November 12, 2008 archive

An American Tune

We stand at an historic juncture.  Though we face daunting odds, there is at least now a chance, a slim one perhaps, but a real chance that we might turn things around.


…and then, I took off my coat.

I’ve worked with and around CodePink for about two and a half years now. I’ve never been arrested for participation in any political actions but I have been present when others were arrested, and done back-end court support (relaying phone messages at the house and once, since I’d driven down, I was asked to wait for the call to pick some of those arrested up when they were released). I’ve been there for the 1am call, the 3am call, the bleary-eyed women shuffling through the front parlor with their coffee or tea at 7am: “Was Lori released yet?” “Laurie Arbeiter?” “No, Lori Purdue.” My own courtroom exposure has been limited to some car-related foo and a potential juror selection.

A very strange merging of those two worlds occurred this morning as I found myself travelling to “Criminal 2” in the Hempstead Courthouse to show support for Iraq Veterans Against The War member Adam Kokesh. It felt very odd, doing this show of political solidarity for a national-level peace activist where I live.

I have a lot of respect for Adam Kokesh. He’s very, very smart. (He’s also quite the hysterically funny wiseass.) Unlike myself, he’s an effective public speaker. When I’m pissed off, my speech centers are the first thing to shut down. Not him – he’s so well spoken he could easily pull off being a statesman should he ever decide to go down that road. Most importantly about Adam Kokesh, his head and heart are both in the right place, he’s courageous, and he scares the sweet jumping bejesus out of a set of people in this country who the Gods only know could stand to be a little scared right now of an angry American people. In my book, Adam Kokesh is a hero, and I was going to be there to show support for him.

The courtroom was tiny. Adam was sitting in the front row with his lawyer. I patted him on the shoulder to let him know he had a supporter and he looked up. As we smiled grimly at each other, the baliffs in the room reacted nervously. My hair is really really long and wild these days, even after I brush it. I look pretty scary and scruffy to people who don’t know me (and perhaps to some who do). I am not sure how much my 2002 oath to not cut my hair while Bush remains “President” of the United States is common knowledge – those who don’t know about it probably think I’m just a weirdo. The Java jacket looks like a motorcycle jacket, and I had the ever-present Victory ball cap on and black sweats.

Most of the people who showed up to support him were middle aged or elderly women, two might have been with him and two others were activists from other LI peace activist organizations. Unlike myself, they were dressed respectably, “acting their age”. Adam himself was wearing a jacket with the USMC seal on the back, a Vets for Peace patch on the shoulder and a couple of other little blingblings on it. I dunno, maybe this whole “look like a biker” thing has something to do with being ex-military, but whatever.

Another thing that usually makes me a lightning rod for attention in a courtroom is that there’s something about being in one of those places that sets off my “pay attention to every damn thing in the room” alarm, and when I start doing that the baliffs, whose job it is to do the exact same thing, tend to notice me noticing. Then we sit there and notice each other noticing the noticing. It’s real fun.

So, smirking a bit more because I knew what I was going to do next was going to kick the whole “hypervigilance” thing in the room up to the next level, I sat down… and then I took off my coat. Slowly, ritually, like Superman, I pulled the edges of my coat until the snaps released and what I had on underneath came into view like the full moon from behind a cloud.

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports an Iraqi soldier kills two U.S. soldiers and wounds six others. “American soldiers returned fire and killed the Iraqi soldier… The altercation occurred shortly before 12 p.m. in Zanjeli, a district in western Mosul, at a facility controlled by an Iraqi Army division”.

    While the U.S. military refused to provide details, the NY Times reports “members of the Iraqi police and Iraqi army were more forthcoming, providing some details on condition of anonymity”.

    They said that an American military patrol had stopped Wednesday afternoon to inspect a checkpoint staffed by Iraqi soldiers in the predominantly Sunni Arab neighborhood of Zanjili, on Mosul’s west side.

    A heated argument ensued between one of the American soldiers and an Iraqi soldier identified as Barzan Mohammed Abdullah, prompting the American to curse the Iraqi, spit in his face and then slap him, the Iraqis said.

    The Iraqi soldier then opened fire on the Americans, the Iraqi sources said, killing two and wounding six. Other American soldiers responded with a barrage of fire directed at the Iraqi , the Iraqis said, killing him instantly.

