Sunday, June 30, 2013

Round 2: The Empire Gets Caught With Its Spying Pants Down -OR- Euro-pissed Off


Well, whaddaya know, it turns out that the American Empire's military / industrial / surveillance complex is a sort of perpetual motion machine of spying -- including, it turns out, on our dear European Union allies as reported in Der Spiegel yesterday. It's not just old fashion "bugs" but also in all sorts of computer networks. Basically, it's ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that produces data is spied upon.

Der Spiegel (at least in its English online version) is calling it "Attacks from America," as shown in the above screen captured image I made. With that headline, we've come about as far as we can from the immediate post-9/11 ones.

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The Guardian -- whose Glenn Greenwald broke the original NSA spying story and who remains a distracting side show story for the American media -- also reported on this story today. This is a continuation of the information leaked by Edward J. Snowden, who remains holed up at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Did I mention that the eagle is soaring like she's never soared before? And that David Gregory is a tool of said M/I/S complex and more general corporate oligarchical intrigue? Maybe he and James K. Glassman can write a book together with a forward by Andrew Ross Sorkin in which we find out that terrorism is the fault of poor people in the U.S. on food stamps.

The current revelation has infuriated the Europeans. In a second Der Spiegel article (this one from today), Germany's Federal Prosecutors' Office is launching an investigation to see if (quoting the article) "the systematic data spying against the country conducted by America's National Security Agency violated laws aimed at protecting German citizens."

That's all well and good, and I don't blame the Germans, but maybe you should get rid of that "malignant lunacy" of the euro in its current form that is destroying the dream of a United States of Europe.

In a related third article in Der Spiegel (also today) about how the spying scandal might cause problems with a proposed Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and the EU, there was the following quote:

"If these reports are true, then it is abhorrent," said Luxembourgian Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. "It would seem that the [US] secret services have gotten out of control. The US should monitor their own secret services rather than their allies."

An "anonymous" type protestor in Hanover, Germany protests U.S. spying, June 29, 2013.

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And here is another great quote from the article (emphasis added):

Elmar Brok, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in European Parliament added his opprobrium. "The spying has reached dimensions that I didn't think were possible for a democratic country. Such behavior among allies is intolerable." The US, he added, once the land of the free, "is suffering from a security syndrome," added Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats. "They have completely lost all balance. George Orwell is nothing by comparison."

My hunch, though, is that in the end, righteous Euro fury aside, the prospect of America's national government, which only does the bidding of the ruling corporate oligarchical elite, NOT signing a Free Trade Agreement that sacrifices and destroys the American worker on the altar of Sebastian Mallaby's utopian monomania is simply too great.

I mean, the EU sees how great it has worked out for China, and putting aside the euro debacle, you still have European countries that actually believe in taking care of their working class and their people.

This raises a deeper and more troubling reality: In the end, no matter how monomaniacally crazed America is when it comes to its "security" and how ever-metastasizing is its terror-mongering military / industrial / surveillance complex that is part of the larger sky-trillion dollar war machine ...

... nevertheless America is also in the thrall of its is utopian ideologies married to ruthlessly amoral nation-less corporate oligarchical forces that have NO use for the American workforce as a market of consumers (much less as fellow citizens and human beings) and will therefore work in to institute a sort of Walmart wage-slave state that is antithetical to the long-term survival of America as an actual functioning nation-state.


It's all OK, though, because Sen. Dianne Feinstein is there to tell us why this is EXACTLY AS IT SHOULD BE and there is no cause for alarm, and if you aren't doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.


Just to clarify and reiterate my own position on this topic that I related in this entry: Given that American has the means and abilities to spy on everything, OF COURSE it is going to do it, especially with the hysteria of the existential threat that terrorism supposedly poses to American civilization. And (at least on the surface of it), the justification of all this spying is to "root out" potential threats rather than impose a specific ideology, and it is completely in the background so you don't actually notice it at all.


