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wicasa's Journal - Archives
Posted by wicasa in General Discussion
Thu Dec 01st 2011, 08:58 PM
Today's Mudline on Doonesbury included the following quote from Der Spiegel on GOP candidates:

"They're ruining the reputation of the United States. They lie, deceive, scuffle and speak every manner of idiocy."

My first comment is that among the idiocies they speak is accusing Obama of harming the United States' reputation abroad.

Of course, by comparison at least, the Republicans are doing far more harm to the reputation of the United States as indicated not only by the above quote, but by any number of foreign sources. In particular I remember Sen. Inhofe going to the climate conference in Copenhagen with the expressed intent of ensuring that no substantive actions came out ot the conference, and the European press just skewered him, but that is only one more example.

I fully expect that when then general opinion of the world, and our traditional allies in particular comes out in the course of the campaign, as I expect that it will, the Republicans and the right generally will try to turn the relative approval of Obama against him on the theory that real Americans don't care what foreigners think anyway. Something similar to this happened in 2004, and again in 2008, and I expect many times previously that I do not remember.

Cain already tried a similar campaign ploy this year and it didn't get him very far, but that was likely mostly because his campaign was already sinking for unrelated reasons--unrelated that is except that Cain attempted to use his ignorance of foreign affairs as a distraction from his other opinions and affairs, but I digress

What I really want to focus on right now is that when the Republicans do play their anti foreign opinion card we should ready, and part of what we should be ready with is that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" is one of the foundation principles of the United States, and one of the first, most clearly, quite strongly and unequivocally expressed:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. . . . .

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Posted by wicasa in Latest Breaking News
Tue Nov 15th 2011, 08:04 PM
the best scientific evidence and opinion available, this is it.

Discovery is doing the worst disservice that I can imagine by not showing the final episode.

Just what they think they are doing escapes me.

Their irresponsibility echoes and reverberates until just now I can think of little else.
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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion
Sun Oct 02nd 2011, 05:34 PM
Not only will the right hate to see her elected senator.

They will really hate trying to campaign against her because of the issues that she will raise as campaign issues.

This may have implications not just for her race, but for other races too.
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Posted by wicasa in Media
Fri Sep 16th 2011, 10:01 PM
Lila, An Inquiry into Morals*
Robert M. Pirsig

The Man who Walked Through Time*
Colin Fletcher

Alters of Unhewn Stone, Science and the Earth
Wes Jackson

Rules for Radicals
Saul Alinsky

Tal's 100 Best Games

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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion: Presidency
Sat Sep 10th 2011, 12:45 PM
I'll share it here too:

Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, . . . how many others have become the Republican "great conservativ­e hope" with lots of hype and the presumed frontrunne­r--the campaign theirs to lose?

And then when the public begins to get a look at them they fade quickly because the public--ev­en the Republican part of the public--ha­s a hard time accepting what they see because what they see is insular, shallow, hypocritic­al, ignorant and hateful.

On some level this is what Republican­s seem to want--but when they face it head on they can't stomach it.

So this leaves Mitt Romney who is slightly less objectiona­ble on the above criteria, but also slightly less appealing for the same reasons. The Republican id isn't really happy with him,
but the Republican superego doesn't veto him.

My guess--and it is only that--is that he will become the Republican nominee, even if most Republican­s find a hard time getting very enthusiast­ic about him.

They are not alone in this regard.
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Posted by wicasa in Religion/Theology
Tue Aug 23rd 2011, 07:00 PM

"Grey the sky"

What can be said or written that is worth saying?

The attitude betrays frustration and depression, Words might flow for the sheer joy of expressing them, but "worth saying" implies a cost. Arguably there is cost when words have meanings, and there is a premium on getting them right--but it this truly so anymore? Babble displaces reasoned discourse. Fabrications displace research. Unwillingness to believe erases memory and certified facts. Who cares? Why struggle to get them right?

I care or I would not have written thus. But I perceive little indicating that my efforts, or the efforts of those more heavily and directly involved in public discourse who also care are much regarded or much rewarded.

"Both ends against the middle. The center cannot hold. Mere anarchy turned loose against the world."
William Butler Yeats

Am I in the middle? I guess that depends upon how one perceives things, but I do fear the center cannot hold.

"It were a miracle if sanity stayed afloat."
Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum

Sanity is sinking.
Assertions of how things are and must be, true, untrue, and undetermined are sinking it. That it is to the advantage of no one that this ship sink notwithstanding.

The assertion of "Never again!" creates the circumstances where it is almost certain to happen again. That which has been set apart as unquestionable rots for lack of questioning.

"The elephants are good but there's dumb."
James Simon Kunen,
The Strawberry Statement

"A dim perception of he knew not what."
Whitehead, quoted by Pirsig in
Lila, An Inquiry into Morals

"You're next."
Danton, when passing the house
of Robespierre en route to the

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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion
Tue Jun 21st 2011, 08:50 PM
This is fact. What follows is currently happening in Nebraska.

There are two nuclear power power plants built in the Missouri River Flood Plain in Nebraska.

Both are currently in danger of being flooded, risking their cooling systems, and thereby risking scenarios similar to the japanese problems with the power plants and storage pools.

In both cases it is certainly arguable that the power plants should never have been built where they are, or even that no nuclear power plants should have been built at all--but that is beside the immediate point. The immediate point is that in the face of these pending potential disasters the reactions of management have been diametrically different.

First the Ft. Calhoun Nuclear power plant near Blair Nebraska: It had a routine shutdown for fuel replacement and maintenance in April. Then the realized that they were facing a flooding threat, and decided that it was no time to start up again, and that instead they should shut it down, and take precautions to try to cool it down so that there would be less of a problem if there is flooding that causes cooling problems. This was the response of the Omaha Public Power District (its owners).

They did also have a fire while shut down that was reported as an "unusual event" that made some news and highlighted the type of risk that this plant, and nuclear plants in general face, in general and fromm flooding in particular, and there are problems there that could become severe. The fact is that the plant has been shut down since April, and although the plant operators have been trying to keep their problems quiet, they have in at least some ways been trying to deal with them, and if flooding does cause problems, the problems will be significantly less because the plant has been shut down for two months.

Second, there is the Cooper Station Nuclear power plant down where the state of Missouri rather than the state of Iowa borders Nebraska across the Missouri river. They also had an "unusual event" (this June 17, 2011) that they had to report on June 17: this "unusual event" caused by minor flooding with all signs that flooding was certainly going to get worse. The response of the Nebraska Public Power District (its owners): They announced the that public need not worry and that the power station was back to functioning at full capacity.

Therefore when flooding gets worse they will almost certainly suffer major problems that will be worse because the Plant has continued operating "at full power" of which they seem to be very proud.

sources (among others):

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Posted by wicasa in South Dakota
Fri Jun 17th 2011, 02:08 PM
There may be several possible opponents. One I know of is Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth.

He has committed to running unless Stephanie Herseth Sandlin elects to run again and makes her intentions known in a timely manner, in which case he will defer to Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

As Jeff Barth noted, he got more votes in 2010 than any other Democrat that won in South Dakota in 2010. Of course being in the state's most populous county--a county with more voters than any state legislative district helped.

He also knows that if he is to win he will have to reach out to the rest of the state, and particularly to Indian Country, and he has started initiating feelers for support.

He's a former union leader, and a reasonable person, and about as liberal as we are likely to get in South Dakota. His deference to Stephanie Herseth Sandlin should she choose to run is a recognition of reality rather than an endorsement of her politics.

Some pundits have written off this race to Kristi Noem, but I can't see why. She does not have a high approval rating, she makes lots of stupid statements, she only won by a few thousand votes (and less than a majority in 2010) which was a strong year for Republicans.

If you are at all interested you can contact me and I can help you contact Jeff.

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Posted by wicasa in The DU Lounge
Thu Mar 31st 2011, 02:02 PM
Tolkien powers of the ring.

If one looks into the imponderable aspects of questions of morality one cannot but call into question one's own basis for what one considers to be moral actions. If you look into these riddles you risk corrupting yourself.

But these riddles are there, and those attempting to supplant dysfunctional aspects of a culture must look into them if they are to be honest and informed about what they are trying to do.
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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion: Presidency
Thu Mar 31st 2011, 01:31 PM
First, I have read some documents that shed a light on the thinking of the founding fathers, including but not limited to The Federalist Papers (all of them), and I have a B.S. in history, and a JD. That does not make me a constitutional scholar, but it gives me some background.

The Federalist Papers defended a strong executive on the theory that a strong executive was necessary to prevent chaos--on the other hand the founders never envisioned a large federal executive doing so many things under the absolute control and discretion of one person. That can equate to tyranny which the founders saw themselves as resolutely opposing.

This might be used to argue that the founders intended smaller government, which would literally be true. However the founders did not anticipate the many challenges that would be presented to the government, many of them now being presented by big business beyond anything the founders could have conceived. The founders were split of the value of corporations, for instance, some of them believing that they were essential to the functioning of a viable nation, and some of them (similarly to Adam Smith) believing that the special privileges granted by a corporate charter were anathema to liberty. But that is a topic for a separate discussion, and is off point.

The founders clearly believed, however, that the executive, however powerful, was to be bound by Constitution and laws of the United States. They could and would not have supported a large executive branch filled with yes-men who believed that whatever the President said was law. They did support somewhat stronger executive powers in dealing with international than domestic affairs, but even so they believed that the President was to be bound by the laws in international matters too, and that Congress was to be consulted whenever possible, and that only the Congress had the power to declare war, or to appropriate money to carry out the functions of the executive either foreign or domestic.

This would mean that any executive officer would have an obligation to follow the law, and to attempt to assist the President in following the law. By logical implication this means to attempt to prevent the President from breaking the law.

This does not, of course, present a clear and simplistic answer. There is no clear and simplistic answer that is at the same time informed and honest.

Therefore "other" is the only appropriate response to such a poll.
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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion
Thu Mar 24th 2011, 09:45 PM

Second, last spring I was at a judicial conference where a variety of scientists presented on various topics from DNA evidence to use of bacteria to reduce the hazards of toxic waste to addictions.

The scientist who presented on additions was also a physician, and she spoke on addictions to five categories of drugs:

1) methamphetamine

2) cocaine

3) opiates

4) alcohol

5) tobacco

She did not mention marijuana in her initial presentation.

One of the judges--who is also a former attorney general of our state--asked her about that, she responded.

My summary of her response will be close to a quote:

First, she did not wish to give marijuana her approval as being safe, indeed, she stated it seems to cause problems with short term memory that are not much acknowledged and are under appreciated, but that stated she believed the problems with marijuana were far less than those of any of the five categories of substances she had discussed in her initial presentation, and that some of the problems that many have associated with marijuana seem to be not a problem with marijuana itself, but with the fact of its illegality.

Our former attorney general responded stating that he thought that marijuana was a gateway drug leading users to experiment with more dangerous drugs, and that in his experience as attorney general had had never experienced a methamphetamine case where marijuana was not also present.

The presenter responded that the apparent factor of marijuana as a gateway drug was part of what she was referring to as one of the problems associated not with marijuana itself, but with the fact of its illegality. She specifically stated that the research that has been done does not support the idea that marijuana functions as a gateway drug in places where marijuana is legal.

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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion
Sun Dec 19th 2010, 09:35 PM
the Pentagon Papers.

This is appropriate, and there are many valid basis for comparison. In both cases government documents are exposed that indicate that the government cares more about its image than lives or a realistic chance of successful policies. In both cases government is rightly embarrassed, and attacks the messenger.

The same is also true about a series of cases brought in England in the 1760s and 70s that lead to many points of law enshrined in the Constitution--I speak of the cases concerning John Wilkes.

The issues first erupted in 1763 when Wilkes, then a member of parliament, published an article in "The North Briton No. 45" attacking the crown's negotiation of the Peace of Paris that ended the Seven Years War (also known as the French and Indian War).
(Trying to quote Churchill on the point Wilkes alleged that the Treaty was not only dishonestly, but dishonorably negotiated, and that the King had had a hand in it."

A general warrant (eventually leading to the prohibition of general warrants in both the United Kingdom and the United States) issued, and Wilkes was arrested and charged with treason and seditious libel. Eventually a jury found him not guilty, and Wilkes and his cohorts turned and sued the King's ministers and eventually won verdicts totaling hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Among the issues raised by the cases over a period of about 15 years:

The legitimacy of general warrants.

The extent of parliamentary immunity.

Whether the proceedings of Parliament could be published.

Whether a convicted felon could be elected to Parliament.

Whether the jury in a criminal libel case had the right to determine not only whether the defendant published the materials alleged to be libelous, but also whether the material published was in fact libelous.

Whether the jury in a criminal pornography case had the right to determine not only whether the defendant published the materials alleged to be pornographic, but also whether the material published was in fact pornographic.

John Wilkes was a hero to many who valued liberty on both sides of the Atlantic. He corresponded with many of the founding fathers. including Sam Adams, John Adams, and Josiah Quincy, and received gifts of turtles, tobacco, and cash to pay his legal fees from the colonies.

His name is honored by the naming of Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, and of course John Wilkes Booth was named after him, but few know of his importance today.
ry of
Still, his legal battles were successfully raised as precedent in at least one case of constitutional magnitude, that being the case that concerned whether Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. had to be seated in Congress but because he had been elected to Congress after and despite a felony conviction.

In substance, if the history behind the American Revolution, and behind the framing of the Constitution means anything, than Julian Assange is a hero. And those who would silence him are amoral cowards.

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Posted by wicasa in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Nov 04th 2010, 06:25 AM
George was explaining his understanding of the function of the Senate to Thomas Jefferson.

His reasoning is supported by other language in The Federalist Papers and elsewhere too.

Having held the Senate this line now holds a double sweetness. It is solid evidence of the founder's intention of the creation of the Senate precisely to put the brakes on hasty and ill-considered legislation that was expected to be pushed from time to time by the House of Representatives.

This being so, this is precisely what we need from the Senate now.

And the specific reference to tea as a metaphor makes it sweet indeed.

Anyone who argues against abandons any serious argument that they are seeking constitutional government as the founders intended.
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Posted by wicasa in South Dakota
Sat Oct 02nd 2010, 09:36 PM

Local surgeon accused of income tax evasion

Andrea Cook Journal staff | Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 11:30 pm | (11) Comments

The Internal Revenue Service arrested a Rapid City surgeon Tuesday on charges of cheating the IRS out of more than $800,000 over 13 years.

Dr. Edward Picardi, who lives in Sturgis, pleaded not guilty to five counts of income tax evasion at his arraignment Tuesday afternoon in front of U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy. If convicted, he faces five years in federal prison for each count.

"I feel very confident," the thorasic and vascular surgeon said Wednesday after being reached at his office at 101 E. Minnesota St.
In a five-year period between 1999 and 2003, Picardi is alleged to have earned more than $2.6 million, but managed to divert $811,000 in income tax he owed by claiming losses of more than $2.7 million.

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Posted by wicasa in South Dakota
Sat Aug 21st 2010, 05:13 PM ...

Ex lawmaker Ted Klaudt says state misused federal funds

A former South Dakota lawmaker has threatened in court documents to give evidence that the state misused $750,000 in federal funds to a television station if a judge doesn't help resolve his legal troubles.

. . . .

He asked U.S. Appeals Court Judge Roger Wollman for help with his legal troubles and said if the judge refused, he would forward his evidence to FOX News, "as they have expressed an interest in my case."

"I am not going to beat around the bush," Klaudt said in the court documents. "I am trying to save my own neck, and if I need to, I am prepared to goes far as I am forced to go to achieve that goal."

Klaudt was convicted in 2007 in Pierre on four counts of second-degree rape. He was accused of touching the breasts and genitals of two foster daughters in phony examinations on the premise he would help them sell their reproductive eggs. The girls lived in the Klaudts' home as part of a program that provides foster care for young people who have no safe home to return to after completing time in juvenile reform programs.

The following points, either implicit in the story or unstated and better known within the state are worth noting:

1) He is threatening to reveal information which, if true, he should have revealed long ago.

2) He is improperly appealing to a federal judge to do something that the judge has no authority to do.

3) He is threatening to go to FOX News "as they have expressed an interest in my case."

4) The information he is threatening to reveal has to be damaging to Republicans (if he really has such information)because otherwise he would have revealed it long ago and because the state government he accuses of the wrong doing was dominated by Republicans throughout his time in the legislature.

5) He openly acknowledges that he is trying to save his own neck.

6) He became, while in office, one of the leaders of the Republican dominated state legislature. Among other posts he was chairman of the House committee that oversaw the department of social services.

7) The Department of Social Services he received reports of Klaudt's abuse of the underage girls, at least some of whom had been placed with Klaudt in his capacity as a foster parent by the Department of Social Services, but they did not reveal their information until after Kluadt had lost an election in which he had tried to move up from the SD State House to the SD State Senate.

8) This has to be some type of indication of the quality of leadership under what is close to being a one party system.

9) It is also some type of indication of the type of supervision given to state programs by the Republican dominated state legislature.
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