Saturday, May 26, 2007

Howard Dean on Ring of Fire

Thanks to floridagal for the heads-up that Howard Dean was going to be on Ring of Fire this afternoon. Below is a transcript of most of the segment.

David Bender: When you were out there doing the 50-state strategy, how important was it that there was a balance, particularly of radio, in the world?

Howard Dean: Well, as you know, right wing radio is, as I call it, "hate radio", and it takes advantage of the very worst that people have to offer. They're always appealing to people's bigotries and people's prejudices and racism and all that other stuff. So, what I like to think of Air America as, is a place for optimism and idears. And I think that's really by and large, what it's been. We need a place where Americans can tune in and listen to things that are going to be good about America. Different ways of doing things, and not the kind of fearmongering and hatemongering that goes on on the right.

David Bender: Speaking of which, last week we saw the passing of Jerry Falwell, and Republicans were jumping all over themselves to eulogize him. What do you think his legacy is to the political process.

Howard Dean: I think he has been an incredibly divisive person in terms of American history. He did appeal to sometimes the very worst in people--the anti-gay stuff, the racism that was going on at Liberty University with White folks not being able to date Black folks and stuff like that. So, you know, it's a mixed bag. He certainly was a potent political force in the Republican party, but in some ways he represented the worst of the Republican party.

David Bender: And we saw, what was so interesting, in the debate a few weeks ago, three Republican candidates raising their hands saying they didn't believe in the theory of evolution. Isn't this part and parcel of appealing to the Falwells and the Pat Robertsons of the Republican party?

Howard Dean: Those folks are a passing generation. The Democrats are actually starting to reach out to Evangelicals. Young Evangelicals would rather hear what we're going to do about Darfur, poverty and global warming than they would beat up on their gay neighbor. And you know, in some ways, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts and these people are dinosaurs. They're people who represent the anger part of Christianity, and there really is no justifiable anger part of Christianity--they're showmen, they make money off it. But the new generation are people that are emphasizing what was really in Jesus' message, which had to do with reaching out to people, taking care of the least among us. It's a much more American message, and the young, smart Evangelical preachers are creating *huge* congregations with that kind of a message of hope. And that's something the Democrats can work with, and I'm looking forward to that.

David Bender: Well, you have been reaching out to them. We've talked about that in the past. And that's a perfect opportunity to talk about the fact that you have not written off any state in the union. I want us to tick this two years as chairman, the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, took control of the Senate, won a majority of the nation's governorships, and added ten new chambers in state legislatures. And then, James Carville said you should step down the next day, because, of course, that makes sense...

Howard Dean: The generations are passing in every institution, including ours. (Laughter). Look, I didn't do all that stuff by myself, without Chuck Schumer we don't win the Senate, and without Rahm Emanuel we don't win the House. It was a team effort. But, what we did do is go into new territory. Territory like Kansas and Minnesota and upstate New York--territories that hadn't been aggressively attacked. And of course we're delighted that we won the majority in the House and the Senate, but the really exciting thing is that we forced the president and the vice president to be campaigning in Idaho and Nebraska the last two weekends of that campaign.

David Bender: You put them on defense.

Howard Dean: You gotta be playing offense all the time. When you start playing defense, which we've been doing for thirty years, then you're not winning. And now we're winning, and we're winning because we're asking everybody for their vote. There's not a vote that I'm afraid to ask for, and we do not have to give up our principles to ask people that don't agree with us for their votes. People will respect you if you respect them, and that's something we've learned by watching the terrible mistakes of the president. The president has not just been incompetent because of his policy mistakes. He's been incompetent because he set out from the beginning of his presidency to only be the president of half the people. And we want to be the president of ALL the people, including those that don't vote for us.

David Bender: And you took the words right out of my mouth, because, in fact, not giving up our principles involves being able to stand strong in opposing this war. And we saw candidates in unlikely places, people like Jim Webb in Virginia, John Tester in Montana, who, in red states, ran against this war and won majorities.

Howard Dean: That's right. I think that people understand now that when you don't tell the truth about why you're going to war, the war effort's not likely to be successful. And the president and his folks simply didn't tell America the truth.

David Bender: I've asked you this before, Governor--what does it feel like to have been essentially four years ahead of your time? (Laughter) You were a lonely voice--within the Democratic party, I might point out, calling for an end to this war. How did it feel to you watching people come around?

Howard Dean: You were part of that campaign, and I think you remember the day that I said capturing Saddam Hussein would not make us any safer, which created a huge uproar. Unfortunately, "I told you so" is not a good campaign slogan. So, I'm happy doing what I'm doing. We have a *great* field of people running for president. It's a great time to be chairman of the DNC, and I'm really looking forward to seeing our presidential candidate win.

Happy Memorial Day

Do you know what gets me angry?

