Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tax $ for abstinence

Basu: Stop wasting tax dollars on abstinence programs

April 20, 2007

"Never has so much money been spent with so little oversight to so little effect. "

Buzz vs Real Reaons

Professor Juan Cole voices a theme that lurks like a raccoon throughout my posts. Corporate media TELLS us WHAT to think about. Professor Cole, in a lucid style that would surely meet with George Orwell's approval cites specific examples in support of this hypothesis. Here's his entire post on the matter. There are no reasons for me to add any commentary. Professor Cole's analysis is candid, thorough and illuminating.

The Buzz Reason, the Real Reason

Much of cable television news is a conspiracy to keep people gossiping about the wrong thing and to prevent them from understanding what is really going on. Here are some examples:

The Buzz Reason for the shootings at Virginia Tech? Movie violence.

The Real Reason for the shootings at Virginia Tech? In the United States, violently mentally ill persons are allowed to buy hand guns.

The Buzz Reason for the trouble US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is in? The Dems are playing politics with a routine personnel issue.

The Real Reason Reason for the trouble US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is in? He lied about not being involved with the decision; it is also now obvious that he was carrying out a politicization of the US attorneys offices at the order of Harriet Myers and Karl Rove in the White House.

The Buzz Reason for which Senator John McCain sang "Bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann"? He has a quirky sense of humor.

The Real Reason for which Senator John McCain sang "Bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann"? Senator McCain is actually Major Kong (Slim Pickens" from Dr. Strangelove -- the one who rode the nuclear bomb on down onto the Soviet Union.

The Buzz Reason for which Senator Harry Reid says that the US has lost in Iraq? The Dems have lost their nerve.

The Real Reason for which Senator Harry Reid says that the US has lost in Iraq? It is very dangerous for a country not to have its eyes open about how well it is doing in a war.

The Buzz Reason for which World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is in trouble? The World Bank's rules against nepotism disadvantage two-career couples at the Bank.

The Real Reason for which World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is in trouble? He gave his girlfriend enormous raises and used her for Pentagon purposes.

posted by Juan @ 4/20/2007 06:20:00 AM 5 comments

Friday, April 20, 2007

Kucinich to Sponsor Impeach Cheney Bill

From the Common Dreams web site comes this about time news

Sources close to the office of Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) confirm that the progressive Democratic congressman and Democratic presidential aspirant intends to introduce a bill of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 25. The move will mark the second time that an impeachment bill has been submitted against a member of the Bush administration. Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) filed a bill of impeachment against President Bush in December of last year, just as the 109th Congress was about to end, and as Rep. McKenney was about to leave office (she was defeated in last November’s election).


Kucinich’s action marks a major step forward for impeachment activists, who have been frustrated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has repeatedly stated that she has no interest in having the House hold impeachment hearings against president or vice president (and who has been leaning hard on Democratic caucus members in the House not to file impeachment bills).

(MG) The clarion cry from the right will be "partisan politics". Perhaps Pelosi fears a backlash. IMO Kucinich's move is far more poltically (and morally) astute. Going after the puppet master, whose approval ratings nationwide at one time hovered around 19%, will feed the appetites of Americans hungry for some one to punish, for the lies of the Iraq invasion, for the firing of the attorneys general.

(MG) Perhaps Pelosi hoped to be able to fashion bi-partisan cooperation in advancing certain agendas that would benefit the majority of Americans. I can never know. You can never know. WHY? is the single most pointless question one might ever ask. Frequently, the perpetrator won't be able to give an honest answer. "The devil made me do it" explanation offered by Flip Wilson so many years ago resonates ... why do we do the dumb things we do? the things we know better than to do? what sometimes leads us like moths to the flame? Far more complicated issues, especially in the face of monumental muck ups. The world is neither black nor white, but containing myriad shades of gray.

By bucking Pelosi and filing his bill, Kucinich may force the mainstream corporate media to start discussing the idea. There has been a virtual blackout on impeachment in the media, which has not even been asking the question in polls, since a year ago, when Pelosi made it clear she had no interest in impeachment.

(MG) Well ... YEAH, there has been a virtual blackout on impeachment in the media. Who owns the media? Rich, white, conservative, republican white guys. Impeach Bush, impeach Cheney, one might encounter a scenario where media consolidation comes back on the table. Where the so-called "death tax" (rich people escaping taxes during their lifetime accumulations of unrealized capital gains) might be extended to even more than the top 1% of wealthiest estates.

Kucinich’s move comes as citizens across the country are bringing impeachment resolutions to town meetings, city councils, Democratic Party county and state committees, and even state legislatures–and getting them passed.

(MG) The ear of Kucinich, and remember, he is from OHIO, which has a lot of residents who are republican by birth. If he's willing to risk the "back lash" from his constiuents, one might assume he has polled them and deems such a move at this time to be in harmony with the "will of the people."

The Democratic Party Establishment has been resisting impeachment, fearing that it could “turn off” independent voters, although the few polls that have been conducted suggest that a majority of Americans, and even not a few Republicans, favor impeaching the president. But as the administration’s scandals have grown in number and seriousness, from financial chicanery to voter suppression to political firings of federal prosecutors to illegal spying on citizens, and as the president’s War in Iraq has lurched from bad to catastrophic, public pressure is mounting for Democrats to take tougher action.

(MG) The pols and the MSM will be the last to know.

Kucinich’s bill may not in itself put Bush’s impeachment back on the Congressional table, but it could whet the public’s appetite for more substantial fare.

