May 4, 2008 archive

Why I don’t think the Greens can do it for the Progressive Movement.

I’ve been trying, in my humble way, to help jump-start a renewed Progressive Party presence.  But a question that is often asked of me is why not just join the Green Party.  I could go into a long and detailed explanation, but the short of it is that I don’t think they’re very organized and some of their campaigning methods rub me the wrong way.  (For the record, the reason I don’t say much about the Libertarian and Socialist Parties is because I don’t know enough about their organizational structure or their methods of campaigning to make an informed assessment.)

First, my distaste for the Green Party’s methods in campaigning.  As reported by CBS News, they accepted money and assistance in 2006 from then-senator Rick Santorum of the Republican Party in order to get on the ballot.  The state’s high court threw candidate Carl Romanelli off the ballot citing insufficient signatures, but the story exposed an even deeper rot within the Greens’ political machine in Pennsylvania: the willingness to be compromised just to try to stick it to the Democrats, whom Greens consider little or no better than the GOP.

There is, of course, a valid argument to be made in claiming there is difference between the two major political parties.  One need only look at the voting records of the two Prima Donna Democrats competing for their party’s nomination to run for president, and the complicit cowardice by most Congressional members in either chamber, to see the truth in this point of view.  But for the Greens to accept help from a GOPer so vile as to have had post-anal sex discharge named after him reveals both a lack of integrity and a sickening display of hypocrisy.  Such actions add otherwise undeserved legitimacy to charges by Democrats that greens are somehow bent on “stealing” votes they feel belong to their party.

Then there is the organization of their campaigns for national office.  Or, rather, the lack of organization.  As I have pointed out in my recent three-part series on Progressives, Liberals, Movements and Political Parties, trying to run presidential candidates before having secured enough state-level offices (especially state secretary, judicial, and legislative positions) waste resources that are better spent building up presences in the various states so as to achieve the ability to gain traction at the national level.  What good does it do to run candidates for president when the Green Party hasn’t even made headway winning state legislative and executive offices first?

That’s why I think it’s better to rally the Progressive Movement through its own namesake political party.  I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t work with Greens; since their platform so closely matches that of the overall Progressive Movement, they make natural political allies and might even be tempted to switch over.  But I think as long as some elements in the party are willing to help Republicans, and as long as the party leadership insists on trying to build the party in a more top-down manner, their effectiveness as a political party is severely limited.


I feel as if I’ve been waiting for a lot of things lately.  But mostly I’ve been waiting for my life to catch up to my head.  I’m always in that same state, but this year I’ve been particularly ambitious, so everything is moving much slower and faster than normal.  I’ve decided that I’m having …

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For the last 18 years, I’ve been the director of a non-profit organization working with urban youth who are starting to get in trouble at home, at school, or with the law. I came to this position naive and inexperienced, so I had a pretty steep learning curve. The toughest lessons I had to learn were about what it meant to organize and lead other people. But running a close second to all of that are the ongoing lessons about racism and its impact on me, our staff, and most importantly, the youth and families we work with.

Crackpot Theories on McCain

crossposted from orange

I am going into speculative territory here about John McCain.

There’s something bugging me about him.  Yes, I know the press treats him as they do all Republicans — with even a little added approval because he knows how to play them.  The press loves the whole “maverick” conceit, keeps them from having to think about who he really is and analyze what he says and does from a rational point of view.

But the more I think about who John McCain is, the more I come up with a blank, a disconnect I find disturbing.

The Journalism of Empire: an Exhibit in LA Times

Imagine a future in which the United States has been invaded and occupied by China.  Imagine that Chinese forces speeding through downtown Chicago open fire in an intersection and kill your son, as he sits in the passanger seat of your car.  Now imagine that the American Branch of the Chinese Government offers you money to make up for it.

Imagine that you say to the Chinese official holding out the cash, “I don’t want your money.  I want you to think American life is precious.”

According to an article in the LA Times headlined Blackwater shooting highlights a U.S., Iraq culture clash, you are weird and hard to understand; the product of an alien culture.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Janis Ian

At Seventeen

Docudharma Times Sunday May 4

This is a matter of utmost urgency

You might even call it a police emergency

Suckers got ill when they finally heard the G

Wasn’t sellin’ out

Sunday’s Headlines: Even the Insured Feel the Strain of Health Costs: Uranium claims spring up along Grand Canyon rim: Ireland’s immigrants return home as slump sharpens fear of racism: Vivaldi’s long-lost opera returns to Prague after 278: Betrayed: The Iraqis who risked all for Britain years: Baghdad hospital damaged by U.S. missile, dozens injured: Turkish Schools Offer Pakistan a Gentler Islam: Dalai Lama’s envoys begin talks with China: Zimbabwe’s opposition divided over boycott of election re-run: Can liberal democracy save Zim?: New Columbia drug gangs wreak havoc

Mahdi Army fighters grateful for sand storm standstills in Sadr City

On a bare patch of ground outside the entrance to Sadr general hospital, 15 women clad from head to foot in black squatted in a sandstorm, wailing and waiting for their dead.

Lightning flashed, thunder rolled and the women’s robes were spattered with mud falling from a sky filled with rain and sand, but they did not notice.

“Ya’mma, Ya’ba” (“Oh mother, oh father”), cried Amira Zaydan, a 45-year-old spinster, slapping her face and chest as she grieved for her parents Jaleel, 65, and Hanounah, 60, whose house had exploded after apparently being hit by an American rocket.

“Where are you, my brothers?” she sobbed, lamenting Samir, 32, and Amir, 29, who had also perished along with their wives, one of whom was nine months pregnant.

The Latest News – Three Must Reads


New guest contributors (and our staff) have managed to break new ground with these posts:  

The Gas Tax ‘Holiday’ Shell Game

Senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain have challenged Senator Barack Obama over his refusal to support their proposal that would suspend the .18 Federal gas tax for three months this summer. ~snip~ The lone ‘expert’ in support of Senators Clinton and McCain in this scenario so far?  Spokesman for the Clinton campaign and SHELL OIL LOBBYIST, Steve Elmendorf.  

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Victory’ in Pennsylvania: The Rush Limbaugh Effect

What if Democratic voters and the uncommitted super-delegates come to learn that Rush Limbaugh had a greater impact on Hillary Clinton’s victory in Pennsylvania, and maybe Texas and Ohio, than say, the Reverend Wright, and the so-called ‘bitter’ comments?

‘Friends of the Earth’ endorse Obama

The Friends of the Earth Action, the PAC political arm of The Friends of the Earth environmental organization, has endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President, citing Senator Obama’s stand for “real energy solutions instead of sham Clinton-McCain ‘gas tax holiday'” as the key reason for endorsement.



