Monday, December 27, 2004
I can accept that 2,000 years ago a holy man named Jesus was executed by the Romans in Judea. Whether or not he was the Son of God, sent to redeem the world, is not an issue I can answer. The whole God thing is logically infantile, yet the big guy actually spoke to me once, maybe twice, and did a couple of miracles, but that's another story. Let's just say that I am really ticked off at someone up there about the election.
Back to Christmas. Listening to endless Christmas carols trying to get in the holiday mood, I found myself humming along to Silent Night and thinking about WWI.
The English and the Germans were hunkered down in their trenches on Christmas eve. Across the battlefield the Brits heard their enemies singing Silent Night. And they answered. Together they sang other carols and then, slowly the men emerged from their trenches and crossed the battlefield. They shared chocolate and other treats. Someone produced a soccer ball. After that night, these soldiers refused to fight and had to be replaced.
Such a thing could never happen today. Christmas has lost its magic power to bring peace on earth thanks to George Bush and his fundementalist supporters.
Friday, November 12, 2004
School Unit Mandates 'Intelligent Design'
DOVER, Pa. - When talk at the high school here turns to the origins of life, biology teachers have to make time for both Charles Darwin as well as his detractors.
Last month, this rural south-central Pennsylvania community became first in the nation to mandate the teaching of "intelligent design," which holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by an unspecified higher power.
Last month, the Dover Area School District board voted to overhaul its ninth-grade biology curriculum. It now requires students to learn about alternate theories to evolution, which holds that Earth is billions of years old and that life forms developed over millions of years.
Critics say it's a veiled attempt to require public school children to learn creationism, a biblical-based view that credits the origin of species to God.
What's next, how about no birth control? Oh wait, they're doing that, too.
Some pharmacists refusing to dispense birth-control pills
Some pharmacists, however, disagree and refuse on moral grounds to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. And states from Rhode Island to Washington have proposed laws that would protect such decisions.
Mississippi enacted a sweeping statute that went into effect in July that allows health care providers, including pharmacists, to not participate in procedures that go against their conscience. South Dakota and Arkansas already had laws that protect a pharmacist’s right to refuse to dispense medicines. Ten other states considered similar bills this year.
At least we can keep the extremist off the Supreme Court. There are still enough rational reality-based Senators to fillibuster. Oh, wait. Maybe not.
Frist to Democrats: Stop Blocking Judges
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist urged Democrats yesterday to stop blocking President Bush's federal court nominees and hinted that he might try to change Senate rules to thwart their tactics.
"One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end," Frist (R-Tenn.) said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Sunday, November 07, 2004
1. Leave. Canada or Europe. Maybe New Zealand.
2. Fight Back Economically. Punish the red states and those corporations that support Bush. Never set foot in a Walmart again. Ever. Shop local. Shop Blue. And turn off the damn idiot box. Cut off all contact with red America.
3. Revolution. Target GOP senators in states with Dem Governors.
There is a fourth alternative. Liberals, Progressives, Libertarians, and independents live in a reality based world. Red America doesn’t. We speak two different languages and live in two different cultures. Every significant paradigm shift in how anthropologists analyze cultures has started with linguistics. So it’s time to see what the linguists have to say. And the one who is saying it is George Lakoff. More on this soon.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
4 oz. (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, sifted after measuring
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup walnuts, in small pieces
Use 8 inch square baking pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put rack in center of oven
In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter for half a minute or so, then add the sugar and beat until well mixed.
Beat in eggs.
Add sifted cocoa and mix until smooth.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, then and to bowl and mixing bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 Minutes. This is the critical step.
Add water and vanilla and mix in.
Gently blend in Walnuts. Dough will be stiff and sticky. Spread the dough evenly in the baking pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until top is set and toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before trying to frost or serve. They are delicious plain, too.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Early exit polls look promising.
FL: 50/49 - KERRY
OH: 52/47 - KERRY
MI: 51/48 - KERRY
PA: 58/42 - KERRY
IA: 50/48 - KERRY
WI: 53/47 - KERRY
MN: 57/42 - KERRY
NH: 58/41 - KERRY
ME: 55/44 - KERRY
NM: 49/49 - TIE
NV: 48/49 - BUSH
CO: 49/50 - BUSH
AR: 45/54 - BUSH
NC: 47/53 - BUSH
Sunday, October 24, 2004
Thank you to all who donated as well as those who took a minute to read and recommend said diary. Together we raised $5,200 for Joe Hoeffel. Plus $1,000 for Ginny Schrader (House, PA-08), $800 for Lois Murphy (PA-06) and $600 for Joe Driscoll (PA-15).
I discovered late that night that Joe Hoeffel and his campaign were following our progress, and they were thrilled. And Thursday evening the next United State Senator from Pennsylvania called me up to personally express his gratitude. He told me that what we did really helped.
Please consider donating now.
Arlen Spector's number are plummeting, but Joe Hoeffel NEEDS CASH NOW. In the latest Keystone Poll, Specter was only polling at 44% and dropping. Hoeffel is still trails, but is within striking distance and closing fast. Pennsylvania does this. In 2000, Dem. Ron Klink finished with 46% of the vote against Rick Santorum, when he was polling at 35% with less than a week to go in the election. We may never get a better opportunity to dump Specter because he has a challenger on the right who is pulling 7% to 10% of the wingnut vote.
Can Hoeffel do it in time? Only if WE HELP.
