Wednesday, February 28, 2007
NaNaNa ... They Can't HEAR You!
It’s a theme this week:
Soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit say they have been told they will wake up at 6 a.m. every morning and have their rooms ready for inspection at 7 a.m., and that they must not speak to the media. [...}
They were also told they would be moving out of Building 18 to Building 14 within the next couple of weeks. Building 14 is a barracks that houses the administrative offices for the Medical Hold Unit and was renovated in 2006. It’s also located on the Walter Reed Campus, where reporters must be escorted by public affairs personnel. Building 18 is located just off campus and is easy to access.
The soldiers said they were also told their first sergeant has been relieved of duty, and that all of their platoon sergeants have been moved to other positions at Walter Reed. And 120 permanent-duty soldiers are expected to arrive by mid-March to take control of the Medical Hold Unit, the soldiers said. (follow up: The Army denies that there are morning inspections, but doesn’t deny that military personnel can only talk to reporters with permission.)
None of us need to know what is going on. People at the mercy of huge bureaucracies have no right to get word of their plight out. Are you upset that the feckless Donks waffle and refuse to take firm, concrete action? Well, keep it to yourself:
"We want to move people who are against the war to a position where they will cut the funding off,’’ said local anti-war protester Bill Ramsey.
Nationally, their targets have included Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., although he opposed the Iraq War before it began. Earlier this month, four anti-war protesters with the same coalition were arrested at his Chicago district office. Four others were arrested at the Chicago office of Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“At least we’re in good
company,’’ said Carnahan spokesman Glenn Campbell wryly. “It’s hard for us to figure out why we’re the target. We’re more in tune with them than many other members.”
Said McCaskill during an interview before Tuesday’s sit-in: “I admire their passion; I admire them using any peaceful means at their disposal to make their point. But I think they’re targeting the wrong people."
The protesters say they are singling out Carnahan and McCaskill, in part, because each sits on congressional committees dealing with the war. Carnahan is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, while McCaskill sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Both are critical of the Iraq War, but Carnahan and McCaskill also maintain that they don’t want to take any action that would harm U.S. troops in Iraq. For that reason, both have told the protesters that they won’t vote to cut off funding for the war.
What they REALLY don’t want is for you to make them work, make them DO THEIR CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED JOBS. They don’t want to practice the hard and uncomfortable work of politics. They want to backslap and cash their checks and fly on their junkets and kiss babies for cameras. What they don’t want to do is take a stand, respond to their constituents, unless of course those constituents are the ones who agree with the “speech” that comes in the form of green paper.
Change is bad. Questioning is bad. Protesting is bad. Talking to the Fourth Estate (such as it is) is bad. Speaking your mind, demanding to be heard, questioning authority, crying for help, demanding action, calling attention to the deep-seated problems in this country ... bad, bad, bad AND un-American, unless of course you’re a rightwing eliminationist and bigot.
The worst thing that anyone can do is question the current “two-party” regime. If you do, it won’t be the Republicans’ or the Democrats’ fault if we continue to pursue imperial war, if our country keeps being bled dry by rapacious corporations, turned into something even uglier by theofascists and nativist thugs. No, if someone questions, let alone tries to mount a challenge, THEY will be at fault, THEY will be the ones who “cause” the shameless hacks and traitors in the “two” political parties to betray the best interests of American citizens. They will be pariahs, no matter what good works they might do.
I spent the last two years reporting and writing “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.” The rise of the Christian right—the most dangerous mass movement in American history—can be traced directly to the corporate rape of America. This movement, which calls for the eradication of real and imagined enemies, all branded as “satanic,” at home and abroad, is an expression of rage. This rage rises out of the deep distortions and dislocations that have beset tens of millions of Americans shunted aside in the new global marketplace. The massive flight of manufacturing and professional jobs overseas, the ruthless slashing of state and federal assistance and the rise of an unchecked American oligarchy have plunged many Americans into deep economic and personal despair. They have turned, because of this despair, to “Christian” demagogues who promise magic, miracles, angels, the gospel of prosperity and a fantastic Christian utopia. And the Republicans and the Democrats are equally culpable for this assault. [...]
Nader, perhaps better than anyone else, has grasped the long, disastrous rise of the corporate state. [...]
Nader argues that there are few—he never said no—differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. And during the first four years of the Bush administration the Democrats proved him right. They authorized the war in Iraq. They stood by as Bush stacked the judiciary with “Christian” ideologues. They let Bush, in violation of the Constitution, pump hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into faith-based organizations that discriminate based on belief and sexual orientation and openly proselytize. They stood by as American children got fleeced by No Child Left Behind. Democrats did not protest when federal agencies began to propagate “Christian” pseudo-science about creationism, reproductive rights and homosexuality. And the Democrats let Bush further dismantle regulatory agencies, strip American citizens of constitutional rights under the Patriot Act and other draconian legislation, and thrust impoverished Americans aside through the corporate-sponsored bankruptcy bill. It is a stunning record.
Bush is the worst president in American history. If Gore, or Kerry, had the spine to take him on, to challenge corporate welfare, corporate crime, the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate bailouts and issues such as labor law reform, if either had actually stood up to these corporate behemoths on behalf of the working and middle class, rather than mutter thought-terminating clichés about American greatness, he could have won with a landslide. But Gore and Kerry did not dare to piss off their corporate paymasters.
That is the sad truth of where we are. They will tell you to shut up about it, they will tell you that you have no choice but to support either the Republicans or the Donklephants. How has that worked out so far for you?
There is a fascinating rage—and rage is the right word—expressed by many on the left in this fine film about Nader. Todd Gitlin, Eric Alterman and Michael Moore, along with a host of former Nader’s Raiders, spit out venomous insults toward Nader, a man they profess to have once admired, the most common charge being that Nader is a victim of his oversized ego.
This anger is the anger of the betrayed. But they were not betrayed by Nader. They betrayed themselves. They allowed themselves to buy into the facile argument of “the least worse” and ignore the deeper, subterranean assault on our democracy that Nader has always addressed. [...]
He knows our democratic state is being hijacked by the same corporate interests that sold us unsafe automobiles and dangerous and shoddy products. This is a battle not for some unachievable ideal but to save our democracy.
“I don’t care about my personal legacy,” Nader says in the film. “I care about how much justice is advanced in America and in our world day after day. I’m willing to sacrifice whatever ‘reputation’ in the cause of that effort. What is my legacy? Are they going to turn around and rip out seat belts out of cars, air bags out of cars?”
These corporations, and their enraged and manipulated followers in the Christian right, tens of millions of them, if left unchecked will propel us into despotism. The corporate state has rigged our system, hollowed out our political process and steadily stripped citizens of constitutional rights, federal and state protection and assistance. This may be the twilight of American democracy. And it is better to stand up and fight, even in vain, than not to fight at all.
