Is America Burning - a Forum To Discuss Issues

All comments welcome, pro or con. Passionate ok, but let's be civil. ...Pertinent comments will be published on this blog. Air your viewpoints.


Skyline - Houston, Texas

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baghdad Today

From McClatchy and

We already know the civil war which some claim doesn't exist is a reality. This article goes into some depth explaining the geographical breakdown in the city. Interesting, tragic, and much of it is new to me.

Neighborhood by neighborhood, Baghdad descends into civil war

By Hannah Allam and Mohammed al Dulaimy
McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sectarian violence has turned Baghdad into a deadly jigsaw puzzle of contested neighborhoods where armed bands of Shiite and Sunni Muslims battle daily for control in fighting that is far more similar to an organized military campaign than is generally acknowledged.

For the most part, the Tigris River is still the shimmering blue line that divides Baghdad's predominantly Sunni west, the Karkh, from the majority Shiite east, the Risafa. But over the past several months, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, often backed by government security forces, has pushed into the western side of the capital and is driving Sunnis from their homes in the east.

Sunni forces - neighborhood youths, former Baath Party members, Islamist extremists - are conducting their own purges to expand their grip on the west and defend their brethren across the river.

Residents trapped in the capital's most fiercely contested districts braced Sunday for a new wave of bloodshed when a 24-hour curfew ends Monday. Reached by telephone, they all offered the same grim assessment: civil war has begun.

That assessment seemed bolstered by a three-pronged assault by the Mahdi Army late Sunday into the Jihad neighborhood, a western Baghdad district once the domain of athletes, diplomats and other middle-class Iraqis of both sects who relied on their lower-income neighbors, mostly Shiites, for vital supplies such as cooking gas and heating fuel.

Sunnis and Shiites traded gunfire from behind sandbags piled in front of mosques and from rooftop posts until U.S. troops entered the fray and tamped down the violence.

Fighting also has been fierce in the Hurriyah district, a one-time mixed district where the Mahdi Army's efforts at complete segregation have been stopped only by the stubbornness of some families who'd rather face death than abandon their homes.

"I was born in this house. My father built this house," said Salah Ahmed, 34, one of the few remaining Sunnis in the area. "If we have to die here in this house, we will. But we will never leave it." For months, the sects have traded kidnappings, gunfire and intimidation on families to flee. Last Thursday, a series of car bombings in the vast Shiite district of Sadr City killed some 200 people and injured at least that many more.

An old Iraqi love song celebrates a woman's eyes as so beautiful that "you won't find the likes of them in Karkh or Risafa." These days, both sides of the river are battlefields for sectarian supremacy.



The most violent reprisal attacks for the Sadr City blasts came in Hurriyah, the blue-collar neighborhood where Saddam Hussein's bureaucrats stored tea and other government rations in large warehouses. Until recently, Hurriyah remained a mixed-sect neighborhood, celebrated by Iraqis as the home district of the country's best-loved singer, Kadhim al-Saher, who is said to have a parent from each sect.

For the first two years after the U.S. invasion, Hurriyah was known as a hotbed for the Sunni insurgency. In 2006, however, Mahdi Army militiamen began inching into the area from Shiite districts to the northeast and northwest.

Local Sunnis, along with extremist groups, are fighting back to prevent the militia's capture of Hurriyah. Losing it would mean near-total Shiite control of the northwest side of the Tigris. So far, at least three of about a dozen Sunni mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi Army and converted into Shiite places of worship. Two others were flattened in bombings and burnings, including one in the past week.

Residents estimate that two-thirds of Hurriyah is now under Mahdi Army control, with just one large Sunni holdout that's protected by the Batta tribe, known as fierce warriors with roots in the western Anbar province.

Another flashpoint area in western Baghdad is Kadhemiya, home to the landmark golden-domed shrine of a revered Shiite saint. Just across the river is Adhemiya, where the Abu Hanifa mosque houses the most important Sunni shrine in the capital.

With the Shiite shrine on the Sunni side, and the Sunni shrine on the Shiite side, fighting became so fierce that the bridge linking the neighborhoods was sealed. Now, each side pelts the other with mortars and small arms fire, and there are fears the violence could return soon to hand-to-hand combat.

Nizar Hussein, 36, is a Shiite from a mixed-sect family in Kadhemiya. Only the Shiite branch was allowed to remain in the area; the Sunnis were intimidated into leaving.

"They found a black X sign on their wall, which meant, `Leave the house,'" Hussein said. "My aunt's family tried to find out who did it, but the neighbors just told them it was best to leave the area like the other Sunnis."

Sunnis have been all but eliminated from the northwest neighborhood of Shoala, whose name means "torch" in Arabic. The Mahdi Army is in control of the area and recently renamed it "Shoalat al-Sadrein," or "Torch of the Two Sadrs," a reference to Muqtada al-Sadr and his late father.

Ghazaliya is another flashpoint. Bordering Shoala, Ghazaliyah is still a predominantly Sunni area that is home to Umm al-Qura Mosque, the headquarters of the militant Association of Muslim Scholars, the leading Sunni religious faction in Iraq that's accused of having close ties with the insurgency.

The Sunnis in Ghazaliyah, an upscale district with clusters of former officers from Saddam's regime, have pushed Shiite residents to the border of Shoala with a campaign of intimidation and violence. This ribbon of Shiite families has turned into a front line as each side tries to push into the other's district.

Another sign of the Mahdi Army's foray into western Baghdad is sporadic fighting in Mansour, once the capital's most exclusive neighborhood, but now a virtual ghost town, its shops shuttered and its well-heeled residents gone. Residents say the Mahdi Army has seized control of the former headquarters of the Baath Party and sectarian violence is rising, with at least one report of a Shiite man executed by insurgents solely because his wife was Sunni.

Further south on the Karkh side of the river, the most tense areas include the two heavily mixed neighborhoods of Saidiyah and Doura. Sunni and Shiite once lived side by side in Saidiyah, but hundreds of Sunni families have fled the area, leaving entire streets dotted with "For Sale" signs.

In Saidiyah, Sunni insurgents sneak in from Doura and other districts with the help of locals, to carry out quick-hit attacks. The Mahdi Army, in turn, has dispatched militiamen from other districts to Saidiyah. The entire neighborhood is on edge, and residents anticipate heavy fighting in the coming days.

Baghdad's chief refinery and power station are in Doura, and majestic churches signaled the neighborhood's large Christian population. But most of the Christians fled months ago, leaving the area as a vicious battleground for al-Qaida-allied insurgents and the Mahdi Army. The militia has staged mass kidnappings of Sunnis, while Sunnis have dumped fliers on Shiite families ordering them to leave the area.

The southern part of Doura, which gives way to palm groves and villages on the way out of Baghdad, is a vital base of the Sunni insurgency. The two most recent high-level arrests of suspected al-Qaida operatives occurred there. And the picturesque date farms have become launching pads for rockets and mortars aimed at the U.S. and Iraqi government compound called the Green Zone.

In the Jihad district, the main road is the dividing line between a Sunni insurgent foothold and a growing Mahdi Army enclave, and in the nearby Amil district, Sunni insurgents are warning Sunni families to leave because they intend to target the neighborhood's Shiites. An 80-year-old Shiite man who gave his name as Hajj Abu Mohamed said he walks by the deserted homes of his Sunni neighbors with sadness.

"I feel emptiness in my soul. We were neighbors since 1980," he said. "They went to Ameriya, where they took over the homes of displaced Shiites."



The eastern side of the Tigris is anchored by Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite ghetto where some 2 million people crowd 12.5 square miles. The area is named for Muqtada al-Sadr's father, a revered cleric killed by Saddam, and is the base for the Mahdi Army.

"We want to deliver a clear message to everyone: We've run out of patience," said Taif Ali, 25, a member of the Mahdi Army. "We can't accept that we're the majority in a country and unable to defend ourselves. The displacement of families happens from both sides. We're just responding."

Still, pockets of Sunni resistance remain in the east.

There's also fighting between rival Shiite militias, with the Mahdi Army battling the Badr Organization, the armed wing of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

Perhaps the most explosive neighborhood east of the river is Baladiyat, which residents describe as a free-for-all for an array of factions. There's an active Sunni extremist insurgency, the Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army, the capital's largest remaining Christian community and an apartment complex filled with Palestinian refugees. Residents said the Mahdi Army's infiltration of the local police force gives the militia the upper hand to carry out attacks.

Assassinations, kidnappings and street clashes are commonplace among the Muslim factions; guards in front of barricaded churches are the most visible Christian presence.

Other disputed territories on the Risafa side include Shaab, the gateway for Iraqis driving north into the so-called Sunni triangle; Zayuna, where the Mahdi Army recently captured the busy thoroughfare of Palestine Street; and Kamaliya, which the militia almost totally has cleansed of indigenous gypsies and a red-light district.

"I believed in what they were fighting for," said Haider Najeeb, a Shiite college student who's grown disillusioned with the Mahdi Army. "I thought they were fighting for a principle, but it turns out they have none.

"I'm afraid the civil war we have now is nothing compared to what is coming."

McClatchy Newspapers special correspondents Omar Jassim, Zaineb Obeid and Laith Hammoudi contributed from Baghdad.


Another View !

Will visitors who read the Nov. 26 post "Winning Their Hearts and Minds??" video, please check out the Nov. 27 post "The RIGHT way to Treat People and Win Hearts and Minds". Examples of the GOOD our troops do in spite of the horrors of war, insurgent attacks, and all the evil that men do.

I am a Christian. I am not a Buddhist. However, I find much wisdom in many belief systems, such as the following:

Daily Buddhist Wisdom
The Buddha was joined by his own son, Rahula, a young boy. He advised him: "Cultivate Rahula, a meditation on loving-kindness, for by cultivating loving-kindness, ill will is banished forever.

Cultivate, too, a meditation on compassion, for by cultivating compassion, you will find harm and cruelty disappear."

-Majjhima Nikaya From "The Pocket Buddha Reader," edited by Anne Bancroft, 2000. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Boston,
It would do well for us as a nation to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. As Jesus taught, 'Love your neighbor as you love your self".

Definition of a Bush.

What do you call a uniting of Corporatism, Fascism, and Fundamentalism?

A George W. Bush.

Bush is determined that his plans for this nation is right, mandated by God - "God told me to..." - and he is undeterred in his efforts to continue the placement of as many people in key positions to further the Cause. He is well aware that once in position, they will be difficult to dislodge no matter how much the Democrats may howl, and they can continue re-shaping this country according to the fundies' and corporations' visions for the future.

He will not learn a thing because he believes he already knows it all.

How much more damage can he do in the next two years? TOO MUCH !!

A Solution to Inability to Learn?

Groups Across Country Plan for Human Rights and Impeachment Day on Sunday, Dec. 10; Many Events Already Planned, More in the Works

December 10th is Human Rights Day, and this year we're making it Human Rights and Impeachment Day. Here's our slogan: "Putting Impeachment on the Table."

This is a chance to get organized locally and learn what's needed to lobby the new Congress for the investigations and impeachment hearings that will restore the rule of law to America.

You can sign up to attend a town hall forum, rally, vigil, training session, or house party in your area.

Or create a new event and post it online for others to sign up and attend.

If you choose to organize a new event or to help organize one that's already being planned, you'll want to check the list of available speakers and the many useful resources (petitions, information sheets, talking points, tools for honoring fallen troops, dramatic plays, videos, songs, imPEACHment food, shirts, signs, puppets) linked here:

New Resources

The resources provided now include sample media advisories, sample flyers, and a brief guide to how you can BE the media, including where you can post videos of your events online.

Events Already Planned

Events already planned include, on December 9 in NEW YORK, NY, a town hall forum with former Congress Member Elizabeth Holtzman, Co-Founder of Gold Star Families for Peace Cindy Sheehan, and Co-Founder of,, and Bob Fertik. And on December 10 in SANTA BARBARA, CA, a rally with Colonel Ann Wright, David Swanson, Rae Abileah, Elizabeth De la Vega, Dennis Loo, and Geoff Millard, followed by a march and a demonstration at Arlington West with Carlos and Melida Arredondo; in SAN FRANCISCO, CA a Human Rights/Impeachment Day Rally with The World Can't Wait, Codepink, Answer, Moveon, SF GREENS, Actsagainsttorture, and; in LOS ANGELES, CA an Impeachment Workshop providing materials for people to become media/street heat activists on the topic of Impeachment; in the SAN FERNANDO VALLEY, CA, an Impeachment Town Hall that will provide pro-impeachment individuals with the talking points necessary to counter those who disagree with impeachment. Confirmed speakers include Assemblyman Paul Koretz; author of "U.S. v. Bush", Elizabeth de la Vega; and political science professor, Dennis Loo; in CHULA VISTA, CA a Town Hall Forum on Presidential Accountability: Invited are Congressman Bob Filner, 49th CD Candidate Jeeni Criscenzo, and incoming president of the National Lawyers Guild, Marjorie Cohn; in CHICAGO, IL an Informal Impeachment Rally: People who want Bush and Cheney impeached should come out with signs, banners, and whatever else, indicating that you demand impeachment; in TALLAHASSEE, FL a Rally for War Crimes Trials with speakers, petitions, and fact sheets, held in conjuntion with Tallahassee's Eternal Peace Vigil; in GAINESVILLE, FL an Impeach, Indict, Imprison! event; in JACKSONVILLE, FL a rally to demand impeachment of Bush and Cheney; in WASHINGTON, DC a panel-led discussion and multi-media presentation; in WAYNE, NJ a Holiday Forum and Party: Why New Jersey Must Impeach the Bush Gang; in PROVIDENCE, RI a Rally and March; in CAMBRIDGE, MA a forum with notable musicians, activists, and orators; and an event in SEATTLE, WA with details to come.

Sign up to attend any of these events, or organize your own event, large or small:


Congressional District Impeachment Committees (CDIC) Keep Growing

We're up to 59 CDIC's!

Don't see your CD? Start a CDIC here:

Organizers are out in the streets collecting petitions. In Sioux Falls SD, Mike Mills went petitioning with his dog Sandy and was written up in the state's leading newspaper!
Impeachment Organizer Makes News

Together we have collected over 31,000 signatures on our way to 1 million. Sign it today and spread the word!


Moveon Write-in Campaign for Impeachment

Moveon just emailed all their members to choose their priorities for the Democratic Congress. Non-members can also participate here:

We urge everyone to persuade Moveon to add impeachment to their priorities through a write-in campaign for "Impeach Bush and Cheney". You can write-in next to these questions:

  • What is the most important message you have for the new Congress?
  • Are there other issues that are important to work on right away?
  • What do you think MoveOn should do next?

If you think "Impeach Bush and Cheney" is the right answer to all 3 questions, write it in!


New on the Blog - Join in the Discussion!

New Reasons for Impeachment: 11/26/06

Let's Impeach the pResident

The Saturday Cartoons

Honor the Warrior, End the War

The Friday Political Grab Bag

Good Morning!

"Can't Get No Respect" - George Does Dangerfield

Janet Reno's Message to Bush - Get Over the Fascism SonnyBoy

How to Impeach Bush, Discredit McCain and Lieberman, and Save the Planet!

Pentagon STILL spying on antiwar movement.


Forward this message to everyone you know!

Monday, November 27, 2006

He Hasn't Learned a Thing

From the Los Angeles Times via Democratic Underground.

Was bizarre the strongest word they could find?

Bush's bizarre appointment

Erick Keroack is too extreme to head the federal office for family planning.
November 27, 2006

PRESIDENT BUsh made some winningly conciliatory remarks the day after his party's Nov. 7 electoral drubbing, saying he looked forward to governing in a more bipartisan fashion. Then he turned around and started naming kooky ideologues to key posts.

The latest recess appointment, Eric Keroack as head of the federal government's family planning office, is an extremist so out of line with scientific thought that it is difficult to describe his views without laughing.

As medical director of A Woman's Concern, a small chain of nonprofit pregnancy counseling clinics that offer no information on birth control, Keroack has agitated against abortion and even contraception — including for married women. The organization continues to push the discredited nonsense that abortion increases a woman's chances of breast cancer and is more dangerous during the first eight weeks of pregnancy (when, in fact, the risk of complication is actually at its lowest). Birth control, according to A Woman's Concern's tortured logic, is somehow "demeaning to women." And Keroack has argued that women who have sex with multiple partners alter their brain chemistry in the process, making it harder for them to form close relationships.

This is the man who will oversee $283 million in annual Department of Health and Human Services grants for providing access to family planning education and contraceptives "to all who want and need them."

The administration is still wasting $158 million a year on abstinence-only education programs that the Government Accountability Office concluded this month have not been shown to work and at times put forth misleading information about condoms and AIDS.

Keroack does not need Senate confirmation, so there is little Congress can do about a president who continues to select anti-scientific ideology over basic competence, aside from making it clear that funding for these programs depends on HHS using the money as intended.

But the real check on Bush's silliness comes from voters. On Nov. 7, efforts to limit women's reproductive rights were routed not only in California and Oregon but in South Dakota and Kansas. Appeasing social conservatives is not just bad policy, it's becoming losing politics as well.



The war in Iraq has now gone on longer than World War II.


The RIGHT Way to Treat Others and to Win Hearts and Minds

Military Personnel are drawn from a cross section of our society. Just as in our society at large there are individuals who are thoughtless, cruel, and insensitive, so are those in the military, as in the post below titled "Winning Their Hearts and Minds??" They are not representative of the Americans in general, and when their offenses come to light, they should be exposed.

We hear of many atrocities and incidences of maltreatment of Iraqis by American soldiers. Scandal sells newsies and gains viewers so these stories are given more press. The stories of goodness and humanitarianism are not as widely publicized. Posted are a FEW of the many good deeds done by American troops.

American aid to orphanages and schools
MOSUL – Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team visited an orphanage in Mosul, Iraq July 10, bringing gifts for the children.During a regular patrol through the city, 3rd Plt. stopped at a local orphanage to drop off soccer balls and other gifts that were donated. Some of the donations came from Forward Operating Base Marez and other donations were made by individuals back in the states.Soldiers from 3rd Platoon, C Company, 2nd battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team visited several Iraqi schools and an Iraqi orphanage on July 8. These Soldiers adopted one of the schools to help renovate and re-supply with educational goods. The Soldiers dropped off soccer balls and other goodies at the orphanage. (Photo by Spc. L.C. Campbell)
Soldier with Iraqi friends..
Iraqi children..........American soldier with Iraqi friends.
Soldiers comfort frightened Iraqi children after gunfire.

American soldier befriends Iraqi family
American soldier with friends
US and UK soldiers team up to donate aid to Iraqi Christian orphanage.
British and American soldiers donate clothes, shoes and toys to orphaned Iraqi children Here soldiers try a pair of shoes on an Iraqi orphan child.
American military dentist treats Iraqi children. ***********************************************************************************************

Chaplain (Capt.) Martin Cho, battalion chaplain, 325th Brigade Support Battalion, 25th Infantry Division, helps unload more than 50 boxes of school supplies, toys, stuffed animals and soccer balls to be distributed to more than 2,000 orphans in and around Kirkuk at Forward Operating Base Warrior. Official Department of Defense photo by Spc. Michael Alberts

Sunday, November 26, 2006

modem problems

Hello Everyone,

Gremlins have struck again so I am posting a note to let the world know.
peace love and buttercups, tatootim

7:30 PST

Gremlins back in their caves. I finally turned the whole thing off, let it sit and sulk for an hour, and turned it back on. It worked. Strange.



Returning Visitor

Good morning to Spadoman, a grandfather who lives in Ashland, Wisconsin with his wife Barb and comments here from time to time.

He's started a new blog called Round Circle. I've been over there reading his posts about life in Wisconsin. I enjoyed them all but this struck me especially.

The "legacy" of Viet Nam still haunts us all these years later and we seem to have learned nothing. One of our closest friends committed suicide about five years ago. His story was similar to Tim's in some respects. He never recovered. I hope Tim and our friend found the peace in death that eluded them in life.

Thanks for your comment on WA's post Spadoman. I couldn't believe how we were tormenting those children. Or I didn't want to believe it.


Winning Their Hearts and Minds ??

YouTube™ – Broadcast Yourself

I want to share the following video with you: you may have to click on the play arrow twice.

Video Description: U.S. Soldiers Offer Clean Water to Iraqi Children. Winning Their Hearts and Minds? How Do You Think These Children Regard the Americans After Being Taunted With a False Promise of Fresh, Clean Water? This is Despicable Cruelty - and They LAUGH at the Desperate Children. Watch How Far The Last Child Ran After the Proffered Bottle of Water. ONE BOTTLE OF WATER!! WHAT IF THAT WAS YOUR CHILD?? WA

(from blogger who posted this video):

Lets make things clear, I have never been to Iraq let alone set foot out of the borders of the US. I received this video from someone who was over there. The person I got it from did not make the disk, they got it from a friend they met while over there. So there's no telling how many times this was handed down.

So stop sending me messages telling me to burn in hell. I will just ignore you and then block you.

If you work for the media and you want more info, I don't have it. What I do have are dozen of other short videos that where on the DVD that I received from the source. The other videos might shed some light and help answer some questions. Just put the pieces together and you might see the picture you're after.

Now excuse me, I have a bloated inbox to clean out. :-s

Friday, November 24, 2006

Voting Irregularites

This article caught my eye because it mentioned Poinsett County, AR which borders Craighead County in the northeast corner of Arkansas where I lived for 8 years eons ago.

One of the 3 candidates for Mayor received no votes. None. Including the vote he cast for himself. His wife was a witness so he probably received at least two votes. She said she voted for him as well.

Waldenburg, AR is a small town although it may have grown a little since the 70's when I lived in Jonesboro. Why electronic machines?

That part of Arkansas had some interesting politics back then. Craighead County was "dry", Poinsett was "wet" with liquor stores and bars 3 feet over the county line. Amateur bootleggers in Craighead made their livings loading up with cases of beer in Poinsett and bringing them back for resale at twice the going price. (Do not ask me how I know all this). Year after year Craighead voted itself dry. I've always had a nagging suspicion that the owners of the liquor stores and bars lived in Craighead County and that some of the bootleggers were in church every Sunday.

Meantime people were wiping out on Hwy 63 racing to Trumann and back before the liquor stores closed. Great times.

Thanks to Echidne of the Snakes for the link.


Thursday, November 23, 2006


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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all

Including any of you north of the border folk who celebrated last month (sensible people, the Canadians) and to all of our friends outside just because.

Click here for a Thanksgiving serenade.

Ann (aka granny)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

test 2

WA, this is using the link function on the same bar as the colors, etc.




This is the html code; the first one is the way I do it with just a word or two for the link. The second involves putting the url in twice. It's the only way I can figure out to do it in Firefox (and probably IE as well).




Pride and joyous enthusiasm turns to tears as the Mighty Colts lose the Play Off.
WA: Although I speak of my family only on occasion, I have posted mention of two of my great-grandsons engaged in playing pee wee Flag Football. The Colts were a first year team but won many of their games, one at 37-0, and made it to the play-offs. The little fellows were wild with excitement, completely pumped after their remarkable winning season, and had high hopes for winning the play-off and climbing higher on their road to victories.

At last they faced a second year team but lost by one yard (whatever that means). They were heart broken by their dashed dreams of glory and were inconsolable. Not even pizza and ice cream assuaged their grief. Losing is a part of life but it is a hard lesson for people this young. They were too young and inexperienced to accept the adults' praise at their achievements and how well they had succeeded as a first year team. All they understood was, "we lost!"

There is no joy in the hinterlands.
Texas is basically a football state and even high school football is a serious matter among died-in-the-wool football fans. I am a bred to the bone Texan, served on the Pep Squad and marching Eaglets in school, but must admit that I know little about the game, and the rules of Flag Football are a mystery to me. I am a baseball fan, a devotee of Nolan Ryan (I even watch his commercials), and a supporter of our Houston Astros, especially our aging Bs, Biggio and Bagwell.

However, knowing the game is not essential for a great-grandmom to support and sympathize with my little ones in their sports efforts and their grief over their loss. And I understand that as a first year team, just learning the game, they did GOOD! You GO Colts!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Is Someone Peeking in YOUR Window??

People of mine and Granny's generation and history buffs are well aware of J.Edgar's insatiable and notorious appetite for information on people. The FBI files accumulated under his reign contained facts, gossip, innuendo, hints and suspicions in a hodge podge of relevant and irrelevant information on thousands or hundreds of thousands people, many just ordinary folks. For some reason J. Edgar was obsessed about knowing the most mundane details of people's lives. Now we seem to have a security arm of the government with even greater obsessions and accumulation of files.
Check out this partial list of people in the FBI files. Egads!...WA

Courtesy of Steve Bass at PC World:
Dig This: I'm sure you knew the Federal Bureau of Investigation has files on Al Capone and the American Communist Party. But I was surprised by the jackets on the U.S. Supreme Court, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, J.F.K., and George Orwell. Browse this list of files released under the Freedom of Information Act and be amazed:


Can you believe it? Norman Rockwell, Geo. S Patton, Harry S. Truman, the VFW ?? And oh no! NOT John Wayne, the the all-American icon of patriotism and fierce defender of mom, the flag, and apple pie! And Arturo Toscanini?? Merciful days!

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is Back

My friend Dawn Marie who comments here from time to time sent this out last night. Yellow Dog Granny was on her email list and she sent it to me this morning. Obviously it needs wider circulation. (And obviously some people have far too much time on their hands).

It's very funny and funny is good from time to time. Thanks to both of you.

Subject: church of the flying spaghetti monster
There is a religion called Pastafarianism. They worship the flying spaghetti monster and have their own ideas about creation, which they believe should be taught in public schools that teach "Intelligent Design" as an alternative to Evolution. "Intelligent Design" is poorly disguised christian doctrine -creation theory- and if taught as science in public schools, it should be taught with pastafarianism as well, since their creation theory is also science based.
Check out this cool flash page for some fun information!


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Granny is Back!!

Granny has survived the War of the Modem and emerged relatively unscathed, although standing on her head was not in her best interests. Neither was the frustration, aggravation and sceaming meemies she surely suffered while deprived of the internet.

We are glad that she is back online and hope the modem will now behave itself.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


[ The Repubs are defeated but not beaten. a fine distinction. They, and Bush, remain dangerous adversaries, like wounded beasts. They will use every weapon in their arsenal to force the Dems to capitulate to their demands and policies. Bush is on his last term and continues his efforts to make this nation a corporate-fascism country, pushing through as many advantages and powers to corporations and businesses that he can before his term is up.

Remember: once a law is enacted, it is almost impossible to repeal. Keep pressure on your representatives to fight against SS privatization. If not for your own sakes, fight for the sake of the nation's poor who will depend on SS to survive their aging years and who cannot fathom the intricacies of investments. And even you and your children who may make "smart" investments, as did my husband and I, can still get shafted. Us and the Enron victims.

My husband and I were not poor. In the 80s we enjoyed almost a 6 figure salary, a respectible sum in the 80s even if not so much in these times. We obtained investment advice from a brokerage advocated by his parent company. Yet we were robbed of our supplemental retirement money - just as did the Enron victims. Social Security may be a pittance but it is survival money when investments and retirement plans many retirement plans do now. WA

Thu, 16 Nov 2006 14:00:34 GMT
"Jeff Cruz, Campaign for America's Future"

