June 3, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. Nobody other than Hillary Clinton knows what her plans are now that Barack Obama may win the delegates needed for the nomination today. Reuters reports Clinton campaign says she’s not conceding as race nears end. There is a “flurry of speculation that Hillary Clinton will quickly drop her White House bid.” But, her campaign is denying reports that she will “say on Tuesday night that Obama has the delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.” Terry McAuliffe said Clinton was “absolutely not” conceding the campaign.

    What I think is likely is the Clinton campaign will spend the next week trying to convince the superdelegates she remains the Democratic Party’s best candidate to face John McCain in the 2008 general election.

    The Obama campaign, for their part, are keeping subdued. The Hill reports of an Obama memo to surrogates: No victory yet. He “telling his surrogates not to make that assertion just yet, according to an internal campaign memo.” Despite having enough delegates to win the nomination, “his campaign is telling his supporters that the senator will not claim victory in his speech in Minnesota.”

    I suspect Clinton’s run is all but over. In his column today, Dana Milbank wrote about Bill Clinton’s campaign stop in Milbank, South Dakota — “A No-Name Town Looks Like Waterloo“. The former president told the people of Milbank:

    “I want to say,” he told about 500 Milbankians — about 15 percent of the town’s population — “that this may be the last day that I’m ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics until Hillary decided to run, but it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to go around and campaign for her for president.”

    “Last day”? Past tense? It was the first time either Clinton had allowed the pervasive pessimism to infiltrate a public utterance.

    Lastly, I’m reminded of what Bill Clinton said last April 2007 in an interview with Larry King:

    “You know she’s not — some people who run for president can’t wait to get out of the Senate, or out of whatever other job she’s got. She loves it. She’s still doing it. She’s still going to her committee meetings, going to upstate New York and trying to run for president as well,” Clinton told CNN’s Larry King. “So, for her personally she’s going to be fine regardless. I think it’d be best for the country if she were elected president, but if voters make another choice, she’s a great senator, and she loves her job, and we’ll have a great life.”

    I think the best thing we can do now is give Clinton space to make her decision that will be best for the country and the Democratic Party. She’s fought hard and we wanted a fighter.

Four at Four continues with probe news from NASA, China’s latest move against Tibet, and the Medal of Honor.

“SCOTUS overturns ‘Roe’, eliminates right of privacy”

You can expect to see that headline if John McCain wins the Presidency.

It is no secret that the non-“activist judges” on the Supreme Court are the older ones, and it is no secret that there could be two, maybe even three appointments over the next 4 years.  And it is also no secret that McCain has been pandering to those who want to erode the Constitution further – ironically in the name of “strictly interpreting it”.

One of the more difficult things that face Democrats and progressives is to undo the “maverick” and “moderate” brand that McCain has spent decades building and crafting.  There are mountains of evidence, hundreds of votes, countless comments, actions and people that he has closely aligned himself with – yet he is STILL though of as more likely to reach across the aisle and more likely to effectively work with the other party than Obama.

The People’s Champions

Crimes have been committed in the last eight years. War crimes. Treason. Our government stripping our rights and spying on us. Torture. These crimes have been committed in all of our names. We have tried our best to publicize these crimes on the internet, hoping the Corporate Media would brig them to full light for the nation to address. As is being currently illustrated by McClellan’s book and by the Pentagon Propaganda scandal…The Press has failed the People.

We have tried to have the crimes redressed through the channels the Constitution has provided, imploring and demanding that our Representatives start the impeachment process. Their incredibly weak efforts at performing their oversight duties have so far produced only a stalled court case over the right of Congress to even subpoena the criminals in the executive branch. Our Representatives have failed us. We have demonstrated peacefully in the streets, our Right to assemble has failed us, as the protest have been ignored by both the press and the government.

The People have been repulsed at every turn in their quest to even have mere investigations into these crimes. The Powers That Be are invested in the status quo to the point of paralysis. With no one to speak for us in the Press (except Olbermann) and only a few brave Congresspeople speaking out…the People need a new way to press their case to punish the criminals, restore their rights ad make sure that a host horrifying precedents are it set by letting these crimes pass into history.

Today I propose that we try something new, to enlist three champions of the People in our quest for Justice.


We Saw the Face of a New America

On May 1st 2006, millions took to the streets in cities and communities throughout the nation to finally have their voices heard.

Out from the shadows came the forgotten, the marginalized, the nameless, faceless, mass of humanity who toil daily in thankless jobs with little reward or recognition.

