Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Captain Plaid takes a pause for the cause!

Given that I'll be working with at least one candidate in at least a temporary role this fall, it is perhaps appropriate to take a breather. After the middle of November, I might return to blogging here yet much can happen between now and then. I've really enjoyed sharing my frustrations and hopes but I'll step aside from posting, fearing that I'll have post withdrawals as I stumble across things I'd like to share. The therapy of posting is something I'll vouch for as well, yet my frustration level is far lower now, sans reluctant students, than when I first started blogging.

These next few weeks will have me neck deep I hope in some battles that really count. If the Democrats can retake the House, and maybe even the Senate, we can perhaps begin the hard work of restoring our American democracy to what she can be. If the GOP gets spanked hard enough then they might at least pretend to be bipartisan again.

The chance to work with some young folks and professionals plus simply some new people is very exciting. Getting out of my neck of the woods is also attractive. Actually doing a campaign surely beats ranting and raving via a keyboard, although I might still use writing to vent and refine my ideas, even if you have to put on pants to canvass.

Most everybody that visits (all seven of you?) know how to reach me. I anticipate creating a new mail account, perhaps via G-mail, that I'll be able to check in case you wish to bounce anything off me. While I try to check comments for a bit, after the first of the month I'm liable to not be comfortable with replying. Since I made a whole $2.32 last month from Amazon please feel free to use my various sidebar click throughs to buy stuff. I might even get up enough credits to get a book or two.

Finally , should anybody run across a prior post that troubles them please be assured that I alone am responsible for the content of everything on this blog. I like erring on the side of free speech and might have wanted to continue blogging, should time and technology have allowed, yet would have tried to make that clear before posting anything. Whatever I did before being brought on board, and I don't start officially until Labor Day, surely can't be held against anyone I'm working with, even those using ReThuglican "logic". I've tried to remain generally undercover but also have attempted to be civil, even in the face of people and circumstances that often got my Scots up. There's the Coulter caveat of course! Crazy as a run over dog! I still think that was my favorite post and will amuse myself with memories of that goofy critter nearly ever time I see Ann Coulter. I bet my Old Daddy would recognize him as well.

Thanks again for supporting and challenging me. Peace ... or War!

Who is Brent Budowsky and where has he been?

Brent Budowsky, a former Lloyd Bentsen staffer now also affiliated with The Intelligence Summit, is a new discovery. Mr. Budowsky is posting over on HuffPo and churning out some sharp material. I'd gone to find his recent The Right Stuff, The Wrong War, and the Shameful Politics of Fear but I also located Ann Coulter Sleeps with the Enemy while Democrats Should Launch an October Surprise. I'm hesitant to cut portions to share as the total essays are worthy of reading. If this guy is a legit, and based on what I know now I'm thinking he is, then we ought to put him on the team. Peace ... or War!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bama Democratic Leaders - Not Deep But Cheap

Alabama Representative Ken Guin is pictured to the left and State Senator E.B. McClain is to the right. They chaired the Alabama Legislative Democratic Leadership Council which has just released their "Covenant for the Future".

Rhonda A. Pickett of The Birmingham News reported on Wednesday "Democrats tour state, unveil plan". She writes:

Seven Democratic legislators traveled to four Alabama cities Tuesday unveiling the party's "Covenant for the Future," a list of initiatives that the members hope to pass in the 2007 state legislative session.

Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, along with state Reps. John Knight of Montgomery, Ken Guin of Carbon Hill, Betty Carol Graham of Alexander City and Frank "Skippy" White of Pollard, as well as state Sens. Zeb Little of Cullman and E.B. McClain of Midfield, outlined the plan during a 15-minute news conference at the Downtown Air Center in Mobile.

"Now it's time to write a new chapter in Alabama's history," said Hammett of Andalusia. "It's time to put into words the Democratic plan for moving Alabama forward." Details of the plan are available at www.covenantforthefuture.com.

Sending folks to the Covenant, apparently a single word page created by a 6th grader and then saved as an .html file, was amazing. They charter a plane, get some coverage, and can't spend a few bucks on a decent splash page? They could have created a slick series of pages that would have been hard for the GOP to refute with just a little effort and creativity.

Additionally, Republican Lite is not how we'll win our voters back, even here in backwards Bible Belt Bama. Confront the GOP. You'll not get the hard core "Values voters" back but you might fire up the dedicated and serious Progressives like yours truly rather than making them shake their heads in frustration. The pandering to the homophobes and the anti-choice crowd was dreadful and I'll be sure to mention it when I get the ear of some of the state and local leaders I know. We can work around the choice issue without just straight out caving to the Dobsonites. Immigration is a national matter as is health care.