Friday, October 22, 2004
Experts say it's possible Mehsud was always a hardcore militant and deceived his captors.Oh great. Just what we need in this world, more terrorists. Howard Dean was right. We are no safer with Saddam out of power. John Kerry is right. Bush's disasterous handling of Afganistan and Iraq is creating more terrorist. The concentration camp at Guantanamo is actually creating terrorists.
"The other possibility is that the two years in captivity was itself a radicalizing experience," says terrorism expert Brian Jenkins.
A defiant Mehsud now claims he's avenging cruelty against Muslims. He vows to fight to the death against Americans and Pakistanis under American influence.
Can we please fire this guy and elect someone with some brains who understands war.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
FOX News is the common denominator.
My neighbor is a wonderful person. She sends her teenage daughter over most afternoons to help out with my two young boys. While I've been laid up with a back injury, she's made dinners for us once a week. She is a college professor and cares about a lot of things I care about, but defines herself as a "conservative.". She is voting for Bush. Fox News is on all the time in their home. I mean all the time.
My father and step-mom are strong Kerry supporters. My dad just finished reading Richard Clarke's book and is starting Kevin Phillips'. My step-mom worked for Planned Parenthood in the 1980s. She is really close to her two sisters. One is a reseacher for NIH, the other is a doctor. Fox News is on in their homes All The Time.
My husband recently wrote a story for our local paper about how people feel about the election in our county here in central PA. Among the Bush supporters were sweet little old ladies worried about prescription drug costs, hard working guys in construction who have a hard time paying for health insurance for their workers, veterns whose benefits are eroding, and moms who note that the schools are getting worse and worse. They're voting for Bush because "he's a strong leader," etc. But all of those reasons sounded word-for-word, like BC04 talking points, and everyone of them told him that their main source of news and information was FOX news. In fact, they told him that they usually had FOX on ALL THE TIME.
FOX is everywhere. If you make a pit stop at a travel center on an interstate highway, and run in for a cup of coffee and maybe a sandwich, FOX is on. If you work out at a health club, FOX is on. My husband told me that it is even on in the newsroom at the paper. It always bothered him, but after seeing "OutFOXed", he is starting to demand that they switch back to CNN or MSNBC,, which are much better.
When (not if) Kerry wins in November, our job is not over. No Way. We don't get our country back until we put FOX News out of business.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Comedian Jon Stewart, whose nightly cable television show is popular with the young voters considered key in the upcoming presidential election, said on Thursday he prefers Democrat John Kerry over Republican President Bush.
"It looks like Kerry," said Stewart, host of "The Daily Show," a satirical late-night review of politics on Viacom Inc.-owned cable channel Comedy Central. "I would be stunned if something happened to change my mind."
He called the U.S.-led war in Iraq a "mistake" and said he failed to understand the "Bush doctrine" of preemptive strikes against perceived security threats.
"If one guy drove me into a ditch and said, 'Don't worry, I know how to get us out of this,' I'd give the keys to a 7-year-old," Stewart said during a media event sponsored by Syracuse University's Newhouse School.
Stewart's no-holds-barred lambasting of the U.S. political scene has won him a strong following, particularly among young male voters coveted by both parties in the tight presidential race.
The Emmy-award winning "Daily Show" is a regular stop for politicians on the campaign trail, including Kerry, and its "Indecision 2004" coverage of the presidential race has become a must-see for twenty- and thirty-something voters.
Stewart roasted both candidates for their repetitive stumping during their final public debate.
"I thought both men took rhetoric to another level," he said, adding that Bush appeared "well coached."
"He wasn't the angry Bush of the second debate or the retarded Bush from the first," Stewart said.
Stewart also took aim at the mainstream U.S. media -- which he mocks regularly -- and said it fails to take politicians or big business to task.
"The press has bravely and nobly eroded the public trust," he said. "What I'm advocating is the media come back and work for us again. ... The bias of the media is not liberal. It's lazy and sensationalist."
Oct 14 2004 7:40PM
July 16, 2003
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I do wish to again invite you to meet with the entire Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) prior to the U.S. House of Representatives' August District work period that begins on July 25, 2003.
Mr. President, I need not remind you that the CBC's requests for meetings with you have gone unanswered for more than two-and-one-half years. As a result, you and your Administration have had less opportunity to receive the expertise, wisdom and insights of our 39 Members on a wide variety of significant national and international issues including: the current crisis in Iraq, the double-digit unemployment in the African American community and the overall state of the American economy, homeland security and our defense against terrorism, our bilateral relationships with African nations, and the many other domestic and international challenges facing our country.
Thank you for your consideration of our request, Mr. President. We look forward to meeting with you as soon as possible.
Elijah E. Cummings
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
Sunday, October 10, 2004
|Save the Fiji Reef (and the rest of them)
Vote for Kerry
*George Bush gets sno-cones
*as a consolation prize I guess. Have to ask my four-year-old about that. It's his sign.
Last night our Kerry/Edwards/Hoeffel sign was stolen as were signs up and down our block. When we filed a police report, the officer said that in his ten years on the force, he has never seen anything like this. They are getting reports of stolen signs almost daily. While the police say both sides claim to be losing signs, the Centre Daily Times, our local Knight Ridder paper, aka the CDT, has received mostly letters about Kerry signs being stolen.
The published police reports also refer mostly to Kerry signs. Meanwhile, there is a huge five foot Bush sign right near the mall outside town, surely an inviting target. No one has touched it.
