Open Thread 2/7

- When does the US have the right to kill its citizens without a trial? Hardly ever, probably never, I’d say. And if we are in the killing US citizens abroad business as a country, we’d better be damn transparent about when and why. Still, the DOJ whitepaper leaked earlier this week (pdf) gets us closer to knowing the government’s position on the matter.

Eulogy for Kathryn Ann Blair, 1952–2013

“Seattle will be the first city to consider drone legislation to protect the public’s civil liberties,” Harrell’s staff wrote in a press release announcing the legislation.

– Seems like vagrancy laws in the past were overly broad.


  1. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    That 1883 vagrancy law should appeal to the crowd that likes the idea of a carved-in-stone Constitution that is never reintrepeted. After all, jailing people for refusing to work on any terms employers deign to offer wasn’t considered an unconstitutional violation of personal liberty in those days. Women and Negroes couldn’t vote then, either.
    I’m sure plenty of the “constitutionalists” among us would like to return to that system.

  2. 3

    rhp6033 spews:

    NPR last night had a fairly long piece on the state of Greece. Since austerity measures were introduced, unemployment as skyrocketed (23%?), and people are actually beginning to starve as cuts in the social service budgets make the government unable to respond. The economy has tanked, as there is no significant consumer spending.

    The bankers who hold Greece’s debt, however, are doing just fine.

    Of course, if the Republicans in the House have their way, we can be just like Greece!

  3. 4


    @ 3

    You write that as if the only thing that’s happened in Greece is cuts to government spending.

    What was the other part of the changes forced on Greece?

    Oh, yes. That’s right.

    Higher taxes:

    Greece Warns of Going Broke as Tax Proceeds Dry Up

    An essential element of Greece’s recovery plan has been to collect more taxes from a population that has long engaged in tax avoidance. The government is owed 45 billion euros in back taxes, tax officials in Athens said, only a fraction of which will ever be recovered.

    Yes, there are cuts in services. But people aren’t paying their taxes, and taxes raised even higher just create more tax avoidance, not to mention the deleterious effects on the economy from the higher taxation to begin with.

    Greece has problems not because of current austerity, but because she has behaved for far too long in an unsustainable manner, with fairly predictable consequences.

    Go ahead and slam austerity, but at least be honest enough to nod to the other contributions to Greece’s woes.

  4. 8

    Deathfrogg spews:

    @1 RR

    Christopher Dorners manifesto. (Warning, PDF) He names names, cites specific incidences, and the police have already shot two innocent people in their efforts to summarily execute this man.

    They are going to make sure this man never talks. He knows way too much about the inside workings of the LAPD. He could surrender to the FBI, buck naked in public in front of every TV station camera in the State, and he’d still be shot dead.

    This could become very, very ugly.

  5. 9

    Liberal Scientist is a Dirty Fucking Socialist Hippie spews:

    …but at least be honest enough…

    Does anyone else chuckle/gag when Dr. Robert pontificates about miminal acceptable levels of honesty?

  6. 10


    @ 9

    Hey, Lib Sci, how’s the family?

    You realize, do you not, that when the bill comes due and we’ve gone Greece as a society, it will be your children to whom the bill is presented for payment?

  7. 11


    All told, in 2023, the federal government is projected to spend $3.7 trillion on mandatory programs, representing 62 percent of the budget and more than five times what will be spent on defense.

    These numbers, taken together, make it abundantly clear that the only reason for additional tax hikes at this point would be to chase skyrocketing spending on entitlements. Paying for this spending wouldn’t be a matter of asking the very rich to pay a little more — it would necessitate large tax hikes on the middle class that far exceed historical levels.

    Lib Sci, between discussions with your children in which you point out the differences between edgy chat and overt racism in referring to a black man you don’t like as a minstrel, do you ever discuss with them just how great their future financial burden will be as a result of all of the current unchecked spending?

  8. 12

    No Time for Fascists spews:

    The BSA delayed making any decisions until May….

    Gay-rights supporters contend that no Scout units anywhere should exclude gays, and vowed to maintain pressure on the BSA’s corporate donors to achieve that goal. Some conservatives, including religious leaders whose churches sponsor troops, warned of mass defections if the ban were even partially eased.

