Friday, May 30, 2003
( 2:54 PM )
Whew, what a day. I have not had a minute to myself today, so instead of trying to blog about all the things I've heard on the news today that really rile me, I'm just going to say HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND and see you on the other side of Sunday...I'm gonna take a break!
Thursday, May 29, 2003
( 10:24 AM )
If You're Gonna Fake It, Be Good At It
Alexander Cockburn has a fantastic article in the June 9 issue of The Nation. It's about the "scandal" surrounding Jayson Blair...but reveals the real story: how lauded "journalists" who have claimed the sacrosanct high ground in this episode are themselves some of the most disgustingly misleading writers around...namely, William Saffire, Thomas Friedman, Judith Miller... Sadly, the article isn't online right now. But I urge you to get a copy:
How Blair must be chafing at the unfairness of it all!
Why him? He makes up a few blind quotes from
high-level FBI official and prosecutors, and the skies
fall in. He even has to endure the indignity of having
William Safire, unindicted besmircher of a thousand
reputations, pontificating about journalistic integrity.
Where are the whole special supplements of the New
York Times that would be required to apologize for its
baseless insinuations against Wen Ho Lee (a Jeff
Gerth special, written with James Risen and abetted
by William Safire), or against the Clintons for their real
estate dealings in Whitewater (another Jeff Gerth special)?
I write this column on May 21, a day, like
so many other days, when I turn to the front
page of the Times and find yet one more article
by Judith Miller on the search for weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq. The words "official" and
"officials" are used nineteen times, only once with
an actual name attached. There are military officials,
intelligence officials, White House officials, but
never a human actually identified by Miller.
It was a great article and it highlights the entire hypocrisy surrounding the Jayson Blair episode and the pontificating from the journalists and talking heads who make actual reporting a joke.
And the beat goes on.
( 10:06 AM )
JUST IN: More
This poor girl is going to be traumatized enough...but the manipulation of her and her family is just crazy. This morning Pvt. Lynch's father, said to a press conference that, regarding her "rescue": "we're not supposed to talk about that." He later said that no one had told them not to talk about it, but didn't expound on it.
The bigger deal is that he said she didn't have amnesia and never had amnesia. "She can still remember everything," he said to reporters. So there goes that avenue for cover-up by the Pentagon. Looks like Bill O'Reilly may have to eat his foot. Oh, I forgot, he's never wrong, he just moves on to the next story.
AP had a more detailed story yesterday about one of its reporters interviewing doctors and witnesses at the scene... to verify the BBC reports that have been so roundly scorned by the Pentagon and BushCo apologists in the U.S. media this week:
In interview after interview, the assessment
was the same: The dramatics that surrounded
Lynch's rescue were unnecessary. Some
also said the raid itself was unneeded because
they were trying to turn Lynch over, although
they conceded they made no attempt to notify
U.S. troops of that effort.
"If they had come to the door and asked
for Jessica, we would have gladly handed
her over to them. There was no need for all
that drama," said Dr. Hazem Rikabi, an internist.
The Pentagon insists that the town was in heavy combat and that the forces had no way of knowing what kind of resistance they might meet. But if they had intelligence on where she was, where was their intelligence about the fact that Iraqi troops had left the area already? Either the Army was depending on really shotty intelligence, or...
And as to her being ill-treated and left for dead, as most of the stories surrounding her rescue stated or implied:
In the hospital, staffers said, Lynch made
friends from around the building with her
kind ways and jokes, and employees went
out of their way to keep her comfortable.
For a week, Dr. Wajdi al-Jabbar said, he
and an ambulance driver rode the perilous
streets to get her fruit juice. Suad Husseiniya,
a nurse, said she grew so attached to Lynch
that she repeatedly rubbed talcum powder
into the soldier's sore back.
"She knew everyone by their first name,"
said the hospital's deputy director, Dr.
This entire episode now sounds like she was probably more traumatized by the "rescue" itself than her entire stay in the hospital. The doctors and nurses were trying to help her through a terrible time, she'd just lost her comrades, and she was feeling like things would be okay. And then, when they tried to return her to her own forces, they were shot at, and the next day, after trying to return her again, but then finding that all the Iraqi soldiers had pulled out... a huge, violent commando attack operation was conducted, wreaking destruction and havoc on the hospital, handcuffing the hospital director...and shooting bullets...all to sweep her away in filmed glory.
The kid isn't even 20 years old. I really despise the way the Pentagon has manipulated her and her family and the way that our own media has failed to report the truth, once again. I feel so bad for her, going through this crap. She and her family obviously don't care about her being made into a hero, they just want her to be home.
This could be the first highly-attention-getting crack in BushCo's polymer coating...
( 8:51 AM )
Expounding on our thinking about BushCo designing a made-for-tv-movie history for us all to soak up and forget the truth... Vinman in the comments below points to a fantastic post on Some Kind of Bliss about the news that the white house is orchestrating a television movie to be shown this September about the President's heroic, triumphant handling of 9/11. Skob makes a good point: that it's being strategically shown right around the anniversary of 9/11, right around the time that the election campaigns kick into high gear. From The Globe and Mail:
A copy of the script obtained by The Globe
and Mail reveals a prime-time drama starring
a nearly infallible, heroic president with
little or no dissension in his ranks and a
penchant for delivering articulate, stirring,
off-the-cuff addresses to colleagues.
Ironically, this masterpiece of theatre is being filmed in Canada...where the president in question refused to go based on their rejection of our fine excuses to invade Iraq:
That the whole thing was filmed in Canada
and is eligible for financial aid from Canadian
taxpayers, and that its loyal Republican
writer-producer is a Canadian citizen best
known for his adaptation of The Apprenticeship
of Duddy Kravitz, are ironies that will be lost
on most of its American viewers when it airs
on the Showtime network this fall.
I guess we can be thankful that the majority of television watching Americans don't have Showtime. On the other hand, this is just one example of a finely-crafted image machine that is covering the actions of this white house in not just a white-wash, but a pristine coating of sublime polymer finish that they are hoping will never be cracked.
So, along with the manipulation by the media and the white house controllers in our every-day news consumption about this government, we now have tv movies being made in the interests, not of telling history or the truth, but in the interests of preserving a lie. And not just the lie that Bush wasn't a heroic president in charge of a well-oiled team on 9/11, not the lie that he had any inkling of a foreign policy that might have made a difference even before 9/11, not the lie that it was the entire country of Afghanistan that needed bombing to atone for 9/11, not the lie that it was Iraq who was responsible for the terrorism inside our borders, not the lie that reducing tax revenue will create jobs and help the economy, not the lie that corporations don't get any favors from this administration, not even the lie that we are more secure now... the lie that must be preserved is that George W. Bush won the presidency by national election in 2000 and took his throne by mandate of a majority of the American voting public. THAT'S the lie that must be protected and slowly dissolved away into the history of television movies and finely-crafted news bites.
And that's the lie that we need to keep exposing and, more importantly, disprove next year.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
( 4:18 PM )
Name that President
Talk Left has the results of the Eric Alterman Name that President contest. Some of them are pretty creative and very funny... I like a lot of them. I think my favorite was from the UK...evidently the nickname for Bush going around there is "The Stepford President." Creepily appropriate.
( 3:53 PM )
There is No Spoon
You're going to need to take the Red Pill to follow this one... George has a great review and commentary on The Matrix today. He talks about the first movie and it's allegorical relation to today's corporate and media control of our culture. It's really well written, and I encourage you to read it, especially if you are a Matrix fan. While George thinks no sequel is necessary, and I have to agree on some level with that, I think the sequel is good for several reasons. Without giving away anything about the sequel for people (like you, George!) who haven't seen it yet:
First, it approaches the question of free will, examines it, and then leaves it for the viewer to decide whether it even exists...or if this overwhelming power that influences our daily lives is making the choices for us. I'm not talking about God, I'm talking about this combined power of the corporations and the mass media that have lulled the collective American mind into submission and acceptance. If BushCo or whoever controls what is spun in the media decides one day to tell the world that such and such a thing is happening and so we must do such and such in response...there seems no more to exist a willingness on the part of the recipients of that information to question or to choose for themselves whether to believe and/or investigate what is being told to them. So even if we have free choice theoretically, have we abdicated our own power to use it and opted for the Matrix' version of events to unfold around us?
