December 7, 2009 archive

What alarm?

One of the things about living north of the Arctic Circle here in Stars Hollow is you get the 24 hour days.

And nights.

News soon.  When I wake up and catch up.

On Utopia and progressive utopian ideals

Here I briefly wish to examine the idea of “utopia” for its contribution to progressive ideals, specifically w/ reference to Thomas More’s Utopia.  Conceptually, “utopia” is composed of “utopian ideals.”  Utopian ideals are ideals which appear to us to be impossible to achieve in full, and which for us represent the difference between what our society is and what it could be.  They thus prompt the activity of utopian dreaming, which is the engagement with these ideals.  This forms a starting point for the proper critique of our world and for action to create a better world.

(also available on CD and tape at Orange)

(Lots of PICS+VIDS) Stop Stupak Rally/Lobby Day

Coverage originally posted by Will Urquhart at Sum of Change

Last week, we joined pro-choice activists from all across the country on Capitol Hill. They came to support health care reform and the public option, and they came to fight against the Stupak amendment and any bans on women’s reproductive health coverage. The program began with rally, after which, the groups headed to scheduled meetings with their legislators. We tagged along with a group from Sister Song in New Orleans and joined them for the visit with Senator Mary Landrieu’s office.

We have extensive coverage of the day’s events, with plenty of full speeches.

Iraq War Inquiry, Day Nine

Drip, drip, drip, “”He recalled noting that: “the dog didn’t bark – it grizzled.” Don’t forget – this ‘grizzling’ for regime change was 6 months BEFORE 9/11.””. drip, drip, drip,  “”But there was a ‘sea change’ in attitude after the atrocities, with former national security adviser Condoleezza Rice targeting Iraq on the very day of the outrage.””, drip, drip, drip, “”George Bush tried to make a connection between Iraq and al-Qaida in a conversation with Tony Blair three days after the 9/11 attacks, according to Blair’s foreign policy adviser of the time.””, drip, drip, drip, “”There was “a touching belief [in Washington] that we shouldn’t worry so much about the aftermath because it was all going to be sweetness and light”.””, drip, drip, drip, “”Boyce mentions the “dysfunctionalism” of Washington. He says that he would find himself briefing his American counterparts on what was happening in different parts of the US adminstration. Rumsfeld was not sharing information””, drip, drip, drip………..!

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  60 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Historic climate conference opens to dire warnings

by Richard Ingham and Marlowe Hood, AFP

Mon Dec 7, 2:31 pm ET

COPENHAGEN (AFP) – A landmark conference on tackling climate change opened in Copenhagen on Monday to warnings of apocalyptic danger for mankind if world leaders failed to seize the moment.

The impact on humanity of man-made drought, flood, storms and rising seas were spelt out at the start of the 12-day meeting, which will climax with a summit attended by more than 110 heads of state or government.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen warned the world was looking to Copenhagen to safeguard the generations of tomorrow.

I’m Too Sexy for My Blog

As my blogging goes through a weird and wild transformation, I have found myself attracted to many seemingly unrelated phenomena.

I found a Buddhist site that I have both attraction and aversion towards.  I’m not sure about the fellow who writes the blog, but he does have a great blogroll (if you’re into the Tibetan Buddhist lineages) and reprints some of the most treasured Tibetan Buddhist texts which were translated at great expense of time and money, not to mention the daring and courageous activities of those teachers who fled Tibet starting in the 1950s who were determined to help spread this 2,500 year old philosophy to the west (an amazing story in itself).

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, except I found this picture and post so adorable:

Baby, It’s Cold Outside


Winter is definitely here, everybody is making plans for the holidays, and the hearth is merry. But, what of the little stinkers? Do they just magically cope with freezing temperatures?

Now is the time to pay special attention to setting out food and water for the small creatures of the fields and air. This is their most difficult time of year, when they must fight for survival.

It doesn’t take much to begin the habit of tossing a couple of extra bags of seed on the cart when you’re in the supermarket. What can it cost? Ten or fifteen dollars? Stop buying the National Enquirer, back off the booze, and the Viagra, and you could feed a whole zoo.

Should Docudharma Take On the Obamabots? Update

After the election I and many others did our very best to accommodate those at Daily Kos who can, despite their plaintive objections, can only be described as Obamabots.

I define Obamabots as unthinking cheerleaders for the president who attempt through attack and vilification seek to silence any criticism of the President that is not qualified by glowing praise and passing McCarthyesque loyalty tests.

I’m SURE you all know who I mean, lol.

Despite massive efforts to be sensitive to their feelings, it seems that nothing but gushing praise is good enough for them, and that the least bit of doubt, thoughtful questioning, or reasoned critique…..let alone trying to apply political pressure, is met with a torrent of comments attempting to silence any and all dissent from “the party Line.” Though in this case, the party is just one man.

This not directly the fault of that website. Indeed, much like the principle of free speech that it has done an exemplary job of upholding….all things considered and the internet being what it is….through all of these years, the website has no control over who posts there and what they post. As long as people stay withing the relatively few rules of posting there. I am not criticizing the website, but the people who have come to the site through the primary process, and a few that have been there all along. I come here not to bash Daily Kos, I come here to bash the users at Daily Kos who have, in my opinion, and the opinion of thousands of others, ruined it. As far as being a TRULY effective political site dedicated to changing the status quo.

But these folks have literally driven thousands of people away from Daily Kos, including me, with their tactics that ironically, Obama himself has condemned as being exactly what is wrong with politics, blind unthinking partisanship.

So I have a question for those who have been here all along and those who have come here seeking refuge. Should we….while observing one of our cardinal rules….No Dkos Bashing….which has kept many here silent about what has happened to Daily Kos at the hands of the Obamabots….

Take off the gloves?

Again I wish to emphasize the distinction between Daily Kos and the people who post in the comments there. I think the world of the FPrs there and of Markos. IF we do this, (whatever this is, lol) I will constantly remind folks of that distinction. With that in mind, and considering carefully the consequences, both intended and unintended….please vote in the poll.

I also wish to emphasize that this has nothing to do with Obama either. Personally, I like the guy! But activism means a certain amount of loyal opposition. Obama knows this, it is the bots that don’t.

Update: VERY interesting discussion. There seems to be a general consensus in the comments to NOT make DD a war zone ….despite the poll, lol. But I think we need to keep talking about this! I will reframe and try a different approach tomorrow

Getting it out in the open

Can anyone (besides Vampire Squids and the MIC) say with a straight face that the status quo in America is good for most Americans?

Isn’t the entire point of democracy to make the status quo as good as it can be for most Americans?

Once upon a time there was a candidate that seemed to get that.

Once upon a time there were website that existed to change the status quo.

Then that candidate got elected, and something odd happened. The website that existed to change the status quo filled up with people who SUPPORTED the status quo. And who, to put it bluntly….VICIOUSLY….. attacked anyone who questioned the new status quo.

This not directly the fault of that website. Indeed, much like the principle of free speech that it has done an exemplary job of upholding….all things considered and the internet being what it is….through all of these years, the website has no control over who posts there and what they post. As long as people stay withing the relatively few rules of posting there. I am not criticizing the website, but the people who have come to the site through the primary process, and a few that have been there all along. I come here not to bash Daily Kos, I come here to bash the users at Daily Kos who have, in my opinion, and the opinion of thousands of others, ruined it. As far as being a TRULY effective political site dedicated to changing the status quo.

These people took it upon themselves to silence all dissent and run off those who dissented by unrelentingly attacking them. Unrelentingly. Viciously. As if it was not a politician who was at issue, but their own offspring…or more accurately their own ego.

While adoring and venerating this candidate and and finding ways to rationalize and justify everything that he does, they use the very tactics he purports to despise, the very partisan vitriol he says he wants to end, the exact same tactics as those on the Right who want to see him fail….in order to “support” him. They violate daily, every principle of politics that he stands for. While practicing every political practice and ethic that he has condemned. This makes them base hypocrites.

In the process, they have turned a website that was once a force for change and activism into a hollow shell, an echo chamber, where they act as a misinformed and hypocritical Praetorian Guard to a President that exists only in their minds, determined that not one word of criticism, not one ounce of pressure. not on scintilla of dissatisfaction can be expressed without being met with a torrent of hateful name calling, insinuations of racism, and a dogpile of both faux polite and unabashedly hateful condemnation of anyone who dare to dissent from a strict party line of praise and glossy images.

In the process, they make it nearly impossible for a thinking person, a questioning person, a doubtful person to support the President, because those people are instantly set upon by what amounts to nothing more than a mindless mob, intent on….well they have no idea what they are intent on.

They give no thought to coalition, no thought to  

Break-In, Thieves Target Another Top Climate Scientist

In the wake of the illegal hacking of a leading climate scientist’s computers, to concoct a false scandal compared to which the birther absurdity is merely amusing, someone is criminally targeting another leading climate scientist.

The Observer:

Attempts have been made to break into the offices of one of Canada’s leading climate scientists, it was revealed yesterday. The victim was Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria scientist and a key contributor to the work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In one incident, an old computer was stolen and papers were disturbed.

In addition, individuals have attempted to impersonate technicians in a bid to access data from his office, said Weaver. The attempted breaches, on top of the hacking of files from British climate researcher Phil Jones, have heightened fears that climate-change deniers are mounting a campaign to discredit the work of leading meteorologists before the start of the Copenhagen climate summit tomorrow.

“The key thing is to try to find anybody who’s involved in any aspect of the IPCC and find something that you can … take out of context,” said Weaver. The prospect of more break-ins and hacking has forced researchers to step up computer security.

Someone is getting desperate. And it appears to be becoming a pattern. For more on Weaver, this is his homepage.

For those who don’t know about the literally criminal first false scandal, DarkSyde at Daily Kos made two superb posts:

Open Heart


Words cannot express my love and gratitude

Obama DOJ: Civil and Human Rights now #4 priority

The Justice Department’s OIG released its semiannual report recently. Curiously, only Raw Story had anything much to say about it.  Their story is here:…

Their story focused on Bush era wrongs being why the DOJ’s image is tarnished.  That WAS true, but if you want to reverse counrse on something, you should first on the brakes.  

Top Management and Performance Challenges

The OIG has created a list of top management and performance challenges in the Department annually since 1998, initially in response to congressional requests but in recent years as part of the Department’s annual Performance and Accountability Report.

The OIG’s top challenges for this year are listed below. Many of the challenges from last year’s list remain and are long-standing, difficult challenges that will not be solved quickly or easily. However, we removed the challenges of “Violent Crime” and “Cyber Crime” from the 2008 list, and added the new challenges of “Recovery Act Funding and Oversight” and “Financial Crimes.”

Top Management and Performance Challenges in the Department of Justice – 2009

  1. Counterterrorism

  2. Restoring Confidence in the Department of Justice

  3. Recovery Act Funding and Oversight

  4. Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

  5. Financial Crimes

  6. Sharing of Intelligence and Law Enforcement Information

  7. Grant Management

  8. Detention and Incarceration

  9. Information Technology Systems Planning, Implementation, and Security

 10. Financial Management

Raw Story noted that the DOJ rocketed “restoring confidence in the DOJ” to #2 over all, and its multiple problems with Bush era holdovers and corruption.  

But all I saw was the irony between challenge # 2 and challenge #4.  

A Date Which Will Live in Ignorance

This, the sixty-eighth anniversary of the date which will live in infamy, is rarely circled in calendars or noted in any wholesale fashion as it once was.  Humans are finite beings with finite memories and as one generation marches to the grave, so too generations ahead of it do not and cannot keep alive the same memory in the same way.  We respect those who have borne the battle and for their widow and their orphan, as Lincoln put it, but struggle though we might, no matter how frequently we invoke the phrase “never again” as a means of supreme deterrent, “again” always manages to arrive once more.  Those who have taught history know the frustration of attempting to grab the attention of students whose impression of that which came before them often has the unfortunate caveat of a yawn attached.  It has been my own personal experience that making parallel examples to the current day is the best means of making the subject both real and current, so upon that framework I state my case.        

Much of the sting of that tragic day has subsided, as those who fought and died in World War II have become increasingly fewer with the progression of time.  Indeed, the very mention of “Pearl Harbor” no longer carries with it the gut-punch sting and the tragedy that it did to those who lived in those times.  Provided subsequent terrorist attacks on American soil are foiled, the phrase “September 11” will in another generation or so begin to lose its collective horror.  Much to the frustration of those that would teach the lessons of the past and those that would wish to be remembered beyond the immediate for reasons either noble, selfish, or some combination thereof it would be unnatural to expect otherwise.  Some of us wish to forget and some of us wish that those who would exploit tragedies for their own gain would disappear from the face of the earth, never to return.    

One hastens a bit to make the 11 September/Pearl Harbor comparison (aside from not wishing to embrace neo-con artist sales jobs) because in many ways they were very different, but in some ways they were not.  Pearl Harbor was the slow culmination of clandestine and backstage interference with Japanese affairs and war goals.  There was, believe it or not, once a time where this country produced a significant amount of crude oil for export, particularly a vast majority of the aviation gasoline and raw materials that then-President Roosevelt denied to the Empire of Japan as a punitive measure.  What is often not mentioned is that due to Japan’s invasion of Manchuria and Mainland China, the United States embargoed essential goods necessary for the island nation’s continued military success.  This fact has led to many to believe in a conspiracy theory, asserting that Pearl Harbor had been sniffed out weeks, if not months before, and was allowed to transpire as exactly planned to draw the U.S. into its second World War.  I personally don’t ascribe to this view, instead believing that any nation can be easily lulled into a false sense of security, particularly when it has been blessed with the ability to have two oceans separating it from foreign invasion and no immediate enemies within easy striking distance.            

What I do find compelling is that, according to one poll, we have been recently returning to our isolationist roots, increasingly reluctant to engage in foreign policy conflicts or exercises in imperialism.  In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, many a story is told of men who when informed of the attack went directly to the nearest recruiting station and volunteered immediately for service.  Likewise, there were many patriots eager to pick up a gun and vanquish the terrorist threat eight years ago.  Now, however, a majority of Americans are skeptical of continued involvement in Afghanistan and still uncertain of where we intend to end up by the end of our latest expanded containment exercise.  It was Pearl Harbor which set into play the strength and scope of our hand in world leadership.  In plainest irony, however, by the end of the war, it placed into motion the Post-War boom that, we know now was but an ephemeral, gauzy dream that obscured larger realities and subsequent challenges yet to arrive.    

A recent pro-Obama column in Newsweek written by Fareed Zakaria notes how the cowboy diplomacy and shoot-from-the-hip impulsiveness of the previous President has been replaced with a thoughtful wartime strategy.  

This first year of his presidency has been a window into Barack Obama’s world view. Most presidents, once they get hold of the bully pulpit, cannot resist the temptation to become Winston Churchill. They gravitate to grand rhetoric about freedom and tyranny, and embrace the moral drama of their role as leaders of the free world. Even the elder Bush, a pragmatist if there ever was one, lapsed into dreamy language about “a new world order” once he stood in front of the United Nations. Not Obama. He has been cool and calculating, whether dealing with Russia, Iran, Iraq, or Afghanistan. A great orator, he has, in this arena, kept his eloquence in check. Obama is a realist, by temperament, learning, and instinct. More than any president since Richard Nixon, he has focused on defining American interests carefully, providing the resources to achieve them, and keeping his eyes on the prize.  


Franklin Roosevelt’s speech given the day after the ignominy of Pearl Harbor shows this same sort of cautious realism and resistance to forcibly implant sweeping drama deep into the historical record, where it presumably would never be overlooked in the future.

The wording of Roosevelt’s speech was intended to have a strong emotional impact, appealing to the anger felt by Americans at the nature of the Japanese attack…He deliberately avoided the Churchillian approach of an appeal to history. Indeed, the most famous line of the speech originally read “a date which will live in world history”; Roosevelt crossed out “world history” and replaced it with “infamy”, as seen in the annotated copy of the original typewritten speech from the National Archives.

In this address before a joint session of Congress which served as America’s formal entrance into World War II, Roosevelt sought a nuanced approach, careful not to seem too Wilsonian, a President whose attitude towards the first World War and American objectives was based around sweeping idealism and open-ended commitment.

Roosevelt consciously sought to avoid making the sort of more abstract appeal that had been issued by President Woodrow Wilson in his own speech to Congress[8] in April 1917, when the United States entered World War I. Wilson had laid out the strategic threat posed by Germany and stressed the idealistic goals behind America’s participation in the war. During the 1930s, however, American public opinion had turned strongly against such themes and was wary of-if not actively hostile to-idealistic visions of remaking the world through a “just war”. Roosevelt therefore chose to make an appeal aimed much more at the gut level-in effect, an appeal to patriotism rather than to idealism.

Returning to Zakaria’s synopsis,

Obama’s realism is sure to be caricatured as bloodless and indifferent to human rights, democracy, and other virtues. In fact, Obama probably understands the immense moral value of an engaged and effective superpower. As he said in his speech, “More than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades-a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.”

It is this approach that may be exactly what is needed to carry us forward.  Granted, this is not a strategy that lends itself easily to thundering applause and edge-of-your-seat thrills, but changing times require changing tactics.  With the end of World War II may have come the end of the nation/state war whereby one can easily identify the enemy by observing the flag it flies and by taking care to note the well-established boundaries, firmly drawn that separate it from others.  Whomever chose to denote terrorist groups as “cells” provided a very helpful metaphor to explain our current threat.  As cancer spreads from one part of the body to others as it metastasizes, so does our Al-Qaeda or The Taliban.  Members of terrorists groups are linked together by a belief in radical Islam, not by allegiance to country.  One cannot emphasize this fact enough because we are collectively having a very difficult time wrapping our brains around the true New World Order, a task which is further garbled by years of war movies and oversimplified fictionalized struggles between combatants who always manage to be either purely good or purely evil.          

Zakaria again asserts,

As for the broader problem of great-power support, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are largely isolated, with a massive international coalition arrayed against them. That does not mean that they cannot prevail in a local struggle over some parts of Afghanistan, but they will be hard pressed to achieve their ultimate goal of ruling Afghanistan. It might be difficult for the United States to “win” in Afghanistan, but it will be impossible for the Taliban to do so. And finally, America has not abandoned Iraq and will not abandon Afghanistan.

Resounding victory ending up in panicked retreat by our opponents is something we should cease to expect in our current conflict.  There will be no moment of triumph, no statue toppled in the city square, no flag hoisted over the land of the defeated enemy, no Mission Accomplished banner forming the backdrop of a photo-op disguised as a victory speech.  Nor will there be any V-E Day or V-J Day upon which to ring the church bells and observe the medals pinned to the chests of those who served, suffered, and sacrificed.  The only thing the least bit instantly emotional, powerful, and potent about war with extremist groups are in the massive attacks successfully launched by unseen cells which distressingly manage somehow to slide through the cracks.  The actual street-by-street, cave-by-cave, and village-by-village tactics employed by our forces and those of our allies are not especially grandiose nor easily included into the record of noble deeds accomplished by massive invasion with years of hype and build up to the act itself.

Pausing once more to reference Zakaria,

The history of great powers suggests that maintaining their position requires, most crucially, tending to the sources of their power: economic growth and technological innovation. It also means concentrating on the centers of global power, not the periphery…It’s important to remember that in the coming century it will be America’s dominant position in Asia-its role as the balancer in the Pacific-that will be pivotal to its role as a global superpower, not whatever happens in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Futurists and those who follow existing trends denote the Age of Terrorism as having a relatively short lifespan.  Thirty to forty years maximum is the number floated by any number of reputable scholars who make their living by of making educated guesses regarding events yet before us.  This is, of course, not to denigrate or refuse to grant 11 September 2001 its rightful place in the American house of horrors, but to say instead that inevitably and eventually some other national crisis will be superimposed on top of it and as it does, generational memory will grow shorter and shorter.  With the rise of Asia, particularly China, will come new challenges to the world and with them a new economic coalition with greatly conflicting interests.  That will be a struggle requiring the leadership dexterity of a seal balancing a ball on top of its nose.  As the Bible says,

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.


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