Sunday, July 31, 2005
What a Real Democrat Sounds Like
waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope
Yesterday, at the Baptist World Alliance’s centenary conference in Birmingham, central England, President Carter was trying to wage peace, to speak out against injustice, in a voice that echoes the America I love, rather than the belligerent holler that too often echoes around the globe from a pig farm in Texas:
"What has happened at Guantanamo Bay ... does not represent the will of the American people,’’ Carter said. “I’m embarrassed about it, I think it’s wrong. I think it does give terrorists an unwarranted excuse to use the despicable means to hurt innocent people.’’
Carter continued, criticizing the Iraq war, as he’s done in since Bush launched this criminal war:
"I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false,’’
What will it take for the DC Dems to speak so clearly about the wrongs committed by this criminal administration?
photo via Spiegel Online
Reissue: Liberal Sugar, NOT!
(Originally from 12/05/04)
When the going gets really rough lately (which is nearly all the damned time) I throw a cd on the player from long ago, often Van Morrison or Joe Cocker… well those lovely lads from the mystical isle did it when I was 15, why not now. Nice as it is to hear Morrison, it does nothing for the mess we are in.
However someone with a bit of acid in his pen and a clear distaste for the
crunchless mush that is literally all over the place does help and I first read him in the pre Watergate days… Nicholas von Hoffman holds up well:
What possesses the Democrats to play this game is beyond understanding. Their lately-come-by piety is not going to fool anyone other than themselves. The Democratic Leadership Council types are saying that Bill Clinton is an example of a politician who was able to talk comfortably about his faith, to use Ms. Lincolnâ€™s phrase, but theyâ€™re kidding themselves. The religious people took Mr.
Clinton for the lying whoremaster he regrettably was and broke their backs trying to drive him out of office on morals charges. They almost did it, too. If the leaders of the Democratic Party hope that they can fool the holy people by buying themselves white leatherette-bound Bibles and pink plastic Jesuses and turning up to give testimony at church, theyâ€™ve got another thing coming. That is going to hoodwink the same number of people who canâ€™t see through it when liberals call themselves progressives. You know the old saying: “Just because heâ€™s crazy doesnâ€™t mean heâ€™s stupid.” The same for religious nuts.
Yes, it is the Sunday anti-benediction.
Nicholas von Hoffman also has a nasty towel snap for the Democratic rumps exposed (yet again, do they have their flu shots?) over the blather of: what to be and will it sell, if it won’t, (someone tell us, we don’t know) we’ll be something else!... which is my distillation of the current very low level of personal angst among the DC Dems (I swear many are busy drowning their ‘’still out of power’’ profile at various European watering holes), with little real interest evidenced for the horror unfolding slowly across the nation:
Not more than 48 hours after the Democratic disaster, the first e-mail money pitch arrived. John Kerry, recovered from his grieving, wrote that “I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built togetherâ€”and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead. Letâ€™s roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.”
While we were responding to the Massachusetts Senatorâ€™s request by exposing our forearms to the elements, Mr. Kerry was in Little Rock, at the dedication of Bill Clintonâ€™s $168 million library-cum-theme-park, which future visitors may deem the hillbilly version of a pharaohâ€™s pyramid. Some day, Hillary will bury him in the basement with, in the ancient Egyptian way, his lady friends, retainers and enablers.
Oh I know its cruel, but that is delicious imagery after the snivel and drivel I have heard from Bill post election, and with Hilary just fine with Kerik. Appalls me how often I find myself saying about both parties:
Who are these people?
Yes, yes one is worse, we all learned that with the Gerber’s.
While the rain fell on the dedication of Billâ€™s mausoleum, Democratic pols and their think-tankers were organizing “What do we believe in?” conclaves. The professionals are debating what their political party stands for, what programs and policies it advocates and, evidently also, what church it belongs to.
However, God is a registered Republican, which only leaves the Devil for the Democrats if they insist on messing with religion. If it turns out that Hillary and the other professional politicians decide that it is time for the party of Jefferson to accept Jesus as its personal savior, they are going to watch a lot of the nonprofessionals who did most of the leg work drift off elsewhere. Better a Green than a born-again political Jesus freak.
Before the pros send out more of their mendicant e-mails, they might spell out for us what it is that theyâ€™re asking people to back up with their dollars and their time. They might start with what the pros messed up the worst in the last campaignâ€”foreign policy.
Tell us: What is the foreign policy of the Democratic Party? [hmmm, 7/30/05, yes, what is it?]
Is it the total warhawk position of U.S. Representative Jane Harmon of California and both Senators from New York? Is it the modified warhawk, as expressed by Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader? Is it the muddy warhawk, as dimly explicated by the Massachusetts Senator? How do these statespersons arrive at their policy positions? By auction to the ethno-religious group which kicks in the most money?
Tens of thousands broke their butts in the last election without knowing the partyâ€™s foreign-policy stand because of their fear of Mr. Bush. Thatâ€™s over. He got in and heâ€™s going to do what he does, which leaves the nonprofessional volunteers to decide if they will still give of themselves to a party without a foreign policy, or perhaps one with which they strongly disagree.
If the Democratic Party is going to embrace religion to get the Jesus vote, it is going to lose such a large chunk of its baseâ€”its active base, its money-giving base, its door-knocking baseâ€”that it is not going to win more elections in the future than it has in the recent past. The partyâ€™s pros are going to learn that it is one thing to swallow Jesus at the communion rail, and quite another to do the same at the ballot box. Nor is quavering for the Lord a substitute for a foreign-policy position.
HAH! Nicholas takes his hits… and a last bit from that same article, it is just too good:
Another point in a Democratic foreign-policy program might be a renunciation of crusaderism. Faith-based politicians responding to orders from Jesus are prone to e-mails from Heaven ordering up the military to read Bible-based law to heathens in far-off, formerly romantic places.
And this from a recent book of his, The Big Lie, which presents a haunting vision of America (at least I find it so):
The frightening shark swimming with toothy grin in a giant aquarium does not see the human faces looking in from the other side of the glass. The shark is in a world of its own, with its own reality.
