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

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
      ( 8:25 AM )
Space Geekette


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Tuesday, June 29, 2004
      ( 12:50 PM )
The Lost

There is so much to discuss with the ongoing crisis in Iraq - but as usual, Americans can remain blissfully unaware of a genocide taking place against our fellow human beings - and blissfully unaware that we are doing nothing to stop it. For over a year, the radical Muslim-controlled Sudanese government has sponsored the displacement of millions and the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan. The horrendous rate of rape and torture of women and children has gone unabated now and unchecked by the international community.

In fact, NOT ONE COUNTRY in the world community has labeled what is happening in Sudan as genocide. And this week, Colin Powell travelled to Sudan, presuming to engage in "dialogue" with the very government that is conducting the genocide that Powell and Bush refuse to name. Africa Action, which has tried to get the truth out about nations of Africa for decades, has called the trip of Powell and Kofi Annan to Sudan for what it is: a farce.

This week’s visit to Khartoum and Darfur by Secretary Powell and United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan has been rejected by Africa Action as "dangerously naive." Executive Director Salih Booker said today, "The Khartoum government is clearly responsible for the genocide taking place in Darfur, and yet it continues to deny its role and to obstruct humanitarian access to the region. Rather than traveling half-way around the world to hold talks with this murderous regime, Powell could achieve much more by simply uttering one word - genocide."

Africa Action notes that the US, and all permanent members of the UN Security Council, are parties to the 1948 Convention on Genocide, and are bound to prevent and punish this crime under international law. Genocide is described as the commission of acts with "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."

Why do we continue to ignore the plight of these fellow human beings who suffer and die under this regime? What have we to gain from being friendly with a despot committing acts that we accused Saddam Hussein of doing, and in fact invaded and occupied his country because of those acts? What can Sudan give us that we must ignore the call of millions begging for rescue from certain and horrible death? Two guesses - no, just one. It rhymes with "toil" and is also known as black gold...Texas tea... yep. Once again our oil and corporate interests far outweigh the lives of a few million poor people of color in Africa.

Ironically, the international community's unwillingness to intervene results--at least in part--from concern that a fragile peace deal between north and south will be jeopardized. Across several administrations, the United States has been involved in promoting peace in Sudan, and the Bush Administration is eager to claim credit for its diplomatic efforts. ... The Administration had hoped that such an agreement would allow it to lift sanctions on Sudan. This, in turn, would permit US oil companies to pursue a share of the country's recently developed oil wealth.


The Security Council continues to hesitate on Darfur, largely because of the economic and diplomatic interests of its permanent members, who don't wish to antagonize Khartoum.

If there is no military intervention on behalf of the people of Sudan, a million or more could die in the next year.

Why can't we even call it what it is? Why can't we even talk about it? Why do we not know?

The racism that is entrenched in our country, the institutionalized power of the minority in the world (the white people) continues to hurt us and hurt others. We must begin to think differently. We must begin to pay attention. The historically racist treatment of the countries in Africa must stop. And it should stop with us. The question is twofold: will it? And will it be soon enough?

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      ( 12:28 PM )
Taking that Extra Step

So a few months ago, Michael Moore didn't know how he was going to distribute his film, even after it won the top award at Cannes. Why? Because Disney, the owner of Miramax (its original distributor), decided back in May 2003 that it wouldn't distribute it. Remember Eisner's words:

Disney, Mr Eisner said, had simply decided that it "did not want a film in the middle of the political process when we're such a non-partisan company".

They decided it was too politically explosive for Disney's reputation as an American institution. I guess Disney's changed its mind.

Now Disney has gone a step further. They have now joined forces with the right wing machine that seeks to censure Farenheit/911 and are putting out a "patriotic" film.

Worse, it’s called “America’s Heart and Soul.”

“Entertainment movie giant Walt Disney Corp, which last month refused to release the politically explosive “Fahrenheit 9/11,” is unveiling a “patriotic” film this week that supporters say could act as a counter-balance Michael Moore’s hit film.

While Disney insists that the release of the rousing film “America’s Heart and Soul” on Friday is unconnected with Moore’s documentary, branded by his critics as “anti-American,” conservative groups that oppose Moore film say Disney’s new release makes them proud to be American.

“This unusual film was inspirational,” said Howard Kaloogian, chairman of Move America Forward, which has spearheaded a boycott campaign of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” after attending a special screening of the film Monday.

…Disney executives said that the release of the new film on Friday – a week after the release of “Fahrenheit” – was simply co-incidental. Releasing the film now “had nothing to do with ‘Fahrenheit 9/11? and there is no link at all between the two movies,” said a Disney spokewoman.

You may recall that Howard Kaloogian (Move America Forward) has led the effort to keep theaters from showing Farenheit/911 (harassing theater owners, etc). He is now advertising this new film, being distributed by Disney, and saying that he and his group support the troops (as opposed to Farenheit?). So, moving along with the myth the right wing continues to propagate - that the left is against the troops - Disney has agreed after all to join the political debate. At least they're out front now.

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      ( 12:26 PM )
D-D-Double Standards (doo-wah)

Digby sums it up nicely.

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      ( 6:50 AM )
The Go-Ahead

We talked a few weeks ago about the rumors surrounding the government calling up the IRR - the Individual Ready Reserve - in order to swell ranks of servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, it's not a rumor anymore.

The move -- involving the seldom-tapped Individual Ready Reserve -- represents the latest evidence of the strain being placed on the U.S. military, particularly the Army, by operations in those two countries.

Roughly 5,600 soldiers from the ready reserve will be notified of possible deployment this year, including some soldiers who will be notified within a month, said an Army official speaking on condition of anonymity.


"Sometimes there's a misperception by some of the individuals ... that 'I've done my obligation, I've been in the Army, thank you very much, and I'm done'. But you're not done," the official said.

The Pentagon had originally planned to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq to approximately 110,000 by now, but continuing security problems compelled officials to maintain a level of about 138,000 troops. Officials have said they planned to maintain that number through the end of 2005.

We've also heard that the Oregon National Guard presence in Iraq (near the largest in the country) will be DOUBLED by the end of this summer. What's wrong with this picture?

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Friday, June 25, 2004
      ( 4:36 PM )
Run, Don't Walk

...to see Farenheit/911. We just got back from the film, and I say without reservation that it is the best film Moore has made. He's getting better and better with each one. I won't give anything away, just say that you NEED to see this movie, and you need to take anyone you think who wouldn't go on their own to see it.

It was respectful and it flowed very smoothly. I can see why Michael Isikoff (of Newsweek) and his ilk are focusing on one part of the film and trying to make a big deal about it (the Saudi and Bin Laden mass exodus after 9/11) and he completely ignores the main bulk and the main point of the documentary.

But Moore got smart. This time (unlike after Bowling for Columbine), he has set up a war room to make immediate response to the lies that will inevitably flow onto mainstream media against this documentary. He'll need it. The organized effort to fight this film will be ugly. But it will fail. Based on my personal anecdotal evidence, this film will sell itself because of its truth, its incredibly well-made content and because of how important it is.

We went to the 1:00 show on a weekday. The theatre had to open two screens and they were both sold out. And when we all poured out of the theater 2 hours later, the 3:30 show already had packed lines waiting. People know the truth is out there. Finally, there's a place to see it.