This is not to say that Nader is some savior. Promises of saviors are what keep us in our sorry current state. No, this is to say that we all need to adopt his stance, that it is better to fight than to surrender, better to act on your values rather than compromise before obtaining any leverage. They want to drown you out. They want to drown out suffering veterans and the children of immigrants and the New Orleanians who can’t return home and the activists calling for peace and the hungry who can’t feed themselves and the mothers of children who die for want of basic medical care. Like spoiled children, they want you to shut up. Just take these words by Hedges to heart, and refuse to let them silence you:
And it is better to stand up and fight, even in vain, than not to fight at all.
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
If you want to know why this country is in the sad state in which we find ourselves, you can start with the intense pressure in this country to shut the hell up.
Still, while Mr. Geffen hardly needs the money, you can understand why a lot of people here wish he still had a day job. (Mr. Geffen declined to elaborate on his remarks to Ms. Dowd.)
“I don’t think that all of this is productive,” said Warren Beatty, reached on his cellphone. “I think the media is looking for a big political story, and I think it is much more important to talk about the issues.”
The mixture of revulsion and fascination with this episode mirrors Mr. Geffen’s career. He combines a gift for market timing — this is the guy who brought you the Eagles in the ’70s, Guns N’ Roses in the ’80s and Nirvana in the ’90s — with a guerrilla’s touch for instigation.
A “guerrilla’s touch”? Now, far be from me to champion a guy with far more influence than I will EVER have, but the constant and troubling demands by people like Mr. Carr and Mr. Beatty that people should remain quiet rather than upset the cozy status quo is the source of so much that is wrong with American politics.
This pressure comes from the right, it comes from the left, and it especially comes from the mushy middle that is desperately afraid of conflict. It comes from the business community, from religious figures and from the hoi polloi that has hated the outspoken since that kid in class wouldn’t stop raising his damned hand.
There can be no political change, no adjustment to shifting problems, if conflict is stifled. Boisterous debate is necessary ... without it there will be real conflict, bloody conflict. Societies that bully the nonconformists, the free thinkers and the dissenters slide inexorably toward social breakdown.
Of course, no matter how much Beatty and others whine, it’s a pretty safe bet that Geffen isn’t going to shut up. He certainly doesn’t need this banned from kos blogger to champion his fortune-fueled speech. Geffen isn’t the point (though I am grateful that he raised the political imprisonment of Leonard Peltier). Mr. Carr might have meant that Geffen was out of line because he’s so wealthy, but I don’t see any sign that the real funders of Clinton’s zealous championing of American and corporate imperialism are going to “shut up” anytime soon ... in fact, as she’s cut loose her campaign from public financing, their voices will only get louder.
What is at issue here isn’t the inside-baseball conflicts like the one between Geffen and the Clintons, or the frequent claims by partisans and scolds that comments like his “distract us from the issues”. What actually distracts us from the issues is that there is ... no ... discussion. Not about anything. In order for the entrenched to maintain control, they have to drive the debate, stifle the debate, restrain it to limited and safe areas that focus groups, polling and their own discomfort tell them are advantageous to maintaining power and influence. Mr. Geffen’s outburst called into question Senator Clinton’s real interest in having a conversation with America, which is no more real than anything else she says. She lies like she breathes, like most of the rest of them, and Geffen, a former supporter, bringing that vital issue up was a public service. Making vague promises to respond to constituent demands is the method used by the Donklephant leadership in their fake “work” toward ending the criminal war in Iraq. It is the method used so much by the political parties, especially the Vichy Donks, to seem to respond to voters and calls and letters and protests and emails while in the long run doing nothing but cashing in for their big campaign contributors.
What this country needs is more dissent, more shouting, more boisterous and angry and confrontational debate. We need to become more furious, more engaged, more passionate and ugly in our politics. For too long, only the right was fighting. For too long, only one party played to win, and thus reduced the “other” party to nothing more than rubber stamps. We need raised voices, we need red faces, we need to put EVERYTHING on the table. Citizens need to start giving a damn, to stop ceding the debate to the fringe right. We are in such great danger, pursuing two disasterous wars and being led by madmen toward a third, more dangerous conflict. We have more and more people sinking into poverty. If Reid and the others had been in the Continental Congress, we wouldn’t have a United States of America ... we’d be proud servants of the Crown. Reid and the rest of them are proud servants of this era’s mad King George. They aren’t fit to hold their offices.
We can’t fight the fascists destroying this country until we reawaken a spirit of political conflict. Politics IS conflict, not “bipartisanship” or “centrism” or any of the other idiotic nostrums that come out of the nation’s press. Fight the right by fighting the centrist conservatives like Senator Clinton. The only hope we have is for more of us to raise our voices in disgust just as Mr. Geffen did.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Make Net Neutrality the Law
Friday, February 23, 2007
fri rdm 10 - "another damned storm" edition
Hunkering down with some stocked up groceries, in anticipation of the big-assed storm roaring across the country this weekend ... gonna hide inside w/ a good book, some good classic Samurai action and my beloved tunes.
- "Prison Song” - System of a Down
- "Howling Wolf” - Muddy Waters
- "One Night in Bangkok” - Murray Head
- "Metal Firecracker” - Lucinda Williams
- "(I’m a) Ramblin’ Man” - Waylon Jennings
- "Feel Your Love Tonight” - Van Halen
- "A Goodbye Joke” - George Jones
- "I Cry Everyday” - Shelby Lynne
- "Things That Scare Me” - Neko Case
- "Take Your Mama” - Scissor Sisters
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
LSF Review: An Unreasonable Man
The new documentary about Ralph Nader comes at a fortuitous time. As we begin the long slog toward the 2008 elections it is a good idea to look back at the last decade to understand how we got here. If we don’t look both ways before we cross the next street we might just get steamrolled again.
The film An Unreasonable Man first of all has a wonderful website, I encourage you to visit it and explore. The first thing you will see is a quote that explains the title which I will reprint below:
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
-George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
The quote certainly fits Nader and he is given plenty of on-screen time to show us why. We get flashbacks to his youth and the early years after law school when he made an enormous amount of progress and instilled change in this country. Of course that means he hit the corporate and weathy hornet’s nest like a pinata. Just going over all of the consumer safety issues he confronted is astonishing and it is refreshing to see him get his due. From seat belts to cleaner air and food this man has left his mark and the list of things he did by the end of the 1970’s is downright amazing. No one has done nearly as much in the last half of the 20th century as Nader, much of it with the help of dedicated students and volunteers.
