Friday, February 23, 2007

New Arrival on Planet Earth: Noah Michael Young

On a snowy, blustery day in February, at General Hospital Medical Center in Akron, Ohio overlooking Summit Lake and the edge of the Village Green in Kenmore:

Noah Michael Young

entered the world today at 9:22 a.m. at a very sturdy ten pounds, 11ounces. Parents Julia and Drew and grandparents Phil and Kim are ecstatic while their relatives and friends rejoice in their happiness. Pink, plump, and healthy, Noah cooed and chuckled and uttered not one cry while visitors milled around the very first room he has ever seen. He's a very contented little chap, warmly wrapped in his blanket,
happy to be out in the light and blissfully unaware of what kind of a world he has entered. Within an hour he had polished off half a bottle of formula and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. This little nearly eleven-pounder arrived having already outgrown first-size baby clothes and I came home and unraveled the baby blanket I was half way through knitting and have started another with more stitches on the needle.

More later with picture

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Democratic Candidates at Carson City Event Today Impressed Me

Turned on C-span this evening and thought I'd watch a little bit of the Meet the Democratic Candidates event broadcast originally earlier in the day. Was captured and stayed with it for the more than two hours. Dodd, Edwards, Clinton, Richardson, Byden, Kucinich, Vilsak, and Mr. Gravel, an elderly fellow from Alaska who had been in the Senate some years ago and gave a stemwinding, old fashioned labor speech were there -- from the ASCME convention at Carson City, Nevada. Each gave good accounts of themselves in two minute speeches, a short q and a with Stephanopolous, and a final 2 minute windup.

Edwards was strong and confident., Byden quite appealing, and Kucinich surprisingly moving and convincing, especially with his plea for universal health coverage now! Not baby steps, as he called it, as offered by the governors. And no ties to health insurance corporations. He ended by sticking out his arms horizontally and saying, "No strings, no strings, no strings." Richardson was disappointing. He seemed slightly nervous. But where was Obama, I wondered. Not there. Nevertheless, they were an impressive bunch. Nobody could call them "The Seven Dwarfs," the title given to the Democratic candidates running in 1988 and from whom came Michael Dukakis!

Hillary Must Listen to the Blogosphere Voices of Readon

Hi Hillary. Are you out there listening to the voices of reason on the blogosphere that ask you to express sincere regret at having voted for the Iraq War resolution in 2003? This would be a good time now we hear how Iraq wounded are being so badly treated at Walter Reed Military Hospital.

Excerpt that follows from Amy Goodman's latest column presses the point that other distinguished members of Congress in 2003 knew then what Hillary professes not to have known. Goodman has impeccable feminist credentials going back decades. However, these don't precipitate her into giving Hilary a blank check endorsement. Voters today want straight-talking candidates who own up to their mistakes and live up to the responsibility of working on the voters' behalf.

"Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., fought the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. He said the president wants "to have the power to launch this nation into war without provocation and without clear evidence of an imminent attack on the United States, and we're going to be foolish enough to give it to him." Byrd seems to have known then what Clinton says she knows now. He called the resolution "dangerous" and a "blank check," and now, with more than 3,145 U.S. soldiers killed, and with Iraq War costs through 2008 projected at more than $1 trillion, it appears he was right.

"Reps. Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey also seemed to know then what Clinton says she knows now. They were lauded by the 50 activists who, on Jan. 30, 2007, occupied Clinton's Senate office, weaving a web with pink yarn "to symbolize the senator's web of deception and the innocent people - Americans and Iraqis - caught in it." Protesters have promised to "bird-dog" Clinton at all of her public appearances. These actions recall the student sit-in at Clinton's New York office on Oct. 10, 2002, while Clinton stood on the Senate floor and made her case for war.

Sen. Clinton has drawn the line in the sand over Iraq. She will not admit that her vote to authorize Bush to use military force in a unilateral, unprovoked war based on lies was a mistake. She is open to a military strike on Iran. Her latest message to voters: "There are others to choose from." Anti-war voters already know that, and are lining up behind candidates Barack Obama, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and, perhaps before long, Ralph Nader.

Amy Goodman is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears in The Union.

Our "Worst 10" Senators

Empowering Veterans, a PAC founded in 2006, is targeting senators who consistently vote against the interests of veterans. It goes without saying they also have a sorry record on many other issues including the current war.

Ralph Parrot, the founder of Empowering Veterans, gives his list of ten in The Daily Kos today. Below is an excerpt from his column. So far. nearly 400 comments have appeared.

"Worst 10" Senators List Unveiled

Tue Feb 20, 2007 at 06:27:12 AM PST

Empowering Veterans, Inc. Unveils its "Worst 10" list of incumbent Senators up for reelection in 2008. These people are very pious in the "Support the Troops" rhetoric, but most hypocritical when it comes to voting to support members of the Armed Forces and their families and veterans and their families.

