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Murdoch's Minions Combined Burglary, Pornography and Patriotism Email Print

Few political operatives and quasi journalists would be daring enough to combine burglary, pornography, and patriotism in a political campaign, but then Rupert Murdoch's minions with their ravenous appetites for sensationalism and success at any price play by their own rules.

Australian Murdoch set his sights on Britain in the early seventies.  It was not long before his sensation seeking tabloids masquerading as newspapers had played a key role in installing a personal favorite as prime minister with Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party victory in 1979 over a badly divided Labour Party led by James Callaghan.

Thatcher had served longer during a continuous period than any British prime minister since Lord Liverpool's 14-year run commenced in 1812.  Storm clouds hovered by 1990, however, after Thatcher's Conservatives trailed Labour consistently over a year and a half period.  

Thatcher's scolding nanny manner began rankling many voters.  Many saw Thatcher as harsh and heartless, as evidenced by the manner that she used oppressive taxation to wring inflation out of the British economy, drawing even the opposition of Milton Friedman, the American economist she idolized.  During this period British homelessness began dramatically increasing.

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Did 12 Heads of Cabbage Decide the Casey Anthony Trial? Email Print

While the jurors who decided the fate of Casey Anthony were human beings and not heads of cabbage, analyzing their result poses an important question.

Did those jurors decide the case in a manner more expectant of 12 heads of cabbage?  One expects no thoughtful deliberation from 12 heads of cabbage.  One expects no analysis.  This from all available evidence reveals what happened.  

The result harkens back to a comment made by the late Dominick Dunne in a television appearance following the not guilty verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial.  When an angry Dunne, whose own daughter had been slain followed by a miscarriage of justice, called the jury "stupid" he was criticized by a defense attorney who asserted that Dunne's statement was unduly harsh.

Dunne stood his ground, coolly replying, "The jury was asked to examine the DNA evidence (against Simpson).  It refused to do so.  That's stupid."

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An Erotic Dance and a Tattoo: The Symbols of the Anthony Trial Email Print

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This expression is clearly recognized by prosecutor Linda Drane Burdick and she put it to constructive use in her dazzling summation in the Casey Anthony murder trial today in Orlando.

This nation riveting trial is being called the first of the social media age.  Many more people get a say than was the case in the earlier technological age in which the trial of O.J. Simpson occurred in Los Angeles almost two decades ago.

The speedy advancement of computer technology alongside that of cable television has made photo images and words more acceptable as well as graphically feasible than any other period of world history.  

Burdick put images and recorded words to work in her favor today, at the same time taking advantages of opportunities handed to the prosecution by the vitriolic and highly accusatory summation by lead defense counsel Jose Biaz.

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Is Casey Anthony a Film Noir Femme Fatale Come to Life? Email Print

When the camera zeroed in on Casey Anthony just prior to court resumption last week her manner prompted a comparison.

To watch the coquettish 25-year-old engaged in conversation generated a comparison to her real life demeanor and case history alongside the femmes fatale of film noir.  The unfolding pattern of Ms. Anthony and the staggering number of lives she has led in the course of her first quarter century makes her in some ways appear more event-filled, and in many instances far more dramatic, than the life of a busy centenarian.

A snippet from the testimony of former Anthony fiancé Jesse Grund reveals the lock she held on his emotions.  Grund revealed being told by Anthony that her older brother Lee had made sexual advances toward her.

Grund explained that he never had anything to do with Lee Anthony after that.  At that point in his life, Grund explained, he believed everything that Casey Anthony told him.  His explanatory manner left no doubt about the powerful emotional grip Casey held over him.

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Should Casey Anthony Testify? Email Print

Legal experts and regular viewers of the Casey Anthony trial for the death of her daughter Caylee are weighing in mightily on whether the defendant should testify.

