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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 15,480

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I log on to DU w/the Dorothy Parker question: "What fresh hell is this?"

Every morning, with a feeling of dread, I log on - braced for some news of/ latest development from the Obama administration, or some federal agency reporting to Obama, that further destroys our Constitutional rights and/or pushes the limits of disappointment for progressive Democrats. This post about Obama's selection of Sunstein certainly qualifies as the "fresh hell" of the day.

For younger readers, Dorothy Parker was member of the Algonquin Round Table.
[div class="excerpt"
]The Algonquin Round Table was a group of journalists, editors, actors and press agents that met on a regular basis at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. The group began lunching together in June 1919 and continued on a regular basis for about eight years. There has never been another group quite like them in American popular culture or entertainment.

The group contributed to hit plays, bestselling books and popular newspaper columns. Their impact is still felt today. This site is a testament to that. Many know of the core group -- Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, and Edna Ferber -- however, there were about 24 members of the Round Table.


November 8th, 1998
The Algonquin Round Table
About the Algonquin

The period that followed the end of World War I was one of gaiety and optimism, and it sparked a new era of creativity in American culture. Surely one of the most profound — and outrageous — influences on the times was the group of a dozen or so tastemakers who lunched together at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel. For more than a decade they met daily and came to be known as the Algonquin Round Table. With members such as writers Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross (founder of THE NEW YORKER) and Robert Benchley; columnists Franklin Pierce Adams and Heywood Broun, and Broun’s wife Ruth Hale; critic Alexander Woollcott; comedian Harpo Marx; and playwrights George S. Kaufman, Marc Connelly, Edna Ferber, and Robert Sherwood, the Round Table embodied an era and changed forever the face of American humor.

It all began with an afternoon roast of the NEW YORK TIMES drama critic, Alexander Wollcott. A number of writers met up at the Algonquin Hotel on 44th street and had such a good time that the event was repeated the next day, and the day after that, until the lunch table at the Algonquin was established as a ritual. The core group of friends was sometimes joined by others who attended for short periods or drifted about the periphery of the group, including such notables as actress Tallulah Bankhead and playwright Noel Coward. The Round Table was made up of people with a shared admiration for each other’s work. Outspoken and outrageous, they would often quote each other freely in their daily columns.

Round Tabler Edna Ferber, who called them “The Poison Squad,” wrote, “They were actually merciless if they disapproved. I have never encountered a more hard-bitten crew. But if they liked what you had done, they did say so publicly and whole-heartedly.” Their standards were high, their vocabulary fluent, fresh, astringent, and very, very tough. Both casual and incisive, they had a certain terrible integrity about their work and boundless ambition. Some of the most notable members of the Round Table came together to work on significant collaborative projects. George Kaufman teamed up with Edna Ferber and Marc Connelly on some of his best stage comedies, including DULCY and THE ROYAL FAMILY. Harold Ross of THE NEW YORKER hired both Dorothy Parker as a book reviewer and Robert Benchley as a drama critic.

By 1925, the Round Table was famous. What had started as a private clique became a public amusement. The country-at-large was now attentive to their every word—people often coming to stare at them during lunch. Some began to tire of the constant publicity. The time they spent entertaining and being entertained took its toll on several of the Algonquin members. Robert Sherwood and Robert Benchley moved out of the hotel in order to concentrate on and accomplish their work. In 1927, the controversial execution of Sacco and Vanzetti, whose case had divided the country and the Round Table for six years, seemed to cast a pall over the group’s unchecked antics. Dorothy Parker believed strongly in the pair’s innocence, and upon their deaths she remarked “I had heard someone say and so I said too, that ridicule is the most effective weapon. Well, now I know that there are things that never have been funny and never will be. And I know that ridicule may be a shield but it is not a weapon.”

As America entered the Depression and the more somber decade of the 1930s, the bonds that had held the group together loosened; many members moved to Hollywood or on to other interests. “It didn’t end, it just sort of faded,” recalled Marc Connelly. A decade after it began, the Algonquin Round Table was over. Not forgotten, the Round Table remains one of the great examples of an American artists’ community and the effects it can have on its time.

To 3rd world countries:"Need a Constitution? We're Not Using This One"

This column is a very erudite and, I think, powerful discussion of the intersection between today's activist Supreme court, Americans' civil liberties, the Bill of Rights and the fact that things can get a lot worse
"Because the Constitution, far from the plain and simple, absolute and immutable road map to democracy that the Pharisaic right wing seems to perceive, is a remarkably brief and, perforce, very general document whose meaning is what the Supreme Court says it is."

I include here just a few excerpts - hope you will read the entire column.

