Saturday, November 27, 2004

Don't Piss Off the Old Women 

Even those who have something to lose. Of course Helen Woodson wasn't so old when she started trying to save us from ourselves:

(via KC Star)
A 61-year-old peace activist was sentenced to 51 months in prison Wednesday for threatening federal officials and pouring red paint and cranberry juice on a federal courthouse security station.

Helen Woodson previously served 20 years in federal prison for a 1984 incident in which she and three others used a jackhammer to chip the concrete cover of a nuclear missile silo near Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster.

Before hearing her new sentence, Woodson told Chief U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple that she would stage another symbolic protest immediately after serving whatever term he imposed.

“What you will be doing today is setting the date for my next action, and I invite you to be there that day,” Woodson said.

Whipple responded by calling her a “freeloader” who had depended on her friends and taxpayers to care for children that she adopted before going to prison after the Whiteman protest.

Woodson was detained by deputy U.S. marshals on March 10 after she threw a mixture of red paint and cranberry juice, which resembled blood, on a security desk and screening device at the U.S. District Courthouse.

The day before, she had mailed threatening letters to judges and the commander at Whiteman. She followed those the next morning with similar letters titled “Second Warning.” And before coming to the courthouse on March 10, she made a threatening phone call to a courthouse employee, saying there was a weapon of mass destruction in the building.

Addressing Whipple before sentencing, Woodson explained her protest in March. She contended that much evil in society — including nuclear weapons, toxic chemicals, abortion and capital punishment — is legal.

“The laws of the United States, upheld by the federal courts, are thus themselves weapons of mass destruction,” Woodson said. “And so my warning was, and is, the truth.”
Four and a quarter years for red paint, cranberry juice, and a warning. Then the charge that wasn't on paper: First Degree Refusal to Knuckle Under, With Recidivism.

Feeling Safer Yet? III: Tryout in the Sticks 

Back in the day, a theatrical producer who had a new playwright, or a show he wasn't sure would be a hit, would put everybody on the train to some little town and put the show on there, avoiding the expense and embarassment of a flop on Broadway. This was known as giving the concept "a tryout in the sticks."

(via NYT)
Invoking a global threat of terrorism, the British government announced plans on Tuesday to introduce national identity cards for the first time since the World War II era. An opposition legislator said the government wanted to create a "climate of fear" in advance of elections expected next year.

Speaking later, Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "With terrorism, illegal immigration and organized crime operating with so much greater sophistication, identity cards in my judgment are long overdue."

But opposition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats assailed the plan as an effort to raise levels of fear in Britain in the hope of winning votes in elections that could be held next May.

The government announced other security-related moves on Tuesday, including proposals for new counterterrorism legislation and for a new police unit akin to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Britain ceased issuing national identity documents to its citizens 52 years ago.

Identity cards are commonplace in many parts of Continental Europe. But in Britain, opponents argue that their use will infringe on civil rights because they will be accompanied by a national database. The cards are expected to include names, addresses and so-called biometrics, like computerized fingerprint records.

Previously announced plans called for the introduction of identity cards around 2008, when Britons applying for a new passport would be required to obtain an identity card at the same time. The government wants to make the cards compulsory at a later date.
I want desperately for BushCo to follow PM Poodle's lead on this ASAP. This will make the fundie's heads absolutely explode as it is clearly the Mark of the Beast.

Feeling Safer Yet? Pt. II 

(via NYT)
WASHINGTON, Nov. 24 - Two more senior officials of the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine service are stepping down, intelligence officials said Wednesday, in the latest sign of upheaval in the agency under its new chief, Porter J. Goss.

As the chiefs of the Europe and Far East divisions, the two officials have headed spying operations in some of the most important regions of the world and were among a group known as the barons in the highest level of clandestine service, the Directorate of Operations.

A former intelligence official described the two as "very senior guys" who were stepping down because they did not feel comfortable with new management.

A backdrop to the tensions have been accusations from some Republicans that the agency sought over the summer to undermine Mr. Bush's re-election. [Sen. John McCain [R-BS], in suggesting that the agency had been disloyal, has singled out the disclosure of intelligence reports about Iraq whose conclusions were at odds with administration assertions about the war.

Still, the memorandum that Mr. Goss issued last week advised his employees that the agency's job was to "support the administration and its policies" and to do nothing to associate themselves with opposition to the administration.
Hmm, why don't they just put a notice at the bottom of their help-wanted ads reading "Members of the so-called "Reality-Based Community" need not apply?"

Feeling Safer Yet? 

And they say we don't "profile" enough:

(via MN Star-Tribune)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A Florida woman arrested at Fort Lauderdale Airport with a gun in her carry-on bag says she ``wouldn't harm a soul.''

Margaret Anderson told deputies and reporters she forgot the pistol was in her tote bag. The single-shot Colt Derringer was in a gun case built to look like a hardcover book. The gun was unloaded but there were seven bullets in the case with it.

The 79-year-old woman was booked and freed on $1,000 bond. She could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
Same gun, but carried by someone of a different gender, different age. Or a darker skin color. What kind of bond would we be looking at?

Textbook stickers 

Mix 'em, match 'em, share 'em with your friends! Here's a sample:

This book discusses heliocentrism, that the Earth orbits around a centrally located Sun. Because astronomers still disagree over the details of the heliocentric model, this material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.
(via Here)

For the SICs who are using our tax dollars to put stickers on textbooks saying that evolution is "just a theory" (as if science wasn't all about formulating and testing theories).

Wrecking the American brand 

Seems like American Apparel is the kind of company that's doing some good. What a concept, T-shirts that aren't made in sweatshops. Granted, not everyone can afford them, but what's not to like about paying people a living wage?

Anyhow, I'm reading the local weekly in while vacationing in a foreign country that shall remain nameless (OK, Canada), and on the back cover of the local weekly I read an ad with the following headline:

The secret to American Apparel is that very few of us are actually American.

Seems like the "American" brand isn't what it used to be, all of a sudden. I wonder why?

Taxation without representation 

Funding bills originate in the House. Henceforth, Democrats will have no voice in funding bills. QED.

Congress will pass bills only if most House Republicans back them, regardless of how many Democrats favor them.

Hastert's position, which is drawing fire from Democrats and some outside groups, is the latest step in a decade-long process of limiting Democrats' influence and running the House virtually as a one-party institution. Republicans earlier barred House Democrats from helping to draft major bills such as the 2003 Medicare revision and this year's intelligence package. Hastert (R-Ill.) now says such bills will reach the House floor, after negotiations with the Senate, only if "the majority of the majority" supports them.
(via WaPo)

No point whining about unfairness. How to resist?

The only thing necessary for Evil to triumph... 

is for Google to start blocking ads from the good guys (Here. Yet another reason to exit the Google environment, besides the massive suckitude of their content management system.

We're not looking for tomatoes with good taste... 

... we're looking for tomatoes that taste good!

Who knew? The Feds are in cahoots with Big Food to force tomatoes that taste like cardboard down your throats:

The rule is this: No tomato destined for sale outside Florida shall cross the Suwannee River unless it is the right shape.

That's the way it's been since 1955, when a federal marketing order established the standards for what a Florida tomato is all about.

Joe Procacci says that rule leaves his company out of luck.

Procacci is the chief executive officer of Philadelphia-based Procacci Brothers Sales Corp., which grows the UglyRipe, a flavorful but misshapen tomato sometimes described in the industry as "cat-faced."

He contends the other Florida growers are jealous of the UglyRipe's success, and want to keep it from competing with their tomatoes out of state.

"This tomato doesn't compete with that cardboard-tasting tomato. It competes with the greenhouse tomatoes and other premium-tasting tomatoes," Procacci said. "The Florida round tomatoes are excellent for quick-service restaurants like McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King."
(via Palm Beach Post)

Right. Fast-food tomatoes can taste like cardboard. That's OK.

Now, I'm not one to idealize Florida growers, which the UglyRipe guys definitely are. And I'd be the last one to call any vegetable to save the Constitution. Or claim that an army of foodies can't be beaten.

But this is still an important story.

Eating is primal; it's an act that makes and keeps us human (loaves and fishes, eh? Though the "fish" was actually the Galilean equivalent of Nuoc mam). So, if the corporations control the food we put into our mouths, they control a spectrum of our humanity. But food doesn't taste good because corporations made it taste good; food tastes good because we humans co-evolved with the earth and the things that grow in the earth. So, even if the UglyRipe is a CamelCased corporate trademark, we can still strike a small blow for humanity by choosing to eat a tomato that doesn't have the taste and texture of cardboard. Because the next step is buying seasonal fresh vegetables at the farmers market.

