March 28, 2008 archive

Wherein I pay tribute to “The Pausererer”.

So, recently White House Butt-Coverer-in-Chief Dana Perino told the press…

“The President gets a report about every single soldier that passes away and he always pauses a moment to think about them and to offer a prayer for their loved ones and their family friends.”

Ignoring, for now, the phrase “passes away” (as if the dead soldiers in question gently slipped away in their sleep at the reasonable old age of nineteen) its important to note the TREMENDOUS SACRIFICE of our current leader, who goes to the extraordinary measure of… “pausing”… for each and every casualty of his civilwacuppation.

And “pausing” is just the start…

Friday Philosophy: Thought Salad

I’m not in my happy place today.  At least so far.  I’m letting myself be drawn into discussions I’m better off avoiding, if only for my own sanity.  Lately I’ve been seeing signs of the same sort of thing that drove me from the other place…and I don’t see signs of anyone creating another place to escape to in the near future.

I don’t like putting up walls, really.  But when it becomes obvious that there is a central issue that I and someone else are never, ever going to agree on, I find I am much better off to not discuss anything like that issue with that person.  And sometimes it gets to the point that I am better off leaving.  I have a history of leaving, some might call it running away, just like I have a history of being told to get lost.

The former is always painful, but I have found that I can eventually get over it.  The latter is a thousand times more painful and one doesn’t get over it.  Ever.  At least this one doesn’t know how to do so.

But sometimes the former is necessary to do because one foresees the possibility of the latter.

Got a message for the GOP? IN GREAT BIG LETTERS?

Got something you’re itching to tell John McCain, or delegates to the Republican national convention?  Here’s your chance.

While some are planning to take it to the streets in St. Paul, one group wants to elevate protesting to a whole new level — the Jumbotron. (See more below on the Labor Day march, and urge St. Paul officials to do the right thing and grant a permit.)

MinnPost reports:

Giant television screens – Jumbotrons, 22 feet high and 30 feet wide – will broadcast anti-Republican-themed messages to convention-goers, the media and the international audience following the proceedings.

Organizers figure they will have much more impact than bullhorns.

The goal is to have pithy, witty and compelling messages laying out the problems in the Republican agenda, and outlining better alternatives, organizers say…

Martha Ballou, an unabashed Democrat who doesn’t mince words: “Every bad guy in the world will be here – Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, gay-haters, immigration stoppers. They’ll all be sitting in a bowl in St. Paul, and we do intend to engage them.”

…”We realize that the people in the Xcel center are never going to agree with us, so our audience is the media and those who watch what’s going on,” Ballou said.

“This could change protest forever,” she said.

Messages on the giant screen could include opposition to the Iraq war as well as thoughts on social issues and labor concerns.

A steelworkers group has contributed $30,000 to the Jumbotron effort, which is enough to rent one screen for a week. Ballou hopes to raise at least $70,000 more, to get two more screens to better blanket the convention area, in the West Seventh Street/Kellogg Boulevard area…

Ballou said that most opponents to the Republicans haven’t yet figured out good ways to get their messages across. “Ironically, the only ones really organized so far are the anarchists,” she said.

“But we’re working hard on this, and our intent is to come up with messages that are witty and technologically sophisticated, so people will want to watch,” she said.

Asked for examples, Ballou said she doesn’t have any yet.

“But the guidelines are: Hold the Republicans to their record. Hang them with their own words. Show people a better way,” she said.

True Blue Minnesota is looking for ideas, and you can offer yours here.

What would you say, if you had a Jumbtron all your own to program and the whole world was watching?




Well, sure, but we can do better than that.  Share your ideas for words, photos and video with True Blue Minnesota.  And, if you’d like, offer some ideas in the comment section here, too.

Photo credit: ThreeQBlog.