As fucked as the damned war is gonna be for the United States both in the short and long term, it's godawful for the soldiers trapped in this--repeat after me--quagmire.

What happens when the military is finally, and irrevocably, broken? That seems to be a grim and inescapable reality that too many people are tap dancing around. (Faux News: "The war? Let's ignore it, and hope it goes away--Hey, Lindsay Lohan snorting coke again! Ooooh, shiny! Details at 11.")

What happens when you can't stop the desertions? What happens when a few stray grenades drop (oops) into officer's tents? What happens when a guy on his third tour decides to swallow his gun instead? What happens when an entire barracks gets taken out?

What happens when you run out of soldiers?

Maybe if you think of soldiers as collateral damage, it's no big deal. "Fuck 'em, those grunts knew what the deal was."

But when you remember they're human, then there is another word we can use:


Don't believe me? Take a look:

Happy Memorial Day.

(Thanks to Hubris Sonic from The News Blog for the reality check. The photograph is by Aaron Huey.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Political Wushu II: Double Double Crossers

Appearing at The Blogging Curmudgeon, My Left Wing, and the Independent Bloggers' Alliance.

I was reminded today of a term I haven't thought about in a while, which is funny, because I coined the phrase: "political wushu." I introduced this concept on my blog here, and on My Left Wing here. Wushu means "Arts of War" and once described a body of serious martial arts disciplines in China. But under Mao it was stripped of any real fighting utility and became a dizzying acrobatic sport, which is, to this day, enjoyed as entertainment. Sadly, this is exactly what has happened to our representative democracy. What was once a brave experiment -- a practical application of principles rendered in the age of enlightenment -- is now an empty spectacle. The Democratic Party has put on something of a show of being an opposition party, but it is all part of a choreographed routine, in which the outcome is never in doubt. Their spears are flimsy tin. Their swords, dull.

Did we really expect Congressional Democrats to fight to the finish for timetables in Iraq? Did we honestly think they would put a stop to the madness of this Administration? No, friends. That's not how it was scripted. This week, the mighty Democrats took a dive.

Sure, opposition to this war is at an all-time high. Sure, three quarters of the country thinks the surge is a failure. The American people don't so much as pick out the music for these performances. We just stare slack-jawed from the audience and wait for the curtain to come down on yet another predictable denouement.

As David Sirota points out, Democrats are proud of their performances, and of their ability to dazzle and deceive.

And here's the worst part of it all - Democrats are now bragging about it. Not only have they sent out a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraising email attempting to confuse voters by claiming with a straight face that they really stood up to President Bush. But most insulting of all, they are actually running to reporters to pat themselves on the back for engineering a procedural pirouette designed to confuse the public. Here's the [Washington] Post again:

"But while protesters outside the Capitol condemned what they saw as a capitulation, Democrats inside were remarkably understanding of their speaker's contortions. Party leaders jury-rigged the votes yesterday to give all Democrats something to brag about...Democrats saw brilliance in the legerdemain. And with such contortions came more appreciation for the efforts Pelosi was making to fund the war in a fashion most palatable to angry Democrats. 'It was the responsible thing to do, and she's a responsible speaker,' said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.)."

This is what we're dealing with folks. A party that runs to the press to brag about the brilliance of using their majority not to end the war, but to create a situation that makes it seem as if they oppose the war, while actually helping Republicans continue it.

Sleight of hand, indeed. Here, Sirota breaks down, step-by-step, the complex choreography of the Democrat's illusion.

...Every bill comes to the House floor with what is known as a "rule" that sets the terms of the debate over the legislation in question. House members first vote to approve this parliamentary rule, and then vote on the legislation. Today, however, Democrats are planning to essentially include the Iraq blank check bill IN the rule itself, by making sure the underlying bill the rule brings to the floor includes no timelines for withdrawal, and that the rule only allows amendments that fund the war with no restrictions - blank check amendments that House Democratic leaders know Republicans will have the votes to pass.

This means that when the public goes to look for the real vote on the Iraq supplemental bill, the public won't find that. All we will find is a complex parliamentary procedure vote, which was the real vote. Democratic lawmakers, of course, will use the Memorial Day recess to tell their angry constituents they really are using all of their power to end the war, that they voted against the Republican blank check amendment which the rule deliberately propels, and that the vote on the rule - which was the real vote for war - wasn't really the important vote, when, in fact, they know very well it is the biggest vote on the war since original 2002 authorization for the invasion. It is a devious, deliberately confusing cherry on top of the manure sundae being served up to the American public, which voted Democrats into office on the premise that they would use their congressional majority to end the war...

As I said here:

Establishment Democrats have long since ceased to be an opposition party. They are tools of a statist regime giving us all a good show, but stripped of any real power to stop a political juggernaut years in the making; one that would make kings of presidents and reduce Congress to a sad spectacle.

