Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Tribute to Coretta Scott King

A Tribute to Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King
4-27-1927 - 1-30-2006

On June 18, 1953, Martin Luther King Sr. married his son, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott.

The couple returned to the South to work on the civil liberties of Black Americans. By 1964, King was the mother of four children: Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice Albertine. Think about the life that Coretta Scott King lived. Listen to words about the time and place where history put Coretta. Her son Dexter Scott Kinghas written about his family:
"When my mother became pregnant with me, the family was moving to Atlanta from Montgomery, Alabama, where my father had been pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He'd become famous or infamous there, depending on one's slant, as one of the architects of the Montgomery bus boycott. That action was spawned by Mrs. Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a city transit bus, a watershed event of the Civil Rights Movement. We moved to Atlanta after that."
Dexter Scott reminds us that his mother protected her children from some of the harsh realities and always made them feel supported and cared for.

Our home at 234 Sunset was kind of home central, the neighborhood headquarters. All the kids came by to play. My mom treated them like hers, which wasn't always reassuring for them. Coretta Scott King was a disciplinarian, took no guff from hers or any others. Froze you with a look. "Time out" was a call we made in football, not what fell from her lips in our direction. Under her eye or not, we'd play "hide-and-go-seek," as we called it, football, softball, kickball, tag, marbles in the red clay; we'd spin tops, ride homemade skateboards, "pull" friends along by pedaling bikes standing up as the friend rode on the passenger seat. We had a swing set, seesaw, and slide. I loved the slide. I loved playing on the gym set. I loved it all, really. We had a hoop too. Ours was, in these regards, a typical family home—or so I thought back then.
Dexter Scott came to a gradual awareness of the invisible lines that separated the races in the 1960s South, and he makes it apparent that even though his mother personally struggled alongside her husband to erase those lines, the hardship was never made an issue for her young children. She allowed them to be children - innocent, happy, and well-loved.
As children, we didn't know we were "Negroes," or if we did, we didn't know exactly what that meant. We didn't realize we lived in "segregation," didn't know there were better pools than the one we crowded into at the Y, or that we and our friends would be considered "have-nots" if our father wasn't the co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. We weren't aware that we could and would be turned away from public accommodations, educational institutions, or turned away from desirable living spaces by the real estate restrictive covenants. We weren't aware that we were shunned by society, murdered over mere glances, made to feel less than human. We were children, and children are more than human; we were blessed, but sooner or later we'd grow up and have to face this prison of segregation, unless Daddy won his struggle. There was this great social upheaval, this "great getting-up morning" going on that would redefine our lives and existences, and those of the people around us.

Dexter Scott has memories of how a young Senator named John F. Kennedy cared about his family and called Mrs. King when her husband had been sentenced to hard labor in a Georgia prison for taking part in a lunch-counter demonstration at Rich's department store, protesting segregated eating facilities—the only time he joined any such local demonstration in his hometown of Atlanta.:
My mother spoke with Senator Kennedy; he said he knew it must be hard, he knew she was expecting; if there was anything he could do feel free to call.

On April 4, 1968, the innocence of those children met a shattering reality. Coretta Scott King's husband was shot and killed while giving a speech on a hotel balcony. She knew that she had to be strong for her children and to continue the work of her husband.

Mrs. King has always spoken out for human rights and freedom for all people. She was involved in the opposition of the death penalty. Although Mrs. King had lost her husband and mother-in-law to gun violence, she cannot accept the judgment that their killers deserve to be executed. She believed that the death penalty continues the cycle of violence and destroys all hope for a decent society. Mrs. King said:
"As one whose husband and mother-in-law have died the victims of murder assassination, I stand firmly and unequivocally opposed to the death penalty for those convicted of capital offenses. An evil deed is not redeemed by an evil deed of retaliation. Justice is never advanced in the tacking of a human life. Morality is never upheld by a legalized murder."

Another of King's passions is the International Peace Movement. In 1985, she was arrested while protesting the South African Government's policy of racial segregation known as apartheid.

In 1986, Martin's birthday, January 15, became a national holiday because of her dedication to the acknowledgements of her husband's achievements.

She never let the world forget the courageous actions of Rosa Parks.

We shall not forget Coretta Scott King. We know she's marching today with her Martin in Heaven.

African American Registry

Zogby: Tonight's SOTU - Terror or Trust?

Zogby: Tonight's SOTU - Terror or Trust?

I think John Zogby has made the best point of any writer today on tonight's upcoming SOTU speech. Simply put, Bush can either play the tired terror card or be a real statesman and tackle the issue of trust in government head-on.
"....there is a decline of trust in the federal government. The President will no doubt try to use what's left of the public trust he has from his own base and get his numbers up among his own constituency by playing the war on terrorism card. Or he could try over the next few weeks and months to tackle the overall problem of trust and polarization in the nation today.

His approach tonight in his State of the Union Address will be whether he decides to hit a bunt and make it just to first base or instead opts to go for the fences by tackling the broader distrust that is out there.

That will be the difference between a politician and a statesman."
Given all I have experienced with Bush at the helm, I strongly suspect he'll play the terror tune once again. He's worn it out harder than a teenager's Beyonce CD.

Iran and a SOTU Speech Past

Iran and a SOTU Speech Past

What do we do about Iran?

I'm thinking of a dreadful SOTU speech past....2002.

Four years ago, President Bush decided, quite literally, to demonize Iran by labeling it part of an "Axis of Evil." In all sincerity, I believe that our President is a very unwise leader. He went along, as a piece of driftwood on the tide, with a foreign policy eked out by neoconservative wonks which, in essence, pulled the rug out from those in America who'd been supporting positive progressive reform in Iran. Iranian scholars, artists and authors were blocked from visiting the United States. (Former Iranian President Khatami had proposed a "people-to-people" dialogue). Khatami had helped the United States in Afghanistan, and this was the thanks and support he got from the President of the United States.

The fledgling democratic movement in Iran was dealt a severe setback when President Ahmadinejad was elected. I firmly believe that the Bush administration's wrong-minded foreign policy led to Mr. Ahmadinejad's election. When Iranians last went to the polls, we indirectly begged for a more hardline Iranian stance towards Israel by the Bush administration's diplomatic ignorance and deliberate unwillingness.

Dragging Iran before the U.N. Security Council now isn't going to help. We have to look at this situation with reason as our base - rather than demonization and fear. Even the reformers in Iran would like a modern nuclear program with transparency and adherence to international law. Why would any modern civilization wish to be kept in the dark ages?

We should be doing everything within our diplomatic power to convince Tehran to stick by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, appoint a special human rights monitor for Iran, and give power to Iran's people by employing more NGOs and the private sector to strengthen civil society [and talk to Paul Wolfowitz about ending excessive World Bank loans to Iran that too easily lead to government corruption].

And, for Pete's (and peace's) sake, let's stop demonizing Iran and permit Iran to conduct a limited uranium enrichment program (as allowed under the nonproliferation treaty) under strict safeguards by the IAEA (provided that Tehran promises meaningful reforms, including freeing political prisoners and holding free and fair elections.)

Bush should meet face to face with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad instead of using the tactic of having his administration working with exile groups behind the scenes to chip away at his authority. And let him use Condi Rice for the diplomatic good I know she could do rather than the demonizing bad cop.

Tehran has said it will stop snap inspections of nuclear sites if its case is sent to the UN, which could impose sanctions. What good is any of this going to do for reformers in Iran?

Our current path may lead to even further erosion of positive progress in Iran. I think that's a damned shame.

For too long, leaders have used one of the best methods of uniting their people - keeping a common enemy upon which we can focus our hate. (illustrated in George Orwell's "1984"). Combine that kind of demonization with the real and present instability of the Middle East - add a heaping helping of Bush's foreign policy - and you have a recipe for disaster.

Iran, like Iraq, has been an extremely hard intelligence target. We saw what the political abuse of shaky intelligence and a lack of sincere international cooperation can get us - an unnecessary war in Iraq which has increased the recruitment of terrorists and taken the lives of over two thousand American troops and untold numbers of Iraqi civilians.

Tehran has always said it has the right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - which it has signed - to research nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We neeed to talk about that - bring them into the light. Eliminate the chances that they will start WMD programs. That will take hard the work of intelligent diplomacy - not a war that will destabilize this region.

