December 2, 2007 archive

There Are Two Possible Futures – Ron Paul and Progressive Pluralism

Crossposted at dKos and EuroTrib

America’s 21st century has two distinct political futures. This election is already seeing their emergence.

The first is embodied by Ron Paul. It is a future where government is dramatically scaled back as a presence in our lives, and people are left to fend for themselves. It is a future where inequality is embraced, where those with less are given no aid whatsoever and blamed for their condition. It is a future where America tries to maintain the fiction that it is a white nation, of, by, and for white people. It is a nation racked by crisis, where survival is conditioned on how much money you make.

The second is embodied by us. It is a democratic future, where instead of abolishing government, we both expand and reform it. Where we work to end inequality, address the multiple crises of climate and economy. Where we embrace a pluralist, diverse, international future. It is a nation that has learned to do more with less, and where basic human needs are met, not left to the market.

Which future will it be?

Pony Party: An interesting question on impeachment at my blog!

There was a good question about impeachment at my blog in response to this posting:…

Here’s the question:


Do you have a view on removing all the roadblocks — as you see them — to an impeachment investigation?  

Weekend News Digest

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Putin party scores landslide win in Russian election

by Sebastian Smith, AFP

1 hour, 3 minutes ago

MOSCOW (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin’s party won a huge majority in Russian parliamentary elections Sunday tainted by fraud allegations, early results showed, paving the way for the Kremlin leader to retain power after leaving office.

The United Russia Party won 62.3 percent of the vote, according to official results with 12 percent of the ballots counted and with opposition complaints mounting.

United Russia and its allies, A Just Russia and the Liberal Democratic Party would enter the State Duma with a collective 86.3 percent of the vote, according to an exit poll by the All-Russian Centre for the Study of Public Opinion.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Martha and the Vandellas

Nowhere to Run

Shivah, loss, and the obligations of grief

(this will go in the Grieving Room on Monday on dailyKos….. not sure if it belongs here, but what the heck)

I am not afraid of flying, but, especially since 9/11, I increasingly dread the pre-boarding ritual.

Similarly, after my mom died on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I was dreading sitting shiva.  We sat two nights, and after the first, I was less worried about the second.  But the second night was bad.

Every culture has its own grief rituals.  I will not assume that everyone here is familiar with those of the Jews – I am not that familiar with them, myself, and I am Jewish, more or less.  At least, I was raised Jewish, although I have long been an atheist.  The essential idea of shiva (which is derived from the Hebrew word for seven, and the same root as Sabbath) is to have a weeklong period of intense grieving.  If you are Orthodox, there are a great many rituals associated with it, but if you are reform, as we are, it’s basically a night or two of people gathering to talk about the bereaved, share condolences and so on.

(A Jewish friend explained it to her Catholic brother-in-law as “just like a wake, but with eating instead of drinking”)

Why was I dreading this?

My mother.

My mother and I had a complex relationship, defined by both powerful bonds and powerful antipathies.  Sad to say, if she were not my mother, I do not think she is the sort of person I would like.  Yet, there are also powerful bonds.  Everyone who knew her knew she was proud of me and her other children, and knew she loved us.  We didn’t know, ourselves.  

This is a woman who never told any of her three children “I love you”.

And yet…..

When I was five, a psychologist told my parents I would never go to college.  I graduated when I was 20.  In large part, this is because, rather than accept this verdict on my future, my mother did things.  She found the best educator in the then-infant field of learning disabilities, and, together, they started a school. My mother did everything that wasn’t education.

And yet….

She reminded me, in public, of how much trouble I was, and how much she gave up for me.

And yet…..

She followed my interests well enough that, right to the end, she would clip newspaper articles and send them to me.

And yet….

Now, she is gone.  The end was expected, and, at the end, a good thing.  She had had five different cancers over the last fifteen years, and had decided to no longer seek any of the invasive or repulsive therapies – neither radiation nor surgery, and so, she knew she would die.  She was 83, survived by a husband, three kids, six grandchildren, and one two-week old great-grandchild.

She had, my brother said “a good run”….too bad some of us got run over.

And so, I dreaded shiva.  The barely-remembered people coming up to me to say how wonderful she was.  The closer friends sharing more intimate, but even-less true-seeming remarks.  “She made everyone feel taller” – no, not everyone, not me.  “I am sure she told you often how proud she was” – no, not often.  Not ever.  

I remember, at age 10, lying in bed, thinking, and deciding that I didn’t have to compete with my father or agree with what my mother said.

