Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama Inaguration

As I write this commentary, Barack Obama has just been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States.

The first black president.

Now, we can begin the process of redemption for our original sin as a nation - - slavery. Obama’s inauguration does not mark the end of white racism, it does not mean that the inequalities and discrimination faced by generations of black people in this country has ended.

It does mean that finally, the process has started.

As one who has long fought for racial equality, openly and defiantly since that day in 1967 when the commanding general at Keesler Air Force base in Bilouxi, Mississippi attempted to cover-up a racial incident and ordered several of us to deny the truth, which we refused to do, I am feeling an overwhelming sense of pride that that a black man will lead this country.

I can still hardly believe it.

I did not vote for Obama. I couldn’t - - not after spending the last eight years protesting the illegal and immoral actions of the United States’ government and demanding the impeachment and prosecution of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell and the rest of the criminal conspiracy in control of our government.

I could not vote for Obama because he promised to continue some of those policies and embark on similar crimes.

How could I protest Bush’s illegal war in and occupation of and then vote for Obama who intends to continue that occupation through the too clever by half manipulation of language regarding “combat troops?”

How could I protest Bush’s illegal war in and occupation of Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, and then vote for Obama who promised during the campaign to escalate that war? Not only escalate the war in Afghanistan but enlarge that war by continuing Bush’s covert invasion of Pakistan Pakistan

How could I vote for Obama when, like Bush, he attempts to erase the Palestinians as if the root of the solution to the crisis in the Middle East did not go through Jerusalem.

The inauguration of Barack Obama holds great promise for our country. I want Obama to succeed. I want our country to succeed as a beacon of freedom and justice. I’m just not sanguine in either case.  I guess I read too much history.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

"I haven't really thought about that."

They protest, yell, scream obscenities to women making their choices, but "haven't thought about" what should/would happen if it were to be illegal.

What else haven't they thought about?


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Interesting Project


NamelessleTTer is a collaborative art project where people from all horizons leave personalized bookmarks in books with the goal of seeing other readers discover them.
All kinds of bookmarks are accepted (creativity is the limit). They can be left in different places such as libraries, bookstores, etc.

Left in: The Beatles: The Biography

So, for those looking to give NamelessleTTer a spin, here are the guidelines :

1. Be as original/sensible/artistic/humoristic as possible when you create your bookmark. The goal is to provoke curiosity (to encourage people to visit libraries and bookstores in hopes of discovering one of these bookmarks), to bring a new and exciting aspect to book reading in a world that is becoming increasingly digital, and to interact with other people.

2. Before leaving your bookmark in a book, take a close-up photo of it (or better scan it) and email it anonymously at

3. Please, don't forget to indicate in your email the title of the book in which you'll leave your bookmark + the place (address).

The most interesting and original bookmarks will be posted on NamelessleTTer.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vitter opposes Clinton

Senator David Vitter of Louisiana voted against Hillary Clinton's confirmation as Secretary of State.

He was joined by Jim DeMint of South Carolina in their minority protest vote. The final vote was 94 to 2.

[snark] Immediately following Vitter's futile flailing, the rest of the Senate gave the former philanderer a standing ovation. The display was reminiscent of the ovation the Republican caucus gave him following his triumphant return after the disclosure of the DC Madamn frequently trussing him up in a diaper. [end snark]

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mr. President!

The 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

** Update**

The Inaugural Speech Transcript:


OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.
I thank President Bush for his service to our nation as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.


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Monday, January 19, 2009


The Presumption of Innocence

I have a friend who is a defense attorney.  She’s a mighty fine lawyer in my estimation.  The last time I was called for jury duty in Hoquiam she represented the defendant in the case up for a hearing.  She began the process of jury selection by asking all potential jurors: “right now, before the trial even begins, how many of you would vote to acquit my client?”  I was the only potential juror to raise my hand.  “Why did you raise your hand,” she asked?  “Because,” I said, “in our system a person is presumed innocent and I have heard nothing here that would yet alter my presumption of your client’s innocence.”  “Thank you,” she said, and continued on to more questions.  At the next opportunity the prosecutor, whom I also knew, dismissed me preemptively.  He didn’t have to state a reason for kicking me out of the jury pool but I suspected he didn’t want someone to serve who carried the presumption of innocence into the hearing. 


The presumption of innocence has been getting a severe flogging recently.  In fact, as I write this commentary [early January], the Democratic leadership of the United States Senate has just refused to accept the credentials of Roland Burris as the appointed senator from Illinois to fill the seat resigned by president-elect Barack Obama.  Boy, that guy Burris must have really done something awful for senate majority leader Harry Reid to have turned him away.  Remember just last month the senate lionized seven-time convicted felon Senator Ted Stevens after his defeat in November’s election.  Senator Steven’s farewell speech prompted a standing ovation, tears and a stream of farewell speeches from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The most poignant speech came from legendary fellow earmarker, Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), a dear, longtime friend of Stevens - and the longest serving member of the Senate rose on the floor to recite a personalized version of a famous Irish poem in honor of his friend: "May all the roads which you have built, Ted, rise up to meet you.  Bless your heart, Ted," Byrd concluded, "I love you."  Even majority leader Reid could not restrain himself when he called Stevens “a lion” and acknowledged Steven’s ability to steer billions of earmarked federal funding to Alaska.  

He has been an advocate for his state, and that's an understatement," Reid said. "I wish nothing but the best for Ted, Catherine [his wife] and his daughter, who I've known since she was a little girl."


Now surely, after all that praise of a felonious senator, convicted on seven counts of bribery, this Roland Burris must have done something truly horrific to have Harry Reid refuse to swear him in as a senator.


Burris’s crime?  Having been appointed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojivich. 


Blago, it seems, has been accused - - accused of being involved in a pay-to-play scheme to sell Barack Obama’s old senate seat.  Horror!  Outrage!  Never been heard of before in the U. S. Congress.  Never?


Surely no other member of congress has ever sold himself for money.  Surely no senator or congressman from Washington state has ever done so. 


Question: and lipstick is not the answer.  What’s the difference between Norm Dicks, Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Rob Blagojivich?  Handcuffs.  


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dear World:

We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding,



Author unknown

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The Progressive Daily Beacon calls it quits.

We hear in The Whirlpool have been reading The Progressive Daily Beacon almost since we began The Whirlppol. I has been a steady source of quality information, humor, and inspiration.

Today, The Progressive Daily Beacon announced they have pulled the plug.

We are disappointed, but understanding. It takes a lot of time to keep up a quality site like PDB. We don't put in a fraction of the time and it shows.

Congrats to the Beacon for a great run.

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Pilot: A real hero.

We've seen recent discussons regarding who is or how one becomes a "hero". The recent successful ditching of Flight 1549 by pilot Chesley B. (Sulley) Sullenberger III helps illustrate the answer.

New York Mayor Bloomberg comments on Sulley's actions.

His neighbors think highly of him and were not surprised by his heroic actions:

From an LA Times article

Frank Salzmann, one of Sullenberger's neighbors in Danville, a suburb east of San Francisco, said he was not at all surprised to hear Sullenberger was the pilot who landed the US Airways jet safely, calling him a "very calm, in-control and in-charge type."

"When you think of a captain of an airline, you pretty much think of Sully," said Salzmann, 45, a software engineer.

"It was just the right guy at the right time and at the right moment," added neighbor Jim Walberg. "Everybody is so proud and grateful and relieved."

He noted that Sullenberger, a humble man, would probably chafe at being called a hero.

"It's a name he will not take very easily," Walberg said.

We read that Captain Sullenberger was the last one off the plane and walked the aisle twice to ensure all were off safely before leaving himself. 155 out of 155 are alive and well due to his skillful and heroic actions... not a bad day's work.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Empire or Not

 write in response to Jim Mason, et al, who responded to my Dec. 28 letter to the editor.

As usual, most of the people who respond to my letter either in print or on-line refused to deal with the argument I put forward and instead resorted to ad hominem attack. To answer several people who responded on the Daily World Web site, anonymously of course, I served in the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1970.

Mr. Mason writes that my letter was “beyond reason, … hateful, disrespectful rubbish.” Sorry sir, but that is not an argument.

I wrote not to deny any wounded soldier comfort, as Mr. Mason claimed, but out of my concern for all U.S. soldiers overseas and the thousands who will be sent tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow unless we break our love of militarism, our lust for hegemony and our absolute rejection of decency and reality.

I remember when the movie, “Star Wars,” came out how we all rooted for Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leah. They were the “good guys” battling the storm-troopers of the empire. Today, we are the empire and we have turned our young men and women who volunteered for the military into the empire’s storm-troopers. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. We created Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, financed his operations and supplied him with the weapons that he and others now turn against U.S. forces. Iraq did not attack the United States. Saddam was our thug in the 1980s when he waged war against Iran. The people in both those countries who fight to repel the forces that invaded and occupy their countries have the right and the duty, under international law, to do so.