There could have been so much more offered that I'd like to think might make a difference yet I'm afraid it will be many, many years before Progressive Democrats have a seat at the table here in Alabama. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - December 9, 2007 - I linked to this today and noted the original Covenant link was dead. A mercy killing? I tracked down another form. Much better on style points yet it is still Republican Lite. I noted with pleasure some of the comments. Reckon they'll listen?

Doomsday from Dallas in Local Paper

Our image is "Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem" by Rembrandt van Rijn, which has been dated back around 1630 A.D. Mike Sutton of Dallas Texas is using authority from 600 B.C. in applying some bizarre Biblical prophecy materials (Some serious doom and gloom came from Jeremiah!) to current events and policies in Southwest Asia. In this past week's Randolph Leader, Mr. Sutton had a Letter to the Editor which the paper staff presumably entitled "War is the Answer" that I'll just copy in as follows:

O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? Put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still.

How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? There hath he appointed it. Jeremiah 47:6-7

Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen: the sword shall pursue thee. Jeremiah 48:2

Finish the job, O Israel! Destroy Hizbolla and then turn your Sword against Madmen in Tehran. The United Nations was created to betray you, and American politicians cannot be trusted or depended upon. The True and Living God will be your deliverer.

Mike Sutton - Dallas, Texas

I've previously noted Mr. Sutton's writings in our paper and frankly I'm glad he's out there in the Big D. However, I expect he'd fit in with some of our more fundamentalist congregations around here. Given that John Hagee is on the shelves at the Roanoke semi-Super-Center Wal-Mart and our local library has all the Jenkins-LaHaye end times literature I expect a good number of people buy what he is shilling. I guess he'd read the NYT as I offered up yesterday when I sent readers to HuffPo. I wonder if he's coming at all of this from a "dispensational premillennialism" perspective? Peace ... or War!

WaPo Tells Schools "Don't Blame Students" Yet "Meaning" of NCLB Accepted

The WaPo Editorial Board urges Montgomery County Schools to not "scapegoat" special education students for the fact their weak marks on high stakes testing have caused many local schools to make AYP. They try to hedge their scolding yet my frustration is that they accept NCLB as if it measures "best education". "Lowering expectations" is not the same as getting the right expectations. I used Tin Shop Tartan to post a missive against standardized testing under NCLB recently. I even dropped a Letter to the Editor of my local small town paper. I expect most of the same conditions apply in the DC area as around my neck of the woods. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Captain Plaid - New Approaches for New Days

I'll be cross posting the following across the five efforts. I'll keep Captain Plaid up and running via Blogger, although TypePad continues to call me. Until I announce otherwise, Captain Bama is leaving the building. For the near future at least, I'll abandon Tin Shop Tartan. I'm going to put Captain Jimi in the holster as well in that I can fight the culture war on the main blog. Marque Stuart has long been neglected and my inner Martha will need to be surpressed even further given these next few weeks ... and perhaps even months and years.

I've been slack in posting these last few days but family called. I was unexpectedly called in to help a relative with a business/building project and that has been the priority these last few days. Even though the fam might not always understand me, I am thrilled to help any of my brood. I understand Highlanders had "broken men" that had left their own Clans and joined with another in some respects, generally free to return to or assist their kin as circumstances required. Maybe that is what is going on with me? There have surely been plenty of shifts and changes for me over this summer! Here's the immediate deal ...

I'll be working for a Progressive Political Action Committee until mid-November. Reporting on Labor Day for duty, I'll be in Milwaukee for the first few days but they'll soon farm me out to at least one candidate. Although there may be some races for Governor or other state/local positions, I'm likely going to be working in one of the competitive U.S. House districts. I could be working pretty much anywhere but doubt it will be in Alabama or even the South (Florida doesn't count as the "South" does it?). Country come to town?

I'm hoping to find future work, ideally in politics/policy or some type of non-profit education, away from rural East Alabama. I'm looking in relatively urban areas along the East Coast or in the Mountain West. This PAC I'll work for next will assist in placement and yet I've got friends and contacts that are also looking and helping. The experience will hopefully teach me much plus it will admittedly help expand my resume. By the first of the year I hope to have a long term position nailed down. If anybody knows of something that might suit me please let me know. I'll work like two trojans. I can get along with most folks, event though some family and a few past "significant others" might disagree.

I'm leaving for several reasons. I've mentioned that several fundamentalist family members reacted rather harshly to a letter I sent First Baptist Church on their shilling of Amendment One, the Alabama Contitutional Amendment on banning same-sex marriages that every major paper or reasonable authority in Alabama agreed was not necessary and even foolish. Some have expressed displeasure with my Letters to the Editor to my local paper. I think I've done four since the first of the year and I've yet to have anybody say my facts were wrong. In every letter I challenged Bu$hCo (and often the GOP and conservatism and ...) so I think that was mostly the problem. Again, explain where I was wrong! Until then, and probably even after then, I feel very patriotic to have spoken out against the abuses of this worst administration ever. Additionally, my ex-wife has gone on the warpath so that my ability to have the type of relationship I'd like with my son has become more of a challenge.