Who is stealing our yard signs? Well, on Sept 28, the CDT reported
Political yard signs reported stolenLikewise the Daily Collegian, the Penn State student newspaper, reported on Oct. 4 that
STATE COLLEGE -- State College police received three complaints of yard signs supporting Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry being stolen from a neighborhood over the weekend, and in two cases, "College Republican" stickers were reportedly left behind.
According to police, two signs for Kerry and vice-presidential nominee John Edwards were reported stolen from 849 Saxton Drive at 5:48 p.m. Sunday. A "College Republican" sticker had been placed on the home's front door, police said. A Kerry-Edwards sign was also reported stolen from 938 S. Sparks St. at 12:22 p.m. Sunday, according to police. A "College Republican" sticker was placed on another Democratic sign in this case, police said. A Kerry sign was also discovered missing Monday morning from 705 Storch Road, police said.
(Penn State College Democrats President Megan) Green also said many people come into the office looking for more bumper stickers because they have gone out to their car to find campaign stickers for President George W. Bush placed over their Kerry stickers. State College resident Selden Smith discovered last week that Penn State College Republican stickers had covered the Kerry bumper stickers on his car.
The local GOP is acting desperate if they are promoting a yard sign stealing campaign. Things are not going well for George Bush nationally, and things are not going well for him here. According to the CDT, since January, 5,000 new people have registered and as of October 5th, 2,000 were still waiting to be processes. However, in the last days before the deadline, between Oct 5th and 8th, 8,000 new registrations came in, half of which appear to come from students. While both parties are working hard to register new people, new Democratic registrations have outpaced Republican. Of the 5,000 new voters processed by Oct 5th, only 32% are Republican. 45% are Democrats and 23% are Independents, and we all know that Bush is polling poorly with that group.
What about those still to be processed? On October 5th, a volunteer for the local Democratic Party had about 500 more to deliver, while the local GOP had a “thick stack.” Hmmmm.
How about those who are registering? Check these quotes
I had to read that twice. Kerry is the diplomat and Bush is a “yard dog.” I guess that transplanted Georgia voter prefers “Furious George.” Personally, I’d prefer the diplomat. Meanwhile, at the local Democratic Headquarters,
At local Republican campaign headquarters on South Allen Street, Georgia-born Libby Lusht, a State College resident for 30 years, picked up a registration form to get it to someone she knows who was not yet registered Lusht sees Kerry and Bush as a choice between a diplomat and a yard dog when Americans face an imminent threat of violence. "Which do you want between you and the threat?" Lusht said. "I just don't see talking our way to safety."
Voters seeking last-minute registration Monday included Penn State graduate student Allison Morgan, 25, who voted in Maryland in the presidential election four years ago. Morgan hand-delivered her registration form to the Willowbank Building to make sure she got signed up here.
"I don't have a good feeling about the war -- why we went," she said. "That alone is enough to make me want to vote for Kerry."
Our New Sign
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Sunday, October 03, 2004
"There's 100,000 troops trained: police, guard, special units, border patrol. There's going to be 125,000 trained by the end of this year."However, according to Reuters
...of the nearly 90,000 currently in the police force, only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training. Another 46,176 are listed as "untrained," and it will be July 2006 before the administration reaches its new goal of a 135,000-strong, fully trained police force.
They estimated that 22,700 Iraqi personnel have received enough basic training to make them "minimally effective at their tasks," in contrast to the 100,000 figure cited by Bush.
Friday, October 01, 2004
Poland is planning to withdraw its troops from Iraq in the coming months, dealing another blow to the US-led coalition forces there.In addition, Honduras and Nicaragua are leaving, although a state department spokesman declared El Salvador was "holding fast," while Albania is planning to beef up its contingent of 71 non-combat troops in the city of Mosul.
The revelation yesterday by a senior government adviser that Poland's 2,500 soldiers would leave Iraq comes just a day after the new Spanish Prime Minister, Mr José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, announced the pull-out of Spanish troops "as soon as possible".
My, what a great coalition of allies our president has assembled. And don’t forget Poland. Actually I guess we can.
For more on the role of Poland and our other "allies" please check out the story by Jerome Armstrong
Thursday, September 30, 2004
The country's electoral machinery is badly in need of repair and a rethink.Among the problems with our democracy listed are the influence of money, the electoral college, corruption and all the issues Jimmy Carter raised about Florida. However,
Out of all these creaking bits of machinery, two look particularly deadly. The first is those voting machines. Despite being given a fistful of money by Congress, many American states have opted for dodgy electronic voting machines.
The other great blot on American democracy--redistricting--has already made a nonsense of elections to Congress. Despite all the hoopla about the 50:50 nation, no more than around 30 seats of the 435 in the House of Representatives are competitive. In 2002, four out of five congressmen won their races by more than 20 points. This is because most states allow their politicians to determine the boundaries. The result is gerrymandering on a grotesque scale, with incumbents stitching up safe seats by drawing absurd districts that look like doughnuts, sandwiches and Rorschach tests.
This is not just unfair; it puts people off voting (why bother in those 400 districts where the result is a foregone conclusion?) and it drives politics to the extremes. With no chance of being unseated by the other party, a congressman's only threat is the partisans in the primary; so Republicans become ever more conservative and Democrats ever more left-wing.
I don’t know about Democrats becoming “more left-wing,” but I do know that with the latest round of redistricting in Pennsylvania, my vote here in PA’s 5th Congressional district is essentially meaningless. Yet of those rare competitive races, three of them are in Pennsylvania.
