Saturday, November 07, 2009

Moulitsas v Tancredo - Fighting for the Soul of America

Here's MSNBC's David Schuster asking ex-GOP Congressman Tom Tancredo some tough questions. Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos totally upsets Tancredo's apple cart while presenting his point of view.

I think, in his elitist mind, Tom Tancredo fancies himself a King facing down a peasant like Markos Moulitsas. I don't feel one bit sorry for Mr. Tancredo here. When faced with an uncomfortable truth about the past that may, in his mind, hurt his future political power and standing, Tancredo runs away as if he is above the truth. In the 18th Century, that kind of elitism is what we fought against when we fought for and became a nation of our common hopes. Over the past two decades, there has been so much incivility that has been LED and PROMOTED by the likes of the right wing, including current House minority leader John Boehner, ex-Congressman and 2008 Presidential candidate Tancredo, and company - and they are complete hypocrites and elitists to think that the truth can't rightly be presented right back to them after so many years of following SCOTUS Clarence Thomas' advice that civility often must be"left behind in the pursuit of civic virtue."

This is a fight for the soul of America and we must not fear our necessary honesty if it means a threat to the destruction of the virtues we personally cherish.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Boehner and GOP lead Teabaggers as hypocrites

Currently down 81 seats in the House and 20 seats in the Senate, Republicans represent a minority of Americans in Congress. However, they continue to contend that they stand with mainstream America in opposing the Democrats' "tax and spend" agenda, including health care reform. [Real Clear Politics]

Under our U.S. system, political legitimacy is now and has always MEANT to come from democratic elections.

Teabaggers are being led by high-powered elected leaders in the halls of Congress aiming to destroy the very system that got them where THEY are. What hypocrites! They ask citizens to ignore the will of the People, hoping to wipe clean the memory of the political capital legitimately due to the People who elected and who support the President and a Congress that is willing to work toward common goals.

You may dismiss John Boehner as crazy (or stupid) - but don't be fooled. Here is a House Minority Leader INCITING a revolution that is destructive to the legitimacy of the system that facilitates our good faith laws.

Teabaggers don't want their leaders to act in good faith toward the common goals of citizens. They express a will to KILL common goals. It means more to them for a progressive-friendly President to fail than to actually find ways to save our economy and increase the safety net for millions of American citizens who live paycheck to paycheck praying no one in their family gets seriously ill because they know the costs to cover health care for such an illness will economically finish them off.

Boehner and his ilk see gain in the next electoral cycle as paramount to working for the People. MSM, infected with a curse of "moderate bias" - are not tackling the story to help us see things as they are. The GOP is willfully going rogue. It's hurting our country terribly at a time when we face years of fighting economic disaster due to the ideology of the Far Right who sought to drown (and nearly have succeeded in drowning) our government - yours and mine - in the bathtub of their own politics and self-interest. Hypocrisy often comes from a desire to hide from others actual motives or feelings. Boehner and his right wing Company in Congress are not hiding their completely party-biased motives very well while willfully rebelling in complete denial about the People's right to expect their political will to be carried out by those they elect. I can just imagine what the people in Boehner's home district who voted for Obama last Fall must be thinking of the orange-faced hypocrite right now.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Huffington on Obama, Plouffe, and Media - One Year Later

When Arianna Huffington says, in her most recent column where she discusses President Obama one year after his election and 2008 Obama campaign manager David Plouffe's new book, "Most of the attention the book has gotten so far has focused on the so-called sexy parts," I am reminded of just how valuable she (and HuffPo) are in a media environment where we are NOT, as we SHOULD be if the Fourth Estate was fulfilling a solemn implied promise to citizens, called upon to be critical thinkers, but instead prodded and assaulted with sexy tidbits from otherwise useful books. Imagine what the greater public is failing to learn for all of Mr. Plouffe's efforts. Commitment to selling ads and editing what passes for news in accordance with sales is obviously the Fourth Estate's main implied promise as things stand. I hope a new model for the news platform at which I expect we'll arrive after the digital revolution has revealed new economic opportunity will bring best practices in journalism back. Leave endless gossip for The National Enquirer!

Virginia Foxx NC-5 Does Not Represent the Mayberry I Know

is so sick it's hard to believe it's not a schtick. Health care costs must come down or this already-struggling U.S. economy will be dragged down in a disastrous way. Don't these blabbering one-track minded ideologues care about what happens, in reality, to the American families who will suffer the brunt of sure hardship if Congress members continue to refuse to work in a serious manner with one another and if they continue support doing nothing to curb ever-rising costs? They're looking more like clowns every day. Cue up "The Entry of the Gladiators."

Andy Borowitz Quote [Sarah Palin]

"Tuesday Gratitude Thought: This is the one-year anniversary of Sarah Palin not being elected."

~ Andy Borowitz

For Healthier Democracy: I Hope the Polls are Wrong in NY District 23

NYT political reporter Adam Nagourney is reporting that "Most polls suggest Democrats will lose the upstate New York House race." I hope the voters of NY Dist 23 will elect Bill Owens today. He's much closer, in his platform of ideas, to what they'd embraced when they supported Dede Scozzafava. To me, it seems to go against all small-d democratic principles to have strangers from almost anywhere EXCEPT your voting district to come in and sway the local party to throw out the candidate preferred by people in their own community and replace her with an extremist man who, the last I checked, was supported by 5% local contributions and 95% outside-district money. In the end, it's not up to me or anyone outside the district. The voters of Dist 23 will be the ones to say whether or not they believe it was all right with them to have their process shattered by outsiders. If they do defeat Owens, I fear for the future of healthy democracy in ANY of our districts.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Sun Shines Down on All of Creation [photo]

The Sun Shines Down on All of Creation
photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Autumn Morning Flight [photo]

image Autumn Morning Flight
photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

This Morning's Moon (photo)

This Morning's Moon - Just After Sunrise
photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

"There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery."
~ Joseph Conrad, novelist

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Butterfly's Wing (photo)

Butterfly's Wing
by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Butterfly (photo)

photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

US Presidents Obama and Clinton at CGI

President Barack Obama with former President Bill Clinton off stage after Obama spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual meeting in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009. AP photo

Protect Insurance Companies PSA (Will Ferrell)

At UN: President Obama says, "It's A New Day"

"...this is a new day. It is a new era. And I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history."

- President Barack Obama in his speech on Climate Change today at the UN

With all the stupidity out there - - with the fear-filled mobs of madness who gather (with the prodding of news media stars on Fox News), we can't forget what inspired one of the greatest movements for change that has held such promise for our common vision.

It's still a new day.

Searching for Skipping Stones, Photo

Searching for Skipping Stones
Green Lakes State Park, NY
photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

5th Annual Clinton Global Initiative Meeting Begins Today

Former President Bill Clinton, whose calling to something greater than himself has put him back on the world stage as a major player in philanthropy, inspires others to join him in his vision of the good that can be for every person, regardless of their birthplace or social standing. The fifth annual annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting kicks off today in New York with President Obama as a speaker.

Clinton Global Initiative meeting, 2008
photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

This year’s meeting, which begins today at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, has drawn political and business leaders such as Goldman, Sachs & Co. Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick. President Barack Obama will address the opening session. The new theme added to the 2009 meeting is investing in women and girls to narrow the gender gap.

“In all the world there is only one strategy which clearly slows population growth, raises income and promotes more social stability that is supported across all religious and cultural lines,” Clinton, 63, said in an interview at Bloomberg News headquarters. “And that is putting all the girls in school and giving all the young women access to the labor market.”

The summit attracts an eclectic mix of world leaders, public-policy experts and artists. Participants this year will include more than 60 former and current heads of state; former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan; JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chairman Jamie Dimon; Grameen Bank founder and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus; musicians Alicia Keys and Quincy Jones; and actors Brad Pitt, Demi Moore and Julia Ormond.

~ Bloomberg News

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reflection on Green Lake [NY]

President Clinton Unveils Special Programming Focused on Investing in Girls and Women

photo credit: Clinton Global Initiative

President Bill Clinton announced today that this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting would offer special programming focused on investing in girls and women.

“Gender inequality is one of the most pressing issues that we face as a global community,” President Clinton said today. “I am proud that these issues are a central focus of the Clinton Global Initiative’s Fifth Annual Meeting, and I am confident that by sharing innovative ideas, we can devise solutions that will dramatically improve the lives of girls and women throughout the world.”

Across the globe, poverty and economic insecurity are exacerbated by the low social status of women and girls. Women make up two-thirds of all the illiterate people in the world and only 1 percent of the world’s landowners. Each year of schooling increases a woman’s income by 10 to 20 percent. Educating women has also been shown to increase agricultural yields, boost GNP, and improve health. Yet girls are still less likely than boys to receive even a basic education.

Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International

On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, from 9:00 to 10:30 am, CGI will host a plenary session that includes leaders from the public, private, and non-profit sector who are actively engaged in gender equality efforts. The session, entitled “Investing in Women and Girls,” will be moderated by Diane Sawyer, co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America. Panelists include Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs; Robert B. Zoellick, President, The World Bank Group; Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International ; Rex Tillerson CEO of ExxonMobil; and Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State. The panel will focus on social, political, and economic changes that can be made to reverse the marginalization of women.

Melanne Verveer

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative is a $100 million, five year campaign to foster economic growth by providing a business and management education to underserved women. The initiative is currently active in 16 countries and is operated through a network of more than 60 academic and non-profit partners.

In 2005, ExxonMobil launched a global program to help women in developing countries fulfill their economic potential and serve as drivers of economic and social change in their communities. To date, the program has reached women from 64 developing countries and focuses mainly on building the next generation of female business leaders and entrepreneurs and reducing barriers to women’s economic participation.

President Clinton also announced the formation of two Action Networks which will allow CGI members working on issues related to women and girls to discuss best practices, identify service gaps, and catalyze new collaborations and partnerships. The networks -- Empowering Women and Investing in Girls – will meet during the Annual Meeting.

On Tuesday, September 22, a dinner will be held to celebrate the outstanding individuals and organizations committed to addressing the challenges faced by girls and women around the globe. The event will highlight the ExxonMobil’s Women’s Initiative and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, along with efforts by CARE, Camfed International, and Vital Voices. Participants include Mrs. Sarah Brown, Wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, Melanne Verveer, and Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank.

Muhammad Yunus, Grameen Bank, photo credit: TIME Magazine

President Clinton’s efforts are part of a larger trend of increased attention toward women and girls. In March, President Obama announced the White House Council on Woman and Girls, which will ensure that agencies across the federal government take women’s issues into account. During its first year, the Council is tasked with ensuring that each federal agency is working to improve the economic status of women. The State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues is also actively working to improve the condition of women worldwide.

Clinton Global Initiative:


- You can see a recent op-ed written by Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO, Women for Women International here at the New York Times

- Nicholas Kristof writes about Melanne Verveer here at the New York Times.

- More about Melanne Verveer: - "Secretary Clinton Focuses on Women's Rights" by Cindy Saine, VOA, September 8, 2009

- The White House Council on Women and Girls is here.

- More about The White House Council on Women and Girls: "Women's rights a priority for Obama panel" by Mimi Hall, USA TODAY, September 13, 2009

- 10 Questions for Muhammad Yunus, Time Magazine, September 28, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kanye's Impulsivity and Obama's Steady Grace

Kanye West's lack of grace at the VMA last night was sad, but a teachable moment for all of us. The quixotic Kanye rose in defense of a damsel he believed was in distress, battling the racism he perceives within the music industry, and greatly embarrassing both graceful and talented women. In contrast, cornered by media about racism, President Barack Obama and his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs have refused to be distracted w/charges of white supremacy issues within the so-called Tea-bag movement while consistently sending an upbeat message about working with Congress in the face of it all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rep Joseph Wilson Chooses Pride Over Responsibility

Censure Rep. Joe Wilson. Appearing on Fox News this morning, he says he refuses to publicly apologize to President Obama on the House floor. It speaks to his character. This is no statesman. His failure to take public (on the record) responsibility for his emotions is a political problem for Republicans on the Hill, whether or not Wilson believes the President has personally forgiven him.

Pride has destroyed many a man and woman. Let the public record show yet another example in the failure of Joseph Wilson to humble himself for the betterment of all of us.

In his book "The Art of Worldly Wisdom" Balthasar Gracian said that, in public speaking, "every appearance of unwisdom really is unwise." After having listened to Wilson on Fox News this morning, I have to assume Wilson hasn't read the book.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

September 8, 2009

I was unable to access Facebook for the better part of the last two days due to Facebook maintenance issues. I'm glad to have access once again. I'm back to posting new links and comments. I'd tried every recommendation provided by Facebook's help page, wrote a couple of e-mails and filled out online forms appealing to Facebook w/no response, and even tried calling their customer service number to find that they currently offer no telephone support. It was not at all a positive or satisfactory experience. A big opportunity area exists for anyone who can offer ideas about good customer service to the FB team.


With his own nice, comprehensive healthcare insurance plan intact, Senator Max Baucus is pushing the idea of "allowing" millions of the uninsured working poor in the U.S. to have coverage that doesn't even match up to your standard Medicaid. It just doesn't sit right with me. It's not the change we envisioned waiting for us on our nation's horizon.
Max Baucus Plan: No Public Option, Non-Profit Insurance
►►WASHINGTON (AP) – Time is running out for a two-party compromise on health care as a bipartisan group of six Finance Committee senators considers a new that might be the last, best hope for an overhaul agreement. The six were to meet Tuesday on Sen. Max Baucus' proposal to create nonprofit insurance plans to compete with those offered by profit-making companies.◄◄


When I think about the spirit of the individuals who sat down to pen the Declaration of Independence and contrast that spirit to the reality of today's corporate influence on our elected leaders (and our elections), I suddenly feel as if I'm human spirit rejected by the society that accepts the powerlessness of the individual. If the Supreme Court sides with the Corporations here, I think it will be the final nail in the coffin of the spirit of our nation's Founding documents. It won't be an America that I recognize anymore.

Editorial - A Threat to Fair Elections -
The Supreme Court has upheld the limitations on corporate campaign expenditures in the past. If it opens the floodgates now, corporations would have a huge say in who wins federal elections.
► ►[..] The Supreme Court may be about to radically change politics by striking down the longstanding rule that says corporations cannot spend directly on federal elections. If the floodgates open, money from big business could overwhelm the electora...l process, as well as the making of laws on issues like tax policy and bank regulation.[..] ◄◄


Lush Land Dries Up, Withering Kenya’s Hopes -
A devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya, imperiling agriculture and tourism as well as spawning ethnic conflict in the hinterland.
►►[..]"If nobody comes to help us, I will die here, right here," he said, emphatically patting the earth with a cracked, ancient-looking hand. [..]◄◄


Chris Trapper is not only a great singer/songwriter...he's also a delightful storyteller. In this video he performs his amazing song "This Time." You'll recognize it if you've seen the film "August Rush." *thanks, brother Tom. :)
This Time
Live from the Grove Theater In Oak Ridge Tennessee


Although it’s more difficult than it should be to get the public to care deeply about daily abuses of women, Kristof and WuDunn focus on forced prostitution, honor killing and maternal mortality in their new book, denunciating horrible abuses "with clear-eyed hope and some compelling practical strategies."

Books of The Times - In ‘Half the Sky,’ Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn Call for Women’s Rights
In “Half the Sky,” a passionate yet practical book, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue that the struggle for gender equality is “the paramount moral challenge” of our era.


I can't wait to see this film: [..] "The Men Who Stare at Goats" is based on a book by Jon Ronson about a secret unit created by the U.S. army in 1979 which, the author said, believed troops could become invisible, walk through walls and kill goats just by staring at them. [..]
Clooney Plays Hippie Soldier In Comedy Set In Iraq - NYTimes.comSource:
VENICE (Reuters) - U.S. actor George Clooney plays a New Age hippie soldier trained for psychic, peaceful combat in a comedy set during the war in Iraq.

Creston Journal - From a Porch in Montana, Low-Power Radio's Voice Rises -

Friday, July 31, 2009

"Summertime" by Chris Trapper

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

John Wilkes Booth

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

2009 Camillus Memorial Day Parade

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Looking For Your Face -- Rumi

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Colorful Wares - Who Will Buy? [photos]

all photos by Jude Nagurney Camwell ©

Monday, May 04, 2009

Going Places [photo]

I couldn't help but notice [and capture] an ironic juxtaposition between the sign at the gas pump at which I was standing in the workaday world and the mention of the faith-filled gift implied within the very name of the modest "Gift of Love Ministry" directly across the street.

One sign involves a place where your contribution is welcomed in exchange for the promise of reaching a heavenly destination.

The other sign offers the same. ;)

photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Parked [photo]


asleep on a city bench
people strolled the early Spring day
oblivious to his homelessness
sign said no parking

but he was parked
sure as the nose on your face
no sign stopped him
no one took notice


photo and words by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Silence Touching Souls [photo]

"See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence;
see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls."

~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta

photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Sunset at Lake Norman [photo]

Sunset at Lake Norman N.C.
photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Chicks [photo]

photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Friday, May 01, 2009

"World's Greatest Dad" directed by Bobcat Goldthwait

A scene from a new film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait,"World’s Greatest Dad" starring Robin Williams.
Story [Blast Magazine]: Boston Independent Film Fest: Saving the Greatest for last By Emma Rose Johnson

Heron Catches a Fish [photo]

This heron seemed to have wanted to show off a fish he'd just caught.
Poor fish! ;)

photo by Jude Nagurney Camwell

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cheese Is Christ!

*Tip o'the hat to David Beckwith for the play on words

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April 14, 1865 - Abe Lincoln Has Died Today

April 14, 1865
April 14, 1865: Lincoln fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending play at Ford's Theater, Washington, D.C.

