Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Blog Day 2006!

Okay, I only just found out it was Blog Day a few minutes ago, but I'm going to participate anyway. Here are the instructions for participating:
1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting

2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending on them on BlogDay 2005

3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a a link to the recommended Blogs

4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and

5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link: BlogDay2006 and a link to BlogDay web site at
So, since I haven't had much time to think about it, here quite quickly are five blogs I've been enjoying recently:

1 - New York Nitty-Gritty is a photo-blog from, duh, New York. Great pictures that prove the point about being worth a thousand words. I've never not liked a posting.

2 - The Martian Anthropologist is frequently interesting and always well written. Check out his comments on Islam and rape for something controversial.

3 - Islamic Facts will give you a different perspective. Check out his comments on the Jesus of the Bible v. the Jesus of the Qur'an (and part two).

4 - jspot (from Jews for Justice) rounds out this little sharing of religious viewpoints, and is the one with which I'm usually most in alignment (Progressive politics informed by Jewish ideals).

5 - Slabtown Chronicle finishes my list off with something completely different than the others; a true crime blog concerning Portland, Oregon's murder history (disclosure: this blog is written by a very good, old friend of mine, J.D. Chandler).

(And, I suppose, it's only fair to point out the blog where I learned about Blog Day 2006: Nonprofit Online News from Michael Gilbert.)

I hope you enjoy reading these other blogs. I know that once I click "Publish" I'll think of ten more blogs that I read and enjoy, but this is the first five off the top of my head.

Happy Blog Day!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"They're tryin' to wash us away"

This week, as we observe the first anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, I'm filled with a variety of feelings and emotions from anger to resolve to depression to strength.

There have been, and will continue to be, many tributes in the various media. Probably the best I've seen so far was on NBC the other night. Brian Williams shared his personal experience of having spent several days in the Super Dome. There was some video that we'd seen, but more that had not been previously on network TV, and follow-up interviews with several of the survivors they'd taped in those first five days.

What I found most powerful about the Brian Williams tribute was that he did not hesitate to express exactly how he felt about the government's response - or lack of it. Williams is an excellent journalist, and knows that the journalist is not supposed to be the focus of the story, and he knows not to mix editorial with news - but he also knows when and how to bend those rules.

Katrina was a natural disaster, but it was a man-made disaster as well. From the neglect of the levees beforehand (money earmarked for repairs and reinforcement was diverted to "more pressing" homeland security issues), to the snail's pace of the response following Katrina, there is a lesson here we should all pay attention to.

My personal experience of natural disasters (being in Santa Cruz during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake) was bad enough. Thanks to Katrina, I now know that when "the big one" hits I should not be expecting any assistance in the early weeks.

But I didn't want to get off on a political tangent today. I just wanted to share the video above - a moving and powerful montage of Katrina scenes from New Orleans, set to the Aaron Neville recording of Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Round Seven

Welcome to Round Seven of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy Jonathan Richards at Survival Acres starts us off this week with the terrifying 2nd American Holocaust - His opening statement, that there "is a distinct possibility, according to some researchers, that North America will undergo a massive purging of 'undesirables'. In some respects, this is already underway..." may be shocking, but read on. This well-documented essay on the abuse of power by the Bush administration builds to the frightening conclusion that we may have already seen the end of democracy in the U.S.A.

Hell's Handmaiden gets our attention with the provocative title Homosexuals and Child Rape? - Of course, the post is not about sex, but about the erosion of civil rights based on group membership. Many fundamentalists fight against same-sex marriage because they believe that homosexuals are more prone to be pedophiles (an unproven and ridiculous claim). Following that chain of logic (punishing all members of a class for the perceived wrongs of a few) he winds up asking, "If most white-collar crime is committed by white men, do we pass laws to pre-emptively prevent such behavior- for example, by making it illegal to hire white men for accounting or management positions?" Absurd, yes - but just as absurd as banning gay marriage.

Rennypolis gives us this post about What Does Defense Spending Mean for Democracy? - President Eisenhower's warning about the growing power of the military-industrial complex has been ignored, and we must now deal with the consequences. "Historically, the larger and more complex the military apparatus becomes, the more hierarchical the state's political organization becomes - usually as a means of extracting more resources to pay for the military. Most of these influences will result in greater hierarchical organization of the central government, meaning that there will be a growing amount of actions taken by the government with less input from its citizens."