Empowering Veterans Unveils it "Worst 10" List of Senators

My name is Ralph Parrott. I am a 65 year old retired Navy Supply Corps Captain and retired businessman from Fairfax Station, Virginia. I served in the US Navy from March 1963 until September of 1990, over 27 years.

. . .

I started the PAC, Empowering Veterans, Inc., during the 2006 Senate campaign in Virginia in support of Jim Webb’s candidacy against George Allen. I decided the best way to support Jim Webb was to expose the voting record of George Allen on issues relating to members of the Armed Forces and their families and veterans and their families. As I researched George Allen’s record I became shocked at the difference between his lofty rhetoric of "Support the Troops" and the reality of his actual record. As I dug deeper I came to realize that George Allen was not alone in establishing a record of deceit and hypocrisy when it comes to really "Supporting the Troops". Indeed, his sorry record is shared by a large portion of his Republican colleagues.

Learning this, I decided to devote the time from now until the election of 2008 to exposing the "Worst 10" incumbent Senators up for reelection in 2008. As I watched the Republicans tie the US Senate in knots last week in order to avoid a debate about on the wisdom of the President’s troop surge in Irag I was struck by the sheer hypocrisy of many members of the "Worst 10" club as they piously implored their colleagues to "Support the Troops". A cursory view of their sorry voting records puts their rhetoric in sharp relief of where they really stand. Namely, there is always money for tax cuts for the wealthy, tax giveaways for the corporations, and no bind contractors for insiders, but when it comes to mental health care soldiers, head trauma research, or support for military families the budget is somehow constrained. The "Worst 10" on issues relating to members of the Armed Forces and their families and veterans and their families are:

Alexander of Tennessee
Chambliss of Georgia
Cochran of Mississippi
Coleman of Minnesota
Cornyn of Texas
Dole of North Carolina
Graham of South Carolina
Roberts of Kansas
Sessions of Alabama
Sunnunu of New Hampshire

Empowering Veterans’s strategy for the next election cycle is very simple.

  • We will track ("Bird Dog") each target incumbent’s voting record on issues relating to members of the Armed Forces their families and veterans and their families.
  • We will maintain that record on our website,
  • We will recruit volunteers in each targeted state to conduct Letters to the Editor campaigns to keep each incumbent’s record of deceit and hypocrisy constantly before his or her constituents.
  • We will encourage veterans to run against these incumbents.
  • We will raise money to support those veterans that do run against these incumbents.
. . .
For full text visit Ralph Parrot's Diary, link given abovve

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Hilary Must Say She Regrets Her Vote

Wonder how long Hilary Clinton's Senate vote in favor of war against Iraq back in 2003 will continue to haunt her presidential campaign unless she speaks up and in a genuine way says she's sorry for that vote and the disasters that have followed it. One would like to think a year from now American forces will be out of Iraq and when the election takes place in November 2008 her vote won't be a crucial issue. By all accounts Clinton is doing a sterling job as New York State Senator and is well qualified in other respects. If she doesn't win, how long will it be before another woman appears to run for the office in subsequent elections? Too long. That being so, Hilary must lighten her baggage to run all the way to the winning post.

Some would say this is no time for "dissing" the only woman running for President. But I would say the primary season is the right time. As we move up to the primary elections, Democrats not only have the right to criticize their primary candidates but to hold their feet to the fire, to put them in the crucible, so that the outcome will produce the best woman or man to oppose the other party's contender. If Hilary does become our candidate, then we will back her with all our might--because the thought of another Republican presidency is anathema to us. In the meantime, she must speak out honestly to the American people. Recently Paul Krugman expressed concerns about Clinton's refusal to admit that her vote was wrong: Following are excerpts:

"Many people are perplexed by the uproar over Senator Hillary Clinton’s refusal to say, as former Senator John Edwards has, that she was wrong to vote for the Iraq war resolution. Why is it so important to admit past error? And yes, it was an error — she may not have intended to cast a vote for war, but the fact is the resolution did lead to war; she may not have believed that President Bush would abuse the power he was granted, but the fact is he did.

The answer can be summed up in two words: heckuva job.
"For the last six years we have been ruled by men who are pathologically incapable of owning up to mistakes. And this pathology has had real, disastrous consequences.

"The experience of Bush-style governance, together with revulsion at the way Karl Rove turned refusal to admit error into a political principle, is the main reason those now-famous three words from Mr. Edwards — “I was wrong” — matter so much to the Democratic base.

"Many people are perplexed by the uproar over Senator Hillary Clinton’s refusal to say, as former Senator John Edwards has, that she was wrong to vote for the Iraq war resolution. Why is it so important to admit past error? And yes, it was an error — she may not have intended to cast a vote for war, but the fact is the resolution did lead to war; she may not have believed that President Bush would abuse the power he was granted, but the fact is he did.

