Author's posts

Can we stop or prevent genocide?

crossposted from dailykos at the suggestion of Jay Elias

The second paragraph of Nick Kristof’s piece, after recognizing Condoleeza Rice’s correct observation that we cannot simply invade a 3rd Muslim country, reads as follows:

But this week marks the 14th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide – the last time we said “never again.” And while Ms. Rice is right that we can’t send in American ground troops, there are concrete steps that President Bush can take if he wants to end his shameful passivity

I am no expert in this part of the world, nor in military and diplomatic affairs.  I am also a Quaker, and prefer the use of diplomacy to that of force.  But I also refuse to stand silently by in the face of slaughter.  And I think Kristof’s Memo to Bush on Darfur should be mandatory reading, and the starting point of serious discussions.   Let me explain why.

electoral progress for minorities – the historical record – NACD

cross posted from Daily Kos

The frontrunners for the Democratic nomination for president are a woman, Hillary Clinton, and a black man, Barack Obama.  Both are United States Senators.  Nominating either would represent a major advance for a group that has been under-represented in the national government.  This relatively brief diary, which is Not A Candidate Ddiary because it does not advocate for or against a presidential candidate, will examine the history of both groups – blacks and women – in the United States Congress.   If we think that underrepresentation is an example of injustice in a Democratic system, and IF we wish to consider making a statement about equity as part of our decision making about for whom we will vote knowing the history of representation in Congress might be useful.   Even if we intend to ignore issues of race and gender in our own voting, it might serve some purpose to be aware of the history, and hence this diary.

Two Black Men

crossposted from Daily Kos

On Saturday, part of my regular activity is to read two noteworthy columnists, Bob Herbert of the New York Times, and Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe.   Both are Black, so it is not at all surprising that the columns of both are about the Obama phenomenon.   Both are interesting reading.  Herbert’s The Obama Phenomenon begins simply enough

The historians can put aside their reference material. This is new. America has never seen anything like the Barack Obama phenomenon.

.  Jackson, in his A night for the newcomers saw

An array of trump cards dropped like hammers in this part of eastern Iowa as a three-way dead heat in the polls became an 8-point Obama victory over Edwards and Clinton.


So what is happening?

The Army’s Other Crisis

cross-posted from Daily Kos

is the title of an important piece in Washington Monthly, subtitled “Why the best and brightest young officers are leaving”.   Written by Andrew Tilghman, it provides the statistics that let us understand that the leadership of the Army is effectively broken, now and for the future.

Consider the following:  of the West Point Class of 2002, 58% left the Army upon completion of their minimum 5 year commitment.  Or on a larger scale, consider this:

In the last four years, the exodus of junior officers from the Army has accelerated. In 2003, around 8 percent of junior officers with between four and nine years of experience left for other careers. Last year, the attrition rate leapt to 13 percent. “A five percent change could potentially be a serious problem,” said James Hosek, an expert in military retention at the RAND Corporation. Over the long term, this rate of attrition would halve the number of officers who reach their tenth year in uniform and intend to take senior leadership roles.


an expression of thanks

which I am offering only here.  I was invited when this site was being organized, but could not make a commitment to be a regular contributor. Nor can I make such a commitment now.  But many of those here and as part of the offlist group have meant a lot to me, both their own writing and by the support they have given mine.  I am actually quite insecure about many things, including my writing.  Thus the willingness of others to read what I offer, to comment, to criticize constructively and challenge where appropriate, has helped me improve both my thinking and my writing.

Today is our wedding anniversary, #22, about which I have diaried in a number of places.  And as await for Leaves on the Current to return home from NJ (she is now in transit), rather than doing school work, I am being reflective in a somewhat different way.

Each milestone we can mark on our live’s paths provides an opportunity for saying “now what?”   It is not that we cannot appreciate what we have managed despite all odds to achieve, nor is it necessary that we bemoan where we have missed the mark (and I will win no medals for my own accuracy this past year).  

