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Category: Politics

Barack Obama on Religion

Barack Obama on Religion

Barack Obama is the most intelligent, reasoned politician I have ever heard. This video is remarkable. In it, he shares his views on religion and its role in a pluralistic, progressive society.

My favorite passage of the speech (emphahsis added):

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson’s, or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.

You can read the full transcript of his speech here.

Are you hearing this America?

Lessig on Obama

Lessig on Obama

One of the smartest people around, noted Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, has put together an outstanding video sharing his reasons for voting for Obama. I highly recommend watching it and thinking about the issues he raises. If you disagree, why?

Watch or download the high-quality video here (torrent).

Lots of excellent thoughts and comments on his post too (scroll down).

Missouri Says Obama FTW!

Missouri Says Obama FTW!

Missouri Says Obama FTW!
NPR and the AP called Missouri for Hillary Clinton earlier tonight. Barack went from ~30% won to 49.2%, FOR THE WIN.

I am so proud to say that my vote helped prove them wrong. We showed them our "O" Face and it feels great.

The Show Me State has Spoken: We want Barack Obama. We want change. "We are the ones we’ve been waiting for."

Yes, we can.

Missouri Primary Election Results

“Identity Theft” by Nellie McKay performed live on Prairie Home Companion on January 26, 2008

“Identity Theft” by Nellie McKay performed live on Prairie Home Companion on January 26, 2008

Nellie McKay performing live on A Prairie Home Companion

Last Sunday as I was driving around doing some errands I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the local NPR station. Garrison Keillor introduced a singer, Nellie McKay, who sang a song that I enjoyed very much. Afterwards, I looked around to see if I could buy it on iTunes. When I tried to purchase the album I got an error, so I waited until the streaming audio was released. The MP3 below is taken from that stream so you can listen to it as often as you like.

You can listen to the whole show here.

Check her out on iTunes: Nellie McKay

Or purchase her album on Amazon’s MP3 Service (which is what I ended up doing).

Download and listen to Identity Theft by Nellie McKay, performed live at Prairie Home Companion (.mp3, 1.6MB)

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

More coverage of this here:

This Executive Order, signed by President Bush and released on July 17, 2007, says that if the Secretary of the Treasury decides that you might commit violence against the efforts for Iraq sometime in the future, that they can seize all of your property. It is up to them to decide what constitutes a “significant risk of committing” an offence. Does that seem problematic? Not if you support their efforts. If, however, you decide to protest against what you don’t agree with, or maybe you read web sites (remember that AT&T is watching what you do online for the government) that encourage people to take action against what they consider to be illegal actions taken by this administration, if you can be seen to be in opposition, WHAT IS THERE TO STOP THEM FROM DECIDING THAT YOU POSE A THREAT, and that, to protect the USA, your property should all be taken away, with no recourse?

As I’ve written many times, NOW IS THE TIME TO IMPEACH BUSH AND CHENEY. Write your Congressmen and Representatives, today. Tell them why they’ve got to support impeachment, NOW. It is the law, it is their job. There is nothing more important than acting with integrity on this issue. If we fail, as a nation, to hold our leaders accountable to the rules and laws that we’ve set up, we deserve to get what’s coming to us.

Complete text of the Executive Order

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

(i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

(A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

(B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

(ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For purposes of this order:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken.

Sec. 7. Nothing in this order is intended to affect the continued effectiveness of any rules, regulations, orders, licenses, or other forms of administrative action issued, taken, or continued in effect heretofore or hereafter under 31 C.F.R. chapter V, except as expressly terminated, modified, or suspended by or pursuant to this order.

Sec. 8. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

July 17, 2007.

# # #

From: Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq

An excellent comment from Austin Cooper on TPMmuckraker:

“I used to think like you people… then I grew up.”
— JTho

It isn’t necessary to break out the tinfoil.

The country has, since the Truman administration, had emergency plans for continuity of government and responses to a variety of worst-case natural or man-made disasters — including pandemics, urban insurrections (after the summer of 1966), and, now, terrorist incidents. Insofar as I know, FEMA is supposed to be the principal governmental agency coordinating the execution of these emergency plans.

There’s nothing inherently sinister about this.

Bush and Cheney have done more to inflate the alleged ‘powers’ of the Executive branch, including:

1) Suspension of Habeus Corpus;

2) Establishment of unprecedented surveillance programs, and the expansion of federal law enforcement powers to conduct wiretapping and secretly obtain commercial, financial or other personal records with no true oversight;

3) Development of the concept in law of persons (including U.S. citizens) declared “enemy combattants”, whose legal rights are effectively voided, and who can be detained indefinitely solely upon Executive order;

4) The development of a legal basis for the use of “extreme coercion” — torture — directed by Executive Order;

5) Expanded powers of search and seizure for law enforcement under the Patriot Act;

6) The use of thousands of “signing statements” attached to laws passed by Congress — all essentially stating that execution of these laws are subject to interpretation by the Executive Branch;

7) Restrictions on air travel for thousands of citizens, often erroneously, and expanded restrictions in being granted a Passport; all based upon a series of secret “Watch Lists” with no oversight;

8) The subject of this TPM article — essentially establishing another principle that the Executive branch may order the financial assets of specified groups or individuals (including U.S. citizens) frozen, solely upon Executive order.

