November 13, 2007 archive

Short Story – Footprints In the Snow

I got up one night in college and went to the computer, and wrote this short story in one go, for my creative writing course assignment.  I wasn’t as long, then, I’ve since edited and added to it, but it is essentially the same story I wrote nearly nine years ago in my second of three unsucessful attempts to gain a post-secondary education.

I’m 0 for 3, but maybe I’ll try again one day…all three attempts were made before I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, so perhaps knowing this, I could give it another go.

I’m mentally drained and not in the mood to blog at all, don’t know how long it’ll last.  I’m currently working on another project which has my entire focus, but I wanted to share this story with you all…I posted it last year on MyLeftWing, but I took it down after a couple of days…perhaps not ready to share it with the world.

Most of it is true, pulled from my childhood, some of it isn’t…what is and what isn’t, is mine to know…

Here it is now…see you all when I feel better.


Four at Four

Some news and your afternoon OPEN THREAD.

  1. The Age reports Vital facts ‘deleted’ from UN report on climate change. “A major United Nations report on climate change has been watered down as a result of influence from government officials from countries opposed to taking radical action, conservation group WWF claims… The group fears that the report will play down the need for deep cuts in emissions. The report, which will be released on Saturday, will say that almost a third of the world’s species will face extinction if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. A draft copy of the report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also warns that if temperatures rise by more than two degrees – now expected before 2050 – 20 per cent of the world’s population will face a great risk of drought.”

    AFP has more details in UN panel in ‘difficult’ debate over global warming paper. “UN climate experts wrangled here Tuesday over a landmark document on global warming amid criticism that the draft report was bland and some of its findings out of date.”

    The source said there had been by sharp exchanges over what the document should include and whether it should reflect findings published after a cut-off date for new material…

    The United States, meanwhile, questioned a reference that implied that powerful tropical storms would increase this century. It argued that observational data could be interpreted variously…

    Some delegates, notably those from Britain and India… pointed out that the draft failed to take into account recent evidence of accelerated warming, including the shrinkage of the Arctic ice cap, glacier loss in Greenland, a surge in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an apparent slowing of Earth’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases.

  2. The Washington Post reports the Bush veto sets stage for budget battle. “Bush vetoed a $606 billion spending bill Tuesday that would have funded education, health and labor programs for the current fiscal year, complaining that it was larded with pork and too expensive as he took aim at a top priority of the new Democratic Congress… At the same time, the president signed a $471 billion Defense Department spending bill that funds regular Pentagon operations other than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Bush called it a matter of setting priorities in a time of war. “Their majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it is acting like a teenager with a new credit card,” Bush planned to say in a speech here, according to excerpts provided by the White House.

  3. Meanwhile, the Credit-Card-in-Chief runs his wars-of-choice by borrowing. The Associated Press reports Iraq, Afghan War Costs Are $1.6 Trillion. “The economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to total $1.6 trillion – roughly double the amount the White House has requested thus far, according to a new report by Democrats on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. The report, released Tuesday, attempted to put a price tag on the two conflicts, including ‘hidden’ costs such as interest payments on the money borrowed to pay for the wars, lost investment, the expense of long-term health care for injured veterans and the cost of oil market disruptions. The $1.6 trillion figure, for the period from 2002 to 2008, translates into a cost of $20,900 for a family of four, the report said. The Bush administration has requested $804 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, the report stated.” The Washington Post notes that the report found “the United States is dangerously increasing its reliance on foreign debt and that Americans will be paying the price for generations.”

  4. The Washington Post reports Middle-class dream eludes African American families.

    Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to a new study — a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the fragile nature of middle-class life for many African Americans.

    Overall, family incomes have risen for both blacks and whites over the past three decades. But in a society where the privileges of class and income most often perpetuate themselves from generation to generation, black Americans have had more difficulty than whites in transmitting those benefits to their children.

    Forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle class in 1968 — a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in inflation-adjusted dollars — grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation’s earners, with a median family income of $23,100. Only 16 percent of whites experienced similar downward mobility. At the same time, 48 percent of black children whose parents were in an economic bracket with a median family income of $41,700 sank into the lowest income group.

So, what else is happening?

$15,000,000,000 to fight the “narcotics trade,” and Blackwater may get some

It gets more and more surreal.

Since the U.S. government is now a wholly owned subsidiary of a conglomerate of defense contractors and the fossil fuels industries, it’s important to find new and better ways for our tax dollars to support those murderous kleptocrats- preferably ways that attract little scrutiny, and play into the warped values so carefully calibrated by our corporate media. We can’t spend money on things that might actually help children, like ensuring that they have safe homes, nutritious food, clean clothes, and quality educations and health care. That would be socialism! But we can try to keep them from having sex! And we can try to keep them off drugs! Homelessness, hunger, and lack of opportunity are of little import, but kids on drugs is bad! And it exists in a vacuum. It has nothing to do with that homelessness, hunger, and lack of opportunity!

So, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that:

A Defense Department contract involving antidrug training missions may test the durability of the political controversy over Blackwater Worldwide’s security work in Iraq.

The Moyock, N.C., company, which was involved in a September shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead, is one of five military contractors competing for as much as $15 billion over five years to help fight a narcotics trade that the government says finances terrorist groups.

Also competing for contracts from the Pentagon’s Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office are military-industry giants Raytheon Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., as well as Arinc Inc., a smaller aerospace and technology contractor.

Of course, the first reaction is to wonder why in hell we’d be considering giving more money to a bloodsucking private army that murders civilians and is run by a fundamentalist religious fanatic. That’s the obvious question, and it will remain unanswered. As our nation is dismantled and sold for scrap, Blackwater is the future. But the bigger question, which is, of course, overlooked by the Journal itself, is why are we looking to spend $15,000,000,000 on the war on drugs?!


Next time you’re frustrated with DKos remember this magic

I know the Docudharma community exists because of some of the frustrations people have had with some aspects of the culture over at Big Orange.

So, I want to tell you about something special that went on over at the Daily Kos last night that will remind you what the DKos community has at its heart – underneath some of the sniping. Yesterday at 3pm, AndyT posted what is probably the definitive diary on the Pretty Bird Woman House, partly because he did a lot of extra research on the shelter itself. Devilstower then Front Paged it around 4pm. Well, then something amazing happened. People were touched. Momentum Happened. A matching grant happened. We went from having $3600 at 4pm to having about $11,500 at 10pm, when the challenge expired. We now have $12,800 at 1pm EST, and this isn’t even counting the match.

Because this community is derived from that community, the same kinds of big hearts are over here as well (minus the candidate wars :)). Both communities are really special.

Of course, if you haven’t chipped in yet (and it doesn’t have to be a monetary contribution if you’re short on cash), this is an invitation to do so. But read this diary first.


This is Andy Ternay’s diary, cross-posted with his permission.

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If you are a progressive, odds are you want to make the world a better place – not just for you and your cronies, but for everyone. This diary gives you a concrete chance to do exactly that – to make the world a better place for families.

The diary below the fold largely comes from an interview with the Director of Pretty Bird Woman House, Georgia Little Shield and from the Amnesty International report Maze of Injustice – The failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA, published in April 2007.  When I have drawn from other sources I have provided a link or citation.

If you already know you want to contribute, donate here.

Generic Drug Bill Held Up

Disclosure: I have represented and represent both brand name and generic drug manufacturers. I know of no conflict with my representations and my position on this issue.

The problem with lobbyists is not with their lobbying, it is with our political system that lets our representatives get away with this type of behavior:

Legislation aimed at speeding the availability of cheaper generic drugs has stalled in Congress in the face of major lobbying by the drug industry. The Senate bill would ban most settlements known as “reverse payments,” in which a brand-name company pays a generic manufacturer to delay the introduction of the generic drug. The Federal Trade Commission, which has called on Congress to take action, says such settlements could cost American consumers billions of dollars.

. . . “Lobbyists have a lot of influence in Washington,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Herb Kohl, who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights. “If we can just get this to a vote, it will be pretty hard for people to vote against it. A vote against this is a vote against consumers.” . . .

It is important to understand that the need for such a law is due to some atrocious antitrust decisions by the Supreme Court. The issue is a bit complex, but the basics of it is that the Supreme Court has adopted the unproven thesis of conservative economists that intrabrand competition (between retailers of the same brand product) has no effects on market competition and that it is only interbrand competition (competition between differently branded products) that promotes competition. Anyone who has gone shopping at a Target, Wal-Mart, CostCo or Walgreens, knows this is a sham. But such is the effect of 7 Republican appointees to the Court. The antitrust laws have been gutted by the Court in the past 20 years.

Lessons Learned

Last week my friend and co-worker Pakou Hang lost the election to become a member of our City Council. Some of you might remember that I mentioned her as part of the legacy of Paul Wellstone. It was a huge disappointment to many of us in this community, and especially to Pakou.

But the disappointment is not so much in the fact that she lost, but how it happened. Pakou managed her campaign the old fashioned way – true grassroots organizing. For an election that only produced about 5,000 votes total, she had over 400 volunteers on the ground working to get out the word and the vote. This was extremely encouraging in that just a few weeks before the election, no one had seen or heard much from her opponent, the incumbent.

scrolling news

Todays Headlines, ‘Hidden Costs’ Double Price Of Two Wars, Sticky issues for Coast Guard, Chalabi returns to prominence and power, Bhutto Put Under House Arrest, Panel Decries Terrorism Blacklist Process, Airline websites ‘are misleading’, The ANC is not known for its fondness of multinationals, plight of Zimbabwean refugees, Japan’s Leader Cites Limits In Global Security Abilities, Vietnam struggles with new flood disaster

Philosofactory: The Cynics

(by pyrrho for publishing jointly at MLW and DocuDharma)

Cynicism: Diogenes
philosophy for life in
the streets

zeno I will be using the print version of the Oxford “Dictionary of
Philosophy” to refresh myself for this series.