I have always been shy but an extravert, a dangerous combination, because in most social situations I have trouble maintaining balance.  I find as I age I become increasingly introverted, even as my caring for other people deepens.  I am far less likely to attend purely social functions.  For the first time in 9 years at my school I did not attend my dpeartmental holiday celebration.  I could have –  I had had to make an emergnecy trip north for an issue involving the athletics at my alma mater, but I was back in the DC area in time to have stopped, picked up some food, and arrived basically on time.  But I found myself relieved to have a legitimate reason not to attend, perhaps because at the school-wide celebration I found myself wanting to withdraw somewhat.

And perhaps the change in the nature of the subjects about which I find myself drawn to write are a further indicator of this.   I do want my words read – I am insecure that way, which is why so often I tell other people when I have posted, hoping that they will at least glance at my words.  But today I realize that it doesn’t matter.  My task is to wrestle with what I perceive and think, to express it in a fashion that MIGHT be of use to others, but then to let go – of ownership, of concern.  Or as the words of Paul and Ringo said sime 4 decades ago,  “Let it be.’

Thank you all for putting up with my insecurity.  For being willing to share your time with me, even if only by occasionally reading.

At various points in my life I seriously considered becoming a monk.  But my spiritual father on Mount Athos told me back in 1983 that while I might make a good monk, my calling was elsewhere – he told me to go back into the world and marry Leaves.  He also told me things about our nature, even though he never met Leaves – somehow he knew.  And I have struggled for more than 2 decades to live up to the insight he offered me then.

I will be 62 in May.  My mother died before she was 50. my father lived on until his 84th birthday.  I do not know how much longer I might live.   But in that time I am drawn increasingly to simpler truths.  I ask then when I do write you be unafraid of challenging me.  My words should not be for my benefit, and if they do not speak to others there is no point in offering them.

I am sorry I cannot now offer more clarity, but I am slowly coming to an understanding of how I must live and what I must do.  It will require me still to grow, of course, to change in some ways small (which is often far more difficult) and in others on a lrger scale.

Again, thanks for your friendship, your tolerance, your patience.


Leaving “No Child Left Behind” Behind

this is crossposted from Daily Kos, which will explain some of the dkos specific references

Our No. 1 education program is incoherent, unworkable, and doomed. But the next president still can have a huge impact on improving American schooling.

   So says perhaps the most cogent writer on educational matters, Richard Rothstein, in a piece in he American Prospect whose title, like that of this diary, is Leaving “No Child Left Behind” Behind   Before The New York Times lost its senses, Rothstein wrote columns regularly on educational matters.   Those of us who try to help the general public and policy matters  understand the reality of educational policy have often drawn some of our bgest arguments from his work.

The article, which became available online yesterday, presents the key issues as well as they can be presented, and there is little I can add, although I will offer a few comments of my own.  The notable educational figure Deborah Meier has said that we should blog about this and distribute the article as widely as possible.    I urge you to consider doing what you can, including if warranted recommended this diary, to make the article as visible as possible.

the end of the world as we know it?

yes, that is a deliberately provocative title.  And I am afraid I have little of subgstance with which to support that question.  But in this, only my second post on this site, let me offer just a little bit of my current thinking.

I am not presuming the imminence anything catastrophic, like the immediate annihilation of the human race.  Nor do I presume that there will be seismic changes politically,even though one might well argue that such is what is required if democracy as we have known it is going to survive.

Instead let me posit something a wee bit different, and perhaps even arrogant.

The two-party system, mediated by the ‘gatekeepers’ of the main stream media, is now obsolete, dying off.    

Just to say hello

Woke up this morning to see message from Buhdy, so I came over here and set up an account.

Am quite busy this morning, and am not working on a diary for today (although if you go read the Derrick Jackson in today’s Boston Globe he explains how dog fighting is only part of the abuses – he used to own a rescued greyhound). 

Congratulation on getting the site up, and I will keep an eye on it.  And I will post when I can, but this is not only a new school year – it is soccer season and it elections for Virginia General Assembly.