(MG) The public's appetite is whetted. Now we merely need to offer up to the MSM corporate republican stenographic opinion writers and editors fare sufficient to get them to gorge themselves at the table of eat the lame duck VP for lunch .. and cheney. Remember back in the days, the joys of roasting Spiro Agnew over an open spirogot?

Iraq executions

BBC Reports

Amnesty condemns Iraq executions

Iraq is now the world's fourth highest user of the death penalty, human rights group Amnesty International has said.

At least 270 people have been sentenced to death since mid-2004, often after unfair trials the report says, and more than 100 people have been hanged.

Only China, Iran and Pakistan used the death penalty more frequently.

Iraqi officials have dismissed criticism, saying that capital punishment is an intrinsic element of implementing an Islamic criminal code.

(MG) I'd have liked to have seen an interview with an Iman to see just how intrinsic an element capital punishment is to an Islamic criminal code.

One of Iraq's most senior judges, Jafar al-Musawi, said the use of capital punishment was enshrined in the Iraqi constitution. He said that prisoners in Iraq had more rights than in many western countries.

(MG) Enshrined in the Iraqi constitution. Jafar can really twist a phrase. Plus ... Iraqi prisoners had more rights ... so, we've brought the freedom to Iraq to return to the way things were back in the days before the fall of Sadam. So, if things don't work out to well for Jafar, and things don't work out too badly for governor bush, Jafar can be rehabilitated as a GOP speech writer.

A government spokesman said all executions followed the letter of the law and were carried out with total transparency.

(MG) as long as the executions follow the letter of the law and are carried out with total transparency, then I suppose I'll have to be fine with it.


Iraq's interim government reintroduced the death penalty in 2004 saying it would act as a deterrent in view of the grave security situation in Iraq.

However, Amnesty International says the extent of violence has increased rather than diminished, and argues that the death penalty may have contributed to the brutalisation of Iraqi society.

Last year, at least 65 people were executed, including two women, the report says.

(MG) nice to see were are bringing freedoms to Iraqi women - freedom to be executed.


The report cites several cases in which defendants were convicted after trials lasting just one or two hours, on the basis of earlier confessions which they had retracted, saying they were the result of torture.

(MG) and a very efficient court system, which wastes no time coming to verdicts, and has what it takes to elicit confessions ... no namby pamby Miranda gonna stop the show in Iraq.


Many of those given death sentences appeared on an Iraqi television show, Terrorism in the Grip of Justice, which was taken off the air in late 2005 after government ruled that televising confessions was illegal.

(MG) what an interesting reality TV concept.

Many of those appearing on the show bore signs of torture, the report said, and other defendants have alleged that they were tortured before making the confessions.

(MG) efficient police interrogation methods at work. What a legacy we are leaving.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Turkey teaches democracy

What Turkey teaches about democracy
By M K Bhadrakumar

Last Saturday night, Orange Blossom, the rising star of European dance music, gave an open-air concert in Istanbul, the city of heart's desires. The French band, which played a mix of European electro-beat, West African polyrhythm, haunting Arabic and Middle Eastern melodies and all-stops-out rock, underscored that it knew no borders.


Only a few hours earlier the Turkish capital of Ankara had witnessed a historic public rally attended by anywhere up to half a million people from all walks of life. Like Orange Blossom, it, too, was "multicultural", comprising political forces of the left and right, including the ultra-right, nationalistic "Grey Wolves".

But, unlike the French band, it called for status quo in Turkish political life. The rally demanded that the borders of the Turkish state system and its unique political culture remain immutable and sacrosanct. Nothing must change. The rallyists chanted, "We do not want an imam in Cankaya [the presidential palace]." At times, they struck a strident anti-Western, anti-globalization tone, calling for a "national awakening".

They chanted, "Don't be silent, or you'll lose your homeland." They exhorted the nation to nip in the bud the possibility that the incumbent prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, might be edging closer to announcing his candidacy for Turkey's forthcoming presidential election. Erdogan, they alleged, represented the "looming Islamic threat" to the secular state of Turkey.


The 85-year-old Turkish state finds itself at a crossroads. But the implications of Erdogan's final choice go far beyond Turkey's borders. Turkey's standing as a regional powerhouse, its strategic location as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East, its historical and cultural heritage in the Muslim world - all these are bound to come into play in the coming months. Meanwhile, Turkey is working itself into a state of frenzy. Commenting on Saturday's rally, the establishment newspaper Turkish Daily News threatened that even if Erdogan was elected president, he wouldn't be allowed to govern in peace.

The daily posed in strident rhetoric, "It was vividly demonstrated [on Saturday] that the silent masses of this country did not want someone incompatible with the secularist principle of the republic in the presidential palace. It was underlined in all clarity that even if someone who does not necessarily represent the "full independence spirit" of the Kemalist doctrine; who may not defend adequately the "honor of the nation"; who rather than science considers theology as his guide; who rather than carrying Turkey to the level of advanced democracies aspires for the re-introduction of sheikhs, brotherhoods and the sharia order is elected as the president of this country, he will not be able to sit comfortably on the presidential seat."


The present logjam in Turkish politics arises out of various factors. In the good old days, any semblance of an "Islamist awakening" in Turkey would have provided the excuse for a military takeover. But in present-day Turkey, an outright military coup is unthinkable. All that is possible is what the Turks themselves light-heartedly call a "post-modern coup". That is, an arrogation of power by the Kemalists in league with the country's establishment, riding a wave of Turkish nationalism.