All three — Lois Murphy in the 6th, Ginny Schrader in the 8th, and Joe Driscoll in the 15th — are in the Philadelphia area, one of the most expensive media markets in the country. So even if my vote for Congress is meaningless, I can make a difference by contributing to these candidates. I’ve contributed to all the Kos dozen, and this is a chance to go the extra mile close to home. I am tired of being unrepresented in Congress. I want my voice back. If you are in a Congressional district which is not competitive and want to make a difference in the last weeks of the campaign please join me at ActBlue.com and contribute to these fine Democrats.
Saturday, September 25, 2004
"He was mucking up bad, Killian told us," Linke says. "He just became afraid to fly."Jan Peter Linke served briefly in the Texas Air National Guard's 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. He was admitted to the Guard in the summer of 1972 to replace George Bush. He served until his death the following year. He was 27.
Killian has become a major figure in Bush's unfolding "Guardgate." CBS news anchor Dan Rather produced a memo signed by Killian saying he was pressured to sugarcoat Bush's service, among other things. A few days after the report, CBS backed off when other media questioned the veracity of the documents.
But flight logs released by the White House three weeks ago in response to a lawsuit by the Associated Press show a strange retraction of Bush's air time around that period. In February and March 1972, Bush switched from flying the F102A fighter jet, which the guard used to patrol U.S. borders, to a two-seat T-33 training jet. His superiors also returned him to flight simulator practice sessions.
But records suggest the extra training sessions didn't help. Logs show that in March and April 1972, Bush twice needed multiple tries to land the F102 fighter. Days later, on April 16, Bush piloted a plane for the Texas Air National Guard for the last time.
"He just couldn't cut it," says Linke. "I was let to believe he was kind of a coward."
[Update 9/30/04, 6:28 p.m. Thanks to John McCrory for his tip on a dKos thread that the Nation now has this story on its website.]
[Update 2 9/30/04, 7:32 p.m. From the Nation,
she (Linke) said that "Bush was mucking up his flying very badly and he couldn't fly the plane," Linke said. "Killan told us that he was having trouble landing, and that possibly there was a drinking problem involved in that"--which Linke took to mean a particularly debilitating one, since carousing was almost the norm in such units.
Notably, Linke's contact with Folio occurred before the White House's lawsuit-generated release of Bush's flight logs, which appeared to corroborate the thrust of her claims. Those logs show Bush in the winter and early spring of 1972 having problems landing his plane and being placed into two-pilot training planes--from which he had graduated years earlier.
Linke says her husband first heard about the opening for a pilot in Bush's unit on May 12, 1972. That date preceded Bush's recorded departure from his base, suggesting that superiors were already planning to replace him. Bush's last recorded flight came on April 16, 1972. Although his contractual obligation to continue flying would not expire for another two years, Bush would never fly again for the National Guard. In August 1972 Killian suspended the departed Bush from flying, ostensibly for his failure to take an annual physical exam. But Linke says that the physical was the result, not the cause. "He just became afraid to fly," she said.
Friday, September 24, 2004
They are all making it up. Joe Conason in Salon comments that
Schneider didn't divulge how he knows that al-Qaida wants to defeat Bush. His expertise lies in the field of public opinion, not terrorist tactics, and he cited no poll that measured the preferences of Osama bin Laden's followers. To put it bluntly, the CNN analyst was talking out of his ass.This assertion that al-Qaida wants Kerry isn't a hypothesis, an "estimate", or "guess." It is not even "a fantasy world of spin". It is a LIE. As I tell my children, a lie is when you know it is not true.
After the Madrid train bombing, an al-Qaida cell, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, issued a statement taking credit for the attack. In that letter the al-Qaida cell proclaimed
WE WANT BUSH TO WINThe group is named after a close Osama bin Laden aide killed in the war in Afghanistan. Now there is some question about whether Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades is actually the group responsible for the bombings themselves. There really is no proof one way or the other. A conservative think-tank called the Jamestown Foundation, funded by several conservative foundations, has a paper which says this, as does the pro-Israel think tank, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Matthew Levitt, senior terrorist expert at the WINEP in an article for the Baltimore Sun (3/14/04), ties Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, Zarqawi, the Madrid bombers and the authors of this letter altogether.
The statement said it supported U.S. President George W. Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."
In comments addressed to Bush, the group said:
"Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilisation."
"Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected."
Osama bin Laden threatened to attack Spain and other countries cooperating with the United States in the war on terror in an audiotaped message released in October. Spain has been among Europe's most public and vocal partners with the United States in both the war on terror and the Iraq war.Could it be any clearer? The terrorists want Bush to win.
Additionally, several key al-Qaida cells have been disrupted over the past 2 1/2 years, including a Madrid cell headed by Muhammed Galeb Kalaje Zouaydi that funded the Sept. 11, 2001, plotters in Hamburg, Germany, and conducted the pre-operational surveillance of the World Trade Center and other potential targets in 1999.
Another disrupted cell was connected to the now infamous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his network of poison plotters in Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. Interestingly, that network is tied to at least two other attacks claimed - like the Madrid attacks - under the name of the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades in Istanbul and Baghdad. The group is affiliated with al-Qaida.
We also have a woman who comes in during the afternoons to help out. She is also worrying about Iraq. I remember right after the war first started, she came in late and breathless because she couldn’t tear herself away from the exciting images of the Saddam statue being pulled down.
Last month, one of her three sons (all of whom are draftable) graduated into a PA National Guard unit. Their commanding officer was just sent off to Iraq, replacing another commander who had been taken seriously ill. But she keeps telling herself that her son won’t be going, at least not right away, because his unit is being trained on a new vehicle. But she’s still worried as any mother would be.
