Saturday, December 6, 2008

Memo to Bush Era Republicans and CEO's with CC to the Obama Administration

If you unwise governors haven't yet gotten the message, here it is in three minutes.


You have always taken more than you have given.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Post-election Pessimism: Democrats, Republicans - they're all alike?

We were drawn into activism by extremely unacceptable presidential behavior and ability - much more so than by political considerations.

However, once drawn into the fight against the Invasion and on-going Occupation of Iraq (it was always that and has never been a "war") we could clearly see the rubber- stamp nature of the Republicans in Congress who willfully voted in support of a morally corrupt administration and presidential ineptitude at the expense of national well-being.

Doesn't that paragraph sound far leftish?

I don't think so because for me it was personal (family skin in the game) and never about political philosophy or ideology. I was against Bush because he and Cheney personally sent my family into harms way by lying to me.

It was never honorable nor noble. Once committed against the President and his military crime, the rest of my personal military-veteran's aroused patriotism was filled with a sense of shame at how Bush had made America a global Timothy McVey.

Bushites made of America the moral equivalent of Hitler when he invaded Poland.

When - as my wife stood alongside Cindy Sheehan at Crawford and gave speeches all the way to D.C. in September 2005 - while I guarded the home front, she and I both found ourselves fending off the formal "leftist" players who at every moment looked to usurp every rally, every speaker's platform and every planning meeting with pure revolutionary tripe.

And yes, the smugness was much more wiser-than-thou rather than simple holier ( I mean, leftier)-than thou.

They still occasionally call - mostly to my wife. They still send emails which I politely file in my bottomless gmail memory.

So I published writings opposing McCain, Romney and mostly Reflublican Dino Rossi who couldn't take a breath without insulting Washington voters in the governor's race out here.

I fear I may never vote for another Republican until this current generation has passed away. They aided and abetted the making of my country into an international criminal bully, leaving my loved ones and at risk and my grandchildren in debt for no justifiable patriotic reason.

Formal leftists have no ideology to deal with that anymore than traditional partisan democrats let alone the crooks and liars party of DeLay, Cheney and the Shrub.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Legacy in His Library

"Trust me!" he presidentially declared.

And too many did just that.

When civilian leadership ignores or downplays

the horrific consequences of war,

bombing campaigns and torture,

justifying an evil that is not literal defense of the homeland,

it reflects moral blindness

and leaves military families

with the most at risk in this country.

We let them get away with it.

Obsessed with Super Bowls, car races,

idols, survivors and celebrity dancers

we are revealed as that flaw in our country

the politicians prefer not be changed.

This in a nation established and sustained

by military will, strength and courage.

Our revolution, our Civil War and the World Wars

do not reflect a people primarily ignorant

about foreign and domestic affairs.

But back then the country was not dominated

by consumers sitting around playing games,

pursuing entertainment or dabbling in forgetulness

... all the while waiting for a president

to tell them what to do and why.

They were not dependent on the president

to tell them what and when to think;

what and when to act.

They were more aware back then

of the real global situation.

Willing to join up or send sons and daughters,

trusting that their President was both honest and wise in commanding as chief.

Not this time not in this age of America.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How seriously is illegal immigration harming America?

On immigrants: legal and illegal ...

Has immigration reform as a threat to the well-being of America been the same kind of lie as the myth of massive welfare fraud that needed to be cleaned up by Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay?

... that political anger-maker that fed off citizen's limited perceptions of welfare queens, lazy single mothers and deadbeat dads lurking on welfare rolls all over the country?

Has immigration in fact been a Republican talking point that attempted to capitalize on semi-attentive knee-jerk reactions from angry white voters; that drew in Democrats who are now perceptually trapped with an exaggerated issue fueled by the likes of Lou Dobbs and Tommy Tancredo?

The reality is that public welfare was something less than the looming cause of national economic failure in the 90's. In reality what was needed was a reformation of a government system of handouts that enabled apathy and discouraged initiative on the part of all welfare recipients rather than the proclaimed need to round up a huge wild herd of welfare frauders.

The impact of public welfare on the national GNP and budget has always been more or less a minor percentage of the GNP - especially when compared to questionable defense spending coupled with the massive corporate welfare that has so demolished the wonderfulness of unrestricted free-market corporate capitalism.

But in the Republican Congressional 90's the pretend contract-with-America politicians - needing fodder on which to tread with their upwardly mobile inflammatory jack boots - told us that it was okay to belittle and disrespect the poor.

We were told by broadcast stampeders like Flush Limbaugh to be indignant. ("of course MY child could never be one of those welfare addicts. How could that child ever humiliate ME? Of course I'm for Welfare Reform!)

With immigrants today aren't we really left with the bad seed idea that the flow of illegal immigrants into this country has been a major contributor to our finding ourselves on the verge of economic and political collapse?

... because we don't have a Berlin wall on our borders keeping the pestilence out?

For every "Berlin wall-advocate" I'd like to see an acknowledgement - not of the criminality of businesses that unknowingly hire illegals - but the political criminality of demonizing workers with families who pay taxes for which they cannot get refunds since their ss#'s are false.

"We hate illegals but we sure do love the taxes they pay!" Isn't that a form of unwilling reverse graft of the Abramoff ilk?

I'd like to at the same time see an acknowledgement that the same illegal-alien-acquired tax revenue is part of the entire tax base from which Rethuglicans continuously siphoned cash for their corporate managers.

If one's political thinking never evolves to the kind of depth and modest sophistication that sees through the inflammatory fog of bull that exaggerates the immigration issue, one remains a mere civic dupe who self-consciously agrees with liars who make a fragile no-substance mountain out of a molehill.

From my own experience as a Caucasian bi-lingual social worker in a sate welfare office, the only American citizens whining about immigration reform are mostly the laziest native born gringo/jingoist Americans who moan about not being able to find a job because the Mexicans took them all.

These are the same folks who have always claimed that it wasn't economically feasible for them to look for a job at the minimum wage rather than get off welfare. This in a state where the current minimum wage is $8.07 per hour.

These lazy I-don't-want-a-job-I-want-free-government-money Americans are the closest you'll ever come to seeing a low-income Republican. You know, Americans who act like their national political role models who themselves proclaim one false thing in order to pursue another more lucrative true thing: hard earned tax dollars - the fruits of someone else's labor to which they have no justifiable moral claim.

As a gringo myself who pays attention to demographics and the Hispanic culture in which I have family, part of me looks forward to the day when Hispanics and non-whites outnumber jingoes - er, gringos.

Why?

Because for Hispanics, Asians and other American sub-cultures in which which more and more citizens are being born, there remains ample substance of CULTURE and a consistent value system that reflects positive cultural mores around behavior, responsibility and respect (especially respect for parents and senior citizens).

Unfortunately, non-white American cultural values have tended to recede as children grow up hypnotized by what passes for a quality American dream; that consuming shallowness that replaced more anchoring family traditions. One example is how America's newest generation of grown children represent a consumption-prioritized citizenry that stops, looks and listens every time a nursing home advertises how easy it would be to buy your way out of taking care of your elders.

Another example of jingoism disgracing a nation is the notion that those who come here must speak English or die.

In my experience, I've seen impending deaths of non-English speaking human beings averted only because they sought and found someone in the state or hospital bureaucracy who could speak their language and listen to them talk about their own, their child's or their parent's health problem before it was too late.

Mass jingoistic stupidity pretends that the real Americans must entirely do all their business in one language.

In the most naive of ways, advocates of English-only reveal the shallowness of their civic sense; their blindness to the source of a lot of the positives that comprise our physical and social infrastructure developed throughout our history by non-English speaking cultures and families who moved here to do just that.

How many believe that all that America is and has accomplished was done by human beings who spoke only English? How many believe that the greatest threat to America's security is a cultural bilingual ability that dilutes the economic, military and diplomatic power generated by speaking English exclusively?

