Saturday, November 24, 2007

"You're Not The Woman" But " Are You The Man"

As Hillary braces for a possible letdown in Iowa, Jack at Jack and Jill Politics has a great series on why he won't Support Hillary Clinton. I have big respect for both Jack, Jill and all the bloggers at Jack and Jill Politics. Jack raises some great points on why he and others won't be supporting Hillary.

I have to give the brother a big hat tip. I also want to thank him for the link to the Code Pink demonstration, when they called Hillary out years ago regarding Bush's war on Iraq. I have have big respect for Code
Pink, the women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities.

There are differing views on if black folks should vote for a president based on a candidates race. But guess what we have been doing that since Shirley Chisholm ran for office right?

Faye Anderson at her Blog Anderson@large has a lot to say about the topic of race and the presidency. She has followed Obama and his wife Michelle campaign for some time. Faye Anderson notes in a recent blog post, Barack Obama says "the American people have moved beyond race (and here). Perhaps. A new Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 40 percent of blacks think "blacks can no longer be thought of as a single race." Black support of Sen. Hillary Clinton suggests black voters have indeed moved beyond race."

But, as Faye Anderson Notes, in an interview with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, Michelle Obama dismissed the possibility that they are making informed decisions. Instead, in her worldview, black support for Hillary stems from a clinical disorder.

I understand what Faye Anderson is pointing out regarding Obama's wife when Faye wrote, "Michelle Obama is the one who needs to “wake up and get it.” For black voters, it’s about experience and electability – not race." Read More HERE

AAPP: I agree with most people who feel that race should not be the sole part of the decision-making process, yet, anyone who says it will 'not be part' of the decision-making process in the 2008 presidential race is not being honest with themselves.

I don't think that we as Black Americans should vote lock step with Obama or Hillary unless she outlines her plans to target resources to African American communities. There should be some systems in place to gain commitments from those running for the highest political office in the land to better the lot of black communities. Why is it that the democrats can authorize billions of dollars every six months for Iraq, but can't commit billions to inner city and decaying schools, health care, child care, housing, drug treatment, anti gang programs for every major city in America? Neither Clinton nor Obama has laid out a Clinton Plan or Obama Plan to rebuild New Orleans, or for that matter any city in America. Where is the Obama plan to rebuild urban areas of America? Or the Clinton Plan to rebuild Newark, or Gary, IN? Why are blacks not coming together and pressing the issue in a United Front?

Should the best man or woman with a plan win the black vote?
There is no mistaking his campaign theme: it's time for the old to move over and make way for the new.

Or will it be politics as usual in the black community, with black folks having the opportunity to place a hold on the evil parts of the other American Dream? I'm not sure only time will tell. Will experience really count, or will it be the color of ones skin?

I'm old school, the old school that Obama seems to care less about. can you remember this old school joint from Marvin Gaye? it's relevant today, and may be something that Marvin Gaye wrote for Barack Obama without knowing it:

MARVIN GAYE lyrics - You're The Man

People marching on Washington
Better hear what they have to say
'Cause the tables just might turn against you, brother
Set around Election Day
Politics and hypocrites
Is turning us all into lunatics
Can you take the guns from our sons?
Right all the wrongs this administration has done?
Peace and freedom is the issue
Do you have a plan wager?
If you've got a plan
If you've got a master plan
Got to vote for you
Hey hey, got to vote for you
'Cause you're the man

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why Does the Military Hate the Troops?

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

"I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they're telling me they want their money back." -- Jordan Fox

Jordan Fox accepted a $10,000 signing bonus from the US Army. Then like so many of our troops in Iraq, he got blown up by a roadside bomb. He suffered back and head injuries and lost vision in his right eye. His injuries left him unable to pursue his dream of joining the police force... and continue serving in the military. He was sent home 3 months before his contract was up. Then he got a bill from the Pentagon for nearly $3000 of his signing bonus. They want their money back because he didn't fulfill his entire contract.

Jordan Fox is not alone. According to reportage from KDKA, thousands of injured troops are being denied signing bonuses because of injuries that cut that service short. It would seem that sacrificing vision, limbs, and futures, in the service of their country, is not enough. The government would also like them to relinquish money they promised to pay them for risking death and disfigurement, in the first place.

When I first heard about this story, earlier today, I thought, the Pentagon will fold on this one. The publicity is just too heinous, especially when they are still waving signing bonuses under the noses of potential enlistees, in their desperate effort to meet enlistment quotas. Cave they did, but so far, only in the case of the young man who has gotten media attention. (Power of the press, we call it.) According to this follow-up report from KDKA, they will not explain whether Fox's bill was sent in error, nor on the status of the thousands of other injured vets who are reportedly being denied what was promised to them.