Go see this film. Now.

UPDATE: Atrios has some good comments after his viewing of it.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004
      ( 6:54 PM )
A New Low

The Bush/Cheney campaign has reached a new low today (if that's possible). Their new ad ("coaltion of the Wild-Eyed") has to be record breaking in its hypocrisy and bad taste. Not to mention funny ironies (which we'll address later). Check it out.

Basically, it is a series of videos of democratic leaders (Al Gore) and presidential candidates (Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt), with Michael Moore thrown in all making well-known declarations (some here are paraphrased):

Al Gore: his MoveOn.org speech in which he said change must happen;
Howard Dean: "I want my country back!"
Michael Moore: We have a man in office who is ruining this country, etc, etc.
Dick Gephardt: "he is a miserable failure"
John Kerry: Bush is going to screw you.

And interspersed with the vingnettes are pictures of Hitler and audio of crowds yelling "seig heil!" The words at the end say "this isn't a time for pessimism and rage" and then the melodious tunes start and George Bush's lovely face and the words that it's a "time for optimism and steady leadership."

It's detestable that they would air this ad after making such a huge fuss about someone who submitted an ad to the MoveOn contest that compared Bush to Hitler - that ad wasn't even aired, and the only place it played prominently was on the Bush campaign website. But that's not the only irony.

Take a good look at the ad. Every statement made by the democrats in this commercial are the exact cogent arguments that need to be made against Bush, and here he is airing them on his own commercial! Then, right after the picture of Hitler doing his salute, they show a picture of George Bush doing the exact same stiff-armed motion!! It's obviously an inadvertent juxtaposition, but you can't help but notice it.

Finally, the biggest irony is that this commerical wreaks of the 1950's commie bashing of democrats and liberals - and yet, the GOP couldn't even get that right - they use a fascist connection, one that doesn't even make sense.

Once more the GOP shows its infantile mindset, it's lack of critical thinking, it's outreach to the basist elements of its support base, and its consistent use of negative ads. I'm sure that they will go lower still, but this is definitely a watermark moment.

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      ( 1:04 PM )
Censorship and Protection

What strange times we live in. Did I just say that out loud?

Today we hear two diametrically opposed policies out of Washington. The first is censorship: the FEC wants to ban television commercials of Michael Moore's Farenheit/911 movie after July 30. The basic argument is that it is a campaign issue, not a commercial movie issue. The problem is, the censorship will effect other documentaries and the freedom of filmakers to advertise their films.

The FEC ruling may also affect promotion of a slew of other upcoming political documentaries and films, such as “Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,” which opens in August, “The Corporation,” about democratic institutions being subsumed by the corporate agenda, or “Silver City,” a recently finished film by John Sayles that criticizes the Bush administration.

Another film, “The Hunting of the President,” which investigates whether Bill Clinton was the victim of a vast conspiracy, could be subject to regulations if it mentions Bush or members of Congress in its ads.

Since the FEC considers the Republican presidential convention scheduled to begin Aug. 30 a national political primary in which Bush is a candidate, Moore and other politically oriented filmmakers could not air any ad mentioning Bush after July 30.

Basically, Moore's freedom as a citizen filmaker to express his opinions through his documentary is being curtailed by censorship. He doesn't work for the Kerry campaign or for a 527, he doesn't belong to any group that is using the film as a campaign tool. Simply put, it's anti-Bush, and so the Bush government is doing everything it can to stop it. I have a feeling, that this will be moot in terms of commercial sales - by July 30, Moore won't need commercials; the movie will sell itself.. But that isn't the point.

MEANWHILE, the Supreme Court has decided that some people simply don't have to comply with the law.

The president is not above the law, Kennedy wrote, but there is a "paramount necessity of protecting the executive branch from vexatious litigation that might distract it from the energetic performance of its constitutional duties."

He said "special considerations applicable to the president and the vice president suggest that the courts should be sensitive to requests by the government" in such special appeals.

I'm sorry, but this decision DOES mean that the president (and vice president) is above the law, which is not what they decided regarding Clinton. We can all agree that sometimes there are unseen national security issues at stake when a President or Vice President makes some sort of decision or does some sort of research that they don't want disclosed publicly. But this is about conspiring with energy corporations and influence on national domestic energy policy. This is about transparency and the ability for citizens of this country to feel comfortable with the idea that the government is acting in our best interest. The Supreme Court has said we have no such guarantee and we can't force the goverment to prove it. They have left it open to go back to the lower, court, but this will keep the information from being revealed until long past this election.

What do these two pieces of news teach us today? One, if you are a private citizen and you want to express your opinion or even try to sell it commercially, you no longer have that right. Who CARES if Moore's film is a diatribe against Bush - that's Moore's right. The Bush people can make their own documentary if they want to. The point isn't the content, the point is the right to air it. This government and its supporters are only about stifling debate and silencing dissent. Second, if you are a powerful energy corporation or a vice president who has allowed an energy corporation to influence government policy for whatever reason, you're allowed to keep that a secret.

Who has the power in this country is the question we need to be asking ourselves. Is the power in the hands of the people, or in the hands of the powerful, whose interests are nowhere near those of the peoples? Hopefully the answer will be somewhat found in numbers. The numbers of people who go to Moore's movie. The number of people who vote. The number of people who work for change. I hope all those numbers will increase and show others that while we may not have the money, power or influence that corporations currently do, it doesn't have to stay that way.

UPDATE: Encourage the courageous.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004
      ( 9:13 AM )
Playing Politics with Veterans' Lives

Dad is out of town on a well-deserved holiday with his beloved wife (mom) of 37 years, so I am taking up the slack today for his blog by pointing out that the Republicans in the Senate have now taken it upon themselves to outrightly and publicly screw veterans. It's not even subtle anymore. There was a very important vote yesterday on the Daschle Amendment to the Veterans Benefit Bill - this amendment was to extend guaranteed permanent benefits to ALL reservist veterans (the Bush administration wants, among other things, cut off VA benefits for anyone who earns over $24,000).

As most people know, John Kerry is a very strong supporter of veterans (being one himself) and has made it one of the cornerstones of his campaign that he will take care of the veterans of this country. Because of this committment, when the Senate decided to call a vote on the Daschle Amendment yesterday, John Kerry cut short a campaign trip in New Mexico to fly back to Washington and vote. But the Republicans wouldn't have it. It was their perfect excuse for avoiding having to vote on the amendment and show how much they don't care about veterans. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist called off the vote because of John Kerry's decision to come back for it.

Republicans denied any conspiracy to stymie Kerry; instead, they said that Kerry's detour to the Capitol gave them leverage to seek concessions from Democrats on other aspects of the defense bill. Frist made it clear that while Kerry may be the de facto Democratic presidential nominee, in the Senate he wields no more clout than any other of the 100 senators.

"Senator Kerry, who hadn't been here all year, who's missed 80 percent of all votes this year, parachutes in for a day, and then he'll be taking off once again," Frist said. "That amendment will be considered in due course."

Petty? Small-minded? Or just completely evil and conniving. You decide. Not only was this a complete denial of the needs of veterans, especially reservists, but this was using the fate of veterans to try and make a political slash against Kerry.

