Friday, January 16, 2004

Baltimore City Paper/Brian Morton:
The Naked Emperor
"....The influential Washington, D.C.- based columnist and Weblogger Joshua Micah Marshall has a saying about national politics that goes, "Open secrets only get discussed by the press once a prominent person states them publicly...."
.....The sad thing about all this isn't how the American people have been misled and lied to by this president--all the signs were there for that. It's that the dominant media culture has bought into the idea that intangibles like "character" and "leadership" matter more than anything the president actually does. You can hear it in every official statement about Bush. When 60 Minutes asked White House spokesman Scott McClellan about the book, his response was a classic non sequitur that addressed nothing but put forth all the touchy-feely leadership memes that have become this administration's trademark: "The president is someone that leads and acts decisively on our biggest priorities, and that is exactly what he'll continue to do."
It's a shame that it has taken a fired Cabinet member to point out the obvious. It's a tragedy that it has taken this long for America to actually "hear" what we knew all along--that this emperor has no clothes
Bohemian Mama Blog -
Political Predictions for 2004

This is a must-see.

February 2004: Bitter weather across the nation brings down the voting numbers in the major February primaries. But enough people snowshoe to their voting booths in order to cast their votes for Dean, Edwards and Clark. Unfortunately, they might as well have stayed home, since the Diebold machines they voted on decided instead that Joe Lieberman (or was that Gephardt?) won in every state that held a primary. Meanwhile, broken, rotting 30-year old cans of chemicals are found buried in the desert in Iraq and Sean Hannity almost has a heart attack rejoicing over found WMDs. More soldiers die.
REPRINT: May, 2003
Truthout Interview With Howard Dean
An exclusive interview of Howard Dean by William Rivers Pitt
William Rivers Pitt/Truthout:
The Lies For War Unravel
"...Air Force Lt. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski wore the uniform of the United States military for most of her adult life. In the last few years, until her retirement last April after 20 years of service, she has watched the infrastructure of American foreign policy creation rot from the inside out. Her view was not from the cheap seats, from some faraway vantage point, but from the hallways where the cancer walked and talked. Lt. Colonel Kwiatkowski worked in the same Defense Department offices where the cadre of hawkish neoconservatives that came in with George W. Bush trashed America's reputation, denigrated her fellow soldiers, and recreated the processes of government into a contra-constitutional laughingstock.."

Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski/American Conservative:
Open Door Policy
A strange thing happened on the way to the war.
*Part Three of a series*

Part One here

Part II (sorry, not online) shows how the intelligence-gathering process was subverted by the War Party.

Karen Kwiatkowski archive here
American Prospect/Robert Kuttner:
America as a One-Party State
Today's hard right seeks total dominion. It's packing the courts and rigging the rules. The target is not the Democrats but democracy itself.

"...The United States could become a nation in which the dominant party rules for a prolonged period, marginalizes a token opposition and is extremely difficult to dislodge because democracy itself is rigged. This would be unprecedented in U.S. history.......the drift toward an engineered one-party Republican state has aroused little press scrutiny or widespread popular protest........
We are at risk of becoming an autocracy in three key respects.
-First, Republican parliamentary gimmickry has emasculated legislative opposition in the House of Representatives (the Senate has other problems)....
-Second, electoral rules have been rigged to make it increasingly difficult for the incumbent party to be ejected by the voters, absent a Depression-scale disaster, Watergate-class scandal or Teddy Roosevelt-style ruling party split...
-Third, the federal courts, which have slowed some executive-branch efforts to destroy liberties, will be a complete rubber stamp if the right wins one more presidential election.....
".....We've seen divided government before, with a Democratic president and a fiercely partisan Republican Congress. It is not pretty. But it is much more attractive than a one-party state."

OnLine Journal:
Edwards, Hootie and me

"..With Madonna for Clark, Whoopi for Dean and now Hootie for Edwards, what is an educated voter to do?"
What fills a person with hate?
I guarantee no one will walk away from this writing-collection feeling satisfied. Rosbalt News' German-based writer Barukh Namir offers five "highly personal views" of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, portraying the depth of feeling that separates the participants. This is not easy to read. Be prepared.

Almost One Year Ago:
A bitterly sarcastic view of the U.S. written just before the pre-emptive strike on Iraq

As the Bush administration lays out its case to crawl back to the U.N. and use her for a mixed purpose of politics and failure, we recognize that the U.N. is no more respected by the U.S. than a well-used trollop.

"....The 'unreality' of this pre-war period emphasizes the irrelevance of those international institutions whose legitimacy was based on the realities of fifty years ago and the pointlessness of some non-American politicians' attempts to observe the decencies and pretend to be 'independent', when it is quite clear that these same politicians have no independence whatsoever and will only be called upon to clear up the mess, like servants, after the first night of war has passed."

Revisionists are already arranging the elementary-school American history books and setting the stage for a monument to Dubya.

".......the USA will never be condemned for making war on Iraq, not in absurd international tribunals, nor by the world in general. Nobody will even consider the worthiness or unworthiness of the victor or whether the USA was right or wrong or think of America's actions from a political, legal or even moral standpoint. Nobody will ask whether war was really inevitable, they will simply accept it, as if war were as integral and inevitable a part of nature as a storm can be after a long, hot summer..."

If I knew this was where the bridge to the 21st Century was leading us, I may well have jumped over the side, swam back to the 20th, and warned the others who'd not yet begun the crossing. Hope is all we really have now that we've crossed the bridge, but there is little hope provided in this writer's strong words. What hurts is that there is a sting of truth in what he says. This next excerpt brings FOX News to mind:

"....Every stupefying technical detail of the upcoming war should help us to forget about who the war is against. This includes fear and hatred. You can't hate the enemies in a computer game and you mustn't think about who will die as a result of the amazing technological power of the US army. Whatever happens, it will be great to watch..."

Here we are, the most powerful nation on earth..using our power most irresponsibly and unwisely. We seem to have dropped our souls at the edge of the 21st Century bridge. Think back..where did we last see them? Are you certain you left home with them? My God, what have we done? Where will all this war lead a soulless people?
Is there a leader who can help us remember what hope meant? Without the ability to be inspired for a hopeful tomorrow, I'm afraid...not afraid of an orange alert or a terror attack...I'm afraid our American liberties will be the next in line to be reduced to nothing more than a well-used political tool by the leaders who are supposed to be protecting them. After too many lies, I do not feel I can trust our leaders to protect what is most precious to us as American citizens...what our fighting men and women are used for...die for.

Using the writer's words about the U.N. and replacing them with the Bill of Rights:

"...The 'unreality' of this post 9-11 period emphasizes the irrelevance of the Bill of Rights whose legitimacy was based on the realities of two-hundred twenty-one years ago and the pointlessness of some citizens' attempts to understand the rights and pretend to 'enjoy them', when it is quite clear that these same citizens will have no rights whatsoever and will only be free enough to obey the state, like servants, after the first night of the Patriot Act has passed."

Iraq War/Guardian:
Sergeant's widow calls on
Geoff Hoon to resign

"....[Hoon] was "extremely sorry" about the death of a tank commander who died in Iraq after being ordered to hand back body armour due to shortages..."

And he LIED to the widow on top of it all? Do these officials have no shame?

"....Yesterday Mrs Roberts said that Mr Hoon had not given her a confidential report on her husband's death, which he described doing to the Commons...."

Also see: Soldier's tapes pile pressure on Hoon to quit
Widow airs husband's recordings about fears of kit shortage and says defence chief misled Commons

Interestingly, the same widow praised Bush for meeting with her on his trip to Britain.

Article from Yorkshire Evening Post here.
Let Them Be--
a meditation for the world-weary

"LIFT up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love; and mean Himself, and none of His goods. And thereto, look the loath to think on aught but Himself. So that nought work in thy wit, nor in thy will, but only Himself. And do that in thee is to forget all the creatures that ever God made and the works of them; so that thy thought nor thy desire be not directed nor stretched to any of them, neither in general nor in special, but let them be, and take no heed to them. This is the work of the soul that most pleaseth God. All saints and angels have joy of this work, and hasten them to help it in all their might. All fiends be furious when thou thus dost, and try for to defeat it in all that they can. All men living in earth be wonderfully holpen of this work, thou wottest not how. Yea, the souls in purgatory be eased of their pain by virtue of this work. Thyself art cleansed and made virtuous by no work so much. And yet it is the lightest work of all, when a soul is helped with grace in sensible list, and soonest done. But else it is hard, and wonderful to thee for to do.
Let not, therefore, but travail therein till thou feel list. For at the first time when thou dost it, thou findest but a darkness; and as it were a cloud of unknowing, thou knowest not what, saving that thou feelest in thy will a naked intent unto God. This darkness and this cloud is, howsoever thou dost, betwixt thee and thy God, and letteth thee that thou mayest neither see Him clearly by light of understanding in thy reason, nor feel Him in sweetness of love in thine affection.
And therefore shape thee to bide in this darkness as long as thou mayest, evermore crying after Him that thou lovest. For if ever thou shalt feel Him or see Him, as it may be here, it behoveth always to be in this cloud in this darkness. And if thou wilt busily travail as I bid thee, I trust in His mercy that thou shalt come thereto."

-from the Cloud of Unknowing / circa anonymous 14th century Christian English mystic

Rekha Basu: How one Des Moines columnist decided on Howard Dean
"...Dean has been accused of being too angry. But if you're not angry, you haven't been paying attention to what's happening in America...
Dean tells you the tough truth. If people still want to listen - if he pulls this off - it's a true grassroots triumph
Ken Burns: On History

"I am constantly amazed at how our judgments of the present moment are inaccurate. A good look at the past can say a lot about where we are, where we might be going. The past is very much about who we are now. History is the question we in the present ask of the past. That sonar that bounces off the past tells us much about who we are now, and the questions we ask define us as much as our past."
-Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker

Food for thought:
It's difficult for one of the characters in a dream to be objective about the dream itself.
Mississippi: Literary Mojo

William Alexander Percy, Walker Percy, Shelby Foote, Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Willie Morris, Tennessee Williams...all share a common thread...Mississippi.

"To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi."
-William Faulkner

"I came across a photograph of him not long ago, his black face with the long snout sniffing at something in the air, his tail straight and pointing, his eyes flashing in some momentary excitement. Looking at a faded photograph taken more than forty years before, even as a grown man, I would admit I still missed him."

Iddybud photo

"I knew the place then better than I did my own heart--every bend in every road, every house and every field, the exact spot where the robin went for her first crocus. It was not in my soul then, only in my pores, as familiar to me as rain or grass or sunlight."
-Willie Morris / Excerpts from "My Dog Skip"
WETA Founder Elizabeth Campbell Dies at 101

We lost a treasure this month. Elizabeth saw television as a way to educate the general public in fine arts and music.
She founded the WETA public broadcasting outlet and helped guide it from humble beginnings to being one of the nation's most prominent public television stations. Since its start in 1958, WETA has grown from a single elementary school science program made in borrowed studios to the third-largest contributor of original shows to the Public Broadcasting System.
In her day, church doctrine prohibited female members of the clergy, so Elizabeth turned to teaching. A 1923 cum laude graduate of Salem College in North Carolina, she went on to receive a master's degree in education from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1924. Read the Washington Post article linked above to learn more about this amazing woman and her wonderful contribution to our nation.
This is what I hate about politics...
With his own money, John Kerry pays for guys like Michael Whouley to whip up the hype about a "convincing" (502-people-sampled) Zogby poll in the hopes it will be enough of a shot to the lame arm of Kerry's campaign to salvage him in Iowa.
In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of us "little people" have supported other candidates with our hard-earned money while we watch the less-deserving campaigns rewarded by unreliable poll results which are touted all day long by mockingbird cable journalists.

Paul Krugman reminds us today that "General Clark and Howard Dean, whatever they may say in the heat of the nomination fight, are on the same side of the great Democratic divide." He also comments that what he dreads most, "in the event of an upset in Iowa, is the return of reporting about the political significance of John Kerry's hair."
He also says "The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't. What makes Mr. Dean seem radical aren't his policy positions but his willingness — shared, we now know, by General Clark — to take a hard line against the Bush administration."
Mr. Krugman goes on to explain why he believes even Bill Clinton couldn't run a successful Clinton-style campaign this year. He ties it up with a statement that offers a glint of hope regarding my comments about why I hate politics...
He says, "A Democratic candidate will have a chance of winning only if he has an energized base, willing to contribute money in many small donations, willing to contribute their own time, willing to stand up for the candidate in the face of smear tactics and unfair coverage."

Dean and Clark supporters/campaigners will need to stay positive/hang strong/stay on the defensive/keep the faith.
I would implore any supporters of either Dean or Clark to support one another in their efforts for restoring AMERICAN HEART to the lately-barren Democratic party. We need one another. Any new attempts to smear one another will result in disaster for both candidates. Some may find my advice extremely "Pollyanna", but in these unique times it will take a unique form of politics to beat back the radical Bush machinery. Remember the bundle of sticks which, together, become unbreakable where once they were individually at great risk.