"The answer can be summed up in two words: heckuva job. Or, if you want a longer version: Medals of Freedom to George Tenet, who said Saddam had W.M.D., Tommy Franks, who failed to secure Iraq, and Paul Bremer, who botched the occupation.

For the last six years we have been ruled by men who are pathologically incapable of owning up to mistakes. And this pathology has had real, disastrous consequences. The situation in Iraq might not be quite so dire — and we might even have succeeded in stabilizing Afghanistan — if Mr. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney had been willing to admit early on that things weren’t going well or that their handpicked appointees weren’t the right people for the job.

"The experience of Bush-style governance, together with revulsion at the way Karl Rove turned refusal to admit error into a political principle, is the main reason those now-famous three words from Mr. Edwards — “I was wrong” — matter so much to the Democratic base.

"The base is remarkably forgiving toward Democrats who supported the war. But the base and, I believe, the country want someone in the White House who doesn’t sound like another George Bush. That is, they want someone who doesn’t suffer from an infallibility complex, who can admit mistakes and learn from them.

"And there’s another reason the admission by Mr. Edwards that he was wrong is important. If we want to avoid future quagmires, we need a president who is willing to fight the inside-the-Beltway conventional wisdom on foreign policy, which still — in spite of all that has happened — equates hawkishness with seriousness about national security, and treats those who got Iraq right as somehow unsound. By admitting his own error, Mr. Edwards makes it more credible that he would listen to a wider range of views.

" Although she’s smart and sensible, she’s very much the candidate of the Beltway establishment — an establishment that has yet to come to terms with its own failure of nerve and judgment over Iraq. Still, she’s at worst a triangulator, not a megalomaniac; she’s not another Dick Cheney.

" For some reason Mrs. Clinton and her advisers have failed to grasp just how fed up the country is with arrogant politicians who can do no wrong. I don’t think she falls in that category; but her campaign somehow thought it was still a good idea to follow Karl Rove’s playbook, which says that you should never, ever admit to a mistake. And that playbook has led them into a political trap."

We have yet to hear from many in the media their apologies for backing the war with unseemly enthusiasm back in 2003. That's a subject for another blog.

For Krugman's entire and lengthy column go to Welcome to Pottersville blog, Jurassicpork

posted by jurassicpork @ 7:21 AM 7 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Blizzard Soup

Here in Grangerburg on Tuesday morning we knew from the forecasts about the big snow storming its way out of the Oklahoma Panhandle across the Great Plains, sweeping over the flatlands of Iowa and on into Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. We were waiting for it--with time enough to prepare and to make cancellations. The Nordonia Hills librarian called Tuesday morning and suggested we postpone the talk we were scheduled to give that evening in connection with our book. By evening the TV was listing all the closings including libraries, universities, and schools. I thought, what if we had a sudden emergency, needed an operation or something. I soon put that out of my head.

This morning, after 30 hours of snowfall, we peered through the door of our cabin and saw that it was possible to make an escape to the supermarket and replenish our dwindling stores. Last night Phil and K zoomed into our driveway in their husky snow plow truck and swept the snow out of the drive and into huge piles. Their visit gave us a chance to celebrate Valentine's Day. I filled large cups with hot coffee and served cake warm from the oven and iced with a pecan frosting. Kim liked the rose-colored fancy fur scarf I knitted for her in honor of St. Val, and all agreed on the cake's superior taste. I put that down to the eggs from Carol Thombs' chicken farm. Her birds live in a chicken palace--a warm and handsome barn with a big earthy yard outside where they can scratch and exercise to their hearts' content behind a fence that's safe from foxes.

Comparisons have been made, but I think The Storm of '07 didn't equal The Great Blizzard of '78 in intensity. . In that storm the wind's constant and frightening howling chilled the marrow in our bones. Little birds, hanging on to branches for dear life were blown sideways and sought out holes in a snow bank for protection. In this week's storm all we heard was the sound of silence. Everything was muffled. Nothing moved along the road, and now we could really see it, the amount of snow that fell was astounding. The snow clearing gangs left the roads lined with huge snow banks and up at the Montrose shopping district, mountains of the white stuff were everywhere.

We had just about used up our food by the time the driveway was cleared, but it's amazing what you can scrape up from the fridge and freezer. I magically produced omelets, French toast, BLTs (bacon and lettuce sandwiches), and baked potatoes --and we shared a Stouffer's tuna-noodle casserole. In the end, I scraped together a cauldron of blizzard soup--into which I threw just about everything I had--diced potatoes, carrots, lima beans, butter beans, celery, garlic, onions, herbs from Provence, broth made from chicken cubes, frozen corn on the cob and frozen leftover ham from one of Kim's dinners sometime ago. Paul pronounced the soup as jolly good and asked eagerly this evening if we were going to have the rest of it for dinner.