Like all good things, the right-wing forces conspired to slow him down as much as possible. Of course just to show how some things are a constant the Democrats enabled the right to do this starting with the Carter era and it only got worse (didn’t everything) under the Reagan era and beyond.
The film inevitably spends a fair amount of time on the 2000 election and I’m so glad it did. It gives the audience a chance to re-examine that race in light of all that has happened since and gives Nader a chance to explain his views while also consulting people on all sides of the issue. I had been one of those people who cried foul in the early years of the Bush era and blamed Nader for being a spoiler. The intervening years have only served to let me know that Nader was right because very few Democrats (and absolutely no Republicans) address the issues I care most about and a 2nd textbook terrible Democratic candidacy in 2004 by Kerry served to tell us yet again that being Republican-lite is not an alternative, it’s just another branch of a sick tree.
I encourage everyone to visit the website, view the trailer and see the film when it comes to your town. The release schedule is on the website too as the film is platformed around the country. To paraphrase the saying, if we don’t learn from the mistakes of this country we will be doomed to repeat them. If we go down yet again, let us do it while standing for our true selves and not a facsimile.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Braying Through the Circle Jerk
Oh, those nasty voters ... how dare they question their betters?
The Democratic majority was only three weeks old, but by Jan. 26, the grass-roots and Net-roots activists of the party’s left wing had already settled on their new enemy: Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), the outspoken chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition.
Progressive blogs—including two new ones, Ellen Tauscher Weekly and Dump Ellen Tauscher—were bashing her as a traitor to her party. A new liberal political action committee had just named her its “Worst Offender.” And in Tauscher’s East Bay district office that day in January, eight MoveOn.org activists were accusing her of helping President Bush send more troops to Iraq.
Tauscher is a serious corporate toady, a militarist, a Vichy Dem of the first order. Believe me, I find it strange to find myself agreeing with that fraud Kos on anything, (his and his allies’ feeble attempts to become the new power brokers are doomed to failure), even he is right about this particular target:
The anti-Tauscher backlash illustrates how the Democratic takeover has energized and emboldened the party’s liberal base, ratcheting up the pressure on the party’s moderates. That pressure is also reaching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a San Francisco liberal who recognizes that moderate voters helped sweep Democrats into the majority. Pelosi has clashed with Tauscher in the past, but she’s now eager to hold together her diverse caucus and to avoid the mistakes of GOP leaders who routinely ignored their moderates.
So far, Pelosi and her leadership team seem determined to protect Tauscher and her 60 New Democrats—up from 47 before the election. In fact, the day after Working for Us, the new progressive political action committee, targeted Tauscher, Pelosi sought her out at a caucus meeting and assured her: “I’m not going to let this happen.” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) spent 20 minutes complaining to Working for Us founder Steve Rosenthal, who swiftly removed the hit list of “Worst Offenders” from the group’s Web site.
Said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly: "We want to protect our incumbents. That’s what we’re about."
Democratic leaders want their activists to focus on beating Republicans. But the grass roots and Net roots believe the political tide is shifting their way, and they can provide the money, ground troops and buzz to challenge Democratic incumbents they don’t like. MoveOn.org had two Bay Area chapters before the election; now it has 15, and they could all go to work against Tauscher in a primary. “Absolutely, we could take her out,” said Markos Moulitsas Zúniga—better known as Kos—the Bay Area blogger behind the influential Daily Kos site.
It’s politisches Beteiligtes über alles with the Donklephants ... lets focus again on what matters to them:
Do they care about an out-of-control Commander in Chief and a criminal war? How about the the increasing tensions in Afghanistan, Iran or the Persian Gulf ... any chance Tauscher will do anything about them? Progressive/liberal values or the growing inequities in the US economy ... are those priorities? How about social justice, our crumbling infrastructure, the threat of global warming, out-of-control corporations ... do THOSE matter to the Donklephants who “represent” you? What IS important to them is protecting their corporate funders, NOT your concerns. Shame on you for thinking they should give a damn what you think.
Why are they going after Ellen Tauscher?
She has annoyed the left by supporting legislation to scale back the estate tax, tighten bankruptcy rules and promote free-trade agreements. She served as vice chair of the pro-business Democratic Leadership Council, which many liberal activists dismiss as a quasi-Republican K Street front group. And she voted to authorize the Iraq war, although she did so with caveats, and she was quick to express her displeasure with its execution.
But liberal groups such as the Children’s Defense Fund and the League of Conservation Voters give Tauscher impeccable report cards, while the National Rifle Association gives her straight F’s.
“It’s not just about her voting record,” said Bob Brigham of San Francisco, an activist who recently started the Ellen Tauscher Weekly.
The latest blog wars began simmering in December after Tauscher led a New Democrat delegation to meet with Bush about bipartisan cooperation, irritating the Net roots. They boiled after her former chief of staff, Katie Merrill, posted a scathing piece on a California Web site attacking the Net roots for attacking Tauscher. Outraged activists immediately began mobilizing for a fight in 2008. “I didn’t even know who Tauscher was 5 mins ago, but now I support a primary challenge against her,” one typical commenter replied.
Annoyed? ANNOYED?!!?!?!?!? Just her games on bankruptcy have earned her our scorn, here in a country where medical bills are one of the leading catalysts for declarations of bankruptcy, a legal remedy increasingly out-of-reach and more costly for struggling Americans, thanks to the corporate whoring of the likes of Rep. Tauscher. Protect the inheritances of the children of wealth, protect usurers, protect out-sourcing corporations, but screw the increasingly struggling middle class.
I’m not interested in the shilling by kos or his allied unions ... and if you give a damn about changing the political direction of this country you MUST stay away from groups trying to replace the current corrupt and ineffective consultant and monied class with themselves. If folks like Tauscher fill you with disgust, give direct to truly independent challengers, not some amorphous “netroots” ponzi scheme. The important thing to oppose institutionalized cronyism is to break down those logjams, resist the demands to oppose one corruption with another. Real change comes from pressure, but pressure that comes only from a new corrupt influence group or groups will only continue the cycle. Perhaps pressure will force Tauscher and others like her to the left ... but DON’T confine that pressure to corruptible institutions. Find some local independents, DON’T rely on the fake “netroots”.
Tauscher, Pelosi ... the hacks running the party including Emmanuel and Hoyer ... they don’t care about you. They like playing these games of tit-for-tat with the likes of Tauscher, where they can promise those with the most with some protection while promising “change” to the voters. Don’t fall for it ... they don’t want change, they are cozy in the status quo, secure in their seat at the big shiny table. Change will only happen locally, and it will take time, and it will take focused outrage pushed over YEARS. Get used to that idea ... that revolution and change will take years, and it won’t be delivered by scammers offering only a slight variation on the current schemes. Fight back, but fight local.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
"... entire ways of life hiss away like steam ..."
A story I was told many times, both in class and in books, was the great tragedy of the burning of the Library of Alexandria. The story of that destruction, possibly apocryphal, is often presented as a symbol that the “western mind” has always been superior, that much was “lost” thanks to Julius Caesar, or Caliph Omar, or rampaging hordes of barbarians or rioting Christians, depending on which version you read. The core of the story, though, is the wonder that is western thought, a wonder that the glorious Europeans spent generations “recovering”.
There have been, of course, many libraries burned many times in many places for many different reasons. Arrogant conquerers, internal strife, royal edict ... the reasons are varied, but often an attempt to assert primacy of one way of life over another.
I’m reading a wonderful book now about just such a burning, but this burning wasn’t just of a library, or a city, but of entire cultures, 1491 by Charles Mann. I’m about halfway through, but there is a section of the book that reminded me of that story I was told. This passage especially:
Cultures are like books, the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once remarked, each a volume in the great library of humankind. In the sixteenth century, more books were burned than ever before or since. How many Homers vanished? How many Hesiods? What great works of painting, sculpture, architecture, and music vanished or never were created? Languages, prayers, dreams, habits, and hopes—all gone. And not just once, but over and over again. In our antibiotic era, how can we imagine what it means to have entire ways of life hiss away like steam? How can one assay the total impact of the unprecendented calamity that gave rise to the world we live in? It seems important to try. - Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. New York: Vintage Books, 2006: 123 - 124.
The book is a stunning overview of some of the most recent insights into the history of the western hemisphere. The segment above introduces a section that describes meetings in Tenochtitlan at which a delegation of monks representing the the conquering Catholics discussed the meaning of God with twelve High Priests representing the Aztec Triple Alliance, comprised of the dominating Mexica and several other vassal peoples. The Alliance had a rich, complicated intellectual tradition, and the monks found themselves confronting a sophisticated people who were very unwilling to cede the idea of European cultural superiority. Finally:
Having expected childlike natives, empty vessels waiting to be filled by the Word, the Franciscans instead found themselves fencing with skilled rhetoricians, proud of their intellectual traditions. In the end the friars resorted to a crude but effective argument: the Indians had to pledge fealty to the Christian god, because their own “gods were not powerful enough to liberate them from the hands of the Spaniards.” In a sober ceremony, the Mexica abjured their old religion and embraced Christianity. - ibid. 126.
I was moved by this section not by its relation of yet another example of the great crimes committed by the Spanish here in the Americas. It’s a story told often, and it is all too easy to fall into the falacy where one reaches conclusions depending on one’s expectations. Expect to see noble savages exploited by evil invaders, or are they bloodthirsty monsters needing to be saved from their demonic love of human sacrifice? Were Indians living in a changeless state before the advent of Europeans, or were they like every other people on Earth, complicated, capable of brutality and beauty, no more or less monstrous than any other civilization? It’s part of our cultural blindness that we’ve been so unwilling for most of our history to really ask these questions, to try to see more of what really WAS, rather than merely find affirmation of our own pet beliefs. No, what moved me was the futile attempt of the two groups of clerics to find common ground, to find some understanding. It was a process overwhelmed by the demands of Pope and King, but the seeds were there.
It is a pattern we need to break. Much of what was here before Columbus was decimated by terrible pandemics, brought here by explorers and settlers who’s bodies had generations to develop resistances to diseases that wiped out entire peoples. Fire, steel and religious dogma helped finish the job, but so much was lost that could have been learned if only people LISTENED. If we were willing and able to subsume our cultural prejudices in order to find common ground, to see how much coexistence could enrich our lives. Despite the destruction wrought, despite the unknowable losses, the peoples of the Americas introduced great change to the wider world, if one only counts foodstuffs alone. That fact is too often forgotten.
How many conflicts take place because of exactly this sort of cultural arrogance? Look at the decimation of the legacy of the Iraqi people, wrought in the aftermath of our criminal invasion, an invasion ordered by oil men who saw fit to secure only the Oil Ministry from the ensuing chaos. How many treasures were lost when the museums were looted, treasures that had been recovered only recently by the dedicated work of archeologists and an Iraqi people seeking to reconstruct their history after centuries of invasion, war and tyranny. How much can we learn from the past of other people? Why do we so blithely turn away, especially at the urging of militarist looters acting with the power of the state?
Even now, the Bush Administration and Israel refuse to deal honestly with a people under their thumbs, willing to slowly crush a unique culture in the name of greed and prejudice, blaming their victims for the impass, as the Pope and King blamed their victims for genocide. There are so many books in the human library, so many insights and instructions, so much beauty and understanding, if only we’d be willing to take the time to translate for one another. The Aztecs actually had a similar dispair at the fragility of mortal life that the Christians had, finding solace in an afterlife:
Like a painting, we will be erased.
Like a flower, we will dry up here on earth.
Like plumed vestments of the precious bird,
That precious bird with the agile neck,
We will come to an end. - ibid: 135
Could shared comfort had been found each in the thoughts and art of the other?
What we know as Christianity is the result of the collisions between multiple cultures, over centuries. Who knows what changes would have been wrought in the development of the modern world if we had been more open? What insights might we develop going forward, what disasters might we avoid, if we were more willing to not feel threated by exposure to new peoples and ways, but were rather willing to enrich our own understanding of our own lives by learning from others the way they understand their own experiences? As Mann writes:
Here and there we see clues to what might have been. Pacific Northwest Indian artists carved beautiful masks, boxes, bas-reliefs, and totem poles within the dictates of an elaborate aesthetic system based on an ovoid shape that has no name in European languages. British ships in the nineteenth century radically transformed native art by giving the Indians brightly colored paints that unlike native pigments didn’t wash off in the rain. Indians incorporated the new pigments into their traditions, expanding them and in the process creating an aesthetic nouvelle vague. European surrealists came across this colorful new art in the first years of the twentieth century. As artists will, they stole everything they could, transfiguring the images further. Their interest helped a new generation of indigenous artists to explore new themes.
Now envision this kind of fertile back-and-forth happening in a hundred ways with a hundred cultures—the gifts from four centuries of intellectual exchange. One can hardly imagine anything more valuable. Think of the fruitful impact on Europe and its descendants from contacting Asia. Imagine the effect on these places and people from a second Asia. Along with the unparalleled loss of life, that is what vanished when smallpox came ashore.—ibid: 137, 138
So much was lost. So much will continue to be lost. When will we learn to share, learn to learn, reach out to help cure rather than allow to so many to die in order to protect profit, or to enforce superstitious demands on OTHER people’s moral choices before we offer to help them. The destruction of the Americas was a great crime, but it is a crime that we continue to make, a lesson we refuse to learn.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Them's Fightin' Words! (Updated)
Fighting Donk Harry Reid comes out swinging:
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country. So we should take everything serious. We find ourselves in a very deep hole. We need to find a way to dig out of it.