Of course this unconscionable action reflects the absolute hypocrisy of the Republicans in Congress. If they feel that John Kerry should give up his senate seat because he is running for the presidency, then what about George Bush? If Kerry has no right to vote on the issues that are important to him, then how does Bush have the right to keep pushing his policies? How many times has Bush been on a campaign trip or at a fundraiser (or on vacation) in the last year when he should have been attending to crucial issues at the White House - international issues and domestic matters alike?

While soldiers are dying every day in Iraq, Bush visited Ft. Lewis out here in the Pacific Northwest last week (after campaigning for Rep. George Nethercutt- remember him? He's the guy who said last October that the story of Iraq's reconstruction "is a better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day."), and tells members of the military, their families and families of slain soldiers that the deaths over there are "worth it."

This was a heartless use of politics to deny veterans their due benefits. The Republicans don't want veterans to have those benefits because their "support for the troops" only goes as far as the shiny little American flag pins on their lapels. True, substantive support means money, benefits, and honor. It means respecting the dead, allowing the flag-draped coffins to be shown to a country that has become numb to the cost of this war. It means doing what it takes to make sure vets, their families, active duty and their families, and every reservist and guard member are taken care of. The Republicans will never have the moral integrity or the political will to make this happen. So they conveniently play petty games with the presidential candidate they fear most.

This coming November, it's not only time to change presidents, we need to change Congress too. We can do it - it's very possible. People like Frist and his kind don't deserve a place of prominence in American politics or governing. Veterans already know it. It's time the rest of the country does.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
      ( 6:49 AM )
Yicky Grass

Once again, the president managed to walk above the ground at an event that took place on solid earth. Using our tax dollars, the president had a "platform" built for him to walk in style in front of the cameras at the D-Day ceremony in France last month. This guy just can't walk in front of cameras without that dandy red carpet.

American taxpayers picked up the six-figure tab for the red carpet, walkway and artificial island hurriedly built over a memorial pool so that Bush and French President Jacques Chirac could walk in style to the dais for last week's ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Military engineers were given just one day's notice to create the set for Bush's speech at the U.S. cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, these sources told The News.

Of course, this wasn't the first time. The president has had special pathways and walkways constructed for him at other outdoor events. Either his shoes are just too valuable, his feet too tender, or he simply has to be above all the other lowly humans that surround him. I'm betting on the latter.

What a chump. What chumps we are that we allow our tax dollars to be squandered - not only on viscious, uneccessary and cruel wars, but on stupid, STUPID stuff like red carpets for this imposter who calls himself a leader. Grrr.

(thanks to maru for the heads up)

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      ( 6:38 AM )
Going, Going...


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Monday, June 21, 2004
      ( 10:22 AM )
Space Cadet

WOW! This is awesome. I don't know if you have heard about Project X - it's the competition to get a commercial space craft out of the atmosphere twice - with passengers, all for a $10 million prize. SpaceShipOne's first flight was a success today!

Later, standing on the tarmac beside the ship, Melvill said seeing the Earth from outside the atmosphere was "almost a religious experience."

"You can see the curvature of the Earth," he said. "You got a hell of a view from 60, 62 miles."


Rutan said the flight was remarkable because SpaceShipOne both reached space and then returned so smoothly.

"It's the first time that a winged vehicle can have a carefree re-entry," Rutan said.

The space shuttles, for example, require extensive computerized control mechanisms to maintain proper attitude and stability during the plunge back into the atmosphere.

SpaceShipOne, however, employs a novel design in which its twin tailbooms and the back half of each wing rotate upwards to create drag for a brief time, much like feathers slow and stabilize the flight of a badminton shuttlecock. The tailbooms and wings then return to normal for the glide back to Earth.

The mechanism worked flawlessly, Rutan said.

Just incredible. Space junkies (like myself) are totally into this - it is so cool that space is opening up to people. It's possible we could have commercial space fight within the next decade. Innovation and entrepreneurship at its best. I'm a HUGE fan of NASA and so I don't advocate getting rid of it, we need it. But this competition shows us that there is a lot out there to be done for us regular folks who some day hope to see the curvature of the earth - in person. Ever since third-grade when I saw that slide show about the first space flight I've wanted to go there. Just imagine.

Space. Universe. NASA. Time-space continuum, capsule, space station, star, comet, planet, solar flare, solar system, gravity, orbit, moons, rings, light years, the Prime Directive, Challenger, Columbia, Apollo I, space suit, space flight, rocket, blast off, anti-gravity, earth, vaccuum, atmosphere, craters, exploration, contact. I'd like to do more than just know or say these words. I want to be in the midst of them, roll around and float in space, get a space cramp, catch a space cold, take a space nap. I want to look back at the earth while surrounded by stars. Space. The best part of human beings makes it possible.

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      ( 10:07 AM )
Shocking News

Revealed: Bill Clinton is a human being! Actually, I thought the interview was interesting, though as usual, totally obsessed with the Lewinsky thing. I wish he'd talked more (or they'd asked more) about the political things that happened during the 8 years, even his participation in the N.Ireland peace process, which was a great success. Though he listed all the "investigations" and the money spent and how he was exonerated in all of them, I felt the emphasis wasn't enough on that and there should have been more substance to the issue that the whole thing was a sham and a "hunting," as they say.

While there are many things I didn't - and I still don't - agree with Clinton politically and was not happy with, I was struck as I watched the show how he was able to communicate regret and success, and his humanity and his intellect, all very honestly, and how I couldn't imagine ever seeing George W. do the same. That's sad.

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Friday, June 18, 2004
      ( 7:17 AM )

Deadline. One man's fate unknown. A family sick with mourning or wondering...or hoping, but afraid to hope. One man posturing, proving he has power, using the life of another as his bounty. The spawning of this army of posturers, this hoard of wannabes - wannabe what? Leaders? Terrorists? Rich? Powerful? Devout? Holy? Where did they come from? How are they made, these mighty men of grief? What language do we use to reach them? Do we want to reach them? Can we even try? Why bother? Our own language distorted by our own mighty men of grief. Terror - is it a word we can even define anymore? Terror - far overused. Has it lost its meaning completely? It's no longer merely the emotion, the state of tribulation in the heart when encountering a miracle - it's now the cause of war, the soundbite of bullies, the catchphrase of the regretful. It's now an alert level. Is my terror blue today? Nope, still yellow. Where do we find that true emotion - is it bled out of us after too much abuse of the very word that describes itself? Will we ever rescue terror from the ravages of war? Will we ever learn not to declare war on our emotions?

When does it stop? Does it stop? Is our hatred for hatred enough to stop hatred? Why is our laziness so much more powerful than our desire for peace or justice? In our laziness, these groaning giants grab up life for themselves and leave us all with the ravages of their wars. If we do not bow to the demands of this wannabe, we sacrifice the life of an innocent - a bystander - one life, just as important as another. How many are we willing to sacrifice for the ultimate goal of...what? Invasion of countries. Occupation. Creation, stimulation, perpetuation of terror, birthing hatred and angst and loss and grief. What could have been accomplished in the last three years had we not been lazy and allowed these posturers, these seekers of power, these manipulators of their God's will, to act upon their own greedy desires? What could we have done to heal, to empower, to salve? Could we have risked pain to gain harmony? Could we have risked safety to gain brotherhood? We'll never know. Our butts are too heavy, we cannot lift ourselves from our comfortable cushions of apathy. Our apathy doesn't breed hatred. It only lets it survive. What will make us respond with compassion and energy instead of disdain and resignation?