That would be the farmers market at the Reading Terminal or in your own town square. Now, I agree that when Democrats buy into the Red/Blue trope they guarantee their collective failure (See upyernoz at Atrios). (Not to say that millionaire consultants and pundits can't use the trope for their personal success.) The country is obviously divided, but not in such a simple, binary way. However, one of the obvious and unhealthy divisions, which the purple maps show, is between the city and the country. I see patronizing farmers markets—because their vegetables taste good, and their meat isn't laden with poisons—as one small way for me, a city dweller, to help out the country.

Oh, the Slow Food movement is one networking opportunity for Democrats. Though I insist that Xan's idea of joining the NRA is brilliant.

Readers, thoughts? Are there better ways for city dwellers to help the country? Is the very notion of helping the country patronizing?

Destroying the city in order to save it 

Well, maybe it will work the second time:

"It's going to be difficult putting Fallujah together again, but not impossible," said [Staff Sgt. Alexandros] Pashos. "That is the saddest, to have it all come to this, all these people's homes destroyed."

But even before air and ground assault, Fallujah was poor by the Marines' standards, with many of its people living in mud-brick homes in tight, crowded neighborhoods.

"After we rebuild Fallujah, it will be a lot better place to live," said [Lance Cpl. Brian] Wyer, the Oklahoman, "something that was worth our sacrifice."
(via AP)

Unser Fuhrer ~ brought to you by... 

A note on the subject of current historical parallels to the growth of right wing nationalism, nativism, and volkisch movements in Weimar Germany - as discussed by Dale Maharidge author of Homeland - and for which RDF points to below with his link to Whose Homeland Is This? by Annette Fuentes. See RDF's earlier contribution: Heart in the Heartland

Just one quick comment on the title to Fuentes's post
Whose Homeland Is This?

I think the answer to that question is that, unfortunately, it's our homeland. It's part of our homegrown homemade history too. Comparisons to the rise of right wing fascism in pre-Nazi Germany are obvious enough, and fair game, but it shouldn't be forgotten that a similar foul and noisy squawking beast, with multiple heads, roared across America during much of the same period. Not to mention its later manifestations.

From the early 1900's through the 1930's the emphasis on a new Protestant "fundamentalist" ideology and its clangorous leadership helped fuel and renew such socio-political cultural perversions as the Ku Klux Klan and such anti-Catholic Klan-styled organizations as the "Black Legion." Far right, often pro-fascist groups, such as the various "shirt" groups and the Christian Front and the openly pro-Nazi German American Bund (to name only a few) collected thousands of members and supporters as well. The OFDI (Order of the Sons of Italy), in cities such as Philadeplphia and New York, proudly organized support for Mussolini's fascist cause. Some were more or less sympathetic to the German and Italian variety of fascism than others. Protestant-based Klan groups tended to be more nativist and nationalistic, and wary of their Italian and German right-wing cousins, preferring a "100% American" home-cooked stew of racism, white supremacy, anti-liberalism, anti-modernism, anti-intellecualism, anti-Catholicism, anti-immigrantion, anti-communism, anti-labor unionism, anti-socialism, anti-semitism, etc.... These delivered up with a pious patriotic wave and a big toothy "Jesus loves you" smile. Even the DAB (German American Bund) meetings (30,000 in Madison Square Garden) featured swastika flags fluttering alongside the stars and stripes. If you've never seen any of that old film footage (and you won't very often), well, it'll give ya the creeps.

Anyway, you people who read here regularly know exactly what I mean so I'll just move along. What follows is an excerpt from Ian Kershaw's Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris as it relates to the emergence of the "leadership cult" in Weimar Germany (all bold emphasis mine).

"Our Leader" THEN:
There had been no trace of a leadership cult in the first years of the Nazi party. The word 'leader' ('Fuhrer') had no special meaning attached to it. Every political party or organization had a leader - or more than one. The NSDAP was no different. [...] Once Hitler had taken over the party leadership in July 1921, the term 'our leader' ('unser Fuhrer') became gradually more common. But its meaning was still interchangeable with the purely functional 'chairman of the NSDAP'. There was nothing 'heroic' about it. Nor had Hitler endeavoured to build up a personality cult around himself. But Mussolini's triumph evidently made a deep impression on him. It gave him a role-model. Referring to Mussolini, less than a month after the 'March on Rome', Hitler reportedly stated: 'So will it be with us. We only have to have the courage to act. Without struggle, no victory!' However, the reshaping of his self-image also reflected how his supporters were beginning to see their leader. His followers portrayed him, in fact, as Germany's 'heroic' leader before he came to see himself in that light. Not that he did anything to discourage the new way he was being portrayed from autumn 1922 onwards. It was in December 1922 that the Volkischer Beobachter for the first time appeared to claim that Hitler was a special kind of leader - indeed the Leader for whom Germany was waiting. ~ [source: Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris; by Ian Kershaw; chapter 6, The 'Drummer'; pages 182-183]

"Our Leader" AGAIN:

A billboard recently put up in Orlando bearing a smiling photograph of President Bush with the words "Our Leader" is raising eyebrows among progressives who feel the poster is akin to that of propaganda used by tyrannical regimes.

RAW STORY confirmed the billboard’s existence Monday evening. The billboard pictured, which is on I-4, says that it is a "political public service message brought to you by Clear Channel Outdoor."

A second billboard bearing the same image along the same route says it was paid for by Charles W. Clayton Jr. Clayton's firm, Charles Clayton Construction, said he was traveling this week and couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Clear Channel-sponsored billboard was not lit up for drivers Monday evening. The Clayton billboard was. ~ (more at link... via the Blue Lemur - 11/22/2004)

"What can save Germany is the dictatorship of the national will and national determination. The question arises: is the suitable personality to hand? Our task is not to look for such a person. He is a gift from heaven, or is not there. Our task is to create the sword that this person will need when he is there. Our task is to give the dictator, when he comes, a people ready for him!" ~ Adolph Hitler, interview Daily Mail (British) Oct. 2, 1923. [source: Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris; by Ian Kershaw; chapter 6, The 'Drummer'; page 184]

Kinda gives ya the creeps, doesn't it? What will we tell the children? Don't hold your breath waiting for the today's vapid official statement readers and trinket salesmen in the network and corporate cable TV "news" rooms (especially the Clear Channel ilk) to point out any of these eerie historical parallels. They're too busy declaring evolution and the separation of church and state an internet conspiracy theory. Or breathlessly awaiting news of Donald Trump's next big televised beheading. And just like the dopey modern day wowsers of our current SCLM, the early 20th century German media itself, for the most part, as a whole, expressed little serious attention to what was gradually unfolding in Weimar Germany. By the time they knew what had hit 'em it was far too late.

Some folks might consider that a lapse of moral judgement. But not our shiny cloistered fattened-up-for-the-slaughter SCLM. Nope. Some folks just can't read the writing on the billboards.

Hey, look - over there! - a naked statue and a filthy liberal seducing a God-fearin' American. Someone notify the Ministry of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

Monster post by RDF.

It strikes me that one way to end the sterile Red/Blue debate—a division where political establishments become a shorthand for the people they do, or do not, represent—is to think through a healthier connection between the city and the country.

Funny how Thanksgiving is all about food, yet where food comes from is a great non-topic. You don't have to believe in the Slow Food movement to want put something in your children's mouths other than chemical-laden corporate swill... And an attitude like that can only help small farmers, for example. The kind who come to the farmer's market. More like this.

It was the 49ers who found the gold, after all...

Voters unite! 

Voters unite! seems like an interesting and informative site (via alert reader Ben G.. Readers?

Heart in the Heartland 

We got together Wednesday night. It was a good gathering, I guess. We ate and drank and sang songs (poorly but loudly) and talked. Told ‘em on phone and email, bring anyone who is shocked and angry and sad about the election and about the direction America is headed, for a pre-Thanksgiving get-together. If you want to bring food or drink and a musical instrument, fine.

Called and emailed 50 or 60, ended up 26 people attending. I don’t know how it will go in the future—who does?— and all we have is a vague promise to get together over the winter holidays and try to make it to a party meeting, but at least we talked. Thing is, all of us already do at least some or most of the things we talked about doing, and most everyone felt that it wasn’t doing much good. Met a banjo player who knew all the Phil Ochs songs. Anyway, what sticks in my ruined mind is this guy who I’d met before but hadn’t seen in a year or so, a Native rabblerouser who’d been active in trying to get the border towns around the big rez to take some action to help the homeless drunks last I met him, saying like so as we were getting ready to pack it up (I didn’t take notes)

It took me five years just to get that one little city to agree that it might be, just might be, their responsibility to help. Another two years after that before they kicked in money and an old building to help open the shelter. I had to be a pain in the ass. Still have to be. And I still have to hear that “personal responsibility” crap all the time. They want these poor bastards to just stop doing what they’re doing, and if these guys die of exposure, oh well, it was their choice. They couldn’t see a human suffering, they just saw another Indian drunk. They didn’t say it that way, of course. Sweet talk about freedom and how government handouts just make people weak, words without heart is what they put out. It’s the same all over. There’s no heart, people are beat down. So, it’s good to be with people, especially white people, who have, y’know, some heart …”

And, it was after all an eclectic group—community and tribal college students, drinkers and non-drinkers, animal rights activists, do-gooders, and livestock owners and hunters. Locals and folks who stayed around over Thanksgiving and had nowhere better to go.

