September 13, 2007 archive

The Outraged Left

I recently came across another of those simple-minded rightwing references to the outraged left offered as an epithet by those of limited cranial capacity.  Ignored is the larger context, that we may actually have good reasons for being a wee bit peeved, that our anger may in fact not be irrational but rather completely and indisputably justified. 


Dharmaceutical: Your daily dose of outrage

I’m still trying to figure out this place and the DDharmiacs who inhabit it.  As I always wanted to know what it was like to be a DD, I have to say, it isn’t what I expected.  *g* 

I’m a novice health wonk, and as I learn more, my outrage-o-meter simply reads HIGH-OUT-OF-RANGE now.  So I’m relying on you, DDharmiacs, to let me know if I’m terminal or if there’s hope for a cure. With that, here’s what consumer-driven health care means in the free-for-all market:

CNN reported a story of consumer-directed health care – the mantra of the Republicans.

A man threw his seriously ill wife four stories to her death because he could no longer afford to pay for her medical care, prosecutors said in charging him with second-degree murder. According to court documents filed Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, Stanley Reimer walked his wife to the balcony of their apartment and kissed her before throwing her over.

I’m going to be short again

Here’s a short, simple, message contact your Seantors and your Representitive BY PHONE. If you are represented by Democrats, call twice.

Tell them that you want an immediate end to the war. I don’t care what your specific preferred plan is for Iraq: the Congress has available to it only purse power–which members will use if so pressured by their constituents.

That’s your short message for the day!

Four at Four

This is an open thread, but it also features four stories in the news at 4 o’clock. It’s like trying to dunk a donut by grasping it by the ears.

  1. The Independent is reporting that General David Petraeus has presidential ambitions. “Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq’s Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05. ‘I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, ‘No, that would be too soon’,’ Mr Khadim… said… ¶ Petraeus went to Iraq during the invasion of 2003 as commander of the 101st Airborne Division and had not previously seen combat.” His “critics hold him at least partly responsible for three debacles” —

    Although Mosul remained quiet for some months after, the US suffered one of its worse setbacks of the war in November 2004 when insurgents captured most of the city. The 7,000 police recruited by General Petraeus either changed sides or went home. Thirty police stations were captured, 11,000 assault rifles were lost and $41m (£20m) worth of military equipment disappeared. Iraqi army units abandoned their bases.

    The general’s next job was to oversee the training of a new Iraqi army. As head of the Multinational Security Transition Command, General Petraeus claimed that his efforts were proving successful. In an article in the Washington Post in September 2004, he wrote: “Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being re-established.” This optimism turned out be misleading; three years later the Iraqi army is notoriously ineffective and corrupt.

    General Petraeus was in charge of the Security Transition Command at the time that the Iraqi procurement budget of $1.2bn was stolen. “It is possibly one of the largest thefts in history,” Iraq’s Finance Minister, Ali Allawi, said. “Huge amounts of money disappeared. In return we got nothing but scraps of metal.”

    Khadim doubts the “surge” is successful. “Commenting on the US military alliance with the Sunni tribes in Anbar province, he said: ‘They will take your money, but when the money runs out they will change sides again.'”

  2. Iraq Oil WarMore news from Iraq from The New York Times reporting that the compromise on the Oil Law in Iraq seems to be collapsing. I know, try not to be too shocked. “A carefully constructed compromise on a draft law governing Iraq’s rich oil fields, agreed to in February after months of arduous talks among Iraqi political groups, appears to have collapsed… ¶ Contributing to the dispute is the decision by the Kurds to begin signing contracts with international oil companies before the federal law is passed. The most recent instance, announced last week on a Kurdish government Web site, was an oil exploration contract with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas… ¶ Some members of one of the main Sunni parties, Tawafiq, which insists on federal control of contracts and exclusive state ownership of the fields, bolted when it became convinced that the Kurds had no intention of following those guidelines. ¶ But the prime minister’s office believes there is a simpler reason the Sunnis abandoned or at least held off on the deal: signing it would have given Mr. Maliki a political success that they did not want him to have.”

  3. The Financial Times has more on the Strategic Survey 2007 put out by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. FT reports the US sufffers a decline in prestige. “The report says the US failure in Iraq had meant the Bush administration suffered from a much-reduced ability to hold sway in both domestic and international affairs.”

    But a more fundamental loss of clout occurred at a strategic level. “It was evident that exercise of military power – in which, on paper, America dominated the world – had not secured its goal,” the survey says. The failings in Iraq created a sense around the world of American power “diminished and demystified”, with adversaries believing they will prevail if they manage to draw the US into a prolonged engagement.

    Washington’s ability to act as an honest broker in the world had declined; and Iraq had meant the US had failed to pay as much attention as it should have to other parts of the world.

    America’s standing in the world has gotten so bad under Bush, that simply having a new president will not make things magically better. “The report concludes that the ‘the restoration of American strategic authority seemed bound to take much longer than the mere installation of a new president’.” “Installation” as opposed to election — a very telling choice of words.

  4. Lastly, some potentially good news on addressing global warming. According to The New York Times, a U.S. court ruled States can set their own measures to cut greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles and light trucks. “Ruling in a lawsuit against Vermont’s standards on those heat-trapping gases, the judge, William K. Sessions III, rejected a variety of challenges from auto manufacturers, including their contention that the states were usurping federal authority.” The ruling “explicitly endorses the idea” that States have the right to set their own regulations on the greenhouse gases. The judge wrote such regulations do not hurt the economy or undermine safety. “The judge also rejected a claim that Vermont’s standards would intrude into the sphere of foreign policy, which is the unique province of the federal government.” Vermont and other states rules on emissions hinge on California being granted a waiver from the Bush administrations’ Environmental Protection Agency. Am EPA decision is promised by the end of the year.

One more story below the fold…

For all of us newbies

Thanks guys. Oh and is there a minimum on length of diary? Also there appears to be a 24 hour waiting period before you are able to post an essay/diary. Someone asked before so I was looking and then after it had been 24 hours, poof “New Essay” appeared. And no, I haven’t read FAQ, I also don’t read directions when putting things together, unless all else fails.

Alright, now we all have one more place to keep up with and I’m happy to say most of my favorite kossacks are here, past and present. Okay okay, this is not the best first post, but it is more of an experiment to see if it works.

Bush and Homeless Man Embark On ‘Prince and the Pauper’ Escapade

Washington, D.C. – What began as chance meeting during a morning jog snowballed into a screwball comedy of errors as President George W. Bush met his exact look-a-like in a transient by the name of George Burnswick. After a heartfelt speech by President Bush to his Secret Service Agents about his need to get back to the people, the two men decided to switch places for a week. Formerly homeless Burnswick would take the helm of one of the most powerful nations in history, while Mr. Bush would take over Mr. Burnswick’s role of screaming at cars on random corners and digging through trash cans for lunch.

The men’s switch went seamlessly, in a transition only noticed by Karl Rove, who was already getting his media puppet strings ready to cash in on the delightful affair. Though there were some madcap capers as each man adjusted to the life of the other.

“How hard can this job be?” said Mr. Burnswick from the decadent leisure of the Oval Office. “Cheney practically runs the show here, and whatever is leftover goes to Karl Rove and his pack of hounds. All I do is rubber stamp bullshit and take full advantage of the buffet. Life is good for Burnswick. Did you know I can call anyone in the world? Right now? Before I had to wait 6 months to talk to a lowly case worker.”

Kossack Jerry Northington (possum) for Congress!

When Jerry Northington began letting people know he would be running for Congress, my first reaction was that I would love to help write for him. My second reaction was that this was Jerry Northington, and that he needs no help writing! Jerry has an extraordinary combination of intelligence and passion, eloquence and conviction, and anyone who has read his online writings, under the pseudonym “possum,” knows that Jerry’s huge heart and tough but gentle soul are exactly what this country now needs in its elected officials.

As many of you know, “possum” has been administrating the human rights blog, Never In Our Names. Everything you need know about Jerry is in that encapsulated. His idealism in the causes of peace, justice, and human rights are at the core of absolutely everything he has done in the realms of politics and social action. He has lived it. He has worked for it. And now, he wants to take his ideals to Washington.

Who is Jerry Northington?

As explained in his diary, Black Annie, Jerry grew up in a different time, in the deep south. He saw, first-hand, the crippling effects of racism, and how it poisons the racists, their victims, and our entire culture. Writing of a woman he knew, as a child, Jerry observes:

Annie’s life was restricted far beyond her schooling and housing.  She lived in a society where “White Only” signs were posted on water fountains, public restrooms, and store windows.  Lunch counters admitted no blacks to their facilities in those years.  The distinction between races was stark and ever present.  The difference between the facilities offered to black and white residents was severe.  Water fountains offered to blacks were often inoperable.  Restroom facilities offered were mostly so unacceptable in condition that most people would avoid their use at all costs.  Blacks coming to town for shopping or business planned to be back home before needing any public accommodation.

In those days of my childhood black people were not given the status of human in most respects.  The society that surrounded blacks in those days saw them as somehow animalistic as the various epithets used as adjectives clearly showed.  Today we see the same degrading behavior toward the various foreign populations both in and out of this country.  One satellite radio channel uses derogatory terms to describe the opposition fighters in Iraq.  Many such epithets were applied in Viet Nam as has been discussed here on NION already.  The abuse of human rights has a long history in our country.  We have much work to do to reverse the effects of our past action in this area.  Progress is being made, but we can never forget our history lest we fall back into old patterns once again.