A southern sympathizer loyal to Virginia, Booth was a twenty-six-year-old struggling actor at the time of the assassination. Shortly thereafter, after escaping to Maryland and then Virginia, he was apprehended and shot to death during a struggle with federal agents in a barn in rural Virginia.


A 19th-Century poster

"He dreamed at night of his death by the hand
Of a bitter world and a faceless man

And he saw his body in a ghastly dream
Draped in black while his widow screamed

Two silver dollars on his eyelids lay
"Abraham Lincoln has died today."

- From the song "John Wilkes Booth" by Mary Chapin Carpenter


"About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible.

I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise.

Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.'

Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

-- President Abraham Lincoln

Friday, April 03, 2009

For Becky

My condolences go out to Becky, author of the blog "Benny's World". Sadly, Becky lost her mother this week. My prayers and healing thoughts are with Becky and her family.

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through
My instrument
And his song is in my soul --
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
Im just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The One Man Village by Simon El Habre

The One Man Village - Trailer

A Feature Documentary by Simon El Habre

Semaan is a farmer leading a quiet life, in the small village of Aïn El Halazoun, in the Lebanese mountains. He wakes up at the crack of dawn, tends to his cows and other animals and prepares the produce he will sell at the market

During the Lebanese civil war (1975-1990), Aïn el Halazoun was completely destroyed and eventually deserted. Its original inhabitants, all from the El Habre family, regularly go back to the village to visit their houses and cultivate their plots of land, but they always leave before sunset.

By observing life in a quasi ghost village, the film reflects upon collective and individual memory, in a country whose inhabitants seem unwilling to learn from their past, even while on the brink of a new civil war.

From ODE Magazine -
Semaan Bilda’ia: A Glimpse at Peace
"Sometimes a film can make a difference. I just saw this one at Berlinale. Wow! [...]

Spiritual Healing Around the World

Spiritual Healing Around the World - Photo Essays - TIME Source:
Across countries and faiths, the devout believe the power of the spirit can heal the ills of the flesh.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Civilian Deaths Stain US Military Support in Uganda

The troops did not seal off the rebels’ escape routes or deploy soldiers to many of the nearby towns where the rebels slaughtered people in churches and even tried to twist off toddlers’ heads. - from NY Times

I was sick at heart to have read that a US-aided military mission in Uganda has resulted in a killing spree unleashed upon innocent civilians in nearby villages. The civilians were targets of the Lord's Resistance Army. For all the good some may say we're trying to do, the massacre - 900 innocent lives taken - puts a stain on the US simply for having been formally involved and, if we were going to be involved, having overseen the result - a muderous mess.

I wonder what the Obama foreign policy team is thinking about this kind of military support? If the foreign policy of the United States is such that we're attempting to regain our reputation and are playing the part of our brothers' keeper, it seems we're playing it thin and candestine with too many innocent lives on the line. Don't we citizens have the right to be made well aware of what our nation's goals are in asserting our military efforts in this part of the world...and how far we'll go to achieve those goals?

There will be certain ideologues who will say that the US has few direct national security interests in Uganda and that we can't go around protecting every human right. There are some who'll say that they believe it's morally right to use US military to defend the innocent in an ever-increasingly interdependent world. As a pragmatist living in a nation that is struggling to stay economically afloat, I land somewhere in between, admittedly more on the side of protecting human rights because my conscience informs me that we can't just turn our heads and look the other way. Yet, if we're going to become involved, we can't go about it half-assed.

When innocents are massacred and it's shown that, for unclear foreign policy reasons, the US is becoming more intensely involved, it's time for US citizens to ask their leaders to start talking about Africa and our foreign policy goals in Africa for the 21st century.

See Jeffrey Gettleman and Eric Schmitt's NYTimes story

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

USPSA - Obama’s Peace Corps?

The the U.S. Public Service Academy [USPSA] has found a new home for communication on Things seem to be happening very fast right now for Chris Myers Asch who, according to a January 6th article in the NY Times, "with no money, contacts or obvious qualifications, [..] quit his job three years ago at a Mississippi after-school program and started a campaign to create a civilian service academy — a West Point for bureaucrats."

Looks like a commitment with a whole lot of belief behind it...and support and/or endorsements from public figures such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.

As of 5:30 today, here is a the USPSA's Twitter history [you may wish to follow them]:

Calling Senator Gillibrand's office
about 1 hour ago from web

Just got visited by ABC News about 4 hours ago from web

Missouri student supports USPSA: about 8 hours ago from web

Washington student supports USPSA: 1 day ago from web

New York Times supports USPSA: 1 day ago from web

Kansas student supports USPSA: 1 day ago from web

Reading the Baltimore Sun's column supporting USPSA: 1 day ago from web

Building the U.S. Public Service Academy! 1 day ago from web

"Tear Down This Myth" by Will Bunch [Preview]

If the Reagan legacy has been a sacred cow for conservative ideologues these last twenty years or so, its near-mythical essence - after having been intelligently de-boned and stripped by Will Bunch in his new book - is seen in reality as more fast-food ground patty than juicy Ruth's Chris Porterhouse.

Let's face it - a lot more hamburgers have been served to Americans under Golden Arches than expensive steaks under chandeliers, and this should be made apparent as Mr. Bunch lays out the Reagan-era realities v. the right-wing myths.

Everyday Americans have lived with the effects of the Reagan years, where much pragmatic compromise was made for the common good, while those modern conservatives who've cleansed key truths and magnified the legend already cleverly self-created by the politically gifted President Reagan have pasted an almost-cinematic image of the man and his times on our collective memory like Smith & Wollensky on grilled short loin. You might say, in a figurative sense, that Mr. Bunch grounds it all down to everyman's chopped beef - no pretense - pass the ketchup, please.

You can read an excerpt from Chapter One of Tear Down This Myth - How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future [Simon & Schuster's Free Press] at Mr. Bunch's Philly Inquirer blog Attytood

Mr. Bunch lays out what he calls a "political three-step tango" - the great storyline that an aggressive breed of conservatives have used as a tool to win elections and perpetuate policies that fit their extreme agenda since Reagan left office. The steps of the dance include washing away negative references to actual occurrences during Reagan's time as President, awarding him far more credit than he deserves for positive turns of events during his time as President, and intentionally leaving out the fact that Reagan was, in reality and to his credit, a political pragmatist on key issues rather than an unyielding and impractical idealist.

I found this comment from Chapter One to ring particularly true:
"Reagan's devotion to certain principles was genuine, but it was coupled with an equally genuine belief in the importance of compromise and an understanding that you had to get the best deal you could under the circumstances," notes Stephen Knott, an associate professor of political science at the U.S. Naval War College who previously ran the Reagan Oral History Project while at the University of Virginia. "I'm not sure this part of Reagan's legacy is appreciated by George W. Bush and those Republicans looking for 'another Reagan.'"

Mr. Bunch suggests that the political genius of Ronald Reagan was actually found in his unique ability to create and say the words that shape ideas that last - and provide food for the makings of a legend by those politicos and think-tankers who'd stand to ideologically benefit - long after the speaker has proverbially left the building.

What Mr. Bunch also suggests is that perhaps the influential and publicly popular pragmatist who was the real Reagan was not a one-of-a-kind. While most of the Democratic primary contenders in Campaign 2008 couldn't seem to escape the "deepening shadow of the legacy of Ronald Reagan," Barack Obama seemed to intuitively understand the public desire for hope and optimism and decidedly sought to praise the political style of the twice-elected Republican. Mr. Obama told the editorial board of the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal in January 2008:
"Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, and a way that Bill Clinton did not" [...] Seeking to elaborate, the Democratic senator said that "[w]e want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."
Today you see President Reagan's son, conservative talk-show host Michael Reagan pointing to Obama's political pragmatism while Reagan's other son, Ron Reagan, had endorsed Mr. Obama for President.
Strange days, indeed...most peculiar, Mama...

At Attytood, Will Bunch provides up-to-date commentary about his own book:

OK - but you may ask whether the Reagan myth matters as much now that George W. Bush is back at the ranch and President Obama in the White House. I would argue that it does. Increasingly, the GOP minority in Washington, including 41 senators with just enough votes to derail the administration’s proposals, is going to invoke the Reagan myth to continue to justify a tax system that harms the middle class and policies that ignore the scientific consensus on climate change. Look at the first major policy debate of the Obama presidency, over the proposed $825 billion economic stimulus. Democrats are under enormous political pressure to weight the plan toward tax cuts, and away from spending programs, which Republicans quickly branded as much pork - despite evidence that jobs programs stimulate the economy at twice the rate of tax reductions. "I remain concerned about wasteful spending that might be attached to the tax relief," House GOP leader John Boehner said - and right-wing talk radio was a lot less restrained. Ironically, the spending sought by the Democrats seek to undo the crumbling of America’s infrastructure and the failure to create "green-collar" jobs that dates back to the Reagan era.

