Richard Engel of NBC news testified to the United Nations Security Council on July 17, “’We’re all bloggers and punks and rebels with cameras. There is absolutely no respect for career journalists anymore,’ said Engel, who was kidnapped by pro-regime gunmen in northern Syria and held for five days in December 2012.”
Engel was one of four journalists addressing the U.N., calling for world leaders to do more to protect reporters risking their lives in conflict situations. This in light of the 600 journalists killed during the last ten years and 41 killed in Syria alone during the last year. If one has seen Engel’s reports, he gets into the thick of conflict to collect and deliver stories for the corporate media. He’s also on the micro blog twitter.
The Associated Press wrote a story on Engel’s testimony and it can be read here.
It is a marvel there are people like Engel, who put themselves in harm’s way for what they believe is a greater good. In our house we don’t watch television most days, and my Engel fix comes from his 140 character tweets @RichardEngel. It has a democratizing effect, giving meaning to his quote at the U.N., “we’re all bloggers.” He often comes up next to the orchard where I work, @anamariecox and @realDonaldTrump.
Engel was trying to maintain the special status of his profession, something hard to do when there are tens of millions of bloggers, and ubiquitous social media outlets, all chattering away 24-7. With the erosion of the importance of newspapers, magazines and television in many people’s lives, and politicized everything, there are a few who stand out as superior working employees of the fourth estate. What is the fourth estate anyway? I can almost remember it and it has new meaning with Richard Engel in it.
I Am Bradley Manning
the whole U. S. Calvary is after me
they’re treating me like Crazy Horse
They got geronimo
down in Gitmo
I won’t go
to your crazy
Middle Asian war
will I Serve
will I Serve
Pig$ at the trough
Kellogg Brown and Root
will you consider People
Faggots on the run
The Line starts here
All the Way
and All the other “‘stans”
that ever were
and ever were over ran
the line starts here
and stretches all the
to September 2001
and WAYYYYY Back
to Bush I and 1991
The Ball is in your court now
In the People’s Court
We have already WON
There is No Exit
out of your quagmire
why don’t ya try
to google this shit
Conscience isn’t a game
you can play
In your Court
We The People
Will have a Say
on This Day
Your whole Pentagon scried world is being tried
the tables are being turned
from this you can have no Banning
for you are about
The People rests its case
For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Republican Party (my name, Rushpublicans) has decided to let their leader, Rush Limbaugh into a battle of hate for women. seems to me to be quite short sighted at best and at worst such a strategy could have huge long range disastrous consequences.
One would almost think what they believed was yet another in the pantheon of enemies that Rushpublicans have been creating, demonizing and then doing battle with over the past decade or two. They have redrawn Muslims into caricature enemies as they have also done with immigrants, people of color, the poor, and basically anyone who does not talk like them, look like them or have their portfolio.
But picking a fight with women is indeed taking on a group that if it united and flexed its muscle could drastically change how this country is run. Maybe this will be the wake up call for women to finally pay attention to some of the neanderthals that are making laws. It is long past time that women should have at least half the lawmaking seats in the country and this seems like a good time to start achieving that. If nothing else, the vast majority should now begin to understand which party and which legislators are on their side. Let me give a hint by saying this party gave America its first female speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Besides going to battle with half the population, the Rushpublicans have also enraged a huge number of men in this country who respect women. These men have had women close to them in their life who have shown them that women are more than just another group to be denigrated. Women who have been the mothers, the sisters, the daughters, the wives, the teachers or possibly the boss or co-worker. Most American men have good relationships with the women in their lives and as such are just as insulted by Limbaugh’s remarks.
What is almost as amazing as Limbaugh picking this fight with women is that none of the so-called leaders of the Rushpublican Party has enough guts to stand up to Limbaugh and say he was wrong. Mitt Romney only said “those are not the words I would have used.” Thus he endorsed Limbaugh’s sentiment, just not his language. Even a woman Rushpublican, Sarah Palin, defended him. Sarah, would you have defended him were that your daughter he was speaking of? In general he was, Sarah. Still OK with that?
