Monday, January 31, 2005

Kerry Speaks from the Great Beyond

Or at least that's what it felt like when he visited Press the Meat on Sunday. The ol' boy's got some kick left in him yet. To wit:
President Bush is hyping a phony crisis. The crisis in America today is 45 million Americans who don't have health care. The crisis are 11 million children that I just talked about that we ought to be covering with health care. You know, Social Security does not run out as the president says and become bankrupt in 2018. It can pay 100 percent of the benefits until 2042, and after 2042, it can pay 80 percent of the benefits. And all you need to do to move Social Security into safety, well into the 22nd century, into the next century, is to roll back part of George Bush's tax cut today. His tax cut takes three times the deficit of what is contained in Social Security.

My goodness, you'd think the Democrats actually were a real political party listening to that. More, more, more!!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Do the Dems Want to Lose? Or, 'Anybody But Dean, Part 2': Election Ballyhoo



I attended a Democratic strategy session on Tuesday co-sponsored by Democracy for America and conceived as a "Listening Tour," wherein leaders from all levels of the Dem party (from precinct worker and neighborhood activist to DNC members) listened to the community give one-minute statements about the direction the Democratic Party needs to take. I received updates from both DFA and my local feminist listserv, both exhorting me to come and make my views known so that progressive values would be well represented in the party. The meeting was heartening for a number of reasons -- well-attended, intelligent and provocative personal platforms, good black/white representation, unity, righteousness, impeccably run (thanks to a master moderator from the NCCU Civic Engagement Task Force) -- and I went home feeling like the party wasn't going to crumble. Folks had LOTS to say about what the party was doing nationally and on both the state and local levels. Nobody minced words, everyone said their piece, and we headed home to regroup in other arenas. So, that said, what's my beef and what does this have to do with this article -- 'Anybody But Dean, Part 2' -- in Newsweek?

I'll tell you what: the majority of the folks in attendance at our strategizing session were in favor of Dean chairing the DNC. This was an unabashedly progressive crowd, and they'd weighed their concerns carefully: they wanted the man with backbone. They wanted to move from a position of strength. They wanted to continue to bring DEMOCRATIC VALUES to the forefront of political debate, not just play defense as the Repugs ran roughshod over all that we held dear. Did I mention that this event was co-sponsored by Democracy for America? Well, i-frickin'-ronically, that's the off-shoot of, say it with me, Dean for America. And there we all were, black and white, old and young (mostly older), progressive and moderate, atheist and faithful, and we were (majority) in favor of Howard Dean. The panel didn't seem to want to make the same commitment. Now, to be fair, they did not speak directly to this issue; they held their thoughts about the upcoming vote close to the vest. The point was to listen to us, afterall. But I couldn't help but think that they were not really hearing us. The local and state leaders did certainly pay close attention, and they had their own beefs with the current power structure, but the national reps, I don't know. I didn't feel like we had a lock on what I consider to be THE ONLY viable choice for DNC Chair.

Look at this maneuvering:
In the meantime, with the DNC meeting approaching on Feb. 12, party insiders have been conducting an urgent, so far fruitless, search for a consensus Dean-stopper. The Clintons don't like Dean on substance or style, seeing him as too left and too loose-lipped. But they're being careful. Hillary, already eying a presidential run in 2008, doesn't want to alienate the possible winner; she's leaving DNC maneuvers to Bill, whose answer last month was to sound out current chairman Terry McAuliffe about remaining in the job. (He declined.) The Clintons are said to have encouraged a good friend, veteran organizer Harold Ickes, to enter the chairman's race, but he begged off, too. Party leaders approached former senator Bob Kerrey, but he told them he would rather keep his job as president of the New School University.

Last week the search for a surefire Dean-stopper (if there is one) reached new levels, NEWSWEEK has learned, with several governors—among them Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Bill Richardson of New Mexico—trying to gin up a last-ditch plan: let Dean be chairman, but confine his role to pure nuts-and-bolts duties by layering him with a new "general chairman" spokesman for the party. They abandoned the idea after realizing that they didn't have the votes to change the rules—and because the person they wanted to take the new role, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, told them she had no interest.

Let's be real, people. We need to revive the Democratic Party, and I'll take "revive" in this instance to mean anything from 'resuscitate' to 'raze to the ground and build anew.' Howard Dean motivates people, builds coalitions, raises money, garners attention, fearlessly defends and promotes actual Democratic platforms, and is delighted to stick it to the Repugnicans and ask the hard questions. A war of choice sold on specious evidence, anyone? Morally correct stands at unpopular times, anyone? Remember that? Yes, and not only did Dean not shrink from his positions, he defended them with passion, clarity, and great integrity. Yeah, it's possible. Dean has proven again and again that he is not only willing but able to stand as the Dems' publicate advocate. I beseech you, who else has done this to equal benefit in recent memory? Who else ignites the party (for good mostly, but I'll take ill, too, because an ignited party is an engaged and active party)? Who motivates us to act outside of presidential years in electing progressive and fiscally responsible local candidates? And let's think what the DNC Chair does: raise money, get Dems elected. Hmm...proven trackrecord. Score for Howard Dean!

I've been a Dean fan from waaaaay back, so it may seem I am biased, but I've looked around, I've taken the pulse. If there were a better candidate for the job, I would be happy to campaign for him/her. But we don't have a better candidate. Have the majority of folks even heard of the other candidates? I am sure they are fine people, all of whom have worked hard for the Democratic Party, but, for instance, ARE THE POWERS THAT BE EVEN SERIOUS putting up a pro-life candidate? KISS. MY. ASS. This is the kind of shit that makes me dream of the day when I can tell the Dems to choke on their own pathetic pandering as I hop over to a viable Green Party. The absolute LAST thing we need is more right-leaning misguided concessions to the enemies of modernity. And this is the other thing Dean does: he exposes the hypocrisy and sameness of the Dem Party. We need new blood, and Bill and Hill have to know it's true. Entrenched Republican-liteness will sound our death knell. Dean for DNC Chair, dodgammit. We either save this party, or we don't.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Worry



THE ILLITERATE OF THE 21ST CENTURY WILL NOT BE THOSE WHO CANNOT READ AND WRITE, BUT THOSE WHO CANNOT LEARN, UNLEARN, AND RELEARN. -- ALVIN TOFFLER

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

BULLET POINTS ON A CLOUDY DAY

Lie #412: Social Security is Falling Down

Check out this article in the new Rolling Stone in which economist Paul Krugman lays out exactly why Bush's social security privatization plan is more bullshit from the people who brought you WMD's and Enron's "Kenny Boy" Lay. Not only is social security not in any real danger of going broke, it is actually more solvent in many ways than the rest of the federal government's programs. Remember the GOP's greatest desire for the last 50 years people--to strip away all the entitlements the Federal government provides so that more money can be poured into the private sector (read: rich people). Don't believe the hype and turn the heat onto your senators and congresspeople to not let it happen.