How many see camels swallowed whole and gnats creating hernias?

There is nothing dumber than the notion that "My immigrant ancestors had to learn English and these are no better" ought to be a federal law of conditions and exclusion. Those very ancestors learned English as a matter of expediency, need and genuine willingness to adapt and enter our society; not because of any law passed by jingoist stupidity that would have robbed the country of its greatest human assets.

Ancestors of modern jingoists didn't survive because the loud-mouthed jingoists of their own time refused to talk to them. They survived DESPITE the stupidity.

We don't have a mountain of a problem with immigration in this country.

We have a mountain of a problem with gullible sons and daughters - both elected and unelected - who are descendants from immigrants and can't remember the truth of their own historical roots.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekend Thoughts About The Job From Which I Can't Yet Retire

Often it seems that folks like me are paid by Washington citizens to do what they not only cannot do but refuse to do themselves ... get involved with the needy.

I suppose you could call me a professional getter-involved, do-gooder

... or perhaps a surrogate who acts for all those who could but won't

... or perhaps welfare workers are like those hired by early "patriots" to fight in the revolution so they didn't have to.

Regarding the homeless ...

the poor ...

and right now particularly, the veterans.

If we can't see them they don't exist in our moral conscience.

They are subject to priorities governed by agency number crunchers governed by legislatures governed by political considerations and misguided perceptions of how the public feels about it's poorest segment of society.

Welfare reform as legislated nationally by the Thuglican Gingrich-America-contractors in the mid 1990's was primarily driven by negative images designed and created by the framing forefathers of the current swift-bloat crowd that can turn Johnny Appleseed into Oil Can Henry.

Images... of a single mother standing in the grocery checkout line with a child sitting in the grocery cart and with food stamps in her hand surrounded by presuming non food-stamp patrons smug in their awareness of being "better-than" and resentful of that young mother who more than likely cheated on her application in order to qualify for food assistance.

Furthermore, I've met smug Daddies who - not knowing what I do for a living - have bragged about their sons' macho-ness; their procreative studhood and ability to seduce girls, dodge responsibility and accountability when that studdiness results in conception;

... Daddies my age who are jerk baby boomer dorks who actually insist that the slut who lured their wunderkind son into bed deserves what she gets and despite birthing his grandchild, deserves nothing from their son but contempt.

What happens in a society when a father teaches his son irresponsibility and that it's okay to whisper anything necessary in the dark in order to get the clothes off?

And then find the junior-high-level maturity of that lover-boy stud in a tavern bragging pridefully about how they did it while whining morosely if the Division of Child Support comes knocking?

Single pregnant females of course are accountable and responsible for their pregnancy as well as the males. But we as a society tend very much to blame the mothers almost entirely, look the other way regarding a criticism of the father because he's out of sight and therefore out of mind.

That's the same sort of thing that drives public apathy toward the homeless.

If I arrive home from work upset, more often than not I'm angry at the mindlessness of agency bureaucrats or the cowardly indifference of absent relatives of the needy.

And don't get me started about churches who get all straining and diahhretic about what gays are doing but don't pour out of their churches and into the street in moral outrage about how a nation stays bereft of real morale values while worshipping consumption.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Just Happened? An old Boomer Veteran Ponders

The Most Significant Surge in America is now Obama's mandate: Hope

This election boiled down to the choice between an overdue transfer of leadership from the olders past dominant generation in its denial and inability to recognize the headlong rejection of the old ways of doing business.

Hillary's faded presidential candidacy reminded me of one of the last scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which Indy - hanging over a ledge above a chasm - found himself barely inches from the Holy Grail.

Indy just couldn't quite grasp it.

Then a voice of reason is heard from his father, played by Sean.

"Indiana .... let it go."

"But I just need to -"

"Let it go, Indiana."

In view of what has happened in an America that has undergone prolonged suffering from a presidential incapacity - accurately described by Mr. Maher last Spring - of America's first retarded president, it might have been better had we passed the baton to post-baby boomers back in 2000.

Speaking in fantasy, it also appears that had McCain somehow managed to avoid or overcome the total dishonesty of the Bush campaign and managed to wrest the nomination in 2000, what would the result have been back then?

Ignoring the reality that Gore actually won that race, we can conclude that Mccain's apparent conscious-less pandering in this campaign suggested how a McCain presidential campaign in 2000 would have required the same pandering to the only political coalition that made the 2000 election winnable for Republicans.

McCain would have needed the same kind of sleazy partisan help. This political sleaziness constitutes the "same old same old" that politicians of my generation have been enmeshed in for years. Only the most naive of my generation would insist that the pre-2002 government more dominated by Democrats was entirely ethically clean and free from corruption at the highest levels.

Republicans?

Having finally achieved their Viagra dream in the nineties with a majority status in Congress and with a haste borne of poor assumptions, elected Republicans rushed to the pork troughs and the lobbyist all-you-can-take buffet like seagulls to popcorn on the beach.

They commenced their own version of "back-room deal making" with an abandon that revealed a civic immaturity embarrassing to any politician still able to include ethics with responsibility.

Led by the likes of Tom Delay Republicans behaved like junior high students acting out their own limited perceptions of how the government of Democrats must have included widespread corruption, graft and opportunity. These apparently were perceived then as entitlements/spoils of Republican victories laid out like an all-you-can eat buffet.

It also reveals the shallow understanding of the consequences of dishonest Rovian-style Limbaugh-publicized political discourse based on lies, distortions and hate.

The truth is that even in their most shameful moments of public stewardship, the Democratic Party - over all those pre-1990's years of majority status - suffered much fewer embarrassments of civic failure and criminal conduct than Republicans have managed to accomplish in their few years of recent Republican control.

These national Republicans were sustained and elected by their respective state party organizations all coached and controlled by national RNC schemers.

Many of the newly elected arrived in D.C. either riding the coattails of the Bush victories based on deception and dirty tricks, or heavily subsidized by the likes of Tom Delay (who then installed the lock-step device in their greed-motivated brains.)

That's the legacy of Republican experience.

It is this "same old same old" working environment from which and in which both Hillary and McCain kept their campaign context.

As much as I initially supported Hillary I felt then and still feel that this was the ultimate weakness of Hillary's tactic of trumpeting her experience. It was an unconscious admission on her part that business-as-usual is the only method of governing Hillary knows.

The same is true for McCain, but it involved a more gruesome and shameful truth with the Republican Party,

It's the Fear-Mongering, Stupid!

McCain now has those discredited Republican minions and Bushco's economic management to thank for having had to to limit himself to a Johnny One-Note campaign focused on many things that ran counter to his strongest marketable assets. The desperation of the party overrode the utilization of a more effective presidential campaign tactic which - more than any campaign failing based on an unfettered decision my McCain himself - remains the reason for the breadth of McCain's loss and the current pitiful Republican minority in Congress.

McCain's primary selling point boiled down to the fact that he used to be in the military, that he has a Patton-like understanding of what it means to be a commander-in-chief who presides over a nation of quivering cowards created by irresponsible and dishonest fear-mongering.

... that he used to be a prisoner of war and therefore has an ex-prisoner's perspective against torture.

Most Americans understand that opposition to torture is an American Core Value. This ideal campaign tool was now been over-0rused and squandered by the expediencies of McCain's candidacy and poor advice from those advisers closest to him.

In addition, the choice of Palin - admit it or not - was an absolute betrayal and personal insult to every currently serving soldier and military veteran in this country. That includes those soldiers and veterans who are totally active and immersed in fundamentalist evangelical religions toward whom the shallow Republican tactic was targeted.

Problem is McCain had to appeal to the same "conservative" Republican constituencies that have always been very volatile, rigid and inconsistently unreliable supporters and would have remained so in the overall administration his presidency.

