Saturday, September 24

Pictures of Protest

Today Cindy Sheehan's bring the troops home rally hits Washington DC, but will the mainstream press give it the coverage it's due in the midst of Hurricane Rita?
The San Jose Mercuty News had this to say:
It's becoming clear to everyone that not only was this war based on a false pretext, it is not winnable," said Brian Becker, national coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, one of two umbrella groups organizing the rally. "The anti-war sentiment is now the majority."

In August, "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan attracted significant attention with her vigil outside President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Insurgents have killed huge numbers of Iraqi citizens in recent months and the death toll of American troops is approaching the 2,000 mark. With no immediate end to the war in sight, high gasoline prices and the government's much-criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush's overall approval ratings have fallen.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released this week said 63 percent of Americans support the immediate withdrawal of "some or all" of the U.S. troops in Iraq.

Saturday's "Bring the Troops Home Now" rally is the anti-war groups' first opportunity to demonstrate that this general dissatisfaction can produce a tangible statement and that significant numbers of protesters are willing to travel to Washington to show their frustration.

Despite the Rhetoric of the RIght, continued support for this War of Oppurtunity and this Presidency continues to erode - perhaps a full and competent response to RIta will help repair some of the damage to the President's public image - and perhaps it will simply continue to fuel the arguements that his lack of response to Katrina was related to the economic status, voting patterns and race of those left stranded without supplies in the storms wake.

Time will tell - but it appears that Bush's time is running out.


Friday, September 23

Donahue vs O'Reilly

Phil Donahue finally does what's needed doing for years - he puts Bill O'Reilly in his place.

Rather than letting Bill control the conversation and shut him down, he openly defends Cindy Sheehan, Jeremy Glick (who O'Reilly continues to smear by claiming that he accused President Bush of planning 9/11, which isn't what Jeremy said - he questioned President G.H.W. Bush involvement and culpability in the creation of the Afghani Mujuhadeen - the powerbase which gave rise Osama Bin Ladin's Al Qaeda).

September 21, 2005
Windows Media(8 minutes)

QuickTime(8 minutes)

DONAHUE (calmly): I'm not Jeremy Glick, Billy.

O'REILLY: That's right!!

DONAHUE: You can't intimidate me!!

O'REILLY: You're a little bit more intelligent that he is!!

DONAHUE: I'm not somebody you can come and just spew all your ...

O'REILLY: Don't tell me I wouldn't send my kids.

DONAHUE: Loud doesn't mean right!

Managing to remain unflustered, calling O'Reilly "Billy" through the entire interview Donahue - who is planning to attend the upcoming rally against the President in Washington - manages to make his own points and does so while calling out "Billy" as the Bully that he really is.

Donuhue points out that the War needs to end. O'Reilly counters that simply "cutting and running" would have an incredibly negative effect on American prestige and safety and states that he'd like to first have the Iraqi's be able to defend themselves -- but the question remains, it the mighty U.S. Military can't manage to secure the road from Bagdad to Bagdad's Airport --- exactly when, if ever, can we ever expect the Iraqi military to "stand on their own"?

Although that was fun to watch, I actually agree with Bill that the best course of action is to get the Iraqis to stand on their own feet -- but I disagree that our government, as it currently stands, is in any position to accomplish that mission. Just why has it taken over two years to have even a half-dozen operational Iraqi units -- doesn't basic training only last a few weeks? Why can't Iraqi units be moved gradually into the rear areas to replace our own and then rotated forward as they gain experience? We don't have to leave all at once - it should be a gradually staged transfer of responsibility with clear milestones indicating progress. It's doesn't have to be a total abondoment of the Iraqi people. But our President won't set "timetables" because that would signal the enemy -- well, sure only if you assume the new Iraqi Army is nothing but a paper tiger. If they're able to handle things because they've been properly trained and their properly motived, then our leaving really shouldn't matter.

But it does matter purely because they aren't properly trained and their morale is in the toilet -- and just who do you think is responsible for that?

Hint - his name starts with Rums.. and ends in ....feld.

What needs to happen is the incompetent people need to be pulled away from the till of our ship of state. Bush and Co simply can't get the job done - maybe because they actually don't want the job done, maybe because they don't really know how. It's doesn't matter - they need to go, sooner rather than later.