1. Article: "Social Security at roots of shift: Democrats set groundwork in reform fight," by Rick Klein, The Boston Globe, November 12, 2006.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had a decision to make. President Bush was starting his second term with a** brash challenge to a sacred Democratic program -- Social Security -- and the House and Senate Democratic leaders needed a coordinated response, and fast.
Pelosi and Reid, new leaders of demoralized and diminished Democrats in the House and Senate, were caught off guard by the president's gambit, and quickly faced Republican mockery that the Democratic Party could only say "no." Would Democrats offer a plan of their own? Or would they insist on total opposition, brushing aside ***Bush's not-so-subtle message that Democrats would*** stand in his way at their own peril?
Top party leaders debated their response in a series of frantic meetings and conference calls early last year, according to aides who spoke on condition of anonymity. Then Pelosi brought up a piece of advice shared by several marketing specialists from the business world she had sought out: You can't build up your brand unless you first take down the competition's.
And so Pelosi and Reid put out the word: There would be no Democratic Social Security plan, and no negotiating with Bush as long as he insisted on privatization. With that move they laid the groundwork for Tuesday's electoral sweep -- a Republican washout that will give Reid the title of Senate majority leader and make Pelosi House speaker in January.
"They never offered a complex counter-agenda," said Stephen Wayne, a government professor at Georgetown University. "They ran on the thing that they all could agree on: ***that this president and this Congress did not put us in the right direction."
Democrats made huge gains in the mid term elections for a variety of factors -- an unpopular war in Iraq, congressional scandals, frustration with Bush's style of leadership.
But the victory had its roots in that early and successful battle against Social Security reform, which gave Democrats crucial unity and momentum at a time when many pundits were predicting a permanent Republican majority, according to party strategists and veteran Democratic lawmakers.
"We had to fight that tendency that said you needed to have a plan when you're the minority in Congress," said Representative Barney Frank , a Newton Democrat who was elected to a 14th House term last week and is in line to become chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.
"On Social Security, it was exactly right to say our job is to say 'no' to this," Frank added. "And it turned out that that was also the right answer on Iraq."
The ultimate test for Democrats will be how they use their majority, not how they won it, and on that front the current crop of leaders is woefully untested, political observers say. Democrats haven't controlled the House and Senate in 12 years, and they're coming back to power with a thin agenda.
The closest thing to a Democratic platform for governing -- their "Six of '06" plan -- represents a modest list of priorities that Bush and the Republican Congress had blocked, including a minimum-wage hike and cuts in interest rates for student loans.
It lacks the sweep of the "Contract with America" that Republicans rode to power in 1994, a manifesto that kept Republicans on track in the early days of their new majority.
After Democrats enact their first batch of goals they will have to define their strategy for governing without much of a blueprint, said Julian Zelizer , a congressional historian at Boston University.
"Now it's on their back to put together one, two, three big issues for them to go on," said Zelizer. "People are not as united once you're in the power of governing. That's when the disputes will start to come out."
The chances of a Democratic takeover this year once seemed very small. The 2004 elections were a Republican sweep, with Bush returned to office for a second term with expanded majorities in both the House and Senate.
As the current congressional session started, Pelosi had been House minority leader for barely a year, and Reid had just taken over the minority leader's post after the defeat of his friend, then-senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
Though Bush talked on the campaign trail about*** privatizing Social Security , only after he won the election did Democrats realize it would be his*** top domestic priority.
The day after his 2005 State of the Union address, he toured the country to build support for shifting part of the program into private savings accounts. He chose states that he had won, but which had at least one Democratic senator -- an implied threat that if Democrats didn't come to the bargaining table they'd pay a price at the polls.
To Democrats, it was a shot in the gut -- an attempt to dismantle the New Deal legacy of a Democratic icon, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But with memories raw from the 2004 losses, many Democrats were arguing for accommodation, and some analysts warned that sitting out the year's biggest debate could be fatal for the party.
"There's no question that in our caucus, there were a couple of individuals who were prepared to offer alternatives," said Representative Richard E. Neal , a Springfield Democrat who serves on the subcommittee that oversees Social Security. "They thought that we needed a competing view."
Yet Reid and Pelosi resisted those pressures and launched a campaign of their own. They, too, hit the road, with Democratic members of Congress hosting more than 1,000 town-hall meetings on Social Security last year. They coordinated their publicity efforts with Democratic-allied interest groups that also wanted the president's bid blocked.
Last March, Reid persuaded more than 40 Democratic senators to oppose privatization, assuring Democrats of the number they'd need to sustain a filibuster. Pelosi had fewer procedural tools but no less commitment to the cause. One Pelosi aide recalls her giving the same curt response to several colleagues who asked when the party's Social Security plan would be released: "Never. Does never work for you?"
That strategy, of course, meant that Democrats did not seriously engage the president on the issue, despite the looming fiscal challenges faced by the Social Security system as baby boomers begin to retire.
But in the end, Democrats' blocking efforts were so successful that Bush never even introduced a bill. By campaign season, only Democrats were bringing up Social Security private accounts -- as a weapon to use against Republicans. The campaign-style apparatus that defeated Social Security reform was ready to go on behalf of Democratic candidates.
As challenges arose for Republicans -- indictments of House members, the Terri Schiavo affair, Hurricane Katrina, the efforts of a Dubai-controlled company to take over US ports -- Democratic unity left the party well positioned for political gain by keeping the focus on Republican missteps.
Gone were the days in which House Democratic leaders could be wooed into supporting bills, or where a few dozen conservative Democrats could be counted on to vote with Republicans to cut taxes or spending.
That meant every Republican vote was crucial, allowing Democrats to exploit areas of Republican discord and force moderate Republicans into politically difficult votes.
"Disunity had been a hallmark of the Democratic Party, but they disciplined the members, and all the factions within the party came together," said Zelizer, of Boston University.
On Iraq, Democrats never did find a plan they could all agree on. But they did find a single message: They would bring about a change of course.
By Election Day, according to polls, more Americans trusted Democrats on Iraq as well as the war on terror -- eviscerating the Republican Party's hold on national security as a political issue.
Nonetheless, many party leaders privately warn that the Democrats'*** unity will be severely challenged in the coming months.
But the remarkable success Reid and Pelosi had in bringing together their caucuses bodes well for their ability to govern, said Thomas Downey, a former Democratic House member from New York who is close to Pelosi.
"Keeping people together against something is much more difficult than getting them to stay together to vote for something," Downey said.

Bush's Plan for Privatizing Social Security: FIGHT IT !!

[ I promised a post re: Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. This article reveals where he got the idea, which helps only the investment brokers, making Bush's corporate buds richer, but as the article proves, does little or nothing to help the average citizen. In fact, for much of the citizenry, it harms, not helps.

My own experience with investing resulted in a crushing financial loss in the 80s. Husband and I, although reasonably intelligent people, knew nothing about the world of investing and relied on the brokers provided by his parent company. Good (HAH!!) investments - Halliburton, Kellog, et al.. - and through their sneaky manipulations of stock, lost our shirts. Not only had some stocks fallen to a paltry $5 per share, a fraction of what they had cost, and they blandly informed us we did not have to sell, but through mergers and reissuance of new stocks announced they would no longer pay dividends on the old stocks. Our stock investments were to supplement our retirement but what good were they if they paid no dividends? And at a lousy $5 per share we could not begin to recoup our losses if we sold the shares back to them. I threw all but one of the certificates in the garbage; I retained one as a souvenir and reminder.

Since most of our readers are not yet of retirement age, I suggest you note how the grand privatization plan worked for the folks south of the border, and fight Bush's plan tooth and nail. WA]

The Siren of Santiago
Bush's idea for privatizing SS

The Siren of Santiago
How a Pinochet protegé helped charm Bush into privatizing Social Security.
by Barbara T. Dreyfuss
March/April 2005 Issue

President Bush's enthusiasm for Social Security privatization may have had its start on a yacht off the Italian island of Elba in June 1997. As the vessel cruised the Tyrrhenian Sea, Jos Piera, once the labor minister for Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, told another passenger,a close friend of Bush's,how he had taken Chile's equivalent of Social Security private.

Two months later, Piera got an invitation to the Texas governor's mansion, where he dined with Bush and Ed Crane, founder and president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C. Afterward, says Crane, they retired to the library for further discussion about privatization.Crane credits Piera's ardent comments that night with convincing Bush to advocate replacing part of Social Security with Wall Street investments.

As he recounts it, "Bush said, 'Jose, you make a very compelling case. I do believe that privatizing Social Security is the most important issue facing the nation.'" Policy analyst Peter Ferrara, who in 1981 wrote a highly influential Social Security primer for Cato while studying the Chilean system, and who has been a leading figure in the debate over the program's future, agrees: "I believe that [conversation] was the whole genesis of the president's commitment to personal accounts.

"Bush isn't the only politician captivated by the suave, urbane Piera. "He's kind of the Pied Piper of Social Security privatization," says Crane. Senator John Sununu (R-N.H.), author of a key Republican bill creating private accounts, introduced Piera at a forum, declaring, "No one has done more to empower workers to save and invest for retirement than Jose Piera."In the two decades since he left the Chilean government, Piera has been instrumental in persuading countries across Europe and Latin America to turn public retirement systems over to the marketplace; since 1995, he has been the codirector of Cato's Project on Social Security Choice, one of Washington's most vigorous pro-privatization efforts.

