Tuesday, December 28, 2004
( 1:58 PM )
If you don't know where to direct your desire to help the victims in Southeast Asia, I highly recommend Portland-based Mercy Corps. My next-door neighbor and friend works for them and I know personally the people and the efforts they make to help people across the world - not just to survive disasters, but to improve their quality of life. In just this year, my friend has traveled to Liberia, Indonesia, Ghana, and other areas of the world that have people who desperately need help. She and her husband lived for a year in Afghanistan after 9/11 helping the people there, and she I'm sure will be part of the efforts now in Southeast Asia.
You can donate through their website at Mercycorps.org.
It is hard to feel so helpless in the wake of such overwhelming tragedy, but we can do small things together. More than ever, this world is becoming a family of human beings no longer separated by distance or communication issues - we are able to help each other, and so I hope we will do what we can.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
( 7:49 AM )
Best Holiday Wishes
To all of you, my blogosphere friends - I want to wish you the happiest of holidays. No matter if you celebrate a holiday this time of year or not, I do, and so I'm taking a moment to say how thankful I am for you and for this medium of expression and for the chance for people to come together and "talk" and express themselves. We are maintaining each other's sanity and that is definitely a community-building project!
I'm delighted to be able to be home with my family this coming week and will be spending every moment that I can with my husband and son - and praying for a nice snowstorm to keep school out just a little longer!
A blessed holiday season to everyone, may the New Year bring joy, fun-filled adventures and blessings. Most of all, may it bring peace across the world, to every human being who has yet to experience it. May we all do what we can to bring justice to the world and work for peace. That would indeed be a good year.
Blessings from the Mama! Happy holidays!!
Monday, December 20, 2004
( 1:03 PM )
Cue the Violins
I'm not sure what you were expecting, but I sure wasn't expecting the latest revelations of incompetence at the top of the Defense Department to result in any harm to Rumsfeld's career. His
Bush answered indirectly when asked at a news conference about his view of Rumsfeld's use of a mechanical device to sign letters of condolence to military families. That practice drew criticism from lawmakers of both parties, and Rumsfeld has since dropped it.
The president did not directly offer his opinion of Rumsfeld's practice, but said, "I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way. And he's a good, decent man. He's a caring fellow."
Thank goodness we have such a tenderhearted Secretary of Defense. I was beginning to wonder why it was we just LOVED everyone in the world so much all the time. Now I know - we're just a bunch of cuddly, caring, decent fellows and all we want is for everyone just to get along!
If you're wondering what legacy Rumsfeld is building as head of the Defense Department, here's a little recap:
- Presiding over the establishment of a policy that condones the torturing of prisoners
- Covering up the torturing of prisoners
- Not planning a war, but conducting one anyway
- Pretending that everything is dandy while young people die horrible deaths or are injured and maimed for life
- "Signing" condolence letters to KIA soldiers' families by NOT signing them - instead letting a mechanical pen do the job
- Going to visit the troops and then telling them that it's a matter of PHYSICS that they are getting killed because the Pentagon isn't requisitioning enough armor for their vehicles
- Advising that veterans simply don't NEED the benefits that they've had in the past - oh, and really, that "combat pay" thing was just a temporary perk anyhow.
Just a few off the top of my head. It's not like there is a 20-year history of this guy making really bad choices. Really, we should stop harping on him like this... after all, what are a few thousand dead soldiers and only about 10,000 maimed, and oh, 100,000 civilians dead...compared to his caring heart. You can just feel the love, can't you?
Thursday, December 16, 2004
( 4:28 PM )
And Now for the News...
It is now predicted that soldiers suffering the terrible after-effects of war in the form of post traumatic stress syndrome could number in the 100's of thousands.
An Army study shows that about one in six soldiers in Iraq report symptoms of major depression, serious anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, a proportion that some experts believe could eventually climb to one in three, the rate ultimately found in Vietnam veterans. Because about one million American troops have served so far in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures, some experts predict that the number eventually requiring mental health treatment could exceed 100,000.