After shopping at Marc's supermarket for ourselves and Petsmart for Spot, Mimi, and Viola, we worked out that we had spent equal amounts at each place--$50 for us and the same for the cats. Their cans of Fancy Feast andtheir Iams dry food were perilously low, and they needed fresh litter for their boxes. Everything's okay now in Catsville. I looked for a soft cat carrier to take them to the vet for their shots. (One at a time). These are really neat with a zippered top that allows you to drop them through on their four feet instead of struggling to push them in through the door of the hard shell cat carrier. I didn't find quite what I wanted but online I saw a good one at the Petsmart website.

Everything seems back to normal now

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Decline and Fall of the Roman Myth" by Terry Jones

Terry Jones' article in the London Times of last May revises our understanding of the Romans in Brittain and the original Celts' contributions. Here's a snippet. For the original article in full go to Londonbear (on my blogroll) and he will link you to the full article.

" We were ‘barbarians’, but early British civilisation outshone the Roman version, says ex-Python Terry Jones. We just lost the propaganda war.

"Nobody ever called themselves barbarians. It’s not that sort of word. It’s a word used about other people. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe non-Greek people whose language they could not understand and who therefore seemed to babble unintelligibly: “ba ba ba”. The Romans adopted the Greek word and used it to label (and usually libel) the peoples who surrounded their own world.

"The Roman interpretation became the only one that counted, and the peoples whom they called Barbarians became for ever branded — be they Spaniards, Britons, Gauls, Germans, Scythians, Persians or Syrians. And, of course, “barbarian” has become a byword for the very opposite of everything that we consider civilised.

"The Romans kept the Barbarians at bay for as long as they could, but finally they were engulfed and the savage hordes overran the empire, destroying the cultural achievements of centuries. The light of reason and civilisation was almost snuffed out by the Barbarians, who annihilated everything that the Romans had put in place, sacking Rome itself and consigning Europe to the Dark Ages. The Barbarians brought only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of Roman learning and art.

"It is a familiar story, and it’s codswallop...."

[To continue with Terry's article, follow londonbear's link in my blogroll ]

© Fegg Features Ltd and Sunstone Films 2006

From Terry Jones’ Barbarians by ex-Python Terry Jones and Alan Ereira to be published by BBC Books on May 18 at £18.99. The book is available for £17.09 including postage from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on 0870 165 8585. Terry Jones’ Barbarians begins on BBC2 on Friday May 26

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hillary Made a Mistake When she Voted for the Iraq War: She Should Amit That

Fellow blogger, Long Live the Village Green, defends Hillary Clinton who yesterday defended her decision to vote to go to war in Iraq back in 2002. In answer to an audience member's question as to whether she's ready to admit that her vote was a mistake, she said that it was the administration who made the mistake, not her. But the administration, from its point of view, was not making a mistake. It cleverly and consciously fed a tissue of lies to gullible senators who sopped it up because they felt their political lives were threatened. Below is a list of senators who had the guts to vote
against the measure. If you follow Hillary's logic, it was these anti-war senators who were making the mistake at that time by voting against what she felt were plausible reasons for going to war. Hillary must own up to her error in judgment. If millions of us out here in the hinterlands could see from the get-go that invading a sovereign nation on pretexts was wrong, who looked at Colin Powell's aluminum tubes with disbelief, who understood that Saddam had no fangs, then she should have too. She's paid to know these things.


"Although we spend a lot of time talking about what – and who – got us into this quagmire, let's take a moment to look at the names and the words of the Senators who defied bullying by Team Bush and had the wisdom and courage to vote "nay" on October 11, 2002.

"Here are the brave ones:

  • Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)
  • Kent Conrad (D-ND)
  • Jon Corzine (D-NJ)
  • Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Richard Durbin (D-IL)
  • Russell Feingold (D-WI)
  • Robert Graham (D-FL)
  • Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
  • James Jeffords (I-VT)
  • Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Jack Reed (D-RI)
  • Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Paul Wellstone (D-MN)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Seventy-fifth anniversary of "Frankenstein" film

From Arthur Silber's Once Upon a Time blog:

February 4, 2006

"Karloff, Gods and Monsters, and the Horrors of War

The NYT offers an interesting article about Boris Karloff, on the occasion of a film festival celebrating the 75th anniversary of "Frankenstein" and focusing on "the odd career of this unlikely star." Before Karloff and the movie that established his enduring fame fused themselves into our cultural subconscious, Karloff was only "a middle-aged, middlingly successful English character actor (born William Henry Pratt), skillful and professional enough to have appeared in dozens of pictures in the previous 15."

Read on at link.....