And so we are saddled with this war for the indefinite future; one that has claimed 3437 of our troops, as of this writing, and at a rate that spirals ever upward.

Today I learned that still greater horrors may await us, as the Bush Administration prepares to make its consolidation of power complete.

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.

The "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive," with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.

What will the Democrats do? Will they stand and fight to the last for what is left of our tattered Democracy? Will they guard the gates to their dying breaths like the Spartans at Thermopylae? Or will they simply dance, dance, dance!

The End

How is The Great Capitulation by the Democrats going to affect the war?

O.K., usually I think I'm outnumbered by the smart people out there such as the armies of smug pundits, professional talking heads, columnists, and bloggers but let me toss in my two cents:

Who the hell knows?

I don't believe that anybody knows what is going to happen because nobody knows how fucking bad the war in Iraq is going to get. Not Really. We can't use World War II or Vietnam as reference points anymore. It's not going to be "bad", and we've already gone w-a-a-a-y beyond "worse". If you say "FUBAR", then maybe you're getting close.

And how it goes down is going to dictate what's next.

Look at the mid-term elections in 2006 as an example. In spite of themselves, the Democrats won a major (but undeserved) victory getting seats in the House and Senate because the majority of the voters already know the war in Iraq is lost and they want us out of there. Period. "Jesus, the Republicans don't wanna do it, maybe the other guys will," a disgusted, used-to-be undecided voter said to himself. It's a winning lottery ticket that the spineless Democrats don't want to cash in.

Meanwhile, as they're busy making up their minds and trying to grow a backbone, people are dying.

So what happens next when the slaughter reaches unprecedented levels? After all, the projected 2000 soldiers and [fill-in-the-blank] Iraqis by 2009 is a conservative estimate. What will be the fatal straw that will break the Army's back? Politicians can afford to be patient because it doesn't affect them personally. But it's different for the grieving families going to the filthy, under-staffed hospitals where the soldiers are warehoused and the endless funerals ignored by Fox News.

No, people aren't going to be patient, quiet, or polite.

People are gonna be pissed.


I don't think it's going to take that long.

And I'm scared to death. Because I don't know what's going to happen next.

Mitt Romney is clueless.

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

We are in a war longer than World War 2 and the GOP candidates only speak of escalation. Kill, torture, bomb - those are supposed to equal Freedom™!

During the last Republican debate in South Carolina, in an effort to outdo the last asshole to speak, Mitt Romney blurts out "I want to double Gitmo!" Isn't that nice. Not only are we becoming the laughing stock of the world, our current crop of GOP candidates have no fear of making the situation worse. I will say John McCain was the stark exception who was unwilling to use torture on the Yellow Brick Road to the Apocalypse.

I guess that is something.

Ken Ham's New Museum


Left 'Toon Lane is holding a cartoon contest as part of PZ Myers', of Pharyngula fame, Creation Museum Carnival. In other words, a blogswarm set for Saturday, to be hosted at Pharyngula.

This is my second 'toon for the contest. Other people have done some too, so come to Left 'Toon Lane later today to see them all, and tell us which ones you like best. Most important, pick up a pen, or a crayon, or doodle with your mouse, and send one in yourself. The key is never artistry, it's concept- scratch a stick figure with brilliant copy, and voila! you're a cartoonist. Draw like da Vinci but write poorly, and you're not a cartoonist, just an artist.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Neverending War

Lynn Woolsey (D--CA) was the first member of Congress to demand that Bush bring the troops home and is a co-founder of the "Out of Iraq Caucus". Of course, after the Democrats meek and disastrous capitulation, she's pissed:

“The American public voted Democrats into power for one simple reason - they trusted us to act boldly to hold this President accountable and to bring our troops home. So far we are failing the very trust that they have placed in us. But more importantly, every day that we allow this occupation to continue we are failing our brave young men and women who are serving honorably and professionally in Iraq. And we are failing their families here at home, who, while struggling to keep their lives and families together, are forced to worry whether their loved ones will come home alive, and if so in what condition.

“Today is not an opportunity to claim victory, or to give bellicose speeches for partisan gain. Today is an opportunity to grieve for the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for this President’s failed Iraq policy, to stand by our nation’s sons and daughters who suffer through the irreparable physical and mental wounds of war, and to grieve for the lives that we will continue to lose so long as this President refuses to bring our troops home, and continues to send our young men and women to die for his failure.”

A tip of the hat to Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars.

