Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Jack

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Jack

Jack Huberman has started his own blog. Yay! This is going to be fun.
Well To The Left Of Attila The Hun

Where's John Snow?

Where's John Snow?

There was a rumor in the Washington Times last fall that I recalled when I heard about Andrew Card's resignation.
Last September, I wrote:
But what's THIS I'm hearing!?! The Washington Post reported Sept. 9 that Treasury Secretary John Snow is once again being shown the door. His rumored replacement is White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who would then be replaced either by Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten. [Washington Times]
Card is gone - where in the world is John Snow? Is it possible that Snow, especially after the talk about his part, as a former CSX chief executive officer, in the Dubai Ports World deal, will soon be shown the door? Will Andrew Card take his place and simply be "recycled" rather than shed from the Bush administration?

"Underwhelmed" by Card resignation

Bolten consoles Bush during time of crisis
art by Anonymoses

"Underwhelmed" by Card resignation
A Yawn for A Pawn Gone

Hearing the news of Andrew Card's resignation, I am not overwhelmed with hope. For me to have hope for any small turnaround in this administration, Donald Rumsfeld would have to go. Even the most wicked neo-cons are unhappy with Rummy.

I wish Andrew Card luck. I wish he could have been a stronger influence on President Bush rather than part of a group that prefers loyalty and partisanship over the better interests of the people of the United States of America.

If there was a hell reserved especially for bad political leaders, Mr. Card would join the majority of the Bush administration in Beelzebub's fiery-furnaced lair.

I can see that I'm not alone.

Josh Bolten is no "gray beard."

I wonder if and when Mr. Card will start to sing about WHIG and the Valerie Plame outing? After all, Cheney's been fingered by Bush's Brain. (ew - that sounds gross).

Poverty, Globalization, and Community Development

Poverty, Globalization, and Community Development
Cross-posted at One America Committee blog

There was an article in last Sunday's New York Times written by Erik Eckholm about Senator Edwards and his focus on the issue of poverty.

This is his true passion, he said in an interview, and he thinks that voters may be more responsive in the coming years, both because the middle class is becoming less secure and because of a shared sense of fairness.
The recent conference titled "Challenging the Two Americas". It was organized by Senator Edwards and sponsored by the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina, an organization that he founded and directs. Mr. Eckholm wrote:
The challenge, Mr. Edwards and other speakers said, is not just to devise better ways to fight poverty but to find strategies with broad appeal.
Experts say that the same economic trends that have been rendering the poor more powerless than ever are also creating hardships and economic insecurity for middle-class families. They believe that policies to improve the security of the middle class will also help the poor. Elizabeth Warren, the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has blogged about the conference at TPM Cafe.

President Bush's 2006 budget proposal served to scrap the existing federal community economic development system and replace it with an almost entirely unfunded shell, and his 2007 budget proposal is not any more promising. We can do better than that. We need a stronger America right here at home, and that will require new strategies for alleviating poverty. Republicans have worked hard these past five years - for only the few. They have put the big corporations and CEOs first and the majority of the  American people last. When Senator Edwards says that America should work for everyone, it means that he puts the American people first.

Senator Edwards has worked tirelessly to find solutions to the alleviation of poverty and helping Americans find a way to create opportunities for themselves. We are a government of the people and it is an invaluable asset for the people to have a political leader who takes a genuine interest in empowering them in their respective communities in order to achieve a greater measure of social justice and make our democracy strong.

On November 9, 2005, there was a "Summit on Poverty: New Frontiers in Poverty Research and Policy" held at the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC. There is a video available for each panel session, and I wanted to share some information from part of that Conference that I found to be true not only in North Carolina, but in my own state of New York - and probably in most American communities across America. Anita Brown-Graham is a Professor at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill where she specializes in affordable housing, economic and community development, and public liability. Professor Brown-Graham offered what I found to be great insight into the problems we face today - especially in the new globalized economy. [Video segment here]



With new economic and political realities, we need a 21st century version of community development. Opportunities are being created by Senator Edwards and the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC to rethink community development models and how they can play out successfully for the benefit of the most people. Federal government should concentrate on outcomes more than processes. Communities need to better deliver services to people with he development of new and improved strategies. We can become involved ourselves. Becoming well acquainted with the issues, we can be Community Organizers ourselves.

We can start by better understanding  the way community development has worked in the past. There has been a cooperation and collaboration between the private sector, the public sector, and the not-for-profit organizations that has changed with globalization and has presented a need for new and creative strategy-making with the intent to alleviate poverty. The state of community economic development is currently at a crossroads. There are fault lines in the old strategies for successful economic development. Because of political changes, community developers are seeing economic, physical and social conditions in the community that have led them to realize that there is failure where there once was success. The new community development revitalization strategies required  must encompass knowledge about the different kinds of poverty that exist in each respective community. Poverty is not necessarily just the poverty of income or assets. There are dimensions to our communities that also reflect a poverty of opportunity, a poverty of potential (as we see in human and physical capital deficiencies in poorer communities), and especially the poverty of powerlessness. Communities must be made to see the power they can possess in order to change their own circumstances. Whether we realize it or not, we all  have the power. We simply require the will to make a social and political change and the tools for success.

New initiatives often come to the table after all other means have failed. Community organizing and development tends to be focused on areas of private market failures. When much of the investment from the private sector has little to show in our communities, not-for-profit organizations with limited resources are left alone to help - especially where 'big government' has fallen away. (And for all of President Bush's BIG spending, he and the rubber-stamp Republicans have virtually forgotten our communities).  

Not-for-profits are run by well-meaning people with a lot of hope and effort driving them to do what they do, but when they are told that, where 'big government' has failed that they must succeed, it is rarely a realistic or winning strategy.

The "Fault Lines"

Here is Professor Anita Brown-Graham's description of three fault lines in Community Development today:

* The first fault line relates to the challenges that not-for-profit organizations face in our communities. Professor Brown-Graham commented that, after ten years of interaction with not-for-profits, their unofficial motto of "keep on keeping on" has unfortunately only kept their communities in a state of continued persistent poverty because they lack the ability to craft and articulate a meaningful vision of economic change for their communities and they lack the capacity to formulate strategies associated with that necessary change. They also lack the capital necessary to make it happen. Good intentions, in and of them selves, do not alleviation of poverty make.

* The second fault line - In the last twenty years there has been change in the context in which community development and social service initiatives must operate. The first change involves the public sector. The federal government has significantly retrenched from its position of dominance in funding and directing community development activities. In North Carolina, while the state has tried to pick up its fair share, the Professor said that it would be a lie to say that the state has picked up all the responsibility that the federal government has abdicated. What this means is that it is left to local governments to develop, implement, and fund comprehensive measures such as Housing, Water and Sewer, Education, Telecommunications, and all other initiatives required to make a competitive community. Local governments have limited resources, and to believe that the resources that are currently available to them will help them to create a truly competitive community is just something that's not realistic. In the area where Professor Brown-Graham teaches and works, local government is spending 70% of its tax base making its Medicare match. This leaves very little for progressive community development.

* The third and last fault line discussed by Professor Brown-Graham is the one she says is closest to the heart of poverty alleviation. The private sector in our new global market is disconnected from American communities. In a recent article about Senator Edwards' fight against Poverty and the shrinking Middle class, it said:

Globalization gets the blame for moving jobs in manufacturing, service, even medicine offshore and pushing U.S. workers into unemployment. A panel discussion involving Edwards and economists argued that while globalization can't be fought, its disrupting force can be eased.
Not-for-profits need the private sector to support them and their efforts. The problem is that there is no private sector leadership in the particular community that Professor Graham-Brown has been working with. There is a "disconnect" because of globalization. There must be collaboration between public, private and not-for-profits in order to effect successful change. Because of globalization, there is no reason for any limited private sector involvement to have any particular civic connection to the community. Unfortunately, local communities are forced to look inward for development strategy solutions because the private sector no longer respects national boundaries, much less local boundaries.

We must think differently about how our communities connect to the new global world order. I recently read an article about business and how they must be convinced to change to meet the needs of the people they serve in the global economy. There must be a new overall understanding of how global issues such as poverty and globalization affect individual companies and the private sector, along with understanding the significance of these signals to search for business opportunities that help to address them. [See this article]

There are certain communities that are remote - - unseen, many of them rural, and the interventions that may work for most communities in need will not work for them. Some of these communities are typically found in rural America, certain communities in the rural Southern Belt, in pockets along the Mexico/US border, and in some Native American communities. Hurricane Katrina pulled away the curtain on one of those once-"invisible" communities.

For those certain communities, redistribution must be seen as an issue of fairness, justice, and necessity. There will be  people in these remote and impoverished communities that will require subsidization for some time to come. Public policy has been based on the fallacy that we can walk away from these places after a certain amount of time has passed is unrealistic. It's natural for people to become frustrated when they're told that redistribution will solve the problem of poverty in a certain time frame and it doesn't happen. Tax-paying citizens need to understand that it will take a very long time for redistribution to make any difference and political leaders need to honestly speak about and to convince the public of the need for this type of solution in certain communities.

Thinking about how academic work can serve as a new social architecture for community development that will alleviate poverty in the 21st century will be a great challenge. Political leaders can have an effect on the political/public will to eradicate poverty for many people who are visibly suffering in our communities. We citizens can also have an effect on our communities by becoming involved.  

The alleviation of poverty and the success of economic community development will not only rely on academic contributions. It will take all of us to understand what must be done and to learn how to talk to our neighbors in our own communities about alleviating poverty. Conferences held in our own communities may be helpful. So will letters to your newspapers' editors. Teaching ourselves to talk about alleviating poverty can make the difference between politically alienating those who misunderstand poverty and succeeding to brighten the corners of our own cities, towns, and villages with the light of knowledge and inspiration. Most Americans in the middle class are already feeling less secure and we should be appealing to their hope and their shared sense of fairness in order to build a grassroots foundation from the new social architecture aimed toward ending poverty through effective community development. With the collaboration of the private and public sectors, along with not-for-profits, we can help people to help themselves.

As always, thanks to Senator Edwards for leading the way.

Reference and Examples of Community Organization: Organizing Today: Ten Reasons to Cheer! by Dave Beckwith

Iraq News - It Ain't That Good

Iraq News - It Ain't That Good

Oh, that's just great news...

A young physician in Kirkuk confessed on Kurdistan television Monday to having been an serial killer on behalf of the guerrillas, giving lethal injections to more than 40 Iraqi soldiers and police or denying them oxygen. At the same time, he was secretly treating wounded members of the guerrilla movement. - Juan Cole, Informed Comment

Parliament Majority to U.S.: "Out"!
Shi'ites Are Insecure With US Security

Officials of the United Iraqi Alliance of Shiite fundamentalists, the largest single bloc in parliament, demanded Monday that security matters be turned over to Iraqis and taken out of US hands. Reuters says, ' “The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government,” Jawad Al Maliki, a senior Alliance spokesman and ally of Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari, told a news conference. ' I have to say that if the US military doesn't even know, as its spokesmen admitted, to which branch of Islam the persons its joint operation killed on Sunday belonged, it really is acting as a bull in a china shop. - Juan Cole, Informed Comment

Prime minister al-Jaafari, Go Away! US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad - Go Away!

The Badr Organization, a political party that represents the paramilitary Badr Corps, the Shiite militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, demanded Monday that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, be expelled from that country. Under Iraq's constitution, the political bloc with the largest number of seats in parliament has the right to nominate the prime minister. Prime minister al-Jaafari had won the nomination by one vote. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has been attempting a compromise that has hinged on the current Iraqi prime minister, all along believing that al-Jaafari was never the unifying figure that Iraq has needed. You call that a recipe for success?

End the conflation of "the struggle against radical Islamism" and "promoting democracy in the Middle East."
Democracy promotion should remain an integral part of American foreign policy, but it should not be seen as a principal means of fighting terrorism. We should stigmatize and fight radical Islamism as if the social and political dysfunction of the Arab world did not exist, and we should shrewdly, quietly, patiently and with as many allies as possible promote the amelioration of that dysfunction as if the terrorist problem did not exist. It is when we mix these two issues together that we muddle our understanding of both, with the result that we neither defeat terrorism nor promote democracy but rather the reverse. - WSJ, Fukuyama/Garfinkle
Stygius has some interesting commentary on yesterday's Wall Street Journal column by Francis Fukuyama and Adam Garfinkle.

What We've Gained In 3 Years in Iraq
What We've Lost In 3 Years in Iraq

John McCain Says Biggest Mistake in Iraq is...

John McCain Says Biggest Mistake in Iraq is...

Going along with Bush's fantasy of a "win" in Iraq (whatever the hell that means), Senator John McCain continued, today, to show his own impractical and stubborn support of Bush's monstrous failure of a war, denying that a civil war is going on and citing a warped priority regarding the "biggest mistake" the U.S. should avoid in Iraq:
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who also attended the White House meeting, said after his weekend visit to Iraq he does not believe there is a civil war, but that U.S. troops should not withdraw at this time.

"I think the biggest mistake we could make is having a calendar dictate the troop strengths over there," he said to reporters at the White House, echoing President George W. Bush's repeated assertion.

"I am confident that we can, and will, and must win because the consequences of failure are catastrophic," McCain said.
The biggest mistake Senator McCain can see is having a friggen CALENDAR?!? Dear God, where is the sanity? Where is the practicality? Why would Senator McCain fail to heed the warnings of those who have learned the lesson already: that the war in Iraq is not now and has never been a war where a "victory" can be quantified to make one more American death worth the result? Afghanistan is still resorting to medieval law in order to persecute Christians. There is a well-documented resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan That is not a victory. The people of Iraq are forming a government that has a Shi'ite majority who is leaning toward the influence of Iran and a theocratic form of government that will enable the men to keep the women down for decades to come. That, to a free woman who appreciates what we have here in the States, is not "a victory."

If we need Iraq for our new Military bases where we'll remain for the rest of this Century for geopolitical safeguarding of the oil and gas we'll need, someone sure as hell ought to admit it now. The American public is sick and tired of being lied to about the wars in which our troops are committed. Our representatives are elected to carry out our political will, and if any political leader expects to be respected in the blogosphere, they'd best act responsibly in their communications with the people of this country. I firmly believe that John McCain is full of shit when he says that our "biggest mistake" is to have a calendar - if we never formulate an exit strategy we will never leave Iraq.

Come on, Senator McCain - get real!


"After 2,300 Americans have been killed, 106 from Ohio, and so many Iraqis, we must say that when you go to war, whether you go to war, and
whether you tell the truth about going to war is a moral values issue, too."

- Sojourners' Jim Wallis, at a town hall meeting yesterday in Columbus, Ohio

Replay: Kennedy's Ten Commandments of Good Corporate Citizenship

Replay: Kennedy's Ten Commandments of Good Corporate Citizenship

Here is a replay of a classic - Senator Ted Kennedy's challenge for Wal-Mart to abide by the Ten Commandments of Good Corporate Citizenship:

Thou shalt pay living wages.

Thou shalt provide affordable health care.

Thou shalt pay overtime.

Thou shalt not bust unions.

Thou shalt pay and promote women and men equally.

Thou shalt not discriminate against people of color.

Thou shalt not support sweatshops.

Thou shalt not violate child labor laws.

Thou shalt provide safe working conditions.

Thou shalt not dump toxic waste.