The major reason being advanced as to why Ms. Anthony should take the stand is that she is seen as the logical party to shed light on points raised in lead defense counsel Jose Baez's opening statement.  Comments were raised about her having been the recipient of sexual attention by her father.  

The assertion was also made by Baez that Caylee Anthony was the victim of an accidental drowning.  

There was also the tearful testimony of brother Lee Anthony on Friday which indicated that there might be a dark secret in the family that has not theretofore been learned.

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The Casey Anthony Photo that Dominates the Trial Email Print

"A picture is worth a thousand words" is a saying that has been around seemingly forever.  It has never been more relevant than in the riveting  Casey Anthony murder trial in Orlando.

Women are society's child bearers and nurturers.  Hence there is a natural sensitivity within most women regarding children and the necessity of caring for their welfare.

Men are not excluded from such sensitivity.  Fathers of young girls or those who have been in that position in the past or had friends or relatives who were can readily identify with the Anthony case and its underpinnings.

Nancy Grace, television commentator, mother, and former prosecutor, has been intensely covering the Casey Anthony case from the outset.  She recently pinpointed what makes it such an attention riveter.  Grace stated that all it takes is one look at Caylee Anthony and she grabs your heart.

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Are Customers Better Off From Airline De-Regulation? Email Print

Ronald Reagan's famous line delivered at the close of his one and only debate with President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election was "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

While it was Reagan's presidential predecessor Carter who de-regulated the airline industry, this was a page taken from the playbook of the suave former actor with the well-modulated voice.  Reagan declared that it was time to "get the government off people's backs" and let it be known that this was a major goal of his administration.  Neither friend nor foe would deny that this goal was steadily accomplished.

Carter did no more than get the motor running with airline de-regulation.  Reagan, operating in a manner that brought broad smiles to the face of his economic guru Milton Friedman, believed that all we needed to make America the "city on the hill" of his dreams was to remove the dreaded shackles of big government and let the free market take over.

Friedman, a controversial Nobel Prize winner in economics who had been an adviser to the presidential regime of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile, was the economic world's most ebullient advocate of privatization, extending all the way to police and fire protection.

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Could Palin Be Convenient Pawn for New World Order? Email Print

The prospective scenario for 2012 bears striking similarities to the 1964 presidential race.  The nagging question is whether the same force that benefited enormously from the result of the election contested almost a half century ago stands ready to benefit again.

While Sarah Palin is at the moment the key player in what could be a shifty move on behalf of the New World Order in superficially ordaining one result while achieving another, Michele Bachmann could be a key player as well.  Bachmann's latest comment made Sunday at a mega church was that God had personally called on her to run against Barack Obama in 2012.

In 1964 the John Birch Society flexed much political muscle within the potent rightist ranks of the Republican Party.  Today it is the Tea Party displaying clout within a Republican Party that in 2010 gained control of the House of Representatives.  Standing on the top tier of Tea Party  popularity  among current notable Republicans are Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

In 1964 the Vietnam War was gathering momentum.  A debate was  occurring between President Lyndon Johnson and his conservative Republican rival Senator Barry Goldwater that, in retrospect, resembled the legendary account of Tweedledum and Tweedledee agreeing to do battle.

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Osama Uncertainty Akin to JFK, 9/11 Email Print

Peter Dale Scott, who has written so much about what is presented as government fact and the realities that lie hidden often well beneath the surface, coined the term Deep Politics to encompass this realm.

The powers that be that reside in the highest echelons of government have sought to squelch any such inquiry as falling under the heading of conspiracy theory.  To be a conspiracy theorist is to live in a wild world devoid of reality.  

Initially using the conspiracy theory pejorative worked superbly as a means of denouncing anyone who dared suggest that the official theory of the John F. Kennedy assassination that a troubled former Marine loner holding presumably strong Marxist leanings was responsible for the assassination of a popular American president.