"There's a train coming that's packed with people who are going to need help for the next 35 years," said Stephen L. Robinson, a 20-year Army veteran who is now the executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, an advocacy group.
...oh look! Oh my God.... the liberals are trying to erase CHRISTMAS!
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
( 8:39 AM )
Good thing we didn't change horses midstream...
From Liberal Oasis:
I will never give another country veto power
over our national security.
-- George W. Bush, 10/20/04
-- NY Times, 12/13/04:
Pakistan does not permit American military and intelligence forces in Afghanistan to cross the border to go after militants.
This prohibition on cross-border "hot pursuit" makes it relatively easy for Taliban and Qaeda fighters to initiate attacks on American bases in Afghanistan, and then quickly escape to the safety of Pakistan.
American soldiers have complained about being fired on from inside Pakistan by foreign militants while Pakistani border guards sat and watched.
As a result of the restrictions, American military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan are no longer really hunting for Mr. bin Laden, an intelligence official said.
( 8:22 AM )
Atrios nails it (again):
Truer words were never spoken:
[O]ne presidential adviser pointed out that Kerik "brings 9/11 symbolism into the Cabinet."
How right he was:
An apartment in Battery Park City that former Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik secured for his personal use after Sept. 11 was originally donated for the use of weary police and rescue workers who were helping at ground zero, according to a real estate executive who has been briefed about the apartment.
After the cleanup had settled into a routine that fall, the executive said, Mr. Kerik, who was still police commissioner, asked to rent the two-bedroom apartment for his own use. During his use of the apartment, Mr. Kerik and Judith Regan engaged in an extramarital affair there, according to someone who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the relationship. Ms. Regan published his best-selling autobiography in 2001.
UPDATE: Tom, of course, has the real story.
( 8:11 AM )
La La La
Singing while Rome burns, Dick Cheney said today that Bush's tax cuts should be made permanent, because that's what will help our economy!
The administration is hoping to build momentum for Bush's ambitious second-term agenda during the two-day White House-sponsored conference. Various panels were scheduled to address Bush's proposals on overhauling the tax code and Social Security as well as promoting freer trade and placing limits on lawsuits.
...when asked whether it bothers him that soldiers and marines, not to mention civilians and Iraqi police, are dying every day in an illegal war/occupation that this administration isn't even paying attention to anymore, Cheney commented that once the tax cuts are made permanent and Social Security is on its way to being completely dismantled, then we will see how this war has really been worth it!
While the rich folks get their permanent tax breaks, those soldiers and marines will need to get more skilled at dumpster diving for armor for their vehicles. Probably good practice anyway, since dumpster diving is what a large percentage of them will have to do for food once they return to find absolutely zero benefits or support from the government that sent them to die in the desert for no good reason.
( 7:44 AM )
Oldie but a Goodie
As I finish up my last week of school before getting a bit of a holiday break (yay!), it's hard to know what to blog about with all the stuff in the news. So taking a break from the downhill slope being prepped by our friendly, neighborhood government for us - here is a reminder of what we really could be as a nation and community of people. From Barak Obama's speech last August:
...We are connected as one people. If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my chlid. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It's that fundamental belief -- I am my brothers' keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. "E plurbus unum." Out of many, one... In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead...I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us.
I truly believe that our constitutional democracy is the best way that has yet been invented to run a country. But our constitutional democracy requires that we not sit by, but rather step into the fray and make choices every day that make someone's life a little better. It's in taking care of each other that each of us will have a more promising future. That's what I feel anyway. As Howard Zinn says, you can't be neutral on a moving train. This train is moving - and we are nothing if we do not make our time on the train meaningful. We are more than just dust blowing along, powerless to affect anything. Each of us is important and valuable to the survival of our democracy, and each of us can do small things with our lives that keep us from apathy and despair.
As inscribed on the Holocaust Museum in DC:
Thou shalt not be a victim.
Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.
Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
( 9:53 AM )
Defender of Christmas
Bill O'Reilly is going to save Christmas! Thank goodness!
