...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Monday, June 30, 2003
      ( 10:24 AM )
Update on the Doc

Well, the buzz is that Howard Dean has become a "player" now that he's just below his goal of raising an amazing $6.5 million by today's end of the fiscal quarter deadline. As the NY Times reports, he's now in the "top tier" of contenders for the White House by virtue of his raising $9 million so far this year. The catch is that much of his fundraising has been accomplished online. Dr. Dean is reporting on his blog today that he has just a little more to go before tonight's deadline. CNN has got the story on the internet donations as well.

It's great that he's recognizable as a candidate now and that the media is showing him to be a true contender for the candidacy. While I'm glad he has been able to raise the money he needs to get his campaign in the place it needs to be, and doubly glad that he's depended on his supporters and individuals to do that up to this point, I hope that people will begin to see that he's a contender not because of his money raising skill, but because of his message. While the press ravaged him after last week's Meet the Press (God knows why, considering the presentations Candidate Bush made in 1999 and 2000), I think they are starting to come around. I saw Mary Matlin on Meet the Press this week and she called him "left of left," which indicates that they aren't very prepared to battle with him since he's obviously not "left of left" in his policies or platform. Once people begin to hear his positions, they will be pleasantly surprised to learn that he can not only lead the party back to its progressive roots, but he can also draw in the independents and even conservatives who don't want Bush in but are afraid of "scary liberals."

That's the update on the Doc. Looks like he's off to a running start. Maybe the next few months will see the field narrow with some dropouts (let's hope one of the goodbyes is for Lieberman). That will bode will for the upcoming debates. Fewer voices, clearer message for the Dems.

UPDATE: He's passed the $6.5 million mark! As of 1:30 pm EST, he's raised $6,560,832 - with $253,604 of it online today -- contributions from regular Americans, who, in 2004, will show that they are a force to be reckoned with, even against the forces of big business and corporate control that currently powers the White House.

UPDATE 2: It's very exciting to read comments on Dr. Dean's Blog - people are really pumped up about raising up to $7 million before the deadline tonight - it's kind of cool read about a campaign being powered by donations of $10 and $25 from regular people. I hope it inspires a much broader audience as word gets out.

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      ( 8:53 AM )
Top Ten Answers to the Big Question

Where are the WMDs???? The Washington Post has a collection of humorous responses. Start your Monday with a smile!

My favorites are:

• "A thorough search of the Gulf of Tonkin might be revealing."

• Ronald Reagan got them back in 1986 and forgot to tell anyone.

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Friday, June 27, 2003
      ( 3:51 PM )

I am going to ignore the computer this weekend. I hope everyone else has an opportunity to be with people they love, rest their minds and rejuvenate, even if just a bit. See you on the other side of Sunday.

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      ( 10:34 AM )
If You Read Only One Thing Today...

Please read this letter sent to Howard Dean and posted on his blog today. The marine described in the letter espoused the same views as my own brother, an officer in the Air Force, who also went willingly to aid his comrades and serve his country in the job he signed up to do. The men and women who are in daily peril are far better human beings than the one who dresses up like them but sends them to their deaths for false reasons.

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      ( 10:31 AM )
Move On Primary Results

The Results were just released... Dean won with just about 44% of the vote. Kucinich was close behind with 23%. Though none of the candidates got 50% (Dean warned that probably wouldn't happen), it is a very interesting vote. I have no idea what the demographics of the vote were except they had to be computer-literate people and most likely activists because MoveOn is an activist organization. But while it may not be representative of the voters at large, neither are NH or Iowa. This primary was significant in that it was the first online primary and the candidates took it seriously. I'm glad it gives Dean this boost, and I'm glad it raises the Kucinich factor as well. (I also must confess a sneaking satisfaction in the fact that Lieberman got fewer votes than Braun).

I don't know if they'll hold another one for the same "50% gets the money" prize, but if they do, it will be interesting what kind of interest the 2nd primary will engender. Congrats, Dr. Dean!

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      ( 9:17 AM )
Why Doesn't The Rest of the World Trust Us to Rule Them?

Thanks to Maru (again, who endlessly provides very cool links) for this article in The Toronto Star by Gordon Barthos which clearly shows how the rest of the world can see what liars Bush and Blair were and how they want to change things at the UN so that big bullies can't get away with stuff like attacking countries based on false evidence... and the article also shows how stupid Americans still are:

Bush's credibility would be lower still, except that a sturdy
core of invincibly ignorant people — one American in three — is
convinced that these weapons already have been found. Not so.
More than 1,400 U.S. and allied experts have scoured 230 Iraqi
sites for months without turning up an atom of plutonium,
anthrax or sarin.

Oh, don't they think we're so grand! ...

A recent Ipsos-Reid poll found that 71 per cent of
Canadians feel Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was right to
refuse to join the war. Before the campaign, 66 per cent felt
that way, but during the conflict opinion was evenly split.

Internationally, British Broadcasting Corp. polling has found 60
per cent of people have a negative view of Bush, and believe
the war was wrong.

Barely one in four feels America's military might is making the
world safer.

So it's no surprise that Canada and other nations are now
lobbying for U.N. Security Council reform, precisely to check the
ability of the major powers to have things their own way.

I'm not talking about being liked by the world - we can't be liked by everyone. No, I'm talking about our credibility on the world stage. What we may have had is quickly slipping away. That BushCo doesn't care about it not only shows the dangerous roads this administration is willing to lead us down, but it shows a total lack of diplomatic skill or understanding of the fact that we exist on a world stage, not in our own little universe. This country has a centuries' old tradition of isolationism except when it serves our interests - and we can't just bury our heads in the sand and pretend that it doesn't matter what other people think of us, or even what led us into this quagmire in Iraq. We have to confront the truth that it was a bad judgment call, and that our leaders lied to us to try to bully us and the world to go along with it. It's not a consistent policy (obviously, we're not invadeing N. Korea or Iran, who we are also accusing), and our government obviously had no realistic post-invasion plan for occupying and taking care of the country once Saddam was gone.

But see, all this is old news. The thing is, if the other countries in the world start getting together to compare notes on how they don't trust us and how our credibility has tanked, then we can't just ignore that. Our entire economy is based on globalization, thanks to the past few administrations. We cannot sustain our continuously weakening economy if the rest of the world decides to not play with us anymore because they presume we will always cheat. If "free trade" conservatives really thought about it, they would want Bush out too.

The article concludes with a very plain speaking prediction:

This reflects a growing lack of confidence that the U.S.
and others can be relied on to do the right thing.

Pushing war, Bush and Blair shouted the roof down, claiming
Saddam was itching to hand terrorists weapons of mass
destruction. Whatever weapons may eventually turn up — and
some will — it is now abundantly clear that neither knew for a
fact that what he was saying was true. It was all hype.

Yet Bush and Blair blew away the Baghdad regime on a bogus
pretext, and tried — largely unsuccessfully — to bully the
world into joining them.

If their leadership, credibility and trustworthiness are fast
eroding, they have only themselves to blame.

The American people will only have ourselves to blame if we can't get rid of this Administration and turn things around. It's up to us.

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Thursday, June 26, 2003
      ( 11:40 AM )
What, You Don't Want to Work for Free? What Are You, UNAMERICAN??

Thanks to Democratic Veteran today for pointing to the fact that BushCo's attempt to eliminate overtime pay is back in the news. A study has now come out that says that says millions of workers would be affected negatively by BushCo's proposed new rules.

The White House is attempting to eliminate the Fair Labor Standards Act, under which all workers have been protected since the 1930's. In my earlier post, Overtime Lies, I discussed the reality behind this change. BushCo wants this to happen posthaste, so there hasn't even been a public hearing on the matter. Now, the last time it was up for a vote, it was dropped for not having enough votes (due in part, thank god, to the vociferous lobbying of labor unions on our behalf). We need to write our representatives NOW and protest any change BushCo is proposing to the Fair Labor Standards Act. Big Business is his friend, not ours and we don't have to put up with him giving Big Business the last word on our rights as workers and supporters of our families. Click on these links to find out where to write your Representative or Senator.