Jason Altmire, a freshman Congressman from Pennsylvania, last month introduced a bill called the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act. Altmire is, of course, a Democrat, because, as we know, Republicans only care about the troops when they are using them as set dressing and propaganda tools.

The Sutras of Abu Ghraib: An Interview With Conscientious Objector Aidan Delgado

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal, as well as the Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus, the Independent Bloggers Alliance, the Wild Wild Left and Worldwide Sawdust.

In 2001, Aidan Delgado was twenty-years old and in need of a life anchor. Delgado had primarily grown up abroad in far away places such as Cairo, Egypt, Thailand and Senegal due to his father’s career as a diplomat. While attending college in Florida, Delgado felt culturally out of place and adrift. Having led an “ivory tower” existence of academia and privilege, Delgado opted to join the United States Army Reserves for a different perspective.

By sheer coincidence he signed his enlistment contract on September 11th. Those closest to him questioned the wisdom of Delgado's choice. The terrorist attacks convinced Delgado he made the correct decision as the country underwent a surge of patriotic feeling and rallying to the flag. At the time he was proud of having decided to join the United States Reserves before September 11th. Delgado didn’t know it yet but the next three years of his life would transform his entire being.

To calm his nerves prior to reporting for basic training at the end of October 2001, Delgado read about Buddhism. He concluded that Buddhism was like “coming home” and suited his outlook on life even as he prepared for war. Initially, Delgado embraced the Samurai ethos that blended Buddhism with the warrior spirit to justify his participation.

He was trained as a mechanic and assigned to the 320th Military Police Company in 2003. Initially, Delgado served in Nasiriya, the Southern Part of Iraq for several months before being redeployed with his unit to Abu Ghraib. Since Delgado knew Arabic from his adolescent years in Cairo, he was frequently utilized as a translator on missions. On these missions he witnessed horrific abuse committed by Americans against Iraq’s civilian population. He told Bob Herbert of the New York Times in 2005 that,

“Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads."
That sort of gratuitous violence was a harbinger of things to come. During this period in 2003, Delgado experienced an internal crisis. The warrior ethos was not compatible with his sensibilities as a Buddhist and he opted to apply for an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector.

The army tried to persuade Delgado to apply for non-combatant status instead and still complete his duties as a mechanic. It would’ve been the path of least resistance and Delgado rejected it. As far as Delgado was concerned, applying, as a non-combatant was a half-measure and he wanted to make a moral statement.

The path Delgado chose was a long tough road of bureaucratic struggle, taunts, bullying and peer abuse. The army hoped to provoke Delgado away from pacifism, make him feel ostracized and humiliated. Many considered Delgado a coward and a traitor as he continued to fulfill his duties while the application process went forward.

Delgado’s application for conscientious objector status had not been resolved when his unit was redeployed to Abu Ghraib in November 2003. Shortly after he arrived, a prison riot against the miserable conditions there resulted in a fatal shooting of four detainees who threw stones. Delgado told Bob Herbert how he confronted a sergeant who claimed to have fired on the detainees:
"I asked him if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.'"
When Delgado initially arrived at Abu Ghraib he assumed most of the detainees were hardened insurgents and terrorists. He later learned while working as a radio operator for the Abu Ghraib headquarters brigade that most detainees were either petty civilian criminals or completely innocent. Ultimately, Delgado concluded that regardless of why they were there, American behavior could not be excused.

Delgado’s unit was dismissed after completed its duty in March 2004. He received an honorable discharge after returning to America in April 2004. Currently, he’s an antiwar activist as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Buddhist Peace Alliance. Delgado captured his spiritual journey and experience in Iraq with his recently published memoir, The Sutras of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq (Beacon Press)

It’s not fully possible to grasp what soldiers like Delgado went through and witnessed. What does it mean to read that serving in Abu Ghraib is hell or living through mortar attacks is scary? Is it really possible for mere words to convey how soldiers such as Delgado are torn between loyalty to the uniform they wear and their humanity? How can one truly understand without having lived in the shoes of someone like Delgado himself?

Those of us who haven't been in that position can't truly understand. Nevertheless, Delgado skillfully puts the reader in the front row of his year in Iraq, the friends and antagonists he interacted with, the near death experiences he endured and the torturous battle waged within his soul about right and wrong.