I've left the classroom after five years back in the trenches frustrated with NCLB and other bureaucracy, with this last years' experience trying to teach the young adults of Heard County, Georgia being the final nail in that coffin. I was also feeling "cooped up" in that teachers are forced to work inside cement block rooms for most of their day and not always able to engage people and the community as might be ideal for any profession. I'd pondered returning to the practice of "country law", thinking a low overhead practice where I could perhaps avoid the drudgery of merely paying the bills might be rewarding. I'd thought I could do criminal defense and some worthy activism plus simply help folks but I've decided I can't remain here in rural East Alabama and keep my sanity. I'm somewhat afraid I'd wind up an angry, lonely old man. Living in this conservative backwater, even though I cherish some of the rural lifestyle, might do more harm than good. As a single man, the social scene around here is especially scary. I love the dirt and woods and critters and ..., and certainly a few dear friends, but I'm now certain I need another setting.

I've learned to live simple, and the older I get the less I seem to need, but I want "purpose" to my life. I seek intellectual and spiritual experiences. I want to work with people that generally possess a Progressive outlook. I want to find my place in a vibrant community that values learning and art and compassion and service and health and ... I've long though about building a "home" where I'll feel some measure of security and completeness. My experiences as a child, with my mother dying rather young plus several other unfortunate realities, have I think tempered me where I default to seek "place", although I'll argue this is a very Southern, perhaps even Scottish, trait.

My failed marriage and practice, one that I'll submit I've placed in the proper order, plus the resulting troubles, were certainly events I'd have just as soon avoided. Ten to seven/six years later, I'm twice the man I was and I'm just forty. I can still be a good father, even though the idea of moving away from my son is the toughest part of these changes. In fact, given the current attitudes and actions of my ex-wife, I'm perhaps making the best of a bad situation. I wanted to be near "the boy" through these early teen years but if I'm better centered by being elsewhere then more good might result.

I've really enjoyed posting on these five blogs and hope they've been valued for at least effort if not for insight. I've only done a few on Marque Stuart but I've dropped 126 posts on Captain Jimi. Tin Shop Tartan has seen 127. A total of 186 post appeared on Captain Bama. Captain Plaid has had 279. Over seven hundred posts! Many hours of mousing and keyboarding (with Blogger being bloggered often making it take longer!) but I've learned so much. I appreciate the comments and communcations. For those that have honored me with a blogroll link feel free to leave any or none. I'll continue over at Captain Plaid, with the caveat that if my new gig doesn't allow time then posts might be scarce. I anticipate a new email addy once I get settled in.

Thanks again for allowing me to share my thoughts and frustrations plus my hope for a better world. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Childhood in Nixon to Adulthood in Bu$hCo

I've been thinking lately about how my earliest memories of my Old Daddy and politics was watching him fuss and fume as Watergate imploded the Nixon White House. As an aside, I heard Nixon described recently as our last liberal President (I've read about his drug policy that was rather liberal in that it was pragmatic in seeking solutions rather than soundbites!) and to think Tricky Dick has been rehabilitated by Bu$hCo seems odd. I'm forty and have lived a fair amount yet I think I made the turn during these Bu$h years. My son might have memories of his Old Daddy fussing about Bu$hCo?

I like how Glenn Greenwald points out how the courts are starting to push back against Bu$hCo. Glenn writes:
Thus, judicial decisions are starting to emerge which come close to branding the conduct of Bush officials as criminal. FISA is a criminal law. The administration has been violating that law on purpose, with no good excuse. Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve to be -- and are required to be -- held accountable just like any other citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically important, principle in our system of government. These are not abstract legalistic questions being decided. They amount to rulings that our highest government officials have been systematically breaking the law -- criminal laws -- in numerous ways. And no country which lives under the rule of law can allow that to happen with impunity.
While I'd like to see the whole lot in jail, at least censure becomes more relevant! Paging Senator Feingold. Worst administration ever. Peace ... or War!

How The Right Winger Reads the New York Times

L. Brent Bozell III is pictured to the left. He is William F. Buckley's nephew and son of L. Brent Bozell, Jr., a Goldwater man. He was the main fund-raiser behind Pat Buchanan when he sought Presidency in 1992.

Mr. Bozell presently leads The Media Research Center (heading their Parents Television Council) plus he serves on the Board of the American Conservative Union.

HuffPo's Contagion Festival offers a clever view on how a Right Wing nut job might read the Gray Lady. With high quality operatives like L. Brent Bozell conning the marginally intelligent "conservatives" into even more paranoia perhaps there's some excuse for the average fool yet I do tire of defaults toward "liberal bias" whenever something challenges their "thinking". Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

White House Press Rolls Over Again for Bu$hCo

Eric Boehlert's "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush" is on my "one of these days" wish list yet time is scarce and getting even more so. More on that front to follow. For a brief dose of Boehlert, HuffPo's Eat the Press has him posting often. (Gotta move those books Eric! I've heard and read good things but can there ever be too much marketing?) A recent post examines how the press corp has allowed Bu$hCo to wall them off from private fundraisers.

We can only hope that the media will begin pushing back after this fall. While I fear future White House occupants might try something like this I look forward to the time when some of those in Bu$hCo and covering his administration feel free to spill the beans.

In a barely related vein, has Snow Job been asked about his thoughts on Jeff Gannon, Armstrong Williams, ... yet? I'm sure he'd dodge but it would be nice to try to hem him up. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cenk Uygur Nails GWOT on HuffPo

I'm sharing the image of Cenk Uygur, Jill Pike and Ben Mankiewicz of The Young Turks. Cenk has a serious pedigree (UPenn, Wharton, & Columbia Law!) and is scary smart.

Ben's Hollywood name is equally pedigreed plus he's obviously clever and well educated (as only historians can be!) after toiling at Tufts and Columbia. Jill is certainly no slouch in smarts, especially in LA I suspect, plus she's easy on the eyes and admittedly loves learning.

Their media effort is a gem! If nothing else a visit will demonstrate how today's tech provides alternatives to the MSM. I also enjoy how they are assertive but generally respectful with each other and people that call in or otherwise contact them. Listening to smart folks discuss political issues is rare in my neck of the woods (or on CNN, MSNBC and certainly Faux News in many cases) so I like stopping by and think my rare few readers might as well. Let me know what you think.

Cenk posts at HuffPo today with The Better Way of Fighting Terrorism that is a solid and simple read. This makes so much sense and plenty of Americans know it. How the GOP is winning or at least avoiding being wiped away in elections when they don't accept this approach amazes me. The Republican's solutions to terrorist threats are mostly counter-productive and costly and immoral and ...

Consider the post, sharing it with folks that might benefit from reading it, and finally check out YT. Peace ... or War!

Borosage - In CT, triumph of the new moral center

I've followed the Connecticut Lamont/Lieberman race, generally avoiding blogging on it partly because I never think I've spelled the state correctly, and think Uncle Joe got what he deserved and, more importantly, we got what America needs. Robert L. Borosage, one of the editors to the book pictured to the left that I'll discuss later in the post, suggests the same much better that I could provide. Ned Lamont's positions seem rather reasonable to me but please visit his campaign website if you'd like to look for yourself.

In today's Anniston Star, my regional paper, Mr. Borosage writes in part the following:

... Most important, Lamont represents a new moral center in American politics — a challenge to the failed status quo and a demand for a new direction for which a growing majority of Americans are searching.

Bring an end to the disastrous occupation in Iraq and bring the troops home with honor. Change priorities to invest in our schools, in universal pre-kindergarten, in modern infrastructure. Champion affordable national health care for all.

These are not issues from the “edges of our politics,” as Lieberman suggests, but ideas whose time has come. ... (Lieberman's) brand of “getting things done” is exactly what Americans are turning against.

He joined with the president in championing the war in Iraq — got that done.

He joined with Republicans and corporate lobbies in passing corporate trade deals that have destroyed American manufacturing and undermined wages in America — got that done.

He joined with conservatives in championing the privatization of Social Security — at least he was blocked there.

He joined with CEOs in defending off-the-books stock options that gave CEOs a multimillion-dollar personal incentive to cook the books and raid pension funds — got that done.

He doesn't get it.

The problem isn't that things aren't getting done — the problem is that the things he has helped to produce are weakening this country abroad and undermining workers and middle-class families at home.

Lieberman's sore loser campaign will be well financed by the corporate lobbies he has served. Since he has no new ideas to offer, he'll run a nasty negative campaign of personal vilification against Lamont, trying to smear him before voters have a chance hear what Lamont has to say.

And that race will be a test for every Democratic leader. Will they come to support Lamont and the new energy, the new ideas, the new moral center that he represents? Or will they offer nominal support but stay away, refusing to challenge Lieberman's low-road campaign? Their reactions will be a true measure of who is ready to fight for a new direction for this country and who is not.

I'm thrilled that local readers can be exposed to ideas such as these, recognizing that "readers" around my neck of the woods, and much of America to boot, are rare. Robert L. Borosage of the Campaign/Institute for America's Future and Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation are co-editors of "Taking Back America: And Taking Down the Radical Right". This book is a series of essays by some serious thinkers in the Progressive community. The "Take Back America 2006" conference website can provide additional insight into their efforts, yet several centrist leaning Democrats did participate. I can only hope they listened to others present. "Straight Talk" is yet another resource from C/IAF.