This country depends on the people who have to work for a meager living and who depend on overtime wages to support their families. Don't let them or yourself down by being silent on this issue.

UPDATE: CNN is carrying the story too.

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      ( 10:54 AM )
The Supremes Make Good - but Will the Military?

Kudos goes to the Six Supremes who made the majority decision today in Lawrence v. Texas - making it clear that states do not have the right to invade the privacy of people's bedrooms, nor the right to make homosexuality illegal. CalPundit says it best:

I have to say that this is a case where the result is so clearly worthy
that I don't even care that much exactly what the legal reasoning was.
But speaking of reasoning, it's no surprise that the three dissenters
were Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas.

The minority was outraged, outraged!

"The court has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual
agenda," Scalia wrote for the three. He took the unusual step
of reading his dissent from the bench.

"The court has taken sides in the culture war," Scalia said, adding
that he has "nothing against homosexuals."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if upholding American citizens' Constitutional right to privacy is an "agenda," then more power to 'em.

Calpundit directs us to Balknization, who has some really great commentary on the decision:

The Supreme Court's decision to base Lawrence on privacy
grounds rather than equal protection grounds (equality is what the
petitioners originally argued) actually is a more modest change in the
law than it first appears. By grounding gay rights in privacy rather
than equality, the Court does not have to hold that gays are a suspect
class or that classifications based on sexual orientation are entitled to
heighted scrutiny. And it also holds off, for the time being, a decision
about whether same sex marriage violates the Constitution.

Ironically, at the same time, basing Lawrence on privacy rather than
on equal protection has some advantages for those members of the
queer community who do not wish courts to view all sexual orientation
minorities as a single group. An equality holding would push gays toward
a civil rights paradigm based on an analogy to blacks and women. Instead,
the queer community has been arguing for their right to conduct their
sexual lives as they see fit, free from government sanction, thus allowing
them to experiment with different forms of attachment and different
forms of sexuality. A decision grounded in liberty rather than equality is
more hospitable from this perspective.

Interestingly, the Lawrence decision has overturned an older law upheld by the Supreme Court in the 80's called Bowers v. Hardwick, which ruled that states could regulate the conduct of homosexuals. It was the Bowers law that was used to underpin the military's ban of homosexuals.

Phil Carter at Intel Dump discusses the implications:

I think that one of the first effects of Lawrence will be to trigger a challenge in U.S. District Court to the current policy banning gays
in the military. That challenge will essentially cite Lawrence for the
proposition that homosexual conduct is a fundamental right that
the state cannot burden without some compelling interest -- and
that the restrictions must be narrowly tailored to that compelling
interest. The plaintiffs will argue that this policy (the "Don't ask, don't
tell" policy) burdens the right of gay soldiers to engage in the conduct they want to, and that such a burden on a fundamental right is
unconstitutional. Given the Court's holding today in Lawrence, I think
that a lower court would almost certainly side with the plaintiffs.

Let's hope so. The Court has ended its session with a little bit of redemption. The make up of the Court could be greatly affected in the coming year if one of them resigns while Bush is still in office. To protect against this, the Democrats in Congress need to act like the Opposition Party that they are and block any Bush Supreme Nominee until we've got him squarely out of office in a year.

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      ( 9:35 AM )
I'm a Crawly Amphibian

I noticed that I'd gotten a few links from The Truth Laid Bear - and so I went there to discover that I'm officially in the Blog Ecosystem! Of course, I'm only a "Crawly Amphibian", and rank a whopping 1078 on the list. But I went to review my "Details" and have noted that I have made some progression from where I started as a "Flippery Fish."

The question is, how did people find me on that list to link to me from there? Either they are very determined or they really like crawly amphibians.

Anyway, here's to evolution!

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      ( 9:00 AM )
Dean, Kucinich and Choices

Daily Kos has Dean as this week's "How They Can Win" subject. It's an insightful analysis, and with Dkos' political knowledge, it's probably as good a predictor as we are going to get right now. I also received a fundraising letter in my email today on the Dean mailing list from none other than Martin Sheen. Martin Sheen's endorsement of Dean, while not new news, is interesting. The fact that Sheen is now fundraising on behalf of Dean is an even bigger leap of committment.

Obviously for activists, Sheen's name carries a lot of weight. He practices what he preaches over and again. But Sheen is far more liberal than Dean, so it's interesting that someone of Sheen's liberal-leaning seems to have picked the candidate he believes could actually win. I was pointed to this website comparing Kucinich to Dean by Emily at Strangechord. The comparisons point clearly to the fact that Dean is not "ultra-liberal." But most Dean supporters already knew that. While Kucinich has the progressive platform that we all dream would lead our country, it's also not realistic to think that he could be a serious contender. You may be thinking, "But Mama, you voted for Nader last election - have you completely lost your ideals?"

In a word, YES. But I have to qualify that with a "but not really." It is almost impossible to compare 2004 to the 2000 election. As I've said many times before, 2000 was Gore's to lose and while he technially DID win, it wasn't enough of a win. But the fact remains that there were no true options for Democrats in 2000 - so Nader represented two important things: 1) the grassroots of the Democratic party and 2) the breaking up of the 2-party political stranglehold in national elections. In 2004, Issue #1 is being addressed by several of the candidates this time, and issue #2 is simply going to have to take a backseat. I do not think Nader will run this election, but I would not fault him for continuing his efforts. However, my progressive ideals and my disgust with the Democrat Party's desire to be Mini-Republicans - the two major motivating factors in voting for Nader - have been tempered by 1) Knowing that we HAVE to get Bush out of office and 2) feeling like the DLC has lost a lot of its controlling power over the voters in the party this time around. This is also why I decided to register as a Democrat for the first time in my voting life.

It's time to leave the last election behind us. The person who is in office doesn't deserve to be there, but getting him out will not entail moaning about how he got there. It will require active participation by all the rank and file citizens of this country who realize what a slippery slope he's led us to. It will require an overwhelming victory against him in 2004. And I believe that is possible. The Democrats are motivated to win. Republicans are divided between the very conservative and the majority of the party, which are moderates. The libertarians are mad at Bush as well.

Liberals may not like it that Dean has gotten good marks from the NRA and that he feels gun control beyond the gun show loophole is a state issue. I frankly don't give a damn. It's high time the Democrats took a liking to weaponry. The liberals of this country have got to get over the "wimp" factor. Liberals may not like that Dean doesn't want to make marijuana legal. Well, in my view, this is not a huge suprise since he is a medical doctor... his medical biases are going to be very strong. But this is not an issue that should make a difference for us at this point. Liberals may not like it that Dean didn't get full-on marriage for gays in Vermont, settling only for "civil unions." But let's look at the other 49 states and see what they've done to progress the rights of committed gay couples. He is a Washington outsider: so was Bush. He doesn't have a lot of foreign policy experience: neither did Bush. He is fiscally conservative - which at first may seem scary, but on the other hand, he is very pro-social justice and walfare. I don't agree with him on several issues. But this one fact remains: I believe he can win, and I believe that he can best represent the American people right now. If another Dem wins the candidacy, then I will gladly vote for them in the general election. But for now, my money and my vote is on Dean because he's not the same old thing and he's got a very good chance.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2003
      ( 3:40 PM )
Being Mama Redux

Well, Martin's second day of day care at Miss R's yesterday went much better than expected. Upon arrival, he immediately screeched with delight at seeing his new friend Isaac (who is a few months younger, but also walking) and went immediately to play. Miss R said he did okay during the day, with a few little episodes of crying and needing cuddles, but all in all much better. He was still clingy when P went to pick him up, but not nearly as much as the last time. He was tired - he doesn't nap well there yet, that will take some time. I admit to still feeling a bit like the third wheel, though P tries so hard to not make it seem that way. It's just a natural thing for the baby to have more attachment to and separation anxiety from the person he spends the most time with. Sometimes it seems like it's getting more pronounced and that I don't even exist when Daddy's in the room - but that could just be my imagination. I try not to feel rejected, it's not like he is rejecting me personally.