Second, I enjoyed the sequel because it caused me to question my belief as to whether Neo was the One. He had awakened to the truth, and he had begun to subvert the system that was hiding the truth from the rest of sleeping humanity...and yet when confronted with the idea that he might be no more than an anomoly that the system had dealt with before, he had to stop and wonder if it was true. In our own culture, we seem to have acquiesced into a numbed species that willingly accepts the idea that the corporations deserve more recognition as rights-deserving entities than we do as human beings and citizens of this country. We seem to have forsaken our one, true, original belief that we are the ones who hold the keys to our own freedoms and to a society led by a government that we can not only be proud of, but that will represent us and work to make the world a better place. Am I just a dreamer? Well, isn't Morpheus just a dreamer to most of his comrades? And in the end of Reloaded (not trying to give anything away), we are confronted with the idea that if we just would take hold of the power that is ours, it would translate outside this system of subterfuge we're living in --- and we could actually engender real change.
One way of doing this is direct action. In Reloaded , Morpheus takes direct action even when his own society of resistance disagrees with his methods. But it is the only way that a door could have been opened. It's the same for us in our own society. I was happy to see that link to the direct action that is taking place in Nashua, NH - a town I lived in for part of my childhood. It is action like this one that wakes people up. And even if they wake up screaming because you're getting in their way...at least they're paying attention to something other than Fox News.
Finally, I guess what I liked most about the sequel was that though I knew at the end of The Matrix that Neo would continue to fight to reveal the truth, in Reloaded, that fight is shown not as a simple good v. evil contest, but rather the contest is within Neo himself. For us, as activists, progressives, patriots and human beings, it's time to allow this contest to take place and stop reclining back into inaction and numb acceptance of the line our government and the media is feeding us. But we can't take too much longer fighting within ourselves before we actually decide to do something.
All in all, I recommend the sequel, just to see it. I'm not saying you'll agree with me, but I think it's worth seeing. In the end, as George said, we have our own matrix to deal with. And so far, the only Neo around is us.
( 2:46 PM )
Has anyone at BushCo stopped to consider that if we follow the same exact path with Iran that we did with Iraq, that North Korea will see the pattern and strike first...because they can?
( 1:30 PM )
Your Share is Now $22,482.08
Check out the U.S. National Debt Clock... as of today we're at $6,544,007,352,330.65. The debt limit has increased at a rate of $1.31 billion per day since September 30, 2002. Good thing we raised the limit!
( 1:22 PM )
Wars and Rumors of Wars
Thanks, mwowwww for the link to Democratic Underground's Newest "Top 10 Conservative Idiots." Not surprisingly, the entire Bush Administration made No.1, with the President following closely at No. 2 and No. 4. It was a reminder to me that when Bush made his zoom-boom landing on the aircraft carrier and did that speech, behind him waved a gigantic banner that read "Mission Accomplished." I recall that in that speech, he went on to bring up 9/11 again and talk about it and our war against those who perpetrated it (again pretending that Iraq had something to do with it). And yet, here we are, a few weeks later:
-- Al Qaeda is obviously well-organized and finananced and able to pull off large attacks
--Iraq is foundering in lawlessness, American troops continue to take casualties, there is still no electricity - and no WMD or traces of WMD have been found at all. The entire excuse for the war has been proven to be false.
--Afghanistan has almost completely reverted to its warring tribal factions, making way for an invigorated Taliban to gain increasing power and influence since our abandonment of that country following our invasion
--The same old script is now being played about Iran that we were hearing this time last year about Iraq. Does BushCo even care that they're being so obvious? My guess is no, since diplomacy and discretion...not to mention honesty... were never on the high list of priorities.
And just so we're all up to speed on the non-empire-building issues:
--the jobless rate continues to increase every week
--durable goods sales were down over 2% in the last report
--Alan Greenspan has discussed the issue of deflation
--the dollar is at its lowest point ever
--fewer people are covered by health insurance
--fewer schools are functioning well
--most states are going bankrupt
And so, with huge fanfare, the President signed today his tax cut package, reducing revenue by some $350 billion -- although yesterday, with no fanfare whatsoever, he signed a bill raising the debt limit to $7.3 trillion.
Sounds like time for another war.
( 10:36 AM )
Time For Some More Silly Love Songs
Congratulations to Paul McCartney and Heather Mills... expecting a baby this year. I was glad to read that she seems to be in good health despite her previous experience with uterine cancer and ectopic pregnancies. Losing a pregnancy is so hard, so I hope that this one will be completely successful for her. She's 35, a good age to be a mama. He, however, is 60. Hopefully he'll enjoy at least the first 20-25 years of his latest child's life. Guess he's just making sure she'll feed him and need him when he's 64.... though now he'll have some competition for the feeding part at least.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
( 12:36 PM )
Wagging the Dog
Last week, the BBC aired a documentary about the "inconsistencies" in the story told to the US public about the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch. Amongst the initial reports heard in the US news media following her capture and rescue, we read that she'd been shot and stabbed, that she'd fought to the death defending her comrades, that the Iraqi doctors had neglected her and not treated her wounds, that she was kept in horrifying conditions, and that the rescuers faced strong opposition and had to attack the hospital where they'd heard from an informant she was being kept.
In fact, according to the BBC reporters who interviewed doctors and witnesses to the entire event, not only was she not shot or stabbed (verified by doctors in Germany where she was taken after her rescue), but the Iraqi doctors treated all of her wounds and kept her in stable and good condition in a clean hospital. In fact, they tried to return her only two days before the "rescue" but the ambulance she was in was turned away by gunfire. There were no iraqi troops in or around the hospital when the assault occurred, and in fact the doctors and nurses were hiding in the basement because they knew something was going to happen and they didn't want to get hurt. The entire rescue was filmed by the military and then edited before being released to the public.
In response to the BBC report, the Pentagon vehemently responded saying the entire thing was a pack of lies. But instead of refuting the claims of the witnesses and the reports from the BBC journalists, the Pentagon offered only that the US military never claimed they were under fire when they entered the hospital, and that "Speculative reports in the media were responsible for some of the misinformation, not Pentagon statements."
Then L.A. Times columnist Robert Scheer wrote a column about the BBC report - reminding readers about reports in the Washington Post and New York Times that had relied on "unnamed military sources" for items such as her multiple gunshot wounds.
The Pentagon got really mad then, and in a letter to the editor,
Now Bill O'Reilly, Protector of all that is Nonsense, declares that SOMEONE IS LYING!!! He rants against Scheer, saying that the L.A. Times is such a Bush-hating paper that it would release a column such as this, and then he insists that the BBC reports can't be trusted because the BBC didn't support the war in the first place! Way to make an argument, Bill.
All in all, it is obvious now that the media, as the Pentagon's willing plaything, released to the hungry-for-good-patriotic-news American public stories that weren't altogether true in order to pump up American support for the war and to focus on our military's heroic efforts rather than our terrible mistakes in the takeover and occupation of Iraq. It doesn't really matter whether Pvt. Lynch's rescue was manufactured or not. In the end, the TV movie will be what people remember, and it certainly doesn't make good tv-movie stuff to not have lots of violence and intrigue and evil enemies to conquer in the rescue of a lone Private.
What matters most in the end is how our media are allowing themselves to be manipulated, or doing the manipulating themselves. Reporters, columnists, politicians and talking heads are crying far and wide about the scandalous nature of Jayson Blair's reporting for the New York Times... and yet no one seems to care that the headlines and articles in the Times and most other national papers from Pvt. Lynch's rescue to Whitewater all carried now-proven untruths that were never corrected in the public's mind.
How much longer are we going to allow ourselves to be manipulated like this? And an even greater question as June 2 approaches, are we going to allow fewer and fewer rich people to do the manipulating? This is the sign of the decline of a democracy, when even the people who have the ultimate power - the voting public -- refuse to be concerned about the state's coercive and controlling actions when it comes to the protected "free" press. Another cog in the wheel that's going to run over freedom of expression and dissent in this country sooner than we expect....
Friday, May 23, 2003
( 4:00 PM )
I don't have to go to work on Monday. That's reason enough to celebrate. Three whole days at home with The Kid and P. Working in the yard. Working on the house. Swinging on swings. Pointing at birds and shouting "birdie!" 600 times. Eating chilled black olives. Wearing sandals. Having dinner on the porch.
Sometimes life is really hard - the working to make ends meet, the wondering how to raise a child in a society like this, the worrying about our future with the government we have... but sometimes, and especially on three-day weekends, life can be very, very good.