Without doubt, Turkish nationalism has been on the ascendancy in the recent period on account of various factors - the EU's perceived snub of Turkey's claim to membership; war in neighboring Iraq and resultant regional instability; the deteriorating security situation in the east stemming from Kurdish militancy; and so on.

But at the same time, even though the ruling AKP is an Islamist party, it enjoys a substantial political base and commands an unassailable two-third parliamentary majority. The other political parties find themselves in varying degrees of disrepute and are lacking in credibility as a viable alternative to the AKP.

Besides, the AKP government has met with considerable success in stabilizing the country's economy by sustaining a steady high level of growth while keeping inflation under check. The economic policies have been generally responsive to the needs of different segments such as business, farmers, pensioners and government employees.


(mg) some important facts and examples are missing here - I'd REALLY love for some of the Turkish political thinkers to explain those policies ... generally rfesponsive to the needs of different segments ...

It is natural that the Kemalists are beginning to harbor a sense of frustration that time is running out, and beyond a point, the genie of democratization in Turkey cannot be squeezed back into the bottle. ...

But, unlike the case with Eurasia, the Kemalists in Turkey need to take note that the AKP government enjoys broad support from Washington. Of course, the Erdogan government's equations with the US can nosedive if Turkish military intervention against the Kurds in northern Iraq takes place.


There is much irony in the fact that it was the consistent decimation of a traditional left in Turkish political life by the country's establishment (through the instrument of ultra-right nationalist forces) in the Cold War setting that ultimately paved the way for the rise of political Islam. Thousands of leftist cadres were eliminated in brutal state-sponsored violence in the early 1970s.

The Islamists have striven to fill the resulting political vacuum that would have been a secular opposition's due claim. They have shrewdly exploited the discredit that the self-styled Kemalists have invited on themselves over recent decades through misgovernance, rampant corruption, cronyism and political arbitrariness. The Islamists have convinced popular opinion that they are a responsive, accountable, clean and efficient political alternative.

The paradox is that even though the emerging pattern of Islamic pluralistic politics is at variance with the West's brand of secular liberal democracy, the AKP has genuinely endeavored to advance social, economic and political reforms in Turkey in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership. ...


The move by Turkey's Islamists towards political participation has nothing to do with US President George W Bush's democracy project in the Middle East, either. Yet, in a curious way, it has everything to do with the democratization of the Middle East region as a whole.

Capitals such as Cairo, Amman and Riyadh will certainly watch with anxiety how their raging masses may draw the conclusion that Islamic democracy can be an alternative to Arab secular autocracy. More importantly, these Arab regimes will have cause to worry that as time passes, the West, especially the US, may begin to realize from the Turkish experience that, after all, the delicate equation between political Islam and a representative form of government doesn't have to be regarded as a zero-sum game.


The crucial importance of what is unfolding in Turkey lies in that, to quote former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami in a recent article, "Engaging political Islam will need to be the central part of any successful strategy for the Middle East. Instead of sticking to doomsday prophecies of categorical perspectives that prevent an understanding of the complex fabric of Islamic movements, the West needs to keep the pressure on the incumbent regimes to stop circumventing political reform."

Ben-Ami concluded, "The challenge is not to destroy Islamic movements, but how to turn them away from revolutionary to reformist politics by granting them legitimate political space."

Inured to daily slaughter

I'm going to repeat some things from Amy Goodman's article at the Common Dreams web site.

As Zinn spoke Monday night, they were counting the dead in Blacksburg, Va., after the horrific shooting rampage at Virginia Tech. The figure was 32 dead, plus the shooter himself, also a student at the university. I thought back to three months ago, to a similar horror. This one in Baghdad, at Mustansiriya University. On Jan. 16, a double car and suicide bombing there killed 70 students. Those killed were mainly young female students leaving classes.
As our country mourns the dead at Virginia Tech, we are at the same time inured to the daily slaughter in Iraq. Imagine attacks of this scale happening to Iraqi young people day after day.
Zinn has seen war, has seen its effects. He has seen violent civil strife in the U.S. He says the answer is to bring out those voices who say no to the violence:
“To omit or to minimize these voices of resistance is to create the idea that power only rests with those who have the guns. … I want to point out that people who seem to have no power, whether working people, people of color or women—once they organize and protest and create movements—have a voice no government can suppress.”
Fighting to stop the war in Iraq, fighting to stop gun violence at home: Nothing could be more patriotic.

Sniper Lyrics by Harry Chapin

Album: Sniper & Other Love Songs

It is an early Monday morning.

The sun is becoming bright on the land.
No one is watching as he comes a walking.
Two bulky suitcases hang from his hands.

He heads towards the tower that stands in the campus.
He goes through the door, he starts up the stairs.
The sound of his footsteps, the sound of his breathing,
The sound of the silence when no one was there.

I didn't really know him.
He was kind of strange.
Always sort of sat there.
He never seemed to change.

He reached the catwalk. He put down his burden.
The four sided clock began to chime.
Seven AM, the day is beginning.
So much to do and so little time.

He looks at the city where no one had known him.
He looks at the sky where no one looks down.
He looks at his life and what it has shown him.
He looks for his shadow it cannot be found.

He was such a moody child, very hard to touch.
Even as a baby he never smiled too much. No no.No no.

You bug me, she said.
Your ugly, she said.
Please hug me, I said.
But she just sat there
With the same flat stare
That she saves for me alone
When I'm home.
When I'm home.
Take me home.

He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun,
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall.
He knew he would need them for his conversation.
If it went as it he planned, then he might use them all.

He said Listen you people I've got a question
You won't pay attention but I'll ask anyhow.
I found a way that will get me an answer.
Been waiting to ask you 'till now.
Right now !