And, just before she died, I was talking with my brother and we were both somewhat startled by how un-sad we were.  Not happy, surely.  But not sad.  Not torn up with grief, not crying, not unable to concentrate.  Not sad.

It is, to me, both disturbing and sad that I am not much more sad that I am.  In a way, this continues to feed my anger at her, that she was not able to relate to me in such a way that her loss meant more to me; and that she raised me in an atmosphere that encouraged this lack of closeness.  Nature or nurture, she was half of one and more than half of the other….It is hard not to blame my failings on her, especially when those failings relate to her.

But we must not think ill of the dead.

And we must love our mothers.

Mustn’t we?

Thanks for reading

Reprising Exhaustion

I am tired.  No, take that back.  That is too much of an understatement of the problem

I am exhausted.  I am so exhausted that I was halfway through writing an essay about the semester when I realized that for all intents and purposes, I’d written the essay before, two years ago.  So I’ll post that and go take a catnap while you read it and be back when you are done.

Originally posted as part of Teacher’s Lounge.

What women who give a damn about the rights of women want for Xmas


2007 Edition


I originally wrote this diary and posted it on The Daily Kos on December 18, 2006 under my then name, notimportant.

It’s profoundly sad for me to write that the subject of women’s rights was urgent then and has devolved since into a global catastrophic situation. The denial of women’s rights  has always seen a turndown in turbulent times. Sometime things do change – for the worse. Today we are seeing the raping of women not only as a form of genocide in certain parts of the world, but enacted more deliberately, more cruel and inhumanly than at any time in our world’s history. So my brothers and sisters, I urge, even beg you to read about the horrific acts taking place against women now following  this 2006 diary in the form of  a 2007 update.

Then please do something. I have posted numerous ways of doing so. I cannot think of a better gift for you to give the women in your life than to help secure the freedom of women across the globe while putting an end to their unbelievable suffering

I realize this diary is very long. If you don’t have the time – watch this very important video and you will get the message

Blog Voices This Week 12/2/07

When I started writing this weekly essay, the idea was to travel around the “diversosphere” and catch interesting items so that we could bring those voices here. I’ve focused mainly on blogs written by people of color and hoped that we could highlight some of the excellent stuff that’s going on, whether it was a news story about people of color that the msm had missed, or a challenge to the dynamics of racism in our culture.

But we’ve had an interesting week on that issue right here in our little corner of the world. I know there’s been a lot of heat related to the topic and the personalities involved. But in the midst of it all, there was some amazing wisdom shared and … change happened.

So, this week, I’d like to congratulate everyone for hanging in there. To do so, I thought I’d stay right here this week and bring you a few of the kernels of wisdom that were shared by some of our own dharmaniacs.*

Lets start with da boss who, despite being sleep-deprived and weary from playing referee, was able to contribute more than a few nuggets of his own.


White people…IN GENERAL….are the undoubted oppressors and beneficiaries when it comes to issues of race. We never can experience racism (in this country) because we are ‘the majority’ and have lived in a racially blind culture all of our lives.

Due to that cultural fact…..We simply cannot judge ourselves objectively enough to determine whether we have engaged in racist behavior or not. We can try our absolute best, but imo, we must ALWAYS take that sort of observation of our behavior VERY seriously and never assume that we are in the right.

The culture conditions us to racism, and it is our individual responsibility to make sure we haven’t and don’t fall into the cultural traps. No matter how good our intentions and no matter how much we have done in the past to combat it within ourselves.

And besides…why is sitting down and taking a good hard look at yourself vis a vis racism such an odious task that it should be avoided?

Now, I’ll travel around to a few of the pertinent essays and give you some more gems.

Step aside, sister

Two articles snagged my attention regarding the role, and the perception of the role, that dedicated black women played in the civil rights movement. The core message was that while women were just as committed and involved as men, they were often shuttled aside for the “big events”. They may have played key leadership roles but were not percived to be leader with the same stature and credentials as the men. An interesting article also offers recolelction about the role that white women played in the Civil Rights movement. It is worth a full read and I think the dynamics of how and why white men and women also felt compelled to add their voices deserves an analysis.

Gail Collins illustrates the tendency of women in the Civil Rights movement to mysteriously disappear during the “big moments.” When Dr.Martin Luther King went to Washing ton to give his most famous speech, prominent female activists had to walk with the wives far from the cameras Obviously, this is a factual statement but it does make me wonder: would wouldn’t the “wives” be consisdered legitimate spokespersons for the Civil Rights movement? I can’t imagine what sort of courage, patience, faith, and vision it must have taken to be the “wife” of a male civil rights activist. Interesting that Collins did a good job of providing examples of women but didn’t think much about the “wives.” She also makes a bit of an apology for her hero, Susan B Anthony, while claiming that we have all learned to be clear eyed about the flaws of those we admire. Collins states I know she broke her old friend Fredrick Douglass’s heart she lashed out at a government that would give the vote to “Sambo” and ignore well educated middle class white women. Hmmm… Broke his heart? No, she revealed herself, apparently Collins believes feminists cannot critique feminists when they cover their disappiontment with racist assumptions.

According to Collins several women asked that at least one woman be included in the speeches that day. They were told that there was female participation because Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson were going to sing. The women wanted Diane Nash to provide a voice.

Nash is the young woman wearing glasses.

Nash was from Chicago and went to school in south where she participated in sit ins, helped organize Freedom Rides and became a founder/leader in SNCC]. Nash was a clever tactician, when she organized student sit ins she [recruited white women who volunteered to sit next to black men at the lunch counters. Nash was profoundly influenced by the teachings of Ghandi. She specified in a speech that the idea of “non-violence” did not fully explain the intent of acting peacfully for change. Nash agrued that the foundations of the civil rights movement were driven by a Agapic energy which was a force based on a “love energy” that acts to heal of teach the opponent. Years after Diane Nash was relegated to the back of the procession in Washington she recieved a Distinguished American award from the Kennedy Library. Dr.King himself presented Diane Nash with the Rosa Parks award from the SCLC in 1965. Nash actually helped plan the very march where she wasn’t considered important enough to speak at. In addition, she helped put together the strategy for the right to vote movement in Selma that in itself lead to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Belated Saturday Night Bike Blogging: Breaking Bikes

I was riding my bike hard on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, and despite leaving after 5:15, managed to get to work around 6:55, in plenty of time to get off my bike commuting gear, and get onto the clock before the horn sounded.

But maybe I was riding my bike too hard, because this last Monday, my chain went off the gear … off the large gear on the wheel side … and that must have been when I was pushing with enough force to loosen or damage something, because the chain derailed four or five more times on the way to work, I got to work late, on the way home it started freewheeling in certain gears, and by the time I was two miles from home it was shot.

When I took the wheel off, the gear set basically just dropped off the cassette, leaving less than half the bearings (I don’t know whether more than half the bearings are presently on the garage floor, or whether only a couple spilled out and the rest were lost earlier).

So after catching a lift on Tuesday and Wednesday, and swapping the 5-speed wheel from my old (failing) department store $55 special, to get to work Thursday and Friday, I am taking that wheel in to see if the bike store can fix it.

I guess that makes this a bike breaking open thread.

Sen Webb: Congress Will Fund The Debacle In Iraq

I am watching Senator Webb’s appearance on Meet the Press this morning and in response to Tim Russert’s playing President George Bush’s statement that Congress capitulate to his demand that the Iraq Debacle be funded without conditions, Senator Webb basically said that Congress will provide funds for Bush Iraq Debacle.

Senator Webb talks a good game, but as he has done all year, the bottom line is he will vote cede Congress’ Constitutional Spending Power. He will not vote to stand up to Bush. In the next breath he is real strong on nonbinding resolutions about Iran.

When asked by Russert about Joe Biden’s call to impeach Bush if he attacks Iran, Webb hems and haws and says that the SPENDING POWER is the way to stop Bush from attacking Iran.

Excuse me Senator Webb, IF Bush does attack Iran, basedon your statements on Iraq funding, I would expect that you will vote for funding there too.

Senator Webb is a real mess on these issues.


That graph was posted alongside this article in the NYT, and it pretty much captures the unprecedented nature of the credit crisis we’re going through this autumn. In several sectors of the financial world, lending quite simply stopped. Leveraged buy-outs, the big story of the past 18 months, no longer exist. Asset-backed paper is seen as “toxic waste”, and no longer provided – it continues to exist in so far as banks would rather roll over paper that cannot be repaid rather than make all the underlying losses appear in plain sight.

As lending prior to that had been extravagantly exuberant, this is not having an immediate impact for many companies, which have sound balance sheets and advantageous existing credit lines, but as it drags on, the real economy will start to feel the pinch as it needs to finance or refinance its normal activities, let alone investment.

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