Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hard Times Come Again No More

I decided to take one of my favorite Stephen Foster songs, as sung by Nanci Griffith, and do a photo essay. Only one of the photos is mine, the rest were found on the web. FYI, I used the image of my own father in the third image. He's the gentleman in the hat looking out meditatively toward the ocean near Kennebunkport, Maine. I wanted to show the faces of poverty and misfortune all around our world - tsunami, war, hurricane, famine, and social injustice, along with the faces of families affected by disease that could have been prevented but wasn't - because not only did their governments not care enough, but we have also turned our faces from their pain for too long. I especially gave exposure to the people of New Orleans, the city whose hidden poverty was unveiled to the rest of America and to the world after Katrina blew that veil away.

It's my first YouTube full-length feature.

If you want to see why you can expect to hear a lot about our nation's need for universal health care from John Edwards in the near future, see this mini-video - my first try at YouTube.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

NY Post Becomes the Weekly World News

Here's a quiz. Which is the Weekly World News and which is the New York Post? You can only tell them apart by their masthead! When I go on vacation, I sometimes read the Weekly World News for the sheer mindless fun of it. To me, it's like a comic book. Sometimes I cut out the heads in photographs of my friends and paste them onto the bodies on Weekly World News covers and give them as silly birthday cards. Maybe I'll start using the Post. It's gotten to be goofy enough to qualify it as a comic book rather than a newspaper.


*inspired by Ron's post today at Raw Story

Remember this beauty?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nigerian Writer Hopes For Dem POTUS

Why is Nigerian writer Dele Sobowale praying for a Democrat to take the White House in 2008? He's looking to history to explain his case to us:

According to P.J Crowley, a military and national security aide under President Clinton: “Ironically, we went into Viet Nam to fight one war, the Cold War, and found ourselves in the middle of a struggle over nationalism…And we are seeing the same thing in Iraq. We may have well thought we were going into Iraq as part of the war on terror, but now we find ourselves in the middle of a civil war”.

More unfortunately for Bush and for Africa, history is again not on his side. ‘The average civil war since 1945 has lasted 10 years, and the median (or typical) one has lasted seven years” according to Sebastain Mallaby of the Washington Post. This civil war has just got underway, so in all probability it will outlast Bush who has only two years to go. The level of violence will also escalate pointing increasingly to the failure of America policy.

The end of the Korean War and the partial humiliation of the U.S, which still re-echoes in North Korea’s obstinacy on nuclear arms, led to the victory of the Republicans, led by General Eisenhower in 1952. It also coincided with isolationism and protectionism as U.S policies. Africa, which had always assumed peripheral importance in U.S foreign policy became even less of a focus of attention. Unless history does not repeat itself isolationism and protectionism will remain the first option of the U.S after this imminent humiliation.

The 1960 electoral victory of the Democrats, led by John Kennedy, brought Africa more into the focus of American policymakers. It was under Kennedy, that the Peace Corps was established as well as the African American Institute. The African American Institute in turn operated the ASPAU and AFGRAD scholarship programmes which enabled several hundred of the cream of English speaking students to study in America. [..] [There] were among hundreds of Nigerians, professors of professors, who were among those who benefited from the Democratic Party administration’s pro-African policies which started in 1960 and ended in 1968.

Because ASPAU/AFRGRAD scholarships were perhaps the greatest contribution of the Kennedy/Johnson, Democratic Administration to Nigeria and Africa, it has set the pattern for judging what to expect from any American government – Republican or Democratic.
President Kennedy was assassinated but his vision for Africa and Nigeria continued under the Lydon Johnson administration’s Great Society Programme. The reversal came when President Nixon, a Republican, was elected in 1968. Then concern for Africa again took the back seat. Nixon resigned when faced with imminent impeachment on account of the Watergate scandal and his successor, President Gerald Ford, lost to Jimmy Carter. Under Carter, another Democrat, African concerns again experienced a revival and till today, Carter still maintains his links to Africa.

Carter lost the next election to Reagan, another Republican, and Africa again receded among foreign policy interests of the Americans for twelve years because George Bush I, one more Republican, succeeded Reagan. Four years after the Democrats were back in the White House when Bill Clinton won the election.
And for eight years African again received favourable attention until 2000 when George Bush II, the current Republican in the White House, mounted the saddle. Since then Africa has again become a fringe issue for the American government. Bush still has two years to go. Despite the victory of the Democrats in the mid-term elections, the prospects for Africa are not very bright. In fact, more than at any other time, the U.S will focus on Iraq (especially how to retreat from the quagmire), the Middle East and Korea. The tough talk notwithstanding, the U.S will not immediately go to war, either against Iran or North Korea given the debacle in Iraq.

