Friday, December 29

Quick Truths

Gerald Ford opposed the Iraq war.

In an interview in July 2004, the former president said he “very strongly” disagreed with the justifications the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq. “I don’t think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly,” Ford said, “I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer.” The interview “took place for a future book project, though he said his comments could be published at any time after his death.”

Bush is busy holding “non-decisional” Iraq meetings

at his Crawford ranch. White House advisers say Bush will deliver his Iraq speech “sometime between New Year’s and his State of the Union address on Jan. 23.” “Two defense officials” said yesterday “that some sort of troop increase appears likely,” but the size and nature of the escalation “still has to be worked out.”

“Many of the American soldiers

trying to quell sectarian killings in Baghdad don’t appear to be looking for reinforcements,” the Associated Press reports. “They say the temporary surge in troop levels some people are calling for is a bad idea” and Baghdad “is embroiled in civil warfare…that no number of American troops can stop.”

The incoming Senate — including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) — plan to revisit the issue of “what legal rights must be protected for detainees held in the war on terrorism.” Reid’s spokesman said the senator would “‘would support attempts to revisit some of the most extreme elements of the bill’ including language stripping detainees of habeas corpus rights.”

The capture of Osama bin Laden is “a success that hasn’t occurred yet,” according to White House Homeland Security Adviser Frances Frago Townsend.

According to a new AP-AOL News poll, Bush is the top villian of 2006, winning “by a landslide.” Bush “far outdistanced even Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader in hiding; and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who is scheduled for execution.” (Bush was also chosen as hero of the year, “by a much smaller margin.”)

By the way - the Grand Canyon was not the product of Noah's Flood - but apparently the Geologist working for the National Park's Service - aren't allowed to say so.

Apparently if you're a progressive blogger -you're unfit for jury duty, but if you're a violent criminal - you're perfectly fit for the armed forces.

Surprise - Surprise, Lie-ber-man supports the escalation - er - "Surge" - although the people who should know - like um - the troops don't.

The True Failure of the Iraq Experiment

Oh - we most certainly think we know what that is don't we? Surely it is the fact that we entered a war with a country on utterly false pretenses? Surely it is the fact that we dismantled their military, destroyed their economy, fomented a civil war and are now planning a surge escalation of the violence as a means to end it?

No.

The true failure of the entire Iraq Campaign is the fact the we let Neo-Con Wing-nuts run everything - everything - miles into the ground while they themselves remained safely behind the walls of the Emerald City.

Musicial Accompaniment for the post by Devo - Beautiful World.



Front Paged On DU is a journal entry by Plaid Adder which discribes the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. His discription of the book is both chilling and extremely familiar in relation to how Neo-Cons have so frequently and repeatedly failed in America.

From behind the walls of the Green Zone, early members of the Coalition Provisional Authority were safe - living in their own world - their beautifil minds completely obviously to the world of real live Iraqis.

Step by step, Chandrasekaran walks the reader through all the rebuilding projects that were scuttled, abandoned, sabotaged, or fucked up beyond all repair by the special combination of behaviors that we have come to know and love from our own domestic encounters with the neocons' style of governance: adhering inflexibly to rigid and preconceived "conservative" principles, rejecting input from the "reality-based community," refusing to accept the help or utilize the expertise of anyone deemed politically "suspect," assuming that they are always right regardless of mounting evidence to the contrary, and the identifying loyalty to Bush and his circle as the primary and in many cases indeed the only job qualification required.


The Lack of A "Plan".

The general outline of this story was apparent to anyone who was paying attention to the news during the early years of the war. What gives Emerald City its horrifying fascination is the way Chandrasekaran uses his two years of reporting, research, and interviews to recreate with sickening immediacy and astonishing intimacy the disaster that we have been forced to witness from afar and through a glass darkly.

