Tag Archives: beauty

Fear and Loathing in Washington D.C.

Washington DC Capitol - HDR

“President Obama will negotiate with the Syrian butcher Assad and erase his red line, will capitulate to Vladimir Putin, and he will negotiate with the happy face of the killer regime in Iran, President Rouhani, but not with Republicans over issues all presidents have always negotiated over.”

That quote – from American conservative radio host/shame-free liar and propagandist Hugh Hewitt – encapsulates how far the U.S. has to go to overcome the most embarrassing and pathetic government shutdown in the history of the country. Not every conservative in the United States is as crazy or deluded as Hewitt, but enough are to where an angry, xenophobic, racially charged minority, belonging to one faction in one house of government, has been able to manufacture a government shutdown threatening to destroy the US and global economy unless the party opposite capitulates to their bidding.

The truth is, no American president has ever “negotiated” repealing a duly enacted law [the Affordable Care Act] whilst being blackmailed with the destruction of his government, or indeed with the destruction of the global economy. But this line of baseless rhetoric has become the new mantra of the Republican Party and their apologists: repeat the lie until enough Americans have been coerced that they [Republicans] are not singularly to blame for the disastrous impasses the country continuously finds itself in (e.g. sequestration, shutdown, debt ceiling, etc.). This isn’t just a minority problem – it’s a party problem. The American Tea Party may be [entirely] comprised of callous fools and disgraceful opportunists, but we’re mostly here because “moderate” Republicans have consistently folded to these vandals rather than stand up to them.

It’s important not to forget that Republicans manufactured the U.S. government shutdown for one reason and one reason only: to stop poorer Americans from getting health insurance funded by cuts to Medicare and the taxing of the richest Americans. Let’s also keep in mind that Congress itself passed the healthcare law in 2010; the Supreme Court then affirmed its constitutionality through its landmark ruling earlier this year; and the majority of Americans want it – as proven when they re-elected the President who signed it.

In a few weeks (or sooner), the shutdown/default crisis will long be over and maybe even forgotten. The federal deficit will in all likelihood continue to fall, and growth will probably resume. But the long-term inadequacies of the U.S. political system will continue to be exploited by the Republican Party, creating a sort of dystopic future for American politics. The American people put pretty much all of the blame of the shutdown/default crisis on the shoulders of Republicans, but conservatives can still expect to hold enough seats in the House come the 2014 midterm elections (mainly because of the way district lines are drawn. Republicans were lucky enough to have had a huge win at the state level in 2010, which coincided with post-census redistricting or gerrymandering). Democrats may very well win the White House again in 2016 with Hillary Clinton or Papa Joey B, but the Congress will probably remain the same, meaning we’ll see more shutdowns/threats of defaults before it’s all said and done.

I’ve been able to gauge the puzzled, incredulous looks of my international friends at the LSE – many of whom come from democratic countries – when they hear that an extremist minority party caused the “most powerful” democracy in the world to close up shop. I tell them that American politics, as constructed by James Madison (“father” of the Constitution), was designed with stagnation, derision, and polarization in mind. But the country’s founders couldn’t foresee something as inane as the Tea Party (and warned against political party’s altogether); they couldn’t possibly expect the damning practice of gerrymandering districts or the influence of special interest groups both in elections and public policy.

Mostly, I’ve had to tell my foreign friends that what they’re currently seeing and reading about is not at all what American politics was meant to be. But they better start getting used to it, because it’s here to stay.

Photo: Nicolas Raymond

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Deaf Three Year Old Hears His Father’s Voice For The First Time

Thank you science, this is awesome:

Three year old Grayson Clamp, born deaf, was able to hear his father say “Daddy loves you”, thanks to a microchip implanted inside the child’s brain by University of North Carolina doctors. He becomes the first child in the U.S. to receive the microchip, previously approved only for adults.

Over time doctors say the device he wears to interact with a microchip placed on his brain will be fine-tuned and improved. The boy will also undergo several years of speech and hearing therapy at UNC.

And his adoptive parents are pretty awesome too:

The Clamps who adopted him while already knowing his condition say they’ll be there every step of the way.

