Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Power drills don't kill people, guns kill people. And TV's not too healthy for you either.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Watching it, I couldn't help thinking of this speech of Harold Pinter's before the House of Commons on January 21, 2003, two months before the beginning of the endless American war against Iraq. I originally posted this when it was announced in October 2005 that Pinter had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
One of the more nauseating images of the year 2002 is that of our Prime Minister kneeling in the church on Christmas Day praying for peace on earth and good will towards all men while simultaneously preparing to assist in the murder of thousands of totally innocent people in Iraq.
I've been taken to task recently by the American Ambassador to Britain for calling the US Administration a blood thirsty wild animal. All I can say is: take a look at Donald Rumsfeld's face and the case is made.
I believe that not only is this contemplated act criminal, malevolent and barbaric, it also contains within itself a palpable joy in destruction. Power, as has often been remarked, is the great aphrodisiac, and so, it would seem, is the death of others.
The Americans have the ostensible support of the 'international community' through various sure-fire modes of intimidation; bullying, bribery, blackmail and bullshit. The 'international community' becomes a degraded entity bludgeoned into the service of a brutal military force out of control. The most despicable position is that of course of this country which pretends to stand shoulder to shoulder with its great ally while in fact being more of a whipped dog than anyone else. We are demeaned, undermined and dishonoured by our government's contemptible subservience to the United States.
The planned war can only bring about the collapse of what remains of the Iraqi infrastructure, widespread death, mutilation and disease, an estimated one million refugees and escalation of violence throughout the world, but it will still masquerade as a 'moral crusade', a 'just war', a war waged by 'freedom loving democracies', to bring 'democracy' to Iraq.
The stink of the hypocrisy is suffocating.
This is in reality a simple tale of invasion of sovereign territory, military occupation and control of oil.
We have a clear obligation, which is to resist.
Sometimes it takes the subtlety of a Nobel laureate's pen to put this crime in perspective (once again).
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Create a map with your surname's distribution at www.gens-us.net.
Please prove them wrong on April 22nd!
If you can't see the video up above, please read the transcript, in which the words lose none of their power.
Barack Obama gives Tom, Dick, and Harry a lot more credit for understanding these issues and these arguments than those who try to mediate (or influence) the conversation between candidate and voter. Read and listen to some of his words directly:
If anyone forwards you a video or transcript of an out-of-context Jeremiah Wright sermon, send them the links to the transcript and video of "A More Perfect Union." How much better will this country be if we start to assume that every citizen can read and appreciate a well-reasoned, well-written, and soberly-delivered speech that treats us like adults and partners in running (and improving) this nation?"Like the anger within the black community, these resentments [of the white working and middle class] aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
"Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding."--Barack Obama
Philadelphia, March 18, 2008
True Blue (Pennsylvania) Liberal
Friday, March 21, 2008
9. What? And give up our quadrennial chance to maniacally chant “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” with our families for two weeks while eating Doritos and staring at prerecorded and edited ping-pong, badminton, and beach volleyball tournaments on the new widescreen HDTV that we bought for the occasion?
8. Has the Dalai Lama's country ever contributed cheap labor, diamonds, or oil to the US economy?
7. This year, American scientists have finally found a way to stay one step ahead in the performance-enhancing-chemical and undetectable-blood-doping wars.
6. A vague fear about Chinese hackers being talented enough to bring down eBay … or Dick Cheney’s pacemaker.
5. We only pick fights with countries that don’t have an air force.
4. It’s our only chance to see Modern Pentathlon on television (even if it’s only in a five-minute montage of the courageous American Pentathlete who placed 45th).
3. There is no Tibetan voting block in Miami, or New Jersey, or anywhere else in the USA.
2. We want to see hour-long Up-Close-and-Personal stories about dyslexic orphans who have fought their way to the top of the international equestrian dressage ranks after being adopted by sympathetic American billionaires.
