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

Wednesday, November 26, 2003
      ( 2:43 PM )
Happy Thanksgiving

It's an odd sort of holiday where we gather together and consider all we're thankful for - and not everyone gets a day off work and not everyone is all that thankful. But I am. I'm thankful for my family, I'm thankful for the little boy who is now old enough to run to me with open arms when I get home from work in the evenings, I'm thankful for more things than I can name. I try to make it a habit to say outloud each morning things that I am thankful for. It helps keep perspective. And not to get too gooshy, but I'm thankful that there is such a thing as blogs - where I can write and where people read and where we can come together and know there are more of us out there and we are pals, no matter if we ever meet in person. I hope you have some quiet moments of grace and joy tomorrow and this holiday weekend. Most of all, I hope you know I'm thankful for you and that you take time to stop by here every so often. It means the world to me. Happy Thanksgiving, many blessings on you and yours and I'll see you in a few days.

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      ( 12:52 PM )
Killing Us Softly

I mentioned a couple of days ago that it seemed to me that the Congress had simply given up on actual lawmaking and caring for the country and had just declared all out hunting season on American citizens. The Bush Administration makes no bones about not liking actual people and loving corporations. It seems that Congress has decided to go along with this thinking. I have had some time to really collect some outrage about how I feel about our representatives, and most especially the "opposition party" that supposedly is there to counter the outrageous antics of those weilding power against the good interests of the people. Let's take a look at some of the recent legislation put through by Congress just this last month with the help of Democrats (often cowardly voting off record through voice votes):

Killing American Citizens by sending them to war: The Congress passed the $87 billion dollar extra money for Bush, which not only included money for his wars, but also set aside millions for combating protestors against the AAFT in Miami.

Killing American Citizens by negligence: The Congress just passed the largest defense spending bill ever - they claimed it for its good things like minor raises for servicepeople who long deserved better, meanwhile forgetting to mention the millions in there for renewing space defense systems, which means that many more millions being snorted up the noses of defense contractors with no discernable benefit for anyone but them.

Killing American Citizens by fire. The new "Healthy Forests" act that was passed last week does not make forests more healthy. Rather, it makes them more accessible to logging companies - and in particular the old growth forests that aren't anywhere near populations. By ignoring practical forestry advice, forest fires will continue raging where populations continue to infringe on the edge of forests.

Killing American Citizens by working them to death: new "labor" legislation now in Congress takes away even more overtime than the Bush administration has already taken and also new laws require labor unions to abide by the most arcane regulations (of course labor unions should be regulated, but not corporations) that will cost them and their members much more money that they don't have and effectively infringe their lobbying power.

Killing American Citizens in all sorts of other ways: The new Medicare bill lauds a prescription drug benefit, but it doesn't even start until 2006 and the Democrats in the Senate just rolled over and barked because there was this incredible urgency about the matter. But that's not the best part, later on, Medicare will have to compete with drug companies and old folks won't have it to depend on and will have to go through HMOs for their medical care.

The new energy bill, which thank god did not pass, was written entirely by Republicans and contained the kind of pork you only see in the bacon aisle of your grocery store. It, if passed with the willing hands of mealy mouthed Democrats, will provide for the Killing of American Citizens by nuclear waste and accidents through the building of new nuclear plants, by higher polution and toxicity in our air and water, and by electricution because heaven forbid the electric companies be regulated.

And what has Congress done to make our lives better? Let's see.... NOTHING. I have nothing but disdain for the Democrats who have remained silent and as stalwart as rubber bands under the leadership of the wimpiest of them all, Tom Daschle. I especially loathe my own Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, for going against the pleas of his constituency and voting for the Medicare bill. I find that the Bush administration has one goal only: to get rid of us so there is more room for corporations. And so far, the Democrats in Congress have succeeded in aiding and abetting this nefarious plan. It's time to get rid of thewhole lot and start fresh. If only we could.

As I've said before, let's just be honest, Representatives and Senators. You don't want us around. Why, all we do is complain about not having jobs, ask to have the same sort of health care you get for free, demand ridiculous favors like education and after school care for our kids and generally just bring you down. So why not turn a new leaf - go honest for once. I think that the Capital Building should air a banner that tells us where we really stand so we can get on with running for our lives.

And I know just what the banner will say: Killing Americans is Our Job... and We're Getting the Job Done.

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      ( 12:35 PM )
So There

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks won this year's VH1 Best Quote of the year with her infamous "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Natalie received her award with what is by now well-tested humor:

"There's an old Texas expression. If you don't
have anything nice to say, go to London and
say it in front of 2,000 people."

You go girl.

(thanks to Maru for the link)

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      ( 11:19 AM )
Express Some Gratitude

You have an opportunity to express some thanksgiving for a serviceman or woman today over at the Veterans for Dean Blog. Maybe take some time to jot down a few words so others can also be thankful for your special person who is risking their life and unable to be with family this holiday. I will add my own thanks for my brother, an active duty captain in the USAF, who only recently returned from Iraq and for all of his buddies who are still over there and whom he misses and worries about. I also am thankful for and send my highest regards to all the mama servicewomen who are away from their children this holiday. A special prayer to bring you all home safely and soon to your wee ones.

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Monday, November 24, 2003
      ( 1:13 PM )
Despite Every Single Report to the Contrary,
Things are Going GREAT in Iraq!

You've already heard the news about the latest US casualties in Iraq, including the brutal and savage attacks on two soldiers in what used to be friendly territory in Mosul. But did you hear this one?

From the "But we've built new schools and opened them!" File:

American's top man in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer,
last week fired 28,000 Iraqi teachers as political
punishment for their former membership in the
Saddam Hussein-dominated Baath Party, fueling
anti-U.S. resistance on the ground, administration
officials have told United Press International.


"It's a piece of real stupidity on the part of the
neocons to try and equate the Baath Party with
the Nazis," said former CIA official Larry Johnson.
"You have to make a choice: Either you are going
to deal with Iraqis who are capable of rebuilding
and running the country or you're going to turn
Iraq over to those who can't."

Facing a spreading insurgency, this was "not the
time to turn out into the street more recruits for
the anti-U.S. insurgency," Johnson said.

This is another symptom of the problem that the Bushies created by putting Ahmed Chalabi in charge. Once again, ignoring experienced voices in the field and intelligence other than what they gleaned for their own personal use, the administration has made another huge misstep in the rebuilding of Iraq. By judging all members of the Baath party by the bitter standards of the likes of Chalabi, we have now gotten rid of the experienced and sympathetic teachers needed to educate Iraq's children. It is widely known that most people who had membership in the Baath party did so in order to keep their jobs, support their families or avoid death. It wasn't a political or ideological choice for most of them. Now there are not the needed teachers for the schools and there are thousands more families who have gone anti-US because of this.