Four at Four continues with the bailout, G20 summit, and Supreme Court OKs whale slaughter.

Real News: Obama, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Yesterday in Obama’s Foreign Policy Challenge Paul Jay spoke with journalist and author Eric Margolis, who talked about his belief that one of Obama’s biggest foreign policy challenges will not be in confronting non-state actors like Al Qaeda, but rather in deescalating the heightening tension with Russia which the Bush Administration has created, and that US power is projected to a greater extent through its dollar than through its military, and the US will have to acclimatize itself to a reduced level of influence in the world if the economy does not recover.

Today Margolis talks with Jay as an expert of military affairs, a former instructor in strategy and tactics in the US Army, and a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan, about his thoughts on other major foreign policy challenges: how to deal with the Taliban in the Afghan bordering tribal areas of Pakistan, on ending the war in Afghanistan, and on developing good relations with Pakistan.

Barack Obama was elected as the next president of the United States with a foreign policy platform based on the refocusing of US military might from Iraq to Afghanistan.

In the second part of our interview with Eric Margolis, Eric tells the new president-elect that he needs to abandon his support for a strategy of military intervention in Afghanistan, make a deal with the Taliban and move his attention to areas of greater significance to US interests.

The war, says Margolis, is now with the Pashtun people of Afghanistan, who make up half of the country’s population, not a small group of largely disbanded terrorists known as Al Qaeda. Margolis ends by pointing out the potential for the conflict to destabilize Pakistan and potentially even draw India into a larger regional conflict.

November 12, 2008 – 12 min 28 sec

The war without an objective

Eric Margolis: Obama’s only option is to make an agreement with Taliban and withdraw from Afghanistan

Better Start Swimmin’!

Can you feel it in the air? It’s there everywhere. Change is here.

Things are moving fast. Or at least are seeming to, after eight long years of stagnation and oppression.

From the highest levels of the world geo-political stage where the Iraqis are feeling the change….by saying the can now trust America to abide by our word, in our dealings with them, down to a new crop of babies named Obama.

Immigrant groups are planning marches, assuming they will now be listened to…and after a regime where you had to be pasty white, straight, AND a Republican to get a job, we get this…

In what is being viewed as a strong signal to activists nationwide, the transition office of President-elect Barack Obama has issued a non-discrimination policy including sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law,” says the website of the Office of the President-elect…

And not only are Republicans imploding (a quick chorus of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead y’all!) but their Ninja-punditry-reframing-fictional narrative of the election in which Obama was elected because America loves Conservatism, just not any of the schmucks that actually practice it……is apparently failing in the face of hard cold reality. Long the Republicans most potent foe.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, 59 percent of those questioned think that Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches will be good for the country, with 38 percent saying that such one-party control will be bad.

“That much good will from the public opens a window of opportunity for the Democrats,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. “But the public expects results and may not listen to excuses for very long if a Democratic Congress and a Democratic White House can’t get their act together in time.”

The poll also suggests that the public has a positive view of the Democratic Party, with 62 percent having a favorable opinion and 31 percent an unfavorable opinion.

That is not the case for the Republicans, with a majority, 54 percent, having an unfavorable view of the GOP and 38 percent holding a positive view.

Those are just a few examples, if you raise your antenna, if you raise your finger, you can feel the wind blowing.

In Their Boots: Veterans Day 11-11-08 Special

Veteran’s Day Special Chapter 1

Open Thread


Thread to Nowhere.

This Betrayal of American Values Is Unnecessary

“This Betrayal of American Values Is Unnecessary”

With those words, on September 28, 2006, Senator Barack Obama concluded a speech on the floor of the US Senate in reaction to Senate passage of S. 3930, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, one of the most heinous and hated pieces of legislation ever put forward by the Bush Administration, which approved US torture of detainees and stripped Constitutional rights away from detainees.

Senator Obama decried the placement of politics over human rights, and rightfully condemned S. 3930.

“This is NOT how a serious Administration would approach the problem of terrorism,” thundered Senator Barack Obama last week on the floor of the US Senate, after it passed Bush Administration-supported S. 3930, Military Commissions Act of 2006, which approved US torture of detainees and stripped Constitutional rights away from detainees.

“And the sad part about all of this is that this betrayal of American values is unnecessary,” Senator Obama continued.

We could’ve drafted a bipartisan, well-structured bill that provided adequate due process through the military courts, had an effective review process that would’ve prevented frivolous lawsuits being filed and kept lawyers from clogging our courts, but upheld the basic ideals that have made this country great.”

On November 04, 2008 Senator Obama was elected President of the United States, an election that was in large part repudiation of George Bush’s unholy tactics in prosecuting his “war on terror”.

Since the election Obama has begun putting together his administrative team of advisors.

His intelligence-transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism Center chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence-analysis director Jami Miscik.

A Wall Street Journal article Tuesday, November 11, 2008 titled Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact describes new developments in the evolution of Obama’s thinking since the election:

Elder Care and my Psycho Mother

November 12 for me is E-day and it the start of my new life.  It does bring up some interesting new legal issues though.  How does one go about getting a divorce from one’s mother?  There are several personalities in there and the wife and I have finally come to the conclusion that she fully intends to bankrupt the estate to keep me away from any financial gains.  It explains 53 years of my life.  I was born which was the cause of her first melt down therefore I am the locus of her anger.

Now if that is not bad enough is also reveals dire situations in the booming industry of geriatric “care”.  The system “services” their “clients” and it does so with the purpose of sucking up as much financial resources of this the most frugal of generations.    Picture it as a massive untapped spigot,  huge sums of saved money and the illusion that gains could be had over time through the stock market.

The legal papers the industry tells you you need are just about useless so why waste money on them.  The new paradigm I would like to teach my kids is that of total avoidance of the system as a whole is beneficial.  Parents, give your kids their inheritance now while you can.  Parents try to avoid the medical establishment at most costs.   Know that your medical records are going into a massive electronic database and they will be used against you.  Sure if you break your arm or something then you need medical attention but otherwise the strategy should be to STAY OFF the electronic surveillance grid.

So too with money.  Before all of this crap let’s say the “estate” was 1.5 million.  In reality there is nothing there, nothing save the value of the paper it’s on.  It is a pension from Enron.  It is now down to half of that, or actually maybe more.  See even armed with a “power of attorney” the financial guy did nothing to assure me it was all still there.

It is my E-day, emancipation from the psycho world that is my mother, the Hannibal Lector of mothers.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion V

Art Link

Sensory Input

A Teacher

What more could

anyone want to be

than a studier

learning what one wants

or needs to learn

so that one can

learn more

each nugget of wisdom

parsed again and again

into 17 different contexts

just for the fun of it

joyously reading

for the knowledge contained

or just to view

the style

in which it was presented

levels upon levels

of viewpoints

and knowledge

always knowledge

deeper and broader

at the edge

of human experience

and beyond

forever knowledge

both profound and absurd

and eventually

for the lucky industrious few

getting paid to think

and help others

along their own paths

to enlightenment?

I am a teacher

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 22, 2006

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

Our Top Story Tonight-

World marks 90th anniversary of Great War

by Philippe Alfroy, AFP

Tue Nov 11, 1:29 pm ET

DOUAUMONT, France (AFP) – Europe on Tuesday marked the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I, with the handful of surviving veterans at the vanguard of commemorations for the fallen of “The War to End All Wars.”

Leaders from the powers that fought the war, now allies, gathered at the site of the 1916 Battle of Verdun, where 300,000 men were slaughtered over 11 months of bloody trench warfare.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid homage to the sacrifice and suffering of the war’s “eight and a half million dead, 21 million wounded, four million widows and eight million orphans.”

APA Advisory Group Examines New Interrogations Policy

This weekend, a little-known group will meet in Washington, D.C. It’s the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Advisory Group on the Implementation of the Petition Resolution. The petition resolution, for those who may not have known or remembered, was the fruit of a successful campaign by anti-torture activists within APA to change that organization’s policy of allowing psychologists to participate in interrogations at “war on terror” sites like Guantanamo or Baghram, which had been implicated in use of torture and human rights violations, like the use of indefinite detentions.

APA officialdom had long argued that the presence of psychologists protected the prisoners from abuse. Unfortunately for them, a wealth of documentation proved that in fact psychologists had been implicated in the organization and implementation of U.S. torture.  

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