Archive for Washington

The Book Booth: Valentine's Edition


The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.


As I learned earlier this week, Valentine was sainted in AD 496 by
Pope Gelasius 1. Virtually nothing is known of him, other than he was
martyred on February 14 in 314. But somehow, that seems appropriate,
for who does know the mysteries of love?

Literature is replete with the stuff of love. Flavorwire had its top
25 great love affairs
. Be sure to check out number 8, which has the
Alan Ladd movie tie-in cover art for The Great Gatsby. If that doesn't
make you want to read it, I don't know what will.

Of course, nothing says I Love You like having it eternally etched
into your skin. BuzzFeed featured some "epic" literary tattoos here.

And book lovers suffer more than the world can understand. HuffPo

featured eleven "conundrums" that only we are aware of.

Not all love affairs endure. In fact, some writers are bold enough to
avenge themselves through their writings. MentalFloss shared some of
these misguided relationships here.

For whatever reason, love has often been linked to war. I suppose it
shouldn't be remarkable, if we remember the Greek god of war Ares was
the brother of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. In any event,
Publishers Weekly recently discussed ten of the best contemporary war
novels here.

If you are between books and wondering what to read, you might want to
check out Kim Stanley Robinson's discussion of three science fiction
novels with modernist overtones

Or if you are feeling more ambitious, one the librarians from the New
York Public Library offered up 25 books that changed the world. A
list, by the way, not everyone loved; check out the comments below the article.

A new offering in historical fiction comes from the author of
Fatherland, Robert Harris, who has just had published his take on the
affair Dreyfus, An Officer and a Spy. The Wall Street Journal examined
it here.

There has been something of a dust up this week when Penguin Books
India has decided to pulp religious historian Wendy Doniger's The
Hindus: An Alternate History. Doniger has long been a professor at the
University of Chicago and is well respected in the field. Of course,
she's none too happy. Story here.

Penguin Books India defended their decision here.

Finally, I wanted to share this very insightful essay from George
Packer in the New Yorker on the history of Amazon and its impact on
books and book selling. If you read no other links from today's post,
read this one.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Valentines Day with someone or something
you love. And I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Monday is
Presidents Day. Ah, I remember the days when we got two days off from
school for both Washington and Lincoln's birthdays. Those days are
long gone. I shall spend Monday contemplating the presidential term of
the long-neglected William Henry Harrison.

Let us know what books you're enjoying this long weekend!


Cory Booker Is In Da House -- Well, In Da Senate


Cory Booker

Today Cory Booker was sworn in as the newest U.S. senator. He's only the fourth Black elected senator in US history. And he promises to be a great asset to the floundering political scene in Washington.

Booker, 44, was sworn in at noon by Vice President Biden. With his arrival, the Senate Democratic caucus now includes 55 senators — 53 Democrats and two independents — and Republicans have 45 seats. Take a look at history:


Dems Won't Compromise -- We Already Did!



What short memories the Republicans have. The GOP says the government shutdown is because the Democrats, especially the president, refuse to negotiate. WE ALREADY DID! I thought an elephant never forgets.

The compromise was the sequester, and the continuing resolution is to continue funding at those levels. Your negotiated levels. The Paul Ryan budget levels.

These working figures are crazy, but the Democrats agreed to give into them in order to keep the government funded despite Speaker Boehner's refusal to send the higher/saner budget bills to conference. The sequester numbers cut money from nearly every branch of the government. They literally are taking food out of the mouths of babies. It's prohibiting medical care for thousands. It's denying adequate safety in the skies and greatly contributing to high unemployment on the land. Did you forget that already?

So Boehner, quit your crying. As Harry Reid pointed out time and time again, you have to learn to take yes for an answer.

There is one small chance to save face, a slight glimmer of light coming from the crack in the door. Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and George Miller (D-Calif.) are planning to circulate a discharge petition. It is very iffy at best. It requires 218 signatures. But if they can achieve that magic number of representatives signatures, the full House will be forced to vote on the petition. In this case, it's a clean continuing resolution.

The trick is getting roughly 18 Republicans to go on record as standing up to Boehner. According to various reports, there are between 18 - 21 GOP'ers who have said they favor a clean CR in order to get the government back up and funded. Yet when they had a chance to vote before this, they got cold feet.