BLITZER: So maybe I misheard you, but you are saying this is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history?
REID: That’s what I said.
BLITZER: Worse than Vietnam?
Cheney, I hear, wet himself in terror, seeing that Harry was finally gonna strap on his Everlast boxing shorts (why am I certain that the waistband will be pulled up all the way to his tits?) and REALLY let them have it. Why, I bet George crawled right under Laura’s skirt and started sucking his thumb! What do Harry and the other Donks have planned?
Senate Democrats pledged renewed efforts Sunday to curtail the Iraq war, suggesting they will seek to limit a 2002 measure authorizing President Bush’s use of force against Saddam Hussein.
Wow, the White House must be REELING now! They’re going to go back and change a word or two on the BLANK CHECK they wrote an imperialist oil man back in 2002 (and who better to trust with a boundless death warrant than a rich oil man with delusions that he talks to his Imaginary Friend?)!
This comes after a week where they hemmed and hawed about a toothless resolution, one which failed to pass, and after Harry, who insists that the Iraq War is “worse than Vietnam”, decided to lick his wounds and let everyone go home for the holiday weekend. That’s showing them, Harry!
So, the Head Donklephant in the US Senate once again talks big, (well, as big as you can in that halting, breathless, wimpy way that he does) while being VERY careful to do absolutely nothing. There is a monstrous, illegal, inhuman CRIME going on, the “worst foreign policy blunder in American history”, and he goes on Wolf Blitzer and tosses the voters a bone ("I feel your dismay, I really do!") and will come back to the nation’s capitol sometime next week and do ...
... nothing ...
... nada ...
... bupkis ...
Oh, he’ll “work” with Levin and Biden to, ummmmmmm, reword an old resolution.
THAT’S SHOWING THEM SENATOR!
Six years of supine enabling, six years during which the Donklephants and their now-Majority Invalid couldn’t bring themselves to launch ANY kind of opposition, and now we’re supposed to believe that will change? The Republicans are back in the minority for only a couple of months, and they’ve already tied the Senate in knots, including threatened filibusters (remember those?).
Now, don’t get me wrong, this ongoing disaster is really, really terrible, but it is of a piece with so many crimes and disasters in the past. Vietnam, yes, but what about the other imperial wars? What makes this one so especially bad, Senator, is it just that we’re LOSING? Is it just that the war-profiteering and theft this time is so blatant AND inept, or is it just that YOU and YOUR CRONIES aren’t getting a big enough cut? If it IS so bad, Senator Pugilist, WHY AREN’T YOU DOING ANYTHING? No, sir, posturing doesn’t count as “doing something”. Carefully choosing your words and focus-grouping them doesn’t count as doing something.
Just retire, take your lifetime pension and LEAVE. Get the hell out of the way. You say that this war is terrible? Then DO SOMETHING. Quit marginalizing Senator Feingold in favor of embracing Republicans like Warner & Biden (well, he may as well be). Do something or retire, or fall ill and stay away, or SOMETHING. Stop showing up with fauning reporters to talk about how you used to box and about how your daddy blew his brains out. Right now there are men and women getting their brains blown out for oil and imperialism. Right now there are men and women returning home in despair, choosing that same course themselves to escape the pain. Right now there are families being torn apart both here and in Iraq, Afghanistan and soon Iran, by the war you enabled. Right now there are tragic stories playing out in drowned and bombed cities while you do nothing to help those in need, while you babble and reminisce and whine that the Republicans are mean.
Go away, you hack, you fraud ... I don’t care if you finally adjusted your meds enough to see just how fucked up everything has become. Go away. Slink back to the casinos, to the fake city skylines and bad shows and fake pre-packaged culture in Nevada. Just ... go ... away.
Update added @ 6:00 cst 2/19
Speaking of worthless Donk “leaders”, it pays to rubber-stamp imperial war and attack women’s autonomy, as it seems that the rightwing conspirators who pursued her and her husband have decided that she’s not so bad after all:
Back when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was first lady, no one better embodied what she once called the “vast right-wing conspiracy” than Richard Mellon Scaife.
Mr. Scaife, reclusive heir to the Mellon banking fortune, spent more than $2 million investigating and publicizing accusations about the supposed involvement of Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in corrupt land deals, sexual affairs, drug running and murder.
But now, as Mrs. Clinton is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Mr. Scaife’s checkbook is staying in his pocket.
Christopher Ruddy, who once worked full-time for Mr. Scaife investigating the Clintons and now runs a conservative online publication he co-owns with Mr. Scaife, said, “Both of us have had a rethinking.”
“Clinton wasn’t such a bad president,” Mr. Ruddy said. “In fact, he was a pretty good president in a lot of ways, and Dick feels that way today.”
As for the conservative response to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, Mr. Ruddy said, “The level of intensity and anger toward Hillary is not getting to the level that it was toward Bill Clinton when he was president.” He added, “She has moderated and developed a separate image.”
Cozying up to Murdoch and attacking those to her left has really paid off, yes?
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Happy New Year!
We begin year number 4704 today under the Chinese lunar calender. Some fortunetellers in China warn that this will be a tumultuous year, for whatever that is worth. Others believe that children born in a Golden Pig year will have successful lives, so a baby boom is expected in Chinese communities. Whether one believes such superstitions or not, I believe it is clear that China will continue to grow in power and influence this year and in the years going forward, so it will be to all of our benefit to learn more about this dynamic and interesting culture.
Happy New Year everybody.
Friday, February 16, 2007
fri rdm 10 - "our 'leaders' need to grow up" edition
Observing the behavior of our leaders in the past few years I am reminded of when my children were younger, of the fear-based worldview of the pre-pubescent, the terror of middle school, the hysteria and gossip, the black and white morality, the inability to accept responsibility, the hateful divisions, the ‘with us or against us’ schoolyard tussles. In this post 9-11 world, in a time when we have needed mature, levelheaded, adult leadership, we have been led instead by a screaming pack of hysterical prepubescent girls (with all apologies to hysterical prepubescent girls). - Tim Robbins
Today’s random ten:
- "Wondering Star” - Portishead
- "Concrete And Barbed Wire” - Lucinda Williams
- "Pilate’s Dream” - OCR Jesus Christ Superstar
- "Pardon Me” - Allison Moorer
- "Demon Days” - Gorillaz
- "Cortez the Killer” - Neil Young & Crazy Horse
- "Forever Night Shade Mary” - Latin Playboys
- “Jackson" - Lucinda Williams
- “Vicarious" - Tool
- "A Girl Like You” - Edwyn Collins
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Whimper of Whipped Dogs
I’ve been contemplating how I feel about the latest submission by supposed progressives and Democrats to agents of the rabid right. Frankly, the personalities matter only for the tabloidish entertainment value, and going after Donohue ... well, I’m not going to, as so many others have catalogued his repeated racism, misogyny and homophobia, and done it more completely and with more zeal than I can muster up toward him today. Creatures like him have been driving the politics of this country for decades now. What they do is predictable, yet time and again they win. This capitulation is nothing new. The right fights from a position of self-assuredness. They have perfected this game, this avenue of attack, and once again a Donklephant and his willing supporters flail and whine and eventually lie down.
