bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.
Portland Peace Rally
Today I joined thousands of Portlandians at Tom McCall's Waterfront Park for a peace rally. Congressman John Lewis who helped organize the 1963 March on Washington gave the keynote speech. Congressman Lewis talked about how it was important to keep speaking out even if you don't see how you can change things. And he related the experiences he had being beaten during the civil rights days for his protests. It was a very inspiring speech.
I thought the funniest poster was Fermez la Bush (bouche). Other notable posters:
The crowds were very large, but peaceful and having fun. A very broad cross-section of Portland. One gentleman I met was 92 years old. There was great drumming and chanting ("Drop Bush, Not Bombs" & "Support the Troops, Bring them Back"). The Radical Cheerleaders were very funny and very good. And luckily the rain held off until the very end.
From John Brady Kiesling's resignation letter to Colin Powell.
This is what George W Bush is destroying. Because as he says: "I came from Texas, and I'll go back to Texas. And in Midland, Texas, when I grew up, there were more signs saying 'Get us out of the UN' than there were saying 'God Bless America.' And there were plenty of 'God Bless America' signs."
And he is called the leader of the Free World. More like the leader of the Anarchic World.posted by Mary at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK |
Today, the topic of what will be needed to win an election against the Republicans came up. One of Kos's posts today talks about how Dean is now attracting the lies and character defamation so perfected by the Wurlitzer machine in 2000 against Gore.
I agree with Kos. Whichever candidate wins the Democratic nomination must be capable of withstanding this type of assault. And they must be willing to fight for the American people.
Today, the American public is understandably frightened. They feel vulnerable and they are looking for someone who they can rely on during these shaky times. Unfortunately, the 2002 election showed that the voters trusted the Republicans more than the Democrats on the issue of national defense. Why was that? I believe that a primary reason that the public feels like this is because the Democrats were so easily rolled by Bush. (Even more so than the fact that Democrats are more likely to be anti-war than Republicans.)
Why is it that the Democratic leadership seems to be so wimpy? What allowed them to pass a resolution that ceded all power to send our troops into war to George W Bush with less discussion than that found in Turkey? What is it about the anti-war movement of Vietnam that is still festering in our country which does not allow thoughtful dissent to a pre-emptive, unprovoked invasion without being branded as appeasers and traitors? And most importantly, how do we get beyond this?
One thing I believe is that we have to stop being cowed by those who believe that the Americans betrayed the military when we finally ended the Vietnam war. The military was not betrayed by the American public, but by the leaders that took them into war, and Vietnam was always a mistake. No matter what people say or believe today, these things are still true.
The other thing we need to do is to show that it is possible for Democrats to show real courage and to help the American public to find their own courage that they will need for these unsettling times.
The Republicans and this White House expect Americans to sit back and let them handle all the difficult problems. They also purposely terrorize the public so that they can move their unpopular agenda while saying that this is the only way to gain safety.
But there is a different type of leadership and a different type of courage that we need the Democrats to show and for them to ask the public to also try to display. The British people during the blitz showed real courage because Churchill asked them. And the civil rights organization also called forth remarkable courage from ordinary people, because they were asked and also trusted by the people who were leading the movement. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things and they can face down the most horrific events when there is a need to do so. And they can do this without losing their humanity and compassion for others.
The key to this is that someone with real integrity and who they trust must challenge them to do so and to be willing to stand with them when they take up that challenge. Martin Luther King knew this. Robert Moses of the Voting Rights movement in Mississippi, 1963, knew this. Gandhi also knew this. Today, when there is so much to be frightened about, we especially need to find ways to draw out the good and brave part of the American public rather than having them succumb to fear, resentment and a belief that they alone are entitled to a world without trouble. And we need to have leaders that will ask people to display courage and compassion.
The Democratic candidates and leaders must first find their own deeply held convictions (and courageously opposing the unjust war is a very good place to begin even after the war starts) and then find a way to call forth that best and most courageous part of the American public. I believe there are times when it is more important to fight and lose than it is to hang on so you can fight again. Most Americans would agree that Germany in the early 1930s was one of those times. And for Frodo in Lord of the Rings, waiting until things weren't as scary was also not an option. I think we are facing one of those times now. We all need to show courage and try to overcome our fear.
And we Democrats need to make sure that we help support our Democratic leaders when they take courageous stands. We need to make sure that the right-wing radicals will not destroy them when they act courageously.
For too long we have allowed those who believe that it is only through military power we gain security go unchallenged. We've allowed the right-wing zealots who hated the legacy of Vietnam and who worked to sell war as the solution to problems to assert that they had the high ground. We've allowed them to glorify war and to belittle institutions such as the United Nations that were setup to provide a forum for nations to collaborate on shared problems. Their idea of leadership is the lone gunslinger who comes into town and shoots up the bad guys. Knowing when to use power and when to use diplomacy is something we should ask of our candidate. And I'd want our candidate to realize that real courage and real leadership is finding ways to encourage people to be brave and compassionate even when things are desperate. I know I'd vote for any Democratic candidate who understood the limits of force and could show that type of courage and leadership.posted by Mary at 12:45 AM | PERMALINK |
Friday, March 14, 2003
Dennis the Menace?
The first column for The Watch by Mac Diva
Some progressives were apoplectic recently over what they perceived as an unwarranted attack on Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). Liberals, including me, were much less concerned. The embers have cooled, but could easily flame again. Josh Marshall of TPM kindled the fire by posting a story about a story -- a "Cleveland Magazine" article that ran decades ago. It implied Kucinich wasn't above playing dirty pool with race, including supporting white Republicans over black Democrats in his city and state.
The blogosphere's dean of electoral politics, Kos of DailyKos, reacted to the tale with this entry:
Nathan Newman, and Ampersand of Alas, a Blog, among the blogosphere's most proud progressive voices, took exception. Newman called for a fire extinguisher.
Barry's response at Ampersand was also indignant.
I expressed my opinion at Newman's site:
Perhaps because of my background, I have come down on the side of the reporters, Marshall and Kos, as reflected in my comment above.
I think this episode may reveal a fundamental split between liberals and progressives. Liberals may be more likely to say take your unsavory baggage and go home to someone like Kucinich. In fact, some liberals washed their hands of him after he reversed his views on abortion, finding his new position implausible and doubting his sincerity. A commentator for Reason had already written Kucinich off.
Walker doesn't believe Kucinich is coming clean.
Kucinich responded with a four-page interview in Salon. He denied racial bias had ever played any role in his electoral strategies.
The candidate chose not to discuss any specifics. His blanket denial seems less than compelling. Liberals remain unmoved. Progressives have steadfastly stood by their man. "I'm not buying it," says Newman of the criticism of Kucinich's change of position on abortion. He is equally dismissive of the suspicions about bigotry. Newman defends Kucinich as the only major candidate who dares even speak the 'P' word -- poverty.
In the comments to last week's DailyKos Democratic candidate analyses, Kucinich was not mentioned until after the the fiftieth post. And, then only once without prodding from this commentator. References to him are even more sparse in the political blogosphere this week. The consensus seems to be that his liabilities put him in the 'there, but who cares?' category with Al Sharpton. Perhaps progressives will accept the demise of Kucinich gracefully, if it comes. However, to be a progressive in this country requires a fiery spirit and an obstinate personality. They may fight for him to be considered a viable contender. I perceive Kucinich's shadow hanging over the relationships among voters on the Left. He could prove more divisive than Sharpton. Perhaps we should call him Dennis the Menace.posted by J. at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK |
Thursday, March 13, 2003
Yesterday Caleb Carr had an article in the NY Observer about military ethics that was quite thought-provoking. Carr's writes about the argument that is going on in military circles concerning what is ethical in battle. Strategic bombing (bombing the sh*t out of them) is for some military leaders ethical because it saves soldiers' lives.
However, Carr points out that thoughout history, civilizations are defined and remembered largely by how they fight....