Links offered may or may not have been referenced to research this post. I
may or may not believe their assertions or have been exposed to them, but
they are given to ease your direct research further into The Cynics.

This school of philosophy has a bit different origin. You have the Garden
of Epicurus, you have some pythagorean retreat, and you have even the
hardship embracing stoics, chatting on a painted porch, but the founder of
cynicism had a very different origin, the streets. He was homeless, he
begged, he lived in extreme poverty. He made a virtue of it, he was a student
of Antisthenes, whom Plato said was present at the death of Socrates… he
was known and respected, but his worldview involved waging “a crusade of
antisocial mockery, hoping to show by their own example the hollow illusions
of social life”, in the words of the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.

This series is presenting five ancient schools of philosophy as
archetypes, places in the western mindset which are the source of a lot of
conventional wisdom.

By no means are these five archetypes meant to be limiting, there’s six
billion schools of philosophy really, but these really are sources for lots
of common ideas and themes over thousands of years so far.

Have you seen anyone, say, on the internets, wage such a crusade of
antisocial mockery? I have as a matter of fact. Cynicism is probably the most
defensible of all these schools on relevance to the modern condition, it
reflects a condition we have had consistently for the 2400 years since
Diogenes, and longer than that before. One seeks to condemn the philosophy
and philosopher, but it is drawn from realities in our culture.

I think it’s fair to think of each of these philosophies as suiting, or at
leasts adapted to, different specific niche environments, contexts within our
culture, certain subcultures or roles in culture that lend themselves to
certain realities… realities being what honest philosophers (perhaps a rare
breed) attempt to make world views of. And for the cynics, that is life in
the streets.

Iraq Moratorium Friday: Do something!

Friday is the third Iraq Moratorium.

Organizers ask people to do something — anything — to call for an end to the war in Iraq.

Cynics say it won’t do any good.

But I am participating because it seems obvious that doing something is infinitely more likely to have an impact than doing nothing.

It’s a largely unstructured, grassroots event, designed to continue to grow, expand and escalate.  It recognizes that it’s going to be a long haul to stop the war, and is digging in for a prolonged effort. It happens on the third Friday of every month.

There’s no shortage of ideas of things you can do.  A few suggestions:

To Be a Fighting Centrist

I am a Centrist. I believe the Democratic Party is a centrist Party. I wish the Democratic Party would fight for its centrist ideals. Like ending the the war in Iraq. Like not going to war in Iran. Like bringing balance to our tax system by reversing the extreme and radical Bush tax cuts. Like doing something about global warming. Like protecting equal rights for all Americans. Like protecting the right to choose. Like offering health care to all Americans. And so on. These Democratic principles stand in the center of American public opinion, held by a strong majority of Americans.

The Republican Party is an extreme party whose views are completely out of the mainstream of American thought. The views espoused by the GOP must be marginalized and beaten at every turn. It is because of this that I strongly dislike this view articulated by Sen. Hillary Clinton:

During this campaign, you're going to hear me talk a lot about the importance of balance,” she began, after acknowledging that the Bush Administration had gone too far toward deregulation in most areas. “You know, our politics can get a little imbalanced sometimes. We move off to the left or off to the right, but eventually we find our way back to the center because Americans are problem solvers. We are not ideologues. Most people are just looking for sensible, commonsense solutions.”

I think the views may be correct but it is poor politicking. Clinton needs to espouse her views on issues. Her problem solving views, not give silly buzzwords that implicitly relegate her Party to the extremes. It ignores that there is an extreme political party in the United States. The Republican Party. It ignores that there is a pragmatic, centrist problem solving party, the Democratic Party. This fight is not beyond politics. It is the CENTRAL political fight going on in this country. I wish Democrats, including Hillary Clinton would get that.

Herbert Must Reading Today

Bob Herbert provides must reading today, especially for Brad DeLong, Andrew Sullivan, Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias, Brendan Nyhan, and of course, David Brooks.

Herbert writes:

Andrew would not survive very long. On June 21, one day after his arrival, he and fellow activists Michael Schwerner and James Chaney disappeared. Their bodies wouldn’t be found until August. All had been murdered, shot to death by whites enraged at the very idea of people trying to secure the rights of African-Americans.

The murders were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day.

That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the first stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”

Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

. . . Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.

Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

And while I expect nothing better from Brooks, Nyhan and Sullivan, I do expect better from people like Drum and Yglesias. And maybe now DeLong sees some value in Herbert's work.

Pony Party, Holiday Giving

Military Cheer Packs is just one of many sites where you can send a package to a service-person….you can click the ‘donate’ link to send it randomly.  There’s also a link to submit the name of a ‘troop’ to be included to receive a package.

And we cant forget murrayewv’s excellent essay with links for donation to disaster relief in Mexico.

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