Archive for April 2013
I just sent this to Rep Peter Welch, Sen Bernie Sanders, and Sen Pat Leahy
I am writing with strong objection to the Marketplace Fairness Act. As a Vermonter who has worked for a mail order catalog company for many years, I think this legislation will be disastrous. The concept of having every company and artist who sells their goods via the mail, have to conform to every individual municipal tax code is daunting. The worst effect of this will be all of the companies that realize it will be too difficult, and they won’t even try. Do you have solid estimates about how many businesses will never start up due to the excessive difficulty in implementing this? If not, you better go back to the drawing board. Personally, I expect it will stifle small business in Vermont, and the United States of America.
I have heard the idea that there will be some sort of software that will make it easy to calculate the tax rate for each individual community in our vast country. Is that true? If so, you might be able to make the system work. That said, when was the last time you went through a major software upgrade? They are excessively painful, never go anywhere near as easy as planned, and create havoc for months and years. Are you willing to guarantee that this will work perfectly right out of the gate? What is the precise plan for updating the software, every time any community changes their tax rate? Again, if every detail is not worked out, it will be a nightmare.
By implementing such a system, it’s obvious that the larger the company, the easier it will be to adhere to this. Once again, you politicians are willing to throw the little guy under the bus, and encourage the large corporations. They will survive anyway. We may, or may not. If you implement this, remember, every job lost because of this will be your fault.
Please write back with direct answers to my concerns. A cover letter will only result in further questions and phone calls. As a citizen, I need to know the answers to these questions, and if I get the slightest hint that you have not gamed out every possible ramification, I will be forced to vote against you in the next elections. In general, I feel lucky to be represented by such intelligent and caring people. However, if you follow through on this, and vote for this, and problems arise, there will be no reason to expect that you should keep your jobs.
But, first, here’s my take. As we learn more about the brothers Tsarnaev, we want to ask larger questions about radical Islam, Russian immigrants, Muslim communities and the breakdown of assimilation. What do they tell us about all this?
The most accurate answer might turn out to be not much. Larger phenomena might be at work, but these two young men might not reflect any rise or intensification of these trends. It seems they are just two alienated young men who turned towards hate and then, allegedly, to murder.
That was the point the brothers’ uncle Ruslan Tsarni made when he pointedly called his nephews “losers.” He was arguing against the notion that the boys represented a larger community or larger trends.
Tsarni and his family, after all, were part of the same Chechen migration to the U.S. and they are well-adjusted, law-abiding and thoroughly American.
Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. During that same period, more than 100,000 people have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents in America.
One crucial reason the number of terrorism deaths is low is that America does not have large pools of alienated immigrants. Polls repeatedly have shown, for example, that Muslim immigrants to the United States embrace core American values. American assimilation continues to function well.
Now, could it do better? Well, there’s one surprising place that the U.S. could learn something from, Europe. I know, I know, assimilate has worked better in the United States than there, but let’s acknowledge that European countries are dealing with a much larger problem.
Muslims make up 5 percent of the population in Germany, 7.5 percent in France, compared with 0.8 percent in the United States, according to Pew calculations.
Jonathan Laurence of Boston College, who has done extensive research on Muslim communities in Europe, found that before 1990 European countries were largely indifferent towards their Muslim populations letting foreign embassies like Saudi Arabia set up the mosques and meeting centers for these groups.
They realized that this produced a radicalized and unassimilated migrant community. So, now, in recent years, governments at all levels have engaged are engaging with Muslim communities, taking steps to include Muslims in mainstream society but also to nurture a modern, European version of Islam.
It’s worth noting, Islamic terrorism has declined in Europe in recent years.
The lesson from Europe appears to be engage with Muslim communities. That’s a conclusion U.S. law enforcement agencies would confirm. The better the relationship with local Muslim groups, the more likely those groups are to provide useful information about potential jihadis.
A recent attack in Canada, apparently inspired but also perhaps directed by al-Qaeda, was foiled for just this reason. An imam in Toronto noticed one of his congregants was behaving strangely. He reported the behavior to the police, who followed up and arrested the man before he could execute his plan.
Before briefing reporters on their collaboration, Canada’s top counterterrorism official invited Toronto’s Islamic leaders to a meeting and thanked them for their help. “But for the Muslim community’s intervention, we may not have had the success,” said the official, according to one lawyer who was at the meeting.
In the wake of Boston, the smartest move we could do would be greater outreach to these communities so that the next time someone begins to act strangely, community leaders would pick up the phone and call their friends at the police.
John Fugelsang “Let’s all thank the Senate for funding Air Traffic Control & ensuring the Sequester still won’t inconvenience rich people.”
Stewart “It’s the opening ceremony of the (George W) Bush library. It’s been four and a half years since we’ve seen President Bush. I imagine, like most Ex-Presidents, he’s been devoting himself to public service. You know, Bill Clinton’s got the Clinton Global Initiative, attacking a multitude of issues through tenacios NGO work. 88 year old Jimmy Carter, literally pulling the last remaining Guinea Worms out of poor children’s feet with his hands. What’s President Bush been up to?
George W Bush April 25, 2013 “I paint two or three hours a day.”
Stewart (imitates Bush) “Sometimes it seems, only a gallon of paint can drown out the screams of those I’ve wronged.”
I just got home from radio show number 9 (no Beatles though). I feel like I played some pretty good songs, but might have got the order better. It was a long work day, and I was more tired than is ideal.
Song Before: Show Me – Jon Anderson
From our small city to the great big world, these are the sounds of Burlington. Here’s a song from a show at Nectar’s a couple of months back. This is Joe Adler and the Rangers of Danger on WBKM, Burlington’s kind of music.
1.) Mirror Mirror – Rangers of Danger
2.) Tension Release – Nuda Veritas
3.) Purpose and Object – The Contrarian
Said Casey Hades Rae used to be the music writer in town and is now playing music. Talked about downloading t for free, but not feeling good about it. Even though I did it to play on the show, it feels like I should have paid for it. Said I would pay extra for his new one. I guess, I have to do it now. Talked about how amazing Nuda is live, and how she uses loops to create a lush sound. Talked about how Joe is a treasure to our music scene. Talked about leaving the Nectar’s show that it was recorded at, because Vedora were playing. It’s hard when two great shows happen at the same time. Mentioned how much I love Vedora.
4.) Somewhere Else – Vedora
5.) Livin – Nuda Veritas
6.) Presence – Satori Bob
Talked about first seeing John Baumann at the Cheese Outlet and loving his songs. Said he met up with Bob Gagnon to do the Satori Bob album. Talked about how wonderful Nuda is, and how much I love Vedora. Said last week I played Barbacoa doing BloodBoy.
7.) Bloodboy – Envy
8.) Weapon Factory – The Wards and the Dirty Blondes
9.) Finder – The Madelines
Talked about getting a CD from Chip Martin that had a ton of great stuff from Good Citizen. I saw the name the Madelines and something clicked. I played it, loved it, and had to play it on the show. Talked about how Weapon Factory began the Burlington punk scene, and how it was a fun version with the Blondes. Diane Sullivan clearly has the lead vocal at the end. Mentioned how great Envy were. Talked about playing another song from that CD and here is Invisible Jet.
10) Breathing In – The Hero Cycle
11.) If this is You – Invisible Jet
Apologized for introducing the wrong song. I meant to play Hero Cycle, and was happy that I just saw them play twice and who knows what happened to them. I’m glad they created the CD. Mentioned Invisible Jet and said goodnight.
Popped in to say Happy Birthday Fish
Goldfish and Clowns – Fish
Cliche – Fish
From the April 24, 2013, edition of “Viewpoint.”
Do you know what the problem with drones is? That President Obama got to keep the Nobel Peace Prize but Milli Vanilli had to give the Grammy back.
Now this will upset some Obama supporters who won’t accept any criticism of our president, but in 2010 President Obama sent this greeting to Netroots Nation where he said, “What I’m asking you is to keep making your voices heard, to keep holding me accountable.”
You got it, Mr. President. Now at “Viewpoint” we don’t respect blind allegiance to politicians and I suspect Mr. Obama doesn’t respect it either. And some of us critique this guy because we care about him and we care about his legacy.
Now the Obama administration has continually defended its use of drones to kill people — including American citizens — as legal, wise and ethical. But this week the administration refused to send a witness to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings on the legality of the drone program.
The use of drones has increased dramatically since the first strike under the Bush administration back in 2001. And since then some 4,000 people have been killed in targeted operations, including American citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, who was 16 years old.
The FAA predicts in the next 15 years more than 20,000 drones will occupy U.S. air space, including police drones, military drones, corporate drones and the entire cast of “The Five” on Fox News.
And even if you accept the meme that drones are the new normal, they save U.S. troops lives by keeping boots off the ground — there’s still reason to object. And it’s all a part of a little formula I call “IBM.”
OK, “I” is for “Imminent.” The administration believes it can kill American citizens without a trial if that person presents an imminent threat of violent attack against the U.S. But John Brennan and the White House have what they call “a broader concept of imminence.” Meaning that if they think you might be an imminent threat someday, like in 10 years, that’s enough and they can kill you now.
OK, that’s like buying tickets today for the “imminent” production of Steven Seagal playing King Lear in 20 years. And that’s not going to happen, either.
Now “B” is for “Blowback.” According to a joint study by Stanford and NYU, only one in 50 victims of drone strikes in Pakistan are militants. The rest are innocent civilians, or as Dick Cheney would call them, “collateral damage.” And every time a drone kills a few innocents along with an America hater, we generate all new America haters, or, “Don’t radicalize me, bro.”
And finally, “M” is for “Militant,” the most abused word in the entire drone campaign. Because under current U.S. policy, all military-age males who live in a combat zone are considered to be enemy combatants. The White House, Pentagon and DOJ all use this tactic to keep the civilian death count low, so if you’re a non-militant who happens to get killed by a drone that kills militants, you’re a de facto militant. That’s like saying going into a gay bar just makes you a Lady Gaga fan.
So what do you call a president who’s killed thousands of Muslims with drones, escalated war in Afghanistan, personally thrown Palestinian statehood under the bus at the U.N., kept Gitmo open and ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden? Well, our right-wing friends call him part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
But we know the right wing’s not going do anything about this. Rand Paul has already changed positions like a yoga teacher on tainted meth. No, my friends, I’m afraid it’s up to you: the Obama supporters who are mad at me right now for criticizing him. The Obama supporters who refuse to ever criticize him. Remember what the president said at Netroots: Hold him accountable.
And if the policy doesn’t change and we keep on doing this, and he damages his own legacy by killing so many innocent civilians overseas, you, my friend, if you ever get to go to the White House, are now morally authorized to walk around, find the president’s Nobel Peace Prize and draw quotation marks on it.
Stewart “But, as always, after the crisis passes, thoughts turn to what does this mean for me. First, reflections from overseas.”
Petr Ganalovic, Czech Republic Ambassador to the US “The Czech Republic is a European country. It is a different thing than Chechnya.”
Stewart “That is the Czech Republic ambassador feeling the justified need to explain to an American audience that two similar sounding foreign nations, are not necessarily the same nation. But, I interrupted you. Please go on.”
Ganalovic “Obviously we’ve been seeing things on the social media that people are mixing up Czech Republic and Chechnya. I wish to stress that this is the Czech Republic, a country of central Europe, and your NATO ally.”
Stewart “Oh, you’re an ally. Who said the Czech Republic wasn’t an ally. Are you really saying we would overreact to a terror act on our soil by invading a country that had nothing to do with…..Oh.”