March 2, 2008 archive

Docudharma Times Sunday March 2

This is an Open Thread:

Hey there mighty brontosaurus

Don’t you have a message for us.

You thought your rule would always last

There were no lessons in your past.

Sunday’s Headlines: Clinton battles Obama’s momentum: British island ‘used by US for rendition’ :Iran leader in landmark Iraq trip: Scores killed in raids on Gaza: Medvedev steps out from Putin’s shadow as Russia goes to polls: Planeloads of cash prop up Mugabe: Ghosts of apartheid haunt South Africa: Emperor’s son rebuked over princess visits: China’s subversive art of Manhua comes to Britain: Colombian rebel leader killed in battle

In Search for Peace, a Shrinking White House Role

When Palestinians broke through the barrier dividing the Gaza Strip and Egypt in January and streamed across the border by the tens of thousands, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faced a moment of crisis. His phone soon rang, but the world leader offering help on the other end was not President Bush — it was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mubarak took the call, resulting in the first such contact between leaders of the two nations since relations were severed nearly three decades ago.

The conversation signaled a growing rapprochement between Egypt, which receives nearly $2 billion in annual aid from Washington, and Iran, a country that the Bush administration has tried to isolate as a possible threat to U.S. interests in the region.

The Myth of Objectivity

Is the mainstream press unbiased? No, but we aren’t ideological. What we really thrive on is conflict.

She tried to make a joke of it. At the debate in Cleveland last week, Hillary Clinton brought up a “Saturday Night Live” skit about journalists fawning over Barack Obama at a mock debate. “Maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow,” said Clinton. Humor is often a substitute for anger, and if Clinton wasn’t all that funny, maybe it is because she is sore at the press for seeming to go easier on her opponent. She has a point, but the truth about the media and the campaign cannot be caricatured simply as the deification of Obama and the hounding of Clinton.

The pols and the people invest the press with great power. Conspiracies abound. Right-wing talk-show hosts love to go on about the liberal media establishment. Lefty commentators accuse the press of rolling over for George W. Bush before the invasion of Iraq.

Pure Strategery: bush’s Plan to Save America

Back at the end of 2006, after the republicans lost control of Congress, bush was asked about his “legacy.” You may recall his response:

And you’re talking about legacy. Here, I – I know – look, everybody’s trying to write the history of this administration even before it’s over. I’m reading about George Washington still.

My attitude is if they’re still analyzing number one, 43 ought not to worry about it, and just do what he think is right, and make the tough choices necessary.

In a most peculiar way, he may be right to question a quick assessment of the years he “ruled.” To find out what I mean, hop in a barrel and follow me over the fa-a-a-a-alls…

The Weapon of Young Gods #15: Circle Of Envy

Peter and I both woke up too late to make it to our 10 a.m. classes the next day- his sole obligation and, after I decided to ditch my only lecture of the day, mine too- and blearily needled each other over our behavior the previous night. I mostly played along to humor him, because I’d decided to act on an impulse I’d suppressed all week. My roommate had just started in about my hapless exchange with Francesca (who’d just passed by with an eye-roll for me) when I cut him off.

Previous Episode

Iglesia ……………………………………… Episode 37

(Iglesia is a serialized novel, published on Tuesdays and Saturdays at midnight ET, you can read all of the episodes by clicking on the tag.)

Previous episode


The corridor is quiet. None of them make much sound as they walk. They are alert. Rogers demeanor obviously indicates danger and they are all trained professionals. Attempts at questions or conversation are met by Rogers hands upraised in a shushing motion and it is apparent that he is stretching his senses down the corridor….listening for something? Abe could swear that Rogers’s ears have changed shape again, he is listening so hard. What’s worse is that he realizes that HE is now straining to change the shape of his ears, to try to listen harder….and what is even worse than that….is it feels like it is working!

He is about to reach up and check when Rogers raises his hand again.

Iglesia’s mind starts to wander, as it always does…while they are walking down the corridor. Her surface thoughts are on Paul, and her home. But the rest of her being is paying rapt attention to Rogers and every sound she can hear coming down the corridor. Which is exactly ….none. Then Rogers raises his hand again.

Midnight Thought on the Coalition Change Strategy

From Burning the Midnight Oil for the Coalition Change Strategy, keeping the fire lit at the Big Orange

The core of the progressive populist coalition change strategy is the Blue-Green coalition. That must be the core, for many reasons, some of which I’ve mentioned, and some of which, good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll get to.

However, while that is a necessary part of the coalition change strategy, it is by no means sufficient. A coalition change strategy must be broad based. Working in the interest of the coalition must be a dominant political strategy, with the extra time and trouble of working out differences with coalition partners clearly worth the trouble.

And that means that everyone in the coalition must see the benefits of being part of the group … and that means that the coalition is far more robust if it has more than two main members.

And now I run into a tremendous problem, which is that the radical right reactionaries that captured the Republican Party have so soiled and muddled the public discourse that I have no name I can come up with for the third member of the progressive populist coalition strategy for change.

However, lacking a name that names the member of the coalition, we make do, and have been since before I wandered along and noticed what was happening.

Tropical Storm Emma’s Hurricane Force Winds Hammer Europe


A tropical storm named “Emma” with wind speeds equivalent to a category 3 hurricane has been thrashing Germany, Prague and Vienna with deadly results:

Europe began feeling the effects of Emma late Friday night, according to Deutchscher Wetter Dienst (DWD), Germany’s national weather service.

Wind gusts of up to 190 km/h (118 mph) — the strength of a Category 3 hurricane — were clocked in the higher elevations of Austria, Corriveau said. Sustained winds as of Saturday night ranged from 50 km/h to nearly 80 km/h (31 mph to 50 mph). Winds were clocked at 98 km/hr (61 mph) in Denmark.

More below the jump…

Bringing Back the Progressive Party

Timothy Gatto posted a column at Thursday that really, I think, illustrates the fraudulence of this year’s presidential election.  No matter who wins, we’ll be stuck with a president who shall do little or nothing to alter the terrible course our once-great nation has been dragged on these last seven years.  It really is like being given a choice between Coca Cola and Pepsi; no matter how you vote, you’re still casting your ballot for empty calories and other toxic wastes that serve only to slowly destroy the body.

I think it’s time to face facts: the Democratic Party as we knew it is no more.  It has ceased to be.  What we have left is a pale imitation of the Republican Party.  And 2007 is a perfect example.  What Progressives really need to do is bring back the Progressive Party.  Read on, and I’ll explain further.

For a little while now I have been doing my own part to accomplish this goal on my discussion forum.  But my efforts are neither original or the first to be made.  Already some states have revived the Progressive Party, including Washington and Vermont.  In the latter state, Progressives have gotten a number of members elected to the legislature, and are now running their own candidate in the gubernatorial election.

What does this mean for Vermont?  Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature are forced to work with the Progressives to get anything done.  The political power the party has in this capacity is, therefore, significant — and growing.

This did not happen overnight, but it did so with surprising swiftness; the Washington Progressive Party reformed in 2003, according to its web site, with assistance from the Vermont chapter.  So all this has taken place within the last five to seven years.  Not bad for a revived political party that, nearly a century ago, made history by causing an incumbent Republican president to come in last in a three-way election.

Whatever doubts you might have about the effectiveness of bringing back the Progressive Party, the examples of states such as Washington and Vermont should ease or eliminate them.  Allow me to paint a portrait in your mind.  It’s not very likely to happen, but let your imagination loose for a bit as I describe this scenario:

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, made up of seventy-one House members and one senator (Vermont’s Bernie Sanders).  Frustrated with the refusal of Democratic leaders to end the occupation of Iraq, impeach the Bush-Cheney regime, and pass progressive legislation.  Imagine if, some day soon, each and every member were to leave the Democratic Party and register under a newly revived Progressive Party.  Like I said, not likely, but suspend your disbelief for a few minutes and bear with me.  Imagine the sheer power Progressives would have, especially over Democrats.

“We’ll caucus with you, so you keep control of the House,” they say to the leadership.  “But here are the things you must do for that to happen.”  And then the Progressives would trot out their list of demands.  If the Democrats balk, the Progressives caucus with no one, and control reverts to the GOP.  Do you think the spineless, conniving Democratic leaders would dare let that nightmare come to pass?  I don’t.  No, they’d fall all over each other to please the Progressives, desperate to retain their tenuous hold on power in the Legislature.

This is, of course, wishful thinking on my part.  But consider the headway already made in just a handful of states by the Progressive Party.  Yes, it would take years to achieve results on a national level.  We’d have to start locally, of course, work our way up to county and state-level offices.  And then, once each state in the Union has enough of a party presence, run national-level candidates.

This is already happening.  It has already achieved tangible results.  It is now time for Progressives in every state to ask themselves if it’s worth the heartbreak, frustration, and continuous disappointment by sticking with the Democratic Party.  If you’re interested in bringing back a political party to your state that can give real political power to Progressives, you could do a lot worse than to start exploring ways to revive the party that bears our name.  If you’d like to give it a try, you may either register an account at my forum or, better yet, establish contacts with the Vermont and Washington state parties to learn how you can bring it to your community.

If we’re to eradicate movement conservatism once and for all, we need to create a strong, energized Progressive movement to counter it.  It’s worth trying.

The Brattleboro Indictment Resolution: Is it legal nonsense?

Crossposted at Orange Satan.

On Tuesday March 4 voters in Brattleboro, VT will vote on a non-binding resolution calling for the following:

“Shall the Selectboard instruct the Town Attorney to draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution, and publish said indictment for consideration by other municipalities? And shall it be the law of the Town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro Police, pursuant to the above-mentioned indictments, arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro if they are not duly impeached, and extradite them to other authorities that may reasonably contend to prosecute them.”

According to the organizers the resolution a largely symbolic gesture. One organizer wrote, “it was born simply out of the devastating realization that our Constitution and entire system of government were – and still are – under assault, and that such extraordinary circumstances sometimes call for extraordinary measures.” Now organizers claim the initiative now has real legal teeth. How legal is it?

Read below the fold.

Café Discovery

It was the fall quarter of 1974 at Portland State University.  I had transferred to PSU after three quarters at the Sylvania campus of Portland Community College.  I was enrolled in a class called Introduction to Algebraic Structures, along with Advanced Calculus, German, Differential Equations, Vector Analysis…and a class I can’t recall.  But this is a story about Algebraic Structures.

The class was taught by Marjorie Enneking.  It was in that class that a doorway opened, a doorway into a deeper meaning in life.  At the time, it was a doorway to the deeper meanings of mathematics.  Same thing.

Marjorie generated the thought (or maybe it was spontaneously generated) that mathematics was about words.  Up to that point I had foolishly been concentrating on the numbers.  The trees had been concealing the forest.  I had been focusing on How, when the real meat of mathematics was in the Why.

Pakistan is done with playing Bush’s games

That whole democracy thing isn’t working out so well in Pakistan- for the Bush Administration, anyway. According to McClatchy Newspapers:

Senior Bush administration officials Thursday said they oppose plans by some Pakistani politicians to open talks with Islamic militants, saying that could lead to a repeat of a failed 2006 peace accord.

That accord “didn’t really work,” Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told a Senate committee. U.S. officials say the agreement gave al Qaida and other militant groups breathing space to regroup.

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, the State Department’s point man on South Asia, was blunter.

“We’ve always found that a negotiation that’s not backed by a certain amount of force can’t really force out the bad guys,” Boucher said in an interview on National Public Radio, referring to militants in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

“Ultimately, it’s the outcome that matters,” he said.

Of course, all outcomes, under Bush favorite Musharraf’s regime, led us to where we are today. Which is in need of better outcomes. Which pretty much defines where everything Bush has touched stands, today.

The two parties that triumphed in the Feb. 18 elections for the national parliament, however, have stressed the need for a political – rather than a military – solution to the insurgency.

Also, McClatchy reported on Tuesday that the smaller secular party that won the elections in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province plans to open talks with local Islamic insurgents allied with al Qaida.

Because, of course, all Bush accomplished in Afghanistan was to allow al Qaeda to escape back into the Pashtun region that straddles the literally randomly chosen border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they have regrouped, grown stronger, and now, with the also resurgent Taliban, grown strong enough to threaten Pakistan, itself.

Pony Party: More Random Pictures

Today if I am very very lucky I will be able to sneak up upon two wood ducks who have been visiting the water hole at the back of our pretty and get a picture. Yesterday I slid down a steep edge of the water hole and scared away two regular ducks and got no pictures.

In the mean time, a few more random pictures I took in the summer time on one of my jaunts. The reason I like these two is I have NO idea who painted the “wall art” or what the significance is….



I believe that the Arcade Restaurant is the oldest in Memphis. If you come to Memphis, I might even take you there and I can think of a few others we can hang out in.


This dog must be a regular, he waited camly outside while his owner went in…


Musings on the Right Wing

One thing that has always fascinated me is that right wing talk show hosts whether they originate from radio or TV write books with very long and awkward titles. How Liberals Are Ruining America With Weird Foreign Ideas From France That Will Force You To Wear Thong Underwear On Your Head And Make You Burn Your Bibles In Public. Or… How Conservatives Are Really Super Great And Right About Everything So You Don’t Have To Think For Yourself Or Wear Thong Underwear On Your Head. Do their publishers like those really long and awkward titles and just have a Pavlovian response to any book structured like that? I have read a few of them just for entertainment. It really only takes about five minutes and the titles have more content than the actual books. I can sum it up easily: Liberals are really bad people who hate America. It is rather shocking to me to find out how organized and cohesive these authors think liberals and progressives are. You know what? If there is a progressive organization out there trying to force Americans to wear thong underwear on their head while taking French lessons I might just join it. My French is rusty and the only way I will ever wear thong underwear is on my head.

One political activity that I find particularly enjoyable with supreme right wingers is to casually agree with their accusations. You have to be fairly relaxed to do it. Liberals/progressives have a tendency to earnestly defend themselves when hit with insane and irrational accusations and hopelessly arm themselves with facts. If the supreme right wing in America wanted to deal with facts and base their movement on that, they wouldn’t exist. They want a meek apology or sputtering.

I have been personally accused of “taking God out of the schools” which I found rather flattering. But it also confused me. How is it I had the ability to kick God out of school but I can never get my hair to look neatly coiffed? I told a colleague one night in the privacy of our office that I had a confession: Yes, you caught me, that was me, I called him up and evicted him. She stormed out of the office and wouldn’t speak to me the rest of the night. A few nights later, I said, look we obviously had a misunderstanding because I don’t believe in God, so it was probably one of my progressive friends who actually thinks he exists that did it. Silence. Agreeing with them can be risky they can go into an unpredictable rage. My colleague gave up on me and refers to me as a Liberal Tree Hugger, I cheerfully agree and clarify that I enjoy hugging humans just as much.

This tactic is really in its infancy in my campaign subversion. It has backfired.

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