Friday, May 28, 2004
( 3:21 PM )
Last day at this job. God willing, last day as a legal secretary or paralegal. Ever. After 15 years. Last day having to work for lawyers defending souless corporations. Last day having to type someone else's drivel. Last day having to research stupid cases and investigate people's lives and write meaningless letters to people who don't care. Last day having to order someone's clothes from a catalog for them or complain to building management about the bathroom toilet paper. Last day having to sit in a cubicle for 9 hrs. Last day.
In the great tradition of this Mama, some haikus to celebrate:
I'm glad I have a
skill. But because I don't want
to use it, I 'll teach
even if you make
more money than is needed
your dreams will still cling
go on and jump off
what is the use of a cliff
if you will not leap?
Here's to changes, fresh starts and new adventures.
p.s. I know you won't forget, but allow me this moment of Mama-ness: don't forget this Memorial Day weekend that someone died so you could be free. God Bless and catch you next week.
( 1:39 PM )
Media Bias? - Nah!
Once more on the cable news "good grief" monitor, we have this quote from Kelli Arena, the "Justice Correspondent" for CNN, from Wolf Blitzer's show:
[Kelli] ARENA: Neither John Kerry nor the president has said troops pulled out of Iraq any time soon. But there is some speculation that al Qaeda believes it has a better chance of winning in Iraq if John Kerry is in the White House.
BEN VENZKE, INTELCENTER: Al Qaeda feels that Bush is, even despite casualties, right or wrong for staying there is going to stay much longer than possibly what they might hope a Democratic administration would.
Both Atrios and Daily Kos have put out a call for letters. As Kos puts it:
You can communicate your thoughts to Ms. Arena personally at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can now send your emails to Eason Jordan at Eason.Jordan@turner.com. He's CNN's chief news executive.
This isn't 2000. We're not going to take this shit lying down.
Read the letters posted by Kos commenters - this is my favorite:
Just to let you know, there has been a lot of speculation here at Justice that the earth's core will explode if John Kerry wins. Also, intelligence indicates that an alien race of flying-super goats will take over the Earth if Kerry wins.
Please keep this off the record, but feel free to parrot it without exercising even a modicum of critical thinking.
Write your own letter. That's what being a citizen gatekeeper is about. If our media won't be responsible, then it's our job to hold their feet to the fire. Oh, and by the way, here's what John Kerry said yesterday, if you need a little meat for your letter:
So this is my message to the terrorists. As commander in chief, I will bring the full force of our nation's power to bear on finding and crushing your networks. We'll use every resource of our power to destroy you.
Liberal media, my arse.
( 9:38 AM )
Our Administration: Keystone Kops
What is going on with the people in charge? Of course, not that they should be in charge in the first place. But they're not even making a pretense of even adequately (much less efficientyl) running the government. After Ashcroft's big splash the other day with his Really Scary Terrorist Press Conference, we now hear that the Head of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, now says that all the info offered by Ashcroft was old news and there isn't anything new that should have caused such an alert.
Oh, and besides, that's not Ashcroft's job anyway.
With FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III by his side, Ashcroft said at a news conference two days ago that "credible intelligence, from multiple sources, indicates that al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months. . . . This disturbing intelligence indicates al Qaeda's specific intention is to hit the U.S. hard." He added that the information has been "corroborated on a variety of levels."
Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and Bush administration rules, only the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can publicly issue threat warnings, and they must be approved in a complex interagency process involving the White House. Administration officials sympathetic to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said he was not informed Ashcroft was going to characterize the threat in that way -- an assertion that Justice officials deny.
"Dissemination by our government of sensitive terrorism warnings must be closely coordinated across our intelligence and law enforcement communities," Cox said. "In the Homeland Security Act, DHS was assigned the central coordinating role in this process. The absence of Secretary Ridge from yesterday's news conference held by the attorney general and the FBI director, and the conflicting public messages their separate public appearances delivered to the nation, suggests that the broad and close interagency consultation we expect, and which the law requires, did not take place in this case.
"The American public, state and local law enforcement, governors and mayors, and private sector officials with responsibility for critical infrastructure all deserve crystal clarity when it comes to terrorism threat advisories," Cox said.
So, depending on who you talk to in our government, we're either on the brink of destruction or things are going just dandy.
Either way, it works for George Bush. Whether it's imminent doom or sunny day, the White House would like to encourage you to Keep Shopping!
( 9:24 AM )
Oh for Crying Out LOUD!!
Sean Hannity last night equated Moveon.Org with the Klan:
HANNITY: Should -- why would Al Gore associate with a group that is that left wing and that radical? What if he spoke before the Klan? Would that -- would we not hold him in judgment for that?
Sean Hannity long ago passed the Idiot Threshold, but now he's managed to even overstep the Most Half-Witted, Moronic Analogy EVER Threshold.
Come ON people. Is THIS what passes for political commentary? This guy is so inane that it's hard to even give credence to him - and yet thousands of people watch and listen to him daily and then repeat what he says. Does anybody THINK these days? arrrrrrggghhhhhhh!!!!
(thanks to Atrios for the heads up)
p.s. It must be killing Hannity and his ilk that Gore's speech has so far outlasted 2 1/2 news cycles and is still going strong. They can't stand it! And they can't fight it, except with idiocy.
( 9:20 AM )
As of yesterday
( 9:17 AM )
Jesus' General notes that the movement to rescure our country from this horrible scourge, this infestation of malcontents, this terrible mark on our society known as the goths, has suffered a little setback. But not to worry, the General is on the job and offering the best pick me up a down and out republican oppressor could ask for.
Thursday, May 27, 2004
( 4:11 PM )
A Hero Passes
Dave Dellinger died on Tuesday. This is very sad news to this Mama, and I know many others.
At the 1969 trial, just before Judge Julius Hoffman sentenced him, he was offered a chance to speak. But when the judge tried to cut him off, Mr. Dellinger said: "You want us to be like good Germans, supporting the evils of our decade, and then when we refused to be good Germans and came to Chicago and demonstrated, now you want us to be like good Jews, going quietly and politely to the concentration camps while you and this court suppress freedom and the truth. And the fact is, I am not prepared to do that. You want us to stay in our place like black people were supposed to stay in their place. . . . "
Thanks to Corrente, here is a rundown - just an overview, really, of Dellinger's impact on behalf of the people of this country:
*Labor organizer in the 1930s.
*Spent all of World War II in jail for refusing to register for the draft, despite a guaranteed deferrment as a divinity student. Kept getting sent to solitary for leading hunger strikes.
*Did the civil-rights thing in the '50s, before it was cool. Protested Korean War, nuclear testing.
*One of the Chicago Seven in '68, which is why that bell was ringing in your head. Find a picture; Dave's the bald-headed guy in the suit and tie in the midst of wild-assed long-haired loons like Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman.
*Antiwar stuff in the 70s.
*Spare time spent fighting for living-wage laws, prisoner's rights, reforming US foreign policy, frivolity like that.
*Three years ago, aged 85, he hitched to Quebec to lead a protest against the Western Hemisphere free-trade zone.
*Other free time spent staying married for 62 years and raising at least four children. Worked as a printer, writer and editor to pay the bills.
To me, not only was the defense of the Chicago Seven a major influence on me, but Dellinger's never-ending defense of and support for the activists of the American Indian Movement, and most especially Leonard Peltier. To baby activists like myself, the legend of Dave Dellinger is one to not only aspire to and to try to imitate, but one to remember when we think times are tough. He never gave up, he never bowed to false authorities and he never stopped telling the truth.
Rest in Peace, Teacher.
( 1:37 PM )
It Gets Worse - Again.
So we all know that the neocons who set up shop in this administration had as their goal to invade Iraq and set in motion their great Plan for World Domination. We know that they used only the word of Ahmed Chalabi, an "exile" from Iraq (and bank robber who stole millions in Jordan and is still wanted), and his minions as their intelligence for creating their reason for war. Those who dared to challenge the intelligence like Ambassador Wilson faced treasonous actions by the White House (the outing of his wife as a secret CIA officer) that go unpunished. Of course the entire Iraq debacle continues to slide into chaos and reveal horrendous misjudgments and actions taken by these same neocon leaders. NOW we find out that Chalabi, the vaunted Friend of George who appeared at the States of the Union addresses, who has collected a monthly check of over $300,000 of US taxpayer money over the last year, is a double agent for Iran. And the FBI is now investigating those very same neocons for espionage. (this is a Salon article, so you'll need a day pass if you're not registered).