Her son did not sign up for the regualr army. He joined the National Guard. They are supposed to be different things. Sadly, something which had been a source of pride for his mother has turned into a nightmare of worry.
My sitter told me that her friend did feel better prepared this time because he knew what to expect. He also says it is awful. A couple of days ago, his vehicle was hit by a rocket or bomb. He was okay, but the blast knocked out a bunch of kids near by.
The difference between this conflict and other wars: he can call her on her cell phone. She knows what’s happening to him everyday. She doesn’t need the media to give her highlights because she knows the details. She also knows that the president is either a liar, or “living in a fantasy world of spin.” She thinks he’s just a liar.
According to the New York Times,
A Pentagon-appointed panel of outside experts has concluded in a new study that the American military does not have sufficient forces to sustain current and anticipated stability operations, like the festering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other missions that might arise.John Kerry has promised to stop this backdoor draft.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.Please read the whole article. It is one of the best pieces I've read. I ask one more time, is Bush drinking again?
Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Somehow this really doesn't look fair. I know this is how our system works. But if you live in a empty state, your vote counts more. And if you lived in state with touchscreen paperless voting, your vote might not count at all.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program.
Tomorrow: How to Bring Peace to Iraq, part 2
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
The adminstration has started tapping into its emergency fund in anticipation of intense fighting this fall.
“Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat and ranking member on the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said he had learned of plans for a massive, post-election call-up from officials at the Pentagon.”
San Jose Mercury News, Sept, 17, 2004. The White House denied it.
Last fall an ad ran on the DoD website for people to fill local draft boards, "if a military draft becomes necessary." These boards have languished for years, unfilled. When the press noticed, the announcement was pulled.
In April 2004 Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), told the Senate Foreign Relations and the "Today Show" that the US is engaged in a long-term war against terrorism, already 40 percent of the ground troops in Iraq are from the National Guard and Reserves, and the US is "making commitments for future years that we cannot fulfill" with current troop levels. Hagel, the second-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared on the "Today Show" with Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), who also would not rule out a draft.
20,000 members of the National Guard in Iraq have already been “drafted” by virtual of stop/loss.
Doesn’t this all remind anyone of another conflict? Beef up the number of troops, launch major new offensives in support of an umpopular regime, then after everything is settled down, get out, Robert Novak, not withstanding. Except the native people didn't settle down. Instead we got bogged down and 58,000 Americans died.
First we must look honestly at the reasons for the insurgency, and admit that our very actions are the root cause.
First is civilian casualities. An article in the new issue of US News & World Report, “Victims of Circumstance” 9/27/04, reports that from June 10 until September 10, 1,811 Iraqi civilian have been killed, of which 75% have as a result of our military action.
It is hard to overstate the problem these deaths pose for American officials when it comes to winning Iraqi hearts and minds. The accidental killing of women, children, and bystanders has repeatedly angered Iraqis and is turning the public against America and fueling the insurgency.
The attitude that it is acceptable to “destroy the village in order to save it,” worked against us in Vietnam and is certainly working against us now.
First it is a morally indefensible position from a Christian standpoint.
Even in war, soldiers must conduct themselves as peacemakers, targeting the enemy and not engaging in wholesale slaughter. The innocent must be protected, not killed as combatants. From a Sermon preached at St. Peter's United Church of Christ, Elmhurst, Ill., Feb. 23, 2003 by the Rev. Dr.Thistlethwaite President, Chicago Theological Seminary
Pragmatists will argue that morality doesn’t win wars. Yet history has clearly shown us that an understanding of culture not only wins wars, but more importantly insures the winning of the “peace.” During World War II many well known top anthropologist including Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead's husband, Gregory Bateson complied reports on “enemy” cultures for the War department. Benedict's analysis of Japanese national character, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture (Boston, 1946), is the best-known study that grew out of this wartime anthropology. For more on this, read Mead’s article in "The Uses of Anthropology in World War II and After" in Walter Goldschmidt, ed., The Uses of Anthropology (Washington, 1979), 145-57.
My husband spent two years in Japan. It is a profoundly different culture, and yet they are among our closest allies today because our leaders at the end of W.W.II recognized the importance of culture.
There are mountains of literature and numerous experts on the cultures and history of Iraq that anyone—me or you or the Bush administration or the Kerry campaign—could check. If you just read a quick, but interesting book called “Desert Queen” you’ll have a better understanding of the role of history, culture clash, and imperialism in Iraq than any news anchor and 99% on the analysts served up on cable and the networks. From the review on Amazon.com:
A biography of the woman who, indirectly, was the catalyst for many of the troubles in the Middle East, including the Gulf War. In 1918, Gertrude Bell drew the region's proposed boundaries on a piece of tracing paper. Her qualifications for doing so were her extensive travel, her fluency in both Persian and Arabic, and her relationships with sheiks and tribal and religious leaders. She also possessed an ability to understand the subtle and indirect politeness of the culture, something many of her colonialist comrades were oblivious to.
I could cite a lot of anthropological studies on the peoples of Iraq, but instead I suggest that you rent the classic film, “Lawrence of Arabia” and look at the scene in which Lawrence and his Arab allies have just crossed the desert and arrived at the water hole of Anthony Quinn’s tribe.
The friend that Lawrence has saved in desert killed a member of Quinn’s tribe. Quinn’s tribe must avenge the death, which will then required retribution from the other side. The only way to end the blood feud is for Lawrence to take the life of the man he had just saved. Actually any one who knows this movie knew that invading Iraq was going to be a disaster.
