Release the photos... let's not keep the bad parts of our past hidden.

I am upset that Obama, who, by the way, I supported during the election and continue to support as President, has caved to those who would hide the torture we conducted in Iraq by not releasing the photographs documenting those activities.

The idea that our position in the world and the opinions of us held by other countries would suffer if these pictures were made visible is a crock. We're in the age of the Internet. Everyone in the world knows what we did and trying to hide the fact actually makes us look worse.

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The Source of American Mythology.

It's hard for a guy in his sixties who often poohpoohs the kinds of movies that show up for the masses as latent garbage to admit it, but I sat in a theater surrounded by teenagers watching STAR TREK this weekend. My wife wasn't interested and had work to do at school, so I went alone, which I rarely do.

And I got a kick out of it.

Driving home, I started thinking about the story that was originally developed by Gene Roddenberry when I was in my early twenties and going to Northwestern (where our theatre history studies started with the development of drama in Greek Mythology)  and it has gone through many television and film iterations, each adding or filling out more story parts.

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If Fox News Ruled The World...

The tax protests which sprouted yesterday in places like Sacramento, DC, and, of all places, The Alamo, were proclaimed to be "spontaneous" by the talking heads at Fox News (who "spontaneously" set up their crews and equipment around the country to broadcast the protests... and whose presence was repeatedly announced on the Fox News programs ahead of time, I guess, as a "spontaneous" piece of PR.)

To get to these protests, which took place in public squares, parks and historical sites (all supported and maintained by taxes), people took highways and subways and railroads (all subsidized by taxes)... and after the protests ended they probably went out to eat somewhere, having meats and vegetables which our Agriculture and other Departments keep a safety view on by means of taxes. Most of these protests were guarded and protected by police (paid by taxes), to make sure their right to protest was upheld and no one was hurt.

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Dr. Kutner's Suicide... America's Gain

Watching HOUSE M.D. (still my number 1 show) last night, I was astounded, along with millions of others, when Dr. Kutner, played by actor Kal Penn, was found dead on his apartment floor, an apparent suicide victim. This was an electric episode (with the night's medical plot featuring a dying husband and wife... with the husband played very well by...get this... Meatloaf!) and drove me to the HOUSE web site immediately after to find a Memorial Page already set up to the memory of Dr. Kutner.

Why... why did they kill off one of the most popular (and funny) characters on the show? Money? Backstage conflict?

The reason is striking: Kal Penn is going to work at the White House!

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Me? I'm a Consumer. What does the government do to protect my interests?

After I finished teaching today I had to make a stop at Martin's Food Store over near Interstate 81 in Hagerstown, MD. This is a brand new facility, which is one of the reasons I've started going there. It's clean, well maintained, has great employees who seem to have been trained very well... and it actually makes grocery shopping fun.

Don't get me wrong, this is a very BIG store... I get a lot of exercise just wandering the aisles. It has a nice organic food department, its fresh fruits and veggies are top notch and it has a wonderful meat department, too.

Today I tried their "Easy Shop" program - which strongly emphasizes the trust between store and customer. When I check in by running my Martin's Bonus Card in front of a scanner. Then I am issued a handheld device that I use to read the labels on products as I shop and I take a bunch of bags to put in my cart  -   I bag things as I buy them. The handheld device keeps track of what I bought, shows me how much I save with my Martin's Bonus Card and gives me the option to put things back if I find better deals on other items.

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What Happened to Definitions in the Socio/Political World?

It has been so easy lately for anyone who disagrees with anyone else in politics to label them as radically as possible. In the past week or so, for instance, I've heard Obama, with his handling of the Economy and his goals for healthcare and education, called a "socialist", a "communist", a "fascist" and other things, some too nasty to mention.

Both parties (the major, parties, that is... the hundreds of mini-parties, those single-issue groupings of certain individuals, are prime offenders at name calling, but have relatively little effect) are guilty of this kind of stuff... and they do it to themselves as well as the other side (just look at what Republicans are doing to Michael Steele and what Paul Krugman is pumping out about Obama.)

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A Visit to St. Elizabeths.


As I said in an earlier post on my blog today, yesterday I went with a group from Full Circle Theater on a tour of both the East and West campuses of St. Elizabeths, washington DC's historic Mental Institution campus. Dr. Joe Jurand, the Director of POUND at Full Circle Theater in Shepherdstown, WV, led the tour of the East Campus in the morning and we were met by two employees of the General Services Administration (GSA) , Bill and Carter, who led the tour of the West Campus, which is slated to become the home of the Dept. of Homeland Security. Joe participated in this part of the tour as well... he is rather knowledgeable abut the now almost totally gone asylum, since he grew up there, his father being one of the staff psychiatrists.

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Is Congress using a Bill of Attainder to get A.I.G.?

So with little argument and a 300-plus majority, Congress yesterday voted to tax bonuses given by companies (read "A.I.G.") funded under TARP at 90%, thus recovering the multi-million dollar awards to anyone in these companies earning over half a million bucks in regular income. The fact that this was targeted at TARP recipients in general was an attempt to generalize the law... and not make it, as it clearly is, a focused punishment of a particular company.

Essentially, this is what is referred to as a Writ or Bill of Attainder, and which is specifically banned in the Constitution.

A bill of Attainder is legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial. Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 specifically states: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed."

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AIG p.o.v.: I agree with Robert Reich

Robert Reich posted the best commentary on the AIG scandal... and this REALLY is a scandal!... and I agree with him 100%. Here it is in total:
The real scandal of AIG isn't just that American taxpayers have so far committed $170 billion to the giant insurer because it is thought to be too big to fail -- the most money ever funneled to a single company by a government since the dawn of capitalism -- nor even that AIG's notoriously failing executives, at the very unit responsible for the catastrophic credit-default swaps at the very center of the debacle -- are planning to give themselves $100 million in bonuses. It's that even at this late date, even in a new administration dedicated to doing it all differently, Americans still have so little say over what is happening with our money.

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Coleman / Franken Update:

Norm Coleman has had several vote quests struck down by the Minnesota Second District Court, and Al Franken told a conference of Democratic Senators today that he can see a "light at the end of the tunnel." I hope that means Al will be awarded certification on his seat by the Minnesota Court very soon. The Democrats need his vote to fight off the filibuster strength of the Republicans in the Senate.

In order to get a real sense of what's happening, I spent time reading .pdf files at the Minnesota Second District Court web site this afternoon, and, going back a couple of weeks, it's clear that Norm Coleman is  following every failed approach with a newer one... what he is doing is stalling and, I expect, it is stalling at the instruction of the Republican National Committee.

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