I am still hopeful that Joe Lieberman will drop out yet if he stays in the opportunity is there to use his Corporatist brand of politics against the GOP. Republican Lite Democrats might not be prepared to do this so this might be a chance to flush them out. I heard the standard GOP talking points this AM from Ken the Grin Mehlman on Stephanopoulos and they are easily said and swallowed, especially by those less informed than we'd like. Americans have been fooled before as simple sells. Yet if Lefty Progressives can practice jujitsu politics and simply frame things more effectively, now is the time I think for a shift.

The disasters of Bu$hCo give us the best chance we'll perhaps have short of a total meltdown. Given that meltdowns have resulted in the rise of facism in some nations, I'd just as soon solve our troubles now. I'm certain the GOP will fail to roll back the corporate takeover of our government and I fear the DLC will not do enough. If our leaders can't get the message then it is time to get some in DC and the states that will represent middle class and poor people. The Big Mules must be pushed back where there is some balance. "A new moral center" is indeed representative of the best of what America offers here and aboad.

I'm seeking a role in helping create change as I truly fear where this nation is heading. The elections this fall are critical and I'm hoping I'll have a role in one or more campaigns. In the future, I'm looking toward 2008 and beyond. For the time being this is my small effort. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Surveillance by Brits/US was LEGAL

Glenn Greenwald's "Legal surveillance, not illegal eavesdropping, stopped the U.K. terrorist attacks" from today rightly calls out right wingers that are simply stretching the reality across the pond, and our own involvement here as well, to shill Bu$hCo's illegal actions. I've noted plenty of pundits and pols heading down this path but if Glenn's facts are correct, and I am very certain they are, they are either stupid or disengenous to make such broad claims. Peace ... or War!

UPDATE - Tip of the tam to FDL for the link to John Rogers/Kung Fu Monkey's "Wait, Aren't You Scared?" that delivers a delicious post related to the above.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Frances Moore Lappe's Democracy's Edge

I'm nearly through Francis Moore Lappe's "Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life" and now I'll need to carve out time for some of her other works. I've added several to my Amazon Wish List. Her daughter Anna's Grub is likely another effort to investigate. Mother and daughter's Small Planet Institute is even one more resource to note. All their work appears solid and very inspirational. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

But Will Dubyah Listen to the Old Man's Men?

Despite this dreadful image, the idea that James A. Baker III and George H.W. Bu$h are attempting to bring some measure of sanity to Bu$hCo's failed foreign policies pleases me.

I'm hardly a fan of either, certainly true for Mr. Baker after his work in Florida in late 2000, but they are "realists" and certainly able to play hardball with the cabal that has taken over this White House.

In this month's upcoming Washington Monthly, you'll find "A Higher Power : James Baker puts Bush's Iraq policy into rehab" by Robert Dreyfuss. The piece stands alone and is worth a read so I'll not pull portions.

While I try to avoid thinking on conspiracies from the powers behind the thrones, I've admittedly wondered if some powerful men and women in this nation and world would step in and force Bu$hCo to act right. While I know some that are still drinking the kool aide, there are surely plenty more at the top of the food chain that lament the damage done by Bu$hCo. Maybe there are competing interests that I'm simply unaware of but Dubyah's dreadful leadership can't be good for many powerful interests. Perhaps this "Iraq Study Group" is part of the movement we simply must have.

While I want Bu$hCo and his GOP enablers saddled with blame and shame for many years to come, the interests of the nation and our world come first. If James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, plus these other mostly internationalist grown ups, can help salvage this mess then I'll welcome them to the effort. Peace ... or War!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vietnam in 1972 vs. Iraq in 2006 and 2008

David Sirota serves up "Rejecting the McGovern Complex" via Common Dreams. Well reasoned and written as I've grown to expect from young David. (I had turned seven at the time of the 1972 election and David was not yet born so "young", and "wise beyond his years", is accurate.) From the Veep stumble to going againt the Nixon machine to the ..., I'm also frustrated with the comparisons. I'll also suggest the differences between the Democratic Party and the GOP go way, way beyond Iraq. Finally, George McGovern was a wise and decent man that deserved better then and now. Peace ... or War!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Joe Francis and our "Rape Culture Gone Wild"

While just this morning I was frustrated by a WaPo report that Afghanistan government may be reviving the Taliban approach via a "Department for the Promotion of Virtue and the Discouragement of Vice", I was aware of this trend for some time. I have a dear friend that has a friend doing UN work in Kabul helping them set up their legal systems. I get forwarded emails of his adventures, written with world class snark, and always howl with laughter, although there's nothing funny about vodka thieves.