Am I ?
I am a lover whose never been kissed.
Am I ?
I am a fighter whose not made a fist.
Am I ?
If I'm alive then there's so much I've missed.
How do I know I exist ?
Are you listening to me ?
Are you listening to me ?
Am I ?

The first words he spoke took the town by surprise.
One got Mrs. Gibbons above her right eye.
It blew her through the window wedged her against the door.
Reality poured from her face, staining the floor.

He was kind of creepy,
Sort of a dunce.
I met him at the corner bar.
I only dated the poor boy once,
That's all. Just once, that was all.

Bill Whedon was questioned as stepped from his car.
Tom Scott ran across the street but he never got that far.
The police were there in minutes, they set up baricades.
He spoke right on over them in a half-mile circle.
In a dumb struck city his pointed questions were sprayed.

He knocked over Danny Tyson as he ran towards the noise.
Just about then the answers started comming. Sweet, sweet joy.
Thudding in the clock face, whining off the walls,
Reaching up to where he sat there, answering calls.

Thirty-seven people got his message so far.
Yes, he was reaching them right were they are.

They set up an assault team. They asked for volunteers.
They had to go and get him, that much was clear.
And the word spread about him on the radios and TV's.
In appropriately sober tone they asked "Who can it be ?"

He was a very dull boy, very taciturn.
Not much of a joiner, he did not want to learn.
No no.No no.

They're coming to get me, they don't want to let me
Stay in the bright light too long.
It's getting on noon now, it's goin to be soon now.
But oh, what a wonderful sound !

Mama, won't you nurse me ?
Rain me down the sweet milk of your kindness.
Mama, it's getting worse for me.
Won't you please make me warm and mindless ?

Mama, yes you have cursed me.
I never will forgive you for your blindness.
I hate you!

The wires are all humming for me.
And I can hear them coming for me.
Soon they'll be here, but there's nothing to fear.
Not any more though they've blasted the door.

As the copter dropped the gas he shouted " Who cares ?" .
They could hear him laughing as they started up the stairs.
As they stormed out on the catwalk, blinking at the sun,
With their final fusillade his answer had come.

Am I ?
There is no way that you can hide me.
Am I ?
Though you have put your fire inside me.
Am I ?
You've given me my answer can't you see ?
I was !
I am !
and now I Will Be


If my interests were not so far-flung, I could easily post exclusively about stuff that goes on at Rainbow Records, owned by my dear friend, one of my three closest male friend, John Thominet. I met John back in 1993 when he coached my son Adam James on the Dodgers baseball team here in town. Adam would have run through a brick wall for John. The following year, when Adam was a on a different team, coached by a local policeman, who was getting out of law enforcement, preparing to pack up and leave for Nashville, to become a country & western song writer, I ended up being the de facto coach, having been the first adult male to arrive for Adam's first spring training game, which we won, 25-7.

I once flagged Adam, who was running from second base on a sharply hit single to right field, to run on home. I was an aggressive third base coach and figured that the syzygy required to get him out would require the alignment of the planets: straight throw, clean catch, good tag. Adam rounded third base with his eyes following the action out in right field. He got about ten feet past third base, and turned around. The throw was perfect. The catcher fielded it cleanly, about five feet from the plate, directly in line with third base. He would have been tagged out, by a mile. Adam turned around, strolled leisurely back, perched his foot on third base and said, "if I had gone home, they would have thrown me out by a mile."

Seldom have I been prouder of my son. He had his eyes opened, his presience was spot on, and most importantly, he did not blindly follow the commands of the de facto team leader. Think for yourself son, don't blindly follow authority. Exactly the things I have always wanted to instill in him.

To a coach, of course, this is mutiny, and worse, embarrassing. Spot on, son.

lyrical interlude: Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

by Pete Seeger 1963, planned for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967 but CBS objected to the blacklisted Seeger making obvious references to the"big fool" in the White House, finally sung by Seeger on the Comedy Hour in 1968 as the finale in a medley of anti-war songs

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Loozianna,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That's how it all begun.
We were -- knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, are you sure,
This is the best way back to the base?"
"Sergeant, go on! I forded this river
'Bout a mile above this place.
It'll be a little soggy but just keep slogging.
We'll soon be on dry ground."
We were -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

The Sergeant said, "Sir, with all this equipment
No man will be able to swim."
"Sergeant, don't be a Nervous Nellie,"
The Captain said to him.
"All we need is a little determination;
Men, follow me, I'll lead on."
We were -- neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool said to push on.

All at once, the moon clouded over,
We heard a gurgling cry.
A few seconds later, the captain's helmet
Was all that floated by.
The Sergeant said, "Turn around men!
I'm in charge from now on."
And we just made it out of the Big Muddy
With the captain dead and gone.

We stripped and dived and found his body
Stuck in the old quicksand.
I guess he didn't know that the water was deeper
Than the place he'd once before been.
Another stream had joined the Big Muddy
'Bout a half mile from where we'd gone.
We were lucky to escape from the Big Muddy
When the big fool said to push on.

Well, I'm not going to point any moral;
I'll leave that for yourself
Maybe you're still walking, you're still talking
You'd like to keep your health.
But every time I read the papers
That old feeling comes on;
We're -- waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.

Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on.
Waist deep! Neck deep! Soon even a
Tall man'll be over his head, we're
Waist deep in the Big Muddy!
And the big fool says to push on!

Words and music by Pete Seeger (1967)
TRO (c) 1967 Melody Trails, Inc. New York, NY

At the record store, one can never quite remember what words turn conversations 90 degrees in a different direction. When woman do this, and I love to listen to women who care deeply for one another, with no agendas, I love to listen to them talk, to hear how a word can turn a conversation about a recipe into a remembrance of something the kids did that was dumb when they were four, or that the husbands did that was thoughtless and overbearing, last night, and the night before, and how Betty down at the Beauty Parlor was more drunk than they'd ever seen her before, least ways in public, at 11:00 a.m.

You know what I'm talking about. The kinds of conversations that aren't about facts so much as about feelings, and shared emotions, shared dreams, shared disappointments, shared lives -- pretty much the Ya Ya Sisters rejoicing in their sisterhood. The kind of things that drive husbands to the TV room, to turn the volume up LOUDLY. Too many words, conversation to disjointed for them to comprehend.

OK. I confess, I embrace my inner female. I LOVE to listen to such talk, and for the most part, am quite comfortable partaking of it, with women.

So, for whatever reason, I asked John, "Why is it that, back in the day, I was always so attracted to my friend's hot girl friends? Why did they always look so good to me? Especially if the guy treated them like a jerk."

John is inordinately wise, for one so young. (He's not yet 53. I'll be 56 one month from today.)

When John is preparing for serious utterances, he gets a serious look on his face, as if carefully weighing in his mind the words he is about to speak, parsing them, pruning them down, trying to keep it simple enough for a moron like myself to understand BEFORE I start talking all over him, leaping to conclusions (prematurely ejaculating, from the mouth, as it were) BEFORE he concludes with his main points. And he is QUITE good at getting his main points across. He majored in journalism, back in the days when Woodward and Bernstein inspired a nation of J-majors, who would for the most part, go on to become stenographers for the Republican Party.

Sometimes, when he gets that serious utterance look, I pay careful enough attention that I make a mental note to remain silent, and listen (not think) until he pauses, and takes three breaths in a row without making any more words. Or two breaths.

"It's not about coveting," he said. "It's about opportunity and location. She's a hot chick. She's there. You don't have to do ANYTHING, so, BEING A GUY, you think, he's got her for a girl friend, why shouldn't I?"

This is what men / boys do. This is how we think. Woman. Here. Close. Talks to me. Didn't even have to get nervous trying to impress her. She listens. My own last 15 girl friends never listened. (Not that I was boring, or drunk and stupid .. no WAY that.) She finds me attractive. I am. She's hot. So am I. SHE WANTS ME! I can be good for her.

And so it goes (the first of what will be several Vonnegut tributes).

Clarence Page - irrelevant cipher

A 'Netroots' revolution

By Clarence Page - Washington Times: April 8, 2007

A 14-year-old black girl from tiny Paris, Texas, was sent to a youth prison for up to seven years for shoving a hall monitor at her high school. The same judge sentenced a 14-year-old white girl to probation for burning down her family's house. Bigger offense, lighter sentence, lighter skin: the ingredients of injustice.

That's how it sounded to my friend and colleague Howard Witt, the Chicago Tribune's Houston-based Southwest bureau chief. He heard about the girl from Gary Bledsoe, an Austin attorney who is president of the state National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branch.

"It's like they are sending a signal to black folks in Paris that you stay in your place in this community, in the shadows, intimidated," Mr. Bledsoe told Mr. Witt.

Mr. Witt pursued the story. His March 12 Tribune article hit the Internet like a pimp-slap heard round the world. More than 300 blogs and thousands of message boards, many of them geared to black community issues, picked it up. The story also led to a nationwide letter-writing campaign to the Texas governor and expressions of outrage from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other activists.

March 30, the black teen, Shaquanda Cotton, walked out of prison, released early after serving a year of her sentence. The Texas Youth Commission ordered her immediate release after learning her prison authorities had extended her sentence after finding "contraband" in her cell -- an extra pair of socks.
Congratulations to Howard Witt. He and the editors who backed him up showed the enterprise that makes great newspapers.

(MG) But Clarence, dear boy, the meta story here is that the INTERNET was responsible for transmitting the story and getting people to action. Page will NEVER get it.

I hope the civil rights movement will take some important lessons from this story. After I recently wrote that the NAACP's national leaders should broaden their focus beyond civil rights to include other social problems plaguing black America, a reader e-mailed a copy of Mr. Witt's story to me.

The message: Racism is still alive and well. No doubt. But rather than refute the need to change the NAACP's mission, Shaquanda Cotton's story confirms it. Among other questions it raises is why this child was allowed to sit in prison for almost a year before media-generated heat from outsiders led to her rescue? The evidence suggests she was forgotten not only by the white establishment but by much of the black middle class and political establishment the civil right revolution helped create.

There's no question civil rights leaders need to keep an eagle eye out for any cases in which justice is not being handed out equally. It is good that the Education Department has been investigating complaints of disciplinary bias against black students in the Paris school district. But the larger problem of a new invisible underclass of poor blacks and others left behind by the civil rights revolution is by no means limited to little Paris or to Texas.

As race has declined in significance as a barrier to opportunity, economic class has become even more pernicious, opening a new gap between those moving up economically and those stuck on the bottom in black America
. We who are fortunate enough to have benefited from the civil rights revolution have a special obligation to guard against injustice without getting too cozy with those we should be watching.

(MG) Clarence should watch who he is sleeping with ... Page was quite adept at playing his full part in the War on Gore (and continues to do so)

With that in mind, I am encouraged by another Witt discovery in the wake of this scoop, a phenomenon he calls a "new, 'virtual' civil rights movement out there on the Internet" that "can reach more people in a few hours than all the protest marches, sit-ins and boycotts of the 1950s and '60s put together."

