November 3, 2008 archive

Docudharma Times Monday November 3

Hope And Change

Without Fear

One More Day

Monday’s Headlines:

Too many soldiers in new care centers

Stop killing in Congo or else, leaders warned

Election violence feared as ANC dissidents defect to form new party

Deripaska in Montenegro – between a rock and a hard place

The gigolo, the German heiress, and a £6m revenge for her Nazi legacy

Fighting for freedom: Korea’s ‘Million Dollar Baby’ highlights defectors’ plight

Taiwan and China begin landmark talks

Rabbis face down settlers in Palestinian olive harvest clashes

In Iraq’s Diyala Province, US forces anticipate exit

Most-wanted Mexico drug trafficker is found everywhere

Republicans Scrambling to Save Seats in Congress


Published: November 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – Outspent and under siege in a hostile political climate, Congressional Republicans scrambled this weekend to save embattled incumbents in an effort to hold down expected Democratic gains in the House and Senate on Tuesday.

With the election imminent, Senate Republicans threw their remaining resources into protecting endangered lawmakers in Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Oregon, while House Republicans were forced to put money into what should be secure Republican territory in Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia and Wyoming.

Questions persist about Palestinian’s encounter at border crossing

Mohammed Omer says he was physically abused by Israeli security while returning from Europe. Israel An Israeli inquiry ruled his assertions to be false. The U.N. calls for further investigation.

By Ashraf Khalil

November 3, 2008

Reporting from Jerusalem — What exactly happened to Mohammed Omer?

The Gaza-based journalist walked into the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-controlled West Bank one day early this summer. There, the 24-year-old says, he was sexually humiliated and physically assaulted by Israeli security — while an escort from the Dutch Embassy waited for him outside.

The Israeli government released a statement soon afterward acknowledging that Omer and his luggage were searched “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements.” It denies that Omer was ever forcibly disrobed and states that “at no time was the complainant subjected to either physical or mental violence.”

The report cites “doubts as to the sincerity of the situation” and concludes that all of Omer’s claims in the June incident were “found to be without foundation.”



Effectiveness of AIG’s $143 Billion Rescue Questioned

By Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, November 3, 2008; Page A18

A number of financial experts now fear that the federal government’s $143 billion attempt to rescue troubled insurance giant American International Group may not work, and some argue that company shareholders and taxpayers would have been better served by a bankruptcy filing.

The Treasury Department leapt to keep AIG from going bankrupt on Sept. 16, and in the past seven weeks, AIG has drawn down $90 billion in federal bailout loans. But some key AIG players argue that bankruptcy would have offered more structure and greater protections during a time of intense market volatility.

AIG declined to comment on the matter.

To the little old white-lady Obama canvasser in rural N.C.

As some of you know, ol’ Crusty lives out in  the wilds of rural North Carolina. Though born and bred in and around NYC, this old urban burnout has somehow found his way out to the woods, where the oak grove that surrounds my house pelts the roof and the deck with acorns every year, where an afternoon on the deck lets me see hawks circling patiently, squirrels having throw-down turf fights over piles of acorns, and buzz-bombing by hummingbirds pissed that I’m sitting  too close to “their” feeder (hummingbirds are vicious, territorial little critters, don’t kid yourself 😉

Sunday the doorbell rings. Now, you need to understand, doorbell ringing  on  Sundays out our way means one thing: Christers wanting to come in and read the Bible with me. We’re having none of that at Chez  Crusty, and Lurlene The Hell Hound knows it, so she goes into her defensive position at the front door barking like mad.

I peek out as my wife restrains Hell Hound, and I see this sweet white lady of a certain age, with about a half dozen Obama buttons on her chest. She smiled tenatively, obviously feeling anxiety and maybe even some fear. I smiled and shouted to Hell  Hound:

“It’s OK, baby! You settle down now — she’s a Democrat!”

Ice broken, she and I shared a laugh.

“I stopped by to encourage you to come out and vote on Tuesday.”

“Been there, done that. We did early voting on Saturday.”

“Oh, OK. Um, did you ….?”

I gestured at my pickup and my wife’s Honda, copiously pasted with Obama stickers. She smiled again.

