Thursday, November 11, 2004

War Is Hell

Breaking Ranks

There are brave US soldiers who are speaking out against the war. How many more years, how many more deaths, before we wake up & hear their truth?

Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey may be the most unlikely of the soldiers who have come out against the war. A Marine since 1992, he has been a recruiter, infantry instructor, and combat platoon leader. He went to Iraq primed to fight. “9/11 pissed me off,” he says. “I was ready to go kill a raghead.”

Shortly after Massey arrived in Iraq, his unit was ordered to man roadblocks. To stop cars, the Marines would raise their hands. If the drivers kept going, Massey says, “we would just light ’em up. I didn’t find out until later on, after talking to an Iraqi, that when you put your hand up in the air, it means ‘Hello.’” He estimates that his men killed 30 civilians in one 48-hour period.

One day, he recalls, “there was this red Kia Spectra. We told it to stop, and it didn’t. There were four occupants. We fatally wounded three of them. We started pulling out the bodies, but they were dying pretty fast. The guy that was driving was just frickin’ bawling, sitting on the highway. He looked at me and asked, ‘Why did you kill my brother? He wasn’t a terrorist. He didn’t do anything to you.’”

Massey searched the car. “It was completely clean. Nothing there. Meanwhile the driver just ran around saying, ‘Why? Why?’ That’s when I started to question.”

The doubts led to nightmares, depression, and a talk with his commanding officer. “I feel what we are doing here is wrong. We are committing genocide,” Massey told him. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and given a medical discharge.

Back in his hometown of Waynesville, North Carolina, Massey got a job as a furniture salesman, then lost it after speaking at an antiwar rally. Two or three times a week, he puts on his Marine uniform and takes a long walk around the nearby town of Asheville carrying a sign that reads: “I killed innocent civilians for our government.” The local police now keep an eye out for him, he says, because people have tried to run him over.

When asked what he would say to someone who thinks the way he did before the war, Massey falls uncharacteristically silent. “How do you wake them up?” he finally responds. “It’s a slow process. All you can do is tell people the horrible things you’ve seen, and let them make up their own minds. It’s kind of the pebble in the water: You throw in a pebble, and it makes ripples through the whole pond.”

Winter has arrived

Two days ago I woke up to find the world covered with a light dusting of snow. It melted quickly, but makes me face reality: It's winter. Last night I put my scraper/brush tool & windshield washer fluid bottle in the car. The porch furniture is all in the basement. Storm windows are down. The heat is on. The last leaves of fall are hanging on -- oaks, mostly, dark orange, yellow & brown -- but the maples are all bare. Dried leaves scuttle on the sidewalk.

On the plus side, I see so many more hawks in the trees -- their cover is gone. Hornet's nests swing high in the trees. The color palette of the world is more muted.

And hey -- the Red Sox won the World Series. Whoo-hoo! Life is good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tom Coburn is now a U.S. Senator

From, here are some quotes, by, and on, the newest U.S. Senator from Oklahoma:

GETTING TO KNOW THEM Let's all give a rousing welcome to Senator-elect Tom Coburn (R-OK):

On abortion:

"I favor the death penalty for abortionists and other people who take life." (KOKI-FOX 23)

On the threat posed by gays:

"The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country, and they wield extreme power ... That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today. Why do you think we see the rationalization for abortion and multiple sexual partners? That's a gay agenda." (Salon)

On the network television premiere of SCHINDLER'S LIST:

On Tuesday, Coburn said NBC had taken network television "to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity" by airing the movie. He said the broadcast should outrage parents and "decent-minded individuals everywhere." (CNN)

On fixing Social Security:

"I don't apologize for saying; we need to protect the unborn. Do you realize that if all those children had not been aborted, we wouldn't have any trouble with Medicare and Social Security today? That's another 41 million people." (Hugo Daily News)

On gun control:

"If I wanted to buy a bazooka to use in a very restricted way, to do something, I ought to be able to do that." (Mother Jones)

On the challenges facing schools:

You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area. He lives in Colgate and travels out of Atoka. He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?" (Daily Kos)

OH AND BY THE WAY: Just in case you had any doubt.

On Coburn:

"It's important for us to have him in the Senate. We need his medical skills, his business skills and his very thoughtful approach to tackling issues important to our nation." --Sen Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)

On Coburn:

[Former President George H. W.] Bush said Tuesday at an Oklahoma City fund-raiser that it is of “great importance to the nation” and the current president to elect Tom Coburn to the U.S. Senate to help Republicans keep control there...“It would be a wonderful thing for this country." (Daily Oklahoman)

On Coburn:

"We need him in Washington...It's absolutely essential that Tom Coburn be the next United States senator from Oklahoma." --Vice President Dick Cheney

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Praise Jesus, Throw Off the Blue Cloak

Attorney General John Witchcroft has resigned.

Why Does the Right Wing Hate Us So?

Declaration of Expulsion: A Modest Proposal
It's Time to Reconfigure the United States

OK, so this was published in "Human Events", which calls itself "The National Conservative Weekly". It's all so Third-Reichian. Creepy.

The truth is, America is not just broken--it is becoming irreparable. If you believe that recent years of uncivil behavior are burdensome, imagine the likelihood of a future in which all bizarre acts are the norm, and a government-booted foot stands permanently on your face.

That is why the unthinkable must become thinkable. If the so-called "Red States" (those that voted for George W. Bush) cannot be respected or at least tolerated by the "Blue States" (those that voted for Al Gore and John Kerry), then the most disparate of them must live apart--not by secession of the former (a majority), but by expulsion of the latter. Here is how to do it.

Having been amended only 17 times since 10 vital amendments (the Bill of Rights) were added at the republic's inception, the U.S. Constitution is not easily changed, primarily because so many states (75%, now 38 of 50) must agree. Yet, there are 38 states today that may be inclined to adopt, let us call it, a "Declaration of Expulsion," that is, a specific constitutional amendment to kick out the systemically troublesome states and those trending rapidly toward anti-American, if not outright subversive, behavior. The 12 states that must go: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Only the remaining 38 states would retain the name, "United States of America." The 12 expelled mobs could call themselves the "Dirty Dozen," or individually keep their identity and go their separate ways, probably straight to Hell.


BUSH USA is predominantly white; devoutly Christian (mostly Protestant); openly, vigorously heterosexual; an open land of single-family homes and ranches; economically sound (except for a few farms), but not drunk with cyberworld business development, and mainly English-speaking, with a predilection for respectfully uttering "yes, ma'am" and "yes, sir."

GORE/KERRY USA is ethnically diverse; multi-religious, irreligious or nastily antireligious; more sexually liberated (if not in actual practice, certainly in attitude); awash with condo canyons and other high-end real estate bordered by sprawling, squalid public housing or neglected private homes, decidedly short of middle-class neighborhoods; both high tech and oddly primitive in its commerce; very artsy, and Babelesque, with abnormally loud speakers.

Sex Discrimination Alive & Well in West Virginia/A Red State, Of Course

School Board Backs 'Juicy' Skirt Ban

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- A West Virginia school board is backing a decision to ban an honor student from wearing a skirt with the words "It's all about Juicy" printed on the backside.

The principal of the high school had told the girl the slogan was sexually suggestive and forbidden under school policy.

The sophomore protested, saying the words referred to the clothing manufacturer, Juicy Couture.

Nichoel Hawks said the school has a double standard.

During her appeal, she showed pictures of male students wearing shirts featuring Hooters, "Big Kahunas" and "Big Johnson."

Got that straight? "Juicy" is sexual. "Big Johnson" is not.

Reminds of several years ago when 8th grader Erin Rollenhagen, protested boys being allowed to wear "Hooters" t-shirts in her school. (Hooters t-shirts also say "More Than a Mouthful" on the back.) When they turned down her protest, she had a shirt made up that said "Cocks: Nothing to Crow About". Predictably, SHE was suspended from school.

Did W Hack the Vote?

Surprising Pattern of Florida's Election Results

I just can't believe that Jacksonville, a city with 46% registered Democrats and 37% registered Republicans, went for Bush 58% to 42%.

We Need Spokesmen, Not Statesmen

This guy is exactly right. We need to be running candidates who can talk the talk.

Will Towle: 'We have to evolve or perish'

This one really smarts. At least in 2000 we understood what happened. Ultimately, that was an election decided by good old electoral fraud. We could get our head around that. Maybe Al Gore hadn't put together the best campaign, but millions more voted for Al and Ralph than "W." We may had lost courtesy of a crooked Supreme Court, but it was the type of loss that left you enraged and energized. Just like the Olde Towne Team, you thought "just wait 'til next time."

No such excuses this time. And assuming the whispers about Diebold rigging the election to not come to fruition, this one has left us demoralized and in despair.

Why is this one so hard? As leftists and specifically as Democrats, we believe the country shares our values. More people are registered as Democrats than Republicans. Poll after poll show that people share our values and issues far more than with the Republicans.

Here's his key argument:

We Must Start Running Spokesmen Not Statesmen.

What do Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger all have in common? They are all successful Republican candidates who came to power despite having no discernable legislative or executive accomplishments. Each had a resume that was either thin (Reagan, Bush) or non-existent (Schwarzenegger). However, each one of them successfully portrayed an image of the values that he hoped to promote. Significantly, two of the three are professional actors. All were personally well received by your "average American" (the important which candidate would you like to have a beer with quotient). Each used this resonance with the voters to portray simplistic themes. Each dodged difficult answers to complex problems. Each became an executive controlled in large part by his handlers. But all achieved electoral success.

To call this a victory of style over substance is to under-estimate what the Republicans are doing. The foray into Iraq is part of a well thought out plan to annex the oil fields of the Middle East and to use the might of the US military to influence the world. Although all of this is explained in detail in the position papers of right wing think tanks, not a word of that analysis is expressed by their candidate to the press. Instead we got "this is the guy who tried to kill my dad" and "he has connections with terrorists." Again, vague statements by a popular spokesman that displayed the essence of the agenda without any of the details.

As Democrats, we adopt the polar opposite approach. We run candidates with long resumes. We explain our reasoning with detailed bullet points. We think facts demonstrate the policies we promote. John Kerry had a twenty year in the US Senate and a decorated combat career. These facts were supposed to project the image of well reasoned domestic and international policy tempered by the personal experience of combat.

It didn't. Instead, W pranced around in a military flight suit and projected the image of someone who supported the military during this time of war. The fact that W went AWOL and then deserted from his military unit during the Vietnam war went largely ignored. The fact of John Kerry's lifetime support of the military got lost in the shuffle of his statements on the Iraq war and the Swift Boat for Truth attacks. Arguably, Kerry blew the best visual of his campaign when he appeared with his Swift Boat comrades at the DNC convention looking out of place in his Senatorial blue suit. He should have donned combat fatigues and his old naval hat.

John Kerry's nuanced and thoughtful comments (which we Democrats loved so much) became so much background white noise to the important parts of the electorate that we needed to support us.

As Democrats we need to recognize the Presidency is a position that is more symbolic than substantive. The electorate does not want substantive candidates. They want candidates who demonstrate the imagery and symbolism that gives them comfort. In 2004, Kerry failed to demonstrate a strong image of being strong on defense. Bush, who factually does not support the troops, convinced most Americans that he symbolically embraced the troops. He therefore won this important part of the vote.

Republicans rely on the candidate's handlers to deliver on the substance of the image that candidate has promoted. In large part, even Reagan and Bush supporters admit to this. Did Reagan or does Bush understand the details of the policies he promotes? No, he doesn't. But he can recite the "talking points" and get the sound bite on the nightly news. Karl Rove then does the rest.

Does this mean we need to run Martin Sheen? Maybe it does. The fact that this seems crazy to you means that you, as a Democrat, have not absorbed what Reagan and Schwarzenegger have done. There are many image friendly Democrats who have the intelligence and fortitude to be good candidates. Many are already in politics but some will not be. I will leave that to the media savvy to tell me who projects the image we need. How about the Springsteen/Sheen ticket? Or the Obama/Oprah ticket? Let you imagination run wild here! To everyone who says I am crazy, I say one thing: AHN-ALD! AHN-ALD! A dopey Austrian born body builder turned action hero is governor of California. And you said it would never happen.

When Bush Gets Tort Reform, Only the Rich Will Have Lawyers

From a friend. Here are some of the reasons we call it "tort deform":

Limit your right to Justice: Support Tort Reform

Limit your right to trial: Support Tort Reform

Vote Yes to Tort Reform: Make Insurance Companies Richer

Your Life isn't worth more than $250K: Support Tort Reform

Your dead child isn't worth $250K: Support Tort Reform

Let's limit Accountability: Support Tort Reform

Give Big Business a break: Support Tort Reform

Killed by a Drunk Driver? $250k is all your family needs. Vote yes for Tort Reform.

Defective Product take your life? You're not worth $250K. Vote yes for Tort Reform

Know anyone killed, crippled of injured by negligence? It will never happen to you: Support Tort Reform

Know anyone who ever served on a jury? They are stupid. Support Tort Reform.

Ever served on a jury? You can't be trusted to do what's right. Support Tort Reform.

Don't let a jury decide how to spend the insurance company's money, let the lobbyists and legislators decide. Support Tort Reform.

Let the government decide what your life is worth, not the people. Vote yes for Tort Reform.

Our Founding Fathers were idiots. Vote yes for Tort Reform.

Did someone accidentally kill your family? Don't file a lawsuit, just turn the other cheek. Vote yes for Tort Reform.

Maimed by a defective product? Turn to prayer for relief, not to a jury. Support Tort Reform.

Lose your ability to provide for your family in an accident? Don't worry, the government will take care of them. Support Tort Reform.

Your neighbors are too stupid to decide what your amputated leg is worth. Vote yes for Tort Reform.

Call your local State Representative and tell them you support Tort Reform. Your dead baby isn't worth $250,000 anyway.

Defective product take your eye? You still have another one. Support Tort Reform.

Every life is precious, but no life is worth more than $250K. Support Tort Reform.

If you believe that life begins at conception, then you know that life is only worth $250,000 when it ends. Support Tort Reform.

It doesn't matter how dangerous a product is because everyone will get the same amount of money no matter how bad they are hurt. Support Tort Reform.

It's wrong to sue somebody for making a mistake. We'll tell everyone at your funeral that you felt that way. Support Tort Reform.

I don't want to pay a few more dollars for a safe product. My health isn't worth that much anyway. Support Tort Reform.

Trade your leg for $250,000? Support Tort reform.

Were your parents killed by the nursing home? Thank them. They actually saved you money because they were going to die anyway. Support Tort Reform.

Just because a product I buy blows up takes both my legs doesn't mean that I should get more than $250,000 from those stupid people serving on a jury. Support Tort Reform.

Money doesn't mean anything to me or my family, especially if you hurt me so bad that I can't work anymore. Support Tort Reform.

A jury doesn't know how much my life is worth, but the government does. Support Tort Reform.

Ask anybody killed by negligence what their life is worth. If they could they would tell you it's not more than $250,000. Vote for Tort Reform.

Don't actually know anyone personally who has won a jackpot jury verdict? Support Tort Reform anyway.