What the Democrats can take out of this most likely futile effort is bragging rights. They tried -- and the Republicans didn't. And those like Peter King and Scott Rigell who have been outspoken in asking for a vote on a clean resolution, will have to put up or shut up. I'm betting they won't sign and that means they'll be painted by the same brush as the rest of the obstructionist Republicans who have refused to listen to the people and kept this government shut. The Tea Party stink will be all over them.

Prove me wrong, Republicans. I dare you to!


Nobody Does It Better, Bernie Sanders


Nobody Does it better

Thank you Bernie Sanders. When rational thinking and sound judgement are called for, there's always your voice of reason to stand out among all the clamber and claptrap coming from extremists.

Bernie's words include this summation of furthering debate prior to passing a clean CR (Continuing Resolution):

Let us not tell men and women in the United States armed forces, who today are putting their lives on the line to defend us, that they’re not going to get paid. Let us not tell police officers here in Washington and elsewhere, they may not get paid. Let’s not tell working families, who take take their little kids into Head Start so they can then go out to work, that that program may be killed. Let’s not tell senior citizens, who are on the Meals on Wheels program who can’t leave their homes who depend upon a meal, let’s not punish them because you’ve got small number of extreme right wingers who want to get their way at the expense of millions and millions of people.”


Give Credit Where Credit Is Due -- Manchin/Heitkamp



I believe there's a good chance we avoid firing a single missile into Syria and we can accomplish much more than the intended cruise missile could. We will be potentially saving millions of lives, not taking them. And this supposedly all came about by an off the cuff remark attributed to the dullest man on the planet, Secretary of State, John Kerry.

But was it really an off-guard moment, a spontaneous thought that just occurred to the SOS? That would sure make for a good TV series plot -- but it's not at all the case. Oh, Kerry was genuinely asked the question that resulted in that "throw away" response, but the reply was hardly his.

This idea of Syria giving up it's chemical weapons was introduced five days before -- by the two real engineers of this plan. These two should be heralded as the architects of this possible solution which is getting embraced in every corner of the world (I say corner because the the vast numbers of Republicans in the Flat Earth Society).

Back on September 5th, five full days before Kerry's remarks, POLITICO reported on a widely circulated, proposed senate bill:

The United States would give Syria 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the wrath of American military might, under a draft resolution being circulated by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

Now I'm not saying Obama nor Kerry aren't ultimately going to make this happen, along with Putin and Assad and the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. I'm hoping they pull it off. But let's give credit where credit is due.

Two visionary U.S. senators, Manchin and Heitkamp are their names. They should, if this all falls into place, be given great praise for preventing more bloodshed and a world-wide blame on our country should something go wrong and we end up with another Iran or Afghanistan. At this writing, things seem to be headed in the peaceful direction. There are plenty of obstacles ahead, but West Virginia and North Dakota may have provided us with the two people who saw a potential war and found a peaceful solution.

In a face-saving statement, which is perhaps born in fact, Obama has said that it was his threat of the use of fire power and retaliation that has brought about the potential for this hopeful resolve. Maybe he's right. There's enough praise to go around. But sometimes the real brains behind the victories are lost in the rush to congratulate the titular leaders. At no point did I hear Kerry or Obama publicly mention a plan like that of these two senators. Perhaps in the strategy rooms it was discussed, but not with the people of the US, or in the Congressional briefings.

It was only Manchin and Heitkamp who put their thoughts and this option out there publicly.

For that we owe them a great debt of gratitude. They not only saved us money, lives and a potential war. They also saved Obama the embarrassment of not getting Congressional approval to take these warlike actions he's proposed -- then forcing him to act alone, or face the humiliation of dropping the plan all together.

Let's keep our fingers crossed. There's a long way to go. But two new heroes have joined the ranks of people we should look at for the future when crisis or the need for leadership comes a calling.

UPDATE: (though real credit goes to the above)


It's Noon. Do You Know Who Your FBI Is Killing Today?


hoover and tommy gun

You'd have to live with your head in the ground not to believe that there's corruption everywhere and on all levels. Tax cheaters, price gougers, investment swindlers. We sort of expect that. Look at the reputations of used car salesman and city officials. They're either taking us or they're on the take. We live with it and try to do the best we can. But like I said, we live with it.

Then you take police corruption. We see shoddy investigative work result in the guilty going free and in some cases the innocent being found guilty. It's terrible. But we live with it.

Then there's elected officials. We've had to live with political corruption, lies and deceit. I think it's part of the oath of office to avoid the truth as much as a vampire does the sun. But we live with it.

Then comes our bulwark. Our protection from domestic evils. It's the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI from it's Hoover days till now has been suspect, but somehow evaded much attention to their willful and wanton disregard for law and human life. They have always been treated as above the law. And now it's possible that they're murderers too.

Two recent situations come to mind. And they are scary. First, there's the Whitey Bulger situation. Whitey was a mob member and a killer. But who did he kill and how? He killed those who might get in his way. And how? The FBI fingered his opponents and in essence, pulled the trigger.

Check this out:

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While you're thinking this FBI activity was going to somehow enure a benefit to us, pull your head out of the sand. This wasn't a sacrifice to bring Whitey down. They had the goods on him already. It was to allow bad guys to kill other bad guys, and also to let corrupt FBI agents to get payoffs while innocent people were killed. Blood money.

Now lets look into another case, one I've written about before. Ibraghim Todashev. But before I go there, here's a little background on the FBI's track record courtesy of Rachel Maddow's Show.

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So, incredible as it is, the FBI evidently operates with total impunity. In a way, they're Eliot Ness and the Untouchables. Except for one big difference. Eliot Ness and company were the good guys. And more and more I'm getting the God awful impression that our current FBI is not.

The Untouchables

Just as they were used by Whitey Bulger, the FBI is using anonymous sources and our good old lazy un-investigative press. The Bureau menleak information to cover their asses. But really G-Men, shouldn't you get your prevarications in line before you start covering for one another? It sure leads to confusion. Here's what I mean.

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Putting both stories together got me thinking, and you should be too. From the HuffPo the other day: President Barack Obama on Monday announced that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will establish a review group designed to assess the nation's intelligence gathering and surveillance capabilities.

This is the same James Clapper who lied to Congress about his department's spying activities.

Is this more of the same? Isn't this just like the FBI and their perfect 150-0 record finding in their own favor?

We have got to speak up. And we have got to be afraid. Unwarranted collection of personal material is being gathered. Corruption has taken over the agencies.

This is the time to be afraid and vigilant. Don't work against the police or authorities. But don't volunteer to help. Ask Paul McGonagle, Edward Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur "Bucky" Barrett, John McIntyre, Deborah Hussey, Michael Milano, Al Plummer, William O'Brien, James "Spike" O'Toole, Al "Indian Al" Notarangeli, James Sousa, Francis "Buddy" Leonard, Debra Davis.

And then you can ask Ibraghim Todashev.

None of them can answer because they're all dead -- directly or indirectly by the hands of the FBI.


Darth Boehner


Fear and Loathing

If there was ever a question of the Republican's feelings about legalizing undocumented immigrants, it's been answered. You're not wanted.

This according to the article by Richard Cowan and Rachelle Younglai:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prospects for congressional passage of a U.S. immigration overhaul looked bleak on Friday, but some House Republicans signaled they would offer a way for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country to get legal status that could be portrayed as something other than a pathway to citizenship.

Yes, it's called second class status. As Marco Rubio told Ted Cruz, "Ciudadanía de los Estados Unidos? Por encima de mi cadáver." Translated: U.S. Citizenship? Over my dead body.

And that leaves 11 million people to only hope.  I didn't say what they may be hoping.  But if I were you GOP, I wouldn't be expecting too much Feliz Navidad come December.

What douche bags the GOP-led house have proven themselves to be.  When it suits that orange skinned Klan leader Boehner, he invokes the non-official Hastert rule about not bringing a bill to the floor unless it has his party's majority interest.  Yet he's broken that rule a number of times and the country didn't explode like the death star in Star Wars episodes 5. So when it serves him or the evil empire, Darth Boehner invokes it as if it were law.  If only the Speaker understood the law.

So, it looks like the GOP doesn't just fear the Latin population, it loathes it.  He's living Hunter S. Thompson's book, only set in Washington, instead of Las Vegas. And he's gambling with our future. Pathetic.