I wonder if it's different for "working" mamas than it is for "working" dads. I wonder if dads come home from work hoping to get attention and cuddles from their children but finding that the kid wants to only be hugged by mom, feel rejected and put aside. I never heard of that - the stereotype is that the dad just wants to be left alone and not bothered. But I'm sure that can't be true. As evidenced by all the dads staying home now, I'm sure that for the most part Dads want to be as involved. The thing is, they don't have ages and ages of cultural guilt and expectation heaved on their shoulders like mamas do. So it is different.

I sometimes feel bad enough that I'm not with my child like a "good mother," especially when people imply that my working is a betrayal of my son or something like that. On top of that, to feel like my son isn't really attached to me makes me feel weird - aren't I the mommy? I sometimes feel like "wait a minute...was it supposed to be like this?" On the other hand, I feel good and confident about the decision P and I made - I can make more money and get benefits for all of us while he cannot in the current economic climate, and so we are doing what works for us. And I feel good that Martin is getting to develop such a close relationship with his dad so early on. I suppose it's just going to take a longer time than I expected to adjust. It gets hard the older martin gets - he learns new things every day and I feel like I miss out. Life is just a series of trials and errors, isn't it?

UPDATE: Conflict Girl has a post today about women "having it all" and work environments. I know that there is often a huge divide between moms who work at home and moms who work out of the home (again, I think it's because of a cultural bias and societal pressures that have built up over centuries). I was interested in her comments and it made me think more about this subject. I definitely wouldn't work in an office if I didn't have to...right now it's the best job for me and my family. I think that it's easier to make things black and white - but they never are. I can feel good on an overall level for the choices I've made about "working" or not, and still feel yucky that I'm not with my son more. It's not an either/or thing all the time. Now, if I could just win the lottery...

UPDATE 2: Being Daddy points to an article out of San Francisco that echoes my inkling that the "working" dad might be bothered by the dichotomy of expectations on him too. I guess we're all in the same boat sometimes - never adequate enough. But still, I wish my baby would fling himself at me just once when Daddy was in the room (sigh).

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      ( 9:56 AM )
Rest of the World Looks Quizzically at the U.S.'s Fake Ethics

Here are a few doses of what the world thinks of our dear BushCo and how everyone is tippy-toeing around the fact that the ravenous beasts who devoured the last president in impeachment hearings over lying about an affair are now silent as stone with a president who lied about the reasons to go to war where thousands are killed and a possible decade of occupation must now take place.

In Canada, Linda McQuaig asks "Why was false testimony about an affair not OK for Clinton but false evidence justifying war was OK for Bush?":

Now, of course, there are plenty of differences between the two
cases. Former president Clinton lied under oath about his
under-the-desk encounter with Monica Lewinsky. Bush’s apparent
lie -- that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction even
though his own intelligence agency could find no such evidence
and his own army can find no such weapons - was made repeatedly
to the American people, but not under oath.

So, does that explain it? Lying to the American people is OK, as
long as it’s not done under oath?

The UK's Financial Times isn't as lighthearted about it:

Mr Bush's impatience with those who want to know why his forces
have not found WMD is shortsighted. In a democracy, it matters
whether the people can believe what their leaders tell them. If the
facts on the ground do not match what leaders say, the consequences can be profound. The Vietnam war showed how difficult it is to close
the credibility gap once it has opened up.

BushCo doesn't seem to feel threatened by the truth, however. From the speeches and comments given by Bush and Rumsfeld at their various press conferences yesterday, it looks like they are steadfast in their determination to pretend we're all idiots and they are the only proper recipients of the Lord God's power over the peoples of the earth. It's the ultimate bully government. They'll just bully us all into doing and thinking what they want...so they presume. Hopefully the American citizenry is growing a few more brains than its had in the last year or so and will begin to question and go not so willingly to the slaughter. My biggest concern is what BushCo will use as the "Distraction" from all its failures, and my fear is that it will be another invasion or war of some kind...provoked by another attack on American interests that might have been avoided had we not launched our "pre-emptive policy" on the world.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2003
      ( 4:17 PM )
Senator Byrd Steps Up

Thanks to Maru for pointing us towards Senator Robert Byrd's comments today. His speech is awesome (as Maru says, pass it on) ...now will our leaders have the courage to listen?

Here's a taste:

But there is a great difference between the hand-
picked intelligence that was presented by the Administration
to Congress and the American people when compared
against what we have actually discovered in Iraq. This
Congress and the people who sent us here are entitled
to an explanation from the Administration


Well, Mr. President, this is no game. For the first time
in our history, the United States has gone to war
because of intelligence reports claiming that a country
posed a threat to our nation. Congress should not be
content to use standard operating procedures to look
into this extraordinary matter. We should accept no
substitute for a full, bipartisan investigation by Congress
into the issue of our pre-war intelligence on the threat
from Iraq and its use.


The business of intelligence is secretive by necessity, but
our government is open by design. We must be straight
with the American people. Congress has the obligation to
investigate the use of intelligence information by the
Administration, in the open, so that the American people can
see that those who exercise power, especially the awesome
power of preemptive war, must be held accountable. We
must not go down the road of cover-up. That is the road to ruin.

Can you hear us now, Mr. President?

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      ( 12:26 PM )
Have You Voted in the Primary Yet?

You still have time if you registered - Go to the MoveOn.Org Primary and VOTE! Looks like our online primary has made big media...CNN is carrying the story (and predicting a Dean win).

As is mentioned in the CNN report, this primary may not have broad consequences, except for the fundraising of whichever candidate wins. The "real polls" still show Bush leading by around 12 points over an "unamed Democrat." I really don't think things will matter in the end until late next summer. Once the Democratic candidate is picked (most likely Kerry, Edwards or Dean - I don't think Gephardt will maintain after Iowa), the Dems are going to rally and I think the point spread will definitely see some changes at that time. Until then, let's work hard to pick the best representative with a view to how he will fix and lead our country.

I find it hard to believe that taking into consideraiton the 2000 election and the state the country has fallen to since then, that Bush will win. But then again, I am no longer taking anything for granted as to what this administration will do for power - so we have to pay attention, get in gear and not be lazy. This next year will pass very quickly and we need to organize and get out the vote. It's more important than ever - and I really mean it this time.

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      ( 11:37 AM )
New Improved Way to Get Rid of Bush!

Conflict Girl has shown us the true cure for what ails us from the White House: the Zapilator.

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      ( 11:13 AM )
Oh, And By the Way...

The largest US/UK daily death toll since March 23 in Iraq today... and what do you know--The Taliban are officially back in business.

Are things technically fubar yet?

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      ( 11:07 AM )
We're Fighting a War, But the Other Side Refuses to Show Up!

Just a little update on our progress in the WAR ON TERRORISM. Hint: we're not winning yet.

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      ( 11:03 AM )
More on 9/11 Cover Ups

An interesting article about the immediacy of the cover-up and the White House's attempts to link 9/11 to Sadam before there was any evidence...from the mouth of General Wesley Clark.

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      ( 10:54 AM )
6 Degrees to Terrorism

Well we knew this was inevitable...Kevin Bacon's been nabbed for his connections to Al Qaeda!

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Monday, June 23, 2003
      ( 2:56 PM )
The Race is On

Howard Dean has officially launched his campaign. I couldn't see it because I'm at work, but the speech looks good. From the descriptions (especially from the Dean fans in his blog's comments) everyone seems to feel that he came off energetic and smart. NPR first reported that he spoke to a crowd of "hundreds" but from other reports it sounds more like it was in the 1,000's. The most engaging part of his speech was the populist message of "power" in the hands of the voters.

NTodd has a great replay of it from a Vermonter's view, which is really worth reading. CNN reports a crowd of 2,500:

A former governor in a race dominated by
congressional Democrats, Dean has gotten off to
a surprisingly strong start despite a lack of money
and meager support from party insiders.

The key has been his opposition to the U.S.-led
war against Iraq -- a position that galvanized
liberal voters who believe that Democratic leaders
are kowtowing to Bush.

In a call to disenchanted voters of all political
stripes, Dean said, "You have the power to rid
Washington of all the politics of money."