Like the shark, Americans don’t see the people outside the glass. It is as though America is in a 3,000 mile wide terrarium, an immense biosphere which has cut it off from the rest of the world and left it to pick its own way down the path of history.
By the time the American army stepped into Iraq, the difference in world view between the United States and everybody else had grown to the size of the hole in the atmosphere over the South Pole.
The great sadness is that we have set our horror shark upon the world, in conquest both bloody and bloodless. All of it will kill and maim, we should know this by now. We seem always to be forgetting, by now it is an illness, our very own and beyond any drug.
However much we have done this always (our short form of always) I am certain we are now more than we ever were. If nothing else the armaments are greater and our belief in their power. How can this be—and yet it is. The same madness that would use napalm, again.
Everything on earth, and everything about life on earth, tells us we will end. I think the world should find one single comfort amidst the apprehension, horror, sadness, despair, or, as the Iraqis find themselves, the constant state between survival and mourning. The comfort is we are a carnivore and we will, soon enough, cannibalise ourselves.
Well, lest Sunday be too weighty, here is a dicey bit of rapier charm, as von Hoffman delights in dispensing with the ever tedious Mr Brooks (I call him the suburban boy scout face for the Neocons, always being busy and boring in the deep forest):
Though Brooks humbly likens his writing to Twain’s and Mencken’s, the best you can say for him as a writer is that he’s fought the English language to a draw. Whereas Twain on the warpath was a sharpshooting rifleman and Mencken laid about with the broadsword, Brooks’s literary weapon is the tweezers. Follicle by follicle, he snaps the hairs out. Painful but not so entertaining.
Oh, it is nice to skewer the believers! And the toadies!
Nearly last, is a page of links to his recent writings in the NY Observer. [updated link to NvH’s March - July 2005 NY Observer articles]
He is a sort of point counter point to Brookheiser in NY Observer, who always gives me the willies. When I look at him I see a Nazi. No No!, I’m not calling him a Nazi! I said I see a Nazi, there you go, I make it easy, just dismiss me as hallucinating. I won’t notice...
One final tidbit, von Hoffman’s son, last I heard, was serving in-country. The dedication in his book is:
"To my son Sgt. Aristodemos von Hoffman, United States Army, presently on active duty in Iraq."
Not too many of the Big Democrats, flailing around with bare smidgens of whatever as fig leaves can say that, nor can the Republicans madly waging death and, just as madly, calling it victory.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Politics, Parents & Society
Growing up can seem so daunting, for both the child and the parent. In our society, parenting is primarily described as protecting or sheltering children. Pedophiles seem to be around every corner, judging by the relentless string of reports in the Infotainment Media. Families are pummeled by commercialism, economic pressures, consumerism ... how, oh how to protect these poor, fragile flowers from such a harsh, cruel world?
Some feel, as I discussed in Nanny Party, that government should pressure businesses and creators to censor or label “offensive” or “dangerous” ideas and images. This isn’t true just from the right, but also many on the left, as well.
Politicians, of course, LOVE issues that allow them to appear to be doing something, holding committee meetings and news conferences trupeting grand proposals to help parents protect their children:
“We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country,” (Hillary) Clinton wrote in a letter to the head of the Federal Trade Commission.
“The development of adolescents is largely dependent on the environmental influences that are present in a child’s daily life,” said Senator Santorum. “Media is such a prevalent and influential presence in our society that it is important that we understand the impact it has on our youth. Hopefully, through a better understanding of the power of media, we can use it in a healthy and productive way to educate our children."
Is the primary, or only, function of parents and government to PROTECT children? If so, and we successfully shelter them from ALL “harm,” how then do children make the transition to adulthood?
Of course, there are real dangers that children, that ALL of us, need to be protected from, and government action is often chosen as a way to do that. Police, the Military, various agencies like the FDA, EPA and OSHA are tasked with various goals to help protect people from harm. People buy insurance to spread risk out amongst a larger population, to help people weather and recover from inevitable hardships that come into their lives.
Americans have a view of themselves that they are self-reliant, yet parents are often insistent that their values should be the only influences that children are exposed to. Frequent demands arise that society help them to protect their children. Some, like child-proof caps and improvements in automobile safety, have been quite successful in reducing accidental death and injuries of children.
It seems obvious that such moves by government have been beneficial. One would think that we would take those successes and use them as an impetus to make further moves to protect children from environmental degradation, deteriorating schools and a hollowed out economy, but instead some promote the idea that children should be protected from poisonous ideas and images.
I think that the entire idea that the ONLY way to help children grow up is to protect them from a harsh world is incredibly wrongheaded. Yes, protect them from physical dangers, as much as is humanly possible, but there is only so much cloistering one can do before children are stunted by it.
I would submit that the primary responsibilty of parents is to prepare a child for adulthood, not spring it on them when they magically cross some legal threshold. To try to shield children under eighteen from sexual imagery or violence, or even radical ideas, provides for a young adult who is unable to make judgements of their own.
Protection is the wrong paradigm for parenting. A parent girds their child to face the world. Seeking to wall off the world’s temptations and distractions does them ill service. It is no coincidence that some of the wildest kids we all knew growing up were the children of the local policemen, politicians and ministers. Children instinctively know that they have to confront risk and challenges in order to grow. It is no coincidence that children have gone out and reveled in extreme sports, and that children have reportedly made oral sex a casual part of growing up.
It is easy to blame the culture for this, but it’s clear to me that parents, and our schools, refusal to actually engage children as they grow up on the nature of risk and temptation leads to their risk taking. As mysteries are hidden behind veils and v-chips and filtering software, children naturally seek out the forbidden. By refusing to allow them to be naturally exposed to the vagaries of life, children are left with few tools that enable them to take care of themselves.
Parenting is a hard task, but it’s primary purpose is preparation, not protection. A child becomes and independent adult by learning how to filter and evaluate information that comes their way. Filtering it for them does not prepare them to do that. This isn’t, of course, a suggestion that we toss hardcore porn into children’s bedrooms when they’re toddlers. The hard facts of life are that parenting is hard, and it requires a level of involvement and attention that is truly awe-inspiring. Guidance and openness are the rules to follow, not repression and suppression.