Initially any questioning of official dogma was considered crackpot theorizing by a substantial majority of Americans.  Eventually as the white heat of analysis was put to  the lone gunman theory more Americans, ultimately encompassing a majority, doubted an official theory that was embraced in the Warren Commission Report, the government's investigative conclusion of what occurred.

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The Asians Never Attacked America! Email Print

How nerve wracking it was for the right during the Vietnam War era.  There was the strong conviction that if the forces of Ho Chi Minh were not repulsed then it was only a question of time before those forces invaded and occupied the United States through relying on sheer statistical superiority.

Lyndon B. Johnson was one of the craftiest legislative leaders in American history.  His ability to shrewdly dicker and make a minimum wage law or Medicare was a thing of great natural beauty.

The inherent Johnson tragedy lay in the fact that when he assumed the presidency he began making decisions in the realm of war and peace for which he was profoundly ill suited.  The Gulf of Tonkin was rigged to display North Vietnamese animus toward the U.S. that did not exist in reality.  

An astute French historian and political scientist named Jean Lacouture told all that were willing to read and listen that the Vietnamese independent movement was strongly embraced by Ho Chi Minh's father.  Ho Chi Minh told any Americans willing to read or listen that his sturdy admiration for George Washington stemmed from that great general's fight for independence from British rule whereas he and other Vietnamese wished to end foreign dominance as well.

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Politics -- Spinning Out of Control Email Print

"The two parties have combined against us to nullify our power by a 'gentleman's agreement' of non-recognition, no matter how we vote ... May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either the Republican or the Democratic Parties."~~W.E.B. DuBois (1922)

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The Republican Right's California Racism Email Print

Marilyn Davenport's recent journey into the ugly world of racism exposed the under belly of a county, party and state with a tragic history of ugly racist conduct.

An important strategic aspect of the 74-year-old Orange County Republican Central Committee member's conduct relates to her angry counter punch embodying a familiar "the best defense is a good offense" strategy.  

Rather than permit the onus to reside on a tasteless act depicting President Barack Obama as a descendant of chimpanzees, Davenport denounced the revelation of her e-mail as "cowardly".

Even the "apology" of sorts that Davenport delivered was conditional as well as decidedly lukewarm.  Davenport explained that the e-mail was sent to a selective few people she knew who could presumably "understand" her intent.  

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Will Obama Score Landslide by Exploiting Tea Party? Email Print

Presidential political strategists find that the road to victory often stems from establishing tactics based on successful past paradigm results.

When the Tea Party was given credit for helping Republicans score dramatic gains in the 2010 midterm elections that included winning control of the House of Representatives, many Washington watchers recognized that the way the victory was achieved was reminiscent of what happened in 1994 in the middle of President Bill Clinton's first term.

The shattering victory of the Republicans caused Clinton to initially experience crushing depression according to many on the D.C. presidential watch.  Meanwhile Republicans chortled at the prospect of winning the presidency in 1996.  

There were many independent observers not influenced by GOP euphoria who also believed that the tide was running so strong that it would be difficult for Clinton and the Democrats to surmount it.

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Sidney Lumet, Master Director, RIP Email Print

Much is being written about the death on Saturday of master director Sidney Lumet at 86 so the focus here will be on the manner in which he exquisitely interacted with master actors and developed critical subject matter.

Lumet stated that, while it was essential to entertain audiences in film, his goal was to supply something more.  He did this by tackling some of the most complex and controversial material through showing human beings confronted at critical crossroads.

Henry Fonda was an actor who stood for bedrock truth in the manner of James Stewart and Gary Cooper, but often with a measure of complexity.  It was a master stroke to cast Fonda in the lead of Lumet's first film, "12 Angry Men", a gripping look at the controversial subject of capital punishment humanized through the experiences of New York City jurors in a case of a young man being tried for murdering his father.

A younger Fonda had received critical praise for playing an outsider thrown into a rush to judgment by townsfolk to apply lynch law justice to a group of strangers headed by Dana Andrews in "The Ox-Bow Incident", released in 1943.  