That of course would be business as usual for Republicans and their con of social conservative voters..

McCain's "same old same old" then would have been worse than Hillary's.

But Hillary also had the 8-year reputation of an ex-president husband who seems to have squandered much of his own good will and popularity with his campaign behavior who didn't seem to understand the need to speak to Obama's generation and the younger generations rather than campaign solely to those who voted for him in 92 and 96. He did not know when to speak up and when to shut up.

Hillary also - when her experience was hi-lighted - included an unsuccessful attempt to reform health care 16 years ago that collided headlong with lobbyist and Republican business-as-usual.

Including this experience, Hillary this season proposed that she had learned how to fight dirty - but made no mention of asking citizens to help her achieve her goals without having to fight dirty.

She did not seem to be mostly interested in merely sweeping out what's under the rug to make room for more under-the-rug stuff rather than taking out the rug, leaving bare floors with much more stuff visible in the house..

We boomers born in the late 40's and the 50's have had our chance with Clinton and most recently, Barbara Bush's Doofus. That means we muffed it when we had our last chance.

The generations to whom Obama appeals OWN the future and have more of a right to it than we do. These are the generations who got out TO vote, got out THE vote and outnumber us older folks by tens of millions. These are those who did not want or need our generation's permission or approval to become politically and civic-ally active.

The foolish attempts by Hillary and McCain to cut Obama off at the knees by denigrating hope was also a hype of diminished expectations. That was the effect when McCain and Hillary - with apparent personal arrogance - ignored the need to talk to voters about acting like genuine town hall citizens who must think for themselves. Obama is pressing voters toward hope, faith and civic participation. McCain and Hillary merely said, "Trust me. I'll do your thinking for you."

You could make the case that failure to insist that post-election citizens take action caused experience-touting candidates to mimic other failures: historical leaders around the globe who've pretended to be father, mother or parent of an entire nation.

... leaders who promised to protect citizens and fix everything needing fixing without citizen help. Few of them are remembered as benevolent successes and most presided over failure and disaster.

We know that these "when I'm President I will ..." promises were not intended to rule out or exclude citizen participation. However in talking in this manner, Hillary and McCain failed to communicate any expectation or demand of understanding and ownership of personal actions by voters.

Business as usual means that most of the country then is purposefully left out of the action - which is what the Republican Doofus adminstration of 2000-2008 was been all about.

Obama knows that. He is speaking to the generations that will call the shots.

America's core values are founded on hopes and expectations; attitudes that sustain or contrast actual reality. It's a reality that may reveal the yet-to-be-corrected or something-needs-to-be-done issues that constitute life in this country.

That's why they are "core" values.

It is hope, courage and willingness to tinker with problems.

It's in the attempt to change coupled with the will to focus on equality and national security that might generate laudable civic successes.

The founding fathers were not primarily warrior-veterans in their 50's and 60's who served their country based on military experience and age. The wisdom of the Constitution did not come about because 100 folks my age put the distillation of their life's experience into the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

That some of those Fathers were folks my age is true. But that the majority were of my age group is not true.

They were closer to the age of the President-electo.

However all of the founders, regardless of age, were significantly united in one of the most important attributes demanded of leaders ... courage.

We olders owe America's youngers a greater demonstration of patriotism and the taking of responsibility for our own governance beyond cowardly pretending that experience matters more than courage.

We need to demonstrate a belief and will to look for and support change when change is necessary.

We must recognize that Hillary's failure to appeal to the majority generational activism of her own party could not be explained away or ignored by an appeal to our fears of another "My Pet Goat president" if that moment tragically returns.

McCain's inability to unite his party demonstrates a dangerous lack of leadership communication skills - or too much subordination to his parties foolish strategy of desperation.

The greatest gift we can give our children and grand children is not our fear, not our timid caution in the face of all the "what might be's" offered up by aging politicians who needed us to be fearful so they could take care of us while the took power.

The greatest gift we can and should pass on to the generations that already own and deserve to run the future is strongly epitomized by Mr. Murrow of my parent's generation.

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men."

That thinking is what made a generation get remembered as the greatest generation.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Lady (to be) Michelle Obama phoned me at my home!!

She really did.  She phoned on Veterans Day. I was sitting at my desk in my home in my lounge around the house clothes, working on my laptop.  The dawning of the fullness of the recognition that I was on the phone listening to Michelle Obama, who will very soon be the First Lady hit me like a ton of bricks and blew me away.  Wow, I'm on a phone call with the First Lady -- how cool is that!

Actually, it was a conference call, listen only, that Michelle Obama made on Veterans Day to Blue Star Families 4 Obama, to thank them for their pro-active help in the campaign, to thank them for their sacrifices as military families.  We are a Blue Star family and I had joined the BSF4O group during the campaign at my mybarackobama campaign site.

So no, it was not a personal call specifically to me, and I was having a little fun with the first part of this post.  Still, I was surprised at my own reaction and recognition -- this really is Michelle Obama, she really will be the First Lady, she is talking to us on a phone conference call, talking about her daughters, getting them into schools, getting ready for the inauguration. It had a surreal feeling to it for me.  I am not used to being on a phone call from the First Lady and well, the Vice President -- an earlier conference call I got to participate in (listen only) with Joe Biden.  

If I were to be on a phone conference call with President Elect, Barack Obama, based on my reaction to Michelle Obama's phone conference call, I'm sure my reaction will cause my heart to beat faster.  

Towards the end of the campaign, I was on a listen only conference call from Joe Biden that he set up via his email listserv.  He had just concluded his speech in Tacoma, WA, thanked us  and was encouraging the many of us on the conference call to get out there and keep working, and not to take anything for granted.

The audacity of hope..boy, am I feeling it!

One photo embraces Veteran’s Day

Returning wounded Iraq veteran, and now Director of the Illinois Dept of Veteran’s Affairs, Tammy Duckworth who lost both legs in combat in Iraq war with President Elect, Barack Obama on Veteran’s Day 2008;  ceremony of placing the wreath on Bronze Soldiers Memorial.

Obama Tammy Duckworth Veterans Day 2008

link - more photos and article

On a more personal note, Arthur, along with the rest of the veterans living here in our community were honored yesterday in a Veteran’s Day ceremony at our county park.  A flag flown over the White House had been purchased, and that flag was raised in ceremony by one of the veterans at our county park official flag pole.

A thank you applause to the veterans, photos and a brief speech.  Arthur is a Vietnam era veteran.  He rarely points to his own service, while humbly pointing to and honoring other veterans.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Debt to veterans is ongoing: Each generation must renew our obligations to those who serve.


President-elect Obama and Military Veteran Tammy Duckworth.
(Keep an eye on Duckworth. We haven't seen the last of her.)

The following is a Veterans' Day Editorial in the Fresno Bee.

I endorse it fully.

Debt to veterans is ongoing: Each generation must renew our obligations to those who serve.

11/11/08

Abraham Lincoln concluded his second inaugural address, as the Civil War wound down, with the words that have come to define the nation's obligations to its veterans:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Caring for those who have "borne the battle" is a year-round, ongoing duty. We recall it, and celebrate the service of veterans today, on Veterans Day, but the obligation stretches out years from now. It's not just about today's veterans, but about those yet unborn who will wear the nation's uniform, fight its battles and defend its liberties.

We haven't always treated veterans as well as they deserved. The original GI Bill -- officially the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 -- was transformational for millions of World War II veterans and for the nation itself. They used its benefits to attend college and trade schools and to buy homes. In the process, they created a vastly larger American middle class.

Some form of GI Bill has been in place ever since, though the benefits have varied over the decades. A new GI Bill, affecting veterans in the post-9/11 period, will take effect in August of 2009, and offer expanded education benefits. It's an improvement over the current program, which pays a flat sum over four years, and isn't enough to finance a bachelor's degree at many colleges.

Funding for veterans health care is also going up, partly in response to media coverage in recent years of abysmal treatment for some veterans returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mental health care must have a particularly high priority. That's crucial, because adjusting to civilian life after military service is difficult for many veterans. The enormous psychological and emotional pressures of combat must be addressed, and that's hard for many veterans, and their families, because of the stigma that's still attached to mental health issues.

It's worth remembering that veterans benefits -- particularly for education -- have a way of paying dividends to the nation all out of proportion to their cost. It's estimated that every dollar spent on the original GI Bill for World War II veterans was returned seven-fold to the nation in economic growth.

It's also worth remembering that Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, celebrating the end of World War I -- the "war to end all wars." There have been more wars since then, of course, and we must expect still more in the future. We will always have veterans among us, and we must always remember the debt we owe them. But mere remembrance, though essential, is not by itself enough. These men and women have earned special consideration, and we can't let that be forgotten either.

Fair Use Notice: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Great Image.  A shout out of thanks to HowieInSeattle blog where I found the photo.

U V O A A : Utah Voters Owe America an Apology

The voting political majority in Utah owes the United States of America an apology for 8 years of political gullibility and consequential elective flubbery.

Why message managers and spin doctors infest our society

This morning Chris Hedges has an excellent article at truthdigg.com: America the Illiterate.

Although not a writing about the contrast between "elites" and "non-elites", it is an excellent piece about the lack of intellectual prowess in a majority of citizens in this country. Many adults whose income is a major driving factor in our economy are those whose votes are the principal targets of campaign messages.

Many of these are those who have forgotten or were never adequately taught - among other things - critical thinking skills and a pride in intellectual curiosity..

We live in two Americas.

One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system.

This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clich├ęs. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.

This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

What's wrong with avoiding intellectual curiosity as if it were a social disease?

Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate.

... even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence.

A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

What gets interesting about this lack of intellectual desire is the apparent contentment with the immediate satisfaction of fast-food entertainment. This is what the corporate media-marketing machine is aimed at. These folks are an ever-increasing across-the-social-spectrum majority of easily distracted minds.

Like it or not, the "fundamentals" of our economy, the infrastructure of cash flow, investment and accumulation is based on emphasis marketing that targets the more incurious - the simple-minded consumer and voter base.

Voter base?

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives.

Could we not make the case that the Obama victory, with all of its potential future good for the country, was the result of a campaign in which his team had to run its strategy in this context of mental illiteracy?

We who supported and advocated Obama's candidacy learned that our most effectively crafted messages needed to, as Hedges put it,

... ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation ... manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal.

In order to encourage many in the direction of helping themselves the Obama team had to create "a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness" and to "cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia?"

Supporter of both candidates who live in the world of life-long self-inflicted illiteracy of thought truly are

"those who should know better," and who "blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the attractiveness of candidates."

Hedges declares that we confuse how we feel with knowledge.

Furthermore, today there are post-election reports of how the Christian Right delivered an almost equal percentage of votes to McCain this time as it delivered to Bush in 2004. That has not changed.

If we are to live in a society where God has a permanent active place in our national political process, it must not be the God of right wing absolute fundamentalism - the God-talk that is always in the news promoting its "anti" agenda.

That anti agenda is in fact the foundation of a Taliban society. It is that same intellectual and spiritual illiteracy that seeks immediate emotional gratification taken in directly from someone else's spoon-feeding rather than using one's own personal utensil of discernment.

Be curious ... ask yourselves what sort of mental exercise we finally completed last Tuesday. Here in a Hedges nutshell is what just happened both nationally and locally:

The ability to magnify these simple and childish lies, to repeat them and have surrogates repeat them in endless loops of news cycles, gives these lies the aura of an uncontested truth.

We are repeatedly fed words or phrases like yes we can, maverick, change, pro-life, hope or war on terror.

It feels good not to think. All we have to do is visualize what we want, believe in ourselves and summon those hidden inner resources, whether divine or national, that make the world conform to our desires.

Reality is never an impediment

The Princeton Review analyzed the transcripts of the Gore-Bush debates, the Clinton-Bush-Perot debates of 1992, the Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960 and the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

... In short, today’s political rhetoric is designed to be comprehensible to a 10-year-old child or an adult with a sixth-grade reading level. It is fitted to this level of comprehension because most Americans speak, think and are entertained at this level.

We of the baby boomer generation opened the flood gates for the sort of world in which our children find themselves. We were the first post-WWII targets of what might have been a less-sophisticated but still powerful focus on message management as a means of social manipulation.

Then, as we grew older, when religious evangelical fundamentalists were offered vocal help from political talk jocks, things got worse. Those who knew all about building dumbed-down anger before building dumbed-down majorities set about a conversion of the society of rebellious thinking children of the sixties. Their goal has been to change us into the gullible parents and grandparents of the next two generations for whom critical thinking skills has not been a priority.

What is the significance of critical thinking and a sufficient degree of intellectual sophistication in the civic life of this nation? Well, for one think, the mental presidential dimwit, reacting to the revelations of Abu Ghraib, denied the news; declaring that such were not "America's core values."

America's core values? Hedges says it very well.

The core values of our open society,

the ability to think for oneself,

to draw independent conclusions,

to express dissent when judgment and common sense indicate something is wrong,

to be self-critical,

to challenge authority,

to understand historical facts,

to separate truth from lies,

to advocate for change and to acknowledge that there are other views, different ways of being, that are morally and socially acceptable,

are dying.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

On Lieberman

Seemed to me that Lieberman has a desire to be more than a Senator and serve in the executive branch of government. Couldn't get there with Democrats after he bet on the wrong horse or gullibled his way into a non-retreatable support of the invasion of Iraq as Bush's war. Only other way would be somehow attached to the coattails of a Republican into the White House.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sarah P is a good example of why civics education matters

Post-election, Sarah Palin is talking like a pageant entrant who only understands that she lost but not that she did the campaign harm nor turned the electorate against her party.

Her responses merely imply that she knew all along that Africa is a continent and the the Vice President does not run the Senate.

This beauty pageant intellect had not idea of the impact of the inflammatory rhetoric her coaches told her to mouth. That she willingly and enthusiastically attempted to combine her hockey-mom winking charm with junior-high style gossip that casually declared Obama to be an execution-deserving traitor underlies the junior-high shallowness of her world view.

If she thought that over-the-top campaign speeches were standard fare because her Party had been successful more than once in doing so, she was either as politically naive as she appears or she flat out slept through any civics class presented to her.

The Telegraph is publishing a story today and I've posted excerpts below. Click on the link to read the entire article.

Anyone pretending outrage at the implication that Palin is the victim in this story is either equally civics-challenged or equally as stupid as Palin herself.

Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama


Sarah Palin's attacks on Barack Obama's patriotism provoked a spike in death threats against the future president, Secret Service agents revealed during the final weeks of the campaign.

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin's attacks.

Whether in photos and films doctored by the pros to look both appealing and intelligent, Mrs. Palin revealed herself as a shallow thinker who has spent most of her life making knee-jerk decisions based entirely on self-interest.

Put such a person in the hands of consultants and image-mongers who themselves have little if any conscience and her own gullibility and world view from the shallow end of the pool only gets magnified.

He late-campaign remarks whining about criticism of her campaign criticisms of Obama revealed just how much Sarah Palin is a small-town rural personality. Nothing wrong with small-town and rural personalities so long as within that environment upbringing necessary skills like critical thinking and an ability to see both sides of an issue are taught or acquired.

... so long as within that rural environment (one in which I also dwell) a dominant us/them either/or attitude is not the overriding norm.

Mrs. Palin seems to be in oblivious denial of the consequences of her own actions. She is too interested in self-promotion to worry about ethics.

‘Crawford’ – dvd feature film, when George W. Bush came to town

Released in 2008, the film ‘Crawford’ produced/directed by David Modigliani is a documentary/biography of the small town of Crawford, Texas before George W. Bush arrived at their doorstep, during the time of his Presidency. (And now after as new President-Elect, Barack Obama, is preparing to assume the office of President of the United States).  The film,’Crawford’  is put together in a way that shows  the residents of the town, their lives, and the impact of what happens to the town and their lives when George Bush moves to their town to set up his ranch in his campaign for President. 

The video is embedded below, obtaining it from and assuming that Hulu has necessary permissions to share it online. If the video does not work at my blog, you can view it where I did, online at his link – Hulu.

I jump ahead of the film, to my own personal experience of Crawford, Texas. Of course, part of the Crawford experience is that month of August 2005, when Cindy Sheehan parked herself in Crawford outside the President’s  ranch during his vacation. For perspective as to why Cindy decided to make her stand at that time, remember that President Bush took vacation shortly after one of his press conferences in which he identifies the deaths of troops in Iraq as having given their lives for a noble cause.

Remember that at that time, 23 marines from the Lima Company alone had been killed in Iraq in 2005, 20 were killed over 2 days in August 2005 – six on Aug 1, and fourteen on Aug 3.   Cindy, mother of Casey Sheehan, soldier, who was killed in Iraq April 4, 2004, deliberately went to Crawford almost immediately after the noble cause statement to ask George Bush personally  ‘What Noble Cause?’ .  While the film does not elevate this period of the George Bush ranch in Crawford experience,the film attempts to show the impact on local residents.

I was part of that story, part of that August 2005 experience of Crawford.  Since I was not or did not consider myself to be a ‘peace activist’ prior to the Iraq war but chose to present as a military family trying to speak out to a new young generation of military families, the perspectives I have of my own experiences among the peace/activism communities has it’s own unique flavor.  My experience of Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey, August 2005 is colored by my experiences growing up as what is affectionately callled a ‘military brat’ on military bases in between the Korean Conflict (war)  and the Vietnam war, my experiences as a military wife of a young husband, drafted and deployed to Vietnam, my experiences living in the ‘military culture’, my professional career employment in the social services field during my adult years as a civilian employed in state level public sector, and my inexperience with the culture of peace/activism communities.

The film does justice to one of the many considerations I had when I was at Crawford.  How does this tiny town cope with having such high profile people make their mark at Crawford?  How does the town deal with and cope with the polarized, political battle of opinions here at home  on the Iraq war which I believe came to head at Crawford during Camp Casey in August 2005.  Now that I actually do live in a small town, and it is a new part of my life experiences,  I wondered how the people in the town where I live would react should something similar happen in their town and lives.

Whatever came after the August 2005, Crawford, Texas, Camp Casey experience, I will always credit Cindy with bringing to head the public discourse which at that time had been embroiled in political limitations to the language of what constitutes patriotism, the flag, and support for the troops.  The public political discourse needed to happen and the shift in the political discourse because of that month of August 2005 in Crawford that gave voice to the many-faceted feelings and opinions of the war in Iraq needed to happen. 

It opened doors within the public Iraq war political discourse that had been previously deliberately slammed shut. And I would offer those doors were slammed shut with deliberate forethought and premeditation so as to confine, undermine, and squelch any opportunity of public dialogue or public dissent.  For myself, an ordinary person living an ordinary life, my experience of August 2005 in Crawford, Texas was extraordinary and has marked me indelibly. 

But August 2005 is not the point of this film, it is a part of the film, as it is a part of the Crawford experience.  The film is presented in a way that does not favor opinions about the Iraq war, about George W. Bush, but brings to bear the experience of both along with other experiences that often times typifies small town America.  The ending of the film shook me up – was something I did not know and was very unsettling. 

I hope you’ll watch the film.  It is not a trailer, but the full length film, 1 hour and 15 minutes, so recommend watching it when you have some time to watch it. 

 

 

 

Excerpt of one review of the film ‘Crawford’ by Joe Leydon at Variety

By JOE LEYDON
David Modiglinai's "Crawford" offers an evenhanded and occasionally poignant account of the impact on the citizenry of the small Texas town chosen by President George W. Bush to be the site of his so-called "Western White House." Filmed over several years, docu plays like a rise-and-fall drama populated with colorful, contrasting characters who have profoundly mixed feelings about being used as props in Bush's political stagecraft. After a spin on the fest circuit, pic might get limited theatrical play before pubcast and/or niche-cable airdates.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And Who Writes Here?

Atop one of the bookshelves in another room in my home sits the triangularly-folded American Flag given me at the gravesite of my father back in 1993.


Dad's death came upon us quite suddenly. We had long anticipated his passing as the years wore on - our unspoken suspicion that it would be liver failure that would get him.

We were right.

When our fears were realized things happened quickly. From the time of diagnosis to the grave site was six or seven weeks in February and March, 1993 when I drove the 800 miles to Idaho so we four adult children could meet with his Doctor. Then a drive back to Idaho a few weeks later in March for his funeral.

As the oldest son I was allowed to speak at Dad's service in the church in the small town where I grew up - a village from which Dad rarely strayed over most of his life. The longest time away was his service in the war.

I remember standing at the podium in that funeral service and looking into faces of folks old and young whom I'd seen in that church practically every week for the first 19 years of my life.

I recall assuring all the devout and not-so-devout who had come to the service that although my Dad had not been a church-goer, was not temple-endowed (an LDS thing) nor temple-married, none of that mattered to God. There was joy in heaven when Dad showed up.

I grew up in a house Dad paid $47 a month to purchase in a town four blocks wide and four blocks long that sheltered less than 500 souls.

My earliest memories of Dad working are at the gas station he ran in the late 40's and early 50's. Then he became a John Deere farm-implement salesman all over the Southeastern corner of Idaho.

Dad did alright selling tractors cause lots of farmers knew him as the singer and sax player in a three-man combo that played every Friday and Saturday night for 20 years from the Wyoming line to Pocatello.

That was my Dad as I grew up knowing him.

I didn't know what he did in the war until one night when I was playing on a kids' Morse code toy connected by a long wire to the neighbor kid next door. Dad got a big grin, went into a closet and pulled out a large chrome or silver electronic Morse-code device that was much more than push down on a cheap plastic tab.

After plugging it in he laid his arm on the table so that the end piece fit between his thumb and first finger and began moving his wrist back and forth causing the metal key to touch connectors on each side at the other end. They emitted a beeping sound. Dih-dih-dih, dah-dah-dah and all that.

He folded up the newspaper and although he hadn't touched the device to my knowledge since the late 40's he proceeded immediately to "send."

He tapped out an entire Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article at an incredible speed that sounded like it might be as fast or faster than I could have read it aloud.

That was his duty - among other things - that he did in the war while stationed on the Aleutian Islands . He sent, received and monitored radio transmissions out over the Pacific.

He didn't talk about it.

So far as we knew he had no apparent combat scars and never had to fire a weapon in anger at anybody. There were a couple of photo albums of Dad in training in Missouri and Wisconsin followed by pages of Aleutian shots - mostly quonset-hut barracks.

But Lietta and I watched a show in the past year about how back then Japan took one of those Aleutian Islands and the Americans had to fight like hell to throw them back out.

Those were the years Dad was there but I never heard him talk about those events and to this day none of us know whether he participated in battle.

When I was growing up Dad belonged to the American Legion - which meant very little to me until the day I was called to the High School office and was told that I had been selected to go to the Idaho Boys State (a summertime mini-legislature at the State Capitol.)

My mother said it was because among boys my age eligible to go, it was my Dad's active membership in the American Legion that gave me an edge.

No, he didn't talk much about what he did in the war.

My younger brother and I are also Veterans who in the 1960's enlisted within six weeks of each other. We both held Security Clearances and neither of us talked at all about what we did back then.

We were Cold Warriors, but Dad's was Hot.

None of us talked about it casually ... ever.

You served, you paid attention to your duties and kept most of it to yourself.

We learned to be just like Dad.

In his later years we all had become somewhat estranged from Dad because of his drinking and deliberate quest to be alone all the time.

My mother divorced Dad when I was in my early thirties and living in Texas.

Dad didn't move far away from that $47-a-month house. I remember visiting him when I was in my late 30's and he was living in an apartment 16 miles from where he had raised me.

The room was mostly dark, the curtains drawn and the television was always on. I knew he had the TV schedule for all three network channels memorized. He once told me he was ready for us to leave cause one of "his shows" was about to come on.

There was no bookshelf in his living room - just a night stand next to his lazy-boy. There were a couple of photograph albums full of pictures taken in the late 30's, 40's and early 50's. There was also a thick and heavy remembrance book about World War II.

I have that book and those albums on the same bookshelf where the tri-corner Flag sits atop it on the highest shelf.

After the funeral we drove less than a mile to the town cemetery. It was cold and the wind was blowing but there was a fine group of family and friends who watched as his flag-draped casket was off-loaded from the mortuary limousine and in short order lowered into the ground.

I don't remember who retrieved the flag from that casket but when he gave that Flag to an American Veteran's son, the son finally cried.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

where voters are renewed, re-aroused and willing to insure that never again will the bamboozle trump the truth

Two unrelated articles caught my eye this morning in a way that relate to what I have been thinking about in my current state of political fatigue.

MSNBC has an article on its front page entitled "Praying for election miracles". It's about politically active priests and preachers exhorting their faithful to petition God to vote on Tuesday.

Then there's The New York Times article about the organization, Media Matters, entitled An All-Out Attack on `Conservative Misinformation that includes a complaint from Republican pollster and talking point framer Frank Luntz.

Let's start with the God who will be shirking civic duty if HE does not vote.


In some instances the prayerful petition appears to focus somewhat on an innocent desire to get out the vote. The underlying assumption however seems to be that those "gotten out to vote" by God will be voters aligned with those who are making the politically prayerful petition.

On the other hand there are those who are openly asking God to forget about freedom of agency or choice; asking instead that HE impose HIS will on the people. This in some sort of spiritual puppet string-pulling and mind control that will cause a majority of the American electorate to vote in harmony with the God-and-Politics stampeders.

These preach values that demand personal subordination to a religious party line. They are not values of fairness, compassion, peace, charity nor understanding. These are values based on an assumption of a punitive and judgmental God that looks, talks and acts like Pat Robertson or John Hagee.

In these final moments of this election season, they are pleading with God to confirm and validate their own assumptions as to what God and religion are supposed to mean in the United States of America.

Of an impartial civic mind they are not. But they do want to get out the vote.


Then we have Frank Luntz on Media Matters:

"I think they are one of the most destructive organizations associated with American politics today," said Frank Luntz, a pollster forRudolph W. Giuliani and Newt Gingrich who this year has led on-camera voter focus groups on Fox News, a frequent Media Matters target.

"They are vicious. They only understand one thing: attack, attack, attack."

"If I were a Democrat, I would tell them to shut up," Mr. Luntz said. "If I were a Republican, I would tell my candidates to ignore them."

If you've ever listened to Luntz in person (I've watched him spar with Bill Maher on Real Time several times) you will see an almost smug declaration of how Democrats would be more successful if they would listen to his interpretation of the perceptive gullibility of the American electorate.

But currently Luntz has his career at stake with this election. His words attempt to hide the fact that if the American electorate gets uppity and starts insisting on something more than sound-bite and talking-point campaigns, he's done with his fame, fortune and cosmetic high-regard on cable TV.

I've long held a view that when a political candidate hires a campaign consultant of the Frank Luntz spin doctor ilk - that candidate has robbed his/her potential constituency of a relationship of trust.

Such an act places a manipulative gate-keeper smack dab between the citizen and the elected representative. If we accept that sort of arrangement with our candidates the common denominator of civic intelligence is dramatically lowered.

Luntz can't deny that. No spin doctor can deny that. These folks do not raise civic intellectual awareness in this country any more than the do purveyors of American Idol, Survivor or Heroes who merely want you to watch and buy.

I've appreciated what Media Matters has done in helping the curious cope with a conservative radical partisan stampede tactic.

Rather than agreeing with Luntz and his whine about destructive organizations, I believe that so long as there are any ideologically driven information predators communicating with voters, organizations like Media Matters and Fact Check are necessary.

As for political prayer circles, I don't want God jumping in the middle of American life like an overbearing moral Genghis Kahn who proclaims "Live subordinate to me and my BOOK or you'll hurt my feelings, die in your sins and be sent to hell!"

Preachers who goaded their flocks into American voting booths in 2004 managed to get trusting people to cast purely negative-minded votes for false civic reasons.

In 2004 the pain and frustration for me was not limited to the Kerry loss. Much more than that was the sense that the election - if not stolen - was still severely impacted by information manipulation and outright lying.

I perceived that the majority of those who voted were misled. Non-voters remained off the beaten path because political tacticians wanted them out of sight and out of mind - voluntarily self-suppressed.

We were not even left with the consolation that a definite majority of the American voters had spoken; that the will - wise or unwise - of the majority of American citizens had been expressed.

We were stuck with the realization that the majority of those who had spoken were manipulated and led to the booth under false pretenses (including 14 states with God & Politics initiative ballots put in place by people like Rove and Luntz.)

Civically and spiritually, I counsel that we do not let someone else -in any context - tell us once again what to think and how to vote.

I counsel that we make an effort to perceive the lies and half-truths proclaimed in campaigns.

I counsel an activist - even formally organized - civic campaign to put limits on purchased political ads, sound-bite advertising and contests decided by whoever has the most money available to flood the media with shallow inflammatory nonsense.

I've already made my arguments for and against the candidates of my choice. Repeating any of that is not appropriate to the theme of this opinion.

As we move forward, I intend to advocate more and more for genuine civic wisdom and participation in this country.

"Change" can be a spin-doctor word use to get out the vote. I hope real change means a return to the idea that America is essentially one big town hall.

I'd like to see a circumstance where voters are renewed, re-aroused and willing to insure that never again will the bamboozle trump the truth.

I'd like to see political apathy become as unacceptable as sexual harassment, domestic violence, child abuse, identity theft and belching in church.

I want to move past next Tuesday satisfied that this time voter apathy, ignorance and gullibility has not once again harmed this state and this nation to a much greater degree than another terrorist attack.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a shallow, tale-telling, stampeding wrong-road Red State Governor?

Washington: A part of America Returning to its True Values

We have again been asked to choose the tired Republican corporate philosophy that has proven itself as massively flawed, ineffective and seriously partial to corporate welfare – a philosophy that has consistently ignored the needs of workers, families, the elderly, the poor and middle class.

Assaulted by misleading and inflammatory ads that have been proven false, we've been asked to choose a governor.  Those Rossi ads assume that our best decision is the one made while we are not calm and composed, but when misled, angry, and stampeded.

We are being asked to ignore our worries about our jobs, wallets, health care, mortgages and other real concerns. Instead we should be fired up by wildly false Rossi campaign messages having nothing to do with what keeps us awake at night.

Do you think all that false nonsense about misplaced sex offenders, tribal bribes and the need to "peel off" children's services in order to protect children from their own government is real?

Does any of that have anything to do with how Rossi would govern?

In reality Rossi's state campaign strategy underlines the decline and possible demise of the Republican Party as a positive force for good everywhere in this country.

In this and most states all the Republican Party has is panicked desperation and poorly-thought out strategies.

An Obama administration has already committed itself to change. Voters are endorsing that commitment in large numbers. The Democratic Party is able to attract votes during this election because Republicans have thrown virtue, wisdom, common sense and civic duty into the gutter. The McCain campaign demonstrates this every day.

Obama and the Democrats are committed to lifting our national well-being out of the gutter.

Christine Gregoire has demonstrated and proven that civic well-being is her highest priority for each of us.

Rossi is of that other ilk. His ads proclaim his poor campaign priorities and prove how shallow a candidate he really is.

There's an incoming federal administration committed to massive civic change and restoration of America's real core values. Do you want to be a part of America returning to its true values?

Or do you want to drive forward while looking through the rear-view mirror in a state with a shallow, tale-telling, stampeding wrong-road Red State Governor?

A governor like all those elected officials other states are throwing out of office wholesale?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Photo of mother at gravesite referenced by Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama

Photobucket


The photo Colin Powell referenced in his endorsement of Barack Obama.  The photo of mother at her son's gravesite, a young man, 20 years old, soldier from Fort Lewis, killed in Iraq, awarded Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  Emblem on his gravesite is not the Christian cross, the Jewish Star of David, but the Muslim Crescent and Star.  Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, Cpl., U.S. Army, Operation Iraqi Freedom, was an American who was 14 at the time of 911.  He waited until he was of age to enlist in military to serve his country (United States of America) and he gave his life for his country...the United States of America.  
(edited to add Colin Powell was referencing a soldier from Fort Lewis - Tacoma, WA)

[update] from Tacoma News Tribune blog - FOB (Forward Operating Base), titled 'Death of Fort Lewis soldier resonates with Powell' posted by Scott Fontaine, Oct 20, 2008

Khan served with the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, a unit of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He and three others were killed Aug. 6, 2007, when bombs exploded in a housing they were clearing in Baqouba, Iraq. Just hours earlier, the four were on a humanitarian mission, ensuring food and relief supplies were delivered to women and children in the city northeast of Baghdad. He was 20.
[end update]


excerpt from the transcript of Colin Powell endorsement speech on Meet The Press today


I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine.  It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave.  And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone.  And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death.  He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith.  And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey.  He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.  Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way.  And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know.  But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.


Video of Colin Powell's endorsement speech of Barack Obama at Meet the Press today - Sunday, Oct 19, 2008.



There is much to be mined from Colin Powell's speech that might resonate more strongly with others.  Colin Powell, with this reference, eloquenty elevated a truth and reality of the constancy of our country's relationship to the Iraq war.  I wanted to take a moment to share in elegance that truth, that reality, amidst all the background noise of the Presidential campaign.


It is not useful for me to editorialize or restate using my lesser words that which Colin Powell has brought into perspective with his own words.  I hope, readers, you will take time to listen to Colin Powell and hear the words for yourselves.

Courage Under Fire

Code Pink confronts Sarah Palin in Indiana and gets thrown out. But then ....

watch it to the end and see who leaves with them.



If those leaving were "undecideds" then the Palin-McCain message didn't connect.


But if those were the base Palin was trying to shore up, then things just got worse for Republicans in Indiana.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Maher:: please do not reject John McCain just because he's white.

Social Justice is the category here.

Bill Maher puts the shoe on the other foot.

You can find the video here, but the excerpt after the fold is the New Rule I recommend.

And finally, new rule:

a candidate for President should not be judged by the color of his skin.

And to...and to anyone who thinks differently, I say please do not reject John McCain just because he's white.

I think the recent news from Wall Street has made us all less tolerant and only reinforce the  stereotype that white people are shiftless, thieving welfare queens.

Now, take a look at these pictures. Here are the CEOs of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and the Lehman Brothers.

I know the first thing that jumps out about these faces is that they all happen to be white, and they all happen to be responsible for stealing.

But what you have to understand is that these whites are a product of a society that made them that way. It was the neighborhoods and the schools they went to: Harvard, Yale, the Wharton School of Business.

They never learned the value of doing real, actual work and the first step to fixing that is better role models, so kids growing up white today don't think the only way out of Westchester is corporate crime.

Or a government handout or sailing.

So I get it, the temptation is to look at McCain and vote against him because you don't see an individual, you just see another typical welfare whitey.

And it's true, he's spent his entire life  shuffling from one low-paying government job to another.

Well, except those years he spent in prison.

Typical!

And between you and me, he's not very articulate. Oh, he may have some street smarts, but he's not what you call an educated man. He freely admits he's ignorant about the economy.

And apparently the only thing his white running mate knows how to do is crank out one baby after another.

And now of course, her teenage daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. Because she learns it at home!

But that doesn't mean we should assume all white people are like that, just because so many of them are.

I believe there is hope. I believe even the stoopiest...stupidest, greediest, laziest whites can break the cycle of dependence like this November when we finally move George Bush out of public housing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brigade begins Homeland deployments Oct 1; Army has Ray Gun for riot/crowd control

U.S. Army battalion troops deploy to - well U.S.A.! And U.S. Army has a Ray Gun.  Reading these two items together and one could wonder why U.S. active Army battalion needs to deploy to non-combat zones on America homeland soil, while state level National Guard troops need to deploy to combat zones in Iraq.  And one could wonder about this scenario as well.  U.S. Army being aware of and urgently requesting the non-lethal Ray Gun for use in Iraq and Afghanistan was denied permission.  Weapon shown to be effective in riot and crowd control via practice demonstrations using people acting as 'peace protesters'.


 at Army Times; Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1, 2008.


  at CBS 60 Minutes Will Army's Ray Gun See Action?


  A non-lethan military weapon effective in riot and crowd control, huh?  Where?  Here or 'over there'?  Both actually. And why hasn't it been used 'over there' (Iraq, Afghanistan) and when will it be used here?  Already peaceful protesters are set apart in cages and monitored by police in full riot gear, is it just a matter of when the Ray Gun will be brought to bear on protest demonstrations?  


  Could have been less killing in Iraq and Afghanistan?!  See the August 2007 MSNBC story 'Energy Beam Could Be Used in Iraq' - officials refuse.


  Meanwhile the plan to deploy U.S. Army battalion here at home;


excerpts from the Army Times article


3rd Infantry's 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping `people at home' may become a permanent part of the active Army. After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.


 Don't look for any extra time off, though. The at-home mission does not take the place of scheduled combat-zone deployments and will take place during the so-called dwell time a unit gets to reset and regenerate after a deployment.


  More than 20,000 Army National Guard Soldiers were notified by the Army to prepare for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these are second deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.


  Washington. The "Ravens" of Washington's 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team are based in Seattle, Washington, and includes units from Washington and California. It mobilized in August 2008 and will to Iraq in autumn 2008. 2nd deployment - the brigade last deployed to Iraq from March 2004 through March 2005.


  New Jersey. The "Jersey Blues" - the 50th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the New Jersey Army National Guard, based at Fort Dix - includes units from across the state. The brigade mobilized in May 2008 and will deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. This will be the brigade's first deployment.


 Hawaii and Arizona. The 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquartered at Fort Ruger, Hawaii, includes units from across Hawaii and Arizona. The brigade  mobilized in June 2008 and will deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. 2nd deployment for the "Lava Brigade" which served in Iraq from January through December of 2005.


  Texas .The 56th Brigade Combat Team of the 36th Infantry Division includes units from across Texas. The "Thunderbolt Brigade" mobilized in July 2008 and will deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008. 2nd deployment - the brigade last deployed to Iraq from December 2004 through December 2005.


 Pennsylvania. "The Associators" of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, are headquartered in Philadelphia. They are expected to mobilize in November 2008 and deploy to Iraq in early 2009. The brigade, which includes units from across Pennsylvania, is the only Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the Army National Guard, and one of just seven in the Army. This will be the brigade's first deployment as a unit, although small units from the brigade have previously deployed (2nd deployments) in support of operation Iraqi Freedom.


 North Carolina and West Virginia. The 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team of the North Carolina Army National Guard, based in Clinton, includes units from North Carolina and West Virginia. "Old Hickory" will mobilize in January 2009 and deploy to Iraq in spring 2009. 2nd deployment - the brigade last deployed to Iraq from February 2004 through February 2005.


  Illinois. The 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Decatur, Illinois,  mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in August 2008.  The "Prairie" Brigade is expected to deploy in autumn 2008 to Afghanistan, where it will train the Afghan National Army. In January 2002, one of the brigade's battalions mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed to Germany to provide force protection at U.S. facilities across Europe.


  Oklahoma and Utah Oklahoma's 45th Fires Brigade, based in Enid, is also scheduled to deploy to Iraq.  It includes units from Oklahoma and Utah. "Red Thunder" is expected to mobilize in June 2008 and deploy to Iraq in autumn 2008 where it will augment the 29th IBCT in its assigned mission.  2nd deployments the 45th Fires Brigade deployed two battalions to Iraq in 2003.


  (per info at Texas Army National Guard website)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Guest Article: Lietta Ruger (my wife and best friend) writing on Washblog: Palin situation glamorizes teen (unwed) pregnancy?

Palin situation glamorizes teen (unwed) pregnancy?

So says my daughter, who has a sixteen year old daughter she desires does not get pregnant at this tender age.  My daughter is military spouse -her husband is deployed now in Iraq in his second deployment. A deployment, btw, that Sarah Palin thinks emanates from God's plan.  Not so much what that plan is or even that God by her definitions is the same God of my son-in-law's or daughter's or her children's definitions.  But I digress. 

My daughter calls herself a proud democrat - but most of her military spouse women friends tend towards the authoritarian, follow orders republican bent.  Military itself, being authoritarian, follow orders, patriarchal culture, it follows there would be a more dominance towards the 'supposed' republican tenets. 
 
Oddly, though, my daughters friends have acknowledged they are weary of Bush Adminstration, disappointed with the Republicans in office and sick of the Iraq war (where their spouses have been deployed once, twice or more).  Despite what they have told her, my daughter finds it astounding that after the history of this last six years with Republican Administration failures, her military spouse friends have suddenly converged into joining into a 'lockstep' mentality in support of Palin simply because she is the republican VP pick.
 
In her discussions with her friends, she has said she really doesn't like how the republican handling of the unfolding Sarah Palin situation is seeming to 'glamorize' teen pregnancy.  I'd say that word fits even more so, in light of Palin's support of abstinence taught in schools in lieu of birth control; Palin position against abortion even in cases of rape and incest!  Incest for God's sake - how can anyone force a young woman to carry a child to term given the conditions of that kind of conception.  Hideously cruel!  Both pychologically and physiologically dangerous. 
 
In her acceptance speech, Sarah Palin made reference to Hillary Clinton's 18 million cracks in the ceiling - the inference being Sarah Palin could springboard off Hillary Clinton's imprint.  NOT!! They are entirely different kinds of women. 
 
In as much as population cultures have similarities, they still remain individually unique even among their own populations.  Women are not universal in their qualities any more than men are universal in their qualities.
 
Women may have a sisterhood, born of intuitive understanding of womanhood.  Women also are still working to overcome too many generations of oppression, molding their personalities to fit into a male-dominated patriarchal order.  There is still work to do for women in learning how to fully and successfully embrace our own sisterhood without those 'sisterhood' rivalries that often can erupt.
 
Sarah Palin may have desireable qualities that work for her in  a religious Evangelist culture (a patriarchally ordered culture) that brand her a woman  as defined by Evangelical definitions.  That does not imbue in her universal qualities acceptable to other women who are working hard not to follow a patriarchally ordered culture of women.  Women are still trying to find the female to male balance and tipping the scales backwards is not progress for women anywhere.
 
I love my daughter's choice of description choosing the word 'glamorizing' of teen pregnancy.  It is at this point known that Palin's daughter has an unwed teen pregnancy, not known if it is an unwanted teen pregnancy, but surely it points to why abstinence education only doesn't work any better or worse than birth control education.  Rather than glamorize the fact of Sarah Palin's teen daughter's pregnancy by downplaying all the realities that attach to the facts of teen pregnancies, perhaps a  more authentic discussion - debate about the realities of teen pregnancies, conception, and women's choice or lack thereof regarding pregnancy outcomes.
 
A woman is confined to limited choices once she is pregnant; aborting the pregnancy, keeping the pregnancy and delivering the child; keeping and raising the child herself or offering the child up to a family who can care for it.  No matter the decision, the child (whether embryo or infant) and mother will be directly impacted for the rest of their lives.  For that matter, so will the man who fathered the child. 
 
One could say the Sarah Palin situation opens a dialogue that is not unique to her family but one every family raising children, boys and girls, must face.  I agree with the 'hands off' Sarah's daughter, but that doesn't mean at all hands off the discussion.  It has been ongoing through all generations and continues to be an ongoing and necessary discussion. 
 
Thank you to Carla Axtman for her thoughts in her blog, and thank you to Arthur for opening the discussion at Washblog.   
 
On the Surge in Iraq "--we have set the bar so low it's buried in the sand at this point." - Barack Obama
by Lietta Ruger on Sat Sep 06, 2008

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Bridgers to Nowhere? Ted Stevens' Governor?


I read somewhere earlier this morning that the Republican Party knows a losing fight when it sees one. Rather than waste a lot of effort squandering whatever remains of a previously positive conservative reputation by making silly defenses of a silly candidate, they have conceded.

They are putting Sarah on the ticket to appease Social Conservatives ... or demonstrate/prove to those S.C.'s that an electoral base needs to be wider and more tolerant than the position where the religious right has McCain tethered.

The Dem convention was extremely powerful and effective. Given the gifted rhetorical abilities of all those prominent speakers who set the table and complemented Obama's special oratorical skill, this contest is a speechifying mismatch.

Make no mistake, the election won't be decided by we Internet intellects who can't get through the day without our own or someone else's analysis that is less than ten minutes old. It will be decided by blocks of voters prompted by rhetoric that capitalizes on outrage more than anger.

The Dem's have a tremendous opportunity with that national outrage just ripe for the picking while Repubs don't have much if anything to rile the nation against the Democrats.

No Republican of prominence can compete with any of the Democratic top-tier orators. Furthermore, Republicans do not have a single position that can be proclaimed and proven as a superior or better alternative to what Democrats are describing and promoting.

Going along with McCain's choice seems to be either an extraordinary demonstration of Republican strategic helplessness or worse.

Perhaps having been unable to field a more universally popular candidate able to combine all the varied conservative concerns, they have conceded. They are leaving all the principal decisions to McCain himself.

Or ... from the pool of stupidity where most available political consultants and spinners swim Republicans netted only from the shallowest end of that pool.

Regarding McCain ... about the second or third time he revealed his mysogynistic (sp?) tendencies combined with such silliness as "Bomb Bomb Iran" and his inability to communicate real humor, I realized that Johnny guns is nothing more than the bottom-tier type officer that most veterans knew at one time or another during their careers;

the kind of officer who thought his collar insignia made him a Patton by osmosis but in reality was not capable of remaining competent as a leader of men or squadrons once out of his cockpit and flight suit.

I've said before that conceding the POW time to Johnny Guns in no way concedes that such an experience alone makes him the equivalent of this country's actual military commanders who rose to the top mostly on their own merits.

From a Commander-in-Chief standpoint based on military background, experience in war, strategy, tactics and an appreciation of the value of diplomacy, McCain truthfully is closer to George Bush on the skill level than he is to Wesley Clark, Colin Powell, Tommy Franks or even those currently serving in the JCS.

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