    The BSA has focused too much on its followers of the moment, not its followers of the future. This holds whether you believe they should keep or lift the ban on gays. Do you want followers who are anti-gay? Then keep the national ban, and be willing to give up money from companies and members with kids that don’t share your view. But do you want followers who are inclusive? Then you need to have a national policy of tolerance and be brave enough to let those people and organizations walk away who don’t want the future you want.

  9. 15

    rhp6033 spews:

    10, 11: But Serial, V.P. Cheney himself said that deficits don’t matter!

    I’m old enough to see this go through several cycles. When a Democrat is President, suddenly deficits are considered a roaring dragon, about to consume us. Then when a Republican is in office, spending increases and you hardly hear a peep.

    Ever read David Stockman’s book on his years as Reagan’s budget director? He was expecting his big fights over the budget to be with the Democrats in Congress. But it was the various Republican agency heads which immediatly burst the budget. That pushed him into making the wildly optomistic “rosey scenario” of unparrelled and sustained GDP growth which he said would put the U.S. in a balanced budget by 2008, despite the Reagan tax cuts.

    After the Reagan 1981 tax cuts, it took twenty years and at least two tax increases later to reach a balanced budget again – just in time for George W. Bush to put us back even deeper in debt.

    Need I remind you that if the tax rates in effect in 2000 were left in place, not only would we now have a balanced budget, but the ENTIRE NATIONAL DEBT would have been paid off by 2008.

  10. 16


    @ 15

    After the Reagan 1981 tax cuts, it took twenty years and at least two tax increases later to reach a balanced budget again…

    You make it sound like the budget was balanced before the Reagan tax cuts. That wasn’t the case and you know it.

    You could have written ‘After the Carter stagflation era…’ and finished the sentence in the same way, and it would be just as accurate, wouldn’t it?

    Your credibility suffers when you pull that shit.

  11. 17

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 16: If you want to pull the numbers, be my guest – the deficit under Carter, which Reagan campaigned against, was a fraction of the deficit actually experienced under Reagan. I just don’t have the numbers at my fingertips right now.

    As for whether Carter was responsible for “stagflation” – that situation occured from about 1970 onwards. Nixon and Ford tried hard to avoid having it turn into a recession under their watch (remember the Nixon wage-price controls, and Ford’s “Whip Inflation Now” buttons?). But a recession couldn’t be put off indefinately, and the Fed made sure it happened on Carter’s watch with an unprecidented rise in interest rates (I remember when my 12% mortage was considered a great dea1).

  12. 18

    Liberal Scientist is a Dirty Fucking Socialist Hippie spews:

    Your credibility suffers when you pull that shit.

    My goodness, he really doesn’t understand what a parody of himself he is.

  13. 19

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    I’m not too keen on these drone killings. I’m worried that the cops will want to employ drones to “keep the peace” here in the US. Kind of reminds me of Bush, the CIA and all that water-boarding stuff. Torture ain’t our way, and using torture is gonna come back to haunt us. Same with these drones.

  14. 20

    Politically Incorrect spews:


    So, the Constitution should just be whatever government feels like it should be, depending on government’s immediate needs. Government should just make it up as it goes along.


  15. 21

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 20: Yea, just like the press conference when George W. Bush was questioned about the suspension of habeos corpus and other rights under the “Patriot Act”. Bush got flustered, and insisted that it only applied to “terrorists”. By whose definition? Bush appeared confused, and just kept repeating the word “terrorists”.

  16. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    NRA Poster Girl Of The Day

    A Virginia woman who bought and resold 31 handguns at a profit in two weeks has pleaded guilty to dealing firearms without a dealer’s license.

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: Every single one of those handguns went to an untraceable buyer. Wanna guess how many will end up on the streets, in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, and how many will be used in the commission of crimes? This is the private sale/gun show loophole the NRA is so determined to defend. You can drive a truck through it; but apparently even this loophole has limits. Of course, this woman never would have been prosecuted by a Republican U.S. attorney appointed by a President Mitt Romney who got elected by promising voters to defend “gun rights.”