“Why are you attacking the victims?” you may ask as you read this. Those of you who don’t follow the blogosphere might be unaware of the story of Edwards and his witch bloggers, burned at the virtual stake by a far-right Catholic fascist. Plainly, it’s the nasty rightwinger who deserves attack and scorn, right?
Well, I’m going to explain why my ire is directed not at him. I may as well scream into a black hole, the one that rests at the heart of so many of the American right, if I were to do so here. Donohue and others like him LOVE when the rest of us whine about their tactics. So, I’m going to get to my reasons for being angry with the Donklephants involved by way of explaining why I chose the title above for this piece.
"The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” is the title of a short story in Harlan Ellison’s Deathbird Stories. Ellison described the inspiration of his story thus:
The plot was inspired by the notorious murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese in New York’s Kew Garden neighborhood in central Queens on March 13, 1964. Genovese, a 28-year-old bar manager, was on her way home at about 3:00 a.m. when a man attacked and stabbed her several times. What made the incident so horrifically memorable, now legendary in sociological circles, was that 38 of her neighbors watched her die, over the course of more than half an hour, and nobody moved to help her. Her initial cries for help alerted neighbors, lights flicked on, and the attacker retreated. But when no one took action to help Genovese, the attacker returned, calmly raped her and stabbed her to death. According to Ellison, neighbors watched from darkened windows. Some pulled up their chairs for a better view. Others turned up their radios and televisions so they wouldn’t hear Genovese’s dying screams. As she was being raped in an apartment vestibule, already knifed several times and half dead, a man who knew her opened his door, saw what was happening, and closed it again. Not until 35 minutes after her screams were first heard did someone call the 102nd Precinct. A patrol car was on the spot in three minutes, but the killer was gone, and Kitty Genovese was dead on arrival at Queens General Hospital.
In the story, a young woman moves into a similar building, only to witness such a crime, horrified that her neighbors do nothing, that some even delight in the horror. Eventually, confronted another attacker, she realizes that there is a dark power at work that feeds off of the brutality, the carefully managed mayhem, and that she can either choose to become one of the watchers, feeding the loop, or become one of the necessary victims. Like so many Ellison protagonists, she is no hero, deciding to survive and become part of the evil.
“I was never satisfied with the intellectual theories about why no one had aided her,” Ellison wrote in the introduction to No Doors, No Windows. “It’s not the kind of dehumanized behavior that can be explained with phrases like ‘disinvolvement’ or ‘alienation’ or ‘inurement to the reality of violence from seeing so much death on nightly newscasts.’ It was the kind of mythic situation that could only be explained in terms of magic realism, fantasy.” In the 1975 Pyramid edition of The Deadly Streets, he added that the story “is a fantasy that explains reality in a way reality cannot explain itself.”
To my mind, these United States circa 2007 rely almost entirely upon terms of “magic realism, fantasy.” We have incubated sicknesses in our national psyche for so long that they are now celebrated. A rabid movement of the right is firmly in control and has elevated our sense of American Exceptionalism once again to a fluttering standard behind which we trample other countries. Their particular twisted version of “family values” enshrines bigotry, hatred, sexual ignorance and endangering the health of the young in the name of keeping them pure. Racism has been “conquered” because those in power say so, and anybody who objects becomes the source of hate and fear, turning the reality completely on its head.
We live by our myths, that we are a “good” nation, that our enormous military and weapons stockpiles are necessary, that we fight for “freedom” in a way that other people’s don’t, can’t or won’t. The world is our mess to clean up and do with as we please, and anybody who tries to change the way we do things is a fool, or dangerous, or a traitor. Our system is the best system on Earth, and it’s important to work within that system. That is the bargain made by Marcotte and McEwan when they joined Edward’s campaign, which is understandable, I guess, if one still believes that the likes of Edwards can effect change, with his sabre-rattling toward Iran, his eager embrace of Israel no matter what her crimes, his insistence that “universal” healthcare is attainable only with the parasitic insurance industry on board, with their interests protected whatever the cost. Yet that bargain includes the very kabuki dance we’ve witnessed this past week. An agent of the rightwing noise machine launches an attack, highlighting “misbehavior” no worse than anything he has done many times in the past. The Donklephant politician, fearful, lacking in conviction, looks at the windows in the surrounding apartments, the leering eyes and twisted smiles and quivering fearful, and he lurches about. To become a victim, or maintain his place as one of the supporting “actors”? He and the two minions flail, hem, haw and yammer, before they fold. They’ve given in, played their part, and the current story goes on. The dark forces have once again reinforced the status quo, and the watchers in the windows tisk tisk, “now watch what you say, watch what you write, be careful, or else you will HELP THEM again.” We’re all to learn this lesson again, that extremism in the defense of declining liberty is no vice, but to call the haters out is a vice, and is certainly not welcome.
Whimpering like whipped dogs, the Donklephants and the would-be pundits of the kossian blogosphere reinforce the continuing dark narrative, that Republicans are strong and principled and the Dems aren’t. Beholden to superstition and eclesiastical conmen, under the thumb of corporate hegemony, the great majority of us are lectured that we have no choice ... that we face a stark either/or, even though in practice supporting Edwards or Clinton or Obama or Biden will produce little difference in the overall militarist, corporate tilt of our culture and government. Submit and help maintain the current system, no matter how evil, or become one of the victims. Submitting as they did, handling the whole mess as they did, Edwards, his campaign, Marcotte and McEwan helped to maintain the system, no matter how much it looks like they were victimized. They submitted. They groveled, apologized, begged for understanding ... they played their part, thus making actual calls for change even harder to inject into campaigns. Until a force from the left grows and begins to fight back as forcefully as the theofascists fight now, our national nightmare, and our national crimes, will continue. The left cannot do that within the Democratic Party, because the Party will NEVER back us up the way the Republicans fund, embrace and support their racists, bigots, homophobes, nativists and jingoists. The only way out is to leave the building and fight from without.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Fighting For Principle, Against The Unprincipled
Attorney Neal Katyal & lead attorney Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, of the U.S. Navy
Why do this? Because you want to escape the rule of law. There is only one
thing that you want to escape the rule of law to do, and that is to question
people coercively—what some people call torture. Guantánamo and the
military commissions are implements for breaking the law. Why build a
prison here when there are plenty of prisons in Nebraska? Why is it, when
we see photos of Abu Ghraib, we think that it is “exporting Guantánamo”?
That it is the “Guantánamo method”?
—Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift to the author, January 2007.
Vanity Fair has a powerful profile of the JAG lawyers and constitutional scholars fighting the unconstitutional treatment of the souls cast into the black hole of Guantánamo Bay. Lt. Commander Swift was ordered to work with the team providing the “defense” to so-called “enemy combatants” in the show trials that the Pentagon and Bush Administration insisted they had the power to set up, “trying” accused men beyond the standards of international law, military law and US civilian laws. They were courts beyond law, modern versions of the old trials by ordeal with which feudal lords and clergymen had exerted control over the powerless.
From the beginning, Swift had been in an untenable situation. He had been asked, as a military lawyer, to defend enemy combatants—the government’s term for the men held at Guantánamo—under rules that, were he to follow them as a civilian lawyer, would be clear ethical violations. On his first trip to see Hamdan, in 2004, he had made a list of these on a legal pad: no right to habeas corpus, no attorney-client privilege, forced guilty pleas for charges never made public, secret and coerced evidence, juries and presiding officers picked by executive fiat, clients represented even if they declined legal counsel. He and Katyal had won their case in the Supreme Court, but had anything really changed?
“We are right back to where we started,” Swift said. “When I met Salim Ahmed Hamdan, he was sitting and waiting. Now he is sitting and waiting again. And he is still freezing and does not have a pair of socks.” The central question remained for Swift: Could a president hold someone forever without trying him? “What are we defending here?,” he asked. “Kangaroo courts where the defendants never knew what they were being indicted for?"
These men have fought an ever-shifting set of rulings, changing classifications of evidence, endless barriers placed in the way of their attempts to meet with and aid their clients:
The first time Swift saw his future client, Hamdan was shackled hand and foot and chained to a bolt on a slab next to a cell inside a wooden hut. It was “Hannibal Lecter time,” says Swift. “The guards were on us like Velcro.” Driving into Camp Echo, Swift and his translator, Charles Schmitz, an expert on Yemeni culture, had passed rows of the huts, each not much larger than a king-size bed. Swift argued with the guard who told him he had to take his nametag off. “Call the general!,” Swift told him, adding, “Let me get this straight. I am supposed to represent this guy and not tell him my name?” Swift put a piece of tape on his badge, but he took it off once he was inside Hamdan’s cell.
The guards insisted that there be two tables between Swift and Hamdan, to protect Swift and Schmitz—each weighing about 200 pounds—from their 130-pound client. Swift demanded that the guards unchain Hamdan’s hands, and when the guards left, Swift moved the second table out of the way so that he could be closer to Hamdan. “I gave him my name, and I gave him my card,” says Swift. “I told him that the government has unlimited resources, and there is no limit to what they can throw at this case.” Hamdan, Swift recalls, studied him quietly and then said, “You are a military lawyer. I didn’t fight; I am a civilian. Why are you here?"
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, second from left, appears with appointed council Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, third from left,
during a preliminary hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Aug. 24, 2004. Getty Images
As the process went on, Swift and Katyal prevailed in the landmark case HAMDAN v. RUMSFELD before the Supreme Court. Shortly thereafter, the cowards in Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which attempts to circumvent that ruling, including casting aside the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus ... placing ALL of us in peril of our losing our human rights. That new Act hasn’t been challenged yet, and Mr. Hamdan and the others in our tropical Gulag still live cast outside the rule of law:
In the jag offices, lawyers now use the term “Alice in Wonderland” to describe the ever changing rules coming at them from the Department of Defense. On his way to work on January 11, Dwight Sullivan was listening to Federal News Radio when he heard Charles Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, excoriate the lawyers in top firms who were helping represent Guantánamo prisoners: “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.” Sullivan tells me, “I was absolutely amazed and chagrined. Those individuals were giving of their talent to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. What could be more patriotic than that?” (Stimson later apologized.)
In Georgetown, Katyal was also listening to the radio. For weeks he had been waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeals on Rasul v. Bush in order to decide whether to mount his next challenge in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals or to go directly to the Supreme Court. Swift, alone at home, was spending unhappy hours with reporters on the telephone, mooting about what had become of the Hamdan case. He had begun interviewing with law firms around the country, but so far there were no takers for a soon-to-be-retired jag lawyer who had gone up against the president. He was writing an article arguing that Guantánamo had been chosen by the military for one reason only: torture. “It was as if I were doing a closing for a jury,” he tells me, adding, “It is time to close Guantánamo.”
Swift also had new concerns. Earlier in the week, Dwight Sullivan had forwarded him a memo from the Joint Task Force in Guantánamo making almost anything he said about the base and his client classified. It was clear to him that the Department of Defense was coming down harder on the defense bar than he had ever imagined. If he were prosecuted, he didn’t know how he would afford an attorney. According to the memo, some of what Swift told me for this article was now classified—for example, where Salim Hamdan was in Guantánamo and his condition. According to Dwight Sullivan, the restrictions included “all sorts of new stuff—the names and identities of the accused and the camps in which they are held! Pictures of the accused! Sitting here in Washington, D.C., I am not sure that I can say over the phone the name of a certain Yemeni detainee whose case went to the Supreme Court. Pictures that we have had in our files for years may be classified today. Every single submission in a commission proceeding may be classified because they have the names of the detainees.” The memo itself was classified, Sullivan said. “The new rules are so ambiguous and so broad that they just have a chilling effect on speech by the attorneys.”
In the end, will Salim Hamdan or any of the other detainees ever be brought to trial? “Absolutely,” said Colonel Morris Davis, the chief prosecutor of the military commissions. “I would anticipate that Hamdan will be in the initial group charged.” Like Katyal and Swift, Morris was waiting for the new Department of Defense guidelines that would control the military commissions. “We are taking a hard look at charging material support to terrorism,” he said. “This is the typical charge you see in federal courts in the United States.”
When Charlie Swift read the guidelines, his first thought was: The new rules are like putting perfume on a pig. “They were written in such a way that it is very clear it is to let you get in evidence that is based on coercion,” he says. What is the difference between coercion and torture?, I ask. “Who the hell knows?” he says. He pauses a moment and adds, “There are two reasons not to use coercion—because of public policy, and because it is not reliable. Clearly, Congress and the administration disagree."