Yell. Scream. Sputter. Complain. Rage. Walls with impressions of heads. What avenue exists that will provide a detour? What map are we reading? Time. How much time. How much time is there until another innocent dies? How much time will it take to report whether that innocent was a white person or a brown person? How much time will pass before retribution occurs against another white person or another brown person? How much time until the God that both worship gives up on us all?

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004
      ( 7:57 AM )
Kiss of Death

Well so much for Afghanistan. Now that Bush has declared victory there, look for complete and total meltdown and a very quick return to the chaos and turmoil that has been brimming around the edges of the "new" Afghanistan for the last 2 years.

Why, WHY do people let Bush declare victory in their countries? I can only hope that Afghanistan can overcome this voodoo curse and go on to prove Bush wrong - that his "victories" have no power over them.

Hopefully, next he'll declare victory in his presidential campaign, and we won't have to worry too much about November.

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Monday, June 14, 2004
      ( 8:44 PM )
Blog Implosion

Well, I managed to erase my entire list of links and most of my sidebar - and then I published that and so now I have lost the whole thing. I'm trying to reconstruct it now, but it will take a few days, so for now, please forgive the absence of links. If I end up leaving yours out when I get them back - let me know right away! Sorry for the inconvenience - I'm pretty annoyed with myself for forgetting to back up after I redid my whole page a few weeks ago - stupid, stupid, stupid! Sigh...

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      ( 5:57 PM )

The Southern Baptist Convention meets this week. On the agenda, the main issue will be discussing whether they want to quit the Baptist World Alliance - a worldwide body of Baptists that the Southern Baptists feel is too "liberal." The Baptist World Alliance actually considers that the Bible might be a collection of writings of faithful followers of God, but that it is open to intepretation. The Baptist World Alliance also thinks that women might be just as good pastors as men. Shocking, I know.

A December report from an SBC [Southern Baptist Convention] task force complained that some alliance participants had questioned ``the truthfulness of Holy Scripture,'' refused to affirm the necessity of conscious faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and promoted ``women as preachers and pastors.''

I am actually not all that concerned with the internal fights between Baptists. What I was concerned about was that the SBC is considering putting forth the proposition that all its members pull their children out of public schools.

One text, submitted to the committee by two prominent hard-liners, would encourage Southern Baptists to remove their children from ``officially Godless'' public schools in favor of Christian day schools or home schooling.

While I'm not all that concerned that public schools are officially Godless - I'm a firm believer in the separation of schools from church, I am bothered by just one more thing the conservatives are doing to undermine public education.

First, this will probably be another kick for pro-voucher folks. And once more, we will see more public tax money drained from truly helping education in this country and directed into the hands of Christian schools. This practice is gaining popularity and the power that the Christian right now wields makes it almost impossible for the truth about how vouchers degrade public education and opportunities to get out.

Second, it may be disconcerting to some fundamentalists that public schools do not discriminate against homosexuals or intimate to their students that those with gay parents are somehow despicable specimens of a Godless culture. It may also be disconcerting to them that public schools actually teach science and proven facts regarding evolution. And while all of these folks may indeed want to teach their children in their homes and keep them shielded from the openness and diversity of the real world, eventually those children will grow up and face that world. And once again, the cycle will continue: a new generation of adults undermining and condemning a free society, working to separate and segregate, trying to force others under the thumb of a dogmatic belief that belongs to only a few.

But maybe some of them will escape. And maybe some of them will be my students one day. And maybe they'll see life is just a little bit more fun when it's a squiggly line, rather than when it's a rigid square.

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      ( 5:01 PM )

One of the pleasant surprises today (my first day of grad school) was that I can get my hands on an actual NY Times for free at school every day - they just hand them out like candy. It's been a long time since I've actually read a NY Times paper - the paper itself, so it was fun to peruse the articles and find interesting things I'd never see in my own hometown rag, The Oregonian. One treasure I found on today's NY Tims front page was a story about the uncovering of two diaries written by former slaves. Both men had written down in much personal detail the stories of their lives as slaves and their escapes. Both stories had recently been found and sent to a professor who writes a lot about the slavery and emancipation issues. It was incredible to read the stories of these two men, and how they almost went untold but for being found in someone's dresser drawer or in a box in an attic.

It reminded me of how many stories go untold and how our history is lost so often to the loudest voices, not necessarily the truest voices. In fact, so much of what our own school history books and the texts our children use today are basically lies if you look at the history from any other point of view than the dominant, white male version. Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to share a bit of the writing of these men - it reminds me that this country allowed this inhumane treatment of other human beings for so long, and now we have come full circle and are recognizing how the sting of that legacy remains with us and seems imbedded under the surface of our culture.

From Mr. John Washington:

The night before mother left me, (as I was to be kept in hand by the old Mistress for especial use) she, Mother, came up to my little room I Slept in the "white people's house" and laid down on my bed by me and begged me for her own Sake, try and be a good boy, Say my prayers every night, remember all she had tried to teach me, and always think of her.

Her tears mingled with mine amid kisses and heart felt sorrow. She tucked the Bed cloths around me, and bade me good night. Bitter pangs filled my heart and thought I would rather die on the morrow mother and sisters and brother all would leave me alone in this wide world to battle with temptations trials and hardship.

Who then could I complain to when I was persecuted? Who then would come early the cold Winter morning and call me up and help me do my hard tasks?

Whose hand (patting) me upon the head would Sooth my early trials.

Then and there my hatred was kindled Secretly again my oppressors, and I promised myself if ever I got an opporteunity I would run away from these devlish Slave holders.

From Mr. Wallace Turnage:

Well the overseer began to weigh the cotton, and when he got around to them that didn't have cotton enough he told them to stand back until he got through weighing cotton and he would see what was the reason they could not pick more cotton. So when he got around to me he told me to stand back with the rest of them and he would see why I couldn't pick more cotton. Well when he got through weighing cotton, he took his cowhide and made one of the women lay down, and pulled her clothes over her head and made the other woman hold her and her clothes over her head. He give that woman about two hundred lashes and I thought that was enough except he was going to kill her. I could see the skin fly near about every lick he struck her. Then he made the woman that held the one he had whiped lay down and made the one he had whiped hold her clothes over her head. Then I thought if that was the kind of whipings he gave them I would not stay and take mine. So I saw my chance while he was whiping to make my escape, so I left. . . . I could hear him calling me, but I would not come back. So I was then in the woods with the wild animals and only about fifteen years of age. I suffered very much for some thing to eat.

History means something and teaches us the future - if we actually know the true history. I hope stories like this keep making the front page.

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      ( 4:45 PM )
Subversive Grannies

Grams just emailed me with a heads up for all you Grans out there - and all you who have a Gran - www.GrannyVoter.org. Looks like they're just getting started, but Grams said it is spearheaded by Geraldine Ferraro, so that's as good a recommendation as you can get, I'd say. Go Grannies!!

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      ( 7:14 AM )
Oregon Loses Another Son

With sadness I report that the fourth young man from the Oregon National Guard was killed in Iraq yesterday in two weeks. He was killed in an ambush, one of many taking place in the last few days around Baghdad.

The ambush involved soldiers from the Oregon National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, the same Cottage Grove-based unit that suffered the deaths of three soldiers in combat in Iraq less than two weeks ago, according to the Guard.

It underscores the danger of the mission, said Maj. Arnold Strong, a Guard spokesman. "It remains a very dangerous, hazardous environment that these guys are working under on a daily basis."


With Sunday's attack, four state guardsmen have been killed this month in Iraq, the worst loss for the Oregon National Guard since World War II. Two dozen soldiers with an Oregon connection, and more than 820 U.S. soldiers, have been killed since the start of war last spring.

It's already been reported nationally that a disproportionate number of soldiers who are serving, who have been killed or injured are from small towns across America. Most of these young women and men joined the military for a chance to broaden their world, to get some help with education, or to just increase their chances of having a better life. In small towns across this country, the mourning has continued for over a year now.

We just witnessed the pomp and display of a state funeral for a former president. His coffin was shown so often on tv last week that they might as well have had a permanent display of it down in the bottom corner of the tv screen, where most stations put their network symbols. And yet, not one coffin of a young soldier who has died in the service of this country has been allowed to be shown to the people of this country. Over 800 members of the future of this nation have been cut down in their youth, thousands more maimed and crippled for life, and yet who among us has truly been exposed to this reality like we were exposed to the "greatness" of Ronald Reagan last week?

We're losing our most precious resource, the human beings that make up the character and the future of our country. Except for those who purposely keep track, for the family and friends and for the small towns and regions of this country, who knows what price we are truly paying? Where is the media frenzy, the week-long remembrances, the somber, sobering and reflective memorials for these young men and women? Where is this nation's soul?

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Thursday, June 10, 2004
      ( 9:38 PM )
New Frontiers

Well, the big day is here. I (finally) start grad school on Friday. I won't be around a computer all day, and I know you will miss the brilliant blogging you've come to love and adore on a daily basis - but alas, I will be imbibing the sweet wine of education. As a matter of fact, I won't be around a computer during the day most of next week because of an odd starting schedule, but I will try to do a morning or evening post to keep up - after that, things should return to normal (well, normal for this neck of the woods). Meanwhile, try to keep yourselves from re-naming your children any variation of "Reagan," "Reagana," "Reagalulu," "Reaganorburt," etc. - and remember: unlike Republicans and federal workers, plotting the overthrow of the country doesn't take a day off.

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      ( 4:27 PM )
Beating Our Own

There is something wrong. Not that we didn't already know it. But something is seriously wrong. The immorality of the war that BushCo has conducted, and the top-down flaunting of any sort of adherance to moral and legal standards for the humane treatment of prisoners has infected our troops to the deepest levels. It was shocking to us that those photos of Abu Ghraib could show young reservists smiling while Iraqi prisoners were humiliated and tortured. We have been stunned to find that at the highest levels of government, torture was sanctioned and in fact encouraged in some instances. But now we find that even our own soldiers have faced a brutality that is inhuman.
From warblogs cc, via TalkLeft:

Remember Sean Baker, the soldier at Guantanamo who was brutally beaten while playing the role of a detainee during a training exercise? The Army had been claiming that his medical discharge was unrelated to the traumatic brain injury he sustained while the trainees were learning how to abuse prisoners. Now the Army admits that the discharge was "partly" related to that injury.

Is there any part of the executive branch of government that ever tells the truth the first time?

I actually didn't ever hear the story of Sean Baker. Here's what happened:

Sean Baker says that while serving as a member of the 438th Military Police company in Guantanamo Bay during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was ordered to pose as the enemy for a training exercise. Baker said he received a severe brain injury because of the subsequent beating he received.

Baker claims that he was ordered to put on one of the orange jump suits worn by the detainees. "At first I was reluctant, but he said 'you'll be fine...put this on.' And I did," said Baker.

"I was on duty as an MP in an internal camp (at Guantanamo Bay) where the detainees were housed," said Baker.

Baker says an officer in charge issued the order because he wanted the training to be as real as possible. Baker says what took place next happened at the hands of four U.S. soldiers - soldiers he believes didn't know he was one of them - has changed his life forever.


Baker's certificate of discharge from active duty shows the 37-year-old had a character of service that was "honorable" It shows he retired due to temporary disability - the brain injury Baker claims is the direct result of posing as a prisoner and being beaten at the hands of U.S. soldiers.

And now the Army admits that yes, his brain injuries were the cause of his disability dismissal:

Reversing itself, the Army said Tuesday that a G.I. was discharged partly because of a head injury he suffered while posing as an uncooperative detainee during a training exercise at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The Army had previously said Specialist Sean Baker's medical discharge in April was unrelated to the injury he received last year at the detention center, where the United States holds suspected terrorists.

So not only did the Army lie about Mr. Baker's severe injuries, but we find that our Reserve soldiers are being trained to beat human beings within (or over?) an inch of their lives. How many prisoners have died at the hands of US soldiers being trained to act on behalf of a government that recognizes nothing but bullying and brutality as acceptable conduct? If even a training exercise ends in brain injury, what is really happening in these prisons?

What legacy are we leaving our children? How many people in this world will forever be our enemies because of our senseless and needless brutality? How far have we gone to punish people instead of using our resources to create a more peaceful world? What other end can these actions bring us but doom? I am sorry to be so dismal, but this story just grieves me. What have we wrought?

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      ( 11:25 AM )
Might As Well Laugh

Thanks, iddybud.

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      ( 9:59 AM )
Group Project

Digby lays it all out. Even more frightening than the actual conclusion of the Torture Memo that said George W. should have the power to do an end run around all treaties and laws and allow torture:

It's the fact that a group of people working together from all different parts of our government came to this conclusion apparently without serious controversy.

I can't get past the fact that this is the product of a "working group" of lawyers, all of them highly educated, presumably intelligent, decent hardworking Americans who love their country. And, not one of them resigned their post rather than participate in creating a legal justification for torture. And, it was not just an abstraction to them; they went into great detail about the precise amount of pain that was to be allowed. There are long passages in which the meaning of "severe pain" is discussed, the effect of long term mental damage is assessed and where the justification of the infliction of long term damage is defined as a matter of intent rather than result.


These people who set about legalizing inhumane behavior on behalf of a president on whom they confer absolute power to order it at will are as shallow and evil as the cliché spouting president who demanded it. The slippery slope to totalitarianism started in a conference room where coffee and donuts and microsoft power point presentations on torture and pain were on the agenda one morning.

Read Digby's whole post. It's worth it. Then, after you read it, use your critical thinking skills. These are the skills you inately have because you are curious to know the truth and you want to find out answers to these questions:

Who makes decisions and who is left out?
Who benefits and who suffers?
Why is a given practice fair or unfair?
What alternatives can we imagine?
What is required to create change?

We already know that Bush and the higher-ups in this administration do not employ critical thinking when making life and death decisions. The frightening thing is that there are normal, working people - like these attorneys in this workgroup - that are willing to put aside the critical thinking they were trained to use and instead delve into the deepest moral morass that can be imagined.

