Saturday, February 14, 2009


How Do I Love Thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being an ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints,--

I love thee with the Breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!
--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barret Browning


St. Valentine Myth

Valentine's Day is associated with romantic love. One of the earliest references in English literature linking a man with a date is in 1382's Parlement of Foules by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Nonetheless, the origins of the holiday can be found a thousand years before Chaucer. The date of celebration we know today as Valentine’s Day was likely named in honor of a physician-priest near Rome who was martyred--clubbed, stoned and then beheaded--in the 3rd century supposedly for marrying young couples in contravention of an edict by Roman Emperor Claudius II forbidding marriage.

The Christian custom of marriage was inconvenient for Claudius, it seems, because unmarried men made better soldiers. “Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, every one.” St. Valentine was apparently not so well documented by the church as venerated by the laity. So like so many “saints,” the Roman Church removed him as an “official” saint in 1969.

Friday, February 13, 2009


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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

We Celebrate with Pride His Vision and Another NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Draft Stormy for Louisiana

Grandmère Mimi
blogged on this yesterday: "Stormy makes a lot of sense. Why isn't Vitter in jail? The DC madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, committed suicide last May after she was convicted and sentenced to prison. Is it possible that Louisiana could have a senator who would tell the truth?"

If the notion of a serious challenge to David Vitter piques your interest, Visit the DRAFT STORMY SITE HERE.

The more she's interviewed, the more serious she seems--


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February is ......

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, as well as director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Professor Gates is a world renowned authority on the African American experience in the United States. CLICK HERE for a little gem of a vid of 10 questions for him.

From the LA Bureau of NBC

"... It's possible that Black History Month may soon become a redundancy. Established in 1926 (as Negro History Week), Black History Month was intended to celebrate the underlooked contributions of black people to the establishment and growth of the United States. It's race-centric orientation isn't universally welcomed. See Morgan Freeman make Mike Wallace stutter when Freeman downplays the relevance of Black History month HERE.

The controversy and significance may now be moot. Racial animosity will always persist. Our nation seems to have turned a page, however. Black History Month 2009 is not just "Black History Month," but another month in history, in which black people will play a full, participatory, and now-leading role.

It's a good reminder that history isn't something that we just study from books or note on a calendar's page, but something that we should learn from, and make every day in the present."

From Kareem Abdul-Jabar blog

"A white friend of mine told me his 9-year-old son asked him, 'If February is Black History Month, then when is White History Month?' My friend replied, “The other 11 months.” That’s why I take this opportunity to use my blog to promote some of the most notable and influential African-Americans in American history. As much as I support and encourage the idea of Black History Month as a way of bringing to attention some otherwise overlooked and neglected historical figures, we need to make sure that Black History Month isn’t merely a closet that’s opened once a year to display these people as oddities, like a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum.”


Monday, February 9, 2009

Is it Time to Throw the Bums Out?

Tide of Anger

Watching the crowds in Iceland banging pots and pans until their government fell reminded me of a chant popular in anti-capitalist circles in 2002: "You are Enron. We are Argentina."

Its message was simple enough. You--politicians and CEOs huddled at some trade summit--are like the reckless scamming execs at Enron (of course, we didn't know the half of it). We--the rabble outside--are like the people of Argentina, who, in the midst of an economic crisis eerily similar to our own, took to the street banging pots and pans. They shouted, "¡Que se vayan todos!" ("All of them must go!") and forced out a procession of four presidents in less than three weeks. What made Argentina's 2001-02 uprising unique was that it wasn't directed at a particular political party or even at corruption in the abstract. The target was the dominant economic model--this was the first national revolt against contemporary deregulated capitalism.

It's taken a while, but from Iceland to Latvia, South Korea to Greece, the rest of the world is finally having its ¡Que se vayan todos! moment.