1. George W. Bush’s balls are only half the size of Jimmy Carter’s.
Click here or on the interlocked Olympic handcuffs to check out Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières) at rsf.org.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
And if you have dial-up, or you can't stand the smirking face of Dick Cheney, even in a 20-second video clip, here's the transcript:
MARTHA RADDATZ (ABC): Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.
RICHARD CHENEY (Dick): So?
RADDATZ: So? You don't care what the American people think?
CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment.
(thanks to Mustang Bobby at Shakesville for posting this)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Today we have the kind of story that Europeans love to read about us Puritans across the pond when they feel the need to feel superior.
Today we read the story of Sebastian Horsley, the author of Dandy in the Underworld (a memoir that includes descriptions of drug use and prostitutes that may have been semi-fictionally enhanced) being denied entry to the United States at Newark "Liberty" International Airport. He was unable to attend his own book publication party in New York because “...travelers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible.”
Now that Barack Obama has eloquently opened the door to an open discussion of race in America, maybe another candidate (Hillary?) could give a groundbreaking speech about our tortured attitudes toward sex in America.
You can scan through all the diaries for yourself right here, through a link at the Clinton Library.
Here are a few of the Guardian's initial findings from today's data dump:
. . . Clinton has said she helped negotiate the April 1998 Good Friday agreement between warring factions in Northern Ireland. But while Catholic and Protestant figures hashed out last-minute details of a power-sharing agreement in Belfast, Clinton was at the National Press Club in Washington at a party honouring Bella Abzug, a congresswoman from New York City who had died recently. While President
Clinton phoned major participants in the peace talks, she met with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and joined a farewell party for Democratic operative Karen Finney. On the day the agreement was actually signed, she met with Philippine first lady Amelita Ramos.
When Nato launched air strikes against Serbia in an attempt to punish Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for the country's onslaught against ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, Clinton toured ancient Egyptian ruins, including King Tut's tomb and the temple of Hatshepsut. She dined at the Temple of Luxor, and stayed overnight at the Sofitel Winter Palace Hotel there.
On August 20, 1998, Bill Clinton ordered US missile strikes on suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan. The president and Hillary Clinton were on holiday on Martha's Vineyard, a posh island vacation spot off the coast of Massachusetts. After announcing the attack, Clinton cut short his break and returned to Washington to confer with his national security team; Hillary Clinton remained on the Vineyard until August 30, her records show.
But even at key moments when she wasn't absent from the White House, she wasn't necessarily paying attention:
And if you have the patience to dig through piles of redacted government documents at http://www.clintonlibrary.gov/hrcschedules.html, we'd love to hear about any interesting findings in the comments.
On November 15 1995, when President Clinton is said to have begun his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, she was in the White House, according to her schedule.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
At lunchtime today at work, I thought I would skim the transcript of the prepared text of this speech on the New York Times website . I couldn't skim it. I couldn't skip a word.
But I have asserted a firm conviction - a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people - that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice ... we have no choice if we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
-- Barack Obama, Philadelphia, 18 March 2008
If you can't see the video up above, please read the transcript, in which the words lose none of their power. I hesitate to lift any lines out of context, because it really is a finely woven speech in which every paragraph depends on all the others to complete the argument, but I can't resist:
I can no more disown him [Reverend Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
or, after a very honest and very insightful dissection of the roots of black anger and white anger and resentments, he adds:
But please read the whole thing. I haven't read any commentaries or listened to any reviews yet. I'm sure that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and hundreds of bloggers are already ranting while I'm raving about these words. I just want to let these words seep in unfiltered by the commentariat and the punditocracy who may see this speech as less Lincolnesque than I do.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country - a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen - is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope - the audacity to hope - for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
It's perfect, and I don't think that's just my opinion.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
"All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country."
Along with condemnations of Rev. Wright's most controversial sermons, his statement also tells us why he didn't quit the Trinity United Church of Christ:
"I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church." [emphasis added]
I look at these facts and I see a man in Obama who is much like every man I've ever known -- a man who has religion in its (minor) place in his life. He was probably dozing off, or thinking about the White Sox, during many of those sermons.
Friday, March 14, 2008
These are the variations on the theme collected at Wikiquote:
- Between Paoli (one of Philadelphia's westernmost suburbs) and Penn Hills (one of Pittsburgh's easternmost suburbs), Pennsylvania is Alabama without the blacks. They didn't film "The Deerhunter" there for nothing -- the state has the second-highest concentration of NRA members, behind Texas.
- Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh on one end, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in between. (Alternate)
- Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama stuffed between them. (Alternate)
- During the 1992 presidential campaign, Democratic political consultant James Carville described Pennsylvania as "Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, with Alabama in between."
- Pennsylvania is "two cities separated by Alabama."
I'm a native of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is my birthplace and was my home for the first eight years of my life; before that, eight generations of my father's family lived toward that maligned center of the state (my unusual last name is almost common in the Lancaster, Gettysburg, and Harrisburg area). There's nothing I want more than to have the good people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania -- not just those in the Steel City and the City of Brotherly Love -- prove that the politics of racial division don't work anymore. I want my home state surprising the rest of the country with a resounding victory for Obama that effectively ends this primary campaign. If my bumper stickers ever arrive from the BarackObama.com store (the demand is very high), I'll slap them on the back of my car just to drive back and forth along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
- Are we going to stop buying the millions of products that say Made in China?
- Are we going to boycott the Olympic Games in Beijing? Will we show we have as much backbone as Jimmy Carter in the summer of 1980?
- How about adding this flag to the uniforms of our Olympic athletes? Can't we, as a nation, be at least as brave as Björk?
True Blue Liberal
Reality Check: While we're debating the merits of President Obama or President Clinton II, we still have this asshole in charge
While we're debating whether Obama and/or Clinton have the qualifications to be Commander-In-Chief, we get the occasional reminder of what happens when the office is held by someone's who's obviously unqualified. Today's reminder came in the form this quote from a George W. Bush teleconference with soldiers who are actually in Afghanistan:
"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."
"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks."
--- George W. Bush (quoted here)
- Never listen to any old man blabbing about how much he'd like to fight, if only he could (unless he's willing to send his daughters to have that romantic military adventure in his place).
- And never listen to any candidate who tells you that we have to finish a war just because it was started -- even if begun badly, for base motives. We're approaching the loss of 4,000 American soldiers in Iraq and the loss of trillions of dollars is dragging us deeper and deeper into the current Iraq-War Recession; do we have to lose 8,000 lives and quadrillions of devalued dollars to repay this blood debt?
. . . the truth is that every morning war is declared anew. Thus those who wish to continue it are as guilty as those who started it, perhaps more so, for the latter may not perhaps have foreseen the full horror of it.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Real Dream Team! ... if you love their war and the Iraq-War Recession, you'll love the next four years with these two in power . . .
The main point, other than their shared support of the Iraq War, is this recent quote from Ms Clinton about the experience of the presumptive Republican nominee (to the detriment of the presumptive Democratic nominee):
It's time for John Edwards and anyone else with a constituency in the Democratic Party to make a formal endorsement of Barack Obama. Now. They can no longer afford to wait the five and a half weeks until her next "firewall" in Pennsylvania on April 22. The divisive racial politics of her surrogates, and her direct questioning of Barack Obama's credentials, has gone beyond the pale (it's not Barack's fault that he didn't have the "experience" of being married to a President for eight years, privy to all [well, almost all] the President's secrets).
"I think that since we now know Sen. McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.
“I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said. [read more here]
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
And if Geraldine Ferraro had been named Gerald Ferraro, would she have been a candidate for Vice President in 1984?
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position . . . And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
--Geraldine Ferraro, March 7, 2008 interview with Torrance, CA Daily Breeze)
As a member of Hillary's finance committee, is she speaking for the campaign? Should she be forced out for driving this racial wedge within the Democratic party? Will she be? As ridiculous as this quote is, the line in the interview that leads into it is possibly more absurd:
The myth of the mainstream media bias against Hillary is the biggest of the big lies out there at the moment. Just take a look at the absolute middle of the mainstream media: Time Magazine. On their website today for the March 17 issue on the newstands now, we see a happy clapping Hillary Clinton, "The Fighter," on the cover. The first five featured articles on the site have a decidedly pro-Hillary slant:
"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign - to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," she said. "For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign." [emphasis added]
Ready to Rumble (The Well / Cover Story) Hillary Clinton has rescued her campaign by getting a lot rougher on Barack Obama. But Democrats worry: How much collateral damage will be done before it is over?
Clinton: One Day at a Time (The Well / Cover Story) On the day after her Ohio and Texas victories, TIME managing editor Rick Stengel caught up with Hillary Clinton to talk about the challenges ahead
The Long Way Home (The Well / Campaign '08 Obama) Barack Obama says he's "got game," but he'll need all his moves to stay ahead of Clinton
Obama: Still Confident (The Well / TIME Interview) In an interview with TIME's Jay Newton-Small, Obama talks about Hillary Clinton, double-standards, talking tough and going negative
The Race Goes On (In The Arena) By focusing on national security--and laughing at herself--Clinton managed to stay alive. Now it's up to Obama to prove he's not just another politician
It's easy to imagine from this cover and these article summaries that Hillary Clinton had just taken the lead (she hadn't) or at least narrowed the delegate gap (nope). You would never guess that the real story were those insurmountable Clinton leads in her safe firewall states of Texas and Ohio that were almost blown (until she pulled out the fear commercial and NAFTA lies). The real story was the way the media ignored 11 straight lopsided Clinton losses leading up to Ohio. If Obama had suffered 11 straight losses, the media would have been calling for him to step aside "for the good of the party" after loss number 5 or 6. But then again, Barack Obama was never their favorite. He was not nominated by the mainstream media before the first vote was even cast in Iowa. Hillary was. Hillary and Rudy (remember Rudy?) were on their way to the Democratic and Republican nominations without a serious challenge. Or so they told us. Those same media outlets are now having trouble coming to terms with the fact that the Clinton (right) wing of the Democratic Party is now well on its way to becoming the fringe rather than the center of the party.
But if a member of Barack Obama's finance committee were to say, "If Hillary weren't married to a President, she would not be in this position," how quickly would the media be calling for that sexist spokesperson's head? "And if she were a man (of any color) she would not be in this position. She happens to be very lucky to be who she is." (And so was Geraldine Ferraro.)
Monday, March 10, 2008
But when I saw Eliot Spitzer's obligatory and stereotypically-weaselly public statement in print, I couldn't help thinking of similar appearances by another recent Democratic Chief Executive (no, not Jim McGreevey) and that Hillary Clinton will be seen sympathetically once again as the strong wronged spouse. I wouldn't be surprised to see her national numbers take a small quick uptick in the next few days.
“I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong. I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.
“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”
--Eliot "Client 9" Spitzer, 10 March 2008
Tomorrow it's the turn of The Magnolia State, Mississippi, to continue that streak. Don't let Hillary Clinton's campaign convince you that, because you're a "small" state, you don't really count.
"Sixty-four percent of people intend to cut indulgent spending this year according to a new survey by HSBC Bank USA. Another survey by Discover Financial Services confirms that sentiment. This month, half of consumers plan to cut down on non-essential spending like eating out, going to the movies and remodeling, according to the report."-- from "Consumers Pinching Their Pennies" on CNN.com today
Saturday, March 08, 2008
For those of us for whom wealth will always be defined by a "six-figure income", the eight figures of Barack Obama's 55,000,000 monthly haul in February is already in the fantasy realm. The ten-figure net worths (1,000,000,000+) of the world's billionaires already require us to stop and count zeroes. Why would any of us even entertain the possibility of a 13-figure bill (3,000,000,000,000+) for the Iraq War?
The cartoon isn't out yet; maybe today's Tom Tomorrow blog entry is apologizing for something else that was missing three zeroes in the first draft of next week's cartoon - - the national debt since Bush II's inauguration maybe - - but our guess is that he's writing about our money (and the money of our children and grandchildren) that was thrown into the bottomless pit that is Operation Iraqi Liberation.
On Monday, you can check for the March 10th cartoon (with all its zeroes?) here.
Friday, March 07, 2008
I wish I could vote for Barack again tomorrow in the home state of soon-to-be-
EX-vice-president Richard "Dick" Cheney.
If I were a resident of Wyoming, I'd be thrilled to show the world that my state could live up to its official nickname, The Equality State, after eight years of being associated with its least-favorite son, the torturer and friend of the oil rich.
In the general election campaign, John McCain (and maybe Hillary Clinton) will have to be prepared to defend these indefensible economic costs of the Iraq war as well as its immeasurable human costs. Which one of the remaining three presidential candidates, getting a call from President Bush or Vice President Cheney at 3am, would have the judgement to say No? Which one would have had the foresight to keep us out of the current Iraq-War Recession?
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
You can check the current cost by looking at the sidebar to your right, where I've been running this counter since this blog's birth in 2004, or by going to nationalpriorities.org, where you will find depressing comparisons of what could have been provided to the American people with those discarded dollars (like health care for 135 million people, scholarships for 70 million college students, or almost 10 million public safety officers).
As soon as I posted this, I drifted over to the Times, where I see that Bob Herbert published a piece this morning called the "The $2 Trillion Nightmare" about how the national debt will increase by that amount just because of George Bush's war of choice, and that the overall costs will be more like $3 trillion, or six times the milestone (or is that millstone?) being achieved today.
UPDATE 10:55am: The Huffington Post email I received this morning was headlined with Arianna Huffington's piece, "The $3,000,000,000,000 War is a Domestic Issue". This is obviously the issue of the day (but I hope not just an issue for today):
So will John McCain be called to account for the surge, and the rising costs of the continuing occupation the surge has enabled? Not likely. Getting the media to avoid a full accounting of the costs of the war -- both in terms of dollars spent and lives lost or ruined -- was one of the primary goals of the surge. And, in that respect, it has been sadly successful.
The thing about $3,000,000,000,000 is that, at a certain point, it becomes hard to ignore. As the red ink from the approaching recession continues to spill, you can bet the media will be all over the story -- the economy headlined as America's top domestic worry. The question is, will the media connect the dots between the war John McCain loves so much and the economic devastation it's helped cause? The answer could determine who is the next president of the United States.
UPDATE 4:33pm: Or maybe $3,000,000,000,000 is a conservative estimate. Here's an Aida Edemariam article, "The True Cost of War," and a relevant Steve Bell cartoon, "The Six Trillion Dollar Chimp," from The Guardian.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
"It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call."
-- Hillary Clinton's "Red Phone Moment" ad, 2/29/08
“You pour coffee, fix hair, you work the night shift at the local hospital. You're often overworked, underpaid, and sometimes overlooked. But not by everyone. One candidate has put forth an American family agenda to make things easier for everyone who works so hard. … She understands. She's worked the night shift, too.”
-- Hillary Clinton's "Night Shift" advertisement, 2/19/08
As a publicly-professed fan of Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, Obama must already be trying to figure out which positions to offer his rivals: Vice President Clinton, Attorney General Edwards, Secretary of State Biden (or maybe Richardson), Secretary of Veterans Affairs McCain, Chief White House Guard Giuliani, UN Ambassador Kucinich ... etc.