Happy holiday and on this Memorial Day Weekend... a shout out to my brother, who is spending it in the service of the US Air Force in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert.
See you on the other side of a good, long weekend. Stop looking at your computer screen, put your face to the sun and enjoy! Why? Mama says so!
( 3:46 PM )
Take the Atrios Challenge
Atrios has challenged W:
The Bush administration is claiming that
there will average 306,000 net new jobs per
month over the next 18 month. If that
happens, I promise to vote for him. Now,
what will he promise if it doesn't?
But Wampum has upped the stakes:
Clinton, the job-making machine of this half-century
only averaged 268,000 jobs a month. If Bush can do
306,000 jobs a month, I'll not only vote for him, but
jump out a cake at his inaugural.
Current news on jobs:
Reuters reported yesterday that claims for unemployment rose to 428,000. Up 7,000 in a week. And that's just people who CLAIM unemployment, it doesn't count those who've fallen off the rolls because they've been out of work for so long, and it doesn't count all the jobless who can't or don't claim unemployment.
I'm thinking Atrios and Wampum might just win their bets....
( 3:14 PM )
Isn't It Ironic
"TAX-CUT BILL GOES TO BUSH"
Cheney casts tie-breaking vote in Senate
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congress approved a
$350 billion package of tax cuts and economic
assistance for states Friday, sending the bill to
President Bush who has promised to sign it into law.
"CONGRESS PASSES RECORD DEBT HIKE"
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Republican-led
Congress passed legislation Friday allowing
government debt to grow by a record $984 billion,
brushing past Democrats' attempts to spotlight
the federal IOUs that have resumed piling up under
Coming Up: President Kennedy's affair with an intern!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
( 3:05 PM )
That is Kind of Funny...
In a Very Scary Way...
Veteran media mogul and legendary deal-maker Rupert Murdoch
prompted laughter from senators in Washington yesterday when
he said that he did not plan to take advantage of the upcoming
relaxation in America media ownership laws.
( 12:33 PM )
You Go Girl
Vinman's got a great commentary today on Annika Sorenstam's attendance in the PGA Tournament this week. I enjoyed reading his perspective since he's obviously an avid and knowledgeable golfer, which I am not. I wanted to be. My parents are. But when? I actually do enjoy watching golf tournaments, mostly with Dad, who LOVES them. He comes from a line of golfers, both his mother and his father were competetive golfers. I even have a picture of my grandma at a women's golf tournament in the 40's or 50's. Anyway, along with most people (except mysoginistic male golfer poop-heads), I am hoping Sorenstam will make a great showing, just for herself. She's doing this, as Vinman says, to challenge herself, and from the interviews I've seen and heard of her, I think she is going to impress herself. She's worked really hard, and this is her next best challenge.
A woman in a man's workplace...it's always been the same. "Equality" has very little to do with it. Even women who are in leadership postions must live with a double standard in the corporate/working world. It's not just that Sorenstam is challenging the men she's playing with, she's daring to enter their men's only world. The fact that she feels she has the right to do so will always rub some men the wrong way. But it's more than just some men. It's an entire culture, a society, built on a patriarchal system that evolved out of centuries of work done by that patriarchy to eliminate the memory of matriarchal society in all of us. I don't mean to sound pedantic here, but there is something wrong...still.
Why is it that it is more acceptable for me to say that I'm late because I missed by bus than to say I'm late because my child needed tending? Why is that when a man announces that he's going to leave early to spend time with his kids, he's a prince among men for being so "balanced," but if a woman were to attempt that her commitment to the company would be questioned immediately? Why is it that even if the wife is the breadwinner of the family and the dad stays home with the kids, the woman is still expected by society and those around her to carry the primary burden of parenting and household care (even if the husband does all that), and on top of that, her commitment to her children is questioned regularly? Why is it that if a woman returns to her career after her child is born, she is considered a neglectful mother, but the man who continues working when the child is born never has his priorities toward his children questioned? Why is that a woman who simply wants to challenge herself at the next highest level in her career field is scorned and/or observed like a hawk for her inevitable failure when she attempts to succeed at that challenge - but if a man does it, he is lauded as a courageous and talented specimen? This pattern is repeated in every career field: golf, corporate business, service industry, academia...and even space travel! When a woman astronaut chose to go to the space station, her commitment to her children was questioned throughout the press...did that ever happen with male inhabitants of the space station who were fathers?
I never cease to hope that all this might change one day... that our culture will slowly shift back into an era where the patriarchal establishment will no longer make the rules. I guess for now, the most I can do is raise my son without those limited viewpoints and show him that there is a better way and his generation of men can always make it better than the generation before him.
Annika Sorenstam, you go girl. For all of us.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
( 4:04 PM )
I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy
Just a little cruise around news that's come out just in the last day or two and it is truly frightening the condition of our society. In just the last few days, the news stories are indicative of how BushCo has run our country into the ground, lied, made us less safe, and coddled its corporate friends. This is just a microcosm of the regular news we get, and yet it's a prime example of why I don't understand how Bush continues to get such high job ratings:
On Monday it was announced that WorldCom would pay a mere $500 million to settle the claims against it. It stole and lied about billions of dollars. Two years after Enron, our government has done nothing to clean up corporate crime or punish the criminals who steal people's pensions and cause the working people to have to pay more taxes to bail out the corporations.
US soldiers are killing people and being wounded themselves in Afghanistan today. This on top of the news that we have almost completely pulled all our promised assistance and aid to Afghanistan and there has been reported a marked rise in Taliban activity again. Oh well... our promise to "free" Afghanistan and root out the evil terrorists was made 2 years ago.. you can't expect BushCo to keep a promise made so long ago, can you?
Christine Todd Whitman quit her position in the Administration today (director of the EPA). Can anyone say rats from a sinking ship? This is the ...oh, tenth? twelfth? Bush appointee to quit in the last year. It's long been known that she's sparred with Bush over his environmental
The Texas police destroyed all records of the hunt for the Democratic State Legislators last week. That's right... they. destroyed. all. records. ...especially the ones having to do with how they managed to use the Department of Homeland Security in their schemes. While most people just sigh and say "Texas, it's like a whole other country," this is again a result of BushCo's strong arm politics as displayed by Tom DeLay. Well, good to know the DHS is spot on the job...
Greenspan announces the Fed will be watching out for Deflation. Not only are jobless rates the highest ever, not only are almost all 50 states going into bankruptcy, but our national economy is now facing deflation. While Greenspan likes to start his pronouncements with "Well, I'm HOPING the economy will pick up soon!" they always end with something like "But, we'll keep our eye on the fact that consumer prices are continuing to drop and we haven't seen numbers like this since 1929." Thanks BushCo for finding the right solution to our economic woes. Because cutting revenue will definitely help, especially since the (bankrupt) states will have to bear most of the burden now.
The Pentagon has decided to expand its data mining system for TIA so that it can scoop up much more detailed information about many more people. It will literally be able to gather and keep things like every email sent, every picture taken, every magazine read, every tv show watched, every phone call made. This is the Pentagon using this program to spy and collect information on our citizens. It's not the FBI, it's not any other investigative organizaiton (though them doing it would be unacceptable as well), it's the Pentagon, under the direction of a convicted criminal. This administration has gone forward with the wholesale stripping of our civil liberties as if it were just a walk in the park. Why is there not more outcry over this? Do you think this doesn't affect you? Just wait till someone with your name turns out to be a criminal and then try catching a plane.
Fresh Al Qaeda tapes threaten all sorts of people. We're on "high" alert again. Embassies are closing around the world. Oh yes, that war on Iraq made us safer, didn't it? And boy, BushCo's "war on terrorism" sure is panning out to be a success. Well at least we know that we're at "orange" level - that should make things all the more better once we're attacked, because at least we knew we were going to be attacked.
BushCo/Rumsfeld wants to use nuclear weapons! Not just develop them, not just hoard them, but use them. Does this make any sense? Once we use a nuclear weapon, no matter how "small" or for what purpose, we've doomed the earth and all its inhabitants. How do you roll back an action like that? Everyone else who has nukes would be justified in using them! Does anyone in this administration have a brain in their head? And the stellar geniuses in the Senate are "compromising" by backing a plan to "study" these weapons for use. Whaaa????