Re: The Fourth Amendment:
Now it is the government that has privacy – quite a great deal of it – and the citizens who have none at all. This not because the Constitution has changed or the courts have failed to read it. It is because judges have chosen to interpret its elegant but easy language in ways that turn it on its head. Just a few examples:

It continues with many examples - here is just one of them:
* The history of war powers is complex and fraught with differing interpretations from the beginning. Still, it is difficult to picture any of the Founders contemplating a president who would maintain a “kill list” in the absence of a declared war. This is part of what John Marshall, later to become chief justice, said in support of ratifying the Constitution: “Shall it be a maxim that a man shall be deprived of his life without the benefit of law? Shall such a deprivation of life be justified by answering that a man’s life was not taken secundem artem, because he was a bad man?”

And he wraps it up:
"The next presidential election is crucial because the next president will determine the kind of Supreme Court we have. Candidates who are on record as supporting the Patriot Act, the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of domestic electronic communications should be summarily dismissed from consideration. Unfortunately, the only likely candidate who has stepped forward so far and supported the common-sense constitutional view of these things is Rand Paul. Paul is a Libertarian, and that is a dangerous form of political lunacy. Paul’s view of the matter does, though, serve to illustrate a very important point: if ever there was a nonpartisan, purely American issue on which left and right could agree, this is surely it."


"Constructive knowledge" can be assigned to Obama.

In addition to actual knowledge, the law also recognizes the concept of constructive knowlege.
Constructive Knowlege
That which exists, not in fact, but as a result of the operation of law. That which takes on a character as a consequence of the way it is treated by a rule or policy of law, as opposed to its actual character.

For example, constructive knowledge is notice of a fact that a person is presumed by law to have, regardless of whether he or she actually does, since such knowledge is obtainable by the exercise of reasonable care.

For example, possession of the key to a safe-deposit box is constructive possession of the contents of the box since the key gives its holder power and control over the contents.


Then the question becomes whether Obama took reasonable care to exercise oversight and control, as required of a president.

Which then raises the question of how much "plausible deniability" has Obama put in play re NSA, CIA, etc.

Plausible deniability is a term coined by the CIA during the Kennedy administration to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge.

The term most often refers to the denial of blame in (formal or informal) chains of command, where senior figures assign responsibility to the lower ranks, and records of instructions given do not exist or are inaccessible, meaning independent confirmation of responsibility for the action is nearly impossible. In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such act or any connection to the agents used to carry out such acts. The lack of evidence to the contrary ostensibly makes the denial plausible, that is, credible. The term typically implies forethought, such as intentionally setting up the conditions to plausibly avoid responsibility for one's (future) actions or knowledge.

In politics and espionage, deniability refers to the ability of a "powerful player" or intelligence agency to avoid "blowback" by secretly arranging for an action to be taken on their behalf by a third party ostensibly unconnected with the major player. In political campaigns, plausible deniability enables candidates to stay "clean" and denounce third-party advertisements that use unethical approaches or potentially libellous innuendo.

Plausible deniability is also a legal concept. It refers to lack of evidence proving an allegation. Standards of proof vary in civil and criminal cases. In civil cases, the standard of proof is "preponderance of the evidence" whereas in a criminal matter, the standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt." If an opponent lacks incontrovertible proof (evidence) of their allegation, one can "plausibly deny" the allegation even though it may be true.


Thoughts on Pres. Carter's grandson starting out in politics at the state senator level.

I was pleased to note in the OP article that President Carter's grandson is a state senator. Serving in a state legislature, as a statewide elected official (like state treasurer or attorney general) or in the cabinet of a state governor is an excellent and proven way to learn how the political system is designed, functions and impacts citizens in a myriad of ways in all aspects of their lives. And I'd add serving as chief of staff for a governor/congressperson would also provide the extensive knowledge/experience to jump into the political arena at the level of one's previous boss.

It offends me when individuals, particularly "legacy" kids of high level politicians - governors/presidents/vice-presidents/US congressmen start out their political careers running for their very first office at the federal congressional or state gubernatorial level. I don't care how many degrees one has accumulated, or how wealthy one is, or how politically connected one's parents are, or how big a corporation one has run.

Then throw in how some carpetbagging individuals move to a different state just in time to claim residency in order to run for high level office. The primary purpose of serving at a Congressional or gubernatorial level is to represent the interests of your HOME STATE constituents and the overall welfare of your home state. That means you should have extensive personal knowledge of and experience dealing with issues of prime concern to your state and its constituents. You should have a real, personal HISTORY in that state!

President Carter has never suffered from hubris, ego or greed. The fact that his grandson is starting a political career at the state legislative level is further evidence of the values Jimmy Carter has passed on to his family. His grandson sounds to be a very decent man, whose activities and pursuits reflect old-fashioned Democratic values. I hope he will eventually run for higher level office, whether in his home state or the U.S. Congress.

Senator Jason Carter was elected to the Georgia Senate on May 11, 2010.
In his professional career, Jason is an attorney at the business litigation firm of Bondurant, Mixson &
Elmore, LLP. In addition to his business practice, he has received numerous awards for his pro bono efforts and leadership within the bar. Prior to joining his current firm, Jason served as a law clerk to the Honorable Frank Mays Hull of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Jason is active in many aspects of community service and sits on the boards of several charitable and public interest organizations , including the DeKalb Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, Hands on Atlanta and the Carter Center. Jason also served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Lochiel, South Africa, and is active in many aspects of the Peace Corps's continuing mission. He has authored a book about South Africa, and he has published articles on legal issues and other topics.

Jason was born at Emory Hospital in District 42, and is a ninth-generation Georgian. He received his law degree summa cum laude from the University of Georgia, and received his undergraduate degree from Duke University. Jason and his wife Kate have two young sons. They live in DeKalb County, Georgia.

YELP has joined ALEC - let them know what you think!

Just heard from MoveOn.org that YELP has joined ALEC. With just over a thousand reviews, the average rating of ALEC is the lowest possible, i.e., one star.
So, Yelp joined ALEC (yes, *that* ALEC) and this is what happened.

Feel free to add your review, as well.
American Legislative Exchange Council
Washington, DC

Here's a few of the latest reviews/posts:

If ALEC was a restaurant, ALEC would serve GOP pig slop pressed together in little cookie cutter shaped patties on a poisoned, corporate-money-seeded bun.

They would serve this to the average patron, while CEOs would dine in a special section on nothing but the best cuts of corporate friendly legislation, washed down with a nice big glass of Tears Of The Masses.

Also, their service would suck.

And another:

I'm absolutely shocked that Yelp would partner with ALEC. ALEC is the reason so many states have passed laws like "Voter I.D." and "Stand Your Ground."

This neo-con ultra-convervative group is behind awful legislation that in no way helps independent businesses and consumers. Why would Yelp support such a group - because it benefits the millionaire owner?

Booo, Yelp. Booo, ALEC.

Shame on you Yelp! This is my last log in to your site since you have joined forces with ALEC.


Water use stats from 10 years ago; golf course numbers have grown since then.


Number of photos in the January/February issue of Coastal Living that showed coastal wildlife (seabirds, crustaceans, turtles, or other fauna): 1

Number of photos in the same issue showing golf courses: 61

Amount of water it would take, per day, to support 4.7 billion people at the UN daily minimum:
2.5 billion gallons
Amount of water used, per day, to irrigate the world’s golf courses: 2.5 billion gallons

Number of golf courses in Japan before World War II: 23
Number in operation or soon to open in 2004: 3,030

Average amount of pesticides used per acre, per year, on golf courses: 18.0 pounds
Average amount of pesticides used, per acre, per year, in agriculture: 2.7 pounds

Amount of water used by 60,000 villagers in Thailand, on average, per day: 6,500 cubic meters
Amount of water used by one golf course in Thailand, on average, per day: 6,500 cubic meters

Current area of the wetlands of the Colorado River Delta, which now receives just 0.1 percent of the river water that once flowed through it: 150,000 acres

Area that could be covered to a depth of 2 feet with water drawn from the Colorado River by the city of Las Vegas, which uses much of that allotment to water its more than 60 golf courses:150,000 acres

Sources: Photos: Coastal Living, January/February 2004; Water usage: Chris Reuther, Know Your Environment, Academy of Natural Sciences, 1999; National Golf Foundation; State of the World 2004; Japan: “Japan Golfcourses and Deforestation,” TED Case #282, 2003; Pesticides: “EcoMall: A Greener Golf Course, 2004;” Thailand: U.K. Sports Turf Research Institute; Colorado River: Environmental Defense; Las Vegas: Associated Press.
Published in World Watch Magazine, March/April 2004, Volume 17, No. 2

Golf is $49 BILLION per yr. business; 4 BILLION gals. of H2O DAILY

During the past decade, there has been an explosion in new golf courses. The
United States is now home to nearly 18,000 golf courses, more than half the
world's 35,000 golf courses,
according to the Worldwatch Institute, a think
tank that monitors global environmental trends.

In the United States, golf courses cover more than 1.7 million acres and
soak up nearly 4 billion gallons of water daily, the institute estimates.
They also use pesticides and fertilizers that contribute to water pollution.

A 1994 review of death certificates for 618 golf course superintendents by
researchers at the University of Iowa's College of Medicine found an
unusually high numbers of deaths from certain cancers, including brain
cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The results were similar to other studies that have found an elevated risk
for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among farm workers and pesticide applicators.


The "modern" game of golf originated in Scotland in the 1400's, Early Scottish golf courses were primarily laid out on links land, soil-covered sand dunes directly inland from beaches. This gave rise to the term "golf links", particularly applied to seaside courses and those built on naturally sandy soil inland.

Those original Scottish golfers would surely scoff at the pampered US golfers with their courses manicured, watered and chemically treated to look like some unnaturally green, Thomas Kinkade fairy tale.

On edit: And the Scots would also ridicule the ubiquitous use of golf carts. Today's golfers get minimum exercise - it's gotta be the least strenuous "sport" in the world.

Given how the War on Drugs turned out; time for a War on Jobs!

American Tourist Snaps Finger Off 600-Year-Old Statue in Florence Museum

Hoping to overcome the stereotype of the obnoxious, ignorant American abroad? An unidentified U.S. tourist who snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue in an Italian museum hasn’t helped the cause.

No, the tourist wasn’t drunk, being belligerent, in a brawl, dangling from the statue wearing nothing but his skivvies or whatever other wild imagery your brain might conjure: The reportedly 55-year-old Missouri native was simply trying to measure the statue’s pinky finger, holding his own hand up to the statue’s outstretched one. But the museum — like most museums that harbor centuries-old works of art — has a no-touching rule that the tourist allegedly flouted, leading to the tragic act of digital disfigurement.

“In a globalized world like ours, the fundamental rules for visiting a museum have been forgotten, that is, ‘Do not touch the works’,” said museum head Timothy Verdon, via the NY Daily News, which reports that the tourist has since apologized and has been described as ”very disappointed.”

The statue, dubbed “Annunciazione” and located in Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (“Museum of the Works of the Cathedral”), is of the Virgin Mary, by 15th century Florentine sculptor Giovanni d’Ambrogio. Apparently the pinky finger wasn’t original to the statue, having been made of plaster and added at a later point: The finger didn’t snap off entirely at the time the act occurred, and restorers were able to remove it before it fell to the ground; they’ll now work to reunite the statue with its missing digit.


My comment? In the name of all that's holy, keep Anthony Weiner and his smart phone away from Michelangelo's David, Praxiteles' Hermes and the infant Dionysus, Donatello's Bronze David or Rodin's The Vanquished.

Letter from my 72 yr. old classmate who is part of Wisconsin's Solidarity Sing Along

(I posted this as a reply on another thread and was asked to make it an OP)

She's 72 years old - my old classmate/childhood friend/neighbor. A lifelong philanthropist who funded and worked daily at her own community emergency services office, and was often at the scene of disasters volunteering with the Red Cross. Whenever any pastor or priest in her small town came across someone in desperate need, they sent that person to her office. She wasn't one of those society do-gooders who wear designer gowns and get their pictures in the society pages writing checks at posh fundraisers. She's always been a down-to-earth, heart on her sleeve, boots on the ground toiler in the vineyard of human suffering.

I worry every day about her safety, and the safety of those demonstrating.

Here's her letter : a written comment submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Administration as part of the public input process on the promulgation of emergency administrative rules:

To the Department of Administration, State of Wisconsin.

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing in support of the efforts of the Solidarity Sing Along to maintain citizen consciousness in Wisconsin and in our nation; I don’t believe this activity should be restrained in any way. I see it as the ember of hope that we, the people, will once again have a voice in the future of the United States of America.

We are enormously out-resourced and out-powered by forces beyond our control: corporations whose only goal is taking money from the workers who actually earn it and “investing” (read, gambling) it in the casinos of commerce. The new restrictions are a manifestation of exactly where the power lies, and the desperation to which the feudal lords have succumbed. The only way we can counter this is by speaking—and singing—truth to power. Our society is becoming a place where Jesus would be very angry about the treatment of the poor.

The Solidarity Sing Along started as a way to focus the energies arising with the outpouring of response to the perceived betrayal of our ideals by Governor Scott Walker and his fellow money-suckers. It continues as a place-holder for democracy in a world we hardly recognize. The therapeutic value of singing our hearts out is what keeps us engaged and gives us hope.

Yes, we have our rowdies—but they’re OUR rowdies, and are committed to non-violence, as we all are. What they may lack by way of finesse or vocabulary, they more than make up for in spirit (and decibels). We try always to be respectful of the rights of ALL.

We’re still here. Wherever else we may be, we’re still here.

Yours for the life of our country,
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