(MG) no surprise page is encouraged by Witt's discovery. No surprise Page couldn't have made the discovery himself, either. The meta-story is right there before one's eyes.

Perhaps the civil rights revolution's next phase will be found on the Web, in the "Netroots," just as the last one erupted at the grass roots. It wouldn't be the first time movement leaders have to rush to catch up with people they are trying to lead.

(MG) just as long as no filthy hippie bloggers try to tell experienced journalists what to do

Even so, as Mr. Witt recently wrote, they'll probably be reading about it here first.

(MG) Page closes with a sop to the MSM ... we'll PROBABY be #1 ... yeah baby

Support the troops - VOTE!!

Unions score key victories in council

To my blood brother, Steve Wilson -- union forever!!

Tillman, Coleman fall to labor allies

An unprecedented wave of union support propelled at least four challengers to victory Tuesday over incumbent aldermen backed by Mayor Richard Daley, ...

"The people of the 3rd ward, this victory is really yours," Dowell said.

Another Daley-backed incumbent, Madeline Haithcock (2nd), fell to lawyer Bob Fioretti, and union activist Toni Foulkes took the open seat in the 15th Ward.

"The unions had a lot to do with it," Haithcock said.

In the 49th Ward, the union's biggest council booster, Ald. Joe Moore, claimed victory over Don Gordon late Tuesday with a 138-vote lead and one precinct that could not be counted because of computer problems.


Daley won a landslide victory in February and will maintain the loyalty of most council members. But the union onslaught marked the first serious challenge to his dominance of city politics.

The results of the 12 runoff races could translate into the biggest change in the City Council since nine incumbents lost in 1987. Three incumbents already had lost their seats in the Feb. 27 primary.

Unions sought to claim credit for the sudden volatility in a council that largely has been unquestioningly loyal to Daley for much of his 18-year tenure.

Relations between labor and Daley historically were excellent, but soured in recent years. The feud reached its low point last year, when Daley used his first-ever veto to reject a union-backed ordinance that would have raised wages and benefits at "big-box" retail stores such as Wal-Mart and Target. Daley's veto was sustained after a contentious council vote.

(MG) No community wants to be infected with Wal Mart. Wal Mart comes in, charges cheap, drives out local businesses, pays its employees badly, then raises prices after the competition has all closed shop. This takes local business people out of sustaining themselves in their own communities, and leaves local communities the poorer.


Hoping to fill the power vacuum left by the decline of the pro-Daley patronage armies, unions flooded wards with campaign workers and spent massive amounts for their endorsed candidates.


Jerry Morrison, executive director of SEIU's State Council, said that Tuesday was "a huge night for working families in Chicago."

"We've created a debate in Chicago for the first time," Morrison said. "It was definitely worth the money."

Dennis Gannon, who heads the Chicago Federation of Labor, said it appeared that his group's candidates would win in at least five of eight contests.

"That's a pretty damn good night," Gannon said. "Working men and women want a strong independent voice in the City Council. The people we opposed lacked those attributes."

Mike Noonan, a Democratic political operative who helped several of the mayor's allies in the runoff campaign, said the outcome of the runoff races were determined largely by local concerns, not the big-box issue.

"The difference in this election is that unions were there with huge amounts of money to exploit very vulnerable incumbents," Noonan said. "The aldermen who weren't successful in the runoffs were aldermen who had problems in their wards with constituent services."

Noting the victories of Brookins and Stone, Noonan said, "All the money in the world could not help the unions take down aldermen who were doing their jobs."

The biggest-money campaign between a Daley loyalist and a union-bankrolled challenger was in the 16th Ward, which includes the impoverished Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.

Coleman, the incumbent there, had promised a Wal-Mart store in Englewood if she was re-elected and urged her constituents to reject labor's "economic racism."

Coleman had voted for the big-box ordinance originally, but she switched sides to help Daley preserve his veto, and the mayor campaigned for her in the weeks before the runoff.

(MG) Looks like Coleman's constituency didn't like her decision to vote for "the big-box ordinance. Let's hear it for supporting local business!

But she conceded to Thompson, who received about $500,000 from unions. With 45 of 46 precincts counted in the 16th Ward, Thompson had 57 percent to Coleman's 43 percent.

In the race for the open seat in the 15th Ward, on the Southwest Side, Jewel bakery worker Foulkes defeated Felicia Simmons-Stovall, a lawyer backed by Secretary of State Jesse White. Foulkes, who lobbied for the "living wage" ordinance, won 60 percent of the vote.

"It's a victory for every working family in the ward," said Foulkes, who replaces Ald. Theodore Thomas. "There are enough lawyers and big-business people on the council."

Simmons-Stovall said labor's support for her opponent played a "huge part" in her defeat.

In the 2nd Ward, Fioretti beat Haithcock in a landslide, garnering 66 percent.

"We've got to clean up politics here in the city," said Fioretti, who also was supported by the unions.


Other winners Tuesday included Daley appointee Lona Lane in the 18th Ward and union-backed Ald. Rey Colon (35th).

Labor leaders nervously watched the 49th Ward contest between Moore and Gordon seesaw.

A Moore loss would have severely offset the union gains in other wards. Moore sponsored the big-box ordinance and the foie gras ban, another measure that irked the mayor.

Matlak, the 32nd Ward alderman, declined to concede, even as Waguespack declared a narrow victory.

"It's still very close," Matlak said as the final returns came in. "We all expected that."

