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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 4,893

Journal Archives

My favorite Mahler song cycle!

I had the privilege of hearing mezzo-soprano Christa Ludwig, in one of the final concert performances of her career, perform this in New York with the N.Y. Philharmonic. And on this particular song, she absolutely tore the audience's heart out! She made you genuine believe she was a mother racked with guilt after losing them in a storm.

Thanks for sharing this! And for the benefit of anyone reading, here is a translation of the Rückert poem from which the text is taken:

"In this weather"

In this weather, in this windy storm,
I would never have sent the children out.
They have been carried off,
I wasn't able to warn them!

In this weather, in this gale,
I would never have let the children out.
I feared they sickened:
those thoughts are now in vain.

In this weather, in this storm,
I would never have let the children out,
I was anxious they might die the next day:
now anxiety is pointless.

In this weather, in this windy storm,
I would never have sent the children out.
They have been carried off,
I wasn't able to warn them!

In this weather, in this gale, in this windy storm,
they rest as if in their mother's house:
frightened by no storm,
sheltered by the Hand of God.

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Dec 17, 2013, 04:54 AM (0 replies)

A comment I posted last night on 60 Minutes' website re: the NSA segment


I gather the producers of 60 Minutes felt the Benghazi report fiasco hadn't done enough damage to the program's journalistic credibility, so they decided to air this outrageously uncritical, blatantly pro-NSA propaganda puff piece. The NSA personnel who appeared in the report all have a vested interest in protecting what the NSA sees as (and many Americans disagree is) its rightful turf.

The bit about the alleged 'BIOS plot' was particularly telling. 60 Minutes allowed an NSA spokesperson to claim that this plot was hatched by a state actor, which she declined to identify, that had the intent to turn computers across the U.S. "into a brick" (to quote the very loaded term used by 60 Minutes) and thereby crash the U.S. economy. Then, in a slick, journalistic sleight-of-hand, the report provided hearsay statements by unidentified NSA analysts that the state actor in question was China, which the agency refuses to confirm or deny. I'm not buying it for a second. The government of China has absolutely nothing to gain, and a great deal to lose, by crashing the U.S. economy. This segment didn't pass the smell test of someone with a raging sinus infection!
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 16, 2013, 01:33 PM (18 replies)

So, if the 60 Minutes segment on the NSA were true . . .

So, if it is true, as claimed in Sunday night's 60 Minutes segment, that the many hundreds of dollars that have been spent on building the NSA's surveillance apparatus (and are now being spent on the massive data warehouse complex in Utah(), and the billions upon billions of emails, tweets, texts and other online and telephonic communications and other activity collected and stored by the NSA, are for the purpose of monitoring 50-60 people worldwide (as Gen. Keith Alexander claims in the interview), then shouldn't the folks who constantly rant and rave about government "waste, fraud and abuse" be storming the gates of Ft. Meade by now instead of picking on food stamp recipients? Just sayin'.

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 16, 2013, 01:02 AM (43 replies)

WaPo: White House to preserve controversial policy on NSA, Cyber Command leadership

In other words, the President ordering this review amounted to little more than a PR stunt, and the administration has no intention whatsoever of addressing the public's concerns in any substantive way.

White House to preserve controversial
policy on NSA, Cyber Command leadership

The Obama administration has decided to preserve a controversial arrangement under which a single military official is permitted to direct both the National Security Agency and the military’s cyberwarfare command despite an external review panel’s recommendation against doing so, according to U.S. officials.

The decision by President Obama comes amid signs that the White House is not inclined to place significant new restraints on the NSA’s activities and favors maintaining an agency program that collects data on virtually all phone calls of Americans, although it is likely to impose additional privacy-protection measures.

Some officials, including top U.S. intelligence officials, had argued that the NSA and Cyber Command should be placed under separate leadership to ensure greater accountability and avoid an undue concentration of power.

“Following a thorough interagency review, the administration has decided that keeping the positions of NSA Director and Cyber Command commander together as one, dual-hatted position is the most effective approach to accomplishing both agencies’ missions,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in an e-mail to The Washington Post.

< . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Dec 14, 2013, 05:26 AM (13 replies)

Mandela on Poverty

“Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

—Ambassador of Conscience Award Acceptance Speech, November 01, 2006
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Dec 5, 2013, 08:06 PM (1 replies)

Lawrence O'Donnell segment: The Torah and Marriage Equality

I loved this!

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Dec 4, 2013, 02:59 PM (4 replies)

We should perhaps temper our enthusiasm about Pope Francis a bit. . .