In Tarrytown, New York, a judge asked a woman if she was a terrorist just because she's Arab-American. A US Citizen, Annisa Khoder collapsed when the judge just said out loud in his courtroom while she was appearing regarding a parking violation, "you have money to support the terrorists, but you don't want to pay the ticket." My god. Not only is it racist, but for a judge, a representative of government, law and authority to treat a person that way and make judgments like that is not only disgusting, but it is alarming because our federal government has prompted this kind of attitude by the way they have dealt consistently badly with Arab-Americans since 9/11. Just incredible.
And finally, an explosion at Yale Law School today. So far, an hour now after it was first reported, there aren't any injuries and it doesn't appear to be a "terrorist" attack...but I'm sure most people in the country wondered. Are you feeling safer for all this administration has done to protect you?
And all this news was brought to you by the "mainstream" press... the real news is worse. Can we continue to live with these conditions...are we able to justify a government that continues to take away our freedoms, make us less secure because of its own imperialistic agenda, steal our jobs and money and eradicate our children's futures?
Why does he get such high job ratings????
( 9:14 AM )
Multnomah County Makes History
I'm proud to live here for the first time in a while. Not only did more voters turn out for our special election yesterday than ever have before, but we here in Multnomah County (that's the greater Portland area) voted for a first-of-its-kind tax increase on ourselves in order to save our schools, our elderly and infirm, along with the policing and justice systems of our county. The Oregon state legislators refuse to make the tough decisions and continue to wallow in the sink hole that has become our state's economy, social services, education and quality of life. But we didn't just stand there and take it, we decided to make our own community better. We showed that actually, even though we're all struggling because of the economy right now, we're willing to give a small percentage of our income to keep our children's futures in tact, to ensure the care of the elderly and infirm, and to actually put criminals in jail instead of giving them tickets and asking them not to burglarize or assault anyone again.
Lots of people think it's only a short term answer, a bandaid on cancer...and it is. But it's a short term answer that we desperately needed. There is only so long we can continue to not do SOMETHING to help our society survive. The cure to the cancer will take a while, and in the meantime, our children need to be able to go to school, our elderly need to have care. While I can understand tax resisters to a point (I certainly wish I could say where my tax dollars go instead of having them go to the things George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld want), I don't understand how people can choose "no taxes" over the welfare of their own society and community. The entire point of having government to tie a community together is to put revenue into that government and the government uses that to provide infrastructure and programs to make our community work. At least that's how it's supposed to work. It's our responsibility as citizens to take action into our own hands when the government is misusing the revenue we give it, and also when it's not getting the revenue it needs.
We the People. That's us. We really can choose to change the way our government works for us. But we have to actually do something, take action. If we just sit and watch things crumble around us and are unwilling to be part of the answer, to give even a tiny fraction of what we have to make the whole of our community better, then we are no better than the government that cheats us. We get the government we ask for. It's true of our local government, it's true of our federal government. In the end, the responsibility lies with us. I'm glad my own community took that responsibility seriously yesterday. Because now that means that there is just a little more hope for tomorrow. And a little hope is a big thing in times like these.
( 9:03 AM )
I want to start my day off by saying how much I enjoyed last night's Buffy finale. I was worried that the end to the entire series could not be accomplished in one hour, but it was masterful. The writing was at it's best, each character got their moment in the sun, and the original scooby gang was together in the end, with their old bantering in top form. I was not happy that Spike died, I didn't expect that, and he was one of the best characters. But other than that, it was a perfect ending and moving on to new things. The best part was the empowerment of all the slayers around the world, a rising up of powerful women, not only able to fight evil on their own - but the creation of a community of women. Buffy is no longer alone, no longer set apart and unable to lead a life of her own choosing... the chosen is now only one of many. I like the stuff of myth, legend and make believe. It leaves you with the idea that things could be better somehow. If only women in this world truly were empowered to fight the evil in their lives, could kick the ass of anyone who threatens their loved ones, and never had to feel alone in the world because they knew there were so many more just like them. That would be cool. I'm glad it was such a great ending. Stories should have endings like that... there are too many bad endings in real life. Now, where's my slayer scythe - got some ass-kickin' to do...
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
( 4:28 PM )
Going, Going, Gone
Alert Buffy Fans: Before the last of it tonight, go read Tinman's review of the penultimate episode last week. I agree with Tinman, I wish we'd been given at least a 2-hour series finale tonight. How will everything be resolved in just one measly hour? On NPR's Talk of the Nation today, the last discussion was about Buffy. One of the professors who teaches Buffy Studies said he'd seen the last episode and we wouldn't be disappointed. I hope not. I suppose I should trust someone who's designed an entire college course around the show...but still, I'm just wondering how it can possibly all work out. We shall see.
( 4:18 PM )
Liberal Oasis' interview with Howard Dean. Thanks, Lisa the Ruminator.
The Howard Dean campaign: catch the wave!!
( 4:10 PM )
Portland, Oregon: Time's Almost Up!!
Get Your Ballot in NOW!
What Jack said.
Let's do what our state government won't, and take care of our most needy citizens. Ready, set: GO VOTE!
( 3:51 PM )
Creepy Creepy Creepy...
Brought to you by your Government
Alert reader (and my really well-read husband), P, sent me this info today: We can all
Not only that, but DARPA is planning to use the new "Lifelog" system... a data mining system that can literally "dump everything an individual does into a giant database: every e-mail sent or received, every picture taken, every Web page surfed, every phone call made, every TV show watched, every magazine read. " This program, the Pentagon says, can be used in so many wonderful ways! For tracking the education of service members, keeping them up on the latest training, to even training robots!!
Sure, LifeLog could be used to train robotic
assistants. But it also could become a way
to profile suspected terrorists, said Cory Doctorow,
with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In
other words, Osama bin Laden's agent takes a
walk around the block at 10 each morning, buys
a bagel and a newspaper at the corner store
and then calls his mother. You do the same
things -- so maybe you're an al Qaeda member, too!
This is yet another step by BushCo to erradicate not only Americans' civil liberties, but the right of every human being on earth to his or her privacy. In order to "battle" terrorism, our government will use the vast resources available through computing contractors to track everything they can in order to "pinpoint" who might be a terrorist.
The sick thing is, that while the public, the media and all manner of politicians should be shouting from the rooftops about the failed "war on terrorism" and how BushCo has in fact made it even MORE dangerous for Americans since 9/11, there is silence. And in that silence, BushCo will twist its failure into another excuse to expand its power and control...and invasion of our private lives: "Look, we're still battling that evil Al Qaeda! We need to use all the resources that we can to catch those evil terrorists...so while we've totally given up on our commitment to Afghanistan, and we don't care about keeping our word on anything having to do with Iraq, now's the time we need all Americans to sacrifice: give up your personal data! You never know, with us having the capability to know what you're buying, we might just catch a terrorist!"
This is so incredibly creepy that if it weren't true, i'd think it was bad sci fi and laugh at the lack of believability. Unfortunately, it's true. Sleep well.
( 10:15 AM )
Cops Behaving Badly
Yet another police officer is not at fault for shooting someone dead. While most circumstances would indicate that an officer may be acting in self defense or in the line of duty when he shoots a suspect, in the most recent case here in Portland the facts are a little different. The news today relates that a grand jury found no criminal intent in Officer Scott McCollister’s deadly shooting of Kendra James several weeks ago. Many have blogged about this issue from a civil rights point of view already. I just wanted to raise it not only because of the finding today, but also because the incident happened near my neighborhood and the people in my part of town are reeling from the effect of it.
As a recap, the incident occurred when a car was pulled over at about 2:30 a.m. for running a stop sign. The driver was taken from the car and while he was being interrogated, Ms. James, who was in the passenger seat, slid into the driver’s seat. From reports, she was very agitated and tried to drive the car away from the scene (from what I can tell, it never went anywhere). Meanwhile, McCollister managed to get “80 percent” of his body inside the car on the driver’s side. (WTF???) The shooting happened when he claims she was driving forward and he felt himself falling backwards and he “knew” she was going to drag him down the street to his death. He shot upwards through her hip and the bullet lodged in her chest, killing her. The grand jury heard the testimony of cops and witnesses on the scene and heard seven conflicting accounts of the event. Thus, they could not determine criminal intent by the cop, and concluded he’d acted within the purview of the law (“to protect themselves or others from what they reasonably believe to be an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury”).
It’s not news that a cop isn’t found guilty in shooting a suspect or bystander. This happens all the time. I find much of the local commentary falling in the cop’s favor: he is so beleaguered by this whole event, his reputation and work record tarnished, he was almost killed, and after all, she was a crack whore. I haven’t seen one news report yet that fails to mention that Ms. James did cocaine. This evidently establishes her postmortem guilt as a cop-killer. What I don’t understand is WHY was McCollister in the car the way he describes? He claims he was trying to pull her out of the car...but 80% of his body in the driver's side???
