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

Wednesday, March 31, 2004
      ( 1:57 PM )

The Pentagon's Papers have been found at Starbucks. The Center for American Progress managed to get ahold of them:

Commissioner Richard Ben Veniste [quipped]
that "Condi Rice has appeared everywhere but at
my local Starbucks."

Well, others in the Bush administration did,
apparently, make an appearance at the local
Starbucks. And as the Washington Post reports
today, one of them - obviously readying himself
to prep Defense Secretary Rumsfeld - left his notes
on the table. Talking points, hand-written notes on
spin tactics that reveal the White House was
worried about former Bush adviser Richard Clarke's
charges, and a hand-drawn map to the Secretary's
house were found by a resident of DuPont Circle,
who made them available to the Center for American
Progress. The name of said resident is being withheld
at his request, as he fears that he may be accused
on national television of being "disgruntled."

The WaPo comments on the incident, noting that CAP appears to be having too much fun with this information. And why shouldn't they? And the guy who left the papers behind? Poor Eric, probably being outsourced as we speak.

(thanks to Maru for the heads up)

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      ( 1:15 PM )
Head - Sand?

Not sure if you caught it, but on March 24 - last Wednesday, it was reported that the US had received credible threats that oil refineries, especially in Texas, may be targeted by terrorists. Did you happen to notice that yesterday the third largest oil refinery in this country exploded? But rest assured, they are certain there was no "outside influence" causing the blast:

BP (BP.L) said there was no sign of "any outside
influence" in the blast and fire, which came days after
the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation warned Texas
oil refiners of possible terror attacks ahead of elections
in November.

The cause of the fire, which began with an explosion in
the gasoline-producing unit at the 447,000 barrel-per-day
(bpd) refinery in Texas City, Texas, was not known, but it
did not appear to have been started intentionally, BP said.

Actually, where you'll probably hear this news is not in conjunction with terrorist threats and the very scary state of actual security in this country around any number of very scary targets - where you'll probably hear it is in the financial section. Because OPEC today decided to cut production, and with our third-largest refinery off line, that means all those poor folks with their Hummers are gonna be really sad this summer. And of course, we all live to make Hummer owners happy. Wasn't that the American dream?

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      ( 12:36 PM )

Five more soldiers were killed in Iraq, crowning this month as the second deadliest month there since Bush declared victory last May 1.

Today marks 600 American soldiers dead in Iraq, according to CNN. Four civilian contractors were killed and their bodies brutalized today as well:

Cheering residents in Fallujah pulled charred bodies
from burning vehicles and hung them from a
Euphrates River bridge.

Crowds gathered around the vehicles and dragged
at least one of the bodies through the streets,
witnesses said.

Residents pulled another body from one of the
cars and beat it with sticks.

Also in the Fallujah region, five American soldiers
died in a roadside bombing near Habbaniya, the
U.S. military said.

The fatalities bring the U.S. military death toll in
Iraq to 600, 408 of them in hostile action.

This is a horrible, terrible, awful day. Just like every day has been for the soldiers and workers in Iraq since Bush lied to us and to the UN and forced us into an invasion, war and occupation that should never have happened.

And yet the DOD secretly marches towards restarting the draft.

When will this country wake up?

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Tuesday, March 30, 2004
      ( 3:32 PM )
Hold Breath. Plunge.

Well I did it. We did it. We made the decision that come hell or high water, I will go to grad school starting this June. I was initially accepted here for a Masters in Teaching program 2 years ago. Then I had a baby. Then my husband got laid off and I had to go back to work full time. They deferred me twice, but I didn't think my luck would hold out much longer (not to mention how drained I am from working in the soul-sucking cubicle atmosphere of corporate law firms the last 13 years of my life). So we summoned up all our courage to face a full year of no secure income, no secure health care, Mama up to her eyeballs studying and participating in group work and interning as a high school teacher and Daddy maybe no finding work and Baby turning 2 years old and ... well, you get the picture. But we figured probably if not now, never. So we're going into debt, I've applied for scholarships, we're scraping and saving and we're hoping that I will prove to be as good as I said I was in my application so that in a year or so I will begin a new incarnation as Mama The High School Teacher, imbuing high-risk students with the idea that the can actually make it in life, becoming a full fledged terrorist as part of a teacher's union, and getting really cool vacation hours. We shall see. First step taken.

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      ( 1:35 PM )
Atrocities in Portland

Once again, in less than a year, a little north of my neighborhood, a Portland police officer has shot and killed an unarmed African American at a traffic stop.

Police said the motorist refused to produce a driver's
license or get out of the car once he was pulled over
for failing to signal a turn in North Portland.

North Precinct Officer Jason Sery, 29, shot James
Jahar Perez three times in the chest with a 9 mm
handgun, police said. Sery fired after his partner, North
Precinct Officer Sean Macomber, 30, had grabbed
Perez's arm and was trying to remove him from the
front seat of a four-door car, according to a preliminary
police investigation.

Once again, police used deadly force at a traffic stop. Okay, the guy didn't have his drivers license. Okay, maybe he was refusing to cooperate. They pulled him over for supposedly "failing to signal a turn." More likely, he was pulled over for DWB (driving while black). This shooting comes less than a year after a Portland cop shot and killed 21-year old, mother of 2, Kendra James at a traffic stop in the same neighborhood. She wasn't armed either.

A call has been made, by even Portland's mayor, Vera Katz, to have a public investigation into the matter, and not a secret grand jury hearing, as was done in Kendra James' shooting. As our Beloved B!x reports, of course the police union is totally against a public inquiry.

What is going ON?!?!?! Our neighbor called the cops the other night when, at midnight, cars were screeching down our back alley, crashing into each other. This was both disturbing the neighborhood peace and causing possible danger for residents. The cops didn't come. She called again. They finally came. Too late to do anything. Yet, here once again, they use deadly force at a traffic stop. I just don't get it. What are their priorities as cops? I was willing to listen to their side of the story when the inquiry into Kendra James' shooting took place. I have to admit that I am not so willing to listen or believe anything the cops say about this incident.

We have a new police chief, not in small part due to the handling of the Kendra James case last year. But having a new chief hasn't seemed to change the general behavior of the cops. The two involved in the shooting of Mr. Perez are under 30 years old, though the bureau says they are "5-year veterans." So that means they've been carrying guns and doing police stuff since they were 25. I'm sorry, that doesn't give me a whole lot of confidence in their ability to maturely handle tough situations.

We just had a huge investigation by a local weekly about our police's over-zealous use of tazers. Evidently, a tazer was used in this situation. The guy was pulled over for not signalling, for godsake! Even if he was resisting cooperating, even if he didn't have his driver's license on him - what in heaven's name could have provoked shooting him to death?

I am heartbroken for his family, for my neighborhood, and for my city. If the cops aren't getting trained in how to handle situations like traffic stops without deadly force, even when they may escalate into confrontations, then what good are they as peace officers? It's getting harder and harder for me to want to tell my kid that cops are there to help us.

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      ( 1:10 PM )
Air America Comes to Portland

Jeff at Notes on the Atrocities gives us the rundown on who of our favorite bloggers we can expect to hear on our newly minted liberal radio station (here in Portland, still owned by Clear Channel - go figure). Here in Portland, it will start with Al Franken's new show at 9:00 a.m. on 620AM. I'll be at work, so if you hear it, let me know what it was like.

Check out the new schedule.

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      ( 1:05 PM )
Condi, Condi, Condi

Condi's new hairdo. And a rendition of how the decision to let her testify must have taken place:

Clearly, because the president doesn't need polls or
focus groups to tell him how to make up his mind,
here's what must have unfolded during the past
week: The president and his top advisers spent hours
discussing various theories of the constitutional
separation of powers, examining the precedents,
and generally ruminating on the significance and
standards for claiming executive privilege, both for
the immediate as well as long term. They brought
constitutional scholars to Crawford as the president
vacationed, and in long, tedious sessions weighed
the merits of the various and competing theories
related to the separation of powers, never for a
moment averting their eyes from the broader goal
of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution.

When they came out on the other side, this always-
humble, self-effacing Administration arrived at a reasoned,
measured, high-minded conclusion that, in order to
uphold the country's highest principles, their initial
resistance to allowing Rice to testify in public and under
oath was bad for the country and our Constitution,
and reversed their position accordingly.