This from United for Peace and Justice:

ACTION ALERT: Tell St. Paul officials to grant permit for RNC anti-war march

For months now, organizers in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St.Paul) have been hard at work planning for a major antiwar demonstration on September 1, 2008, the opening day of the Republican Nominating Convention in St. Paul. That also happens to be Labor Day and so everyone is hopeful that because this is on a holiday it will be easier to bring large numbers of people to this important mobilization.

The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, made up of more than 100 organizations from around the Twin Cities and across the country – including United for Peace and Justice – has been seeking permits for the Sept. 1st demonstration since days after the Republicans announced they would hold their national convention in Minnesota. The local organizers have been given a permit to assemble and rally at the State Capitol, but the City of St. Paul continues to withhold a permit for a march up to and around the Xcel Center, where the Convention will be held.

For months, City officials promised that the permit process would move forward at the beginning of March. This past March 3rd, the Coalition finally received a formal response to their application: a “provisional” permit to begin a march at the State Capitol on September 1st, with no route, no times, and with a suggestion that whatever route is eventually granted will not be for our exclusive use for the duration of the protest. The document the Coalition received was a mostly blank form, and was accompanied by a set of guidelines that unreasonably restrict the rights of any protesters planning actions during the 2008 Republican National Convention.

On Monday, March 24th, attorneys from the National Lawyer Guild and the ACLU filed a complaint in federal court, on behalf of the Coalition, asking the judge to order the City to approve the Coalition’s permit application and that no extra guidelines be attached. The hope is that legal action will help win the permit that’s needed – one that takes a massive, anti-war march to the doors of the Republican Convention at the Xcel Center.

Local organizers also know that political pressure is no less important than legal pressure. St. Paul City officials have worked hard to create the impression that they want to work with and even welcome protesters. If they truly wanted to roll out a welcome mat, they already would have. The Coalition is planning for a march against the war on Iraq, and we shouldn’t have to wait for a court ruling to force the City to issue a permit that takes us to the Xcel Center on September 1st.


1) Contact St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. Urge him to deliver a final permit to the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War, taking us from the State Capitol to the Xcel Center on September 1, 2008. Mayor Coleman can be reached at  or 651-266-8510. Please send a copy of your message to the Twin Cities organizers at

2) Send a letter to the editor at either of these two newspapers in the Twin Cities and explain why you believe the permit needs to be granted, now:

    – Star Tribune in Minneapolis – send by fax to 612-673-4359

    – St. Paul Pioneer Press – send by fax 651-228-5564 or by e-mail to

How About That Nader?

I was just wondering what everyone thinks about Nader in the presidential mix?  I am not oo thrilled with him, but not for the reasons that some democrats have.  He is blamed for Gore’s loss, I hold no grudge on that matter.  I, however, have a problem with him because of his constant running for office.  While I hold must of his issues close to my heart, I do not like the fact that he seems to be a perpetual candidate.  But in the years between the elections he has little to say.  But then he revs up and all hell breaks lose.

I would like my candidate to be there even in the “off season’ fighting for the progressive agenda, not just show up every 4 years and spout some left leaning agenda and expect people like me to support him.  Nader does have a wide range of progressive stands and some are very appealing, but I just have a hard time throwing my support in his direction.

I would like to hear others thoughts about his candidacy.

How a War pRes. F***’s Up His War

Exclusive: Who’s Behind Abu Ghraib?

“It is important to understand that the MI units at Abu Ghraib were far from complete units,” reads the internal report. “They were small elements from those units. Most of the elements that came to Abu Ghraib came without their normal command structure.

One of Numorous F***ups!!

Four at Four

  1. Okay, what’s wrong with this scenario? From the LA Times: “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki today extended a deadline for militiamen battling government troops to disarm as fighters showed no signs of ending a standoff with Iraqi forces. U.S. forces intervened in the battle in the southern city of Basra by dropping two bombs on militia positions overnight. A British military spokesman in the city, Maj. Tom Holloway, said that Iraq had requested airstrikes on the targets and that American jets happened to be in the vicinity and responded.”

    Which of these headlines means the “surge” is working?
    Answer beneath the fold.

  2. The New York Times reports Destruction of torture tapes hovers over “detainee” cases. “When officers from the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting harsh interrogations in 2005, they may have believed they were freeing the government and themselves from potentially serious legal trouble. But nearly four months after the disclosure that the tapes were destroyed, the list of legal entanglements for the C.I.A., the Defense Department and other agencies is only growing longer. In addition to criminal and Congressional investigations of the tapes’ destruction, the government is fighting off challenges in several major terrorism cases and a raft of prisoners’ legal claims that it may have destroyed evidence.”

  3. The Los Angeles Times reports Warming felt more in Western U.S. “The American West is heating up faster than any other region of the United States, and more than the Earth as a whole, according to a new analysis of 50 scientific studies. For the last five years, from 2003 through 2007, the global climate averaged 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than its 20th century average. During the same period, 11 Western states averaged 1.7 degrees warmer, the analysis reported.”

    The report reveals “the growing consensus among scientists who study the West that climate change is no longer an abstraction,” said Bradley H. Udall of the University of Colorado, whose work was cited in the study. “The signs are everywhere.” …

    According to Udall, the data suggest that the trend will accelerate — with the West warming about 1 1/2 times faster than the global average. Martin Hoerling, a NOAA meteorologist, has predicted that the West could heat up as much as 5 degrees by mid-century. In Alaska, the annual mean air temperature has risen 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the last three decades.

  4. Think your job stinks? The Oregonian reports Testing what sea lions eat isn’t for the faint of nose. “As if prepping for a delicate operation, Sarah Libert slips her hands into a pair of green surgeon’s gloves. She arranges sterile test tubes on a laboratory bench and spoons up a bit of the unlikely object of her studies. It’s sea lion dung. About 10 pounds of the stuff sits neatly packaged in sandwich bags in her lab at Portland State University. ‘I have to mix it up first so I get a good sample,’ Libert says. ‘Here’s where the smell starts coming out.’ The odor hangs thickly in the enclosed room.” What some people will do to earn a graduate degree. Amazing!

McCain Croons Bombing of Iran, While Baghdad Burns

The obscenity that is American politics, circa 2008.

This is funny, and the Reverend Wright’s comments are outrageous? What planet am I living on?

Protest: Why Bother?

I have always been “out of touch” with popular culture, even though I look distressingly ordinary in person. One of the popular axions these days is that “protest” doesn’t matter, it is ineffective, and a yawning legacy of the 1960’s which if one is particularly young is seen as quaint and if one is middle aged or older, the 1960’s were a time when the trusted order of society fractured a bit. I don’t think it fractured enough.

I would argue that protest has at least symbolic meaning for a few reasons. It is a basic exercise in democracy, peaceful protest is a healthy alternative to unfocused violence, and there is in the United States today a silent majority who don’t agree with the direction this country is going in but feel either paralyzed or reluctant to join in any activity. If your expectation of protest is that there will be a rapid response, an indication from authorities that the action has even been noticed, disappointment is sure to follow. Typically even when large numbers gather, the media under reports numbers and it is framed as being an unusual “event” rather than a fairly benign one.

People who protest aren’t radicals, they are simply exercising their right to free speech and assembly but America is increasing reflecting other states in which capitalism flourishes in absence of civic action. Indeed, the new emerging democratic model seems to be one in which people have theoretical rights but aren’t actually supposed to invoke them. People protest for a variety of personal/political/ and moral/spiritual reasons and telling them that voicing these ideals “don’t matter” and that they aren’t “effective” is arrogant. I would apply that critique even to peaceful protests on subjects I stringently disagree with. I might disagree, but I won’t ever claim they are a waste of time. Watching reality TV is a waste of time, having enough conviction to stand alone on a street corner holding up a sign is not. Using your voice is never a waste of time and anybody who tells you it is, is either struggling to find their own voice and envious or fearful of your message.