This is, of course, easy for me to say, not being a parent myself. In fact, that single fact will enable some to disregard all the words above. I was, however, a child once, and an uncle now. I was blessed with books placed in my hands before I entered kindergarten. If there were limitations in my ability to ask my parents about issues I was curious about, they were limitations created by my own embarrassment than my parents’ lack of openness. Raise your children how you want. If you want to keep the TV off, send them to Sunday School every week, then that is your right and your choice. You, and your child, will have to deal with the consequences of those choices. However, I draw the line at you telling me, telling OTHER parents, what is or isn’t “proper” art or entertainment. Ratings are meaningless, and often become yet another marketing tool. Companies will use the LACK of a warning label to sell you something as “safe,” yet there is still no guarantee that there won’t be something “offensive” in the purchased content. Hell, it’s no guarantee that there IS any content.
Shield them if you can, but you’re making a mistake. It’s a cold, hard, fast and exciting new century, and when they are adults, and it’s time to leave home, they will be trying to evaluate and compete with others who haven’t been sealed off. Who will have the advantage?
Sysiphean children graphic via the Georgia Supreme Court Child Placement Project Newsletter.
Guardian Angel from Christian love dot com.
toxic baby form non-toxic dot com.
Friday, July 29, 2005
One step closer to thoughtcrime
I’m kind of surprised that nobody has really commented on the real implications of the Bush Administration’s move to “re-brand” the foul mess we’re in. “War on Terror” becomes “Struggle Against Violent Extremism” (or, as Don Rumsfeld puts it, “the War on… er, I mean, Struggle Against Violent Extremism").
The Daily Show had a mildly amusing segment on the slogan change this week which, surprisingly for them, managed to completely miss the mark. However, Elwood Dowd at Daily Kos posts a diary that asks the right questions. Although he doesn’t take it to its obvious conclusion: Now that the Bush Administration has moved the goalposts, let’s face it: anyone can be tagged an extremist, and thus, an enemy of the state.
This, then, is the Bush Administration’s parting gift to the New American Century. And a handy one it is.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Rude Pundit: He's Got a Point...
This works for me, and I need a laugh. Desperado for one, actually.
In New York City, part of the big summertime fun of the post-7/7 and 7/21 London bombings is the institution of random bag searches throughout the steamy subway system. That means if the cops pick you on the right day, they could busily pick through your backpack filled with anal beads, love oils, and Jenna Jameson’s vibrating latex pussy with cock clutching kung-fu grip. That means that if you’ve taken the train from JFK, having had your personal belongings rifled through at customs at the airport, they can also be fondled at the 14th Street A line stop. Surely, we are told, such is a small price to pay to assure that we are not bombed into a fine paste that becomes a tasty treat for the rats and the sewer crocs. Because, truly, if we have nothing to hide, why mind the searches
Plus, catch the handy phrase, along the way....
So let’s turn this shit around and use it against the Bush administration. Hang on - this is gonna be a bullet train speedin’ to the heart of the political spin machine.
Here’s the deal:
Poll numbers show that a majority of Americans see Bush, Cheney, et al as liars and cover-up artists. This is bad news for an administration that tells its citizens they must forcibly open up their private lives to government scrutiny, an administration that gives the constant message that secrecy is primary to its operations.
On John Roberts’s documents while in the Solicitor General’s office:
The Democrats’ call for the release of more of Roberts’s records than the dribble the Bush adminstration has pissed out has been met with Bolton-confirmation-like stonewalling and derision from Republicans, like John Cornyn, who said, “They don’t have anything on him now, but they’re still digging and hoping.”
The proper response on this from Democrats oughta sound like a throwdown for a streetfight:
“So, like, if there’s nothing to get on Roberts, why not release the documents? What are you trying to hide?"
Oh it is great when librul/left bloggerie agrees on something....
QUICK HIT: A quartet from Asia Times
Pakistan, jihad, House of Saud, those deadly glances back at Vietnam and the tangled and terrible gift, Plame/Wilson/Niger/WMD/CIA/Rover.
Another look inside Pakistan, Afghanistan and jihad. Commentary on the recent weeks of intense fighting along the border.
Pakistan’s leading monthly magazine, Herald, has published a detailed eyewitness account backed with photographs on how youths are trained in militant camps in the central region of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Mansehra. The story was so accurate that the government could not deny it, although it issued orders to “fix” the publisher.
“Until 2001, thousands of fighters trained here for operations in Kashmir and Afghanistan ... after the 9/11 attacks in America, though, the militants’ activities dwindled, and last year the camp was abandoned following an unequivocal warning from the government. But all major militant organizations began regrouping in April this year by renovating training facilities that were deserted last year,” the cover story of Herald maintained.
According to a manager of the training camp, the report said, all the major militant organizations, including Hizbul Mujahideen, al-Badr Mujahideen, Harkat ul-Mujahideen and others, began regrouping in April.
The Herald report says that at least 13 major camps in the Mansehra region were revived during the first week of May. As the camps reopen, managers claim trained militants as well as new aspirants are flocking to enlist for jihad.
As one militant leader put it, the organizations are now under a “regime of controlled freedom”.
All the more dangerous is that the various armed forces - the military, counterbalanced by the internal security forces and tribal National Guard - are commanded by competing princes: Sultan, Naif and Abdullah respectively.
Ensconced in power, jealous of their privileges, suspicious as any who has worn the crown, faced with challenges to their positions, various princes may fight to maintain their roles.
Indeed, the main reason behind the resignation of Prince Bandar is believed to be the friction-creating situation between him and Abdullah, and the latter’s increasing dependence on Adel al-Jubair, his private counselor in Washington, for communicating messages to the US administration.
Turki, meanwhile, is a brother of Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who announced Bandar’s resignation in Riyadh last week, even though Bandar had issued a statement denying the fact a week before. Saud is Abdullah’s closest ally. The jostling for position has clearly begun.