I have heard that Gov. Dean didn't do as well on his Meet the Press segment on Sunday, but I didn't see it. So far, however, it looks like he's off to a good start. Hopefully he will get a lot more exposure and fundraising mileage out of his campaign now.

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      ( 11:06 AM )
Cover Up

The name of the Game now seems to be Cover Up for BushCo. Let's just count up the cover-up's we are currently aware of: the doctoring of the EPA report on the global environment, the fact that BushCo is covering up and hiding the true facts about 9/11 from victims' families, or what Americans have been told about the true nature of the shooting of 20 Iraqis in al-Falluja in April, Bush's Texas Executions, anything having to do with post-attack plans for Iraq, and of course the entire reason we were convinced that attacking Iraq was necessary.

Maru, pointing to Bush correcting himself once again about the existence of WMDs on his weekly radio address ("We are determined to discover the true extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs, no matter how long it takes,"), says it best:

Idiot. What about the imminent threat to US interests?
The 45-minute launch time? The nukes? The drone aircraft
that could reach the US? Knowing exactly where the WMD
were? The stories that the weapons were smuggled into
Iran and Syria? That they had been stolen by looters?

What's next, that Saddam's dog buried them in the backyard??

Well said. This Mama is not holding her breath for the answers.

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      ( 10:35 AM )
New York Times Retracts Years of Erroneous Headlines

If only

And Excerpts from the Speech Aboard the USS Lincoln...if the truth had been told.

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Friday, June 20, 2003
      ( 10:59 AM )
The (Dirty) World According to Bush

Remember how the Nixon Whitehouse had a secret section called "The Plumbers," a group of men whose job it was to plug leaks and take care of those who made things difficult for the president? Well, it seems that the Bush Whitehouse has its own secret section, which I will call "The Doctors." Their sole job seems to be to doctor reports and information to make actual studies and intelligence completely different from the facts so that in the end they agree with BushCo's position on things, along with the position of its corporate backers.

Case in point: Yesterday, the New York Times reported on the fact that the EPA was going to release a report next week on the state of the Environment. However, it was not going to be in its original form because the White House had taken its little red pen to the report and virtually anhilated the meat of the report so that it doesn't appear humans have anything to do with global warming or the destruction of the environment.

And not only did they "edit" the report for the EPA, The Doctors added their own little tidbits:

The editing eliminated references to many studies
concluding that warming is at least partly caused by
rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe
emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems.

Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely
human contribution to warming from a 2001 report on
climate by the National Research Council that the White
House had commissioned and that President Bush had
endorsed in speeches that year. White House officials
also deleted a reference to a 1999 study showing that
global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade
compared with the last 1,000 years. In its place, administration
officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed
by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion

Then following the article in the NY Times, Sen. John Edwards and several other Sentators released a statement that said they had written to the President about the situation and wanted to investigate the doctoring of the report, especially the financial influence of the American Petroleum Institute (motto: "how did our oil get under their sand?").

Said the statement:

"If these reports are accurate, your administration
has done a serious disservice not only to the hard
working professionals at the EPA, but also to the
American people," the senators said in a letter to the

I keep thinking when something like this happens that it's the last straw and American citizens simply won't stand for it anymore. Yet BushCo keeps on ticking away. So far, I can't see any other American media outlets picking up on this story, except for AP. Of course, the Brits have got it covered.

I wonder if the Bush 2004 Campaign can add this motto: "Ruining the Word -- One Day at a Time."

Wake up America.

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      ( 10:33 AM )
Being Mama

Yesterday was a rough day. Martin went to his new daycare for the first full day. We found a really wonderful place, a woman, let's call her "Miss R," has a child care in her home only 2 blocks from our house and is affordable enough for us to get one day a week so that P can have a day to get things done on the house, etc. We visited several times and Martin enjoyed the toys and the other kids. But yesterday when P dropped him off, Martin didn't cry but followed him to the door and watched him leave with an expression on his face (as P describes it) that said "why are you leaving me?" When P went to get him a few hours early, Miss R reported that Martin had alternated between being sad and wanting to cuddle to walking over to the door pensively all day long. The rest of the afternoon and evening he just wanted to cuddle. The hard part for me was that when I got home from work I wanted to comfort him after his rough day, but he only wanted to be comforted by Daddy - his "primary caretaker." I wasn't jealous or upset or anything, it's totally natural and he's only a baby. But something deep inside me still hurt a little that he didn't want his mommy and for a few moments I hated my life and my choices. It passed for the most part, though I confess I still get twinges of it. It's just hard sometimes to not get to be the one he spends time with. I suppose experiences like this are what life is about, but still.

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      ( 10:23 AM )
Mama's Little Election Helper

As you can see from the side bar, I am in the process of developing a little section of links having to do with the upcoming primaries and elections. I really want to emphasize that every vote is going to count in 2004. I've listed all the viable candidates at this point (not including the incumbent, who doesn't get to campaign on this blog). Only one of them has an official blog (there is also a Dean Support blog with lots of information and neat campaign stuff as well). Gary Hart has a blog, but he (so far) isn't running.

Anyway check back with the Helper for new links to help you take action this coming election.

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Thursday, June 19, 2003
      ( 1:24 PM )
Making Friends Round the World

Via Tom Tomorrow, we get this lovely tidbit today from The Mirror:

American troops today admitted they routinely
gun down Iraqi civilians - some of whom are
entirely innocent.

As distrust of the invading forces increases amongst
the local population US soldiers said they have killed
civilians without hesitation, shot injured opponents
and abandoned them to die in agony.

The testimonies of the troops on the ground further
expose George Bush's claims about the role his forces
are playing in the failing reconstruction of Iraq.


And in an admission that directly contrasts with the line
coming out from the Pentagon's spin doctors Specialist
Corporal Michael Richardson added: "There was no
dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not
in uniform, I just pulled the trigger."


And despite there being no link between Iraq and the
September 11 attacks Richardson admitted that it gave
him his motivation to fight Iraqis.

"There's a picture of the World Trade Centre hanging up
by my bed and I keep one in my flak jacket. Every time I
feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit
us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say
payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback."

The Mama, in stunned silence, has no comment at this time.

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      ( 12:23 PM )
Beyond 1984 - Living in the Totalitarian States of America, 2003

Not only has the federal government deemed it acceptable to do away with the bill of rights and the constitution in its bid to appear as if it is protecting the country while in reality it is expanding its empire and waging war on Islam, but its "investigative arm," the FBI, has powers to simply ruin people's lives and not look back.

In the sobering NYTimes article by Michael Moss today we read about how the FBI has snatched up dozens of people, charged them, imprisoned them and permanently put their names on terrorist watch lists, all based on false tips and testimony and without the victims ever being tried or convicted of anything.

Federal agents, facing intense pressure to avoid
another terrorist attack, have acted on information
from tipsters with questionable backgrounds and
motives, touching off needless scares and upending
the lives of innocent suspects.


In a report earlier this month, the Justice Department's
inspector general found that in the months after the
Sept. 11 attacks, many illegal immigrants with no connection
to terrorism were detained under harsh conditions.

John Ashcroft defends the fact that arab men are lifted and held in horrible conditions with no charges or convictions against them and then once released (if they are released) must live under a cloud of suspicion and often have their names on criminal lists despite being completely innocent of anything. Ashcroft thinks this just par for the course when we're "defending ourselves against another attack."

But it's not par for the course. It wasn't a good policy in WWII with Japanese Americans, it wasn't a good policy in the 1950's with people accused by McCarthy, it's not a good policy now. All it does is whittle away the rights of the citizens of this country and trample on the people who make this country run. Ashcroft and the FBI don't seem to think it's worth the time to get things right when tracking down threats:

"With terrorism you do not have the luxury of
sometimes waiting to figure out if the guy is truly
a terrorist."

Luxury? So best to just call us all terrorists and get it over with? It's the right of that person and all of us to have and depend on an investigative and judicial system that does not imprison us, ruin our lives and label us terrorists and later discover they might have made a tiny error. Who does this government think it is? These practices are wrong, and the continuation and even further empowering via Patriot II is not going to make us safer. We are now having to depend on a government that cares more about locking people up than ensuring the rights of the people that put the government there in the first place.

