October 16, 2008 archive

Diane explains the watermelon.

Inland GOP mailing depicts Obama’s face on food stamp.

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women’s group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.


The group’s president, Diane Fedele, said she plans to send an apology letter to her members and to apologize at the club’s meeting next week.

“It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don’t want to go into it any further,” Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn’t my attempt.”

“I didn’t see it the way that it’s being taken. I never connected,” she said. “It was just food to me. It didn’t mean anything else.”

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports a Draft agreement promises troop withdrawal by 2011.

    US troops will withdraw from Iraq by December 31 2011 and American and British soldiers deployed there in the interim period could face prosecution in Iraq’s courts for serious, premeditated “off-duty” crimes under the terms of a draft status of forces agreement outlined yesterday by officials in Baghdad and Washington.

    “The draft agreement… is intended to replace the UN security council mandate that legitimised the US-led invasion in March 2003, and subsequent occupation…

    It must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament before the end of the year. Passage is far from guaranteed… Some of the deal’s terms may also prove controversial in the US.

  2. The Washington Post reports Gen. David Petraeus mounts strategy review to focus On Afghanistan and wider region, including Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. “The effort in Afghanistan is going to be the longest campaign of the long war,” he said.

    The strategy assessment will begin next month and take 100-days to complete. It’s goal is to create a “new campaign plan for the Middle East and Central Asia… military officials involved said Petraeus is already focused on at least two major themes: government-led reconciliation of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the leveraging of diplomatic and economic initiatives with nearby countries that are influential in the war.”

Four at Four continues with Bush officials breaking the law, a historic win for Mexican migrant laborers, and a bonus picture.

Redstate Calls the Election for Obama…Now What?

Ok, this is just plain funny.

But the Redstate dude is right in, haha, agreeing with me (on Oct. 1st!) that McCain is (old, dry) toast. It’s over, finis, done, decided, all that is left to do is see how big the landslide is. Oh and see if the Dems get to 60 Senators.

So I ask again….now what?

We have won a battle. We have taken the first step. We are about to remove a cancer, well, we are about to remove a tumor, the cancer will still be in the body politic, waiting to grow again. The symptoms of Republicanism will still be evident in the Senate, the House, and in the Culture Wars. They are not going to give up, so we will still have to fight them…..as we move forward.

And it is not just ‘them’ that we will have to battle as struggle forward towards a more equitable, just, and free future. Post-Republican rule, the main problem we will immediately face is defeating the habitual thought patterns and whipped dog attitude that will linger like a bad smell among the Congressional Dems. They have caved, capitulated, and folded to the Republicans for so long that they will still respond like Pavlov’s dogs to the Republican bellshit.

We are about to remove the face of evil from power, but the evil will still be there, will still reflexively resist moving in the direction that the world needs to move in. Will still cling to the past. It will still argue for hate. For war. For Imperialism. It will still think that the solution to every problem the world faces is to punish or kill…..someone.

We have won this battle, but the war will still rage on. In a way it will be even harder. While George Bush and his war criminal cronies were in power, the problem was in our face and VERY obvious. Now it will be more subtle. Many of the folks who have mobilized against Bush will think the battle is over. Many who have woken up will go back to sleep.

They have been beaten and beaten back. We WON!


Now we move into a new phase, a new chapter. We will need new methods, new strategies, new ideas for a new struggle. As we enjoy the next month of celebration, let’s also start thinking about the next step of this “interesting” journey we are on. How do we use the huge momentum we have gained to keep the pendulum swinging in our direction?

What the Progressive Movement Is Really Up Against

Crossposted from Progressive-Independence.org.

The Chinese strategist Sun Tzu cautioned against fighting wars on multiple fronts, and for good reason; it has the tendency of dividing and exhausting one’s forces, thus leading to inevitable defeat.  So it is that the Progressive Movement in America fights not one but two enemies: the fascist corporations and their dogs in government, and itself.

I was reading a column by Dave Lindorff at Smirking Chimp in which the writer goes through all the various lame excuses for voting against his own beliefs and interests.  I know them for what they are, because I used them in 2004 when I held my nose and voted for Democrat John Kerry.  That’s a mistake I’ll not repeat again.

Take a journey with me as I dismantle the excuses given, one by one.

Debate Avoids Wars – Video Loaded – Outside the Debate

No need for any narrative by me, let the video’s speak for themselves, and follow the links at bottom for more.

Police Outside Debate Charge, Injure, Arrest Veterans

Soon To Come, As The Meltdown Deepens

The ongoing economic meltdown is terrifying, but at the same time many of us have no real idea of what’s rolling down the pike at us.  

There are many aspects of the crisis and the coming recession which are impossible to predict. One impact though, will be unavoidable: crippling budget crises at the state and municipal levels, driven by falling real estate values, layoffs, business closings, increased borrowing costs and recession.

What Happens When the Banks Don’t Lend

To get a sense of what this could look like, it is instructive to look at what happened to New York City starting in 1975, when bank credit dried up and a fiscal crisis kicked in that was to last more than a decade. Remember that this was a budget crisis isolated to a single city, rather than the generalized collapse of the banking system we are seeing now.

The immediate background is that by the early ’70s, the City’s budget was deep in the red, kept going with fiscal jiggery-pokery especially in Mayor Lindsay’s second administration and under his successor, Mayor Beame. The back story is more complex of course, having much to do with federal policy since the Eisenhower administration which directed resources to suburbanization at the expense of city and country–money for interstates, not mass transit and railroads, subsidizing vast auto-dependent tracts of single houses on what had been farmland–you know the deal.

What plunged the City into crisis was the large banks refusing, collectively, in March, 1975 to extend credit to New York any longer, declining to roll over loans and boycotting the City’s bond auctions. The Beame administration moved to lay off 25,000 city workers and defer contractual raises for others, cut services, increase the transit fare and institute tuition in the City College of New York system.

For months there was a political war over how things would get resolved, with highway workers, cops and other city employees staging militant demonstrations and threatening an October general strike. The NY State government stepped in with aid but the federal government refused until massive pressure from the financial industry was brought to bear.

With everyone staring into the abyss of bankruptcy (and the possibility of a judge writing off the bonds the banks still held or canceling union contracts), the municipal unions made a devil’s pact with the banks, the details of which I leave for another post.

“The Bronx Is Burning”

What I want to remind people of is what happened to NYC once the austerity, service cuts, layoffs, tighter credit, tax hikes and the rest of the bank-sponsored “rescue package” kicked in.

Garbage piled up in the streets, and law enforcement abandoned whole neighborhoods. The public education system, already jolted by the refusal in the ’60s of Blacks and Latina/os to accept a two-tier, heavily segregated system, now faced serious cuts. Class sizes ballooned. “Non-essential” programs like art and music education and vocational training disappeared.

The Transit Authority adopted a policy of “deferred maintenance”–only fixing things when they broke down completely. One leader of the militant opposition within Transport Workers Union, Local 100 at the time, Arnold Cherry, pointed out whenever he spoke that every housewife knows that if you don’t empty the crumbs out of the toaster, eventually it stops working. Not TA management, though–the system veered toward total collapse in the early ’80s.

Meanwhile, landlords in “bad neighborhoods” emulated the Transit Authority, milking their aging apartment buildings for every dime in rent they could collect while “deferring” maintenance, laying off supers, ignoring heating oil bills, and finally abandoning the buildings themselves rather than pay city taxes. Or, given a chance, burning them down to collect the insurance.

This was seared into the national consciousness in the famous blimp shot of a five-alarm fire in the South Bronx during the 1977 World Series while Howard Cosell intoned, “There it is, ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning.” As much as 40% of the housing stock in the borough was destroyed during these years, feeding an impossible-to-ignore homeless population and pumping up rents for vacant apartments in surviving buildings. (The City, meanwhile, was closing firehouses as a money-saving measure.)

Huge cuts in the NYC medical system on top of deteriorating social conditions laid the ground work for what Nick Freudenberg and his co-authors identify as a deadly “syndemic”: the three interlinked epidemics of TB, murder and HIV infection.

Even after the emergency financial aid was paid back, and the City’s budget was balanced and the banks decided they would once again buy long term bonds issued by the city (1981) , the Emergency Financial Control Board kept austerity policies in place and the damage they did to millions of people reverberated through the decade and up to the present. To cite only one example, the City College system which had boasted free tuition for NYC residents before the crisis, now costs upwards of $2000 a semester.

What It Means

I could go on. There are a lot of particular lessons to learn from the New York City fiscal crisis, and how various social forces responded and what kinds of popular resistance developed and worked.

But lesson number one is that this kind of crisis is on the agenda right now, in cities around the country, and once it erupts, there is no quick bounceback. Start trying to size up the situation where you live and figure out who your allies are going to be in the coming years.

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

Can the poetry, mates. It’s ass-kicking time. *

Tom Brokaw wrote a book about the sixties.  How precious is that?  Having never read a book by him, knowing only (from watching his moderation of the candidate’s debate) that he can suck the air out of a room, I still have something to say.  Tom Broke-jaw, you are not my representative, and I question whether you personally know anything about the ’60’s at all.

From an article by Bob Minzesheimer in USA TODAY

The book is a disappointment, an overstuffed grab bag better at describing than analyzing what it terms “cosmic developments.”

“Cosmic elements”?  Watch out, Tom.  You could put your eye out with one of those.  Let’s get cosmic.  You were born a son of Hugenots and Irishmen in South Dakota under an Aquarius sun.  The positives of that sun sign are “original, independent, progressive, pioneering, intellectual, compassionate, eccentric”.  Well, I’ll give you eccentric.  The negative qualities–dogmatic, stubborn, rigid, remote, detached, isolated are dominant–sound familiar?  Maybe there’s something to this astrology stuff after all.

John Cusack put my review of War, Inc. on his MySpace blog!

I’m so stoked. John Cusack cross-posted my review of his movie War, Inc. from Progressive Blue to his MySpace blog after I sent him the link in a comment. Thanks, John. Just for that, I’m crossposting this like crazy.