Retreat itself is a costly exercise both financially and in terms of national prestige. While the U.S is trying to figure out what to do next in and about the misadventure in Iraq, there will be no change of policy regarding Africa. Thus, even if Sudan disintegrates further and Somalia remains a failed state, the U.S will stand aloof.

Nigeria has a stake in this. If politicians fail to manage the 2007 elections and allow it to degenerate into civil war or widespread unrest, the last country to come to the rescue is the United States of America. Clearly, the mid-term, elections by themselves will not translate into a pro-Africa or pro-Nigeria policy change by the U.S government. Africa and Nigeria must hope that the presidential elections of 2008 will produce another Democratic Party victory. They have always been our friends

Full text at Vanguard Online

Faking It

When I saw this headline, I thought - just for a second - that they might have been talking about my brother.

Haha. Sorry, Tommy.

If We Can't Trust Bush to Listen, Will Gates Matter?

James Jay Carafano is right. Politics should end at the water's edge. The problem is that George W. Bush has plunged our people into the deep well of an unnecessary war and we stand today, over three years later, groping for the sides of that dark well - drowning in failure. At nearly every phase of the disastrous war, it seemed that Karl Rove was behind the scenes calculating Bush's next move to make it appear politically attractive.

Politics has had far too much to do with the war in Iraq. Last month, American voters screamed loudly at the polls that they not only found this war politically unattractive, but that they wanted a change in course immediately.

Yesterday at his confirmation hearing, our leaders were hoping to find something in (and hear something from) Robert Gates that would convince them that President Bush, who has stubbornly stuck to a clearly failed course, would actually take Mr. Gates' counsel and apply it toward the change that the people wish to see.

I heard Mr. Gates say that he is sure today that many in the Bush administration now regret some of the past decisions that have been made and that, in hindsight, they wouldn't have made the same decisions today. While I was glad to hear something that sounded so honest, I realized that Mr. Gates wasn't speaking for himself, and his statement was meaningless because it didn't come straight from the horse's mouth.

Who regrets what? If individual Bush administration officials, including President Bush, won't come out and say it themselves, why should we believe it? It's dark times like these, when glaring mistakes have clearly been made, that the American people listen closely for any indication that their leaders have learned something important from the mistakes that they'll willingly admit to having made.

It wasn't partisan for Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia to have asked Mr. Gates who he felt was responsible for 9/11 and who posed a greater threat in the war on terror - Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden? With a firmness in his tone, Mr. Gates replied that it was Osama Bin Laden. It wasn't partisan when Senator Byrd felt that he had to ask about what's wrong with Bush's current tactics on the war on terror to have allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape justice for over five years.

It wasn't partisan for Senator Byrd to have asked for clarification when Mr. Gatres said that an American attack on Iran would be his absolute last resort and that diplomacy should be first. Mr. Gates said that he believed, once war is unleashed, it becomes 'unpredictable' and that military consequences could be quite traumatic.

It was not partisan for Senator Byrd to have wanted to be reassured that Mr. Gates would counsel President Bush against an attack on Iran and to have gotten clarification that Mr. Gates doesn't believe that President Bush would have the right to attack Iran under the 2002 Iraq War Resolution.

Although Mr. Gates said that he thought it would be 'awkward' to speak of hypotheticals, he said that the likely negative consequences of an attack on Iran would be:

1. Iran's capacity to close off the Persion Gulf to oil exports
2.The possibility of an unleashing of a significant wave of terror in Europe, the Middle East, and even here.
3. Although Iran is not being helpful to the U.S. on the Iraq War, they could be doing more to hurt our effort in Iraq.
4. A likeliness of Iran spreading WMD (chemical and biological weapons) to terrorist groups is real.
5. Iran would likely encourage Hezbollah to further destabilize
6. Greater U.S. casualties in Iraq if we attacked Iran.

It was not partisan to have learned that our nation's options, when we consider reining in Iran, are "quite limited."

It wasn't partisan for Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts to have asked Mr. Gates why he should believe that President Bush would accept Mr. Gates' advice if he were to be confirmed.

America is concerned because our President doesn't seem to be taking the advice of the people he has taken on as trusted advisors. More and more, I hear people asking, "What's up with President Bush? Is he sane?"