But not only at the national level have the Rushpublicans failed to condemn Limbaugh. Gov. Branstad? Senator Grassley? Rep. King? This is the man that speaks for your party these days. How about Bob Vander Plaats? The silence is deafening.
Makes me almost wish that one of my all time heroes, Billie Jean King would come back for one last battle. She could challenge him to a duel of brain power at 50 paces. And once more, Billie Jean would vanquish an arrogant man. Because in such a battle, Limbaugh would come in unarmed.
There is an aspect to 9/11 that seldom gets discussed, especially on the anniversary itself. That is the fact that despite many warnings coming from within our government and sources outside, those in charge appear to have chosen to ignore them all.
While no one could ever keep the United States perfectly safe, there is an expectation that those who wield the reins of power should take all threats with some seriousness. As the 9/11 hearings – or at least those that the public were allowed to hear – made it abundantly clear that there were warnings that were not acted on.
This incompetence raised its ugly head again when Katrina hit New Orleans. Despite nearly a full week of warning FEMA – the government’s response team – was in no way ready to respond when the time came. With the agency headed by a political hack who had no business anywhere near an agency like FEMA. Who can ever forget “Heckuva job, Brownie.”
Whether driven by ideology or just plain stupid, incompetence like this has no place in leadership. Yet, we see it once again in Republican leadership’s response to this years outbreak of incredible weather phenomena. Eric Cantor has tried to place himself squarely in the path of aid going to those whose lives have been decimated by the likes of a tornado in Joplin, Missouri and the one-two punch of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee on the east coast. Cantor – in an incredibly incompetent and arrogant move acted to deny aid unless the moneys spent were offset.
Were that the only recent act of Republican incompetence. Texas Governor Rick Perry cut the budget for the states volunteer fire departments by an incredible 75% despite possibly the worst fire season ever in Texas and possibly the United States. This is hardly the only area where Perry demonstrates incompetence. Does America deserve another big talking, totally incompetent president?
Perry is hardly the only republican presidential candidate that exudes incompetence. Mitt Romney can’t seem to make a decision on anything. In a country being held hostage by the Republican congress trying to kill any jobs for Americans, Romney comes from a background of buying businesses, stripping all the value out of them and starving the employees. I am sure he would not have a clue how to deal a with real economy.
We can go on down the list. Bachmann, Paul, Gingerich, Santorum, Caine are all driven by ideology – the same ideology that has been so successful in Iraq and in shaping our current economy.
Barack Obama has demonstrated a cool competence. In comparison to what the Republican record is and what their future portends, Obama is truly the only choice for anyone who really cares about America’s survival.
Just to remind you where this country was about 10 years and 9 months ago, The CBO had calculated that in 10 years, this country would be out of debt – OUT OF DEBT! – had the trajectory at the time been maintained. That despite huge deficits that had been run up under Reagan and Bush 1. Thanks to the incredible incompetence in every area of administration, Obama inherited a country divided, deeply in debt and full of incompetents.
If Obama is not re-elected, you can be assured we will immediately return to those days. Bush, Bush and Reagan have left a clear example of what Republicans do when they have power. They screw things up royally.
Michele Bachmann could be the greatest challenge Iowa Democrats face during the 2012 Presidential election. It is not because she could win Iowa should she get the Republican nomination for president. It is because she is a real person, with genuine views, in a way that engages people. The Bachmann effect will be one of helping Republicans continue the organizing they began in the wake of their stunning losses in the 2008 election. She is doing this in a way that supplements the organizing and education efforts of Bob Vander Plaats’ The FAMiLY LEADER, but reaches to a broader audience. We hope that audience is not broad enough to matter, but there is reason to pay attention.
Progressives often dismiss Michele Bachmann as a buffoon or worse with her many gaffes and distortions of common knowledge. The fact of the matter is that people are forgiving of her gaffes and when we consider the Republican field, she stands out. Consider Mitt Romney. When I heard him speak in Cedar Rapids before the 2010 midterms, he looked like a zombie in casual attire. He spoke of conservative principles, but from his measured tone of voice and mannerisms it seemed his heart was not in it and he would fit in better at a country club. Consider Tim Pawlenty. When I heard him speak in Iowa City, it was as if Bob Vander Plaats had written the talking points. His delivery? He was like a mannequin speaking, dry and without personality, in a suit that was a size too big for his frame. Bachmann has none of these problems.