With these guys to protect us, I'm sure we're all sleeping a lot better these days.

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      ( 11:07 AM )
Changes in Lattitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Two excellent readings this week with wake up calls for the Dems. The first has already been mentioned in several blogs. But I just had a chance to sit down and read it last night in its entirety, and it's well worth a perusal. It's the article by Ruy Teixeira, "Deciphering the Democrats' Debacle." He talks about what happened in the 2002 elections and why the Republicans might not be sitting as pretty as they think. But there are some good object lessons in the articles for Democrats to take to hear for this upcoming battle. The most important one being:

...the Democrats are learning that "No ideas don't
beat bad ideas." In 2002, they had no agreed upon
economic policy, no plausible alternative foreign
policy, and a handful of domestic program proposals
like prescription drug benefits for seniors that
Republicans neutralized with vague proposals of their own.

Building on this message, thanks to Eric Alterman for pointing us yesterday to Danny Goldberg's new book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the segment of "Dispatches from the Culture Wars" released by Salon. I enjoyed it for two major reasons: 1) he writes in a very down-to-earth, non-elitist, non-patronizing way and 2) he brings up a crucial point about the Left ignoring the young people. This is an incredible asset that we have, people just getting politically active and just starting to vote. This demographic is made for the Left in its social awareness and its rejection of what the GOP has stood for. But if the Dems keep harping on GOP issues, keep focusing on things that turn off the 18-25 year old population, they are going to fall hard and fast. It's time to turn on, tune in and take charge, kids.

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      ( 10:49 AM )
Smoking Guns with No Smoke

Great article by George Smith in the Village Voice this week about the fact that what our government claimed for so many weeks were evidence of Iraq's WMD programs were trailers that are made, sold and used here in our own country quite frequently.

Remember our president's words on May 30?

"For those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."

What was that Nixon had to resign for? Oh yeah... a cover up.

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      ( 10:44 AM )
Happy Juneteenth!

Today is Juneteenth - the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery in this country. It started in Galveston, Texas as a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation. Whatever else may be said about this country's history, it should never be forgotten that the prosperity and the land that this country enjoys is because of the men, women and children who were slaves. Despite the Emancipation Proclamation 140 years ago, it was another 100 years until our government actually recognized black people as equal in all respects. It took even longer for our society and culture to catch up, and in some places it still hasn't. One thing I'm certain of, we can not and should not forget this part of our history and we should be honest with ourselves about the results in our culture of the 400 years of the oppression of one part of our population. Pretending like it doesn't matter and absolving ourselves of the responsibility and shame of it doesn't solve anything and doesn't help. If this country still exists in another 100 years, I hope that the Juneteenth celebration will recall the years after now when equality and fairness really did come to be for all the people of this country. Happy Juneteenth.

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      ( 10:26 AM )
Paul and Babe Part Ways

This just isn't right.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2003
      ( 2:23 PM )
Your Vote ALREADY Counts

If you haven't already, I would like to encourage you to sign up with MoveOn.Org and especially register for their June 24th online primary. The candidate that wins the primary will be officially endorsed by MoveOn.Org's PAC. This is a powerful statement, both to the Democratic Party and to the Republicans that the internet is a tool that must be used in organizing votes, and that there are people willing to take action now to send the message that we want change in the white house.

It only takes a second, please register as soon as you can so that you can vote next week. And tell all your friends and family to register and vote next week too. In addition, if you sign up with MoveOn you'll get email newsletters with the most up-to-date issues addressed so you can be prepared to discuss and vote on the issues that will affect you and your family and community.

So do it now. Register to vote online and then make sure you're registered in real life too.

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      ( 12:32 PM )
Well, I Did It

I actually took the step on Monday of going to my elections office and registering officially as a "Democrat." I know, I know, you're asking "but Mama, haven't you long held your voter identification as fully independent ever since the first election you ever voted in?" Yes, dear reader, it's true. It has taken several months of debate with myself about whether to do this or not. I take no small comfort in the fact that I can quickly change it back after the 2004 election. I feel strongly enough, however, that this election is worth my sacrificing my own personal ideals for the greater good: a Democratic candidate who can beat Bush.

That being said, I have mulled over and over which candidate I want to endorse for the primaries. It's not that this blog has much traffic, but I would like to commit to one candidate and be as politically active in the blogosphere as I can to get out the vote for that candidate. I decided that whomever I chose I would also volunteer for that campaign in "real life" in my own community. I can't just preach without practicing political involvement at the most important level: the local level. Even though this blog will be endorsing a Dem candidate, I intend to set up an electoral section with links to information on all the candidates and the election itself so that people can easily access information about what is happening up to November 2004. I also qualify the endorsement by saying that after the primaries are over, unless it's Joe Lieberman (which thank God it doesn't look like it will be), I will wholeheartedly put this blog behind the Democratic candidate who runs against George Bush in the general election. I do this not because I am a lifelong Democrat, and not necessarily because I believe in all the tenents of the platform of the party which has been taken over by the DLC (which I loathe). I do it because it has to be done to save this country and I want to do my part.

So without more ado, I am announcing that this blog will heretofore be endorsing Howard Dean for President in the Democratic primaries. I would ultimately like to see a Dean / Clark ticket, but that is not a reality at this point, and I intend to deal only in realities with this election. Dean plans to launch his official campaign on Monday, June 23 and as of that date, I will include on this site links to the Dean campaign. Martin and I will be attending the Announcement Rally here in Portland on the 23rd (a family-friendly affair that is expecting a turnout in the many hundreds) so that I can get involved in the campaign in our community.

This endorsement will not keep me from being critical of the Dean campaign if anything in it is disagreeable to me, and it will not keep me from being critical of the Dems in general. I'm still the same old Mama. I just feel that it is important to commit to this election in a very real way, and this is my way of doing it.

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      ( 11:37 AM )
Current Events

The President launched his campaign (not that it ever ended the last time) last night with a $2,000/person hot dog and nacho cocktail party fundraiser in DC. Here are just a few tidbits from the President's first stump speech:

"We're returning more money to American families to
help pay their bills," he said. "We're reducing taxes on
dividends and capital gains, to encourage investment.

"With all these actions, we have laid the foundation for
greater prosperity, and more importantly, more jobs all
across America so our fellow citizens have a chance to live
the American Dream," the president added.

"Right now this administration is focused on the people's
business," Bush said. "We've got a lot on the agenda."

And what agenda would that be? I think that it's going to take a lot more than BushCo's projected $200 million campaign pot to overcome the realities of this administration. The GOP thinks it can use its overwhelming dollars to demoralize the democrats and independent voters of this country into feeling like it's inevitable that Bush will win in 2004. Fortunately for the country, it doesn't look like people are going to be so easily fooled this time.

What record is Bush going to run on? He likes to say how we ferretted out the evil regimes of Afghanistan and Iraq, but in Afghanistan, the people are still living under violent attacks and uncertainty about their futures. There have now been over 50 US soldiers and countless civilian Iraqis killed since Bush's May 1 declaration of "Mission Accomplished." Ari tried again today to convince us that the economy is getting better - but the fact remains that the millions who have lost jobs since 2001 are still out of work with no prospects. Instead of finding out the truth of what really happened on 9/11, our government instead continues to punish and torture people who had nothing to do with the attacks. The Homeland Security Department, which was supposedly set up to make us more secure is financially neglected and failing at the very core of its duty to the American people.

The press continues to insist that BushCo is a "popular, war-time president." But isn't that what they were saying about his father a year before his massive loss in 1992? Money and chicanery are not going to win the day this time. I hope that the American people who believed BushCo about this war and bought the propaganda about Iraq's connection to 9/11 won't be so fooled next time around.

