24 January 2004

But, I Thought He Was the Leader?

There were .:five U.S. soldiers killed:. today in Baghdad. Why? We were told that once Saddam was captured, the "resistance" would fall apart.

Increased bombing doesn't jibe with a "resistance" that's falling apart. Could it be our astute government officials have broken the basic tenet of warfare to know thy enemy?
The Hype Is Always Present

Despite the Freedom of Information Act that declassifies government documents and makes them available to the general public (however heavily redacted), there are still references to the Black Panther Party as a violent hate group. Though to the average non-thinker this issue may seem unimportant, it is quite the opposite. We cannot do better as a society if we refuse to learn from the not too distant past. . . learn from the mistakes of a government we support.

Since September 11, 2001, there has been unabashed public support for fascist tactics against U.S. citizens, like those used in the government program formerly named COINTELPRO. The misinformation spread during the height of the civil rights era (and beyond) is still generally accepted as truth by too many otherwise educated Americans.

"In November 1968, J. Edgar Hoover dispatched a Memorandum calling upon his field agents "to exploit all avenues of creating... dissention within the ranks of the BPP" and stating that "recipient offices are instructed to submit imaginative and hard hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP."
  • "The FBI systematically released disinformation to the press and electronic media, concerning groups and individuals, designed to discredit them and foster tensions." Churchill, p. 43.

  • "The repeated arrest of targeted individuals...to simply harass, increase paranoia, tie up activists in a series of... courtroom procedures, and deplete their resources through the postings of numerous bail bonds (as well as the retention of attorneys)." Churchill, p. 44

  • "...people paid by the FBI to join the Black Panther Party and to "disrupt the internal functioning of targeted groups and to assist in the spread of disinformation...or engaging in illegal activities which could then be attributed to key organizational members and/or the organization as a whole." Churchill, p. 47.

  • "A widely used FBI tactic has been the fabrication of evidence for criminal prosecution of key individuals" and withholding of information that would show the innocence of the Panthers. Churchill, p. 51.
  • .:Link:.

    One will always be susceptible to the belief that we (people of African descent) are inherently criminal and inferior without analytical thinking. Looking around at movies, television programs and music, one can see that too often we unquestioningly accept the idea that we are all the negative stereotypes they (caucasians, some non-blacks) say that we are— it's called 'internalized oppression', but I always refer to it as 'internalized hostility'.

    It's manifested in the way we relate to each other with antagonism, distrust each other, make disparaging jokes about a lack of intelligence of the group, and lay claim to negative behaviors that are, in fact, behaviors exhibited by the entire society in which we live. Way back when there was a saying coined to address the negative press we get: Don't believe the hype!

    23 January 2004

    The Not-so-free Press

    CBS refused the .:MoveOn:. 30-second ad, claiming it is against network policy to air "advocacy advertising". Meanwhile, it will allow anti-drug ads by the White House. This is the third consecutive year the White House has paid more than $1 million for 30-second ads to be broadcast during the superbowl.
    .:More Begging from the U.S. to the U.N.:.
    The plea for help may be a sign "of genuine concern on the part of the United States that things aren't going well," said Christopher Preble, a foreign affairs analyst at the libertarian CATO Institute in Washington. "Before ... I think that U.N. involvement was seen by ... the Bush administration as being more trouble than it was worth."
    Oh', gee, ya' think?
    Bill Janklow, the reckless driving rethuglican House representative from South Dakota, has been .:sentenced:.

    He received a whopping 100 days in jail, and three years probation, for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist in August of 2003. He'll be able to leave jail ocassionally after only 30 days to complete community service projects.

    A man has 13 prior moving violations, and after he finally kills someone, the judge decides his value to society is so great, it can only survive without the killer's presence for a mere 30 days. Who said justice was blind?

    21 January 2004

    A Question Asked & Answered

    Someone sent an email asking —
    So, what's your take on the two pro-war candidates winning the Iowa Caucus last night, even though 75% of the caucus participants said they were against the war?

    Here's my opinion summed up in two words: white folks.

    My response isn't all that different . . . white people prefer duplicity to honesty.

    Example 1)
    The regular refrain from pundits is that the Democrats should "go to the middle", that they should woo the swing voters. But, do it not because they believe in what they're saying, but because they want to win people's vote.

    The swing voters may feel just as strongly about this, that, or the other, but they don't want to say they feel that way openly. They want someone to step lightly around the issues and run a positive campaign. A positive campaign, as many people know (or are learning), is synonymous for a campaign devoid of any unpleasant truths. . . . you've got to, ac-cent-u-ate the positive, e-lim-in-ate the negative . . . .
    Example 2)
    Bush talks about compassionate conservativism, but governs as a rabid winger. Republicans, even those that are hurt by his deceitful policies, prefer him to talk the talk, even though he's dancing the cha-cha instead of walking the walk. As long as he says the right things, they'll still back him while he does all the wrong things.
    Example 3)
    Dean is called angry because of his energized demeanor and the emphatic gestures that punctuate his speeches. Heaven's to Murgatroid, that's too confrontational. Don't tell the unvarnished truth to your potential supporters during the campaign and don't be animated (remember the complaint about Gore's alleged stiffness).