40 Acres and A Mule...and the Bank...And Your Insurance Company...and the South...

A GOP congressman from California wanted to tie the payment of social security benefits to the race and gender of the recipients. No one expects this measure to take off, but the fact that it could even be suggested on the open floor of the House as a means of "alleviating" the burden on Social Security is disgusting and infuriating. What if we tied the allocation of resources in this country to the amount of labor and hardship that was contributed by the groups that built this country? White men would have nothing. Black women, followed by black men, white woman, Native Americans of either gender, Chinese-Americans and then on down the list to white men at the bottom would own every thing, control every resource would have this country in the palms of their collective hands lock, stock and barrel. But I'm not suggesting this because it's lunacy and it goes against the very concept of a United States. If you are a citizen you should get what's coming to you based on what you put away while you were working it's just that simple. Are we Americans in the 21st century, or Europeans in almost any century? Let's bury this idea before it even starts to see the light of day.

The R Spot's a'Rockin

Most of the Oscar picks were anticipated by my year end top movie choices, not bad if I do say so myself. (See my blog The R Spot. It's fun!) Check back throughout the week to get my take on the Academy Award nominations, who I thought got unfairly overlooked and why the Oscars have become the 2nd biggest Sunday event in these United States after the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Pick

And since I brought it up (I know you didn't ask! It can't be all politics, all the time--that makes dissent channel a dull boy!), here's my Super Bowl pick. Don't take it to the bank, or Vegas, or Vinnie on the corner:

New England 20, Philadelphia 17 (OT)

That's right...the first overtime Super Bowl. And no Nipplegate this year, although I hear at halftime Bush and Cheney will be by and Bush will attempt to give a short foreign policy speech as the Veep drinks a glass of water. Should be interesting...

Peace Now.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

THE CHECKLIST

My compadre has already eloquently outlined Priority #1 for the next four years: protecting the rights of women in this country to choose what they can and cannot do with their own bodies (that's what Pro-Life really is people). I thought I'd add a few other bullet points for progressives to speak out for in the next four years. Saddle up and mofo's and let's ride...

1) The Environment - Congress has already agreed to let the Department of the Interior open up several hundred thousand acres protected on Alaska's North Slope for oil development. Keep in mind that no matter how much oil may be buried under the frozen tundra of the North Slope, the most it could add to our practical oil reserves is 25 years. Our grandchildren will still need to find alternative fuels for their cars and every piece of plastic, vinyl and petroleum based product that we use had better be recycled or else we won't be able to live in our homes, wear any clothes or package most of our food because petroleum is the basis of all of that. And as we've seen, invading the Middle East to control their oil supply isn't the best answer either. We have to try and protect what's left of our biosphere and our Earth's natural habitat and we won't be able to do it through drilling for more oil and building more roads and pipelines to support those digs. (For more information and ways to proactively support this cause, contact NRDC [National Resources Defense Council], the Sierra Club, Earth First and you may also write letters to your local congressperson, senator or the Department of the Interior).

2) Increasing the regulatory function of the FCC for good causes, instead of morality clauses - Michael Powell (son of Colin) stepping down as chairperson is a good start, but the airwaves belong to the people and are supposed to be managed by the government--not given wholesale to giant media corporations to do with as they please. This is something the FCC, especially under Republican administrations, is loathe to do. I'd like to see restrictions on network ownership of local TV stations (no more than nine per network, and since UPN and CBS are owned by the same parent company, no double-dipping)...less concern about exposed nipples and more concern about making sure local news and programming is covered and treated with respect.

3) Ending the war in Iraq - We at dissent channel have devoted about 2 million words to this subject already, but it goes without saying that the longer we continue to bankrupt ourselves on an endless conflict in Iraq (while preparing for possible future incursions into Iran and Syria) the less money we'll have for social security, public schools, fixing our health care system and protecting the environment. Oh, and by the way, they don't want us there and there were no weapons of mass destruction, no matter how much the Bushies try to spin it.

We'll continue with more action items in the future. Honor the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And a shout out to Johnny Carson, R.I.P. to the best late night television host of all time. You've been missed...

Peace.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Long Live Roe v. Wade, 32-Years-Old Today

Today is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, and so we're going for a history lesson for those folks who remain unconvinced, unconcerned, apathetic, or otherwise. (Thanks to Feministe for the link.)

WARNING: Some of the descriptions of the horrors women suffer in a society which attacks their fundamental human right to physical integrity and well-being are graphic.

The Well-Timed Period: A History Lesson

As I noted in the Comments at The Well-Timed Period blog, THE RIGHT TO PHYSICAL INTEGRITY IS A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF HUMAN RIGHTS! Just as prisoners should not be forced into naked human pyramids or have electrodes placed on their genitals, women should not be forced to defer decisions about their bodies and their personal health to others. One has a fundamental human right to the safety and integrity of one's own body. This is Humanity 101. Forcing women to carry pregnancies to term and incur all the potential costs -- personal health, impact on personal and societal economies, psychological, and so on -- is an assault on women's lives, and thus, on children's lives. Meaningful choice about matters of reproduction (education, access to birth control, access to safe and legal abortion and reproductive health care) is the only thing that has ever benefitted both women and society on this point. I've said more on all this here.

And can we please some day have a conversation about how it is pro-choicers who "think about the children" by making every child a wanted child, and supporting early childhood education, lunch programs, after-school care, affordable health care, literacy, job training, prison rehabilitation, etc., etc.

That said, the time for idly keeping an eye turned to the carping harpies on the "other side" has come to an end. They've got delusional allies in high places now, and it's imperative we make our voices heard. Let's live our politics. Let's be mindful that suffering can end, that its underpinnings are in our control, that we can up-end those systems and create new ones. We have to take concrete steps every day to create a just society. It will not materialize of its own accord. The links below are just a few examples of the amazing good being done in the world.

NARAL Pro-Choice America
Planned Parenthood
IPAS
United Nations Population Fund
Center for Gender and Health Equity
Family Health International
Human Rights Watch Women's Desk

Thursday, January 20, 2005

SECOND VERSE, JUST LIKE THE FIRST

Bush's 2nd Inauguration - thoughts

"The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
--President George W. Bush in his 2nd inaugural speech

If by "freedom" you realize Dubya means "our best American interests and/or Christianity" and by "peace" he really means "profit", then this rings as one of the most truthful and eloquent things the President has ever said.

Of course, there were the usual allusions to uniting this country, but the sad fact is that America remains as disunited as it has been at any time since the peak of the civil rights movement and it will remain that way as long as those in charge of our country collude either intentionally or unintentionally with the media to exacerbate our differences and use certain points of public policy and personal morality to keep us in our Tiny Little Boxes where we can be more easily controlled.