And we didn’t argue much. There was “heart.” I’m beginning to think that’s what’s needed. No matter how ineffective our efforts seem, in the end the drops add up and wear away the rock.

So, of course, yesterday I wrapped myself in a blanket, ate leftover barbecue and corn, and read Homeland by Dale Maharidge in front of the fire. And I think maybe that’s what he was documenting, too. A nation ruled increasingly by fear and nationalism and marked by a lack of heart. The line that stuck with me was how the middle of America had been written off economically, was suffering, and yet was the most intensely nationalistic area of all. And the reason? Fear. Too few standing up and putting their hearts up front. And yet, so many… I haven’t spent much time in a real city in 20 years, but I recall it the same way… nobody knows anybody else, really… nobody reaching out. And yet, so many anonymous folks trying, like Oscar Zeta Acosta’s “cockroach people,” invisible when the lights come on, but always there… for those of you who haven’t read Maharidge:

…Maharidge sees nativism and racism as fundamentally anti-democratic, the curdled byproducts of a failed economic system and the betrayal of working-class people whatever their color or creed.

Maharidge finds historical precedents in post-World War I Weimar Germany for what he found as he traveled post-9/11 America “harvesting” stories of reaction and rage. Germany’s political and economic fall from power and the accompanying nationalism fed Hitler’s rise to power. Maharidge sees in today’s America the awful possibilities of a similar angry nationalism. “Many Americans long for a nation that is powerful—at least in economic terms. Americans may not be lugging bushel baskets of money to buy bread, but they are trying to live on Wal-Mart wages paying Silicon Valley-level prices for mortgages and rents in the hinterlands. These Americans want back the America they remember.” Conservative talk radio, Maharidge writes, is “a virtual beer hall” where right-wing thugs like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly whip up their listeners with inflammatory racist and anti-immigrant—not to mention homophobic and sexist—blather.

…Who will get to define patriotism and democracy in post-9/11 America? Will it be, as Maharidge describes them, the “thousand mini-Ashcrofts scattered around the country—0n school boards, in newspaper publishers’ offices, among some college administrators, on local police departments”—or will it be the Katie Sierras? Homeland poses this fundamental question. It is one that all of us who are committed to social and economic justice must ultimately answer. Whose Homeland Is This? -- In These Times

We are the 49ers. And it’s up to us to use our hearts and minds to bring over at least a big chunk of the 51ers. Locally. Person by person. Huge national movements are fine, but it comes down to that.

It’s snowing like hell. Good weather for checking on the livestock, then wrapping up and reading another book. Then, Monday, back on the road for the last time this year... and talking to one person at a time. If I'm scarce around corrente, that's why. Or the power's out again. Arrrghhh, Peace and justice, y'all.

Black Friday: Now that the tryptophan has worn off... 

Hecate over at Atrios has an interesting suggestion:

This year, I’m urging
everyone I know to refuse to spend money for Xmas as a protest. Stay out of the stores. For Goddess sake, don’t run up credit card debt. Give your family and friends the gift of your time and attention rather than a new sweater that they won’t wear or some object to clutter-up an already over-cluttered life. But just not buying isn’t enough. You’ve got to contact the retailers and credit card companies and tell them: I’m not going to be buying Xmas stuff and I’m not going to be charging Xmas stuff until this country has a system in place that ensures fair and verifiable elections. Reader Kate has done the research and discovered that The National Retail Federation “is the world’s largest retail trade association . . . .” Write to Their Vice President for Legislative and Political Affairs, Katherine Lugar. Here’s her contact info:

National Retail Federation
325 7th Street, N.W.
Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 1-800-NRF-HOW2
Fax (202) 727-2849
(via Atrios)

Seems to me this is an idea that everyone agree with, even (perhaps especially) Christians, who must surely be appalled at the commercial desecration of Christmas.

My only concern is that the front of attack—all retailers—might be too broad. Why not pick a weak corporation out of the pack, and attack that corporation? Readers? Perhaps a weak corporation that's a heavy Republican contributor?

"Give your country fair elections for Christmas!"

Hey, let's give Bush the benefit of the doubt on Gonzales! 

A thumbsucker from the LA Times:

But friends and former associates, and even some adversaries, say Gonzales also has shown a balance that has been obscured in his service to Bush over the years.

Some balance, huh?

Now, with his presumed ascent to the top of the Justice Department, people are starting to wonder which Gonzales will show up for work: the relative moderate who emphasizes a low-key, fact-based approach to the law, or the ardent advocate who follows the marching orders of his president and friend and his expansive view of presidential power.
(via LA Times)

Where to begin? Which Gonzales will show up for work? Presumably, Bush knows—otherwise, Bush wouldn't have nominated him. And I was about to say that someone should just ask him, but all that would come out of Bush's mouth would be meaningless drivel of Hughesian talking points, so why bother?

Seems to me I remember December and January stories in 2001 wondering whether the Bush administration would be moderate.... And look what happened then!

Anyhow—heck, maybe at some point someone will pick up on this—the point on Gonzales isn't that he thinks the Geneva convention is "quaint," bad though that is. The point is that Gonzales wrote the brief that says Bush has the "inherent authority" to set aside the law (here)

That's not moderation in any sense of the word. In fact, it is, precisely, a revolution; taking power by overthrowing the rule of law.

And somehow, this story just doesn't get covered. I wonder why?

SCLM to citizens: Lay back and enjoy it!

UPDATE Link to Gonzales brief fixed, thanks to alert reader Ben G.

qWagmire: Green zone hit 

More proof that we're winning:

A mortar attack killed four employees of a British security firm and wounded 15 others in the Baghdad's Green Zone, a fortified area that houses the U.S. and Iraqi leadership, the company and British officials said Friday.
(via WaPo)

Can't protect the Green Zone, can't protect the road to the airport... Oh, wait. The Iraqis aren't going to go to the airport to vote, for pity's sake. Let's try not to ask too much, here.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Boudinot Day! 

To conclude our lesson in the History of Thanksgiving as a Holiday, we note the two other efforts to get the occasion to stick, as it were, to become a permanent feature of the calendar-printer's schedule and thus become a part of American tradition

(via Philly Inquirer)
As Americans sit down to their Thanksgiving celebrations, most can remember their introduction to the holiday in elementary school, when teachers explained how in 1621, pilgrims and American Indians shared a meal and gave thanks for the harvest.

The history lesson usually ends there, but 168 years later, Rep. Elias Boudinot of Burlington City played a significant role in forming the holiday.

On Sept. 25, 1789, he introduced a resolution asking President Washington to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many significant favours of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness."

Boudinot was part of a committee to get the resolution passed, and on Sept. 26 the Senate agreed to the resolution. On Oct. 3, Washington proclaimed there would be a day of prayer and thanksgiving in November, the first time the federal government recognized a day of thanksgiving.

So why don't more people know about Boudinot and his role in Thanksgiving? There are several reasons, said Maxine Lurie, a professor of New Jersey history and early American history at Seton Hall University in South Orange.

"He's not a name that would jump out at you, but he was a significant figure in the Revolution in New Jersey and nationally," Lurie said.

Boudinot's resolution was not considered a big deal when approved, she added.

"In colonial days, they regularly had thanksgiving days as ways of being grateful for things," Lurie said.

The proclamation Washington signed survives in several forms, said James E. Guba, a staff member who worked on "The Papers of George Washington" project at the University of Virginia.

And then--no link, it came in on an email from a Civil War discussion group I belong to--the results of Sarah Josepha Hale's lobbying campaign for a holiday to kick off the Christmas shopping season:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of
peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have here unto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln

Thanksgiving ~ just another big government program 

Below: Text of Sarah Hale's letter to Abraham Lincoln requesting national recognition of an "annual Thanksgiving" and "Union Festival."

Philadelphia, Sept. 28th 1863.


Permit me, as Editress of the "Lady's Book", to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

Enclosed are three papers (being printed these are easily read) which will make the idea and its progress clear and show also the popularity of the plan.

For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the "Lady's Book", and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories -- also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen -- and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients I have received, uniformly the most kind approval. Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union.

