February 3, 2009 archive

Saving 49 Lives (Part 4)

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

I woke up Sunday thinking that Attorney General Eric Holder could save the lives of the 49 people who are presently facing the federal death penalty.  He could save their lives simply by reviewing the determinations made by the Bush Administration AG’s directing that federal prosecutors should seek death in these cases, and he could decide that death wasn’t an appropriate maximum penalty in these cases.  He could decide, for example, that life without parole was enough.  More than enough.  And this simple decision could save someone’s life.  This simple decision could also put the United States in the main stream of civilized countries in the world that do not impose the death penalty.  Ever.  And it could prevent us in the United States from having even more unjustifiable blood on our hands.  And it would move us slowly, gradually toward ultimate abolition of the death penalty in the United States. What a great idea!

The Other Lesson of the Greensboro Sit-Ins

Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

This week marks 49 years since the Greensboro, NC, sit-ins, the historic protest which launched the Black Freedom Struggle in this country onto a new trajectory. Next year we will see a lot of celebration of the courage of the four students who first sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter and of the chain reaction it set off. Or at least I sure hope we will.

I wrote such a tribute myself, yesterday. (You can read it directly below the fold.) In the course of refreshing my fading memory, via Google, to complete the task, I found another facet of the Greensboro story. It’s one I had never come across, and one that will, I think, resonate with anyone who has spent much time in the activist trenches.

Many of us know the story of how four students on February 1 became dozens and by February 4, hundreds, as students across North Carolina and the South girded to emulate them and launch the wave of struggles that finally killed Jim Crow.

The other side of the story has to do with the five months it took to crack the management at Woolworth’s and S.H. Kress and the rest of the Greensboro power structure.

The multiplication of protesters in that first week is now at the heart of the legend. But that level of activity was hard to sustain, especially as the students’ demands remained unmet and white hostility grew more intense.

Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil remained part of the organizing core from Day One. McCain recalls:

What people won’t talk (about), what people don’t like to remember is that the success of that movement in Greensboro is probably attributed to no more than eight or 10 people. I can say this: when the television cameras stopped rolling and we didn’t have eight or 10 reporters left, the folk left. I mean, there were just a very faithful few. McNeil and I can’t count the nights and evenings that we literally cried because we couldn’t get people to help us staff a picket line.

I don’t know about you, but I can recall lulls in more than one campaign for justice  when fatigue, frustration, setbacks and doubt had me in tears. When it happens again, and it will, I hope I remember to draw on this part of the lesson of Greensboro, not the audacity and the courage of the students, but the dogged persistence of the core they built.

Let’s Have a Fireside Chat. Mr. President? Hello!!??

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to use radio addresses, which he called Fireside Chats, in order to speak directly to the American People. His goal was to turn listeners into a unified nation of active citizens. He would remind the  people that only they could ultimately bring about the desired results.

Franklin Roosevelt presented his first Fireside Chat in 1929, while he was the Governor of New York.

Roosevelt faced a conservative Republican legislature so during each legislative session he would occasionally address the citizens of New York directly in the camelback room. He appealed to them for help getting his agenda passed. Letters would pour in following each of these “chats,” which helped pressure legislators to pass measures Roosevelt had proposed.

After he became President of the United States, during the Great Depression, Roosevelt again began speaking directly to the people. And they would gather together by their radios and listen….

Happier Days at the Apocalyptic Ranch

I get the impression people think I am an old grump with no heart, wanting to ride this Apocalyptic horse and such.  Hey, I didn’t start the path to destruction, government/The “Illuminati” did.  Bunch of anal people wanting to “manage” all the time and media backing the prescribed left or right paradigms of the current day.  I think the horses know better.  

Four at Four

  1. The Sacramento Bee reports the Stimulus bill is nothing like Roosevelt’s New Deal. “The $900 billion economic stimulus package being debated in Congress, aside from being similarly huge, bears little resemblance to that New Deal spending spree. Today, lawmakers talk about infrastructure and tax credits. Back in the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt took a more grass-roots approach, putting people directly to work.”

    The New Deal left a “lasting impression” on America. “Roosevelt created a civilian army of 8.5 million workers, paying them through such agencies as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps.” Gray Brechin, a historical geographer and visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, said:

    “I’m just blown away by all that they did during 10 years of horrible economic depression.” …

    “It’s all around us, but it’s invisible,” he said…

    I always liken this to discovering a lost civilization that we forgot about,” Brechin said. “It just happens to be ours.