Evening Edition




2 pm 12 Zimbabwe opposition mulls conditions for run-off


1 US strike takes out suspected militant hideout in Sadr City

2 China seeking "positive outcome" from Tibet talks

6am 1 Olympic torch arrives on safer terrain in mainland China

6am 2 US military: 4 Marines killed in Anbar province in Iraq

6am 3 Malaysia angers women with travel-restriction idea

6am 14 War shrine film opens in Tokyo amid tight security

10 am 2 Iraq’s first lady unharmed after her motorcade is bombed

10 am 3 Gunmen pull Iraqi journalist from car, kill her

10 am 5 Japan warns rising food prices could lead to unrest in Asia

10 am 6 ASEAN committed to free trade pact with Australia, NZ: minister


5 Poll rout raises questions over British PM’s future

South America

10 am 1 Bolivian state begins key, and defiant, autonomy vote

2 pm 13 Bolivia’s richest region votes on autonomy drive

2 pm 15 U.S. Rancher in Bolivia Showdown



3 Health care waits to ignite as campaign issue

7 Amtrak plans multi-city celebration of ‘National Train Day’

10 Is Liberal Catholicism Dead?

2 pm 7 Old cemetery poses grave dilemma for buyers of Vt. farm

2 pm 17 Democrats pick up House seat in Louisiana


6am 7 Lego’s latest brick trick: a virtual world

6am 8 GTA 4 poised to dominate Xbox Live

6am 11 Hollywood actors and studios extend labor talks again

6am 12 "Iron Man" gets heavy start at box office

6am 13 ‘Iron Man’ Hero Personifies Modern Military Contractors


4 Microsoft withdraws offer for Yahoo

9 Pawnbrokers thrive as US economy falters

11 Buffett and Munger reassure shareholders about succession

12 Buffett says Fed avoided chaos in Bear bailout

13 ECB to stay on high alert until inflation fades: analysts

6am 9 using Wii Fit to boost Mom’s Day sales

10 am 4 Barclays eyes possible Korea investor: report


14 Malaysian palm oil struggles to promote ‘green’ image

15 Africa’s biggest oil producer goes green

6am 4 Smarter electric grid could be key to saving power

6am 5 Crackdown on traffickers strains Thailand’s wildlife centres

6am 6 Asian vultures may face extinction in India, study warns


6 Common drugs hasten decline in elderly: study

8 U.S. parents’ baby knowledge lacking, study finds

6am 10 Doctors to reassess antibiotics for ‘chronic Lyme’ disease

2 pm 25 24 Chinese children die of virus; other countries affected

Bloglines 5/4

2 pm 1 Bill Moyers– by tristero

2 pm 2 And Still We Have No Voice– by tristero

2 pm 3 The Wall– by digby

2 pm 4 Another Minuteman Outfit Consorts With Nazis– By David Neiwert

2 pm 5 The media, the Right and 1988: endless deja vu– by Glenn Greenwald

2 pm 6 Fox’s Faux Populism vs A Shadow Elite–pt. 2– by Paul Rosenberg

Hmm… this particular display took just as long as everything else combined because of the incorrect expansion of shortcut link brackets ‘[ ]’ that had to be replaced with the more difficult <a href=””></a> notation.

These were modified one link at a time pacified, maybe you can see a pattern in it that I cannot.

Oh, and they’re all direct copies (or were) of the originals that worked first time every time below with everything cut but the links (a handy way to collect ex post facto lists).

The Impunity Index

The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent non-profit organization devoted to protecting freedom of the press worldwide. Without freedom of the press, there can be no freedom for citizens, no true democracy.

We decry the erosion of our free press here, an erosion unfortunately perpetrated by the willing complicity of the media with the government. Here, the press has moved further and further away from its true task and responsibility–to animate our democracy with truthful reporting and penetrating analyses. Now the press for the most part seems to just be another corporation with something to sell.

In many parts of the world, however, journalists struggle to fulfill the true responsibilities of the free press–they struggle to exercise freedom in situations of true governmental repression, open and covert, and they even lose their lives for it.


I lived in Berkeley for a time. On a quiet street, bursting with flowers and trees and a good mix of people, not too far from the campus. It was big and cheap, the first floor flat of a somewhat rickety house. My friends lived in the flat upstairs. And for a year, my brother lived in the other upstairs flat. These Berkeley years were some particularly good years of life. I was poor. A graduate student. But I was devoted to life and to literature, thrilling to their proximity, exuberant about philosophy and poetry. Even my depressions felt luxurious at the time. I was poor, but rich.

Wherever I am, I love walking around, and Berkeley was no exception. Weekends meant yard-sales, and I’d often pick up a little this or that, maybe even a $5 splurge. One weekend I spotted a vintage typewriter. For five bucks it was mine. That night, at home I fed one end of a long roll of yellow paper into it and started clacking. It wasn’t a fast typewriter; it was old and dirty, but even clean and oiled, I imagine you had to earn every word. I thought it would be fun to just leave it out and encourage visitors and friends to peck out a this or that, whatever struck them. Maybe I’d even bang out a few lines. Or my husband.

Over two years, the scroll grew longer, the yellow paper bunching up behind the typewriter and eventually, when I moved the table away from the wall, cascading onto the floor in a lazy, curving pile.

When we moved back to New York, scroll and typewriter came with us. It was such frenzied packing, I didn’t reread the scroll, just pulled it out of the typerwriter, rolled it up, and packed it and the typewriter away.  

