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

Thursday, July 31, 2003
      ( 3:33 PM )
Keeping Track

You may have been fooled of late by the various reports in the media of 45 or so deaths of soldiers since the president's May 1 announcement of "Mission Accomplished," because you know that it must be more than that. Well, there is a site keeping track of it all for you: the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count. The authors of the site have done extensive research and are keeping close track of the count, which is averaging 1 per day right now. The fact that the media does not portray deaths that happen because of friendly fire or vehicle or weapons accidents as "counting" is disturbing, as if those soldiers did not die on the battlefield or in the course of duty. What's even more disturbing are the 3 possible suicides amongst the dead. It's time for the press to start being honest with the American people about the toll this war is taking on our troops...and by extension, their families and the country that supports them.

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      ( 2:15 PM )
Public Demonstration of Affection

The sign several of my family members and friends intend to hold up when we go to protest the arrival of our non-esteemed leader in Portland later this month:

"I can come to protest because I don't have a job"

One has to wonder why he's coming here again after what happened last time. Well, some people are gluttons for punishment, I guess. Perhaps Portland will be the vanguard for growing protests everywhere he goes to fundraise until he's finally booted in 2004... one can only hope.

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      ( 12:35 PM )
Is it Real...or is it Memorex?

Does that title date me?

Both Maru and Whiskey Bar have succinctly pointed today to the timely coincidence of the TSA announcing that it could no longer afford air marshalls and the Homeland Security's announcement of impending terror attacks via airplanes. And, in another strange twist on reality, Bush declared that indeed the threats are real and that he is in charge of the War on Terror and is working hard on it... so stop paying so much attention to those silly old lies he told to lead hundreds of soldiers to their deaths!

It's interesting that we haven't gone up in color on our threat rainbow, and that no one seems to mind that the sole source of the threat comes from an Al-Qaeda captive that planned the 9/11 attacks. I'm sure he has all the good intentions in the world and is telling the absolute truth to his torturers since undoubtedly if he tells the truth which leads to the capture of more of his comrades, he will surely be released or at least not killed once they're finished with him.

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      ( 11:39 AM )
Skills Training

No computer access yesterday. Spent all day in a seminar on how to be better at a job that I don't really want to have. It was sort of an odd feeling - the internal emotional conflict going on inside me, while all the time being semi-interested in the stuff I was learning. I want to be good at my job. But this wasn't going to be my job - I'd been accepted to grad school to get a Masters in Teaching when the economy went into the toilet and our household economy shifted to match. So while my husband does the job search thing day in and day out, and I work in a career field that I am thankful to have because it pays the bills and provides health coverage for my child, neither of us is pursuing what we were educated for or what we wanted to do in life, and our family just struggles to get by.

Perhaps the first thing Congress should do when they all come back from vacations most of us would kill to get, is enact a Resolution that states clearly: "in accordance with the proven records and history of this country, we now declare that the idea of the "American Dream" was a falsehood launched on the psyches of American working people that will never come true. So "pulling yourselves up by the bootstraps"...ha ha, only joking!" ...or something like that.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2003
      ( 3:27 PM )
A Thousand Words

Check out this from Information Clearinghouse: Bush's Bring Them On Picture Album. (thanks DK) What it's like to be a soldier in Iraq right now... is there a good enough reason for this?

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      ( 3:08 PM )
Changes in BlogoLand

Just a catch-all of some new sites I've added to the ol' list:

An old favorite gets a new name: The Watch has changed to Pacific Views. I like the new look and there are loads and loads of links. Same great blogging and commentary too!

New kids on the block:

The River looks fresh and interesting. The blogger, Bruce, is actually an old hand at blogging, and most notably I appreciate his movie reviews (in his former life he had a great one on The Matrix) which are not only insightful and interesting, but really fun to read!

I Know This is Probably Bad For Me is a new favorite of mine as well. Especially worth reading, tons of research and commentary on the Bush Administration's decapitation of Early Head Start. I will go into this subject further in a separate post, but the blog is really well written on this subject especially and deserves some attention.

And as I mentioned before, Whiskey Bar is now also regularly visited by me. Great writing and great commentary on current events as they happen!

Give a little visit to the new kids when you have a chance - tell them Mama sent you.

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      ( 12:32 PM )
DLC: Decidely Lacking Conviction

Great post from Kos today about the DLC's new poll they conducted. Burka makes the entire thing more understandable (motto: humor will keep you from weeping in misery at the ridiculousness of it all").

The poll obviously was done to trump up their support of Lieberman. They are hanging on to yesterday's tactics. They seem to be either blind or stupid: this election won't be won by trying to get voters who traditionally vote GOP or by trying to appear as a mini-republican. These tactics didn't work in 1994, didn't work in 2000, and didn't work last year. So what gives? Why is the DLC so hell-bent on trying to get the media and public to believe that the democratic party is just a bunch of losers if they don't vote Lieberman? Money really has corrupted the process. All the more reason for voting Americans to pay attention to the candidates and what they say rather than the political maneuvers of "leadership groups" with absolutely no leadership ability or vision.

My contribution to Burka's story:

In related news, the DLC announced its new CEO, Karl Rove, will be filling in until the general election in 2004 in order to help Democrats "see clearly the vision of unity for all Americans." While most voting democrats have been driven to support of centrist yet truly DEMOCRAT candidate Howard Dean, the DLC insists that Compassionate Fascism isn't just for Republicans anymore, and Lieberman really IS our guy! The DLC continues to make painstakingly thought-out decisions that will ultimatey give their goals the victory they deserve: loss of all respect and voting supporters, but lots and lots and LOTS of money.

UPDATE: Kos has requested bumperstickers for the DLC. Here are a few of my favorites:

DLC: Getting Democrats elected since... well eventually.

DLC: When Two Parties are Just One Too Many

DLC: Mowing the Grassroots since 1986

DLC: Standing up for ordinary Americans is so 1960s.

Go and add your own!

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      ( 10:56 AM )
Renegade Politics - Watch Out America!

It's interesting to note how the GOP is working so hard to initiate its new version of democracy: "Impeach, Appoint, Recall and ReAlign Districts" lately. With the California Recall already in process, Republicans are trying to subvert the electoral process by claiming that 5% of the California voting population is enough to claim that all the votes cast last November should be null and void. One has to wonder if the GOP realizes that this is not necessarily a boon to their party, even if they win the recall election (which from all appearances looks to be a long-shot). And if they lose, then they have one more mark against them going into 2004. Keep up to date on the California Recall with Calpundit.

In Texas, the GOP, aided by Sen. Tom Delay, are trying to redraw district lines to add 6 new congressional districts to the GOP for the 2004 election. Lt. Governor Dewhurst decided to simply forgo the required 2/3 majority needed to pass legislation and thought that this would then allow the GOP to push through this bit of political maneuvering with a simple majority. But the Dems in the Texas Legislature were already thinking ahead and vamoosed out of town yesterday to block a vote because of the needed quorum. It looks like there may be a showdown at high noon...and the Dems may yet win this one, despite the GOP's conniving. At least Delay wasn't allowed to invoke Homeland Security to fetch back the Dem legislators this time. They are currently holing up in Dem-Friendly Gov. Richardson's New Mexico.

And the Campaign to Elect the President is again putting out press releases flaunting its massive amounts of fundraising. One has to wonder why they feel so compelled to wave about their millions of dollars? Could it be because they know they don't have the actual VOTERS to get Bush elected in 2004, so they are trying to distract us with their bank balance? This theory was proven true yesterday by the Dean campaign. In a call to match Dick Cheney's fundraising luncheon in South Carolina ($2,000 a plate - raising $250,000 in one sitting), the Dean Campaign asked its supporters to try and match the Veep's fundraiser. They not only matched, but far surpassed it, raising over $508,640.31 from 9,621 Dean supporters. That's an average of 53 bucks a person. And Gov. Dean even sat down and had lunch with his supporters to counter Cheney's red-plate special.

The GOP may have the millionaires and big business, but so far, Gov. Dean is only accountable to the people who support him. That truly is renegade politics in this day and age.

Looks Trump Truth?

In a fantastic article today, Paul Krugman discusses the fact that American still seem more influenced by style over substance. Comparing the backlash on Tony Blair from the British population to the small (but growing) disapproval of the American public for Bush, Krugman points out that perhaps the Bush Administration itself is underestimating American voters.

In June only 36 percent of the public
described Mr. Blair as "trustworthy," while
54 percent called him "untrustworthy."