    Many white people don't want to hear the truth. When they do, if another white person is the antagonist, they're usually afforded enough leeway (excuses) to wrap the Brooklyn bridge, lengthwise. Smile innocently and talk softly. Speak only of sweetness and light, while privately (hopefully when the microphone is turned off) telling your staff you'd like the rat bastard and his evil minions to catch herpes (like Bush brother Neil) during their next circle jerk.
    Collectively, they have difficulty with direct, non-violent, verbal confrontation. They throw rocks and hide their hands. They approach a potentially contentious situation sideways. You can always count on them to have a smiling face and clenched fists.

    Keep your eyes open, and watch your back.
    The Economy

    The "soaring" stock market and the economy are not related in the way that dishonest politicians and t.v. talkingheads lead the public to believe with their frightfully incomplete commentary. The stock market was over 10,000. But that number didn't translate into higher wagers for U.S. workers. Many workers had to take pay cuts, or benefit cuts. It didn't stop the loss of jobs. Whitecollar job outsourcing and manufacturing plant closings continue. It didn't help the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (government agency that protects the pensions of retirees when a company goes bankrupt) to sufficiently replenish its funds. The General Accounting Office considers that agency to be "high-risk" and declared that its funding problems .:will not:. be fixed, even if the stock market manages to surge to higher heights.

    Similarly, the .:8.2% GDP:., foolishly held up as further proof of a strong economy, didn't put more money into the average working person's pocket. Holiday retail sales figures for mega-discount department stores were dismal. However, high-end retailers like Tiffany's did very well —that's a big clue as to who is benefiting from Dubya's version of trickle down economics.

    The people who can afford to shop in those pricey stores are, I'm sure, as pleased as punch about the economic climate. The legion of long-term unemployed workers, recently unemployed workers, and workers whose pay and benefits were cut have another story to tell. Ask them.

    20 January 2004

    The Nomination Looms Ahead

    As I see it, the dearth of Democrats supporting .:Kucinich:. is due to their susceptiblity to the vapid chatter of shallow-thinking people, otherwise known as the GOP leadership, and its members. Their infantile opinions pollute our media constantly and markedly lower the level of critical thought and debate. The concerns expressed about Kucinich run the puerile gamut . . . from his being a vegan to his height. Not eating meat, and short stature have never been relevant to one's intellectual or governing capabilities. Even modestly educated adults should know that.

    The same vapid chatter is responsible for some of the supporters of General Wesley Clark. The GOP labels the Democrats as "soft" on national defense, with no credible evidence to substantiate it, and some in the party react by fawning over a johnny-come-lately Democrat, who just so happens to be a retired general. He has no governing record to examine. But he's a general, and many self-proclaimed grownups are actually desperate high schoolers in middle-aged bodies who want to fit in, so they push their conscience aside and root for one that meets the other team's criterion for acceptability.

    Adults today still chastise kids for following the herd (if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you follow them), yet they have a mentality that values what is politic over personal principle.

    19 January 2004

    Excerpt from a must read open letter to the troops in Iraq, from a Vietnam veteran:
    ... But there we were, ordered into someone else's country, playing the role of occupier when we didn't know the people, their language, or their culture, with our head full of bulls**t our so-called leaders had told us during training and in preparation for deployment, and even when we got there. There we were, facing people we were ordered to dominate, but any one of whom might be pumping mortars at us or firing AKs at us later that night. The question we started to ask is who put us in this position? . . .

    So they became dinks or gooks, just like Iraqis are now being transformed into ragheads or hajjis. People had to be reduced to "n*****s" here before they could be lynched. No difference. We convinced ourselves we had to kill them to survive, even when that wasn't true, but something inside us told us that so long as they were human beings, with the same intrinsic value we had as human beings, we were not allowed to burn their homes and barns, kill their animals, and sometimes even kill them. So we used these words, these new names, to reduce them, to strip them of their essential humanity, and then we could do things like adjust artillery fire onto the cries of a baby.

    Until that baby was silenced, though, and here's the important thing to understand, that baby never surrendered her humanity. I did. We did. . . .

    They are your enemies—The Suits—they are the enemies of peace, and the enemies of your families . . . . They are thieves and bullies who take and never give, and they say they will "never run" in Iraq, but you and I know that they will never have to run, because they f***ing aren't there. You are. . . .

    .:by Stan Goff:.

    18 January 2004

    This -n- That

    We can all remember when we became preoccupied with clothes, oh' let's say around junior high school. Perhaps not all of us, but many of us have memories of agonizing over what to wear to school, and how one could never reach their destiny if not in possession of the right kind of jeans, or the right pair of sneakers (now referred to by the brandname or model, e.g., Nike's, Jordan's). We may have even engaged in making mindless barbs about other kids' clothes, or been the target of them. At the time, it seemed our most important concern, besides grades and whether a particular member of the opposite sex liked us, or LIKED us.

    Thankfully, we grow up to learn that clothing has no bearing on our positive contributions to the world. With maturity comes the realization that there are issues with an importance far surpassing the label on the pants pocket that rides the crest of our rapidly aging behinds. There is mortgage / rent to pay, loans to repay, careers to re-assess, kids to raise, aging parents to keep an eye on, friends to enjoy, vehicles to maintain, vacations to plan for, a national economy going belly up, soldiers still dying in a war that was supposed to be over months ago, corporate bigwigs raiding our pension funds, etc.

    With all of that happening, much of it simultaneously, adults don't give one whit about what a presidential candidate is wearing. Or, do we?
    • Trying to soften his military image and lure more female voters in New Hampshire, Gen. Wesley Clark switched from navy suits to argyle sweaters. It's an odd strategy. . . .

      It's also a little alarming that he thinks the way to ensorcell women is to swaddle himself in woolly geometric shapes that conjure up images of Bing Crosby on the links or Fred MacMurray at the kitchen table. . . .

      Al Gore sprouted earth tones in 2000, hoping heathery brown sweaters and khakis would warm him up. . . . .
      .:Maureen Dowd (NYT Columnist):.

    • "Clothes make the man," someone is supposed to have said once. But do they? Presidential candidates sometimes seem to think so. The traditional candidate outfit is blue suit, red tie. John McCain, who is used to uniforms, wears this one often.

      Vice President Al Gore used to be a dark suit guy, but he's gone casual: earth tones, open collar shirts, sweaters. And he sometimes wears cowboy boots. Does all this make him more attractive to voters? . . . .
      .:Bruce Morton (CNN Correspondent):.

    What is going on; are these people still in junior high school? How dare they distract us with the unresolved issues of their adolescence! They should do us all a favor and cover the fashion beat, so the adults can cover the critical political issues facing our nation.

    As noted above, similar vacuous statements were made during the 2000 election, but almost exclusively about Gore. This is an intentional effort to deflect attention from what's important about the candidates and their respective platforms.

    Critiques of election coverage can be found here:
    .:Columbia Journalism Review:.

    It was reported in the New Yorker that Bush answered a reporter's question with the quip, "You're making a huge assumption - that you represent what the public thinks."

    If it were me, I would have answered his smarmy response thusly, "Listen up you beak-lipped bastard, since you work for the people of this country, you have a responsibility to answer questions germane to your position as a public servant. You can choose not to answer any question you don't like, but you're not going to intimidate me with memorized right wing retorts."

    . . . that's just me, though. I do not ascribe to the school of thought that one must bow & scrape before another human being because of his or her job title. Everyone deserves respect, as long as they are respectful. The moment you prove yourself otherwise, we can shed the superficial skin of courtesy and get down to the business of telling it like it t-i is!
    Co-opting an Icon—

    Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech has been quoted, out of context, so often by politicians I cringe when I hear it. Apropos to the invasion of Iraq, it would be a much needed change to hear politicians quote his words from .:Beyond Vietnam:.

    In it, MLK says,
    . . . It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. . . . Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube.
    Only visionaries, whom many of us relegate to the 'kook pile', could forsee that our nation would be in the same situation some three decades later.

    MLK went on to say,
    Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition. . . .
    Though mainstream media and dishonest politicians would have the public believe otherwise, by discounting or misquoting his prophetic oratory, MLK was anti-war and .:pro-affirmative action:.

    There are song lyrics warning of that type of duplicity: Smiling faces . . . tell lies, they don't tell the truth! . . . Beware of the pat on the back. It just might hold you back

    Ongoing attempts to co-opt MLK are done to rewrite his legacy into one that coincides with the treacherous and exclusionary agenda of the right wing.
    White Supremacy Masquerading as Nationalism:

    Florida Congressman Tom Feeney said "I think America is the .:only country:. with the moral capability and authority to establish what I consider a Monroe Doctrine in space, guarantee all free nations can use space, but no hostile nation will use it to take us over."

    Exactly what is "moral capability"?

    Congressman Feeney is mistaken in proclaiming our "moral authority" for any effort with possible international consequences. Our reasons for war (WMD in Iraq) have been proven to be a lie, many times over, and the whole world is watching!!

    He also makes U.S. citizens look like fools when he ignores the many instances of U.S. officials (Rumsfield, Cheney, et al) .:repudiating the U.N:. Their statements (and Feeney's) equate military might with a GOD-given authority to roam the world, interfering at will. Since the predictions of "quagmire" have come true, .:Powell:. was again sent to plead our case in front of the Security Council, and our warhawks (like Bremer) are involved in .:efforts:. to enlist the U.N.'s help in Iraq. . . . oh' the hypocrisy!

    For dozens of examples of GOP Hypocrisy, go to: