Saturday, June 11, 2005

Minority Voices Excluded in House of Reps

Have you seen the video of Sensenbrenner adjourning a hearing (illegally?) in violation of House procedures? Posted by Hello

Howard Dean Speaks for Me

I find fence-sitting Democrats to be a liability when we are a minority in a society that is rapidly losing its minority voices and with a government that seeks to quash minority voices and minority rights.

Howard Dean, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, is willing to take unpopular positions (opposition to the war in Iraq before the American people wised up to its specious reasons and lack of strategy and resources, for example) and to speak out with passion. While the MSM ("mainstream media") rolled their eyes and endlessly played the tape of his famous yell/roar, I thought he was simply an energized rallier of troops who was willing to show enthusiasm--and thank God for that!

Of late he has dared to publicly state the obvious, that the Republican Party is basically white and Christian, and refused to back down. Why should he? This statement is so overwhelmingly true that protests are pure hypocrisy. Sure some persons of color have contributed to the GOP in significant ways (though why they would do so I have no idea, with the exception of the anti-Castro Miami Cuban community). But what is the impact of Republican policies on minorities? It's not pretty.

More controversial was Dean's comment about most Republican leaders--note, not most Republicans--not having done an honest day's work. Please, can't anyone speak in hyperbole anymore? Today we would lynch Jesus on cable TV and in the newspapers just for his teaching methods! What is the underlying truth behind Dean's statement? That the GOP does not represent the working class or the interests of the working class. All one has to do is look at the shift of the tax burden from the wealthiest to ordinary working folk, the cuts in social services which are most needed by those who do not have large cash reserves, the crisis in medical coverage and the rise in bankruptcies for medical expenses (now more difficult to file for, to the delight of the banking and credit industries), the mandating of school testing without matching funds to accomplish it, and reduction in environmental protections (which disproportionately affects those who cannot afford to live where the water is purer and the air is cleaner).

Just to pick one egregious example from the GOP, George W Bush ineffectively pursued a number of failed business ventures, relying on bailouts from his father's wealthy friends to salvage them, made money on a baseball deal funded by a large amount of money from taxpayers, executed what can only be a profitable bit of insider trading (for which he was not prosecuted by the SEC but neither was he exonerated), and then rode into Washington on a fraudelent election in November 2000. Now he tells us how hard it is to be president in spite of his spending over 40% of his time in office on vacation, poses as a rancher though he is terrified of horses, and cannot take time from his busy schedule to attend the funeral of a single troop killed in Iraq. Never misses his workouts though, even when the White House and Congress are being evacuated.

I signed the petition saying that Howard Dean speaks for me.

So did Barbara Lee.

So does Harry Reid.

So does John Conyers.

So does Nancy Pelosi.

Compromise with extremists is another form of yielding to terrorists. America is under attack, attack by the leaders of the Republican Party and conservative Christian extremists. I will say no more to keep this a "family-friendly" forum.

Please add your signatures to the petition if Howard Dean speaks for you. Thank you.
The BB

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

With Smokey Bear, one of my childhood icons. After living almost six decades, I still find posing with Smokey a total rush. And remember, only you can help prevent forest fires! Posted by Hello

I was not on vacation

My apologies, friends and browsers, for the long absence. Life got very busy as I found myself working full-time for the Forest Service (crunching numbers, though some of you know my secret fantasy of being a ranger leading folks on nature hikes) and juggling two part-time jobs. One was the church and the other was theological tutoring (which I love). Toss in the Thursday night class I was taking in Berkeley and there was neither time nor energy to keep a blog going.

Tutoring ended, as did the semester, and I am beginning to feel as normal as normal ever gets in my life, so I’m back…and badder than ever.

I have long enjoyed textile arts, whether viewing what can be done with fabrics and threads and yarns or actually sewing myself. In the past month I have launched into knitting, an activity that is at once creative, productive, and relaxing. Being a total beginner has rarely stopped me from trying things, though I do need to take some knitting classes. Still, I have managed to do stockinet and garter stitches and even some yarnovers. If you did not want a scarf for Christmas, too bad, folks.

Years of dining at Fatapple’s in El Cerrito have been a joy, a habit, a form of social comfort. They have also faced me with Skein Lane across the street, a shop dedicated to knitting, crochet, and other crafty things to do with strands of fibers. I have visited it just to enjoy the sensual pleasure of all those colors and textures, but now it has become a den of temptation, akin to bookstores and art supply houses.

Caution: Sudden Change of Course

Although my political reading on the internet is less intense than it was leading up to the November election, I still try to follow national and international politics on a daily basis. We are, I believe, in very dark times and Sauron must be stopped, so gather together, whoever you in a contemporary fellowship of the ring may be, we have a task before us. May love, friendship, persistence, courage, and truth sustain us.

I was not convinced that we needed to invade Iraq while watching the current administration’s single-minded pursuit of exactly such an action. The case was never adequately made and we clearly were not doing it as a last resort. I will grant that the threat of force may well have been necessary to convince Hussein to permit inspections, but when the inspections were finally working we cut them short. Though my human weakness for self-righteousness is tempted to gloat and say, “I told you so,” it is quickly overwhelmed by deep sorrow that the United States should pursue a course so wrong on so many levels.

Now, of course, we and the Iraqi and Afghani people daily pay the price for our willful behavior. We abandoned the pursuit of bin Laden and the securing and rebuilding of Afghanistan to divert our forces to Iraq, which had no direct links to al Qaeda and none to 9/11. We have relinquished any moral authority we may have had in our flouting international law, the Geneva Conventions, and common decency in our treatment of prisoners. We have ignored the lofty principles enshrined in our own founding documents. We have thumbed our nose at the community of nations. The White House has thrown away the international good will that came our way after the brutality of the 9/11 attacks.

Of course, manufacturing a war is nothing new on the face of the globe and Citizen Hearst certainly knew how to drum up conflict. Nonetheless, watching power coalescing ever more in the hands of a callous kleptocracy is sickening. The undermining of American democracy by those who have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution sickens the heart.

The Downing Street Minute confirms what many of us always suspected: that Bush and company were determined to attack Iraq and would manipulate information to do so. Other strands are woven in as we just learned that Bolton, W’s nominee as ambassador to the UN, forced the ouster of the man heading the international inspections for chemical weapons in order to render inspections ineffective and preclude a peaceful resolution. The world now knows that Hussein did not have the alleged stockpiles of functional WMD. And the President of the United States lies to the American people and the world.

Reporters and pundits are careful not to word it so strongly, but the documentation of his saying things that are not true is solid. Does he intend to deceive or mislead (which would move speaking things untrue into the category of lying)? Given the ability of the human heart and mind to deceive the very self, perhaps he believes he speaks truly. I believe he usually does. But I do not think it is accidental or coincidental that he repeatedly says one thing and does another (All Children Left Behind, Dirtier Air Act, etc.) or that he tries to create impressions that so clearly fail to square with facts (the purported crisis in Social Security, the role of Hussein in international terrorism, the radical redistribution of wealth from the working class to the ownership class). He said the intelligence committee had declared Bolton’s activity all right after examining papers requested by a different committee, but the intelligence committee did not see the papers and two members of it had only seen summaries. They indicated that even what they saw raised grave concerns, and their committee had no jurisdiction over the nomination. I say he lied, deliberately trying to weasel out of admitting that it is the secretive White House that is obstructionist in the machinery of government though its acquisition of increasing power at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches of government—and at the expense of our democracy.

Well, I just needed to get that rant off my chest.

More interesting and edifying topics ahead….

The BB