. . . Yes, the things he has said and written regarding social and economic justice seem like a breath of fresh air, but in reality, the principles he articulates in Evangeli Gaudiam stand solidly in the same line of thought as Rerum Novarum, the encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in the late 19th C., and of Populorum Progressio, the 1967 encyclical issued by Pope Paul VI. If anything was a theological innovation (and arguably not one for the better), it was the conflation of the Church's long-standing institutional and social conservatism with political and economic conservatism, of which the Church had traditionally kept a wary (and wise) distance. Thus, Pope Francis should be seen as guiding the Church back to its long-standing and traditional commitments to social and economic justice.

But It is a mistake to expect a great deal of movement on those vexing cultural questions (e.g., abortion, birth control, homosexuality, ordination of women, etc.), at least not anytime in the near future. The Pope cannot act alone. He needs the support of at least a plurality of the College of Cardinals. Unfortunately, both of Francis' predecessors made a point of packing that body by appointing relatively young cardinals who shared their theological-cum-political outlook. And just to bring everybody back to Earth a bit, here is another passage from Evangeli Gaudiam, which I think most folks here will agree sounds like the same old Catholic same old:

Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will.

That is pretty clearly a shot at, or an attempt to trivialize, the issue of marriage equality.
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 2, 2013, 12:54 AM (11 replies)

Had a little fun with Photoshop!

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Nov 26, 2013, 11:50 PM (22 replies)

LOL! Reid calls out McConnell

In a tweet, Harry Reid reminds us that it wasn't so very long ago that McConnell was singing a different tune . . .

Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Nov 22, 2013, 05:38 AM (0 replies)

A Facebook posting of mine on the triggering of the "nuclear option"

I posted this just now both as a personal status update and a post on the page, "Liberal Warriors Battleground."

I've seen a lot of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth in comments around the web today, mostly by conservatives but some by liberals as well, to the effect that in eliminating the filibuster of most presidential appointees, that somehow the "rights" of the minority party have been trampled upon. To that I say, balderdash! Rights, under the Constitution, attach to TWO entities: (1) to citizens as individuals, and (2) to states. The Constitution doesn't even contemplate the existence of political parties, let alone a system wholly dominated by only two, so to speak of any party or political faction as having "rights" is to speak nonsense.

(Actually, the framers did take care to protect one kind of minority right in structuring the legislature as they did. They were concerned about limiting the ability of more populous states to run rough-shod over the interests of less populous states, hence the arrangement of two Senators per state regardless of population. I would argue that they went way overboard in that direction, but I'll leave that for another post.)

Three things are clear. First, the Constitution vests in the presidency the power to fill federal judicial vacancies (and executive branch positions), giving to the Senate AS A WHOLE the role of advise and consent. Second, nowhere does the Constitution provide, nor can any reasonable case be made that it in anyway is intended to provide, for a situation in which a minority party in the Senate can prevent the Senate as a body from performing the role assigned to it by the Constitution. And third, while the Constitution permits each legislative chamber to set its own procedural rules, to suggest that in doing so, the framers intended to create a situation in which a Senate procedural rule (i.e., the filibuster) could be abused by a minority political party in such a way as to impede the Senate from exercising its Constitutionally-appointed role, is simply beyond absurd.

The ability to use a filibuster against executive branch appointees was something that began as a courtesy. Republicans, since President Obama took office in 2009, have employed it in a totally unprecedented way and an unprecedented number of times (roughly HALF OF ALL THE SENATE FILIBUSTERS THAT HAVE BEEN INVOKED IN THE NATION'S HISTORY HAVE OCCURRED SINCE PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK OFFICE). In doing so, Republicans have abused the courtesy of the filibuster.

All of this has centered on the filling of three vacancies on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, arguably the second-most important court in the country next to the Supreme Court. The court normally has a panel of 11 judges. Of the eight serving judges, four are liberal and four are conservative. It happened that three seats became vacant during this Presidency. The three nominees the President has put forth are, by any standard, moderate jurists. Republicans have raised no principled objection to any of them, nor is there any known scandal that should prevent their confirmation. This is ultimately about one thing: preventing the consequences that flow from the President having been re-electred.

Republicans have been accusing President Obama of attempting to "pack the court" with liberal judges. "Packing the court" is a phrase that has a particular history in this country. The phrase originates during the term of FDR, who faced a solidly conservative Supreme Court that was attempting to block him at every turn. FDR threatened to increase the number of justices on the court, filling the new seats with his own appointees, if the court continued to obstruct his agenda. (The court backed down under the threat.) It does NOT refer to a sitting President making the nominations he sees fit to fill vacancies that arise during his term.
Posted by markpkessinger | Fri Nov 22, 2013, 12:11 AM (2 replies)
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