Go read the whole piece if you want some more details about the peril this country faces, and these principled professionals who are fighting for the hated and feared at Gitmo, and for all of us. The United States is an imperial power setting about the business of undoing a web of international law and the laws of war that were built up over centuries, dishonoring the blood and sacrifice of patriots who fought before to bring justice even to the chaos of war.
Friday, February 09, 2007
fri rdm 10 - "cough up a lung" edition
Sick as a dog today, and too stoned on NyQuil to make any sense, so I’ll just leave with today’s ten random tunes:
- "I Don’t Like Mondays” - Boomtown Rats
- "Red Water (Christmas Mourning)” - Type O Negative
- "Man Next Door” - Massive Attack
- "I Do the Rock” - Tim Curry
- "Guys Like Me” - Aimee Mann
- “Salesman" - Stan Ridgway
- "Sleeping On The Sidewalk” - Queen
- "Sweet Misery Blues” - Violent Femmes
- "They’re Blind” - Kelly Willis
- "You Really Got Me” - Van Halen
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Senator Pétain (NV)
- Henri-Philippe Pétain, upon the fall of France
- Senator Harry Reid, upon the Donklephants gaining control of Congress.
That the Republicans were so ably using the REAL powers of the minority yesterday shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s what a party that actually functions does. It differentiates itself from its opponents. It drives the debate by refusing to play except on its own terms. This is the power that Harry Reid and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership steadfastly refused to use when THEY were in the minority. Eager to mirror the Republicans, not to set themselves apart. What is important is maintaining the basic functioning of the status quo for the Donklephants ... they stand for nothing else. The few that DO try to fight for liberal values and their constituents are left out in the cold:
That‘s not what it‘s about. The fact is, the president and the Republican leadership are so out of touch with reality of the American people is, they don‘t understand that this war is a disaster, and the American people want us out of there.
Now, the problem is, it‘s a little easier for them to pull a stunt like this, because the Democrats are being too weak as well. We‘re talking about primarily just whether or not we‘re going to have a weak resolution about the escalation.
But the election in November, we hadn‘t even heard about the escalation. The issue here is, how can we, as Democrats, working with some Republicans, find a way to end this war, to have a timetable to end it, and to get tough on this thing? It‘s going to take forever just to get to this escalation resolution, if we don‘t come up with something that‘s a lot more serious.
And that‘s my concern on the Democratic side is, we‘re being too timid. We‘ve got to take on this war directly. [...]
It‘s a stunt. The fact is, there should be a debate on this. It‘s a bipartisan resolution that I think is too weak. I‘d like to fix it. I‘d like the chance to have amendments. But if nothing else, whether you‘re on one side or the other, we should have a chance to amend it and to debate this war and to debate it now.
So the idea that they are somehow not getting treated fairly, to simply have something like this come up, is a—in my view, a ridiculous argument.
And it is time to debate the Iraq war. More importantly, it‘s time to debate getting out of Iraq, not just figuring out a way to prevent this surge or escalation by the president.
You can watch Senator Feingold here and read some more of what he has to say here. Reid and the rest will not listen to him. They won’t listen to you, they won’t listen to me. They won’t listen to voices of reason, decency or righteous passion. They won’t listen to the screams, to the crying children, to the supplications from families left bereft both here amongst military families and in Iraq and Afghanistan amongst those unlucky enough to be “collateral damage” of our supposedly “accurate” modern munitions.
No, Reid and the rest will listen to the wealthy landed gentry of this country who want their investments in Big Oil and Big Weapons to continue to pay off. There will be no universal healthcare that doesn’t protect their investments in Big Insurance and Big Pharma. There will be no listening to a rabble that can’t understand the importance of maintaining the appearance of a once-almost-great nation.
Forever Reid and his ilk surrender to greater, more belligerent powers, to the big campaign checks and clubby leather boys club of the US Congress. Forever the surrender to the militaristic culture of death and destruction that this country wallows in. Forever the careful adhearance to what IS, not what could be. He and the rest will remain blind to the splashes of blood staining the marble halls of power, for what matters is the power, not what it is used for. He will not fight, only capitulate. He will not lead, only go through the motions. He likes to drone on about how he learned to fight when he was a boxer, but he boxes only with shadows, careful never to land a blow.
The Donklephant party isn’t a functioning political party, it is a ponzi scheme, a weird combination of grifter and the Washington Generals, with Reid and Schumer and Clinton standing flatfooted whilst the Republicans twirl arguments on their fingertips and pass the debate around and around a mocking circle. It exists only to collect money and to provide the appearance of a contest, and Reid more than any of them exemplifies this sad truth. They represent the Left in exactly the same way that the Vichy represented France ... empty and venal, an illusion of governance while supporting monstrous conquerers.
So not vote for them. Do not give them money. The Donks are a dead party, and they don’t represent you. Principled politicians like Feingold should join Senator Sanders as an Independent, and convince other progressive and liberal Senators and Representatives to join them. It won’t happen, because even he is a politician, and thus a careful man ... he knows better than any just how utterly corrupted by money our “two” parties are, and how they have structured government to make opposition all-but impossible. Maybe he’ll surprise me and make this leap ... I’m willing always to hope for a bold move toward real change. The building of a real opposition will take time, and it will require the destruction of the Democratic Party, a scary prospect I know, but there is nothing else. One need only look at what happened to Dean in Iowa and look at the heavy hands of Schumer and Emmanuel in the 2006 to see how change from within is impossible.
In order for this country to save itself, the party of Senator Pétain must die. Abandon them, now.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Today I Return
I feel a little more like the hopeful college-grad I was in ‘85 today, watching that wonderful season when the Bears went all the way. As I went through life, I paid less and less attention to sports. I moved all over the country, and I hadn’t been much of a sports fan in the first place, so I sort-of watched enough to float on the periphery of conversations at work. It was music I fixated on, not sports, but I was too much my father’s son to NOT pay attention back then. I watched the Bears that season and fed off of the energy as grad school was revealed to be not what I thought it would be, as I had to slowly confront the knowledge that the area of study I thought I wanted to pursue wasn’t right for me at all. On Sundays, the Fridge and Payton and Jim McMahon took my mind off of all of that.
So this year, after some hard times, I find things looking up, and somehow stepping back from my cynicism and my lack of interest in sports to enjoy the Bears season feels like going home, like embracing the stubborn sense of optimism I had back in ‘85. It reminds me of my long-dead father, and the fun we had sharing a beer on a Sunday afternoon, and those rare moments where we cheered for the same thing. So today I will be yelling at my TV “GO BEARS” and pretending like I’m just another fool buying into the bread and circuses, because sometimes you have to in order to recharge.