Now the Bush administration was at least as
guilty of hyping the case for war. It was a campaign
not so much of outright falsehoods — though there
were some of those — as of exaggeration and
insinuation. Here's what the public thought it heard:
Last month, 71 percent of those polled thought
the administration had implied that Saddam Hussein
had been involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.

And when it comes to domestic spin, Mr. Blair isn't
remotely in Mr. Bush's league. Whether pretending
that the war on terror — not tax cuts, which have
cost the Treasury three times as much — is responsible
for record deficits, or that those hugely elitist tax cuts
are targeted on working families, or that opening up
wilderness areas to loggers is a fire-prevention plan,
Mr. Bush has taken misrepresentation of his own policies
to a level never before seen in America

Krugman goes on to note that the Administration itself seems to be fine with this, and in fact are manipulating the American public based on the assumption that the lies don't matter, only that he tells them convincingly:

Another answer may be that in modern America,
style trumps substance. Here's what Tom DeLay,
the House majority leader, said in a speech last
week: "To gauge just how out of touch the Democrat
leadership is on the war on terror, just close your
eyes and try to imagine Ted Kennedy landing that
Navy jet on the deck of that aircraft carrier." To say the
obvious, that remark reveals a powerful contempt for
the public: Mr. DeLay apparently believes that the nation
will trust a man, independent of the facts, because he
looks good dressed up as a pilot. But it's possible that he's right.

I hope that he's not right. I hope that Americans are beginning to shed the wool from their eyes and become very disturbed at being misled and fed a bunch of lies in order to prop up an administration that has accomplished nothing to make us more economically secure, more secure from terrorism, to improve our children's chances at a good education, to ease the burden of the cost of health care and prescription medicine, or even just to keep our natural wildlife safe and free from development. No amount of pandering to the corporations and big money is going to save Bush/Cheney in 2004 if the American public decides to take back their country and prove that the power is with us, and not with those who would lie in order to line their own pockets at our expense.

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Monday, July 28, 2003
      ( 4:25 PM )
Update on the Dad Show

I thought the Talk of the Nation today on stay at home dads was good - especially because I thought the airing of the subject in itself was fabulous for a national talk show. Most of the stay at home dads who called in sounded like they were so relieved someone was acknowledging their existence that they were just happy to be on the show. The guest on the show was Bruce Stockler, who has written a book called I Sleep at Red Lights about his life as a Stay-at-Home-Dad to 4 kids, 3 of them triplets. I think the two major things I took away from listening to the various dads were (1) you can't expect that Stay-at-Home-Dads (SAHDs) have the same issues or needs as stay at home Moms, and (2) there isn't anyone doing any research or studying on it, so any "official" conclusions about the issue are pretty weak. On the second point first, there was a brief interview with a statistician or researcher on familes, but basically she had no solid findings at all about SAHDs. One question that was asked was are there any findings about kids who are raised by a SAHD as opposed to a Mom? I felt this question was a little strange, and the researcher even responded by saying "well, we never ask that question about moms." Any kid raised by loving parents, no matter if they are in the home full time or not, or no matter which one is in the home full time, is going to have a head start in life. Distinguishing about whether a Dad or a Mom is better is not only a waste of time, but it is terribly short sighted and judgmental.

On the first issue, I found myself thinking a lot about how many SAHDs are forced to participate in "mommy groups" where they are the only man, but for the sake of their children, they go to these things. Also, how many SAHDs aren't necessarily looking for other SAHDs to talk about potty training and cost comparisons of diaper wipes, but for the same kind of friendships they had and desired before they were SAHDs...just time enough to nurture them. As the working mama, I often worry about P feeling isolated and wonder if he should go to "mommy groups" just for the social aspect of it...but those things are not necessary to him. Martin certainly has his pals and isn't old enough for coordinated play anyway. It reminds me of how frustrated I feel when I look for books on fathering and being a SAHD (good luck), and the focus is on how to manage your money for your child's future finances, how to schedule more quality time with your kid, etc. The assumption is always that the Dad is the third wheel (speaking of a one kid family). I hope that exposure like today's call in show will start turning the tide. More than likely, it will need to be books written by the likes of the SAHDs themselves that will point the way toward realistic attitudes and the deserved attention they all should be receiving. I'll get P working on that book... he should be able to fit it in between chasing the poop monster and rebuilding the house, I mean for godsake - he can give up the bonbons and tv once in a while...

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      ( 10:43 AM )
Mama Talks Dads

As regular readers of this blog know, one of my favorite subjects is DADS. I have a particular interest because my husband is a stay at home dad to our 14-month old, and is thus part of an elite yet growing population of dads in a new career trend. If you haven't checked them out, I highly recommend stopping in to visit some of my favorite stay at home dad bloggers: Being Daddy, Rebel Dad ,Daddy Make a Picture and Fulltime Father.

I wanted to bring up this subject again today because the second hour of Talk of the Nation on NPR today is scheduled to be dedicated to the subject of stay at home dads. This "trend" seems to be gaining in mentionables lately, though I always check Rebel Dad for the most recent references that I may have missed, such as today's AP article about the fact that the recession has caused a growth in the number of stay at home dads. I will be interested to hear what kind of discussion takes place on Talk of the Nation today. The lead in is this:

He worries about runny noses and skinned knees.
She's the family bread winner and watches their
stock portfolio. What happens when dad stays
home and mom works an 80-hour week? Is this
simply a role reversal or the new shape of the
American family?

My personal opinion is that it's not so much a role reversal as it is a new ability to shuck "roles" altogether and make a partnership in marriage and family work the best way that the partners can. It's only a "reversal" if you think that the old, patriarchal rules of a woman staying in the home with the children all day is the norm or the most acceptable form of raising a child or providing for a family. I don't happen to think that way, and I daresay the couples that have gone forward with stay-at-home-dad choices don't think that way either. Thus, it's more of a lack of desire to accept "roles" at all, but rather to be practical about who and what is the best combo for providing for and taking care of your family. I think probably that a majority of stay at home dads right now are there because the mom can make more or get better benefits from her job, and a two-income household doesn't necessarily pay for child care anymore. Probably a lot of the dads home now are there because of the recession and loss of jobs in the workforce. But Dads who choose to be stay-at-home dads do it because they WANT to.

You're not a stay at home dad because you suck at something else or you can't find a job or you lack some sort of career ambition. This kind of labeling is the same stereotypical judgment placed on moms who stay home despite college educations or former thriving careers in the marketplace. It's lame and it has to go. While I don't know any particular statistics to quote, I'm guessing that the majority of working families have both parents working (a lot) just to make ends meet. I admit that in my household, we struggle terribly to get by on my meager salary as a legal secretary. Probably, if there were a job in the tech field for P that he could get that would provide extra income over and above child care, we would consider being a two-income household, just so that we wouldn't feel so burdened by the economic struggle. But finding a second job that provides that kind of extra income is hard enough anyway - and we are doing better than many, with our own little home and enough to provide for our son. So I don't complain and though I sometimes struggle on a personal level with being the parent who feels sort of "part time," I also am so thankful that my son is home with his dad, who loves him and dotes on him and does fun and cool things with him all day long.

It is a VERY hard job to be a parent home with a toddler. Any parent who does this knows that it takes far more energy, brain power, scheduling expertise and coordination than any job that is with adults (though the toddler is sometimes better behaved and easier to communicate with). If it is indeed a trend that Dads are staying home more, then I hope to see a change in ways that the main caretakers of children are addressed. Especially in so-called "parenting" magazines such as Parenting and Parents. Which currently in my book might as well be called Mothering and Mothers for all the attention they give to dads (and not even stay at home dads, but dads in general). The mainstream press and media will hopefully begin to lose their stereotypes on who their audience is and start addressing parents as a team, dads as full-time caretakers of their kids (no matter if they stay at home or not), and moms as equally valuable whether they work in an office or stay at home. Is it too much to ask?

P.S. I'll post my thoughts on the NPR program after I've had a chance to listen to it.