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Why Is Trump Pandering to Tea Party? Email Print

As someone perceived as a capitalist mogul Donald Trump was associated with a certain type of political expectation if he chose to become involved in presidential politics.  At first blush the expectation was an issues approach comparable to Mitt Romney, seen in the context of a chieftain of wealth within the Republican Party.

Some seasoned pundits who make a living attempting to ascertain actions of politicians were taken aback last week when Trump fervently raised the birth certificate issue regarding President Obama.  

According to the conventional wisdom Trump would be expected to challenge former Massachusetts governor Romney for the more tidy and orderly Republican vote, those who follow the maxim of Calvin Coolidge that "The business of the country is business."

Trump instead invaded the province of Mike Huckabee without so much as a knock on the door and fought him tenaciously for the Tea Party vote.  After the initial shock waves wore off pundits began to analyze the surprising behavior of the mega rich property developer from New York City.

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The Myth of the Free Market Email Print

The Myth of the Free Market
by Craig Barnes

Millions of Americans are today unemployed because the free market is not working for them. Millions of Americans have lost their homes because the free market did not work for them or for the banks.  Before the health care bill passed last January millions could not get health care because the free market worked for them when they were healthy but often did not work at all when they needed care.

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The Glory of White-Wing Politics Email Print

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress...but then, I repeat myself."~~Mark Twain

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Slim, Gates and Spain pledge $150m to fight disease Email Print

Two of the world's richest men and the Spanish government have pledged $150m (£101.7m) to battle disease and improve health in Central America and Mexico. Carlos Slim and Bill Gates are to fund a project jointly with Spain aimed at improving nutrition and maternal health and fighting dengue fever and malaria. The two men and Spain's Princess Cristina announced the project in the Mexican capital, Mexico City. The project also aims to reduce infant mortality and boost vaccination rates.

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Abolish the Filibuster Email Print

It generally happens in world history that change comes to rural areas later than it comes to cities and that, no matter where you are on the planet, rural areas are more conservative politically, which is saying the same thing, really, since conservative means to want to hold on to what was good in the past, or not to change too much. Whether you are talking about rural Pakistan, or rural Russia, or rural Wyoming, the people who live--and are separated from each other by fields and forests --are likely to hold tight to traditional values and be suspicious of change.

 That could be good, of course, but the bad side is that rural areas are also more likely to resist the mingling of races that comes with commerce and cities, or the rise of women's rights, or mixture of social classes, or experimentation with education and health care, or, in fact any other form of government intervention to assist those who are in trouble.  

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Even One of These Little Ones... Email Print

"Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in your garage makes you a car."~~Garrison Keiler

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AP poll: public swings to Democrats keeping control of Congress Email Print

The poll published today shows the public prefers now for the Dems to hold Congress, 45% to 40% — and a roundabout flip from a month earlier, when the preference for Democrats was turned around, 41% then for Democrats having majority control to 44% for the GOP.

You can read the details here. There's an anti-incumbent leaning that still makes the result hard to interpret.

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Keep the Change... Email Print

Change is the process by which the future invades our lives~~Alvin Toffler, "Future Shock"
Each time it appears that Republicans can't get any nastier, any more bereft of morality, they wrap themselves in the flag, grab their guns and Bibles, and manage once again to hit the bottom of the ethical barrel. A good example is Ben Smith's recent startling revelation in Politico.com, which exposed the dirty tricks Republican National Committee (RNC) operatives were planning to play, not only on Democrats in the upcoming elections -- but on their own donors. Smith writes...

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Tolerance and the Prom, Changing Hearts, Minds & Mississippi too Email Print


...Perhaps the school system's decision is based in fear rooted in flawed and prejudiced assumptions, that by allowing a teenager to bring her same sex date to such a traditional event as the prom, the powers that be may appear to be condoning gayness to the local masses. More likely,moral concerns extending from literal interpretations of scripture, verses located on the same pages where one finds instructions for the stoning of adulterers and punishments for wearing certain types of textiles. But then again, the Mississippi prom case is more likely just another piece of fallout from a very commonly held membership in a society where there is a quiet tolerance of homophobia which is nothing more than a phobia of homosexuality itself....