All of these are facts. In and of themselves, each point has raised concern and debate — but that debate has been ultimately meaningless because without challenge, the Executive branch continues to do as it wishes.

It is also a fact that Bush and Cheney, and their ‘administration’, have assumed more unilateral power than any other Executive branch in American history, even overshadowing Lincoln’s during the Civil War.

I don’t argue that, with the next terrorist attack in America, we might expect martial law, freezing of assets and mass arrests of whole classes of persons — declared enemies of the state, on the basis of public comments or private communication, or association with other ‘enemies’ — and that tens or hundreds of thousands could be held in secured compounds across the country.

I’m not suggesting that the current ‘administration’ — frightened that any potential criminal activity it has committed might be exposed, and convinced that they are the only persons to save America from internal and external threats — are desperate or fanatical enough to use the cover of a terrorist ‘incident’ to establish an effective dictatorship.

There’s no ‘wink, wink’ here. I’m not arguing that any of this will occur. I mention the secured compounds (they’re real; Haliburton has the contract) not for the tinfoil value, but because their construction hasn’t been adequately explained by anyone, or the expenditure of public funds. However, it’s fair to mention that they could just as easily be used in a variety of scenarios — some benign, some not — calling for the housing of large numbers of refugees, illegal immigrants, quarrantined pandemic flu victims, etc.

I only offer one opinion: The United States has not fought a real war on its own soil since 1865. We’ve never been physically invaded or occupied by a foreign army since 1813.

We have never experienced a true breakdown in government in our lifetimes — or a dictatorship a la Fascist Italy, nazi Germany; Soviet Russia or Communist China; or the worst of the Eastern Bloc.

We haven’t experienced living in fear of a true Secret Police, whose purpose is to enforce laws that protect ideological or religious orthodoxy through torture, imprisonment and ultimately, murder.

Somehow, as Americans, we believe that our system of government (based, supposedly, on the Rule of Law) renders us immune from the repeating patterns of governments and history that mark the Old World. It’s part of our national self-image.

Unless we actively preserve those things we feel protect us from authoritarian rule, from ending up as “just another failed experiment” in the governing of human affairs, then it’s foolish to believe we *are* protected, or special — and that It Can’t Happen Here.

I don’t believe that we are immune from history, or that persons like Bush and Cheney are any less faliable than the rest of us.

The real questions are whether, by continuing to assert the authority of the Executive branch as trumping all others, that Bush, Cheney and their ideological allies are convinced that they alone perceive the ‘real world’ and understand what America is — and, that the current war and expansion of Executive authority are critical necessities to protect “America”;

And, whether they feel that in order to protect “America”, they must maintain their control of government, the military, and foreign policy — *at any cost* — because their concept of The State is indivisible from their persons, and their ideologies.

A nation, finding itself in the hands of leaders at this particular crossroads, isn’t a new occurance in history. It is, however, a new enough occurance for us that we aren’t able to recognize the dangers inherent in the situation.

Posted by: Austin Cooper
Date: July 20, 2007 1:14 PM

Orange 10mm LED throwie dog leash modification – night light tracer for walking in the park with Kuma

Orange 10mm LED throwie dog leash modification – night light tracer for walking in the park with Kuma

LED throwie dog leash modification

So, I finally got my packages of 300 LEDs (ordered on Ebay from a Chinese manufacturer) and 100 watch batteries for the purpose of experimenting with the concept of the LED throwies today.

I made my first one with scotch tape and an orage 10mm LED. It was so exciting when it lit up. Silly, I know, to get excited about such a small thing. By the way, I had ordered the parts for my LED throwie kit earlier this week, before the city of Boston came to a screeching halt due to freaking out about a street art promotion for a cartoon show made of LED lights that caused a bomb scare. Because, well, gosh darnit, those lights must be… a BOMB! In my opinion what happened in Boston was the same result as crying FIRE in a crowded theatre. Except the theatre is the United States of America, and the person crying FIRE is the Bush/Cheney White House. Somebody is winning when our response to new promotional art is to call in the bomb squad. Somehow, though, I don’t think it is Osama bin Laden who has instilled this fear in the American people. Who wins when everyone in the country is afraid? Who gains more power?

Anyways, I was very excited to open the packages and construct my first LED throwie. The magnets haven’t arrived yet, so it’s not quite a true throwie but it is still fun to play with. Then it was time for my nightly dog walk with Kuma, going to Tower Grove Park. Tonight it is about 14° F out (pretty cold) and the park still has a light covering of snow and ice from yesterday. As I was walking along, holding my ever so precious glowing orange LED and playing with it, it occured to me that it might be neat if I attached it to Kuma’s leash so that it would track her movements as she ran around sniffing different squirrel tracks.

This is a short movie I made of her dancing movements with her own personal LED throwie light tracer dog leash modification.

It’s kind of neat to see Kuma’s movements captured by light. I took the video using my Treo 700p cameraphone. You can hear the crunch of my footsteps on the snowy pavement.

More pictures from the walk are here.

Wondering if your vote on an electronic “voting” machine will be counted?

Wondering if your vote on an electronic “voting” machine will be counted?

Watch this video. A documentary showing how DIEBOLD has cheated american voters.

HBO SPECIAL Hacking Democracy – Google Video

If there are ANY discrepancies between pre-election polling and the actual “results” and they are not challenged, there will be trouble.

I’ll be voting later today, and videoing it to see how the process goes.