He asserts that our safety and well-being will be tied to how this war is conducted. Governing a country with angry citizens is not easy, unless you build a police state and even that is not enough sometimes. And the anger of others in the world will obviously be stoked by massive and indiscriminate deaths and this will come back to haunt Americans.
I must say that I'm encouraged to find out that there are some people in our military who are thinking about the ethics of war. One of the worst things about this march to war is that we seem to have so little regard for the deaths of the civilians who are caught in this nightmare. The articles about Shock & Awe, the casual statements that America reserves the right to use nuclear weapons not as a defense, but offensively, the stories about the using massive bombs (better than the daisy cluster!) all led me to believe that there is something totally callous about the people who lead our troops into war.
I've looked at the world long enough to know that force is necessary in some cases, but how one uses power is as important as what you want to accomplish by using it. It cannot be said enough, the ends do not justify the means. The means do matter. This is why the just war theory is a good framework for people for thinking about the why and how of war. We Americans are responsible for what our government does in our name. If this war is conducted in a brutal manner, history's judgment will be harsh. (Especially as this war is unprovoked and unnecessary.)
[Ed: The surprising hero of Carr's story? Donald Rumsfeld. Don't miss reading the rest of the article. Let me know what you think. I still think he is an arrogant and abrasive man, but perhaps there is still a thinking human being inside. But, if he believes this and he doesn't stop massive bombing raids, then he will have failed the biggest moral challenge in his life. And I'll be watching.]
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Public service announcement
Today a friend pointed out this entry from the Agonist. I don't know if you've had a chance to drop in on Sean-Paul's blog, but it is always a pleasure to stop by and see what he is saying. Anyway, Sean-Paul has been planning on taking an overland tour of the Silk Road and writing a book about it. Even better, he was planning to blog his trip for us. But with all the financial problems schools are having, the grant he was relying on has been pulled. I'd like to encourage you to drop by the Agonist, check it out and if you think you'd like to read his book on the Silk Road, drop him a dime to help fund the trip.
I first encountered my own fascination with the Silk Road reading Daniel Boorstein's The Discoverers. I had never known that the route was open to Europeans for only 100 years. No wonder it was such an exotic mystery to them and China was such a compelling destination.
Then I bought a tape of Kitaro's Silk Road and wore it out. Listening to Kitaro's music, I imagined myself on that road through Iran and Afganistan, stopping at an oasis, moving through the dust storms and finally making it across to totally exotic China. I know I'd love to follow Sean-Paul along his route and will be thrilled to read the book that he writes about this journey.
A very notable post.
William Greider's latest column in the Nation talks about the role the Washington Post has played in bringing us this war. He reports that on February 27th their editorial admitted that they needed to pay more attention to the anti-war perspective, but they believe they have been consistent because they've always believed the war was necessary.
It makes me wonder if they are part of the 45% of Americans that believe that Saddam Hussien was personally responsible for 9/11.
NPR's Morning Edition had a report that covered the growing support for war on Iraq by the American public that is well worth listening to. The report talks about how conservative radio programs are organizing pro-war rallies. In Houston, some 10,000 pro-war demonstrators turned out to "support the troops". They also report that 2 cities out of 233 that have passed anti-war resolutions have had to rescind the resolution because of protests from people who supported going to war. A conservative talk show host said that the listeners to talk radio are the "apathetic majority", but when they start hearing things they don't like they will go out to rally. Another conservative that was interviewed said that they believed the "silent majority" supported Bush in this war. He thought that it was necessary for America to deter terrorists by "instilling fear among its enemy". The problem with America was that we "lack the strength of moral conviction" and that it was "sapping our determination and our resolve".
Personally, I have found very few people who are all that anxious to go to war. Unless that "silent majority" consists of that 45% that believe the lies that Bush and crew spread about Hussein's involvement, I doubt that the majority actually support Bush's war, especially if it means going it alone.