The stoic Icelandic matriarchs beating their pots flat even as their kids ransack the fridge for projectiles (eggs, sure, but yogurt?) echo the tactics made famous in Buenos Aires. So does the collective rage at elites who trashed a once thriving country and thought they could get away with it. As Gudrun Jonsdottir, a 36-year-old Icelandic office worker, put it: "I've just had enough of this whole thing. I don't trust the government, I don't trust the banks, I don't trust the political parties and I don't trust the IMF. We had a good country, and they ruined it."

Another echo: in Reykjavik, the protesters clearly won't be bought off by a mere change of face at the top (even if the new PM is a lesbian). They want aid for people, not just banks; criminal investigations into the debacle; and deep electoral reform.

Similar demands can be heard these days in Latvia, whose economy has contracted more sharply than any country in the EU, and where the government is teetering on the brink. For weeks the capital has been rocked by protests, including a full-blown, cobblestone-hurling riot on January 13. As in Iceland, Latvians are appalled by their leaders' refusal to take any responsibility for the mess. Asked by Bloomberg TV what caused the crisis, Latvia's finance minister shrugged: "Nothing special."

But Latvia's troubles are indeed special: the very policies that allowed the "Baltic Tiger" to grow at a rate of 12 percent in 2006 are also causing it to contract violently by a projected 10 percent this year: money, freed of all barriers, flows out as quickly as it flows in, with plenty being diverted to political pockets. (It is no coincidence that many of today's basket cases are yesterday's "miracles": Ireland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia.)

Something else Argentina-esque is in the air. In 2001 Argentina's leaders responded to the crisis with a brutal International Monetary Fund-prescribed austerity package: $9 billion in spending cuts, much of it hitting health and education. This proved to be a fatal mistake. Unions staged a general strike, teachers moved their classes to the streets and the protests never stopped.

This same bottom-up refusal to bear the brunt of the crisis unites many of today's protests. In Latvia, much of the popular rage has focused on government austerity measures--mass layoffs, reduced social services and slashed public sector salaries--all to qualify for an IMF emergency loan (no, nothing has changed). In Greece, December's riots followed a police shooting of a 15-year-old. But what's kept them going, with farmers taking the lead from students, is widespread rage at the government's crisis response: banks got a $36 billion bailout while workers got their pensions cut and farmers received next to nothing. Despite the inconvenience caused by tractors blocking roads, 78 percent of Greeks say the farmers' demands are reasonable. Similarly, in France the recent general strike--triggered in part by President Sarkozy's plans to reduce the number of teachers dramatically--inspired the support of 70 percent of the population.

Perhaps the sturdiest thread connecting this global backlash is a rejection of the logic of "extraordinary politics"--the phrase coined by Polish politician Leszek Balcerowicz to describe how, in a crisis, politicians can ignore legislative rules and rush through unpopular "reforms." That trick is getting tired, as South Korea's government recently discovered. In December, the ruling party tried to use the crisis to ram through a highly controversial free trade agreement with the United States. Taking closed-door politics to new extremes, legislators locked themselves in the chamber so they could vote in private, barricading the door with desks, chairs and couches.

Opposition politicians were having none of it: with sledgehammers and an electric saw, they broke in and staged a twelve-day sit-in of Parliament. The vote was delayed, allowing for more debate--a victory for a new kind of "extraordinary politics."

Here in Canada, politics is markedly less YouTube-friendly--but it has still been surprisingly eventful. In October the Conservative Party won national elections on an unambitious platform. Six weeks later, our Tory prime minister found his inner ideologue, presenting a budget bill that stripped public sector workers of the right to strike, canceled public funding for political parties and contained no economic stimulus. Opposition parties responded by forming a historic coalition that was only prevented from taking power by an abrupt suspension of Parliament. The Tories have just come back with a revised budget: the pet right-wing policies have disappeared, and it is packed with economic stimulus.

The pattern is clear: governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda will not survive to tell the tale. As Italy's students have taken to shouting in the streets: "We won't pay for your crisis!"


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Editorial Cartoon from MSNBC

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