Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Remember Pat

I don't expect to hear much about Pat Tillman from the mass media tomorrow. I suspect - although I may be wrong - that he will be the ghost on the field in the Cardinals uniform.

Most people watching in Arizona will remember. Cardinals fans will remember. The Cardinals organization will remember. His friends will remember. His teammates will remember. Of course his family will remember.

And all of us who remember him will realize with a pang how much this Super Bowl would have meant to him.

If only he were here.

Tillman’s Presence Is Still Strong (New York Times)

TAMPA, Fla. — The most visible Cardinal has been dead nearly five years. Pat Tillman, the football player turned fallen soldier, is here, there and everywhere Arizona plays, the 2008 team embodying his selflessness and success against great odds.

Tillman first served first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, where he was killed in combat.

Until this season, Tillman was the lone blossom on Arizona’s blighted N.F.L. franchise, filling the Phoenix community’s collective heart with pride.

His No. 40 replica jersey — the top seller on the team Web site — hangs off the shoulders of grandmothers and bikers and businessmen who form a human ring of honor in the stands. Tillman is idolized by people who never saw him play. Journalists here are sizing him for a Super Bowl ring.

Soldiers will watch the Cardinals play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIII from a U.S.O. center in Afghanistan that bears Tillman’s name and was built with money donated by the N.F.L. in his memory.

“It’s great,” said the former quarterback Jake Plummer, who was Tillman’s college and Cardinals teammate and a close friend. “But in the grand scheme of things, it all kind of stinks because he’s not around.”


On Super Bowl Sunday, remember Pat Tillman (Newsday)

Bob Glauber
January 30, 2009


There will be a celebration of an American hero in the minutes before Super Bowl XLIII, as there should be. US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger, along with the rest of his crew of Flight 1549, will be honored for the miraculous landing in the Hudson River that saved all 155 passengers and crew members.

But as we stop to salute the man we have come to know simply as "Sully" and the co-pilot and flight attendants, we also should remember another hero who won't be there, yet whose legacy is every bit as meaningful as the astonishing events of Jan. 15, when Sullenberger landed the Airbus in the frigid Hudson.

We all need to remember former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman.

Tillman, who left the Cardinals after the 2001 season to enlist in the Army Rangers, was killed April 22, 2004, on a mission in Afghanistan. He died in a friendly fire incident at age 27 after turning his back on a $3.6-million contract shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

- Pat Tillman remembered

"I remember when Pat made that choice and everything that followed," Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said after I asked him about Tillman. Warner was with the Rams at the time.

"There's no question he is an inspiration for what he did, what he stood for and his attitude," Warner said. "It's a choice I appreciate and respect and it inspires me very much."

We all ought to appreciate it. Especially as his former team gets ready to play in its first Super Bowl. Tillman made a choice that no one else in his position would have made, forsaking the riches of sports to serve his country in the aftermath of the devastating attack on American soil.

Safety Adrian Wilson is the only current Cardinals starter to have played with Tillman.

"He felt he didn't do enough in his life to warrant the type of credit he was getting," Wilson said. "To make a life decision like that speaks volumes about his character."

Tillman's death was shrouded in controversy. The Army initially ruled he'd died in a firefight against the Taliban in the hills of Sperah, Afghanistan, less than a month after being deployed. The Army later admitted, after heavy pressure brought by Tillman's family, that he'd been shot in the forehead by a fellow soldier who mistook him for an enemy.

Wilson said he often thinks of Tillman, and certainly will do so Sunday night in the most meaningful game of his career.

"I think about his legacy a lot," Wilson said. "You never want his legacy to die."

It shouldn't.

Read more (its great.)

Labels: , , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 31, 1862

On this day in 1862, Lincoln issued 'Special War Order No. 1:'

Executive Mansion
Presidents special} Washington January 31, 1862

War Order, No. 1.

Ordered that all the disposable force of the Army of the Potomac, after providing safely for the defense of Washington, be formed into an expedition, for the immediate object of siezing and occupying a point upon the Rail Road South Westward of what is known of Manassas Junction, all details to be in the discretion of the general-in-chief, and the expedition to move before, or on, the 22nd. day of February next. ABRAHAM LINCOLN

This was a follow-up to the 'General War Order No. 1' that was issued on January 27th, and which stated the following:

Executive Mansion,
President's general} Washington, January 27, 1862.

War Order No. 1 }

Ordered that the 22nd. day of February 1862, be the day for a general movement of the Land and Naval forces of the United States against the insurgent forces.

That especially---

The Army at & about, Fortress Monroe.

The Army of the Potomac.

The Army of Western Virginia

The Army near Munfordsville [sic], Ky.

The Army and Flotilla at Cairo.

And a Naval force in the Gulf of Mexico, be ready for a movement on that day.

That all other forces, both Land and Naval, with their respective commanders, obey existing orders, for the time, and be ready to obey additional orders when duly given.

That the Heads of Departments, and especially the Secretaries of War and of the Navy, with all their subordinates; and the General-in-Chief, with all other commanders and subordinates, of Land and Naval forces, will severally be held to their strict and full responsibilities, for the prompt execution of this order.


It appears that February 22nd will be a busy day.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 30, 2009

FBI saw mortgage fraud early

Let me get this straight. The FDA knew the peanut plant in Georgia was finding salmonella in their peanut butter batches as early as 2007, and did nothing. Now we hear that the FBI knew that the mortgage industry was committing rampant fraud - the fraud that brought down our entire economy - and did nothing.

Was anyone [during the Bush Administration] doing anything?

And tell me again please, so that I can laugh... we were supposed to feel 'safe?' It appears the only terrorists we had to fear were of the white collar, domestic variety.

And yes -- they won.

From the Seattle PI:

FBI saw mortgage fraud early


The FBI was aware for years of "pervasive and growing" fraud in the mortgage industry that eventually contributed to America's financial meltdown, but did not take definitive action to stop it.

"It is clear that we had good intelligence on the mortgage-fraud schemes, the corrupt attorneys, the corrupt appraisers, the insider schemes," said a recently retired, high FBI official. Another retired top FBI official confirmed that such intelligence went back to 2002.

The problem, according to the two FBI retirees and several other current and former bureau colleagues, is that the bureau was stretched so thin that no one noticed when those lenders began packaging bad mortgages into bad securities.

"We knew that the mortgage-brokerage industry was corrupt," the first of the retired FBI officials told the Seattle P-I. "Where we would have gotten a sense of what was really going on was the point where the mortgage was sold knowing that it was a piece of dung and it would be turned into a security. But the agents with the expertise had been diverted to counterterrorism."

The FBI not only lacked the resources, but also never got the tips it needed from the banking regulatory agencies. The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency also failed to detect the securities issue, said the first retired FBI official.


Labels: , , , ,

Take them home

Lincoln was haunted by the Civil War and the death and bloodshed that he couldn't bring to an end. One has only to see how he aged in the five years he served as president to see the enormous burden he carried.