We prove once again that tho we lust for empire we are piss poor at the reality of empire.
There is a world of difference between America’s complacent position with respect to Iraq’s problems and the Vietnam-era dangers of engaging an ally of the Soviet Union. The Nixon administration was at pains to ensure that its actions in Vietnam did not interfere with arms-control negotiations with the Soviet Union. The mining of Haiphong harbor and consequent damage to a Russian ship marked the sharpest threat to Russian-American relations during the Vietnam War, and Kissinger was eager to defuse the situation.
Anatoly Dobrynin, then Russia’s ambassador to the United States, described the events in an interview with CNN aired in March 1997:
Some time before the [1972 Nixon-Brezhnev] summit [in Moscow], the Americans began to complain that the Vietnamese were speeding up their military activities, but we said to them, “Well, it’s up to you: you have to finish the war.” Then, on the 7th or 8th May Nixon said, “Five or six Vietnamese divisions have crossed the demilitarized zone and started light-scale assault operations, and we had to retaliate to restore the balance.” ... He said, “I have to continue to step up the military activities, and unless [we] do something, the Vietnamese could destroy the American military contingent.” I [told him] that on the eve of the [summit] meeting, [this] was a very delicate issue; but nevertheless he gave the order to his airforce to bomb North Vietnam and lay mines in the Haiphong port ... in order to prevent the delivery of any military equipment to Vietnam.
[The mines] almost sank one of our ships. Kissinger telephoned me and we talked on our hot line, about which no one knew, and Kissinger said that they didn’t know that a Soviet ship had been destroyed; there had been no orders about that. Then he called me back again after he had talked to the president, and said that the president apologized and promised to pay for the damage; but nevertheless, they were going to carry on with their military activities. It was the 10th of May already. Moscow accused them of breaking international sea law, and they were involving us in that conflict. We all thought that the situation was serious. Kissinger apologized, and then said, “How about the summit? What will be happening?” I said I didn’t have any instructions to say anything about that; I had to voice [the Kremlin’s] protest against their activities. But he asked, “Can I tell the president that we aren’t canceling the visit?"
Today there is no one at the other end of the hot line. America speaks imperially to itself.
This takes a wider overview of Plame, the ‘’Secret’’ file Colin had with him on the plane, nuclear proliferation, lies to sell war, and, what else, the carcinogenic Karl Rove.
The fictional danger of an Iraqi bomb bursting in an American city was, of course, the chief justification for the war, but it was more than that. It was the linchpin of the broader policy of preventive military strikes - necessary, the president said, to forestall the hostile states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. In his words, “As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.”
At the root of the policy was a radical reconception of the way to stop proliferation. Hitherto, the policy had been to address it by negotiation and disarmament treaties. Now it was to be addressed by military force. The decade of neglect had led to the most severe collision of nuclear policy with nuclear reality since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
The Iraq war was the result, though not the only one. While the US military was looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, where there were none, it was in effect ignoring them in North Korea, which reportedly was either acquiring or expanding a nuclear arsenal, and in Iran, which was pressing forward down the nuclear path. It’s worth recalling that the Vietnam War, too, was in part the product of misguided nuclear strategy.
Policymakers, well aware that they could not win a nuclear “general war” with the Soviet Union in the Central European theater, hoped instead to win a “limited war” with conventional arms on the “periphery”. When it went wrong, the consequence was the Watergate crisis, born directly of Richard Nixon’s fury at antiwar protesters.
It sounded selfish at the time, but one of the most depressing aspects of the summer of 2002 was the sense of continuum. The war never ended, it was not just serving military who “never came home”. The nation never came home… and here we were, about to go to a new, big, wrong foreign war. I would try to peer at the future and it seemed a looming black abyss. At that point, we had yet to mount a deeply conflicted GE nominee who carried Vietnam himself. And now Iraq. And war.
From Jonathan Schell’s close:
But if there is one thing in this world that cannot be bombed out of existence, it is an illusion. And illusions, when rigidly defended, breed encounters with the law. Thus did a mistaken revolution in nuclear policy, proceeding under the guise of the “war on terror”, produce the lies that produced the war that produced the whistleblowing that produced the smears that produced the blown cover that produced the cover-up that produced the legal investigation that produced the political and legal crisis that now swirls around Karl Rove.
A Dutch game player who more or less stumbled onto the sex scene shared the software online, and the next thing you know, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) declares war on java, along with the House of Representatives, whose members reacted to the GTA revelations almost as wildly as they did to the sexy saga of Bill and Monica.
When I was young, I hated the Nanny Party for supporting the Parent’s Music Resource Council. It seems that on this, like so many other issues, the Democrats have no memory and no sense. Despite the eroneous reports at the time, young voters (aged 18-29) did turn out in significantly increased numbers, and they voted for Senator John Kerry over Bush by a margin of 54 percent to 44 percent.
Time to piss off another group of constituents in pursuit of those mythical “undecided” voters.
The Senator called for an FTC Commission investigation, and has gotten her wish:
Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. on Tuesday said the Federal Trade Commission had launched a probe of the company after recent revelations that its bestselling game, “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” contained hidden sex scenes.
The announcement came a day after House lawmakers passed a resolution asking the commission to investigate whether Take-Two misled consumers by failing to disclose the scenes to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
The scenes, which can be viewed only by using software available on the Internet to unlock them, were made public by a Dutch programmer in June, prompting the rating board last week to yank the title’s original “Mature” rating and assign it an “Adults Only” rating. That led most U.S. retailers to pull the game off store shelves.
Eager to out-Republican the Republicans, the DC Dems are following Joe Lieberman’s lead and go after “pop culture” as the wellspring of all of our society’s ills. Forget about lack of education, lack of opportunities, lack of jobs ... lack of HOPE, the problem is video games, music, movies and the internet:
A report titled “The Porn Standard: Children and Pornography on the Internet” from Third Way, a new Democratic think tank in Washington, says the largest group of consumers of Internet porn is children ages 12 to 17, with the average age of first exposure being 11.
