… A THOUSAND CUTS

From YouTube:

On June 18, 2011 artists Ligorano/Reese presented a temporary monument in the garden of Jim Kempner Fine Art in NYC called “Morning In America.” The installation was witnessed by hundreds and lasted a total of 8 hours throughout the hot day.

…A THOUSAND CUTS is a timelapse video of the event. The soundtrack was inspired by an excerpt from Senator Bernie Sanders 8 hour filibuster on the U.S. Senate floor against the extension of the Bush tax cuts and the effects on the middle class. It is orchestrated to music by composer/violinist Michael Galasso.

Senator Bernie Sanders is my favorite U.S. Senator, one that I admire and respect above all others—for his integrity, his straightforwardness, his resolve and commitment, and his passion. He is not afraid to speak truth to power, and he does it with clarity, wisdom, strength, honesty, and without hesitation. We need more people like him in Washington.

The entire text of Senator Sanders speech is available as a book, published by Nation Books, “The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class“.

The Debt Ceiling and the Line-Item Veto

As we approach financial doomsday with the current clash of ideologies regarding whether or not the debt ceiling should be raised, revenues increased and/or programs cut, one thing stands out that, to my knowledge has not been addressed:

The Line Item Veto.

There was an experiment with the line-item veto a few decades ago, I believe, wherein the President could simply cross out expenditures he did not approve of, and then sign the budget. It’s not constitutional.

But…

When the debt ceiling fecal matter hits the fiscal fan, the Executive Branch will be forced into a situation where it can only pay out as much as it takes in: i.e. we will have, by default (no pun intended), a balanced budget. WITH ONE HUGE CAVEAT:

THE PRESIDENT WILL GET TO CHOOSE WHICH BILLS GET PAID AND WHICH DON’T. Republicans will have essentially handed President Obama a line-item veto on a silver platter.

This author humbly suggests that all federal funding that flows to Republican districts have their funding stopped. After all, discrimination based on political affiliation does not violate the Constitution. The voters in those districts elected Republicans. Why not make them pay the price of their choice?

Republicans are handing over immense power to the President. Companies that contribute heavily to Republicans and right-wing PACs could suddenly see their federal contracts dry up on August 3. And there’s not a damn thing Republicans can do about it…except vote to extend the debt ceiling – on a clean, stand-alone bill.

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 – Hump Day: A Tale of Two Countries’ Camels


The country of Somalia has been much in the news for several major crises: civil war, warlords, pirates, a United States rendition prison camp, and the worst problem of all compounding the horror for Somalians: continuing and devastating drought conditions causing the deaths of livestock such as cattle and goats. But what makes this drought, considered by experts to be the worst in 60 years, so much worse, is what one would have believed to be unthinkable: even the camels, the “ships of the desert”, able to withstand weeks without water, are dying.

While Kenya and Ethiopia are also being affected by the ongoing drought, Somalia has felt the brunt of it due to the political situation: warlords first allowing, then banning, UN and other aid organizations; warlords intercepting famished families traveling to refugee camps, often taking what little these poor people have. Most of the refugees are nomadic herders, depending almost entirely on their camels and other livestock for their food and market value. One herder refugee, who used to consider himself to be a rich man, lost more than 300 camels out of his herd of 350.

According to AZG Daily, in an article entitled “CLIMATE CHANGE ‘THREATENS PEACE’, UN OFFICIAL WARNS”

“[The UN] Security Council formally debated the environment for the first time in four years, with Germany pressing for the first-ever council statement linking climate change to global peace and security…It also requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include information on possible climate change impacts in his regular reports on global trouble-spots….”The move came after two regions of Somalia were declared a famine, after the worst drought in six decades.”

Read more articles regarding this tragedy here, here, here, and here.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who recently visited the devastated region, is calling for additional funding for the World Food Program, the International Red Cross, and other organizations, to try to avoid further catastrophe.

In the meantime, Australia is facing a problem with their own camel population: too many wild camels, whose methane-laden flatulence is reportedly increasing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Some scientists have suggested a solution of killing off much of Australia’s wild camel population, estimated at as many as 1.2 million.

Hmmm…Somalia is losing camels, while Australia has a whopping and troubling surplus of camels. Why can’t U.N. officials and international aid organizations figure out a way to solve both problems? Yes, the solution would have to involve providing an irrigation method and replanting of the drought-stricken flora, but there must be a way to save the people and livestock of Somalia, and the camel population of Australia. I can’t help believing that better minds than mine could come up with a solution; I just hope that someone can do so before both situations are beyond saving.

This is our Open Thread. What’s on your mind today?