At least he didn't deliberately start the war that broke out shortly after he took office. In Lincoln's first inaugural address, he all but begged the South to reconsider withdrawing from the Union; it was the Confederacy that fired on Fort Sumter, kicking off four years of carnage.

Not so with Bush and the war in Iraq.

I am haunted by the deaths that have occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan: our trusting soldiers who were deployed to Iraq, believing in our government and that the cause was true... and the millions of civilians who have been killed as a consequence of our invasion.

There is also the issue of the Bush Administration's horrific mismanagement of the search for Bin Laden in Afghanistan. Because... the entire reason for going into Afghanistan was supposed to have been to find Osama Bin Laden.

Eight years later -- where is he? We have no idea.

There are still many questions surrounding the death of Pat Tillman. All we know is that he died by friendly fire, and that the Bush Administration covered this up, lying even to his family. I think of Pat every day as the Super Bowl draws near, and his beloved Cardinals prepare to take the grand stage.

Pat should be here.

As with the veterans of Vietnam, Iraq war vets will likely live with the knowledge that the war in which they fought never should have been waged. I have known many Vietnam vets over the course of my lifetime -- it has been a very bitter pill to swallow.

Even more bitter is the pill left for the families of those who never returned. I'm sure a day will not go by that they will not wonder why their son or daughter died... if not because of WMDs and not because of 9/11. Was it truly only for oil?

All of this is on George W. Bush's head, and there it will remain. But the pain will go on, even now that he is out of office.

Would that we all - people and representatives together - had seen through the Bush madness and stopped this war dead in its tracks. All of us who lived through and remember Vietnam should have stopped this from ever happening. Surely if we were able to pull together in a massive electoral uprising to elect Barack Obama, we could have done something...

I guess we woke up from our fitful sleep a little too late.

Starlight, by the Wailin' Jennys

I have come back to you broken
take me home
And my body bears this trouble
take me home
Take me back to my beginning
Before the hell of night set in
And I came to this border
take me home

I have toured the endless starlight
take me home
I have shattered under midnight
take me home
There are no vultures in this clearing
Except the ones who brought me here
And I'll no longer feed them
take me home

Kingdom come, their will was done
And now the earth is far away
from any kind of heaven
Hallowed be these frozen fields
And every single one of us
still left in want of mercy
Take us home

Now the bells stand still and hollow
take me home
And no one has come to mourn me
take me home
Find me where I close my eyes
Beneath this sky of powerlines
And let me see us clearly
take me home

Kingdom come, their will was done
And now the earth is far away
from any kind of heaven
Hallowed be these frozen fields
And every single one of us
Still left in want of mercy
Take us home...

Labels: , , , ,

Russ weighs in on Holder

Russ Feingold weighs in on Eric Holder (in an interview on the Rachel Maddow Show,) and discusses whether an investigation and potential prosecution of Bush, Cheney and others for war crimes would be 'on the table' under Holder's watch.

I find it interesting that Russ is using phrase 'on the table' when discussing an investigation of the Bush Administration. "On the table." Really? Is this a hint that we are going to see a new approach from Democratic leadership?

Labels: , , , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: Copybook verses, 1824-1826

The young Abe Lincoln seemed to enjoy writing verses (rhymes) along the margins of this arithmetic book. In later years he was known to write longer poetry, but his earliest poetic musings were scrawled in his school 'copybooks.'

This text appears on various pages of an arithmetic book that Lincoln made by hand. It was later given to Lincoln's former law partner William H. Herndon by Lincoln's step-mother, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln
his hand and pen
he will be good but
god knows When

Abraham Lincoln is my name
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both hast and speed
and left it here for fools to read

(Guilty as charged!)

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jon Stewart addresses the GOP Stimulus plan

(Er, what plan? OH... that's right... tax cuts again. Yawn.)

Why does the GOP hate us?

We need jobs, infrastructure, schools, jobs, health care we can afford, jobs, a green energy grid, jobs -- we the American citizens who live here on a day to day basis (not the wealthy bankers the GOP was happy to pay off for their epic failure - no strings attached and sure, buy that jet you've been wanting) need all of these things. And we pay the taxes that fund these things. We pay for this stuff -- why can't we get it?

What will it take to GET THE GOP OUT OF OUR WAY?

Labels: , , ,

Zero votes. They blew it.

Dear President Obama:

I laud your attempts at bipartisanship. You bent over backwards - and even bent your stimulus plan over backwards - in an attempt to strike up a deal with House Republicans. In spite of everything you did, not a single one of these seasoned politicians voted in favor of it.

In my opinion... they blew it.

And we - who voted for you in record numbers based on your platform and a return to 'government of the people' - are waiting for the plan you promised us. We don't want a GOP watered-down version either. We want the real thing.

If the GOP won't vote for a compromise, one that even includes their ridiculous tax cuts, I say give us what you promised us in its pure form so that it will do the most good for the greatest number of people.

The GOP has lost all bargaining power. As usual, they overreached. They probably believe they conned you into weakening your position, weakening your plan, and that they 'stuck it to you in the end.'

Its time to walk away from their partisan con games and do this right. You aren't being partisan if you are representing the majority of Americans that voted for you, for your ideas, and for the change you represent. Do the right thing for the country, for the people who voted for you.

We want change. The GOP and their ideas don't work - the change we want is change from their failed ideas and ideology. President Obama: you tried. You reached out, they bit your hand.

There will be plenty of time for bipartisanship in the future. Right now we need a full-strength stimulus plan - sans stupid tax breaks and including a much beefed up infrastructure plan - that will really put Americans back to work.

If the GOP had answers, they had eight years to implement them. Instead, they ran this country into the ground.

We want change... and we're tired of the GOP standing in the way. We voted the majority of them out so that we could get this country back on track. And it wasn't easy. Don't let this small handful of bad apples ruin our stimulus plan. We're pretty desperate out here.

Thank you for listening.

Labels: , , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 29, 1861

On this day in 1861, after much bloodshed, 'Bleeding Kansas' entered the Union as a free state (meaning that slavery was not allowed, as it had been in neighboring Missouri.) A few weeks later, to commemorate the event, President Lincoln made the following speech in Philadelphia:

Speech at the Flag-raising before Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

February 22, 1861

FELLOW CITIZENS:---I am invited and called before you to participate in raising above Independence Hall the flag of our country, with an additional star upon it. (Cheers.) I propose now, in advance of performing this very pleasant and complimentary duty, to say a few words. I propose to say that when that flag was originally raised here it had but thirteen stars. I wish to call your attention to the fact, that, under the blessing of God, each additional star added to that flag has given additional prosperity and happiness to this country until it has advanced to its present condition; and its welfare in the future, as well as in the past, is in your hands. (Cheers.) Cultivating the spirit that animated our fathers, who gave renown and celebrity to this Hall, cherishing that fraternal feeling which has so long characterized us as a nation, excluding passion, ill-temper and precipitate action on all occasions, I think we may promise ourselves that not only the new star placed upon that flag shall be permitted to remain there to our permanent prosperity for years to come, but additional ones shall from time to time be placed there, until we shall number as was anticipated by the great historian, five hundred millions of happy and prosperous people. (Great applause.) With these few remarks, I proceed to the very agreeable duty assigned me.