My main point here is that every civilian that we kill has a network of family and friends that become our enemy, sworn to avenge the death.
Step number one: Stop the killing of civilians.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Now, I have no problem with you drinking or me drinking or drinking in general. My husband and I both did our share of partying in college. But Bush is an admitted alcoholic and cocaine user whose life was a disaster until age 40, when he got sober with no support system. Sounds like my grandfather, who got sober when my dad was born, then fell off the wagon when my dad was 10. He destroyed his law career, his political career and his family.
There is a lot to make me suspicious that the President is drinking again. Are his multiple facial injuries in the last year really due to mountain bike accidents or to getting falling down drunk? I fell and fractured my wrist a few years ago, but didn’t cut up my face because of my helmet. My brother took a spill riding in a race. He broke his collarbone, but his face was fine.
In addition to the facial injuries, there's the incident when he was found passed out on the floor at the White House because he has "choked on a pretzel." There is the slurring of words and his confusion over simple concepts such as tribal sovereignty. Or how about this clip from the Daily Show. Right after Trett Lott. How about falling off the scooter or dropping the little dog?
Some of us have seen the photo of Bush with a beer at the G-8 summit in Canada. Then there’s the 1992 wedding video. There’s more out there. There is even an AOL chat room for DEA agents where they recount Secret Service talk about Bush going on benders. (More on this as soon as I find it.)
There are official "explanations", but taken together a much simpler reason which accounts for all of the facts and which is completely consistent with his past is booze. Bush's drinking is apparently an "open secret" in Washington, yet Newsweek ran a profile highlighting his "sobriety" as a demonstration of his will and determination.
Periodically there are articles by psychologists and experts in the field of recovery in the foreign press speculating on Bush’s drinking. But nothing here.
I admit that I really want to know, too. We all need to know. Good men and women are dying every day in Iraq. We all owe it to them to find out the truth about the commander-and-chief.
My neighbors and I were discussing Bush and Kerry on our porch last night. Some of them are actually true undecided. They like Bush personally but worry about his judgment. We all wish that the issues could decide this election, with serious debate on Iraq and the economy. But the media isn’t going to cooperate.
Their idea of covering the issues is to have two "experts":
Moderator: "Tonight we have two experts on the War in Iraq."
GOP person: "We are winning the war on Terror."
Demo person: "No we aren’t."
GOP person:" "Yes we are."
"No we aren’t."
"Yes we are."
Moderator: "There you have it."
This is what passes for analysis on cable and the networks.
Questions about whether Bush did or did not take a TANG physical 30 years ago or used cocaine when his dad was president don't matter to my neighbors and friends here in central Pennsylvania. But his drinking does.
So is Bush drinking again?
Sunday, September 19, 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leading members of President Bush's Republican Party on Sunday criticized mistakes and "incompetence" in his Iraq policy and called for an urgent ground offensive to retake insurgent sanctuaries.
Now I don't think that launching a new offensive is the answer, either, but at least they are starting to admit that Iraq is a MESS!
Bush's team is made up of old cold warriors who have replaced the principle of "containment" and the "Domino theory" with the principle of "preemption" and "Al Queda = Saddam Theory." Compare Bush's convention speech to this statement by McGeorge Bundy, Johnson's advisor: "that in the final analysis, the United States was the locomotive at the head of mankind, and the rest of the world the caboose." He assumed that American-style democracy would always be preferred. It was a justification for the war of the 1960s and it has become the justification-of-the-month for the quagmire in Iraq.
Need another parallel?
Johnson (Bush) made a nationally televised address, deliberately distorting the facts and inflating the case. Congress granted him sweeping military powers under Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (Resolution Authorizing Use U.S. Armed Forces against Iraq). From "The Vietnam War and the Tragedy of Containment" by Michael O'Malley
September 18, 2004
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Cpl. Christopher S. Ebert, 21, of Mooresboro, N.C., died Sept. 17 due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Ebert was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Coalition Military Casualties
Total US Military Killed in Iraq: 1032
Total Coalition Military Killed In Iraq: 1167
Total Killed so far this month: 58
Total Wounded: 7032
Total Wounded so far this month: 138
From the Peoria Journal Star, September, 14, 2004
Civilian Contractor Killed
Todd Engstrom, who turned 35 on Sept. 4, was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle on its way to Balad, Iraq, his father, Ron Engstrom, said Wednesday.
Total Civilian Contractors Killed in Iraq: 155
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Reuter: Taliban Say Attack Shows They Can Strike at Will
As a political matter, whether the United States is now safer or more vulnerable is of course ferociously controversial. That the war was necessary—and beneficial—is the Bush Administration's central claim. That it was not is the central claim of its critics. But among national-security professionals there is surprisingly little controversy.
Except for those in government and in the opinion industries whose job it is to defend the Administration's record, they tend to see America's response to 9/11 as a catastrophe. I have sat through arguments among soldiers and scholars about whether the invasion of Iraq should be considered the worst strategic error in American history—or only the worst since Vietnam.
READ MORE by James Fallows in this month's Atlantic Monthly, "Bush's Lost Year
Friday, September 17, 2004
In other news,
Florida's high court says Ralph is on the ballot. Win some, lose some.
Bush administeration slashes funding for FAA. Oh, that's really not a good idea.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
I have been thinking a lot about the future. I was emotionally devastated by Gov. Dean's lost to John Kerry. It has taken me until now to even be able to write about it. I've been following developments with Dean For America, and Trippi's Change For America, and now Democracy For America. There are still so many issues that are important to me as a mother.