For instance, we have long been outraged by our sense that the Bush administration launched the invasion without a plan for dealing with the aftermath--beyond the now-infamous 'strategy' of miraculously being welcomed by the Iraqis bearing not only flowers but a complete blueprint for a new democratic government that had unanimous popular support. Well, Chandrasekaran's early chapters argue that, in fact, it wasn't so much that they didn't think to come up with a plan: in fact, they deliberately prevented Jay Garner, the guy Douglas Feith had tapped to be in charge of the postinvasion phase, from coming up with one. Why? Because, according to Chandrasekaran, they were afraid that if Garner was allowed to come up with a real plan, it might interfere with Rumsfeld, Cheney, Feith et al.'s plan, which was basically to turn the joint over to Achmed Chalabi as soon as possible. In partciular, they were very worried that he might talk to people at the State Department who knew something about Iraq--and who consequently felt that the administration's plans for Iraq were a load of horsehockey.

So, they didn't tell Garner that there was a two-year study called the Future of Iraq Project being run by the State Department that had already produced 2500 pages' worth of policy recommendations about what to do during the postwar phase of a "post-Saddam Iraq." When Garner, more or less by chance, met the guy who was in charge of the project, he hired him. A week later, Rumsfeld (acting, Garner says he was later told, on orders from Cheney), demanded that Garner fire him, thus cutting off Garner's access to the project's reports (which of course were classified)


So the lack of post-invasion planning wasn't really a total screw-up -- it was a deliberate screw-up.


Even their good ideas, typically turned out badly when it came to execution.

Two weeks , the ORHA ministers had worked up a list of sites in Baghdad that needed security. Atop the list was the Central Bank. Then came the National Museum. The Oil Ministry was at the bottom. Weeks later, ORHA personnel discovered that the military had failed to transmit the list to ground commanders in Baghdad.


Which explains, perhaps, why the only building that the soldiers did protect from looting was the Ministry of Oil.



Flowers and Chocolate?

Public discussion of Iraq has been so focused on Saddam himself that there is very little understanding here of the larger system that was in place when we invaded Iraq in 2003. Iraq before the invasion was a bloated, inefficient, Soviet-style socialist bureaucracy, complete with the kind of official corruption peculiar to that particular system. Because everyone on the CPA assumed that that kind of system was an unmitigated evil and that the birth of free-market capitalism from its ashes was a process a thousand times more natural than childbirth and requiring far less intervention, the CPA was unable to follow through on their dream of privatization.

It did not occur to them, for instance, that firing redundant personnel from government-run industries in order to make them more profitable might spark protests, riots, and deadly reprisals in a country where for two generations there had been guaranteed employment for large sections of the population. Not only did they get the people issues wrong, they even got the economic issues wrong.


Oops.

Time and time again this scenario is repeated, qualified and knowledgeble people are fired and replaced with no-nothing ideologues. More rejection of good personal and good ideas - for bad.

Searching through this banquet of outrage for one example that would really crystallize the fundamental dysfunction that made the 'rebuilding' effort doomed from before the beginning, I came up with this description of how the CPA approached rebuilding Iraq's health care system:


Once the Americans arrived, the job of rehabilitating Iraq's health-care system fell to Frederick M. Burkle, jr., a physicial with a master's degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, and the University of California at Berkeley. Burkle was a naval reserve officer with two Bronze Stars and a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development. He taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he specialized in disaster-response issues. During the first Gulf War, he provided medical aid to Kurds in northern Iraq. A USAID colleague called him the "single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States Government."


True to form, Burkle was fired and replaced by a fundamentalist hack.

Burkle's job was handed to James K. Haveman, Jr., a sixty-year-old social worker who was largely unknown among international health experts. He had no medical degree, but he had connections. He had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engler, who recommended him to Wolfowitz.

Prior to his stint in government, Haveman ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.


And that works out about as well as you'd expect it to. Instead of trying to rehabilitate and refurnish the hospitals that are trying to cope with a constant influx of the horribly wounded without basic medical equipment or reliable electric power, Haveman decides his goal is to "refashion Iraq's socialist health-care system into one that looked more American, with co-payments and primary-care clinics." Not understanding, apparently, that the needs of a country with an ongoing guerilla war involving massive civilian casualties are different from the needs of, say, a large for-profit hospital system trying to cut down on Medicare and Medicaid costs.

Haveman didn't like the idea that medical care in Iraq was free. He figured Iraqis should pay a small fee every time they saw a doctor. He also decided to allocate almost all of the Health Ministry's $793 million share of U.S. reconstruction funds to renovating maternity hospitals and building new community medical clinics. His intention, he said, was "to shift the mind-set of the Iraqis that you don't get health care unless you go to a hospital."

But his decision meant there were no reconstruction funds set aside to rehabilitate the emergency rooms and operating theaters at Iraqi hospitals, even though injuries from insurgent attacks were the country's single largest public health challenge.


Whoops.

What is described here was previously excerpted by a Washington Post article (diaried by George10 in Sept) that talks about how Katie O'Beirne's husband was put in charge of hiring members of the Coalition Provisional Authority and exclusivly looked for those with the right ideological credentials only.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What they needed to be was a member of the Republican Party.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.


And we wonder why $8.8 Billion dollars disappeared on the watch of the CPA in a puff of blue smoke? It's a wonder it wasn't $20 billion.

It's this type of ideologically bent illogic, like Paradigm Paralysis on Crack, that has been preventing geologist at the Grand Canyon from practicing geology. It's Bush's Narcissism run-amok, coupled with Cheney's distorted "vision" of reality.

[The] story is repeated over and over in every sector. Whether they're trying to create an Iraqi media network or retrain the Iraqi police force, it's the same fuck up for the same reasons as the same pattern repeats itself. Qualified people are rejected for top spots in favor of self-confident, autocratic, politically-connected idiots who don't know what they're doing and won't listen to people who do. Said politically-connected idiots propose sweeping, radical, shiny new policies which will use a lot of fancy technology and private capital to build a bigger, better, American-style version of whatever it is they're in charge of. These changes are never ultimately implemented, and whatever it was is left worse than when they began.


Hence not only have we broken Iraq's back in terms of security, we've also broken that nation in every way imaginable - financially, socially, medically - every essential service and element of their infrastructure has been severly compromised by right-wing political hackery.

And the truly sad part is those people who recognized the problems and really have been legitimately trying to make our grand Iraq Experiment work - like our troops - have been completely stymied and betrayed by that mind-less B.S. of their higher-ups -- and of course - Jim O'Beirne.

The stories of the few top people who did grasp what was happening and try to make a difference are that much more painful because it's so clear that they had so little power to impact the final outcome, despite their often quite heroic efforts to do their jobs right with what little they were given.


And that is the true failure of Iraq, It is the betrayal of the Iraqi people, the betrayal of those who fought hard and died, American and Iraqi alike, to help the Iraqi people build a better future for themselves.

We've done more than enough damage to this poor country, it's well past time we finally ended the experiment and let them out of the cage.

They deserve their freedom - from us.

Vyan

Thursday, December 28

What Liberals Want...

Last week I wrote a four part series detailing the many reasons why George W. Bush (and various members of his administration) must be Impeached.

This post isn't about that.

It's about one response I received - from an obvious winger - that I feel deserves a full throated response.

How about a plan for the new administration?
you liberals can spend an inordinate amount of energy trying to impeach President Bush if you wish. I think your energies could be spent in a more constructive fashion by actually establishing some kind of plan after the current administration is gone in January 2009.

The plan is simple - undue all the shit that Bush has fucked up gross errors of the Bush Administration. That alone should keep us busy for nearly a decade.

What our right-leaning friend didn't seem to understand as I listed Count after Count against Bush including - Intelligence Fraud, Domestic Espionage, War Crimes and Torture and Criminal Negligence - clearly outlined a broad swath of consensus among liberals (and more than a few genuine conservatives) about how the direction of this country needs to be correct.