Labels: , , , ,

Broken trust

So now I can add peanuts and peanut butter to my ever-growing list of items I no longer trust.

I was doing my daily search for updates on the salmonella outbreak, and wonder of wonders, I found this:

FDA News

March 1, 2007

Media Inquiries:
Michael Herndon, 301-827-6242
Consumer Inquiries:

FDA Update on Peanut Butter Recall

Salmonella found in the ConAgra Plant

As a follow-up to the recent Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting an extensive inspection of ConAgra's Sylvester, Georgia processing plant. Samples collected by the FDA revealed the presence of Salmonella. The fact that FDA found Salmonella in the plant environment further suggests that the contamination likely took place prior to the product reaching consumers. Last week, tests by several states identified Salmonella in many open jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter recovered from consumers. In these instances, the Salmonella found in the plant and in the open jars matched the outbreak strain recovered from consumers who became ill.

Peanut Butter Toppings Part of Recall

FDA has learned that the ConAgra plant in Sylvester, GA, sent bulk Peter Pan peanut butter to its plant in Humboldt, TN. The three brands described below are part of the original Peter Pan recall. These brands have been recalled and are no longer being sold. However, some consumers may still have these products in their home.

Consumers who have any of the products listed below should discard them. Individuals who are not sure if the purchased product contains the recalled peanut butter topping should contact the store where the product was purchased.

The bulk peanut butter was used to make the following toppings:

* Sonic Brand Ready-To-Use Peanut Butter Topping in 6 lb. 10.5 oz cans. Sonic outlets used the topping until 2/16/07, when the product was recalled.
The topping was used in the following Sonic products:
- Peanut Butter Shake
- Peanut Butter Fudge Shake
- Peanut Butter Sundae
- Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae

* Carvel Peanut Butter Topping in 6 lb. 10 oz. cans. Carvel used the topping until 2/16/07, when the product was recalled.
The topping was used in the following Carvel ice cream products:
- Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Peanut Butter Treasure
- Peanut Butter & Jelly
- Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae Dasher
- Any other customized products containing the Peanut Butter Topping, including peanut butter flavored ice cream in ice cream cakes

* J. Hungerford Smith Peanut Butter Dessert Topping in 6 lb. 10 oz. cans: This topping may be used by retail and restaurant outlets throughout the United States but is not available for direct purchase by the public.

Recall Status and More Information

ConAgra informed the public that it is recalling all Peter Pan peanut butter and all Great Value peanut butter beginning with product code 2111. The company's recall extends to products made since December 2005. FDA's advice to consumers continues to be not to eat any Peter Pan peanut butter or any Great Value peanut butter beginning with the 2111 product code.

FDA will provide updates on recalled products, including any other products that may have been made with potentially contaminated peanut butter and distributed to consumers.

Symptoms of foodborne illness caused by Salmonella include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In persons with poor underlying health or weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections or death. Individuals who have recently eaten peanut butter-containing products from these companies and who have experienced any of these symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately and report the illnesses to their state or local health authorities. Similarly, institutional food establishments and other food service providers who have received reports of illness from consumers after they consumed a product containing this peanut butter are encouraged to share that information with their local health department.

FDA is continuing to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with states and local officials to identify how the contamination occurred in order to prevent similar foodborne illness outbreaks.

Additional Information

Q and A - Peter Pan & Great Value Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak and Product Recall

February 23, 2007 – FDA Update on Salmonella Outbreak Linked to All Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Certain Lot Numbers of Great Value Brand Peanut Butter

February 16, 2007 – Update on Salmonella Outbreak and Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Great Value Peanut Butter

February 14, 2007 - FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Certain Jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Great Value Peanut Butter -- Product May be Contaminated With Salmonella

CDC Salmonellosis - Outbreak Investigation, February 2007

Photos: Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter

FDA's Pilot Program to Better Educate Consumers about Recalled Food Products

Whoa. That isn't 'new' news. This is from 2007!

How many times has this happened? And the FDA under George Bush did... nothing?

How very much like George Bush's EPA that refused to protect the environment.

And George Bush's FEMA that refused to respond to Katrina.

George Bush's FDA was working on behalf of the drug and food corporations to keep us all in the dark and cover up known dangers, instead of protecting us against drugs and foods that it knew were unsafe. We've seen it time and again with drugs, and an endless stream of food recalls. Do you remember food recalls during the Clinton administrations? I don't remember even one.

This whole idea that corporations will oversee and police themselves is ridiculous - against both logic and human nature, not to mention corporate nature (make as much money as you can with as little oversight as possible.) I suspect most members of the GOP know this - but its economically advantageous to believe otherwise, so they rationalize that the corporations will 'do the right thing.' Under the Bush Administration, the GOP pulled all protections for the American people and left us at the mercy of greedy food and drug suppliers. Now we have lead poisoning from China, gluten poisoning in our pet food, salmonella in our own food... and our trust is broken.

Now I buy local vegetables - from farmers that I know. I buy natural pet food that is made in the US, and I make sure to do research on the company (now I have to verify that they don't use peanuts, so even this system is subject to flaws -- I'm at the mercy of their suppliers.)

After a bird seed recall last year that forced me to dig up about 6 inches of soil in our back yard (and that may have made our dog very sick, from the pesticides that were finally deemed 'unsafe,') I will only buy seed and suet from suppliers that are American and preferably local. Or the birds go without. I figure they are better off fending for themselves than being poisoned by me.

I walked into Petco before Christmas to buy some toys for our cats and our dog, and walked back out empty-handed. Every single item in the store was made in China, had no information about materials used in construction, but some included stern warnings not to give the items to children and about dyes that would run all over our furniture.

I didn't trust them. I happen to care about my pets... and my trust is broken. So the stockings were empty this year. Many people with small children had similar issues finding toys that were safe for their children. I recall my orange cat staring at me - he's 15 years old and has seen a lot of Christmases - and in desperation I took one of his rubber balls and slipped it into his stocking pretending it was 'new.' I doubt he fell for it. Later - some time after Christmas - I made it up to him with a feather toy made in the USA.

I don't drink our water - we have a long history of PCBs in our area, dumped here in the 50s and 60s - and I seldom eat out in restaurants. And speaking of water - its impossible to find a stainless steel spray nozzle attachment for the garden hose, like the ones we took for granted when I was a child. All nozzles are now made in China, contain lead (thanks to the state of California for warning me about that - and the fact that this lead is released into the water if the water is warm, like water in a hose often is during summer months.) There isn't much point in watering tomatoes with lead-poisoned water. I have given up my search for a safe nozzle.