  17. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @8 Well well, what we have here is a rational guy with a gun. Someone who took the law into his own hands after the system fucked him over. People like him are even more dangerous than crazy people with guns, because they go after their targets with computer-like efficiency, and there’s no irrational emotion spoiling their aim.

  18. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 Just pay back the money you conservatives borrowed from Social Security, and drop the Medicare prescription drug program you conservatives enacted but didn’t fund, and I’ll be happy with that. Yeah, I’ll have to pay more for my prescriptions; but why shouldn’t I, given that I never paid any taxes for this benefit?

    But let’s drop this nonsense about having to cut Social Security because you conservatives overspent in the operating budget. Social Security has always been fully paid for by the payroll taxes working people pay. Not a penny of Social Security benefits has ever come from general revenues or operating budget funds. The so-called “unified budget” was created to paper over deficits in the operating budget, not the other way around.

    So if you conservatives think we’ll let you plug the holes you created in the operating budget by stealing from Social Security beneficiaries so millionaires can keep the unfunded and deficit-creating tax cuts you gave them, you can all go fuck yourselves. We’re simply not interested in even discussing that with you. No compromise, no negotiation, no nothing — this is non-negotiable: Just go fuck yourselves.

  19. 25

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 24: Maybe we should just eliminate the “unified budget”? It’s a fiction, anyway, one that favors the Republican attempts to privatise Social Security.

  20. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @25 Yes! Eliminate the “unified budget.” It was nothing but a gimmick adopted by LBJ to hide the deficits he was running to pay for his Vietnam war. Republican must like it to paper over their own deficits, because they’ve had 45 years to undo it, and haven’t done so. Of course, it’s not hard to understand why GOPers would like the idea of dipping into Social Security funds to pay for military hardware and adventures.

  21. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @28 While we’re on the subject of Republicans insisting that government operate “like a business,” i.e. requiring the Post Office to currently fund the future retiree health benefits of workers who haven’t even been born yet, let’s be clear about what “being run like a business” actually consists of the private sector: Companies flocking to bankruptcy courts in droves to get out of honoring their contractual obligations to workers who are already retired. That’s how American businesses are “run like business” nowadays; and who the hell wants to work for an organization run like that?

  22. 33

    Steve spews:

    ‘After the Carter stagflation era…’

    You must not have been old enough to get your WIN button.

    The economy that Nixon/Ford handed off to Carter. The economy that Reagan
    /Bush handed off to Clinton. The handoff of the beginning of a Great Recession to Obama. It seems to me that there’s a pattern or two developing here, one of repeated Republican failures to manage the economy and another of Republicans blaming Democrats for those same failures to the point that Republican shit must truly smell like roses. I’d say we’ve been in that phase for the last four years running.

  23. 35

    ArtFart spews:

    @33 In fact, in the last go-round from the turn of the millenium on, it’s been rather like someone who buys a fancy new car, drives it in a Demolition Derby and then limps the smoking, battered remains back to the dealer demanding a refund, claiming he was sold a lemon.

  24. 36

    Czechsaaz spews:

    Why are Republicans such petulant little babies?

    “I don’t agree with this preliminary and not really binding decision so I’m going to hold it against a nominee who has nothing to do with it. I’m going to force them to do it my way ’cause….Democracy! I’m going to keep a cabinet department leaderless and then I’m going to go home and bite my pillow ’cause you are bastard people and I hate your ass face!” Lisa Murkowski, or words to that effect.

  25. 37

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Six LAPD cops involved in a manhunt for a rogue cop opened fire, allegedly without warning, on what they erroneously thought was the suspect’s vehicle and wounded two women, ages 71 and 47. Their lawyer hasn’t named a settlement figure, but said he expects the city to pay them generous compensation, and my guess is $1.5 million apiece will take care of it. If you assume the department buys ammon in bulk and they fired 30 rounds at the vehicle, those bullets likely will cost the taxpayers $100,000.25 each. I can get them at Dick’s Sporting Goods for less than that.

  26. 38

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The taxpayers would get a better deal on bullets if cops look to see who’s in a vehicle before trying to execute the occupants.

  27. 39

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    This sort of thing reinforces conservatives’ belief that public workers can’t do anything right.