December 3, 2009 archive

Turn The World Upside Down


To no one’s particular surprise, the Honduran Congress voted today not to restore duly elected and deposed President Manual Zelaya to power.  The vote wasn’t even close.  And of course, the United States immediately expressed its half-hearted disappointment at the vote.  Once again, the golpistas win, democracy loses, the US goes back to its early 20th century stance in the hemisphere, and life lurches on in Honduras.  Democracy is a big loser.  As is the stability of elected governments in this hemisphere.

Join me in the western hemisphere as seen from the south.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  55 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Three Somali ministers among 19 dead in suicide blast


2 hrs 18 mins ago

MOGADISHU (AFP) – A suicide bomber killed 19 people including three Somali government ministers and injured scores more at a graduation ceremony for medical students in Mogadishu Thursday, officials said.

The blast which ripped through a hotel is the most serious attack on the transitional federal government (TFG) since the launch of an Al-Qaeda inspired Islamist insurgency that has brought new strife to the Horn of Africa nation.

“A suicide bomber detonated an explosion inside Hotel Shamo … during the graduation ceremony of medical students of the Banadir University resulting in the deaths of, so far, 19 civilians and injuries to several others,” the African Union force in Somalia AMISOM said.

Can America Admit What It Is?

As so many things have become obvious in the transition from Bush to Obama, ie, large portions of Congress are wholly bought and paid for, Wall St. is a rigged game, The Republicans are just plain batshit insane…so did it become obvious yesterday that no matter who the titular head of America is really does not matter.

For all the fooforaw, hoohawing, hair pulling and trench digging that surround Barack Obama, is is now plain that he being president matters just about exactly as much in the Realpolitick as who or what caused Tiger Woods to hit a tree in his car. It is the coverage and titillation and angsty sturm und drang that matters. The sensation. And how that sensation makes we American consumers of emotion ….feel…that is the important thing. Apparently.

Because as long as the American people feel good, nothing else matters.

What matters in the Real World, in the Realpolitik, is that Obama can make Americans feel good about killing more people. Including our own sons and daughters. That he can do that makes him valuable. That we all felt that he could do that is what made him president.

It doesn’t matter that Obama used nearly word for word the same speech to sell his surge that Bush used to sell his wars, it feels better when Obama says it, because we like him better than we liked Bush.

(warning: commercials)

Or at least, we haven’t learned to dislike him…yet.  

Sometimes, people read what they want to read…

Sometimes, people read

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan.

What they want to read…

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan.

Rather than what was intended.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan.

Sometimes, people read

Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.

What they want to read…

Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.

Rather than what was intended.

Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground.


But under Republican questioning, Mr. Gates acknowledged that the surge troops could remain in Afghanistan longer if the American military and its NATO and Afghan allies failed to reverse the Taliban’s recent gains.

“It is our plan to begin this transition process in July of 2011,” Mr. Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “But if circumstances dictate in December, I think the president always has the freedom to adjust his decisions.”

Sometimes, people read.

The View from the Real Left

It’s been harder and harder for me to pay attention to “politics” such as it is. I don’t really see anything happening other than a kind of mopping up operation by the oligarchy. The deed is done the Republic can be buried now.

The most consistently accurate commentator of the left (I regard the “left” to mean opposition to the current power structure not an ideology) has probably been Arthur Silber (his blog is here). I suggest you read his stuff, not just the new stuff. Sometimes he’s a bit pedantic and self-righteous but he’s earned the right to it as far as I’m concerned.

To all those who repeatedly claimed that, no matter what “mistakes” he might make and regardless of the scope of the devastating effects of those errors, Obama had to represent a markedly better choice than McCain, take note: in certain respects, Obama is far more dangerous than McCain could have been.

Why is this?

Help! Help! We’re being repressed! (seriously) w/important update

Cross-posted at dkos…

Update:  Please see my update in comment #6 below.  This thing looks as if it is much less a concern for the ordinary essayist/diarist than I thought!




Thanks to kos himself, and to kossack WilliamKWolfrom, and AMERICAblogger John Aravosis, I am now aware of Senators Durbin and Feinstein’s efforts to deny citizens who do citizen journalism the benefits of the same shield law which protects professional journalists.

HONORING THE FALLEN: US Military KIA, Iraq & Afghanistan/Pakistan – November 2009

April 5, 2009 Dover ‘Old Guard’

Dover ‘Old Guard’ team shoulders heavy burden

Open Fly


Blue Blue

How about making change you can believe in? Is that possible?

Mike Gravel here at DD, Nov. 09:

Law requires a deliberative process where you have hearings, markups, proper communications, and the like.  And in that way, the people can make laws and properly deliberate the policy issues that affect their lives.  And that’s what the National Initiative will be – it’s a meta-tool which we put in the hands of the people, so they will be able to then have an affect on how they are governed.  It will be the first time that people will have a government “by the people,” because the people will become lawmakers.

The definition of freedom is the participation in power.  Power in representative government is lawmaking. If you don’t make the laws, all you can do is obey the law or go to jail.  And so if you really want to have freedom, what we have to do is to make ourselves lawmakers.  And the only tool available to do that is the National Initiative.  And this is a tool that will not be enacted by representative government, because it dilutes their power and they’re not about to empower the people.  

And that’s the reason why we have been struggling with an organization called The National Initiative for Democracy, sponsored by The Democracy Foundation.

WTF Barack?! Can Ya Let The Guy In To Talk To You Already?!

(Cross-posted from The Free Speech Zone)


So it’s come to this. Obama’s gotta wage his war, and I gotta sit in the street.

It’s not that I like blocking traffic or getting arrested or dealing with the fall-out when I could be reading a book. It’s that I can’t live with endless war and I must end it or surely die.

I’m not leaving this country. This is my mess, so help me, and I’ll scrub it till my fingers bleed. I will not compromise with genocide. I will not run from those behind it.

Endless war is the promise of our time, signed in blood and sealed with death’s own kiss. Its stench hangs around us heavy smog. While I dare not breath for fear of intoxication, I cannot hold much longer.

This is the American nightmare, and it’s shattering my heart like glass.

As I stepped to the microphone outside West Point Military Academy Tuesday, all I wanted was to go home, honestly. Good lord, don’t let me cry in front of these people, I thought. Why must I play out this misery for all to see?

Obama’s only doing exactly what he said he’d do, but still, I’m heartbroken. I can’t go on like this.

I’ve been a mess. When I try to imagine the future of this country, I see nothing. I have no faith that good always triumphs anymore. I think where there’s a will to change there’s a way to subvert it. I taste the world I am to inherit, and it makes me sick to my stomach.

But as I admitted to the crowd my feelings of hopelessness and despondency, I realized once again, that I am not alone. People stared into my eyes with equally heavy brows and clenching teeth. When they came close, I saw tears in their eyes as well, and they seemed thankful to see them in mine.

Our suffering is one. We are the disenfranchised. In our lives, our jobs, our politics; we have been denigrated to utter impotence. People are not meant to live this way, and we cry out in one voice through history for liberation. Again and again, we’ve had our voices ignored and our mutual bonds dissolved by paranoia and fury.

But I couldn’t let him get away with it. They think his slick speeches and skin color will keep the left at home. Someone had to go down for this, even if it was me.

We marched to the installation gate where a line of cops and troops were waiting. When we sat down in front of the barricades, they didn’t seem all that concerned. Young and old alike joined us on the pavement. I was left awestruck by the singular dedication of the burgeoning crowd to ending our Global War of Lies and Terror.

For 30 minutes, the hundreds of us shouted down the full winter moon. We chanted our opposition to escalation. We lamented the change we were promised and denied. The message was loud and in no unmistakable terms: Obama, this is the death of your presidency!

When we moved into the traffic lane after he started his speech, I felt a great warmth from within for the first time in weeks. While through my head streamed images of Satyagrahas past, my heart pounded reassurance, for it knew I was there for a reason.

This government refuses to respond to the needs and demands of its people. It’s come to this. I refuse to be ignored. I pledge to be peacefully ungovernable.

The police carried my crutches while I limped to the car in hand-cuffs. A sense of satisfaction settled in as I waited in the back and counted those who’d be joining me ‘downtown.’ Six of us in total. We’d done it. At least to us, Obama had not gotten away with it.

Not an hour later, we were released. The officers who I dealt with were beyond respectful to us and our cause. While I didn’t make any friends, I didn’t find any enemies. At some point during the evening, I cut my finger on the pavement, but beyond that, we walked away with little more than disorderly conduct charges and a notice to appear Dec. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Court at 254 Main St. Highland Falls, NY 10928. (Come join us!)

As we left the station, I was thrilled to see a sidewalk full of activists waiting and to find a prominent lawyer in town already representing us. While Obama had shattered our dreams of peace, we felt we’d won the day. Even with the impending escalation, we found the strength to joyously declare the birth of a new peace movement!

The government won this round. 30,000 more troops is a clear loss for us and more importantly the people of Afghanistan. But from what I saw, we are ready to rededicate ourselves to unwavering resistence from within. In the words of our former dictator, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…see, you can’t get fooled again.”

Obama is a war president and we are a peace movement. As long as we’re moving, Obama, and you refuse to be governed, we’ll refuse to be governed. Your racist wars will end and this world will know peace in our lifetimes. Until that day, rest assured that WE WILL BE YOUR INSURGENCY!

Politico Reaches a New Low

I wasn’t sure Politico could stoop any lower than it did when it published seven highly subjective (to put it lightly) meta-narratives that the Obama Administration supposedly did not want to become public knowledge.   Widely ridiculed, the column caused the periodical’s credibility to take a severe hit, and unfortunately its turn towards right-wing distortion in opposition to fact seems to have continued.   While none of us knows for sure what goes on behind closed doors, in true Politico style if I had to guess before I knew all the facts, I’d conclude that someone must be pushing the notion that it must incorporate more content that appeals directly to conservatives into each daily edition.  Right-wing points of view have a place, but sloppy logic never does.

I do read Politico on a daily basis, if only to see media framing devices at work, and so yesterday I was incensed, to say nothing of dismayed to note that apologizing for rape apologists appears to be no big deal.   Since the media is comprised of human frailties, it frequently mirrors the frustrations and the flaws of its creators.   For example, an article published this week took Senator Al Franken to task for not taking questions from reporters and instead directing them to his own public relations manager.   Exclusive stories and one-on-one scoops are the Holy Grails of the profession and with the continued decline of the industry, so one can understand easily why disappointment and resentment might build if one of the most colorful and newest Senators might wish to refuse to play ball.

Politico portrayed the decision to avoid contact with the media as evasive and obstructionist by implying that the Junior Senator from Minnesota was too staff-driven and not the soundbyte machine that some had hoped he would become once finally sworn in to take his seat.   That the Fourth Estate would be surprised by his desire and strategy to be kept on a deliberately short leash strikes me as disingenuous at best.   Candidate Franken wisely restrained himself from drawing too much undue attention during the campaign and during the exhaustive recount process that immediately followed last year’s election made only short, safe statements while keeping largely out of sight until the situation was resolved.   This was a carefully crafted design that did him well before and abandoning it now doesn’t make much sense.   Once established and having achieved some degree of seniority, Franken will have the freedom to branch out and speak his mind without fear of serious backlash or threat of losing his seat, but for the moment the most sensible solution is to for him to learn the ropes and avoid stepping on toes in the process.        

The column critical of Franken’s media management style took special effort to note that the Minnesota senator is one of only a very small number of elected representatives who do not stand directly at the podium to make statements to the press or undergo question and answer sessions.   Reading between the lines, the column implied that perhaps the Senator had something to hide or was afraid of letting his true self and true concerns shine through.   It cited an anecdote where Franken very nearly answered a reporter’s questions before deciding instead to pass the inquiry along to his communications director.   The disappointment and let down inherent in the entire column was clearly palpable and I have to say that while a part of me wished also for more candor from him, I also understood the Senator’s dilemma and did not disagree with his choice of resolution.  

Returning to the column referenced in the beginning of this post, I cite a particularly revealing segment to reveal a better understanding of the full picture.

In a chamber where relationship-building is seen as critical, some GOP senators question whether Franken’s handling of the amendment could damage his ability to work across the aisle. Soon after Tennessee GOP Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander co-wrote an op-ed in a local newspaper defending their votes against the Franken measure, the Minnesota Democrat confronted each senator separately to dispute their column – and grew particularly angry in a tense exchange with Corker.

People familiar with the Corker exchange say it was heated and ended abruptly – a sharp departure from the norm on the usually clubby Senate floor.

As rendered, the entire story reeks of false concern and shame.  It is certainly true that the Senate as an entity is an elite club where partisan differences are often merely for show and bi-partisan friendships help grease the wheels of legislation, but a reliance on deep background sources to make a damning point always raises alarm bells to me.   Nebulously defined sources of information remind one of celebrity gossip more than hard news.   Some outlets, it needs to be mentioned, won’t even use anonymous sources because they leave a column’s veracity quite understandably open to question.  Without credibility, a news article reads as fiction, defeating its entire purpose for existing.  

Here is what actually happened.   Here is how Senator Franken dared to create this supposed maelstrom of ill-will and resulting uncouth broach of decorum.   In particular, note the first sentence of the paragraph and how it prefaces what follows afterward.

Franken, who declined to be interviewed, has said previously that the measure was inspired by the story of former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones, who alleges that she was drugged, beaten and gang-raped at age 19 when stationed in Baghdad. She fought the arbitration clause in her contract, and in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that Jones’s sexual assault allegations were not “related to” her employment, allowing her to proceed in court. KBR is fighting the ruling.  

Yes, how dare Senator Franken not add a few choice bon mots to flesh out the interpretation of a contemptible act that one would think speaks quite sufficiently for itself.   As for the he said/he said conflict, we are told that it didn’t end up with F-bombs being dropped or with personal attacks being levied on the floor of the chamber itself, quite unlike the conduct of certain other Senators from a party that shall remain unspecified.   The left-wing blogosphere has become a convenient target for Republicans and Trusted Media Outlets™, particularly if and when they get thoroughly bored with blowing spit balls at each other.   People familiar with the exchange say their anger was heated and ended abruptly—a sharp departure from the norm.

“I don’t know what his motivation was for taking us on, but I would hope that we won’t see a lot of Daily Kos-inspired amendments in the future coming from him,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, No. 4 in the Senate Republican leadership. “I think hopefully he’ll settle down and do kind of the serious work of legislating that’s important to Minnesota.”

Silly me.   I wasn’t aware that the act of rape or violence were a bipartisan matter that might be best resolved by compromise.  Could we say that a rape only traumatizes 3/5ths of a person while we’re at it?  Seems fair enough to me.  You really confuse me, Senator Thune.   You remind me of the mainstream media and its attitude towards little old us out here in the blog realm.  First you say that the blogosphere isn’t an objective source of news or information and is of no real consequence, but then you throw darts at us as though you were really paying attention all the time.   One can’t be on two sides of an issue at once, even though as a politician I’m sure you’d like to present that concept.   One can be either one way or the other, but not both simultaneously.

[Franken] Aides point out that despite attacks on Republicans by liberal commentators like Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and on blogs such as Daily Kos, Franken never appeared on any of the shows or on the blogs to make a partisan argument about the matter, saying that the senator turned down entreaties to do so. Also, they point to the 10 Republicans who voted for the amendment as proof that it wasn’t a partisan measure.

Yet again, we are encouraged to believe that Senator Franken is somehow cowardly for not going on the defensive or bolstering his claims by directly speaking out in favor of them.   While the blogs and the increasingly ravenous media love a contentious argument, the Minnesota Senator is wise to not draw undo attention to himself.   Those who hog the spotlight risk taking the focus off of the reform measure that desperately need to be enacted and serve as an unnecessary distraction.   One person is a much easier target than a collective group of people with similar goals.   In addition to being common sense, this is also Public Relations 101 and the fact that Politico is either unaware of it or instead determined to provoke an exchange reveals that a once noble profession acts increasingly like a drowning man.   Ignore those who are unhappily going down with the ship, because their spite and desperation reveals everything about them and almost nothing about us.

The People vs Tiger Woods


Your honor, counsel is now prepared to question the People in the case for Crucifying Mr. Woods.

(the People are sworn in)

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