Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bank Crashes Continue

The beat goes on.

Banks keep going down.

The two latest banks to suffer from 8 years of bushie economic policies went down:
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp said National Bank of Commerce of Berkeley, Illinois and Bank of Clark County of Vancouver, Washington were closing with other banks taking over their insured deposits.

In 2008, 25 banks were seized by officials, up from just 3 in 2007.
(Others Bite The Dust). The effects of the bushie economic policy will last well into 2009 and beyond.

"You are doin' a heckuva job bushies" in the sense that the damage from your policies will live on and continue after you are gone.


Friday, January 16, 2009

The Crash of Flight 1549 (and 43)

Our nation was ditched too. It remains to be seen how many are saved and how many are yet to die.

The big, glaring difference between America Flight 43 and US Airways Flight 1549 is that pilot of Flight 1549, Captain Sullenberger, was a competent person, and Bushie the Decider of the ill fated Flight 43 was not.

Bushie the Decider brought our ship of state down himself by pushing buttons and muttering "Lord, I wonder what this button will do".

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There Is A Real Slippery Slope

Today the US Supreme Court severely damaged the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

At least according to one lawyer who worked on the case.

That case is Herring v US [it got lost, so Wayback Machine Version], which involved evidence seized in a flawed manner that would have been unlawful under the current understanding of the Fourth Amendment.

The law had been clear. When erroneous information is provided by a law enforcement employee to a police officer and that officer relies on it to search a citizen, any evidence of a crime recovered in that search could not be used to prosecute that citizen.

It was a concept that told police that the ancient ways of kings in the old world was history. There must be valid probable cause prior to any search. That 4th Amendment law is no longer the law.

In Herring, a 5-4 decision, the conservative justices held that even if police officers give other police officers erroneous information, and they use that to search a citizen, if they find incriminating evidence in the otherwise illegal search, now it can be used in court against that citizen in a criminal prosecution.

Yes, the Supremes held that if a police officer is given bad information, and in reliance on it he searches a citizen in violation of the 4th Amendment, the evidence can still be used to put that citizen in jail.

The Supremes tell us now that the fruit of the poison tree is no longer poison. Go ahead Eve, take a bite, they urge. But based upon thousands of years of history of despots, we know the fruit will be both bitter and poisonous.

The fundamental reason the conservative members of the Supremes don't get it is they think "I am government, I am a good guy, so government is good". Our forefathers had a different take on it "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" was their foundation. The entire 4th Amendment theory is not to aid people in hiding crimes, but to keep government from corruption so it cannot harm citizens who do not agree with current government policy and who therefore speak out about it.

But after Herring, bad cops can now conveniently have other bad cops give them information about someone (even untrue information), even after planting evidence, and then arrest their local "enemies".

That is the classical pattern despot regimes take. The "law" is used against their enemies, but they become immune to the law. And that is the direction the conservatives on the court have now taken the United States.

It is a very bad direction, because America is in the other direction. Where we are going with this is clear, the America Simon and Garfunkel went to look for is in the rear view mirror and fading from view.

Are You Charged Up?

The American people were safe from Nixonian Corruption for many years after Nixon was nixed. One reason is that many of his cronies and partners in crime went to jail.

The same must be done to those who participated in the Bush era crime spree which makes the Nixon crime spree look like a picnic.

For instance, there is already two DOJ reports that show bushies broke the law abundantly. The Obama administration is wrong if they think it will all go away if we ignore it.

Let us not forget that democracy demands accountability now and forever.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gadfly Polemics or Enlightened Dissent?

Is there a fine line or any line between dissent and belly aching?

If so, what is it?

Here are some quotes which are purported to be from the 'was that a gadfly comment?' department:
'Oh, to be able to be a gadfly!' --Terry Gilliam

'Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburgers.' -- Abbie Hoffman

'Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.' -- Butch Hancock

'When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.' -- Jonathan Swift
(BBC Article). Either way, it changes when you add 'polemic' to the fray. That word comes from a Greek word attached to the concept "war", and is explained in part by:
polemic: 1638, "controversial argument or discussion," from Gk. polemikos "warlike, belligerent," from polemos "war." Meaning "one who writes in opposition to another" is attested from 1680.

"The worst offense that can be committed by a polemic is to stigmatize those who hold a contrary opinion as bad and immoral men." [John Stuart Mill, 1806-73]
(Dictionary). How does the gadfly polemic syndrome morph into essentially a "repugnant ideology"? They become unfair.

Take the case of the new US president, Barak Obama, who has not yet taken office. Some in the world of "gadfly polemics" are making racial slurs against him, or otherwise condemning him, even before he has any legal power. While he still, pursuant to American law, has to wait.

Blogs can have a lot of good content but still tend to elevate their opinions and preferences over his national mandate (after all, he is president to "us" and to "them"). And whether or not he or anyone else could comply with the demands of the politics of these gadfly polemics on steroids, our Office Of The President is by design an office that will listen. Listen both to "us" and to "them".

Surely most people would agree that gadfly polemics steps over the line of enlightened dissent, and gets far afield and even into foolishness, when a fair and common decency ... "give him and/or her a fair chance" ... is yet to manifest.

US vs. World (Healthcare)

I have a copy of a JAMA article entitled "Is Us Health Really The Best In The World?", which was placed at JAMA, Volume 284, No. 4, July 16, 2000.

The article points out that deaths due to "iatrogenic causes" during hospital care results in 225,000 deaths per year in the United States. That article is from the year 2000, you can read Medical Detective for more recent figures.

The "outpatient care" which follows that hospitalization results in an additional 199,000 deaths due to those "iatrogenic causes".

The not so grand total is 424,000 deaths per year that were due to negligence, accidents, or incompetence.

An "iatrogenic cause" is defined as:
i·at·ro·gen·ic: Induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner, or therapy. Used especially of an infection or other complication of treatment.
(Dictionary). What this boils down to is that, in the health care system discussed, the treatment is sometimes worse than the disease.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Open Thread

Speak your mind and share any good subject matter with everyone else.

Saturn's Many Mysteries

The Cassini spacecraft has found many wonders on and around the planet Saturn. Especially at the north pole.

One of the more perplexing and exciting discoveries was the hexagon and the scientifically unexpected aurora over it (Saturn's Poles). And that was found after a hot spot was unexpectedly found in the center of the totally unexpected hexagon.

It was first discovered two decades ago by an early mission to Saturn. It was seen again in the 1990's and now Cassini has photographed it up close and personal.

As it is studied more and more questions tend to arise. How does a hexagon shape get formed? And how does it then remain over the years in 300 mph hurricane and tornado force winds? Especially in Saturn's heavy atmosphere?

It is quite unlike the more famous Giant Red Spot on Jupiter, which is a hurricane shaped and more circular object as one would expect.

It shows once again, as we throw out the textbooks and print new ones, that our knowledge of the solar system and the universe is limited (Discovery Channel Article [it got lost, so Wayback Machine Version]).