As dodgy old Chief Justice Rehnquist--there's no way he survives the next four years is there?--gave Bush the oath of office, it mattered not the speech that followed because it has already been made clear through Bush's appointments, his demeanor and his press conferences since the election that his next term will be just like the first, only more so, with more smugness and an even greater sense of righteous enlightenment. ("Don't like the war in Iraq? Fuck you, we're spreading democracy. Did I hear you ask about weapons of mass destruction? What are you, a traitor? Next question...")

It's clear from recent stories and speculations that Iran is next on the neocons next, a challenge for those "democracy spreaders" if ever there was one and the ultimate goal in a thirty-year plan the neocons have been secretly hatching to create an American hegemony in the Middle East. Because that's where the oil is see and everything in their political vision comes down to two things--oil politics and playing "to the conservative base" which means selling out homosexuals, minorities and women to try and approximate some anitquated, never-actually-existed vision of a wholesome, family values America. Everything else either gets shunted aside or is allowed to wither on the vine. Like Social Security. And public school education. So it goes.

If the progressives seem like a defeated lot, well, we are even though every poll and every accounting shows that a majority of Americans share at least some, if not most, progressive values: the protection of a woman's right to choose; a desire for clean air and clean drinking water; safe borders and a desire to avoid foreign conflicts; more money for schools--even public ones--and fewer tax breaks for the rich; despite thirty years of relentless attacks by the right, a slim majority of Americans even still support some kind of affirmative action for minorities. Yet with all of these common virtues, we have an administration in place that supports none of them, except on the rare occasion where one of these values intersects with a political or financial gain that the Right can make. How did this happen?

One, we haven't had a truly uncontested, uncontroversial democratic presidential election in this country since 1996. Just think, the Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, two historically troubled democracies, have had more successful, undisputed elections since then. Clearly, operatives have successfully and systematically subverted the will of the American people in key locations twice over the last four years. Two, the progressive side has suffered from a lack of unity and a perceived "personality deficit" in the last two presidential elections. Either Ralph Nader helps to nibble us to death in 2000 or dynamic, charismatic thinkers like Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich are viewed as "too high strung" or "too fringe" to make much of an impact within the Democratic party, giving us mediocrities like John Kerry to carry forth the banner of progressivism--something he did remarkably well given his background as a more moderate Democratic senator, but something he never seemed truly comfortable with during the campaign. His discomfort played out in endless parsings and clarifications of his positions, which the GOP then labelled as "flip-flops" to the delight and eager repetition of a lazy and conservatively slanted mass media.

So what do we do for the next four years? Despite what some might suggest, Canada is not a realistic option. We can't bury our heads in the sand, but then no person can fight, fight, fight 24-7-365 with little or no expectation of meaningful result without going as batty as Flavor Flav with a busted clock. The best approach is to raise your voice as often as possible, in a way that makes you feel comfortable to speak out against the lies, distortions and half truths the Bushies and the media spin our way every day. Read alternative media. Pay attention when Bush spokespeople suddenly change rationales and soundbites (e.g."we went to Iraq to rid them of weapons of mass destruction...we went to Iraq to spread democracy and freedom.") Do something every day, or at least every week, that will lay the groundwork to put people in office who will protect what you value most, even if you don't totally subscribe to the progressive agenda. It's called due diligence and it beats losing yourself in the latest reality TV show any day of the week. It's not even that much hard work.

The best thing that can be said about where we stand today is that we don't have to worry about Bush stealing another election. If we're not careful, we could get another damaging conservative fraud like Rudy Guiliani in 2008, but the grassroots organization and the outrage is already in place to prevent another hijacking of the American presidency the next time around. We must whether the storm, not fall into lockstep with the "so-called majority" and know that assuming Bush and his cadre don't find a way to end our world as we know it in the next four years, their time will be up and the pendulum should swing our way for a change. It's not much to hang your hat on I admit, but it beats spending the next four years face down in your beer, wondering what the hell is going on.

Peace...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Death Squads in Every Pot?

Seymour Hersh weighs in. And I love how they title the article: The New Yorker: Fact. That's saying something.
“This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone,” the former high-level intelligence official told me. “Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah—we’ve got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism.”
I'm sorry, are we living in "Dr. Strangelove" now?
Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld’s responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon’s control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

The President’s decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books—free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A. Under current law, all C.I.A. covert activities overseas must be authorized by a Presidential finding and reported to the Senate and House intelligence committees. (The laws were enacted after a series of scandals in the nineteen-seventies involving C.I.A. domestic spying and attempted assassinations of foreign leaders.) “The Pentagon doesn’t feel obligated to report any of this to Congress,” the former high-level intelligence official said. “They don’t even call it ‘covert ops’—it’s too close to the C.I.A. phrase. In their view, it’s ‘black reconnaissance.’ They’re not even going to tell the cincs”—the regional American military commanders-in-chief. (The Defense Department and the White House did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)
Terrifying. Infuriating. Rummy running the operations "off the books," free from "legal restrictions"?? WTF??? RUMMY ALREADY DID THIS, AND WHAT DID WE GET?? ABU GHRAIB! AND STILL THESE CRIMINALS FORGE ON. (You expect me not to yell?) Despicable? Depraved? We report. You decide.
The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls “action teams” in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. “Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?” the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. “We founded them and we financed them,” he said. “The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.” A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon’s commando capabilities, said, “We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.”
Um. So now we're admitting that the death squads were ours?? How bad is it when the madministration's plans -- predicated on murderous, illegal, and previously disavowed policy --are so out there that spilling beans on decades of denial to shore up all new secret warmaking juntas seems like a good idea? Like, admitting to death squads, whatev. We've got all new killing machines now.

[pondering implications...]

I'm wondering if it would be safe to live out World War III in Vancouver. It's temperate, they've got great food, and nobody wants to bomb Canada, right? Is there some sort of community college class I could take to learn survivalist skills? Can someone teach me how to build a shelter? I'll have to learn how to identify mushrooms and find potable water and make my own clothes ...

Four Moron Years



From the article:
You might wonder—were you someone unfamiliar with or in denial about the ways of the Karl Rove Mafia—how George W. Bush could blunder into nominating someone as attorney general so obviously implicated in the most legally questionable and morally indefensible practices of his administration. You might wonder, too, how the administration seemed to be caught unawares by the bottomless pit of scandal in the past of its initial nominee for Homeland Security secretary.

Or you could realize that such nominations were not blunders, but intentional: that they were made not in spite of Alberto Gonzales's and Bernard Kerik's unsuitability for high office but precisely because of them. Keeping embarrassing facts on file about confederates is the best way to grip them into loyalty like a vise.