All you need to discover the "Liberal Plan" is to reverse everything that Bush has done during his Presidency - but not in the way that Conservatives and Karl Rove would like to project onto us with B.S. slogans such as "cut and run" or "appeasment", "stop listening to al-Qeada". No, there are far better ways to address this.

To Wit on the first count: Fraud.

  • We need to restore the credibility of our intelligence services and the legitimacy of the word of the President.
  • We need to rebuild our alliances with the UN, European Union and NATO - and begin to act as a much better neighbor and partner for peace than we have been.
  • We need to relearn how to implement genuine Diplomacy, not just with our friends - but also with those we disagree with including Palestine, Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Count 2 : Domestic Espionage.

  • We need to end Warrantless Domestic Spying and begin to abide by FISA and the Law while performing counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism against foreign threats.
  • We need to restore Probable Cause and end the NSA Datamine program.
  • We need to learn to better utilize resources, and better target suspect individuals without casting a net so wide that thousands of innocent persons become ensnared in the web.

Count 3 : War Crimes and Torture

  • We need to abide by the Geneva Conventions, which as a treaty is considered part of our own law under the Constitution.
  • We need to stop giving lip service and actually end all torture, and coercive (and ineffective) interrogation techniques as well as permenently close Gitmo and the Secret CIA prisons.
  • We need to restore Habeas Corpus and repeal the Military Commissions Act.

Count 4 : Criminal Negligence

  • We need to fight al-Qaeda effectively and directly, rather than let ourselves be diverted into side-isseus (such as Iraq or Iran).
  • We need to end the War Profiteering, the outsourcing of our military with sweatheart deals to contractors.
  • We need to solve the Iraq Issue, most likely by finally bringing the heads of the internal (Suni, Shia, Krud) and external factions (Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Turkey) in this conflict together in some sort of Reconciliation summit to resolve the key issues between them. Splitting the nation into semi-independant sectarian states with a weakened national government may be part of the solution (ala Biden & Bosnia), as might be Amnesty for Insurgents - but the issues should be resolved around a negotiating table, not in the streets of Baghdad or with the Blood of our soldiers. Either way, we're not fighting our way out of this - surge or not surge.
  • We need to serously address Nuclear Proliferation, and bring greater international and direct diplomatic pressure onto North Korea and Iran to end their weapons programs.
  • We need to repair the Gulf Coast, and end the fraud and curruption which has already wasted and lost a $1 Billion with few results.

Other issues off the top of my head which currently fall below the levels of "High Crimes" but are still vital and I strongly suspect have a high-consensus among liberals and many conservatives alike.

  • We need to End the Birth Tax - (aka Fix the Deficit by reversing Bush's out of control spending and tax cut mania - yet retaining credits and tax breaks for individuals and companies that take responsible action to aid national priorities)
  • We need to teach Science in to Science class - not pseudo-Scientific creationism (People are free to go to Sunday School or Comparitive Religion Class for that)
  • We need to teach our kids Real Sex Ed - not lie to them about Condoms and Abstinance.
  • We need to create a 21st Century Apollo Program to fight the rise of CO2 emissions, develop and implement effective low-emissions technologies - not just to save the Polar Bears, but to save us all.
  • We need to dramatically raise the minimum wage so that working families do not continue to fall behind as the economy grows.
  • We need to tell companies like Wal-Mart to get off the public dole and providing affordable for the healthcare for their workers.
  • We need the government to stop spreading propaganda through the media, and restore the fairness doctrine.

The arguments that "Liberals Don't have an agenda" is just plain ridiculous.

Also isn't it interesting that many people who like to claim this tripe (O'Leilly) simultaneously claim that the we do have a "secular progressive stealth agenda?" Self-contradiction much?

They know we have an agenda that goes far beyond just Impeaching and Removing George W. Bush, in fact, that's exactly what they're most afraid of. Tossing out Bush and Co will, if and when it occurs, will only be showing the tip of the spear.

I'm sure most of you have your own list of examples...

Vyan

Wednesday, December 27

Leaders are where you make them

On the day before Christmas we had a first time diarist post an excellent commentary (even if unseemly visual) Growing up Under Bush on the apathy of our latest generation of youngsters and they enter voting age.

I was born in 1988. I was 12 years old when President Bush was "elected". I will cast my first vote in the 2008 election. I've chosen my first diary to talk about the political attitudes I've observed among people my age.

I live in an area that's predominately well-educated and liberal. Most young people in my area are deeply politically-engaged. Since we've been politically aware, the American political system has been dominated by the incompetence of the Bush administration. One might expect such a repulsive executive would lead to outrage among the youth, just as Nixon and the Vietnam War did for our parents' generation. Instead, it's lead to widespread apathy and detachment.


I agree - however, it's wasn't quite as rosey back then as it now seems - nor is it quite a bad today. And not everything is George W. Bush's fault.

The situation we find ourselves in is one that's so enraging, so insulting to intelligent observers that there's no action strong enough to act as an appropriate response. Instead of taking to the streets with signs and songs, the youth has taken no unified public action. We lack the Kennedys (both John and Bobby), the MLK, the Malcolm X to guide our responses. Basically, we lack inspired leadership. So instead of becoming politically active, students grumble about Bush while planning to become investment bankers.


On the same day Readheads diary was posted, on Christmas, James Brown died. Although he is mostly known as the "Godfather of Soul", the man with the original "Happy Feet" - in 1968 he became much much more.

MLK March on the CapitalI was born in 1963, just a scant month before John Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, TX. He remains a hero in my household to this very day, as does his brother Bobby and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. All of them, along with Malcolm X, had been murdered by the time I was five years-old in 1968.

MLK - Washington RallyAlthough many remember the 60's a the time of "Kum-bah-yah", brotherly love, and massive Washington Protest the reality at the time was very different. After the killing the John, the shooting of Martin caused the nation to erupt in flame. The Original King Riots burned dozens of cities across the U.S., as peoples hope which had been ignited by Jack, Bobby and Martin was violently extinguished.

And the man who stopped the violence, at least for a single night - was James Brown - With his songs and words during a nationally broadcast concert in Boston.

... King was assassinated and cities across America engulfed by riots. Brown may have singlehandedly saved Boston from burning. A day after the April 4 murder, he was scheduled to play a concert there. Nervous city fathers proposed cancelling the show until wiser heads pointed out that angry ticket buyers would definitely cause mayhem.

Brown arranged with the local public television station to broadcast the concert live, and he went on the radio to urge fans to stay home and watch it for free. The city's black neighborhoods were eerily quiet as a moist-eyed Brown took to the stage of the Boston Garden and punctuated his funky soul tunes with remembrances of King and appeals for calm.

The day after the Boston show, Brown flew to Washington D.C., which had been badly hit by riots. Once again, he took to the airwaves to appeal for restraint and to declare that education and ownership were better ways to seek justice.


One leader fell, and another rose to take his place and to call for peace. Such is how it has ever been.

Kent StateBut at the time, the bitterness and cynicism only grew strong. Woodstock gave way to Altamont and Kent State. The fun and free-loving hippies gave way to violence of the Manson Family and The S.L.A. Hippies gone Wild and not in a nice info-mercialicius I'm ready-for-the-money-shot kind of way.

AIM - Custer Had it ComingEventually Martin's call for strength through non-violence was overtaken by the Militance of the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement (who actually took armed control of Alcatraz Island for nearly two years from 1969-1971).

What we saw by the end of the 70's was largely the end of idealism, and the birth of turbo narcissism. After all the ugliness and strife of the late 60's and early 70's, although the Civil Rights War and the fight to end the Vietnam War had both been won - although Nixon had been driven from office in shame. People weren't rejoicing - after so much death, after leaders of both the Black Panthers, A.I.M and were hunted down, killed in police shoot-outs and/or jailed on bogus . lame . trumped up. charges after being illegally surveilled - they were drowning their sorrows in the drugs, the sex and the boogie. Anything to take their minds off of the cold hard reality of the Watergate, the energy crisis and American Hostages in Iran.

This is not so different from what we're seeing from the youth today and the fall of their own early 90's awakening with the rise and fall of Bill Clinton and Kurt Cobain.

The more things change...

Readhead:

Policy-wise, no leader has articulated a position that engages the youth enough to activate us. Try chanting "In 3 to 5 months we want a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of our presence in Iraq!" It doesn't work, and we haven't seen an alternative.

This administration has silenced the opposition to such an extent that young progressives don't know what opposition looks like. This does not mean mainstream liberals are free from blame. If we use the current Democratic establishment as a model, opposition looks a lot like equivocation, which is not something that teenagers respond well to.


I'm not so sure that a position hasn't been articulated - I would argue that it's been deliberately drowned out, by the very same people who fought so vehemently against Martin, Malcolm, Bobby and Cesar Chavez back in the day.

You have to remember that most of the most effectively leaders from the 60's and 70's didn't come from politics - they came from the people. Martin was no politician, he was a preacher. He simpy spoke truth to power with an eloquence and charisma that made people listen. And made others very afraid.

The Reich-Wing has made it their number-one priority to tamped down dissent - just as Nixon tried to do - and they have been partially successful, but not completely. When N.W.A. spoke up about Police Brutality with "Fuck tha Police" they received a threatening letter from the F.B.I. When Body Count echoed that sentiment with Cop Killer, the right-wing used it as a rallying point and their record label received death threats. As did the Dixie Chicks, and as has Keith Olbermann.

LA Immigration Rally - May 1st, 2006This has continued today and is why we see such virilent attacks on the likes of Cindy Sheehan, Bev Harris, Joseph Wilson, Larry Wilkerson, Larry Johnson, Ray McGovern, Howard Dean, The Jersey Girls, The Dixie Chicks, Pink, Neil Young, Ward Churchill, Jay Bennish, Harry Belafonte, George Clooney, John Murtha and John Kerry, They wish to hide and distract from the fact that we have already had massives rallies over both Immigration as well as World Wide Protest Against the War involving nearly 10 Million people!

January 10, 2003: In Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, California, at the two largest peace rallies, the crowds were urged on by international peace activists, religious leaders, members of Congress, actors and musicians.

At least tens of thousands of people rallied on the Mall in Washington, and a similar-size group crowded downtown San Francisco.


Further examples of World-Wide Anti-War Protest courtesy of System of a Down.


None of those who have chosen to stand-up against the Bush Administration are "perfect". Martin wasn't perfect either, less than two months before his death the FBI threatened to expose his affair - which they had discovered using illegal wiretaps - and attempted to convince him to commit suicide. Both Jack and Bobby were adulterers. Malcolm X was forced out of the National of Islam because he threatened to expose the infidelity of the Nation's leader Elijah Mohammad.

Consider this a plea for real leadership. For someone who unifies all progressives and liberals and gives us a war to fight. For a party that eschews infighting and incrimentalism in favor of real change. For a movement that sweeps up all of us with its fervor. Because if it doesn't happen, the future will be a dark one indeed.


If the youth are waiting for the perfect leader to emerge, they'll be waiting a very long time.

I deeply simpathize with Readhead's frustation and feeling of isolation from the apathetic. I know what it's like to feel like you just missed what might have been a momentous movement to have been apart of. I was far too young for Woodstock. I hardly remember the Watt's Riots. (However I do remember Manson, and the SLA House burning down here in South Central)


No-one in my day-to-day life, with the exception of my wife, happens to feel or express modern issues nearly as deeply as myself. Rather than discuss the issues of the day this Christmas, my choices were to either listen to my cousins smack-talk each other while playing Madden '07 on their playstation in the bedroom- or the menopause/breast cancer conversation taking place with my mother and her siblings in the dining room. Anyone whose views would tend to lean to the hard-right has long been excised from my life - I don't really need to any freepers in my world.

So I had a beer, then another...

And then I came back here - to our virtual rally. Like the bad-ole days of Cointelpro we have the FBI and NSA tapping our phones, we have the threat of being called "traitors" simply for pointing out that the Iraq War was the wrong cause and is now lost - we face accusations of being kool-aid drinking "haters" for simply documenting the Bush Administration crimes. We face losing our freedom and being thrown into Gitmo for being "aidders and abetters". A bit of stealthiness is now essential.

It is here we find solace and an oasis from the fear-mongering and pandering of the corporate media.

It is here that we plan, that we strategize, that we become and help shape the leaders of tomorrow, rather than waiting around for them.

The Reich-Wing did their worst against us this year - and it was largely through our efforts, the Netroots, the small donations and the efforts of the people on the ground - that we fought them back and took over both houses of congress.

We - the Citizen Media - are the ones now driving our own ship of state. Forget "Free Speach Zones" - we tell our Representatives exactly where they should go, not the other away around. Our "Leaders" are now Kos, Joshua Micah Marshall, Arriana Huffington, Digby, Media Matters, Truthout and Thinkprogress. Our leaders are Us.

So I welcome Readhead to Dkos - and others who feel similarly - but I also make a request of them. Instead of looking to guidance from others - Be ready to become the leader that you most wish to see, because that's what the future will ultimately demand from all of us.

We all have a responsibility, not just "them" - that's what Democracy truly means.

And for all those who are too busy playing with their X-Box and planning their investment portfolio - at least they won't be standing in the way as we change the course of this country.

Vyan

Tuesday, December 26

Quick Truths

From Thinkprogress.

“President Bush is bracing for what could be an onslaught of investigations by the new Democratic-led Congress by hiring lawyers to fill key White House posts and preparing to play defense on countless document requests and possible subpoenas.”

“Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth.” Some uninhabited islands have been covered in recent years, but disappearance of Lohachara, an island off the coast of India that was “once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.”

British and Iraqi soldiers raided a police station in Basra on Monday, uncovering “appalling” detainee conditions. “More than 100 men were crowded into a single cell, 30 feet by 40 feet, he said, with two open toilets… A significant number showed signs of torture. Some had crushed hands and feet…, while others had cigarette and electrical burns and a significant number had gunshot wounds to their legs and knees.”

“Supplies of highly potent Afghan heroin in the United States are growing so fast that the pure white powder is rapidly overtaking lower-quality Mexican heroin, prompting fears of increased addiction and overdoses.” Heroin-related deaths in Los Angeles County “soared from 137 in 2002 to 239 in 2005, a jump of nearly 75% in three years.”

Sitting Missouri Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr. has published a book claiming to “expose the liberal judicial assault.” The first chapter, which has circulated online, “frequently uses the term ‘femifascists.’” Lawyers and judges believe “Dierker may have violated a state rule against a judge using his or her position for personal profit.” Dierker’s book roll-out begins with a Bill O’Reilly interview next week.

More U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq

than the number of people killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. At least 2,977 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and the 9/11 milestone came on Christmas.


President Bush has not accepted “the realities

of how bad it is on the ground in Iraq.” — Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), quoted in the New York Times, 12/25/06.


U.S. holding Iranians seized in Iraq.

The American military is holding at least four Iranians in Iraq, including men the Bush administration called senior military officials, who were seized in a pair of raids late last week aimed at people suspected of conducting attacks on Iraqi security forces, according to senior Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad and Washington…The action comes at a moment of extraordinary tension in the three-way relationship between the United States, Iran and Iraq.”

Monday, December 25

The Yule Blog

Happy Holidays with the Yule Blog.

Run DMC - Christmas in Hollis

RUN DMC - Christmas in Hollis, the seminal Hip Hop Group who were the first to mix Rock and Rap with their own take on the Holiday Spirit.