Having said that, I still hate the fact that this is the reality we have now, and I also think it speaks to a very troubled empire in decline, one whose values are all deeply harmful to its own people. It's an empire that can't or won't defend the interests of its own people, especially its poor and hard working ones, and yet it engages in this kind of behavior while (due to a combination of utopian "free market / freedom" ideologies that make it a crime to be poor and the rule of plutocracy) facilitates the power of unchecked corporate oligarchy.

--Regulus

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tacoma the Malamute, Marion Barry, Ulysses S., and the Bald Cypress Tree Along U Street

Sun-bedazzled sky as seen from the 1500 block of Vermont Avenue NW just north of Logan Circle, Washington, D.C., 5:38PM June 23, 2013.

I took this picture last week on my bike ride down to the Mall (Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial) and back. I have some decent photos of that ride that I still intend to post (but at this point I have such a backlog of planned entries).

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Sorry for the lack of updates. I just ran out of time today. I'm not even going to try to post a musical interlude entry. Rather, this entry is just a VERY brief update and includes some pictures of Wendy's dog Tacoma, a 4 year old Alaskan Malamute, that I took last Sunday in Wendy's small but cozy apartment in Columbia Heights.

Wendy's Alaskan Malamute dog, Tacoma, in her apartment, Washington, D.C., 5:01PM June 23, 2013.

Wendy purchased her from a breeder in South Carolina a few months ago. Tacoma has already given birth to several litters of puppies and is now spayed. She had 21 puppies in all in those four litters. Wow.

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I had a good gym workout this evening that again included a six mile jog on variable incline (elevation gain of 830 feet) lasting a bit over 1 hour and a half hour swimming (16 back-and-forth laps or 32 lengths of the pool that equals about 1/2 mile) with some modest weight-lifting in between. I also have a pair of goggles (cheap petrochemical laden junk made in China but they worked fine, and it is much better to be able to see clearly in the water and not have chlorine-irritated eyes afterwards for hours).

Wendy and Tacoma in her apartment, Washington, D.C., 4:06PM June 23, 2013.

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I actually started to post an entry but it ran all vitriolic and lengthy and I simply ran out of time. I'm going to Old Ebbitt Grill (the Old Bar) tonight, possibly with Gary. Then I'll go to No. 9 and/or Nellie's.

Wendy's dog Tacoma in her apartment, Washington, D.C., 5:12PM June 23, 2013.

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Last night, I went out to No. 9 and Nellie's, but it kinda sucked overall. The night ended on a good note, though, and not only because did I not spend or drink that much. In addition, while walking home along U Street from 9th to 16th Street, through the usual 3AM weekend hour shit-show, I found a $50 bill on the sidewalk near 12th Street. It was right in front of a group of young, yelling, howling urban D.C. sorts who didn't even notice it in the sodium vapor street lamp light.
 
Crowds at 14th and U Street NW, Washington, D.C., 2:39AM June 29, 2013 as seen in my blurry cellphone image. It's quite an eclectic mix -- a mélange -- of people these days, but mostly young. The guy on the bicycle is an MPD officer.

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One doesn't normally find $50 bills just lying around, but there was Ulysses S. Grant scowling back at me. Of note, the last "large" sum of money I found was along on U Street about 5 years ago in front of some boojie nightclub (the sort with velvet ropes and ginormous bouncers in suits). In that case, as I recall, it was about $120 in twenties, tens, and fives.

This is a picture of a tree that fascinates me: A bald-cypress tree planted (along with another different variety tree nearby, both of which replace previous trees that died / were removed) on U Street NW near the corner of 14th Street NW right in front of the Frank D. Reeves Municipal Center, 2:39AM June 29, 2013.

This tree was planted within the last two years and it has survived one and possibly two hellish summers (I'm not sure exactly when it was planted). At one point last summer, it was so hot, all the needles fell off and I thought the poor thing was dead, but it quickly came back -- and this year it is quite lush and fecund and grown noticeably. Yet I'm still fully expecting it to have a very short lifespan in that location. As an aside, bald-cypress trees are deciduous conifers.

As for the Reeves Center (pictured at left, date uncertain), it was built during the 1980s heyday of former Mayor-for-Life Marion "Mobutu Sese Seko" Barry that has been aptly described in this 2011 Washington City Paper article as "a symbol of wasted opportunity and government dysfunction."

It was built when the U Street Corridor was still under the surf of cheap liquor stores, seedy bars, scary night clubs, and wig shops, ghetto-blasted shell from the 1968 riots. Toward the the top of the east side of the building in big white letters is the dedication date -- September 27, 1986 -- and Barry's name.

Best line from that article: "On the seventh floor, you can see what it would be like if the Rapture happened and only took employees from the District Department of Transportation." -- Ha ha -- "DDOT decamped for spiffy new modern digs on M Street SE in Navy Yard earlier this year. In its wake, the agency left a depressing maze of high-walled cubicles, outdated furniture, stained carpet, and plenty of trash."

Tomorrow, I may take a bike ride, weather-permitting. The weather today was sunny and late June warm with no showers or thunderstorms (after yesterday's deluge) but more are forecasted tomorrow into next week.


Above, yours truly with Tacoma in Wendy's cozy little apartment, Washington, D.C., 4:59PM June 23, 2013. She is a very fluffy dog with disposition and oddly quiet.

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OK, that's all for now. I'll try to update this blog tomorrow. Next week, I am going to be very busy at work even with the shortened work week.

--Regulus

Friday, June 28, 2013

Late June (Mini-)Monsoon in the Capital of the Empire -OR- A Rainy D.C. Summer Day

Updated at 3:52AM 6/29/2013 for full calendar day precip stats with additional images (see below).

A lovely but subdued and diffuse rainbow over the Lincoln Memorial and scaffolding-and-scrim-covered Washington Monument as seen from Rosslyn, June 28, 2013. This image appeared on the Capital Weather Gang in this entry and was taken by Brian Allen.

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Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in enhanced composite mode at 341PM EDT June 28, 2013.

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This turned into a VERY rainy, stormy day in the immediate D.C. area as clusters of thunderstorms moved through the area.

Reagan Washington National Airport climate station (KDCA) observations from 1PM (1252) EDT and 7PM (1852) EDT, June 28, 2013.

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There was at least 2.69" through the 7PM hour at KDCA, all of it since about 330PM. KDCA had been 0.05" above normal with 0.23" at 19.41" yesterday (normal year-to-date: 19.36").

Today's deluge puts KDCA definitively above normal. It also brings the June monthly precip total to 9.52" or +5.99".

There was a flash flood warning in effect for D.C. -- first until 6PM and then extended until 730PM. I received TWO Verizon weather alerts to that effect.

Temperatures have been running a bit above normal this month at +1.2F at KDCA through yesterday. The hottest it was this month was 94F -- a lot better than the previous three ghastly hot Junes.

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in enhanced composite mode at 5:57PM EDT June 28, 2013.

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By contrast, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport climate stations (KBWI and KIAD) had only scant amounts with 0.02" and 0.19", respectively, through 7PM. However, KBWI was already above normal yesterday at +1.44" at 21.59" year-to-date though KIAD was below at -1.98" at 18.44" year-to-date. Both were above normal for the month (7.73" / +4.61" and 4.45 /+0.85").

I will update this entry tomorrow with the complete numbers for June 28th, 2012 for the three regional civilian airport climate stations.

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UPDATED 3:52AM 6/29/2013: Here are the KDCA, KBWI, and KIAD stats as well as those for the Maryland Science Center climate station (KDMH) (which as yet doesn't have a full 30-year climate "normal" record but departures are still given). Normals for the 1981 - 2010 base period are given in parentheses.

KDCA color-coded 2013 climograph for temperature, precipitation, and snowfall through June 28, 2013.

KDCA
6/28: 2.86" (the daily record remains at 2.95" set in 1914, a pre-KDCA Washington, D.C., record)
MTD: 9.69" +6.16" (3.53")
YTD: 22.27" +2.78" (19.49") (last year, it was 12.53" at this point).

KBWI
6/28: 0.02" (yes, that's correct)
MTD: 7.75" +4.52" (3.23")
YTD: 21.61" +1.35" (20.26")

KIAD
6/28: 0.19"
MTD: 4.64" +0.91" (3.73")

YTD: 18.63" -1.92" (20.55")

KDMH
6/28: 0.10"
MTD: 8.61" +5.57" (3.04")
YTD: 22.77" +3.64" (19.13") (last year, it was 11.78" at this point)

End of update.

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It has been turning into a pattern with daily afternoon / evening showers and thunderstorms that show no sign of ending for the next five days.

NWS point grid icon forecast for Washington, D.C., June 28 - July 2, 2013.

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OK, that's all for this entry. I'm also going to try to post a Friday Night Musical Interlude, though I was thinking instead of just doing a Jukebox Saturday Night one instead. Of note, I am home after a very busy day at work watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie -- "The Lake Kezia Monster" -- and reruns of Maude on Antenna TV. Oddly enough, Hermione Baddeley is in both as Kezia and Mrs. Naugatuck, respectively.

Rainy 13th and U Streets NW Washington, D.C., 6:39PM June 28, 2013.

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I want to note that I did not go to the gym again this day (my second one off). I will go tomorrow and Sunday and/or Monday. As for tonight, I'll go to Larry's Lounge and No. 9 and/or Nellie's.

--Regulus

Regulus Blog Stat(Counter)s -OR- Lines of Site Metering

StatCounter hits as an area chart between Oct 21, 2012 and June 28, 2012 with green showing page loads, blue showing unique visits, and orange showing returning visits (although those are not really visible at this scale).

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I just wanted to note that the number of hits to my blog -- based on StatCounter -- has been dropping dramatically for the past six months. This followed several years it which the visits gradually rose (see image below).

By "hits" I loosely mean page loads, unique visits, first-time visits, and returning visits -- but in particular page loads since some of these other categories (especially first-time and returning visits are problematic).  In addition, StatCounter graphs page loads, unique visits, and returning visits (and I'm not even entirely sure how "first-time" versus "unique visits" are defined or how all of these relate to page loads).

The full area chart from StatCounter for my Regulus blog since its inception on April 15, 2008 through June 28, 2012. The x-axis label is not really useful since it doesn't show the years.

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The first huge drop occurred late in late January / early February 2013, in particular between Jan. 24th and February 3rd. This corresponded to when Google changed its image search function so that one did not have to go to an actual website to view a JPEG, GIF, or PNG file.

Prior to that time I was getting 400 to 800 hits a day during 2012 with a few outliers in the 900s and the low 1,000s. However, the vast majority of which were image hits.

Here is the StatCounter area chart for the period Nov. 21, 2012 through March 28, 2013 showing page loads (green), unique visits (blue), and returning visits (orange). This shows the dramatic drop off in the final week of January 2013 quite clearly.

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Thereafter, the number of hits (page loads) fell into the 200 to 300 range but with a slight downward trend (see lead image). But in the past week, it has fallen steeply into the 100s, and this just concluded Thursday (June 27th), it was only 99 -- my first sub-100 day in years. Indeed, according to StatCounter, my blog is going for 1 to 2 hours at a time with no blog hits. Now I don't actually believed that because the Google images -- reflected as Microsoft bot hits from Seattle and environs -- appear to have disappeared in large measure. I also think StatCounter is failing to detect a range of iPhone hits.


StatCounter area chart for the period Oct. 21, 2012 through November 28, 2012 -- capturing the three 1,300+ days including the record high of 1,398 on Oct. 31, 2012, as well as the two 1,000+ days (discussed below). The numbers here refer to page loads (green) though unique visits (blue), and returning visits (orange) are also shown.

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The greatest number of calendar day hits I ever had in one day was 1,398 on October 31, 2012. By this I mean 1,398 page loads; 980 unique visits; and 973 first-time visits (and 7 returning visits). I also had 1,390 page loads on November 6, 2012 (election day!) but "only" 670 unique visits and 659 first-time visits (but 11 returning visits). The last 1,300+ hit calendar day was 1,339 on November 12, 2012 and included 910 unique visits and 897 first-time visits (and 13 returning visits).

Thereafter, the highest daily hits were 1,068 page hits on November 11, 2012 and 1,027 on November 5, 2012. So I've had 5 days of 1,000 or more hits on this blog.


StatCounter's blog visits as a bar chart for a seven day period for the period June 20 - 27, 2013. This is the typical way I look at it since "last 7 days / bar graph is the StatCounter default view. You can see the 99 / 82 / 4 for page loads, unique visits, and returning visits, respectively.

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By the way, I do NOT count my own visits. In addition, whenever I get a crazy number of hits from one site, I quickly block that site from being counted. By this I mean a few dozen or more in rapid succession. I will then unblock that site at a later date (by which time the "attack" or whatever it is has ended).

Of note, Blogger itself keeps tabs as well of visits -- but not specific IP addresses or URLs -- and I'm not sure I've successfully blocked counting my own visits. As for keeping tabs on visits to my blog, maybe I should use a different site meter. Of course, StatCounter is free so I really can't complain about anything.

--Regulus

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Wind in the Door* -OR- The President and the Passageway of History

*With apologies to Madeleine L'Engle.

I had to post this amazing picture of President Obama at the fabled and perhaps itself  mostly allegorical (but still symbolically powerful) "Door of No Return" for African slaves in the "House of Slaves" on Gorée Island in Dakar, Senegal today, June 27, 2013. Click on image for larger version.

For President Obama to be there sort of completes in a way one chapter of an half-millennium long episode of agonizing human history that starts withh the horror of the Middle Passage in the Atlantic slave trade.

He visited the spot today at the start of his 8-day trip to Africa that will take him to South Africa, where a very ailing Nelson Mandela may not have much time to live, and then Tanzania.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet Senegalese President Macky Sall and his wife, Marieme Faye Sall, in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013.

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Yes, there are real questions / controversy about how many slaves actually passed through the island -- much less the door itself -- compared to the overall African slave trade of an estimated 10 to 12 million sold into slavery from approximately the 15th to 19th Centuries, but in some sense, the point is moot. It's a symbolic site if not actual.

A crowd dressed in formal but comfortable looking attire gathered along the presidential motorcade route in Dakar, Senegal before President Obama on his visit to Senegalese President Macky Sall, June 27, 2013.

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I'm posting this at nearly 8PM. I'm not sure whether to go to the gym tonight or not. If I don't, I'll instead do my other default activity: Go a bar (maybe No. 9 or Larry's Lounge). I still want to post a some pictures from last weekend, which I may do later. I'm watching a Maude rerun as I post this. It's weird how many particular images from this show reappeared in The Golden Girls but in a totally different context.

Mrs. Naugatuck: "I've read the Bible from cover to cover."

Maude: "Oh? Well, tell me, what are the first words?"

Mrs. Naugatuck (in thick Cockney accent): "The first words in the Bible are 'Do not remove from this motel.'"


Ha ha

--Regulus

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Supremely Good Day for All Gay and Lesbian Americans

Married couple Michael Knaapen (L) and John Becker (middle) react after hearing the U.S. Supreme Court ruled favorably on two critical cases involving same sex marriage. They were gathered with a crowd outside the Supreme Court builidng in Washington, D.C., June 26, 2013.

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Today, June 26th, 2013, the United States Supreme Court handed down two major rulings -- both 5 to 4 but with different narrow majorities -- that greatly bolstered the standing of same sex marriage and lesbian and gay rights in America. In short, it was a very good day for gay and lesbian Americans -- and to the extent it by extends basic equality before the law and dignity, a good day for all Americans (even right-wing crazy ones, of which there are no shortage).

The first ruling declared the offensively named and ugly  Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and the second let stand on a technical ground stand lower court rulings that voided California's Proposition 8.

The same couple -- Michael Knaapen (L) and John Becker -- kiss upon hearing the rulings outside the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C., June 26, 2013.

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The DOMA ruling occurred in the case of United States v. Windsor.

 The "Windsor" is Edith Windsor, the widow of Thea Spyer, whose death in 2009 initiated what would become the case decided today. She is pictured at left at the moment she was made aware of the decision. (Despite the name of the case, the Obama administration ceased formally legally defending the law in February 2011.)


The majority and dissenting minority opinions are here. The minority opinion includes much foaming at the mouth by Tony "Three Fingers" Scalia, whose bilious vitriol and hate is the actual basis of his "strict constructionism" (which is mostly a sham in that "strict constructionism" is EITHER what Scalia says it is (his "fundamentalist" interpretation of the Founders' "intent") OR (if the case and justice appear to be going the other way) he declares that intent is unknowable.

Needless to say, corporate legal stooge Wall-P has always been DEEPLY impressed with Scalia.

Edith Windsor reacts with joy at a press conference in New York City after the Supreme Court rulings, June 26, 2013.

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The Proposition 8 case -- known as Hollingsworth et al. v. Perry et al. -- was a bit more convoluted in terms of why the Court ruled as it did. Specifically, the Court ruled that it did NOT have the authority to take a stand on California's Proposition 8 -- precisely because the State of California declined to appeal a trial court's decision against it.


The plaintiffs including Sandy Stier (center) and her partner Kris Perry (right) as well as fellow plaintiff Jeff Zarrillo outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the decisions were announced, June 26, 2013. The other plaintiff (not pictured here) is  Zarrillo's partner, Paul Katami.

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The second ruling was a technicality concerning whether or not the Court had the authority to take a stand on California's Proposition 8. Earlier lower courts have ruled against the ballot initiative. As The New York Times reports:

"The case concerning California’s ban on same-sex marriage, enacted in a ballot initiative known as Proposition 8, was decided on technical grounds, with the majority saying that it was not properly before the court. Because officials in California had declined to appeal a trial court’s decision against them, and because the proponents of the ban were not entitled to step into the state’s shoes to appeal the decision, the court said, it was powerless to issue a decision. That left in place a trial court victory for two same-sex couples who had sought to marry."

The 5-4 alignment here was unusual with Chief Justice Roberts and the  Scalia joining three of the Court's four liberals (see below).

David Boies (left) and Ted Olson (right) speak outside the Supreme Court following the rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8, Washington, D.C., June 26, 2013. (The fellow on the far left is the other Prop 8 plaintiff, Paul Katami.)

By the way, it is necessary great work done in this case by the unlikely superstar legal duo of Theodore (Ted) Olson and David Boies (on opposite sides the greatest American legal travesty of the past half century, Bush v. Gore). A very impressive figure, Olson is the former Solicitor General of the United States (and his wife, Barbara, a leading figure during the GOP Clinton Wars of the 1990s, was killed in the 9/11 attacks).

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Richelle Spanover wipes tears of joy from her eyes as she hears the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 while seated at the Stonewall Inn in the West Village neighborhood of New York City, June 26, 2013.

Yes, that's THE Stonewall Inn of 1969 fame (although the building itself is different).

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Interestingly, the Court's Lawrence v. Texas decisionwas handed down exactly 10 years ago today --  on June 26, 2003 -- and Scalia's legendary dissent in there, so full of sociopathic rage and hate with creepy references to all kinds of perverted sex acts actually also contains the prescient statement as a logical follow-through to that ruling, "...what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples ..."

Rachel Maddow noted this on her show tonight.

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The DOMA 5-4 decision had in the majority Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer, and Kennedy. This is a screenshot of the New York Times online around 1135PM June 26, 2013.

Owing to its oddly technical nature, the Proposition 8 decision had in the majority Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer, and Scalia. This is a screenshot of the New York Times online around 1135PM June 26, 2013.

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DOMA was passed and signed into law in 1996 during the heady Clinton years (and that was always a major stain on his socially progressive pedigree and record). Justice Kennedy joined the "liberal" side of the court on this one and the language is nothing less than inspirational including (with a particularly wonderful passage quoted here at length):

"DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, ofboth rights and responsibilities. By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect. By this dynamic DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples,and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriagesare unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, see Lawrence, 539 U. S. 558, and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives. Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways. By its great reach, DOMA touches many aspects of married and family life, from the mundane to the profound. It prevents same-sex married couples from obtaining government healthcare benefits they would otherwise receive. See 5 U. S. C. §§8901(5), 8905. It deprives them of the Bankruptcy Code’s special protections for domestic-support obligations. See 11 U. S. C. §§101(14A), 507(a)(1)(A), 523(a)(5), 523(a)(15). It forces them to follow a complicated procedure to file their state and federal taxes jointly. Technical Bulletin TB–55, 2010 Vt. Tax LEXIS 6 (Oct. 7, 2010); Brief for Federalism Scholars as Amici Curiae 34. It prohibits them from being buried together in veterans' cemeteries. National Cemetery Administration Directive 3210/1, p. 37 (June 4, 2008)."

As Martin Luther King Jr. said in a very different time and place and far deeper struggle, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

(Huffington Post caption): John Lewis, left, and his partner Stuart Gaffney embrace as they react next to Andrea Shorter after the Supreme Court decision at the office of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee at City Hall in San Francisco, Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

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Now this is just another episode the never-ending American cultural wars and efforts to "make a more perfect Union." Same sex marriage and the attendat basic human dignity and decency remains illegal in most states, and the battle goes on. All in all, though, today was a good day.

A fun image and headline from Salon.com shortly after the Supreme Court decisions were announced.

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OK, this is the second entry this week where I didn't post a planned personal update. I do want to note that I had a really good gym workout on both Monday and Wednesday nights after work (where I'm quite busy), and that my weight tonight dipped to 149.5 pounds while in my bathing trunks on the big scale just before going into the swimming pool. I'm quite near by weight goal (though not muscle gain versus some additional fat loss). (Yes, I'm still eating just fine. Remember that I gained about 50 pounds of fat over 7 years and now I've lost about 35 of them, but I am also 43 years old.) I'll try to update this blog tomorrow (Thursday) night though it may not be until Friday.

--Regulus

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More on the Glenn Greenwald - David Gregory Controversy -OR- Advocacy v. Beltway Lapdog Journalism: A Study in Contrasts


I was going to post some pictures I took on Sunday and an update, but instead I want to return to the topic I mentioned in my previous entry:  The Glenn Greewald - David Gregory side story to the Edward Snowden affair.

(Snowden, by the way, did not fly to Cuba today but apparently stayed in Russia -- which is probably just as well for him for the time being. Besides, can you imagine something happening to that Aeroflot flight en route to Havana because of all the surveillance going on, maybe jamming its communications, or maybe some Top Gun U.S. fighter pilot trailing it who wants to "be a hero" and apprehend him?)

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The more I've thought and read about it, the more I realize how outright disgusting was David Gregory's attempted smear of Glenn Greenwald on Meet the Press Whore on Sunday in response to the whole Snowden affair.

Rather than opining on it at length, I direct the interested reader to the pieces linked below. I will say, though, that the episode is powerful confirmation of how "embedded" and whored out is the elite / insider Beltway media and punditocratic establishment.

Not only does Gregory subscribe to the view of the Empire -- that Glenn Greenwald "aided and abetted" the "espionage" of Snowden -- but he then point blank asks him to concur in this view in an interview without even bothering to couch it in any conditional language.

As Erik Wemple (see first link below) and others noted, it had the "how long have you been beating your wife?" insinuation to it. (Yes, Greenwald is totally gay, not to mention more or less and ex-pat living in Rio de Janeiro.) Wemple also takes on the alleged "criminality" issue by explaining the 2001 Supreme Court case of Bartnicki v. Vopper. The U.S. Government would have a high bar of proof (although at this point, who knows).

But beyond that, and as is pointed out in some of the pieces linked below, Gregory and many "establishment" journalists have acted as a conduit for classified information numerous times -- i.e., he has committed a felony -- whenever he interacts with this or that top government official that strategically leaks something favorable or intended to create a favorable impression. But in that case, it's A-OK.

Think all the Bush / Cheney lies related to Iraq and everything that flowed from it. The "tough" questions he asked her just ass-kissing and toadying while also showing that he favors torture. He wouldn't dare ask if Cheney is  a war criminal because he is incapable of thinking in those terms, in turn, because of his social standing in the D.C. power and related social structure (see Andrew Sullivan link below).

To that last point, would you be surprised to learn that his wife works at the same high octane law firm as Liz Cheney. And there you have it -- everything you need to know.

Stories / columns (with embedded links):

"David Gregory whiffs on Greenwald question" by Erik Wemple, Washington Post online, June 23, 2013. (Yes, The WaHoPo online is far better to the print edition.)


Greenwald: Beltway media types are 'courtiers to power' by Erik Wemple, June 24, 2013

In this piece, Wemple quotes New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin (pictured at left), who said on CNBC that Greenwald should be arrested -- only to later deny it in a Tweet. Idiot.

Behold: The greatness that is Andrew Ross Sorkin, courtier to Empire & Oligarchy. Journalists advocating arresting other journalists who dare question power and engage in actual adversarial journalism.



Specifically, go through his 18 points.

And finally, there is this by Andrew Sullivan (who I actually know as a bar acquaintance, though he would only recognize me by sight, not by name) ...

"David Gregory Is What’s Wrong With Washington" by Andrew Sullivan, The Dish blog (June 24, 2013)

Sullivan concludes with the following:

"But an actual journalist, Glenn Greenwald, not part of the Village, who has made more news this past fortnight than the entire coterie Gregory lives among and for? The gloves are off. I'm not going to attack Gregory for asking a sharp question of another journalist, however odd? I am merely going to note that he has been far tougher on this journalist for doing his job than on Dick Cheney for abdicating his.

At some point the entire career structure of Washington journalism – the kind of thing that makes David Gregory this prominent – needs to be scrapped and started over. And then you realize that it already has.

And the change is accelerating."


Maybe what we need is it to be 1998 all over again and just call The Great and Mysterious Martha "M.J." McAteer to implement her preternatural journalistic gate-keeping of the media horse-park as she did while at The Washington Post print edition. Only "establishment" and angry conservative voices were allowed.


Regardless, let me just second the point: David Gregory is what's wrong with Washington "embedded" corporate journalism and its close cousin, pro-corporate and/or right-leaning punditry in the early 21st Century in this time of Empire & Oligarchy. We live in an ugly time.

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OK, that's all for now. It is nearly 2AM as I post this and I have to go to bed. I was going to post my Sunday pics but that will have to wait until at least Wednesday (since I'm not taking the computer home). I had a productive day at work and a very good gym workout including jog, weight-lifting, and swim.

--Regulus