Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kucinich in Newsweek

Interviewer: Short of winning, what are other goals you hope to achieve with your bid? Do you hope to influence the candidates to move in your direction?

Kucinich: It must be very difficult to be in a situation where you’re called upon to determine here in February who the next president’s going to be and then who it’s important to talk to and who it’s not important to talk to. Let me explain something. Since you called me, and you’ve given me this time, which I’m grateful for, I’m going to tell you that I expect to be elected. And I expect to be elected because people will learn that I’ve been right all along and that I’ve stood for the truth. I’m not a rookie in politics. Because I’ve been doing this for a while, I understand that ideas sometimes take awhile to catch hold. But I will tell you that the idea of peace is the most powerful idea in America today…. I think that we’re in a whole new era where we need to pursue human relations as a science and stop using deadly force to try to change things.


Impeach 07

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ferguson and the Status Quo

On February 24, Congressman Mike Ferguson held an open house at his Warren office. During his brief meeting with me and another local activist, he repeatedly insisted that he is “totally dissatisfied” with the “status quo” in Iraq, and that his dissatisfaction led him to support President Bush’s troop “surge” and informed his “No” vote on H.Con.Res. 63, a resolution expressing Congressional opposition to both the surge and the more-of-the-same strategy behind it. Ferguson similarly expressed his dissatisfaction, and his support for the surge, in his Feb. 16 remarks to Congress during debate on the resolution.

The Democratic-sponsored resolution was non-binding, and therefore a tiny and inadequate first step – but a first step nonetheless – toward responding to the Iraqi peoples' passionate and well-documented desire for the Americans to get out, and the American electorate’s November demand that Congress end the war and bring the troops home.

The April appropriations bill will matter far more; money already appropriated in prior years can be used to end the war and bring the troops home, but cutting off future financing is the only way Congress can carry out its Constitutional duty, as a co-equal branch of government, to check the power abuses of the executive branch.

When I asked, Ferguson acknowledged he is aware of Congress’ equal power; that Congress has practical tools, including hearings, with which to exercise that equal power; and that the President is as bound to obey U.S. and international law as any other American citizen: that no one in a Constitutional democracy is above the law.

An interesting follow-up question for Mr. Ferguson is this:

“Given that the two most stable pillars of the status quo for the last four years have been blind obedience to Bush’s failed leadership and the inflammatory and deadly occupying presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, how will you reach your goal of changing the status quo by repeating obedient gestures toward Bush and adding more U.S. troops to Iraq?”

I think a better approach, for all members of the House and Senate, would be to ignore Bush, defund the war, and begin pulling the troops out immediately. There are several Democratic proposals to do just that, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Jim McGovern and many others. If changing the status quo is Mr. Ferguson’s intention, I hope he’ll show more thoughtful and responsive leadership, by co-sponsoring one of those proposals.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Care Crisis

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tony Benn on Democracy Now

Tony Benn is one of Britain’s most distinguished politicians and the longest serving MP in the history of the Labour party...

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think protests matter? Do you think they have an effect?

TONY BENN: Well, after the big demonstration in London four years ago, at which I spoke -- there were two million people on the streets of London, the biggest demonstration in the history of Britain -- and then people said, “Oh, what did it do? Nothing happened. We went on with the war.” And then came the mid-term elections. And I think the peace movement must have played, in American opinion, a very large role in persuading the American voters to reject the Bush strategy. I was in the States a couple of years ago. And I’ve been over for the demonstration in New York about three years ago.

And, of course, the American peace movement is immensely powerful, and more significant because your mid-term elections and your new congress does allow that opinion to be expressed in a very effective way in terms of inquiries and whether to vote for funding, and so on. So, I mean, most people, including myself, look to the real America, which I love, to deal with this terrible problem created by the election of the neoconservatives, who believe that this is to be the American century. And I don't think that they were right. And I think a heavy price has been paid for their mistake...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mose Allison

My husband and I went to see Greg Brown in concert in Chatham NJ last weekend, and Greg Brown sang this Mose Allison song:

Ever since the world ended
I don't go out as much
People that I once befriended
Just don't bother to stay in touch
Things that used to seem so splendid
Don't really matter today
It's just as well the world ended
It wasn't working anyway

Ever since the world ended
There's no more Bible Belt
Remember how we all pretended
Goin' round lyin' 'bout the way we felt
Every rule has been amended
There's no one keepin' score
It's just as well the world ended
We couldn't have taken much more

Ever since the world ended
There's no more black or white
Ever since we all got blended
There's no more reason to fuss and fight
Dogmas that we once defended
No longer seem worthwhile
Ever since the world ended
I face the future with a smile

Thursday, February 15, 2007


One-stop Congressional motivational planning...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jane Jacobs

I've been reading Jane Jacobs' 1961 book - The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It's odd how, so often, I try to read certain books for years, and can't get into them, and then, when the time is right in some unfathomable way, I suddenly find my interest sustained.

The book - a city planning broadside from a sociological/anthropological perspective - is relevant for me now as I continue to try to better integrate our middle class, white congregation into the poor neighborhood of color in which the historic church building stands. When I think about sharing the church - as so many congregations now do, as their memberships and revenues decline - I think of it as a way to enliven the whole neighborhood with the comings and goings of lots of different kinds of people who hold lots of different beliefs and have lots of different plans.

Reading Jane Jacobs gave me one of those "Ah-hah!" moments: others far more observant and experienced than I, have found that human bustle has infinite, immeasurable, intangible benefits, and that there is a broad spectrum of legitimate activities beyond the kinds of things our particular congregation may currently like to do.

Strangers become an enormous asset on the street on which I live [Hudson Street in Manhattan], and the spurs off it, particularly at night when safety assets are most needed. We are fortunate enough, on the street, to be gifted not only with a locally supported bar and another around the corner, but also with a famous bar that draws continuous troops of strangers from adjoining neighborhoods, and even from out of town. It is famous because the poet Dylan Thomas used to go there, and mentioned it in his writing.

This bar, indeed, works two distinct shifts. In the morning and early afternoon it is a social gathering place for the old community of Irish longshoremen and other craftsmen in the area, as it always was. But beginning in midafternoon it takes on a different life, more like a college bull session with beer, combined with a literary cocktail party, and this continues until the early hours of the morning. On a cold winter's night, as you pass the White Horse, and the doors open, a solid wave of conversation and animation surges out and hits you: very warming. The comings and goings from this bar do much to keep our street reasonably populated until three in the morning, and it is a street always safe to come home to. The only instance I know of a beating in our street occurred in the dead hours between the closing of the bar and dawn. The beating was halted by one of our neighbors, who saw it from his window and, unconsciously certain that even at night he was part of a web of strong street law and order, intervened.

A friend of mine lives on a street uptown where a church youth and community center, with many night dances and other activities, performs the same service for his street that the White Horse bar does for ours. Orthodox planning is much imbued with puritanical and Utopian conceptions of how people should spend their free time, and in planning, these moralisms on people's private lives are deeply confused with concepts about the workings of cities. In maintaining city street civilization, the White Horse bar and the church-sponsored youth center, different as they undoubtedly are, perform much the same public street civilizing service. There is not only room is cities for such differences and many more in taste, purpose and interest of occupation; cities also have a need for people with all these differences in taste and proclivity.

The preferences of Utopians, and of other compulsive managers of other people's leisure, for one kind of legal enterprise over others is worse than irrelevant for cities. It is harmful. The greater and more plentiful the range of all legitimate interests (in the strictly legal sense) that city streets and their enterprises can satisfy, the better for the streets and for the safety and civilization of the city.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Donate to Kucinich

Letter from Dennis Kucinich:

Dear Friends,

This week, Congress will have another great debate about Iraq. Unfortunately, Congress is going to be discussing a nonbinding resolution at a time when Congress ought to be taking a stand to cut off funds, to implement a plan - my plan, the 12-point plan to get out of Iraq.

But instead, Congress engages in these meaningless resolutions. We need the Congress to take a stand, but we also need presidential candidates to take a stand. As you know, I led the effort in the House of Representatives in 2002, in challenging the Bush Administration's march towards war. As you remember, among all the presidential candidates today, I not only voted against authorization, but I voted against each and every effort to try to fund the war. The only way we stop the war is stop the funding.

Yesterday, 60 Minutes had a show which credited Senator Obama with being the only Democratic presidential candidate who opposed the war. The fact is that Senator Obama wasn't in the Senate at the time, he didn't vote against the war, and the fact is that, as a Member of the Senate, he's voted eight times to fund the war.

Now, I can't say the media is always going to tell the truth. But it's important for you to fund this campaign, so we can get our message out. It's important for you to fund this campaign so I can challenge Senator Clinton, who, in voting for the war and voting to fund the war, now says that if she's elected President, she'll end the war immediately, and, if she had been President at the time, we wouldn't have gone to war.

Now think about it. The role of Congress is superior to the President when it comes to war-making power. The role of Congress is to give the President permission to go to war. The Democratic Senate could have stopped the war. Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards gave George Bush permission and, in effect, made it possible for the war to occur.

It's good that, now, everybody thinks the war is a bad idea. But the real question the American people are going to have to face is who had the clarity, who had the vision, who had the judgment to make the call at that time that the war was not supportable, that there was no evidence that merited a war.

I stand before you, not only as the only candidate who can say that, but as the one who is prepared to lead this nation forward in the cause of peace, in the cause of a world where we use diplomacy to solve our differences.

We're at the threshold of a war with Iran, right now. The same people who were buying the drumbeat for war against Iraq are basically buying into the necessity of challenging Iran aggressively.

We need a whole new approach, and I'm prepared to take it, with your help. So go to the website right now. Please contribute if you haven't already done so. And if you have, thank you, and help us more. Do everything you can to contact your friends. America doesn't have to be in the position it's in. We're going to lose our nation unless we stand up and assert that war is not inevitable, that peace is inevitable if we stay with the truth and if we insist that our public officials stand up for the American people.

We have so many things that we need in our country today. Our children need better education. American people need health care. We need to create jobs. We need to work on focusing on cleaning up our environment. But our entire domestic agenda is being shoved aside in favor of war mongering. This has to stop. And you can help stop it.

Go to the website right now. Make your contribution. I'll stand in there for you; I need you to stand there with me.

Thank you,
Dennis J Kucinich

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Flash-Frozen in Time

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wallace Stevens

The Well Dressed Man With a Beard

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
If the rejected things, the things denied,
Slid over the western cataract, yet one,
One only, one thing that was firm, even
No greater than a cricket's horn, no more
Than a thought to be rehearsed all day, a speech
Of the self that must sustain itself on speech,
One thing remaining, infallible, would beEnough.
Ah! douce campagna of that thing!
Ah! douce campagna, honey in the heart,
Green in the body, out of a petty phrase,
Out of a thing believed, a thing affirmed:
The form on the pillow humming while one sleeps,
The aureole above the humming house...
It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.

Amory Lovins

Just read a profile of Lovins, an optimist in the global warming/fossil fuel depletion clamor, in the Jan. 22 New Yorker.

Wikipedia profile of Lovins here.

Other articles here and here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why I Am a Pacifist

The Guardian article is called Children of War. A quote:

In a rare study published last week, the Association of Iraqi Psychologists (API) said the violence had affected millions of children, raising serious concerns for future generations...

...A regular commentator in the Iraqi media known for his ruthlessly honest comments about the Iraqi mindset, Dr. Hassan had worked with victims of trauma. And he had been determined to wean Iraqi youth from their obsession with the gun.

"It's all some of them think about and know," he had told the Guardian. "The dangers are they will internalise the violence and then reproduce it later."

...Shortly before his murder, Dr Hassan told the Guardian of his fears for Iraq's current young generation. "Do not make the mistake of blaming the occupation and the recent war for all of this," he said. "For more than three decades, young Iraqis have been forced to learn how to kill. We must now learn instead about dialogue and compromise. Otherwise, we will continue to produce psychopathic personalities for whom violence is simply a means of negotiating daily life."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Horizon Project and Other Signs That Hell Is Freezing Over

Coming on the heels of word that Bush has criticized Wall Street CEOs for unreasonable pay packages, Wal-Mart plans to lead the way to a new, greener future for commerce, and corporate heads are finally calling for near-universal health care, a group of corporate head honchos is even calling for fairer trade policies in light of global realities.

Methinks the powers-that-be are sensing the rising unrest of the population at large, and are making a late effort to tamp down the worst excesses from above, before widespread revolt bubbles up from below. -KW

...The report, released Thursday by the newly organized Horizon Project, called for a healthy economic nationalism, of the sort practiced by every other major trading nation save perhaps Britain. The test, the report argued, should be not what benefits US-based corporations but what is good for America -- its workers, communities, technology base, and ultimately its economy.

The analysis is astute -- read it at www.horizonproject.us -- but more remarkable are the report's signatories. The project was organized and signed by major corporate CEOs led by Leo Hindery, Jr., former CEO of AT&T Broadband and the cable giant TCI; and including Alfred Berkeley III, former president of NASDAQ; Leonard Schaffer, Founding CEO of WellPoint, the health insurance giant; and Bernard Schwartz, CEO of Loral, the high-tech defense and aerospace company. Another key leader, and intellectual inspiration of this effort, is Ralph Gomory, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and former chief scientist of IBM.

Contrary to the usual premise that the current trading system helps both America and its "trading partners," the report declares that globalization under present rules makes it easier for US multinational corporations to use cheap labor overseas and then import the finished goods back to the United States. "In the process they are building up the capabilities of the emerging Asian states and reducing the capabilities of the United States..."

The Occupation Project