At a well-appointed conservative think tank in downtown Washington and across the Potomac River at the Pentagon, FBI agents have begun paying quiet calls on prominent neoconservatives, who are being interviewed in an investigation of potential espionage, according to intelligence sources. Who gave Ahmed Chalabi classified information about the plans of the U.S. government and military?
The Iraqi neocon favorite, tipped to lead his liberated country post-invasion, has been identified by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency as an Iranian double agent, passing secrets to that citadel of the "axis of evil" for decades. All the while the neocons cosseted, promoted and arranged for more than $30 million in Pentagon payments to the George Washington manqué of Iraq. In return, he fed them a steady diet of disinformation, and in the run-up to the war he sent various exiles to nine nations' intelligence agencies to spread falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction. If the administration had wanted other material to provide a rationale for invasion, no doubt that would have been fabricated. Either Chalabi perpetrated the greatest con since the Trojan horse or he was the agent of influence for the most successful intelligence operation conducted by Iran, or both.
The fallout from the Chalabi affair has also implicated the nation's newspaper of record, the New York Times, which published on Wednesday an apology for running numerous stories containing disinformation that emanated from Chalabi and those in the Bush administration funneling his fabrications. The Washington Post, which published editorials and several columnists trumpeting Chalabi's talking points, has yet to acknowledge the extent to which it was deceived.
Washington, which was just weeks ago in the grip of neoconservative orthodoxy and absolute belief in Bush's inevitability and righteousness, is now in the throes of agonizing events and being ripped apart by investigations. Things fall apart; all that was hidden is revealed; all sacred exposed as profane: the military, loyal and lumbering, betrayed and embittered; the general in the field, Lt. Gen. Sanchez, disgraced and cashiered; and the most respected retired generals training their artillery on those who have ill-used the troops, still dying in the field; the intelligence agencies, a nautilus of chambers, abused and angry, its retired operatives plying their craft with the press corps, seeping dangerous truths; the press, hesitatingly and wobbly, investigating its own falsehoods; the neocons, publicly redoubling their passionate intensity, defending their hero and deceiver Chalabi, privately squabbling, anxiously awaiting the footsteps of FBI agents; Colin Powell, once the most acclaimed man in America, embarked on an endless quest to restore his reputation, damaged above all by his failure of nerve; everyone in the line of fire motioning toward the chain of command, spiraling upward and sideways, until the finger pointing in a phalanx is directed at the hollow crown. (mama's emphasis)
WOW. How are the GOP talking heads going to explain away this one? Part of me wants to gloat "I told you so" because I (and you too, probably) knew that Chalabi was a total fraud. And yet there is no triumphalism in this particular truth being finally shown the light of day. Though it is a relief it's finally out there and that there is actually some investigation going on - it is a terrible, terrible tragedy that the erstwhile world domination dreams of a few have killed, maimed, endangered, robbed and defrauded so many.
Oh, and if you're looking for more into the whole NY Times apology and Judith Miller (whore of Babylon - literally), check out this one by James Moore.
One might have hoped that American journalists would have been at least as skeptical as the State Department before they burned their reputations on Chalabi's pyre of lies. But even the most seasoned of correspondents and the most august of publications, including the Times and the Washington Post, appear to have been as deftly used by Chalabi as were the CIA, the Department of Defense and the Bush administration.
Digby has the best comments on this. This entire house of cards must fall - it's built on nothing but the ashes of dead soldiers and the lies of mighty men. The entire nation and indeed, the entire world, has been betrayed by the leadership of this country. Not one of them should get a pass - not one of them should be ignored in our quest for the truth and for justice.
( 10:04 AM )
Ashcroft Gets the Smackdown from Oregon
Victory! The Ninth Circuit Court finally ruled yesterday in the case about allowing Oregon's Death With Dignity act. Oregon voters have voted TWICE for Death With Dignity and John Ashcroft keeps appealing it. But he lost yesterday. Again. This is a straight-down-the-line state's rights issue.
The 2-1 ruling by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft had exceeded his authority when he declared in late 2001 that assisted suicide was not a legitimate medical practice.
"The attorney general's unilateral attempt to regulate general medical practices historically entrusted to state lawmakers interferes with the democratic debate about physician-assisted suicide and far exceeds the scope of his authority under federal law," wrote Judge Richard Tallman, a former federal prosecutor.
"To be perfectly clear, we take no position on the merits or morality of physician-assisted suicide," Tallman wrote for the majority. "This case is simply about who gets to decide."
It "clearly sends the message to . . . Ashcroft: Keep your hands off Oregon and Oregonians," said George Eighmey, executive director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon. His group advised 33 of the 42 patients who died by assisted suicide last year.
Kevin Neely, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Justice, said, "Today's decision reinforces that states do, in fact, have the exclusive authority to establish their medical practices and, absent any intervention by Congress, the federal government should not and cannot tell states how to practice medicine."
Oregon stands as the only state in the union that allows people the choice of how they will die if they are lingering in a painful conclusion to their life. This is a decision that must be left to the people of this state. We have chosen it, not once, but twice. Death with Dignity not only works, but it is a true gift to many people. And no, we don't have people flocking to kill themselves here in Oregon (unlike the people flocking to get married!) - this is about your freedom to make a person choice to die with dignity and grace and in the way you choose.
And don't be fooled. John Ashcroft isn't just fighting Oregon out of some sense of moral highground over the practice of medicine. Who do you think gets all that money spent on sustaining lives that don't want it - the Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical corporations.
Hooray for Oregon. Victory over Ashcroft and a Victory for our rights as individuals.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
( 3:21 PM )
The Alternate Universe President Speaks
Wow. In special remarks for MoveOn.org, Al Gore brings it home:
George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.
He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.
More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.
Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens - sooner or later - to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul.
President Bush said in his speech Monday night that the war in Iraq is "the central front in the war on terror." It's not the central front in the war on terror, but it has unfortunately become the central recruiting office for terrorists. [Dick Cheney said, "This war may last the rest of our lives.] The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. Just yesterday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict " has arguable focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition." The ISS said that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks.
The war plan was incompetent in its rejection of the advice from military professionals and the analysis of the intelligence was incompetent in its conclusion that our soldiers would be welcomed with garlands of flowers and cheering crowds. Thus we would not need to respect the so-called Powell doctrine of overwhelming force.
There was also in Rumsfeld's planning a failure to provide security for nuclear materials, and to prevent widespread lawlessness and looting.
Luckily, there was a high level of competence on the part of our soldiers even though they were denied the tools and the numbers they needed for their mission. What a disgrace that their families have to hold bake sales to buy discarded Kevlar vests to stuff into the floorboards of the Humvees! Bake sales for body armor.
In December of 2000, even though I strongly disagreed with the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to order a halt to the counting of legally cast ballots, I saw it as my duty to reaffirm my own strong belief that we are a nation of laws and not only accept the decision, but do what I could to prevent efforts to delegitimize George Bush as he took the oath of office as president.
I did not at that moment imagine that Bush would, in the presidency that ensued, demonstrate utter contempt for the rule of law and work at every turn to frustrate accountability...
So today, I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands.
I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable - and I believe we will. As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, "We - even we here - hold the power, and bear the responsibility."
Yowza. I don't mean to be a tiresome Mama about this...but where was this Al Gore in 2000?
( 9:11 AM )
Mama Joins the MOB
This a special post to my Mama friends out there. I wanted to let you know that I've joined with Mothers Opposing Bush (MOB) and begun to work on starting a Portland, Oregon Chapter. If any of my fellow Portland mamas are out there, please go to the website and join up. Then email me and let me know - I'm going to work on organizing an event here in the near future.
If you're a mama of any type, please join MOB and look for a gathering in your own town. And then get every one of your friends to sign up. Like I'm telling all my Mama friends: this election is about no less than the soul of America. It's time for the Mamas to take a stand.
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
( 2:05 PM )
If you've been having trouble reaching any blogs hosted by Blogspot (ie, Atrios, Corrente, ME, etc), try taking the WWW out of your url link. For some reason the WWW is screwing things up lately.
( 8:58 AM )
The FBI apologized to local Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield yesterday. It went something like this:
Gee, "we apologize
"I am an American Muslim," he said. "I have been singled out and discriminated against, I feel, as a Muslim."
true but we'll never admit itnot true," said U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut in a brief news conference. She said Mayfield's detention was justified by national security and the need to investigate further.
The government portrayed Mayfield as a potential terrorist because of his associations, Wax said.
"They were pointing to one or two instances where Mr. Mayfield knew somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who was on an undisclosable terror watch list," Wax said. "Part of our concern is how guilt by association could ensnare a completely innocent person."
Once again here in Portland, we have been shown that the government is willing to falsly imprison muslims, even leaders of the community, without true evidence or even charges against them. If this sort of thing doesn't bother you, then you're not paying attention. Oh, and for those of you who think this only happens to brown-skinned people? Mr. Mayfiled is white. This kind of thing will only get worse the longer we allow the government to have powers that they have no right to.
( 8:51 AM )
Good grief. It's supposed to be 81 degrees in Portland today. That's just unnatural. Well, I can't complain. At least I don't have to wear body armor and fatigues in this weather in the coming days.
Monday, May 24, 2004
( 4:38 PM )
In today's NY Times, David Sanger reports that while the Bush administration fairly freaked out and rushed into war with Iraq over intelligence about supposed WMD's, it's reaction to the reality of North Korea's WMD's is remarkably more subdued (shocker).
The discovery that North Korea may have supplied uranium to Libya poses an immediate challenge to the White House: while President Bush is preoccupied on the other side of the world, an economically desperate nation may be engaging in exactly the kind of nuclear proliferation that the president says he went to war in Iraq to halt.
Yet to listen to many in the White House, concern about North Korea's nuclear program brings little of the urgency that surrounded the decision 14 months ago to oust Saddam Hussein. When Mr. Bush has been asked about North Korea in recent months, he has emphasized his patience. He does not refer to the intelligence estimates that North Korea has at least two nuclear weapons, or to the debate within the American intelligence community about whether North Korea has spent the past 18 months building more. (mama's emphasis)
"I admit there appears to be more than a little irony here," said one senior administration official, when asked how what he thought Mr. Bush might have said in public if Saddam Hussein - instead of Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader - had been suspected of shipping raw material for nuclear weapons to a country like Libya. "But Iraq was a different problem, in a different place, and we had viable military options," he continued. (mama's translation: North Korea doesn't have oil, and they could actually hurt us)
The rest of the article has more scari-ness. But not to worry! We're taking the path of patience and prudence with North Korea! Why, we're not even negotiating with them - that should waylay those rascally nuclear weapon owners! Meanwhile, let's take more troops away from South Korea to die in Iraq. That's the ticket!
( 4:30 PM )
Kudos to Kos
Adding my personal round of applause for this postmortem (or premortem?) of the DLC today.
( 1:47 PM )
Moyers on Freedom of the Press
Bill Moyers, "elder statesman of journalism" spoke at a Newspaper Guild/Communication Workers of America dinner on May 19, 2004. This is some of what he had to say.
At times, journalism has risen to great occasions and even made other freedoms possible. From editors who went defiantly to prison after being charged under the sedition act for circulating opinions that questioned the motives of Congress, or 'criminating' (whatever that meant) the president, to the willingness of Arthur Sulzberger and Katherine Graham to risk criminal prosecution under espionage laws if they printed the Pentagon Papers; from Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair taking on the shame of the cities, the crimes of the trusts, and the treason of the senate, to Walter Cronkite devoting an entire broadcast to Watergate; from Seymour Hersh reporting on torture to 60 Minutes II broadcasting the horror of Abu Ghraib, the greatest moments in journalism have come not when journalists made common cause with power, but when they stood fearlessly independent of it.
So, why, when we pause to celebrate it, as we are tonight, why despite plenty of lip service on every ritual occasion to freedom of the press—why are we so uneasy, so uncertain, so anxious for our craft?
Partly it's because of the secrecy. The secrecy today is so thick as to be all but impenetrable. In earlier times there were padlocks for the presses and jail cells for outspoken editors and writers as our governing bodies tried to squelch journalistic freedom with blunt instruments of the law. Now, the classifier's 'top secret' stamp, used indiscriminately, is as potent a silencer as a writ of arrest. It's so bad the president and CEO of the Associated Press, Tom Curley, last week called publicly for a media advocacy center to lobby in Washington for an open government. "You don't need to have your notebook snatched by a policeman," he said, "to know that keeping an eye on government has lately gotten a lot harder."
It's not just government that's squeezing out this news. Some of the media giants are doing it themselves. As they consolidate ownership they are shrinking their news holes, isolating public affairs far from prime-time. A study by Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America reports that nearly two-thirds of today's newspaper markets are monopolies. Take a look at a recent book called Leaving Readers Behind: The Age of Corporate Newspapering, published as part of the project on the state of the American newspaper under the auspices of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the leadership of Gene Roberts, the former managing editor of The New York Times . The report describes "a furious unprecedented blitz of buying, selling, and consolidating of newspapers from the mightiest daily to the humblest weeklies."
A world where "small hometown dailies are being bought and sold like hog futures, where chains now devour other chains whole, where they are effectively ceding whole regions of the country to one another, further minimizing competition. Where money is pouring into the business from interests with little knowledge and even less concern about the special obligations newspapers have to democracy."
Meanwhile, as secrecy grows, and media conglomerates put more and more power in fewer and fewer hands, we have witnessed the rise of a new phenomenon—a quasi-official partisan press ideologically linked to an authoritarian administration that is in turn the ally and agent of powerful financial and economic interests that consider transparencies a threat to their hegemony over public opinion. This convergence dominates the marketplace of political ideas in a phenomenon unique in our history. Stretching from the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch's empire to the nattering nabobs of know-nothing radio to a legion of think tanks bought and paid for by corporations circling the honey pots of government, a vast echo chamber resounds with a conformity of opinions, serving a partisan worldview cannot be proven wrong because it admits no evidence to the contrary. When you challenge them with evidence to the contrary—when you try to hold their propaganda to scrutiny—you're likely to wind up in the modern equivalent of a medieval iron maiden, between the covers, that is, of an Ann Coulter tirade, or wake up in an underground cell at FOX News, force fed leftovers from a Roger Ailes snack, and required for 24 hours a day to stare at photographs of Rupert Murdoch on the walls of the cell while listening to a piped-in Bill O'Reilly singing the Hallelujah Chorus in praise of himself.
And one last thing. The character in Tom Stoppard's play Night And Day summed it up when he said: "people do terrible things to each other, but it's worse in places where everything is kept in the dark."
We keep saying it, but the media bias isn't necessarily "right" or "left" but corporate. And when this kind of administration is in power, the corporate interests always get their say over everyone else. It so happens that most of the time corporate=the right wing and so it seems more often than not that the media has more coddled the right wing rather than challenged it. Ultimately, it once again is up to us, the citizens to make this right. If we allow the continued consolidation of corporate media holdings and we don't protest the decisions the FCC (among others) makes, then we have only ourselves to blame. If we don't hold our own local news accountable to reporting our local politics and issues instead of the 10 minutes of drivel that is sent out to all the stations, along with a 20-minute weather report, then we have only ourselves to blame.
See, the danger of the corporate media bias, as in corporate bias in other areas (such as tax benefits, etc) is that human beings just don't matter as much. And like this mama keeps saying, once we let the human beings not really matter, that's the end of us. (what the shortsighted corporations don't see is that's the end of them too - but that wouldn't be so bad)
( 12:25 PM )
Those Darn Generals
They just won't shut up. The interview on 60 Minutes last night with Gen. Zinni was good. Nothing new, but always good to hear from someone with that much of a reputation to back his words.
“There has been poor strategic thinking in this,” says Zinni. “There has been poor operational planning and execution on the ground. And to think that we are going to ‘stay the course,’ the course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit, or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course. Because it's been a failure.”
Zinni says he blames the Pentagon for what happened. “I blame the civilian leadership of the Pentagon directly. Because if they were given the responsibility, and if this was their war, and by everything that I understand, they promoted it and pushed it - certain elements in there certainly - even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs, then they should bear the responsibility,” he says.
“But regardless of whose responsibility I think it is, somebody has screwed up. And at this level and at this stage, it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this? That's what bothers me most.”
Though Zinni placed the blame on the Pentagon officials, I have to say that the buck stopped with Bush. He is the one in charge, he made or allowed to be made decisions that have led us to where we are. Some of those decisions include keeping people in charge who have completely screwed up our country and the rest of the world. Not a good management style.
p.s. did anyone think it weird that Zinni co-authored his book that criticizes the Pentagon leadership with Tom Clancy? I thought Tom Clancy was totally gung-ho on stuff like pre-emptive wars. Strange.
( 9:46 AM )
Just a Reminder
It appears that the news outlets have decided to stop reporting casualty counts. Whether by tacit agreement with the White House to muzzle the truth about our ongoing losses, or because they just can't be bothered, it's a failure on the part of the news media to not recognize casualties.
According to our ever-vigilant lunaville, 60 soldiers have been killed so far in the month of May. The average lingers around 2 1/2 per day (down from 4 per day in April). Still May isn't over and it's already the 2nd heaviest casualty month since last fall.
But someone is paying attention. Veterans for Peace are erecting white crosses on the beaches in California every Sunday, one for each casualty of the Iraq War. Each week the number of crosses increases. But each week, more and more people are noticing. I hope.
Friday, May 21, 2004
( 4:34 PM )
Strawberries! (they've come early this year due to our unusally warm spring - bring on global warming if it means more strawberries!) Hopefully the rain will stay long enough for us to get our fingers all red and sticky this weekend so we can gorge ourselves on fresh Oregon strawberries for weeks!
In the words of the 2-year old: "Sawbewies! YUM!"
Have a great weekend.
( 1:05 PM )
Witness in Martha Stewart trial lied! Shocker!! Retrial anyone?
John Kerry doesn't want to be president - yet! In fact, it may be a very shrewd move on Kerry's part, if the DNC can work it out. If he waits and closes the time gap between teh Dem convention and the GOP convention, then he won't have to use up as much of his federal funds to fight Bush, who will have more money in less time to spend at the end of the race.
(also, this mama suspects that postponing Kerry's official nomination or even the convention vote as a whole would put a cramp in those quiet GOP plans to launch a "July Surprise" right in the middle of things so the country doesn't pay attention to Kerry's nomination. As far as I'm concerned, he should keep it to himself until the day he does it. That works fine for me. It's not like the nomination is going to be a surprise.)
( 12:52 PM )
I told my husband last night as I read the latest Nation that I felt like I was succumbing to Atrocity Fatigue. It's almost as if there is so much, it feels like all we're doing is wading slow-motion through the shallow end of the pool. I know that I need to know the facts, I need to be constantly curious in order to keep my government accountable for what it does in my name, and I know that I want to find out how to amend the wrongs and keep this from ever happening again. And yet, day after day, it's more and more of the kind of news that seems like it just can't get any worse - but it does, the next day.
Blah3 points us to a great blog from an Iraqi newswriter describing the most recent horrific events enacted at the hands of the US against Iraqis:
“Iraq is sitting atop a volcano,” says a school teacher in Haditha. “The Americans are aggravating people here, trying to get a reaction. Everyone in this province is against them now!”
Most Iraqis I speak with nowadays are seething with rage towards the occupiers of their country. With their mosques being raided, damaged or destroyed on what has become a nearly daily basis, they have had enough.
Then, as if the unremitting stream of horrendous photographs documenting the widespread torturing of Iraqis within Abu Ghraib prison (among other detention facilities throughout Iraq) are not enough, the recent wedding party massacre has brought the fury to an entirely new level.
The continuing cultural insensitivity and unwillingness to take responsibility for the slaughter by the U.S. military is not helping ebb the rage felt by Iraqis about the incident.
While Arabic media has shown footage of the mangled bodies of the 25 women and children killed by U.S. helicopters, Marine General James Mattis in Fallujah responded:
"Ten miles from Syrian border and 80 miles from nearest city and a wedding party? Don't be naïve. Plus they had 30 males of military age with them. How many people go to the middle of the desert to have a wedding party?"
Uh, general? The entire country is a desert. I am uncertain as to where a large wedding party might be held that wasn't in the desert in Iraq.
The worst part about the Atrocity Fatigue is that it feels like when I can't get anymore angry, our government says something so incredibly horrible in response to something that my cringe reflex feels tired out - but my anger keeps growing. The general and our White House leadership continue to say publicly that the wedding party attack was justified and that no true civilians were hurt. How is it possible that our country can continue to function under such aberrant views of reality? Oh, I'm so tired of this.
( 12:15 PM )
25 Things You Can Learn from Fox News
(thanks to maru for the link)
( 9:13 AM )
Enquiring Minds Want to Know
Dear President Bush,
Just a few questions the rest of us out the world would like to know before you leave office:
1. AFTER the 9/11 attacks, why was the only plane to fly out of the US carrying 24 members of Osama bin Laden's family?
2. ARE the media covering up abuse of Iraqi prisoners and the disillusionment of American troops?
3. ARE you deliberately creating a culture of fear to get poor American youth to fight your war?
4. HOW deep does the connection between the Bush family and bin Laden family actually run?
5. JUST how sinister was the White House's doctoring of your military record?
6. DID you miss an opportunity to nail bin Laden during secret talks with the Taliban?
7. WHY does the Bush family have a "special relationship" with the Saudi royal family?
8. WERE you spending too much time on holiday to concentrate on terrorism?
9. DID you panic when you were told about the attack on the twin towers?
10. DID you manipulate the major US media companies to fix his 2000 election win?
Maybe I'll just watch this and find out.
( 8:25 AM )
Lame Duck Walking
The president met with Republican Congressional leaders yesterday to try and quell their fears about what is obviously chaos theory taking hold in Iraq. But no amount of comforting from Bush is going to keep reality from continuing to invade these Republicans' so-far happy existence. In yesterday's Guardian, we read among other things:
"I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss," General Joseph Hoar, a former commander in chief of US central command, told the Senate foreign relations committee.
Larry Diamond, an analyst at the conservative Hoover Institution, said: "I think it's clear that the United States now faces a perilous situation in Iraq.
"We have failed to come anywhere near meeting the post-war expectations of Iraqis for security and post-war reconstruction.
"There is only one word for a situation in which you cannot win and you cannot withdraw - quagmire."
"Anyway you look at this, outside the most extreme optimistic assessments, we end up weaker," a senior Republican international strategist said.
But Iraq isn't Bush's only worry. With Kerry's call for Bush to step in and assign a federal mediator to the labor dispute that could lead to the loss of 1300 jobs in Ohio's Timpken plans (where Bush spoke last year touting his "jobs" plan, and whose owners are HUGE republican donors), Bush is now faced with either sticking with his supporters (management) and losing all the votes of the soon-to-be unemployed workers, or appointing a federal mediator, which would lend credibility to the union's battle with management, but perhaps save jobs (losing him the money from his supporters). Rock, meet Hard Place.
Those are just two examples, one on the foreign affairs front, and one one the domestic front, that show how little power Bush is now weilding from his office.
But this isn't all about Bush faltering and losing. This is also about Kerry stepping up and winning. Kerry has to make some bold moves; the onus is on him to show that there is a better way. He can't survive merely by criticizing Bush. He must present a bold vision and he must energize the country and empower the people to believe that true, positive change will come. To that end, I've joined Move On's push to encourage Kerry to Go Big. This movement arose out of the joint efforts of Ariana Huffington and Joe (jedi knight) Trippi and Huffington's "New Contract for a Better America":
1. Achieve Energy Independence (developing new energies would not only increase our technology base, create jobs and lower energy costs, it would free us from our dependence on an area of the world that only causes us trouble)
2. Prescribe a Cure for the Health Care Epidemic (universal health care would not only provide for all Americans, but would lower costs for employers, thus creating more jobs in the US)
3. Treat Lost Jobs as a Social Calamity, Not a Lagging Economic Indicator (losing jobs in this country means that our society becomes more and more frail. It is about making us strong, not just making Wall Street happy)
4. Truly Leave No Child Behind (sure they don't vote and they don't pay taxes, but unless children are our top priority, we'll never progress in this country)
5. Break Down Barriers and Create New Opportunities in Education (what if we actually invested in ALL public schools to make them better, not just try to shuffle children to the next-least bad one? What if everyone could afford to go to college?)
6. Call a Truce on the Drug War (this is a crucial issue we must face: the distorted values that have arisen out of this war have not helped our country at all. We need to pull back from the brink and take stock of what this war has cost, not only in money but in lives, in the corporate development of prisons, etc.)
7. Secure the Homeland First (duh)
8. Be a Leader, Not a Bully (duh, again)
9. Restore Integrity to the Political Process (basically, get the big money out of it)
10. Put People Above Corporate Profits (this is something the Mama always talks about - the fact that this country cannot survive unless we begin to see Human Beings as our greatest asset - as long as corporations have more benefits, more assistance, more power and more influence, this country will not progress to be an enlightened leader in the world, but will digress into a crass crone that survives only by eating itself from the inside out.
Come on, John Kerry. Step up to the plate. Bush is a lame duck already. Time to take the victory and make it real for Americans.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
( 12:46 PM )
Changes in Lattitudes
You may have felt a jolt, somewhat of a minor shock when you finally were able to pull up my page today. Yep, we've made some changes around the old Bohemian Homestead. Not really because I wanted to. Nope. For some reason, the new Blogger managed to completely stifle my freedom of expression by not allowing me to upload my normal content and making it impossible for readers to open the blog at all. (what can I say, it's free) Thus, I decided I could be more stubborn than Blogger and I just totally redid the whole thing. I kind of like the new look, though I'm still getting used to it. It looks cleaner and more streamlined. Hopefully it's still not too hard to use or navigate.
One of the cool things about the new blogger templates is the whole automatic posting of recent posts. That's pretty cool.
Anyway, we're back and hopefully as I work out any leftover kinks, this Mama will still be able to provide the riveting post reading you've come to love and desperately need on a daily basis. Well, I'm tired of staring at html code, so ciao for now - off to have some lunch!
( 8:51 AM )
Bye Bye Angel
Well, for all my longtime readers, you know how much I am lamenting the passing of Angel last night. It was bad enough that they took Buffy away. (have I mentioned that my son could be a Chosen One - I know, it's usually only girls, but I'm telling you, this kid heals FAST. One day he's got a scrape on his knee from falling down on the sidewalk - next day: gone. He could be the next Champion. I'm just saying.)
Anyway, back to the wholesale destruction of Buffy and Angel. Why cancel such a popular show - especially after it just got a LOT better? Who knows - I guess the WB felt they could make more money with "reality" shows about humiliating people and eating worms.
Sigh. I thought they did a great last show. It could have been a 2-hr finale, but they fit it all into one hour just fine. I thought Buffy would show up, but it was okay that she didn't. I wasn't that surprised they offed Wesley - he's been tempting death for too long now anyway. I had thought that they might give Fred back, but the way the did it in the end was better. I loved that last meeting where Angel says, "not to be corny, but tonight, one of you will betray me." And then Spike raises his hand, wanting to be the one. Spike really made both Buffy and Angel better. He's a fantastically written character. I loved how he spent his last day. The other exchange I liked was when Angel fought Hamilton:
Angel: "People like you who don't care will never understand those of us who do."
Hamilton: "Yeah, but we won't care."
Reminds me of a president I shall leave nameless. Anyway, I was glad about how Conor turned out (he really sucked last year - I didn't like him), and I was pleased with the final scene. Though it was all somewhat bittersweet, knowing that yet one more really intelligent show was being replaced by something like "WB's Superstar." Hopefully there will be movies.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
( 1:17 PM )
Oh For Crying out LOUD
This is how far they've fallen. The only thing the GOP can come up with in their new attack ads against Kerry is to compare him to a cicada. Yep. They're calling him a bug.
So there, John Kerry. See if you can come back from that crippling body blow.
( 12:00 PM )
Rafah is Dying
You may not have been aware of it (since our media is so not interested in the plight of Palestinians anymore), but for the sixth day straight, the IDF has been conducting a wholesale wipeout of Palestinians. Rafah Kid reports:
The bloody attacks began on 13th May in retaliation for the death of 7 Israeli soldiers when they were blown up in their tank near the Egypt - Rafah border by the Palestinian resistance. They were on their way to demolish civilian homes in the Yebnah refugee camp adjacent to the border, home to over 30,000 refugees. Since September 2000, the IDF has been carrying out a campaign of home demolitions against seven residential neighbourhoods, which lie along the borderline, known as the “Philadelphia Road”. This policy has been justified with claims of fighting “terrorists” who are alleged to use the neighbourhoods as hideouts. The IDF is constructing a giant metal wall along the border and aim to create a 300 metre wide “buffer zone” for the wall by clearing rows of homes. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, the IDF has demolished 1867 Palestinian homes in Rafah making over 16,497 Palestinian homeless and has killed over 350 Palestinians – with 67 children among the dead.
Things have gotten even worse today with the news that the IDF has named its Rafah insurgency "Operation Rainbow":
An IDF Apache helicopter gunship fired 3 missiles at a peaceful Palestinian demonstration in Rafah in solidarity with the besieged civilians in Tel-Sultan neighborhood killing 15 people- with 10 children were among the dead - and injuring over 50 others. Still the death toll is increasing. The air missile attack occurred at Alawda square in the center of Rafah where thousands of Palestinians gathered peacefully to start a big demonstration around the town to condemn the IDF continuing crimes against humanity and the International community silence about what is happening in Tel-sultan area in the north of Rafah since two days. I phoned friends and my family in Rafah and they said they heard huge explosions in the city center followed by people screaming and ambulance sirens everywhere in the streets of Rafah.
The number of dead in Rafah has increased now to 53 Palestinians since the begining of the IDF operation Rainbow in Rafah.
The demonstration was peaceful, there were no weapons and the people were trying to show in numbers that they wanted to help their neighbors and stop the onslaught. But the demonstrators themselves were attacked.
While our country has lost much of its moral highground in the middle east because of our invasion and occupation of Iraq and our support of Sharon's plans, we could do much to heal relations by taking a bold step and condemning these operations and naming these as war crimes that the IDF is committing. If we continue to support the wholesale slaughter of innocent people by the Israeli army and we continue to position ourselves as being only the friend of Israel and not a friend to all the other peoples of that land, then we are dooming ourselves even more to a weakened voice and power in the middle east and the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, send some help to the people in Rafah.
UPDATE: The US has outdone Israel today: 45 and counting innocent people killed by US gunships at an Iraqi wedding. When will it all end? And how?
( 9:26 AM )
The Wall Crumbles
Not that there was much of a separation between church and state anymore anyway. But once again, Texas leads the way by example! After adding to their state-sponsored killing record last night (this time it was a mentally handicapped person - yay for Texas!), this morning we read that Texas Comptroller Carole Strayhorn has declared that the Unitarian Church is not a religion for tax purposes. (Warning: Mom, Dad: your 37-year marriage by a Unitarian minister may be void if you got to Texas).
AUSTIN - Unitarian Universalists have for decades presided over births, marriages and memorials. The church operates in every state, with more than 5,000 members in Texas alone.
But according to the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Denison Unitarian church isn't really a religious organization -- at least for tax purposes. Its reasoning: the organization "does not have one system of belief."
Never before -- not in this state or any other -- has a government agency denied Unitarians tax-exempt status because of the group's religious philosophy, church officials say. Strayhorn's ruling clearly infringes upon religious liberties, said Dan Althoff, board president for the Denison congregation that was rejected for tax exemption by the comptroller's office.
"I was surprised -- surprised and shocked -- because the Unitarian church in the United States has a very long history," said Althoff, who notes that father-and-son presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were both Unitarians.
So now the government of Texas has decided that it can determine what a "system of belief" should be. This goes right along with that article Michael Miller pointed us to yesterday in the Village Voice about the Bush administration consulting with apocalyptic pentacostals about our Israel policy (their belief is: if Palestinians are allowed to have their own state, then Jesus can't return to a unified Israel. I'm not sure why, if these people believe that Jesus is returning to rule the earth, they don't think he has the power to go ahead and do it, whether or not Palestians are allowed to live in dignity and self-determination, and why they think Jesus needs their help for his return trip anyway.)