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      ( 8:44 AM )
Thanks For the Laughs - and the Example

It is very sad to see the news this morning of Bob Hope's death. In all the comments and eulogies that will be written of him today and this week, he will be lauded for his ability to entertain and for his dedication to the troops of this country, especially during wartime. But what really struck me as I listened to an overview of his life on NPR this morning was the final statement: he died surrounded by family and friends...he was married to his wife Delores for 69 years. Wow. I don't know anyone who has been married that long, even amongst all the friends of my Grams. I just celebrated my 4th anniversary with my husband last week, and thinking about 70 years boggles my mind. No matter what may have happened between them, no matter what struggles the marriage might have had, doesn't it speak volumes that they stayed together throughout it all? That means that they were true partners, true friends. You couldn't live with someone that long and not be. It's the most enduring legacy of a man to leave behind him 70 years of partnership with a woman who he admitted often was his strength and backbone through it all. I can't imagine the kind of loss one must feel when your partner of so many decades is gone.

It just left me with a good feeling - that someone, no matter who he was to the world, stayed with and was committed to one person for 70% of his entire life. That truly is worth lauding.

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Friday, July 25, 2003
      ( 10:55 AM )
Favorite New Blog

Actually, it appears he's been around since April...but I just discovered him today. Go read Whiskey Bar - good writing and even better analysis.

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      ( 10:07 AM )
They Still Don't Get It

There is a very interesting debate on the TNR website between Jonathan Cohn and Jonathan Chait regarding Howard Dean's campaign and whether he is truly able to win the candidacy and the presidency. Whether you are a Dean supporter or not, it's a very thought-provoking debate, and I enjoyed reading it and pondering the points both of them raised.

Chait believes that Dean is not only non-viable as a candidate, but he also thinks that Dean will detrimentally divide the party. He lauds Edwards' strategy of supporting the Iraq war but taking Bush to task on underfunding Homeland Security, of courting centrist big money supporters and staying away from the left. He also brings up the old non-starter that Democrats are "weak on foreign policy" and that this will be bad for Dean because he has consistently been against the war and the plans for the occupation of Iraq, along with calling for more international cooperation (which I don't get, I guess not being a pre-emptive cowboy makes you look weak?). He seems to be, as far as I can tell, echoing the DLC line of how the Democrats can really win...and yet, it hasn't proven to be a winning formula in years.

What I don't think Chait, Edwards, the DLC and the rest of the "ignore the left, they are just radicals" folks get is that Dean is not simply attracting the 2000 Nader voters and the so-far-left-progressives-that-they're-practically-communists, as is the oft-repeated mantra from the likes of the DLC. Dean is bringing in independants and centrist voters because his message is not wholly left-leaning. I do think good points are made by both Chait and Cohn regarding the broader base that needs to be reached by Dean, but I also know that many of these judgments are being made very early on. The thing I will say about this subject right now is that Dean's campaign has blossomed virtually overnight in the last two months - he has gone from being totally unknown to raising the most money from the most people and gaining over 200,000 registered volunteers. This is not the whole of his campaign, this is the foundation that will launch his campaign - he is doing in-person appearances in cities all over the country this summer (coming to Portland Aug 25!). I think that as more and more people become aware of him, more and more of the voters in this country will be attracted to his message of change and his appeal as a non-Washington insider and his complete independence from big-corporate interests. I think the naysayers with regard to Dean's broader appeal will need to keep a good look-out in the coming six months.

On the subject of the "weakness" of Democrats on foreign policy and the use of the military - where did this start? Wasn't it Carter who used diplomacy to bring about one of the first major peace agreements in the Middle East? Wasn't it a Democratic president who strongly led the US during WWII, who used the first nuclear weapons and who committed troops to the Korean War? Wasn't it a Democrat's hawkish treatment of Vietnam (not that democrats actually agreed with him, but you have to concede he wasn't exactly a "wimp") that caused his downfall? Was it not a democrat president who committed troops to the Balkans and who carried on continuous bombing raids of Iraq for 8 years, including a major effort in late 1998? On the diplomatic side, was it not a Democrat president who contributed to the formation of the UN, wasn't it a Democrat who resolved the Cuban Missle Crisis without violence, wasn't it a Democrat who urged along and saw the end of hostilities in Northern Ireland, who aided in the Oslo Agreement, who oversaw the initiation of NAFTA (again, not that we agree wholly with these things, just that they are foreign policy accomplishments from a political point of view)? Where does this rhetoric of Democrats being "weak" on use of the military and foreign affaris come from? This has got to be countered by clear thinking and speaking candidates who not only oppose this administration's policies, but can move beyond that and propose new and forward-thinking foreign policies.

Bush came into the White House on a platform that basically said he was going to ignore other countries as much as possible. Even the most obvious risks were not a part of his agenda. This was clearly evident when our plane was shot down by China and it came out that Bush had eliminated the China desk from the NSA and had no one in his administration with the knowledge and experience to advise him in the first part of that episode. Does alienating our allies and almost all other countries in the world count as being "strong?" Does initiating invasions of sovereign nations and targeting rulers for assasination count as being "strong?" Does ignoring the Middle East conflict until it's obvious you can't get out of it, and then letting it flounder count as being "strong?" Does exploiting African nations for good photo ops and then not following through with the promised aid or taking care of expected responsibilities in Liberia count as "strong?"

This entire "Democrats are weak on foreign policy" rhetoric ignores the foreign policy triumphs of every Democrat president since the turn of the century. Whether you believe they were right or not, I don't think that Democrat governments in the 20th century showed "weakness." It's part of that Republican strategy: repeat something often enough and it becomes the truth, even if it's not (witness: "liberal media"). It's this false rhetoric, just like the idea that the President being strong makes up for him lying, that Democrats must fight this year, in the media, in Congress, and in our backyards talking over the fence to our neighbors.

One final note, It would be hard for the GOP to use this argument if they ultimately face Kerry, who is a Vietnam veteran, or if Dean wins out and picks up Gen. Clark as a running mate. I think either of these options would quell this GOP falsehood and severely limit their campaign strength on that issue.

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Thursday, July 24, 2003
      ( 3:36 PM )
Can You Fool Most of the People All of the Time?

Despite the White House's thus-far successful attempts to intimdate and harass people who bring to light its crimes and misdemeanors, its seeming forgetfulness of its insistence that the Geneva Convention be followed by releasing photos of the slain, charred bodies of enemy combatants, and its ongoing battle against the stain of the 16 words, the administration insists it is the NUMERO UNO supporter of the troops.

And yet, the Pentagon announced today new troop rotation plans. These plans involve rotating troops in and out of Iraq on a one year tour of duty. Sound familiar? That's because it is. In fact, the one year rotation plan was deemed so bad after Vietnam that military procedures were changed so as to avoid the inflated demoralization and sub-zero troop morale that the constant one-year rotations created. "We'll never do that again!" was basically what the Pentagon declared after Vietnam. But here we are, short on ideas and shorter on memory and today's announcement put the troops back into the one-year tour of duty again.

In addition to this wonderful news, we hear today from the Wolf's mouth that the White House may have made a few teensy-weensy planning errors with regard to how to handle the post-war occupation:

But in contrast to the planning for war, other
officials said, the Defense Department's
attention to the occupation was haphazard
and incomplete.

"There was a serious disconnect between the
forces necessary to win a war and occupy a
country," said a U.S. official who worked in the
initial postwar effort and is still in Baghdad.
"We fooled ourselves into thinking we would
have a liberation over an occupation.
Why did we do that?"

Contrary to popular BushCo claims, the deaths (murders) of the Hussein sons will not quell the "sporadic" opposition attacks by demoralizing the "few remaining Saddam supporters." The people attacking our troops are not Saddam Hussen supporters. They are nationalists. Most likely they were opposed to Saddam Hussein their whole lives. Only now they have their country back and they're not too anxious to hand it over again to another authoritarian force. I'm not justifying what they are doing, nothing in war can be justified or explained very easily, but what I am saying is that the administration's insistence that this resistance has to do with Baath party supporters or hold out Saddam lovers is once again a ploy to divert our attention from the fact that they did not plan for or prepare our troops for an ongoing guerilla war.

Oh, and by the way, who IS in charge?....

Despite Pentagon support for a provisional
government led by Chalabi, Bush rejected
that option. Instead, he took the State
Department's view that exiles and internal Iraqi
figures should be given an equal chance to
prove themselves in an Interim Iraqi Authority
to be created immediately after the war.

But Chalabi continued to work closely with Feith
and others at the Pentagon, staying in touch by
satellite telephone from Iran and northern Iraq.
Officials at the National Security Council and the
State Department were stunned to learn in early
April that U.S. military authorities had flown Chalabi
and 700 hurriedly assembled fighters into southern
Iraq. The vice president concurred in the decision
to airlift him.