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The Press, Politics, and Polarization Email Print

There is a fascinating yet potentially dangerous transformation currently taking place in American political journalism. We are witnessing the return of a purely partisan press. At the dawn of the 19th Century, John Fenno's Gazette of the United States propagated the views of the Federalist Party and Philip Freneau's National Gazette served as a mouthpiece for Jeffersonian Republicans. Now, at the turn of the 21st Century, we have Keith Olberman of MSNBC and Sean Hannity at FOX.

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Through the Looking Glass, Darkly Email Print

I’ve been thinking. Which in and of itself points up unequivocally that I am, in fact, a Democrat. I actually use the brain I was given at birth, which came factory-equipped with a kind of "filter," guaranteed to purify with conscience, common sense and logic each and every thought processed through it. Yes, I am a Democrat. If further proof is required, I offer, as well, that I am a lifelong Dodgers fan, a team which sports the purest and bluest blue of all the MLB teams.

Please note that I say this about myself with the utmost humility. That I have the capacity to use the brain I was given, I consider a gift. Therefore, I cannot in good conscience disparage those who, through no fault of their own, were born without the filter, and consequently lack the aforementioned qualities.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, for example, who is currently touting the idea that we need to wean Americans off Medicare, do away with it altogether, as well as with social security. On "Fox Business," she went so far as to say that social security was a "tremendous fraud."

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Will the Real Obama Please Stand Up... Email Print

After the recent Supreme Court ruling that gave corporations "personhood" status, I was pleased to see President Obama publicly call them out on it.  This is the Obama I voted for. 

Sadly, this Obama has been conspicuously absent since being sworn in as President.  It's time for "this" Obama to stand up at last for the people who put him in the White House in the first place, the folks on "Main Street," rather than those on "Wall Street." 

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Walk a Mile... Email Print

I know you need your sleep now,
I know your life's been hard.
But many men are falling,
where you promised to stand guard.
~~Leonard Cohen
My friend Bernie says he's suffering from Afghanistan information exhaustion. "During all those months that Obama was dragging his feet about escalating the war in Afghanistan, did you ever get the impression," he asked, "that foxes were in the hen house, chickens were squawking and running around crazily, wolves were tearing the foxes to pieces, and farmers were shooting wildly into the coop with no regard for the innocent?"

I stared at him, mouth agape, my mind trying to shore up all that activity. "Well ... I --"

"And that's just the generals -- David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal -- and their boss, or cohort, defense secretary Robert Gates. They were everywhere -- everywhere!" Bernie said, rolling his eyes. "And still are. Turn on the TV, pick up a newspaper, open a magazine, check out Congress, look under a rock -- peek behind a tree -- and there they are. They're a three-man brigade -- "we're going in, we're coming out -- we're winning, we're losing. Or maybe not. We won't know for 15 years...20 years...or until it's over --"

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Obama, Vietnam, and Afghanistan Email Print

I've spent a good part of the last week re-reading Neil Sheehan's book, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. Partly, this is just happenstance; I found a nicely annotated hardback copy in a local used book store. But it's also because I wanted to look again at the 1962-64 period of the Vietnam War to see how much it resembles our current situation in Afghanistan. I don't have good news to report.

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Soil Carbon Sequestration Email Print

Biochar, the modern version of an ancient Amazonian agricultural practice called Terra Preta (black earth, TP), is gaining widespread credibility as a way to address world hunger, climate change, rural poverty, deforestation, and energy shortages... SIMULTANEOUSLY!

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God Has Left the Building... Email Print

If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.~~Thomas S. Szasz, The Second Sin

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