Anyway, despite the fact that some of our most solid and beloved founding fathers were Unitarians, the state of Texas believes that their religion doesn't quite meet the test. I suppose that whole idea of
creating a welcoming community of diverse individuals; to promote love, reason, and freedom in religion; to foster lifelong spiritual growth; and to act for social justice
is just abhorhent.
Oh, I get it now. Unitarians are interested in social justice. Social justice has no place in religion. True religions should only be concerned with the curtailing of individual rights, the Second Coming and oh, lest I forget, not letting people who love each other get married. Forgive my cynicism, not feeling broadly accepting today.
UPDATE: Reader Tom has provided us a link to a discussion at Evangelical Outpost on the issue of the Unitarians. While many of the readers don't appear to have problems with Texas defining what a religion is, the original author points out the exact issue concisely:
If the government is going to decide that religous organizations are tax-exempt then they shouldn't exclude religions that are clearly "real religions" just because they don't fit into a theistic paradigm.
But the issue isn't just about a tax-exemption. The reason, I believe, that its a liberty issue is because once the government has the power to define whether your belief is "religion" then it has the power to exclude that belief from certain constitutional protections.
And once the government can define some of us for its own purposes, none of us are truly free.
UPDATE 2: Colorado Luis has a great post up about the response in Colorado to Bishop Sheridan's edict. The comments are great reading too.
( 9:03 AM )
Joke's on Us
So was the whole hubub about calling up inactive reserves a hoax from the Army so they could try and up their volunteer enlistments?
Thousands of recent U.S. Army veterans nationwide were told to choose by Monday a new assignment in the Army Reserve or National Guard -- meaning a potential return to active duty -- or the military would decide for them. The Army now says the order was a mistake.
The consequence of the error appears to be a sharp increase in enlistments in Oregon and elsewhere by reservists who feared being assigned a unit without their consent. They face possible deployment to the Middle East.
Army Reserve officials said the order issued in early May prompted a flood of calls from confused veterans, who are among the estimated 118,000 reservists on inactive status. The Pentagon is not yet forcing re-enlistments but is "screening" inactive reservists for possible call-up, a spokeswoman said.
Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, commander of the Army Reserve, declined comment on how the mistake was made, a spokesman said. How the mistaken order was issued is a mystery, said Steve Stromvall, the civilian public affairs director for the U.S. Army Reserve Command in Atlanta.
"God only knows at this point where the miscommunication started," he said.
What is happening, said Collins, is that the Army Reserve has been screening soldiers to determine how many can be assigned to active units.
What isn't certain is whether these inactives can "undo" their voluntary re-enlistments based on the fact they only re-enlisted under threat of being drafted into units they didn't want to be in. This article clearly states that the move toward activating the IRR is still going forward - however, the pressure put on inactive reserves these last few weeks was totally bogus.
So now they have a bunch of new enlistments from people who thought they were being forced to re-enlist, and never would have volunteered otherwise. What with that news from Intel Dump about the Army cannibalizing itself, and the total ineptness in the handling of the prison atrocities, it seems like the entire command structure is faltering.
This whole tricking people into voluntarily re-enlisting is really low. However, it is pretty unsurprising considering who runs the DOD and the totaly lack of ethics he consistently displays.
( 8:48 AM )
I am proud to report this morning that Tom Potter won the Oregon primary for Portland Mayor last night! Now, according to our system, because no one got a majority of votes, the top two winners go into a run-off which is decided in November. But Tom's win is pretty amazing because he was up against Jim Fransesconi, who raised $1 MILLION - the most money ever raised for a Portland mayoral race ($1 million for approximately 600,000 voters).
Potter, who limited his donations to $25 apiece and collected about $63,000, upset conventional political wisdom that equates success with fund raising by getting roughly 41 percent of the vote. Francesconi, who raised more than Potter and the other 21 candidates combined, came in second with about 37 percent.
It's nice to know that integrity still can win. On to November.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
( 10:18 AM )
Feeling Drafty Again
It looks like the Pentagon has cleared the way for the IRS to provide the current addresses of thousands of inactive reserves for call-up in the near future. The inactive reserves are known as the IRR, the Individual Ready Reserve - people who have already served their time in active duty but can be involuntarily called back into service. The Pentagon has already called up a few thousand of these folks since 9/11, but it looks like a massive call-up may be in the works since the active Reserves are practically depleted at this point, and regular troops are being drawn from South Korea.
The Defense Department, strapped for troops for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has proposed to Congress that it tap the Internal Revenue Service to locate out-of-touch reservists.
The unusual measure, which the Pentagon said has been examined by lawyers, would allow the IRS to pass on addresses for tens of thousands of former military members who still face recall into the active duty.
The proposal has largely escaped attention amid all the other crises of government, and it is likely to face opposition from privacy rights activists who see information held by the IRS as inviolate.
For it to become practice, Congress and President Bush would have to approve the proposal, which would involve amending the tax code.
The only way out of this inevitable call up of inactive reserves and then a draft is to get our troops out of Iraq. While Colin Powell insists that if the Iraqis ask us to leave after June 30, we will, the Pentagon appears to be making plans for full occupations for years to come.
John Kerry has taken the path of allowing Bush to use his own rope, so to speak - but it's time for Kerry to step out and present a bold plan for Iraq. He can't waver between what he thinks people might want - he has to do what is best for our troops and our country. It may be painful and embarrassing and it may enrage the corporations for whom this invasion was conducted, but otherwise we are looking at years and years of death and destruction. Kerry has to know from personal experience that once people start being conscripted into the military involuntarily, there goes public support.
I've talked about a draft before. Basically, if a draft is enacted again, there are going to have to be a lot of changes to how it looked before it ended in the 1970's. It will have to include women, it will have to include college students - except those within one semester of graduating. It will have to include gays. It will have to provide a new and beneficial GI plan, and it will have to allow no exemptions for upper class kids. In today's political climate it seems highly unlikely that a draft would be passed by Congress. But if our occupation of Iraq continues, they may have little choice. We have now made the entire country that we original were liberating into our enemies. It can't go well from here.
The only good option is for Kerry to come up with a cogent, precise and bold plan for exiting this situation and rebuilding political ties with the middle east, muslim nations and the rest of the world.
As for you inactives, you might want to move soon - and not tell the IRS where you went.
(thanks to Atrios for the links)
UPDATE: Kevin Drum has a great graphic that explains the situation.
UPDATE 2: Dad could be eligible for re-enlistment because he did 30 years active duty, unless he can make it 18 more months without being called up. After he turns 60, they can't get him. Hopefully.
UPDATE 3: Phil over at IntelDump has some further info on how the Army is demolishing itself apart trying to get more boots on the ground in Iraq.
Monday, May 17, 2004
( 4:40 PM )
John Stewart Commences
The graduating class at William & Mary were the beneficiaries of a really great commencement address by the one and only John Stewart. It's good reading.
( 2:32 PM )
Separation? What Separation?
The Archbishop of the Portland Diocese has joined the merry band of priests who are dictating to their parishoners how they should vote in government elections. I just blogged on Friday about the Bishop of Colorado making the declaration that he would actually refuse communion to parishoners who voted the same way. This has gone too far already. Any church or church leader that declares a political position or some sort of rule over the voting of their parishoners should immediately be denied its 501(c)(3) status. It should no longer enjoy the rights of a church separated from governmental regulation.
There is no call for this sort of subjugation of church goers. It recalls days of indulgences when the Church charged christians for their salvation. Is it not the same here? How can a priest refuse communion to a person who is at peace with God about what they believe and their relationship with Him?
There is further hypocrisy in the whole thing because these bishops, archbishops and priests are putting the litmus test on their parishoners according to only one position of the church. They are not calling on all parishoners who are for the death penalty or who vote for death penalty supporting politicians to cease their taking of communion. The Pope and the church has publicly declared that Iraq is not a just war, so how can priest refuse communion to someone who is pro-choice but yet allow it for someone who supports the war in Iraq?