McCollister said that the police department “has not provided much training on what to do when a suspect is resisting arrest.” So, since you don’t have the wherewithal to call over some of the other cops and spray pepper spray at her or something like that, you fire your gun straight into her body, point blank? While he probably isn't lying when he says he felt that he might have been killed, shouldn’t there have been another way of handling the situation from the start? Just like in New York, the cops may have felt that Amadou Diallo was going to shoot them, but they weren’t practicing any other options other than just opening fire on him (many of those shots entering his body after he’d fallen), and later finding out he didn’t have gun.
The same situation is true here. While there are always going to be racial undertones to situations like this (and most of the time they are a major factor in the incident), especially here in Portland where the white cops and non-white neighborhoods often clash, there is another aspect to this problem. If police departments aren’t training cops in alternative ways to handle potentially violent situations, how to handle suspects who are physically out of control without killing them, and even how to let a situation go until a cooler time (i.e., not forcing your entire body into the car, but perhaps waiting until other officers come to assist, or just simply letting her go and going after her later in a less volatile situation), then the incidents of cops just shooting their guns and killing people are going to continue to rise.
I put the onus on the police department here. While I also blame the individual cop who seemed not to be thinking at that time, I strongly believe that police departments around this country are not investing in conflict resolution training, non-violent options for their cops, or even non-lethal self-defense skills, and that this is going to produce more and more costly events, in lives and money and community relations. Yes, our community needs to work harder on helping young mothers like Kendra James stay off cocaine and find hope and direction for their lives. But I also believe that the perception in a community of who has the power is a very large determining factor in how kids like Kendra will make choices. And when the people with the power find their first resort to be shooting at and/or killing people in tense or scary situations, then there are only going to be more Kendra Jameses without hope or direction or motivation to avoid those guns pointed at them. It’s on the people who have the power to make the difference. In this case, the power was in the hands of the cops at the scene, the police department and the systems in place that led to this horrible event.
Monday, May 19, 2003
( 11:11 AM )
Why Does Arcata, California Hate America?
This is beautiful. Long live the small towns of America who have no fear. Arcata, California, in the heart of the beautiful Redwood country, has passed a city ordinance making it a criminal act to comply with the Patriot Act.
Starting this month, a new city ordinance
would impose a fine of $57 on any city
department head who voluntarily complies
with investigations or arrests under the aegis
of the Patriot Act, the anti-terrorism bill
passed after September 11.
An entire town voting to commit civil disobediance against a law that at its very core is unconstitutional is very heartening. While it's obvious that this small town can't make a huge impact, the symbolism of this act is not only very important, but highly relevant for people who continue to take whatever avenue is open to them to protest the federal government's insistence that it must eradicate our civil rights in order to give us a false sense of security.
( 10:42 AM )
Out, Out Damned Spot!
Well, I guess the big news of the morning is Ari Fleischer's announcement (except of course: hell breaking loose in the middle east AGAIN, Indonesia invading one of its provinces AGAIN, the dollar sinks lower AGAIN, and another multi-million dollar corporation settles out of court with a sum that is not even a fraction of what it stole... AGAIN).
Ari seems to be picking an interesting time to leave. A lucrative offer from Fox News perhaps? More likely, a million dollar deal from a "think tank," in addition to the six figure speaking engagements. I'm guessing he's also going to do spin control for the campaign. Rumor is he was never part of the "Texas Mafia," and so perhaps he's tired of being the whipping boy for the Boss. Though that's a little hard to believe since he seemed to really relish his job of lying for Bush continuously for hours on end. Maybe it's hard to be a bull terrier when your Boss wants you to be a poodle.
While most of the white house press corps are no doubt singing "ding dong the witch is dead" right now - they all most likely know that the next guy will be just as bad or worse. This administration is sinking fast, and it's up to the press secretary to make it look like there IS no iceberg. The next press secretary is going to have to deal with the total failure of BushCo's "war on terrorism," the bankruptcy of almost all 50 states, deflation, recession, troubles in the middle east and Iraq, etc... I'm thinking Ari got out when the getting was good.
So, does this mean Helen Thomas gets to sit back in the front of the class again? Hope so.
( 9:15 AM )
No Blood for Schools
"I'm appalled our government spends my money to go to war while parents in Eugene (Oregon) are selling their blood to maintain the education of their children. Is it possible we need to change our priorities?" --R. Upson, Vancouver, WA
Friday, May 16, 2003
( 4:23 PM )
Mama has taken the Kid overnight. I know I should be overjoyed at the idea of spending an evening with my husband uninterrupted by drool and/or poop. And I am. But what I'm really overjoyed at is that on Saturday I will be able to sleep past 6am. Now THAT'S something to look forward to.
Tonight: The Matrix Reloaded. "Don't try to bend the spoon. There is no spoon." Amen.
( 3:57 PM )
Lost in the fray of the news last week was something that was brought to my attention last night by P. On May 4, students at Kent State University gathered for an annual commemoration of the students killed in 1970 by National Guardsmen. Interestingly, the university got nervous because the commemoration committee was going to hold a peaceful anti-war protest as part of the commemoration...the administration thought it might get "out of hand." Thus, when as few as 150 students showed up to bang on drums and chant in protest, no less than 200 cops showed up. As soon as the students stepped into the street, arrests started. Kind of ironic, don't you think?
Someone commented that this was a disrespectful way to commemorate the students who lost their lives 33 years ago. Frankly, I think it was the perfect way to commemorate...and to celebrate the continued push by free people to exercise that freedom, even under the threat of massive state violence.
"Rosanne "Chic" Canfora was 19 in 1970
and remembers crouching behind a car in
the parking lot during the shootings.
"It makes me cry to stand here and know
once again that the topic on this commons
is war," she said.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I just hope that 30 years from now we won't be looking back and longing for the old days when, despite being surrounded by police, we were still free to speak our minds.
( 3:19 PM )
Let the Games Begin
It's official. We can now go forward with tossing him out on his arse.
( 10:42 AM )
The "Heart" of the Democratic Party Fights Back
A leaked memo from the DLC on Wednesday said in part:
"But the great myth of the current cycle is the
misguided notion that the hopes and dreams of
activists represent the heart and soul of the Democratic Party."
Al From, founder and CEO of the Democratic
Leadership Council and Bruce Reed, President
of the DLC, yesterday circulated this memo to
“Leading Democrats” in which they argue that
traditional Democratic values are “an aberration”
and that the thousands of grassroots Democrats
inspired by Governor Dean’s message to “take back
our party” are “activist elites” and not “real Democrats.”
Well, from one "activist elite" to you, Mr. From, you can kiss my ass.
I don't care if you support Howard Dean or not. The DLC is an affront to all true liberals, democrats and progressives, especially those who want to get Bush out of the White House and Congress changed in 2004. Write NOW to the DLC to show them they are going to have to deal with reality soon enough.
Dimwits. Who do they think they are???
Thursday, May 15, 2003
( 3:46 PM )
The Blogosphere: The Last Bastion of Independent Thought?
Everyone is blogging really well thought out comments on the coming FCC debacle. I thought I'd briefly add my voice and share some of the ones I've appreciated reading.
High Water has a link to the Common Dreams article that best explains what is going on. This is a must read. New Century for Freedom has blogged many posts lately on the subject, all worth reading, and with a link to a great commentary on the issue.
Ruminate This has a very in-depth and well-written commentary on the FCC. Also follow the link to MoveOn.org's Stop the FCC Campaign. For more activism response, check out Media Alliance .
The corruption of the FCC is one of those things that I can't bring myself to fully blame the GOP for. After all, it was under Clinton's watch that the slippery slope began with deregulation. It's another example to me of top-heavy administrations wich much more power than they were meant to have. Unchecked power, that is. Checks and balances don't seem to apply to things like the FCC. While I don't know that it is a constitutional issue that could be litigated, the lack of independent voices in the airwaves is something that is definitely a detriment to our basic rights as citizens. It is not just the issue of being inundated and surrounded by all-powerful corporations, that in itself is a future to which I fear we've already doomed ourselves...no, it's the issue of equal access. The right for each of us to have an equal say and an equal opportunity to say it. We are being shut out by the rich and powerful voices that do not speak for us, represent us or even care about us. Independent radio stations, newspapers and television channels are going extinct, and with them the opportunity to hear what's really happening in our communities and the rest of the world.
It's a sad day when the FCC can go ahead and make decisions like this without worrying about having to consult public opinion or even congressional opinion. Activists across the country are weighing in and trying to make their voices heard. But it's the average american that needs to be reached. How will Joe America be able to voice an opinion about something he will never hear anything about because already the tv news, the radio talk shows and the city newspapers he reads are choosing not to let him know things that could make him angry and active.
It's not just a coincidence that the media most people watch on tv aren't reporting the coming deflation, the continuing massive amounts of job losses (which are underreported since companies purposefully don't publicly say how many people they are truly laying off); the growing deficit; the increased threat on our security; the robbery of our children's education and welfare; the lies of the president; the platforms of the democratic candidates... the GOP controlled FCC isn't exactly a proponent of letting those things get out there and aired regularly. After all, the neo-cons in charge of the FCC want to stay in power too.
So get your news reports and commentary on, Blogosphere! More and more people are going to be going to the blogs they can trust for the news they need... and luckily for us, the FCC can kiss our independent asses... until John Ashcroft gets us.
( 12:15 PM )
Okay, it's time to talk Election 2004 again. It has been on my mind to discuss this issue for quite some time, but I keep getting new thoughts on it and so put off the blogging. Well, it's time to go. This week, Howard Dean ("the doctor is in") released his healthcare plan this week, which after a quick once-through I find to be brilliant. Ruminate This pointed me to a Washington Post article from yesterday about the "New Democrats" (aka the DLC) and how they aren't so happy about Dean. I've said before that the DLC is NOT the way the dems should go... they are false leaders and though they have declared themselves the true representatives of the Democratic Party, they are not. They exist for the interests of big business and I would hesitate to even call them "centrist." In my view they aren't even democrats anymore. I think the DLC is fooling itself when it attacks the likes of Dean and the other nominees who don't follow the DLC party line.
They call Dean an "elitist liberal." What? He is against gun control, he has a balanced budget platform - sure, he feels that same-sex couples should be allowed the equal rights as two-sex couples when they get married, sure he feels that all children under 18 deserve guaranteed health care, sure he's not for conquering the world...but elitist liberal? The powerbase for the Democratic Party has moved so far right that someone like Dean is considered a "fringe" candidate. This is not good.
Like I said before, I think that most of the Nader voters in 2000 weren't Greens, but rather disaffected and disappointed Dems --everyone I know who voted for Nader was not a Green. I also don't think that Nader voters were the "fringe." In fact, I think that they were more likely the heart of the Dem party, and most of that heart didn't vote in the first place. All of these people, plus those who voted for Gore in the last election are going to come out in droves to get Bush out of office. These people, the heart of the democratic party, the majority of America does not subscribe to the DLC/GOP view of the status quo of government. Especially now. We have the biggest deficit in history, we are heading very confidently towards deflation, we are cutting money for the most crucial of social programs, we are living with unfunded mandates for homeland security and education... most of the voting American public knows that things can't continue this way.
It's time for a truly fresh perspective. I think that the DLC and the Democratic party are going to be surprised come the first primaries and caucuses next year. I think when Lieberman and Graham end up at the bottom of the heap and the grassroots come out in droves for the likes of Dean, Edwards and Kerry, there is going to be a wake up call for the Party. I believe that even with the corporate media and the hammers of DeLay and Rumsfeld ringing every day with praises for BushCo, he didn't win the election in 2000 and all the votes that would have made it a clear defeat are now going to be arrayed against him as well. I see a great benefit in the numbers of progressives, liberals and plain old run of the mill dems coming together behind someone like Dean. He is not a Washington insider (which was a plus for Bush during his campaign), he has a successful record in governmental reform, he has fresh ideas and a balanced platform. He and the other non-DLC candidates are not the one we should be railing against right now. I don't see how they can be termed "fringe" candidates when they are representing the bulk of american democrat voters.
Every opportunity needs to be taken by these "fringe" candidates to speak out: the bombing in Saudi Arabia, the deficit, the plan to eliminate the 40-hour work week, everything. DeLay and the GOP are going to be hammering against them anyway, and their mantra of "this shouldn't be made into a political issue" isn't going to wash if the Dems come back everytime with: EVERYTHING THE PRESIDENT DOES IS A POLTICIAL ISSUE. BushCo has not made one decision based on the national good, it's all been about political currency. Everyone knows the talking points issued to the media by the white house are all hypocritical falsities. It's time for the Dem candidates to speak out and not be afraid to come back at the neo-con spin machine like Kerry did several weeks ago.
It's not a "tax-cut", it's a "deficit plan". It's not "education reform," it is "Leaving Children Behind." It's not "security" it's "unfunded mandates." It's not a "war on terrorism" it's an "attack on civil rights." Rinse and Repeat. The fringe of this nation are only considered so until they prove they are the majority. That time is coming, and I think I will stand with the fringe on this one.
P.S. Talk about a fringe way of making a point. It's refreshing to see politicians take a stand for something. Save the Texas Reps.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
( 3:46 PM )
I'm 3 or 4 days late on Mother's Day, but I have some thoughts and I wanted to get them down. It was my first Mother's Day (in my heart, it was my second, since I am also the mother of an angel who never saw her first Mother's Day or birthday-but that's a story for a different time). I didn't spend much of the time contemplating Motherhood because with an almost-one-year-old, there isn't much time for contemplation. I usually catch contemplation time while doing the dishes or mowing the lawn, neither of which I did on Mother's Day. I did get the best present I could have hoped for: the Kid slept in till 7:45! Now THAT was a treat for me, equivalent to my pre-baby days of sleeping in till 10:00 or so.
It's still strange to me to be a Mama. I never really pictured myself as one. I never had those adolescent visions of being a wife and mother and all the accompanying agendas. I always thought I'd be a single career woman or activist my whole life, traveling the world, feeling like I'm making a difference, etc., etc. But here I am working a job that I thought would just be work I did to get me through college, supporting my small family, with husband and baby boy at home...finding delight in walking behind a toddler who likes nothing better than to waddle down the sidewalk, stopping every few seconds to squat and pick a flower. I find happiness in the tiny moment when, as I step through the door at the evening, a short person turns from whatever activity he was doing and a look of thrilling happiness washes over his face and he races towards me, arms out, not caring what may be in his path to cause him to stumble and fall over.
At the same time, I think about the things I still want to be and the things I still want to do. The places I haven't been yet, the mountains I haven't climed, the seeds I haven't yet planted. I suppose that perspective just has to change...and maybe those things will happen with my son, instead of me doing them on my own.
I don't know how much I've actually learned. The entire process of mothering seems to be just a series of trial and error experiments. One thing I find to be true above all else: it's tiring. I read from Annie that she is still tired, and hers are 18 and 21 years old! Well, I remain inspired by other Mamas who have not only made the most of motherhood, but who have excelled. A quick trip around blogdom and I read how Sinister Sister celebrates Mom's Day by simply being a mom, and Fussy receives her first ever homemade gift...and it doesn't even matter what it is (what is it?). I love these mamas and the other blogging mamas who share not only the unique Mama-view on the world, but who put that Mama-view to use politically, socially and very, very interestingly.
It's nice there is a Hallmark-card day for Mothers. But I have found so far that being a Mama means simply being. Celebration of who we are should happen on a regular basis and come from ourselves -- being a Mama means something every day, not just one day a year. It means carrying on like every other day before it, not giving up, ignoring the exhaustion and finding the happiness in the small faces and little hands. I think it was said best by Wampum:
"Mother's Day, Schmother's Day - I've got a quarter acre to till before the full moon on Thursday."
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
( 4:31 PM )
Heartbreak in Sunnydale
Buffy faithful: only two weeks left. If you're not caught up for tonight's episode, don't forget to catch Tinman's recap and analysis. And NPR's All Things Considered has a feature today on Buffy Philosophy.
"Lavery [guy who organizes Buffy Studies Conferences]
finds comfort in the words of philosopher Friedrich
Nietzsche, whose theories are frequently invoked in
Buffy Studies. "Nietzsche said the secret of life is
to die at the right time -- and I think it's true of a
television series, too."
Perhaps he's right. But still... it's hard to say goodbye.
( 12:55 PM )
There's been a lot of blog chatter very recently about the situation with the segregated prom in Georgia, and peripheral issues surrounding "southern heritage" issues. Atrios today comments that "if it isn't racial, what the hell is it?" And Digby this last weekend blogged a very in-depth commentary on the "neo-confederates." Digby brings up the "southern heritage" argument used by so many who feel that Dixie's heritage is being torn away...he talks about the codewords used to disguise old racist viewpoints. I clearly recall Reagan's prolific use of "state's rights" language in his speeches down south.
But one of my readers, a very old and dear friend, who now lives in the South and is one of the best Civil War aficionados that I know, after reading my own comments on Georgia last week, sent me several links to show me that people in the South just think differently. He shared with me also the story of H.K. Edgerton's March Across Dixie. I read this biography about H.K. Edgerton, an African American who evidently turned from his involvement in the NAACP and other causes to "embrace" his dixie heritage. My friend also sent me a link to this Dixie paper and this article about a return to a true republic for our country.
I read all of these things with an open mind, and I enjoy a true discussion of these issues with my friend (who despite our disagreements over many other political issues we manage to remain lifelong supporters of each other). I hope I won't offend him or those who believe the same things he does. That is not my intent. But despite his insistence that "southern heritage" is all about getting rid of the federal government's involvement in our business, it is hard to square this with the other aspects of "southern heritage" that still linger and seem to point to (at least to me anyway) a clinging to a way of life that we American's shouldn't want. While the antebellum south may ring with lovely, romantic cultural undertones, in reality, that way of life was built up on a lie.
The lie was that certain human beings aren't worth being called human or treated like humans. It was not just "certain" landowners who treated slaves bad that gives the Confederacy a bad name. It was a culture, a way of life that while the southern states may have felt it was their right to maintain, it was bound to collapse because it was based on a lie. I also know about the arguments that the Civil War wasn't really about slavery, that it was about economics, that it was about the power of the centralized federal government. All those issues were in play. But the bottom line is: the call for flags that bear the symbol of the Confederate battle flag and the protest that they don't represent slavery, the claim that proms divided between black and white kids isn't about racism, the adamant argument that true conservatives should bear the values of "southern heritage," well...these are all points of view that don't involve what I consider to be the bottom line (and my ultimate point to this post): you can't go backwards.
It reminds me of a very current issue here in Oregon: the timber industry's end days. Many small towns in our state are really suffering because the timber industry has moved on. For the most part, it's not because of the evil environmentalists or because of federal intervention, it's because the timber companies found cheaper labor and wood outside this country. These small towns are in some ways holding our state hostage in issues of school funding, property taxes and the like. But while it may sound cruel and unkind, and I don't mean it to be, their time has passed. Just like the time of all the clothing and shoe factories in the Northeast, just like the time for the big steal mills and coal mines, just like the time of Dixie. Just like the state of Oregon should not have to be so influenced by constituencies who will never be able to return to their glory days, I believe that the people who call themselves "Confederate Southern Americans" are not being honest with themselves or this country.
The truth is that there was 400 years of slavery and injustice towards a race of people in this country. From the moment the colonies were established, our country was founded on the backs of men and women who weren't even considered entire human beings in our Constitution - a lie. However our industry worked, however our economic system developed, however the balance between states' rights and the federal government played out, it was ALL built on this lie. It's only in the last 30 years of that entire timeline that this country has even begun to make amends. And the amends aren't only to African Americans, descendants of slaves... the amends need to be made to this entire country. It's no easy task to shift a culture back from a heritage built on 400 years of slavery and the view that certain of us aren't equal. It is going to take a long time. But the longer that our brothers and sisters in the south continue to insist that their "heritage" holds the key to a better America, the longer it will take for this country to get out from under that lie we built our society on.
The point isn't about a flag or a prom. The point is: humanity has moved on, why haven't we?
( 12:01 PM )
Wait, I Thought We Won the War on Terrorism
Mac Diva has a great post up today about the bombings in Saudi Arabia. There seems to be some discrepancy between our government's figures on the casualties and the Kingdom's figures. Mac Diva's point about the American public not knowing the degree to which the Saudis are involved in the worst attacks on American citizens is very sobering. I was personally worried because my brother is still stationed there. Though I assume he is more protected being on a military installation, I do not feel completely okay about it. Interestingly, one of the reports in our paper mentioned that some of the people killed or injured were Boeing employees over there training Saudis on the AWACS planes (which is what my brother does). WHY are we giving this training to a country that has never operated ONCE in our interest?
At any rate, the more pertinent point is the fact that BushCo has so ingeniously disguised its ties to the Saudi Royal Family and that it has managed to turn the American public's eye so far away from the Saudi responsibility for 9/11 and all the other major terrorist attacks on US and Western interests in the last 5 years. How can the American public be expected to respond realistically to events like what happened yesterday when we are being purposely kept in the dark? What will we hear next, that the explosives came from Iran or Syria? That the Saudi Kingdom's meaningless promises to "join the fight" against terrorism will actually make a difference? I'm just guessing that Bush will "VOW REVENGE" and so what, a new war to preoccupy us? We're certainly not going to declare war on Saudi Arabia, so how is BushCo going to convince us of their next move, when it has nothing to do with the real problem, namely: states that support a state of terrorism. We can blame Syria and Iran all we want, but when it comes down to it, Saudi Arabia is the "friend" who is not a friend at all.
( 10:35 AM )
But I LIKE Hydrogenated Fats!
This literally has to be the worst news ever. What is the world coming to, I ask? Something must be done - this could drive me into a state of tort reform support! (well, not quite)
Friday, May 09, 2003
( 4:12 PM )
Kinda Makes You Want to Run
Through the House with Scissors
Thanks, Vinman. Nice way to end the week.
( 2:02 PM )
Uh...what century are we in? Bartcop brings to attention this headline: "Georgia Governor Approves New Flag, Urges Calm" -- evidently, the governor of Georgia decided not to have the state's flag linked to slavery and racism. And thus, his consituents are pissed. Bartcop says it best: "The new flag's appearance prompted shouts of 'Sellout' and 'Stalin' from a small group of white Republicans who were disappointed that there isn't more slavery in their state flag".
In a related story, at Georgia's Taylor County High School, they have a segregated prom. Last year was the first integrated prom they ever had. So I guess they don't want to make that mistake again.
Not that I normally criticize other states when my own is swirling down the toilet bowl...but (in the words of maru) WTF?? Have ALL the lights gone out in Georgia????
( 10:25 AM )
Celebration Time, Come On!
May the European Union enjoy a fruitful and happy life together and may all your united nations overwhelm the world with rational thought and generosity of spirit so as to make the United States regret becoming the mean, irrational bully it has become to the world. Congratulations on your special day!!
( 9:47 AM )
It's Been 897 Days Since His Last Heart Event
He's not dead yet.
But I bet he wishes he had his old job back.
( 9:32 AM )
Mamas - Still the Politicians' Favorite Whipping Girls
Thanks to James R. McLean for a great post on the new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research about child care. JRM talks about how we should stop making mothers' (especially single mothers) child care burdens a political issue and just take care of the situation. I wish that could be the case. Child care is the perfect example of why things like sales taxes and flat taxes are prohibitive for so many of us. I am married, but provide the only income for my family at this point, so in terms of income, it's a single-parent home. On my income, we cannot afford formal child care. But here's the kicker, even if my husband were able to find work in his career field (computer tech - a job in that field in our state right now is about as likely as winning the lottery) - both of us working might not even be enough to balance what the cost of fulltime child care would be.
See, I have to pay the same for child care (which averages $6-700 a month) as someone who makes 4 times what I do. So while child care would literally be 25% of my take home income, for someone who made only twice what I do, it is only 10% of their income. Child care being a fixed cost like that does not allow for the working poor to find quality care for their children. But at the same time, the government demands that "welfare reform" must mean that you don't deserve help from the government unless you work. But you can't make enough to pay for child care. So you're trapped. You are a good mother, you're not going to leave your children unattended or in bad situations. But you have no way to provide for them. So you don't "deserve" help from the state and you can't "earn" it either. We treat the working poor mothers of this country as if they were the stain on our society. As if they were the cause of our problems. Our politicians look to our least common denominator in terms of influence and importance in our society and then stomp on them to give a boost to their campaigns. It doesn't make sense. Just like pouring millions of dollars into a "war on drugs" where people are punished with hard criminal time for possession of minescule amounts of pot. Just like taxpayer money paying for a president who has never honorably served in his country's military donning a uniform and performing the role of military dictator.
For Mother's Day, instead of taking away our right for overtime pay, or trying to convince us that huge deficites are a good legacy to leave our children, why not give us universal health care for our children, or a guaranteed quality public education with teachers who get paid enough to care, or just even, (dare I say it?) food enough for all the children in this country who go hungry every day. Now THAT would be a good Mother's Day.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
( 11:00 AM )
Bill Bennett: Eat Your Words
"There is much unhappiness and personal distress in the world because of failures to control tempers, appetites, passions, and impulses. 'Oh, if only I had stopped myself' is an all too familiar refrain." - from the Book of Virtues, Ch 1.
( 10:55 AM )
Presidential Action Figures!
J.C. Christian's got 'em - and they're great. Though I agree with P, I'd love to see one with GW in one of those fantastically weird Chilean military uniforms. He definitely seems the type that would proudly walk about with 10-inch wide epaulettes.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
( 10:50 AM )
The Federal Reserve issued a report yesterday that there may be soon an "unwelcome substantial fall in inflation." Reuters reports that the White House is looking into it.
"The Fed issued a report yesterday. They did not
use that word (deflation) per se. But they did address
that concern ... and administration officials are
studying the Federal Reserve thinking on this matter,"
spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
I'm glad they are "thinking" about it... here's what it means for us:
Deflation can harm an economy by raising the
real burden of debt and by giving consumers an
incentive to put off purchases until prices fall
further, which can lead to further economic weakness
and a downward spiral.
It can also pose problems for policymakers
when interest rates are low because it is inflation-
adjusted, or real, rates that matter for growth.
When prices drop, it pushes real rates higher,
acting as a brake on the economy.
This country has not seen an actual deflation since the Depression in the 1930's. Was I being alarmist earlier when I warned about October 1929? Mamas are always right, you know that.
( 10:14 AM )
Now THAT'S What I Call a Resume!
Thanks to Emily for this hilarious (yet sobering) TRUE edition of George W. Bush's resume. Read it and pass it on!!
( 9:32 AM )
BushCo Adds 50 NEW Enemies -
Do They Get Playing Cards Too?
In a FANTASTIC editorial in this morning's Oregonian, David Sarasohn wrote about the fact that BushCo has literally left all 50 states to die economically. Not only the unfunded mandates for education and homeland security, but also Medicaid and total lack of federal funding for other areas. Bush basically told the Governors' Conference to eat his shorts this year, and he looks to be gaining the ominous notoriety of being the first president to preside over all 50 states going bankrupt...simultaneously.
"A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about
the role the states could play," recalls Nick Johnson,
director of the State Fiscal Project of the Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C.
"Now, it's just about shutting government down at all levels."
States, of course, spend just about all their money
on things like education, health care and corrections,
things that hold up both the society and the economy.
But the Bush strategy is that all money is better
off staying with the taxpayer -- especially when the
federal government can just run the biggest deficits
in history -- and that only cutting taxes moves the economy.
But "the massive crisis that has hit the states and
localities," points out James K. Galbraith,
economics professor at the University of Texas, is
going to land on the economy with about $100 billion
in service cuts and tax increases, undermining
federal growth strategies.
What the "federal growth strategies" are remains a mystery to me. I can't believe that the American public, if they were actually fully informed about what is going on, would stand for the way the Administration is handling the growing economic crisis. While the conservative agenda has always been "states rights" and removing "big government" from the federal level, it seems the neocons are now unwilling to allow for the reality that when they leave the states high and dry, their big plans are going to crumble because their foundation is cracking.
Our state is in the worst crisis its ever faced. I don't even know if Oregonians are aware of how bad it is. Jobs are being lost daily, corporate headquarters are fleeing the state, teachers are working for free (that's right, they're not being paid), and we're losing our wonderful and valuable state health care plan, and not to mention Medicaid, for the people who need it most. Add to that the federal cuts on Early Head Start, Veterans' benefits and a whole host of other services. In our county, we've got a special ballot coming up this month so we can vote ourselves a tax raise in order to literally save children's education, elderly people's care and welfare and to keep criminals in the justice system (instead of giving them citations and asking them nicely to not do that again). This tax hike is not to ADD money to the coffers, to BOOST the budgets for these social needs, no it's actually to save them from disappearing. Tell me, how can we live in a society where our very basic needs, that have to be provided by a government we elect, are simply coming to a halt? We can't. That's why we have to take the initiative, like here in Multnomah County, and save ourselves.
BushCo is not interested in saving the American people from these disasters. No, it wants to CUT taxes, thus decreasing the revenue the government will have to put towards rescuing us from a repeat of October 1929. But dress that boy up in a flight suit that he doesn't deserve to wear, send him around to factories where the working people there are barely getting any benefits and are lucky if they have any retirement, and let him tell bold lies like "this tax cut will boost our economy and create jobs!" and boy, isn't that a great way to run our country into the ground. Add to that BushCo's plan to eliminate pension funds, to erase the right to collectively bargain, and do away with the right to be paid for overtime above a 40 hour work week, and we are literally living in a time where our own government is trying to kill us. How did this happen? A lot of reasons. How will we stop it? Get off our asses, take charge of OUR governments, local, state AND federal. They belong to us, they are ours to change. How do we do that?
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
( 2:35 PM )
All Good Things Come to an End
To all Buffy Fans...only 3 episodes left. If you're not caught up for tonight...don't forget to check out TinMan.
( 11:44 AM )
There is an article today on Alternet about the Administration's planned "Mother's Day Surprise." I blogged about this back on April 11 - the fact that the Bush Administration is hoping to change federal rules and take away the protection of pay for overtime work. Evidently, BushCo feels they can market this as GOOD FOR MOMS because by giving businesses a "flex" option, they can get comp time instead of actual pay for overtime work they do. This, the Republicans reason, will give moms more time with their families, thus fulfilling the conservative legacy of "Family Values!"
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who voted
against the bill, says that "employees are in
effect being asked to give a no-interest loan to
their employer." If a company goes belly up –
which happened to more than 500,000 businesses
last year – you might have banked a month of
comp time, but you may never get it.
Arlie Hochschild, professor of sociology at UC
Berkeley, and author of "The Second Shift" and
"The Time Bind," views this legislation as "a fig
leaf covering corporate interests." The boss, she
says, "will have more incentive to increase overtime
and the worker will get an IOU."
This is more than hypocrisy. This makes me so mad, I can barely form thoughts to cogently express my opinion on it. This bill just reinforces William Greider's opinion (in his fantastic article in this week's Nation) that the whole neocon goal is to roll back ALL New Deal legislation... to get rid of social security, to get rid of workers' rights, everything. There doesn't seem to be an end to the blatant robbing of the average American's life that this Administration will go to. Why? What good does this do for America? To further take away a person's right to be paid for work they do above and beyond their normal work week, especially those low income workers who work overtime because they NEED the pay, not only takes away so much employee effectiveness and health, it also is bad for the economy. Yes, that's what I said.
BushCo seems to be either totally ignorant or they simply DO NOT CARE ABOUT WORKING PEOPLE. If you take away pay from working people, they will not have that pay to put back into the economy for the goods and services they need to purchase. Thus, the consumer-driven economy that conservatives are pushing for will further collapse. No tax cut to the rich or to corporations is going to bolster that economy when the people who support it aren't getting paid. Why can't anyone see the truth of this?
And let's just go back to this "trying to win the votes of working women" tactic of passing this legislation by Mother's Day. What working women are they talking about? And how crass is it to take away a basic working right under the guise of a "Mother's Day Gift?" Oh, I forgot, women don't belong in the workplace -- they belong at home. It's so hypocritical. They don't want to give poor women welfare unless they work, but the work they can get isn't enough to pay for childcare, so they work extra hours. They barely see their children if they are trying to live by these rules, but the extra money is necessary, so they work the extra hours. But if a woman stays home with her children, she is lazy and she is just trying to "live off the government." So surprise, Mamas! You get screwed six ways. So much for Family Values.
It's true that labor history isn't taught in schools. It's true that Labor has been demonized for years by the Republicans. It's true that the media doesn't cover labor issues. But people died to give us the 8 hour work day and the 5-day work week. Are we saying we can do without their sacrifice? That the backs on which this country is carried don't deserve those basic working rights anymore? Are we ready to face 1929 again? I don't think I'm being too alarmist here. In fact, I'm wondering why there aren't any alarms going off at all on this.