As we all know, a majority of voters voted against Bush in 2000. Those voters are not amongst the population that have fallen in love with this administration and will be changing their vote this time around. Also, those voters were divided by a third party candidate, which will not be the case this time since there is one overriding electoral goal of the two groups. All it comes down to is us voters who originally voted against Bush in 2000 stepping up to the plate and simply doing that again.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2003
      ( 9:53 AM )
The High Cost of Being a Poor Kid

Kids Count, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has released their 2003 Data Book. It's called "The High Cost of Being Poor: Another Perspective on Helping Low Income Families Get By and Get Ahead."

When you go to the website, you can create reports and charts from the report having to do with your own community. For instance, I found that in Oregon, while our infant mortality rates and even teen pregnancies have declined, the percentage of teen dropouts has risen from 8% to 12% in 10 years (which is above the national percentage), and the amount of teens not attending high school has also risen.

The percentage of children in Oregon who live with parents who do not have full time or year-round jobs is above the national percentage, with Oregon at 29% and the country at large at 24%. We rank 42 out of all the states in this category. This is a harrowing number... when you come right down to it, that means that 30 children out of 100 in this state (and 25 out of 100 in the country) do not have guaranteed room and board. Added to that, Oregon just about matches the national percentage for children living at or under the poverty rate (a rate which is a sham anyway): 16%

According to the DHHS, the "poverty threshold" is updated by the Census Bureau. This figure is used with statistical data, for instance, showing how many people are living in poverty. But the "poverty guidelines" are calculated by the DHHS and are used for determining who qualifies for what assistance.

According to the 2002 (latest available) "threshold" a four-member family with two children is at poverty when the annual income is $18,859. Taking into account that affordable housing costs 1/3 of your income (and most people cannot find affordable housing), that means that after paying the rent, the family has to live on $523.85 a month - not counting taxes though they still have to pay every tax except federal income tax. A family of four. And yet, a family of four that makes $30,000 still only must live on (after paying affordable rent and before taxes) $833.00 a month. But a family at this rate does get taxed on income, so that lowers the take home pay to an average of (generously calculated) $25,000.

This means that so many more children are living in poverty situations than are accounted for according to the government's "threshold." This includes, but is not limited to, conditions such as no permanent home, hunger, poor to no schooling opportunity, poor to no child protection or after school care, poor to no health care, etc.

Now, the federal government does not use the "threshold" to determine who gets help. This is where the "guidelines" come in. As opposed to the Census Bureau's determination of a family of four being poor when they make $19,000/year (in 2002), the federal goverment says that the level qualified for aid is about $500 less than that (for 2003). This means that a family which, say, makes $30,000 a year before taxes, does not qualify to receive aid for their children in the form of Head Start, the Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Children's Health Insurance Program -- despite the fact that they only have $800/month to live on for the entire family. There is no way you could afford day care or preschool, health insurance and three square meals a day on that for two children and two adults. Even if the adults went hungry, it wouldn't work.

There is absolutely NO reason why this country should have people unable to afford basic life needs for themselves and their children. I was very generous in my calculations by using the assumption that these families are able to attain affordable housing and costs. Most families are unable to do this. Thus, the cost of living is a much higher percentage of the lower income family's pay than it is for the higher income family. As the Kids Count report concludes:

... paying more simply because your income is low
is a practice that is out of sync with our country's
core values...

If we are truly to deliver on the fundamental promise
that hard work, self-sacrifice, and prudent investment
are the building blocks of economic security, then we
must promote approaches that demonstrate a new
national seriousness about leveling the cost of living
for low-income families.

These aren't the people that fatten the coffers of presidents and presidential candidates. These are the people that make it possible for presidents and presidential candidates, and the rest of us, to go about our daily lives with the goods and services we have come to expect, require and demand. There is no more significant population of workers and citizens than these people. If the leaders of our government would recognize this and do something about it, the living costs and conditions for the entire country would be better.

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      ( 8:51 AM )
Commenting Crisis Resolved (hopefully)

Okay, I was fed up with the Shout Out Comments, especially since it seems that they disappear frequently lately. So happily, this morning I discovered that haloscan was up again, and I've switched over. Hopefully now the commenting situation will be more dependable. Unfortunately, all past comments may have been lost. Well, I suppose starting fresh is always a good thing. We'll see.

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Monday, June 16, 2003
      ( 2:22 PM )
General [in the] Election

Could it be? Might he run? The Washington Post is carrying this article about Gen. Wesley Clark's appearance on Meet the Press yesterday. Of course, Daily Kos (an avid Draft-Clark supporter) comments. A couple of months ago, I blogged a bit about the general as a candidate. I think that it would be wise to look clearly at what his bid for the candidacy could do for the party. Clark is definitely not tested enough to be presidential material, but could lend a very strong presence as a VP, especially to Kerry or Dean. His record with NATO is well-established, and we can't count out his increased public image since being a nightly guest on CNN during the "war." While in my mind it's still a little step down to go from the title of "Supreme Allied Commander" to "Vice President," it would definitely give the democratic team much more weight on the side of military and foreign policy power, which they always need. It will be interesting to see if he decides to run, and if he does, I think it will give us only one more positive option rather than take away from the process the Dems are going to go through next year. This is just my opinion on the matter (which I don't think should be affected in any way by my previously admitted crush on the gorgeous general).

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      ( 12:17 PM )
California Dreaming

Well, looks like the far-fetched idea of recalling Gov. Davis in California may actually come to fruition. The instigator of the recall process, a business man and representative named Darrell Issa, has poured $800,000 into the campaign to recall the governor, and it now looks like it could make it to the ballot. TBogg has a great overview of the matter from a Californian's point of view, and he gives some good background on Issa and shows how this gambit by Republicans could turn out to be a really bad deal for them in the end because the Dems could end up running Diane Feinstein, and she's a sure winner. The Terminator is waiting until after his movie debut this summer to decide if he will throw his hat in.

Now, can we do this at the national level?

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      ( 11:57 AM )
Those Darned Michief Makers

Looks like hackers got ahold of the Labour Party's website and put up a picture of GW carring his little doggy, Tony Blair. Unfortunately, the picture has been taken down. I've always appreciated the good direct-action hack. Good work, lads.

UPDATE: Maru's got the picture!

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      ( 11:49 AM )
A Belated Appreciation of the Dads

I wanted to wish all the Dads out there a belated Happy Father's Day. I noticed the news was fully of reports of studies about Dads and even a few profiles of stay-at-home-dads. I especially want to send a shout out to my favorte blogging sahds:

Being Daddy has started a great new service where you can report Errant Parents - join the fun!

David at Daddy Make a Picture is not only staying home with 3 kids under 5 years old, he's lost 15 lbs in the last two weeks! If only I could be so skilled...

Rebel Dad is keeping us all up on the most recent press about Dads and he's always a great resource.

Frenzied Daddy has a great blog and is always interesting to read.

Adam's blog is a fantastic read, and I felt better this week when I realized we weren't the only ones with the toilet paper challenge in our house.

Of course, lots of other blogs are by dads who aren't at home full time, and they're great too:

Yertreelerermine is a wonderful read, and of course, TBogg is one of my favorites, who like me posts about politics and personal stuff.

Have a look at these and thanks to all the Dads out there who share their thoughts and experiences with us. I don't know what it's like to be a Dad in our culture these days, but I know it's tough. I want to send a shout out to all Dads who are making it work and tell you that I appreciate you.

Most of all, I appreciate my own P, stay at home dad to our son. He is a man of incredible skill and talent in many different areas, he can cook a four star meal on the same day he built a piece of furniture for the house or fixed someone's computer. He is a fantastic dad and husband and I feel very humbled to have a partner like him to support me and walk with me in life. He got his first garden gnome for Father's Day, and really, what better father's day present is there?

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Sunday, June 15, 2003
      ( 8:41 AM )
Whatever Works

The big Western States Republican Leadership Conference (developing campaign strategy for the northwest elections) was held here in Portland this weekend. Well, not BIG, but you know, big enough. The Republicans are high on the idea that Al Gore barely beat George Bush in 2000 here in Oregon and they think they can turn the tables and get this state to go republican in 2004. I'm not sure what planet they are living on, but it's not one in our solar system. The only reason it was so close in 2000 was that an overwhelming number of Oregonians showed their displeasure with the DLC puppet leadership of Al Gore and voted for Ralph Nader. I don't think it will be close this time, and it for sure as hell isn't going to be a republican vote.