Feith said it was strictly a decision made on military
grounds by U.S. Central Command, but his Pentagon
critics believe that he and Wolfowitz were trying to
boost Chalabi's political prospects.

Meanwhile, as Maru points out, whether or not Americans are noticing, the rest of the world has already discovered the truth about how our SCLM is brushing aside the confabulations (lies) of our government:

On CNN's media show Reliable Sources on
Sunday, Milbank told host Howard Kurtz:
"I think what people basically decided was this
is just the president being the president ...
He is under a great deal of pressure."

Now I must say that Milbank is probably the
toughest White House correspondent there is,
constantly churning out critical stories that go
against the pro-Bush tide. But when even he
says this is "just the president being the president''
or suggests that the man can't handle the pressure,
it's time to pull the covers over your head.


Dozens and dozens of pundits are behaving
like nothing is going on, as if, in the words of
the folks at http://www.tompaine.com, they
"aren't acknowledging the elephant in the living room.''

As for the few pro-Bush professional opinionators
who do write about it, they do so only to
diss the critics.


"The Niger uranium flap has achieved the
status of midsummer frenzy," concurs syndicated
columnist Charles Krauthammer, adding that
Bush's "blunder opens the way to the broad
implication that the president is a liar or a
dissimulator who took the country to war under
false pretenses."

Implication? Tell that to the families of the dead.

As http://www.fair.org reports, the "Bush uranium
lie'' is the "tip of the iceberg'' of confabulation.
Why aren't the media making more of the falsehoods?
How can Bush get away with saying that Saddam
would not allow the weapons inspections?

Funny thing is, according to the latest poll
from the Washington-based Pew Research
Center for People & the Press, more than half
of all Americans — 51 per cent — believe that
the U.S. media are liberal, while 70 per cent
want a "decidedly pro-American'' tilt to their news.

Looks like the media are delivering.

Talk about gassing your own people

Wake Up, America.

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      ( 11:37 AM )
Good Grief - What a Bitter Bitch!

I'm sorry for my use of foul language. I can't even say what I really think about today's column by Ann Coulter , because it would be very inappropriate for a mama.

While it may signify that Dr. Dean has finally arrived, being mentioned in the first paragraph of Coulter's column...the rest of her ranting degenerates into her oft-repeated diatribe against Clinton. Who knew that conservatives (as compassionate as they are) could hate someone with so much vehemence that every argument turns into a rant against him? Does any newspaper actually carry this column? She's not even sounding lucid, much less educated. The woman needs to get her ranting in line if she ever hopes to be considered a viable voice in political critique. Though I sincerely doubt that's what she's aiming for.

Mama's diagnosis: Ms. Coulter is afeeeeaard of them Democrats takin' over agin.... dontcha worry, Ann - we'd never call you the names you call us every day. We're too decent. You think we are just a bunch of America-haters. But it's just the opposite. We love our country too much - and we're going to get it out of this handbasket no matter what you say.

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      ( 10:39 AM )
Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet...
there might be a Wabbit Snake in these Parts....

John Ashcroft snuck into Portland last Friday. The visit wasn't announced until the night before. Despite the late notice, over 250 protesters showed up. Good Ol' Portland! One has to wonder if Ashcroft has to sneak into most places that he travels to nowadays. Not only is he not much liked for inciting our local cops to go cukoo for coco pops on the "grab up possible terrorists, no matter if they've nothing to do with terrorism!" spree, but he is especially not liked for holding up the twice-voted-for assisted-suicide law in this state. His meddling has created a not-so-very-big fondness for himself - thus his secretive dashes in and out of the state.

Ashcroft continues to defend the Patriot Act and its successor, Patriot II. Here in Oregon, he did it standing in front of seven big flags, including the stars and stripes, Oregon's flag, and even the Department of Corrections flag. Despite growing concerns from citizens and lawmakers that the Patriot Act has given too much power to the justice department to spy on and prosecute people without cause, Ashcroft thinks he doesn't have enough powers yet. As David Sarashon so aptly puts it:

Ashcroft arrived at a time when three
states (Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont) and
more than 100 local jurisdications have passed
resolutions challenging the USA Patriot Act, and
in a place where two counties (Lane and Benton)
and five cities (Eugene, Corvallis, Ashland,
Gaston and Talent) have joined the cry.


Friday in Portland, Ashcroft said, "There are
some things the Patriot Act doesn't do that
we should consider getting done. As Congress
continues to (look into) this, they may be
upgrading the tools we use to fight terror."

And, some might say, allow the Justice
Department to keep an eye on more people.

When proclaiming the powers of the
United States government, seven flags are plenty.

But one Constitution has always been enough.

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      ( 8:49 AM )
Turning Eyes Toward Home

I haven't blogged much lately about local issues here in Oregon, and something I watched on tv on Tuesday prompted me to do so again this week. I was home Tuesday, recovering from my travel before going back to work. One advantage of being at home during the day (besides getting to play with your kid all day long) is that you can see the strange and wonderful world of public access on tv. The shows are unannounced and so it's always a surprise what you might get. Sometimes you get Democracy Now, sometimes you get Tootle and his dog boy Ruff.

On Tuesday, one of the local stations was replaying the taping of a community forum that took place in my neighborhood about 3 weeks ago. It was called so that the community could ask questions and hear (hopefully) answers from the Mayor, public officials and the police about what really happened to Kendra James. As a quick recap, on May 5 the cops pulled over a car that ran a stop sign at about 2am in the morning. They pulled the driver out of the car to search him. The cops' story goes as follows: when the driver, a young man, was pulled out of the car, Kendra James, a 20 year old mother of 2, jumped into the front seat, tried to pull away, was threatening the life of Officer Scott McCallister, and so he shot her. Dead. In defense of his own life.

But as I watched the July 1 community forum, facts came to light that I have never seen reprinted in the press. I was astounded as I watched Mayor Katz (who, thank God has decided not to run for another term next year), Chief of Police Kroeker along with the District Attorney and other officials hem and haw and not truly answer any questions put to them by the community. Community leaders, on the other hand, had quite a few pointed questions, based on their investigation into all the documents produced from the incident. So now I come to the main crux of my indignation about this case. Some of the unanswered questions that still remain:

-- Why was there so much reporting and claims by the police to smear the victim's name saying that Ms. James was the owner of some crack that was found under the driver's seat when the reality is that it was a rented car and had no connection with Ms. James except that she was a passenger?

-- Why were there abrasions, cuts, bruises on her face and a broken tooth noted on Ms. James' autopsy? How shocking that no where in the police report is there mention of hitting her.

-- Why were Officer McCallister and the other cops on the scene able to go to Applebees after the incident, sit down have dinner and get their stories straight about what happened before they were questioned or had to write incident reports?

-- Why was Ms. James shot in the abdomen and then pulled out of the car and laid on the pavement dying for an hour before an ambulance was called?

-- How can the police claim that their tazers and pepper spray were all non-functional and so then had to use deadly force? Are the police this badly equipped?

-- Why in the Oregon police academy are cops trained to use deadly force as an early option in a routine traffic stop?

-- Why does it take almost 1,000 more hours to be licensed as a barber in Oregon than it does to become a police officer?

-- Why, if the police claim that all Officer McCallister did was make a terrible mistake, was he not fired for killing someone? No matter that he may not be criminally liable for her killing, he really f*&!ed up and should have been let go. The rest of us get fired for far less devastating offenses.

-- Why, if the police are so intent on having "community policing" in my neighborhood, do they keep allowing the same "bad apples" -- known white officers who belligerantly harass citizens of my community-- to continue working in my neighborhood?

-- Why, at a community forum where people are given the opportunity to ask questions of the police and city officials were there so many people who stood up to say that their husbands, sons, wives, daughters, cousins and neighbors had been constantly harassed, roughed-up and even beaten in the last couple of years?

Since that July 1 forum, there has been nary a word of follow up. It's as if the government and police said, well we faced the hoards and now it's over. And yet, nothing has changed. There has been no move to create a community/citizen based review board of police actions, there has been no move to clarify the questions asked at the forum about what happened to Kendra James. There has been no reform of police training. What is going on here? In a state where no more than 10% of the population is minority (and that's ALL minorities - the African-American population is closer to 2% (according to the 2000 census), 34% of police shootings and reported police aggression are against people of color.