Iraq Casualty Count by Michael White

A comprehensive casualty count of dead and wounded soldiers in Iraq--names, hometowns and other information-can be found at a website kept by Michael White. Find it on my blog roll or reach it here:

Frankie Lane: 1913-2007

While the networks went ape yesterday, 24/7, blathering on about nonentity A.N. Smith , it's should be noted that a true celebrity, that great singer of songs Frankie Lane died at 93. Some of his hits:

[That's My Desire] [We'll Be Together Again] [That Lucky Old Sun] [Jezebel]
[I Believe] [Granada] [Rawhide] [Song of India]

Statement from the family of Frankie Laine

February 6, 2007

We are saddened to announce the passing of Frankie Laine, musician, father, husband and friend. He died at 9:15 this morning from cardiovascular disease at age 93 in San Diego, surrounded by his loved ones.

Frankie led a long, exuberant life and contributed greatly to many causes near to his heart. He donated his time and talent to many San Diego charities and homeless shelters, as well as the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul Village. He was also an emeritus member of the board of directors for the Mercy Hospital Foundation.

Born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio on March 30, 1913, he was one of the most successful American singers of the twentieth century. He charted more than 70 records – 21 of them gold – and achieved worldwide sales of more than 250 million discs. He will be forever remembered for the beautiful music he brought into this world, his wit and sense of humor, along with the love he shared with so many.

Frankie is survived by his wife Marcia; brother Phillip LoVecchio of Chicago, Illinois; daughter Pamela Donner and grandsons Joshua and David Donner of Sherman Oaks, California; and daughter and son-in-law Dr. and Mrs. Irwin Steiger of Couer D’Alene, Idaho.

We ask that you respect our privacy during this time. We thank you for caring about the life of Frankie Laine, a remarkable human being and musician who has left an indelible mark on the world.

Return to main page

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


On his blog, James Wolcott says, "Self-Styled Siren has a marvelous tribute to John Ford's Arrowsmith, recently shown on TCM." I read it, and it's surprising. Arrowsmith has belonged to those long-forgotten films, and it's good to read Siren's tribute to it. Here's a snippet below.

"The film seems to grow more visually sophisticated as it progresses, though the Siren has no idea if it was shot in sequence. The superb, Metropolis-like views of New York give way to the the Caribbean islands and the most beautifully shot scenes in the movie, as a misty, Defoe-like procession of biers and mourners continually moves past the doorway of Arrowsmith and his wife. Later, there's an extraordinary shot of a doomed Helen Hayes sinking into a cane-back chair to smoke a cigarette, as light slants through a shutter and around her hair. Here Ford is already working out his vocabulary, and despite its many flaws, that is the best reason to see Arrowsmith."

Read the entire piece at Siren, now included on my blog roll. (Sinclair Lewis wrote the novel, and he too has been denigrated over the years. The reading group I'm in won't touch him with a ten-foot pole. Too bad).

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lara Logan

Do you follow the war? It sure does preoccupy me--perhaps because I grew up in wartime. Never for a moment did I believe we needed to go into Iraq. I thought it was an appalling mistake right from the get-go. It's wrong to cross another country's sovereign borders unless it's in our own self-defense. Our govt. bamboozled most Americans--played on fears and said that Saddam had WMD and was responsible for 9/11. I read a report yesterday on the economic cost of this war--as opposed to the human cost, which is terrible. The billions we've spent so far would have paid for a rapid transit station in every town and city in the U.S. Or that money would support a universal health system in this country. Rapid transit could be part of the answer to curtailing global warming, even though it's too late to stop it, the experts say. We're not even being taxed for this war. The government is borrowing the money--from China and other countries--and our children and theirs will still be paying it back long after we're gone.

Here's a link to Lara Logan who reports regularly from Iraq for CBS. She is talking to a pundit on the Washington Post.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Another Myth of Vietnam Applied to Iraq War:The Betrayal Narrative

Interesting post on this morning's Daily Kos considers the myths spawned by the Vietnam War. This is hardly unusual. Mythology from earlier wars has found itself perpetuated in novels, poems, movies, etc. Not hard to understand. Myths provide a comfort level to help explain the inexplicable. Read on...

"Those Who Blame America"

Feb 04, 2007 at 06:02:23 PM PST

This week NPR's On The Media featured Jerry Lembcke, whose book The Spitting Image helped debunk the myth that Vietnam vets were widely reviled on their return to the United States. The primary purpose of Lembcke's visit was to fend off similar stories now being built by those who want to vilify opposition to Bush policy in Iraq.


But while the initial focus of the story was on spitting then and now, another myth of Vietnam also got some air time, and in its long-term effect, this one is far more important than whether or not anyone was ever struck by a loogie. If it took ten years after the end of the war for the first stories of spitting to emerge, it took a similar amount of time for this other myth to solidify in the public mind: we could have won, if we'd only kept up support at home. This is the betrayal narrative, and it comes in the form of a hundred statements starting with "if only."

If only the protesters hadn't undermined our will...

If only the press hadn't turned on our troops...

If only we'd sent in more men, spent more money, exerted more will...