Either we walk down every diplomatic road - or we'll go to another war that was never necessary and make things a lot more dangerous for our future generation, who will have to deal with the all the dangers of a nuclear world. I don't think that's a false choice. (I know we hear so many today). Nuclear power is here - it's clear we are never going back. Do we choose hope and diplomacy or mutually assured death and destruction?

I choose to hope.

'The America We Believe In' by John Edwards

"The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth. While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong--and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right."

-Senator John Edwards

'The America We Believe In'
by John Edwards

Here is an excerpt from former Senator John Edwards' own State of the Union speech:

I am grateful for the opportunity to talk with you about the state of our union on the day of the president's address to our country. While it is discouraging for all of us to see our country moving in the wrong direction, we need to take this opportunity to offer ideas for how to get the nation back on track.

America is losing the most important element of our national character: We are no longer the land of opportunity for all.

Generations before us came to America for one reason. This is the land where everyone who worked hard would be rewarded, could raise a family and could make a better life for their children. But America has changed. Now, hard work does not guarantee a decent standard of living, and our children do not believe they can achieve the successes of their parents. It should not be that way.

Hurricane Katrina brought the issue of poverty to the forefront for the first time in decades. But the reality is that the people of the Gulf Coast--the vast majority of them working--were living in crisis for years before the hurricane hit and put them on the news. They were living without good schools, adequate health care, safe housing and without hope--just like millions of other families across this country.

During the week of the hurricane, the Census Bureau reported that more than 37 million Americans live in poverty; 13 million of them children, most likely as not going to bed hungry some nights. Their parents sit around the kitchen table and wonder how they'll be able to feed their kids the next day, let alone send them to college. When will our leaders recognize that Americans are ashamed of our failure to reach out to these families?

My friend, Rev. Jim Wallis, has said that the Bible talks about fighting poverty more than 3,000 times. Three thousand times. Our work here on earth is clear.

When history judges us, as a nation and as individuals, it will ask: what did we do to end poverty? How we answer this call will forever define us as a nation--showing the world how America leads or how we fail to live up to our most cherished values.


Stop Bush's War on People in Poverty

Senator Edwards is asking you to tell the IRS Commissioner to stop freezing the Earned Income Tax Credit refunds of low-wage working families while letting wealthy individuals and big corporations cheat the system. The way to recoup money owed the federal government is to go after those who owe the most, not the least. Poverty profiling must end. Make your voice heard now at www.OneAmericaCommittee.com/EITCaction



It's Done.

..and "We Are F-f-f-f****d"

Gee, thanks, Democrats.

Kos: While Howard Dean is out raising money directly for the state parties and finally investing in the sort of infrastructure that Republicans spent decades building, the cowardly shots in the beltway press come from disaffected insider consultants who see their lucrative gigs in danger.

Exxon Mobil reported a quarterly profit of $10.7 billion, capping a year of record earnings dominated by surging oil and gas prices. The results pushed up Exxon's profit for the year to a staggering $36.13 billion -- bigger than the economies of 125 of the 184 countries ranked by the World Bank. Profit rose 42 percent from 2004. The company and its peers have come under fire for posting billions in profit while consumers struggle with high gasoline prices.

Raw Story: The second part of the Senate investigation into bungled pre-war Iraq intelligence is still being held up by an internal Pentagon investigation of Douglas Feith, one of the war's leading architects.

A supermarket chain pulled soup cans from the shelves of its stores in six states after a family reported finding a sewing needle in a sealed can of minestrone, officials said. The incident was the fourth report of needles or pins found in food purchased from stores in the Bethlehem, PA area in the past two weeks. The allegedly tampered can of Progresso Vegetable Classics Minestrone was purchased Saturday at a Giant Food Store in Wind Gap, PA.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is planning a march this spring to protest post-hurricane policies he fears will marginalize the black community, the civil rights leader said Monday as he toured one of the city's hardest-hit areas.

Raw Story has Senate Minority leader Harry Reid's speech, called a pre-emptive broadside to Bush's SOTU speech.

Jill Carroll has appeared on a new video. She was crying. Her voice was not audible. The demand from her captors is still the same: the release all Iraqi women prisoners.