Certainly, the bigotry Jerry observed, as a child, still poisons our national culture. Its roots underlie so much of what is still so wrong, both in our domestic and foreign policies. But, for Jerry, his life experience would soon show him yet another devastating result of this poison. As he writes on his campaign website:

War is hell. There is no kind or gentle way to avoid those words. By the time I reached Vietnam, I could see the failure of the US Army to prepare well for the situation. We were trained in conventional warfare and then sent to fight a guerilla operation. We were kids sent to do a man’s work as the old saying goes. No amount of preparation could have readied us for what we were to face. Only experience taught us the lessons of survival, and too many did not live to share their experience.

The sights and scenes play back in my mind like a bad movie. I can return to those minutes and hours at any moment of the day without hesitation. The memories are as clear today as the day I came home all those years ago. I was lucky to be spared much of the worst of what war can bring one’s way. I am among the fortunate ones who came home alive, if not so well as before. Many thousands of my fellow soldiers came home in caskets. What each and every one of us endured was more than enough to teach me the futility and uselessness of all war let alone one of occupation.

I came home a very changed person. That returning was the beginning of my time as an antiwar activist. The intervening years have seen increased involvement in protest until today when I stand for election to Congress in the House of Representatives. I stand as an antiwar activist and campaigner for the people. The lessons of the past are very clear. War is not the way to win hearts and minds. We must pursue more peaceful solutions if humankind is to survive. There is so much we humans can accomplish if we begin to work together for a better world. If we continue our militaristic ways we may have no future whatsoever.

It’s not only about a particular war- whether Vietnam or Iraq- it’s about the very nature of war, and the culture that so often pursues it, without cause. When this war finally ends, we, as a nation, must reflect not only on the political machinations that got us into it, but on the ease with which we, as a nation, accepted the lies. The jingoism. The false bravado. The glorification of violence. All of these are ingrained in our national psyche, and Jerry is exactly the kind of person we need to participate in the official dialogue that will help us cleanse ourselves.

A Vet, twice over, Jerry came home and became a veterinarian. Again, we see Jerry’s fundamental sense of compassion, and his passion for healing. As his website explains:

Like his father, Jerry went on to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, and was asked to teach neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for four years. He eventually helped to establish a veterinary specialty hospital, and continues his practice as a veterinarian with a practice limited to neurology.

Did I mention that he’s smart? Did I mention that he’s motivated? Did I mention that his life is proof of the depth of his caring?

Let’s look at some more excerpts from his diaries.

Your tax dollars at work

Here is what we get for less than the cost of a day in Iraq

NASA’s Cassini probe performed its closest pass to Saturn’s odd little Iapetus moon yesterday, and the first, unprocessed pictures have begun showing up online.

Wired has more

Stout Hearts

(crossposted from Cobalt6)

I wanted to get some stuff together here to show those of us who plan to march from the White House to the Capitol this Saturday the things that have been happening there as the day approaches.

First, though, is a website set up to coordinate contacts and activities for that day. The group the people I am traveling with and I are joining will meet at the site of the National Christmas Tree at 11 am. We will be wearing orange.

The actual coordination is taking place in the Forums section.

That said, I have some things I’d like you to see below the fold.

Pony Party: RFK Edition

Not his best speech, or the best video montage, but it struck me today as I watched.  It’s the same choice now, I think.  Basically.

I saw the happy lemurs in the earlier pony party thread and the discussion of whimsy, and almost took this down!  But it’s one of those moments in our time where the hinges creaked, the door moved open or shut, the world changed.

That SCHIP Won’t Sail

{Crossposted at To Us!.  Permission to use noncommercially with attribution.}

While Congress was away, Bush continued to do his sneaky freaky Friday attack on S-CHIP.  Much of this post is simply a replay of events that occurred prior to Congress’ return last week. But one thing Bush forgot in his unrelenting quest to punish the poor, the sick, the elderly and the vulnerable: the senators are facing those people at the polls, and they aren’t looking too good when it comes to cutting off people at the knees.

So the senators are mutinying against Bush’s bowl of strawberries re-enactment. The only think lacking is the presidential candidate with enough spine to act as a realistic Mister Roberts. A cross between the mutiny on the Bounty and Mister Roberts, the governors are finding themselves smack dab in the middle of where policy meets constituent suffering.

Building Resilient Communities, Round 1: Solar Powered DC Refrigerators

Hey kids, I’ve got an idea. Let’s build resilient communities!

A resilient community is a place where accidents, disasters, tragedies, traumas, and other disruptive events can be handled as well as can be expected, given competent preparation. Yes, bad things will happen. Yes, some tragedies and damages can’t be undone. But with a little foresight and creativity, the process of getting back to normal quickly, and helping everyone out around you in the process…well, this can be easier (and more reliable) than waiting for FEMA or the Red Cross to show up!

Interested in Round 1? Keep reading…

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