In many ways, this is the central narrative of the modern conservative movement. Rarely voiced in "mixed company," but often voiced at right wing gatherings. If only the left had not betrayed us, we would have won Vietnam. All the "embolden" statements the right is pushing today are only variations on this theme of the left's Original Sin.

On the Media: Why are we so prepared to believe that these were commonplace incidents in the Vietnam era?

Lembcke: Well, it's a face-saving device. It helps construct an alibi, the alibi being that we beat ourselves, that we were defeated on the home front, and that we -- the most powerful nation on earth -- was not defeated by this small upstart nation of Asian "others."

It's always been clear that those who call themselves conservatives today have only a token relationship to the political movement that operated under that name previous to 1980. And this is the difference: today's conservatives aren't united by a theme of limiting spending or concerns over changes in our society. Their real heart is a festering ball of bruised ego.

The big irony is that the right, having refused to accept the facts on the ground, has instead created a mythology that requires traitors in the heartland. Though they so often point at the left as willing to "blame America," the whole mindset of those in support of the action in Iraq requires that they blame Americans, both then and now, for the failures of bad strategy, miserable planning and sorry execution.

The war in Iraq was supposed to be their vindication, proof that enough bombs could bring flowers. Proven wrong, their reaction is to create an even more vile narrative in this cycle. The right doesn't just blame America first, they blame Americans first, last, and only for every mistake they've made. Now, bolstered by the myths they've built since the end of Vietnam, not only are right wing pundits spreading lies about protesters at home, right wing politicians are willing to denounce reasoned objection with terms just short of treason. In insisting that there must be a threat to American democracy at home, the right has done more than just build a mythology around this theme, they've created that enemy. And they only have to look in a mirror to find him.

Moose: More On Spitting

Moose took issue with my diary entry on this subject but did not offer a serious rebuttal. It's a very weak argument to accuse me of wanting to spit on our current soldiers. If did advocate spitting on returning American soldiers today, I would have said so. I don't. So I haven't. They are the pawns of the Bush/Cheney/Neocon axis--our so-called leaders, most of whom have never served their country in uniform and wouldn't know what to do with a rifle if they picked one up. My central point was that journalists and the waning number of supporters of Bush's war persist in repeating the unsubstantiated myth that Vietnam GIs were spat on when they returned stateside. Why they persist and warn that today's soldiers face the same fate--Moose must figure out.

What I do want is an end to this ghastly war that's causing hundreds of deaths of innocents every week, and by extension or ripple effect, ruining the lives of every living relative and friend of those who have died. Included among those innocents are our own soldiers--most of whom come from small, impoverished towns and whose educators taught them not to think for themselves but to mindlessly salute the flag and never question whether their country is right or wrong. The billions of dollars going into this war every week could have built a rapid transit service for every town and city in the U.S.A. Or, it could have funded a national health system competitive with the best of those of all our western allies.

War enthusiast and compulsive liar, Dick Cheney, received five deferments to keep himself from serving in Vietnam. He has been quoted as saying "I had better things to do." His agility in dodging that long ago war is impressive. When it finally appeared that he would be drafted he married Lynne in just a few days and by doing so got another deferment.

Collapse comments

Moose said...

Sounds as if you would like to spit in the face of returning Iraq war veterans after all the heinious crimes they committed. In fact since as you say the VVs who also committed crimes were not spat on now is the time to go for it. Make it a two for one deal-Go get em Duke!

January 29, 2007 8:29 PM

Anonymous said...

The circumstances of which you know little were not carried out by large groups of protesters. When they occured it was by individuals or small clusters of people who did not support the war and choose to show there displeasure when ever they found a troop. Personnaly never happened to me but then again I didn't wander around in uniform either - not afraid of the REMF's just didn't to be hassled by the dipsticks.

Doc - class of 68/69

January 31, 2007 1:09 AM

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A New and Wonderful "Lassie"

We watched a new version of Lassie last night. That's the title, just "Lassie.' Filmed last year in England, Scotland and on the Isle of Man, this movie includes gorgeously photographed countryside and wonderful performances by everyone in the cast. There's a darling little boy in it who looks a lot like our Ben, only he's about nine. Peter O'Toole plays the local lord who forces the boy's unemployed father to sell the dog. Lassie is whisked off to Scotland, 500 miles from her home in Yorkshire. Lassie's adventures on her way home involve several escapes from mean people, but one of the best episodes is when she meets a gypsy caravan drawn by a beautiful old horse and home to a warmhearted traveling player and his little Border Terrier. The player, who speaks beautifully poetic lines, earns his living giving puppet shows to children.. He's marvelously played by the dwarf actor, Peter Drinklage. At one point Lassie encounters Loch Ness and briefly glimpses the monster. Other familiar actors pop in and out. Dear old Robert Hardy, so wonderful in All Creatures Great and Small appears as a judge when Lassie somehow manages to appear in a courtroom witness box. And Edward Fox, so much older but still recognizable in face and voice--as a sports enthusiast. (Unforgettable as the depressed actor in The Dresser years ago) Many other cameo roles by well known actors. The time period is the 1930s just before WWII. One thing, though-- a few scenes involve cruelty and some viewers may think them unsuitable for children. Thanks Netflix, for making this movie available.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

