October 5, 2007 archive

Rest in Peace

Alice Walker had to defend herself from fierce attacks after she wrote “The Color Purple.” Mostly these came from folks who didn’t like the fact that she was writing about a black man (she just called him “Mr.”) abusing a black woman. I think it probably was difficult work to do, since it would very likely be used as fuel for racism.

But she explained, in her book of essays, “Living by the Word” that she carefully portrayed Mr.’s father as “light skinned” in both the book and the movie. Her point was that Mr.’s father was the son of a slave and a slave owner – a son of both the oppressed and the oppressor. All of this came from deep in Alice’s soul where she battled for years to accept her own white great-great-grandfather, who had raped a girl of 11 and she bore him a son, her great grandfather.

Pony Party, something silly

Shitty Day:

I wanted to do something ‘light’, hopefully make someone smile today.  I hope you can find a smile somewhere today if not here. 

Wakey, Wakey It’s Morning News

Grab your morning cup of coffee and I’ll have a beer and let’s discover what’s been happening in the world while you slept.

Remember Morning News is an Open Thread

Myanmar democracy leader Suu Kyi considers offer to meet top general
YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi will consider positively a heavily conditioned offer to meet the junta leader, her party said Friday, as a US envoy headed to meet leaders of the isolated regime.The ruling generals made the offers of dialogue as the United Nations readied to discuss the violent crackdown on the largest pro-democracy demonstrations in almost 20 years in the country formerly called Burma.

U.S.: 25 killed in firefight with Shiite militia
Military says troops were targeting commander believed linked to Iran
BAGHDAD – U.S. forces killed at least 25 members of a rogue Shiite militia in a heavy firefight early Friday, the military said.

The troops were targeting a militia commander believed to be associated with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and responsible for moving weapons from Iran into Baghdad, the military said.

Pakistan court ruling a setback for Musharraf
Court OKs election, but rules that announcement of results has to wait
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that the country can hold its presidential election Saturday but may only declare the winner after the court rules on whether President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the expected victor, is eligible to run.

Misleading Spin on Children’s Health

Trying to justify his ideologically driven veto of a bill to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, President Bush and his staff have fired a barrage of misinformation about this valuable program. Before the House votes on whether to override the veto, all members – especially those from Mr. Bush’s party who say they are concerned about millions of uninsured children – must look behind the rhetoric.

Comparing Two LA Times Pieces on Guantanamo and Torture

The LA Times is today running a news story and an opinion piece that together make for an interesting contrast.

The news story is about congressional efforts to obtain copies of the two recently revealed secret Justice Department memos.  These memos, it appears, reversed an earlier abstention from cruel and painful treatment of terrorism suspects.

The opinion piece is by Clive Stafford-Smith, a lawyer for detainees in Guantanamo Bay.  He describes some of the things he sees every time he visits his clients.  That is, things about which there is no dispute at all, unread memos aside. 

Reading these two pieces side-by-side leaves the reader slightly dizzy, bewildered.  Congress is demanding memos which may disclose that Justice is secretly allowing the infliction of inhuman, painful, or degreading treatment of prisoners. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Stafford-Smith sees inhuman, painful, or degrading treatment of prisoners every time he visits Guantanamo.  For example, he is not allowed to bring throat lozenges to an imprisoned journalist whose anti-hunger-strike feeding tubes are inserted and removed twice a day by Guantanamo guards, unnecessarily, increasing the discomfort and pain he endures.

Let’s read snips of these pieces, side-by-side.

What are you reading?

Another regular list.  If anyone has a book topic they’d like me to cover, feel free to suggest it.

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights
pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights

What are you reading?  is crossposted to Daily Kos

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

[Inside: Part II of America the Ugly]

Skeleton of a Manifesto

What does should the Democratic Party stand for, as determined by you and me, a wild bunch of liberal/progressive bloggers?

There are issues, and then there are principles.  I’m a principles and process person, so this post is about principles.  (It’s okay, you can put the stem cell research funding on the entry table, it’ll still be there for you on your way out.)  Of course issues are hugely important, since they’re what impact people’s everyday lives.  To have a coherent platform – to have something which the whole party stands for – I believe those positions on issues must flow from our principles.  I want you to question the biiiiiiiiiiig, obvious ones.  I want you to ask “Why?” ad nauseam, like a seven-year-old child questioning a parent.

What principles of government can we all agree upon?  Pointedly, I am not saying, “Why can’t we all get along?”  If you disagree on a point, I want to hear why.  If there’s nothing you disagree with off the bat, I challenge you to find something.  What is missing or miscategorized?  If you think something is of core importance, even if it’s blindingly obvious, I want to hear about that most of all.

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Western Media see Democracy in Burma, where Monks see Food (posted from Dailykos)

The untold story of the recent unrest in Burma has just been told told to the West.

Despite what most people have been told, the monks were not into revolution, and their protests were not pro-democracy. They were not trying to overthrow the government because they knew that to be impossible.

This was an economic argument, inflation in Burma is running high, the cost of petrol has skyrocketed since the government stopped subsiding, this has left the economy of Burma and its 48 million people, in a hellish downward spiral, so bad that the normally incredibly generous poor of the country are starving and can’t possibly give alms (food and other goods) to the monks, who otherwise have no way of getting food.

For a monk who has spent his entire life in mediation and contemplation on the teachings of Buddha there is no chance of leaving the monasteries to make a living, this lead to the protests. When they protested, they advised the civilian population not to join, and they never changed this advice. This was their fight, and it wasn’t people power, it was the fear of starvation that urged these monks out of silent contemplation.

