serious, acceptable opinion on topics of the day.

To wit, Wednesday’s issue of the New York Times, a daily paper vilified on the Right and championed on the Left as the true mouthpiece of Liberal opinion in this country — despite mountains of evidence to the contrary — which again shows, to put it kindly, that it has no problem providing a platform for the most reactionary and draconian voices the punditocracy can puke up.

If there are two more heinously amoral voices for America’s most repugnant, unenlightened aspects than John Bolton and John Yoo, one would need to venture into the most remote precincts of places like the mountains Idaho or the swamps of Louisiana to find them.

Bolton, once the country’s so-called top “diplomat”, is an unrepentant warmonger and advocate of American exceptionalism who famously “joked” that the UN building in New York could have 10 of its floors blown up and “it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.”  Yoo is the attorney on whose legal opinions George W. Bush relied in concluding that torture is legal.

Have a nice day, America.

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This is How the Terrorists Won, Pt.2

I was speaking not long ago with a former law school classmate and we were ruminating on how the most sacrosanct constitutional right had come to be not the right to privacy — only the most naive among us ever believed that one — nor the right to Life (certainly not in the last remaining First World nation to still execute its prisoners), but the right, or freedom, to travel.

Interestingly enough, the Supreme Court didn’t enshrine it so out of beneficent respect for any freedom of the individual but rather as a vehicle for upholding the state’s authority to regulate (read: promote) interstate commerce.

Be that as it may, the eventual resolution of the ACLU’s lawsuit on behalf of 17 U.S. citizens and legal residents challenging their placement on the U.S. government’s No-Fly List and the failure of the government to give them a chance to defend themselves ought to be pretty interesting.

Read this sad tale to understand just one more reason why you ought to have little confidence an any assertion that says your constitutional rights have not diminished in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

And don’t think it couldn’t happen to you.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath

From the ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ file:

Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), a member of the House Government Oversight Committee, said Tuesday that he’d have “[no] hesitation whatsoever” spearheading an investigation into claims the Bush administration acted illegally in ordering the torture of prisoners captured in the US War on Terrorism.

I’m not afraid of going after the Bush administration. I wasn’t brought here by the establishment. When I ran for congressman in 2008, I’m just a freshman year, George W. Bush, Orrin Hatch, and Bob Bennett, three Republicans, they campaigned against me. So I don’t mind going back and looking at ‘em. So I don’t have any hestitation whatsoever.

Chaffetz spoke on the MSNBC program The Dylan Ratigan Show, appearing to be willing to go where the Obama administration and the US Department of Justice has thus far feared to tread. Time, of course, will tell, but maybe some of these Republican congresspeople aren’t as nutty as others of them seem to be.