Isn't it time for a change? Just like it is our responsibility as American citizens to get rid of an administration that lies in order to go to war and cheats the people in order to give perks to its corporate sponsors, as citizens of our states and cities, we are responsible to vote out of office the local authorities that aren't doing the job they should, and to keep the pressure on our policing and law enforcement agencies to act within the standards of decency, non-discrimination and proper respect for the people they have enlisted to protect. The question that is going to haunt my neighborhood for a very long time is this: Did Kendra James really have to die that night?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003
      ( 9:30 AM )
Back in the Blogosphere

I took one extra day to recover from travel and am happy to be posting for the first time in a week. It's nice to be back in the blogosphere. Though I must admit, it was also nice to be away. I didn't even hear much news on my retreat in the nor'woods of Minnesota. My one year-old and I had a fantastic time swimming in the Lake, going on adventures, walking across the Mississippi River at its headwaters in Itasca and meeting Paul Bunyon and Babe the BIG Blue Ox! (scandalous discovery: Paul Bunyon had a sweetheart, Lucette, and there was a Paul Jr, but there doesn't seem to be evidence of a marriage...hmmm!!) While I can't exactly claim that I am glad to be back at work, I am glad to be back home with P - especially since today is our 4th wedding anniversary. In some ways it seems like it's been far longer than 4 years, but in some ways it seems like it's gone by in a flash. No celebration today, but dinner and a movie on Friday night (the folks have kindly volunteered to take Martin overnight). So I will be working to catch up today, see how my blog pals are doing and trying to get up a few of my own posts as well. It's nice to be back, I missed you all!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2003
      ( 4:13 PM )
Long Awaited Respite

I and my one-year-old son are going on holiday starting tomorrow. We are jetting out to the beautiful Lake Hubert in Nisswa, Minnesota to spend 5 days sunning and playing with my best friend (and his godmother) at her lakefront cabin there. I have been waiting for this vacation for months, and I'm so excited that it's finally here. Martin and I will get some fun, exclusive time together (P is gladly accepting a break from stay at home daddy duties to sleep in, work on the house and go to horror movies while we are away), and I will get away from my everyday surroundings and my job that increasingly feels more laborious than rewarding.

I'm looking forward to long days in the sun, hiking, swimming and playing in the lake, pizza and hot dogs, and after putting the baby to bed, long twilights and evenings sitting out on the porch with my best friend, looking up at the stars, drinking wine and chatting or just sitting together. It will go all too quickly, I'm sure.

Part of my holiday involves being miles and miles from a computer, so I won't be posting until my return on Tuesday. I'll miss you all and I'll miss being caught up on all the news that's fit to blog about... but then again, I'll also enjoy my break and look forward to "seeing" you when I return. Please check back with me next week, I will be back!

So long and see you on the other side of vacation!

P.S. Check in on Maru, Kos and Calpundit for great commentary on the news today.

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Monday, July 14, 2003
      ( 11:41 AM )
Not to Put Too Fine a Point On It...

Ari is trying to quell the growing credibility gap with comments like this:

"This revisionist notion that somehow this
is now the core of why we went to war, a
central issue of why we went to war, a
fundamental underpinning of the president's
decisions, is a bunch of bull," Fleischer told
reporters Monday.

This is the same line that was repeated by all the BushCo lackeys on the Sunday Morning Talk shows. But Ari and the clan miss the point. It isn't that the country is suddenly upset merely because a statment that has now been proven to be based on lies and forgeries indicated that Iraq obtained nuclear material was in the State of the Union address. It's not that we all thought we went to war because of this one piece of evidence and now we're mad about it. It's not about this piece of evidence itself at all. It's about one key word in that sentence:

The British government has learned that
Saddam Hussein recently sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa

We went to war, we attacked another nation, we sent our troops into harm's way and now have to keep them there, we ruined relationships with allies, we declared the UN "irrelevant" and stomped all over that body's historical role in mitigating worldwide disasters... all because BushCo pounded into us day after day that the threat from Saddam Hussein was IMMINENT. The urgency of the matter is what prompted him to completely usurp the authority of the UN and to completely disregard the findings and work of the weapons inspectors on the ground who knew what they were doing and what they were looking for. The president declared in his State of the Union address that Saddam had recently acquired these nuclear materials...implying that the nuclear weapons program was being built up and was an immediate and urgent threat to us.

It's not just the lie, Mr. President, it's the malice and aforethought that went into framing that lie in just such a way that the plausible deniability could be claimed, all the while the emphaisizing factor of the statement ignored by the administration. Shame on you. Shame on Congress that blindly followed and sent our troops into this sham of a venture without questioning or taking the time to deliberate on the consequences of their actions. Shame on the media for not caring enough to actually investigate the situation. Shame on us if we let you keep your office after next year.

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      ( 10:11 AM )
Every Great Prison Break Deserves a Holiday

Happy Bastille Day! It's good to celebrate the citizens of a country taking back their own power and setting free scores of unjustly imprisoned citizens, put in jails without trial or charges by a government paranoid about attacks on it and unwilling to give its citizens rights while it became fat on its own wealth and the people remained jobless, hungry and fighting in wars they did not know the reason for. Hey...wait a minute...

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Friday, July 11, 2003
      ( 12:05 PM )
It's Time To Talk About the Past

While the news swirls around us about the current travesty of lies that led to death and destruction, there is a commemoration taking place today for Bosnian Serbs that has been a long time coming. The Srebrenica massacre was the worst on European soil since WWII, and it happened only a short 8 years ago.

Some 8,000 Muslims, mainly men and boys,
were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb soldiers
who in 1995 overran the town in eastern Bosnia,
which was supposed to have been under United
Nations protection.

But despite finally being able to mourn this incredible loss, the Bosnian Muslims who used to live here still are outcast:

Only a small fraction of the town 27,000
Muslims have returned since the war, and
these are said have been subjected to
verbal harassment by Serbs.

This is a dark spot in American history too. While we vex and worry about whether we should have some sort of "interventionist" role in the world, we can look back and see how remaining silent and ignoring cries for help can result in devastation beyond description. It provokes another thought as well. And that is one of racism. Why is it that the American government has been so quick to act on behalf of the interests of Israel and out of vengance for our own loss (albeit against innocent parties not associated with that attack), and yet historically let Muslims in Bosnia be massacred, Africans in Rwanda starve, and now Liberians be raped, murdered and disappeared? Could it be that we are not liberators or protectors of life and liberty and freedom...we only use that excuse when it's convenient to disuade the public of our true intentions? It is a horrible thought to me that the democracy this country was designed to be has turned into an empire that cares not for humanity but the perpetuation of its own dominance and the fat bellies of its contributors.

Srebrenica reminds me today that it's up to me and my fellow citizens to change my country and how it views the rest of the world and then behaves toward those who need our help most and those who could do without our interference the most. If I leave it up to those in power now, who's to say another Srebrenica won't happen while we stand idly by?

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      ( 10:44 AM )
Friday Round-Up

If you're not reading Tom Burka every day... your opinions need refining!

Daily Kos is keeping up with the unfolding revelations that (SHOCKER) the President lied in his State of the Union speech.

And No More Mr. Nice Blog tells us that despite the mainstream news now blaring the shocking news above, polls still find half of America still has its head up its arse.

TBogg has got the word on why it is a big deal.

Barney's got some great (and pointed) satire today... especially if you're wondering where all the Nazis have gone and why you just aren't in the right place to compete for a tech job these days.

Balkinization has some great insight into the so called "homosexual agenda" feared by all conservative politicians and judiciary...very worth reading.

If you haven't yet this week, catch up with the enjoyment of summer's greatest pasttime with the Vinman.

Maru's following the evolving headline on CBS' exclusive today...the SCLM is looking for its cojones...they've got be somehwere...

Rebel Dad has been discussing this week the fact that Parenting and Parents magazines both should be called Mothering and Mother magazines... the slant, including the look, the ads, the tone and who the articles are addressed to, all ignore Dads - but we also get the good news that a full 1/3 of dads in the UK would like to stay at home with their kids!

Body and Soul has the skinny on NGOs in Iraq taking hard hits unless they distance themselves from the military.

Daintily Dirty is addicted, but can't get past level 20 in the crypt...can someone help?

Annie's found that the people of Alaska have won (or subverted successfully) the war on drugs!

Roni's got something to say about fighting the fear tactics used on us by our own government.

Oh...and for all us Portlanders - Wil's in town!!