The military junta had heard the monks message clearly “we need food!”, the protests were untouched, allowed, even tolerated by the regime in the first few days.

Western media reported that the monks were allowed to protest because of their “status” in Burmese Buddhist culture, but that is another media lie, the junta never cared about the monks “status”, they knew what they were protesting about, their no touch policy was probably because they were trying to figure out a way to feed the monks, or at least ask another country to do it.

However within 48 hours and using the terms of a PR firm, the monks “lost control of the message”.

Only when the Burmese people, and the rest of the world, started hearing the words “democracy protests” on BBC World Service and CNN, did the peaceful protest start turn nasty.

As the heat was turned up on the junta to step down, no less from the podium of the UN by George W Bush calling on “regime change”, the world got sucked into a side track issue about the barbaric Burmese regime. The agenda was meant to be about Climate Change and Iran, since Bush was weak in both area’s in an UN ambience, it fitted that the message in New York get changed to pro-democracy in Burma, as much as it did on Radio Free Asia.

The people in Burma hearing Bush on Voice of America in Burmese lost all local sense, and believing what they heard, America would stand up, and so started to march alongside, but out of step with the monks. After all who were they to trust, the local media, always full of propaganda, or the BBC? 

With an ever “decreasing” numbers of monks and increasing pro-democracy protestors in the streets of Burmese cities, the Junta could tolerate no more! And the whole situation became violent.

No matter if the government knew the true intentions of the monks or not, to the world this was no longer about poverty it was about power, and the junta can not tolerate any attacks on their power, as the monks originally recognised.

The story ends with the monks removed from their monasteries, taken to universities and other government facilities, and -blamed for starting the fire, and unofficially as many as 1000 were killed and 2000 tortured as a result.

As a side note, Australia denounced the Junta’s policy also at the UN, and there was some tough short term talked about upping the sanctions on the country. But just a week later a report reveals that the Australian Federal Police has been teaching Burma’s military, counter terrorism techniques, some of those techniques would have been used on the monks. When the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was asked about this contradiction he said “We will not be shutting down this program, it is vital to our interests”

The people of Burma shake their heads, and wonder if anyone really gives a cracker about them. Burma is Asia’s political football, always part of the bigger picture. The power games of the west and South East Asia, USA and China, and Australia and Muslim Asia. It’s never about Burma.

Beware the Nats of Burma (reposted by request)

Buhdy asked me to repost this essay, so here it is again.

Prior to Theravada Buddhism, the Burmese were animists who worshiped a series of nature spirits called Nats. The term Nat derives from the Pali-Sanskrit, natha, meaning lord or guardian.

There are 37 officially recognized Nats (inside Nats), each with its own history. The Nats are spirits of natural forces, such as water, wind, stones and trees and take many guises. All Nats are  ghosts or spirits of heroes.  There are many lesser nats (outside Nats) that are characterized as mischievous when they are disturbed.

…Some were martyrs, people who had been betrayed or had suffered a premature and frightful death. One had died of diarrhea and was reputed to inflict that on those who displeased him.

Regardless of their origins, they were easily disturbed, given to making a fuss when they were not treated with respect.

~Amy Tan, Saving Fish From Drowning, a novel combining Myanmar politics, Burmese superstition and spirituality, plus a touch of humor.

Old South Meeting House

I left this site a few hours ago and return to find not discussions about Burma, nothing about the torture and terrorism revelations today, but essay after essay discussing Daily Kos.

So what and who cares?

How is discussing another blog’s meta significant to the events and mission of this site?

If the mission gets sidetracked by constantly rubber necking in other blogs’ business, then it doesn’t really serve as the mission.

How is it that discussing an oil company advert. receives hundreds of comments and the investment of time, while several well-researched and presented essays are virtually ignored here?

We all of us have limited resources, and it is becoming evident where the interests are on this blog.  Those interests are not trending toward broad, deep and well-referenced discussions of politics, policy and issues.

And yes, I’m cranky about this, because it’s important.

Is this a site for pie fights and meta and trivia and overriding silliness?

Is it a site from which to rubber neck other blogs?

Or is it a site that really encourages “blogging the future” and mandates “being excellent to each other”?

To that end, if you are at all interested, I wrote about Charlie Savage’s discussion of his new book which just possibly has some application to today’s revelations about Bush and Cheney’s program of torture and terrorism.

If you’re not, please let me know that as well, so that I don’t waste my very limited resources where they aren’t valued.

writing in the raw: the power of one

Horror happens every day… and it can shrivel your very soul. This is dedicated to those among us defying the horror.

Boycott Kos until Chevron Ad is Dropped – *UPDATE*

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Everyone has seen it and marveled at the disconnect between progressive ideas
and taking money from a evil petrocorp.  Its been rationalized and
poo-poo’ed.  I saw the ad myself just a couple of days ago. In the past
week it has taken on a new significance as the situation in Burma has gone from
bad to worse. It is especially significant today since this is
International Blogger’s Day for

Several kosnics have brought it up the past week
.  And the usual
suspects just say something sarcastic about how this has "been discussed before"
so shut your fucking pie hole and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

here we go
. . (31+ / 0-)
Recommended by:  taylormattt,
Elise, citizenx,  trashablanca,  MBNYC,  GoldnI, , TomP,

by andgarden on Sun Sep 30, 2007 at 11:14:51 AM PDT

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