According to several serving and former U.S. intelligence
officials, the latest firings are only one of a series
of what one State Department official called "disastrous
misjudgments." He cites, as one of the first, how
senior Pentagon officials, relying on Chalabi's advice,
led the Bush administration to believe it would inherit
the Iraqi government bureaucracy virtually intact at
the end of the war.

This same group ignored warnings from the internal
CIA and State Department studies about looting and
general lawlessness in the event of a U.S. victory,
these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Oh but wait, it's not only happening in Iraq:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even
moved to get rid of 16 of 20 State Department
people because they were seen to be "Arabists"
-- overly sympathetic to Iraqis, U.S. government
officials said

Things are going swimmingly indeed.

(thanks to Maru for the link)

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      ( 11:53 AM )
Did You Want Pork with That Thanksgiving Dinner?

Billmon has a very concise and informative post today about the money the GOP is raking in for its lobbyists though these recent bills. It's absolutely disgusting to read about how all these bills that they are forcing through, including the travesty of a "Medicare Bill" all include lots and lots of fat for the GOP senators and congressmen (including some you might not have guessed - go read Billmon's post). It truly is the nature of how our government works now.

I at first thought about posting about the travesty that is this Medicare bill, the sham hidden behind the new defense bill and of course the energy bill (that thank god has been taken off the table) that was basically written by oilmen. Then I thought I could probably sum up all this GOP legislation in one simple question: Why don't they just gun us down now? Why go about killing us all the slow and tedious way? Just break out the gatlins and smoke us. Because, seriously - the only thing I can tell that any of these bills are ultimately about is the annihilation of American citizens.

Come on, Senators and Congresspeople. Stop hiding behind gazillions of words on a paper - just kill us now and get it over with. Start with the old people - then the soldiers - then the folks on welfare... heck, might as well just kill us working poor in the first wave too because we're just a noose around your neck anyway, aren't we? Maybe I'll start all my letters to Congress from now on with the Re line: "Stop the Pretense: Just Kill Us All Now." Not that they'd get it.

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      ( 11:25 AM )
Short Weeks and Spotty Postings

Forgive this mama for the spotty posting of the last few weeks. Because of the previously mentioned very dismal work transition that took place for me a week and a half ago, I have been slow to get back into my regular patterns and even energy levels. I have a feeling that the way this economy is affecting people includes more than making their pocketbooks lighter and their jobs more tenuous - I have a feeling there is probably a whole lot more blues going around as well. Anyway - I think I'm starting to get a handle on the whole doing-the-job-of-three-people thing and I should be able to once again happily take little breaks during my day to post my thoughts on my latest outrage. Never fear, this mama shall forge ahead! This week may not be a good example of that since I most likely won't post much after Wednesday, being that I, like most, take my holidays and days-off very seriously. Meanwhile, back to the outrages...

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Thursday, November 20, 2003
      ( 1:45 PM )
What Tom Said

This is the point I was going to make, only it's better said by Tom Burka (as usual):

Michael Jackson, charged with molesting a child
under the age of fourteen by authorities in
California today, said only that he was proud to
be able to distract the country from any actual news.

Indeed, the story of Jackson's imminent surrender
to police and Rush Limbaugh's legal problems
took up most of the hour-long Newsnight on CNN,
while coverage of the first state visit to England in
almost 100 years, and a major speech by President
Bush on the war on terrorism, was covered in less
than two minutes.

Of the scant appearance of real news on television,
Rush Limbaugh had this to say: "I didn't launder
money. I made withdrawals of cash."

Hundreds of thousands of British protestors were
featured on news programs for approximately one
second, prompting protestors to reconsider the
manner in which they voice their opposition.

There is a disturbing trend in news coverage in this country. There is absolutely no longer any way that a "liberal bias" can be claimed. No, the bias is sensationalism and crap. The stories of Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson and other non-national, non-actual-news items are drowning out true discussion and reporting of things that are going on, like our soldiers being killed every day in Iraq, the world hating our president in droves and protesting his very stepping onto the land of their countries, or even the fact that in less than a year we will have the opportunity to throw him out of office. But I suppose that's the whole idea: distract the masses with nonesense and the evil ones can play.


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      ( 1:25 PM )
World of Protest

Lots going on today in the world of dissent against power-hungry nations and corporations.

LONDON: Reuters reports 100,000 turned out for the massive protest against Bush. They filled up Trafalgar Square and did a little theater:

When they reached Trafalgar Square, protesters
felled a 20-foot papier mache statue of Bush in a
parody of the toppling of a statue of Saddam
Hussein when U.S. troops swept into Baghdad.
In its top pocket was a puppet with a grinning
Blair face.

The BBC has the count around 150,000. It's probably barely going to strike a chord in American news media today, given that the major focus on all 24-hour cable news stations will be MICHAEL JACKSON - OH MY!!! Another item that will mostly likely barely be covered, if at all:

MIAMI: This week in Miami, the talks for FTAA - Free Trade Area of the Americas have been going on amidst some pretty regular protest, which is set to steam up today. The FTAA is the attempt of "free traders" to get all of South America into NAFTA, the agreement that basically takes away national sovreignty laws, does away with environmental and human rights requirements for workers and sets up systems where poor workers are taken advantage of and American workers are left unemployed. Not all nations in South and Latin America are cool with this and one of the major questions of this meeting was whether they'd make a strong enough united stand that it would end up like the talks in Cancun a few months ago.

For activists, this is a chance to once again try to build on the momentum begun in Seattle a few years ago. Union workers, environmentalists and other activists will gather in Miami for major protests. Already the cops (interestingly enough, led now by former Philly mayor John Timoney who waged his own personal war against protestors at the 2000 Republican Convention) are doing their best to get that nasty dissent off the streets.

According to the reports on the FTAA Indy Media site, riot police are using rubber bullets, tear gas and other weapons against the protesters. It is almost as much a mission to stay on the streets nowadays as it is to actually protest what you're there to protest. This country's new "anti-terrorism" laws allow for far more abuse of protesters than ever, and the fact that so many continue to protest these abusive "free trade" cabals gets lost amdist the talking heads' continued aghast-ness that people would even dare to disagree with the government.

Oh, and did you happen to catch this little tidbit? It's in this week's Nation:

Tucked away in Bush's $87 billion spending bill for
Iraq is an $8.5 million item for security operations
against the Free Trade Area of the Americas
protests in Miami

So there you go. Our senators voted in secret for a bill that included millions of dollars to go towards abusing our own citizens. Just soothes the soul, doesn't it?