Ald. Michael Chandler's seat also appeared to be in danger in the 24th Ward on the West Side. With 56 of 59 precincts reporting, challenger Sharon Denise Dixon had almost 52 percent.

lyrical postscript: Joe Hill

SOURCE: Wikipedia

Joe Hill was memorialized in a tribute poem written about him c. 1930 by Alfred Hayes titled "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night", sometimes referred to simply as "Joe Hill".[7] Hayes's lyrics were turned into a song in 1936 by Earl Robinson. The usual lyrics to the song go:

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."
"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"
From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
where working-men defend their rights,
it's there you find Joe Hill,
it's there you find Joe Hill!
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
  • Phil Ochs wrote and recorded a different, original song called "Joe Hill"[1], using a traditional melody found in the song "John Hardy," which tells a much more detailed story of Joe Hill's life and death, and includes the lines that have since been associated with Ochs' own life and death, "It's the life of a rebel that he chose to live; It's the death of a rebel that he died". Ochs' song concludes with Hill's words, "This is my last and final will; Good luck to all of you, Joe Hill, Good luck to all of you."
  • After Phil Ochs' death, Billy Bragg reworked the Hayes-Robinson song as "I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night".
  • Frank Tovey sings about Joe Hill in his song 'Joe Hill' from the 1989 album 'Tyranny and the Hired Hand'. In this song he uses some of the words from the Alfred Hayes poem.
  • Bob Dylan claims that Hill's story was one of his inspirations to begin writing his own songs. His song "I dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" is loosely based around the story and Robinson's version.
  • In 1990, Smithsonian Folkways released Don't Mourn - Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill. This compilation featured the likes of "Haywire Mac" McClintock and Cisco Houston performing his songs as well as narrative interludes from Utah Phillips, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and others.
  • The Swedish socialist leader Ture Nerman (1886 – 1969) wrote a biography of Joe Hill. For the project, Nerman did the first serious research about Hill's life story, including finding and interviewing Hill's family members in Sweden. Nerman, who was a poet himself, also translated most of Hill's songs into Swedish.
  • Robert Hunter wrote the opening verse about Joe Hill for the song "Down The Road" which he wrote for Mickey Hart's Mystery Box.
  • The Nightwatchman (a.k.a. Tom Morello, former guitarist of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave) makes a reference to Joe Hill in his song "The Union Song".

The Fall of Wolfowitz?

The Common Dreams web site had this story, which had previously escaped my attention:

Out of America
Fall of Wolfowitz Marks Twilight of the Neo-Cons

by Rupert Cornwell

In contemplating the near-certain downfall of Paul Wolfowitz, it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Does one weep at the outrageous hypocrisy of it all: the president of the World Bank, self-appointed apostle of “good governance” and scourge of corruption, caught in a blatant act of nepotism and cronyism - exactly the vices he wants to stamp out in the Third World countries his organisation lends money to?

Or does one roar with laughter at the incongruity of it all: sex at the World Bank, as Wolfowitz the cerebral ideas man (even if his ideas about Iraq were as misbegotten as they get) is brought down by matters of the flesh, as he arranged promotions and lavish pay rises for his girlfriend Shaha Riza?

Or does one simply lie back and enjoy the spectacle of a president hissed at and heckled as he tried to explain himself to his staff at an impromptu meeting in the front atrium on Thursday? Is this how international development experts behave? Has there ever been such a lowering of the tone at the annual spring meetings of the bank and the IMF here, normally devoted to less emotional matters, such as debt reduction formulae, exchange rate aberrations and discreetly expensive lunches?

Not, of course, that one should feel too sorry for bank employees themselves, whose handsome tax-free salaries and generous allowances must soften the pain of working even for a boss like Mr Wolfowitz. As for Ms Riza, on the bank’s payroll but on secondment to the State Department, she received a rise last year from $132,000 (£66,500) to $193,000, a higher salary than even the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice (and Condi pays taxes).


(MG) hybridoma2001 offers a strident rebuke of the MSM, stating well some ideas that I've discussed in previous posts:

Same old same old. [Wolfowitz's] sins at the World Bank are dwarfed by his war crimes but the MSM gets all excited about the former, ignoring the elephant in the room. Like the MSM asking: “Is this Bush’s Watergate?” when referring to a subpoena controversy. The MSM is here to accentuate the trivial so that the important can be ignored. Let’s all ignore the MSM. The news they report is trivial and they most definitely are not reporting the biggest story of our day - the overthrow of America by a criminal administration. We are now a country that attacks other countries under false pretenses, tortures people, calls defenders of their homeland “insurgents,” and is otherwise unrecognizable from the America we used to know. The MSM and Nancy Pelosi are not even slightly upset about that. Our country has turned into crap and we are supposed to be concerned about this story?

hybridoma2001 April 16th, 2007 2:41 am

Posting in the comments section for this article, kathyodat asks some excellent questions:
  1. kathyodat April 15th, 2007 1:18 pm

    So why isn’t a serious inquiry on Iraq happening? Would that be related to “Impeachment off the table”? After all, bombing and invading Iran isn’t off the table for the Dems (except Dennis). So what’s going on? Covert collusion?

    The Dems refuse to interfere with Bush’s Iraq oil grab, which means they condone it. Ralph Nader had it right when he said the Democratic party is corrupted beyond redemption. I don’t understand why Dennis is still a Democrat, living in a party that reeks of rot.