Abu Sahajj of the Wa Salaam blog gives us a unique perspective on the Arab Criticism of Democracy - Basically, the argument runs that the U.S. may act democratically within our own borders (barely), but does not uphold those values on the international stage. Therefore, these leaders say, democracy is a scam and all governments are basically authoritarian. An interesting argument, but Abu thinks we can give a better example of democracy by working towards a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mike Wallach of Divided We Stand explains Why You Should Vote Like Me -or- I can't get no satisfaction - This post - in fact, his whole blog - is an argument for divided government. Mike's basic political tenets are that "single party control always results in fiscal irresponsibility" and that limited government is best. He explains his arguments and then tell us how we, too, can become "Dividocrats."

The final carnival entry of the day is not to a particular blog post, but to an entire web site called the Subversion of Democracy (dot org) - "We are calling for statements, evidence, analysis, and the indictment of the present administration on both domestic and international grounds. We are asking all candidates for public office to declare where they stand on the most fundamental of national issues: the corruption of politics, the abuse of power, the threat to democracy."

I receive many more entries each two weeks than I care to put in one carnival posting. I thank all who did submit, whether or not I used your post.

Thank you for joining us on our bi-weekly look at the decline of democracy (and occasionally hopeful responses to it). The next edition of the Carnival will be posted on Monday, September 11th, with entries requested by Saturday, September 9, at midnight.

Yeah, that's right. The next edition will be posted on the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. If you can work that into your post, that could be very interesting.

Submit your blog post for the next edition of the carnival of the decline of democracy using our carnival submission form. More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Serious Content Returns Tomorrow

Tomorrow I'll be posting the next installment of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy. Till then, I'm taking the weekend off from serious thought.

Yesterday we saw Little Miss Sunshine - A wonderfully subversive little movie, and very funny.

And then there was the songwriting contest... My brother and his kids (my nephews) and I challenged each other to write a song about the hybrid-powered Toyota Prius. Last night we debuted our songs and chose the winners.

I had two entries. This one, Rolling By, is my semi-serious song about hybrids. It's a little long, but I'm very pleased with the lyrics:

This one, The Prius Song, is purely for humor's sake (and under a minute):

Remember; it was about the songs, not the singing, and it was just a fun thing between family members. Don't judge 'em too harshly. If you're really brave, I have a lot more music posted over here...

Thanks for humoring me. Like I said, real content will return to this spot tomorrow.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Word's getting out...

As amazing as it may seem, people are actually responding to the Presidential campaign of Dave Koch and myself. Our bumper stickers are already being spotted around: bumper sticker on Hyundai
Not my car (or Dave's) - Actual photo!

That slogan - "Start Thinking About Tomorrow" - is going to catch on like wildfire!

Meanwhile, other politicians are not fairing so well...

If you search Google for "failure" the first listing is the biography of a once popular elected official. All it takes to make something unexpected rise to the top of a search like that is for enough people to make links like this: failure.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's official: "Politicians will always say stupid things."

In a quick follow-up to my posting the other day about the YouTube-ization of politics, the SF Chronicle had an article this morning about politicians getting caught on candid cameras.

The bottom line, according to political consultant Dan Schnur, is this: "If you don't want to be caught on videotape saying something stupid, don't say stupid things." Far easier said than done for most politicians these days.

Far from the negative view of this phenomenon I reported on earlier, the Chronicle also quotes Steve Scully, political editor for C-SPAN, as saying, "This will be better for the voters and better for democracy. ... It is impossible for the candidate to be scripted all the time. Your personality is going to come through."

C-SPAN, of course, has been airing unedited campaign video for years - but, unfortunately, to a much smaller audience than is apparently watching

Rather than fight the future, Schnur's attitude is just to deal with it: "Politicians will always say stupid things. It's is going to take more than YouTube to fix that."

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hatred and Stupidity Worldwide

Several decades ago, George McGovern remarked that sexism and anti-Woman remarks were the last socially acceptable prejudice in America. Today, however, all forms of prejudice are becoming more common and open, but for "socially acceptable" nothing tops the anti-Muslim movement.

Americans have always had an aversion to people from the Middle East - they're just so ... foreign. It usually lies a bit below the surface, but it doesn't take much to bring it out. In 1979-80 it was the Iranian hostage situation and Ayatollah hatred. Since 9/11 and the Iraq war anti-Arab and anti-Muslim feelings are everywhere, unembarrassed, unashamed, and officially sanctioned.