Third Way was formed recently to help Democrats challenge Republican dominance on issues like family values.
And so it’s no accident that, Wednesday, a group of congressional Democrats pounced on the issue, introducing a bill that would require Internet porn sites to verify the age of anyone trying to gain access and imposing a 25 percent tax on purchases made on porn sites.
“I think we’ve given them plenty of time and plenty of chances to clean up their act,” says Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. “And they havenâ€™t done it. And my impression is they’re not going to do it. There’s too much money at stake."
I turned away from the Gore/Lieberman ticket over their censorious ways (as well as other issues). Scream all you want about how there is a difference between the two parties, and I’m stupid for being unwilling to see it, but just because the Dems want to limit citizen’s freedoms “for their own good” doesn’t make it better than the Republicans, who want to do it “because it’s immoral.”
I will let the words of Frank Zappa speak for how stupid and unproductive these policies are, from his Frank Zappa: Statement To Congress, September 19, 1985:
The First thing I would like to do, because I know there is some foreign press involved here and they might not understand what the issue is about, one of the things the issue is about is the First Amendment to the Constitution, and it is short and I would like to read it so they will understand. It says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
That is for reference.
The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years, dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal’s design.
It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment Issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC’s demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation.
No one has forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton into their homes. Thanks to the Constitution, they are free to buy other forms of music for their children. Apparently, they insist on purchasing the works of contemporary recording artists in order to support a personal illusion of aerobic sophistication. Ladies, please be advised: The $8.98 purchase price does not entitle you to a kiss on the foot from the composer or performer in exchange for a spin on the family Victrola. Taken as a whole, the complete list of PMRC demands reads like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of “toilet training program” to house-break all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?
The PMRC promotes their program as a harmless type of consumer information service providing ‘guidelines’ which will assist baffled parents in the determination of the ‘suitability’ of records listened to by ‘very young children’. The methods they propose have several unfortunately [sic] side effects, not the least of which is the reduction of all American Music, recorded and live, to the intellectual level of a Saturday morning cartoon show.
Children in the vulnerable age bracket have a natural love for music. If, as a parent, you believe they should be exposed to something more uplifting than “Sugar Walls,” support Music Appreciation programs in schools. Why have you not considered your child’s need for consumer information? Music Appreciation costs very little compared to sports expenditures. Your children have a right to know that something besides pop music exists.
lt is unfortunate that the PMRC would rather dispense governmentally sanitized heavy metal music than something more uplifting. Is this an indication of PMRC’s personal taste, or just another manifestation of the low priority this administration has placed on education for the arts in America?
Mr. Zappa was right then, and what he said holds true now. NO ONE likes a busybody other than another busybody. It would be nice if our supposed leaders would actually work on some real issues, work on defining a program for a Democratic Party that speaks for the poor, speaks for children, speaks for women, speaks for labor, speaks for a strong, healthy and educated citizenry that can make up its OWN mind about what to watch, read, listen to or play.
Of course, that would require actually standing for something other than cheap political theater and the demands of inside-the-beltway “conventional wisdom.” Not going to happen anytime soon.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
QUICK HIT: More than NARAL or Victoria Hopper...
Democrats announcing they will abandon the base will hear back. I am reminded of the primary season when Kerry, early on, could not, would not or simply disdained to explain (how dare any elected representative?) his NAFTA vote to salt of the earth people, coming out early in 2002 in NH. Later he squeezed by over and over on his Iraq vote.
Stand UP for America!, or sit the fuck down and get out of the way.
Are Democrats capable of learning? Time’s a wasting, 2006 could be vicious blowback, 2008 bloody… and, as it happens, Dylan’s zeitgeist voice is in my ear with The Times They Are a Changin’. People, long time Democrats, dyed absolutely blue in the wool at birth, pink diaper babies (me) and House of Labor are tired of same old same old.
I am also absolutely fucking done with being told I am wrong to be angry, wrong to be sick at heart:
Labor groups put aside their differences for a moment Monday to draw a line in the sand on the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), telling House Democrats that unions would not support any Democrat who voted in favor of the pivotal trade pact.
â€œSimply put, there must be real and measurable consequences for opposing labor on this issue. The stakes are too high for the workers of America. We cannot and we will not give any Democrat a pass on CAFTA,â€?
wrote the presidents of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the AFL-CIO Building and Trades Department, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters and nearly every other large, politically active labor union in a strongly worded letter to House Democratic leaders.
In particular, the union chiefs took issue with three Democrats â€” Reps. Melissa Bean (Ill.), Jim Matheson (Utah) and Dennis Moore (Kan.) â€” all part of the partyâ€™s Frontline program, which aids vulnerable incumbents. [...]
The labor leaders were incensed that just days after having received campaign contributions from the labor movement the three Democrats would break party ranks to vote for CAFTA.
Take the money back or block it in future. Votes have consequences.
Laying blame squarely at the feet of Democratic leadership, the union chiefs wrote: â€œWe expect that House Democratic leadership will convey very strongly to all wavering Democrats, and particularly to Frontline candidates, that voting for CAFTA against our strong, clear, and loud objections, would signal to the labor movement that those Frontline candidates do not want our support.â€?
The letter met a negative response from some on Capitol Hill. â€œIt may result in the exact opposite of what labor wants,â€? said a senior Democratic aide who spoke on condition on anonymity. â€œNo member, particularly those in more challenging districts, wants to look like theyâ€™re beholden to anyone.â€?
Beholden? House of Labor delivers an absolute kick in the ass:
Labor leaders also included praise for Republicans in their letter, criticizing the Democratic leadershipâ€™s decision not to whip the CAFTA vote.
â€œThat decision [not to whip the vote] has led us to grudgingly admire the majority for their resolute commitment to rewarding their core constituencies on seminal issues.â€?
â€œUnfortunately, it seems that, at times, the Democratic Party fails to recognize its obligation to stand united with its allies when we need you the most. Partnership is a two-way street.â€?
Figure it out Democrats. Or don’t.
Puzzle: Clues Galore To That Mystery City
Okay. Give it your best shot! These clues might make the mystery too much of a no-brainer, because this place is so very much photographed and was so often in the news of late. But what the hell. Someone might come up short. And if you are still stuck for an answer by slide 34 wait for it to show up on a large sign in slide 35. Or you can click on “More” below if you really can’t wait.
SPOILER ALERT! THE ANSWER IS BELOW THE FOLD. CHECK THE SLIDES FIRST IF YOU WANT TO BREAK THE MYSTERY YOURSELF - AND FEEL GOOD ALL WEEK. WELL, ALL DAY ANYWAY.
There ya go! You should be feeling better already. We have ways....
The mystery place is the highly renovated, refurbished and made-over New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx just north of the zoo. So the mystery city is of course… ya goddit!
Come visit. Seriously, come visit. Et tu Theoria et Madman.
This second set of 35 slides is in four parts - the slides are un-numbered but I think the transitions will be obvious to you.
(1) Slides 1-12 show the Conservatory; the train show there is an annual event in December and pulls in kids by the thousand.
(2) Slide 13 is of Dr Sidney Waxman and his wife (sadly he died a few weeks ago) taken last October at the opening of the refreshed Berenson arboretum; he was the sole “inventor” of the miniature conifers you can see behind him and now found all over the US (and the world) which are grown from grafts from what are called witches’ brooms; beautiful aberrations growing on “wild” trees that just mysteriously happen.
(3) Slides 14 to 19 are of a few well-known landmarks in the Gardens including (the huge building) the main laboratories, library, and plant genetic collection - one of the world’s largest. The NYBG is a huge driver of research and conservation all over the world. A real plant powerhouse..
(4) And slides 20 to 35 are of the quaint old greenhouses (two shots) now discontinued; and the extraordinary new $27 million Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections - considered to be the most costly and high-tech greenhouses in the world, and a real miracle of computerization and climate control: nine different climates are maintained. You woulda liked it but you will never ever get inside these greenhouses (except for one room) because they are now closed to the public forever. Just for plant research and for stocking the conservatory and flowerbeds.
Smoke, Meet Mirror
The Guardian reports on Rummy’s visit to Iraq and whets our appetite for withdrawal after many years of non-stop penetration. He and the Iraqi PM spoke with the press.
The Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, today called for the speedy withdrawal of US troops from the country.
His comments came as the leading US commander in Iraq said he believed a “fairly substantial” pull-out could take place next spring and summer.
Both men’s hopes were, however, dependent on the curbing of an insurgency that US military officials say shows no signs of abating. Insurgent attacks have claimed hundreds of lives in recent months.
Reuters quoted Mr Jaafari as saying it was the Iraqi people’s “great desire” to see US-led forces leave and domestic forces take more responsibility.
I’m sure it’s just a marvel of happenstance that this time just happens to coincide with period before the mid-term elections next fall. And if the insurgency escalates as we know it will, they have covered their lying behinds by saying they did their best to serve the Iraqi people and accomodate the will of the American public. Maybe at some point the citizens of both countries will get tired of being penetrated from both ends, sans lubrication.
Loser of the Week-- Michael Graham
So few weeks, so many losers. Meet Michael Graham, Florida radio talk show host and idiot deluxe. Hear him roar in this WaPo Story.
A local radio talk show host touched off complaints from an Islamic civil rights organization yesterday after repeatedly describing Islam on the air as “a terrorist organization” that is “at war with America.
The organization, the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), asked the station to take disciplinary action against Michael Graham, who hosts WMAL-AM’s late-morning call-in program.
A station executive, Randall Bloomquist, said yesterday that Graham’s comments were “amped up” but justified within the context of the program. He said the station, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., had no plans to reprimand Graham.
The show host touched off the flap during a discussion of the Muslim community’s response to recent acts of terrorism. Graham suggested the fault lies with Muslims generally because religious leaders and followers haven’t done enough to condemn and root out extreme elements. “The problem is not extremism,” Graham said, according to both CAIR and the station. “The problem is Islam.” He also said, “We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam."
How do these idiots get their own talk shows, truly?
photo by Stephen Salpukas
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Snatch the Pebble
There are always transitions in life. Some of them are formal. A ceremony of some sort is performed, or a test completed. Sometimes transitions are forced upon us, by circumstance or by crisis.
This isn’t true just for individuals, but for societies, for organizations and for political parties. We are in a period of deep crisis now, with hard-right reactionaries in full control of most of the major institutions of our society. Institutions that SHOULD be helping to oppose the right, including the Democratic Party leadership and the leaders of the labor movement, too often seem to be trapped in self-defeating patterns and wedded to tradition and existing perks. They hold tight to the small pebble of hope for change, refusing to hold their hand open, refusing to let new leadership, new ideas, to help that pebble to change hands, to form the beginning of a brighter future.
After months of struggle and negotiation, several important unions split from the AFL-CIO to form Unite to Win. Perhaps this move can be a model for a newly energized left on more than just labor issues. If the pebble won’t be offered, perhaps it must be pried loose.
Perhaps it is time for us to leave.
Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, wrote in an op-ed in the LA Times:
But unions, overall, continue to decline. And the AFL-CIO â€” the national labor federation for the last half-century â€” has failed to make the hard decisions and take the necessary steps to make the union movement grow again. For months, a group of major unions has been talking to the AFL-CIO leadership on how to reorder priorities and modernize the federation’s strategy and structure. But to no avail.
That’s why we at the SEIU and three other major unions declared over the weekend that we would not participate in the AFL-CIO national convention in Chicago this week. And on Monday our union â€” with 1.8 million members â€” along with the 1.4-million-member Teamsters announced we would withdraw from the federation, effective immediately.
The Teamsters and the SEIU have joined with five other unions â€” Unite Here, the Food and Commercial Workers, the laborers, the carpenters and the farm workers â€” to form the Change To Win Coalition, representing nearly 6 million workers. This is a dramatic step that we hope will open up opportunities similar to the surge in worker unity and organization when the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was created in the 1930s because the American Federation of Labor (AFL) failed to adapt to the changing economy of that era.
This decision is momentous, and more than a little frightening. Labor has been shrinking, but is still a powerful part of efforts to elect Democrats to office. As is true whenever a major chance is taken, the possibilities of disaster are not insubstantial. The problem is, the possiblities of disaster without major change are assured. A true crossroads has been reached, and not just by labor.
As was made clear in the DLC meeting in Ohio, the leadership of the Democratic Party is not any more open to real change than the labor federation’s leadership is. Top down, toe the line ... the self-same problems are evident in both organizations.
Citizens and activists on the left have been left adrift by the Democratic Party for many years. The party relentlessly portrayed by the Republicans and a compliant media as “liberal” has been anything but. Under the leadership of the DLC and allied organizations, as well so-called “centrist” politicians like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and others, the party has championed, often alongside the Republicans: a shredding of the social safety net; an expansion of so-called free trade (free for corporations to exploit more markets, and more workers); an expansion of the prison/industrial complex; a disasterous war of choice in Iraq; shrinking availability of free and available women’s health care. Not a proud or remotely “liberal” record.
This recent history has left true liberals, workers, the poor, the GBLT community and peace activists with no voice in the political dialogue. The lack of balance in the debate has left us in our current precarious state, with decades of growing deficits, deteriorating public works, an inefficient and inequitable healthcare system and an educational system that is a pale shadow of the one that used to be among the world’s finest.
It is time for the left to begin the hard work of building an independent bloc of voters within the party. It’s tempting to advocate leaving the party completely, but that is a daunting project, and not really necessary. There IS no Democratic Party. There is the ossified skeleton of the oldest political party in the world, a party that once could claim to be the champion of the poor, of the middle and working class, the party that fought for civil rights and women’s rights.
It’s important to remember, however, that the party had to be FORCED to become those things. It was the activity of writers, activists, voters, students ... citizens of principle, confronting hardship or injustice, put pressure on the party to change, to grow, to FIGHT. It’s been done before, and it can be done again.
Strong liberals and progressives within the party must be strongly supported, but support should come through activist groups and directly to the campaigns of elected officials and candidates who support a progressive agenda. NO money or support to the DSCC and DCCC if they insist on pushing candidates that aren’t consistent with progressive political values. If you can, work hard to get local progressives into office in your local party, as delegates at state conventions and then delegates to the next Democratic Convention. If at all possible, a fight has to be led at the convention to insert influence on the party platform.
The first priority has to be to rebuild the party from the bottom up. ONLY progressive candidates in the Presidential primary should get our work, and we should work hard and communicate to find a consensus candidate to head off the DLC/Corporate candidate if possible. If the party “leadership” insists on offering us only weak choices like Sen. Clinton, Sen. Kerry or Sen. Bayh, the left should concentrate its efforts on local races, on taking as many Governors mansions, state legislatures and House and Senate seats as we can. Rebuilding this party and saving this party, may take many years. Much more damage will be done, even if a Republican-in-Dems clothing like Senator Clinton should take the White House.
We’ll be told we have to be “pragmatic.” That battles must be picked, and that the long-term goals must be secondary to the short-term means. That is not the kind of party, or the kind of country, that any of us want to be a part of. We want to live in a solidly humanist country, a modern country, a country not held hostage to greed and superstition. As M. N. Roy put it:
One of the most outstanding characteristics of humanist practice is that its political ideal is not of the kind to be achieved at some particular point of time in an incalculable future. For humanists, means and ends are not so differentiated. The means are also part of the end. We are not setting up a perfectionist ideal to be achieved perhaps two hundred years hence. We say that a good and rational society will be a society which is composed of good and rational human beings. And we say that every human being is potentially good, that is, moral.
Small groups of good and rational men will be the concrete beginning for the creation of good and rational human society, which is the object of all humanist politics. Such a beginning is bound to spread, and the process will accelerate as its results become known.
We can be part of that beginning, and in order to do it we need to follow the example set by the SEIU, the Teamsters and the other unions in their new coalition. We must break free of old, broken structures and find new, 21st Century ways of political activism, a new way of bringing a government of enlightened humanist values to power in the United States. This will be a struggle that will take many years, as the current leadership will fight, scream and sabotage much of what we are trying to do. They will threaten, cajole and demonize, but that is nothing new ... they do that already.
Time for us to leave the old ways of doing things, and the current party structure has proved they don’t deserve our support, money or hard work.
Time to leave them behind.
So How Are Iraqi's Doing This Summer?
So glad you asked. According to this report from Knight Ridder, not very good at all. How about some worms in the bottom of your glass of water and electricity only 1/3 of the day despite Death Valley types of temperatures?
Over 18 months, American officials spent almost $2 billion to revive the capital ravaged by war and neglect, according to Army Gen. William G. Webster, who heads the 30,000 U.S. and foreign troops and 15,000 Iraqi soldiers known collectively as Task Force Baghdad. But the money goes for long-term projects that yield few visible results and for security to protect the construction sites from sabotage.
As a result, Iraqis have seen scant evidence of improvement in their homes, streets or neighborhoods. They blame American and Iraqi government corruption.
But understanding wanes when the smell of sewage fills every other block, drinking water is often contaminated and Iraqis resort to sleeping on their roofs to take a break from the sauna-like heat inside their homes, waking up covered in dust.
Electricity production is up to 16 hours a day in Iraqi homes according to U.S. military documents, but most Iraqis say they get eight hours of power a day on average, sometimes as many as 12. In poor areas such as New Baghdad, in the east of the capital, people go days without power, they said.
They keep being told help is on the way but projects are sabotoged by the resistance as soon as things are put online in many cases. The resisatance is aided by the corruption in the new Iraqi government. It’s a cash pipleine coming directly into Iraq from us and the pockets are being lined all along the way. The question is, for how long?
WHAT is Going On?
Lie Down Fall Down Democrats… ?? Or what?
You may recall Jonathan Turley’s op/ed in the LAT yesterday on the fortuitous questioning of Roberts by Durbin, who is, btw, a Catholic. This morning in
TAPPED Dubner reports the follow up, the predictable flip flop… however the quotes coming out of the Durbin office are not a comfort.
FLIP-FLOP? As I predicted yesterday, John Roberts and friends are already working to walk back his reported statement that he would recuse himself from cases in which he’d have to rule against the teachings of the Church.
If I’m not mistaken, nobody quoted in today’s New York Times story on the subject actually denies that Roberts said something of the sort to Dick Durbin, so it’s still unclear what was actually said on Friday. But the original remark was so implausible—a man who has served as a circuit judge for two years, and was asked a similar question in his confirmation hearing for that seat, had never thought about the situation?—that I’m inclined to believe the NYT account.
But it doesn’t quite end there, because Jonathan Turley is no Judy Miller.
He told both The New York Times and The Washington Times that Durbin himself recounted the recusal conversation to him; The Washington Times even has Turley confirming the account with Durbin’s press secretary. So I’m inclined to believe Turley’s account.
And TAPPED links to the follow up in the NYT today:
A spokesman for Mr. Durbin and Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, who spoke to Judge Roberts on Monday about the meeting, said Professor Turley’s account of a recusal statement was inaccurate.
In Turley’s op/ed he made it clear he was raised Catholic, in addition, in today’s NYT piece, Ralph Neas of PFAW mentions that he has worshipped at the same parish as Roberts (not sure if he means St. Patricks in DC or Church of the Little Flower, the Robertses followed a favored priest when transferred to the Bethesda parish).
In an earlier op/ed in the Baltimore press, Turley had indicated that as we walked into this terrible battle, only the very one that has hung in the future for years, since Catholic Henry Hyde worked, in the 70s, to remove federal monies for abortion for poor women… well, Turley indicated we would be sold out by our representatives. Here we are.
I have no real clue what is going on, but as Ornstein was the point of light to track in the filibuster/compromise/sellout, it seems Turley is the shaft of light and air to follow in this maelstrom.
Oh No! More ''Electability''!? Nooo!
COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Democratic Leadership Council, an organization of influential party moderates, named Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton today to direct a new initiative to define a party agenda for the 2006 and 2008 elections.
The appointment solidified the identification of Clinton, once considered a champion of the party’s left, [uh, for some perhaps, poorly informed as to what the ‘’left’’ is] with the centrist movement that helped propel her husband to the White House in 1992. It also continued her effort, which has accelerated in recent months, to present herself as a moderate on issues such as national security, immigration and abortion.
The tinge of red is deepening. Quickly we need to quard the videos and whatever else Joe and Hil might decide can be censored in order to win Red America over…
Shall it be Clark, with the blazing Kosovo stars, as VP? Will that gird whatever is un-girded? Because she is looking shakey right off the bat:
In her new role, the New York Democrat immediately called for a truce between the DLC and liberal elements of the party, which have engaged in a ferocious war of words over the Democrats’ direction since President Bush won reelection in November.
“Now, I know the DLC has taken some shots from some within our party and that it has returned fire too,” she told a gathering of the group here. “Well, I think it’s high time for a cease-fire, time for all Democrats to work together based on the fundamental values we all share.”
hmmmm. Cease fire?... as we, the tattered base, wander in the desert?, amid the debris of ads about us and lattes, about some of us and Vermont. We’re Osama lovin’, granola eatin’, Birkenstocks wearin’, Volvos… it’s exhausting, ...we do something with Volvos, who cares what anymore. That game of theirs, the one they share with the Republicans, wore me out.
But our work, yes, that they want on a quadrennial basis… Shall we come in from the desert? For fundamental values? Would that be… the war? ... Hillary? Hillary? Bill? The phone message says Billy Graham or Poppy Bush will advise us.
I am not coming in, Hillary.
Clinton’s speech was built around an elaborate metaphor of what the country might look like on issues from healthcare to homeland security to a similar gathering that assembled in Ohio in 15 years.
“We are going to be able to field an A-team in 2008,” said Louis Magazzu, a local official in Cumberland County, N.J., after listening to the speeches.
“I think the nation fully understands what we are against,” Vilsack said in an interview. “I think it is incumbent now to show what we are for.”
Urging Democrats to seize the political center, the DLC helped formulate key “New Democrat” ideas for Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign, such as welfare reform and national service. Clinton chaired the group from 1990 through 1991 and brought many figures involved with it into his two administrations.
hmmm Perhaps a tad bit of trouble with “seize” the center. More like slump into it with reddish rhetoric. Just a reddish pool of ooze. Shall we again have that odd corner of AR, that strange turn in the road that leads to a Clinton swamp, back in office?
And isn’t that the whole damned issue? They want a second bite…
David Sirota, a Democratic consultant who posts indefatigably on his own liberal web log, responded to the news of the “American Dream Initiative” Clinton is leading by warning that Democrats would be doomed to “permanent minority status” if they followed the DLC direction.
“The fact is, the Democratic Party has to make a choice:
is it going to continue to follow the DLC, be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corporate America, and lose elections for the infinite future,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Or is it going to go back to its roots of really representing the middle class and standing up for ordinary people’s economic rights?"
Clinton said that she would reach out not only to centrists but “progressive people from all perspectives” to prepare her blueprint, which is due in one year.
All this suggests that strains could develop between Clinton’s desire to write a plan popular with as wide an array of Democrats as possible and the DLC’s hope of crafting a sharply focused centrist road map â€” even if that means continued conflict with liberals that Clinton may be reluctant to antagonize.
Wow. No shit. That may be inelegant, but this load of goopy poop is entirely deserving of that response…
I just heard her on C-Span this weekend, her speech at the Aspen Institute. You may be unaware but the war is turning around. Elections mattered in Iraq…
Well… I have yet to hear a compelling stump speech from her. The Aspen speech was the basic “drone” version she puts out… After Kerry, my bottom, bottom of the bottom line, so far down that it reeks with embarrassment: Nobody runs without at least some level of facility on the stump.
This may remind of “electability”... an unusual semi natural disaster struck Jan 26, 2004, and to my eye was “electability” in it’s full unfolding… Took a few months, but we got there…