December 16, 2005

The War and the Elections

In fall 1967 Eugene McCarthy decided to force what he referred to as "a referendum on Vietnam" by launching an antiwar challenge to President Johnson. It was a courageous act. At the time polls suggested that while Americans were frustrated about the course of the war, their preferred solution was not the exit strategy McCarthy counseled but escalation. Democrats who oppose the current military engagement in Iraq face no such challenge. This fall's polls show a substantial majority of Americans believe the country should start bringing the troops home. And with the call by one of Congress's most decorated veterans, John Murtha, for establishing a withdrawal timeline, all but a handful of Congressional Democrats--and even some responsible Republicans--are beginning to talk about exit strategies. That does not mean, however, that everyone agrees about what must be done, or that an end to the war is in sight. But it does mean the Iraq debate has evolved from a contest over how to manage the US occupation into the question of whether the occupation should continue. That question will be a central--perhaps the central--issue of the 2006 Congressional elections. more...

December 15, 2005

Baghdad Burning
Elections have been all we hear about for the last ten days at least.

More people are going to elect this time around- not because Iraqis suddenly believe in American-imposed democracy under occupation, but because the situation this last year has been intolerable. Hakim and Ja‚affari and their minions have managed to botch things up so badly, Allawi is actually looking acceptable in the eyes of many. I still can't stand him.

Allawi is still an American puppet. His campaign posters, and the horrors of the last year, haven‚t changed that. People haven‚t forgotten his culpability in the whole Fallujah debacle. For some Iraqis, however, he‚s preferable to Hakim and Ja‚affari after a year of detentions, abductions, assassinations and secret torture prisons.

There‚s a saying in Iraq which people are using right and left lately, and that I've used before in the blog, „Ili ishuf il mout, yirdha bil iskhuna.š He who sees death, is content with a fever. Allawi et al. seem to be the fever these days∑ more...


Richard Pryor's Mirror on America Thanks, Richard
December 14, 2005


Pryor, wittingly or not, challenged some of the stereotypes and taboos that accompanied "black consciousness." Back in the day as the societal desegregation we see today was first emerging, marrying a white woman was a very scandalous thing on both the black and white sides of the street. It's still kind of taboo although politically incorrect to express out loud. Richard crossed the line and then proceeded to tell us what was different and not so different about black and white women. And the lesson Richard left us with after taking us through his various relationships was that women were not mindless possessions totally under the control of men. In Pryor's world men were usually not in control.

Richard made it okay for black men to admit to having oral sex and not all having big dicks. And, If you didn't know what it felt like to be high or that drugs would screw your life up, Richard talked about his addiction.

Richard was a mirror. And at the end of most of his stories was the lesson that most often the stereotypes we define ourselves by are usually both wrong and contrived to allow someone or something to keep their boot on your neck or to protect someone's interest other than yours. more...

December 14, 2005

When Allies Become Accomplices to Terror
By Christian Bommarius, Senior Editor
"Berliner Zeitun"
Translated By Carl Bergquist

Bush and Company: Shooting Western World in the Foot?The terrorism against Western societies cannot result in victory for the perpetrators, but the so-called war on terror can be lost offhandedly by the West itself. To no small degree, this prospect has been helped by U.S. President George W. Bush's decision to declare war on Islamist terror on the one hand and the decision to makes the laws of war inapplicable to terrorists on the other.

Never before has an American administration cut such a swathe in the field of international law – an unlawful war of aggression was legitimized and confessions extracted through torture were deemed admissible in courts of law. And never before has an American administration fought a no-holds-barred battle, one without any rules - for democracy - that has turned so many democracies into accomplices.

But instead of openly declaring their complicity, European governments have silently aided and abetted. This does not refer to tolerating secret CIA-agent flights in European airspace - though it is good to know that CIA agents are still unbridled in their movements. Rather, the complicity began with the knowledge that these agents were accompanying suspected terrorists on their way to European and non-European torture chambers. The justifiable suspicion exists that European governments not only knew of the torture, but that they also benefited from the coerced testimony so gathered. more...