In the finest Reagan tradition, the Bush II White House is practicing Trickle Down Theory - except what's trickling down is the corruption of souls.

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      ( 9:31 AM )
Day 6

It's the 6th day of National Mourning for the guy who brought a new Morning Mourning to America. I actually watched some of the state funeral on CSPAN yesterday because it was actually very interesting to watch the Old Guard and the ceremony of it. But since tomorrow is the seventh day, I'm hoping that things will begin stepping back from the brink of complete insanity. Though W has decreed flags will fly half staff for 30 days, which means that on July 4, all the flags have to be half staff.

Fun Reagan Fact of the Day: Reagan, as we all know, didn't even acknowledge AIDS until 1987. His administration did nothing to get it out of the blood supply before it was too late, and, in fact - his press secretary regulary joked about AIDS in the early 80's. (thanks to Atrios for the link). Sample:

Office of the Press Secretary

December 11, 1984
The Briefing Room
12:03 p.m. EST

MR. SPEAKES: Lester's beginning to circle now. He's moving in front. (Laughter.) Go ahead.

Q: Since the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta (laughter) reports...

MR. SPEAKES:This is going to be an AIDS question.

Q: that an estimated

MR. SPEAKES:You were close.

Q: Well, look, could I ask the question, Larry?

MR. SPEAKES:You were close.

Q: An estimated 300,000 people have been exposed to AIDS, which can be transmitted through saliva. Will the President, as Commander-in-Chief, take steps to protect Armed Forces food and medical services from AIDS patients or those who run the risk of spreading AIDS in the same manner that they forbid typhoid fever people from being involved in the health or food services?

MR. SPEAKES:I don't know.

Q: Could you - Is the President concerned about this subject, Larry

MR. SPEAKES: I haven't heard him express...

Q: ...that seems to have evoked so much jocular

MR. SPEAKES: ...concern.

Q: reaction here? I - you know -

Q: It isn't only the jocks, Lester.

Q: Has he sworn off water faucets

Q: No, but, I mean, is he going to do anything, Larry?

MR. SPEAKES:Lester, I have not heard him express anything on it. Sorry.

Q: You mean he has no expressed no opinion about this epidemic?

MR. SPEAKES:No, but I must confess I haven't asked him about it. (Laughter.)

Q: Would you ask him Larry?

MR. SPEAKES: Have you been checked? (Laughter.)

But really, it was Reagan's good humor and the way he won us all over with his charm that really mattered.

UPDATE: The Bush/Cheney Campaign has done so well not politicizing Reagan's death. Tom Burka, of course, gets right to the point.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004
      ( 12:13 PM )
No Choices

Do you think you've ever been between a rock and a hard place? You won't think it's anywhere near as bad as what this Washington mother is going through. Dodi Lewis, a committed Army Reserve soldier, is being asked to choose between her children and a court martial.

Dodi Lewis, 24, serves in the Army Reserve and should be in Iraq right now working as an MP at the Abu Ghraib prison.

Her mother was taking care of Dodi's two children but then her mother became ill and her doctor said she could no longer take care of the children.

Dodi's husband is also serving in Iraq so she says she needs to take care of the children, rather than return.

"I kind of feel like I'm letting some people down. I kind of feel like a failure, like I dropped the ball, but at the same time I have to think about my kids," said Dodi.

What kind of world have we created where a 24 year old mother thinks she's letting people down if she tries to take care of her own children? What kind of situation has our government created when the Army won't grant her that leave of absence? Not only is her mother sick in the hospital, but her father is currently serving in Iraq, and her husband is now being transferred from duty in South Korea to Iraq. So far she has been refused the leave she needs to care for her children. If she goes AWOL in order to not lose them, she will lose them anyway because she will be court martialed for desertion.

I feel like screaming when I hear stories like this. I just can't understand it. I hope that her Congresspeople and Senators will step up to the plate and intervene for her with the Pentagon. There has to be a line we can draw where we say enough is enough - she has already served her country faithfully. There is no possible explanation for denying her the emergency leave she has requested - for the Army to put her in the position of either leaving her children with people they don't know and not knowing how they will be cared for, and being imprisoned (and then losing them anyway) is unconscionable. It's disgusting, actually. But then, a government that sanctions torture is probably not going to bat an eye about ripping a soldier away from her children with no one to care for them.

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      ( 11:50 AM )
Keeping America Safe from Homework

If you don't live in Oregon, you may have only briefly heard the news story that a citizen of Portland, Brandon Mayfield, had been arrested in connection with the Madric bombings. Now, of course the Justice Department says that he wasn't "arrested" - rather, he was held as a material witness - without counsel, without visitation, without contact with the outside world. Supposedly, his fingerprint was found on a plastic bag connected with the bombing in Madrid and he was a suspect. What may have added to their rabid hatred of him and determination to put him away was that he is an outspoken attorney, a white man who converted to Islam, is very devout, and he happened to defend one of the Portland Seven in a child custody case a few years ago. Get him!

Of course, we all know that they had to release him and the FBI issued a public apology for holding him because of course it WASN'T his fingerprint. But what we learn now is that they knew it wasn't his fingerprint even before they imprisoned him. What's more, the items they listed on his indictment were completely fabricated out of the air (I know - you're shocked).

When the FBI went through Brandon Mayfield's possessions to investigate his connection with the Madrid train bombings, agents seized what they called "miscellaneous Spanish documents."

As The New York Times reported, Mayfield's family later identified the documents as his children's Spanish homework.

Yep, that's right. They used his children's Spanish homework as evidence that he conspired to bomb Madrid. Do you think this could never happen to you?

But by April 13, according to the Times, the Spanish told the FBI that the match was "conclusively negative." In a meeting with the FBI in Spain April 21, Spanish officials insisted there was no match, while FBI agents insisted there was -- but never asked to see the actual bag.

By then, the FBI had found that Mayfield was a Muslim convert, that he was often seen driving to the Bilal Mosque, and that he had represented, in a child custody suit, one of the Portland Seven convicted terrorists.


But Mayfield was arrested May 6, after the Spanish had rejected the match April 13 and again April 21. He wasn't released until May 20, when the Spanish said they'd matched the fingerprint to someone else.

Just a suggestion, if your kids are thinking of studying a foreign language, you might want to request they do their homework at the library - especially if it's French.

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004
      ( 3:30 PM )
Dissent at Your Own Risk

The meetings of government leaders to discuss things such as how they can sell out their citizens for the cheapest price possible, i.e., G8 meetings, have moved further and further away from human access. This week, the G8 is being held on an island off the coast of Georgia. Next year: the moon! As most of my long time readers know, I am one of the biggest supporters of protest demonstrations you might find. I truly believe that one of the most important ways to show dissent, power in numbers, and to make our voices heard is to hit the streets. And we all know that in response to people shouting and protesting, they can expect to be beaten, trampled, shot at and otherwise maimed or injured by "security forces." Trust me, I've run the gamut, from trying to escape plastic bullets in northern Ireland to being pepper sprayed in Seattle. But despite the risks, courageous people still turn out to give a voice to all of us.

Of course, the purpose of holding the G8 meeting on an island is to keep the precious world leaders safe from people who want to shout about how angry they are at being sold out to the benefit of corporations. But this year, the "security" plans have taken on an ominous touch of doom.

"How did this happen?" asks local teacher David Ray Dockery ("Hairy Dave" to his friends), hurling industrial quantities of organic cereal and dog food into his pick-up in preparation for the exodus to the mainland. "We're just a little-bitty island. No one ever thought we'd be put in a position where we'd have a bullseye on our back."

Paranoia, perhaps. But there's nothing like the chunter of helicopters to put the wind up a generation raised on M*A*S*H. The skies along the coast, normally the arena for spectacular aeronautics by brown pelicans, are black with military aircraft, swooping low over the houses on endless security sorties. Roadside checkpoints, manned by cheery grunts cradling machine-guns, are scarcely more reassuring.

"This is real scary shit," says Jay Thompson, a Delta flight attendant, who has decided to sit out the siege at home. "We never had a war here. We're not used to seeing tanks and guns on American soil. This is stuff you see in movies."


St Simons, however, has also traditionally attracted a Bohemian fringe of artists and writers. At Beachview Books, a gathering place for embattled, vociferous liberals, attitudes are is less gung-ho. Larry, editor of The Great Speckled Seagull, a "semi-underground" periodical, is a gentle radical who wears a cowboy hat with a feather in it and carves weirdly beautiful faces in the island's trees. He has just heard a rumour that 2,000 body bags have been delivered to the clapboard Chamber of Commerce across the road from the bookstore. This intelligence is passed around like a joint at a fortysomething party, a delicious whiff of recreational danger. Five minutes later, one of the island's fire chiefs drops by, fresh from a briefing. It's not a rumour. The body bags are here, together with a refrigerated lorry to take away the corpses. "I liked it better when it was a rumour," says Larry.

It's now reached the point where these meetings, knowing that they will incur massive protests, prepare a force big enough to provoke more protest. It's an unending cycle. Instead of say, engaging the public, allowing open sessions for citizens of the G8 countries to partipate and see what they're governments are deciding in their names, these meetings continue to become more and more closed and more and more dangerous for all of us. What must be protested are the closed doors that don't let light shine on what these leaders are discussing.

Worse, once again it will be the protesters made the villains instead of anyone taking the time to listen to them or to question why there always ARE so many of them. Isn't it about time that the G8 listen to us instead of each other? A local on the island says it best:

So there won't be too many people on St Simons waving the G8 flags today. "No matter which way you look at it, you're polishing a turd," says Hairy Dave. "You can polish it up as much as you want, dress it up in pretty pink ribbons, and what have you got at the end? A shiny turd."

Thanks to Blah3 for the heads up on the article.

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      ( 3:17 PM )
Speaking of Torture...

An unfortunate byproduct of the media's frenzied focus on Reagan (as Atrios points out, the oft repeated, totally wrong statement that Reagan left office with the highest approval ratings of modern presidents is becoming the mantra of the week) is that the story about the US government's approval of torture, which is getting headlines around the world, is being virtually ignored here.

A leaked Pentagon memo cast serious doubt yesterday on the Bush administration's insistence that its treatment of prisoners was bound by laws and treaties banning torture.

A secret document discloses that, on the eve of the Iraq war, political appointees overruled military lawyers to assert that President George W Bush was not bound by US and international law on torture.

The memo, prepared for Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, went on to claim that, if national security was at stake, government agents who tortured or even killed prisoners on the president's authority were immune from prosecution.

The worst of this is yet to come. The problem is that it has been handily ignored by American media that inhumane treatment of prisoners has been authorized at the highest levels. The worst part of this isn't that Bush and his cronies have condoned the bypassing of all treaties and conventions on torture and have allowed this horrific treatment of prisoners in US custody - no, the worst part is that they have now made it absolutely certain that any US soldier or civilian who is taken hostage will be tortured and treated horrifically. They have endangered our own protectors, our own soldiers, our own citizens.

You may have thought I was being hyperbolic months ago when I said that this administration isn't so much trying to win votes as trying to kill off as many voters as possible. But more and more, the only conclusion we can come to is that the ultimate goal of this administration is to kill us all one way or another.

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      ( 3:02 PM )
Identity Crises

Since the Republicans seem so hot to name everything after Reagan, why don't we name stem cells Reagan cells - then the Repubs might think twice about limiting the ability of our scientists and researchers to accomplish work that could save millions of people from pain and early death. Then again, the Dems ARE the only party concerned about people AFTER they're born.

Reagan fun fact of the day: More officials and cabinet members were indicted, convicted, or forced to resign in disgrace in Reagan's than in any other administration. (thanks to maru for almost all fun facts to be found)

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Monday, June 07, 2004
      ( 12:29 PM )
Prozac Nation

Well, amidst all the teary-eyed memorials for Ronald Reagan that will take place this week, life goes on. We are only 23 days away from the Iraqi "handover" and a little over a month until the Democratic Convention. Some news that got lost over the last days of D-Day tributes and Reagan news features was an article that I've heard repeated only briefly, but one that may get some legs in the coming days. It was posted at Capitol Hill Blue last week and it quoted sources inside the White House saying that Bush is spiraling out of control.

President George W. Bush’s increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.
In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as “enemies of the state.”

Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

“It reminds me of the Nixon days,” says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. “Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.”


But the President who says he rules at the behest of God can also tongue-lash those he perceives as disloyal, calling them “fucking assholes” in front of other staff, berating one cabinet official in front of others and labeling anyone who disagrees with him “unpatriotic” or “anti-American.”

“The mood here is that we’re under siege, there’s no doubt about it,” says one troubled aide who admits he is looking for work elsewhere. “In this administration, you don’t have to wear a turban or speak Farsi to be an enemy of the United States. All you have to do is disagree with the President.”

While I find this article very disturbing, I'm not altogether surprised. It seems that any president willing to isolate himself so securely from reality is going to have some major problems with paranoia.

Some might say that Reagan's death now is a boon to Bush's campaign struggles because the nation is focused on a republican that the press can't stop gushing about, so the pressure's off. But at the same time, Bush is already being quoted as wanting to differentiate himself from Reagan. Also, many of the news clips, whether they mean to or not, are showing a septugenarian president most people thought was basically a tool of his advisors being more witty and intelligent than the current office holder.

While I understand the importance of honoring a deceased president, I'm not sure why Kerry felt he had to take a week off from campaigning. I wonder if it had been Carter or Clinton whether the republican candidate would have done the same. At any rate, with the president obviously succombing to his own worst inner-chaos, now is the time for Kerry to step up and start inspiring this nation to reach beyond where we now currently sit, quagmired in unemployment, horrible war, and unprecedented bad relations with the entire world.

We need to stay on the job, not take a break. We honor the memory of every dead president by working to make that office the place of remarkable difference that it should be, not by sitting back and letting it's current abuser of power use the death of his predecessor to amp up his own credibility. Democrats need to stop their old patterns of holding back and acquiescing - now is the time to turn this situation into a position of power, to use this moment to point out the stagnation of our country and the fact that that most all of the work of Reagan's idol, Franklin Roosevelt, has been set aside by this current administration. Now is the time to work, not sit back and watch.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004
      ( 8:35 AM )
Bye Bye Gipper

What Digby said.

p.s. All of Reagan's children turned out to be good people with good hearts, intelligent and contributing members of society. Now that is an important legacy to leave.

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Friday, June 04, 2004
      ( 10:38 AM )
Welcoming Committee

Looks like ol' George W. got a nice welcome in Italy today.

Thousands marched across the city massed behind a large banner reading "No War -- No Bush."


Organizers estimated more than 100,000 took part in the march. Police declined to give an estimate, but Ansa news agency put the numbers at around 7,000.

The protesters were kept away from Bush, whose motorcade of around 20 vehicles swept past lines of riot police.

It's nice to have parades when you visit other countries.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004
      ( 7:09 PM )
Stands With A Smirk

Fresh on the heels of Stephanie Herseth's huge victory in South Dakota this week (she won Bill Janklow's vacated seat - remember he's the former governor and congressman who ran over a guy and killed him), some Republicans insist the vote couldn't have been fair:
If you take out the Indian reservation, we would have won," said Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), former chairman of the NRCC.

As Digby says:

On the other hand, if you take out the assholes, Herseth would have won in a landslide.


UPDATE: The General's written Rep. Davis a letter.

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      ( 11:02 AM )

Only four (or five?) to go on Al Gore's list. Good thing Alternative Universe President knows what he's talking about - at least the alternative universe has a chance.

Read further prescient comments at Kos.

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      ( 8:33 AM )
Hungry Defenders

On Tuesday, another huge bunch of Oregon National Guard soldiers shipped out for at least 16 months away from home. The impact of our state losing this many working people is big enough, but the impact on their families has been horrendous. More National Guard families are going hungry than any other segment of our society lately.

"Emergency food providers from around the country are reporting a surge in demand from the families of reservists," reports the Web site of the D.C.-based Food Research Action Center, noting news stories from California, Florida and Washington.

Col. Dennis Spiegel (Ret.), deputy director of the private organization Army Emergency Relief, reports that requests for assistance from National Guard and reserve troops -- who qualify as soon as they're called in full-time service -- went up "several hundred percent" from 2002 to 2003. States all over the country, says Spiegel, have been asking the Department of Defense to send someone out to explain how access to programs such as food stamps and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition programs works for military families.

We have a huge hunger problem in Oregon - something our state leaders don't like to really do much about, even while they make slight indications they're concerned about it. But adding to that burden are now families that have seen their salaries cut by huge percentages, which is only adding salt to the wound of their family member having to be gone and face injury or death for more than a year.

Most military families interviewed by reporters say the financial problems are insignificant compared with worry about the servicemen's safety. But the pressures are real. In Thurston County, Washington, home of Fort Lewis, 250 military families are on the WIC program.

"I think the stories of families being in need," says Ellen Vollinger of FRAC, "are pretty striking."

It does seem that the least we owe Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is that their families at home shouldn't be hungry.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't a good FOURTH of our country's budget go to the Defense Department? Is there some reason that this Mama is missing why we must spend $300,000 a month paying a double agent like Chalabi and buying horrible and destructive weapons and paying Halliburton to drive empty trucks around Iraq while our own forces' families go hungry, without consequence?

There WILL be a consequence, and it will be in the continued breakdown of our own society and our own country's fabric. The Republicans like to yodel and holler about "family values" and the breakdown of morals that is destructive to our country. And yet, while they've been in power, more people have gone hungry, more people have been killed, and more people have had to struggle to even survive. Explain to me how protecting people from gay marriage is more crucial than protecting children from being hungry or having a future with one or more of their parents. Explain it, please.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004
      ( 10:03 AM )
Intent to Destroy

George Bush has been very busy bashing John Kerry in television commercials (a new study says that 75% of Bush's ads have been negative) - 49,050 of them (and of course most of them are all lies). (thanks to Digby for the link). So Bush probably hoped it would slip by our notice that he plans to completely gut the services that our most vulnerable citizens depend on if he is reelected. Krugman explains:

Last week The Washington Post got hold of an Office of Management and Budget memo that directed federal agencies to prepare for post-election cuts in programs that George Bush has been touting on the campaign trail. These include nutrition for women, infants and children; Head Start; and homeland security. The numbers match those on a computer printout leaked earlier this year — one that administration officials claimed did not reflect policy.

Beyond the routine mendacity, the case of the leaked memo points us to a larger truth: whatever they may say in public, administration officials know that sustaining Mr. Bush's tax cuts will require large cuts in popular government programs. And for the vast majority of Americans, the losses from these cuts will outweigh any gains from lower taxes.

The truth is that Bush's tax cuts WON'T help this country. He wants the public to think that the tax cuts are what will boost the economy back into working order, but that is exactly opposite of what will happen. Not only is it unprecedented that taxes are cut not once, but TWICE, during a war buildup and invasion, but these tax cuts will only lead to cutting services and raising other fees for working families.

This election is about more than Iraq. This election is our chance to shake America out of the stupor it's been in, and which Bush and his cronies have taken advantage of every chance they can. Every budget choice Bush has made, every action he has taken with regard to our economy has been bad for Americans. If we allow him four more years in office, it will be our children that truly suffer. Are you willing to take the chance this could happen? Please make sure that everyone you know is registered to vote by the end of this summer. It's a summer project that could really make a difference.

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      ( 9:25 AM )
Disaster Central

Although I like to think of myself as a high-minded intellectual who really only enjoys indie films with deep psychological messages - I'm not. Seeing as how you already know I love Buffy and Angel and will watch anything with Jet Li, you probably won't be surprised that I'm also a disaster movie freak. I love them! Whenever entire cities get completely destroyed -- cool. So of course I went to see Day After Tomorrow this weekend. And it didn't fail me. It was great! If you like disaster movies, this is the best in a while. Not only are the disaster scenes really great, the political jabs are truly enjoyable. I can see why the Left is trying to use this movie as a message. I don't think it should be used that way, since it's obviously a disaster movie meant for pure entertainment. I highly recommend it if you like this sort of film.

What was really sort of creepy was coming home and seeing on the news about all the freak tornadoes here in Oregon and in Washington, DC, along with massive storms all over the midwest. So for a dose of reality, we have the Pentagon's October 2003 study, "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security":

The scenario assumed in the Pentagon study is that this kind of development occurs rapidly, hitting a tipping point, in the 2010-2020 period. Not the three days of the movie's fantasy, but still very different from the more gradual, longer-term danger usually associated with climate change. Although not a celluloid apocalypse, the effects outlined in the Pentagon study are more than scary enough. Consider:

"…average annual temperatures [in Europe] drop by 6 degrees Fahrenheit in under a decade….The climate in northwestern Europe is…more like Siberia."

"Mega-droughts begin in key regions in Southern China and Northern Europe around 2010 and last throughout the full decade….depleting fresh water reserves."

"China…is hit hard by a decreased reliability of the monsoon rains….Widespread famine causes chaos and internal struggles…"

"Persistent typhoons and a higher sea level create storm surges that cause significant coastal erosion, making much of Bangladesh nearly uninhabitable."

"Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for…energy, food and water rather than by conflicts over ideology, religion, or national honor."

"The United States turns inward, committing its resources to feeding its own population, shoring-up its borders, and managing increasing global tension."

"With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth's environment."

It's been said that humans are the only species that are willing to go on endangering their own existence, even with the knowledge that they are doing so. How did we get so dumb?

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