I even have a cousin in Afghanistan, allegedly up for a General's slot, right now so it is interesting to have some personal insights into the country. I think he arrived about two months back, roughly the time the latest flareup happened. While I'm furious that Bu$hCo essentially abandoned the nation that we had a legitimate reason to invade for his misadventures in Iraq, the idea that these people, and thousands more, have served and suffered to have the Taliban step back in bothers me. I understand women are slightly better off but I do worry that setbacks are looming. Chances to create real change for these people, and even our world in seeing a true shift from a fundamentalist theocracy to a somewhat democratic and open society, I fear have been wasted.

That being written, let me now get to the reason for the post. I felt I needed to contrast the above with what troubles me about our culture. I have not done as much posting on feminism as I should have. I've been exposed to enough that I've plenty to share and will try to do a better job.

As a mitigating factor, I've often had the opportunity, while teaching teens these last five years, to confront the work of Joe Francis, the "brain" behind "Girls Gone Wild". My kids often referenced his trash. I don't like the idea of censorship and don't want to appear "Talibanish" in my views but there can be no doubt the "rape culture" is alive and well here in the United States. Shilling the liberal agenda in our public schools perhaps, I talked briefly about the way our society sexualizes women and the idea of the "lie of entitlement" that my friend Red Crowley wrote of. I'll even confess that at times I left a Dworkin or similar book like "Tranforming a Rape Culture" on my desk for kids to note and thus provide a springboard for a quick talk. "Mr. (Captain Plaid), what's that book about?" beats studying history or government or geography or ... I guess.

Jessica Valenti at Feministing serves up commentary and links that stand alone in her "Rape culture gone wild". Read it (and certainly the LA Times reporting of Claire Hoffman plus the images provided) and weep!

Maybe we ought to call "Comedy Central" but I'm not optimistic they'll pull ads for GGW. What we should certainly do is talk to the young people which we might influence. Making our society aware of how this trash shapes these kids' identies is workable. It is hard work, and we've got plenty of barriers in this often worthless mass culture, yet personal contact is effective. I'm betting that I was likely the first person, most certainly adult male, that some of my kids had ever heard talk this way. A token liberal in a sea of conservatism? My angle was hardly Puritan so I think some responded. I shared how marketing and popular culture was not always providing the best examples in many areas yet I expect that sleazy profiteers such as Joe Francis are about as poor excuses for humans as they come. Peace ... or War!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Report of our Constitutional Crisis as prepared by the staff of House Judiciary Ranking Democrat John Conyers, Jr.

If I'd have been handling this I'd have released at another time than a Friday afternoon in August. I'd have also dolled the webpage and document up a bit. Representative John Conyer, Jr. of Michigan is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and I'll provide his introduction in just a bit to explain why he felt it necessary to let his staff prepare this report.

Here's the intro webpage and here's the thing in Word Document format. I've of course not read the thing and might not for some time. I might not ever wade through it. From what I understand the media is mostly ignoring yet hope springs eternal. Working through this massive document will take some time but you'd think somebody would be talking about the basic allegations on the Sunday talking heads.

Here's what Representative Conyers wrote for the introduction:

Scandals such as Watergate and Iran-Contra are widely considered to be constitutional crises. They were in the sense that the executive branch was acting in violation of the law and in tension with the Majority Party in the Congress. But the system of checks and balances put in place by the founding fathers worked, the abuses were investigated, and actions were taken – even if presidential pardons ultimately prevented a full measure of justice.

The situation we find ourselves in today under the administration of George W. Bush is systemically different. The alleged acts of wrongdoing my staff has documented– which include making misleading statements about the decision to go to war; manipulating intelligence; facilitating and countenancing torture; using classified information to out a CIA agent; and violating federal surveillance and privacy laws – are quite serious. However, the current Majority Party has shown little inclination to engage in basic oversight, let alone question the Administration directly. The media, though showing some signs of aggressiveness as of late, is increasingly concentrated and all too often unwilling to risk the enmity or legal challenge from the party in charge. At the same time, unlike previous threats to civil liberties posed by the Civil War (suspension of habeas corpus and eviction of the Jews from portions of the Southern States); World War I (anti-immigrant “Palmer Raids”); World War II (internment of Japanese Americans); and the Vietnam War (COINTELPRO); the risks to our citizens’ rights today are potentially more grave, as the war on terror has no specific end point.