It would seem an incredible notion to contemplate, until you examine who it was Bush chose to replace Kerik once his nomination fell through: Michael Chertoff, who as assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's criminal division engineered the plan to preventively detain immigrants of Arab descent after 9-11. In 2003, the Justice Department's own inspector general warned that the program raises serious legal liability questions, and Justice Department officials apparently recommended that Chertoff hire a lawyer. Now he's been promoted. Sopranos fans will recognize the maneuver: Taking someone with skeletons in his closet close to your breast is just like Tony's embrace of the apparently upstanding suburban New Jersey sporting goods dealer with the secret gambling addiction, specifically to have someone to pick clean when the necessity arose.
And here's the beautiful (deadly) kicker:
Forcing a guy who knows he's dirty but knows his bosses are dirtier to sweat out a congressional hearing is a perfect way to test his loyalty. It's also a great way to test Congress's mettle—to probe just how atrophied the opposition party's willingness to oppose has become. What's more, once you've got them through the ordeal, you've stockpiled one more scapegoat to toss into the fire in case Congress ever gets hot on the trail of the higher-ups who issued the orders. And it establishes a record for a future defense: Once Congress has confirmed a Gonzales or a Chertoff, how can it then turn around and call the things done by a Gonzales or a Chertoff unlawful?
Lordy, Jesus, it's too much. I mean, I know these things are true. They're plain as day. But the bit about an "opposition party" is just a stab in the heart. Did you have to rub it in, Perlstein? You and I and my momma's dog know there's no such thing, and it's dodgam heartbreaking.

Ptooie. Feh. An evil eye-and-a-half and a pox on both houses.

There's more. Read at your peril.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

FOXBlocker

Keep The Radical Right Out Your Home By Filtering Out FOX News? Is this real? Lordy, I hope so.

Better only get two then.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Dissent Channel Has Won an Award!

Yes, friends, and we barely had to grovel for it, too! Thanks to the wonderful and judicious Jo at Spanglemonkey, we are the proud recipients of the She is Right (In Her Leftness) 2004 Award!

Jo is clearly a woman of discriminating tastes. And for not turning away those in need, through the Right in Our Leftness power vested in us, we hereby bequeath to Jo the Paying Attention to Miss Liberty's Credo Re: Huddled Masses 2004 Award!

Thanks, Spanglemonkey! Y'all check out Jo's very fine, very productive blog.

MLK

Boondocks has an MLK comic up, and I would love to believe it's true. But my guess is that Dr. King sees this madministration for what it is: the enemy of the dispossesed, the struggling, the working class, the working person, the family, the environmentalist, the dreamer. And though our hearts swell hearing the booming cadence of Dr. King's voice and looking at the grainy film of him delivering the "I Have a Dream" speech to the throngs on the Mall, we have to remember that Dr. King was killed--murdered--because he was an activist giving voice to the disenfranchised, agitating so workers had rights, so war would end, so a brother or a sister could vote. This isn't just some old time, old skool, back in the day, dusty on the shelf thing. We need Dr. King more than ever, 36-years after his death, and that should make all of us sad. So God bless Dr. King, and I hope he is dancing in heaven, but something tells me he is not.
"We have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement... But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can't solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power... this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together... you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others... the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order."
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), May 1967.

Think of it: Could Dr. King himself, just days after the federal holiday celebrating his birthday, register his protest at the Fraudulent Coronation (a.k.a. the Inaugural) and get within 5 miles? Hmmph. Something is horribly, horribly wrong.

I say we dance after the work is done.

Counter Inaugural

Turn Your Back on Bush

Not One Damn Dime Boycott

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Stand Up Democrats



Got some ideas to fix the Democratic Party? Well, say your piece, and let's get on with the business of democracy.

Hurry, deadline is January 14.

Wendell Berry Said It Better

“The Dream” by Wendell Berry

I dream an inescapable dream
in which I take away from the country
the bridges and roads, the fences, the strung wires,
ourselves, all we have built and dug and hollowed out,
our flocks and herds, our droves of machines.
I restore then the wide-branching trees.
I see growing over the land and shading it
the great trunks and crowns of the first forest,
I am aware of the rattling of their branches,
the lichened channels of their bark, the saps
of the ground flowing upward to their darkness.
Like the afterimage of a light that only by not
looking can be seen, I glimpse the country as it was.
All its beings belong wholly to it. They flourish
in dying as in being born. It is the life of its deaths.
I must end, always by replacing
our beginning there, ourselves and our blades,
the flowing in of history, putting back what I took away,
trying always with the same pain of foreknowledge
to build all that we have built, but destroy nothing.
My hands weakening, I feel on all sides blindness
growing in the land on its peering bulbous stalks.
I see that my mind is not good enough.
I see that I am eager to own the earth and to own men.
I find in my mouth a bitter taste of money,
a gaping syllable I can neither swallow nor spit out.
I see all that we have ruined in order to have, all
that was owned for a lifetime to be destroyed forever.
Where are the sleeps that escape such dreams?

Woe

When your humble dissenters at Dissent Channel started this blog, we hoped to lend our voices to the many others who were sick to death, fed up, and otherwise disgusted by what was happening to our democracy, and, attempt, no matter how feebly, to record the madministration's wrongs. We knew it would be an uphill battle, a herculean task, Sisyphean, even, but we were willing to make a go of it. Okay, so here and there we've added our voices, but it's gotten too damn hard to keep up with all the rampaging ruin of the B*shCo machine. Are we not human? Do we not bleed? Yes and yes. And we do have jobs. And lives. And pets. Not to mention that I am on a news hiatus in defense of my mental health (don't you worry your pretty little head about it, Bill Frist). Jeebus!

So your pals at DissChan humbly apologize for getting on with our lives and not even touching upon the topix below, but we are happy to present these fine bloggers, who are dedicated to the task of braving the torrent. They haven't even blinked, bless them (maybe they don't have pets?):

Billmon Unravels The Salvadoran Option

Orcinus Lays Bare the Tsunami bin Laden T-shirt Scam

Josh Marshall on the "Social Security Is Failing" Scam

David Corn Dishes the Armstrong Williams Payola Scandal

The Poor Man: Rathergate vs. WMD -- A Quantitative Analysis

Campaign Extra Notes That Michael Chertoff is Bernard Kerik Without the Sex

Atrios: Dumbyass Only Wants Good News

And now for some actual good news (which shouldn't be the least surprising, given the above):
The Imminent Demise of the Republican Party

And a pinch to grow on from everyone's favorite heterosexual patriot:
Gen. J.C. Christian Finds Other Dirty Books in the Library! Shame on you, Sister Wendy!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

US Gives Up Search for Saddam's WMD

From the article:
The US investigators searching for Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction have given up the hunt and left Iraq with an appeal to the Pentagon for the release of several Iraqi scientists still being questioned, it was reported yesterday.

Charles Duelfer, who led the Iraq Survey Group, has returned to the US and will deliver a final report in the spring that will be almost identical to the interim assessment he delivered to Congress last October.

That assessment found Saddam had destroyed his last weapons of mass destruction more than 10 years ago, and his capacity to build new ones had been dwindling for years by the time of the second Gulf war.
Well.

Hunh.

Right.

I guess this means that we didn't really need to have a war. And that 100,000(+) Iraqis didn't have to die (horribly). And that 1,000+ American soldiers didn't have to die (terribly). And that countless poor, young American kids didn't have to be physically maimed and psychologically wounded. (How many lives destroyed?) And America didn't have to become the global pariah, the stumbling, foolish, murderous giant. Pathetic, and, ultimately, ruinous. God, I hate these assholes.