December 13, 2005

This was not a man who went meekly': An eyewitness account of Stanley Tookie Williams' execution
Kevin Fagan

The execution of convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams was a defiant, determined and messy affair -- surprising right up to the bitter end, just like his unfortunate life. more...


Executing the Possibly Innocent
Commentary + , Earl Ofari Hutchinson,

In an interview with investigative reporter Jasmyne Cannick and myself, Stanley "Tookie" Williams vehemently denied that he committed the four murders that put him on death row for 24 years. Now, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's rejection of clemency, Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be executed at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, barring any last-second appeal. But speculation about Williams' guilt or innocence will continue after his death, as it has for many other inmates executed by the state.

There is no smoking-gun proof that Williams is innocent. But the case against him is based on scant physical evidence, the testimony of crime-prone jailhouse informants and his fearsome reputation as street thug, doper and the co-founder of the notorious Crips gang. The evidence was shaky enough that two California Supreme Court justices and a handful of dissenting judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals voted for a second look at his conviction. more...

December 12, 2005

Weaselly Rice Tortures Facts
Does the secretary of state think anyone is buying her spiel?
by Maureen Dowd  

Our secretary of state's tortuous defence of supposedly non-existent CIA torture chambers in Eastern Europe was an acid flashback to Clintonian parsing.  

Just as Bill Clinton pranced around questions about marijuana use at Oxford during the '92 campaign by saying he had never broken the laws of his country, so Condoleezza Rice pranced around questions about outsourcing torture by suggesting that President George W. Bush had never broken the laws of his country.  

But in Bill's case, he was only talking about smoking a little joint, while Condi is talking about snatching people off the street and throwing them into lethal joints.  

"The United States government does not authorize or condone torture of detainees," she said.  

It all depends on what you mean by "authorize,'' "condone,'' ``torture" and "detainees.'' more...

December 11, 2005

New York Times EDITORIAL
Death of an American City

We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum.

We said this wouldn't happen. President Bush said it wouldn't happen. He stood in Jackson Square and said, "There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans." But it has been over three months since Hurricane Katrina struck and the city is in complete shambles.


The price tag for protection against a Category 5 hurricane, which would involve not just stronger and higher levees but also new drainage canals and environmental restoration, would very likely run to well over $32 billion. That is a lot of money. But that starting point represents just 1.2 percent of this year's estimated $2.6 trillion in federal spending, which actually overstates the case, since the cost would be spread over many years. And it is barely one-third the cost of the $95 billion in tax cuts passed just last week by the House of Representatives.

Total allocations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror have topped $300 billion. All that money has been appropriated as the cost of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. But what was the worst possible case we fought to prevent?

Losing a major American city. more...

December 10, 2005

In Pictures:
What our dollar's Buy: Faces of war.
- Warning - Images depict the reality and horror of war.
(Click on icons to see larger images.)

animal dump icon
December 16, 2005

plainfield, vermont icon
December 15, 2005

harry and dude's icon
December 14, 2005

ice storm icon
December 13, 2005

barbara icon
December 12, 2005

snow icon
December 11, 2005

scenic icon
December 10, 2005


August 21, 2004 - August 19, 2005

August 20, 2005 - August 26, 2005
August 27, 2005 - September 2, 2005
September 3, 2005 - September 9, 2005
September 10, 2005 - September 16, 2005
September 17, 2005 - September 23, 2005
September 24, 2005 - September 30, 2005
October 1, 2005 - October 7, 2005
October 8, 2005 - October 14, 2005
October 15, 2005 - October 21, 2005
October 22, 2005 - October 28, 2005
October 29, 2005 - November 4, 2005
November 5, 2005 - November 11, 2005
November 12, 2005 - November 16, 2005
November 26, 2005 - December 2, 2005
December 3, 2005 - December 9, 2005

No War in Iraq march.

San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003


Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.


This site consists of original photographs and composites by Fletcher Oakes, unless otherwise credited.

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