As if.

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      ( 12:49 PM )
One of Our Own

Daily Kos broke the news that a favorite guest blogger, Meteor Blades, nearly died last week from a pulmonary embollism. Here is Meteor Blades' diary about his experience. Despite everyone's desire to send him gifts, etc., he asked for none. But go over and wish him well. The internet is huge, but our blogosphere is small, and when one of our own is down, we need to let him know we miss him.

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Friday, March 26, 2004
      ( 1:20 PM )
Poetry Friday: Haiku Letters

To George W. Bush:

On your work to prevent terror attacks pre-9/11:

Too bad you did not
Know we could be badly hurt
But wait, you did know

On your video shown of you goofing about looking for wmd:

You must be pleased that
Dead soldiers can't hear you laugh
About why they died

On your general demeanor as President:

You pretend that you
Are a sweet country boy but
You are a bully

To Condoleeza Rice:

You fling your words like
Drunken clowns dodging bulls but
Distracting no one

To Dick Cheney:

Do you not speak the
Truth, because you don't want to
Strain your heart too much?

To Justice Scalia:

Profound good shines through
When great men defend the truth;
You'd rather hunt ducks

To Richard Clarke:

Profound good shines through
When great men defend the truth;
Thank goodness for you

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      ( 6:28 AM )
Fiction ...or Policy?

...For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance.


Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by restricting the output of goods... The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the [people in the] world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

Neocon Republican Platform - Goldstein's History, from Orwell's 1984.

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Thursday, March 25, 2004
      ( 4:46 PM )
What Are They Thinking??!

NPR has taken Bob Edwards off of Morning Edition. He has been an NPR host for 30 years, and next year would have been his 25th anniversary as Morning Edition host. The website offers no explanation other than he is being replaced. However his letter gives a little more information:

I want to take this opportunity to assure you all that
I will be here at NPR for the long haul. And while this
transition will be difficult for me -- I am leaving a post
that I have loved and have given my heart to -- I look
forward to continuing to be a significant part of NPR
and the amazing program lineup.

MSNBC is more blunt. They explain that Bob has been "forced out" of his job.

Spokeswoman Laura Gross said NPR’s programming
and news management made the change because
they’re trying to refresh all of the network’s broadcasts.

“It’s part of a natural evolution,” she said. “A new
host will bring new ideas and perspectives to the
show. Bob’s voice will still be heard; he’ll still be a
tremendous influence on the show. We just felt it
was time for a change.”

Sure, it makes sense to cut off the most popular host of an NPR program in its history, beloved by all his listeners, and a major reason why most of us listen in the morning. It's very disturbing. And incredibly disappointing.

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      ( 2:23 PM )
In OTHER News...

No one's paying attention (yet), but how about this little tidbit from our former Calpundit about the Republican Hammer:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has begun
quiet discussions with a handful of colleagues about the
possibility that he will have to step down from his
leadership post temporarily if he is indicted by a Texas
grand jury investigating alleged campaign
finance abuses.

...Republican Conference rules state that a member
of the elected leadership who has been indicted on
a felony carrying a penalty of at least two years in
prison must temporarily step down from the post.

But back to the Scandalously Horrible Bush Administration - On the 9/11 Hearings Front:

Billmon discusses the Fox News intervention into the Hearings yesterday. It wasn't the White House that leaked that memo, it was Fox News that leaked it back to the White House to help them out:

But even by Fox News standards -- i.e. what they
think they can get away with -- this is remarkable.
In extremis, the VRWC has pulled out all the stops,
dropping even the faintest pretense that Fox has
any journalistic agenda, or even commercial
agenda, that outranks its role as a semi-covert
wing of the Republican Party propaganda machine.

Voice of a Veteran puts it this way:

The stupidity of Fox's attempt to help their man
out in the White House - the Commander-in-Chief
of Flip-Flops - was compounded by the fact that
they forgot who their intended target was: Did
they really think they would catch a former Chief
of Counterterrorism off guard? It was a laughable
and disgusting display by FOX who should issue
an apology to the Commission and to the public.
I am not holding my breath.

Josh Marshall deconstruct's Condi's claims to immunity from testimony. Even though there is a long history of presidential aids, and even National Secuirty Advisors, testifying under oath, evidently, there is precedent for her claim that she can refuse. Four out of the five cases where presidential aides refused to testify were from the Nixon White House. Shocker.

Digby notes that the Bush counterstrikes are about to get personal on Clarke.

And Hesiod makes a HUGE catch out of the hearings yesterday - there were actual recordings of the meetings about terrorism!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2004
      ( 3:46 PM )
Excited Again

As you may or may not have noticed, my excitement about activism specifically for a political candidate retreated markedly after Dean left the presidential race. I'm not interested much in working for Kerry. I'm still waiting to see what his new national organization is going to offer, and I'm still in regular touch with my Dean buddies here in Portland. But today I got excited about working for a candidate again. This time it's for Portland's mayoral race. Only my Portland readers will probably be interested in this, but it's a great underdog-who-can-really-change-things story.

I'm going to campaign for Tom Potter for Portland Mayor. There are a lot of things I still have to learn about Tom and his campaign, but there are a few very important things that made me decide early on that he is my candidate. Our mayoral primary is on May 18. Most likely it will be a run-off election. Tom's main opponent, Jim Fransesconi, while a democrat and veteran Portland politico, is in my opinion in the pocket of all the business interests of this city and has not made very many good choices in the last few months in his role as a Portland City Commissioner.

Tom Potter is a former police chief and is still beloved by both the rank and file members of the force and by the community in which he worked. He is known for his social and community awareness and his work with various causes in Portland. He is also known for taking courageous stands. Good examples of this courage are his outspoken stance in support of civil rights and equality in marriage, and also his campaign promise not to accept any donation over $25 from an individual donor. This last thing is huge. He is determined that if he will win, it will be because he represents the issues and the people - not because he can win 650,000 votes with $1 million.

But there is one key difference: Francesconi, a six-year
city commissioner, is well on his way to being the first
million-dollar candidate in the history of Portland city
government--an eye-popping distinction that is causing
a mixture of astonishment and revulsion even among
his fellow commissioners at City Hall. For many, he
has become the poster child for campaign-finance reform.

In Potter, meanwhile, we have what voters say they
want: a qualified candidate who can't be bought.


Potter, for his part, thinks this race is proof that
something is wrong: "Something has changed in
our society where money has become the driving
issue for candidates, instead of their qualifications
to hold office."


Others, however, think Francesconi has done favors
for contributors. His campaign reports are rife with
contributions from prominent members of the
influential Portland Business Alliance--such as
$10,000 from real-estate investor Melvin "Pete"
Mark. That's why the commissioner's opposition in
January 2003 to a resolution against the invasion
of Iraq raised so many eyebrows. In explaining
his position at a council meeting, Francesconi
repeated almost word for word the text of a letter
he'd received from the PBA opposing the resolution
--this just days after he'd joined in a march to
protest the invasion.

So this is just my notice that Tom Potter is my new candidate and I will be doing everything I can to get him elected. To my local readers, I encourage you to check him out. We need change in this town as much as this country needs it. It's time that our mayor was more interested in the communities, neighborhoods and people of Portland more than being interested in big business and developing us out of existence. Vote Tom Potter for Mayor!

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      ( 11:12 AM )
It's No Wonder...

...Richard Clarke couldn't work in the Bush Administration. He's an adult:

Your government failed you. Those entrusted with protecting
you failed you. I failed you. We tried hard, but we failed you
...I ask for your understanding, and your forgiveness.

--Richard Clarke's opening statement to the 9/11 Commission.

Imagine. Acknowledging responsibility and apologizing. It's enough to make a Mama believe there's hope for this country yet... until I remember this is the guy that had to quit.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2004
      ( 4:48 PM )
Memory Revisions

The way the Bush people are backpedalling these days, it's a wonder they don't just moonwalk everywhere. It's hard to know where to start with a discussion on all the crap that is coming out of their mouths this week. But in total, it reminds me of the much used allegory of "1984." I am actually reading this book for the first time right now (I never did read it in school). It's hard not to draw the conclusions that everyone does about this administration and its eerily similarity to Big Brother's Government. With the Ministry of Truth being the main issue this week. In the book, the main character's job is to go back and alter historical records (newspapers, books, etc) to reflect the current Party line. The theory being, if it isn't written down, it didn't really happen. The Party believes if you repeat something enough as being not true, the actual memory gives way to the "altered" memory.

The tap dancing being done by Scott McClellan, Condoleeza Rice and even the President this week makes me think that they believe they can alter true memory and actually tell us something and we'll forget what actually happened. The press so far has done a good job of going along with this plan, but cracks are starting to show this week, since Richard Clarke's testimony is simply too big an elephant in the room to be ignored.

So of the several excuses that have been given in response to Clarke this week, I can't find one that doesn't make the administration look totally stupid.

1. Richard Clarke was "out of the loop." - Dick Cheney said this on his ridiculous emergency interview with Rush Limbaugh yesterday (the fact that Cheney went on Limbaugh and not regular television is another issue). So why did they keep him as Counterterrorism Coordinator and then put him out of the "loop?" That smacks of incompetence at the very least and stupidity at the most.

2. Richard Clarke is a disgruntled former employee who is politically motivated. - He worked for 30 years and for four different administrations, and he even stayed on 3 years with the BushII admin while things got frustratingly worse. He is known to be incredibly hawkish, even sharing opinions with the likes of Richard Perle. He has no role or offered role with the Kerry team, and he has never professed to be a democrat.

The administration seems to have a problem with hiring so many of these potentially disgruntled whistleblowers. Josh Marshall puts it best:

It's amazing how many partisan Democrats and
disgruntled former employees working under cover
as career civil servants, spies and military officers
have betrayed this president. It just seems to happen
again and again and again. I mean, just think of the
list: Rand Beers, well-known partisan Democrat and
hack, Richard Clarke, self-promoter, disgruntled former
employee, and "self-regarding buffoon", Karen
Kwiatkowski, conspiracy theorist and all-around freak,
Valerie Plame, hack and nepotist, Joe Wilson, partisan
hack, self-promoter and shameless green tea lover.
When will the abuse end?

Josh left out Paul O'Neill - another abusive former employee. This poor, poor administration, how they have been victimized!

3. Finally, yesterday, the administration thought they could level this argument against Clarke: his resignation letter mentions some appreciation for the president. Thus, he is a lying flip-flopper who doesn't stick to his story. Again Josh Marshall:

Spin and push-back is a delicate art. Used indiscriminately
it can show how weak your real case must be.

Case in point. This afternoon the White House released
Richard Clarke's resignation letter from January 2003,
arguing that boilerplate praise for the president
contained in the letter shows that Clarke has
flipflopped and is thus a hypocrite.

Here's the phrase that they're highlighting: "It has
been an enormous privilege to serve you these last
24 months ... I will always remember the courage,
determination, calm, and leadership you demonstrated
on September 11th."

The best they can do.

Lame. That's what they are. No, worse than lame. Lying bastards and cheaters. Condoleeza Rice does not testify in public hearings because she does not want to risk being prosecuted at a later time for lying under oath. There is nothing they can do but tread water on this stuff. They came into office with a set agenda. It was all Iraq, all missle defense. Who of us doesn't remember this? We got our first taste of how inadequately they were addressing current world issues when in May 2001, one of our planes was shot down in China. They had no resources with which to deal with the issue - not even a China desk in intelligence to brief them immediately. They were woefully unprepared for dealing with the current international crisis issues, and they didn't care.

Let me just say one other thing about the hearings this morning. I heard part of Tenet's testimony, and once again he went down the path of "oh, woe is the CIA because we didn't have the resources because CONGRESS made us cut our budget and operations after the Church hearings." I'm sorry. If the reason 9/11 happened was because the CIA didn't conduct more operations, then it's not Congress' fault, it is squarely the fault of the CIA. They abused their power and resources in the 1960's and 1970's. If they hadn't done that, if they hadn't misused, abused, misled and even killed American citizens, then they wouldn't have had to face the Church Commission, and they wouldn't have had to deal with the consequences.

I find a similar pattern now starting to backwash onto Bush and his cold-war cronies. They were the ones who committed the wrongs and who committed the ommissions. Yes, there were significant problems with the FBI (SIGNIFICANT) not passing on domestic intelligence and coordinating with the CIA, but the administration must bear the brunt of its actions - the fact that they were wholly focused on Iraq and even AFTER 9/11, only used that event to further their original goals instead of totally shifting their policies to address the true issues, then we would be safer now. But we're not. And we won't be until the whole truth comes out and until these people leave Washington.

And now they're trying to tell us that they never did this, that they never did that - they are trying to revise our memories and pretend they didn't say things, that they didn't purposely lead Americans to believe things, that they didn't respond in horrendous ways to 9/11. But the difference between our current reality and 1984 is that we do have the proof that they lied, we do have the proof that they continue to lie, and we do have the ability to make that truth more powerful than whatever lies they use to try to adjust history. This administration has done NOTHING that has helped this country. I can't think of one thing. Hopefully the voting American public in November won't be able to either.

UPDATE: Pictures say 1000 words - nothing like a political cartoon to put it in concise perspective.

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Monday, March 22, 2004
      ( 2:44 PM )
Hey, That Was MY Idea!

Kos (correctly pronounced "Kose" - as in the last syllable of Markos, as said SuperBlogger informed us all a short while ago) has posted today that he thinks Kerry should come up with a shadow cabinet. Hey, didn't I just say that?

Great minds fighting the same evil enemy tend to come up with similar brilliant ideas. ...Mama's Corollary No. 32 to the Laws of Fighting Evil.

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      ( 12:09 PM )
Now for the REALLY Important News

The Save Angel Campaign got national coverage today. Quality television must be defended! Go Angel Savers!

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      ( 11:08 AM )
MORE Damning Evidence

In case you're looking for independent confirmation outside of Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill (and the 30 other people that have said so) that the Bush administration totally screwed up, the Center for American Progress has compiled a list of government documents that prove the Bush people ignored, procrastinated and then manipulated the terrorism threat on this country.

But the real story is far different, as the following
internal Department of Justice (DoJ) documents
obtained by the Center for American Progress
demonstrate. The Bush Administration actually
reversed the Clinton Administration's strong
emphasis on counterterrorism and counterintelligence.
Attorney General John Ashcroft not only moved
aggressively to reduce DoJ's anti-terrorist budget
but also shift DoJ's mission in spirit to emphasize
its role as a domestic police force and anti-drug
force. These changes in mission were just as critical
as the budget changes, with Ashcroft, in effect,
guiding the day to day decisions made by field
officers and agents. And all of this while the
Administration was receiving repeated warnings
about potential terrorist attacks.

How much more of this can they just brush aside?

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has decided, two years later, to actually pay attenion.

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      ( 10:24 AM )
Talk of the Day

Everybody's buzzing about Richard Clarke's revelations last night on 60 Minutes. It was a damning report, made more so by the fact, in my opinion, that 60 Minutes went so far as to get independent confirmation of things that Clarke said.

The attack dogs are already out - and I expect Mr. Clarke knows he will receive the "dirty traitor" treatment forthwith. There is a lot of good commentary around the blogosphere today on this. But one of the best comments, which I think sums up the major part of this scandal is from Josh Marshall (he's continuing to update the subject, so have a look at his whole blog).

The first months of the Bush administration were
based on a fundamental strategic miscalcuation
about the source of the greatest threats to the
United States. They were, as Clark suggests, stuck
in a Cold War mindset, focused on Cold War problems,
though the terms of debate were superficially
reordered to make them appear to address a post-
Cold War world.

That screw up is a reality -- their inability to come
clean about it is, I suspect, is at the root of all the
covering up and stonewalling of the 9/11 commission.
And Democrats are both right and within their rights
to call the White House on it. But screw-ups happen;
mistakes happen. What is inexcusable is the inability,
indeed the refusal, to learn from them.

Rather than adjust to this different reality, on
September 12th, the Bush war cabinet set about
using 9/11 -- exploiting it, really -- to advance an
agenda which had, in fact, been largely discredited
by 9/11
. They shoe-horned everything they'd
been trying to do before the attacks into the new boots
of 9/11. And the fit was so bad they had to deceive
the public and themselves to do it.

As the international relations expert John Ikenberry
noted aptly in a recent essay, the Bush hardliners "fancy
themselves tough-minded thinkers. But they didn't have
the courage of their convictions to level with the American
people on what this geopolitical adventure in Iraq was
really about and what it would cost."