A puddle ponders its place

You may have heard around the tubes that today is the opening of the Creation "Museum". May 25 is also Towel Day, in honor of Douglas Adams, so this seems like a fitting time to repost this excerpt from a Douglas Adams lecture:

I mean, there's no other conclusion you can come to. And it's rather like a puddle waking up one morning--I know they don't normally do this, but allow me, I'm a science fiction writer (laughter). A puddle wakes up one morning and thinks "Well, this is a very interesting world I find myself in. It fits me very neatly. In fact, it fits me *so* neatly, I mean, *really* precise, isn't it? (Laughter) It *must* have been made to have me in it!" And the sun rises, and he's continuing to narrate the story about this hole being made to have him in it. The sun rises, and gradually the puddle is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking, and by the time the puddle ceases to exist, it's still thinking, it's still trapped in this idea, that the hole was there *for* it. And if we think that the world is here *for us*, we will continue to destroy it in the way in which we have been destroying it, because we think we can do no harm.

Al Gore on tonight's Daily Show

Just a reminder that Al Gore is a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight. He is scheduled to discuss his new book, The Assault on Reason.

The Full Monica




The perfect Republican woman.

Blacks and Iraq - Exodus Mentality

Blogger -Exodus Mentality - Responds to Blacks and Iraq post by African American Opinion Blog. The response was so powerful I had to repost it here at the Independent Bloggers' Alliance.

We can’t seriously talk about Iraq unless we are willing to also discuss American imperialistic activities and the worldwide hegemony desired by the current administration.
The United States has permanent military bases in every significant country in the world. “According to the Defense Department’s annual “Base Structure Report” for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases — surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries — and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo — even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.

For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa “hosts” ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island’s second largest city. (Manhattan’s Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people’s countries, but no one — possibly not even the Pentagon — knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.” This information is from TomDispatch via

How stupid do you have to be to see that this is not a Defense Department, it’s an OFFENSE department? Why does this country feel the need to rule the world by force of arms? We call it protecting the world, but who asked for our protection, and exactly who are we protecting them from? Certainly not an old Muslim guy hiding out in a Pakistani mountain cave. How long are we going to ignore this?

We would also need to get into the whole nuclear arms race insanity. The simple fact of the matter is the idea of using nuclear weapons in this day and age is morally corrupt. We wouldn’t dare use one on anyone that had a chance of shooting a nuke back at us, which makes our continued production and threats to use nuclear weapons more pathetic than the school yard bully.

And once we come out and say that the United States can no longer rule the world through the threat of violence, what then? We still have to figure out a way for us all to live in harmony with each other and with this planet. The way things seem to be deteriorating, it seems that we are running out of time to find those solutions.

And let’s not forget that it’s not the politicians that we have to convince to stop the war. It;s the people who are making billions of dollars off the war and off the other economic opportunities the U.S. has appropriated for itself and protects with its vast armed forces. Let’s not continue to pretend that a politician job is not represent us but to get re-elected. That takes money, and therefore he who has the gold makes the rules. As long as war is profitable, those making the profit will ensure that there is always a war going on.

Addressing Iraq, especially form the viewpoint of Black Americans who are all too familiar with th heavy hand of power in this country, requires much more than just a superficial discussion about timetable for troop withdrawals. They could take all the “troops” out right now and there would still be any army or “Civilian military contractors”, better known as mercenaries, remaining in Iraq to keep the bloodshed going. Black people have to be forward thinking enough to recognize that this is no longer the same world it was, the good old days of world war are over, because the war machine has grown into a doomsday device and we dare not open Pandora’s box.

If we as an AfroSphere collective are to pick up this issue, let’s not go at this half-assed.

Making Monkeys out of Men


Left 'Toon Lane is holding a cartoon contest as part of PZ Myers', of Pharyngula fame, Creation Museum Carnival. In other words, a blogswarm set for Saturday, to be hosted at Pharyngula.

John McKay, of Archy, has posted in more detail about the museum opening. As for the cartoon contest, regular Left 'Toon Lane cartoonists will be participating, and anybody with a pencil, pen, brush, or crayon, is invited. Go to Left 'Toon Lane for my email, and send me your entry. They are due by this Friday, and PZ himself will not only judge, but will include the winning art in the Carnival.


O.K., this shit is embarrassing.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House committee launched an inquiry Tuesday over a former museum administrator's claim that the Smithsonian Institution toned down a climate change exhibit for fear of angering Congress and the Bush administration.

The inquiry comes a day after The Associated Press reported that Robert Sullivan, a former associate director at the National Museum of Natural History, said Smithsonian officials softened last year's ''Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely'' exhibit.

Among other things, the exhibit's text was rewritten to inject more uncertainty into the relationship between human activity and climate change, Sullivan said.

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming sent a letter to the Smithsonian requesting all letters and e-mails about the exhibit.

The committee chairman, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., wrote to Acting Smithsonian Secretary Cristian Samper, saying, ''It would be a tragedy if one of our nation's most revered scientific institutions were somehow complicit'' in an effort to deny scientific consensus on climate change.