The main point most lawmakers, people in power and the media will miss, as always, is: The streets are on fire because something is wrong. People don't get beaten by police batons for fun - this is a very real way to show that things are not right. This mama has long been an active protester and supporter of all public street protests, and I am 100% behind my brothers and sisters of the world in London and Miami today.

If we lose the power of our voices, we have truly lost.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
      ( 9:17 AM )
Rest In Peace, Mr. Schmidt

Douglas Schmidt died this morning. A 37-year old man, with a loving family and good life, was killed by the State of Oregon. No, he wasn't on death row and executed. No, he wasn't in a police shoot-out. It wasn't that easy. The state decided Mr. Schmidt didn't need his prescription drug benefit and deprived him of life-saving medication - and, as a result, the state murdered him.

See, back in early February of this year, the State Legislature decided that to solve our budgetary crisis, they would cut the health care benefits for thousands of Oregonians. This meant that people like Mr. Schmidt could no longer afford to buy the medicine they were receiving with help from Medicaid and other state benefit help programs. One month after the decision, because he did not have his anti-seizure medicine, Mr. Schmidt collapsed in a massive seizure that caused irreparable brain damage and coma. This week his family made the terribly difficult decision to allow him to die in dignity and his life support was ended. This morning he died peacefully - and while that may afford some comfort to his family, it does not erase the fact that he is dead because the state killed him.

Back in January, Oregonians made a ballot choice. The choice was called Measure 28 and it was for a temporary tax rate hike to provide the money needed for the troubled social services sector in this state. But the Republicans brought in the big guns from Washington and did a blitz around the state arguing against taxes (as usual) and the measure did not pass. Democrats and social activists warned that there would be dire consequences of Measure 28 failing. Republicans poo-pooed the warnings. Republicans said they had a "secret plan" to take care of the budget crisis without raising taxes. Of course, after Measure 28 failed, they presented no plan. They insisted that taxes were not needed, but they also refused to consider enforcing tax laws already on the books that were being avoided by big business - PGE, for example, found loopholes that allowed it to pay $10 in income tax last year.

So, when Measure 28 failed, there were dire consequences. Schools had to close up to 3 weeks early. Teachers went without pay. Social workers had to be fired. Elderly were not taken care of. Kids lost their free meals at school (often the only square meals they get during the day). Thousands of Oregonians lost medical care and prescription drug benefits. And Mr. Schmidt was killed.

In irony of ironies, the state has had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars more to care for Mr. Schmidt since his massive seizure in March than it would have had to pay just to keep letting him have his life-saving medication.

In Schmidt's case, the state stopped paying
for two drugs, including Lamictal, an antiseizure
medication that costs $13 a day. He ran out
of pills eight to 10 days before his seizure,
his family said.

His hospital bill for the first five weeks ran
64 pages and totaled $272,364 -- about $7,200
a day. That does not count doctor fees. His
care in the convalescent homes costs about
$7,000 a month, not including several much more
expensive hospitalizations. The total bill is likely
in the $1 million range, his family said.

And the people who thought they were going to be saving themselves higher taxes by going along with the false promises of the GOP and anti-tax folks? Well, now they're as much stuck with the bill as the rest of us.

How Schmidt's medical costs will be paid is not
clear, but taxpayers will foot the bill in one form
or another. Payers include federal Medicare,
because Schmidt was covered by Social Security
Disability, and the state Office of Medical Assistance
Programs. And hospitals may have to write off part
of the bill as "uncompensated care," a loss that
eventually leads to higher insurance premiums
for everyone.

I gladly will pay my part of Mr. Schmidt's bills. Just as I voted for Measure 28 and will vote again this coming February for the tax bill so that I can help my fellow Oregonians live lives worth living. Isn't that what society is about? Yes, the governments screw us. They are bureaucratic and misuse and mis-spend money. But sometimes, there really is nowhere else for us to go but to ourselves. This February, we are faced with another decision. Do we look around us and realize that we too benefit from the good society created when we all take care of each other? Or do we only look at ourselves and our own greed and withhold what we can from others who really need it?

Already, the GOP is bringing in the big guns again. Tomorrow, Dick Armey is coming to town. Why is the Republican from Texas, the former majority leader of the House of representatives, coming to Oregon? Well, he is now Chairman of "Citizens for a Sound Economy" - which translated into truth-language means "no new taxes for any reason." This is the big DC-based lobby group that has backed and provided the millions in funds to Republicans in this state (and other states) to put up a referendum that allows Oregonians to decide not to pay taxes that the Legislature has proposed.

I'm sick and tired of Oregonians being bought and paid for by big business and DC lobbying groups. I'm also sick and tired of individuals who think that a society can exist and prosper by not helping their fellow man and leaving him in the dirt to die. Douglas Schmidt died today. Others like him face death and other horrible life consequences. This is not a decision about money. It's a decision about life, death and the quality of the society we want to build and leave for our children.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Schmidt and to the Schmidt family, I'm sorry that your son and brother died because of selfish politics. The rest of us shouldn't have any peace until we fight back these interlopers and rightists who do not care what's best for us, only for their neocon political views and their selfish, greedy ideals. Today is a sad, sad day for Oregon. It has killed a human being today. Not a precedent I want my state to set. It's time to get serious, people.

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      ( 8:32 AM )

Today is a proper Oregonian day. Here in the Pacific Northwest we, like the Eskimos with "snow," have 1,000 words for "rain." Today, I wouldn't call it a downpour, no, more like a "steady rain," perhaps a "constant shower." Definitely more than regular "showers" and less than a true "rain." No sunbreaks are expected. In any case, it's coming down steadily, pretty large-size drops, though not necessarily that heavily, along with quite cold temperatures (mid-40's right now) and a dark sky. With that visual picture in mind, imagine my thoughts as I trudged down Portland streets to the hated office building in which I must spend my days, hovering in my raincoat, rain boots and umbrella, when to my surprise I suddenly had to dodge a worker using a leaf blower on the sidewalk. Yes, he was blowing waves of water (and some soaked leaves that weren't molded to the brick sidewalks) along as the rain came down. Now that's what I call work dedication. Or something.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2003
      ( 1:47 PM )

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      ( 11:35 AM )
Interesting Timing

News broke today in the Washington Post that the remains of Howard Dean's brother, Charlie, have been identified in Laos. This comes at a very strange time, though I'm not suggesting anything untoward. But dealing with such an emotional situation can't be easy for Dean or his family now, with all the mounting pressures of the campaign, especially now that the details of Charlie Dean's death are publicized - a subject that Dean and his family have kept very private until now.