Here’s the review:

Docudharma Times Thursday October 16

What The Pundits See And Hear

John McCain On The Attack How Wonderful

He’s A Winner

What The People Who Count Want. That Would Be The Voters

A Discussion Of The Actual Issues

Barack Obama Is The Real Winner    

Thursday’s Headlines:

Report: Taxpayers paid for GOP politicking in 2006 elections

Russian lawyer at centre of poisoning investigation

From public enemy to Turkey’s national hero

Thai and Cambodia temple dispute spills over into deadly fighting

Amid Low Morale, Germany Set to Extend Afghanistan Mandate

In global crisis, oil insulates Gulf

Up North, Hothouse of Tension in Lebanon  

Zimbabwe foes ‘near cabinet deal’

EU grants 15 million euro food aid for east Africa

McCain Presses Obama in Final Debate



Published: October 15, 2008  

Senator John McCain used the final debate of the presidential election on Wednesday night to raise persistent and pointed questions about Senator Barack Obama’s character, judgment and policy prescriptions in a session that was by far the most spirited and combative of their encounters this fall.

At times showing anger and at others a methodical determination to make all his points, Mr. McCain pressed his Democratic rival on taxes, spending, the tone of the campaign and his association with the former Weather Underground leader William Ayers, using nearly every argument at his disposal in an effort to alter the course of a contest that has increasingly gone Mr. Obama’s way.

Draft agreement promises troop withdrawal by 2011


Simon Tisdall

The Guardian, Thursday October 16 2008

US troops will withdraw from Iraq by December 31 2011 and American and British soldiers deployed there in the interim period could face prosecution in Iraq’s courts for serious, premeditated “off-duty” crimes under the terms of a draft status of forces agreement outlined yesterday by officials in Baghdad and Washington.

The draft agreement, which is intended to replace the UN security council mandate that legitimised the US-led invasion in March 2003, and subsequent occupation, follows months of fraught negotiations. It must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament before the end of the year.



Stocks Sink as Gloom Seizes Wall St.

Bernanke Forecasts Prolonged Economic Turmoil; Dow Plunges 7.9%

  By David Cho and Ylan Q. Mui

Washington Post Staff Writers

Thursday, October 16, 2008; Page A0

Troubling new signs of a deep economic malaise touched off some of the worst stock market losses in history yesterday, a day after the government announced a massive intervention that officials hoped would boost investor confidence.

New data showed that consumers stayed away from malls, nixed plans for new cars and made do with old clothes in September, forcing the largest monthly decline in retail sales in three years. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke added to the gloom, cautioning that the nation should not expect an economic rebound any time soon.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XXXI

Art Link

Inner Light

Personal Evolution

(an unfinished poem about a life not ended)

Brief moments of awareness…

like the immersion

of a skipping shell

in the liquid

of another life.




Coalescence of self…

the protecting shell

loses momentum,

ceases skipping,

and begins to sink.




Birth of identity…

the sinking of the shell

propels up a splash,

a pearl of dew,

which hangs suspended.




Examination of soul…

while gravity stops,

the revealing lens

zooms through the wet,

uncovering layers.




Assertion of gender…

Vibration of ego…

internal bonds break,

the mist that was dew

drifts on the wind,

scattering slowly.




Perusal of purpose…

catching an updraft

the mist attaches

to motes of dust

from other life paths.




Analysis of life…

shifting perspective

the damp dust

provides fertile ground

for germs of wisdom

. . .

dot dot dot

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–begun January 17, 1997

We interrupt this program

While we drown in debate I’d like to remind you of the implosion of the Republican Party.

Trading opens today at 9:30 am (et) (Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding) after a loss of 733.08 points, the second-worst single-day point loss by the Dow in history.

So to remind us how we’ve gotten where we’re at

Happy Anniversary

Bail Out Boost! 9/26 Friday +121.07 11,143.13
Wall St. snit fit. 9/29 Monday -777.68 10,365.45
Bow to my Bartiromoness. 9/30 Tuesday +485.21 10,850.66
Down, down, down. 10/1 Wednesday -19.59 10,831.07
10/2 Thursday -348.22 10,482.85
10/3 Friday -157.47 10,325.38
10/6 Monday -369.88 9,955.50
10/7 Tuesday -508.39 9,447.11
10/8 Wednesday -189.01 9,258.10
10/9 Thursday -678.91 8,579.19
10/10 Friday -128.00 8,451.19
Big G7, G20 Summit. 10/13 Monday +936.42 9387.61
Oops. 10/14 Tuesday -76.62 9310.99
10/15 Wednesday -733.08 8577.91

But remember, the market drop is because the Democrats forced stupid loans to brown people and I’m afraid the most (shudder) “LIBERAL” one will be President and Filibuster Proof Democratic Socialism reign so it’s all good for McDone.



My debate take…

You know… call me old fashioned.  Call me a man.  Call me whatever you want.

But, in this independents eyes, neither McCain or Obama won.

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