To revert again to paraphrases of Talleyrandian wisdom,
this was worse than a crime. It was a mistake -- though
I suspect that when the full story is told, we'll see that
it was both.

This administration entered office with an agenda. Instead of adjusting to the changing times, it instead used the events of our day to prop up it's tired old agenda. And the cost has been lives of America soldiers, trust of America's allies, and the security of American citizens. No matter what fancy steps the Bush people and conservative pundits dance to try and make this go away, none of it can wipe out the truth. It is not going to get better for them. We can't let them sweep this under the rug. The evidence only mounts, from different sources, that this administration has done nothing but bugger us all. The ultimate accountability will be at the ballot box in November. It just sucks it has to wait that long. These people deserve not another day in office.

UPDATE: Billmon has an excellent piece on Clarke. Here's a taste:

Now maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I find this rather
remarkable. Clarke is a SES man -- Senior Executive
Service, the top tier of the career civil service -- and one
who has served seven presidents, five of them Republicans.
I can't recall any previous examples of a career
executive of Clarke's rank and caliber going so publicly
ballistic on a sitting president.

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      ( 10:08 AM )
Portland Turns Out For Peace

The turn out on Saturday was fantastic. The streets were filled with thousands of demonstrators. I was very proud to be there with my family and to be amongst thousands of people who felt that it was important to have their say publicly that this government has harmed Americans and we are committed to getting it out of office. Hope you had a good peace rally in your neck of the woods.

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Friday, March 19, 2004
      ( 2:54 PM )
Be a Witness

Just a reminder. Go out tomorrow to your local Peace Rally and be a witness for peace and sanity in your community. You owe it to yourself and to humanity. It's our job to take democracy back into our own hands, and it's our right not to do that quietly. Go. Demonstrate. Now.

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      ( 2:38 PM )
Mama Faces the New Momism

TIME Magazine's new cover story is titled "The Case for Staying Home." Of course, I'm not a subscriber, so I can't get the article online right now. But I can pretty much guess the entire text of the story. It most likely goes right along with that Today Show report I saw the other day before I ran off to catch my bus for work. It's more of the Same Thing - Moms are checking out of high powered careers because staying home with the kids is just so much more fulfilling. Keeping with the trend of cornering Moms into a black or white definition, a side article proclaims that most working moms go to work not because they want to, but because they have to.

Oh, and the additional sidebar from a dad's perspective? All about how dads want to stay home too, how dads are fantastic caregivers and yet face continued discrimination when they are the ones who stay home with their kids, about dads who give up the career to be with the kids? Nope, it's about how dissappointed men are that technology hasn't made it easier for mothers to come home from work and take care of the kids and dinner. What happened to all those time-saving devices? AAAARRRGGHH!

The stupid article about how hard it is for dads who have to decide whether to check their email in the evening or not aside, and going back to that previous argument that most moms work because they have to.... I would venture to guess that most moms AND dads work because they have to. Our country has become a consumer nation that operates at the whim of the corporate giant - and there is hardly a place in the country where a working class, or even middle class family can live on one income. And forget about both parents being able to raise the kids together!

But again, this answer is too simple and fits into the pat stereotypes we can always assign to parents. I work because I have to at a job I don't much like. But if I had the job I wanted? (Drumroll....) I'd still work. I'd still have to work, but I'd also want to work. Does that mean I don't love my child enough? My husband, stay at home dad extraordinaire, would like to work in his chosen career. He can't now because his chosen career doesn't have any jobs. If it did, he might work there because he wants to (and a little because he might have to), but that doesn't mean he would be any less a "fulltime" parent than he is now.

Leaving aside the discrimination that stay at home dads face (well documented by Rebel Dad and experienced with humor daily by Laid Off Dad), I want to talk about this new "Momism." There is an incredible backlash going on for women who become mothers in this day and age. One thread of that backlash is the media-hyped "conflict" between stay at home moms and "working" moms. The battle heats up everytime a new study comes out that says kids are more stupid if they're not breastfed, or kids are more agressive if they go to daycare. Moms are expected to be the same perfect wife and mother they were back in the 50's, except now that is on top of being a self-actualized, assertive, career-minded, independent woman who is in charge of her own destiny and can not only make it in a man's world but can rule the man's world. And if we aren't all like that? Well, pit us against each other! If we can't have wet t-shirt contests, let's see the moms battle it out!! The patriarchal mysoginistic context of our society just grates on my nerves. But anyway...

I get so steamed that the popular culture and the media seem to think it's their business (and they always have) to tell us how to be "good" mothers and what we're always doing wrong. They emphasize the point with interviews in magazines with supermodels and actress moms saying "I just love it when the baby wakes me up in the middle of the night to eat, it's so fulfilling!" Of course, women who live in more conservative environments are hit over the head constantly with a neverending stream of declarations about being good, Christian mothers and staying in their places. (Trust me, I grew up in that world, and was preached at from the moment of puberty on what my role should be as a woman).

How do we fight back? How do we let go of this pressure that comes from all sides, shed the image of perfection and simply be not only ourselves, but the kind of moms we want to be, not the kind of moms everyone tells us we should be? I think the first step is to understand where all the crap is coming from that keeps hitting us from every direction. The second step is to see each other, to celebrate our differences and to support each other as fellow human-mamas, no matter what our mama-choices are.

Trying to accomplish the first step, today I started reading "The Mommy Myth," a new book out by Susan J. Douglas. It tackles the pressures put on us to be all-or-nothing women, and the counter-pressure that is trying to (not so subtely) reverse the positive affects of feminism over the last 30 years.

Now, if you were a "good" mom, you'd joyfully empty the
shopping bags and transform the process of putting the
groceries away into a fun game your kids love to play
(upbeat Raffi songs would provide a lilting soundtrack).
Then, while you steamed the broccoli and poached the
chicken breasts in Vouvray and Evian water, you and the
kids would also be doing jigsaw puzzles in the shape of
the United Arab Emirates so they learned some geography.
Your cheerful teenager would say, "Gee, Mom, you gave
me the best advice on that last homework assignment."
When your husband arrives, he is so overcome with
admiration for how well you do it all that he looks lovingly
into your eyes, kisses you, and presents you with a
diamond anniversary bracelet. He then announces that
he has gone on flex time for the next two years so that
he can split childcare duties with you fifty-fifty. The
children, chattering away happily, help set the table,
and then eat their broccoli. After dinner, you all go out
and stencil the driveway with autumn leaves.

Even when we know we wouldn't be like that anyway, there's always that tugging in the back of our minds that that is what we should at least be trying for. And why? Whatever said that was the image of a "good" mother? Why, people who aren't mothers, of course. The onslaught is neverending.

From the moment we get up until the moment we collapse
in bed at night, the media are out there, calling to us,
yelling, "Hey you! Yeah, you! Are you really raising your
kids right?" Whether it's the cover of Redbook or Parents
demanding "Are You a Sensitive Mother?" "Is Your Child
Eating Enough?" "Is Your Baby Normal?" (and exhorting
us to enter its pages and have great sex at 25, 35, or 85),
the nightly news warning us about missing children, a
movie trailer hyping a film about a cross-dressing dad
who's way more fun than his stinky, careerist wife (Mrs.
Doubtfire), or Dr. Laura telling some poor mother who
works four hours a week that she's neglectful, the siren
song blending seduction and accusation is there all
the time. Mothers are subjected to an onslaught of
beatific imagery, romantic fantasies, self-righteous
sermons, psychological warnings, terrifying movies about
losing their children, even more terrifying news stories
about abducted and abused children, and totally
unrealistic advice about how to be the most perfect and
revered mom in the neighborhood, maybe even in the
whole country. (Even Working Mother (which should
have known better) had a "Working Mother of the Year
Contest." When Jill Kirschenbaum became the editor in
2001, one of the first things she did was dump this feature,
noting that motherhood should not be a "competitive
sport.") We are urged to be fun-loving, spontaneous, and
relaxed, yet, at the same time, scared out of our minds
that our kids could be killed at any moment. No wonder
81 percent of women in a recent poll said it's harder to be
a mother now than it was twenty or thirty years ago, and
56 percent felt mothers were doing a worse job today
than mothers back then.

As I get into this book, I'm going to provide regular "book reports" and my thoughts on what I read and what I learn. I'm not even to my mid-30's yet, and yet I already feel the weight of motherhood and family often clashing with my own sense of identity and destiny - and no one really wants to help me find a way to balance them -- or even acknowledge that there IS no perfect balance and that whatever choice I make is a good choice because it's my choice - nope, all anyone really wants to do is tell me that if I think I can have it all, I'm sorely mistaken, and if I don't want it all, then I'm a loser.

There must be a mama-middle-ground. There must be a place where mamas who work in offices, mama's who teach at home, mama's who never gave birth, mama's who can no longer hug the ones they gave birth to, and mama's who aren't mamas at all, but are daddies, can go where the aura of acceptance is stronger than the distinct oppression of dissapproval that hovers about us every day. I aim to find that place.

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      ( 12:44 PM )
From The "Doesn't Anybody Like Us Anymore?" Department

Reporters walked out on Colin Powell during his press conference in Iraq this morning (ha, betcha didn't see that on the mainstream media reports) in protest of the killings of two Iraqi journalists by US soldiers. The CNN report is interesting in that it even mentions the walk out. But more telling, for me anyway, is this paragraph further down:

Powell's visit was preceded by a week of what has
become almost routine violence in Iraq, capped by
reports that U.S. troops shot and killed two Arabic-TV
network journalists Thursday night.

One year after we illegally and immorally bombed and invaded a country, violence against human beings in that country has become "routine." And we accused Saddam of abusing his people...

In other Rats from a Sinking Ship News, South Korea is the latest to balk on sending its troops over to join the Coalition of the Willing Bribed and Coerced.

South Korea promised to eventually dispatch the
3,600 troops earmarked for Iraq, but only after it
finds a safer location.

Isn't that sort of like saying "I'll visit L.A. once they take care of that smog problem." This announcement from South Korea comes a day after Poland's leader, while not saying he would remove Polish troops, did publicly complain that he now believes he was "misled" into joining the "Coalition."

Oh, and for an update on the Spain situation, it has now been revealed that after the Spanish ruling party (at the time) lied to its people and the world after the bombings that it must certainly be ETA that committed the attacks, and then our government, in a rush to back up one of its few actual allies, forced the UN to condemn ETA a day after the attacks, the UN isn't so happy with us OR Spain, and neither is Germany:

Its federal criminal bureau said the Spanish authorities
intentionally withheld information and misled German
officials over the explosives used in the Madrid bombings.
The Spanish conservative government had insisted the
Goma 2 Eco dynamite for the explosives had been
frequently used by Eta, the Basque separatist movement.
On Monday, it admitted that was not the case.

Yet, in embarrassing predictability, US government officials and pundits continue to call the Spanish voters "appeasers" and say that terrorists "won" because of that election. Exactly the opposite. The Spanish voters saw that their government was lying and cheating and didn't listen to them anyway, so they took care of business. The terrorists LOST because democracy won, and Spain will now be able to use its resources more wisely in their fight against terrorism. The US, on the other hand, continues to lose... its friends, its allies, its excuses and even its wits.

Well, at least Namibia is still on the team.

UPDATE: Krugman's Excellent Column (tm) today leaves no doubt that our ability to make friends and influence people isn't winning any awards:

"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." So
George Bush declared on Sept. 20, 2001. But what was he
saying? Surely he didn't mean that everyone was obliged to
support all of his policies, that if you opposed him on anything
you were aiding terrorists.

Now we know that he meant just that.


But the bigger point is this: in the Bush vision, it was
never legitimate to challenge any piece of the
administration's policy on Iraq. Before the war, it was
your patriotic duty to trust the president's assertions
about the case for war. Once we went in and those
assertions proved utterly false, it became your patriotic
duty to support the troops — a phrase that, to the
administration, always means supporting the president.
At no point has it been legitimate to hold Mr. Bush
accountable. And that's the way he wants it.

Well, not everyone always gets his way, do they?

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      ( 10:27 AM )
It Would Be Funny

If it weren't so sad. I doubt Bremer even gets the irony in his statement yesterday:

"In a morning meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Bremer warned
the Iraqi leaders that they risked isolating themselves and
their country if they continued to snub the United Nations."


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Thursday, March 18, 2004
      ( 9:54 AM )
Edjamacate Now!

If you're looking for a good resource of information on NCLB, look no further than the blog An Old Soul. The wealth of info there is enough to stun you silly if you haven't been paying attention regarding the true nature of the machinations behind NCLB. Yes, its public purpose is to "reform" education - but behind the scenes? Would you be shocked to learn that the rightists are trying to basically get rid of federally funded public education? No, I didn't think you'd be. Here are only a few scary tidbits gleaned by Old Soul:

The backdoor to usurping our public education system is being funded by none other than the Walmart Family:

Critics say the Waltons could do the opposite: weaken
public schools by encouraging the flow of tax dollars to
less-regulated charter schools and to religious and other
private schools through vouchers. The prospect of the
Walton billions is "alarming," says Marc Egan, head of
anti-voucher efforts at the National School Boards

And who else is making money behind the scenes on NCLB? Not anyone connected with the Bush family, surely!

Neil Bush's company sells software to prepare students to
take comprehensive tests required under "No Child Left
Behind." Schools that fail the tests will face termination of
federal assistance. The contracts for these test programs
are very lucrative. Ignite is currently running a pilot program
at a Middle School in Orlando, Florida--where Neil's brother
Jeb is governor. The company hopes to sell the software
throughout Florida at $30 per pupil per year.

In mid-February, Houston school board members unanimously
agreed to accept $115,000 in charitable donations that
would be funneled to Ignite. The Houston Independent School
District trustees had initially delayed a vote on the matter
in December, saying they were concerned that Bush's Austin-
based company might be benefiting from his family name.
But in February, the nine board members approved the
funding without discussion.

If you need help navigating your way through the mire of nasty NCLB manipulations, Old Soul has a great dictionary of "education reform" terms to help you out. Here's a sample:

'choices' = vouchers or the ability to move to another school
if your school fails. However, this rarely works in practice because
there are no room at other schools to transfer. Can you imagine
having a whole school fail and then having to place every
student at another school? Doesn't work.

'fully funded'= not enough money

'well-educated public'= this is a new one. Beats me.

Keep an eye out. Our public education system is being destroyed before we even had a chance to rescue it.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2004
      ( 3:21 PM )
Shocked...Shocked That Bush Lied...

This is one of those too-much-to-blog-about days. There's just so much crap coming out of the White House that it's hard to stem the tide of revulsion that propels me once again to post today (that, and the fact that my boss is out so I have some extra time on my hands!).

The Guardian reports today that the administration is committing fraud on the American public with its new Medicare ads. Shocker, I know.

TV news reports in America that showed President
George Bush getting a standing ovation from potential
voters have been exposed as fake, it has emerged.

The US government admitted it paid actors to pose as
journalists in video news releases sent to TV stations
intending to convey support for new laws about
health benefits.

Investigators are examining the film segments, in
which actors pretending to be journalists praise the
benefits of the new law passed last year by President
Bush, to see if they could be construed as propaganda.

Propaganda from the Bush administration? No! It can't be! It has to be the nasty Brits who made this up for their no-good rag, right? Nope, even the NY Times is a little interested in the story, but adds another twist:

An Orwellian taint is emerging in the Bush administration's
big victory last year in wringing the Medicare prescription
drug subsidy from a balky Congress. The plan is being
sold to the public through propagandistic ads disguised
as TV news reports, and it turns out the government's
top Medicare actuary was muzzled by superiors during
the debate about the program's price tag.

Richard Foster, one of the government's foremost
Medicare experts, says he was ordered not to provide
requested information to Congress last fall when
doubts were being raised about the drug benefit's cost.
The administration denies this, but a ranking former
official has confirmed Mr. Foster's story.

While I think saying there is an "Orwellian taint" on this administration is somewhat like saying "oranges are orange" (come on, NY Times, you just figured out the Orwellian thing?), the Times is actually bringing to light another of the administration's lies and manipulations - so we can be grateful for the larger context of the story and forget that the NY Times is so far behind on honest reporting about this administration that Orwell himself may have actually reincarnated due to so much spinning in his grave the last 3 years.

Will people pay attention to yet another one of Bush's evil acts of cowardice in governing? One guesses not. But there's always hope. The Times, at least, seems to think the story has legs.

This sleight of hand only deepens doubts about White
House credibility on a complex issue. The public deserves
straightforward information about the changes in
Medicare, and federal agencies should not be engaging
in political spin. This is no way to run a democracy
nourished by information and taxpayers' money.

Here's my impression of the NY Times editorial board waking up after 3 years of Rip Van Winkel - like napping on the job:

"Hey! The President lied and cheated us into an unfair and costly medicare bill that won't even do what he said it would do! ... Wait a minute, he lied about the war too! ..... D'oh!" (slap on forehead).

Welcome to the real (frightening) world, guys.

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      ( 2:53 PM )
But the President Did It...

Next Monday, Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of the Florida National Guard will turn himself over to authorities after being declared a deserter. He went AWOL (one of over 600) after he returned home from Iraq on leave. He intends to seek conscientious-objector status because he says that the war is immoral and soldiers are being required to do immoral things. His attorney has equated his action with that of the president:

"We are asking the military to treat [Mejia] the same way
that the military treated President George Bush when he
was in the Texas National Guard. That is, his alleged AWOL
or desertion and failure to report to Alabama was treated
through administrative channels rather than acted upon
judicially," he said

Only there is a vast difference between a rich son of a senator being given special dispensation when he decides he just won't show up to duty, and who never saw a day of battle in his entire military "career" and a young, working class soldier who joined up to defend this country despite not even being a citizen, and who went willingly to war in another country and saw horrible atrocities while he was there. So I'm sure he'll be treated with just as much respect as George W. was 30 years ago. Hah!

How Sgt. Mejia is punished is one matter. What he will bring up to his accusers is another. Mejia has recounted many experiences in Iraq that compounded to convince him not to return:

Mejia accuses commanders of using GIs as "bait" to lure
out Iraqi fighters so that U.S. soldiers could win combat
decorations. He also says operations were conducted in
ways that sometimes risked injuring civilians. He has
accused his battalion and company commanders of
incompetence and has reiterated other guardsmen's
complaints about being poorly equipped.


Perhaps the turning point for Mejia was the day in Iraq
when he was ordered to shoot at Iraqis protesting and
hurling grenades toward his position from about 75
yards away, which he considered too far of a distance
to be a real threat. Mejia and his men opened fire on
one, and he fell, his blood pooling around him.

"It was the first time I had fired at a human being,"
Mejia recalled. "I guess you could say it was my
initiation at killing a human being. . . . One thing I ask
myself a lot, `Did I hit him?'

"It was part of a general feeling that we had no right
to be there, and every killing, whether provoked or
not provoked, was unjustified because we had no
right to be there."

The article goes on to report that Mejia's commanders say he is a mama's boy (they literally call him that) because his mother would not help him renew his paperwork to keep his residency status (he's not even a citizen, but he went to fight and risk his life for this country). They say that he lost his nerve, that he's a scaredy-cat and so on. I don't know Sgt. Mejia so I don't pass judgment on him one way or another. His descriptions about what happened on the battlefield are terrible, and I cringe to think of what all those young people are witnessing and experiencing and how it will scar them for the rest of their lives. But what is interesting about this story is that conscientious objectors have been increasing and the government is now starting to grant more and more of that status to soldiers who refuse to return to the Iraq theatre.

It's a hard line to walk - on the one hand, it's technically an "all volunteer" force that's over there, and so the soldiers are expected to fall into line. But the reality is that most of the National Guard and Reserves are poorly equipped and barely trained for the services they are asked to perform, they are put out there for committments far longer than they ever "volunteered" for, and more often than not, soldiers are not in the military because they thought it would be a cool job - they joined up because they had no other good option for their future. This means that most of the soldiers are low-income and working class kids who just wanted a chance for a step up in life. Or they are family folks, dads and moms, who joined up to do part time military service to help support their families and get that little extra income that helps them survive. They are now serving in a desert where their bosses insist that they must put themselves out front in a fight against an invisible enemy for the ultimate goal of... they don't know what.

Things aren't black and white. Just as the spectre of Vietnam that rises in this election campaign isn't black and white, as demonstrated by candidate Kerry, who was both a dedicated soldier and a war protester. There is honor for Sgt. Mejia in that he served, no matter what others may say about his deciding not to go back. Many others face this dilemma this year, as they face the second and third deployment back to Iraq because we are so limited in numbers of soldiers.

We are going to need understanding, grace and the willingness to listen when we hear stories like this one about soldiers who just can't take it anymore. To not judge them as weak or failures, but to allow them their humanity, I think that is the greatest gift we can give them as their fellow citizens.

(thanks to Maru for the link)

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      ( 1:16 PM )
Database of Lies

Rep. Harry Waxman, ranking member of the Committee on Government Reform, has now put out a database of misleading statements made by Bush administration leaders in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. This database is searchable and holds an incredible amount of information. It contains 237 specific misleading public statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. Powell and Rice.

My first search was a basic one: all speakers, on the subject of "urgent threat" for the time span Jan 1, 2002 through March 20, 2003. For each of the 11 hits I got, every quote is given and then an explanation as to why it's misleading. Example:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Urgent Threat:

"Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger.
It's a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the
Middle East and to the international peace and stability.
It's a danger we cannot ignore."

Source: Donald Rumsfeld Addresses the Conference of
Army Reserve Operators, Defense Department (1/20/2003).
Explanation This statement was misleading because it
suggested that Iraq posed an urgent threat despite the
fact that the U.S. intelligence community had deep divisions
and divergent points of view regarding Iraq's weapons of
mass destruction. As Director of Central Intelligence George
Tenet noted in February 2004, "Let me be clear: analysts
differed on several important aspects of these programs
and those debates were spelled out in the Estimate. They
never said there was an 'imminent' threat."

It's an incredible resource, and one I hope democrats and those opposed to this administration's destruction of our standing in the world will use in this election process. I've preserved the link over on my side bar under the Iraq section AND in the election box under "Reasons Why" for your future reference and use.

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      ( 12:20 PM )
The (Spanish) Domino Effect

Now that Spain is the new punching bag for rightist pundits and Bush apologists, can we go back to eating "french" fries again?

The current mantra echoed by those same pundits and apologists that the "terrorists won" in Spain on Sunday sounds as empty as it truly is. The "logic" that because Spain voted out the government that (against its citizens' wishes) joined Bush's war in Iraq and then lied to its people when they were attacked on their own soil, that means that Al Qaeda has "won" is lost on me. As I see it, Spain and most all other countries of the world gladly and willingly joined the US in the fight against terrorism after 9/11. It was the invasion of Iraq that they didn't necessarily want to go along with. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and it wasn't until after we occupied it that it became a player in the war on terror in terms of danger to our people and our allies.

Spain isn't the first country in the last couple of years to have an election determined because of opposition to Bush's policies. The German election in 2002 was won by the party that opposed Bush, the South Korean election last year was won by the candidate that spoke out against Bush policies on the Korean peninsula. Spain is just the latest country to follow that trend. And it's not a comforting trend.

Bush's "coalition of the willing" is no such thing. The countries that joined in the Iraq invasion and occupation were either coerced or bribed. But now with the people of Spain speaking out in reaction to the fact that their country's resources were used not to combat fundamentalist islamist terrorism, but to occupy a country that the Bush administration had a vendetta against, and as a result, they fell victim to the worst bombing attack in western europe in the last many years - other countries and observers are taking notice. The US is no longer the power it was - Bush's strategy has not only weakened our diplomatic ties with allies, but it has weakened our position as a power to be reckoned with. We no longer carry the mantle of leadership for the world. And even smaller countries can see that now.

"This is a consequence of what we knew a year ago
-- that Bush tried to force governments to choose
between their own voters and the White House," said
Tom Andrews, a former Democratic congressman from
Maine, now national director of Win Without War, a
grassroots anti-Iraq war group.

"The White House tried to sweeten the pot for those
countries that joined the coalition but this was never a
coalition of the willing, as Bush claimed. It was a coalition
of the coerced and the purchased -- and now those
leaders have to face their own voters," he said.

And so the dominoes begin to fall. Honduras has announced it will withdraw its troops, and Nicaragua won't send any back. Only El Salvador is left in the Spanish-led combined brigade in Iraq.

"Why did the train bombings have the effect that they did?
Because 90 percent of the Spanish people did not want this
war in the first place and were unwilling to pay any price for
what they saw as a mistaken policy," said University of
Chicago political scientist Robert Pape.

"What does this mean for the rest of our allies? The Italians?
The British? They, and some of us as well, may well conclude
that the war against Iraq has made us more vulnerable and
not less," he said.

The consequences that are occuring now are not because of an election held 3 days ago in Spain. These consequences are a result of a year of lying by Bush to us and to the world, followed by a year of continued erosion of security on all fronts for all countries, especially those involved in Bush's War. The invasion of Iraq, and indeed, the capture of Saddam Hussein, have not only NOT made us safer, but have made us and our allies (what there are left of them) extremely UNsafe. Not because Iraq is part of the war on terror, but because we allowed it to take precedence and now it is being used by the very people we claimed we were fighting in the first place as a foothold against us.

Whatever happens is not because of Spanish voters or their so-called "appeasement," as the Hannity crowd would like to claim. Nope, whatever happens is because Bush and his cronies lied, cheated and killed for no reason other than their own insidious greed for power. They are reaping what they've sown. Unfortunately, we and the citizens of the world will probably pay a heavier price than Bush ever will have to for what he has done.

UPDATE: Juan Cole says it better.

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      ( 9:21 AM )
The World Still Says No to War

If you haven't heard, this coming Saturday, March 20, 2004, is going to be an international day of action against the unilateral US invasion of Iraq. On March 20, 2003, the United States began a massive bombing attack and invasion of the sovreign country of Iraq. The violence was excused by those in the government and many of its supporters because of what we now know to be lies told to us about Iraq being an imminent threat to us.

In the last 363 days, almost a year since that bombing and invasion began, thousands of Iraqis have died, 665 soldiers have died, estimates of up to 8,000 or more soldiers wounded, many gravely and irreparably, reports of the highest rates of suicides in a conflict arena ever, and a country is descending into political chaos (and I don't mean Iraq).

One year ago, the media was a willing participant in the march to war, repeating with glee the press releases of the administration, failing to question anything, and happily giving up all autonomy so that they could have the "honor" of having their soldiers embedded. Even now, the media's reporting of the war and its consequences barely rises to the level of journalism in its lack of true investigation, true calling to account, or even relaying of actual facts. This week, the spin that will go out will most likely once again merely mimic the governmental propaganda, ignore the lies the war was based on, forget the conniving the administration did to manipulate the UN, and turn a blind eye to the thousands of demonstrators that will hit the streets on Saturday. We can only defeat this corporate agenda by joining together so that we cannot be ignored.

One year ago, we were marching in the streets protesting the war, proclaiming that this was not the way we wanted our country to represent itself in the world, asking for peace. A year ago, this blog discussed frequently the importance of taking a stand, making public your belief that when the government has gone wrong it is not only our right to publicly keep it accountable, but it is our responsibility. We were mocked, we were called traitors and unpatriotic, we were reported as hooligans, anarchists, troublemakers, and even terrorists. But we were right.

This Saturday is not a victory march. It is not "mission accomplished." It is part protest, part witness for peace and part communal grief. Veterans will gather, mothers and fathers will gather, children will gather, families, young, old, every race, creed, and even newly married people will gather together. Sometimes there isn't a convenient time to speak out, but there is never a time to remain silent against injustice. Just because we are already in Iraq and now we must deal with those consequences does not mean we cannot and should not stand together and declare that we continue to protest our government's actions, that we will work together for peace, and that we will not remain silent in the presence of injustice.

Our Peace Rally here in Portland will be at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at Pioneer Courthouse Square. It is sponsored by over 100 local organizations. Find out where your local Rally will be and go to it. If you live here in the Portland area, come to hear local community leaders and march with fellow neighbors and citizens to show that we will not be cowed by intimidation, we will not fall victim to labels and discrimination, and that our ultimate display of patriotism is indeed the best effort we can make to keep our country from doing wrong in this world. That is, until we get to vote in November.

UPDATE: While the world says no to war, Bush evidently wants more. Voice of a Veteran reports today that the move is on to really put legs under the new draft reactivation drive.

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Monday, March 15, 2004
      ( 11:53 AM )
Preschool Crackdown

This morning, NPR had a short report on the Prince George's County School Superintendant's intention to get rid of nap time for preschoolers. The main reason? There is too much studying the kids need to be doing! We're not talking half-day preschool either. We're talking a full day packed chock-full of glorious "studying" for FOUR YEAR OLDS. I don't think I have to say that this is simply ludicrous. I mentioned several months ago about how the NCLB is putting pressure on preschool educators and head start teachers to teach 4 year olds to take standardized tests. It only follows that officials would feel that children don't need sleep either. Of course, it's already been several years now that many elementary schools have taken away recess and breaks from children as well. Because ACCOUNTABILITY is what matters - not accountability for the health and welfare of our children, but for whether they can pass the tests well enough to get funding for their schools.

This is so stupid, there are not words enough to express how stupid it is. Forgive me for being redundant. This is ridiculous. Four year old children need nap time or at least a quiet rest period as much as elementary school children need recess time. Children can only absorb so much intellectual information before they reach their limits. They need to blow off energy, they need to get fresh air, they need sleep.

There is still limited research into this area, but some studies already show that the need for kids to take a break exists, despite schools insisting that the day be nonstop education:

The most obvious characteristic of recess is that it constitutes a
break from the day's routine. For people of all ages and in all
fields, breaks are considered essential for satisfaction and
alertness. Experimental research on memory and attention
(e.g., Toppino, Kasserman, & Mracek, 1991) found that recall is
improved when learning is spaced rather than presented all at
once. Their findings are compatible with what is known about
brain functioning: that attention requires periodic novelty, that
the brain needs downtime to recycle chemicals crucial for
long-term memory formation, and that attention involves 90- to
110-minute cyclical patterns throughout the day (Jensen, 1998).

Not only do kids need a break for their brains to rest. But recess and break time is time to hang out. Kids don't socialize or learn to interact and play with other children when all they do is sit in a classroom all day long. Of course, it's been long determined that social skills and having fun are in no way as important as getting your head crammed full of useful ways to pass a standardized test.

It continues to amaze me how politicians and the so-called "adults" in our society continue to put the burden of successful schools on the backs of small children.

Along different, yet strangely similar lines in its undertone of social manipulation, there was a story on this morning's Today Show (which I see no link to on their home page) about women deciding to quit the workforce and stay home with their kids. This subject REALLY steams this mama. First, the example they used was a woman who was leaving after 17 years as a stock analyst. The sociologist who did the research talked to 50 stay at home moms and said that most of what they talked about was how their corporate careers were "all or nothing" so they decided to stay home.

Now, I am in absolute agreement that work places are geared towards men who are the breadwinners of the household, and that there is still very little acknowledgement or help with employees who both support the family and raise the children (which can be moms OR dads). However, the entire gist of this presentation was basically: Now that women have achieved high positions and management status, they find that their jobs don't give them any flexibility to be with their kids. So evidently, it's only women who are CEOs or in high management positions that have to deal with this. All of us working women who will never reach management positions have LOADS of flexibility!

Not once did they talk about ordinary working women, single mothers or women who DO manage to find ways to both be the mom they want to be AND pursue their career. These poor rich career women, being tortured by this conflict. So sad they have to make a choice. Not. What's sad is that so many of us don't HAVE a choice.

The people who get noticed more often than not by the media are people with money. So when women who have banked thousands and are in the top tax brackets decide to "give it all up" for their children, it is seen as the prime example of how women really can't "have it all." The whole thing is utterly ridiculous.

This is one working mama that sees many other sides to the story that our media is trying to sell us, and I'm not content to allow them to characterize the women who have the conflict of work and home as only women in high-powered careers. Working women who are merely trying to survive have the same struggle, only they don' t have a choice. Even women who could possibly improve their economic standing if given the chance, are sabotaged because our government thinks it's better to push them into the workforce and not give them childcare or any other help while they're trying to care for their families.

The whole perspective on raising children in this country is as screwed up as the non-right to a civil marriage. This is one mama that thinks I may just have to write the Today Show a scathing letter... oh, and I'm also thinking about instituting regular home nap times for the whole family as well. Join the Nap Revolution!

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Thursday, March 11, 2004
      ( 4:48 PM )

..as our esteemed leader might phrase it. Rove has launched the first of his negative ads. And as Kos shows us, it's not good.

Shorter George Bush: "Vote for me, I'll save you from all the evil arabs surrounding you everywhere!!"

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      ( 3:12 PM )
Tragedy in Spain

Once again, a nation of the world suffers terrible tragedy and responds with humanity towards its citizens. After the terrible bomb blasts today that have killed close to 200 people, and injured thousands, the government of Spain has declared 3 days' mourning and the political campaigns leading up to Sunday's election have all called a halt to campaigning. I wrote only days ago about Iraq's response to its terrible tragedy last week with a three-day shutdown for mourning. I'm reminded again, that in the worst terrorist attack ever, on September 11, 2001, when thousands of citizens were murdered and thousands more injured and maimed, President Bush told us to act like nothing had happened and go shopping. It still steams me.

Anyway, today's bombings in Spain are still being investigated. But of course the first words out of the politicians' mouths were that the bombings had been caused by ETA. When I first heard the story this morning, my first thought was that it doesn't sound at all like an ETA operation. It still may be too premature to say what happened, but this is an attack like nothing ETA has ever done before. ETA, the armed resistance for the Basque Country, has carried out many attacks on Spanish leaders and police, often killing civilians as well. But three days ahead of an election where a new, bold step forward might be taken for the Basque region of Spain, targetting and killing hundreds of civilians? It doesn't sound like ETA.

I don't speak with a whole lot of authority on ETA, but during my years of work in the north of Ireland, I certainly met more than a few Basque Separatists (not necessarily the militant kind). The ETA has historically operated in a similar fashion to the Provisional IRA (the IRA most people think of). A contrast in operations became clear in Ireland when in 1998, after the IRA had called a ceasefire to honor the new political agreements in Ireland, an IRA breakaway group bombed the city centre of Omagh, killing tons of civilians and without the usual warnings given. The provos never conducted operations like that. So either this very well-calculated multiple bombing in and around Madrid was carried off by a new, more militant wing of ETA, or ETA has gotten suddenly much more brutal and off-message, or .... it was Al Qaeda clones. A leader of ETA said early this morning he did not think it could be ETA. If you are at all interested in the ongoing conflict in Spain, I suggest you start with reading The Basque History of the World. I've not yet finished it, but it is an incredible read on the richness of the world's oldest and continuing civilized culture in Europe.

CNN and the BBC is reporting that new discoveries near the bombings and a claim in an Arab newspaper now put islamist terrorists on the list of possible suspects.

It's all just so devastating what humanity can do to itself.

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      ( 1:08 PM )
The Long and Winding Road (to the WH)

Many have been asking how is John Kerry going to make it through 8 long months of campaigning against a sitting president? The Dems seem to have the disadvantage facing this long presidential race (thoughTerry McAuliffe should have thought of this issue before he rigged all the primaries to decide a winner by February, as so the party elites should have thought about how John Kerry won't draw nearly the amount of independents and cross-over voters that Dean or Edwards would have) . The president can make the news just by doing his daily stuff (even when it's not as stupid as usual, he often will get at least a mention in the news). But Kerry will have to work extra hard to make news.

Some have suggested (though I thought I was the only one who thought of this) that Kerry form a "shadow cabinet" early on. This was even mentioned by the New York Times editorial board last week. Tom Burka did the subject justice yesterday:

The Democrats have created a "shadow White House"
-- mostly from Legos -- a shadow cabinet, a shadow
Capitol Building, and "what's the most fun," according
to Terry Griebling of Menachem's List, "is the shadow
Air Force One, which we're hoping we can get to fly."
The shadow Air Force One is presently a large model
of a plane that Democrats can put on their heads like
a hat and run around with while saying "whoosh!"
and "vrroom, vrooom!"

The hilarity of Tom's writing almost masks the truth behind it - but not quite. Up until this point, the Dems in government have completely abdicated their role as "opposition" to the Bush administration and DeLay Congress. But now there is a new leader on the horizon. The mantle of head honcho has been bestowed upon John Kerry, and so far he's leading the good fight in being the voice countering Bush (despite his own issues, which I still have difficulty and I do not count myself a full fledged supporters yet). This idea of a shadow cabinet really gets me thinking. It could be the very thing to launch Kerry into a new level of competition.

Over the next month or two, Kerry could pick his VP, then go ahead and pick all his "shadow" cabinet members. He only has a month to do it after the election, so why not start now. Even if not all of them end up being in the actual cabinet, this group of people could make a huge impact.

Just think about it: the American electorate would not just be voting for one man, but for a team. The Shadow Cabinet would reveal what kind of people Kerry chooses to advise him and lead the various agencies of the government. People were fooled in 2000 - they thought they were getting this "compassionate conservative", a "uniter, not a divider" and a man who was going to be a "CEO President." But instead, as soon as he was determined by the Supreme Court to have the job, he formed a cabinet that came straight out of NeoCon hell. People's heads were still spinning from Cheney nominating himself as VP.

Having the Shadow Cabinet would give Kerry the upper hand of transparency and, along with displaying a good sense of planning, would give the American people a chance to see what they truly were in for. Having a Shadow Cabinet would also provide other benefits: A Secretary to respond to each stupid thing out of their respective alter-departments (ie, the Shadow Secretary of Education could go on the stump about Rod Paige and his idea that teachers are terrorists; the Shadow Secretary of the Interior could rant constantly about the environment, etc.); tons of "Kerry Administration Members" to fill the airwaves of the talk radio and cable tv news shows with the Kerry Message; opportunities for debate between a Cabinet Secretary and his Shadow; and of course a well-developed, well-polished policy for each issue that can be put forward succinctly and in clear opposition to what we currently have.

We all know a president is only as good as the people who advise him in most cases. So let's see who Kerry will pick and then go on a one-to-one match up with Bush's guys. I think a Kerry Shadow Cabinet would be just the thing to continue the energy of dem voters, the media coverage and buzz, and throw the Bushies constantly off guard with immediate comebacks to every stupid idea that they come up with (which should have been happening already these past 3 years).

So who would you pick for the Shadow Cabinet?

The current cabinet consists of:

The Cabinet includes the Vice President and, by law, the
heads of 15 executive departments-the Secretaries of
Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health
and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and
Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation,
Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General.
Under President George W. Bush, Cabinet-level rank also
has been accorded to the Administrator, Environmental
Protection Agency; Director, Office of Management and
Budget; the Director, National Drug Control Policy; and
the U.S. Trade Representative.

I've got a few ideas, though not all cabinet posts are filled in my Fantasy Shadow Cabinet yet:

VP: Bill Richardson
Defense: Anthony Zinni
Education: Jamie McKenzie
HHS: Carol Moseley Braun
Homeland Security: Al Gore (because he'd streamline it the way it should be)
Labor: Richard Trumka
State: Wes Clark
Veterans Affairs: Max Cleland
Attorney General: John Edwards

Still working on the rest of my list. Any suggestions?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2004
      ( 1:49 PM )
It's Official

I'm a commie pinko. I took the Political Compass test today and it turns out I'm left of Ghandi, Mandela and the Dalai Lama, a little more left of Stalin, and massively left of everyone else. Where did I go right? (ha ha ha)

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      ( 12:37 PM )
Now THAT'S What I Call Voter Turnout!

Um, evidently in Orange County, California last week, the electronic voting machines registered more votes than there actually are voters in Orange County.

Getting voters to the polls on a normal day isn't easy.
But with the advent of e-voting in Orange County,
California in elections last week, it looks like that's all
changed. With the new electronic terminals, turnout was
far higher than expected - more than 100 per cent in
some districts.

Compared to the local average of about 37 per cent,
it's an impressive figure - but it won't be bringing a smile
to the faces of the Orange County officials.

But it wasn't a computer error - no those beautiful Diebold's are workin' like clocks! It was human error that accounts for more there being more votes than people who actually exist.

It's unlikely that the votes will be recast or recounted
following the polling foul-up. Apparently the winners'
margins are wide enough to factor in the erroneous
voting and still come up with the same results.

Well, THAT'S a relief. For a minute there I was worried it would matter that vote counting was all screwed up. Thankfully, we have technology to depend on - we don't need to worry about wrong votes or even too many votes! It's all good!

(thanks to Maru for the link)

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