Is this overkill? Perhaps. But that's the funny thing about trust... once broken, it can't be restored. I know that I - that we Americans - are now on our own when it comes to the products that we buy. I know we have literally no protection now, so God only knows what is really in our food.

Senator Lugar once told me in a letter that our food was 'the safest in the world.' Well it used to be, back when we had responsible government. What a shame to destroy that hard won ideal simply out of greed.

President Obama can't fix the FDA fast enough to restore my trust. That said... I sure hope he starts soon.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dear Lou: look outside

Lou’s Line-Item Veto: Climate Change


Tonight we investigate the Stimulus bill’s proposed $390 million for climate change research. We pose the questions Americans want answered. How will this $390M stimulate the economy? How many jobs will be created? And who exactly will benefit if the money is spent? Join us tonight for, Lou’s Line-Item Veto: Climate Change.

Lou wants to line-veto the study of climate change from the stimulus package. You've got to be kidding me. Lou: we have over two feet of snow outside our house... here, in Southern Indiana, where we rarely see snow at all. We're literally snowed and iced in. The temperature has only cracked 30 degrees a few days this entire winter. The lowest was -6. It never drops to -6 here.

The last two winters were too wet. Twice the electrical poles washed down the side of the hill due to erosion. Farmers were delayed in their planting by months because their fields had become lakes.

Two years ago, we had mosquito swarms on New Years Day. This winter is too cold; more like Chicago (or the Arctic) than Southern Indiana. Last summer we had an epic flood; our rivers overflowed and drowned several entire cities. No one alive has ever seen anything like it. Late summers have been drifting into drought conditions, killing the corn as it stands in the fields. And realize, this is the corn that was already planted late because of the flooding.

Are you starting to get it?

Our farmers are now struggling to grow corn. You know, corn -- this is the corn belt. Growing corn is what we do. We grow the food the country eats.

Do you live in a city, Lou? Then maybe you haven't noticed the chaos outside your window. Until you do, please leave climate change for the scientists and everyone who does look out the window. That scientific gag has been in place for eight long years, and its past time we found out what we're dealing with here. Those of us in Indiana know something is very, very wrong.

That, and we're now dodging tornadoes as late as Thanksgiving and even Christmas.

Tornado season used to be springtime... now its 'any time.' The one commonality in all of this chaos is that everything we see in the way of weather is extreme. Extremely wet, extremely dry, extremely cold. The rising and falling barometric pressure changes are now so steep - and happen so quickly - that many people suffer from migraines when a front moves in.

As for your claim that there are no jobs in the study of climate change; sure there are. There are jobs in every industry willing to hire American citizens.

Labels: , ,

Time to repower America

The Goracle has spoken.

Labels: , , , ,

Murder by peanut butter

If all men were just, there still would be some, though not so much, need of government. - Abraham Lincoln

They knew.

The company that distributed the contaminated peanut butter knew it had tested positive for salmonella... and sent it out anyway.

Eight people have now died, over 500 are sick, and the FDA is still trying to track down every resulting food that contains the contaminated peanut butter.

I call that murder. The owners of this peanut company should be tried for negligent homicide (at the very least.)

Peanut Corporation of America, in Blakely, Georgia. Murderers.

Perhaps things will be different under Mr. Obama's Administration. Perhaps now there will be CONSEQUENCES for knowingly killing American citizens and pets.

FDA Alleges Company Knowingly Sold Peanut Products Containing Salmonella

updated 18 minutes ago

GEORGIA - There is new information available about the recent salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter from a plant in Georgia.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said at least 12 times over the past two years the Peanut Corporation of America has knowingly sold products that had tested positive for salmonella.

The FDA also claimed the company did nothing to improve its manufacturing and sanitation practices after salmonella was found in its plant, and that is a clear violation of the law.

Consumer advocates are outraged at the new revelations.

"This kind of lab-shopping is absolutely shocking, and it really shows that the FDA's program is inadequate to protect American consumers," Sarah Klein said, who works for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Oh, and we need a new FDA. The old one is broken.

The FDA admits that this same company shipped out salmonella-contaminated peanut butter in 2007 and 2008. Apparently - having gotten away with it, with no repercussions from the FDA - they decided to continue. With deadly results.

This is why we need consequences; oversight with consequences.

I still cannot fathom how the ruling GOP believed that their watered down FDA could simply tell these greedy corporations "now be good boys - don't do that again" and the corporations would immediately and willingly comply.

Of course they didn't comply! Why would they comply when they could easily get away with it? We aren't dealing with Mother Teresa here. This is why our Federal Government is forced to exercise oversight of corporations that produce the food we eat -- because they won't willingly do it themselves if they can avoid the cost. And once caught, they will simply do the same thing again... unless they are fined, thrown in jail or closed down.


Somehow the GOP recognizes that regular citizens should go to jail for committing crimes, and especially murder (and they believe staunchly in the death penalty for crimes committed by the great unwashed.) If crime isn't punished, society breaks down. But when a corporation commits a crime, or kills American people with their poisoned products, they look the other way.

And because they looked the other way for eight long years, today hundreds of children are sick - and more will undoubtedly die - because their peanut butter was distributed by a company that knew it was poisoned, but didn't bother making a new batch.

That should tell us all we need to know about the GOP. They don't represent us; they represent the wealthy elite and the corporations that donate to their campaigns. Different standards apply (in this case, no standards at all.)

The government Tuesday accused the peanut butter manufacturer tied to a nationwide salmonella outbreak of shipping products in 2007 and 2008 after internal tests found bacterial contamination, violating food safety regulations.

Peanut butter and peanut paste manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) has been tied to the salmonella outbreak that has sickened 501 people in 43 states and is believed to have contributed to eight deaths.

The Food and Drug Administration said that its inspection of the PCA plant in Blakely, Ga., found records of 12 instances in which plant officials identified salmonella in ingredients or finished products. The products should not have been shipped, the FDA says. PCA took no steps to address cleaning after finding the salmonella, says Michael Rogers, director of the FDA's division of field investigations.

(Hint to the FDA: This is where you force them to clean up their act, or close them down.)

"It's incredibly negligent," says William Hubbard, a former FDA associate commissioner. Hubbard questions why the FDA didn't act sooner, given the sanitation violations found by state inspectors.

Previous inspection reports by the Georgia Department of Agriculture found deficiencies in how well the plant was cleaned.

Labels: , ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 28, 1864

Update on the status of Robert Gill, sentenced to death for desertion.

To Edwin M. Stanton
Hon. Sec. of War. Executive Mansion,
Sir Washington, Jan. 28. 1864.

Col. Thomas C. Devin represents that Robert Gill, now of Co. D. 6th. N.Y. Cavalry, of which he Col. D. is the Colonel, is under sentence of death for desertion & that since his desertion, he has fought at Gettysburg and in several other battles, & has otherwise behaved well; and he asks that said Gill may be pardoned and sent to his Regiment. Let it be done. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Death by peanut butter

Yes, the latest poisoned food outbreak has been traced to peanuts. Yes, people are dying.

This time the poison didn't originate in China; but this is one more example of what the dismantling of government oversight (i.e. our FDA) under the Bush Administration has done for America. It has made us, our kids, and our animals sick... over and over again. Sometimes it has killed us.

And for what? So that corporations can save a few bucks by avoiding a lot of expensive (and formerly mandated) safety reviews.

Our FDA was still there under the Bush Administration, but only a shell of its former self... with Bushies in high places 'looking busy,' curtailing any 'invasive' oversight, and making corporate donors very happy.

Very nice for the corporations. Very bad for consumers.

I hope Mr. Bush doesn't like a nice PB&J when he's out clearing brush.

With nearly 500 confirmed cases of salmonella across the country -- six of which occurred in Indiana -- the Food and Drug Administration has created a Web site that lists products containing potentially contaminated peanut butter.

The site, which includes pet food, can be found at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/ and will be updated on a regular basis.

All of the products are associated with a recall of peanut butter made by the Peanut Corporation of America.

Since September, at least 491 people in 43 states have developed salmonella after eating contaminated products. The bacteria may have caused seven deaths.

Labels: , , ,

Layoffs spread through all sectors of economy

Layoffs, like an economic flu bug sweeping across the nation, have now infected manufacturing and IS jobs. The job cut disease is reaching epidemic proportions; and the fever won't start to break until the economic stimulus flu medicine makes it out of congress.

So. To our 'friends' in congress... hurry it up, will you? Its cold out here.

We have almost a foot of new snow, its in the 20s (again and every day now; and this in a section of the country where 'winter weather' usually means 30s or 40s.) People are losing their jobs. People are struggling to pay heating bills that are unusually high this winter, due to the extreme cold. And of course... people are losing their houses.

Monday’s parade of negative news comes after months of announcements from other prominent companies like Citigroup, General Electric, Nokia and Harley-Davidson. As part of its acquisition of Wyeth, Pfizer said it would cut the combined workforce by 19,500 employees.

Yes, Citigroup. The very Citigroup that received a $50 billion bailout from our government, and then went out and bought a new corporate jet. Nice to see they have their priorities straight.

On Wednesday, the tally of mass layoffs for December will be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Already, the bureau says the United States economy has shed 2.55 million jobs since the recession began, pushing the unemployment rate up to 7.2 percent last month.

“The economy is deteriorating at a faster clip than even the most dreary forecasts had expected,” said Joseph Brusuelas, an economist who, bucking the current job market trend, will soon start a new job at Moody’s Economy.com. “At the current trend, $43 billion will not be sufficient should we breach 9 percent unemployment and maybe reach into the double digits.”

Labels: ,

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 27, 1842

This is probably my favorite Lincoln speech from the period before he was elected to the presidency (a segment of this speech is quoted in the header of the blog, above.)

These words are timeless: many phrases are as relevant today as they were on the day Lincoln first spoke them.

Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
January 27, 1838


As a subject for the remarks of the evening, the perpetuation of our political institutions, is selected.

In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American People, find our account running, under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them---they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their's was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time, and untorn by [usurpation---to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to] ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgement of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana;---they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning suns of the latter;---they are not the creature of climate---neither are they confined to the slaveholding, or the non-slaveholding States. Alike, they spring up among the pleasure hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order loving citizens of the land of steady habits. Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is common to the whole country.

It would be tedious, as well as useless, to recount the horrors of all of them. Those happening in the State of Mississippi, and at St. Louis, are, perhaps, the most dangerous in example, and revolting to humanity. In the Mississippi case, they first commenced by hanging the regular gamblers: a set of men, certainly not following for a livelihood, a very useful, or very honest occupation; but one which, so far from being forbidden by the laws, was actually licensed by an act of the Legislature, passed but a single year before. Next, negroes, suspected of conspiring to raise an insurrection, were caught up and hanged in all parts of the State: then, white men, supposed to be leagued with the negroes; and finally, strangers, from neighboring States, going thither on business, were, in many instances, subjected to the same fate. Thus went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to negroes, from negroes to white citizens, and from these to strangers; till, dead men were seen literally dangling from the boughs of trees upon every road side; and in numbers almost sufficient, to rival the native Spanish moss of the country, as a drapery of the forest.

Turn, then, to that horror-striking scene at St. Louis. A single victim was only sacrificed there. His story is very short; and is, perhaps, the most highly tragic, of any thing of its length, that has ever been witnessed in real life. A mulatto man, by the name of McIntosh, was seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of the city, chained to a tree, and actually burned to death; and all within a single hour from the time he had been a freeman, attending to his own business, and at peace with the world.

Such are the effects of mob law; and such are the scenes, becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order; and the stories of which, have even now grown too familiar, to attract any thing more, than an idle remark.

But you are, perhaps, ready to ask, "What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?" I answer, it has much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil; and much of its danger consists, in the proneness of our minds, to regard its direct, as its only consequences. Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg, was of but little consequence. They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community; and their death, if no pernicious example be set by it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they were annually swept, from the stage of existence, by the plague or small pox, honest men would, perhaps, be much profited, by the operation. Similar too, is the correct reasoning, in regard to the burning of the negro at St. Louis. He had forfeited his life, by the perpetration of an outrageous murder, upon one of the most worthy and respectable citizens of the city; and had he not died as he did, he must have died by the sentence of the law, in a very short time afterwards. As to him alone, it was as well the way it was, as it could otherwise have been. But the example in either case, was fearful. When men take it in their heads to day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one, who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them, [by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defence of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil. By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquility, who desire to abide by the laws, and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defence of their country; seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a Government that offers them no protection; and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocratic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed---I mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last. By such things, the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it; and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak, to make their friendship effectual. At such a time and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and over-turn that fair fabric, which for the last half century, has been the fondest hope, of the lovers of freedom, throughout the world.

I know the American People are much attached to their Government;---I know they would suffer much for its sake;---I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs "how shall we fortify against it?" The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;---let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap---let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges;---let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;---let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay; but, till then, let them if not too intolerable, be borne with.

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that arises, as for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true; that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case, is the interposition of mob law, either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.

But, it may be asked, why suppose danger to our political institutions? Have we not preserved them for more than fifty years? And why may we not for fifty times as long?

We hope there is no sufficient reason. We hope all dangers may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise, would itself be extremely dangerous. There are now, and will hereafter be, many causes, dangerous in their tendency, which have not existed heretofore; and which are not too insignificant to merit attention. That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one. Then, all that sought celebrity and fame, and distinction, expected to find them in the success of that experiment. Their all was staked upon it:---their destiny was inseparably linked with it. Their ambition aspired to display before an admiring world, a practical demonstration of the truth of a proposition, which had hitherto been considered, at best no better, than problematical; namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves. If they succeeded, they were to be immortalized; their names were to be transferred to counties and cities, and rivers and mountains; and to be revered and sung, and toasted through all time. If they failed, they were to be called knaves and fools, and fanatics for a fleeting hour; then to sink and be forgotten. They succeeded. The experiment is successful; and thousands have won their deathless names in making it so. But the game is caught; and I believe it is true, that with the catching, end the pleasures of the chase. This field of glory is harvested, and the crop is already appropriated. But new reapers will arise, and they, too, will seek a field. It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon? Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.

Distinction will be his paramount object; and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.

Here then, is a probable case, highly dangerous, and such a one as could not have well existed heretofore.

Another reason which once was; but which, to the same extent, is now no more, has done much in maintaining our institutions thus far. I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the revolution had upon the passions of the people as distinguished from their judgment. By this influence, the jealousy, envy, and avarice, incident to our nature, and so common to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were, for the time, in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive; while the deep rooted principles of hate, and the powerful motive of revenge, instead of being turned against each other, were directed exclusively against the British nation. And thus, from the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest of causes---that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty.

But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with the circumstances that produced it.

I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten; but that like every thing else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the bible shall be read;---but even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it heretofore has been. Even then, they cannot be so universally known, nor so vividly felt, as they were by the generation just gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was, that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son or a brother, a living history was to be found in every family---a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related---a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned. But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but, what invading foemen could never do, the silent artillery of time has done; the levelling of its walls. They are gone. They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-resistless hurricane has swept over them, and left only, here and there, a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage; unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs, a few more ruder storms, then to sink, and be no more.

They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence. Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality and, in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws; and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON.

Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 26, 1863 and 1864

On this day in 1863, President Lincoln wrote the following letter to General Joseph Hooker, after handing him the reigns of the great Army of the Potomac (formerly under the command of General Ambrose Burnside.)

Executive Mansion
Washington, January 26, 1863

Major General Hooker:


I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which, I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and a skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that during Gen. Burnside's command of the Army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes, can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the Army, of criticizing their Commander, and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army, while such a spirit prevails in it.

And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories. Yours very truly,

A. Lincoln

On this day in 1864, Lincoln followed up on a previous order; checking on the status of a pardon he issued for an enlisted Union solder who was sentenced to die for desertion.

To Benjamin F. Butler [1]
Major General Butler Executive Mansion,
Fort-Monroe Washington, Jan. 26. 1864.

Some days ago a despatch was sent to stay execution of James C. Gratton, & perhaps some others, which has not been answered. Please answer. A. LINCOLN

[1] ALS, RPB. No reply has been discovered. See Lincoln to Butler, January 21, supra.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 25, 1864

One of many pardons Lincoln signed on behalf of Union soldiers previously tried and sentenced to death for desertion. Some were sent back to their regiments, others home, depending on their situation.

To George G. Meade
Executive Mansion, Washington,
Major-General Meade: January 25, 1864.

Suspend execution of death sentence of Robert Gill, ordered to be shot on the 29th instant, and forward record for examination.


Major Eckert:

Please send above dispatch. JNO. G. NICOLAY.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 24, 1861

On this day, January 24th, 1861 (from the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln:)

Remarks to a Pennsylvania Delegation [1]
January 24, 1861

Dr. SMITH, Chairman of the Committee, [2] stated to Mr. LINCOLN the purpose of the resolutions intrusted to the care of the Committee, and had reached the point where it was stated that Pennsylvania desired to have in the Cabinet one who had ever been true to her interests, when Mr. LINCOLN interrupted him by saying:

"Yes, I know who you allude to---Gen. CAMERON. This subject has already engaged a large share of my attention, and I have every reason to hope that your wishes will be gratified. I feel a strong desire to do something for your big State, and I am determined she shall be satisfied, if I can do it."

The resolutions were read to him, when he continued, nearly in this language:

"Gentlemen, in the formation of my Cabinet, I shall aim as nearly as possible at perfection. Any man whom I may appoint to such a position, must be, as far as possible, like Caesar's wife, pure and above suspicion, of unblemished reputation, and undoubted integrity. I have already appointed Senator SEWARD and Mr. BATES, of Missouri, and they are men whose characters I think the breath of calumny cannot impeach. In regard to Gen. CAMERON, I have received assurances without limit from gentlemen whose word is entitled to credit, that he is eminently fitted for the position which his friends desire him to fill, and that his appointment would give great satisfaction to Pennsylvania. I have a great desire to appoint Gen. CAMERON, for the reason that he was formerly a Democrat, and I wish to give that element a fair representation in the distribution of the offices. Both Mr. SEWARD and Mr. BATES were formerly old line Whigs, and, for this reason, I feel a disposition to appoint Gen. CAMERON. But on the other hand, there is a strong opposition to him; not from his own State, it is true, for the opposition to him there is so slight that it is scarcely worth mentioning. The feeling against him appears to come from Ohio, and one or two of the other Western States. His opponents charge him with corruption in obtaining contracts, and contend that if he is appointed he will use the patronage of his office for his own private gain. I have no knowledge of the acts charged against him, but I intend to make an investigation of the whole matter, by allowing his opponents to submit their proof, and I shall give him an opportunity of explaining any part he may have had in the transactions alleged against him. For my own part, I can see no impropriety in his taking contracts, or making money out of them, as that is mere matter of business. There is nothing wrong in this, unless some unfairness or dishonesty is shown, which supposition I have no doubt Gen. CAMERON will be able to disprove. I shall deal fairly with him, but I say to you, gentlemen, frankly, that if the charges against him are proven, he cannot have a seat in my Cabinet, as I will not have any man associated with me whose character is impeached. I will say further, that if he vindicates himself, I have the strongest desire to place him in the position you wish him to fill, and which you think the interests of your State demand. If, after he has been appointed, I should be deceived by subsequent transactions of a disreputable character, the responsibility will rest upon you gentlemen of Pennsylvania who have so strongly presented his claims to my consideration. But this is supposing a state of things which may never occur."


[1] New York Times, February 7, 1861, copied from the Philadelphia Mercury.

[2] H. G. Smith, O. H. P. Parker, Peter Ford, and Charles Adams were the committee representing the Republican Club of Philadelphia.

Labels: , ,

Presidential Address

We're going to get these every week!

Labels: , , ,

Dear NSA... time to stop spying on ordinary Americans

Dear NSA:

I am writing to request that you return to looking for terrorists, and stop watching the American people - people who you know damn well are not terrorists and are not 'public enemies', and who have no connection with terrorists.

Bush and Cheney are out. Please cease spying on us. I do not believe that you want to spy on us ordinary Americans... I believe this order came down from Bush, or more likely Cheney. Now that they are out, perhaps you can return to the business of looking for actual terrorists and actually keeping our nation safe, rather than 'watched.' This is not Stazi East Germany.

Thank you.

P.S. This sounds so much like Nixon's famous 'enemies list.'

The data you have been collecting... were you directed to watch everyone that Cheney didn't like or trust? Why on earth would spying on the media be related to hunting terrorists? The fact is -- its not.

Nixon hated the media. Cheney hated the media. That doesn't make them 'dangerous,' or a threat to national security.

Who else were you directed to spy on... our congressmen and senators? Because that would explain a lot of the erratic behavior we've been seeing out of the Democratic congress over the last eight years.

Also, where is this famous database? We've heard it was outsourced... to whom?

Democracy is not open to outsourcing. Neither is our privacy as American citizens. (Dear God things went to hell while Bush and Cheney were in power.)

You are Americans too - our fellow Americans. I don't believe you bear us any ill will. Please make this right. It is our Constitution that ultimately keeps us safe in a democracy. What you do to keep us physically safe means little if we lose our freedom in the process. Our ancestors died for freedom - not safety.

Fourth Amendment to the Constitution

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama closes Gitmo, CIA black sites

All I can say is - wow. He didn't waste any time.

I have been trying (ever since I heard,) to find words to express my relief... that we have a real president again. And to express my relief that he is an honorable and moral man; that he represents our wishes as citizens, and that he will defend and restore our ideals as Americans.

We have redeemed ourselves. Its going to take a very long time to clean up the mess, but I think we're on our way.

Thank you President Obama.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama retakes oath of office after Roberts flub

CNN used the word 'flub' to describe Roberts' rendition of the presidential oath. Good word - I am adopting it.

Epic flub it was, and especially for a Chief Justice. I would like to think that the highest justice of the land would know the oath to which our president is bound... but I guess not.

Or maybe this has finally drilled those words into his head.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama retook his oath of office Wednesday after Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed while delivering it at Tuesday's inauguration.
President Barack Obama takes the oath of office -- his second in two days -- in the White House on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama takes the oath of office -- his second in two days -- in the White House on Wednesday.

The second oath -- also administered by Roberts -- took place at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday in the White House's Map Room. Roberts asked Obama whether he was ready.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replied.

The do-over was aimed at dispelling any confusion that might arise from Tuesday's take -- in which "faithfully" was said out of sequence -- and erase any question that Obama is legally the president.

In a congressional luncheon after Tuesday's swearing-in, Roberts and Obama exchanged words, and the chief justice appeared to tell the president, "It was my fault."

Before Wednesday's second oath at the White House, Obama, waiting on a couch, joked that "we decided it was so much fun ... "

Though a Bible was used in Tuesday's oath, one was not used for Wednesday's.

After a flawless recitation, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations again."

"Thank you, sir," the president replied. After a smattering of applause, Obama quipped that "the bad news for the [press] pool is there's 12 more balls."

And yes media talking heads -- who during the ceremony said that it was 'only a formality' -- yes, the oath is much more than a formality (you idiots.) How can you say the oath of office is only a formality?

Listening to you empty-media-heads is what lead people astray in the 2000 election, when you said the best qualification of a president was to be that guy you'd like to have a beer with in the neighborhood bar. NO! The qualifications of a president include a sharp intelligence, a grasp of history, a good knowledge of foreign affairs, humility, ethics, compassion, dedication to the people of this nation and dedication to the Constitution. Beer is NOWHERE in the picture.

As for the importance of the oath of office: this is where our president swears to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. Well, at least Joe Biden swore to defend it from all enemies foreign and domestic, which is the traditional oath. It appears to have been modified a bit for the president, which I don't understand... but I believe that Constitutional lawyer President Obama will defend our Constitution and over-rule the previous attacks that have been waged against it by our 43rd president. Bush and Cheney proved to be a grave domestic threat to our Constitution. So yes, I'd say the oath - those words - are pretty damn important.

Now if only there were consequences for the way the oath was violated by the last administration.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On January 21, 1864

Presidential pardon for a Union deserter. (There were many.)

To Benjamin F. Butler [1]
Major General Butler Executive Mansion,
Fort-Monroe, Va Washington, Jan. 21. 1864.

Suspend until further order, the execution of James C. Gratton, of Co. F. 11th. Penn. Cavalry, and send record of his case.


[1] ALS, RPB. See Lincoln to Butler, January 26, infra. The roster of Company F, Eleventh Pennsylvania Cavalry lists James C. Gratton as deserted on August 7, 1863, returned on October 30, 1863, wounded May 14, 1864, and discharged August 26, 1864. AGO Special Orders No. 55, February 4, 1864, announced the president's pardon of ``James C. Grattan'' [sic].

Labels: , , ,

This must stop

I am relieved we are no longer to be counted among the bully nations... but I believe its also time to call Israel on the carpet for their behavior in Gaza, IF they are to continue receiving our military support in the region. Its not enough that we cease our own bad behavior if we supply weapons and protection to a nation that seems hell bent on acting that way themselves.

This must stop.

Personally I think its time the Israelis gave Gaza to the Palestinians. How much bloodshed is necessary before both sides decide that enough has been shed?

Israel: Just let it go - pull out of Gaza. Let the Palestinians live there in peace and perhaps Hamas will stop trying to free the area with rockets. No one condones the rockets fired by Hamas at Israel... but when Israel responds by massacring civilians, who wins? As Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof) wryly noted, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' will never end until everyone is 'blind and toothless.'

Just a thought. And yes I am aware that the US is responsible for a multitude of civilian deaths in Iraq. We the people do not condone that either. We voted the authors of that behavior out of office.

Bodies dug from rubble during Gaza cease-fire

GAZA CITY, Gaza (CNN) -- Palestinians in Gaza's Zeitoun neighborhood Sunday used bare hands and bulldozers to unearth 23 bodies of people killed in what witnesses say was an Israeli attack during Israel's three-week Gaza offensive.

The recovery of the bodies -- about half of which were of women -- came as a cease-fire took hold.

A United Nations brief issued shortly after the incident said about 30 people were killed in the attack, half of them children.

Abed Zamuni said two generations of his family were wiped out in the attack. Watch efforts to find bodies in the rubbleVideo

"Not one of my sisters is left," he told CNN. "My nephews and nieces have been executed and my home has been destroyed by the Jews."

He said that, during the first hours of Israel's ground offensive in Gaza on January 3, Israeli soldiers rounded up 110 men, women and children and herded them into a house, where they remained until January 5.

His nephew, Salah Zamuni, also said 110 Palestinians were ordered into a house, where they remained for two days without supplies.

"When we went outside to try and get some firewood, they opened fire with rockets," he said.

Salah Zamuni's father was among the dead.

Abed Zamuni said he was in a nearby apartment when the attack happened, and that he called his sisters, who were in the building, after the blasts.

"They were shouting and screaming, saying they were on the floor, that they were in a desperate situation," Abed Zamuni said.

Israeli soldiers stopped Palestinian paramedics from reaching some of the wounded for 48 hours, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. And when the paramedics were allowed passage, the Israelis did not give them enough time to recover the dead, the ICRC said.

"I begged them for medical help in God's name," said Salah Zamuni, referring to Israeli soldiers. "They just told us to go and die."

And now... potentially war crimes.

What a terrible influence we have been for the last eight years. Israel now admits they used phosphorus gas in Gaza, which explains the reports of severe chemical burns - on civilians - that have been received from doctors in the area.

Of course we now know that the US used phosphorus gas in Fallujah.

The use of phosphorus as an incendiary weapon as it now appears to have been used against Hamas fighters – as opposed to a smoke screen – is covered by the Convention of Certain Conventional Weapons to which Israel in not a signatory.

However, Israel also is obliged under the Geneva Conventions and customary international humanitarian law to give due care to protecting the civilian population when deciding on appropriate military targeting and response to hostile fire, particularly in heavily built up areas with a strict prohibition on the use of indiscriminate force.

"They obviously could not have gone on denying the use of phosphorus," Donatella Rovera, Amnesty researcher for Israel and the Occupied Territories, told the Guardian yesterday. "There are still phosphorus wedges burning all over Gaza including at the UN compound and at the school.

"It is clear they are not using it as smoke screen as they claimed. They used it in areas where they had no forces, and there are much less problematic smoke screens that they could have used."

Amnesty on Monday warned that Israel could be guilty of war crimes, saying the use of the shells in a civilian areas was "clear and undeniable".

Rovera demanded too that Israel produce clear evidence that there were fighters in the areas it says its troops were fired upon when the phosphorus munitions were fired.

The admission that the shells may have been used improperly follows yesterday's demand by the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon for an investigation into the targeting of UN facilities – including by phosphorus weapons.

Labels: , , , ,

And now the work begins

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. - Abraham Lincoln

Labels: ,

Well no wonder...

It's so clear now.

It took a combination of the wheelchair, the cane across the lap - along with the trademark sneer - for me to finally see the fierce resemblance Cheney bears to Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life."

Well no wonder our banks are in trouble, and homes are being foreclosed on all across the country. Pottersville anyone?

Labels: , , ,

America's rebirth

Yesterday was a day for the ages.

I am still awed by the size of the crowds who ventured to Washington and braved the cold (although I would also have done it if I could have gotten away.) We won a peaceful revolution yesterday. We took back our nation's capitol, the people's house, and our flag. We took back our high ideals, our pride, our honor and our determination to work for good. As President Obama said in his inaugural speech, we gathered in Washington yesterday because we have chosen hope over fear.

We decided, as one nation, to finally grow up and take responsibility. President Carter asked this us of us in the 70s but we weren't ready... we didn't want to give up our gas-guzzling cars and wean ourselves of fossil fuel. We wanted someone to tell us 'don't worry, be happy.' And so the problems continued, and grew as we looked the other way. We weren't ready to grow up until everything fell apart; until the most power-hungry and greedy among us very nearly ran off with our democracy.

We are the descendants of survivors. Our ancestors fought and overcame many obstacles to come here (or in the case of the Native Americans and African Americans, to survive here;) all based on a dream of liberty, peace and prosperity.

America was a light to the world. Its time to be that light again. It starts here at home.

It's time to rebuild New Orleans. It's time to stop the foreclosures and jump start our economy. It's time for ALL citizens to get involved, ALL citizens to resolve a change in our lives and a reversal of our bad habits. It's time to put away the partisan hatreds that were always ridiculous, but which have been here since the country was formed.

Its time to grow up. We can do this.

Yes we can.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Looking back

I remember well the day I posted this initial explanation for my topic, Abraham Lincoln (a life-long hero of mine.) I posted the words below on March 13th, 2007.

I had been blogging since Katrina. It was a way to work out my grief and anger; my moral outrage at the lack of government response, the drowning of New Orleans and everything that followed. I finally decided that 'venting' was getting me nowhere... and really wasn't doing my country any good. What was needed - in my opinion - was an injection of history. I wanted desperately to remind anyone who stumbled across my blog that we must remember who we are, who we were, how we got here... and what we stand for as a nation.

I wondered if we'd ever see a real leader in our lifetime. An Abraham Lincoln to lead us out of the darkness.

Today I had my answer.

Why Lincoln?

I believe that Abraham Lincoln speaks to us today. One has only to read his writings, his speeches, or simply his quotations to see the innate wisdom, thoughtfulness and humility of the man. That, and his dedication to democracy.

Once again, we are engaged in a war. Not a civil war; but once again, war is ripping at the fabric of our country. Hostilities between the 'right' and the 'left' grow more tempestuous every day. The country is once again divided, this time into 'red' and 'blue,' and it seems like only yesterday we were all united with fellow humans all across the planet, dancing and singing in the dawning of a new Millennium. What a happy night that was! How things have changed since that magical day. We have squandered the great hope for a harmonious new century.

We have fallen back into our old habits of greed, hatred, judgment, partisanship - and of course war. I can't help but wonder... where is our Lincoln?

So, what about our generation of Americans? Isn't it about time we had a truly great president? Are we just too confused, too distracted to elect one? Do we lean too heavily on our media, and spend too little time searching out candidates based on issues - rather than rock star aura? Do we now confuse presidential elections with American Idol?

We desperately need a strong, moral leader at this crossroads in our history. We have 'made due' with mediocrity -- or in the case of this damaging administration, barely hung on -- long enough. Where is our Lincoln? Where is our Roosevelt or our Eisenhower? Ike spoke the truth. He even tried to warn us about the rise of the Military Industrial Complex. I can't imagine that sort of blunt, conscientious honesty coming out of the White House today, from either party. Never happen. I also can't imagine that a backwoods, country lawyer like Abraham Lincoln could even raise the money to run a modern day campaign, let alone get any corporate media coverage. In our age, those with the bucks, buy the presidency. Sure, we go out and vote... and apparently, if the 2007 election is any indication, we can still throw a few punches. But notice how - once in office - these 'representatives' quickly forget those who sent them to Washington.

So there we have it. Who will lead us out of this corrupt, corporate morass that is our broken Federal government? How can we win back our reputation as a world leader, redeem our own sense of ethics, and pull out of this national 'fall from grace?'

Lincoln still speaks to us today. He speaks across the centuries, cries out from the pages of countless books, letters and speeches. He speaks of morality, of honor, and of compromise. Lincoln was a wise and reasonable man. I can't help but believe that he is watching us today, egging us forward, begging us to remember that sacrifices were made - that a debt was paid in blood - for our democracy. And after all... who else in our history had such a personal stake in our survival as a nation?

Labels: ,