Let me tell you a story. It's about my four-year-old.
You know how four-year-olds can get completely obsessed with something. For some kids it's dinosaurs; for one of my nieces it was frogs; for another niece it was Barbies. For my son, it's fish. We watch "Finding Nemo" also everyday. Thankfully it's a really good movie. While we were on vacation, we took him to see an IMAX film about coral reefs. He was in heaven. He has several books now on coral reefs, and can even find his favorite, the Great Barrier Reef, on the map. He can tell the difference between a parrot fish and a butterfly fish. His favorite fish are the deadly but exquisite lionfish.
A few days ago he said to me, "Mommy, ocean warming and overfishing are killing the coral reefs." And it's true. They are dying. In thirty years they will all be dead. My son will be 34.
One thing I keep hearing about John Kerry is that he has an exceptional record on the environment. I do not like his votes on Iraq and on a lot of other issues, but if his presidency can turn around environmental disaster that is the Bush administration, then he has my support. Bush certainly isn't going to do anything to save the coral reefs.
I don't know where I want to focus my efforts. I don't know where I could do the most good. What I'm really itching to do is organize another fund raiser. One thing I discovered through my involvement with Dean for America is that I like putting on fund-raisers. But who or what should I raise money for? John Kerry? Joe Hoeffel who is running for Senate against Arlen Specter here in Pennsylvania? Our local Democratic Party? Howard Dean's new organization?
As I try to decide, I have started a new blog on my garden, at least for this spring. There is so much happening in the spring that my once a month column in our local paper just misses. On this blog I can post more frequent columns, as well as photos, which the paper rarely has room to publish. I can also do photo essays on topics like pruning roses bushes, something it is easier to understand when you can actually see it. There is a place for readers to leave comments and ask question, too. I will updated it at least once a week, and hopefully more often than that. I'll run it through the spring, and if folks like it, I'll keep it going.
Anyway, that is the goal. When my April newspaper column runs, everyone will know about it, but I'd really appreciate some feedback before then. When you have a few minutes and enjoy gardening, would you mind taking a peek at it and letting me know what you think.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Friday, January 30, 2004
Here’s what we as individuals can do right now to nominate Howard Dean. It doesn’t take Joe Trippi or any one else to lead us. We care about this country, and we don’t need the money, the staff, and the TV ad to make a difference, much as they may help.
Joe Trippi first saw a grassroots campaign in 1980 when my mother was running one for Ted Kennedy in Santa Clara County, California, and Joe was a student volunteer from San Jose State University. She had no paid staff, and no one from the national campaign was telling her how to do things or giving her any money or any supplies. And there was no TV advertising. She won that county (250,00 population) for Kennedy. And I’m going to share with you how she did it, step by step here. This is a distillation of how campaigns used to be run before big money took campaigning away from the people. But for February 3, read on.
Just get a friend or relative to help you. Or find another Dean supporter in your area using the tools on DFA. It’s best to work in pairs, one on each side of the street. This saves time and keeps you safe. On Saturday and on Sunday go door-to-door. Ask if these are any registered Democrats in the household. Speak only the registered Democrat. Identify yourself: "Hi, I’m _________. I live here in our town (or down the block or whatever.) I’m a volunteer for Howard Dean and I wanted to ask if you plan to vote on Tuesday." Stick out your hand when you introduce yourself. You want to get the person to tell you his/her name. Smile and be friendly. After all you’re a neighbor. Carry a little notebook and write the name down. Than ask if the person is planning to vote for Howard Dean. If the answer is no, don’t waste time arguing.
If the person is undecided put in a few good words for Dean.
Examples: "As governor of Vermont, he got health insurance for all the children and prescription coverage for 1/3 of the seniors. He’s the only one who has produced real results in health care coverage.
"He’s campaigning on the money of people like you and me. His average contribution is $77, not the thousands of dollars from the fat cats that are funding the other candidates and have controlled Washington for too long."
"Howard Dean is a fighter. He came out of Vermont to battle the big guys. They’re trying to bury him. The media has distorted everything and attacked him nonstop. But he’s in there fighting hard for you and me. The other candidates are funded by special interests even if they talk about the people."
Get the idea? Keep it short.
If they mention "electibility," point out that record turnout in Iowa and New Hampshire proves that anyone can beat Bush, and we should vote for someone who is really on our side.
If you get a question about where he stands on an issue, tell the voter the Web address or give them a piece of literature. Of course, if you know the answer just tell them, but don’t get into a discussion. You need to keep moving to find the Dean supporters.
If the voter is favorable to Dean, try to get a phone number. Just say, "I’d like to give you a call on Tuesday, just a reminder to vote." If the voter is strongly favorable, try to get him or her to finish walking door-to-door the street you’re on!
If you get some names of people who favor Dean, when you get home look them up in the phone book. Monday night call them no later than 9:00 p.m. to remind them to vote.
On Tuesday, go to vote after 4 p.m. At your polling place, ask to see a list of who has and who has not voted in that precinct. Most polling places provide such lists. If yours doesn’t, start calling your pro-Dean voters about 5 p.m. to see if they have voted, need a ride, need a babysitter, need directions to the polling place. Without being offensive, get your voters to the polls.
If your polling place keeps a list of who has and has not voted, check to see if your pro-Dean voters have voted yet. If not, get on the phone, just like in the above paragraph.