Conservatives Push for Psychiatric Diagnosis of 'Loony Leftists'

Well, shut ma mouth. Seems that if Bill Frist has his way, all us loonies scrambling to educate our kids and to eat clean food and have access to affordable medical care and live peaceably with other nations will be declared certifiable. Eeek! This has to be the final nail in the coffin of "Who're you gonna believe? Me, or your lyin' eyes?"

See The Swift Report for a quick rundown of all problems being rooted in Librul America. Who knew? And check out the nifty checklist questionnaire in the article. I am clearly suffering from an extreme and advanced case of "political paranoia." I would go to the doctor, but my health care costs are too high, and gas costs too much to get there, and I don't have any time anyway, because I have to work three jobs to pay my mortgage. But, see, I'm paranoid. These troubles are not the direct consequence of reprehensible public policy; it's just me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dean For America

Well, I, for one, am f*cking thrilled, pardon my French.

To wit:
I'm Running

As I have traveled across our country, I have talked to thousands of people who are working for change in their own communities about the power of politics to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Every group I have spoken to, I encouraged them to stand up for what they believe and to get involved in the electoral process—because the only sure way to make difference is to step up and run for office yourself.

Today, I'm announcing my candidacy for the Chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state and we must be willing to contest every race at every level. We will only win when we show up and fight for the issues important to all of us.

Another integral part of our strategy must be cultivating the party's grassroots. Our long term success depends on all of us taking an active role in our party and in the political process, by volunteering, going door to door and taking the Democratic message into every community, and by organizing at the local level. After all, new ideas and new leaders don't come from consultants; they come from communities.

As important as organization is, it alone can no longer win us elections. Offering a new choice means making Democrats the party of reform—reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy. The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions. We must say what we mean—and mean real change when we say it.

But most of all, together, we have to rebuild the American community. We will never succeed by treating our nation as a collection of separate regions or separate groups. There are no red states or blues states, only American states. And we must talk to the people in all of these states as members of one community.

That word—'values'—has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe. But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values.

We cannot let that happen. And we cannot just mouth the words. Our party must speak plainly and our agenda must clearly reflect the socially progressive, fiscally responsible values that bring our party—and the vast majority of Americans—together.

All of this will require both national perspective and local experience. I know what it's like to lead hands-on at the state level and I know what it's like to run for national office.

With your help, this past election season, Democracy for America, already started creating the kind of organization the Democratic Party can be. This past election cycle, we endorsed over 100 candidates at all levels of government—from school board to U.S. Senate. We contributed almost a million dollars to nearly 750 candidates around the country and raised millions of dollars for many more candidates.

Together, we helped elect a Democratic governor in Montana, a Democratic mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah and an African American woman to the bench in Alabama. Fifteen of the candidates we endorsed had never run for office before—and won.

I also have experience building and managing a local party organization. My career started as Democratic Party chair in Chittenden County, Vermont. I then ran successful campaigns: for state legislature, lieutenant governor and then governor. In my 11-year tenure as governor, I balanced the state's budget every year.

I served as chair of both the National Governors' Association and the Democratic Governors' Association (DGA). And as chair of the DGA, I helped recruit nearly 20 governors that won—even in states like Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.

All of these experiences have only reaffirmed what I know to be true. There is only one party that speaks to the hopes and dreams of all Americans. It is the party you have already given so much to. It is the Democratic Party.

We can win elections only by standing up for what we believe.

Thank you and I look forward to listening to your concerns in the weeks ahead.

There might actually be a reason not to hate the Dems.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Give B*sh a Brain

A little levity, but the quotes (all real) are priceless. I'm just sayin'. Best if you have mad skillz honed from years of playing Asteroid Invasion, or whatever that arcade game was called.

Jon Stewart Book Banned in Mississippi

From the article:
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) -- Library officials in two southern Mississippi counties have banned Jon Stewart's best-selling "America (The Book)" over the satirical textbook's nude depictions of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices.

"I've been a librarian for 40 years and this is the only book I've objected to so strongly that I wouldn't allow it to circulate," said Robert Willits, director of the Jackson-George Regional Library System of eight libraries in Jackson and George counties.

"We're not an adult bookstore. Our entire collection is open to the entire public," Willits said. "If they had published the book without that one picture, that one page, we'd have the book."

Wal-Mart has declined to stock the book because of the page, which features the faces of the nine Supreme Court justices superimposed over naked bodies. The facing page has cutouts of the justices' robes, complete with a caption asking readers to "restore their dignity by matching each justice with his or her respective robe."

Alrighty then.

Specious Logic 101: Torture or Cheerleading?

This insanity via Tom Tomorrow's blog. Holy Hannah, what a beaut. Where to begin? Let's roll tape, er, online article...
Forcing naked Iraqi prisoners to pile themselves in human pyramids was not torture, because American cheerleaders do it every year, a court was told today.

A lawyer defending Specialist Charles Graner, who is accused of being a ringleader in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, argued that piling naked prisoners in pyramids was a valid form of prisoner control.

"Don’t cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?" said Guy Womack, Sergeant Graner’s lawyer, in opening arguments to the ten-member military jury at the reservist’s court martial.

Well, I think the only reasonable response to that argument is, "You are shitting me!"

Lordy knows we are not inured to specious logic, having had a strangulating gullet-full shoved down our throats for the entirety of the B*sh Error (Get it? Era. Error. Oh.), but this takes the proverbial cake. Frickin' OJ's defense team is busily taking notes, feeling like rank amateurs, because this defense attorney is clearly 1) a master of his craft, or 2) raving mad. Mutually exclusive? Not so much.

Oh, there's more to this sad story, but it still burns my toast that they're going to try to fob this whole torture policy off on a couple of grunts -- maniacal, depraved, prone to aggression, or whatever they may be, up to and including "doing their job" and "following orders," ech, ptooie. I do not know. I do know that it is damn unlikely that these folks were intuiting torture techniques sophisticated (sic) enough to unlock the secrets of The Arab Mind. Hmmph. I blame you, Donald Rumsfeld. I blame you, Paul Wolfowitz. I blame you, Douglas Feith. I blame you, Prick Ch*ney. And not in that particular order. And I would blame you, too, George Dubya, but I think you're an idiot, who couldn't muster this anything as coherent as this.

A couple more questions:
Apart from arguing that the methods were not illegal, Graner’s defence is that he was following orders from superiors. Mr Womack said: "He was doing his job. Following orders and being praised for it."

The chief prosecutor, Major Michael Holley, asked rhetorically,"Did the accused honestly believe that was a lawful order?"

The Bush Administration has said that the actions were those of a small group and were not part of a policy or condoned by senior officers.

1) Whose orders was Graner following? Who was "praising" him? Is there documentation?
2) In this military context, in which the B*sh Madministration is itself telegraphing a policy of determined murkiness and an unclear chain of command, can we expect that Graner could determine what was or was not a "lawful" order? By this, I mean not that this shit could EVER be legal in a just world, but that the B*sh Madministration does what they do with built-in plausible deniability, not to mention a given shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude. Should Graner be held to a different standard in a context of mayhem and rampant not me-ism? [Pls. note: I'm not making an existential or humanist argument here. Of course Graner should never have engaged in this behavior. Never. No question about that. But from a fucked-up-context-of-war perspective, is what he did outside the context of what he was expected and asked to do? I think not. I'm conflicted. I don't want the "I was following orders" defense to be viable (Nazis, anyone?), but then, I think the onus of blame should go to the madministration, not to idiot former prison guards from Palookaville. Oh, hell. This sucks.]
3) Does the B*sh Madministration's assertion that these acts of torture, or abuse, as they call it, were the actions of a small group of people and not the result of their f*cked up policies necessarily complicate Graner's, et al., fundamental right of "innocent until proven guilty"? Is the madministration condemning these folks before their trials? Does their word influence the jury (is there a jury?), the press, the public and compromise his rights to a fair trial?

I'm just askin'.

As Usual, I Blame the B*sh Madministration

From the article:
Flesh-Eating Bacteria Claims Young Man's Leg
Victim Does Not Have Medical Insurance

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- A 19-year-old Grants Pass man is recovering from one of the worst cases of flesh-eating bacteria, doctors say.

Doctors were forced to amputate part of Nathan Dooley's right leg to stop the infection from spreading.

"This is the worse I have ever seen. I have never seen anyone lose a limb over it -- that's how bad this one was," Oregon Health and Science University Dr. Yale Popowich told KOIN News 6.

Fleshing-eating bacteria is an aggressive disease that can be fatal. Dooley's doctors believe that his infection started in a cut from a spill on his dirt bike.

Dooley does not medical insurance. If he had lost both legs instead of one, he would have qualified for coverage under the Oregon Health Plan.

Donations to help cover his medical costs, including additional surgeries, can be made to the Evergreen Federal Bank at 969 S.E. Sixth St. Grants Pass, Ore., 97526.

If we weren't spending $180 million per day in Iraq -- which amounts to $7.4 million per hour or $122,820 per minute -- we might be able to shore up our ailing health care system. I'm thinking that $122,820 -- one minute's worth of this war -- would pay the whole of Nathan's bills. Maybe not. Maybe two minutes. Fine. It's the web of life, folks. Everything is connected. This kid in the richest country on Earth cannot pay for his medical bills and a flesh-eating virus is literally consuming his body, while on the other side of the world we're dropping million-dollar bombs on grandmas and kids, not to mention our own soldiers, thousands of whom are now amputees themselves. Disgusting. Now can we be done with the Repugnican experiment? It's obviously failed.

P.S. I'm sending in my donation to Nathan right now. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Well, Thank You.

Bravo, Ward Sutton. You actually brought a pained twist to my mouth (what used to pass for a smile before The B*sh Madministration Turned the World Upside-Down). Because I cannot figure out how to copy the whole dang thing for y'all, here is a tasty morsel to whet your appetites. Check out the whole kit-n-caboodle here.



I'm reminded of a conversation I had recently with a smartypants and much-clued-in work pal, upon reading an article which could not hope to declare definitively IF a Dem senator would stand with Rep. John Conyers in challenging the Ohio electoral vote. Our conversation went a little like this (if memory serves):

Me: WTF is with the idiot Dems?!?!? I hate them! I hate them! I hate them!
Pal: Hmm. They have a strategy, perhaps.
Me: Whaaatt?? Not bloody likely. What strategy??
Pal: They don't want to draw attention to their maneuvers, so they're being coy about their response.
Me: Coy?!?!?! I hate them. Why can't they boldly assert their right to challenge? Why do we always have to come from a defensive position? I know we're under attack, but why can't we strongly counter-attack instead of mewling our dissatisfaction like kicked puppies? (Mewling...puppies...I know, I know.)
Pal: Um, the VRWC controls the discourse and until such time as we can have a fair say, we're going to have to play it safe and not make any public mistakes.
Me: I can't stand it.

And then we went on for a little longer, and I finally understood. But I don't agree. We have to put an immediate end to the "Please Kick Me" bullshit and come out swinging on all counts. This idiot country apparently likes the "punitive father" theory of gubmint. I find that abhorrent, but I am sick of losing, because these people intend to do damage to our country. They care not for humane acts, for the progressive arc of history, for moving forward the entire human experiment. I'm ready for the Dems to strongly assert their right (our right) to equal consideration. Is that too much to ask? Shit.

I'll be happy when the day comes when I am no longer furious. I'd like a rest, and the news hiatus, though it's slowing down my rants here, isn't doing much else to calm me. I can still feel the sting of their nefarious efforts in the charged air.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Barbara Boxer: Why I Must Object

Go, Babs, Go!

Senator Boxer asks a few good questions:
Why did voters in Ohio wait hours in the rain to vote? Why were voters at Kenyon College, for example, made to wait in line until nearly 4 a.m. to vote because there were only two machines for 1,300 voters?

Why did poor and predominantly African-American communities have disproportionately long waits?

Why in Franklin County did election officials only use 2,798 machines when they said they needed 5,000? Why did they hold back 68 machines in warehouses? Why were 42 of those machines in predominantly African-American districts?

Why did, in Columbus area alone, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 voters leave polling places, out of frustration, without having voted? How many more never bothered to vote after they heard about this?

Why is it when 638 people voted at a precinct in Franklin County, a voting machine awarded 4,258 extra votes to George Bush? Thankfully, they fixed it – but how many other votes did the computers get wrong?

Why did Franklin County officials reduce the number of electronic voting machines in downtown precincts, while adding them in the suburbs? This also led to long lines.

In Cleveland, why were there thousands of provisional ballots disqualified after poll workers gave faulty instructions to voters?

Inquiring minds--though not of the Repugnican variety, apparently--want to know.

As you've no doubt heard, the wingnuts have started their campaign against Boxer. It's worth our mentioning again that we need to stand strong and united at this (and every!!) moment. Send Senator Boxer a note here or go here for the quick and painless method. And let's please not forget to say hello to her brave colleague in the House, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Is it lost on anyone that, with the notable exception of Howard Dean, the women of the Dem party have been taking the lead? Nancy Pelosi, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee (the sole anti-war vote) and countless others in the grassroots. It's impressive.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Democrats Force Debate on Ohio Election Problems

Listen, I know ther are more pressing concerns here, like, oh, the saving of American democracy and all, but I just cannot get past the dateline of this article in the New York Times. It reads: Brian Knowlton, International Herald Tribune.

That's right. The (so-called) Paper of Record is farming out Page One stories to the Herald-Trib. Mm hmm. We're not talking some dry piece about corn futures, friends, which are important in and of themselves, of course. We're merely talking about certifying the presidential election amid allegations of fraud, disenfranchisement, and harrassment that suggest a stolen election. Jeebus. I hate the New York Times.

That said, God bless Barbara Boxer, a true hero.

Support Senator Barbara Boxer

Thank Boxer for her courage and vision

Today Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will join Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Stephanie Tubb-Jones (D-OH), as well as several other African-American members of the U.S. House, in objecting to the Ohio presidential election results as Congress certifies the 2004 election. Representative Conyers has issued a 100+ page report documenting serious election irregularities in Ohio in the 2004

Senator Boxer, in a historic and courageous move, will stand with the House members today so the Senate and House will be forced to discuss for two hours the election irregularities, which disproportionately disenfranchised African-American and minority voters, women, and students.

Please send an email thanking Senator Boxer for her courage and vision.
Go here to send an email! Let's all spend 3 minutes to urge democracy along, shall we?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

House Dems to Contest Electoral Vote Count

From the article:
WASHINGTON (AP) - A handful of House Democrats plan a long-shot effort to snarl President Bush's formal re-election by preventing Congress from counting Ohio's pivotal votes when lawmakers tally the electoral vote on Thursday.

No one expects the action to undo Bush's victory. Instead, it seems likely to do little more than call attention to Election Day voting irregularities, a growing frustration for Democrats who blamed similar problems in Florida for Bush's 2000 defeat of Democrat Al Gore.

Hell, I'll take some damn attention to voting "irregularities" (read: FRAUD). How feckin' tame! Oh, the same thing that ailed us in 2000, ooh, wasn't it all so wacky? This 8-year episode of corporate control and gov't excess will be such a blight on our history. Most of us (?) can see these things now, and still so many refuse to open their eyes, think for themselves, get off the ample teats of the Limbaughs and the Hannitys. "No one expects the action to undo B*sh's victory (sic)," and why, I ask you? It should. He didn't win. At the very damn least, the goings on in Ohio dictate a MUCH more serious response from our lawmakers. So what do we and John Conyers have to look forward to?
In a measure of the dispute's political delicacy, proponents are considered unlikely to find a senator who will co-sign the objection, which is required to force Congress to act on the challenge. Most Democrats are reluctant to launch a serious effort to undo the election, in which Bush outpolled Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by more than 3 million votes nationally.

Well, goddamn. After electoral theft in 2000, after the ineptitude before and after 9/11, after 4 years of croneyism, illegal war, a war on the poor, gov't regulation, and the environment, after corporate welfare, after a give-to-the-rich tax policy, devastatingly arrogant foreign policy, and hubristic domestic policy, after stripping us of our civil liberties, after creating a network of secrecy and information control that Big Brother would whistle at, proponents are unlikely to find a senator to co-sign??? For the love of all that is holy and just, I detest the Democrats. What the hell are they doing standing around taking up space? Is there not ONE with integrity, grit, strength, decency, a sense of purpose? Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, Barack Obama? Yoohoo... anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Even so, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has sent letters to senators seeking their support for his plan to object to the counting of Ohio's 20 electoral votes, which gave Bush his November victory over Kerry. Some Ohio voters have complained of Election Day fraud, citing a shortage of voting machines at precincts with minority voters, unusually long lines and computer problems.

``I am hoping that you will consider joining us in this important effort to debate and highlight the problems in Ohio which disenfranchised innumerable voters,'' wrote Conyers, top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

The House Democrats' chief hope of finding a supportive senator may be Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Her spokesman, David Sandretti, said Tuesday that she has been asked to sign the complaint ``and she is considering it.''

Considering it. If this is the best we can hope for from the Dems, f*ck them. I have never missed Paul Wellstone more in my life.

THIS JUST IN: It Might Not Be So Good To Be Non-White

If the AIDS Don't Get You, The Bureaucrats Might...

From the AP comes more news today that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Dr. Jonathan Fishbein, formerly of the National Institute of Health, testitifed today that a U.S. funded study on AIDS medication in Uganda was so flawed and careless that it may actually have put the lives of hundreds of mothers and their babies at risk. Is the capital of Uganda Tuskegee?

Dr. Jonathan Fishbein said officials at the National Institutes of Health overlooked problems with the way the study was conducted on the drug, nevirapine, which was being used to protect babies in Africa from HIV infection during birth.

Fishbein testified before a panel of scientists at the independent Institute of Medicine NIH, which maintains that the drug is safe in single doses, asked the institute to conduct the review.

Recently, President Bush okayed $500 million worth of funding to use nevirapine throughout Africa.

Fishbein testified that the study was not merely careless, but that it revealed "a callous indifference to the fate of Africans. African life, it would appear, is not to be valued as highly as American life."

If you've never heard of nevirapine or heard of it being used to treat AIDS and HIV here in the States, well, now you know why.

Of course, what are we to expect from a country that historically has knowingly disseminated smallpox laden blankets to Native American tribes, that has knowingly given syphillis to African-American men with no intention of ever curing them, what do we expect from a country that regularly invades and bombs nations of black and brown people, and dropped the deadliest weapon in the world on a nation of "yellow" people?

The irony here, if there is one, is that in a lot of cases, nevirapine seems to help treat the symptoms of AIDS/HIV, especially among infants. One wonders though, if that's just a happy accident...

Peace.

(Click here for the entire AP article on the Uganda field study.)

So It's Come to This

When one has to sign a declaration "unequivocally renouncing all forms of torture and abuse as instruments of American policy", one has hit the absolute nadir. Damn this mAdministration to Hell.

Sign the petition here.

Monday, January 03, 2005

R.I.P. Shirley Chisholm, 'Unbossed' Pioneer



NOW Honors Guts and Glory of Shirley Chisholm
January 3, 2005

Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy

The National Organization for Women is saddened by the loss of a true feminist trailblazer and a founder of New York NOW, the organization's first chapter. Shirley Chisholm spoke fearlessly for women and people of color throughout her 80 years and it is an honor to recall a few of her accomplishments.

Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress; she took her seat in the U.S. House in 1969 representing New York's Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and served until her retirement in 1983. She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a fierce advocate for women's rights and democracy, and a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.

When Chisholm became the first African American person to seek a major political party's nomination for U.S. president in 1972, NOW made our first-ever endorsement of a presidential candidate.

Chisholm began her career as a teacher and became a well-known expert on early education and child welfare. She brought that passion with her to Congress; in 1970, Chisolm co-authored a child care bill that was more forward-thinking than any such legislation before or since. A major priority of the fledgling National Organization for Women, the bill was ushered through the House by Chisolm and her legendary colleague Bella Abzug, while ally Walter Mondale led Senate passage, only to have President Richard Nixon veto it — calling it "the Sovietization of American children."

Chisholm was a compelling speaker who always got right to the point. In her book, The Good Fight, Chisholm said: "I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo."

Chisolm took on the hallowed halls of Congress in Unbought and Unbossed, saying: "Our representative democracy is not working because the Congress that is supposed to represent the voters does not respond to their needs. I believe the chief reason for this is that it is ruled by a small group of old men."

In 1982 Chisholm told the Associated Press: "I've always met more discrimination being a woman than being black. When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men."

As women continue to struggle toward equality, we are inspired to have Shirley Chisholm as an example of feminist guts and glory.

New York Times obit here.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Oh, It Was a Blissful Vacation...

No, I don't mean the Xmas holiday (Satisfied, O'Lielly?? Pfft. Asshole.), and I don't mean the Solstice or Kwanzaa or Ramadan (nyah nyah, O'Lielly) either; I mean the blissful news hiatus I was happily enjoying which kept me away from the likes of this: U.S. Replaces Memo on Torture with New Guidelines. Aw, come on, I'm still depressed over what happened now 2 months ago! (Can it be that long since I've watched more than 2 seconds of a so-called news program on television or seriously engaged with the print media or had a frank exchange of views with anybody? Time flies when...) I can't be expected to seriously engage this level of depravity. I'm out of practice. I'll get winded. It'll hurt.

[Stretching out, limbering up, drinking bourbon.]

So, there's a new torture memo, hunh? Well, let's have a look-see. Ah. Pull up a chair, friends. We're going to be here for awhile.
The U.S. Justice Department (news - web sites) released a new memo on Friday to replace a controversial document outlining how to avoid violating U.S. and international terror statutes while interrogating prisoners.

The "controversial" document -- controversial only when Americans found out about it, that is. When it was originally written, re-written, edited, red-penciled, debated and discussed (presumably), &c., by countless beancounters in multiple offices, departments, and administrative levels, one of whom must have had a copy of the Geneva Conventions lying around somewhere, not to mention a dictionary, it passed muster. Hmmm. See? I can't even get off the first clause of the first sentence. I hate these people! (This time, dear readers, I mean the B*shies, not their supplicants in the Steno Pool.)

Anyhoo, that original memo was not, as I recall, a document "outlining how to avoid violating U.S. and int'l terror statutes," though one could cynically argue this, I suppose. That original document was clearly two things: 1) a huge billboard (okay, a sneaky memo) for plausible deniability, in that they have re-defined torture and as such everything they do to another human being in their care short of organ failure is okay, because ... and this brings me to point #2) the preznit says so. What did they call it? His "inherent authority"? Oh, good Lord. They really do think that asshat is Jesus. THUD. Hey, Reuters, you bozos, that was a significant part of B*shCo's corrupt and false construction of an utterly craven policy. You might want to note that. But I could be here all day. Let's move on.
The new memorandum was released on a federal holiday, just one week before White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzales -- to whom the August 2002 memo was addressed -- was to appear before the Senate for confirmation hearings. Gonzales has been nominated by President Bush (news - web sites) to be the new Attorney General.

Okay, I take back the bozos comment, because it's about high-time the Lying Right-Wing Media noted this sort of thing. They've had enough opportunities--four years' worth, actually--to note that all announcements with the potential to cause embarrassment or, hell, even comment, come on Fridays, often after business hours. Thanks, Reuters, for noticing. As for Gonzales, that lackey, that tool, that Uncle Thomas more Tom than Clarence, if that is possible, how is it that this sort of cynical shit is pulled mere moments before Senate confirmation hearings which should be relegated to a feverish wet dream fantasy of his rather than what will actually occur in the reality-based community? And I may have mentioned, I haven't been peeking at the news too much. Has there been an outcry? Has this sycophantic weasel been laughed off his hour on the stage to be heard no more? Please tell me it is so. Also, what is this business of the memo's being "addressed" to Gonzales?? I thought that simpering arse-licker was the author of said memo. When I have a free moment from all my non-news digesting, I'll check on that. Now back to the grind...
Behind many of the techniques approved and used on prisoners was the August 2002 memo to Gonzales from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel discussing how far the interrogation could go before it could be considered torture.

The new memo, written by the Office of Legal Counsel but addressed to Deputy Attorney General James Comey, acknowledged problems with the August document which dissected the definition of torture.

Acknowledged problems, hunh? Yeah, I guess a policy allowing severe psychological damage and abuse short of organ failure might be a "problem." But then the understatement of the year:
In particular, the Dec. 30 memo disagrees with the statement that "severe" pain under the terror statute was limited to pain "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."

The new document also disagreed that "severe" pain is limited to "excruciating and agonizing" pain.

It also disagreed with the detailed discussion in the August memo defining the precise meaning of "specific intent."

Oh, the new cynical memo "disagrees," does it, with the Gonzales Directive? Well, how f*cking quaint. Almost as "quaint" as the Geneva Conventions. But here's what really stews my beans:
"In light of the president's directive that the United States not engage in torture, it would not be appropriate to rely on parsing the specific intent element of the statute to approve as lawful conduct that might otherwise amount to torture," it said.

I could write a thesis on that sentence, but I am (sick and) tired. Let me just note that the whole problem with these assholes is that they operate under some bizarre form of oligarchical divine right of kings bullshit wherein the preznit is sovereign and even the Sun bends to his whims. I wouldn't let that moron wash my car, but lo, they insist (protest too much, methinks) that He Is In Charge, By God. And there it is again reiterated for the world to see: "In light of the president's directive that the United States not engage in torture...." Serenity now!! Dumbyass didn't put forth any sort of directive, dammit. In fact, he allowed the exact opposite. His hand-picked lackey said torture was okay, that the Geneva Conventions--adherence to which allows nations to claim civilized status--were "quaint." When did not torturing people to death become an antique concept in American foreign policy? Dumbyass is accountable. The preznit does not get to do what he wants just cos he's the preznit, no matter how much kool aid you've drunk, you messianic, cult of personality-loving morons.

So, again, the formula for B*shCo. chicanery goes thusly: arrogance + divine right of idiots + cuckolded Congress + compliant media = parsing of the definition of torture. How sick is this world the B*shies have created in which we have to define (and defend) the parameters of TORTURE as an instrument of governmental policy?

I'm Shocked! Okay, I'm Not....

Private, Foreign Donations for Tsunami Relief Far Eclipse Bush Pledge.

Readers, imagine, if you will, your humble ae bending over at the waist, knees just slightly bent to avoid strain but strong nonetheless, and asking Colin "Sell Out" Powell to pucker up so he can kiss my fat ass for selling this War on Brown People to Cement the Control of Resources By (Rich) White People, then defending that murderous folly until he's lost every shred of credibility and dignity, and then going back to lap-dog and shoe-lick some more, and then having the unmitigated gall to have a public hissy fit over "American generosity" to victims of the tsunami by indignantly (ignorantly) bragging that Americans give more money to global aid than any other country in the world. Math much? Three card monte hucksters have more integrity. This man has no shame, and he is a pig* for standing in front of the naked imperial power and insisting it is fully clothed.

[*Apologies to pigs.]