Charles Dean was a 24-year-old graduate
of the University of North Carolina traveling
the world when he and a companion, Neil
Sharman of Australia, were arrested in
Laos by the communist Pathet Lao.

The two were detained Sept. 4, 1974,
during a trip down the Mekong River, and
held in a small, remote prison camp for a few
months before being killed. They apparently
were suspected of being spies, although
the U.S. and Australian governments said
they were merely tourists and strongly
protested their detention.

The Dean family has been trying to piece
together the details surrounding Charles
Dean's death for three decades. Dean said
the discovery would be painful not only
for his family, but relatives of every POW
and MIA.

Dean had to go public on his blog because of the attention.

"This has been a long and emotional journey
for my mother, Jim, Bill and me. We greet this
news with mixed emotions but are gratified
that we may now be approaching closure to
this painful episode in our lives. We ask that
you respect our privacy as we arrange for
the transfer, identification and ultimate burial
of what we believe are Charlie Dean's remains.

"I want to particularly thank the United States
military. The men and women I visited with
and stayed with at base camp last year in
Laos are extraordinary human beings. This
whole operation is an extraordinary credit to
the government and the U.S. military. My family
and I are deeply appreciative.

It is a sad time for them now, though I'm sure the closure also helps in some way. I can't begin to imagine what it is like, since my dad came back from Vietnam, and I am so very thankful fo that. But if any candidate can relate to how the parents and siblings and spouses of those coming home dead from Iraq right now are feeling, I think Dean probably can.

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Monday, November 17, 2003
      ( 1:32 PM )
"My Husband Died in Vain"

I'm full throttle on the Bush visit to London. I have been to London many times and have several very good friends there and I only wish I could be there to see the thing in person. Anyway, while he is there, Bush is tentatively planning to meet with some families of dead British soldiers. One wife doesn't plan on kissing his hand.

Lianne Seymour, whose husband, Commando
Ian Seymour, was killed in a helicopter crash
at the outbreak of the war, welcomed the
chance to meet Mr Bush. But she dismissed
his claim that the 53 Britons killed so far in
Iraq had died in a good cause. She said:
"Bush has been suggesting that he's going
to put our minds at rest. He suggests our
husbands' lives weren't lost in vain. However,
I'm going to challenge him on it.

This could turn out worse than the feared heckling from Parliament that is now being avoided. But what really gets me about this story is not that these families are prepared to give Bush a piece of their minds and a dose of the truth, what gets me is that he actually put on his schedule the plan to meet with families of the dead.

Has he done this on any sort of regular or public basis here in his own country, where his own constituents are being killed and injured in record numbers? Has he even once attended the solemn ceremony of the return of the coffins? Has he attended even one funeral or memorial service or even had a high-ranking administration official attend? Nope. The policy is to ignore the fact that dead soldiers in coffins and horrifically maimed soldiers in wheelchairs and on stretchers are pouring in every day from the war in Iraq. So while some families of killed British soldiers may get the opportunity to speak their minds to Bush this week, all the families of killed US soldiers are left to fend for themselves and pick up the pieces of their broken lives- without a word from the man who broke them.

thanks to Maru for the link.

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      ( 12:56 PM )
Democratic Party on the Brink

There is a fantastic post by Kos today about the struggle for power in the Democratic Party - the very clear split that has developed between the Dean "anti-establishment" folks and the Clinton establishment that now holds power. I urge you to read it - this issue could make or break the immediate future of all progressives who truly want change for this country.

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      ( 9:46 AM )
Much Ado About ...

The President's trip to London is shaping up to be a real earth-scorcher of an event. Now the US wants to place sharpshooters around the president while he is in London, and on top of that, they want immunity if they "accidentally" shoot a bystander who might happen to be a British citizen.

But wait! That's not all - the package deal being negotiated also includes all kinds of other lovelies the Brits are being asked to accommodate:

These included the closure of the Tube network,
the use of US air force planes and helicopters
and the shipping in of battlefield weaponry to
use against rioters.

In return, the British authorities agreed numerous
concessions, including the creation of a 'sterile
zone' around the President with a series of road
closures in central London and a security cordon
keeping the public away from his cavalcade.

Originally, the Americans wanted London to shut down all the tube lines. This incredible request has rightfully been dismissed by British authorities. The audacity of our government to impose these kinds of requirements is unmatched.

But Tony is defending his decision to host the Emperor With No Clothes:

Downing Street today again defended President
Bush's visit - the formal invitation for which was
made in June 2002.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "As the prime
minister said last Monday, this is absolutely the
right time for him to come and the visit will
demonstrate the depth and breadth of the
relationship between our two countries.

But evidently some people didn't get the memo. Even well known anti-war activist Ron Kovic (of "Born on the 4th of July fame) has joined the Brits and Europeans.

The veteran American peace campaigner
Ron Kovic today joined British anti-war
protesters presenting a petition to Downing
Street against the state visit.

The Stop the War Coalition said 100,000 people
had signed the petition stating that Mr Bush
was not welcome in Britain and should not
have been invited.

Not that Bush cares. He may have to see some protests this time, unlike here at home where he is always shielded from the indignity of having to see people who actually dare to dissent. But he will be so well guarded, and so focused on trying to keep his manners that he probably won't even notice. I don't recall there being so much hubbub about his security in all the trips he's taken the last few months around the world -- maybe there was and we just didn't hear about it. But the fact that this is happening in the capital city of our closest ally does give pause.

Word on the street (and on NPR this morning) is that security in Buckingham palace is going to be so tight, even the Queen will be required to wear an identity badge. I'm guessing Bush won't be invited back anytime soon.

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Friday, November 14, 2003
      ( 4:41 PM )

Well, I'm still getting used to my new job and working the load of two people so my posting didn't quite get back up to its usual par. But I will get back in the groove. Just wanted to wish everyone a VERY happy weekend - and here's to Kos, who had the best post of the day.

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Thursday, November 13, 2003
      ( 11:12 AM )
The Royal Treatment

Originally, W's visit to London was going to be an affair of pomp and circumstance. He was set to be the first president to be received with all the royal ceremony, including a ride with the queen in her horse-drawn carriage (think Shrek meets Cinderella pumpkin). Then, Red Ken, the rowdy mayor of London, decided that he wasn't going to sit quietly by while the man who led Tony Blair by the nose into the debacle that has become Iraq had tea with the majesties. So Mayor Livingstone decided to host a reception of his own:

Yesterday Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London,
encouraged the anti-war protests by saying
he had arranged a Peace Reception for prominent
opponents of the war and subsequent "occupation"
of Iraq, next Wednesday midway through the
president's stay.