Those who had labored invisibly for years as they quietly provided a nation with prosperity of which they could never partake, took to the streets to say “no more”.  We will no longer be marginalized … We will no longer be demonized … We will not be criminalize ….We Are America.

That day, as pundits and politicians tried to grasp the seismic shift taking place, attempting to read the tea leaves of public opinion and formulate positions that would serve them politically, two men had the courage to do not what was safe or politically expedient …but rather, what was right.  

One was an elder statesman, a lion in winter, who had long fought the great battles of his generation, battles for justice, and battles for equality.  ….The other was a young man, just starting his political journey. A young man with a vision of the future based on hopes and dreams for a new America… An America that finally lived up to the principles and precepts on which it was founded. Those two men were Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Barack Obama….The only two sitting Senators to take to the streets in solidarity with those who had too long been invisible.

Doctors Group: AAP conflict of interest hampers honest circumcision policy

A non-profit doctors group has issued a policy statement on protecting the genital integrity of male infants and children.  The independent report provides what the group claims major American medical associations have not; An evidence-based policy for the well-being of children, free from conflicts of interest.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is deeply conflicted, and its policy statements reflect “an ongoing tug-of-war between the two opposing forces who seek to dominate the AAP’s circumcision policy,” says Doctors Opposing Circumcision.  Consequently, “AAP circumcision policy statements are compromises that have scant relationship to the real evidence.”

The medical literature relating to male circumcision is polarized by the 130-year-old debate between the circumcised doctors and the others; the AAP may be equally polarized with respect to non-therapeutic male circumcision because of the presence of so many circumcised doctors within its fellowship.

The report, which includes review of “the position of the circumcision of male children under international human rights law, domestic law, and contemporary bioethics,” concludes “America needs and is ready for a new policy of genital integrity for its children.”

The Genital Integrity Policy Statement is published at the group’s website and in pdf format.

Netroots Nation Scholarships!

There will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing.

I love those moments.  I like to wave at them as they pass by.

I want to talk with you today about Netroots Nation and applying for and funding Scholarships so that people who would otherwise not be able to do so can attend.

I can hardly be more eloquent than kid oakland in his original plea nearly a year ago.

This year Democracy For America (you know, that Dean place) is sponsoring 9 Scholarships which will include only registration and hotel.  Scholarship recipients will still have to come up with money for transportation, meals and everything else.

Right now there are 87 applicants and only 9 scholarships.

You can help.

There are many ways to contribute.  If you registered, but it turns out you can’t go, you can donate that registration.  These donations have raised the total number of scholarships to at least 16.  So far.

You can also donate frequent flyer miles (I repeat that transportation costs are explicitly not covered by the DFA Scholarships).  You can encourage those who’s participation at Netroots Nation will make a huge difference in their own communities to apply for a scholarship if they need one (deadline for submissions is June 9th).  Nominate them yourself if you have to (don’t nominate me, I have conflicting personal engagements and will not be attending).  Screen names are OK, Carnacki is among the applicants.

You can vote for the applicants at the DFA website, but since this is not American Idol community support is not the only factor that will be considered.  Affirmative action to achieve diversity is a core Democratic value and the quality and impact of an applicant’s body of work will be considered as well.

So it’s pretty much like applying for that Jaycee scholarship that your High School Guidance Counselor kept nagging you about.

But I’m not going to kid you, I’ve got the tin cup out today and I’ve even dropped in a couple of quarters myself so I can shake them around and be really obnoxious and noisy.  If your contribution is not the monetary kind you should get in touch with landenchantment at that gmail place.

Lando’ was kind enough to send me a list of future diaries in this effort which so far include-

  • 6/2 Monday PM – Meteor Blades
  • 6/3 Tuesday AM – pastordan
  • 6/4 Wednesday PM – hekebolos (dmsilev, mention in FAQ Forum)
  • 6/5 Thursday PM – noweasels
  • 6/6 Friday PM – LoE, combined with Friday Night at the Movies “Come Fly With Me” (dmsilev, mention in Photoblog)
  • 6/7 Saturday PM – mcjoan

Pony Party, quittin’ time :)

Good morning, all!!

Who would have guessed that a potentially cup-deciding playoff game would go into (as of this typing) double overtime…the night before my youngest child’s 8th grade graduation-type ‘finale’ ceremony?  well…i did….