Yes, the War does need to end - but the Bush Administration needs to end first.
We'll all breath easier when we can finally say - Impeachment Accomplished!


Tuesday, September 20

It's the Incompetence, Stupid

Crossposted on Dailykos.

As we look back over the last 5 dark years of Bush II, and particularly over the aftermath of Hurricane Fema in New Orleans, Alabama and Mississippi - it may finally have become glaringly obvious to more and more of the nation what Democrats and Progressives have been saying all along.

The problem with Bushco isn't the lies, it's not the cronyism, it's not the jingoism or the over-the-top militarism - it's the Incompetence, stupid.

From day one, Bush was on the wrong page.

  • He and Condoleeza Rice ignored Richard Clarke's warnings of impending problems with terrorism and al Qaeda.

  • They failed to respond to the California Energy Crisis, or to rein in the frenzy of corporate greed that gripped Enron, Tyco, Aldephia and others.

  • They shoved Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill out the door when he questioned their lust for tax cuts despite what it would do to the defecit.

  • They ignored the FBI Agent who reported that there are some Arab men here in Arizona who are learning to fly, but not how to land.

  • They ignored 52 warnings of potential highjacking with intent to crash from the F.A.A.

  • They ignored the August 6th PDB on Bin Ladin.

  • After 9/11 - they failed to sufficiently cut al Qaeda off from escape and let bin Ladin out of Tora Bora.

  • They failed to listen to the skeptics who questioned whether Saddam Hussein was really as dangerous as they thought, then intimidated (Kwaitkowski) or otherwise attempted to discredited their commentary (Plame/Wilson).

  • They failed to listen to Gen. Shinshekii when he said they needed more troops in Iraq.

  • After declaring "Mission Accomplished" : They failed to pay attention to the security problem created by dismantling the Iraqi Army, and how that lack of security would effect their efforts to begin restoring the water and power to the people of Iraq to also fail. (Just like in New Orleans)

  • They failed to realize that when you torture, rape and murder innocent Iraqi citizens in order to extort them to become "confidential informants" against the insurgency in places like Abu Ghraib and Gitmo - you just might fuel, rather than quell that insurgency.

    So is it little wonder, that when a massive Category 4 Hurricane strikes sacred American soil and creates a brand new Atlantis -- that they fail to do what pure common sense indicates they need to do?

    Many American's where shocked that their fellow Americans could be reduced to the state of existence that you would only expect to see in the third-world. The same state of existence that the prosperous and industrially developed country of Iraq was reduced to in the aftermath of "Shock and Awe".

    I for one, was not surprised by what I saw in New Orleans -- haven't we been seeing this all along?

    It's not the fact that those people were poor, or that they're black, or that they voted primarily democratic --'s the Incompetence.


  • Sunday, September 18

    The Truth of Being Poor

    In the wake of Hurricane Fema, which bestowed famine and pestilence on the Katrina ravaged Gulf Cost - many Americans have shown a complete inability to face a sad reality of America's promise of unlimited oppurtunity and prosperity.

    Some of us are being left behind.

    No, not as in "Left Behind" in the same sense as the popular series of Christian books about the Rapture - Left behind as in abandoned by our fellow citizens, and left to rot and die in decaying inner cities. Fully 14% of American's are living poverty - white and black alike - but exactly what is it that we've tried to do about it?

    Over the past several decades the Left has tried to throw money at the problem, while the Right-wing has attempted to blame the poor themselves, claiming that any attempt at government aid is only a method to further "enable" their dependance on those services and funds. Yet, in the wake of Katrina - just like a abusive husband the morning after a particularly violent bender - our so-called Compassionate Conservative President has just delivered a beatiful bouquet of social aid programs that would make even the most staunch welfare-estate Liberal blush.

    Will it actually change things? Even and as generous as it appears it's still nothing compared to the corporate welfare he continues to insist on dolling out via tax cuts which continue to heap mountains of debt upon our children. Is it simply throwing good money after bad, and is that reason enough to throw up our hands in frustration?

    What we've lost sight of as the blame-game has been played against the poor and helpless by the Right, and the pander-game by the Left, is the fact that we're talking about people - people with dreams just like our own, but hopes that have been tempered and pounded down but their own realities.

    Author John Scalzi just may have written the best peice I've ever heard of on what poverty is really about - called "Being Poor". Reading this just might remind of what is it that is truly at stake when President Johnson called for his "War on Poverty" - and also might make us realize just how far we are from winning that

    Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

    Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

    Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they're what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there's not an $800 car in America that's worth a damn.

    Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

    Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

    Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

    Being poor is living next to the freeway.

    Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

    Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

    Being poor is off-brand toys.

    Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

    Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

    Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

    Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

    Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

    Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

    Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

    Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

    Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

    Being poor is relying on people who don't give a damn about you.

    Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

    Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

    Being poor is a bathtub you have to empty into the toilet.

    Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

    Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

    Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.

    Being poor is people angry at you just for walking around in the mall.

    Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.

    Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

    Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.

    Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

    Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

    Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

    Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

    Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.

    Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

    Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

    Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

    Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

    Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

    Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

    Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

    Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

    Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.

    Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

    Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

    Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

    Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

    Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

    Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

    Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

    Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

    Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

    Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

    Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

    Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

    Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

    Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

    Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

    Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

    Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

    Being poor is running in place.

    Being poor is people wondering why you didn't leave.
    I don't usually bring up personal issues on my blog, I tend to thing those that blather on and on about their own lives are incredibly vapid and self-possesed. But I can say from personal experience that nearly all of those criteria have applied to me and my wife in the last 5 years.

    In 1999 I was a corporate software consultant pulling down between $55-65 and hour depending on the nature of the gig. In 2000, that changed - drastically. First was the post Y2K software slowdown. On January 1st I had a job doing "fixes" on some antiquainted COBOL code for the California Department of Transportation - on Jan 4th, I was looking for work. I eventually found it several months later after exhausting our savings, but not before being forced to duck an eviction by filing for bankruptcy. That job was with an up and coming dot com, at about half what I had previously been making, but I had a health plan for my family - something we'd foregone during our wild and wholly time as a high risk/high return consultant - I even had stock options.

    Then 9/11 happened.

    The company I worked for took a major hit - limping along as it had been in the aftermath of the dot-com meltdown - as one of our clients was actually housed in the Trade Center Building, and we really couldn't afford to lose even a single client. A week later I was laid off.

    A month after that - my wife, now without healthcare - fell and broke her back making her ineligible to return to the workforce. I was the sole breadwinner. Insurance wasn't available as she had incurred the injury as home, and disability payments for were basically impossible to justify using barely competent county health service doctors.

    Still I rallied back, working again as a consultant for a web design firm with as it turned out some rather flaky and unscrupluous clientelle. Eventually that job fizzed as the client and the company began to sue each other. Savings gone. Eviction number two on the plate.

    Still we fought. We managed to find a new place to live using friends to verify our employment - which was still none-existent. After 20 years working in IT, my skillset by 2003 had become obsolete - useless. I had no income other than gradually selling my possesions one by one on Ebay. We manage to keep going another year until eviction number three came down the pike and finally we surrendered, tearfuly left Sacramento and moved all our remain possesions into storage and ourselves into a spare bedroom of my mothers in Los Angeles - a city we'd grown to hate.

    25 years after I'd originally left and I wound up exactly where I started - back in South Central LA - only this time I brought a semi-invalid wife and our three cats with me. Technically Homeless. Virtually Hopeless.

    For the last year I've done some of the most humiliating work I could ever imagine for less than 1/3 of what I earned at the dot com. 8 dollars and hour, 6 sometimes 7 days a week.

    We've survived. We're alive. But that's almost all. And everyone expects us to be happy about it. Not.

    I can say first hand, particular after experiencing each and every element of the oh-so-enabling state and federal system of "aid" that John Scalzi has it exactly right - I know what Being Poor is.

    I am Poor. I am a survivor.

    Many more of us are than were a month ago.

    But I can also say that it's well past time that we - the poor - did something about it - at the voting booth, on the blogs, on the op-ed pages - to make sure that both corporations and government know, to quote Network - that "We're as mad as hell, and we're not gonna take it anymore". Bush can spout his platitudes, and continue to maneuver continued hand-outs to Halliurton and Bectel - but what I think we all want, what all have to demand - are results.

    Don't tell a story - fix the problem. Nothing less will do.