The United States Congress did not declare war as required by the Constitution. Bush lied. Cheney lied. Rice. Powell and Rumsfeld lied. Those men and women who volunteered for the military did not sign up to serve as storm-troopers for the emperor and his minions. In service to the empire our soldiers have slaughtered hundreds of thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan, tortured prisoners in both those countries and elsewhere, and all the while we have turned our gaze away from the brutality that our military wages in our name.

These war crimes have nothing to do with what Mr. Mason and others have called “protecting our freedom.” Quite the contrary, these wars and the actions taken within the United States by our government, Republicans and Democrats, have reduced and endangered our freedoms: Habeas Corpus, gone; the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments shredded; Citizens spied on with impunity.

That sir is not protecting our freedoms. Our descent into empire is destroying our freedoms.

To make all these matters worse, parents in this country are grooming their own children for the slaughter and slaughtering in years to come. Our schools have become testing grounds for hero (certainly an overused word by now) worship. No longer are Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leah, who resisted Darth Vader and the emperor, heroes. Now the imperial storm-troopers themselves are the heroes as they smash and murder their way across the globe — at sea, on the ground and in the air.

Students are encouraged to write happy holiday letters to the “heroes protecting our freedoms.” Recruiters roam the halls of our schools baiting their nets.

Next year and the next and the next, when Clinton or Bush or Obama or whomever calls for more troops in service of the empire, our young people will march off, cheered on by their teachers, recruiters and parents, to kill in undeclared and illegal wars.

I’d like to see those young people educated and productive citizens rather than killed and killing in service to the empire.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Feel like you're being passed by?

Maybe you are...

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Hey, Obama. Where's Howard Dean?

There is a little fuss here and there regarding President-elect Barack Obama's picks for his Cabinet. There have been mumblings about not-enough _____(fill in the blank with under-represented group of choice).

The most visible absence from his cabinet, however, is a representative from a most elite group that played one of, if not the most significant role in his election. That is, a representative from the group of DNC Chairs with the successful 50 State Strategy that made a Democratic candidate viable in former staunch Republican states. That, of course, is a group of one... outgoing DNC Chair, Howard Dean.

Dean was not invited to the announcement of Tim Kaine as his successor. He has not been offered a Cabinet position in the new administration. Obama has overtly snubbed Howard Dean for some unknown reason.

If anyone deserves the reward of a position in the Obama Cabinet, it is Howard Dean. What gives, President-elect Obama? Why?

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Get Ready for Senator Coleman!

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid stated unequivocably that Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate". Given his past record of saying one thing only to see a substantially different outcome ("Roland Burris will not be sworn in"... "Roland Burris is one of us"... "We will stand up to this President"... "What was it you wanted again, President Bush?"... "We will restore habeas corpus"... "Vote? I never said we'd actually vote. They can filibuster, you know?") and then either do or have another thing happen, we would suggest Al Franken not pack his bags too soon.

From Politico:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered the toughest language he has ever used in arguing that Norm Coleman’s career in the Senate is finished.

“Norm Coleman will never ever serve [again] in the Senate,” Reid told Politico’s Manu Raju. “He lost the election. He can stall things, but he'll never serve in the Senate.”

Al Franken was declared the winner today by the state’s Canvassing Board in the closely-contested Minnesota Senate race, defeating Sen. Norm Coleman by 225 votes. Coleman’s campaign has said it is contesting the result, preventing Franken from receiving an election certificate until all the legal challenges are resolved.

Reid added that he will not be trying to seat Franken in the Senate on Tuesday. When asked if Franken would be sworn in tomorrow, Reid said: "No."

In his victory statement today, Franken said he was “ready to go to Washington and get to work just as soon as possible.” But a Franken campaign spokesman said he has not yet made plans to travel to Washington.

Senate Republican leadership has threatened to filibuster any attempt to seat Franken before his victory is officially certified.

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Interesting Times

Three Ex-Presidents, One President-Elect, and the current office occupier on January 7th, 2008.

It cannot become 4 Ex-Presidents too soon.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

“In all the locations,” one blogger from Gaza wrote, “people are going through the dead, terrified of recognizing a family member among them.  The streets are strewn with their bodies, their arms, legs, feet, some with shoes and some without. . . .  Some of the dead are still lying in the streets with their families gathered around them, kissing their faces, holding on to them.  Outside the destroyed buildings,” the writer said, “old men are kneeling on the ground, weeping.”


So what, I’ve heard commentators, politicians from both parties, the president and the secretary of state say on television in the last few days.  They deserve it.  They brought it on themselves. So what if there are dead children in the streets, struck down on their way to or from school.  “Our self-righteous celebration of ourselves and our supposed virtue is as false as that of Israel,” wrote former New York Times Mideast correspondent, Chris Hedges.  “We have become monsters, militarized bullies, heartless and savage.  We are a party to human slaughter, a flagrant war crime, and do nothing.”


I’ve walked those streets, slept in those houses, wept with the people living in Gaza City, and those close-packed refugee camps,  Jabalia, and Rafa, some of the most crowded places on earth.  Every time I see a bomb go off in the last murderous weeks I wonder if Abu Musa and his children are ok.  His oldest sons would be about 23 or 24 now, twenty years after I met them.  I ate lunch under a tent at what used to be their house, used to be until the Israelis bulldozed it down.  I wonder if Mohammad and Mary have been bombed to death.  I lived on the second floor of their house for two weeks, a gorgeous house overlooking the Mediterranian. 

“Privilege and power,” Hedges wrote, especially military power, is a dangerous narcotic.  Violence destroys those who bear the brunt of its force, but also those who try to use it to become gods.”  The Israelis are using our weapons - - our jets, our ammunition, our military aid to slaughter Palestinians in what Israel’s defense minister called Israel’s “war to the bitter end.”  War?  As Hedges reminds us, “Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely crowded refugee camps and slums, to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command and control, no army, and calls it a war.  It is not a war.  It is murder.”


The U. N special rapporteur for human rights in Occupied Palestine, Princeton University law professor emeritus Richard Falk, has said that “the Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneve Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”  In short, Israel and “countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly,” including the United States, which supplies Israel with warplanes and missiles used in the illegal attacks, are complicit in war crimes.


“A sunny Saturday in Gaza became very dark as pillars of smoke blacked out the sky of the coastal territory, while the smell of blood was everywhere,” the blogger wrote on Saturday December 27th, . . . But it is the [Gaza] prisoners’ burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration.”


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Do we live in a nation of laws?  Do the laws of the United States apply to those both high and low, members of congress, president and citizen? Or is our form of government hypocrisy rather than democracy? 

In 1994 congress passed a law that allows authorities to charge citizens with atrocities committed abroad - - to prosecute citizens for acts of torture committed in foreign lands.  In a rare instance of the use of that law, a jury in Miami recently convicted Roy M. Belfast Jr., also known as Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, of violating that law by committing torture in the cause of his father’s murderous regime in Liberia.  


Now that we know about the law, and now that the law has been used so recently on a citizen, will the law also apply to those in positions of power?


It is well documented, and the whole world knows, that the United States has been torturing captives all over the world.  You need only call up the image of that Iraqi man, standing on a box, with a hood over his head and electric wires hanging from his body.  The whole world has seen that image.  A new torture report, just released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, has shown, conclusively, that the sickening campaign of torture waged by the US military and the CIA had its origins in the White House.  Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, and a host of other administration officials, acting on Bush’s executive order of 7 February 2002, initiated an official policy of state torture.  In our name.  Rampant, brutal, lawlessness! That fills me with outrage.  IN OUR NAME!!!  Have we, as Joseph Welch said over fifty years ago to Senator Joseph McCarthy, have we, at long last, no sense of shame?


“It has become conventional wisdom,” Dave Lindorff has written, “that Barack “no Drama” Obama will not seek or even allow any prosecution of Bush administration officials for crimes committed over the past eight years, no even for authorizing and promoting the illegal use of torture on captives of America’s wars.”  It would be, said a New York Times editorial, doubtful that Obama “will take such a politically fraught step.”  I think Obama needs to be reminded that, as Lindorff points out, “failure to prosecute torture violations is itself a war crime - - making Obama himself potentially culpable should he fail to act.”


Obama has sadly disappointed many of his supporters with his appointments so far, including the prominent place the bigoted Rick Warren will have at the inauguration.  The Democratic Congress too pulled a bait-and-switch on us after the 2006 election - - anyone remember the promise to end the Iraq occupation?  Anyone recall the failure to impeach Bush and Cheney?  We can’t count on Congress or Obama to restore the rule of law.    

Richard Nixon told David Frost that when presidents do “it,” it’s not against the law.  Dick Cheney said basically the same thing a couple weeks ago in an interview with Fox news as he admitted authorizing torture.  Are they right?  We used to think no one was above the law.  We used to think that the laws applied to all.  We must demand that the crimes of the last eight years do not go unpunished, that Bush and Cheney and all the other despicable criminals who have been in charge of this country for the last eight years find themselves in the dock wondering for whom the bell tolls.  It tolls for you George and Dick.  


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