Docudharma Times Tuesday June 3

The Never Ending Story

That’s Not Over Till It’s Over

Tuesday’s Headlines:  Nearby Firing Ranges Complicate Soldiers’ Recovery From Stress   Death and dirt collide in mafia violence   Germans told how to avoid British tourists   In darkened Rangoon, Burmese get resourceful   Chinese police officers pull parents away from protest over school construction   Ayatollah vows Iran’s nuclear program will go on   UN atomic watchdog to investigate claims of secret Syrian reactor  Argentine farmers extend strike   Toll mounts in Mexico’s drug war  Navies to tackle Somali pirates

‘This is like inviting Pol Pot to a human rights conference’

Julian Borger in Rome

The Guardian,

Tuesday June 3 2008

Robert Mugabe made a surprise appearance yesterday at a world food summit in Rome, drawing fierce criticism from the British government, which accused him of causing Zimbabwe’s food crisis.

In his first official trip abroad since coming second in presidential elections in March, Mugabe attended the summit organised by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation to address the global crisis caused by dramatic increases in the prices of staple foods over the past year.

“This is like Pol Pot going to a human rights conference,” Mark Malloch Brown, the Foreign Office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, told the Guardian. “Zimbabwe is one of the few countries whose food crisis is not due to climate change or global prices, but due to the disastrous policies pursued by Mugabe.”


‘Relief’ nears for uncommitted superdelegates

By Eli Saslow

Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The novelty of famous suitors and media interviews long ago eroded into exhaustion, and now state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter of South Carolina is just plain sick of all this.

An undecided superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention in August, Cobb-Hunter opens her e-mail inbox each morning and deletes a handful of threatening notes sent by strangers. Campaign followers call her incessantly. She struggles to find time to run her own campaign for re-election.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning



A few people

standing on the deck

of this boat

blowing at the sail

will not move it

Newton ensured that

We’ll always have that


and opposite


Moving this boat

will require

the collective breath

of millions

who are not on it

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–April 4, 2008

Please join us on the inside to celebrate, venerate, regenerate and/or motivate our muses.

Dems Hoping to Cash In Big – Turn Blind Eye to Racist Rants?

I don’t know how many folks here have actually met racist bigots who happen to be a color other than pale. I’m fucking surrounded by them out here in Asia.

When I don’t have to contend with the governor of Tokyo prating on about the threat posed by ‘dangerous Chinese or Koreans’, I get to deal with the everyday regional bigotry of ‘what’s wrong with Osaka people and their appalling manners.’

Travel south to Australia and we’ve got all kinds of ‘white pride’ clowns. And I’d be remiss if didn’t mention that native Canadians populate Canadian jails, welfare rolls and mortuaries in numbers that can not be defended or explained as anything other than racism made manifest. So much as you might like to think Americans are exceptional, bigotry knows no bounds.

Pandering to bigots is fine old political tradition and when folks are caught on camera ‘hating the other’ as George Allen was, then it seems to me that sensible folks ought to stand up quick and scream blue murder, not stick a finger in the wind to see how the whole mess may play out.

If I heard that the wife of the nominee has evidently been caught on camera pandering to bigots I’d want that shit blasted on the front pages, not swept under the rug. And like it or not, the candidate for change keeps some extremely slimy company.

Ayers, Wright, and Rezko didn’t get pulled out of a hat. Obama hung with these pricks and relied on them to fuel his political career. Ayers provided key support early on. Rezko bundled cash and Wright helped win a guy with a white mom a firm place in an African-American church. Big-time support and bonds. It’s only in the last year that Michelle and Barack started cutting them loose.

If there is a tape showing Michelle Obama spewing racist trash inside Trinity Church why aren’t Dems screaming to see it? If the tape doesn’t exist, why are bots like slinkerwink posting sanitized transcripts of the non-existant tape on MyDD?

Larry Johnson has been banging the drum about that tape for weeks. Like most I figured to give Michelle the benefit of the doubt, not that she or the Obama folks extend that sort of respect to others very often.

Booman and slinkerwink, both Obama fans, pushed the sanitized version of the tape I was willing to ignore. If Booman and slinkerwink are blowing smoke about the tape, Booman and slinkerwink are the ones folks should be ripping.

Booman and slinkerwink have pushed the tape into our debate. Dems should be demanding the Obama campaign produce the tape, not cowering under the bed hoping there’s no truth to the story. Michelle and Barack Obama have built a political dynamo by making friends with some pretty un-savory people and if Michelle is on tape raving about “Whitey” she deserves to be called on it. Let’s see the version of the tape Booman is referencing.

Obama has his hand on a big cash tap.

No wonder.

Obama’s Education Policy: In Need of Change, Pt. 2

Now with Executive Summary!

Last night, I began telling the saga of the breakup of the Mapleton School District (Thornton, Colorado), and how Barack Obama’s recent celebration at its flagship “small school” highlights his profoundly erroneous stances vis-à-vis school reform and restructuring.  

Tonight, in Part II, I’ll look at the devastating effects of the sundering of Mapleton on the people who had dedicated their lives and careers in service to the community’s youth.  I’ll also examine some of the money issues involved, which might go a long way toward explaining why hucksters like Neil Bush and political animals like Mapleton Expeditionary School for the Arts Director Michael Johnston have been able to amass fortunes and hoodwink voters into supporting poorly thought-out and badly managed “reform” programs, all the while moaning the mantra, “It’s what’s best for kids.”

How we can do something about the health care scam.

In my previous entry I explained a bit of the obvious, namely the nature of the health care scam and how it came about.  Today I’m going to begin my series on what we can do to dismantle that operation, and replace it with something that works for all Americans.  Much of what I am about to write has been explained before, by far more learned and eloquent persons such as myself, but it helps to stay up-to-date on ideas.

Before we can even begin to replace the existing system, we must understand why this task is so difficult to accomplish.  It is not enough, as George Lakoff pointed out, to have truth and facts on our side; we have to be able to present them in such a way as to make people accept our argument.  In this area we on the left have been unforgivably negligent, allowing movement conservatives to frame and control the national dialog.  We can turn this around, but in order to do so we must first understand how and why the opposition has enjoyed so much success.

Let’s take a hot-button issue, say, family values.  A recent online acquaintance helped me by providing a solid argument for why this can be used to take back control of the dialog.  Preachers and conservative politicians rail on about protecting “family” values, but what are they and from what do they need to be protected?

Usually these so-called values include the following: a husband and wife, living together in a marital situation; a couple of children, maybe more; Father goes off to work while Mother stays home and runs the household chores (though this role has changed over time so that now Mother works as well); the children are obedient, don’t have sex until they’re safely married, and don’t do drugs; and the family has a strong religious morality-usually Christian.

Where do threats come from?  The removal of religion from public institutes of learning; homosexuals marrying, thereby challenging the conventional tradition of marriage in America that is define as one man, one woman; perceived permissiveness in the culture, usually sexual in nature; disobedience and defiance of authority; and the intermingling of groups previously considered segregated by necessity.  Challenges to religious authority take the form of tolerance of other religious beliefs, and accommodations thereto.  Threats also come from the exertion of rights by other groups, such as women, Blacks and other racial minorities, and homosexuals.

Conservatives narrowly define so-called family values, and then frame the question in terms that force ideological opponents to accept their definitions, or else appear to devalue or disregard the value of traditional family structures and beliefs.  By forcing us to accept their definitions, we cede the argument that not only might there be different sets of values, but that the question itself is the wrong one to ask.

If you support family values, the far right demands, then it follows that you must support what we tell you to.  This means no taxes for the wealthy (who are always labeled-falsely-as average Americans, middle class folk); strong moral grounding (nearly always framed in Christian values, albeit Old testament ones); opposing “challenges” to traditional family units (gay marriage); and so forth.  If you don’t, the argument goes, then you don’t really support “traditional” family values.

My online acquaintance urges us to frame the debate as follows: instead of accepting the rhetoric of the far right, we challenge it by posing a different question: valuing families.  This includes ensuring decent jobs and wages; good, adequately funded schools; adequate health care for all; and so on.  This is an excellent idea, but executing it is not nearly so easy as it might seem.

For instance, it’s one thing to ask your opponent, “Do you value families?”  But can you explain to him the how’s and why’s of it?  Do you understand them?  What does valuing families entail?  Can you ask the question in such a way as to put your opponent on guard and always on the defensive, thus taking control of the debate?  Can you, if called upon, become confrontational with your adversary?  These and related questions must be answered before we can take the next step.

As an experiment, jot down what you think are good ways to value families.  Include such things as access to good health care, a good education, clean air, water and food, adequate wages, and so on.  Then sit down with a friend and roleplay scenarios.  Be sure to take notes, and be prepared to make mistakes, especially early on (errors are surprisingly effective teachers).

The first step is to learn how and why the far right is able to seize control of the discussion, and keep it.  The second is to learn how to mount an effective counterargument that allows you to reshape the tone and take back control.  Once you’ve mastered that, then you’ll be ready to take the next step.

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