But just in case you're worried... A group known as the Cascadia Magical Activists showed up at the republican meeting on Friday to "unbind Lady Liberty." They cast an unbinding spell to "remove the thrall that ensorcels much of the Congressional, Executive and Judicial branches of the United States government." Regarding the 99-1 vote for the Patriot Act, the group declares

It is not possible to explain this vote or almost any of the
other assaults on our freedoms in any rational way. It is as
though our political leaders have been bewitched - ensorceled
into believing that we must give up our essential liberties in the
name of the "War on Terrorism." Therefore, we must intervene
and release this Thrall.

They dressed in full ritual garb and gathered to try to free our government from the hex that has clouded their thinking as of late. Let's hope it worked.

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Friday, June 13, 2003
      ( 3:12 PM )
A Little Place Called Mogidishu

This is not turning out well. The whole Iraq thing, I mean. I have held off much comment on the entire situation because it's being thoroughly blogged everywhere, and many more people have much better insights than I. But frankly, I can't let it go without saying something. The blame for the quagmire in which our soldiers now find themselves lies solely on the shoulders of Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. The two of them (along with whichever other Administration cronies and yes-men egged this invasion on without a distinct plan for the obvious and realistic contingencies that would follow an end to formal combat) are criminals. The President cannot claim that he didn't know anything, unlike his predecessor Reagan. The President committed himself to this plan of action and put himself up as the front man for the decision and for the intentional misleading of the citizens of this country and the world.

So, just like his father with Somalia, he has led soldiers into a situation that is murderous. They are being murdered, and they are murdering others daily. Many criticized the reaction to what happened in Mogidishu, i.e., the pulling out of the soldiers. Americans can't stand for casualties like that, they said. But we're standing for it now. Where is the outcry about what is occurring in Iraq? My other question is: What happened to the "provisional government?" Wasn't it supposed to establish some civil law and order? I am no supporter of this empire building, occupying policy, but reality now forces us to deal with what's actually happening, not the "what if's" anymore.

And hard reality is that if the U.S. military is going to commit to an occupation of that country, then they're going to have to commit. That means really occupying, not just pretending they are there to keep the peace. That means no more wishy-washiness about who is in charge. The Iraqis are just going to have to deal with the fact that they have gone from one dictator to another, at least for now. What did they expect? What did we expect? What did BushCo expect? Nothing realistic, obviously. But how else is there going to be anything but catastrophic devastation as time drags on? If the American public isn't comfortable with this option, then it needs to examine its rabid support of George Bush and his administration.

It took years for the Gulf of Tonkin incident to be revealed as the hoax that it was. It's taken only months for the truth to emerge in this attack that was justified by the possible "domino theory of terror-supporting nations." Let's just hope it takes only one more year before this administration and the Congress learns its lesson the hard way.

Meanwhile, our soldiers are dying and so are the people of Iraq. Still. And soon the U.S. military is either going to have to be very harsh or it's going to have to leave. And if that happens, the people in Iraq, in all their newly-found freedom will find themselves where the people of Somalia are now existing: on the edge of suffering and the sharp blade of violence. No, please, peoples of the world, don't bother thanking us.

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      ( 1:48 PM )
How Low Can They Go?

To head off the deflation risk and boost
growth, the U.S. central bank is widely expected
to cut interest rates at its next meeting on
June 24-25.

-- from Reuters today. Just wondering: if the interest rate gets to 0, then what happens?

The Fed is keeping its eye on the possibility of deflation happening to the country (guess they didn't get the memo that it's already here). The producer price index and consumer confidence both went down in a report that came out today. But, thanks to Lambert guesting at Eschaton today, we know that despite working people still lacking confidence to spend extra money, the upper classes of our society are feeling much better these days.

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      ( 1:27 PM )
Well, If Anyone Needed a Holiday...

Our esteemed leader sure does. I don't know how he even managed that long trip last week, having to stay up late and travel almost every day. What a strain. He really is working hard for us, and I, for one, think he deserves a break. In that spirit, I will say with pride that I almost didn't laugh when I read the last few paragraphs of this story.

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      ( 8:48 AM )
Blogging Milestone

Wow, I passed 3,000 visits yesterday. I realize this is nothing compared to the "high end blogs" that get like 20,000 a day - but still, 3,000 is a nice large number and I like it. At this average of 1,000 visitors a month, I should catch up to where Atrios is now in, oh, 170 years. Thanks to all my regular readers and any new ones that happen to drop in - so far I've really enjoyed my blogging experience. I really like not only making contact with other bloggers and reading a huge variety of writing styles and subjects, but I also enjoy having my own little personal forum in which to write about whatever I please.

And yesterday I learned how to make my links look different so they're not all underlined, so I feel even a tiny bit more professional now too. So all in all, it's been a good first three months and hopefully we'll keep going strong.

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Thursday, June 12, 2003
      ( 4:12 PM )
A Thousand Words

Or in this case, just a few make all the difference. Thanks to Kitka for the link to this billboard that recently appeard in Worcester ("whusta"), MA.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
      ( 3:20 PM )
Leave No Child (Soldiers) Behind

Thanks to Jeanne over at Body and Soul (fantastic blog if you haven't read it) for focusing us on human rights lately. Her post on Burma is not only eloquent and educational but motivates me to write about a human rights issue that has been heavy on my heart lately.

The closest you may have gotten to hearing about Uganda lately is the news about the French sending in troops to rescue people in the Congo. The situation there is horrendous. But I want to talk about the children in Uganda.

UNICEF reports that since 1986, the Lord's Resistance Army has kidnapped over 20,000 children to use them as soldiers. According to the Uganda Children's Charity, over 30% of children in Uganda are malnourished, and there is the highest proportion of AIDS orphans in Uganda than any other country. A report on what happens to the abducted children relates that

Abducted children were tortured, threatened, made
to torture others and witness killings and sometimes
forced to kill. Girls were sexually abused and teenage
pregnancies occurred as a result of young girls being
given as 'wives' to rebel commanders. On escape/rescue,
they arrived underfed and malnourished and in need of
essential medical treatment.

NPR's Jesse Graham reported yesterday on Morning Edition that upwards of 8,000 children trek into city streets in northern Uganda every night to try and escape abduction. Chidren as young as 4 are walking as far as 5 miles every night with sleeping mats and blankets to sleep in bus stations, on the streets, in parking lots - anywhere they can find. If they stay home, they could be kidnapped and turned into baby soldiers. Their parents have to stay at home to protect the house and any babies or smaller children. The children interviewed by Graham say things like "it's hard to get homework done" and that they are afraid of being abducted so they make the nightly trip willingly. One mother is upset when her son informs her he slept in a parking lot instead of a church where she had urged him to go. But there just wasn't room.

Human Rights Watch reported back in 1997 the plight of children in Uganda. HRW also reports that over 300,000 children are used as soldiers. But HRW's definitive report was done only two months ago, in March 2003: "Stolen Children."

Early on when my brothers and I were captured, the
LRA explained to us that all five brothers couldn't serve
in the LRA because we would not perform well. So they
tied up my two younger brothers and invited us to watch.
Then they beat them with sticks until the two of them
died. They told us it would give us strength to fight. My
youngest brother was nine years old. -Martin P., age thirteen

As background, the conflict in Uganda has been going on for over 16 years. The rate of abductions had fallen greatly in 2001 after much of the LRA retreated to Sudan. But after a military offensive by the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF), they came back up into the country in droves and the abductions of children skyrocketed.

The threat of abduction has made children throughout the
region fear for their safety. Each night, thousands of children
pour into Gulu town and Lacor hospital from surrounding areas,
hoping to avoid abduction. They seek refuge on verandas,
in the bus park, on church grounds and in local factories before
returning home again each morning.

But it's not just the rebels, though they are the most brutal. The Ugandan forces also recruit children and train them to be "home guards" to guard villages and towns. But most often, when the Ugandan forces take children they do not return them but put them into soldiering service against the LRA.

