October 28, 2009 archive

Malalai Joya: “A Woman Among Warlords”

The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice!

On October 27th a forum was held at the CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture and Politics. After the forum Grit TV’s Laura Flanders held a discussion with some of the women at the forum and with Malalai Joya who wrote “A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Woman Who Dared to Speak Out”

Quote Of The Day:

“This is a moment of truth for the Democratic Party. Will we stand for the people or the insurance companies?

We compromised on [a] single payer [health care system] by backing a public option, and now we are being asked to compromise the public option with negotiated rates. In conference, we will likely be asked to compromise negotiated rates with a trigger.

In each and every step of the health care debate, the insurance companies have won. If they get hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxpayer subsidies, they get to raise their premiums, and increase their co-pays and deductibles, while the public is forced to pay for private insurance, then the insurance companies win big.

If this is the best we can do, then it is time to ask ourselves whether the two-party system is truly capable of representing the American people or whether the system has been so compromised by special interests that we can’t even protect the health of our own people.”

                — U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-OH

The Updated Tinkerbell Strategy

Update:  I have re-written this essay almost in its entirety in light of events since I published here yesterday.  It’s full-on mockery now.    

There has been a lot written lately a bout the acceptability of criticizing President Obama.  What way is best, what kind of criticism is effective, whether it should be done at all.  These are important questions, and I am proud of how this community has tackled this with such maturity.  

What I’ve found is, some think criticism is fine, as long as it doesn’t attack the president personally.  I wasn’t sure how to do that without using his name or without referring to his behavior.  So I was starting to get a bit puzzled and headachy.   And some people were angry with me.  

Some think, as I did until today, that the best way to hold a politician accountable, is to, like, call, write letters, and post diaries asserting what the actual beef is, in the hopes that the politician will respond to mass pressure.  What I found out is, if that politician is THIS president, this is a no-no.  Of course, criticism of the LAST president for the same behavior is A-OK.  That got me even more headachy.  I HATE headaches.  

Then I came to an epiphany.  

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

31 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 UN staff killed in bloody countdown to Afghan vote

by Sardar Ahmad, AFP

32 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – Taliban gunmen stormed a UN guesthouse in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least eight people in a suicide attack as the Islamist militia signalled a bloody countdown to new Afghan elections next week.

President Hamid Karzai ordered an urgent security upgrade for international organisations after the rampage, which left at least five expatriate UN staff dead in the worst assault on the world body’s Afghanistan mission since 2001.

A defence ministry official said the raid was the work of Pakistani Taliban dressed as police who struck the UN-approved Bekhtar Guesthouse before dawn.

Matthew Hoh, Bless You for Setting The Pace

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, Prarie State Blue, MyDD, Open Left, Firedoglake.

From WaPo, October 27, 2009:

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”

A Populist Left

In the face of the corruption and Corporatism we now see OUR government drowning in….and the fact that that corruption and Corporatism is in the process of drowning the planet, it has become obvious that The People need to take our government back from those who have hijacked it to further enrich themselves.

To do that we will need a Populist Uprising…of some sort.

We all saw this summer what a Populist Right has to offer….fighting the fascist communists Hitlers and demanding birth pedigrees that are in the public record already. Oh and hot beverages IF you dip their hats in boiling water. They were at their most ridiculous when someone would ask them what they were trying to accomplish, what their goals were….when asked, they would mumble about taxes and fascism and have…like the Republicans who fostered them…no real answer. No solutions, no positive agenda. They were angry, but being the boobs that they were, they had no real substantive answer for what they were angry about. Their movement fizzled…imo, because unfocused anger is unsustainable as an effective political tool.

Anger must be accompanied by education and MUST be focused on achieving some goal.

What can a Populist Left offer? Can ‘we’ do better? Is all Populism destined to be hijacked by trivia, ridiculous sloganeering and demagogues?

Or is there a way to build a serious and effective Populist Left?  

World Debunking Society

I started out by wondering about those 140 year olds who drank pure glacial waters in Northern Japan.  Of course by using a commercial search engine such as Google swine flu just happened to show up on the first page.



Then there is this


What is the sad statement here.  We find a primtive tribe who might have ancient knowledge of never explored natural plants maybe having previously unknown qualities.  The finder of the tribe reports he found something.  Which begets more exploreres, more experts, more Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howards and in the end what does western civilization do?  We fuck it up.  Why, because we are shit disturbing pieces of shit.  We can’t leave well enough alone.  We had to bring these simple people into our modern age of living hell.

My $11,000,000 Book: Excerpts From Chapter 1

(I’m so very pleased and also proud to be excerptin’ some thoughts from my runaway best-sellin’ book to be released next month.  I decided to release it before Thanksgiving so there wouldn’t be any repeat of last year’s turkey-pardoning incident that would have to be added to my book.

And so I wish to premiere my book writin’ skills right here on the ol’ blogosphere at Docudharma.  You may wonder why I chose this awful blog full of liberal hippie socialist tree-huggers for a sneak peek at my new book.  It’s simple.  Who needs salvation more than Docudharma?  Sure, I could publish it at RedState where it would be received like starbursts, but that’s like shootin’ moose in a barrel.

My book begins with Chapter 1, a behind-the-scenes look at my childhood and early adult years, in which a strictly non-socialist upbringing began to form the sharp political mind you now see from my Twittering.  This was a time of innocence, when the evils of Obama’s death panels were but a distant glint of the ol’ future there . . .)

Our National Emergency is Our Befuddlement


Most of us are befuddled. Our minds have been confused and muddled from the truth. We are perplexed. Not all of us of course. Many humans see quite clearly, with laser intensity, the crimes against humanity perpetrated on a global scale for the benefit of a small, powerful elite.

Labor’s ‘Bulldog’ Trumka

Last night on the PBS News Hour they had a discussion with the new AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka

On a separate page from the transcript and video/audio links of the discussion they have a short video of a round-table meeting of the lobbyist of the AFL-CIO with Trumka talkin ‘bluedogs’ and ‘public option’.

Inside the AFL-CIO’s Health Care Lobbying Efforts

Educational Open Thread

SCHOOL — 1957 vs. 2007


Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1957 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins.  Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2007 – Police called, arrests Johnny and Mark.   Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it. Both children go to anger management programs for 3 months.. School board holds meeting to implement bullying prevention programs.


Robbie won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.

1957 – Robbie sent to office and given 6 of the best by the Principal.  Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2007 – Robbie given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. Robbie’s parents get fortnightly disability payments and School gets extra funding from state because Robbie has a disability.

Scenario :

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2007 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.


The Parallel Universes of Politics and Popular Sentiment

Politics is one part ballet, two parts theatrical performance, with the same players taking different roles as the latest situation requires.  It is a shifting sort of organic arrangement, whereby that who is one’s ally in the morning can be one’s enemy the next.  The most successful politicians know this instinctively and recognize that this degree of constant posturing and shape-shifting should be attributed to the profession itself, not to the practitioner.  We, however, do not live in such a world of allegiances that shift like tectonic plates.  We do not easily recognize that political pronouncements have a shelf life of roughly three hours time, upon which they are superseded by the latest changing of the wind, or, for that matter, changing of the guard.        

Still, we try to apply the code of conduct and rules of the game that exist in our world of resolute, lasting convictions to that of the politician. This is what leads us to great frustration.  This morning some are criticizing President Obama for not coming down more punitively on Joe Lieberman when he had the chance.  A week ago, Republicans were lashing out at Olympia Snowe for her duplicitous perfidy.  A week before that, Progressives were purple with rage at Senator Max Baucus.  A week from now, a new target will arise, align himself or herself with something we either support or oppose, and the game will begin again.  The process reminds one of nothing less than an endless round of musical chairs.  Those congressional leaders involved in an active tug of war will always reposition themselves on safer ground as need be, while the ones who stand firm are often likely to find themselves without a seat.

In this eternal game of chess,

O O O O that Shakespeherian Rag –

It’s so elegant

So intelligent                                                        

“What shall I do now? What shall I do?”

I shall rush out as I am, and walk the street

“With my hair down, so.  What shall we do to-morrow?

“What shall we ever do?”

– T.S. Eliot

Observe the ballet, though the steps may be a bit quicker, the pace may be sterner, and the tempo deliberately accelerated.  As regards politics, in which there is always something tangible to gain or to lose, I only believe in the last statement made by whomever utters it.  This would be considered exceptionally pessimistic in the real world, but makes complete sense within the realm of political discourse.  Lament it if you will, but even a charismatic figure elected to shake up Washington and a largely underwhelming speaker could not betwixt the two of them figure out how to drain the swamp.  It takes more than legislation to undo a complex, frequently befuddling system of strange allegiances and stranger bed fellows.  The skillful politician is a master of both slight of hand and cerebral dexterity.  He or she rarely gets caught in a lie or a half-truth, while the less skilled end up without a chair when the music ends.  The results when tabulated might be half chance, like everyone’s else’s, but they are always composed of calculated risk, with the hope of ultimate profit and gain.              

We may have a rough idea of the relative platform our Senator or Congressperson stands upon, but beyond that, one needs an actuarial table to correctly calculate where he or she might go from one moment to the next.  Risk assessment doesn’t just stop with insurance and rare is the incumbent who can count on an easy re-election campaign, year in and year out.  If we were all more or less the same in allegiance and conviction, then politicians could be reliably counted on to talk out of only one side of their mouth.  Until then, we are stuck with the system we have, which satisfies few and enrages many.    

To better explain my case, I sought to divine what was the historically highest possible Congressional approval rating ever recorded.  While I certainly was inundated with sources which told me what the lowest approval rating for the both chambers had been at many points in time, attaining its compliment, however, provided elusive.  In the data I did find, Congress never polled above 45%, which means that if it as a collective body ran for office, it would never win and probably never even trigger a runoff.  This fact also underscores what a convenient target the legislative branch is for many of us, but also proves that its overall popularity is pointedly meaningless unless it drops to single, or near single digit lows.  By contrast, even the least popular Presidents in modern memory still managed to poll slightly above 20% in their lowest periods and some scored nearly 80% in their times of highest popular favor.  As Americans, we favor personalities over collective bodies, perhaps because we can relate more to a individual rather than a frequently flummoxing deliberative entity whose ways are misunderstood even by the highly educated.    

Returning to the matter of effective analysis, the most skillful strategies for determining future courses of action might be found within the brains of those who think three and four moves ahead while recognizing that events are always subject to change.  This is not to imply that some method to the madness exists, either.  Best intentions are often preempted by breaking news and any schedule ought to be penciled in, rather than chiseled into granite.  Those public servants who are caught flat-footed or utterly unawares are always the easiest targets for ire and criticism.  They also tend to not survive.  That who we have in our cross-hairs today will often be our firmest unforeseen ally with time.  As for the present moment, which is all we are ever granted in politics, the once and future Health Care Reform proponent assumes a temporary position in our affections and our current antagonist draws boos and jeers.  The Public Option is dead, long live the Public Option.  This is, of course, until the funeral is called off and the coronation resumes, once more.

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