Delgado agreed to a podcast interview with me over the telephone about his book, experiences inside Iraq and Abu Ghraib in particular. We also discussed how racism towards Arabs and the Muslim world helped facilitate the crimes committed against Iraqis and his spiritual journey as a Buddhist and anti-war pacifist. Our conversation is approximately fifty-six minutes and took place on Sunday, November 18th. Please refer to the media player below.

This interview can also be accessed for free by searching for "Intrepid Liberal Journal" at the Itunes Store.

Please note that Aidan Delgado only had access to a cell phone for this interview. The sound quality is quite good most of the time and the passion of his convictions comes through. Also, I made a couple errors during the podcast I would like to correct. In introducing Aidan I referred to his unit as the 320th Military Police “Academy” instead of “Company.” I also listed Kuwait among the countries Aidan lived in while growing up when in fact he only visited there.

Short attention span theater

I am slooowly getting over a yucky cold, but it's gray outside, so that's amplifying the usual virus-induced bleariness.

"Distractibility" has been the name of the game for me today, and I've been hopping around various sites on the interwebs, but not really accomplishing anything.

Found this article about the science of cooking interesting. As I was reading it to Demetrius, he said that Alton Brown of Good Eats had addressed some of the same issues. Turns out that Harold McGee, who I'd never heard of before today, was a major influence on Alton Brown. He's got his own web site, Curious Cook, which I will check out when I have a longer attention span.

But from there I moved on to this geography quiz, which I liked because you actually get points for being "close". So I ended up wasting a fair amount of time on that as well.

Eventually, I did manage to get myself out the door to run a couple of errands. While I was out, I thought of a blog essay I wanted to write, and had every intention of starting once I got home. So now that I'm home, I should get to work on that. Actually, I should work on lecture prep first. But...

Look! Some bouncy balls!

Bounce, bounce, bouncy, bouncy--will you look at that? All bouncy and the sun that's hiding behind the clouds today. In that the sun is yellow, I mean, not that the sun bounces. At least, I don't think it does...

Now, what was it that I was going to do next? I'm sure it was important...

Right to bear arms: Individual or Militia?

Today's story about the Supreme Court's future ruling about the gun ban in Washington DC inspired this walk down memory lane, where I posted a entry on my blog, Rants 'n Reviews, entitled, "Constitution: 2nd Amendment."

Here's the whole post.

I find it interesting that people pine over the Constitution and its subsequent amendments as if the words scrawled by our "founding fathers" are tantamount to God speaking directly to us through them. What is so special about a document that was written hundreds of years ago by former Englishmen? Why is it that any proposed changes to this holier than thou document brings forth banter and intellect that would be better used discussing issues that the founding fathers never thought of, like abortion, digital rights, automatic weapons, nuclear devices, etc.?

The latest national tragedy, the VA Tech shooting, has brought forth a new reason, or reminder, that guns are very dangerous, especially in the hands of a psychopath (but so is a hammer).

It will be interesting to hear the 2008 candidates for president opine on gun control, how it affects the 2nd Amendment, and how they pander -- or don't -- to the NRA.

Specifically, the 2nd Amendment reads:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
It seems to me that, despite the fact that I don't necessarily hold our forefathers in the highest esteem (after all, some owned slaves, all believed women to be inferior, and none of them were Stooges fans), we have to take their words in context.

When these men conjured up the ideas set forth in the Constitution and its amendments, there was a deep aversion to the federal government, brought about by the British government the framers had just fled. They were also cognizant of the fact that the British, if not other countries, would invade eventually and try to take over. Hence, the need for a militia. A militia, or any military force, is impotent without firearms and explosives. Just ask our beloved American Indians.

Put in modern English, the 2nd Amendment could be written thusly:
The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed upon because the nation needs a militia in order to ensure the security of a free State.
So, taken in context, a militia, with proper weaponry, is essential to maintaining a free state. This weaponry includes firearms (handguns and long guns, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns). However, this weaponry does not apply to all people -- in fact, contextually, it seems to me, the weaponry belongs to the militia.

So men and women don't have an innate right to own or possess firearms. But a militia does. And since militias are governed by the individual states, it is the state that has the right and responsibility to decide who gets to "keep and bear arms." If California, for example, deemed that all men over 18 were members of an involuntary state militia, then men over 18 would have the right and responsibility to possess firearms, but only in the context of their belonging to the state militia.

I don't know what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote the words. The only thing I do know is that words mean something, and over time, words, especially in the context of "now," change meanings.

In this world of crazed lunatics, is it a good idea for everyone to own guns? No. But crazy people are prohibited from buying guns. Crazies and bad people will always find ways to skirt laws, the Constitution, and other governmental constraints.

Gun control actually makes it easier for nutjobs to commit crimes, because law-abiding citizens will be the only segment of the population that won't own guns.

However, do guns really kill people? No, bullets do. But that's another story.

2008 candidates on spot over gun-control - Politics -

Happy Thanksgiving!

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

click to enlarge
The early settlers of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts were particularly grateful to Squanto, the Native American and former British slave who taught them how to both catch eel and grow corn and also served as their native interpreter. Without Squanto’s assistance, the settlers might not have survived in the New World.

The Plymouth settlers (who came to be called “Pilgrims”) set apart a holiday immediately after their first harvest in 1621. They held an autumn celebration of food, feasting, and praising God. The Governor of Plymouth invited Grand Sachem Massasoit and the Wampanoag people to join them in the feast. The settlers fed and entertained the Native Americans for three days, at which point some of the Native Americans went into the forest, killed 5 deer, and gave them to the Governor as a gift.

And we just kept thanking them…

The Indian Removal Act, part of a U.S. government policy known as Indian Removal, was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830.

The Removal Act was strongly supported in the South, where states were eager to gain access to lands inhabited by the “Five Civilized Tribes”. In particular, Georgia, the largest state at that time, was involved in a contentious jurisdictional dispute with the Cherokee nation. President Jackson, who supported Indian removal primarily for reasons of national security, hoped removal would resolve the Georgia crisis. While Indian removal was, in theory, supposed to be voluntary, in practice great pressure was put on American Indian leaders to sign removal treaties. Most observers, whether they were in favor of the Indian removal policy or not, realized that the passage of the act meant the inevitable removal of most Indians from the states. Some Native American leaders who had previously resisted removal now began to reconsider their positions, especially after Jackson’s landslide reelection in 1832.

Most white Americans favored the passage of the Indian Removal Act and it passed after bitter debate in Congress.

The treaties enacted under the provisions of the Removal Act paved the way for the reluctant—and often forcible—emigration of tens of thousands of American Indians to the West. The first removal treaty signed after the Removal Act was the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek on September 27, 1830, in which Choctaws in Mississippi ceded land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West. The Treaty of New Echota (signed in 1835) resulted in the removal of the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Note: Town Called Dobson will be on hiatus until Monday, November 26th.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Black Accountability Projects

Black Accountability Projects Launched

Working to hold Black leadership, opinion makers, public officials and institutions accountable

Faced with growing unemployment, a rise in black on black crime, white hate crimes out of control, a rise of black pessimistic attitude about America, and a failure of organizations and institutions both black and white to address these issues, black bloggers are creating a new internet based civil rights, human rights and black accountability movements. One of those movements is gaining momentum across black America -The Black Accountability Project.

Black accountability projects are beginning to created across Amrerica even though the start up date was announced for December 1, 2007.

One example is the Blog Black Accountability Project affiliate: Black Accountability Project - Indy which is one of the first of many Black Accountability "WatchBlogs" that will serve to hold local black leadership, opinion makers, public officials and non-profit institutions accountable.

For more information on Black Accountability Project Indianapolis write blogger,

To Join the The Black Accountability Project movement in your city or state write:

Blood Diamonds and Pearls

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to watch the Presidential Forum on the Environment and enjoyed every minute (buffering 18%) despite the con-(buffering 98%)-stant problems with the stream. When I ask myself why I got so much more out of this as compared to the Last CNN debate in Las Vegas, it became clear the CNN debates are not really meant to transmit ideas, only soundbites.

Whereas "boxers or briefs" was cute 16 years ago, "diamonds or pearls" was just inane. With soldiers dying everyday in the Middle East, I had hoped a smarter format had been planned, such was not the case.

CNN lost me years ago when they drove the "Dean Yell" into the ground. Then, a long time later, they admitted they overplayed the story. They are still wrong, it was never a story to begin with. My wife told me about a protest march in DC last week and I hadn't heard about it. She told me she saw it on CNN International. Figures.

CNN suffered some tremendous losses in the past years. John Holliman was killed in a very senseless car accident in 1998. Bernie Shaw retired in 2001 to our immense loss. This leaves just two journalists at CNN; Michael Ware and Christiane Amanpour. Everyone else are posers. That is a lot of weight to put on the shoulders of just two reporters.

Then again, maybe since CNN is a sinking boat, those two are their only life preservers... and they are treading water as fast as they can.