The conflicts in Africa are hard to understand, mostly because we are not educated about them, our media does not cover them and our government ignores them. The racist foundation for the U.S.'s dealings with African nations is centuries-old. We only supported the fight against apartheid when it was obvious we could no longer stand up against the pressure of the rest of the world opinion. We of course imported slaves from Africa for centuries and are going to have to long pay the price for that here at home. The consequences of European colonization and American disinterest in Africa are far and widespread. Currently, wars are raging and only make it into media reports when American citizens happen to be in danger. But the conflicts in Uganda, Sudan, Liberia, Zimbabwe, The Congo, Rwanda, Somalia (the list goes on) are important because they are about human lives.

Why are we willing to invade a country and risk all manner of world opinion, diplomatic bargaining power, and military and civilian lives in order to rid that country of a regime that oppressed it, but not apply that same standard to other countries (I know, the answer is obvious)? Saddam's treatment of his citizens was abhorrent, and the subjugation of the population heinous. That and the (missing) WMDs were our stated reasons for invading. Our reasons for bombing Afghanistan were similar. We arrogantly argued on the world stage that we were freeing the people of Iraq and Afghanistan from oppression and subjugation.

Yet we ignore the children of Africa, and their mothers and fathers. I don't think it's only because they are black, though the racism is a major cause of our neglect. It's also because they can offer us nothing economically. The countries of Africa don't have great oil reserves (well, except Nigeria, where we are all too willing to devastate the land and ignore the people there too), or offer land across which an oil pipeline can be laid. They don't offer much of anything to us (according to our government, despite the fact that they have many exports that are very desirable) and wouldn't be very bright gems in our empire's crown.

We are a nation of vast wealth and resources. Our population which makes up 5% of the world's population, uses 60% of the world's resources. We consume and we ignore the rest of the world. We pay attention only when our sensibilities are offended. We were attacked by a group of individuals who used our own resources against us and we responded in great arrogance and violence towards people who had nothing to do with the attack. We responded by inflicting draconian legislation on our own citizens which take away civil rights and erode the liberties this country was founded on. And still, we learn no lessons. The attacks on 9/11 did not teach us to be more humble, to look around the world for the places we could use our wealth to uplift and join nations together. We did not learn the valuable lesson of setting an example of integrity, mercy and cooperation. We did not pay attention to the people who have been suffering under violence and terror long before we ever heard of Al Qaeda. And we are still not paying attention.

George W. Bush received Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as a guest and honor him for participating in the BushCo Aids Campaign (you know, the one where you don't get the money unless you preach abstinence and deny birth control education in clinics). But President Museveni commented later that the US and western countries like it have so many trade barriers set up, that even if they wanted to, the African countries could not prosper. I don't know if George Bush addressed the subject of the child abductions and child soldiers, or if President Museveni just conveniently ignores this blight on his country.

What I do know is that I have heard several stories in the last few days about this subject from various sources and my heart is broken about it. I wish that I were a millionaire and could build a safe and secure campus for all the children to live on until the adults of the country stop the violence against the children. I wish I could travel there and see for myself what is going on, I wish I had press contacts who would do stories in the mainstream corporate media. I wish that our government would condemn publicly these acts and do something productive to stop this abuse. I feel helpless and angry.

I am often overcome with insecurities and doubts about how I will raise my child in this country where he may grow up in a total police state or face a lack of freedoms or rights - but if only these were the only troubles faced by the children in Uganda and other violence-ridden countries. Humanity is cursing itself to generations of destruction and war if we do not stop and take care of the least of us. But that's the way it has always been. It's only in this century that children in this country had any protection at all from overwork and abuse. Children don't vote. They have no money. They have no power. Those in power are only interested in keeping that power - and children don't figure into those plans.

But it's an indictment on us as a people if we can live with ourselves in the comforts we have (even when we are laid off, living from paycheck to paycheck, wondering what may happen next - we are still better off), hear about the plight of these children, and still not care. What can we do? I am at a loss as to how to answer this question. But I'm going to look for an answer. There is simply not enough time or reason on this earth to allow children to experience this:

That night, the LRA came abducting people in our village,
and some neighbors led them to our house. They abducted
all five of us boys at the same time. I was the fifth one. . . .
We were told by the LRA not to think about home, about our
mother or father. If we did, then they would kill us. Better to
think now that I am a soldier fighting to liberate the country.
There were twenty-eight abducted from our village that night.
. . . We were all tied up and attached to one another in a row.
After we were tied up, they started to beat us randomly; they
beat us up with sticks.
-Martin P., abducted in February 2002 at age twelve

There is a Convention on the Rights of the Child - but how many countries and governments are giving it attention, I cannot say. Meanwhile, children in Iraq are killed by gunfire and malnutrition, children in Israel and Palestine are killed by each other's parents, children in Afghanistan are killed by landmines, children in North Korea die of starvation, children in Aceh, Indonesia are killed by their own government, and children in America are left behind. I would like to end this post on a positive note, but I can't think of one. I just needed to write about it.

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      ( 12:09 PM )

I couldn't think of a better eulogy than to quote the dearly departed himself:

"Ronald Reagan made us all feel better about ourselves." - Donald Regan (in an interview years ago with Scott Simon on NPR).

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      ( 10:08 AM )
Mission Accomplished ...What Mission?

Since Baghdad fell on April 9, 39 US soldiers have been killed by enemies and 41 killed in accidents. In a shocking acknowledgment of mis-strategy:

The Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, yesterday
acknowledged that the failure to capture or account
for Saddam may be fostering guerilla-style attacks
on US forces.

Duh. (I don't know how else to respond to that).

Only a month ago our fine specimen of a president landed on an aircraft carrier and announced in front of a gigantic banner that read MISSION ACCOMPLISHED that we had achieved what we set out to do and thus 9/11 was avenged (yes, yes, I know Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, but don't tell that to BushCo). And yet, here we are, two months following the accomplishment of the mission and in the last two weeks we've averaged about 1 soldier killed a day. Not only is it becoming clearer by the minute that the pretense for going into this war was based on lies and false evidence, we're also getting the picture that BushCo had no real strategy set out for what happened AFTER the bombs stopped dropping. I don't know what happened with the logistics planning in the Pentagon in terms of the post-war occupation, but either Rumsfeld didn't listen to experienced advisors on the matter, or there simply wasn't a plan.

Just a little bit of history might have aided in at least establishing some kind of parameters for how to operate the occupation. Lessons about who became the legitimate targets when the Brits occupied Northern Ireland, the Israelis occupied Palestine, etc. might have proven useful tools in shaping at least some kind of strategy. The new slogan "Bush Lied, People Died" is becoming even more apt after the war, as young American soldiers continue being shot down in the streets of a country filled with people that aren't going to make it easy for Bush to become Emperor of the Earth.

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      ( 9:48 AM )
I Got My Mind Set On You

Rummy is opining about Iran again today. Not only that, but he's vehement about not allowing Iran to influence his new baby colony:

"We're going to actively oppose any Iranian influence
in that country that attempts to make Iraq an Iran-type
model and we'll do it with words to start with, and we'll
do it energetically," he said.

"Energetically." From any other person that word might be benign. From Rumsfeld, it's a positively frightening prospect. I notice, however, that as soon as someone in BushCo starts talking Iran or North Korea, the media dutifully distracts us from the realities of the economy and the rest of the world's opinion of our country. Our nation is in the worst financial and diplomatic state it's ever been in... watch out Iran.

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      ( 9:11 AM )
Hans Has His Day

Hans Blix gave a scathing interview in the Guardian today and told other interviewers about his experiences as well as being a target of a Pentagon smear campaign. This is not necessarily news, but I suppose if anyone deserves to vent, it's Hans.

Interesting: in February and March, all Blix and his team were asking for was a little more time to complete their inspections of Iraq. But BushCo said it COULDN'T WAIT, the threat was TOO IMMINENT from the WMDs!! And now, in May and June, all Bush and his team are asking for is just a little more time to complete their inspections...

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