And because he is positioned as an outside expert, Piera is expected to take on an increasingly high-profile role in helping the Bush administration and congressional Republicans campaign to privatize the program.[at a whopping big salary, no doubt, plus perks from all the investment brokers]Trim, with abundant silver hair, gold-rimmed glasses, and perfectly knotted ties, Piera cuts an impressive figure. He is an artful storyteller who can talk about subjects like compound interest with an almost bubbly enthusiasm. "The great thing about Jose is that he can speak to everyone," says Ferrara. "He knows how to make complex ideas easy to understand." What Piera's supporters generally ***fail to note, however, is his background as ***a member of one of Latin America's*** most brutal regimes and the fact that Chile's*** private pension accounts have*** not provided the retirement security he claims.

In 1974, having just completed his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard, Piera returned to Chile eager to help run economic policy under the new Pinochet regime. Less than a year earlier, Chile's military with ***backing from the United Stateshad stormed the presidential palace and ***seized power from the ***democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. Pinochet would become infamous for a ***reign of terror that included torture, murder, and kidnappings; late last year the Chilean government announced that it will pay reparations to tens of thousands of victims, and Pinochet was indicted for murder by a Chilean court.

For Piera, the coup was the beginning of a "revolution" that involved "a radical, comprehensive, and sustained move toward individual freedom." In an article posted on his website titled "How Democracy Was Destroyed," Piera blames Allende for violating the Chilean constitution and says the coup was necessary to restore democracy. In another piece, he claims that "there was not a systematic policy of eliminating political opponents. Most of the casualties were people using violence to oppose the new government.

"Piera had trained at Chile's Catholic University, a campus that had close ties to the University of Chicago; hence his reputation as one of the "Chicago Boys," a group of economists steeped in the free-market fanaticism of famed Chicago professors Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger. Harberger, a self-described admirer of Piera, says he took note of him at Catholic University because "he was the prize student of his year."

In 1975, after Friedman and Harberger insisted that the Chilean military impose "shock treatment" on the economy the Chicago Boys **took over major government ministries. Government spending was slashed,*** unemployment soared, ***wages were cut,*** production nose-dived. Many strikes were banned and wage negotiations ended. In 1978, amid growing worker unrest, *Piera was appointed labor minister. To head off a boycott campaign threatened by U.S. labor leaders, Piera drafted a major labor law that while touted as finally granting Chile's repressed workers legal rights striking, and wage negotiating. Harberger, who is on the advisory board for Cato's Social Security project, calls Piera's move "a brilliant performance" that helped convince labor leaders in the United States to call off the boycott.

With labor's political power in check, Piera focused on privatizing the pension system. He saw as his biggest obstacle the "tenacious belief that Social Security could and should be an effective vehicle for the redistribution of wealth." The new system, adopted in 1981,*** required all new workers to sign up for private pension accounts and offered financial incentives for those in the public retirement system to switch.The transition was expensive and* funded by *** slashing government programs, ***selling off state-owned industries,** selling bonds to the new pension funds, and*** raising taxes. Privatization costs, which also included a government subsidy for workers unable to accumulate enough in their private accounts to guarantee a minimum income in retirement, averaged more than 6 percent of Chile's gross domestic product in the 1980s and are expected to average more than 4 percent of GDP each year until 2037.

But while the reform's supporters argue it has been a major success story, officials both inside and outside Chile now increasingly question whether the **high costs and **modest investment returns have **doomed Piera's original promise: a decent retirement income for workers at a savings for the government. Last year,** the World Bank, which until recently encouraged countries to privatize pensions, published a*** highly skeptical report on private retirement systems in Latin America; Truman Packard, one of the report's authors, says the bank has told the Chilean government that it must spend more to subsidize the private system and "increase its role in preventing old-age poverty."

The bank found that ***exorbitant fees and other costs charged by private pension fund managers ***eat up as much as 15 percent of the contributions made by average Chilean workers, and even more for poorer workers. Investment returns have been far more modest than the hefty 11 percent return claimed by the private managers. The Chilean government's pension superintendent says actual returns for someone earning Chile's minimum wage were only** 3.7 percent between 1994 and 2000.

****A recent report by the Chilean government brought more grim news, forecasting that as many as** half of all workers won't be able to save enough to receive the minimum pension when they retire even after **paying into their accounts for 30 years and will therefore rely on government subsidies. More than 17 percent of Chile's retirees now continue working because they** can't afford to live on their pensions, according to that study, and another 7 percent want to work, but **can't find jobs.

****A system that fails half of the population, says economist Dean Baker, codirector of the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research, can't claim to have succeeded: "It hasn't provided security to people." Piera himself didn't respond to numerous requests to comment on the dismal statistics.** But his economics mentor Harberger shrugs at the data. "That [Chileans] weren't able to save enough money," he says, "is*** one of those things."

Barbara T. Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Virginia.
@2005 The Foundation for National Progress
Read the article online:

[I suggest that people invest as a supplement to their retirement plans and social security, but do not depend on investments. You folks that are too young to remember the Hunt Brothers manipulation of silver during the 80s and how the small investors lost thousands of dollars (one of our friends lost $50,000 and a young couple lost $10,000. Small potatoes to the Bushies but a huge chunk for working folks).
In recent times, does anyone happen to remember Enron and all the people who had invested in it for their retirement? Personally, I have little confidence in the stock market and little faith in the brokers .WA]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Stupid Modem - Update

Hello all,
Granny's favorite son here. Letting everyone know that due to an evil conspiricy by powers perilous Granny cannot get online. In the interest of world peace and continued harmony I am posting this message on her stay calm and please no rioting in the streets. Granny's blog will be up and running soon.
Tim ( the much handsomer son)

Favorite and most handsome, huh? I'll be sure to let your big brother know.

I'm back. Unplugged it and plugged it one more time (while standing on my head because of the cramped quarters).

Thanks, Tim.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dems, Don't Wimp Out Now !

[WA: In addition to Waldman's suggestions below, I would say for the honest Democrats to put pressure on the dishonest ones and keep it on -- the Congressmen and Senators who are Dems in name only, the ones in the pockets of the lobbyists and the fundies, the closet neocons and Bushies.--and don't allow them to continue business as usual or push for compromise and mutual back scratching. ]

Democrats, Don't Wimp Out
Paul Waldman
November 15, 2006

Paul Waldman is a senior fellow at Media Matters for America and the author of the new book, Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Can Learn From Conservative Success, just released by John Wiley & Sons. The views expressed here are his own.

All over Washington, the sage barons of the establishment media are warning Democrats not to get cocky. Don’t move too fast, they say. Don’t push a bunch of wacky, left-wing ideas. Seek compromise, give ground, hew to the center, for only there lies the greatest prize of all: the praise of David Broder and Joe Klein, the nodding approval of the Washington Post editorial page, the admiration the Beltway cognoscenti reserve for those who know their place and know whose rings they should be kissing.

Bull. What Democrats need to do is spend the next two years crushing their opponents like bugs. It’s not about mercy, it’s not about manners, it’s about three fundamental goals: limiting the damage the Bush administration can do, passing whatever legislation they can in the short term to help the American public and laying the foundation for future progressive victories. Democrats finally have the upper hand, and now’s the time to use it.

Here are a few things they can do to get started. 1. Investigate—But Smartly The combination of the most secretive administration in modern times and the most supine Congress in memory meant that Congressional oversight utterly disappeared over the last six years. Democrats have an obligation—to the people that elected them, and to democracy itself—to make up for lost time. Investigations should be rolled out on a carefully planned schedule, to maximize both news coverage and pressure on the administration.

But that doesn’t mean they should simply investigate anything and everything for no purpose other than laying siege to the White House. As the Boston Globe reported last November, when Bill Clinton was president the Republicans took 140 hours of sworn testimony on the pressing issue of whether the administration had mined the White House Christmas card list for potential donors. Yet they took only 12 hours of testimony on the Abu Ghraib scandal. “The government reform panel alone,” they wrote, “issued 1,052 subpoenas related to investigations of the Clinton administration and the Democratic National Committee from 1997 to 2002, and only 11 subpoenas related to allegations of Republican abuse.”

Democrats could distinguish themselves from the excesses and omissions of their predecessors by focusing on one new investigation to be started each month. Iraq, corruption and the administration’s unwillingness to abide by the Constitution are the three areas that most cry out for oversight—and it wouldn’t hurt to add an investigation of Republican dirty tricks during this past election (Rick Perlstein has a good rundown of the horrors that went on here.) Goodness knows, it won’t be hard to come up with 24 things to investigate between now and the 2008 election.

Which leads us to… 2. Don’t Be Afraid to Pick Fights The White House will resist any effort to subpoena documents and testimony on the matters Democrats want to investigate. So Democrats should let them. Let them proclaim that they are above the law. Let them initiate a constitutional crisis. Let them take it all the way the Supreme Court. The resulting controversy will help Americans understand the deep anti-democratic strain that rushes through the arteries of this administration like a virus.

And Democrats should find every opportunity they can to embarrass Republicans by forcing them into uncomfortable votes. On the first item on the Democrats’ agenda—raising the minimum wage—it looks as though President Bush is going to do what he often does when backed into a corner: surrender, then claim victory. Democrats should welcome his capitulation, but make sure to characterize it as such. Thanks for finally giving millions of hard-working Americans a break, Mr. President, but it’s too bad it took you six years and a thumping at the polls to be forced into it.

The prospects for another of their agenda items, enabling the federal government to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs under Medicare, look far tougher. But Democrats should wage the fight anyway. Two outcomes are equally likely: Either they won’t be able to pass such a bill in both houses, or they’ll pass a bill and Bush will veto it. Either way, it shows whose side they’re on, and whose side the Republicans are on.

Bush also said he wanted to reintroduce his plan to partially privatize Social Security. [ WA: I plan a post on this proposed Bush fraud on the citizens]The defeat he suffered the first time around on this issue was one of the key events leading to the Democrats’ victory. It showed them that when they stay united and make a stand on fundamental progressive values, they win. It also showed them that they could ignore the pleas of the “sensible” centrist talking heads scolding them for not having a “plan” of their own. So they should dare Bush to try again. “Let’s talk about your Social Security privatization plan, Mr. President. Bring it on.”

3. Boycott Fox The Fox News Channel has been a reliable megaphone for White House talking points, a veritable RNC house organ proclaiming that Republicans are noble public servants and Democrats are whiny hippies who, if not engaged in an actual conspiracy with al-Qaida, are certainly serving the ends of America’s enemies. It has also functioned as a safe haven for Republicans to run to when things look bad. Shoot a guy in the face, and you can do your first interview with Brit Hume, secure in the knowledge that he won’t ask any tough questions.

So Democrats should say the following to Fox: You want to spread GOP propaganda all day? Be our guest. After all, it’s a free country. But don’t expect any Democratic newsmakers to legitimize you with their presence. We’ll go on every other network, be interviewed by every legitimate news organization. But we don’t consider ourselves under any obligation to pretend that buffoons like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson are news professionals who deserve a moment of our time. We’re not going to try to fight you; we’ll just act like you don’t exist.

This can be a lesson to the rest of the media—not a threat, but an indication that they need to change the way they think about Democrats. For years, journalists have looked on Republicans as tough, smart and skilled—in short, winners. Democrats, in turn, were viewed as wimpy, stupid and weak—losers. If Democrats want the media to treat them like winners, they should start acting accordingly. Stop worrying about getting reporters to like you, and start thinking about getting them to respect you. And if the David Broders of the world start complaining that you aren’t playing nice, that’ll be evidence that you’re doing something right.

4. Attack Conservatism After President Reagan left office, a group of his supporters formed the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, whose goal was to get something—a school, a bridge, a building—named after Reagan in every county in every state in America. Their goal was not just to honor a man they revered but to elevate Reaganism. If Reagan can become the name on every public works project, he moves out of the realm of contestation to achieve the kind of status accorded to figures like Kennedy and Roosevelt. We don’t argue about whether Kennedy was a good president, we just accept it.

Democrats should do the same thing in reverse to the current president. The Bush Legacy Project should seek to make George W. Bush an albatross that can be strung around the neck of every Republican for many elections to come. They should continue to write books about how awful his presidency was, to heap ridicule on him, to make his name synonymous with incompetence and stupidity and corruption. The message is this: When George W. Bush was president, conservatism failed and conservatism was rejected.

Apart from “small government,” conservatives enacted much of what they had been clamoring for for years. They slashed taxes on the wealthy. They ballooned defense spending. They got their war on Iraq. They ignored or cut back regulations on the environment and workers’ rights. And what happened? The American people recoiled in disgust. Democrats need to understand that they are engaged in a war of ideas, one that stretches far beyond any one Congress or presidency. In order to not just win today’s victory but to make tomorrow’s more likely, they have to continually discredit the other side’s ideology.

The fact is that conservative governance failed, not because of a run of bad luck or a few bad apples, but because it is deficient at its core. Democrats can and should use the excesses of the Republicans they defeated as bludgeons against them. Katrina. Terri Schiaivo. Jack Abramoff. Mark Foley. George W. Bush. These names should be strung around Republicans’ necks as often as possible, so Americans don’t forget why they voted Democratic in the first place.

Democrats should wake up every day thinking, “How can we keep Republicans on the run?” Never give them a moment’s rest, never let them advance their agenda, keep them on the defensive so they have to apologize for being the standard-bearers of a discredited ideology and a disgraced president. Do that, and every legislative battle and election to come will be that much more likely to swing in your favor.

Energy For Change November 15, 2006
Fixing The 2008 Election November 14, 2006
A Vote For A Fair Internet November 14, 2006
Bush's Failed Liberation Theology November 14, 2006
Nasty, Brutish And Republican November 14, 2006


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Somehow I Missed This

On November 12, Reuters reported that Chad Castagana had been arrested in California for "mailing threatening letters containing a suspicious white powder to celebrities and U.S. politicians," including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), talk show host David Letterman, Comedy Central's Daily Show host Jon Stewart, and MSNBC's Countdown host Keith Olbermann. The day after, the weblog Sadly, No! noted that Castagana was a contributor to the conservative website and provided a link that it said was to Castagana's biography. However, the link leads to a page that says, "This account has been banned or suspended." But despite the Associated Press' reporting on November 13 that Castagana faced "a two-count complaint of sending threats and ... hoaxes by mail," only six media outlets noted Castagana's arrest: Reuters, the AP, the Los Angeles Times, Roll Call (subscription required), USA Today, and Countdown. Moreover, in reporting on Castagana's arrest, only the AP, Roll Call and Countdown noted that, as the AP reported, "FBI agent Mary Hogan said in the affidavit that Castagana 'described himself as a compulsive voter who votes Republican, and he said that he sent the letters to specific individuals because he did not like their liberal politics.' " Neither Reuters, the Times, nor USA Today mentioned any possible motivation for Castagana's actions and none of the media reports mentioned Castagana's reported ties to All reports noted that the white powder was tested and found to be nonhazardous.
This is just part of it. The rest of the article goes on to compare the lack of news coverage with the feeding frenzy here:

Numerous media outlets reported that, at a campaign stop in Charlottesville, Virginia, University of Virginia law student Mike Stark, a blogger for Calling All Wingnuts, was tackled when he asked Sen. George F. Allen (R-VA), who lost his re-election bid to former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, whether he had spit on his first wife. A Media Matters for America review* of the three days following the incident found 14 different reports which labeled Stark a "liberal" -- including articles in the Los Angeles Times, the AP, the Chicago Tribune, and reports on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and ABC's Good Morning America. One of the four articles printed about the incident in the Richmond Times-Dispatch cited an Allen campaign press release, which stated that "Stark has a history of violent outbursts on the Daily Kos, a left-wing Web site."
So sending a suspicious white powder through the mail isn't newsworthy but asking the soon to be former Senator from Virginia a question is? I wonder if George Allen did spit on his ex-wife. I suppose we'll never know.

The rest of the Media Matters article can be found here.


They Haven't Learned a Thing

I though Trent Lott was history. I was wrong. The Senate just elected him Majority oops - Minority Whip. It's still taking me a little while to switch gears.

Didn't he resign the Majority Leader position in 2002 after his racist remarks? I thought so.


From TomPaine Today

I'm back - sort of. I'm still way behind on reading and doing much writing is hopeless for now.

At least I can climb back on my pet domestic soapbox. This is a good article.

After all these years, women have a long way to go.

Media On The Feminist Agenda

Jennifer Pozner

November 13, 2006

Jennifer L. Pozner is the executive director of Women In Media & News, a women’s media analysis, education and advocacy group. She lectures on women, media, politics and pop culture at colleges across the country.This essay was adapted for Reclaim the Media and NOW’s NW Organizing Project from an essay in BitchFest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine.

Ask a feminist to identify what the most important issues are facing women, and she might mention reproductive freedom, violence against women and children, the disproportionate burdens women bear in light of the growing gap between rich and poor in America or the many ways in which war specifically impacts women. Chances are she wouldn’t immediately point to the media. But she should.

Without accurate, non-biased, diverse news coverage and challenging, creative cultural expression it is virtually impossible to significantly impact public opinion of women’s and human rights issues or to create lasting social change. Indeed, corporate media are key to why our fast-moving culture is so slow to change, stereotypes are so stubborn and the power structure is so entrenched. Pop culture images help us determine what to buy, what to wear, whom to date, how we feel about our bodies, how we see ourselves and how we relate to racial, sexual, socio-economic and religious “others.” Journalism directly links and affects every individual issue on the socio-political continuum in a national debate over the pressing matters of the day, from rape to racism, hate crimes to war crimes, corporate welfare to workplace gender discrimination. By determining who has a voice in this debate and who is silenced, which issues are discussed and how they’re framed, media have the power to maintain the status quo or challenge the dominant order.

And how have media used this power where women are concerned? With a vengeance.

Let’s start with female politicians. Ever since the midterm Democratic upset, media have been exclaiming over Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi's new position as the first female Speaker of the House, a position which puts her only two steps away from the presidency—but few outlets have noted that in 2006, we still lag behind many other developed countries in electing women to the highest political offices. Ever wonder why American women are still stuck with only token representation in the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court, or why the closest a woman has come to the Oval Office was Geena Davis on a short-lived ABC drama? In part, it’s because women audacious enough to seek political office are routinely dogged by double-standard-laced news coverage that focuses on their looks, fashion sense, familial relationships and other feminizing details that have nothing to do with their ability to lead—as noted in a previous commentary, "Commander In Chic ."

From the recent headlines speculating about whether or not New York Senator Hillary Clinton “had millions of dollars of work done” to make her look less “hideous” to the New York Times likening Pelosi to a nagging grandmother, this sort of coverage implies that women should be taken less seriously and are less electable than their male counterparts. (Of course, their male counterparts aren't helping to dispel such stereotypes, as when Dubya said, in his first post-election press conference, that his "first act of bipartisan outreach" he "shared with [Pelosi] the names of some Republican interior decorators who can help her pick out the new drapes in her new office.") Even the most powerful women in America suffer this media indignity: when Condoleezza Rice wore black leather boots last year, the Washington Post described the Secretary of State as a “dominatrix”; on the day she was chosen as America’s first African-American female national security adviser, a front page New York Times story reported that "her dress size is between a 6 and an 8,” and she has “a girlish laugh” and “can be utterly captivating—without ever appearing confessional or vulnerable.”

Media content matters, and not just to women at the highest echelons of power. In fact, the more vulnerable women are, the more hostile media coverage becomes. Young, low-income mothers of color have been derided for decades by a bigoted and misogynistic press as “promiscuous,” “lazy moochers” and “brood mares” supposedly popping out babies for welfare checks. A Newsweek editor once even insisted that “every threat to the fabric of this country from poverty to crime to homelessnessis connected to out-of-wedlock teen pregnancy.” The end result of this scapegoating? Punitive welfare reform that decimated the social safety net for poor women and children.

As feminists, we need to prioritize media among our top political concerns. Is sexual assault your most urgent issue? Media still imply that women “ask for it,” as when a recent Wall Street Journal column blamed rape and murder on “moronic” women who don’t have enough “common sense” to keep themselves safe. Think anti-abortion violence is a threat to women’s safety and to our reproductive freedom? An American anti-abortion fanatic attempted to blow up a women’s health clinic in Iowa on September 11, 2006, yet only one newspaper in the entire Nexis news database deigned to report this terrorist attack. Against the war? When three pretty, blond country singers are called “Dixie Sluts” by major magazines and TV news reports, banned from airplay by ClearChannel, Cox and Cumulus Radio and censored with radio-funded CD-stomping spectacles simply for expressing anti-war sentiment, it’s a safe bet that corporate media won’t be giving much press to Iraqi women who complain that their safety and autonomy are now curtailed by new Sharia laws imposed by the U.S.-approved Iraqi Constitution.

Sexist, racist media content is fruit from a poisoned tree. The demonization of women and the near invisibility of progressive feminist perspectives in American media are the result of institutional factors, including the financial and political agendas of mega-merged media monopolies; the pandering of news networks and entertainment studios to advertisers’ profit motives without regard for the public’s interest; the limited access of women, people of color, low income people, LGBTQ people, Native people, immigrants and other marginalized constituencies to the means of media production, distribution and technology; decades of right-wing investment in media messaging, production and advocacy; and, funding restrictions of independent media alternatives. Also at play is the systemic underrepresentation of women and people of color in content (on op-ed pages, network newscasts, cable debate shows, as hard news reporters) and in the industry (as top-level executives, board members and owners in news and entertainment companies), as dozens of depressing studies document.

Luckily, a vibrant movement for change is gaining steam at the grassroots level, and there are plenty of ways to begin to fight for a feminist vision of media justice and reform . Here are just a few places to start:

The fight for media and gender justice needs you. The right has prioritized media messaging, production, policy and ownership since the 1970s, which is in large part why the American political and media landscapes have become as problematic as they are today. If we truly care about women’s rights and social justice, we cannot afford to be overwhelmed by the scope of the problems in our media system—we must simply roll up our sleeves and begin to tackle them.