    Imagine what FDR could have done with a $900 billion stimulus package, then think of what we’re going to get. Try not to get more depressed.

Four at Four continues with signs of the consumer society dying, banks still not lending, epic fail on public transit, and Iran launches satellite into space.

New Attorney General Addresses “Secret Law” & “State Secrecy”

The new Attorney General, confirmed just the other day, Eric Holder, gave some written answers to Senator Russ Feingold concerning the latter’s questions regarding review of Bush administration policies concerning promulgation of “secret laws” and claims of “state privilege” in legal cases. I’m reproducing the exchange by Holder and Feingold, as it bears upon significant pending issues, not least the Jeppesen and al-Haramain cases.

The Rush Limbaugh theory of governing

It was the statement heard around the world:

If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down.  And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him.  Look, what he’s talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care.  I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don’t want this to work.  So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at?  See, here’s the point.  Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say.  Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.”  Why not?  Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails?  Liberalism is our problem.  Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here.  Why do I want more of it?  I don’t care what the Drive-By story is.  I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.”  Somebody’s gotta say it.

This statement was made by Rush Limbaugh on January 16, 2009.

Who Is This New Attorney General, Eric Holder?

This is a merging of two prior essays about Eric Holder

Eric Holder, Jr.
Photo: George Washington University

Barack Obama announced on December 1, 2008 his nomination of Eric H. Holder, Jr. to serve as Attorney General, to take over the running of The Department of Justice in Obama’s new administration from Bush appointee Michael Mukasey.

Eric Holder knows what Republican Senators Barrasso, Brownback, Burr, Coburn, Cochran, Cornyn, Crapo, Ensign, Kaybee, Hutchison, Inhofe, Johanns, McConnell, Risch, Shelby, Thune and Wicker, who voted against his confirmation by the Senate Monday, February 02, 2008, also know.

Eric Holder knows that Bush and Cheney deserve fair trials. Fair trials in courts of law, not crucifixion by media and bloggers.

One would hope that Mr. Holder will make a better and more honest Attorney General who will uphold the law than Michael Mukasey was, who like all representatives of Mr. Bush have done, has during his tenure waffled, spun, twisted in the wind, squirmed, sweated, excused, equivocated, and otherwise bullshitted America and the world as George Bush’s acolyte under hot lights and pointed interrogations from Congress over evidence of torture ordered at the highest levels of the Bush administration, the president and vice president, that the least informed people in the world all know is well defined, immoral, and illegal under international law, US law, and international treaties. (see addendum)

A war crime, in simpler terms. A war crime that Vice President Cheney has in recent days confessed publicly that the Bush administration intentionally engaged in.

Mr. Holder is the target of the Docudharma/Democrats.com sponsored Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Bush War Crimes. Don’t forget to sign the petition if you haven’t already.

Who is Eric Holder? What are his views and philosophy on the questions of torture, war crimes, secret prisons hidden away from the rule of law, and Bush’s “war on terror”?

What can we expect his reactions to be to the petition for a Special Prosecutor? We have only his own words and background to look to for clues.

Mr. Holder has been a partner with the law firm Covington & Burling LLP since 2001.

Obama v. Petraeus on Iraq

If we want out of the war, we need to build a movement. The military is fighting Obama on Iraq:

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (IPS) – CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defence Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months at an Oval Office meeting Jan. 21.

But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that he wasn’t convinced and that he wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.

Obama’s decision to override Petraeus’s recommendation has not ended the conflict between the president and senior military officers over troop withdrawal, however. There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including Gen. Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.


Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying, “Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama.”


Please read the entire article.  It desribes a conspiracy between serving military Generals and retired Generals to undermine their Commander-in-Chief.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilising public opinion against Obama’s decision.


The source says the network, which includes senior active duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama’s withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.


On this one, we need to support Obama.

This is the truth of American power.  There is a center and a right, but no left.  We must strengthen the center (Obama) so there is room to build a democratic left.  

if you’re white – you have privilege.

This is good to keep in mind when liberals, radicals, anarchists, anyone on the left is doing things within their communities, being an activist, their daily lives, etc, etc …

Its quit visible that this country (the USA) has a rather large white population.  And with this of course, comes privilege. Unearned privilege, privilege most of us don’t even realize we have.  Privilege most of us can’t even see because we are entrenched in it.

First, I want to define what privilege is.  Privilege is a sociological concept that defines the benefits that white people enjoy and/or take advantage of.  These benefits may exist in social, political, and economic situations and issues in comparison to so-called non-white people. It is not the same as racism or prejudism, mind you.  Many people don’t even realize their own privileges whether that is so-called race, male, heterosexual, religious, class, cultural, gender appearance and many others.  Within these privileges, as well, people don’t even realize that they unearned.  Meaning, a person did not have to do much of anything to benefit and/or receive them.  For example, a so-called white person will more than likely NOT be called out in a classroom to explain what it’s like to be white, but a non-white person probably will.  It’s almost as though a non-white person is called out in class to be the spokesperson for their so-called race. But within their race, the experiences are different, as well. These privileges are a part of socialization and societal norms, unfortunately.

The Spy Factory

Last night, 2.03.09, the PBS News Hour had a preview of what could be an eye opening report on the National Security Agency that might just answer some of the many questions about what has been going on in the previous administration, and before, and may continue from now on!

The preview was of a show to air tonight, 2.04.09, on PBS NOVA NOVA Examines Spying in Post-9/11 World

This is what was on the News Hour:

Docudharma Times Tuesday February 3

Scorn? Why Shouldn’t We

Heap Scorn Upon Wall Street?

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Despite Federal Aid, Many Banks Fail to Revive Lending

A foreigner hopes to revive Japan’s flagging spirits

Hospital hit as Sri Lanka conflict nears climax

Spy film set in London is big hit in France

Thief in a headscarf runs rings round top jewellers

Jailed – the judge who refused to say sorry

Nothing to lose: how Mugabe’s banker turned Z$1,000,000,000,000 into Z$1

Gazans say Israeli troops forced them into battle zones br>

Iran launches its first satellite

Colombian rebels’ new strategy: release hostages

Maliki Supporters Post Election Gains

Preliminary Results Show Iraq Leaning Toward a Strong Central Government

By Sudarsan Raghavan, Anthony Shadid and Ernesto LondoƱo

Washington Post Foreign Service

Tuesday, February 3, 2009; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Feb. 2 — Iraq appears headed toward a reapportionment of power that favors the emergence of a strong central government, with supporters of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki showing strong returns in Saturday’s elections, according to early tallies seen by election and party officials.

Preliminary results from provincial elections, the first national balloting in four years, are not expected for several days, but election and party officials across Iraq said that politicians allied with Maliki have posted large gains in the capital, Baghdad, and in southern Iraq, the country’s Shiite heartland. Such results would strengthen Maliki’s standing and that of his Dawa party ahead of parliamentary elections set for this year.

Qaddafi will seek single state as African Union head

By Lydia Polgreen Published: February 3, 2009

DAKAR, Senegal: President Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya was named chairman of the African Union on Monday, wresting control of a body he helped found and has long wanted to remake in his pan-African image.

His installation as the new head of the 53-member body resembled more of a coronation than a democratic transfer of power. Qaddafi was dressed in flowing gold robes and surrounded by traditional African leaders who hailed him as the “king of kings.”

The choice of Qaddafi was not a surprise – he was the leading candidate – but the prospect of his election to lead the African Union caused some unease among some of the group’s member nations, who were meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as among diplomats and analysts. Qaddafi, who has ruled Libya with an iron hand for decades, is a stark change from the succession of recent leaders from democratic countries like Tanzania, Ghana and Nigeria.



Obama’s Ethics Reform Promise Faces Early Test


Published: February 2, 2009

WASHINGTON – During almost two years on the campaign trail, Barack Obama vowed to slay the demons of Washington, bar lobbyists from his administration and usher in what he would later call in his Inaugural Address a “new era of responsibility.” What he did not talk much about were the asterisks.

The exceptions that went unmentioned now include a pair of cabinet nominees who did not pay all of their taxes. Then there is the lobbyist for a military contractor who is now slated to become the No. 2 official in the Pentagon. And there are the others brought into government from the influence industry even if not formally registered as lobbyists.

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