    Things have gone so awry it’s like living in a swamp that’s become a sewer. The good news is that is what it appears to take to get the American people sufficiently involved to start demanding a change. It’s too bad we have to be hanging off the edge of a cliff to get their attention. It looks like an uphlll fight that won’t be won in one or two election cycles.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Democrats weigh in on Iran

I have not yet explicitly made this point: I am violently opposed to the U.S. taking any military actions against Iran. I am opposed as a patriot - U.S. efforts to impact world geo-politics has been impotent for some time now. Yet the dogs of war are in full heat, trying to stir up the cauldron of war fever with mega-doses of nationalism, racism and propaganda.

I am opposed as a pragmatist. Unless the U.S. chooses to go to invade with countries like Grenada, we will LOSE, which means leave with our tails tucked between our legs, like bullies who beat up on the retarded kid and then have to answer to the retarded kid's midget mob hit man brother.

Does this opinion mean I disrespect the troops? Hardly. I am simply weary of sending them into the meat grinder of wars of choice, from which the rich emerge ever richer. Examples? How about Korea, Viet Nam, Mogadishu (oh, wait, Ronny tuck tailed and ran), Iraq (the present go around). Get a clue, U.S. policy makers. The history of the 20th century is writ large with the stories of how the colonies have tossed out their former masters. Think India, think the Soviet Republics, think Algiers, think the Belgian Congo, think South Africa, think Chiappas Mexico.

The Viet Cong fought us with spears, rocks, and single shot rifles. "Oh," I was told, "Viet Nam was a jungle war. A war in the desert is different. The enemy has no place to hide." (Unlike those cheatin' commies in Nam, who wouldn't even fight us a "fair" fight, I suppose. Those godless commies even stole the plays out of our own nation's insurgents' tactics book. Let the Brits march through the forests in their fine red coats, and their oh so straight lines. Shoot 'em down and dead from behind the cover of trees and rocks. "Not fair," cried the Brits. "What kind of war-waging is this?")

I am opposed to waging war on Iran as a fiscal conservative. Wars cost money. The gasoline to move the forces is expensive. The cost of ordnance is expensive. The cost of replacement equipment is expensive. The cost of medical care for the wounded is expensive. The cost to replace the career soldiers / sailors / airmen is REAL expensive. The time to train them is long.

I am opposed to waging war on Iran as a human being who has learned maybe only one thing from my readings on war, and wars. That the face of war looks like a baboon's buttocks. It is that ugly, revolting color and shape.

I am opposed to waging war on Iran as a Muslim. These are my brothers and my sisters. These are members of my ummah. Allah will have no mercy on those who wage war upon his children of Islam. NONE.

So, what do the present democratic candidates have to say about Iran?

H. Clinton:

We cannot, we should not, we must not permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons"

"no option can be taken off the table."

(MG) Sweet sweet Hilary - WAR MONGERER. Lost my vote, babe.

J. Edwards

"Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons."
"We need to keep all options on the table."

(MG) Hmmm .. that sounds vaguely familiar, almost like ... what Hilary says. OH! I GET IT! The dems have figured out how to play hard ball, just like the rethuglicans. STAY ON MESSAGE.

(MG) Curse the hateful message. Curse the hateful messengers. Lost my vote, cute boy.

D. Kucinich

Pre-emptive U.S. attack is impeachable

(MG) Oh Denny Boy - you're talking my language. I elevate you high above these more well known candidates, war-mongering wanna be's .. oh, do they ever wanna be.

(MG) Impeach the war-mongerers. Yes, I just signed a petition to impeach the President and the Vice President. This could be sold to the fundies if we also voted to send Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright (what's the point of having the best military in the world if you don't use it once in a while; 500,000 Iraqi children dead because of the sanctions? yes, she thought the sanctions were worth it) to stand before the ICC at the Hague for their imposition of the sanctions of medical supplies and food to the Iraqi peoples. THIS would please the fundies greatly, and show the world (and give the rest of the resident war-mongerers pause) that the U.S. is serious about prosecuting war criminals. At the rate popular support for governor bush is fading, you could get his base, including the media elites to turn on him, call for his impeachment, and sending him to the Hague, especially if you included William Jefferson Clinton in the deal.


Iran is "a threat to all of us" and
"we should take no option, including military action, off the table."

(MG) This really does sound so familiar .. where have I heard this before .. scratching my head .. hmm ... oh, I get it, OBAMA, EDWARDS, CLINTON are using the same consultants.

(MG) Okay, attractive young black man who suckled at the teat of the heretic Joe Lieberman, and whose political experience is, shall we charitably say, a bit thin. It doesn't matter how many times you give your "I had a dream and it came to pass, ain't America a great country or what speech," I've heard it all before, reminiscing on the great saint, Dr. Martin Luther King.

(MG) Until this articulate, attractive, Lieberman protege / understudy starts delivering MLK's Time to Break Silence speech, I continue to highlight his lack of character and conviction, even if, I have to repeat myself over and over and over, just like the new democratic spin meisters are doing with the "Fab Three Attorneys".

(MG) Attorneys. Sheesh, can't we find somebody with another background than attorney? Oh, wait, we have one of those in office, MBA - Mendacious Bloviating Anachronism.

But Kucinich can't win, can he?
Well, of course he can. It merely takes a majority of votes from the electoral college.

But Kucinich hasn't a chance, has he?
There is always a chance. As a reformed actuary, I can state, that while the probability of Kucinich being elected POTUS is very small, it is not zero.

If Kucinich is not elected, whoever the next president is, he should institute a new cabinet level post: Minister of Peace. That's a job Representative Kucinich is more qualified for than any other sitting congress critter, senator, or state governor.