John Pilger on Chavez in The Guardian

All we hear about President Hugo Chavez is negative. It's getting well nigh impossible to read in our MSM balanced views about Chavez and what's going on in Venezuelan politics and society today. The Times and others print what they want us to read, and are increasingly becoming clones of the old Soviet Pravda. Sure, Chavez presides over a socialist regime and appears to be a supreme leader with little opposition, but for the past six years we in the U.S. have suffered under a "decider" who has had very little opposition from those we have elected as our representative. For the first time, the people of a South American country have a government representing their economic interests, and hope for better lives for themselves and their children. This why I'm posting below a report from John Pilger, an Australian journalist

13 May 2006

Hugo Chavez and John Pilger
Venezuela's president is using oil revenues to liberate the poor - no wonder his enemies want to overthrow him, writes John Pilger in the Guardian.

I have spent the past three weeks filming in the hillside barrios of Caracas, in streets and breeze-block houses that defy gravity and torrential rain and emerge at night like fireflies in the fog.

Caracas is said to be one of the world's toughest cities, yet I have known no fear; the poorest have welcomed my colleagues and me with a warmth characteristic of ordinary Venezuelans but also with the unmistakable confidence of a people who know that change is possible and who, in their everyday lives, are reclaiming noble concepts long emptied of their meaning in the west: "reform", "popular democracy", "equity", "social justice" and, yes, "freedom".

The other night, in a room bare except for a single fluorescent tube, I heard these words spoken by the likes of Ana Lucia Fernandez, aged 86, Celedonia Oviedo, aged 74, and Mavis Mendez, aged 95. A mere 33-year-old, Sonia Alvarez, had come with her two young children. Until about a year ago, none of them could read and write; now they are studying mathematics. For the first time in its modern era, Venezuela has almost 100% literacy.

This achievement is due to a national programme, called Mision Robinson, designed for adults and teenagers previously denied an education because of poverty. Mision Ribas is giving everyone a secondary school education, called a bachillerato. (The names Robinson and Ribas refer to Venezuelan independence leaders from the 19th century.) Named, like much else here, after the great liberator Simon Bolivar, "Bolivarian", or people's, universities have opened, introducing, as one parent told me, "treasures of the mind, history and music and art, we barely knew existed". Under Hugo Ch�vez, Venezuela is the first major oil producer to use its oil revenue to liberate the poor.

Mavis Mendez has seen, in her 95 years, a parade of governments preside over the theft of tens of billions of dollars in oil spoils, much of it flown to Miami, together with the steepest descent into poverty ever known in Latin America; from 18% in 1980 to 65% in 1995, three years before Ch�vez was elected. "We didn't matter in a human sense," she said. "We lived and died without real education and running water, and food we couldn't afford. When we fell ill, the weakest died. In the east of the city, where the mansions are, we were invisible, or we were feared. Now I can read and write my name, and so much more; and whatever the rich and their media say, we have planted the seeds of true democracy, and I am full of joy that I have lived to witness it."

Latin American governments often give their regimes a new sense of legitimacy by holding a constituent assembly that drafts a new constitution. When he was elected in 1998, Ch�vez used this brilliantly to decentralise, to give the impoverished grassroots power they had never known and to begin to dismantle a corrupt political superstructure as a prerequisite to changing the direction of the economy. His setting-up of misions as a means of bypassing saboteurs in the old, corrupt bureaucracy was typical of the extraordinary political and social imagination that is changing Venezuela peacefully. This is his "Bolivarian revolution", which, at this stage, is not dissimilar to the post-war European social democracies.

Ch�vez, a former army major, was anxious to prove he was not yet another military "strongman". He promised that his every move would be subject to the will of the people. In his first year as president in 1999, he held an unprecedented number of votes: a referendum on whether or not people wanted a new constituent assembly; elections for the assembly; a second referendum ratifying the new constitution - 71% of the people approved each of the 396 articles that gave Mavis and Celedonia and Ana Lucia, and their children and grandchildren, unheard-of freedoms, such as Article 123, which for the first time recognised the human rights of mixed-race and black people, of whom Ch�vez is one. "The indigenous peoples," it says, "have the right to maintain their own economic practices, based on reciprocity, solidarity and exchange ... and to define their priorities ... " The little red book of the Venezuelan constitution became a bestseller on the streets. Nora Hernandez, a community worker in Petare barrio, took me to her local state-run supermarket, which is funded entirely by oil revenue and where prices are up to half those in the commercial chains. Proudly, she showed me articles of the constitution written on the backs of soap-powder packets. "We can never go back," she said.