Back in New York, the unpacking was fairly leisurely. I hadn’t sifted and sorted and pitched before moving, and was doing that as I unpacked. I was happy to come across that yellow roll of paper and I sat down to read it through. Certain things brought back clear memories, other things I was delighted to find as if for the first time, some things bored me, other things made me laugh, and I even cried a few times. I was taken by the idea of slowly reading, unfurling this scroll, an eclectic version of my history for the past two years. Unrolling, unrolling, at the top of the scroll were the oldest entries, moving further and further into the future the more I unrolled.

The last entry was one that I had never read before. I had to read it twice to really understand it. It made my heart race with fear, then anger, and sadness. It made me cry, my body vibrating with discord. From memory here:

Ha! Ha! Ha! you in your cushy rich happy life here in berkeley.who would’ve thought that the hippies parked in the van across the street for the past two weeks would crash in and break your world. What makes you think you should live this life. You think the world is just fucking beautiful don’t you? well, we’re here to tell you it’s not yours so we’re taking what should be ours. you only got what you have by ripping people off. [then, iirc, there was a long kind of nonsensical “poem” or quote or stream of consciousness. it was syntaxless in some ways, but portended some private meaning or menace]

Smack. On the second reading. It clicked.

A few months earlier, still in Berkeley, coming home one day from German class, I found the outer front door was open and the inner one slightly ajar. I pushed it open tentatively, nervous, calling out my husband’s name. Silence. And then I realized what else was so strange. The cats were nowhere to be seen. They were hiding. Silence and absence. And then it came into focus what wasn’t there: the CDs, the T.V., stereo, computers, deeper into the apartment, drawers were open, things flung about. I noticed on the mantle that beautiful clock my parents had given as a wedding present was askew; perhaps they left it there, like that, at an angle, when they saw it was engraved on the back. Later, the police would dust it for prints. The dusting powder was black and a strange consistency. I couldn’t altogether get it out of the cracks in the white paint of the mantle. We never got any of the items back, of course. We never expected to. It was just part of a social ritual, I suppose, to have the police over, and fill out a report.

And so, I discovered 3,000 miles and several months at a distance, reading the last entry rolled up inside that scroll of yellow paper, not only had we been robbed and violated,  but the thief had taken the time to bang out a nasty message, deride me, judge me, hurt me even more–pure venom and insult, which also hurt because it was so wrong; it seemed so unjust.

In the grand scheme of things, of course, it’s not a hurt unbearable; it may even have a lesson in it somewhere. I’m not sure where.  

Max Boot, you sick bastard…

Max Boot loves seeing dead brown people.  He and the Kagan’s and Kristol and the filthy turds that make up the neoconservative movement ought to be hand-cuffed together to a metal bar inside (or outside) of a large jet and flown over the Netherlands and summarily dropped from an altitude to be determined by the pilot, into Den Haag for their war-crimes trial.

The surge—these people touch themselves when they say it—is a success!  How do we know it: Simple–soldiers are dying, silly!

…[C]asualties cannot be looked at in a vacuum. A spike in casualties could be a sign that the enemy is gaining strength. Or it could be a sign that tough combat is under way that will lead to the enemy’s defeat and the creation of a more peaceful environment in the future.

The latter was certainly the case with the casualty spike during the summer of 2007. (More than a hundred soldiers died each month in April, May and June.) Those losses were widely denounced as evidence that the surge wasn’t working, but in fact they were proof of the opposite.

There you have it.  The surge is working when soldiers do not die and the surge is working when soldiers do die.  Therefore, the surge is always working…

Now, all of you people who are suggesting that the surge has only had the limited success it has had by (a) paying the Sunni extremists lots o’ cash to stop killing soldiers; and (b) Mr Sadr taking it upon himself to re-group, re-arm, re-train and have a temporary cease-fire, STFU and quit raining on Mr Boot’s parade…

The newspapers are predictably filled with articles about how 52 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq last month – the highest toll since September. Iraqi civilian casualties are also said to be at the highest level since August. These losses are being used to cast aspersions on claims of progress in Iraq.

Remember, death is good, and more death is better…  How dare anyone ‘cast aspersions’ about a mere 52 dead soldiers–have you no heart?

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