“We got Grayson, took him home from the hospital and he belonged,” Len Clamp told WBTV of those first moments of his adoption while still glowing this week from his son’s healthy progress. “He was ours from I think day one.”

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Photo Of The Day

SS Ayrfield

A 102 year-old transport ship called the SS Ayrfield, which after outliving its usefulness was towed to Homebush Bay in Sydney Australia, has in the last few decades transformed into a floating forest:

From 2008-2010 a concerted effort was made to remove many of the lingering chemicals in Homebush left from the industrial era. Not far away is the Brickpit Ring Walk, a former industrial site where nearly three billion bricks were made from 1911 through the 1980s that is now a carefully protected natural habitat. As the forest has grown inside the SS Ayrfield, the bay is now a popular place for photographers who wish to capture the uncanny sight of this strangely beautiful relic of the bay’s industrial past, not to mention nature’s resiliency.

(Photo by flickr user Bruce Hood)

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The Daily Roundup

20130531-120813.jpg

Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein (via Wikipedia)

Today on Left and Center, Publius diagnosed American household wealth recovery, shared a fucking excellent video from NASA, charted greenhouse gas emissions around the world, cited reactions on the coming epidemic of the Coronavirus disease, considered China’s multi-billion purchase of an American pork producer, noted a really fantastic James Baldwin quote referencing Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein, and marveled at a lovely photo of Flüelapass, Switzerland.

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Photo of the Day

DavosDavos (cc photo by Daniel Zedda)

Lovely shot here of Flüelapass, Switzerland, a high mountain pass in the Swiss Alps in the canton of Graubünden. The pass road connects Davos and Susch in the lower Engadin valley.

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Photo of the Day

Dream PoolDream pool (cc photo by Ian Sane)

Lovely shot of one of the many pristine waterfalls located in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. Not quite sure which waterfall this is, but I’ll take a wild guess and say it’s the Upper North falls.

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The Weekly Roundup

24 | May | 2013

The Unblinking EyeThe Unblinking Eye: Taken at the October 24th, 2012 campaign event of Governor Mitt Romney at Reno, Nevada (cc photo by Darron Bergenheier)

Friday on Left and Center, Publius shared some background to the new Wikileaks documentary, discussed how California gave Obamacare some really, really good news, argued that the Republican Party can no longer honestly call itself a party of conservatism, mitigated a debate between Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald on whether or not the London beheading of a British soldier could be categorized as terrorism, and had a good laugh at a photographer’s hilarious depiction of toy storm troopers.

23 | May | 2013

Obama at the John S. Knight CenterObama at the John S. Knight Center (cc photo by Beth Rankin)

Thursday on Left and Center, Publius unearthed the government’s war on whistleblowers, considered a damning opinion by Martin Wolf on austerity, saw Mnemosyne weigh the efficacy of corporate self-regulation, relayed President Obama’s speech on the future of the war on terror, and shared a wonderful photograph of Wadi Rum – Jordan.
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Bukowski on truth and censorship

In 1985, the Public Library in Nijmegen – a municipality located in east of the Netherlands – removed from its shelves a book by Los Angeles based author Charles Bukowski called Tales of Ordinary Madness. The library described the book as “very sadistic, occasionally fascist, and discriminatory against certain groups (including homosexuals)”.

In response to this, Charles Bukowski penned a letter to Hans van den Broek:

If I write badly about blacks, homosexuals and women it is because of these who I met were that. There are many “bads”—bad dogs, bad censorship; there are even “bad” white males. Only when you write about “bad” white males they don’t complain about it. And need I say that there are “good” blacks, “good” homosexuals and “good” women?

In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of “sadism” it is because it exists, I didn’t invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds. In my writing I do not always agree with what occurs, nor do I linger in the mud for the sheer sake of it. Also, it is curious that the people who rail against my work seem to overlook the sections of it which entail joy and love and hope, and there are such sections. My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the “light” and never mentioned the other, then as an artist I would be a liar.

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.

(Video: from Born into This documentary: Bukowski recites his poem Dinosauria, We)

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When conservatism left the Republican party

The Unblinking EyeThe Unblinking Eye: Taken at the October 24th, 2012 campaign event of Governor Mitt Romney at Reno, Nevada (cc photo by Darron Bergenheier)

Jonathan Chait does a really fantastic profile of 28 year-old Bloomberg columnist Josh Barro, who he labels as the “loneliest Republican”. What’s been a startling and troubling political trend these last few years has been how the Republican party has openly and damningly retreated from pretty much every single policy ground they once stood on. Parties evolve and ideologies adapt, but that’s not necessarily what’s happened to the so-called “conservative” party. Leaving aside the “why this happened?” for another time, the truth of the matter is that if you’re a policy wonk, and hold yourself to be a conservative – assuming you’re honest with yourself – you don’t really have a political home anymore.
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The Daily Roundup

Obama at the John S. Knight CenterObama at the John S. Knight Center (cc photo by Beth Rankin)

Today on Left and Center, Publius unearthed the government’s war on whistleblowers, considered a damning opinion by Martin Wolf on austerity, saw Mnemosyne weigh the efficacy of corporate self-regulation, relayed President Obama’s speech on the future of the war on terror, and shared a wonderful photograph of Wadi Rum – Jordan.

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Photo of the Day

Jordan - Wadi Rum - Seven Pillars of WisdomJordan – Wadi Rum – Seven Pillars of Wisdom (cc photo by Salim Al-Harthy)

Wadi Rum – Jordan

In the West, Wadi Rum may be best known for its connection with British officer T. E. Lawrence, who passed through several times during the Arab Revolt of 1917–18. In the 1980s one of the rock formations in Wadi Rum was named “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” after Lawrence’s book penned in the aftermath of the war, though the ‘Seven Pillars’ referred to in the book have no connection with Rum.

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Photo of the Day

high parkHigh Park (cc photo by Paul Bica)

High Park, Toronto.

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Apparantly, immigration reform is completely unacceptable if it is extended to gays.

120613-D-NI589-518Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) (cc photo by Chuck Hagel)

That’s the major takeaway from last nights Senate Judiciary Committee hearing where Senator Patrick Leahy (D) stood alone in support of extending immigration rights to gay married couples.

But the debate regarding gay immigration rights isn’t necessarily at an end. Instead, we may be in store for some really interesting political maneuvering in the lead-up to the 2014 election cycle.

Senator Leahy – the chair of the Judiciary Committee – previously proposed two amendments aimed at protecting the immigration rights of gay couples, but pulled them off the table last night when he received absolutely no support from members of either party – that much we know. Democratic aides expect, however, that Leahy plans to reintroduce the amendments when the immigration debate hits the Senate Floor, which will a the very least force a public floor debate on why so many Senators think straight married couples deserve more rights than gay ones.

The amendments probably wouldn’t pass, in any case, but the debate can theoretically provide Democrats a means of portraying Republicans as anti gay rights. Marco Rubio and Bubbles – sorry, Lindsey Graham – have warned that any move to involve gays in the conversation would immediately kill the immigration reform bill. Much of the reason that pretty much every single Democrat agreed to pull these amendments in the first place was because they believed the threats, and decided against calling the Republican’s bluff.

Something else that’s really interesting is that at some point in June, the Supreme Court is going to rule on DOMA. If they strike down the Defense of Marriage Act – many believe they will – then these issues will be solved for since the federal government will have to constitutionally extend recognition to legally married gay couples. So timing is important here: if the Democrats wait until SCOTUS rules on DOMA, they lose any political leverage they have regarding gay immigration rights; if they introduce the amendments on the Senate floor prior to the decision, they can force a public battle with Republicans on the issue of gay rights.

It’s unfortunate that these amendments will probably never see the light of day. But with the massive leaps gay rights has made over the past few years alone, there’s reason to be hopeful that – inevitably – Washington will soon lose the means of discriminating against people based on who they love.

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Photo of the Day

Into the Dragon's LairInto the Dragon’s Lair (cc photo by Tobias Lindman)

Into the Dragon’s Lair
Photo of the “Court House” metro station in Stockholm, Sweden.

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16/2,8 DX
Tripod: Manfrotto 055XPROB + 498RC2 Head

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The Daily Unwind

A Spanish Roadtrip

Created by: theperennialplate.com
In Partnership with Intrepid Travel: intrepidtravel.com/food/
Filmed & edited by:
Daniel Klein
Mirra Fine

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