In La Vega barrio, I listened to a nurse, Mariella Machado, a big round black woman of 45 with a wonderfully wicked laugh, stand and speak at an urban land council on subjects ranging from homelessness to the Iraq war. That day, they were launching Mision Madres de Barrio, a programme aimed specifically at poverty among single mothers. Under the constitution, women have the right to be paid as carers, and can borrow from a special women's bank. From next month, the poorest housewives will get about �120 a month. It is not surprising that Ch�vez has now won eight elections and referendums in eight years, each time increasing his majority, a world record. He is the most popular head of state in the western hemisphere, probably in the world. That is why he survived, amazingly, a Washington-backed coup in 2002. Mariella and Celedonia and Nora and hundreds of thousands of others came down from the barrios and demanded that the army remain loyal. "The people rescued me," Chavez told me. "They did it with all the media against me, preventing even the basic facts of what had happened. For popular democracy in heroic action, I suggest you need look no further."

The venomous attacks on Ch�vez, who arrives in London tomorrow, have begun and resemble uncannily those of the privately owned Venezuelan television and press, which called for the elected government to be overthrown. Fact-deprived attacks on Ch�vez in the Times and the Financial Times this week, each with that peculiar malice reserved for true dissenters from Thatcher's and Blair's one true way, follow a travesty of journalism on Channel 4 News last month, which effectively accused the Venezuelan president of plotting to make nuclear weapons with Iran, an absurd fantasy. The reporter sneered at policies to eradicate poverty and presented Ch�vez as a sinister buffoon, while Donald Rumsfeld was allowed to liken him to Hitler, unchallenged. In contrast, Tony Blair, a patrician with no equivalent democratic record, having been elected by a fifth of those eligible to vote and having caused the violent death of tens of thousands of Iraqis, is allowed to continue spinning his truly absurd political survival tale.

Chavez is, of course, a threat, especially to the United States. Like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, who based their revolution on the English co-operative moment, and the moderate Allende in Chile, he offers the threat of an alternative way of developing a decent society: in other words, the threat of a good example in a continent where the majority of humanity has long suffered a Washington-designed peonage. In the US media in the 1980s, the "threat" of tiny Nicaragua was seriously debated until it was crushed. Venezuela is clearly being "softened up" for something similar. A US army publication, Doctrine for Asymmetric War against Venezuela, describes Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution as the "largest threat since the Soviet Union and Communism". When I said to Ch�vez that the US historically had had its way in Latin America, he replied: "Yes, and my assassination would come as no surprise. But the empire is in trouble, and the people of Venezuela will resist an attack. We ask only for the support of all true democrats."

Other John Pilger articles about Hugo Chavez

America's new enemy
14 Nov 2005

"So what makes Biden 'mainstream'?"

I'm lazily quoting today instead of being original. But Kos's comments are on target. Joe Biden has been savaged, and rightly so, for his remarks a few days ago (I'm paraphrasing) that Barak Obama is the first mainstream black presidential candidate who is articulate and clean.

So what makes Biden "mainstream"?

Kos on Daily Kos

Sat Feb 03, 2007 at 09:27:18 AM PST

Jay Carney is Time's Washington Bureau Chief. It's instructive to see what his definition of "mainstream" is:

CARNEY (1/31/07): What Biden was saying, and this is Biden’s fault for not being clear in what he was saying in this interview, is that there hasn’t been a candidate, a viable African-American candidate with all those qualities in one.

MATTHEWS: And mainstream.

CARNEY: Who is mainstream.

MATTHEWS: Mainstream is the key to me.

CARNEY: Who didn’t come from the civil rights movement, you know, who came up through elected office, who wasn’t, you know, simply a boutique or fringe candidate...

Martin Luther King? He wouldn't have been "mainstream" because he came up via the civil rights movement. Nor Jesse Jackson, even though he won 11 states and 6.9 million votes in 1988. Being part of the civil rights movement is immediate disqualification for being "mainstream" in Carney's world. Carol Moseley Braun doesn't qualify as "mainstream" because, while being Senator of the nation's fifth largest state, she was a "boutique" or "fringe" candidate.

The big irony about all of this is that by this definition, Biden himself isn't a "mainstream" candidate.

Why would he? He's by all rights a "boutique" candidate. The largest number of votes he's ever won is 165,465 in his 1996 Delaware Senate race (Moseley Braun got 2.6 million votes in her Illinois Senate victory in 1992). In all polls, he's in the low single digits. Unlike Jesse Jackson, Biden has never won a primary.

So what makes Biden a "mainstream" candidate?

The fact that he's white, apparently. Because if he was black, Carney and Biden and Matthews would clearly all agree that he wouldn't be "mainstream".