There are too many variables when you start dictating that a person's personal faith and their choices must be regulated by the church - especially when it comes to politics. What is the church going to do next, have their parishoners sign on voting cards before they can receive communion? The church should get out of politics or it should lose its protection as a religious organization.
( 2:26 PM )
Well, same-sex marriage has now been legal in Massachussets for almost 18 hours now. I've checked, and nope, I still don't feel my heterosexual marriage is threatened or in anyway nearing destruction. None of my friends in heterosexual marriages have reported any slippage in their survival estimates for their marriages. I've not seen any reports of the institutions that govern this land cracking under the pressure, nor the fabric of our society ripping down the middle. The space-time continuum seems to be in place.
Everything's okay here. You?
Friday, May 14, 2004
( 4:14 PM )
Cut to the Weekend
Have a good weekend everyone. I doubt I'll be gazing at the computer much, since weekends are mostly spent gazing at my son. On tap for tomorrow: first professonal haircut! (I'm not planning on having his hair regularly cut professionally - but I wanted to get it done once while I watched so I could get an idea of how to do it myself (read: for free). I've tried cutting his hair...poor kid).
Here's to good haircuts and weekends.
p.s. if you're anywhere near Portland on Monday...Mean, Lean Howard Dean will be back!! (dragging that other guy with him)--see you there!
( 11:31 AM )
...or "Holy Communion, Batman!"
Whoever said that religion and politics don't mix obviously didn't have to deal with modern American politics. For us Americans who would prefer the two stay separate, we are being hit in this election season on two fronts: George Bush does everything he can to get the Bible into politics and the governing of the country in order to please his Christian Coalition base, and the Church is doing everything it can to influence elections.
I'll spend another post on the whole subject of how this nation, despite the protests of conservatives, wasn't established as a "Christian" nation and that the founding fathers never meant for one religion to dominate others (if you'd like a look at how we presented ourselves to the world early on, have a look at the Treaty of Tripoli, signed by John Adams - and try Article 11 on for size), I instead will focus on the recent arguments that have bubbled up over John Kerry's taking of communion.
Amy Sullivan had a great column in the Gadflyer this week about the attention being paid to this issue.
"Kerry Takes Communion on Mother's Day" was the headline on a recent AP story about John Kerry's Sunday doings, followed by the lede: "Democrat John Kerry attended Mother's Day Mass on Sunday and took communion although some Roman Catholic leaders say he should not receive it because his abortion-rights stance violates church teachings."
Missing once again was the accompanying story that begins, "Republicans George Pataki and Tom Ridge attended Mother's Day Mass on Sunday and took communion although some Roman Catholic leaders say pro-choice politicians should not receive it because their stance violates church teachings."
Also no word on whether George W. Bush attended church over the weekend.
She goes on to discuss the many reasons given by the administration as to why George W. does not regularly attend church, despite his proffession of devotion.
The point isn't whether Bush or Kerry go to church or whether they are allowed to participate in the sacraments of the church they attend - the point is that it is their own private decision to practice their faith and has nothing to do with their standing as or ability to be president.
The Church has made a huge deal out of Kerry's pro-choice stand and yet does not criticize republican pro-choice politicans who continue to take communion. The Catholic Church is adamantly anti-death penalty, and yet is not refusing communion to those who support state-sanctioned killing. The Protestant Evangelical Church seems to be pro-death penalty, but I can't quite figure that one out.
Now a bishop in Colorado has drawn what he believes to be a line in the sand:
The bishop of Colorado's second-largest Roman Catholic diocese has issued a pastoral letter saying Catholics cannot receive Communion if they vote for politicians who support abortion rights, stem-cell research, euthanasia or gay marriage.
(on a side note, evangelicals and catholics alike seem to have massive heebie-jeebies about stem-cell research but offer no protest over in vitro fertilization treatments, which inevitably kill thousands of already-created embryos a year.).
Okay, not even getting into the issues this bishop has chosen (euthanasia, but not death penalty?), the fact that he refused communion to parishoners based on how they vote is abhorent. This may be acceptable to fundamentalist religious folks, but it is unacceptable in a free society. For parishoners to be pressured in how they vote for their government by the very tenants of a faith they hold personally close is ridiculous, not to mention completely unreasonable.
I suppose though, that if Jesus lived in the US in 2004, he'd be sitting on a hill handing out fishes and loaves to everyone... except the gays and the prostitutes and the politicians and the feminists...NOT. He'd be hanging out with those "undesirables" and looking to make their lives better, not banish them from society. This dangerous mixing of religious requirement with the free expression of political viewpoint is not good for our country. Look what happened to Saudi Arabia under fundamentalist religious rule.
How a politician or a regular person chooses to express their faith, whether in private, or through sacraments with his or her church family, is their business. It is not the business of the church OR the government how we practice our faith, or even if we have one. Someone running for president can be judged on his ethical and moral record without judging him for how he practices his faith. Obviously, despite George W.'s public profession of evangelical faith, he has not exactly demonstrated a proclivity to value life or create peace in the world. So what one's religion is cannot be a determining factor in whether they are qualified as a governmental leader.
That the bishop in Colorado would demand political fealty in order for his parishoners to partake in what the Church has said is sacrament instituted by God is to act for a political view, rather than to act for God. And as for the administration's apologist pundits who continue to make a big deal out of John Kerry's taking of communion might do well to remember one of Jesus' parables. You know the one: about pointing out the speck in your brother's eye when there's a log in your own.
( 11:09 AM )
Today is the day. I gave notice at work. Two weeks and counting until I become a grad student and enter the world of education and teacherhood. It will be yet another year until I'm a teacher out on my own, but I'll be a student teacher starting in August. In celebration of this new chapter in this Mama's life, I have added two new link categories on my sidebar that I'm still working on expanding: teacher blogs and education sites. I'm considering starting a separate blog for my teaching life, but I'm not sure if I could manage two blogs at once. For now, we're stuck with the combo of Mama/Activist/Student/etc. We'll see how it goes from here.
Anyway, here's to the satisfaction of handing over a resignation letter and singing "Take this Job and Shove It" all day long!
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
( 2:40 PM )
Mother Knows Best
Didn't Mama always tell you that? Join the MOB.
The Pen Is Mightier
It's catching fire, so I want to join in. Atrios has published a letter from Terry, formerly of the blog Nitpicker, who is now serving in Afghanistan:
As many of you know, I am currently in the apolitical position of Army public affairs specialist in Afghanistan. I only recently arrived, after waiting for 2.5 months at Ft. Riley, Kansas, but that's another issue. I'm writing you all today because I'm going to take many of you up on your offers and rudely ask a favor of those who made no offer.
When I first mentioned on my blog, Nitpicker, that I was going to be deployed, a large number of you asked how you could help me, what I would need for Afghanistan. The truth is, there's not much. However, I just went on my first mission with a civil affairs group and found a way you might be able to help me out.
It seems that the children of Afghanistan want nothing more than they want a pen.
It was explained to me that the villages through which I traveled (near Kandahar, where I'm based) are so poor that a pen is like a scholarship to these children. They desperately want to learn but, without a pen, they simply won't. It's a long story. I won't bore you with it. Trust me, though, when I say that it would be a big deal if even a few of you could put up the call for pens for me. Anyone interested in helping out could either send some directly to me or go to these sites and send them, where you can find them for as cheap as $.89 a dozen.
You can send them to me at this address:
Terry L. Welch
Kandahar Public Affairs Office
APO AE 09355
Tom Tomorrow has joined the cause with some more details. I suggest that since thousands of pens will be flooding Terry's office soon, you include paper, crayons, markers, chalk, dry erase boards and other items that could be really helpful to the kids over there.
Come on - do something positive and worthwhile. If you're a teacher, organize your students. If you're a parent, get your kids in on it. Make it a monthly shipment. THIS is what world citizenship is about.
( 1:30 PM )
As Josh Marshall puts it, "Okay, I think the wheels are now officially off this car." The Baltimore Sun is quoting Colin Powell as indicating that (shocker) the President might be lying (gasp!):
Powell's statement suggests Bush may have known earlier than the White House has acknowledged about complaints raised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights groups regarding abuse of detainees in Iraq.
"We kept the president informed of the concerns that were raised by the ICRC and other international organizations as part of my regular briefings of the president, and advised him that we had to follow these issues, and when we got notes sent to us or reports sent to us ... we had to respond to them, and the president certainly made it clear that that's what he expected us to do," Powell said.
Now, I don't exactly trust that Colin Powell is the best suited to deal with this situation, considering he cut his teeth on the whole cover up of My Lai and because he willingly went along with the lies about Iraq. However, it does appear that there is authority given at the highest levels of State to leak the truth about this situation that the DOD and WH don't want leaked -- namely, that the President and Rumsfeld were hoping no one would ever find out and the torture could continue. Damn those pictures! The split in the executive branch is almost a full-blown break. If it illuminates the general predilection of this administration to lie, then I guess it's worth something.
Read Billmon's excellently-written post on cruel war to get a picture of how "staying the course" means that we will be leading the way in the worst kind of spiral.
Oh, and if you were looking for rationales why we're in Iraq in the first place? The administration has so far come up with 27 of them. (thanks to maru for the heads up on that one). By the way, Bush could have killed Nick Berg's murderer 3 times - but it would have ruined his war plans.
P.S. if you're looking for sources on how big this is - don't forget Col. Hackworth - he hears it straight from the horses' mouths.
( 10:30 AM )
You Want Bi-Partisanship? You Got It.
Reuters reports that Kerry has named his first choice for Defense Secretary: John McCain. While this is not a gasping surprise, it does blow in the face of all the republicans who have been screaming that the Iraq situation shouldn't be "political." What ISN'T political about it? My answer to all those people who always scream about "partisan politics" is: Partisanship is what keeps them all accountable. Our system wouldn't work without partisanship. The whole POINT of our system is that our elected representatives represent the varied viewpoints of their consituents AND make decisions based on their best estimate of what is best for the country. Without different parties, we'd have no discussion of issues, no choices, no accountability.
In my opinion, the Democrats MUST continue to pursue justice in this situation of the atrocities and resolving the Iraq war - not to mention the overall strategy of eliminating the power of terrorists in the world. If we do not have the voices of opposition parties, then we would be an autocracy. Yes, there IS a time for bipartisanship and coming together. But partisanship and the opposition of elected representatives to the party in power is a GOOD thing. Good for democracy. Good for all of us.
Now that I've said my bit about the democratic goodness of partisanship: John McCain for Defense Secretary! Yay!
( 9:49 AM )
Next Tuesday is Oregon's Primary. It may seem that this doesn't really matter - the Democratic Presidential Candidate has already been decided. But it is an important election for Oregonians, Portlanders and the nation (or at least the Democratic party).
First - for Oregonians. This is an important primary because there are TONS of state house and senate seats open for election. Oregonians need to think carefully about the direction our state has gone lately. Especially with the stripping of the once lauded Oregon Health Plan and our education system. The OHP was the most incredible example of health care provision of any state in the union. But the economy, bad management and other priorities in the state have chipped away at it until it is a mere shadow of what it once was and what it could have been. Oregonians have voted down tax increases and have condemned our children and the most vulnerable of our citizens because of it. WIth this primary, we can look towards making our legislature and senate more effective and holding our state representatives accountable.
Second - for Portlanders. We are electing a mayor. As my Oregonian readers know, I am supporting and working for the election of Tom Potter. Not only is he a former police chief with tons of experience in community relations - something Portland sorely needs right now, but he has also demonstrated with his campaign contribution limits that he will not be beholden to any big money interests (unlike the money machine and so-called front runner Fransisconi). I also urge Portlanders to vote out Randy Leonard from our city council and get rid of Sam Adams. Adams puts on a good show with his commercials and shiny direct mail brochures. But he is just as much in the pocket of big business as Fransisconi. Not only that, but Adams only represents the tired old reign of Vera Katz. I urge you to vote for Nick Fish for city council. I've met him many times in person, he was a great and involved supporter of Howard Dean and Dean's ideals and I think that he will be much more effective for the people of Portland than would Sam Adams.
Third - for the Nation. Our presidential primary won't decide anything. But we CAN send a message. I think that all progressive-thinking Democrats should vote for Dennis Kucinich in this primary next week. Our democratic primary isn't about deciding anything, it's about sending a message. Our party has already begun the inevitable DLC-swing-to-the-right and Kerry is talking non-stop about the "middle class" and "business" and has virtually stopped mentioning the poor, universal healthcare for children or even a plan to get us out of Iraq. Showing a huge vote for Kucinich will send the message to the Democratic Party that we aren't willing to go the Centrist, GOP-lite route anymore. Dennis has been hanging out in Oregon non-stop the last month - talking with people all over our economically-deprived state. Give him credit for being a smart, progressive Representative and show the country that we aren't going to let our Party repeat 2002.
If Dean proved anything, it was that there is a fervor to be done with the DLC days and to return to the progressive roots of our party. Now is not the time to give that up. As I've said many times on this blog, I registered as a Democrat last year ONLY because of Howard Dean. Once I vote for Kucinich, I'm going back to being an independent. I don't vote straight party lines - especially when the Democratic party tries to be Republicans. I think that is slowly starting to change. But Democrats can keep that going by sending messages like a strong vote for Kucinich in the primary. Progressives must take this party back to its roots and once Dems are back in power, the progressives must be able to influence this country onto a more humane, people-centered track. The only way this nation will survive is if the people do. And with corporations and big money in charge, that's not a guarantee.
Vote Dennis on Tuesday, all you Dems. It WILL make a difference.
Finally, voting in Oregon is important on a national level because we are the only state that votes wholly by paper and mostly by mail. All of our votes are mailed in, we have done away with having to appear at a polling booth, and we receive detailed booklets about all the candidates prior to the election. We have weeks to fill out our ballots and make our choices and we can mail them in or drop them off for election day. We fill in our choices with pens or pencils and they are scanned and can be recounted if there is a need. It's a way to show the efficiency of paper ballots and the security that comes along with them. In this age of Diebold, our state can show the country that indeed, paper ballots and voting by mail IS an efficient, cost-effective and GOOD way to vote.
( 9:24 AM )
Mama Gets Mail (Sigh)
Okay, I RARELY get emails regarding my blog...so imagine my surprise at the fact that I received more hate mail yesterday than the total amount of emails I've EVER received from blog readers.
You can stop now. I get it. You hate me because I'm an appeaser and I am a wimp and a traitor and a cold-blooded hater of the American Way. Whatever. My husband kindly offered that I suggest each and every one of you take a few moments to strip yourselves naked, run through the streets and request that onlookers abuse you in various ways and then see how you feel. However, being the sweet-hearted mama that I am, I'm not even going to dignify any of your emails with answers. There's an easy answer for you: just don't read my blog if you despise what I say so much.
Meanwhile, I have the right to say what I want (until Ashcroft shuts us all down), and I have the right to keep my own government accountable. Atrocities were committed in my name. I don't care how many (or how few) were committed or by whom. They were done. They were done by Americans and sanctioned by American Leadership. And the standard to which I hold my government (no matter how many times I know it fails) is one higher than the one being used by the Inhofe's of the world. Comparing what we have done to the worst examples of humanity in the world does not excuse what we have done. Just like the murder of young Nick Berg is inexcusable and there can be no justification for behavior like that. The standard must be humankindness - basic humanity. I am horrified by the terrorism that is being wreaked upon people like Nick Berg and the peoples of the world by those who would seek to use terror and murder to accomplish their ends. But no matter how much these people do horrible things, I cannot justify our own actions by comparing them to acts of terror committed by Al Qaeda and its like. We can't hold ourselves to their standards, or we will never EVER be moral leaders in this world (as we imagine we are).
So I WON'T justify what has happened to the Arabs by our hand, or stop critizing those who are "outraged at the outrage" because they think that the worst part of this is that the pictures got out, not that the atrocities were committed in the first place. That also means that I don't justify what was done to Mr. Berg or the inevitable acts of retribution that will follow.
But remember Ghandi? "An eye for an eye just makes the whole world blind." If we don't take the high road and STOP the tit for tat and do something to amend OUR part in this horrible cycle, then we will fast lose both our ability to criticize acts of terror against our own people as well as our ability to exercise any authority in the world.
So stop with the emails already.
Okay, Mama is done being pissed off at mean emailers -- now back to regular programming.