It's a no-brainer that none of this was partisan. Our leaders' tough questions on Iraq and Bush's foreign policy have never been partisan. We're all in this together. The problem has been that our President has made this war and his foreign policy fiercely political and partisan - all throughout the course, from the lead-up to the war until the present time. President Bush has admitted that he wouldn't even fire the worst Secretary of Defense in recent history before the November elections - all because of politics, knowing fully well that our nation had long been in dire need of a new Defense leader.

If we can't trust our President, we can confirm new administration officials ad infinitum with the possibility that we will still see no appreciable change in the Bush foreign policy. James Jay Carfagno's optimism about unguarded bipartisan moments was based on a confirmation hearing where leaders were searching for signs that the character of Mr. Gates might be the kind of character with the force  that could sway an oddly stubborn and unpopular President toward the change we know that we all need to see.

I wish Robert Gates a lot of luck. He's going to need it, and I hope he can talk a lick of sense into this President's thick and stubborn skull.  

The transcript of the confirmation hearings is here.

Update: Today's headline at Raw Story leads you to a story by Brian Beutler with information in keeping with my thoughts on this matter. -
Sources say Gates confirmation unlikely to lead to major policy changes

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Colby Buzzell:A New Podcast

There was a blogger we only knew as "cbftw" back in the days when he was a soldier. Wanting to stay an anonymous soldier-blogger in Iraq, used his initials, and saw "ftw" tattooted on his arm. That's how he got his screen name. He posted from an internet cafe at his base in Iraq without any censorship (while other soldiers wrote on their MySpace accounts and HotorNot.) On his blog, he vividly described the war experience for quite some time before the Army shut him down - temporarily. The soldier-blogger, Colby Buzzell, reminded me of myself - he seemed to have an inexplicable need to share his experiences and thoughts with others. Kind of like talking to yourself, fully knowing others will be reading. I really got to like him - his voice. I was one of thousands of people from all over the world who loved reading "cbftw" the soldier. I remember going ballistic when I went to read him one day and he wasn't there. Boy, was I ever pissed off about it when he disappeared. Look at the size of my headline. Heh heh.

You can listen to this fantastic Ashley Foot interview with guest Colby Buzzell at Allegro Radio:

Radio Allegro:The Pop Culture Podcast
RA2.6: Life After War: Colby Buzzell, Killing Time in Iraq

*Please note there is profanity on this episode so parental discretion is advised.

Colby says that he feels that he's served and sacrificed for his country. Rather than having to go back again, he says that the people who scream the most about supporting the war should go to the war and take their turn. CB thinks that the gung-ho pro-war crowd is "retarded" and the people who say they hate Bush but don't understand why they hate Bush are equally retarded. He says that the sooner we get out of Iraq, the better. The last presidential election's result - the Bush win - caused him to feel sick and nauseous. He couldn't believe the American people would have supported him or the Iraq war. He added that he doesn't like to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about it.

He joked that he has suffered PSTD from writing his book than from the war.

Trivia: CB was one of the only soldiers with an iPod. He loves the song "Free" by Cat Power and most songs by The Clash (and I'll bet he turned a lot of his fellow soldiers onto his music). Without the music, he couldn't have relaxed and he couldn't have coped with missing his loved ones and his life back home while facing the hell of war.

I'm one of those people who believes that music is so powerful that it helps us transcend time, age, anxiety, grief, hopelessness, religious boundaries, loneliness, whatever... and I think music helped CB stay sane and stay gold through this crazy war. He says he came back "fine" - no flashbacks - no problems readjusting to his life other than the booze habit he picked up over there. He says people can't believe it when he tells them he's fine when they ask - and they almost always ask. He has no special expectations for entitlement just because he fought in a war, but he admits that he's glad that the Iraq War chapter of his life is securely behind him. Some guys aren't able to move on with life and they're the ones who have problems adjusting.

Some of his friends from Iraq have had problems finding decent jobs since they've returned. Some went back to Iraq. CB wrote a book. My War. Trust me, it's a really good book. Colby's not sure what he's going to do next, but I have a feeling that Colby will be just fine - life's a journey and judging by the song he chose for the closing of his podcast, What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, you just know CB's going to be okay.

CB's a good egg. It's for guys like him and all the other troops that I wrote on the sidebar of my original Iddybud blog long ago:
This blog, out of love and respect for our citizens who serve in the armed forces, supports the brave men and women who do their duty for this nation. This blog does not support the current policies of GW Bush. May Providence grant us all the wisdom to know the difference.
Be sure to listen to CB's interview.