It's not just a "tragedy", it's suicidal.

As Kurt Vonnegut observed, "Science is magic that works." To believe otherwise wastes valuable time, makes us dumber, and drags the United States culturally and economically to the status of a third-rate country.

Do you think Bush is still pissed off about that C- he got in biology?

“Unseat Reid and Pelosi” Says Olbermann

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

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Keith Olbermann's Special Comment last night pretty much summed up my feelings on the Democrats idiotic move to continue to fund the war.

We worked our fingers to the bone to get Dems into Congress for one MAJOR thing - to bring our troops home. Immigration, the national debt, the spotted owl all took a back seat to this most pressing issue.

The Dems held all the cards, the President they are facing is the WORST IN HISTORY and wildly unpopular. Plus the Dems had the support of the people - a huge swath of We The People in fact.

So what do they do? Cave.

The capitulated.

They threw the troops under the bus. God knows, the Dems in Congress don't want to be made to feel uncomfortable.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blacks and War

Watch video

Jill at Jack and Jill politics recently posted another one of her challenging post.

Yes, I said challenging post, because she challenges all of us.

This challenge is about America's war on Iraq and the lack of conversation on black blogs about the disguised hypocrisy of America on this critical issue. Jill recently wrote that she is frustrated like most African Americans on the continuing failure to set a timetable on Iraq. She feels that members of Congress and the political blogs are ignoring African-Americans, in part I think because we have not blogged as much about Iraq as other issues.

I agree we Jill. Black bloggers should get more vocal about the war. We need to do what Malcolm and Martin taught us, become more international in our conversation. We need to comment of the Iraq war as they did about the War in Vietnam and the war against our people. I just finished taking another look at my blog(s). At African American Opinion we have posted on issue of the war many times see below:

I'm reminded of what Martin Luther King said during his Christmas Sermon back in December of 1967, which reminds me of 2007, just change the name President Johnson to Bush, Just change the country North Vietnam to Iraq:

"And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends."

--Martin Luther King, Jr., "A CHRISTMAS SERMON" 24 December 1967

Read more of Jill's thoughts below:

African-Americans on the Iraq War -- The Military and Electoral Impact

What's interesting is that you don't see a lot of discussion about the Iraq War among black bloggers. That's because we all agree on it and solutions seem obvious. If other bloggers are like me, I am just so sick of talking about it. The difference among black folks is that we were largely against the war before it started and have quietly been protesting it ever since.

Most African-Americans can point to someone they know personally who has been impacted in some way -- negatively -- by this war. Could be a neighbor, relative, classmate, co-worker, relative of a relative. You nah mean. Me -- I've had 2 cousins go over to Iraq. And my cousin's half-sister's husband. This colors our view of those who believe in a wait-and-see or worse yet, a "surge" approach.

Discussions in the black community tend to focus on Osama bin Laden -- isn't he still at large? -- and on the Money -- it sure seems like a lot of money is being spent over there in Iraq. How is it that none of that money was seen fit to spend on helping the victims of Katrina or re-building New Orleans? Or on better healthcare, education, poverty, our cities, the environment for folks living right here in the United States?

Still it's critical to talk about it because Democratic candidates looking for black votes will need to speak to us on those terms to be heard. And it also impacts the current national security. Quietly, the military has been dependent for generations on regular enlistment by young black soldiers. Why do you think that the educational and career opportunities are always touted. That's been the lure for young men and women eager to join (or stay in) the middle class. More HERE

American Terrorism

While the Bush Administration is so concerned about Terrorist from abroad it's forgetting about people who would create terror here on American soil. ABC News is reporting about a Bomb Plot that was thwarted at get this Falwell's Funeral.


Virginia authorities arrested Liberty University student Mark D. Uhl after officials discovered several homemade bombs in the trunk of his car. (AP Photo/Hand Out)The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service. The devices were made of a combination of gasoline and detergent, a law enforcement official told ABC News' Pierre Thomas. They were "slow burn," according to the official, and would not have been very destructive.

"There were indications that there were others involved in the manufacturing of these devices and we are still investigating these individuals with the assistance of ATF [Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms], Virginia State Police and FBI. At this time it is not believed that these devices were going to be used to interrupt the funeral services at Liberty University," the Campbell County Sheriff's Office said in a release.

Three other suspects are being sought, one of whom is a soldier from Fort Benning, Ga., and another is a high school student. No information was available on the third suspect.

Authorities were alerted to the potential bomb plot after relative of Uhl called to say that he had homemade bombs in his possession. Officials searched Uhl's car where they found five incendiary devices in the trunk.

Uhl is currently being held under no bond at the Campbell County Adult Detention Center. More HERE

Hopefully at some point the AfroSpear can set up a WatchDog group to compare and report on what type of sentence Uhl receives - versus African Americans who are charged with lesser crimes.

Virginia Foxx (NC-05) Ignores Iraq

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

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I am pissed off and go to send an email to Virginia Foxx expressing my displeasure over the war. I know, a pointless endeavor, but I might as well pile on. I fill out all the required info to send her an email, including looking up my damn ZIP+4 and then I go try to select a topic, but of all the things she has as a topic for - animals, health, pension, the Iraq War is not on her list. War On Terror? Nope. Afghanistan? No, no one remembers Afghanistan any more.

How in the world can you be a sitting member of Congress and LEAVE OFF Iraq as a subject as an email topic? It is the biggest foreign policy goof this nation has ever committed, it is on the news CONSTANTLY, it is a subject debated in Congress every single day and it is the ONLY thing candidates are talking about in their campaigns.

For Virginia Foxx, it is just a miscellaneous item. If your husband just got killed in combat in Iraq and you need your Congresswoman's help in receiving the remains, you will need to select "miscellaneous" on her web form. This is just what Foxx thinks this war is - miscellaneous. You know, she supports the troops by avoiding talking about them.

As a member of a family with loved ones who served in Bush's war, it is incredibly disingenuous of Foxx to leave off the most important topic in the nation to contact her about. I guess we never should have looked to Congress for dignity.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Some thoughts on courage

At the end of the work day, I do a brief scan of blog headlines to try to get up to speed on what's happening out there in the wide, wide world (channeling the Poky Little Puppy). This evening, a predominant theme is that the Democrats "caved" on Iraq. Quite honestly, I'm not sure what I think about that. The thing is--I just don't have the time or interest to follow this story (and others like it) closely enough to have a genuinely informed opinion on what constitutes necessary political courage versus wisely playing the cards you've been dealt. So, guess I'm not cut out to be a political pundit.

But I've been thinking a lot about courage in the past 24 hours, after hearing this man speak at a forum at my church

His name is Davis Mac-Iyalla, and he is the founder of Changing Attitude-Nigeria, a support group for Gay and Lesbian Anglicans, and he is visiting the United States to call attention to the persecution of LGBTs in his country. Even attending a GLBT-affirmative event--something I didn't have to think twice about here in central Ohio would subject me to tremendous risk if I lived in Nigeria. If a draconian "Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act" were to pass, the penalty for being openly "straight but not narrow" would be a five year prison term.

From time to time, I have wondered, if Demetrius and I were born at a different time...if we had met in 1964 rather than 1984...would I have had the courage to follow my heart and marry outside my "race". It's not an easy question to answer. Mind you, part of the difficulty is my tendency to ask pesky, practical questions, such as, "Where would we have met?" and "How likely is it that we could have spent those long, casual hour together with our mutual friends?" But the basic question I ask myself is, "Would I have the courage to be that kind of pioneer? Could I really be that brave?"

Last night, I was faced with a new question: "Would I have the courage to risk my personal safety--possibly my life--in order to make hostile religious and political authorities acknowledge that I exist?

That's an easy one, and I can answer it right now.

No. Freaking. Way.

So I couldn't help but be awed, humbled, and impressed to hear Davis tell his story. From a statement on the first anniversary of Changing Attitudes-Nigeria,
In the first year, we have many achievements to be proud of, including our impact on the life of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, which had previously denied that lesbian and gay people are members of the church. The Church was so disturbed by our visible presence that it attempted to discredit the organisation, at the same time falsely claiming to be open to gays.
At last night's meeting, Davis Mac-Iyalla described being arrested after one of the early meetings of his organization. He and his fellow members were beaten, and were held for three days without food or water (and without charges), before finally being able to get the bribe money so that his jailers would release him. And not long after that experience, he led the first national meeting of CAN, which was attended by over 1000 GLBT Anglican Nigerians.

I encourage you to read more about Davis Mac-Iyalla and Changing Attitudes-Nigeria. This is not an Anglican issue, or a GLBT issue, or a Nigerian issue--it is, quite plainly, a human rights issue.

The Daily Office (Sponsor of Davis Mac-Iyalla's U.S. tour)
Changing Attitude UK (The director of this organization was instrumental in helping Davis get Changing Attitude Nigeria up and running)
Walking With Integrity (the blog of IntegrityUSA)

Also at My Left Wing, Street Prophets, Booman Tribune, and ePluribus Media

Update with regard to funding:

The people who wish to silence Davis and others like him are very well funded.

Changing Attitudes Nigeria is not. Josh Thomas, who arranged Davis Mac-Iyalla's U.S. tour, and who operates the Daily Office web site, is helping him raise the money needed to continue his work in educating the rest of the world about the plight of GLBT people in Nigeria. Donations are being accepted here.

Body Armor? No solutions for women.

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

More than four years into this, the Pentagon still can’t get the body armor right. First they didn’t have enough to go around and now what has been issued, isn’t the best and of course women have no real options.

I was talking recently with a military contractor about the issue of body armor and his take on it was that what the troops had was rubbish, specifically for women. The current Army-issued Interceptor armor was made for men, the armor is essentially a flat plate and when worn over female breasts, the armor creates a gap at the top of the armor and it is pushed farther from the rib cage on the top leaving a large gap big enough to drive a grenade through. The problem with side entry wounds is even worse for women as the Interceptor model of armor leaves them more vulnerable.

The new Dragon Skin model of armor WRAPS the body and provides 360 degree protection - in some areas better protection than the Interceptor and in some areas worse. But if you are a woman, you are ordered to wear the faulty fitting Interceptor model.

Monday, May 21, 2007

This week’s war dead. Read their names.

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane & My Left Wing

click to enlarge

Once every few weeks, we stop and list the recent war dead in Bush's illegal war. These people are all victims of murder and Bush is an accessory. At least read their names aloud once, then go to Books For Soldiers and lend a hand for the living.

Pfc. Jonathan V. Hamm, 20, of Baltimore, Md., died May 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds sustained when his forward operating base received indirect enemy fire. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Sgt. Steven M. Packer, 23, of Clovis, Calif., died May 17 in Rushdi Mullah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his dismounted patrol encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Pfc. Aaron D. Gautier, 19, of Hampton, Va., died May 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his mounted patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire and an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Whitaker, 23, of Long Beach, Calif., died May 15 in Qalat, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire. Whitaker was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Sgt. Allen J. Dunckley, 25, of Yardley, Pa. died May 14 in Salman Pak, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their unit came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

Sgt. Christopher N. Gonzalez, 25, of Winslow, Ariz. died May 14 in Salman Pak, Iraq, of wounds suffered when their unit came in contact with enemy forces using an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

Sgt. Thomas G. Wright, 38, of Holly, Mich., died May 14 enroute to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, from a non-combat related illness while serving at Balad, Iraq. Wright was assigned to the 46th Military Police Company, 210th Military Police Battalion, Kingsford, Mich.

Lance Cpl. Jeffrey D. Walker, 21, of Macon, Ga., died May 14 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Food Stamp Challenge

Originally posted at Howard-Empowered People. I don't know why I'm having trouble with the links to Ryan's web page, but if you Google for "Food Stamp Challenge", you will find a number of stories about it. And this is definitely worthy of wider attention...

I saw this in the newspaper at some point this week, and had Demetrius post a link to it in the comments. I meant to follow up with a front page post, but it slipped my mind with everything that's been going on. Still, I think it's worth drawing attention to while it's still more or less timely:

From Tim Ryan's web site:

(Washington, DC) Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-17) will participate in the Food Stamp Challenge, an effort aimed to raise awareness of the hunger problem faced by 38 million Americans nationwide, including 13 million children. The Food Stamp Program provides over 25 million people living at or below the poverty line with a means to afford basic foodstuffs.
Click here to read a Washington Post article about the challenge, and here to see Tim Ryan's blog entries about his experience living on $3 of food per day this past week.

Note: I spent 20 minutes this morning trying to fix the link to Tim Ryan's web page, and no matter what link I used, once I pasted it into Blogger, I got a page not found message. The link I use at the beginning of this post is a link to a Wikipedia article about Ryan. At the bottom of that page, there is a link to his home page, which works when I click it. Or copy and paste into your browser window. Thank you, Jessica, for pointing out the "page not found" error message. Wish I could figure out what I'm doing wrong with the link. I mean, I *do* know how to make links--why can't I get this one to work?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So Who Are the Real Gate Crashers?

The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

In 2006, Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos and Jerome Armstrong of MyDD published Crashing The Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. Ostensibly, they advocated for taking over the Democratic Party from inside the beltway K-Street corporate elitists who perpetually sell out their constituents for the almighty dollar. To the extent that ordinary citizens through the blogosphere or progressive “netroots” are more plugged into politics and empowered to become activists is all to the good.

Personally, I was an activist before I became a blogger and didn’t need an account with Daily Kos to become one. If the blogosphere ceased to exist tomorrow I would remain involved. I’m sure that’s true for many of us. That said, liberal bloggers have amplified the voice and impact of core progressive values in the ongoing debate-taking place.

Whether this amplified voice has the leverage to facilitate transformational progressive change inside the corridors of power remains to be determined. I hope so. Certainly retaking the congress as well as numerous statehouses in 2006 was an important step and the “netroots” were important to that effort.

I have my doubts though about the long term and believe “crashing the gate” of a political party is not an elixir for our democracy. Indeed, history is replete with examples of “gate crashers” or “revolutionaries” dethroning the previous order only to become corrupted themselves. As Orwell’s classic Animal Farm illustrated, it didn’t take long for the pigs to resemble Farmer Jones. The real gate to be crashed is as information brokers, fact-checkers and investigative reporters free of corporate influence and dedicated to preserving accountability on the citizenry’s behalf.

The foundation for any democratic civil society is truth. Without it a civil society can’t remain civil because the absence of truth translates into a loss of faith in the laws and institutions designed to promote opportunity and justice. Once a citizenry loses faith, either anarchy or oppression isn’t far away. Hence, the importance of a free, independent press doggedly pursuing truth wherever it leads. Truth seekers are gatekeepers of integrity that preserve democracy’s machinery.

For example, Carl Bernstein and his partner Bob Woodward, before he became co-opted by the very insiders he used to expose, relentlessly pursued President Richard Nixon’s diabolical efforts to subvert the Constitution. In so doing they helped preserve our democracy’s checks and balances. Congress initiated impeachment proceedings against Nixon and he resigned. The system worked.

We’re dependent upon truth seekers to scrutinize the fine print and actions of those in power on our behalf. Since we have our own lives, families and jobs to look after -effectively seeking truth ourselves is a Herculean challenge. Most of us don’t have the resources, ability to travel on demand or cultivate sources among the powerful.

Sadly, our country is at best ill served by the so-called free press. When I watched Bill Moyers report how the press covered the lead-up to the Iraq War, I was thunderstruck by their lame justifications for not doing their job. Walter Pincus, a national security reporter for the Washington Post actually admitted to Moyers that since the Reagan Administration,

“We stopped truth squading every sort of press conference, or truth squading. And we left it then-- to the democrats. In other words, it's up to the democrats to catch people, not us.”
And there was this classic exchange between Moyers and Tim Russert from Meet the Press:
BILL MOYERS: What do you make of the fact that of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department?

TIM RUSSERT: It's important that you have a-- an oppos-- opposition party. That's our system of government.

BILL MOYERS: So, it's not news unless there's somebody-

TIM RUSSERT: No, no, no. I didn't say that. But it's important to have an opposition party, your opposit-- opposing views.
How the hell does any reporter justify allowing a political party to interpret the truth? Political parties are not about truth. Political parties are self-serving entities dedicated to obtaining and maintaining power. Since the Democrats were spineless and didn’t provide an alternative dialogue, Pincus and Russert believe they should be excused from doing their jobs? Ridiculous. Yes, Republicans were feculent and irresponsible while Democrats were feckless and cowardly. All the more reason for the press to do their job and relentlessly pursue the truth.

I’m a loyal Democrat and support my party as a means to advance progressive causes I believe in. And Democrats such as Henry Waxman are doing a splendid job of investigating the Bush Administration’s malfeasance now that they have the majority. It was also oversight by the Democratic controlled Senate Judiciary Committee that resulted in former Deputy Attorney General James Comey’s dramatic testimony.

Nevertheless, I don’t want the press to solely cede ground to Democrats about holding the Bush White House accountable. Nor do I want the press to curry favor with powerful Democrats and refrain from reporting on their transgressions.

Of course reporters such as Pincus and Russert merely reflect the will of their corporate bosses who curry favor from the powerful. Some reporters remain dedicated to their craft. James Risen of the New York Times, who first reported about the Bush Administration’s domestic surveillance program in violation of the FISA framework is a fine example. However, the New York Times management didn’t allow the story to surface prior to the 2004 election.

As I see it, the real gate being crashed is what people like Josh Marshall are doing at Talking Points Memo. It was reporting done for that blog that broke the bough on how the dismissal of US Attorney’s were covered and exposed Attorney General Gonazales as a liar. And citizen contributors to Firedoglake were so effective as information repositories for the Scooter Libby trial that even mainstream press reporters relied on them for real time facts. Epluribus Media has also become an effective vehicle for citizen journalism.

Another example on a smaller scale is a good friend of mine who used to work for Kaiser Permanente, a health organization that claims to be a non-profit. She was a whistle blower and they responded by personally trying to destroy her. So she transformed her Corporate Ethics blog into a repository of information regarding Kaiser’s harmful activities against their patients. Kaiser Thrive Permanente Exposed is another weblog devoted to serving the public by exhaustively covering Kaiser in a manner that the corporate media has resisted.

As the blogosphere continues to mature, it is the gate crashing of citizen journalists that has me the most excited. Hopefully citizen journalism from the “reality based community” will become more adept at keeping the corporate media, corporations and politicians honest.

My optimism however is tempered by two concerns. One is that the powerful elites among the corporations, mainstream press and politicians will pass laws that undermine the effectiveness of online citizen journalism. My second fear is that citizen journalists will at some point resemble Farmer Jones.