But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid -- that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; -- or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment.

I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag -- could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.

Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.

An immediate proclamation would be necessary, so as to reach all the States in season for State appointments, also to anticipate the early appointments by Governors.

Excuse the liberty I have taken

With profound respect

Yrs truly

Sarah Josepha Hale,

Editress of the "Ladys Book"

Notes on text from Library of Congress:
[Note 1 ID: Sarah J. Hale, a poet and novelist, became editor of the Ladies' Magazine in 1828. In 1837 the Ladies' Magazine was sold and became known as the Lady's Book. Hale served as editor of the Lady's Book until 1877. During her tenure as editor, Hale made the magazine the most recognized and influential periodical for women. Hale was involved in numerous philanthropic pursuits and used her position as editor to advocate the education of women.]

[Note 2 Nathaniel P. Banks and Edwin D. Morgan]

[Note 3 On October 3, Lincoln issued a proclamation that urged Americans to observe the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving. See Collected Works, VI, 496-97.]

Oct 3, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be Thanksgiving Day. The decree only technically affected the District of Columbia and federal employees but governors throughout the Union followed suit with similar state proclamations.
Lincoln issued a similar proclamation in 1864. With the exception of Andrew Johnson designating the first Thursday in December as Thanksgiving Day 1865 and Ulysses Grant choosing the third Thursday for Thanksgiving Day 1869, U.S. presidents maintained the holiday until Franklin Roosevelt broke with tradition in 1939.

Note: In 1939 Roosevelt celebrated Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, Nov 23 rather than the last day of the month, Thursday, Nov 30. (In some years November has five Thursdays). In 1941 Congress lowered the boom and decreed that the fourth Thursday of November (as opposed to the last) would be officially recognized as our national Thanksgiving Day. And so it is.

Nov 1846 - Hale begins writing letters on behalf of national Thanksgiving proclamation. more here

Sept 28, 1863 - Sarah Hale's letter to Abraham Lincoln. Image and text

Happy Thanksgiving Union Festival Day, heathens.


The Giving Of Thanks 

A message crafted by our President's message team for red America:

All across America, we gather this week with the people we love, to give thanks to God for the blessings in our lives. We are grateful for our freedom, grateful for our families and friends, and grateful for the many gifts of America.

On Thanksgiving Day, we acknowledge that all of these things, and life itself, come from the Almighty God. Almost four centuries ago, the Pilgrims celebrated a harvest feast to thank God after suffering through a brutal winter.

President George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and President Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War, asking Americans to give thanks with "one heart and one voice."

Since then, in times of war and in times of peace, Americans have gathered with family and friends and given thanks to God for our blessings. Thanksgiving is also a time to share our blessings with those who are less fortunate.

Americans this week will gather food and clothing for neighbors in need. Many young people will give part of their holiday to volunteer at homeless shelters and food pantries.

On Thanksgiving, we remember that the true strength of America lies in the hearts and souls of the American people. By seeking out those who are hurting and by lending a hand, Americans touch the lives of their fellow citizens and help make our nation and the world a better place.

This Thanksgiving, we express our gratitude to our dedicated firefighters and police officers who help keep our homeland safe. We are grateful to the homeland security and intelligence personnel who spend long hours on faithful watch.

And we give thanks for the Americans in our armed forces who are serving around the world to secure our country and advance the cause of freedom. These brave men and women make our entire nation proud, and we thank them and their families for their sacrifice. On this Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for His blessings and ask Him to continue to guide and watch over our nation.

Plainspoken, common sense, idealistic, words fashioned for a man whose sensibilities are uncommonly common, and for whom words have the power to make the untrue true; or perhaps it's power itself which makes that possible.

From blue America, James Carroll, a writer, by definition one of those reality-based observers whose assigned task, according to that Bush man who spoke to Ron Suskind, is to analyze the new realities on the ground those bold strategic doers gathered around George W. Bush will be creating in the next four years, decides not to do that; instead, Mr. Carroll employs his uncommon, personal, and highly specific sensibility to find the uncommon meanings in the traditional, in the familiar, in the local, in the human, and manages to renew our delight in an American holiday that I have always thought of as part of our shared civic religion. Reading it made me happy and hopeful. It was published first in the Boston Globe, where Mr. Carroll writes regularly, and then at Common Dreams, where I happened on it.

Since our hope for ourselves, and for all who wander the leftward leaning portion of blogtopia, as skippy so brilliantly continues to coin, is to find renewed delight in being an American, and renewed hope for a vision of the American heritage that will reassert itself in the next four years, we reproduce Mr. Carroll, at some length, for your Thanksgiving pleasure.
America's Heartfelt Holiday
by James Carroll

Thanksgiving is preferable to Christmas. No denominational strings are attached to this week's observance, to the benefit of those for whom the birth of Jesus Christ is an emblem of exclusion. Thanksgiving has not been taken hostage by the extravagance of gift-giving or the burdens of shopping. Built around the meal, the feast celebrates the exquisite tension between appetite and its satisfaction. Honoring the turning of the year, it is a first pushing back against winter's cold darkness with the warmth and light of fireplaces, candles, the illuminations of reunion.

True, Thanksgiving legends evoke the conflict between white European settlers and the native peoples who welcomed them, but even so, this holiday points more to inclusion than displacement. Generations of varied immigrant groups have identified as Americans by embracing this holiday -- and its peculiar menu.

When the president of the United States ritually commutes the death sentence of a turkey, as George W. Bush did at the White House last week, one imagines the cruel rebuke felt by the legion of unpardoned death row inmates across the country, and so the joke goes flat. Yet here, too, even wishing for universal commutation, one can affirm an attempt at joviality.

Thanksgiving wants to be lighthearted, only friendly, a time of towns organized around games; of formerly dispersed families gathered at laden tables; a rare interval of authentic leisure; the most martial of nations at ease for once. A holiday, pure and simple.

What we love most is Thanksgiving's underlying idea: that existence itself is a gift. If the holiday ritual calls for the bounty of culinary excess -- four side dishes, three kinds of pie, two forms of cranberry -- it is not to celebrate affluence but to acknowledge the accidental richness of life itself. The multiple desserts are tribute to all that we don't deserve. In taking time away from work, we are remembering that the most precious things are those that we do nothing to earn.

Thus, in some homes couples look across the table at one another and recall how, years ago, each was ambushed by romantic desire, then was stunned to discover it as mutual. In others, parents marvel at the ways their children have surpassed them. Or friends take note of how the passage of time has turned simple familiarity into unbreakable bonds. Perhaps sons and daughters glimpse in their mothers and fathers, or even in their brothers and sisters, a rock-solid trustworthiness for which, as yet, they have no words.

Some people are ill this Thanksgiving, bearing the effects of stroke, say, or recuperating from an operation, or clinging, perhaps, to what strength has outlasted the chemotherapy. Yet aren't they the very ones who tell their healthy friends and relatives how precious is every day, every hour, every minute? Some families are broken, many people are alone, beloved ones are missing -- a holiday that celebrates intimacy can make its absence painful.

Idealized observances, so different from the real, can weigh too much. No one lives in Norman Rockwell land. No one lives forever. Human beings are constitutionally incapable of consistent generosity. Every person has reason to feel regret. Yet directly facing such difficult facts of the human condition can be a relief, because they inherently suggest their counterfacts. Even the tragic aspect of experience, that is, can open to the primal mystery on which all else rests, and Thanksgiving dares to affirm that mystery as benign. Life is good.

An attitude of gratefulness defines us at our best. It does this by pointing away from the self toward others, or toward an Other. Conventionally religious people are quick to put the name "God" on the one being thanked, and prayers come quickly to lips this week. But the feeling of sublime indebtedness, defining what is expressly human about humanity, is larger than religion. On Thanksgiving, feast of the exuberant abundance of creation, all language about any conceivable Creator falls short because creation itself exceeds our capacity to account for it. No matter, because, in being buoyed by this most oceanic of emotions, one need not know toward whom, exactly, one feels it. Let each person be God, therefore, to every other. God enough for now.

And isn't that why we call it "grace" -- the gift that requires nothing of the recipient except a heart so full it overflows, becoming a well of grace for someone else. In this way grace abounds. Why not join hands at the table, then, letting a moment's silence do the speaking, since the day itself is our way of giving thanks?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

I'm travelling tomorrow, so very light posting.

I'm thankful for... Well, the Republicans are acting like sloppy (power) drunks who have finally decided to just let themselves go, and toss the empties onto the floor instead of at least kicking them under the sofa.

Honestly! They can pass the money for a Presidential yacht, and can't pass the intelligence bill? I have the feeling they are going to have a very hard time taking the first step.... And we may have to do an intervention....

aWol serves up a platter of steaming crap [encore presentation] 

[Originally published December 1, 2003, almost a year ago—and who would have known that the Iraq qWagmire would turn out even worse than our worst imaginings?