Although on occasion the courts are able to serve as a partial check on the unilateral overreaching of the Executive Branch – as they did in the recent Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision invalidating the President’s military tribunal rules – the unfortunate reality remains that we are a long way from being out of the constitutional woods under the dangerous combination of an imperial Bush presidency and a compliant GOP Congress. I say this for several reasons. The Hamdan decision itself was approved by only five Justices (three Justices dissented, and Chief Justice Roberts recused himself because he had previously ruled in favor of the Administration) and was written by 86-year old Justice Stevens. In the event of his retirement in the next two years, the Court’s balance would likely be tipped back as he would undoubtedly be replaced by another Justice in the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts-Alito mode favoring an all-powerful “unitary” executive. In the very first hearing held on the decision, the Administration witness testified that “the president is always right” and severely chastised the Court’s decision. The Republican Majority also appears poised to use the decision to score political points rather than reassert Congressional prerogatives, as House Majority Leader Boehner disingenuously declared the case “offers a clear choice between Capitol Hill Democrats who celebrate offering special privileges to violent terrorists, and Republicans who want the President to have the necessary tools to prosecute and achieve victory in the Global War on Terror.”

Thus, notwithstanding the eloquence of the Hamdan decision, I believe our Constitution remains in crisis. We cannot count on a single judicial decision to reclaim the rule of law or resurrect the system of checks and balances envisioned by the founding fathers. Rather, we need to restore a vigilant Congress, an independent judiciary, a law-abiding president, and a vigorous free press that has served our Nation so well throughout our history.

Because of the above concerns, I asked my Judiciary Committee staff to prepare the following Report. I made this request in the wake of President Bush’s failure to respond to a letter submitted by 122 Members of Congress and more than 500,000 Americans in July of 2005 asking him whether the assertions set forth in the so-called “Downing Street Minutes” were accurate, and in the aftermath of the disclosure by The New York Times in December 2005 and USA Today in May 2006 that the President had approved widespread warrantless domestic surveillance of innocent Americans. I asked for this Report to be prepared because I believe it is vital that we document these allegations, learn from our mistakes, and consider laws and safeguards necessary to prevent their recurrence.

I believe it is essential that we come together as a Nation to confront religious extremism and despicable regimes abroad as well as terrorist tactics at home. However, as a veteran, I recognize that we do no service to our brave armed forces by asking them to engage in military conflict under false pretenses and without adequate resources. Nor do we advance the cause of fighting terrorism if our government takes constitutionally dubious short cuts of little law enforcement value that alienate the very groups in this country whose cooperation is central to fighting this seminal battle.

Many of us remember a time when the powers of our government were horribly abused. Those of us who lived through Vietnam know the damage that can result when our government misleads its citizens about war. As one who was included on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” I am all too familiar with the specter of unlawful government intrusion. In the face of these lessons, I believe it is imperative that we never lose our voice of dissent, regardless of the political pressure. As Martin Luther King told us, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” None of us should be bullied or intimidated when the executive branch charges that those who would criticize their actions are “aiding the terrorists” and “giving ammunition to America’s enemies,” or when they warn that “Americans need to watch what they say,” as this Administration has done.

It is tragic that our Nation has invaded another sovereign nation because “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” and that millions of innocent Americans have been subject to government surveillance outside of proper legal process. However, it is unforgivable that Congress has been unwilling to examine these matters or take actions to prevent these circumstances from occurring again. Since the Majority Party is unwilling to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, it is incumbent on individual Members of Congress as well as the American public to act to protect our constitutional form of government. It is with that purpose and in that spirit that I am releasing this Minority Report.

I would like to thank the “blogosphere” for its myriad and invaluable contributions to my and my staff. Absent the assistance of “blogs” and other Internet-based media, it would have been impossible to assemble all of the information, sources and other materials necessary to the preparation of this Report. Whereas the so-called “mainstream media” has frequently been willing to look past the abuses of the Bush Administration, the blogosophere has proven to be a new and important bulwark of our Nation’s first amendment freedoms.

Certainly even a lightweight Lefty blogger can appreciate the snaps in that last paragraph. I'm in awe of some of the work by the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Christy Hardin Smith and ... Tip of the tam to Representative Conyers and his staff of course. Surely the media will examine these allegations and then , if deemed valid concerns, demand some answers from the White House and the Majority Party. Peace ... or War!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jim Wallis' "If All You Have Is A Hammer..."

Jim Wallis of Sojourners serves up hope that diplomacy might prevail in the conflict with Iran, perhaps too optimistically given this administration, with his "If All You Have Is A Hammer..." What I admittedly valued was a trip down memory lane on how Bu$hCo bungled (and continues to bungle!) Iraq. At the bottom of the post I've got a link to an alternative that was pushed by religious leaders, including Jim Wallis, back in 2003.

Mr. Wallis begins his writing as follows:

The best line I heard in the period leading up to the war in Iraq was, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” It came from my friend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when we were on a panel together in England about the best response to terrorism.

The premise of the panel was that the threat of terrorism is real, that there are real dangers prowling about in our world, and that the problem of evil is a very serious one. The question we were addressing was what the best response to the real threats of terrorism should be.

Let me say what we have said before in these pages, before this awful war began: The war with Iraq was not a war of last or only resort, or the best way to deal with the real threats offered by Saddam Hussein. There were other alternatives possible—even some non-administration hawks thought that the “six-point plan” offered by some American religious leaders and released by Sojourners in March 2003 should have been tried—and they were simply not seriously considered by the Bush administration. And it is now undeniably true that this administration lied about the facts in Iraq and consistently manipulated intelligence to justify going to war.

Now the stories come every day, of thousands of young Americans dying and being maimed forever, of wives losing husbands and husbands losing wives, of children losing their parents and parents their children—suffering and pain that I believe was unnecessary.

I NOW CALL THIS the American “hammer habit.” If we don’t know how to solve a problem, we just fight. Diplomacy has become a “weak” word to those who run our foreign policy and, in the House debate on Iraq in June, Republicans made numerous references to those who are “afraid to fight.” Right on cue, Fox News Sunday’s Brit Hume accused Democrats of being a party that just doesn’t like to fight. And according to the neo-conservatives masquerading as journalists, such as Hume and William Kristol, continuous fighting is the only foreign policy that makes any sense.

Even more frightening is how much their friends such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have the same strong preference for fighting over talking. If they had their way, we would have fought or would still be fighting several wars by now—all at the same time—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Iran at least, and probably against North Korea too, if they thought we could win the war. They act as if talking and negotiating with potential adversaries is just a waste of time. It is truly astonishing and even shocking how people who simply question the efficacy and morality of the continuing American occupation in Iraq—including longtime military supporters such as Rep. John Murtha—are so quickly and viciously accused of “cutting and running” or not having the “courage” to fight. ...

I continue to hear very smart men and women opine that Iraq might be the biggest foreign policy blunder in recent decades. How an administration such as this one came to power is a lesson for us all. Reckon Ralph Nader still thinks there was little if any difference in Bu$hCo and Al Gore? I'd also forgotten about this "six point plan" or "third way" effort. Looks pretty good now doesn't it?

This fall our nation stands at a crossroads. Electing Progressive Democrats can help create conditions where we can understand why this White House (and many in Congress along with the media plus a great deal of regular Americans) chose war over peace. Learning of the abuses of the Bu$h administration is certainly a part of the equation yet it goes even beyond their cabal of liars and manipulators. Our side can win in the marketplace of ideas, which I think begins with domestic policies that impact surely every citizen. However, a foreign policy that defaults to war cannot be acceptable to the vast majority of Americans, or for that matter our world, and will appeal to all but the most militaristic voters. Peace ... or War!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Wingnut 101 via Young America's Foundation

Jason DeParle of the Gray Lady gives us “Passing Down the Legacy of Conservatism” where he examines the Young America’s Foundation. At their marketplace you can purchase your own “stunning Ann Coulter” poster (I could perhaps use in my garden as a Scare Ho?) plus claim your free George W. Bush poster. Another freebie is the “2006-2007 Campus Conservative Battleplan” which provides examples of how to best carry our campus activism.

Good luck on the “Highlight America's success in the Middle East” suggestion! I still think a few tours wearing BDUs into the Middle East might be a good place for these chickenhawks to show their support.

I’ve previously posted on the YAF’s Ruth Malhotra doing her part to earn her Club 100 Columnist credentials. PFAW and SourceWatch reveal more. 501(c)(3) status so the Olin, Scaife, Bradley, Coors, … families/foundations can deduct their support. A good example of what these funders are getting for their money is how a YAF media representative recently denied, in a perfect demonstration of smugness that only a young Republican can demonstrate, press credentials to a college-age Progressive reporter after he had twice covered the Campus Progress conferences!

Perhaps this prime fighting age man needs to enlist? Peace … or War!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Norton Garfinkle - I Want His Book!

I want Norman Garfinkle's “The American Dream vs. the Gospel of Wealth: The Fight for a Productive Middle-Class Economy" Tip of the tam to Professor Eric Alterman for pointing me in that direction. Scroll down Doc's work and you'll begin to get a handle on the shift from demand-side to supply-side. As an unrecontructed Keynesian I've long been in the demand camp.

After the disaster of Reagan and especially Bu$hCo where "growth" is the only concern perhaps the supply siders will crawl off and die. And I think it will if the average American could ever get a handle on economics and policy. Joe Sixpack can I think understand Keynes far easier than "voodoo economics". Even if they can't they can at least accept the fairness of the policy for regular folks. Something has to give and the sooner the better. Peace ... or War!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

John Kerry on Health Care

Back on 2003 I decided John Kerry and John Edwards best represented the ideas that I thought were best. I did not reject Howard Dean but found his ideas and approaches perhaps too far ahead for the times. Kerry's war record seemed attractive compared to Dubyah's "service". I ran across a John Kerry HuffPo post that prompted me to look further. John Kerry's recent speech on health care resonates for me. Finally, I've been bloggered lately so I regret the lack of posts. Peace ... or War!