It's okay for doctors and hospitals to kill people. We all make mistakes. Support Tort Reform.

Its okay to forgive the drunk driver that killed you instead of suing him. Your family would rather give forgive than receive money to live on anyway. Support Tort Reform.

Did you lose the person you love to negligence? You'd rather have the loved one back instead of the money anyway. Let the insurance company keep it. They know how to spend it better than you do. Support Tort Reform.

Trade your neighbor's arm for lower insurance premiums. It won't cost you anything will it? Support Tort Reform.

If you are stupid enough to pick a doctor that is negligent, then you don't deserve more than $250,000 if he kills you. Vote yes for Tort Reform.

Just because you burned alive doesn't mean that your landlord should pay you more than $250,000 for violating the building code. Support Tort Reform.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Resistance is not futile, but acquiescence is

My new motto

Reflections on the Election

I am beginning to recuperate from my post-election malaise. Here are some of the things that have been rolling around in my head:

-- John Kerry has been my senator for years. Including his candidacy for lieutenant governor, I have voted for him 5 times. I've always liked his stands on the issues. But I never felt passionate about him. That's why I supported Howard Dean. He spoke clearly and persuasively about the issues I care about, including his clear stand against the war in Iraq. Once Kerry was the candidate, of course I supported him. But he wasn't my first choice, & I've voted for him 5 times in the past.

-- Why do we let Iowa & New Hampshire pick our Democratic candidates? Both of them are 50/50 states. Why aren't our first primaries in California, New York & Illinois? States filled with Democratic voters.

-- Will Rogers once said, famously, I don't belong to an organized political party. I'm a Democrat. Boy, it felt that way a lot this summer. Waiting for Kerry to respond to the Swift Boat Liars. K/E trotted out all Kerry's boatmates at the convention & weren't prepared to put 'em on TV to counteract all the BS from guys who didn't even know Kerry in Vietnam? Even when they did respond, it wasn't very effective.

-- What was with the duck hunting expedition? First off, one of the late-to-the-party Clintonistas, Lockhart or McCurry, said flat-out to the press, This is a photo-op. Gee, thanks for all the expert help, guys.
Then, there's the ridiculousness of it. I don't own a gun & never have. But I grew up in the mountains where we got the first day of hunting season off every year. A girl in my class shot a deer when she was 12. I watched my neighbor up the street butcher his deer every year. It never bothered me, because in the mountains people hunt for food. That deer fed a family for the winter. I don't mind hunting for food. Hey, I'm a carnivore, I buy my meat in the grocery store, I'm no different from that deer hunter. But was Kerry really going to eat that Canada goose? Was anyone? Hunting for sport, I just don't get. When those pictures of Kerry were on TV my friend's 13-year old asked me, Why is Kerry killing a duck? What did that duck ever do to him? What's that have to do with being President? Good questions.

-- Where was the famous Kerry close? Where were the tough last-minute ads? Remember, Kerry went "dark" in August to save money for his all-out blitz before Election Day. Where was it? Just those boring "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World" ads.

-- And couldn't they come up with a better tag line than that? Where's the power in those words?

-- Why did Kerry concede so quickly? After telling us he would fight for every vote, why didn't he? He couldn't just wait until all the votes were counted? Both campaigns encouraged all their voters to vote early or to vote by absentee ballot. As this becomes more common, folks are going to have to get used to the fact that WE WON'T KNOW WHO WON ON ELECTION NIGHT. It's important. It's worth getting it right. Kerry should have hung in there until all the votes were counted.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


US strikes raze Falluja hospital

The hospital was run by an Islamic charity

A hospital has been razed to the ground in one of the heaviest US air raids in the Iraqi city of Falluja.

Witnesses said only the facade remained of the small Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the centre of the city. There are no reports on casualties.

A nearby medical supplies storeroom and dozens of houses were damaged as US forces continued preparing the ground for an expected major assault.

What more can I say?