Monday, March 10, 2003
Today as we all wait for George W Bush to roll the die, I think we all need to understand how much of his ability to do this was because of our lazy, complicit media which has actively aided and abetted him. It certainly isn't because Bush has done a great job of selling the war to the American public. Frankly, the fact that the American public is not totally sold on this war is amazing considering the jingoistic march to war that people are exposed to on the TV, radio and in the national press.
The latest blatantly pro-war stories involve how the Pentagon is sending journalists, the wannabe war reporters, to boot camp. As Jack Shafer reported, this has resulted in a flurry of first person reports about attending this camp.
The goal is to make this set of reporters a "willing" voice for the military. But, the question is, does the military really have to try very hard to get the reporters on their side?
The editors and publishers have a vested interest in reporting on a war, largely because they can pull in a sizeable audience. But what makes the reporter so willing to go along with encouraging war? Reese Erlich points out, the reporter also has a vested interest in reporting on a war and doing it so that it fits the perspective of the editor.
This leaves us with our media which seems to have no end of stories about how the war will be won and very few stories about the anti-war movement.
Tonight Ruminate This has a piece about how the BBC is planning to balance their reporting so that the alternative views and voices are also heard and the reader/viewer is left to decide for herself what she thinks. What a concept!
Gee, I wish we could have a media that felt like it had a commitment to providing balanced and accurate information to people and then letting them make up their own mind. I know I felt cheated when I watched Bowling for Columbine which showed examples of the TV newscasts in the US and in Canada. Why can't we have decent TV news programs? I would love to watch TV news not for the entertainment value (if it bleeds, it leads), but for a balanced, informative perspective that I could use for making well-considered decisions as a responsible citizen. Think about how much healthier our civic discourse would be.
One of the more painful parts of the discussion about whether we should support the upcoming war against Iraq or not, comes from my friends who are Jewish. I've heard from some of these friends that I have particularly loved, listened to, and respected, that they are even boycotting NPR because the reporting is so pro-Palestinian and thus anti-Israeli these days.
From one friend:
I'm withholding my membership in NPR because their "even handed" doctrine of moral equivalence tells us how many Israelis were killed and how many "Palestinians" were killed, as if the killings balance each other out. Often this is done without stating up front that the Israelis were innocent civilians and most of the "Palestinians" were making bombs or were suicide bombers. A headline such as "4 Palestinians killed by explosion of remote controlled plane" turns out to be some Arab terrorists trying to make a remote controlled bomb, and when it explodes, their buddies accuse the Israeli army for boobytrapping the plane.
I can understand the anger and pain my friend is feeling. Anti-war liberals are being challenged these days: why don't you care about the Iraqis living under Saddam Hussein? What is the greater evil: supporting war in Iraq or opposing it? Should it just be the enemy of my enemy is my friend? When do you decide?
And what makes this so surreal is that other accounts are just as adamantly expressing how the Palestinian point of view is being totally submerged by the media.
I think that a big part of the problem is again the fault of the Bush administration. They have very cynically tried to exploit the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict to carve off classically Democratic voters. (Again Bush delivers on his promise to "unite, not divide us!")
But, I refuse to hide behind the doctrine expressed by the Bushies on this front, so I need to understand and explain why I'm so opposed to Bush's war without it being seen as an argument that supports anti-Semitism. My friends deserve better than that.
I know that I cannot support a war by the current administration. Even if I was totally convinced that Saddam Hussein was a significant danger to our country, I could not find any reservoir of trust for the Bush administration that would let me support them "leading us" into war. My feeling is that this gang is so untrustworthy on all fronts that I would not trust them to boil water, much less allow them to wage war in my name. I would have to find another mechanism for stopping Saddam.
Based on this, all I can say to my friends is that I am watching very carefully what is said on the sites I visit and particularly, what is expressed by people I support and sponsor. I do not want to make a horrible situation worse and I pray everyday that we will find ways to finally build real solutions to the unresolved problem of Israel and Palestine. My prayer is for a real peace built on enacting real solutions which finally allows us to move on to those other problems we share as humans on this world (global warming, disease management, etc.).posted by Mary at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK |
Sunday, March 09, 2003
Ambling off for a bit...
Before I started blogging, I thought I was a political junkie. Now, it's become a full-blown obsession. And, to loosely quote Jon Stewart, is it just my imagination, or is every leader of every country in the world right now a giant dick?
I'm on a couple mailing lists, mostly involving the so-called drug war and the environment. I can no longer stand reading any of these messages, because every time I open my mailbox recently I'm pushed to the limits of endurance just looking at the titles.
My fellow bloggers put out a lot of great material, and I really enjoy reading them. But it's also become a daily list of endless insanity, perversion, and inhumanity perpetrated by the Bush administration. There isn't enough time in a day to be adequately familiar with the information required to counter the lies put out in the typical Fleischer press conference or Powell UN address, even with a horde of newshounds feverishly combing for details. There's lots going on in the world right now, but amazingly, this one group of people is crazy enough all by themselves to eclipse the lot.
And the more I think about the current situation with the war on terror and the drive to war on Iraq, the term 'best case scenario' has begun to seem like a fool's fantasy. As the potential worst cases multiply, whether in terms of casualties, cost, political calculations, diplomacy, credibility, civil liberties, opportunist wars started when our backs are turned, and on, and on, and on, it's just too much. I've woken up in the morning several times lately to find that my dreams are full of foreign policy mumbo-jumbo.
So, I just keep asking myself "Has everyone completely lost their minds?" Maybe. It's hard to say, but I'm certainly losing mine last I checked. My birthday is coming up, within a few days of the date that Bush wants to invade Iraq, to ensure that thousands of those people won't have anymore birthdays. Finals are coming up, and maybe we'll already be at war by then. How many students are going to be killed in the first few days of Shock and Awe, along with their hopeful families, and teachers trying to get by in life by selling their textbooks to foreigners? Maybe there will be a miracle, and nothing will happen. And, the week after that, pigs will fly.
I'm going to take the advice of a friend for a while. I've just had a nice, late afternoon glass of a lovely Frascati, and I feel mellower already. It's an Italian white wine, very dry, with a mild and pleasant aftertaste. Goes marvelously with fish, and a dash or so of it gives chicken soup a rich flavor and fine aroma. I'm going to have just a nip of it every evening for the next two weeks. During that time, I'll be taking a news holiday, and maybe write an essay that I've been wanting to get to for a couple months now.
In short, I'll be checking out for a bit. I'm going to hide my head in the sand, stop up my ears, and, if necessary, yell "la la la la la, I can't hear you" at the top of my lungs. Mary will no doubt continue to do a fine job co-hosting (I originally wrote 'guest posting', but that's a bit of an understatement at this point).
Anyone who feels that they'd love a chance to guest post to a blog, feel free to write me with a submission of your work. I'll continue to check email (natasha_l_c at hotmail.com, rise above the spambots), preference given to people who've been active on forums like Eschaton & Kos where I'm likely to be familiar with your posting or at least be able to check easily. I will not have time to post on your behalf, but will send you a guest login, and you can contact Mary (mary_inoregon at yahoo.com) if you need tech support.
Have a nice whatever everyone...posted by Natasha at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK |
Just popping in briefly to post a couple news items:
While I don't usually consider WorldNetDaily more than a source of entertaining and disturbing propaganda for the wingnut contingent, they may have accidentally picked up a newsworthy story. (Someone should complain to the editor about this slippage of standards, they weren't even remotely funny today in their pretentions to be privy to a military crystal ball.) But a mildly autistic INS worker has been fired due to some paranoid secretary thinking he was stalking a commissioner while trying to research files that he was assigned to review. Amazingly, this story even has a tie-in to the Carlyle group, which seems to have part interest in the company that does background checks on federal employees.
And, as a public service announcement to liberal bloggers everywhere, here's what you need to know for now about the upcoming liberal bloggers convention in Kansas. Yes, Kansas. And there's a good reason for that:
All individuals not included in the label "liberal/progressive/populist bloggers" can go on about your business ;)posted by Natasha at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK |