"Clinton advised gay people to come out: "Just keep telling your stories." He changed the environment in which we live, by responding emotionally and symbolically. When Matthew Shepard was murdered, for example, Bill Clinton treated it as if it were an important event. He mourned. This was the first time in my memory that a hate crime against a homosexual received respectful national attention.
"What Clinton did was so powerful that the right, always alert to the emotional impact of symbols, has latched onto Matthew Shepard for its own purposes. In a little-noted but extremely frightening gesture, George Bush made October 12 National Defense of Marriage Day. It just so happens that October 12 is the date of Matthew Shepard's death. This is one of those coded messages George Bush is always sending to his base - and what an unintentionally apt description that is in this case. "
(Click to enlarge - taken today by Slugbug at Seattle Labor Temple - see http://www.downingstreet.org, http://www.democracycellproject.net, http://www.backbonecampaign.net for companion story)
I'll also reprint it here.
Jim McDermott: Seattle Labor Temple
I was unable to blog directly from the Labor Temple but kept my eyes and ears open & rushed home via the first bus possible, to upload my photos & get on-line! (I'll also be posting at http://www.democracycellproject.net, http://www.backbonecampaign.org & http://www.silencedmajority.blogs.com)
I had always intended to read the Downing Street Memo in full but hadn't completed the task, so the skit - sponsored by the Backbone Campaign - was stunning in its overt plotting behind the backs of the British & American people. The readers wore the costumes and nametags of Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon and other British dignitaries/neocons & Tony Blair was played by a puppet that looked like something between a poodle and a lamb.
I was sitting in the front row between a guy from Vets for Peace/ Washington Truth in Recruiting & a guy who was scaring the heck out of me with conspiracy theoriees. To my left, really close up, was the familiar face of Congressman Jim McDermott. He's familiar because he's from my district, he was in Fahrenheit 9/11, I've voted for him many times, & I was not surprised to see that he was reading the New York Times.
Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign introduced Jim and mentioned that he was the first recipient of the Backbone Award (there are also Spinless Awards). When Jim accepted the invitation, he didn't check with his scheduling people - he just said yes, he'd be glad to speak.
When Congressman McDermott was going to return to Iraq on a fact-finding mission (he had been there multiple times before, investigating depleted uranium effects after the lst Gulf War), he first met in Washington DC with the Ambassador to Iraq. He was told that even if Saddam let the weapons inspectors back in, it was expected that Bush would go into Iraq regardless. This was in September of 2002. The war started in March of 2003. Now the Downing Street Memo proves that what McDermott heard was true.
At that time, in September of 2002, Jim decided to call a press conference to let it be known that the President would mislead us into war. A month later, Jim went to Iraq and was asked by George Stephanopolous whether he still believed this. He said yes, knowing full well that if he didn't,
they'd pull out his statement from a month before. This unleashed an assault from the rightwing press such as FOX and Limbaugh and earned him the moniker "Bagdad Jim."
Yet he points out that if the American people had really known and absorbed the truth, we would never have gone to war! Absolute untruths were first told on the floor of the House, then by the President to the people in the form of the State of the Union Address.
Thanks to Ambassador Joe Wilson's piece in the New York Times, the truth was told about the Niger/uranium claim. This unleashed another full-scale assault, this time on both Wilson and his wife.
Recently, Jim sat with retired CIA officers who are very unhappy about the fact that an officer's identity has been "outed" and that the President won't protect agents. This creates a dire emergency and lowers morale. On top of that, there is the matter of Rove, who if "convicted" will probably lose his position rather than going to prison like anyone else would. Jim believes that Judith Miller is probably sitting in prison because she is protecting someone.
Then there is the matter of the Vets. Did the government ever think ahead when rushing to war? & what about the 25,000+ Iraqis killed? The administration now admits we may be in Iraq for 12 years or more. "America is not safer. The Republicans refuse to admit it."
Jim then produced his folder copy of the New York Times and reminded us that today, "everything above the fold is about terrorism" and that more terrorism was unleashed by starting this war. As we know, the American military has the power to bomb but what do they do once the bombing stops? We seem to have turned Iraq into another training ground, like Afghanistan was. This is a democracy?!
Almost half of the Iraqi Parliament signed a letter asking us to end the Occupation, much as in our country, Congressman Conyers did something similar. The US government says we can't leave til they ask us to leave, but then when they do, we can't explain how we will leave or why we are building
four full military bases there.
