January 7, 2008 archive

Something Changed in Me Last Week

I’ve been reflecting the last couple of days on a change in me that happened last week. I haven’t heard anyone talk about this kind of experience yet, so I’d like to share a little about my journey the last couple of years to explain it.

It all started in 2003 when I jumped head first into the Howard Dean campaign. I think I’d been waiting all my life for a national figure to come along who would embody the famous words of JFK: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. I wasn’t necessarily sold on Dean’s policies or his campaign persona. But his theme of “You have the power” was just what I’d been waiting to hear. And I watched the campaign live that out every day. For example, folks would talk on the Dean blog and give the campaign advice. The next few days, you’d see that advice being implemented. When I was asked to lead a meet-up, it was made clear that the campaign would provide information and materials, but that it was MY meet-up and we could use the time however we thought was best. I’d never seen a campaign like it before – not even Paul Wellstone’s.

Some people might disagree with this, but in the end, I watched the Democratic Party establishment and the media take Dean down. And I never got over it. Many of us talk about our disappointment in the party after the 06 elections. My hopes were shattered long before that in the lead-up to the Iowa caucuses four years ago. In the end I voted for Kerry, but just couldn’t find it in my heart to do any more than that.

The narrative that took hold in me as a result of all this was that our democracy was dead. It looked to me like the “establishemt” (or, as budhy would say, the PTB), choose our candidates, created the narrative and then it was all over but the inaugural. And in the lead-up to the 08 campaign, it looked like the “chosen ones” were Clinton and Guliani.

The results of the Iowa caucuses last week shattered that narrative – in both parties. So now I find myself thinking that maybe we do have a bit of democracy left in this country after all.  

Four at Four

Afternoon news and not closed thread.

  1. Just in time for the 2008 presidential election, The New York Times triumphantly announces Relations Improve With a Shift in War Coverage For Pentagon and News Media! “The anguished relationship between the military and the news media appears to be on the mend as battlefield successes from the troop increase in Iraq are reflected in more upbeat news coverage… At the start of the Iraq war, decades of open hostilities between the military and news media dating from Vietnam were forgotten, if only for a brief and shining moment. One reason was the embed program for the Iraq invasion that placed hundreds of reporters from across the journalistic spectrum into combat units.” Great… because what American needs is more love between the press and Defense War Department.

    The Independent obviously hasn’t gotten the memo. The newspaper reports Iraq death rate belies US claims of success. “The death rate in Iraq in the past 12 months has been the second highest in any year since the invasion, according to figures that appear to contradict American claims that the troop ‘surge’ has dramatically reduced the level of violence across the country.”

    The Iraq Body Count (IBC) “found that between 22,586 and 24,159 civilian deaths were documented for 2007, with the vast majority of those killed between January and August… John Sloboda, the co-founder of IBC, said the figures “show beyond any doubt that civil security in Iraq remains in a parlous state… For some 24,000 Iraqi civilians, and their families and friends, 2007 was a year of devastating and irreparable tragedy”.

  2. Meanwhile, all the cool newspapers are reporting a “confrontation“, as the NY Times puts it, between U.S. and Iranian ships in the Strait of Hormuz. The Guardian reports “According to Pentagon officials, US forces were about to fire at the boats, thought to be from the Revolutionary Guard, when the Iranians turned away at the last moment… The Iranian foreign ministry dismissed the confrontation as ‘something normal‘ that was resolved without incident.” The anonymous Pentagon officials, however, described the encounter as “significant” and “the most serious provocation of this sort that we’ve seen yet”. Spin Cheney! Spin!

  3. But, then Bush’s handlers have been always about lowering the bar and minimizing expectations. McClatchy Newspapers are reporting that Expectations are low for Bush’s Mideast trip. Low Expectations“President Bush, who once had grand ambitions to transform the Middle East through democratic reform, begins his first extended presidential visit to the region Tuesday with his sights lowered and his ability to influence events fading fast… The official Arab view of Bush was summed up inadvertently by a diplomat from a major Arab state, who indicated disbelief that the president will use the trip to renew his drive for Middle East democracy. ‘Is that still on?‘ the Arab official replied sarcastically. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities.” And just for the curious, The Guardian adds More than 10,000 police will guard Bush during his Israel visit.

  4. Finally, news from the road to the White House. The Los Angeles Times reports Supreme Court will hear voter ID case. Their ruling “could affect the outcome in some close contests this year and well into the future. At issue is whether states may require voters to show a driver’s license or a passport at their polling places.

    Republicans say photo IDs are needed to prevent vote fraud by, for example, having ballots cast in the names of the dead or by those who are not legal voters, such as felons, noncitizens or nonresidents…

    Democrats counter that the photo ID rules are a Republican-driven scheme whose real purpose is to deter voting by racial minorities, the poor and the elderly. They say that new voters are checked for eligibility when they register, and that there is no need for a photo ID check at the polling place…

    And a surprisingly large number of legally registered voters could run afoul of a photo ID requirement. About 10% of the nation’s voting-age citizens — more than 20 million people — do not have a driver’s license or passport, according to studies and phone surveys presented to the high court.

    Nothing like disenfranchising 10 percent of the electorate to rig a close election.

Talking Heads below the fold.

You, Me and FCC

Apparently the FCC was very concerned about the subject of concentration of media ownership/media consolidation. Their main concern was that we did not have enough of it. I guess the conventional wisdom these days is that competition in local/regional/national markets between newspapers, television, and radio is inherently nasty and bad. It is just inefficient to be forced to read two newspapers when one will suffice don’t you think? It is so time consuming to try an dread competing views in any major medium. Competing views can cause harmful side effects, one will be forced to think and the FCC certainly does not want to be given credit for that potential national disaster. Americans don’t have to think. They are too busy getting second mortgages to pay for once affordable post secondary education or working three jobs to pay off medical bills because they dared to get sick and deprive employers of their labor. Being sick is a bit unpatriotic, don’t you think?

Since the FCC has all of our best interests in mind and is made up of the “right kind of people” they kindly decided that they would remove the previous ban that restricted an owner from having a newspaper and a broadcast outlet in a single market. Really, the most efficient thing would be to eliminate newspapers all together and install chips in our heads that could pick up cable news broadcasts constantly. If one pauses to read a newspaper that is a diversion away from working and shopping which are really the only two things we should be doing anyway.

Concentration of media ownership is hardly a new topic. Ben Bagdikian has been writing about this issue since 1983. He has a few qualifications that allow him to speak about such things.

Mother Jones provides a nice visual that shows us who owns what in major areas of media and how much they make. I’m so glad the FCC is going to help them make more, aren’t you? Maybe the problem is that one organization should just own everything. That would be very, very, efficient. The free market is fine for other people, like workers, but we can’t subject the owners to that kind of stress and interference with business can we? And anybody who criticizes this is just jealous, after all anybody can be rich in America and anybody can be President, and if it doesn’t happen to you that is a matter of your own personal failings not the market, because the market is good for us except when it is bad, such as in the case of not enough concentration of media ownership.

Barak Obama and John Kerry have both raised the issue of a lack of diversity of ownership in the media here in the US.

Apparently, there is a lack of minority and female owners of TV stations in this country. Women who make up half the population in America own 4.97 percent of TV stations. Minorities combined who make up a little more than a third of the population here own about three percent of the TV stations, Blacks and Hispanics who both make up 13 or 14 percent of the population each own about 1.3 percent of the TV stations. And there are also few females or minorities in any positions of authority ( CEO, president, general manager) to suggest a possibility for opinions or hiring practices that reflect any broad based diversity.

What does Iran have to gain here?

The answer is, as far as I can think of, is nothing, and there is pretty much everything to lose.

This is why I reacted to the report that Iranian boats had “provoked” US ships in the Strait of Hormuz with a “WTF????”.  Let’s look at a few things here, just to make heads or tails of things.

So what is the common thread here?  Well, pretty much all of these are a threat to US economic interests, not to mention partially avoidable had this administration acted differently back in 2001, 2002 and 2003.  Additionally, all of this has happened despite (or as a response by the global community) the saber rattling that Mister Bush, Dick Cheney and the other neocons have been doing for the past few years.

Pony Party: Resolutions

I’m baaaack! The holidays are over, and I’m back to being my busy self. And I have another cold. 🙁

I have a resolution for the New Year: maintain a healthier lifestyle. After a week and a bit of over-indulging during the holiday season, this is a no-brainer. I already have a reasonably good diet (little processed foods), but I’ll try to cut down on saturated fat. The biggest change I need to make is regular exercise. Mr. Pickle and I used to go swimming regularly, but we stopped during the summer because of our crazy travel schedules. During the summer, any free time we have is spent in our ocean kayaks, so we don’t really need to swim during the summer. Fall and winter, however, are a different story. The pool was closed for part of the fall due to a strike of public workers; we never got started again even when the strike ended.

So, my resolution is to get more exercise. How about y’all?

Breaking: Gulf Of Tonkin Redux? (w/ Poll)

Distracted by the primaries?  Here’s something from the New York Times that’s  scary:

In what is being called a serious provocation, Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, officials said Monday.

U.S. forces were on the verge of firing on the Iranian boats in the early Sunday incident, when the boats ended the incident and turned and moved away, said a Pentagon official.

”It is the most serious provocation of this sort that we’ve seen yet,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

The incident occurred at about 5 a.m. local time Sunday as a U.S. Navy cruiser, destroyer and frigate were transiting the strait on their way into the Persian Gulf.

”Five small boats were acting in a very aggressive way, charging the ships, dropping boxes in the water in front of the ships and causing our ships to take evasive maneuvers,” the Pentagon official said.

My question: does anybody believe this story?

Pony Party, NFL Wild-Card Round-up

Docudharma Times Monday January 7

This is an Open Thread: For The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

Headlines For Monday: Voter ID Laws Are Set to Face a Crucial Test: GOP Doubts, Fears ‘Post-Partisan’ Obama :Stories China’s media could not write: Party’s over: Ibiza calls time on after-hours raves

Defying U.S. Plan, Prison Expands in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – As the Bush administration struggles for a way to close the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a similar effort to scale down a larger and more secretive American detention center in Afghanistan has been troubled by political, legal and security problems, officials say.

The American detention center, established at the Bagram military base as a temporary screening site after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is now teeming with some 630 prisoners – more than twice the 275 being held at Guantánamo.

Kucinich: It’s up to us to reclaim America! w/poll

It comes down to this.  I support Dennis Kucinich.  I don’t support HRC.  I don’t support Obama, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel and I don’t support John Edwards.



the problem often significantly impacts the quality of life. It can cause panic attacks and keep people apart from loved ones and business associates. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread, although everyone experiences metathesiophobia in their own way and may have different symptoms.

Though a variety of potent drugs are often prescribed for metathesiophobia, side effects and/or withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Moreover, drugs do not “cure” metathesiophobia or any other phobia. At best they temporarily suppress the symptoms through chemical interaction.


[sigh] Life is often hard that way.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Why Is This Edwards Surge Not A Headline Story?

A picture sometimes really is worth a thousand words

Rassmussen conducts a daily national tracking poll of all presidential candidates. The latest shows John Edwards picking up significantly more support, since the beginning of the year, than any candidate of either party.

The percent change for Republicans is: Huckabee 18.8% / Giuliani 13.3% / McCain 11.8% / Thompson 8.3% / Romney -6.3%.

So why isn’t this news?

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