A couple of weeks ago, Raed Jarrar (an anti-war blogger of Jordanian birth, but a U.S. resident) was trying to board a flight from New York to California when he got to experience this trend firsthand. The incident sprang from the t-shirt that Jarrar was wearing: a black T with white lettering that reads in English and in Arabic "We will not be silent."

Security and JetBlue officials asked Jarrar to remove the shirt (his luggage was checked, so he no other shirt to put on) because "other people" were complaining. In the exchange that followed, he asked,
"Isn't this my constitutional right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Arabic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Arabic script?" So inspector Harris answered, "You can't wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads 'I am a robber' and going to a bank."
That the saying was clearly in English as well as Arabic didn't matter. The airport team couldn't guarantee that the Arabic was really the same as the English. Just the presence of Arabic script was enough to mark him as a potential terrorist by both the professional security personnel and the members of the public who initiated the complaint.

After a bit, the JetBlue person offered to buy Jarrar a new t-shirt to cover up the offending one. She asked if he would like an "I heart New York t-shirt?" to which the security person remarked, "No, we shouldn't ask him to go from one extreme to another." Again, the bold assumption that if he speaks Arabic (and refuses to be silent) he must be an extremist who hates New York and America.

He accepted the new t-shirt compromise in order to not miss his flight or be subject to any worse harassment or arrest. As a final insult, his seat assignment was changed from row 3 (which he had reserved online a month previous) to row 24.

Raed Jarrar has experienced this sort of idiocy on all sides of the globe. In the weeks previous to the above incident he was in Jordan and Lebanon visiting refugee camps where he was told to leave because he was an American and responsible for the war. Says Jarrar:
It sucks to be an Arab/Muslim living in the US these days. When you go to the middle east, you are a US tax-payer destroying people's houses with your money, and when you come back to the US, you are a suspected terrorist and plane hijacker.
All Arabs and Muslims (and Sikhs and Persians and...) are made to pay for the crimes of the terrorist few. All Americans are held to answer for the acts of a President that continues to wage a war that 61% of us now oppose. And all Jews are expected to blindly go along with the wars of an Israeli government half a world away that we have no vote or say over.

Yesterday, my wife (Leslie) was caught in the middle of a discussion at work about Israel's latest incursions into Lebanon. One woman started to make negative comments about Israel "bombing everybody," then stopped and said, "I won't say any more because she's one of them."

"One of them?" She's not in the IDF. She's not even an Israeli. Oh, yeah, we're Jewish, so we must be "them." And this woman is a good friend of hers!

People never learn. Like today's final example of racist stupidity. These folks are so dumb they don't even know they're racists or anti-Semites. It's the group in Mumbai, India, who have opened up the Hitler's Cross Restaurant. Featuring posters of the Fuhrer and Nazi flags and colors, the owners see nothing wrong with their theme.
"We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people's minds. ... We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different."
In the way that he was different? So, they want to ruthless killers? They want to inspire people to commit horrendous crimes of hatred? Or do they simply want to be hated and reviled as a symbol of evil themselves? Yeah, I think that will do it.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Democracy? Too much trouble!

"Polarized primary voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics."

"...the less beholden politicians are to grassroots activists, the better they will represent voters as a whole."

"Senior administration officials have acknowledged... that they are considering alternatives other than democracy in Iraq."

These quotes, collected by David Sirota over at Worldwide Sawdust, show politicians of both the Democratic and Republican leadership demonstrating their distaste for democracy. You see, when the people get involved, it just screws things up for them. They're professionals; they've worked things out for us already. No need to get too involved and think for yourself; it just gets messy.

Sirota sees the positive side of these quotes: They're scared of us, and with good reason. Blogs, YouTube, MySpace... these all allow We The People to bypass the middlemen. When politicians speak, the people reply immediately and unedited. When they mis-speak, it gets posted even quicker (who hasn't yet seen George Allen's 'Macaca' video?).

Howard Wolfson, a political consultant, says that YouTube and the like, "create more accountability and more democratization of information in the process." On the other side, there's this:
"Matthew Dowd ... looks at the YouTube-ization of politics, and sees the 'death of spontaneity. It's taken some richness out of the political discourse...There's no, 'Is this the right thing for political discourse?' It's just there.'"
Do you want to decide what issues matter to you, or do you want the professionals to decide? That's really what this about. They like to set the agenda, and when we disagree about the priorities, they get upset.

As Sirota put it, "Pundits and politicians in Washington are publicly telling American voters that we do not matter, and that they believe we should not matter." Let's really make the professional politicians work for their votes... get involved, write letters, write blogs, post videos, share information, and scare the pants off these assholes, left and right.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Chapter 28 - A new suspect even weirder than we expected

"Never trust a man with three names." - Francis Ford Coppola

Last week I almost posted an apology here to the Ramsey family. I've been one to wonder over the past decade if the stories about them being involved in the murder of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey weren't true. Then, a few days ago, came word of a confession... and it wasn't from one of them.

John Mark Karr, a former substitute school teacher who is in Thailand to escape prosecution for a child pornography charge in California, claimed to have "accidentally" killed JonBenet while drugging and raping her. But, the confession doesn't match up with the known facts of the case:
JonBenet's autopsy report found no evidence of drugs, saying her death was caused by strangulation after a beating that included a fractured skull. While it describes vaginal injuries, it makes no conclusions about whether she was raped. Investigators later concluded there was no semen on JonBenet's body. ... Karr said he picked JonBenet up at school and took her to her home. But the slaying occurred during Christmas break. ... Karr's ex-wife, Lara Knutson... insisted he was with her in Alabama that Christmas.
So much for a quick conviction, and so much for letting the Ramseys out of the suspect circle.

About the only thing we know for certain about Karr is that he had a thing for little girls (his first wife was 13 when he married her, the second wife was 16) and is obsessed with JonBenet and her death. Now, it turns out, he wanted to be a little girl himself. He also identifies with accused (but acquitted) child molester Michael Jackson:
"I can understand people like Michael Jackson and feel sympathy when he suffers as he has ... I do think that he is sexually attracted to certain children but could never divulge this."
So, did Karr do it? He's certainly convinced himself that he's to blame (kind of the opposite of O.J.'s self hypnosis?). But, it's looking more and more like he's just a sick puppy who never met the victim and was hundreds (thousands?) of miles away at the time of the crime.

But, at least we all get the benefit of a little media circus, we get to read the lurid details of a 41-year-old man who thinks he's a pre-pubescent girl, and we get to push the more serious issues of war, peace, and democracy off the front page for a few days.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

How to Win in 2008

This is the chilling testimony of Clinton Curtis, a computer programmer explaining how easy it is to rig electronic voting machines. He should know... he's done it. (Long video, but important for every American to see.)

The video comes from the House of Representatives investigation into the 2004 Ohio election, and whether or not any fraud or cheating occurred there.

Do you want to join in the vote rigging fun? Marty Kaplan gives step by step instructions on how to hack Diebold brand voting machines at the Huffington Post.

Scared yet?

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Friday, August 18, 2006

The Mel and Andy Show

I never thought I'd be writing a post with the subjects being Actor/Director Mel Gibson and former U.N. ambassador/Mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young, but here it is. What do these two extremely different gentlemen have in common? A problem with shouting out anti-Semitic remarks that they later [claim to] regret.

By now you've heard (and heard and heard and heard) about Mel Gibson's little drunk driving arrest a few weeks ago, wherein he asked the arresting officer, "Are you a Jew? ... F***ing Jews ... Jews cause all the wars in the world," and other choice comments, including calling a female officer "sugar tits."

Andrew Young's statement just came out in an interview yesterday. In his defense of Wal-Mart (he works for an organization to promote them) he says they are better than the small stores typically found in African-American neighborhoods. Those stores, according to Young, "rip off" urban communities, "selling us stale bread, and bad meat and wilted vegetables." And who owns those stores, Mr. Young? "First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs."

Mel's defense is simply, "Hey, I was drunk. You say stupid things when you're drunk." That's sometimes true... to a degree. Alcohol lowers the inhibitions, and you say things you might normally try to keep inside, or act more belligerent than normal. But alcohol doesn't usually make you say things that you've never even thought before.

Mel may in fact think he's not an anti-Semite. He may honestly believe he's managed to get past his father's well-known anti-Semitism and make peace with the Jewish community. But, somewhere deep inside him, he's still got major problems.

My personal opinion is that as long as he defends his father (a well known Holocaust denier) by saying, "My father never lied to me," he's going to be stuck in this pattern. I'll accept his apology when comes to terms with that.

Andrew Young's defense is, "Hey, I was only telling the truth." And, to an extent, it is the truth. In inner-city neighborhoods, where African Americans have little access to credit, and major grocery store chains refuse to invest, the store owners have typically been other minorities - with slightly better access to capital - who live elsewhere. This has caused tensions between Blacks and these other absentee owners.

The shocking part here that Mr. Young is a brilliant man who could have explained that in a much less offensive manner. The other problem here is that his prescription of Wal-Mart being the answer is just plain wrong. From the JSpot blog:
Wal-Mart... does nothing for the aspiring black small businessman or woman. The profits from Wal-Mart help to enrich a very conservative family which is not known for its alignment with the interests of the black community. The wages at Wal-Mart are not enough to live on. The world's largest employer doesn't provide health insurance to half of its employees. And despite the poor quality of some local grocers, they are both convenient and help keep a neighborhood vibrant. Boarded up shops don't make a community more livable.
Now that Mr. Young has had to resign his position as a spokesperson for Wal-Mart, I wonder if he'll change his tune? As a spokesperson for re-inventing the inner-city neighborhood market as a Black-owned enterprise, he could really do some good.

Want to say stupid racist remarks about Jews or other minorities? As long as you're drunk - or telling the truth - you go right ahead. We're a very forgiving people.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You Are Your Inbox - And You're A Mess!

Do you keep all your emails in the inbox, now numbering in the thousands? Then you're unable to make decisions, afraid to miss opportunities, and unable to say no. Clear out your inbox obsessively, making sure it's empty by the end of each session? Then you're too quick on the draw, compulsive, and unable to enjoy "the richness of life."

According to the experts quoted in Hoarders vs. Deleters: What your inbox says about you, no matter how you manage your email, you are one sick puppy. According to psychologist Dr. Dave Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet Behavior, "inboxes are metaphors for our lives." But it's not necessarily your fault. Dr. Greenfield, in true Freudian fashion, will allow you to blame your mother for your inability to answer and file email in a sane manner.

Not covered in the article are people who would like to keep their inbox clean, but don't understand the technical side of how to set up folders and archives to manage their email. Are they unable to say no, or just unable to find the user manual?

Confession time: I'm a mostly-clean inboxer. I file my emails once I've responded or decided that no response is needed. In my main inbox right now there are nine messages awaiting attention. In my other accounts (gmail, yahoo, etc.) there are probably only one or two messages on average. Not quite obsessive with the cleaning, but not cluttered either. Okay, Doc, does that mean I'm well?

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Round Six

Welcome to Round Six of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy - Blogging 'till the secret police take us away.

Carnival of the Decline of DemocracyJames Allen starts us off this week with Freedom of Speech? Not in Modern America. "I know this is sort of old news, but it deserves to be brought up again," James writes. In a practice that began before the 2004 election campaign, and continues today, audiences at Bush's public appearances are cleansed of anybody wearing anti-war or pro-Democrat shirts, buttons, etc., with some people simply being asked to leave, and some actually being arrested. James just wants "someone in Washington to stand up for the law and not themselves." Not a bad idea.

"The decision was born of pure ideology. It is the ideology of control, of power, of oligarchy. It is an ideology that spits on freedom, that pisses on the graves of those who built this nation and upon those, living or dead, who've fought and died for it." What is Hell's Handmaiden talking about? Why it's Pure Idealism... and Domestic Spying. As reported here (and elsewhere) the administration's plan to spy on U.S. citizens went into play seven months before 9/11 - the supposed "justification." If it wasn't reaction to terrorism that led to that anti-democratic decision, what was it? Ideology.

News of the Future (courtesy of Avant News writer Ion Zwitter): Social Networking Site to Replace Traditional Voting in 2008 Elections. This week's parody entry explains how and why could be a logical replacement for other voting methods. Frankly, it doesn't seem like that bad an idea...

If you've had enough of all these attacks on your freedom and your democracy, maybe you're ready to start doing something about it. David - A.K.A. "the Good Human" - gives us Book Review - Crashing the Gate. "This book might help to encourage some readers that the people can make a difference, even if we don't trust the politicians..." The book, by popular bloggers Jerome Armstrong ( and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (, is a how-to guide for grassroots, progressive activism.

Wrapping up the week's posts is Ashok posting on The Unity of Justice and Fraternity: On Lincoln's "Second Inaugural". In his usual style, Ashok examines Lincoln's address in the context of the decisions to be made and finds some interesting lessons for today's leaders. At the time of the address the Civil War was all but done with and the nation had to face the question of how to heal. How do you bring Southerners back into the Union, but still make clear that it was the evil of slavery that brought the nation to war? This was Lincoln's response.

Thank you for joining us on our bi-weekly look at the decline of democracy (and occasionally hopeful responses to it). The next edition of the Carnival will be posted on Monday, August 28th, with entries requested by Saturday, August 26th, at midnight.

Submit your blog post for the next edition of the carnival of the decline of democracy using our carnival submission form. More information on future carnivals can be found on our carnival home page.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Jewish Dissenters Speak Out Against Lebanon War

The following is a "Letter to the Editor" I sent to the San Jose Mercury News today:

I thank you for printing the Op-Ed by Henri Picciotto (It's time for Jewish dissenters to challenge Israeli policies, 8/11/06). While I may not agree with every point made by Mr. Picciotto, it is important that Jews and non-Jews alike realize that one can question Israeli policy without being anti-Israel, or anti-Semitic, and that not all Jews (or Israelis) are supporters of the war machine.

Just as my disapproval of the Iraq war doesn't diminish my love of this country, my disapproval of the Lebanon war doesn't mean I no longer support the right of Israel to exist. It is precisely because I care for the long-term survival of Israel as a Jewish homeland that I protest actions that will virtually guarantee another generation of terrorists. I see no contradiction in considering myself an anti-war Zionist.

While it is a fact that some of the current backlash against Israel is being led by those who have never been friends of the Jewish people, and who wish us ill, there is also a strong and growing voice against the war that comes from a place of love for Israel.

I think most Mercury News readers are intelligent enough to sort out which writers are simply anti-war and which are anti-Semitic, and I thank you for printing dissenting opinions.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

More Independent Candidate News

Following up on yesterday's post about Joe Lieberman's new rebirth as an Independent candidate for Senate, here's news of a new Independent entry into the 2006 race for California governor. Porn star Mary Carey has officially launched her second bid for the office.

Having failed to secure the 164,000 petition signatures needed for ballot listing (she only missed it by 163,960), she'll be a write-in candidate, but she still feels she has a chance by concentrating her campaign on getting votes of horny college age men and using the slogan "Finally, a politician you want to be screwed by."
"I've actually been sober for five days now," she said, adding that she intended to give up alcohol until election day in November to focus her energies on the campaign.

Carey's platform includes getting the FBI to "leave porn stars alone" and concentrate on the war with Iraq and said that if elected she, like Schwarzenegger, would put her film career on hold while she served as governor.

"Although my movies only take a day or two to shoot, so I could probably do them on weekends," she said.
I could make some rude remarks about Carey's lack of any idea of what the Governor does (really, the FBI and Iraq are Federal issues, not state), but I won't. The sad part is, she might be a better choice than either Schwarzenegger or Angelides.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Real Independents Vs. Sour Grapes Independents

In a dramatic bout of Orwellian logic, Joe Lieberman has begun his Independent campaign for re-election "to save the Democratic party." As an independent voter and candidate myself, I am rarely one to discourage Independent campaigns. But...

Lieberman has on many issues - not all, but many - separated himself from the Democratic Party. That's fine. That's democracy. I respect a man who votes his principals over party line ideology, even when I disagree with his choices. There's little doubt that he is, and has been for a while, an Independent.

It's just my feeling, however, that you should conduct a campaign the way you begin it. He began by asking for the Democratic Party nomination. He began by asking "what do Democratic voters want?" Now that the Democratic Party voters have spoken and nominated somebody else, he declares he's an Independent.

Had Lieberman run as an Independent from day one, I'd respect him and his choices (even while disagreeing with his war votes, etc.). But to run as an Independent now is nothing more than sour grapes, and fairly obviously stinkingly sour grapes at that.

Joe, listen, it's not your Senate seat; it's the people's. The people have spoken. Thank you for your dedicated service to your state and your country. Next!

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

War is Over If You Want It

No, not that war. I mean the war on drugs. There are some, it seems, who feel that we've won the war on drugs. Yipee! Let's release all the prisoners of that war and have a big Welcome Home Parade!

What happened was that seven former Drug Czars from the past 35 years got together for a little meeting to discuss what has and has not happened since Nixon declared this war in 1971. The attendees came from all political backgrounds, parties, and viewpoints. It was at this meeting that they supposedly decided the war had been won.

Writing in the Columbus Dispatch, John Burnham says:
The czars' straightforward conclusion may come as a shock, but, as they outlined what the war was about, what they had to say made a lot of sense.

Thirty-five years ago, the big worry was the veterans who were returning from Vietnam who had been using illegal drugs. And the drug causing overwhelming concern was heroin. A hard-headed public-health approach showed an alarming number of deaths directly related to heroin, not to mention crimes committed by addicts. As the veterans showed that their use did not continue after their return to the United States, and as methadone-maintenance programs came into place, along with enforcement and education, heroin use declined, and even more dramatic was the decline in heroin-related deaths. This was the great victory of the war on drugs. A recent small uptick in illegal drug use is remarkably insignificant compared with the original problem.
The only problem with that analysis is that the seven former drug czars in attendance don't agree with it. "I do not recall anyone, especially me, reaching the conclusion that we have won the war on drugs," said Clinton drug czar Lee Brown.

According to Maia Szalavitz, a senior fellow at the media watchdog STATS,
"If you're going to declare victory, shouldn't drug trends show some relationship to your efforts? Drug-war spending has increased every single year -- but drug use trends have waxed and waned with little connection to this."
I have to agree. As a "war" we've won few battles and gained little territory against the use of illegal drugs. So maybe we can't really declare "victory." But how about a ceasefire? Maybe a truce of some sort that would give us time to develop rational policies, including addiction treatment and selective de-criminalization.

Or we can continue to spend billions of dollars on a war that's mostly fought against our own citizens with no hope of winning.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Nonprofit Times Honors Hate Monger

Each year the Nonprofit Times, a trade publication for those of us in the public benefit sector, releases its "Power and Influence Top 50" - The 2006 honor roll was released this week, and I am shocked and insulted by one of the additions to this year's list.

The honoree I refer to is Dr. James Dobson, founder and chair of Focus on the Family. About Dr. Dobson, the NP Times says:
"Nobody is better at dancing along the tightrope of 501(c)(3) status and the political process than Dr. Dobson. What he and the organization do is closely watched for guidance by other evangelical organizations and by federal regulators."
For this he receives honors? The "leading business publication for nonprofit management" adds somebody to their list of 50 top leaders for bending the rules regarding lobbying by nonprofits in order to spread hate?

Yes, I do not feel the need to be gentle with this issue. Dr. Dobson certainly doesn't hold his tongue when discussing people he doesn't care for. Take this excerpt from his June 2006 newsletter:
"This effort represented an audacious attempt to reshape the beliefs and attitudes of an entire generation, beginning with the youngest and most vulnerable. In so doing, they hoped to undermine the Judeo-Christian system of values in two or three decades and open the door to radical ways of thinking and behaving. It was a brilliant plan, hatched in Satan's own lair.

"Not since Adolf Hitler prepared a generation of German and Austrian youth for war has so grand a strategy been attempted. Kids were then, and still are today, sitting ducks for those who would subject them to carefully designed propaganda."
What grand evil is Dr. Dobson talking about here? Who are the sinister people that are as bad as Hitler and Satan and who are after our children? Homosexuals, of course. Let Dr. Dobson continue:
"The campaign to isolate children from their parents and to indoctrinate them with humanistic ideas is being waged primarily in the public schools. That is where eventual victory or defeat will occur. At this moment, the traditionalists are being mauled. Gay and lesbian leaders have [even] begun a campaign to have topics of concern to homosexuals included in textbooks used in California schools."
I want to be careful to stay on topic here. This is not where I want to debate the merits of acknowledging the historical contributions of gays and lesbians (and whether or not that constitutes "propaganda"). What I wanted to write about today were the merits (or lack thereof) of honoring a hate monger on a list of nonprofit leaders.

Whatever you may think of gay rights, comparing individuals to Satan and Adolph Hitler is deliberately hateful speech. For Dr. Dobson, it is not enough to simply discuss the merits of certain public policy. He must make his adversary something evil, something to be feared, and something to hate. That is his point in making these statements.

Dr. Dobson does not belong on the NPT Power 50. His appointment to the list has made a mockery of the list, and of the Nonprofit Times.

(Cross-posted on the Nonprofit Consultant Blog and Random Thoughts, Notes, & Incidents

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Toto, Something Tells Me We're Still in Kansas

J.R. and Robin Knight left California for Meade, Kansas to make their dream come true of owning and running a hotel and restaurant. All was going well until their 12-year-old son returned from Dorothy's house - a museum about the Wizard of Oz - with a rainbow flag souvenir, which J.R. and Robin hung outside their business.

The local newspaper outed the Knights by running an article about the flag (which is often used as a gay rights symbol, as well as a friendship flag) without even bothering to call the Knights and enquire about what it means to them. Since then, the town has been outraged: locals no longer visit their restaurant, the radio station threatened to pull his ads if the flag were not removed, and the pastor stopped by to explain how offensive the rainbow flag is.

According to local Keith Klassen, the rainbow flag is an insult to this good, conservative, American community
"To me it's just like running up a Nazi flag in a Jewish neighborhood. I can't walk into that establishment with that flag flying because to me that's saying that I support what the flag stands for and I don't."
Say what? Supporting equal rights is equivalent to supporting fascism? Which side of that equation does Klassen not understand?

Isn't standing up for the oppressed minority (and don't even try to tell me that gays are not oppressed in Meade, Kansas) more akin to flying a flag with a Jewish symbol in a Nazi neighborhood?

The Knights hung the flag because their son gave it to them as a symbol of friendship. It was not meant to be a political statement. But they are not backing away, now that it has become one. Says Knight:
"Any gay or lesbian people that do stop by will be treated with the best service I can give ... When this rainbow flag shreds, I will buy another one, and another one, and another one - just like my American flag, I'll buy another one."
If I'm ever in Meade, Kansas, I'll be staying with Knights, eating in their restaurant, and showing my support.

Source: Rainbow flag creates controversy

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

On Patriotism, Zionism, and War

A few days ago I was bemoaning the observation that nobody could discuss the current situation in Lebanon without turning it into either a blanket defense of Israel, regardless of what she does, or an outright bashing of "the Zionist menace," without any care for the destruction caused by Hezbollah (see my post of July 27).

Yesterday, I saw a couple of things that made me feel better about the ability of people to talk reasonably and constructively about this topic online. The first was a post on the "Bring it On!" blog: No Side Worth Taking - and the other was an article on Pro-Israel And Pro-Lebanon.

Each managed to put Israel's current incursion in Lebanon into some perspective that acknowledges Israel's right to exist, their right to self-defense, and that Hezbollah is essentially a terrorist organization. They also each point out the sad fact that despite all of this, the invasion of Lebanon is an error of immense proportions.

This is a move that will guarantee another decade of suicide bombers - to say the least. That is not to say that I condone the suicide bombers - HELL NO - but it is to say that I understand a bit about history and can see that this will provide no end to willing recruits for Hezbollah and other terrorist, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic organizations.

There are many who are asking, How can you defend Israel at all? These days it's not easy. But, to me, it's like defending the United States. Regardless of what Bush does, or the war crimes committed on our behalf in Iraq, none of that destroys my love of my country. Despite the facts behind how Europeans colonized North America, and the genocides they committed in conquering it, I still find reasons to be proud of the nation they built here.

I am proud of the Declaration of Independence. I am proud of our Constitution. I am proud of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. I have stood with tears in my eyes on the battlefields of Lexington and Concord and at the Smithsonian Institute gazing on the Star Spangled Banner that once flew over Fort McHenry. Whatever evil the current government may be perpetrating, this is my country, I love it and I defend it to the end.

Israel, too, makes me proud. Proud as a Jew, yes, but also proud as a citizen of a democracy and the modern world. They have faced great odds, been attacked from all sides, and made the desert bloom.

Just as Bush is a temporary phase my country must get through, so is the current Israeli administration just a blip on the historical radar. The United States and Israel both will survive. It is up to the citizens of each to make sure that they do, and that they continue to give us reasons to be proud. I'm not ready to give up on either country.

It seems that the resistance to the war in Lebanon is already gaining steam in Israel - As I wrote this posting the news came across that the first Israeli was jailed for refusing to fight in Lebanon. Consider today's blogging dedicated to Amir Paster.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, Zionism is
an international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel.
So, yes, I'm a patriot, and yes, I'm a Zionist. U.S. out of Iraq - Israel out of Lebanon - Freedom and democracy for us all.

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