Sunday, June 14, 2009

140


I have decided that everything I really want to say can be said in 140 characters.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Excuses You Might Believe In

People and organizations who fail to push the Obama Administration into providing progressive programs, and who remain silent in the face of the growing disappointment of promises broken and actions not taken,will end up losers in what apparently is an effort to mollify the mythical middle.

In one of many articles to appear recently challenging whatever/whomever remains of the progressive left to stand up and be counted,
Ted Rall wonders what the "excuse they [the Dems] [will] come up with for sitting on their butts..." and doing nothing!

Great read... http://www.uexpress.com/tedrall/


P.S. It may not be hopeless, yet, but having 27 Dems sell out to the NRA last week on a gun amendment in a credit card bill isn't helping me feel hopeful. Do we really need "to protect innocent Americans from violent crime in national parks and refuges” by letting them carry loaded weapons?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Has the U.S abandoned respect for human rights?

Among the lasting memories I have of my years with Amnesty International are the conversations I had with people, women & men, who were victims of torture.

These were people from all walks of life who were caught up in political unrest, war, terrorism, genocide, and all the other ugliness that happens when one party wants to dominate another.


What I remember most vividly were the emotional scars they all bore. It was very difficult to hear their stories and even more difficult to watch them tell their stories.

Torture, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, is: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a male or female person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

Torture is most often sponsored by governments.

Torture is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries. Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture, some openly.

In the 21st century, torture is widely considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention officially agree not to torture prisoners in armed conflicts. Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which has been ratified by 145 states.

National and international legal prohibitions on torture derive from a consensus that torture and ill-treatment are immoral, as well as being impractical. Despite these international conventions, however, many organizations (e.g. Amnesty International) that monitor abuses of human rights report a widespread use of torture condoned by states in many regions of the world.

So, when the United States of America engages in torture, either directly or indirectly (through the insidious practice of extraordinary rendition - sending prisoners to another country to be tortured) it is an arrow through our national heart. It degrades us.

It seriously undermines our moral and ethical authority and renders us impotent.

But, as we knew then and know better now, this country has been engaging in torture for the better part of the last decade.

With the direct knowledge and permission of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, the U.S. engaged in practices most often identified with outlaw regimes and dictatorships.

But now that we have an opportunity to expose the sins and the crimes of the Bush Administration we are being urged by President Obama, by Democratic leaders like Harry Reed, and by the mainstream media, to act cautiously and not aggressively pursue the truth.

We are told that it will hamper efforts to move the country forward.

That's ridiculous.

What will hamper this country from moving beyond it's horrendous past is by suppressing the truth.

It is morally bankrupt to use the excuses and reasons being put forth by Obama, Reed and the mainstream media.

This country needs a Truth Commission to expose the truth about torture and to bring those responsible to justice.

There is simply no other way to heal our national wound.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spain, Guns & Butter & Crazies

Got back from Spain recently and the reentry back into USA life has been rough - particularly because of the ever-present 24-hour news cycle that hovers over bad news like a buzzard over a carcass.

But first, Spain.

According to The New York Times, "
the Spanish economy expanded faster than almost any other economy in Europe over the past decade, but economic activity has dropped quickly over the past year as the construction sector collapsed and the global crisis hit.

Spain's economic outlook is now the grimmest in Europe.

But everywhere we looked we saw workers and we saw signs of government investment in infrastructure improvement - in every city we visited we saw men and women working on bridges, roads, and subways, and cleaning streets, washing windows, etc.

Xavier Segura, chief economist at the savings bank Caixa Catalunya, said that Spain was "spending billions of euros on public infrastructure projects" but the government also needed to take long-term measures to improve productivity.

“We need to change the model of growth,” he said. “The problem is that it’s when you are in a positive economic cycle that you should foment value-added activity. When you are in a crisis with high unemployment you have to feed money to local governments for labor-intensive public works.”

Labor-intensive public works - what a great idea.

Just where is the Obama administration re implementing serious public works projects in this country? Maybe he should visit Spain during his European Vacation and see what we saw.
____________________________________________________________________

Now, about reentry back into the good ole USA and that ceaseless news cycle.

News "Highlights" were:
  • Unemployment numbers hit a 25-year high (the NY Times reported the answer "a lot" to the question of how much longer and how much worse will the recession get!)
  • US funded Afghanistan showed it's true colors by passing a law allowing marital rape
  • The FBI reported a link between long-haul truckers and serial killers - thus giving credence to the plots of all those horror movies and TV shows portraying the "killer" truck, racing at high speed through the night, just inches from your car's rear bumper.
  • North Korea showed us their "Big One" - posing just one more threat on the global front
But the worst of the really bad news was the escalation of gun violence in this country. If anything best defines the culture shock of reentry back into the USA from another country, it is the never-ending incidence of gun violence and the attendant reportage.