What a Wonderful World
by Louis Armstrong

International Carnival of the Pozitivities #6

Ron Hudson hosts the International Carnival of the Pozitivities [ICP] this month with the 6th - World AIDS Day edition. We encourage you to participate in future editions. Next month's ICP [#7] will be hosted by me, Jude Nagurney Camwell, here at Iddybud Journal.

The homepage URL for the ICP is at THIS LINK.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Obama Too Deliberate to be Believed?

Senator Barack Obama as portrayed in the Economist Magazine, July 2006

Chris Bowers has some interesting and frank points to make about his experience as a supporter of Barack Obama. He's generated an interesting discussion. My comments are here - and they involve subject material that I have previously blogged about - a subject regarding faith and politics that "bugs" me more and more about Senator Obama with each passing day. If he wants to be a great leader, he needs to appear far less calculating.

In a leader, I'm looking for someone I perceive to be saying exactly what he or she means, whatever his or her convictions may be. In a moment, I can spot a person who's reaching too deliberately - too hard - and in a way that's too calculated - for a particular position. Senator Obama is one of those. If anyone tells me he was anti-war before the Iraq War Resolution, I would ask them to listen carefully to what Obama is saying about the war today - now that he is in a position of power. I look for grace in my leaders - and grace, to me, involves staying true to yourself at all times and not deliberately seeking to create a straw-man to stomp on and step over in order to get to a place of greater power.

That said, I believe that Senator Obama has a bright future ahead of him and I hope he would take criticisms like mine as an encouragement to change his rhetoric. I fully support him for the good things I believe that he's doing. I want him to succeed, and I believe he will - in time.

"To everything there is a season..."

Boy and His Dog Killed by Cops over PlayStation3

Dear God, these are days when I regret the consequences that stem from our materialistic and violent society. This boy and his dog should not be dead.

Advent, A Poem by Father Daniel Berrigan

I found this new poem by Father Daniel Berrigan at a feature written by Rev. John Dear at the National Catholic Reporter, who says that "Advent calls us to prepare anew for the coming of the God of peace and God's reign of peace on earth. We do that by working to end war and the causes of war, and making peace with everyone."

I took artistic (blogtistic) license and framed Father Berrigan's lovely poem about the Advent season the way I saw it in my heart and my mind. Two of the photos below are my own - both taken at the conference of teh Network of Spiritual Progressives in Washington, D.C. One of the photos features a fellow blogger and friend, David of Anonymoses, who is the fellow at the end of the line walking (last May) with the Network of Spritual Progressives to our White House to implore our officials to change their foreign policy in Iraq. I believe that thios activity is in keeping with the spirit of Advent and the tone of Father Berrigan's poetic message to us.

"It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers..."

- May you have a peaceful Advent season

By Daniel Berrigan

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss --
This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction --
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever --
This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world --
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted,
who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers.
This is true: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young shall see visions,
and your old shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and
peace are not meant for this earth and for this history --
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers
shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.

Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ -- the Life of the world.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive

The 14th century Sufi poet Yunus Emre wrote that under every stone hides a Moses and that the seeker's wealth is poverty. He also assured us that the precious ore we should seek can be found in humbleness. Stone, ore, poverty, humility....all are part of the miner's life.

I came from beginnings as humble as you can imagine. My great grandfather Michael came to Ellis Island from Ukraine with $18 in his pocket. His son, my grandfather John, dug coal in the mountains of Pennsylvania for a living as a young man to support my Grandma Pauline and their family.

He eventually left the mines when opportunity in New York state arrived, but the mines never left him. He died of Black Lung disease when I was a young girl.

This video by Patty Loveless reminds me of my grandparents and my ancestry. Patty talks about losing her own father to the mines.


One of my volunteer experiences in my own community is taking confidential crisis calls from fellow community members. I know, from living it and hearing it, how the Holidays can gut-punch a person in psychological ways that one never expects.Whether it's loneliness, grief, an unexplainable emptiness, a sad or happy memory, or some other frighteningly overwhelming feeling that grips a person, it seems to be maginfied by December.

I know many of you are reading this because there's a change you want to see in this world. I also know that you work extremely hard and that you are very human.


I heard James Taylor singing about shedding a little light on a PBS special the other night in a song recalling the spirit of Martin Luther King, and I thought about how much the world needs your light - no matter how much light you have to spare or who you are. Imagine the inner trials of Martin Luther King in his day.

we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

In Max Ehrmann's Desiderata, he advises, "With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." To that, I would only add: Be grateful. Life is uncertain and life can be a rocky road (and I'm not talking about ice cream.) But it isn't all bad and sometimes there's a moment you just can't seem to get yourself out of. Try to breathe and let that moment pass. James Taylor sings about finding that passage through the darkness:

There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest.

I thought I'd share this link* with all of you, along with my blessings and gratitude. May you rise above the chaos - outside and inside yourself - and find your own way to enjoy and embrace the Holidays, whether it's giving to your favorite charities, writing a blogpost, plotting the next political campaign or peace march, climbing a mountain, sitting by a fire, or simply holding your loved one's hand on a winter's night.

* Thanks to Michael Pokocky of Sophistica World for first forwarding the link to me.

Bush: Worst Ever? Worst Over?

At Raw Story, Ron Brynaert has collected quotes from various news sources debating whether or not, when it comes to Presidents, that Bush 43 is the worst ever.

My question, with some admitted fear behind it, is this: Is Bush's worst over?

Have we yet seen the worst from the worst President ever?

We've see in recent days that he is jettisoning [some call it "accepting the resignations of"] many of those who have remained loyally close in his circle of failure.

Who are the people that are taking the place of the old Bush administration guard?

What does Bush plan to take and to get from these people?

Could things get any worse?

Hallelujah! Bolton's Gone!

John Bolton has resigned as U.S. ambassador to the UN and I couldn't be happier for America. Steve Clemons was right last fall when he said that Bolton's chances for confirmation were all but dead in the water. There have been few positive reviews of Bolton's performance on behalf of the American people at the UN, and I want to publicly thank outgoing Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island for refusing to cave in to the Senate confirmation of Mr. Bolton. * I don't call it a reconfirmation because Bolton wasn't confirmed the first time - he was thrown in by a Bush recess appointment.

Three months ago, while Senate confirmation of Bolton looked unlikely, I blogged some thoughts about Bolton, including this:
John Bolton has been carrying the ball for President Bush at the U.N. The failure of his conformation leads us to see that the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are seeing the value of the return to tradional diplomacy, which has been appropriately utilized by every Oval Office predecessor of George W. Bush.
The question is: After so many wasted years, with whom will Bush replace Bolton?

A Raw Story article reveals, through information extracted from a recent Roll Call article, that Sen. Harry Reid has a plan that is a "back-door way of preventing President Bush from unilaterally installing controversial nominees in key executive and judicial branch posts through recess appointments."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Republican Questions Bush on $ Millions for Gitmo Compound

"The issue of the tribunals is very controversial. For them to want to move this fast makes me wonder why."

- Congressman James Walsh, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies

From an article by Mark Weiner/Newhouse News Service

On November 17, after uncovering a Defense Department notice on the internet, the Miami Herald broke the story about the Pentagon's plans for a multi-million dollar "mini-city" military commissions compound to be built for Guantanamo Bay terror trials.

In a Syracuse Post Standard article by Newhouse News writer Mark Weiner today, it is reported that the Bush administration plans to approach Congress this coming week with an "emergency request" for over $100 million to build this military compound that will be "seen around the world as a permanent monument to an unfair system of justice", as the group Human Rights Watch has politically framed the compound in question.

Congressman James Walsh (NY-25), who chairs a House military appropriations subcommittee for only three more weeks before Democrats take majority control, is uncomfortable with this "emergency spending" request which would divert already-apropriated funds from other necessary military projects. Congressman Walsh is asking the White House what the hurry is all about.

With the legitimacy of the military commissions set up for the Gitmo terror trials not even settled, with Donald Rumsfeld and other officials [past and present] of the Bush administration are being charged [in Germany] with war crimes at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and with key strategical errors having been made in our nation's war in Iraq for which history will surely judge on a harshly criftical basis, this is no time for acting quickly, before Republican power is diminshed by the Democrats, to seal the repuation of the already-distrusted Republican-led Congress with one last ugly rubber stamp. James Walsh finally gets it.

After technically losing the November election in his home county, Onondaga, and in Monroe County [Rochester], but winning the overall race by a razor-thin margin against challenger Dan Maffei with the help of gerrymandered rural voters in Upstate New York, James Walsh seems to understand that he needs to do something that until now has seemed foreign to him. He is steppping back and consciously challenging the policies of the Bush administration rather than rubber-stamping them, as he did 90% of the time before nearly losing his Congressional seat.

Mark Weiner's article can be read here.

Pentagon Proposal here [Miami Herald pdf]

UPDATE: And on Monday, December 4 the continuing story made the Washington Post.