The United States and the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council reached surprising agreement Tuesday that Iran should be hauled before that powerful body over its disputed nuclear program.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday said he would meet soon with Hamas leaders about forming a new government.

Abbas stressed the importance of the continuation of financial and other types of support by the donor countries in order that the Palestinian institutions continue to function and the plan to build the independent Palestinian state is not disrupted or derailed.

Ayman invites George...to become a Muslim. {As if that will happen anytime soon.]

A maritime rescue is under way in the Channel between France and Britain after a chemical tanker collided with a bulk carrier ship overnight last night.

By the end of 2007, the overwhelming majority of the multinational forces will have left Iraq. The number of foreign soldiers in Iraq will fall below 100,000 by the end of the year, Iraq's national security adviser told The New York Times in a report posted at the NYT website yesterday.

Five months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, toppling New Orleans' aging levees and submerging 80 percent of the city, only 55 representatives and 30 senators have visited the decimated city.

Karen Kwiatkowsi on Neoconservatives

Karen Kwiatkowsi on Neoconservatives
"Who benefits from this kind of foreign policy?"

- Karen Kwiatkowski
Karen Kwiatkowski is interviewed by Omar Khan of Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches, where she characterizes neoconservatism as "a dead philosophy of anticommunism." She asks: Is it really democracy that [the neoconservatives] want, or is democracy simply a trojan horse?
She says, of neoconservatives:

You can’t just have a mere enemy; it has to be a monstrous enemy, something that can destroy us. They’ve found that in, or rather cultivated it, in what is called 'Islamic Fascism.’ Unfortunately this doesn’t exist. No one advocates it. No one articulates it. In the 1930s, Hitler had fascism and he talked about it. Islamic Fascism is a made up thing. . But it doesn’t matter: what matters is that it’s useful in generating fear, and serves that same larger purpose—providing a platform from which to operate.

If we can’t talk about it, then we shouldn’t be paying for it
..the 'grand plan’ is a Mideast transformation plan..Since we have this apocalyptic enemy, it’s either us or them. So in Iraq: the money goes for 'security’— American bases, and police power to defend those bases. The things we’ve destroyed we have not rebuilt or fixed. The things that we have protected have been the Oil Ministry and the Finance Ministry...Those bases in Iraq will be how we deal with (intimidate) the rest of the Middle East. Keep those other countries in line—politically, economically, and in every other way. This is clearly articulated, for example, in "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," actually written for Netanyahu: Iraq must first be changed, and from there we will be able to deal with our enemies—primarily, Syrians and Iranians. But this has nothing to do with America, or with American interests—in my opinion, anyway.

Who benefits from this kind of foreign policy? This needs to become a topic that can be publicly discussed. If we can’t talk about it, then we shouldn’t be paying for it.

Why We Fight - Jarecki documentary

Why We Fight - Jarecki documentary

"...people have begun to feel that mainstream journalism has been corrupted by forces for whom the truth is inconvenient."

- Eugene Jarecki

See the trailer from the new documentary "Why We Fight" by Eugene Jarecki. An Indiewire review is here. "Why We Fight" premiered at Sundance last January and won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize. According to the Boston Globe, Jarecki "lays out a historical through-line for American military involvement that stretches from Dwight Eisenhower's famous farewell speech naming the military-industrial complex 45 years ago this month to today."

The Boston Globe's Ty Burr says:
"...this is very much the movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" should have been, and an experience audiences of every political conviction need to contend with."
David Erlich of the Spectator writes that former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's speech that became such a formative moment for Jarecki was even more prescient than most realize, as the complex of which President Eisenmhower spoke has become "both the means and the ends to America’s militaristic policies the world over."
Erlich adds:

[Jarecki's] work is perhaps the most successful attempt at unmasking the contraption with images as indelibly as Noam Chomsky has with words. The self-perpetuating and intangible transition from nation to empire demands an independent interpreter, a role Jarecki assumes without the arrogance that might taint his message. Acutely attuned to the complex’s evolving anatomy, Jarecki founded academic initiative The Eisenhower Institute as a means to monitor the forces shaping American foreign and defense policy. His voice demands to be heard, as the aural manifestation of political altruism can be found in the selflessness of his words and unflaggingly smooth affectation with which he delivers them.
An interview with the director can be read here at IFC.