I attended a small protest last week and I actually do have a few criticisms. The fact that it was small was of no consequence to me. I was intrigued by the one obvious paradox, while the group of people were cheery and amiable, very few people struck up a conversation with me. Most came with friends or other groups and clearly all knew one another. My take on the Memphis activist scene at least with regards to the anti-war effort, is that it might suffer from a bit of clique behavior. My advice to wanna be community activists is that if you see a stranger at one of your events, go introduce yourself or designate somebody in your group to look for and cultivate newbies. A few people saw my camera and asked if I was from the media and when I explained it was a hobby, they lost interest. That certainly won’t discourage me from attending future events but at a time when community activists are interested in engaging “ordinary” Americans on the big issues like the war, somebody with thinner skin than I might have concluded they weren’t necessary or welcome.

It’s getting scary for Americans. From $70K to assistance from the food bank

I know that our fine, upstanding, Corporation assisting Bush Administration is assuring us that this whole credit / housing market mess is just a “blip” on the US economic screen, and that all the “indicators” still project a strong economy, but Americans just don’t seem to be feeling it.

From CNN:

When she was laid off in February, Patricia Guerrero was making $70,000 a year. Weeks later, with bills piling up and in need of food for her family, this middle-class mother did something she never thought she would do: She went to a food bank.

End Modern Day Servitude; Support the Florida Tomato Workers

In the tomato fields of south Florida, modern-day servitude still thrives.

Slavery, plain and simple

A federal indictment filed on January 17th of this year charged six people for their roles in a violent farm labor operation based in Immokalee, Florida. US Attorney Doug Molloy called the operation “slavery, plain and simple”

Ft. Myers News-Press, “Group accused of keeping, beating, stealing from Immokalee laborers” 1/18/08).  

The American consumer does not want the tomatoes they eat to be picked by workers who are grossly mistreated

Senator Bernie Sanders, January 18, 2008

More, including what YOU can do, after the fold.

Also in Orange:…

Insufferable Idiots For McCain

Soon to be at its intended target, L’Orange…where things have gotten a bit out of hand….

If you are even CONSIDERING  voting for St. John the Asleep, let alone threatening to, you are a either a mentally deficient jackass or the victim of a drive by lobotomy so effective you don’t even remember you had it. That is how excruciatingly badly your brain is working right now. Except….it’s not. Clods of dirt have more acuity than you. Rock formations are brighter. Boulders pity your bad brain.

I could care less how much you hate Hillary or how bummed by Barack you are. You are an idiot, plain and simple, case closed, end of story, over and out. Apparently on the planet you are from, spite is like a form of Kryptonite that robs you of all your mental powers. Bitterness and self-righteous anger has burned up all your braincells and all you have left is the ability to screech threats at the other children on the play-ground to show them how tough and outraged you really are.

I won’t even go into how breathtakingly imbecilic and heart-stoppingly stupid it is to cast your precious vote out of what amounts to spite.

I will remind you that you are one of only 100 million or so out of 7 BILLION people on the face of the planet who are charged with DECIDING THE FUTURE OF THE WHOLE WORLD.

Krugman on Presidential Leadership through Policy Proposals

Does a candidate’s policy proposals reveal the kind of president he/she would be?  Paul Krugman today in the NYT suggests that policy proposals have revealed the kind of leadership that past presidential candidates.  He points out that Bush proposed big tax cuts for the rich and followed through on them, making life harder for the rest of us.  

The moral is that it’s important to take a hard look at what candidates say about policy….. policy proposals offer a window into candidates’ political souls – a much better window, if you ask me, than a bunch of supposedly revealing anecdotes and out-of-context quotes.

The current issue that McCain, Clinton and Obama have responded to is the mortgage crisis.  Krugman analyzes the three responses and I found his analysis interesting and to be troubling for progressives.    

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