“Well great, then you’re all set then! Thanks for voting!”

We smiled and waved and sent the little old white lady Obama worker on her way. Out our way, her action — walking down long driveways and knocking on the doors of strangers’ homes — is an act of genuine courage for anyone, but especially for an Obama worker. I don’t know her name, and never will, but I salute her, and hope Obama wins if for no other reason than to reward her simple, unadorned courage.

Instructions for Protecting the Count?

Bev Harris of Black Box Voting sent out a BBV ALERT that some who didn’t receive or know about might find very useful for tomorrow, watching the video’s had me thinking why do we tend to make things more complicated than they really need to be. I thought I’d share, adding a few more important links, if nothing else it educates on how we process our votes, something I’m afraid many need to better understand especially with these modern voting machines that aren’t much more safisticated than those you use daily, that freeze up, can run slow, or can be hacked from wherever.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Random Poem

Art Link

Silky Pillow

No Exit


step into afternoons

step into evenings

stumble into nights

then blessed darkness

interrupted by brief glimpses

of that other world

called dreams

and then I wake

into another morning


becomes a class

becomes grading

and a meeting

I step into more grading

and another class

and another

becomes grading

and then too few

hours of sleep


by weary step

I plod towards a break

any break

in the madness

of constant awareness

I place one foot

in front of the other

as I limp

towards collapse

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 8, 2006

Overnight Caption Contest

After the Election: a Preview

Glenn Greenwald at has succinctly made the point about the pending Obama victory, saving me the trouble of writing it out in my own strained syntax:

It certainly seems, by all appearances, that Barack Obama and Joe Biden will win on Tuesday (though anything can happen, don’t assume anything, etc. etc.). For reasons I’ve explained many times before, I consider that to be a good and important outcome (principally due to the need to excise the Right from power for as long as possible). But the virtually complete absence from the presidential campaign of any issues pertaining to the executive power abuses of the last eight years — illegal eavesdropping, torture, rendition, due-process-less detentions, the abolition of habeas corpus, extreme and unprecedented secrecy, general executive lawlessness — reflects how much further work and effort will be required to make progress on these issues no matter what happens on Tuesday.

It doesn’t help that Obama has already voted with the national security fetishists on FISA expanded wiretapping.

An Educator Hears A Dog Whistle in the Obamamercial

Senator Obama didn’t spend a whole to of time during last Wednesday night’s infomercial on education policy, but in the few seconds he did talk about it, he managed to send a chill down the spine of at least one Denver-area teacher when he held up as an example of positive change the Mapleton School District in Thornton, Colorado.  Regrettably, Obama’s staff doesn’t seem to have done much fact-checking on this District’s recent history beyond the talking points fed to them by District officials and politically ambitious administrators.

While it is indeed a fantastic success story that all 44 of this year’s Mapleton Expeditionary School for the Arts’ senior class have been accepted to college, the other numbers, not to mention the seamy history of the district restructuring project itself, paint a far bleaker picture of the effectiveness of “small school reform” measures – and gives at least one voter cause for concern about the educational company Senator Obama is choosing to keep.

Planning NOW for 2010

On Tuesday voters will go to the polls to participate in what shall undoubtedly be yet another sham election in which the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is determined (but not necessarily by the voters).  Either Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama is going to be dictator, but regardless of who it is come January, we’re still screwed.

This entry assumes Barack Obama shall become dictator Tuesday, but it can just as easily be applied to McCain should he cheat his way into office.

We had our chance to get Obama to listen, but far too many Democrats decided it was better to shut up and get in line behind him rather than force him to adopt left-wing policy positions.  What’s worse, we frittered away our chance to hold Congressional candidates to the proverbial fire.  I think the only way we can shape things is to work toward 2010 by making sure progressive independents and Democrats are elected.

Primary runs are only half the equation.  If they succeed (as they did in states such as Maryland), great, but we also need to have independent candidates ready to challenge recalcitrant Democrats in general elections.  If politicians don’t fear losing the elected seats they hold, they won’t have any incentive to represent their constituents.  I can’t think of a better way to put the fear of electoral loss in right-wing Democrats than the prospect of losing their seats of power to strong independent candidates or, if those persons fail to win, the Republican candidates.

If you haven’t already started locally, and I presume people have done this across the country, I strongly suggest spending the next two years building up to state-level offices.  Pick a local political party that has a record of getting results (e.g Progressives in Vermont and Washington, Greens in California, and so forth), and get disenfranchised progressives to join and organize.  Hold meetings to figure out which members are best suited to run for public office and then pool money to get them on the ballots in your communities.  Candidates should be screened for potential scandals, have records to match their rhetoric, and be able not only to communicate effectively, but seize and maintain control of the discussion.

Do that and you may be able to shape things in time for the 2010 midterm elections.  The time to start is not then, but now, in 2008.  Time’s wasting, so let’s get busy!

GOP Pollster: All Over But The Crying?

Frank Luntz has been a GOP pollster for years. For anyone who isn’t familiar with his name, wikipedia describes him as “an American corporate and political consultant and pollster who has worked extensively in shaping talking points and political strategy for Republican candidates. Some of his most recent work has been with the Fox News Channel running focus groups after presidential debates.”

PBS Now with Bill Moyers describes Luntz this way:

Dr. Frank Luntz was named by TIME as one of “50 of America’s most promising leaders aged 40 and under” and he is the “hottest pollster” in America according to the BOSTON GLOBE. Luntz was the winner of the coveted Washington Post “Crystal Ball” award for being the most accurate pundit in 1992. The “Instant Response” focus group technique Frank has pioneered was profiled on 60 MINUTES in 1998.

Luntz has written, supervised, and conducted more than a thousand surveys and focus groups for corporate and public affairs clients in 11 countries since forming The Luntz Research Companies in 1992. In the 2000 election cycle, Luntz conducted almost two-dozen focus groups for MSNBC and CNBC, including live sessions following each night of both party conventions and presidential debates. His reoccurring segments on MSNBC/CNBC, “100 Days, 1000 Voices” won an Emmy Award in 2001. He was a primary night and election night commentator for THE NEWS WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS on MSNBC in 2000 and continue[d] those duties for HARDBALL in 2004.

Love or hate him, if any pundit or pollster claims a good handle on what will happen in Tuesdays election, none are more experienced or better qualified to know what they are talking about than Luntz.

In a RawStory article today Luntz is quoted as saying:

“I cannot foresee a scenario that John McCain is elected the President of the United States”

The RawStory article also includes an audio file of Luntz in a short interview with the BBC:

Maddow – A Star is Born

About six months ago, our own buhdy decided to start The Maddow Movement to try and get MSNBC to give her a show of her own. Here’s what he said in his opening statement.

The Maddow Movement represents an achievable, desirable goal on the part of the Netroots to meaningfully change the framing, spin and tone of the news by helping to get more progressive…and less conservative…voices heard in the national media conversation. Thus both flexing our power as news “consumers” and helping to move the national media away from its role as apologists and enablers of the failed policies of the right wing of America.

As we all know, in September The Rachel Maddow Show was launched. Not only that, it has been hugely successful. Ratings show that she is serously beating the Bopsy Twins on Faux News for the much coveted 25-54 year old age demographic. And she was featured in the New York Times Magazine two weeks ago.

Forty Years in the Wilderness

There’s been a lot of smoke and noise generated about how Obama thinks he is Moses.

But I think he’s more like Joshua.

Think about it.  Not just the broad, humanitarian left, but the Nation as a whole has been in a political wilderness for 40 years, ever since the impression of “disorder” and “chaos” in 1968 did so much to strike fear in the hearts of many Americans.  The fearful were largely good-hearted Americans who wanted nothing more than to go about their business, with a flawed but seemingly fair tax system, a health care system that was largely private but seemed to work, and civil rights laws that seemed to promise that the Civil War might finally be over.  

Santa Marta Gold (My Story – Part V)

Note: These are exciting times.  Daniel and I voted on Friday.  It was a thrill watching him cast his first vote under such historic circumstances.  It took 3.5 grueling hours but was so worth it.  What a great feeling.  Change is coming.

This has nothing to do with the election.  Please pardon the diversion, but if you could use one…

This is the latest installment in an autobiographical series I’ve been working on.  This episode takes place in Colombia.


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