There will be an "Out of Iraq Caucus" with as many as 60 members, probably having a hearing in September. The focus will be ways to extricate ourselves from Iraq, which we need a plan to do. Of course it can't be sudden, with so many there. Jim also informed us that yesterday there was an amendment to a bill in Congress which gives us more of a "blank check" for staying in Iraq.
He compared it to the old West, where we had forts all over the Indian territory, only now it's throughout the middle east. He reminded us that Vietnam War was stopped because of people power, and that democracy, as Churchill said, is not an orderly form of government. We need to organize, to support Barbara Lee's letter of Inquiry which is the first step. We need information and we need a very good case, for cleaning up the mess in Washington.
Bush Administration Files 11th Hour Papers Blocking the Release of Darby CD Photos and Video Of Abu Graib
On July 22, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) denounced the latest efforts of the Bush Administration to block the release of the Darby photos and videos depicting torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison facility. On June 2, 2004, CCR, along with the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace filed papers with the U.S. District Court, charging the Department of Defense and other government agencies with illegally withholding records concerning the abuse of detainees in American military custody. Since then, the organizations have been repeatedly rebuffed in their efforts to investigate what happened at the prison.
DISCRIPTION AND STATUS
In June, the government requested and received an extension from the judge stating that they needed time in order to redact the faces of the men, women and children believed to be shown in the photographs and videos. They were given until today to produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they are now requesting a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. Today's move is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to keep the images from being made public and to cover up the torture of detainees in U.S. custody around the world.
Joseph Darby was the U.S reservist who turned over the photos and videos to U.S. Army officials and touched off the Abu Ghraib scandal in April 2004.
This is absolutely unacceptable,â€ù stated Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights. â€œWe can not move forward from this scandal until we have a full public accounting and independent investigation into what happened at Abu Ghraib. The government cannot continue to hide evidence of torture. The time to release these photos and videos was a long time ago.
Expectations are that the FOIA request will release more than 100 photos and 4 videos, all believed to document deplorable human rights violations by U.S. military personnel against Iraqi civilians.
Barbara Olshansky, Deputy Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, â€œThe public must be informed of what is being done in our name. It is this Administration that has put our troops at risk and caused world-wide anger by fostering policies that promote torture and refusing to hold those responsible publicly accountable.â€ù
The Center for Constitutional Rights once more calls for a complete, transparent independent investigation into the torture and abuse of detainees that goes all the way up the chain of command and demands that the Administration apply the Geneva Conventions to every detainee being held in U.S. custody around the world.
This is part of the request under the Freedom of Information Act filed by the the Center for Constitutional Rights, the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The FOIA lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C.
Watch for Live Blogging from Seattle Labor Temple re Downing Street Memo - Congressman McDermott & Congreeman Inslee will be there. See also Backbone Campaign, Democracy Cell Project, After Downing Street blogs - links will be provided.
A liberal ‘apologizes’
I — and my other second-rate colleagues on the faculty of University of Maryland University College — would like to apologize to the author of “Leftist ideas rule academia” (letter, July 2) for our spreading of liberal doctrine in our classrooms.
We have been unbelievably inconsiderate in failing to take into consideration the havoc that having to consider alternative points of view creates in the conservative mind. Accordingly, these changes to the UMUC curriculum will be made:
As an English teacher, I take responsibility for promoting what we liberals smugly refer to as “literature,” with its tendency toward asking questions rather than supplying answers. To accommodate conservatives, questions will be mostly eliminated. Hamlet’s “To be or not to be, that is the question” will now be taught as “To be. Yep, that’s the answer.” Trashy liberal novels such as “Huckleberry Finn” will be replaced by “Aesop’s Fables” and “The Collected Writings of Bill O’Reilly.”
History. At no time will America be shown to have done anything morally questionable at any place or under any circumstances. Slavery never happened; or if it did, it was invented by the French.
Geography. Maps will show only the United States and those countries currently supporting us, such as Great Britain and Guam.
The sciences. As every good conservative knows, the universe was created on April 23, 6004 B.C. at 9:23 a.m. Central Standard Time by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. Everything was perfectly constructed and therefore there is no need for the liberal concept of “evilution.” Other liberal notions to be removed from the classroom will include gravity, the heliocentric solar system (the absurd idea that the Earth goes around the sun — a heresy for which liberal propagandists Galileo and Copernicus were rightly condemned), and the concept of the “round Earth.”
We hope this clears everything up, and, again, we’re really sorry for confusing everybody.
Harrogate, United Kingdom
Original letter below:
Leftist ideas rule academia
Kudos to the writer of the June 21 letter “Speech was anti-American” with its denunciation of the graduation speech by German professor Detlef Junker and all things leftist in Europe and academia. I taught courses at the University of Maryland 30 years ago while assigned to U.S. Army Europe. Then, as now, it was a second-rate academic institution, just as Europe is a second-rate, has-been world power.
Why do left-wing academics parade their failed ideas as “free speech”? Try to defend God, marriage, the Constitution, or any conservative value in academia and you will be shouted down. I resigned my commission and joined the Army National Guard after retiring from a career in finance. However, my first retirement job was an economics professor, where I found that there is no academic freedom — nor is there free speech — for conservatives in American academia.
Staff Sgt. Stephen D. Wilson
Camp Doha, Kuwait
(Submitted by Slugbug, received from Hal in Heidelberg, US Army Hospital - from "Stars & Stripes."
CLICK TO ENLARGE AND VIEW IMAGE
My friend Chris studied astronomy and tends to be philosophical. He often compares us to the Romans, or the Germans in 1936, and says "This is the price of living in interesting times."
In a speech in Cape Town, South Africa, on 7 June, 1966, Robert F Kennedy said:
There is a Chinese curse which says, 'May he live in interesting times'. Like it or not, we live in interesting times...
Journalists endorsed the phrase and it has become well known. While widely reported as being an ancient Chinese curse, the phrase is likely to be of recent and Western origin. When created it seems to be intended to sound Chinese in the 'Confucius he say' mould.
Most Chinese scholars will not recognise the 'curse' as Chinese, because if it is of Chinese origin, it has somehow escaped mention in all of the ancient Chinese literature. It may, however, be a paraphrase of a liberal translation from a Chinese source, and therefore unrecognisable when translated back to Chinese. One possibility is a relation to the Chinese proverb, 'It's better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.'
BUSH ADMINISTRATION SAYS IT WILL NOT TOLERATE LEAKS: "The president does have very deep concerns about anything that would be inappropriately leaked that could in any way endanger America's ability to gather intelligence information, and even that could harm our ability to maintain sources and methods and anything that could interfere with America's ability to fight the war on terrorism." - White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, 6/21/02
GEORGE H.W. BUSH CALLED LEAKERS 'TRAITORS': "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the names of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - President George H.W. Bush, 4/26/99
RUMSFELD SAID THOSE WHO LEAK SHOULD BE JAILED: "[Leakers] are disgraceful. They're unprofessional. They're dangerous. They put people's lives at risk. I would also add that I think it's the obligation of people who find people leaking to tell responsible authorities because folks that do it and put people's lives at risk ought to be in jail." - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 2/13/03
ASHCROFT SAID LEAKS DAMAGE NATIONAL SECURITY: "Leaks of classified information do substantial damage to the security interests of the nation.” - Attorney General John Ashcroft, 12/14/01, upon creating a task force to investigate government leaks
Click Here to read an article about Bush's lack of success in the war on terror. The bar graph in this posting is from that article and it shows clearly that terror attacks decreased before Bush took office and increased dramatically after he was elected. A friend of mine in Oklahoma saw this and said "it looks like the administration is "raising the bar. He also said "Let's get a song going here....I will need everyone's help with some creative lyrics...put this on your blog:
And it one two three What are we fighting for Don't ask me I don't give a dam Next stop is Taliban....
I took his advice and here it is. If anyone seeing this has some suggestions for lyrics for a 21st century Fish Cheer, feel free to post them here.
US imposes controls on a new security threat - birdwatchers
US security agents have come up with a new target for increased scrutiny in their battle against terrorism: birdwatchers. Birdwatchers in certain areas are being forced to provide photographic identification, submit themselves to background checks, and even pay for a police escort.
Law enforcement officials say that because the birdwatchers have equipment such as binoculars, telescopes and cameras, they have the potential to commit acts of espionage. The areas they use are sometimes close to military bases, dams and sewage plants.