If the weather is too rotten for you to walk your neighborhood door-to-door or you’re too rural, try a table at your indoor mall. Download some Dean material, make a sign tonight, and get over to that mall Saturday morning. Call the mall management today and get permission. In some states the courts have ruled that malls are the equivalent of public streets and therefore malls can’t prohibit political speech — which is what you and your Dean sign are. But don’t get into an argument about this or break any local laws. Now is not the time.
Don’t be discouraged if you meet a lot of apathy or ignorance. Remember that only about 1/4 of those who are eligible to vote actually register and vote. In fact, that’s what we’re trying to change! It may take longer that this one campaign but with the Internet and each other we can do it.
We've come this far. We've found each other. To paraphrase from Lord of the Rings, even the least of us can change of the course of the future!
Monday, January 19, 2004
But this is actually fine.
Gephardt is gone and with him goes his strategy of distortions, fear-mongering and extremely negative attacks. Negative works on it's target, but it also comes back to bit the hand that delivers it. Gephardt leaving the race is great news.
Kerry is pumped up to take on Clark in New Hampshire. This is good news for Dean. Will Kerry go negative on Clark? Where does Kerry go after New Hampshire?
Edwards is pumped up to take on Clark in South Carolina. This is also good news for Dean. Will Edwards stay positive? What does Edwards organization look like beyond South Carolina?
Dean has the money and the troops to campaign in every state. We believe in Dean because of his stand against the war, his deep understanding of the health care crisis in this country, his vision for children, the way he ties environmental policy to foreign policy, and a hundred other reasons.
So why didn't Iowans get the message about Dean. I talked to hundreds of Iowans in the last week. They were on total information overload and many of them had just shut off the noise. Everyone's message sounds good. Politicians always tell everyone what they want to hear. Sometimes, however, a doctor will tell you things you don't want to hear.
None of us expect Dean to win every contest. Any more than we expect our favorite baseball team to win every game. So while there is a lot of disappointment out there, there is also hope and determination and commitment.
Sunday, January 18, 2004
Kris Allen called from the Dean rally. He’s not there yet, but the place is so packed that the stormers were asked to go to another room to make room for Iowans. The energy is through the roof.
They spent the day knocking on doors. It’s 10 below with wind chill. Kris says that her group knocked on 500 doors today and that 9% of the people they talked to are going to caucus for Dean. Given that typcially only 3% of Iowans usually go to caucus, that is outstanding. Iowa City is very liberal and someone told her that a Democrat can’t win Iowa without winning Iowa City. She also reports that the Iowans are exceptionally nice.
She hasn’t seen any other campaigns out walking. Dean apparently has at least three times as many people in the state as anyone else. She also has the feeling from the people they’ve talked to that Kerry is going to do better than Gephardt, but that the whole thing is going to be tight. She will call tomorrow night as soon as the campaign has any results. Since they have some one at every precinct with a cell phone, this could be earlier than the media.
Monday, January 05, 2004
The best way we can help Dean this month is by reaching out where they need us in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond. Last night I spoke with a guy on the ground in Sioux City, Iowa. It is too rural there for canvassing to be effective. The rural parts of the state are where Gephardt and the others have an advantage. Dean could sweep the cities and still lose the state in the rural areas, because it is precinct by precinct.
Right now DFA is asking for letters to rural Iowans, but these guys desperately need phone banks to identify likely caucus goers. He said it was 3 degrees, and a lot of these people won't go to their caucus without a little encouragement. DFA just needs to find two or three additional people per precinct and make sure they go to the caucus. They provide the script and the names. These are not "telemarketing" type calls. They only take a couple of minutes each. I am going to do this next weekend.
If you can't go to Iowa, please join me in making these critical calls. This could be the most impactful thing any of us do. We can't lose Iowa, not after everything we've done so far.
Thursday, January 01, 2004
Maybe these operations have a place somewhere in some form, but we should have a say locally about what kinds of operations we have in our neighborhoods. If you live in Pennslyvania, please ask Gov. Rendell to NOT SIGN the piece of "stealth legislation" that got passed on the Friday evening of Dec. 19 - HB 1222.
The bill is supposed to be an amendment to title 42 - something about judiciaty and jucidial procedure. 2/3 of the way through there is a section "Adding a section to read #8550.1 Unauthorized enactment of enforcement of local ordinances governing normal agricultural operations" which basically says, if your Twp brings an action against any ag operation, the Twp has to justify that position in court and pay all attorney fees and court costs. This is the same as putting the kybosh on all resistance to these large operations because a Twp will not want to risk the financial consequences. The bill passed and is on the governor's desk. you can call, fax or email him. It will only take a second. (My emailed comments to him are below.)
Independent farmers and consumers are all in this together to try to maintain an iota of control over our food supply and integrity of democratic process in our communities! Thank you!
Toll free phone 1-800-932-0784
Local phone 717-787-2500
Faxes (all 717 area code) 787-4590; 772-8284; 787-8614
Please do not sign HB 1222 because it contains a section of "stealth legislation" effectively eliminating local township regulation of agricultural operations. This section, inserted into the middle of HB1222, is unrelated to the purported main issue of the bill.
This clause is a rehashed version of proposed legislation sponsored by proponents of "factory farms" who wish to see no public debate or influence over their operations. This same verbiage has already failed twice when standing alone and openly debated in pprevious bills. These "farms" are actually on par with industrial installations both ecologically, socially and economically. Townships and citizens should have the right to a voice, including unrestricted legal recourse, should these installations have, by their view, undue negative impact on local quality of life.