Oh, and those 100,000+ protestors at Buckingham Palace aren't planning to stand quietly and sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers."

In a call for "mass non-violent disobedience",
a collection of anti-capitalists and groups against
the Iraq war have called for demonstrators to scale
the walls of the palace when the president arrives
in Britain next Wednesday.

So of course the US government stepped in. If we have "First Amendment Zones" (read: no free speech zones) here in the U.S., why shouldn't they have them in London for the President?

Anti-war protesters claim that US authorities have
demanded a rolling "exclusion zone" around
President George Bush during his visit, as well as
a ban on marches in parts of central London.

The Stop The War Coalition said yesterday that it
had been told by the police that it would not be
allowed to demonstrate in Parliament Square and
Whitehall next Thursday - a ban it said it was
determined to resist. The coalition says that it has
also been told by British officials that American
officials want a distance kept between Mr Bush
and protesters, for security reasons and to prevent
their appearance in the same television shots.

Bush seems to believe that British citizens are bound by the same rules and he should be able to travel in ease without seeing any protestors or people who don't happen to agree that he would do nicely as Emperor of the World. And evidently, US authorities think that establishing this "rolling exclusion zone" will be adequate and possible. Have they seen an English soccer game?

Too bad - no carriage rides for the President.

Though most believe the threat will be at its
most acute as his convoy travels through London,
security lapses at the royal palaces have prompted
officers to concentrate much of their efforts on
making sure the palace cannot be breached.

A number of websites have encouraged those
opposed to the war in Iraq to test security at the
palace during the president's stay. One knowledgeable
source said: "It will take a good few officers just
to secure the perimeter".

So the London authorities are supposed to accommodate the Bush cavalcade, not to mention all the increased threat - not only from protestors but from terrorists themselves (though the Bush administration might categorize these two as the same thing). And everyone is facing the situation with happy hearts:

However there is Whitehall concern, and some
irritation, about demands made by the US secret
service - including a suggestion that Mr Bush's
motorcade must consist of no fewer than 35 cars.

Have a nice visit to London, Mr. President!

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      ( 9:01 AM )
Just Another Cog in the Wheel

Well - it took a bit longer for me to get back blogging. Our mini holiday was nice, but a bit tinted by the fact that 1/2 hour before I left work on Thursday evening I was told my job wasn't so secure - so that made for a really nice 4 days away, wondering what was going to happen when I got back. It's especially worrying for me since I support the family right now - so my losing my job wouldn't be all that great for us, to say the least. When I got back yesterday I found I did still have a job, just not the job I used to have. I spent all day yesterday being moved to a different floor of the firm, transferred to new bosses and generally undergoing a massive transition on top of the whole inference from management that I should be grateful I even have a job (they didn't even tell the girl I was replacing that I was replacing her so when I went to her to ask about things, she was totally shocked - nice management style). Having been in the "support" services for my entire adult life so far, I'm not surprised when firms treat their employees this way, but it never sits well with me that I and all the others in my same position are viewed as nothing more than bodies filling spaces and no more valuable than the machines we operate (even though we are, and I'd like to see the business world keep running with out us).

So all in all it has been a very pleasant week - not. But I'm settled into my new "workstation" and I'm getting into the swing of things so hopefully my normal rhythm will be back soon. One thing that definitely makes me feel more normal is being back on my blog. So here I am and let the posting begin!

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Thursday, November 06, 2003
      ( 9:02 PM )
Mini Holiday

Just wanted to say Aloha for a few days. Mercifully, I am about to enjoy 5 days with my family away from here, not working and not having to deal with the everyday life. We are flying down to Texas to see family and attend a wedding and while I'm not looking forward to the inevitable hassle of flying with a 17-month old, I AM looking forward to uninterrupted days with him, which I rarely get. Please check back with me next Tuesday or Wednesday (don't forget about me!) - but until then I'm on a short hiatus. Take care and see you in a few days.

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      ( 1:40 PM )
Leave Your Brain at the Door

It's a busy day, so I only have time for a quick run down of what the Bush administration and the GOP have done to us lately (try to keep your head from exploding):

Bush signs record spending bill on Iraq...thus ensuring our children will be paying off debts until their grandchildren can take over... and not ensuring a just end to conflict in Iraq.

Remember that whole "we've given him a chance to turn himself in but he won't" thing that Bush made a big deal about before invading? Turns out Saddam DID try to turn himself in... and Bush decided that wasn't going to work - in terms of the plan, you know ... oh, and of course forgot to mention it to us. (Tom Burka has the reality perspective on this one today).

The administration has alerted 43,000 reservists that they will be called up for duty in Iraq soon. The plan is to downsize troop numbers in Iraq - thus making it even easier for them to be killed by guerilla fighters. Can you say rock and hard place?

Republicans on the Hill are flailing about, claiming that Democrats are playing politics because a memo leaked yesterday that said the Dems were fed up to here with Bush not giving truthful evidence and with the GOP not having even the appearance of wanting to conduct an investigation into the intelligence interpreted for the country as the basis for the war. Dems run for cover of course, instead of actually producing evidence that they have spines.

Speaking of Dems.... let's not forget how our "opposition party" has screwed us over as well:

The vote in the Senate for the $87Billion was anonymous. Yep, that's right - the senators cannot be held accountable for once again selling us out to Bush. Nice one.

And finally, if I have to hear that whining, emotional, wind-beneath-my-wings crap that is the background music on the trailers for the Jessica Lynch movie on NBC one more time, I'm going to...

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      ( 1:22 PM )
A Thousand Words


(via Atrios)

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Wednesday, November 05, 2003
      ( 12:26 PM )
Not to Make Too Fine a Point of It

So the hoopla about the Reagan miniseries was in effect spearheaded because republicans who worship Reagan (and who obviously don't have a brain in their heads) took offense at a particular part of the transcript that was revealed by the NY Times:

Republicans said the script would show the
Reagans in an unflattering light while omitting
much of what his supporters regard as his
major achievements.

Of particular concern to conservative critics was
a scene in which Mr. Reagan says of gays who
have AIDS: "They that live in sin shall die in sin."

Mr. Reagan made no such public remark, and
opponents of the mini-series say the line was
an indication of liberal bias against the two-term

Okay, disregarding all the arguments previously stated about the ridiculousness of CBS balking on airing this thing (though they probably did themselves a favor since I doubt anyone was actually going to watch it), and the whiners in the GOP, I find the particular argument above very disconcerting.

I realize that Reagan worshippers live in a bubble, and these may be the folks who currently believe everything W is telling them and insist that he did not lie to get us into war. However, the statement used in the movie transcript, while perhaps not technically said by Reagan, gets across a very TRUE point about Reagan, which I will now reiterate in plain English:


By 1987, nearly 20,000 Americans had died of AIDS. Reagan finally publicly acknowledged its existence:

''After almost six years of silence on the epidemic,''
said Rep. Henry Waxman D.-Calif., chairman of the
House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Health, ''the president has finally said that he will
fight the disease.''

Yet Reagan's "fight" did not involve giving enough funds for research or even a concerted effort by the federal government to publicize the dangers of AIDS. Nope, this was Reagan's answer:

Reagan stressed instruction in morality as a
complement to AIDS education. He told reporters
Tuesday that he favored AIDS education ''as
long as they teach that one of the answers to
it is abstinence -- if you say it's not how you
do it, but that you don't do it.''

A year passes, and then, an article from 1988:

The AIDS commission called for a $1-billion
annual expenditure for drug-abuse treatment
and education; the president, however, simply
called for "bipartisan support" in his war on
drugs. Reagan also called for improved blood
screening, and asked the Food and Drug
Administration to encourage self-donation of
blood before surgery.

As president, he could have made a HUGE difference in how AIDS affected the entire world at its outbreak. But he remained silent. His cronies and supporters spread the general theme that gays were being punished by God. He did not argue that point. He did not insist that the CDC be listened to and the blood banks cleaned out. He did not even pay attention when thousands began contracting and dying of the disease (gay and straight alike). He did not insist on funds being put into research on how to stop its spread. In short, AIDS killed millions of people because Ronald Reagan was a hypocrite and remained silent while his constituents suffered and died.

Mama can only think of bad, bad words to describe Reagan -- this is only ONE of the crimes against humanity he committed while president. But then, you never suspected me of hero-worshipping Ronnie, did you?

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      ( 11:23 AM )
Elections and The Money that Buys Them

Well I do confess some disappointment that Mississippians elected Haley Barbour (of known connections with the KKK-associated organizations in the south), but I don't think that all is lost for Democrats.

One thing that was definitely proven here in Oregon's initiative election yesterday was that money is the power. The Enron/PGE entities spent upwards of $2 million to put out ads that falsly warned of higher rates and massive tax increases, along with firings of PGE employees if the PUD were selected by voters. Unfortuately, the PUD proponents didn't have the deep pockets to fight the lies with the truth that Oregon law would forbid layoffs of the utility workers, the "tax" was a one time surcharge equal to 45 cents per $150,000 home, and now that Enron has the go-ahead to sell off PGE for parts, indeed our rates WILL go higher without the PUD. It was a disgrace, and I think Multnomah County voters are going to regret it when they realize that it wasn't another layer of government they were rejecting, it was the wholesale dominance of Enron they were accepting.

On the national election front, Howard Dean has revealed what the much-rumored "Big Email" on Thursday will be to all of his supporters. He has decided to leave it up them as to whether he accepts federal matching funds for his campaign or forgoes the $19 million in federal money in order to try and make much larger fundraising gains. He tells his supporters today:

This is how the Bush campaign believes they
can defeat us. If we accept federal matching
funds -- and the $45 million spending cap that
goes with it -- they will have a $155 million
spending advantage against us. From March
through August, they will be able to define
and distort us, and we will have no way to
defend ourselves.

So on Thursday, he is having his supporters vote on whether to accept the federal funds or not. It's a good plan - either way he won't have to take the heat for whatever is decided. He will allow voting Thursday through Friday and then on Saturday will announce the decision:

But this is what we face:

In the last two elections, politicians, political
parties and interest groups have spent 5.1
billion dollars. Those billions came from less
than 5% of the public. And before this election
is finished George Bush plans to add 200
million dollars more from large corporate interests.

Where does all this money come from? Well,
in the last six years, despite massive corporate
scandals and the crash of the NASDAQ, the
financial services industry managed to find
almost 168 million dollars to influence the
political process.

A pharmaceutical and health products industry
that can’t afford to sell our seniors cheaper
prescription drugs did manage to find 60 million
dollars to influence our elections.

The oil and gas industry got the best deal. It
only needed to give 64 million dollars to be
able to sit in Vice President Cheney’s office
and write our energy policy.

Last year the Congress passed the McCain/
Feingold law. It was supposed to take the
corrupting influence of large corporate interests
out of our political process.

Yet not even before the ink was dried, President
Bush betrayed this bill’s intent and spirit. George
Bush announced he would bypass the matching
system and raise 200 million dollars for a primary
election in which he faces no opponent.

It's a tough one. He did promise to not reject the federal matching funds, it was a statement that was connected with his campaign's plan not to go for big corporate donations, but for the everyman. He's proven he can get the latter: average donations of $77 dollars have made up the almost $20 million he's raised so far. But that's all he can raise now. If he accepts federal funds, he's done and his spending limit is set.

So viewing this from the bigger picture, I don't think the honorary notion of sticking to federal matching funds is a moral standard that can't be breached. His competitors may say that this makes the race unfair, but frankly, they aren't anywhere near his fundraising now, so I am not sure what would make that change anyway. If he rejects federal funds, then he is going to have to scramble for bigger donations and it will be up to the people and probably bigger donors to try and match what the government would have given. However, he wouldn't have a spending limit.

The truth is that Bush is going to outspend any Democrat 20 to 1 in this election and if he wins on sheer money power, then we are all doomed. While I admire the desire to stick with the federal funds limits, this is not a fair fight and we can't afford to lose it this time around if we are the only ones playing fair. If we do, in four more years, we will be a bloody pulp of a nation. I daresay we can more afford to pay a Democrat candidate's fight now than pay our way out of a further Bush mess in years to come.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2003
      ( 4:08 PM )
Tuesday Night

Sigh. I miss Buffy.

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      ( 4:01 PM )
Do I Feel a Draft in Here?

I haven't seen a tremendous amount of blogging about this one yet, but it looks like BushCo is secretly prepping for reinstituting the draft. In his Salon article, Dave Lindorff notes that while the administration publicly denies any thought of a draft, one of its websites is now advertising to fill all the draft board slots around the country. Evidently, some experts are starting to agree that this could be a very real possibility if Bush intends to remain in occupation in Iraq.

"The experts are all saying we're going to
have to beef up our presence in Iraq," says
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the New York
Democrat. "We've failed to convince our allies
to send troops, we've extended deployments
so morale is sinking, and the president is
saying we can't cut and run. So what's left?
The draft is a very sensitive subject, but at
some point, we're going to need more troops,
and at that point the only way to get them
will be a return to the draft."

Even though top military officials and Rumsfeld himself prefer an all-voluntary force out there, that may become little more than a hope denied if things keep up.

According to some experts, basic math might
compel the Pentagon to reconsider the draft:
Of a total U.S. military force of 1.4 million
people around the globe (many of them in
non-combat support positions and in services
like the Air Force and Navy), there are currently
about 140,000 active-duty, reserve and National
Guard soldiers currently deployed in Iraq --
and though Rumsfeld has been an advocate
of a lean, nimble military apparatus, history
suggests he needs more muscle.

"The closest parallel to the Iraq situation is
the British in Northern Ireland, where you
also had some people supporting the occupying
army and some opposing them, and where
the opponents were willing to resort to terror
tactics," says Charles Peña, director of defense
studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "There
the British needed a ratio of 10 soldiers per
1,000 population to restore order, and at their
height, it was 20 soldiers per 1,000 population.
If you transfer that to Iraq, it would mean
you'd need at least 240,000 troops and maybe
as many as 480,000.

I have conflicting thoughts on the draft. I agree with much of what Dan (over at Lies, Damn Lies) says about the draft...and I also must concur with his disclaimer that I would probably avoid having to be on the list, so my view may be a little skewed. But I'm also a mother and if a draft is instituted it most likely would stick around this time, and so I have my son to consider. While emotionally my reaction is to be wholly against a draft of any sort, on a practical sense I can see how it might become a necessity.

The necessity of it, however, is produced by an administration that has chosen a wholly UNnecessary tactic in its foreign policy, specifically: the Bush doctrine of preemptive action. That's what got us into the mess we're in right now. Thus, it would seem so incredibly dishonest to claim that a draft is crucial when it actually wouldn't have been if we didn't go around invading countries and pissing off all our allies.

I also agree with one of the folks interviewed in the article, John Corcoran, who is a draft board member:

"To tell the truth, I don't think Bush
has the balls to call for a draft.

"They give us a training session each year
to keep the machinery in place and oiled
up in case, God forbid, they ever do
reinstitute it," he explains.

So all the signs point to it not happening. BUT... if it does, here are my thoughts.

1. I don't think it should be for men only. Our society is long past that gender bias, and Israel, among others, has proven that it's not necessary. Obviously, single mothers would be exempt, as would single fathers as sole providers of minor children.

2. I don't think it should be for active duty military service only. There should be an option for civil service of some type. This would give options to many who might otherwise seek exemptions or flee, and would cut down on the desertion problems. Also, I think it would institute a very good precedent for civil service for the community by young people before they get on with their lives. I would have definitely benefited from something like that. Of course, the civil service, as the military service should come with fully-paid for education benefits along the lines of the GI Bill.

3. I like the new rule that current college students aren't exempt, but can finish up their semester (or senior year if they are seniors). This will avoid the avoidance by those more privileged. While history has shown that in no matter what era, the rich find some way to sell or get rid of their conscription, this provision would make that less easy.

4. Active duty requirement should be no more than 18 months.

5. Don't Ask, Don't Tell has got to go. With a draft, there will obviously be people of all persuasions brought into service for the country and it would be absolutely inconceivable to continue to enforce an institutionalized discrimination against some of them. The service, military or civil, would have to be open to all Americans and would not be able to single out or put any at risk because of who they are. (the policy should go anyway, but the draft would make it absolutely essential to get rid of it).

I don't think the Draft will happen - it's political suicide for Bush. So if it doesn't, something's got to give. The question is, will it be the president or will it be our hard hit troops, once again?

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      ( 2:55 PM )
In Search Of...

A definition. What the heck is a "jobless economic expansion"???? How can the economy actually expand when people are losing jobs? My inner logic tells me that when more jobs are lost, then more people will STOP spending money, which doesn't seem to equal an actual "recovery" or "expansion." So is this some kind of fake bubble that is expanding without any true foundation of jobs, or is there actually something legitimate about a "jobless expansion?" It just doesn't sound right...

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      ( 2:35 PM )
The Confederate Flag Hooha

What Balkinization said.

UPDATE: And why it wasn't a big deal in the first place.

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Monday, November 03, 2003
      ( 4:19 PM )
Can We Please Get Some Guts in the House?

Well, it appears that CBS may be balking on airing its miniseries on Reagan due to the massive amounts of "protest" from neocons everywhere who can't allow one hint of tarnish to rest upon the hallowed memory of their hero Ronald Reagan -- to the point that they've organized a boycott of CBS.

As Emma over at Notes on the Atrocities asks:

1.) Is Reagan's legacy so fragile that it might be damaged by a miniseries? (Sorry, I'm just having a hard time taking it seriously.)

2.) Is the miniseries form so powerful as to shake the reputation of a presidency?

Well, at least one Congressman has taken the opposite approach with CBS. John Dingell, D-Michigan, has written an open letter to the corporation's president:

As someone who served with President Reagan,
and in the interest of historical accuracy, please
allow me to share with you some of my recollections
of the Reagan years that I hope will make it into
the final cut of the mini-series: $640 Pentagon
toilets seats; ketchup as a vegetable; union busting;
firing striking air traffic controllers; Iran-Contra;
selling arms to terrorist nations; trading arms for
hostages; retreating from terrorists in Beirut;
lying to Congress; financing an illegal war in
Nicaragua; visiting Bitburg cemetery; a cozy
relationship with Saddam Hussein; shredding
documents; Ed Meese; Fawn Hall; Oliver North;
James Watt; apartheid apologia; the savings
and loan scandal; voodoo economics; record
budget deficits; double digit unemployment;
farm bankruptcies; trade deficits; astrologers
in the White House; Star Wars; and influence

Nicely said. Unfortunately, it appears CBS may be selling the miniseries to Showtime so that it doesn't have to take responsibility for the editing, that is evidently being done with a machete.

Come on, people. Have some backbone. The fact that the hardline rightists in this country are carrying the hammer when it comes to the media is not only discouraging, but it's downright dangerous if it means that media companies are bowing to the rightists' whims in terms of artistic interpretation of a story for a miniseries. People worship Reagan, and for the life of me I can't figure out why - but that is no reason that they can't simply turn off the tv and declare it for what they usually do, the tripe and monstrosity of hollywood. Whiners, every last one of them.

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      ( 11:40 AM )
All Systems Go

The Filter is working. The BushCo administration is successfully shielding Americans from the truth yet again. They are a benevolent administration, wanting to spare us from the terrible images of war. Not.

While Donald Rumsfeld calls the deaths and injuries yesterday in Iraq tragic, yet "necessary," the administration is busy trying to pretend they simply didn't happen.

Minutes after the attack, American Black
Hawk helicopters swarmed over the scene
to rush survivors to hospital while soldiers
secured the site, ordering journalists to
leave and confiscating film.

Not only are war correspondents having their film confiscated, but the US government has denied all access to the homecomings of the slain soldiers.

Americans have never seen any of the
other 359 bodies returning from Iraq.
Nor do they see the wounded cramming
the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in
Washington or soldiers who say they
are being treated inhumanely awaiting
medical treatment at Fort Stewart, Ga.

In order to continue to sell an increasingly
unpopular Iraqi invasion to the American
people, President George W. Bush's
administration sweeps the messy parts
of war — the grieving families, the flag-draped
coffins, the soldiers who have lost limbs —
into a far corner of the nation's attic.

No television cameras are allowed at Dover.

Bush does not attend the funerals of soldiers
who gave their lives in his war on terrorism.

Though Americans are ignorantly unaware of how our government is hiding the results of its "necessary" war, the rest of the world is fully cognizant of the degrading behavior of our leaders:

"You can call it news control or information
control or flat-out propaganda," says Christopher
Simpson, a communications professor at
Washington's American University.

"Whatever you call it, this is the most extensive
effort at spinning a war that the department of
defence has ever undertaken in this country."

Simpson notes that photos of the dead returning
to American soil have historically been part of the
ceremony, part of the picture of conflict and part
of the public closure for families — until now.

"This White House is the greatest user of
propaganda in American history and if they had
a shred of honesty, they would admit it. But
they can't."

The callousness that is being accorded to our war dead is not limited to keeping pictures of the coffins out of the media or ignoring the needs of the injured. No, they don't even accord an ounce of the honor these soldiers deserve as they are being transported home.

But today's military doesn't even use the
words "body bags" — a term in common
usage during the Vietnam War, when
58,000 Americans died.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the
Pentagon began calling them "human remains
pouches" and it now refers to them as
"transfer tubes."

This is beyond disgusting, and I have no words to express the depth of my horror at the way this administration is treating our dead and wounded from this war. Americans have no idea what this war is costing us because we are forbidden from seeing the real images that usually accompany war. Yet, this article in the Toronto Star guarantees that people in other countries are far more aware than US citizens of the devastating treatment being given our war dead by Bush.

The need for reflection in America is important,
Dawson says, because the country seems to
have lapsed back into a state of complacency.

"The country should be asking whether these
men and women are putting their lives on the
line for a justifiable purpose."

There is simply no national reporting on the thousands of wounded returning to this country. Perhaps a hometown paper or two might acknowledge a soldier who has returned - but no political leaders are acknowledging their constituents who have lost limbs or sight or anything, and the Bush administration is simply pretending they don't exist.

Walter Reed officials did not return calls
seeking comment, but the crush of casualties
in late summer was such that outpatients had
to be referred to hotels in nearby Silver
Spring, Md., because the hospital was full.

The Washington Times said the hospital had
treated about 1,700 patients from Operation
Iraqi Freedom.

"Rarely have we seen so many young patients
at one time," a spokesperson said.

Montana soldier Adam McLain, recovering from
injuries when a military Humvee drove over his leg
and head in Baghdad, told the newspaper from
his hospital bed: "I didn't realize how many people
were without limbs or without eyes. It's just
depressing. I feel lucky. I have all my limbs."

Why aren't they showing us the truth about this war? Well, the answer to that is obvious. The real question is: why aren't we demanding it?

(thanks to Maru for the heads-up)

UPDATE: Looks like CNN's Mark Shields has caught on to this issue gets rhetorical:

Where is the outrage on the part of the press?
Are we lapdogs? The administration in full spin
control insists that the reality on the ground in
Iraq is much more positive than the press reports.
Yet the administration denies reality at home
-- the reality of the recent heroism of this nation's
fallen sons and daughters.

(thanks to Atrios for that link)

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      ( 10:59 AM )
We're Number Two!!!

Alright! The Good News: The U.S. once again shows it is a powerhouse by coming in second in a poll conducted in Europe by the EU.

The Bad News: Unfortunately, the poll said that we ranked as the second largest threat to world peace. Yep, following close on the heels of Israel (who got the number one slot across Europe), the US beat out Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya and China!

It was one of 60 surveys the Commission carries
out every year seeking the views of the EU's
375 million citizens on everything from the euro
to EU enlargement.

Around 500 people in each EU country were
asked whether they considered 14 listed
countries as threats to world peace.

Evidently, the Europeans aren't getting the same good news we are in our media these days - you know, that stuff about how great Israel is for not committing wholesale slaughter of Palestinians, and about what a force for good the U.S. has been in the middle east due to our compassionate intervention in Iraq. Maybe they should have a better filter, like we do.

The actual poll results haven't been released yet, but the news is causing big waves because Israel is uber-angry over getting the far and away number one slot as world bad guy in the eyes of Europeans. Top Israelis are saying that the poll just goes to show that all Europeans are anti-semites and that the EU should not be allowed any role in mideast peace talks. So there. However, calmer voices are also trying to be heard:

But a former head of Israel's foreign ministry,
Alon Liel, said Israelis would be wise to
consider why Europeans might think that way.
"Do they hate us or are they truly frightened?
Our natural predilection is to pull out of the
drawer our usual weapon of self-defence -
the weapon of anti-semitism - but this is
probably the wrong place to do so."

We, like the Israelis, seem to believe it impossible that other peoples of other nations could disagree with us and even go so far as to feel threatened by us. We chalk it up to thinking they must harbor some kind of irrational hatred for us (or anti-semitism for Israel).

This is poop, plain and simple. We are not the force of good or the well-beloved nation that we might have been in days gone by. We have done nothing in the past 3 years to engender good feelings, trust or hope in our former allies. The citizens of other nations look on with horror as we bombast our way around this planet, and we have no concept of how we have so completely dissed them. And then on top of that, we can only patronize. The neocons will blast this poll as evidencing "hatred" and "weakness" on the part of Europeans. Meanwhile, we will further alienate the very people who may be the only ones who can save us.

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      ( 10:11 AM )
Congratulations and a Big Welcome to the World!

Markos of Daily Kos and his wife became the proud parents of Aristotle Alberto (Ari) yesterday evening and this Mama wants to send out HUGE congratulations! It was an heroic effort by Elisa, who we have been following over on FishyShark. She is hopefully resting comfortably now and the family is happy and cozy together enjoying Ari's first full day on earth. Welcome to the ballgame, Ari!

As the still-new mama of a little boy, I want to let Kos know that it's the best adventure out there!

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