And here’s another reason the Reagan myth still matters, and that’s because there’s a pundit class inside the Beltway that cuts its teeth in the 1980s and remains firmly convinced that America is a "center-right" nation, despite massive evidence to the contrary. These pundits will urge Obama to enact an economic recovery package in the Gipper’s image, ignoring the long-term harmed caused by Reagan’s brand of "trickle-down economics."

Unless we don’t let them - and tear down this myth.

I look forward to reading the rest of the book which can be purchased, if you're also interested, here or you can receive news from the book’s Facebook group here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

See Yourself at the Inauguration

This is really cool.
Click on the photo below and, if you were anywhere near the Mall on Inauguration Day, you'll see yourself. (Use the tools on the left).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Forbes List of 25 Most Influential Liberals in US Media

Romenesko is linking Forbes' list of The 25 most influential liberals in U.S. media. According to Forbes, Paul Krugman is Number One.

I'm wondering:
Where on earth is Steven Colbert?

Here they are from #25 (listed first) to #1 (last in order): Michael Pollan [25], Kurt Andersen, Kevin Drum, Ezra Klein, James Fallows, Gerald Seib [20], Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald, Hendrick Hertzberg, Matthew Yglesias, Maureen Dowd [15], Christopher Hitchens, Bill Moyers, Chris Matthews, Fareed Zakaria, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga ("Kos") [10], David Shipley, Joshua Micah Marshall, Rachael Maddow, Oprah Winfrey, jon Stewart [5], Thomas Friedman, Fred Hiatt, Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman [1].

Israel Palestine - Fourth UN School Hit - Saudi Prince Warns US

Juan Cole is reporting that Israel has hit yet another UN school before ceasing fire. This will have been the fourth UN school to be shelled and, in this one, 1600 refugees were huddling from the airstrikes. More children are dead. Only two little boys dead - a small number, some may say. Ask their mothers how small.

The rationalizing that so many are willing to do in order to defend Israeli conduct during this time has become empty-sounding to people like me who, like many other US citizens, support the state of Isreal yet clearly see that the lack of even-handedness by US government has only fueled the cold calculations recently made by the Israeli government. Despite US political leaders blaming Hamas totally and at nearly every opportunity, Israel is losing in the court of US public opinion because conscientious people aren't buying it.

Professor Cole makes an excellent point when discussing Israeli election authorities who, by fiat, may "simply ban certain Arab parties from running in the next election." [Jonathan Cook, Alternet]

I agree with the belief that, in a world with ever-increasing diversity in populations due to immigration and a global community that becomes more closely-knit by the day due to modern technology facilitating instant communication, a monochrome ethnic nationalism is more and more difficult to maintain because the people of the world are watching as if they're looking into a picture window and seeing nearly every move governments make in real-time. They see the injustice that comes with cleansing a government of relevant voices - and how it stands to become a very sad apartheid. It requires more and more violence, as pointed out by Professor Cole.

Saudi royal family member Prince Turki al-Faisal has warned President Obama in a Financial Times op-ed that the Middle East peace process and U.S.-Saudi ties are at risk unless Washington changes their tack on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. al-Faisal says,
"Unless the new U.S. administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the U.S.-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk."

From: Saudi patience is running out by Turki al-Faisal, January 22 2009
This is not an entirely new idea coming from leaders of the region, by the way. In a rare November 2001 television interview, Prince Turki Al-Faisal had described how "[then Crown-Prince] Abdullah had sent a [pre-9/11] letter to [then new] President George W Bush in which he stated that relations between the two countries were at a crossroads because of unsatisfactory U.S. handling of the Middle East conflict.

Also being reported today in the Financial Times, President Obama has urged Israel to open Gaza's borders.

Gov Paterson Chooses Kirsten Gillibrand

I'm pleased to know that Gov. David Paterson has chosen Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Senator Hillary Clinton. The new Sen. Gillibrand will not have to waste a second being brought up to speed on the unique and longstanding economic troubles that have plagued Upstate NY and that predate the current economic crisis by a good number of years.

At a time when some voices are claiming that Upstate NY is being pushed to the side by
the current Governor's plan, the choice of Gillibrand as Senator may restore some confidence in Upstate citizens that their concerns and their job opportunities are important.

Gillibrand, currently serving in the House of Representatives where she serves on the serves on the House Armed Services Committee [Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities subcommittee] and the Agriculture Committee [Livestock, Dairy and Poultry subcommittee, Conservation Credit Energy and Research subcommittee and the Horticulture and Organic Agriculture subcommittee], has a website where you can see her stand on the issues. Some progressives will probably not like her stand on Gun Rights. In her district [NY-20], I doubt she ever would have stood a chance of being elected if she had not listened to the concerns of her constituents. As Senator, she will face a new and much wider group of citizens who will likely require her to think [and show that she'll listen] carefully about their views on that particular issue.

Already a member of a new Upstate Majority Caucus [made up of Upstate Democrats serving in the New York State Assembly, New York State Senate and the House of Representatives], Gillibrand will have greater influence, as Senator, in their collective unified effort to jumpstart the struggling economy of Upstate New York. [See The Albany Project]

Rep. Gillibrand founded the Congressional High Tech Caucus [along with Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX)] "with the goal of ensuring that the United States remains at the forefront of emerging technologies and high tech industries." [source: Online Office of Rep Gillibrand]

As Special Counsel to the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development [Andrew Cuomo] under President Clinton, Gillibrand worked to strengthen enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act, which came into the public focus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the Bush administration attempted to indefinitely suspend Davis-Bacon and was politically unsuccessful (or, at best, unpopular) for having done so, reinstating it within a month under public scrutiny.

Any "Eli Stone" [ABC] fan can recognize Gillibrand's own dedication to service in her maintaining of an extensive pro-bono practice for clients whose voices are seldom heard and needs seldom addressed.

In other news:

This poor fellow only wishes to keep his giant hot dog.

Busted! World class musicians were arm-synching at the Inauguration ceremony. What a lovely piece it is! Here's the performance:

THIS SONG is dedicated to the world-class musicians who did a great job of arm-synching at the Inauguration.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King 1929-1968

"Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

Turning my thoughts to Martin Luther King:

[Listen to] "I Have a Dream" speech - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

[Listen to] "We Must Work" - Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

[Listen to] "We Shall Overcome" Jun 17 1966 – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

New Obama Photo Shown (Pete Souza/Dateline NBC)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama's Whistlestop Tour Begins

Song of the Day: Love Train

An Historic Ride Begins After a Speech in Philadelphia (video below)
Photo: Reuters

Obama gets on board for his historic Whistlestop Tour
Photo: Reuters

Photo: AP

One of the first (if not THE first) posted photos of the train as it embarks on its jouney to the nation's Capital for the Inauguration.
Photo credit: Jim

Waving to the crowds

The Delaware Stop

Record turnouts of citizens on an extremely cold day in Delaware

The Baltimore Stop

Photo: Reuters

Suburban Guerilla has the transcript of the speech

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vote NOW for Department Of Peace

Got a message from Yoko Ono on Facebook this morning asking us to vote NOW for a Department of Peace: [ - "Appoint Secretary of Peace in Department of Peace and Non-Violence"] Please vote.

Innocence Speaks

This video isn't about propaganda or ideology. It's a video about real effects of war on children who have many questions, as you can well imagine. The video was created by Rula Mughrabi, 26 year-old Jordanian woman who works at a microfinance organization in Jordan.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hillary Clinton's Confirmation Hearing

Politico: Clinton to emphasize 'smart power':

OneCampaign: Hillary Clinton’s Remarks on Global Development

Iddybud Journal: "Microlending: Obama's Mother a Founding Force" [Sept 13, 2008] - Sen. Clinton spoke about this in her confirmation hearing today

Huffington Post/Ryan Grim: "..Clinton appeared to send a signal to Israel that that it would not have a free hand to operate in the Middle East."

Before I post an excerpt from a politics article by Paul Richter appearing today on the LA Times site, I offer my opinion as a blogger who's attended [and blogged] annual meetings of the Clinton Global Initiative [CGI]:

If most Americans could fully know what amazing progress Bill Clinton is making in "leading the leaders" to help the most disadvantaged people on the planet - whether they're leaders in the business world or writers/thinkers/activists or leaders as ordinary world citizens or leaders in NGOs or leaders of philanthropic institutes or dignitaries or heads of state - most US citizens would realize that the truly good and transparent work of the CGI is far, far beyond petty U.S. politics.

LA TIMES Excerpt:
[..] Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the committee's senior Republican, urged the Clinton foundation to exclude all foreign donations. He said the foundation represented a "unique complication" because of the risk that foreigners might think giving money will win favors from the former president's wife.

Clinton defended her husband, contending that plans for disclosure of contributors go beyond that required by government ethics watchdogs.

Clinton's foundation has worked to provide healthcare, particularly for people with AIDS in underdeveloped countries. It also promotes economic growth in Africa and Latin America, combats global climate change and works to solve such problems as childhood obesity in the U.S.

Matt McKenna, communications director for the former president, said by e-mail that the Clintons were "by far the most financially transparent former first couple in American history." [..]