So, well you're gettin' the game here. You criticize anybody, you challenge anybody, then you are a bigot. And that's the -- that's why nobody does it. That's why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me. Did Peter Jennings stick up for Christmas last night? I don't believe he did. How about Brian Williams, did he? Did Rather stick up for Christmas? How about Jim Lehrer -- did he? Did Larry King -- hello -- I love Christmas -- did he? No.
Begone, you doubters (and Jews).
(thanks to Atrios for the link)
( 9:11 AM )
Christmas Card Crisis
I am among the hoards who send out Christmas cards every year - the once a year reach-out-and-touch to people we never speak to the rest of the year. What a bizarre tradition. This year, I'm having trouble with my cards, though. Usually we write a short letter that tells what's happened with us during the year, etc - you know the drill. But this year, I feel really strongly that I need to communicate that despite the echo chamber across this country, that "moral values" aren't just for Bushies - but then, every time I sit down to write, it just sounds way too preachy or just too political. But then when I resign myself to the banal "Peace on Earth...maybe this year" and leaving it at that, it just seems so empty and shallow. But the holidays may not be the time to get political - yet it's the only time we communicate with a lot of people and what better time to say what we really feel as our country sits on this precipice, teetering towards our uncertain future. Should I just include an excerpt of Barak Obama's fantastic DNC speech? Or should I list what my family's values are? Or should I just say "Happy Holidays" and be done with it. Would I actually be able to make someone who receives my card think about their assumptions, or consider their apathy? I just want to be honest and not ignore what is happening to our country and to its citizens under a cloud of holiday fuzzy wishes.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
( 7:54 PM )
Speaking Truth to Power
Himself has done it again. Today's speech was exactly what the dems and progressives need to hear from a party leader. It is exactly what we need in someone who can lead us into a future where true morality guides this country and frames the debates we have. PLEASE take a few minutes to read this speech in its entirety, you will be glad you did. Here are some highlights:
Here in Washington, it seems that after every losing election, there's a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.
I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn't beat 'em, join them.
I'm not one for making predictions -- but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being "Republican-lite."
We cannot be a Party that seeks the presidency by running an 18-state campaign. We cannot be a party that cedes a single state, a single District, a single precinct, nor should we cede a single voter.
As many of the candidates supported by my organization Democracy for America showed -- people in places that we've too long ignored are hungry for an alternative; they're hungry for new ideas and new candidates, and they're willing to elect Democrats.
When some people say we should change direction, in essence they are arguing that our basic or guiding principles can be altered or modified.
On issue after issue, we are where the majority of the American people are.
What I want to know is at what point did it become a radical notion to stand up for what we believe?
Over fifty years ago, Harry Truman said, "We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don't need to try it."
Yet here we are still making the same mistakes.
Let me tell you something: there's only one thing Republican power brokers want more than for us to lurch to the left -- and that's for us to lurch to the right.
There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.
It's the Democratic Party.
We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.
Because we are what we believe.
And we believe every person in America should have access to affordable health care. It is wrong that we remain the only industrialized nation in the world that does not assure health care for all of its citizens.
We believe the path to a better future goes directly through our public schools. I have nothing against private schools, parochial schools and home schooling. Parents with the means and inclination should choose whatever they believe is best for their children. But those choices must never come at the expense of what has been -- and must always be -- the great equalizer in our society -- public education.
We believe that if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity -- not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.
Take back America. It's not just for bumper stickers anymore.
Monday, December 06, 2004
( 11:18 AM )
He Wins Awards, Too!
Teachers show their higher cognitive abilities again:
For the second consecutive year, George W. Bush has been named the winner of the National Council of Teachers of English's Doublespeak Award.
The Doublespeak Award is an ironic tribute "to American public figures who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-contradictory."
Bush, the committee decided, "has set a high standard for his team by the inspired invention of the phrase, 'weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.'
In its official announcement, the committee also took note of the president's description of an open forum as a place where "you're able to come and listen to what I have to say."
It also gave dishonorable mentions to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for describing the torture of Iraqi citizens at Abu Ghraib as "the excesses of human nature that humanity suffers" and for changing the Vietnam-era term, "body bag" to the innocuous sounding "transfer tube."
The irony falls on deaf ears at the White House, where its main Resident doesn't even recognize the name "Orwell."
( 11:09 AM )
Revolution, Oregon Style
Oregon dems aren't waiting around for change, they're making it happen. In anticipation of hoping to install Howard Dean as the Party Chair, a Dean volunteer (whom I know and think is great) has unseated the longtime state dem chair.
Howard Dean hasn't yet started his campaign for DNC Chair, but already his supporters appear to be gearing up to make it happen. This weekend, long-time DNC Committeewoman Mary Botkin was unseated by active party volunteer Jenny Greenleaf, who had been active in the Dean campaign.
Botkin, who served a decade as chair of the DNC's women's caucus, helps lead Oregon's AFSCME union - and had been widely considered to be a shoo-in. Instead, Greenleaf won by a wide margin. The two candidates used the progressive website BlueOregon.com to campaign for the seat.
It's unclear at this time how many other campaigns are underway by hardcore Dean supporters to take over voting seats at the DNC.
Jenny is a fantastic political spirit and I'm not surprised at all by this change here in Oregon. Blue Oregon carried Jenny's platform, and it's no wonder she won.
Hopefully other state grassroots movements are taking shape and planning to install new blood in the party in the coming months. If there's going to be true root-and-branch change to this party, and if progressive ideals and action-oriented leaders are to come to the forefront, it's just this kind of local-level change that needs to take place. From a foundation of grassroots local leaders like is happening here in Oregon, the party can only transform into a better, more meaningful organization that represents the whole of this country and the best of who we are.
( 10:55 AM )
Jerry Falwell shared the grace of the Lord with the world the other day:
In a televised debate on CNN, Falwell said President Bush should "blow them (the terrorists) all away in the name of the Lord."
This moment of moral values brought to you by the guy who blamed gays, lesbians and feminists for the 9/11 attack.
(thanks to maru for the heads-up).
Thursday, December 02, 2004
( 10:24 PM )
Ignorance is Deadly
Yesterday, on World AIDS Day, we recalled the theme "Silence is Deadly." It's true - but even more pertinent now for our school children is the enforced ignorance being promoted by the White House when it comes to "abstinence curriculum." The President's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandate has robbed multiple states and schools of federal funding they need to improve the situation for children. Then, they hand out funds sparingly, but only if you sign a contract with the devil. Literally.
Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.
Those and other assertions are examples of the "false, misleading, or distorted information" in the programs' teaching materials, said the analysis, released yesterday, which reviewed the curricula of more than a dozen projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
"I don't think we ought to lie to our children about science," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), left, who led the congressional staff analysis.
In providing nearly $170 million next year to fund groups that teach abstinence only, the Bush administration, with backing from the Republican Congress, is investing heavily in a just-say-no strategy for teenagers and sex. But youngsters taking the courses frequently receive medically inaccurate or misleading information, often in direct contradiction to the findings of government scientists, said the report, by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), a critic of the administration who has long argued for comprehensive sex education.
Not only is the federal government insisting that schools teach this one-sided, false curriculum in order to get badly needed funds, they seem to have no problem including such lies and misleading information as:
• A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."
• HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.
• Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.
Oh and don't forget the mysoginistic, patriarchal caveman lessons:
Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."
In Texas, where there is the most broad use of this abstinence-only curriculum, teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are the highest in the country and going up all the time. But it's the teenagers who have been trying to fix the problem since the adults seem to be happy with this "educational" status quo.
But really, Mama, some will say, what matters are our MORAL VALUES! For crying out loud, don't you realize how much more MORAL it is to preach to teenagers lies and misleading information that will leave them MORE unprotected from ruining their lives with early pregnancies or diseases that can actually kill them than to actually provide them with real information, strategies and options? Because a teen pregnancy or std is FAR more moral for kids to deal with than knowing how to use a condom.
( 10:03 PM )
And he even brings his own movie sets with him!
Smoke and mirrors. And theatre backdrops. And that's what makes a presidency...