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      ( 8:53 AM )
Robin Hood Resurrected in Alabama

A Republican governor in Alabama is doing what most Democrat governors wouldn't even dare: overhauling the entire state tax system and turning into a progressive tax that takes care of the poor and puts more burden on the rich and corporations! Could it be true? Governor Bob Riley is fighting corporate interests in his state in order to get a bill passed that will stop putting the tax burden on low-income families and take away the tax freebies from the likes of Weyerhaeuser and Boise Cascade.

Not surprisingly, the communities that have
benefited the most from Alabama’s tax breaks
are showing a great deal of resistance to
change the situation. Farmer and timber groups
hope to defeat the proposal at the polls by
portraying it as a threat to Alabama's agricultural
heritage. Christian groups and some country
Republican officials from around the state have
also spoken publicly against the measure.

Christian groups??? Because what, Jesus would prefer to tax the poor? I think not:

Governor Bob Riley has been fram[ing] the
tax package in starkly moral terms, arguing
that the current Alabama tax system violates
biblical teachings because Christians are
prohibited from oppressing the poor.

And in the Bush administration's religious fervor to grant favors to its rich friends and condemn the poor as lazy and undeserving of help, they may miss this new wave of logical argument for progressive taxing:

As the Bush administration and the religious right
fight to put theology more squarely into public
policy discussions, they are going to have to be
ready for arguments like the ones coming out
of Alabama. Many theologians argue that it is
far easier to find support in the Bible for policies
that help the poor than for, say, a cut in the
dividend tax. If Governor Riley's crusade succeeds
this summer, Alabama may offer the nation a
model for a new kind of tax system: one where
the Devil is not in the details.

Uh oh. Watch out for Robin Hoods disguised as Robin Hoods. This is one mama that hopes Gov. Riley's plan gets the go ahead this summer.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2003
      ( 10:34 AM )
The Emperor Has No Clothes

Thanks to Eschaton for the link to the story (mentioned by Daintily Dirty) about how residents of Goree Island were penned up so that Bush could give his stirring speech about the evils of slavery. Body and Soul also notes the irony.

N'diaye and other residents of Goree,
site of a famous slave trading station,
said they had been taken to a football
ground on the other side of the quaint
island at 6 a.m. and told to wait there
until Bush had departed, around midday.


He then gave an eloquent speech about the
horrors of slavery, standing at a podium under
a sizzling sun near a red-stone museum,
topped by cannon pointing out to the sea.

The cooped-up residents were not impressed.


Normally, the island teems with tourists,
Senegal's ubiquitous traders, hawkers of
cheap African art, photographers offering
to take pictures and all the expected trappings
of a tourist hot-spot in one of the world's
poorest countries.

On Tuesday, shutters on the yellow and red
colonial-style houses remained shut. The cafes
were closed and the narrow pier deserted,
apart from security agents manning a metal
detector, near the sandy beach. A gunship
patrolled offshore.


We were shut up like sheep," said
15-year-old Mamadou.

Excellent. It's sad when such a disturbing story is not surprising at all.

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      ( 8:58 AM )
Mid-week Inspiration

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere." --Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787.

"Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one's country. They do not distinguish between acts against the government, and acts against the oppressions of the government. The latter are virtues, yet have furnished more victims to the executioner than the former, because real treasons are rare; oppressions frequent. The unsuccessful strugglers against tyranny have been the chief martyrs of treason laws in all countries." --Thomas Jefferson: Report on Spanish Convention, 1792.

"Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem. [I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.] Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.

"I am sensible that there are defects in our federal government, yet they are so much lighter than those of monarchies, that I view them with much indulgence. I rely, too, on the good sense of the people for remedy, whereas the evils of monarchical government are beyond remedy." --Thomas Jefferson to David Ramsay, 1787.

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      ( 8:52 AM )
Give Big, Become an Ambassador

While we like to continuously delude ourselves that our government is a democracy and that there is equal opportunity for everyone, the opposite has been the truth almost since the inception. Ambassadorships are the prime example of this. While it might seem logical to assign someone with diplomatic experience and know-how to be this country's representative in other nations, most often an ambassador is a big-money contributor to the president's campaign or party. A fresh example of this is today's announcement that the Bush administration has nominated James Kenny as the new ambassador to Ireland. James Kenny is a millionaire head of a Chicago construction firm with zero diplomatic experience. Now, Ireland, you may think, would be a cake-walk of an ambassadorship. But frankly, it's not. Ireland's economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, and the continuous struggle carried on with the British over the six most northern counties on the island requires ongoing diplomatic finesse and know-how. But while Kenny may not have any experience dealing with the intricate issues surrounding Ireland's place in the EU and the delicate workings of saving democracy in the north, he is a big BushCo insider. He not only raised lotsa moola for Daddy Bush, but in addition to being one of the primary GOP fundraisers for Junior, he gave almost $42,000 of his own money for the 2000 election. But his old family hails from County Mayo, and that's enough knowledge of Ireland and its issues to make him the prime candidate for the ambassadorship.

I'm not singling out BushCo for this practice, every administration, republican and democrat, before it has done the same. I realize that the ultimate purpose of government is to maintain the status quo and that this and many other practices that keep our country from developing truly worthwhile relations with other nations and practices that might make us admired, respected and a true partner on the worldwide scene are never optioned because things just always perpetuate old ways of doing things. It's unfortunate that Jefferson's truism that he liked "a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere" (1787) is not taken more to heart by the people of this country.

Today this small piece of news about this ambassadorship has got me thinking about the fact that while we may have the longest well-functioning republic with democratic rights for its citizens in history, we've also fallen into lethargy and malaise in terms of keeping this republic functioning with the best intentions of its citzens, and not the maintenance of its own fat habits, as its primary goal.

A little rebellion is good now and then.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2003
      ( 2:05 PM )
Meanwhile in Africa...

Bush wants to be known as the humanitarian president...this week. Taking off his cowboy hat and his promises of gettin' our enemies dead or alive, he has put on his "compassion" hat and set flight for Africa. His five-day tour will do its best to NOT to address the growing crisis in Liberia (our only African colony), the fact that his AIDS package won't ever live up to his promises, and the pressure the US puts on African countries to comply with genetically-engineered crop rules and trade sanctions in order to participate in the "free trade" of the world. On his first stop today, he made us all proud with stirring words from Goree Island, where the slaves were loaded onto ships - condeming slavery and the way it corrupted humanity. Without actually mentioning the United States' name specifically or apologizing for 400 years of subjugation of African descendants in this country, he portrayed our country as a noble fighter in the pursuit of true justice and equality:

"My nation's journey toward justice has not
been easy and it is not over," Mr. Bush said.
"The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end
with slavery or with segregation. And many of
the issues that still trouble America have roots
in the bitter experience of other times. But
however long the journey, our destination is set:
liberty and justice for all."

How sweet. That really means a lot coming from a man who stood against the University of Michigan's affirmative-action program.

Not only are Americans not going to pay attention to this Africa trip because of the inherent racism and self-centerdness of our corporate media and our culture in general, but even important Africans are ignoring it. Nelson Mandela refuses to meet with Bush, as does the entire African Union. It's so nice to be so loved and admired by everyone, isn't it?

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      ( 1:16 PM )
A Letter from Iraq

Daily Kos is right: the headlines are almost becoming mundane these days. But then I read this today at Guerilla News Network. Take the time to read it.

After a while, you begin to understand the current
troubles in Iraq from the perspective of the grunt on
the ground. It’s not what you might think. The U.S.
soldiers aren’t being hailed as liberators and warmly
embraced by the vast majority of the population. Nor
are they raping Iraqi women or indiscriminately shooting
at anything that moves. They’re ordinary soldiers trained
to kill cast into inordinately complex situations.


From the humanitarian projects they carry out to the surgical
early-night body snatches they conduct, they’re in many
cases doing things for which they have no training or experience.

I fear the soldiers in Iraq are not just there occupying a country, but fighting for their very survival... I fear that they are barely making it sometimes. I'm sure they must feel so taken for granted. The surge of "support our troops!" that happened when the invasion began - to the point of claiming that those of us against the attack did NOT support the troops - seems to have died away. Adding insult to injury, in the short time the troops have been in Iraq, BushCo has cut veterans benefits, lowered their "danger-pay," and not given any increase to the mere $6000 a family receives when a soldier is killed in active duty. It's up to the families now to wait and hope their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, friends will come home safe - no one in the administration seems to care. Gen. Tommy Franks callously repeated George Bush's "bring 'em on" taunt, and supports BushCo's ridiculous line not increasing troop counts in Iraq. What general, what soldier thinks it's a good idea not to have a good amount of back up troops in a situation like we're facing? I'm no military planner, but would some run of the mill common sense even be a part of the government's plan for our soldiers?

This is a shout out to all of you who have loved ones overseas in the service of this country. Thank you. My father did (for 30 years) and my brother does this job without complaint, as do thousands of others who have given up families, home, even their jobs and the pay that gets their family by every month, in order to serve as they promised to do. But the longer we misuse them, the further our government goes ignoring them, allowing them to be targets in a quagmire that is not being made any better by the civilian structures that had promised to do so, then the less and less the possibility is that there will be enough soldiers there for us when we really do need them...and appreciate them. Thank you, wherever you are, for doing what even our leader was unwilling to do.

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      ( 1:05 PM )
What Would Happen if the Media Told the Truth?

Tom Tomorrow is fantastic this week.

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      ( 11:53 AM )
Tuesday Doldrums?

I have to confess that I'm having one of those I-hate-being-a-working-mom days (for the second day in a row) and the tape that is running through my mind is "I am horrible at working for other people, my job sucks, I never see my kid, blah." On the one hand, I have been very energized politically by my new involvement in the local Howard Dean campaign here in Oregon. It's nice to be around people who are filled with hope and excitement. On the other hand, my boss is being extremely passive-agressive and my 1 year old is teething his molars and feeling horrible with a low-grade fever for the last 3 days. I am lucky enough to have a husband who is not only wonderful but a skilled caretaker of our son - so I know wee Martin is in good hands while he's feeling yucky and his mouth is hurting. But I really want to be there too. I don't want to take away my husband's part, so I guess what I really want is for us to be independently wealthy so we can both stay home and raise our child together. Ah, that must be why it's called the "American dream."

Sometimes I get so tired of just getting by. Of only making do. Of cutting corners and cutting costs and cutting opportunities and chances. But I know that most of America lives this way, so I'm not alone. It's worrying about the next month's bills, not worrying about stock dividends, that occupies the worries of most of us. It's wondering if we should take the risk and cut off our health insurance for the adults in the family so that the kids can still have it, but we can also afford to pay the student loan payments. It's taking jobs that aren't enlightening or necessarily interesting or challenging, but that give us paychecks. It's taking three-day weekend mini-holidays instead of two-week vacations. It's worrying about friends who are even worse off than us. That's what American life is for most of us right now.

The headlines stay the same, the government pursues status quo, jobs are lost and not regained, houses are foreclosed on, medical conditions untreated. This isn't the kind of world I want my child to grow up in. When will our nation learn that it's far better to have a system that takes care of each other rather than claiming we are all better off fending for ourselves? When will our nation learn that depending on others and contributing to others' welbeing and futures is strength-building, not weakening? When will we learn that making friends around the world instead of enemies is what guarantees security and aid when we need it?

Anyway, just hanging on till next week when Martin and I take a blessed break from our usual world and fly out to the lake in Minnesota to spend a respite with my best friend (and his godmother). Meanwhile, it's just one of those days, I guess!

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Monday, July 07, 2003
      ( 4:14 PM )
Select Your Candidate

Thanks to Easy Bake Coven for pointing out this website that helps you narrow your search for a candidate to support based on your political ideologies. The website contains very good summaries on the candidates' backgrounds and positions.

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      ( 3:38 PM )
The Language of Intimidation

Just read this fantastic post from Notes on the Atrocities about the way Bush uses intimdation language. Emma uses the thesis in this Renana Brooks article in The Nation to show that it is a regular practice by Bush to use negatively-charged emotional language in his speeches in an effort to appear to be a strong leader.

President Bush, like many dominant personality
types, uses dependency-creating language. He
employs language of contempt and intimidation to
shame others into submission and desperate admiration.
While we tend to think of the dominator as using
physical force, in fact most dominators use verbal abuse
to control others.

It is interesting to review the language used in his May 1 "Victory" speech and his recent gaff last week with the "bring 'em on" crap. In both prepared and off-the-cuff remarks, he employs these same language tactics. It will be interesting to see as he begins to campaign for an extension of his presidential life (which we, enforce, will be unwilling to grant him), how this use of domineering language will be evoked against the contenders for the White House. It's this sort of language that has distanced us from our historical allies, and which has isolated us in the world at a time when we should be connecting rather than disconnecting from our fellow human beings and nations. It's a shameful use of power and, unlike his supporters in the vast universe of talk-radio, as un-leader-like as possible. He has done nothing to earn the office he holds, but soon it won't matter because he and his passe won't be there anymore.

Brooks' conclusion echoes my own thoughts on how the Democratic candidates should counter this type of pervasive victim-making language used by BushCo:

Bush's political opponents are caught in a fantasy
that they can win against him simply by proving the
superiority of their ideas. However, people do not
support Bush for the power of his ideas, but out of the
despair and desperation in their hearts. Whenever
people are in the grip of a desperate dependency, they
won't respond to rational criticisms of the people they
are dependent on. They will respond to plausible and
forceful statements and alternatives that put the American
electorate back in touch with their core optimism. Bush's
opponents must combat his dark imagery with hope and
restore American vigor and optimism in the coming years.

Also: check out Notes' new dossiers on our leaders - detailed and excellently researched and written.

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      ( 12:20 PM )
Blog Milestone!

Wow - I hit 4,000 visitors today! It took less than a month to go up one thousand. How cool. Added to that, I just discovered I've evolved! The ecosystem now proclaims me a "Slithering Reptile," up from being a Crawly Amphibian. I'm really enjoying the whole blogging experience - the network of people who write so exceptionally well and who share tidbits of life and glean wisdom out of the daily news... it's great fun, and I'm really looking forward to the coming year of change in this country. Blogging will step to the forefront as a medium to express opinion and to get word out to people. Equalizing the discussion. That's how it should be.

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      ( 10:47 AM )
Can a General be Drafted?

Let's hope so. Here it is, fresh off the presses, the new interview with General Wesley Clark. Looks like he's publicly considering a candidacy. He's got a large and growing grassroots movement behind him already, including meetups across the country. Here's a tidbit from the General:

To me, it’s really about the issues. I saw it
starting to go wrong before the [2000] election.
I met with Condi Rice. She told me she believed
that American troops shouldn’t be keeping the
peace—they were the only ones who could kill
people and conquer countries, and that’s what
they should be focused on doing. What she was
telling me [was] that she, as a potential Republican
national-security adviser, didn’t support our
engagement in Europe. So I saw it going wrong from
there. Then, as the administration took office, I saw
more and more what I believed were misunderstandings
and missed opportunities.


The world expects something more of an American
president than to prance around on a flight deck
dressed up like [a] pilot. He’s expected to be a leader.
That’s my fundamental issue with it. It doesn’t reflect
the gravitas of the office. Furthermore, it’s a little phony.

Hmm... wonder why any of the rest of our "opposition party" in Congress couldn't manage to utter a simple truth like this? Here's hoping a Clark candidacy will re-energize the party soon.

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      ( 10:37 AM )
The CEO President

Remember back before the 2000 election? I know, it's hard to get beyond the fog of what's happened since, but work with me. Candidate Bush and his press people touted the fact that he would be our first "CEO President," able to efficiently run the government like a business and get rid of all the waste and fat. He made sure we all knew he was an OUTSIDER and that he would bring freshness to the entire scene inside the Beltway (having lived inside the Beltway, I didn't believe that was possible anyway).

But, as with most of his campaign promises, this one has fallen the way of colored leaves in autumn. If he truly were an effective CEO, why have there not been any firings or responsibility taken for 9/11? In the wake of an event like that, someone should have been canned -- at least to show that the old ways of doing things were going to end. And Paul Wolfowitz, speaking up at any turn - saying things like "we just used the weapons of mass destruction as an excuse to go in to Iraq" - shouldn't he have been fired long ago? What about the conversations revealed in Bob Woodward's book following 9/11, showing Bush totally out of his depth in trying to figure out what to do, and revealing that Rumsfeld and Cheney already made a push to blame and invade Iraq even the day after 9/11. And instead of streamlining government and making things run more efficiently, he's created a mammoth new agency for "homeland security," signed in several unfunded mandates for states, including his dead-in-the-water "leave no child behind" education bill, and he's cut taxes twice when revenue continues to fall and the deficit rise. He was quick to usurp the power of the United Nations to get his (Cheney and Rumsfeld's) way with Iraq, and to declare it "irrelevant." In the wake of seriously damaging relationships with our allies (or business partners, in CEO-speak), he now wants the UN to step in and take over peacekeeping in a country the UN didn't want to invade in the first place. So now they aren't as irrelevant, I guess, and he intends to sweet talk the rest of the world back to doing what we say after we tromped them all so unceremoniously last winter? Is this the way a good CEO would operate his company??