Say, I wonder if Inerrant Boy is, even now, winging his way over the ocean to bring the boys (handpicked (back) for loyalty) another helping of (fake) turkey?]

My first artwork!

And for this we give thanks.

You'd think that a real live editorial cartoonist would have come up with this simple notion already, but N-o-o-o-o. SCLM....

You don't always need a sign to protest 

Or any other accessories....

Turn your back on Bush.

Pot, meet kettle 

Do-gooder Colin Powell steps into the Ukrainian mess:

Secretary of State Colin Powell said today the United States does not consider legitimate the results of elections in Ukraine, which the opposition says was marred by fraud.

He challenged leaders of the former Soviet bloc nation "to decide whether they are on the side of democracy or not."

"We cannot accept this result as legitimate, because it does not meet international standards and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse," Powell said.
(via Houston Chronicle)

Fine word, legitimate!

Of course, US elections don't meet international standards either (back), and after Florida 2000, have been shown to be marked by massive fraud.


My Hat is a Nice Soft Beanie, Thanks 

Still wondering about the military’s role in domestic affairs? This wasn’t really covered by the SCLM, was it? Here’s Rumsfeld’s vision of the ideal nation, speaking in Ecuador last week and calling for a return to police states:

''Since Sep. 11, 2001, we have had to conduct an essential re-examination of the relationships between our military and our law enforcement responsibilities in the U.S.'', asserted Rumsfeld, who never let the phrase ''human rights'' pass his lips. ''The complex challenges of this new era and the asymmetric threats we face require that all elements of state and society work together''.

Indeed, the Pentagon chief included under the rubric of ''enemies'' faced by the region's armed forces a number of actors who normally would come under the jurisdiction of the civilian authorities. ''Terrorists, drug traffickers, hostage takers and criminal gangs form an anti-social combination that increasingly seeks to destabilise civil societies'', he declared, further blurring the line between the roles of the military and the police…

Of the newspapers that covered the conference, only the 'Miami Herald' stressed Rumsfeld's recommendations on expanding the role of the military in dealing with the region's security problems and quoted Jose Pampurro, the Argentine defence minister, and his Brazilian counterpart, Jose Alencar, on the subject…

The same article quoted Brazil's Alencar as calling for global disarmament, and insisting, ''the cause of terrorism is not just fundamentalism, but misery and hunger''. Inter Press Service

There’ll be none of that touchy-feely crap here, pal. Go back to Brazil! So, Rumsfeld is encouraging Latin America to return to the police state model, and Chimpie is encouraging a review of whether “paramilitary forces” should be under CIA or Pentagon control (see Lambert’s question, below). Hmmm. Naah. Of course American troops would never do that. It’s not part of their training:

MOSUL, Iraq - It began with U.S. troops busting through the doors of the wrong house.

Dozens of soldiers rammed the white gates of a well-to-do home in central Mosul early on Tuesday, detaining three Iraqi men, only to discover their target was a house with black gates.
"Four houses down," said the elderly homeowner patiently, his hands bound behind his back by yellow plastic cuffs.

"You've got the wrong people," he told the officer leading the operation in good English, his wife, daughter and two pajama-clad grandchildren cowering alongside him, trying to avoid the glare from the spotlights on the soldiers' guns…

Down the road, soldiers were ramming open the gates of an upscale house. They were about to burst through the door when it opened. Inside were seven young women and six dazed children.
The men of the house were in a village outside Mosul for a few days, one of the women said in fluent English. The soldiers were looking for her father, a Mosul university professor.

"Is he a member of the Baath party?" Lackey asked her. "The Baath party that still exists?"

She replied that he wasn't any more, "that was ages ago." She pointed out her father was detained by U.S. troops in a previous raid and held for five months without charge. Reuters

Tonight, we eat, drink, sing and plan. While we still can. Not that America will ever become a police state—I mean, there would never be any need for martial law here. Right?

UPDATE: I am reminded that it's already been happening. One example:

In March 1992 a police SWAT team in Everett, Washington killed Robin Pratt in a no-knock raid while carrying out an arrest warrant for her husband. (Her husband was later released after the allegations on which the arrest warrant was based turned out to be false.) The Seattle Times summarized the raid:"Instead of using an apartment key given to them, SWAT members threw a 50- pound battering ram through a sliding glass door that landed near the heads of Pratt's six-year-old daughter and five-year-old niece. As deputy Anthony Aston rounded the corner to the Pratt's bedroom, he encountered Robin Pratt. SWAT members were yelling, `GET DOWN,' and she started to crouch to her knees. She looked up at Aston and said, `Please don't hurt my children'. Aston had his gun pointed at her and fired, shooting her in the neck. According to attorney John Muenster, she was alive another one to two minutes but could not speak because her throat had been destroyed by the bullet. She was then handcuffed, lying facedown."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Group I Really Want to Join 

I let my membership lapse when I got poor after losing a newspaper job in 1977 and somehow never got around to rejoining. Sometimes all you need, though, is the right motivation to re-up:

(via Media Matters via Atrios)

Reverend Radical Cleric Jerry Falwell, national chairman of the Faith and Values Coalition and Moral Majority founder, labeled the National Organization for Women (NOW) the "National Order of Witches," said he was going to invite People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to Christian men's gatherings called "Wild Game Night" so that they "can sit there and suffer," and called Americans United for Separation of Church and State "an anti-Christ" group.
Such gracious winners, arent' they? And always into that "Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself" routine. Of course the really scary part is that they may be doing exactly that.....

It couldn't happen to a nicer Poodle 

It seems that in the UK they still have a government that actually functions on Constitutional principles:

A Commons motion to impeach Tony Blair for "gross misconduct" over the Iraq war is being published next week.

Parliamentary officials have approved the motion's wording and will allow it to be tabled on Wednesday - the day after the Queen's Speech.

MPs will have the chance to sign the order paper. The Speaker will then decide whether to allow a debate on it.

Plaid Cymru's Adam Price said 30 MPs have agreed to sign the motion which charges Mr Blair with improper conduct.

The allegation against the prime minister would be that in making the case against Iraq he was guilty of a serious breach of constitutional principles.

Mr Price said that the impeachment process had now been established as part of British Parliamentary practice.

It closed a "gap in the constitution" which had meant that while the prime minister had to hold his ministers to account, there was nothing to hold the prime minister to account if he were to mislead Parliament.
(via BBC)

Wow, what's the Blair impeachment about? A blowjob?

Oh, no, nothing like that. They're accusing Blair telling lies to take his country into a war.

[Yawn] So what's your point?

Goodnight, moon 

What is this "work" for "money" thing I've been hearing so much about?

Actually, I can tell you: It's really tiresome.

Apologies accepted 


And no, we won't let it happen again.

Hail Seizure! 

Via Raw Story.

And thanks to ClearChannel for this great, great public service! Love the blue color scheme!

If your child has been killed in Iraq, what can you expect? A form letter! 

Unbelievable? All too believable!

[Rumsfeld’s uses a machine] to replace his own John Hancock on KIA (killed in action) letters to parents and spouses. Two Pentagon-based colonels, who’ve both insisted on anonymity to protect their careers, have indignantly reported that the SecDef has relinquished this sacred duty to a signature device rather than signing the sad documents himself.

When I went to Jim Turner, a good man saddled with a tough job as one of Rumsfeld’s flacks at the Pentagon, for a confirmation or a denial, he said, “Rumsfeld signs the letters himself.”

I then went to about a dozen next-of-kin of American soldiers KIA in Iraq. Most agreed with the colonels’ accusations and said they’d noticed and been insulted by the machine-driven signature. One father bitterly commented that he thought it was a shame that the SecDef could keep his squash schedule but not find the time to sign his dead son’s letter. Several also felt compelled to tell me that the letter they received from George Bush also looked as though it was not signed personally by the president.

Dr. Ted Smith, whose son Eric was among the first 100 killed in Iraq, notes that the letter he received “from the commander in chief was signed with a thick, green marking pen. I thought it was stamped then and do even now. He had time for golf and the ranch but not enough to sign a decent signature with a pen for his beloved hero soldiers. I was going to send the letter back but did not. I am sorry I didn’t.”
(via Col. David Hackworth's DefenseWatch)

Well, look. Let's be reasonable. Rumsfeld and Bush are busy, busy men! If they had to sign off, personally, on each one of the soldiers they've killed, that would take a lot of their very valuable time!

Will the Dems continue to be the Washington Generals of American politics? 

Playing just hard enough to lose? Again? Or d: we want to bring the country back to where it should be?

What Orcinus said:

Democrats need to start from the ground up. Dean's the guy to do it.

Petitions are here and here.

Let's get that mojo working...

iWaq: More proof that we're winning 

Here's a great, great line:

me 5,000 U.S. Marines, British troops and Iraqi forces launched a new offensive Tuesday aimed at clearing a swath of insurgent hotbeds across a cluster of dusty, small towns south of Baghdad.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have come under repeated attacks by car bombs, rockets, and small arms fire in these areas in "an apparent attempt to divert attention" away from the former militant stronghold of Fallujah, the military said.
(via LA Times)

I love it... "An apparent attempt to divert attention"... Of course, the way we telegraphed the offensive (and held it back until after 11/3) it's obvious that only the insurgents who were strong contenders for the Darwin Award were still hanging out in Fallujah.

Oh, and more consequences of undermanning:

As the election approaches, U.S. commanders in Iraq probably will expand their troops by several thousand. Army units slated to depart are also being held back until after the election. There are now about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

The backdoor draft continues...

Readers, just a question 

Seems like the terrific success the Pentagon had with Iraq planning has moved Inerrant Boy to give them more responsibility:

The presidential directive, signed by Bush last week, asks the CIA and the Departments of State, Defense and Justice to report back to him in 90 days on "whether or not the paramilitary operations, currently under the control of the CIA, should be transferred to the Department of Defense," a senior administration official said.
(via Reuters)

Not to put my tinfoil hat or, or anything, but does anyone know if the prohibition against domestic covert operations applies only to the CIA, and not to the Pentagon? Readers? Just asking....

Light Morning Reading on Peace and Justice 

Reading things like this by David Willis and Walter Enloe make it hard to hold down my oatmeal:

The news from Washington this past week had eerie echoes of the lead-up to the war in Iraq. Now that George Bush has been re-elected President what might we anticipate as future scenarios? If the doctrine of pre-emption is followed the next conflict is likely to go nuclear.

When I heard Powell speaking off the cuff about Iran’s nookyoolar plans, my first thought was “where have I heard this before?” and then, I confess, I thought, “No, look at the iWaq clusterfuck—there’s no way they’d do that again.” But then again, we are dealing with the same people, people who apparently believe a well-placed nuke here or there for preemptive purposes is okay… now I’m depressed again, and more convinced than ever that peace and justice must be the focus of massive demonstrations nationally and smaller actions locally, or we could be facing a preznit who believes that “extremism in the defense of [American hegemony and oil profits] is no vice” and who would order the use of “tactical” nukes. At least congress killed the funding for the preznit’s new nookyoolar toys for the time being.

The defeat over the weekend of President Bush's attempts to fund research and possibly development of a new family of nuclear weapons was hailed Monday by arms control advocates as their biggest success in more than a decade.

…A major stumbling block to the administration's plans was a maverick Republican, Rep. David Hobson of Ohio, chairman of the House Appropriations energy subcommittee, who feared the funding would lead to a new arms race.

Unlike other military programs, nuclear weapons are overseen by the Energy Department, which is monitored by Congress' energy committees.

"What worries me about the nuclear penetrator," Hobson told one symposium when the administration proposal was being debated, "is that some idiot might try to use it."


One Republican with some sense, and we can sing hooray. Every victory counts. Still, it’s a nagging worry. Because “some idiot” might indeed try to use a nuke—it’s not like we don’t have any already, and, the idio—er, I mean, administration says the proposal isn’t dead and might come back in 2006. Vigilance. Who knows what else is being stuffed into these spending bills right now? Readers? So that one up above is peace, here below is justice:

The US debt will climb to $7 trillion a year in 2004, five times the entire debt of the third world. Other countries, notably Japan and China, hold one-third of that debt. This is at a time, we might note, that the Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs has proposed that the world's poverty could be eliminated with an investment of $150 billion.

But then, eliminating poverty would make the use of military might needless, and all of those generals would be out of work. Willis and Enloe end with a quote:

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, days before his 1968 assassination, "The world is more and more of a neighborhood. But is it any more of a brotherhood? If we don't learn to live together as brothers and sisters, we shall perish together as fools."

Okay, I’m focused.

from Going Nuclear: The Coming Wars with Iran and North Korea

UPDATE: A link to a website that shows in brief where the money's going in the omnibus spending bill...good place to start, anyway. I'm sure there's more tucked in there:


Tell us how you really feel! 

[Michael] Powell belongs at the bottom of the barrel with the lowliest of the bunch. He is an agenda masquerading as a man, the proverbial pompous ass and, worse, a genuine threat to freedom of speech. But on CNBC, he was playing Santa Claus. "I am still having fun," he said merrily, as if that were part of the job. "There are still things that are really significantly important to me to complete. Right now, I just have no plans of going anywhere."

That's the problem. If he were looking for places to go, I could suggest one in a snap. But it's a four-letter word and, who knows, I might end up in jail.
(via WaPo)


Monday, November 22, 2004

Goodnight, moon 

One more straw in the wind that Philly is becoming a Spot—a new paper, The Evening Bulletin. Or rather, everyting old is new again: A paper by the same name was published in Philly up until 25 years ago. Here's a review of Walt Whitman from back in the day, the 1880s, which accused him of bigwordiness.

I love newspapers, still, even though The Times has betrayed my trust so brutally, so I feel good when a new paper starts up. Still, the Bulletin is non-union. In Philly. Readers, thoughts on this?

George, are these the manners your Mother taught you? 


Kevin Sites Speaks 

Kevin Sites is the free-lance photographer who took the picture of the Marine in the mosque, shooting a wounded Iraqi.

As you probably know, Mr. Sites has been the subject of unending bile on the part of many rightwing blogs. Here's a sample from one I happened on called "Babalou," the perspective here that of an anti-Castro Cuban, I believe, not that there is anything wrong with being anti-Castro.

The MSM can circle-jerk on this issue all it wants to. Truth of the matter is that that "wounded insurgent" was there for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill American soldiers. He and his cohorts had all the time in the world to get the hell out of Fallujah. He didnt because he is a murderer and a terrorist. He was there because Allah told him to be there. Boo-f*cking-hoo. He was probably not even an Iraqi.

So, my take on it is simple.

F*ck'em. One less killer in this world.

Now let's get the rest of them.
The comments are equally as telling, and innocent of any knowledge of the Geneva conventions.
De acuerdo, Valentín. One of my biggest fears, and I suppose that of many other soldiers, is to get prosecuted for not fighting a politically correct war. If that Marine felt his life was in danger, I have no problem with his action.

But I think this incident illustrates a bigger problem we have an Iraq. The US Armed Forces can't defeat these animals with their hands tied behind their back. I just hope our leadership realizes the Rules of Engagement need to be adapted to the environment over there.

Posted by Yoan Gustavo at November 18, 2004 12:31 PM

From one marine to another, wish I were there to put a bullet thru the back of kevin jackass. Kevin better have eyes in the back of his head.

Posted by charles at November 18, 2004 02:44 PM

charles "the merciless" thinks shooting the reporter Kevin Sikes in the back is an appropriate answer for breaking this story.
I suggest you read the account rather some bunch of apologist bloggers.


Posted by Guest at November 18, 2004 05:56 PM

My favorite Slim Pickens line: "the only good injun is a ded injun"

Mr Sites would be doing this country a favor if he were to take one in the head tomorrow.

Posted by Mahgoo at November 18, 2004 08:03 PM

Ge, thanks Guest. I guess Ill watch it again for like the 50th time.

You miss the point entirely.

Posted by Val Prieto at November 18, 2004 08:26 PM
Val Prieto is the proprietor of the blog, and the above is only a selection from an ample thread. The main post also contains easy links to other blogs with an equally severe approach to the horror of having a free press.

I know, everything changed after 9/11. Except that anyone old enough to remember attitudes on the right to the press, once it had ceased to be an arm of the U.S. government and started to act like a free press during the Vietnam "conflict," can tell you how thoroughly is the sense of deja vu all over again. (as RDF does back here)

Among the commentators in the thread, one "madtom" defended Mr. Sites, on the wholly original, and in this day and age, "mad" grounds of having some knowledge of Sites' professional work over time, going so far as to provide a link. Feeling rather foolish it hadn't occurred to me to Goggle Sites' name, one grateful mouse click and there I was on a site of immense interest, with extraordinary photographs, and a just posted, Sunday, the 21st of November, explanation of what happened by Kevin Sites, himself, his first since the incident. It takes the form of an "Open Letter to Devil Dogs of the 3.1."
Since the shooting in the Mosque, I've been haunted that I have not been able to tell you directly what I saw or explain the process by which the world came to see it as well. As you know, I'm not some war zone tourist with a camera who doesn't understand that ugly things happen in combat. I've spent most of the last five years covering global conflict. But I have never in my career been a 'gotcha' reporter -- hoping for people to commit wrongdoings so I can catch them at it.

This week I've even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read the dispatches on this website is fully aware of the lengths I've gone to play it straight down the middle -- not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right.

But I find myself a lightning rod for controversy in reporting what I saw occur in front of me, camera rolling.

It's time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw -- without imposing on that Marine -- guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don't mean a damn to me.
Is this not what every American should want from its press? And isn't it interesting that to so few of the hardest of the hardliners, who think that they are supporting the troops, does it occur that a bond often exits between soldier and war correspondent, because they have in common a shared danger? I don't have the statistics at hand, but I understand that the number of dead injured press people has been unusually high in Iraq.

Sites' first person narration of what happened is riveting. You owe it to yourself as an American citizen, and you owe it to the young men and women called upon to fight an impossible war in your name, to read it. It forces us all to understand that what is happening in Iraq is a nightmare for everyone there. The genuine terrorists, those from outside Iraq, are something beyond dispicable. But, although perhaps of a different kind and to a different degree, so are the men and woman here, our own "leaders," who launched this war that cannot be won. Sikes brings home to all of us that our troops are caught in a nightmare not of their making.

I doubt that the Marine involved will be found to have committed a war crime, and quite probably, rightly so. It sounds, also, as if the young Marine will be haunted for a long time to come by what he found himself being forced by circumstances, not only out of his control, but of which he was not fully aware, to do. That part of this young Marine, his ethics, his conscience, his "soul," if you will, interest the keyboard warriors not a jot. The heavy burden that descended on the Marine's young shoulders in that moment when he discharged his gun does not excite the sympathies of the moral values set. It does mine. As it did Xan's in her post back here. Mr. Sites' account of the reality of Fallujah underlines Xan's point, that apart from the knuckleheaded responses of those on the right, as well as some in the center, which she brillinatly illuminates, there is this to add:
Hey guys, after you get done parsing how much really, really worse the Terrorists are, could you turn your fine-tuned Moral Analyzer on the folks who brought the Marine, the reporter and the wounded guys together in that mosque that day?
To get another look at what we're up against in trying to express a different reality than that of the rightwing blogs, who spend as much effort maligning what they are sure are our, anyone not of the right, attitudes, and pretending that the mainstream press, as represented by someone like Chris Matthews, for instance, leans far left and is invariable anti-American, than they do expressing their own points of view, (since their views are invariably shaped by rebounding off a hated "other,"), you can't find any better examples than you'll find here and here, including the comments.

Fearless, Sorta 

“And I took another slash. And then I took a big full.... That big old yellow moon a hangin' out there. God's lanterns a hangin' in the sky, and suddenly I got a tremendous revolution of emotion in my body like I was fallin' in love with everything in God's sweet world that moved, lived, didn't live, animate, inanimate, black, blue, green, pink, mountains, fountains. I was in love with life, 'cause I was drunk! I wasn't fallin' down, slippin', slidin' drunk. I was GOD'S OWN DRUNK! A fearless man!”

NEW BRITAIN -- Empire-building. Occupation. Pre-emptive warfare.
The war in Iraq was called many things Saturday, but the goal of the 200 anti-war activists gathered at Central Connecticut State University was the same.

"End the Occupation of Iraq and Bring the Troops Home Now," was the message at a forum organized by CT United for Peace and hosted by the university's peace studies program.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which many participants said was one reason for America's war in Iraq, was also a subject of the forum.

"We [the United States] have been branded with the letter 'A' for 'aggression,'" said Bill Fletcher Jr., the forum's keynote speaker.

…Fletcher called for a fight for a democratic foreign policy.

The daylong forum brought together various anti-war groups in the state, such as the International Socialist Organization, and national organizations, such as U.S. Labor Against the War and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Saturday's goal was to unite the groups to continue to broaden the anti-war movement and bring the troops back from Iraq. Hundreds of Connecticut Activists Unite in Call to End Iraq War

I hear that train a-comin, it’s comin ‘round the bend…

COLUMBUS, Georgia -- At least 20 people were arrested Sunday while protesting a U.S.-run military school for Latin Americans, some of whose graduates they claim later committed civil rights abuses including murder.

Charges filed against the demonstrators range from trespassing to "wearing a mask," a violation of a rarely invoked 1951 law originally aimed at fighting the Ku Klux Klan.
Those arrested were among about a record 16,000 people who demonstrated outside the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning, calling for the school to be shut down.

Organizers of the protest said concern about the war in Iraq and President Bush's re-election boosted attendance at this year's event.


“Everyone's talkin' about The Nazz. What a great cat he was. How he swung with the glory of love. How he straighten out the squares.

How he stomp into the money changin' carts and kicked the short change all over the place and knockin' the corners off the squares.”

This big ol’ shit-eatin’ grin on my face is placed there by Lord Buckley, a Johnny Cash LP on the stereo, a bottle of fine sippin’ whiskey, a day off with nothing to do but make a few phone calls, email the local Dems, get slowly soused, and practice my protest songs, AND the fact that there’s going to be a planning session for a protest, even if small, at one-a my neighbor’s houses on Wednesday… a bring your own bottle, guitar, and ideas thing. With barbecue and roasted corn. A lot of the GOTV folks are ‘sposed to be coming. Young, angry folks. Whoooeee!Do our fine readers have any stories of the beginnings of the new movement? Any tales of coalitions being built? Any signs of De Nazaroo straightenin’ dem kitties wit de bent frames? ‘Cause, man, we livin’ in bent times. And chicago dyke is right--usn's gotta organize locally and take local actions AND national actions.

More 2+2=5 Election Math? 

I know I usually don’t post twice, but I got this email forward from a friend, who’s sober at the moment, and she says the info’s legit. I don’t know. Website reference looks legit and the numbers seem right, according to my source. And Rockwell is apparently who he says he is. Anybody who can verify other sources from Ohio? Anybody else get this?

93,136 EXTRA Votes Found In ONE Ohio County
From Teed Rockwell
Philosophy Department
Sonoma State University11-19-4

You may have seen the associated press story about the precinct in Cuyahoga county that had less than 1,000 voters, and gave Bush almost 4,000 extra votes. But that turns out to be only the tip of a very ugly iceberg. The evidence discovered by some remarkably careful sleuthing would convince any reasonable court to invalidate the entire Ohio election.

In last Tuesday's election, 29 precincts in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, reported votes cast IN EXCESS of the number of registered voters - at least 93,136 extra votes total. And the numbers are right there on the official Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website:

Bay Village - 13,710 registered voters / 18,663 ballots cast
Beachwood - 9,943 registered voters / 13,939 ballots cast
Bedford - 9,942 registered voters / 14,465 ballots cast
Bedford Heights - 8,142 registered voters / 13,512 ballots cast
Brooklyn - 8,016 registered voters / 12,303 ballots cast
Brooklyn Heights - 1,144 registered voters / 1,869 ballots cast
Chagrin Falls Village - 3,557 registered voters / 4,860 ballots cast
Cuyahoga Heights - 570 registered voters / 1,382 ballots cast
Fairview Park - 13,342 registered voters / 18,472 ballots cast
Highland Hills Village - 760 registered voters / 8,822 ballots cast
Independence - 5,735 registered voters / 6,226 ballots cast
Mayfield Village - 2,764 registered voters / 3,145 ballots cast
Middleburg Heights - 12,173 registered voters / 14,854 ballots cast
Moreland Hills Village - 2,990 registered voters / 4,616 ballots cast
North Olmstead - 25,794 registered voters / 25,887 ballots cast

And it goes on with more examples… and ends with:

The Republicans are so BUSTED.

Is the official website of the Cuyahoga county election board, providing irrefutable evidence that the vote was off by at least 93,000.

Kerry lost Ohio by approximately 130,000, so this is not an insignificant figure that can be ignored, particularly when there are numerous other indications of voter fraud in Ohio and elsewhere. I think the only possible alternative is to invalidate the entire Ohio election, if not the entire national election.

I'd say the game's up. America, it looks pretty much like you've been had.

Teed Rockwell
Philosophy Department
Sonoma State University


Joseph al-K. 

Well, what do you know? Changing your thesis advisor is now circumstantial evidence of being a terrorist. As Johnny Carson used to say, I did not know that.

If that's news to you, grad student Sami al-Hussayen can fill you in on the details. He just spent the last 1 1/2 years in jail finding out. Here's what else now gets you in the crosshairs of the Bush Administration:
  • Studying computer security systems
  • Changing your campus office
  • Doing volunteer Web design work for an Islamic charity

    Of course, being a Muslim helps alot.

    Read the whole thing, keeping in mind that this is the outfit Americans believe is best able to keep us safe from terrorism.

  • "Ownership society" 

    What Jesse said:

    The entirety of the "Ownership Society" seems to rest on a single idea - the government forces you to set up a bunch of private savings accounts that can only be used in particular markets, thereby dismantling old entitlement programs while forcing those who actually need the entitlements (i.e., those who don't have much money and who do have a harder lot in life) to "own" them - "own" be a codeword for "stop making anyone else think about them". And, as far as I can tell, it's married to a magic pool of redistributed money that comes from a pool of lower tax revenue and a tax code that becomes increasingly punitive towards those of lower incomes.
    (via Pandagon)

    In Prussia, public assistance was run by the Police, whose duty was, after all, to weed out undesireable elements. I'm surprised none of the wingers are proposing this...

    Sunday, November 21, 2004

    Goodnight, moon 

    Wow! Blogger let me connect! Boy, I'm glad. I sure hope Wall Street isn't watching Google to see if they can actually run a server farm, otherwise their stock might tank.

    Meanwhile, just fancy! The Republicans have managed to buy Bush a new Presidential [cough] yacht. They can't pass a bill to straighten out our intelligence agencies, but this is the least they can do. In fact, it's the most they can do! At least Bush hasn't named his horse consul. Or his goat.

    And in other news, Bush rips the arm of a Chilean security guard! Then eats it! Film at 11, when you can watch the wingers wet themselves! On national TV!

    It's Good That They Still Have to Sneak 

    In the thread over at Atrios yesterday about the disgusting crap they snuck into the Omnibus Spending Bill, including the abortion-information-evasion provision, the Let Selected Senators Read Your Tax Returns provision, and re-purchasing the Presidential Yacht, and God only knows what else hasn't been found out yet.

    But amidst the "Aw JEEZ, does it never STOP???" type of comments there was a very wise observation from a guy by the name of Robert M. Jeffers:
    Interesting is the fact that shame is still a force to be reckoned with.

    If Bush were so sure of his power, he would not hide what he wants to do, he would announce it boldly and go forward knowing no one would dare disagree, a la Stalin. If the GOP were sure of its power, it would vote to support Tom DeLay and give itself all the power it needed to crush Ronnie Earle in open session, laughing as it did so.

    The Vikings were never ashamed about raping and pillaging. They did it in broad daylight. It was Grendel and his mother who attacked at night, like cowards. And Stalin was quite open about his purges and his pogroms. No one dared challenge him, because he dared destroy his enemies openly, and let them know who did it.

    Representative government, in other words, is still functioning. The GOP still wants to do one thing and proclaim another, knowing full well that what it does would never earn it any points at the polls, and that the polls still count.

    Sunshine is still the best antiseptic, and the best antidote to bad government.
    So what we do here does have value, even if it seems to come too late, even if it sometimes seems like the manure piles up faster than we can get it transported to the south 40.

    Right now you have the Congressional lame ducks trying to get in a few last licks. Come January you'll have the Newer, Even Nuttier GOP testing out their new sandbox and thinkin' they're hot shit. But more eyes than ever are watching them, keeping lists and taking names. And that south 40 is gonna grow a HELL of a crop in '06.

    War is All Hell 

    That's the actual quote from Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, usually presented in somewhat abbreviated form as "War is hell."

    Juan Cole's post for today is getting attention here and there for its first paragraph:

    Rod Nordland and Babak Dehghanpisheh of Newsweek believe that the US military simply cannot win hearts and minds in Iraq. That's a pretty safe conclusion by now. Quite the opposite, it seems clear that more and more Iraqis simply hate the Americans, and especially American troops.
    More noteworthy is the next graf, which expresses something I've been trying to verbalize and now don't have to, because he said it better:

    I personally agree that there may have been extenuating circumstances regarding the shooting of a wounded Iraqi guerrilla in a mosque by a marine (wounded guerrillas often lure US troops close and then blow them up).

    But most people aren't good at seeing both sides of the story. If guerrillas had stacked four wounded American Marines up somewhere, and then a second set of guerrillas came in, and a guerrilla shot one of the unarmed, wounded Marines in the head on camera, I guarantee you no one in the American media would be talking about extenuating circumstances. This act would be seen as cowardly and perfidious, with no need for further investigation.

    Godless Socialists Reluctantly Crossing the Cinvet Bridge 

    Thanks to all who commented on finding ways for the godless and godly to work together. “Whither Rational Discourse?” Sorry I dropped out of the discussion early, but rest assured I read all of the comments and this morning thought about them over an urn of coffee and a pipe. Maybe this is the type of rational Christian P&J advocate we were discussing, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of him earlier, as I used to work in the Vietnam antiwar movement and his was a primary voice among the religious. It took a friend to remind me of him, and to remind me that, after all, Dr. King was a Christian (something I forget) and she sent this snip and link:

    It must be possible, I thought, to reconcile the Christ of Revelation and of the Gospels; the warrior image of Christ with the meek and compassionate One of the sermon on the mount. To reconcile the violent images of Revelation with the prohibition of violence in the gospels. There must be in sum one Christ, not two; if we were not to suppose that our God is as divided in mind as were His stupefied votaries.

    We must claim the book [Revelations] from the violent culture. Nothing must be allowed to subvert the text; no optimism springing from political chauvinism or national frenzies. No pessimism, issuing from the fall of this or that cherished ideology. And above all, no false gods; enticing, telling of our moral excellence, probity, fame, prosperity, and the violence that beckons us to secular nirvana. No gods of America ventriloquizing, aping, displacing true God.

    We must flee them; they are putrid, they smell of death. We must plant ourselves in a wilderness, a desert, a prison -- where the soul might grow literate, might 'tolle et lege: In such unlikely places a vision might be granted us, as was granted to the prisoner John in the slave camp on Patmos. A modest and serviceable vision to be sure; something so modest as a sane reading of a simple text.

    …And inevitably, tyranny seeks out and befriends religion, an ally, a blessing on the enterprise, a bargaining partner, a power broker who can be winked at and wink back.

    But not this community. Christians, John reminds us, are to name the old names anew; Washington or Moscow or whatever. Name them for what they are, and suffer the consequence, in some latter day Patmos or gulag.

    Revelation is neither magical nor evasive. It is penetration, meaning, light in dark times.

    This is, of course, Daniel Berrigan, who, while I do not share his faith, could work with one who propounded it this way rather easily… War in Heaven, Peace on Earth

    Are these voices still out there? I’m not in this community, and I'm not sure this will help me reach out to the lunatic fundies, but I hope I smell new coalitions brewing. And you'll notice, in the spirit of reaching out, I'm posting it on a Sunday morning... peace and justice, y'all.

    AQ is the opportunity cost of Iraq: Bad news, and really bad news 

    First, the bad news. AQ has resurfaced in Afghanistan:

    U.S.-led troops mounted overnight raids on suspected al-Qaida compounds in eastern Afghanistan, killing four people and detaining several others, officials said Sunday.
    (via AP)

    Um, I thought we'd defeated AQ already? When we destroyed the Taliban in Afghanistan? Apparently not.

    And what does AQ want? Loose nukes:

    A newly retired CIA terrorism expert said Friday he has no doubt that Osama bin Laden wants to unleash a nuclear attack on the United States, perhaps with one of about 100 "suitcase bombs" believed missing from the former Soviet Union.

    Moreover, Bin Laden's Al-Qaida network likely has operatives in the United States who could obtain radioactive material from a research laboratory or medical facility and set off a "dirty bomb," said Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA's Bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999.

    Scheuer said Al-Qaida concluded it was "too darned hard" to obtain the plutonium and equipment to build a nuclear weapon, "so they're after a kind of off-the-shelf device, if they could find one," and the Soviet Union seems the most likely place.

    "What we know is that he's always said it was a religious obligation to have the same weapons as their enemies," Scheuer said. "He clearly has said he would use it. He doesn't intend it as a deterrent. It's going to be a first strike."
    (Strib via Kos)

    Of course, Bush has never been serious about loose nukes (here)

    And here again, there's the bad scenario, and the really bad scenario.

    The bad scenario is we lose a big city in a Blue State to a loose nuke. At that point, the Talibornagain say it's the judgement of God that fire from heaven rained down on the Godless (subtext: the fags that God hates). And in about 24 hours, the Republicans institute martial law.

    The really bad scenario is that we lose a megachurch in a red state to a loose nuke (back) At that point, the Talibornagain call for jihaada Crusade. And in about 24 hours, the Republicans institute martial law.

    Both scenarios look pretty grim, don't they? Of course, I know which one the Republicans would prefer....

    And in either case, the terrorists will have won. Eh?

    corrente SBL - New Location
    ~ Since April 2010 ~

    ~ Since 2003 ~

    The Washington Chestnut
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