An unidentified 31-year-old woman is gunned down in the middle of a Brooklyn street. 5 children are found murdered in Seattle - killed by their father. 13 people, most of whom were looking for a better life in the US, are mass-murdered in Binghamton, New York by a "troubled" unemployed man.

And just two weeks after after a parolee shot and killed four police officers in Oakland, Calif., 3 cops are murdered in Pittsburgh by a gun nut who believed the Obama Administration was preparing to negate his 2nd Amendment right to own guns - lots of guns - an AK-47 rifle, a .22 long rifle and a pistol. Friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns.

A few people die from eating contaminated pistachio nuts and this country goes on the immediate offensive to tackle the problem - but people get killed every day by gun violence and this country stands by and does nothing.

Jesus, is this not some crazy shit?

And you know what? This "armed and dangerous" mentality is being fed by people like Glenn Beck and other Ministers Of Revolution on right-wing radio and TV all over this country.

Charles Blow addressed this very issue in his NY Times column, "Pitchforks and Pistols."

"...But, it’s not all just harmless talk. For some, their disaffection has hardened into something more dark and dangerous. They’re talking about a revolution. Some simply lace their unscrupulous screeds with loaded language about the fall of the Republic. We have to “rise up” and “take back our country.” Others have been much more explicit.

"For example, Chuck Norris, the preeminent black belt and prospective Red Shirt, wrote earlier this month on the conservative blog WorldNetDaily: “How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?”

"And between his tears, Glenn Beck, the self-professed “rodeo clown,” keeps warning of an impending insurrection by saying that he believes that we are heading for “depression” and “revolution” and then gaming out that revolution on his show last month. “Think the unthinkable” he said."

"At the same time, the unrelenting meme being pushed by the right that Obama will mount an assault on the Second Amendment has helped fuel the panic buying of firearms. According to the F.B.I., there have been 1.2 million more requests for background checks of potential gun buyers from November to February than there were in the same four months last year. That’s 5.5 million requests altogether over that period.

Coincidence? Maybe. Just posturing? Hopefully. But it all gives me a really bad feeling."

Gives me a really bad feeling too.

When will this country wake up and finally address the guns and crazies issue?????

Welcome home.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Top 10 Reasons I'm Looking Forward to Vacation


JG & I are outta here on Thursday - bound to EspaƱa to eat pintxos, canned bonita, and suckling pig.

Here's my top 10 reasons why I'm happy to be leaving ...

10. TMI about Kelly Clarkson peeing in the shower.

9. One too many traveling "debates" between Ann Coulter & Bill Maher - two masters of extreme position taking who actually like each other - yuk!

8. Way too much air time for Jim Cramer and way too much sanctimonious BS from Jon Stewart - that was not a Edward R Murrow moment! But nice to see CNBC finally get slammed!

7. Can't stand to see Duke lose.

6. Tired of calculating my net worth plunge to see if I qualify to be "an average American household."

5. Only way to stop myself from buying iPhone apps and Kindle books

4. Must escape depressing news about the millions of unemployed and uninsured.

3. Can't stand to read one more "news" story about Octomom.

2. Afraid of the re-emergence of Dick "Dr. Strangelove" Cheney.

1. Have to leave before I commit a felony against an AIG trader.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alan Krauss 1962-2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Times Scrapes Bottom in Hire of New Columnist

The New York Times has hired Ross G. Douthat, a 29-year-old conservative writer and editor at The Atlantic, as an Op-Ed columnist, nearly two months after ending the year-long run of another conservative columnist, William Kristol, officials at the paper said Wednesday.

The cashed-strapped Paper of Record writes that Mr. Douthat "steers away from partisanship — he frequently criticizes Republicans — or doctrine... On abortion, he said in an interview, “I’m sort of a squishy pro-lifer,” interested in finding areas of compromise."

Bullshit!

Mr. Douthat is but a twenty-something version of the classic anti-choice white male masquerading as the new voice of compromise on the topic of abortion.

Yes, dear readers, Mr. Douthat has been anointed by the Times as their new conservative opinion columnist- eligible now to write upon it's hallowed pages, virtual and otherwise.

For those of you more interested in truth than self-promotion, here's what the Times left off it's little blurb about Ross...

http://didntaskme.blogspot.com/2008/12/latest-anti-abortion-manifesto.html

Do you think this appointment will help drive legions of young people, particularly young women, flocking to the Op/Ed page of the Times?

Tell me I'm having a nightmare!