There is something going on in this administration that is not right. George W. Bush seems to be admired by his supporters because of his strength of leadership. Is that what we've come to? Admiring someone because they seem decisive, even though their rash decisions lead to the ongoing deaths of our troops and the doomed policy of "pre-emptive war?" He may be good at delegating; Rumsfeld and Cheney seem to have things well in hand for their long-held plans in the middle east. But he is terrible with employee relations - a constant stream of diplomats and advisors have left the administration.

It's been scary to watch the way our country has deteriorated in all aspects: economically, socially, in our foreign relations, culturally, and even our long-protected civil rights. It's been scary to see how easily we were led into this debacle in Iraq by false information, innuendo and scare-tactics. It's sad to think of how long it will take to get out of it now. Meanwhile, this week our CEO President is travelling in Africa, flaunting a plan to help take care of the AIDS epidemic, but keeping quiet the provisos that we don't want African nations to use more affordable generic drugs, our money primarily goes to clinics that don't offer abortions, we intend to bully African nations into buying genetically altered crops from us and blocking trade on their crops if they don't, and after Congress gets through with the AIDS aid package, it will be a shadow of its promised former-self. But I suppose this is just par for the course for a guy who couldn't even manage a baseball team and who kept as a close friend a man who robbed his faithful employees blind and has yet to be charged with a crime.

It's time for a change in Washington.

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      ( 9:37 AM )
Monday Morning Roundup

On the technology front, thanks to Maru for posting the link to this article about two MIT researchers who have set up a Citizens' website for information on government officials, in a turn-about-is-fair-play move on the TIA. Have it, everyone - it's about time!

Everything on Daily Kos today is worth taking the time to read, especially the commentary about what is going on in Iraq.

Democratic Veteran has some great comments about the leadership of our country...and points us to the fact that some African journalists are showing the spine that American reporters can't seem to find.

TBogg talks about troop morale...it's getting very bad (but nobody's talking about it).

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Thursday, July 03, 2003
      ( 6:57 PM )
Long Weekend Ahead

I am thankfully going to sign off for the long weekend and enjoy three days of not going to an office; three days of playing with my son and holding hands with my husband. Maybe a day at the zoo, a picnic, some swimming lessons. Maybe working in the yard or just sitting on the porch and sipping lemonade. A barbecue with the neighbors, lazy lay-on-the-couch tickle fights with my boys. Now THAT is what I call a holiday. See you all on Monday.

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      ( 9:12 AM )
What Did You Do Last Night?

I adopted three Iowans. Yep - Ruth, Joseph and Milton will all be receiving personal letters from me sometime this week. I went to one of the three Dean Meet Ups here in Portland last night, and it was a blast. There were over 200 people and it was just so cool to be surrounded by people who have hope about our country turning around. The Dean Campaign provided stationery, envelopes and postage and we all wrote to registered democrats in Iowa to encourage them to support Dean in their caucus. We don't have a meaningful primary here in Oregon (it's not until May), so it felt good to have personal contact with people who actually could make a difference with their votes a half a year from now.

I don't mean for this blog to become all Howard Dean all the time, but this week has just been very exciting. I think I figured out last night why I feel so inspired and so ready and willing to work for a political campaign when I never have before. In all my many years of activism, as most activists know, all I've known is the rage-against-the-machine mentality. Almost every activist who is committed to an issue or group fights despite the fact that it most often is a lost cause. You take pride in the small wins and you keep fighting because the effort is worth it. But this time, it actually feels like there will be a big victory at the end - activism for this cause will actually produce a triumphant outcome. It's a different feeling to work for something you actually believe has the potential to overcome the odds and actually come to fruition. While I'll never give up my activism for the things I believe in, no matter how lost of causes they may seem to people, I am really energized by Howard Dean's campaign, the people in it, and the idea that it is powered by people like me, not big corporate money interests or DLC centrist power brokers.

If you haven't checked it out, I encourage you to just sign up and go to a meet up in your town next month - just to get a look for yourself at what is happening at the grassroots level in this country. It will give you a sense of empowerment - and that's what is really needed for the people of this country these days.

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      ( 8:52 AM )
Can't Argue with Science!

Well, it's been scientifically proven: Howard Dean will be our next president (unless George W. Bush launches nuclear weapons). Thanks to a friend for this link - Check it out!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2003
      ( 9:26 AM )
A Voice from the Trenches

Check out the full text of the Army Times' Editorial posted on Daily Kos today. It's a telling scenario of how the Bush Administration talks a good talk of supporting the troops they have put in the line of fire, but walks the walk of denying them even basic upgrades in benefits for them and their families. This echoes the actions of the Administration a few months ago when, while singing the praises of the troops, it cut billions of dollars of veterans' benefits from the budget. There is no time like the present for Democratic candidates and the people of this country to point out what true support of the troops means - and it's more than a ripped-to-shreds flag flying the back of your suv.

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      ( 8:55 AM )
A Campaign for the People

Howard Dean's interview this morning on NPR was very well done. It was great to listen to his concise, well-thought out answers and to hear the conviction in his voice. It wasn't very long, but in the short amount of time, he was able to articulate a vision for the country and even plans for how to change the things that have led us into the quagmire that we are in right now with the economy, foreign relations, health care, and even equal rights for all people.

Also, it was very cool to read this article in the American Prospect that shows how it's Dean's message that is creating not only the buzz for his campaign, but drawing in hundreds and thousands of supporters each day:

When the history of this past week in the Democratic
primaries is written, the relative impact of MoveOn.org, Meetup.com
and "smartmobbing" technology on Dean's ability to raise such
an unexpected sum will all feature prominently.

But reading the threads on the message boards at BlogforAmerica.com
-- the official Web log of the Dean campaign, where donors
discuss their reasons for giving and for backing Dean -- it quickly
becomes obvious that the single most important factor in Dean's
stunning fundraising numbers is the most old-fashioned weapon
in any campaign's arsenal: message.

Dean has been able to build a following and raise the bar on
per-quarter fundraising not by working his friendships with
wealthy trial lawyers, relying on decades of contacts with the
rich and powerful, or building the best Internet-based campaign
American politics has yet seen. He's done it by steadfastly
promoting a pugnacious, optimistic, forward-looking message
and by coupling it with a campaign organization smart enough
to let his supporters help him. In the post-McCain-Feingold world,
the Democratic Party has struggled to figure out how to attract
small-sum donors: In the last election cycle, 64 percent of donations
less than $200 went to Republicans, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics, while Democrats grew fat and sick on big
money from those who gave more than $1 million. Dean has cracked
the nut and done what six months ago looked to be impossible: He
has figured out how to compete based on donations the size of the
fat cats' monthly Starbucks expenditures.

Welcome to Dean's world. We all will live in it.

On Dean's blog, the message-board threads have acted
as constant, ongoing, real-time focus groups for everything
the governor says and does. The campaign takes it all in. Plenty
of ideas adopted by the campaign start out on the threads of
the Dean blogs, say Dean campaign aides, and the Dean for
America Internet team is constantly updating and modifying the
site in response to the posts. To follow the blog is to watch the
campaign unfold in real time with a startling level of intimacy
and transparency; it is to enter a freewheeling, unending
conversation where thousands and thousands of Dean's
supporters chew over every aspect of his campaign and
strategy, message and image, policies and past record.


For Dean's supporters, the most important part of
the Dean message is that it makes them feel that they have
the power to control their own destiny:

"[E]ating is much less important this month than making
sure that the people are heard," wrote small-money
donor Stephanie on the comment thread. "I hope this lets
the other candidates understand that the status-quo isn't
acceptable anymore. We the people want to be heard in our
government. We have the power as individuals to make a
difference finally we have the opportunity."


Most of all, these people seemed to be supporting
Dean because other people they know and trust are supporting
Dean. The Internet campaign magnifies the voices of friends
and relatives above the voices of the famous or the powerful

If you haven't looked into the Dean campaign yet, I encourage you to do so, and to go to the Meet-up in your town tonight. It's worth a little effort for each of us to get behind someone who not only listens to us, but who gives us the power to take the
white house back.

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