Bachmann kicked off her Independence Day weekend in Iowa at the Bluebird Diner in Iowa City (Read Deeth’s live blog of the event here). Located on the same block as the Hamburg Inn, a stopping place for previous Republican and Democratic candidates, the liberal twitterverse was abuzz with statements about how she disrespected the Hamburg Inn, and about boycotting the Bluebird Diner if the owners support Bachmann. The significance of this campaign stop was that Bachmann demonstrated that she is her own person and playing by her rules. That will gain her points with Republicans. Her campaign is smarter than we give them credit.
Whether Iowa Democrats will get organized for 2012 is an open question. In 2010, we talked the talk, but could not walk the walk. By competing in Iowa and with the TEA Party ideas that gained popularity in the last election cycle, the Bachmann candidacy will serve to make the Iowa Republican organization stronger. It is time for progressives to take her seriously and get to work organizing for the victory in 2012 we can have and surely need.
Senate Hearing on Afghanistan Next Week
On May 3, 2011, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Afghanistan: What is an Acceptable End-State, and How Do We Get There? Here is the link where written testimony will be posted. In July, the United States is to initiate a draw down of forces in Afghanistan, and for people interested in ending our wars, it is time to take notice of this Senate Hearing.
As Matt Southworth of Friends Committee on National Legislation wrote on April 25th, “Will the Obama Administration finally acknowledge that the military led strategy in Afghanistan is failing
by every metric and shift to another kind of mission in Afghanistan?
The U.S. should not continue to slug on militarily while being outmaneuvered
by Taliban with shovels. Perhaps a diplomatic mission with the desired
ends of a political settlement with all Afghan groups would be best to
deliver peace and regional stability. Next weeks hearing has the
potential to shape the impending policy shift. You can weigh-in by contacting your elected officials today.” Read the rest of Southworth's article here.
DOD to Continue to Sponsor NASCAR
by Paul Deaton
Following the debate in the US House of Representatives over the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution was something like raking sand in the desert. A tedious task at the end of which, the desert looks little different from when we started. While the New Republican majority was quick to assert that we can't afford the big spending ways of the federal government, in a 281-141 vote, they declined to prohibit the Department of Defense from sponsoring NASCAR. Regrettably Congressmen Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA) voted to continue NASCAR sponsorship, and only Bruce Braley (D-IA) of Iowa's delegation agreed that DOD sponsorship of NASCAR was something that could be cut during a recession. Seriously?
The New York Times described the FY2011 Continuing Resolution debate, “It was billed as a battle over numbers, but the marathon floor fight in the House this week was more a drama over core political beliefs, with long-simmering resentments, partisan grandstanding and startling personal revelations sprinkled throughout the script.”
John Isaacs is Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World. On Saturday he wrote,
“amendments to cut the defense budget by members of both parties were
defeated, aside from the Rooney (R-FL) amendment to cut funds for the
second F-35 engines.” To see a list of the national security related amendments, click here. If House members couldn't see fit to cut defense spending, what could they cut? “Virtually no aspect of American life, from farms to the Internet to sexuality to education, was left untouched,” said Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times. There were proposals to cut AmeriCorps, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, border security and immigration programs, environmental regulations, the space program, a program to round up wild horses, federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and much more.
A pattern is beginning to emerge from the new Republican House majorities at the federal and state level. Get the chain saw out and hack away at programs we don't understand or don't like and do it under the aegis of “fulfilling campaign promises.” Never mind that the Democratic Senate in Washington will have its own ideas, just like Iowa's Senate Democrats did with HF 45. At least the House Republicans decided they shouldn't name projects after themselves. And by the way, Representative Steve King (D-IA) continued using the word “Obamacare” in the FY2011 Continuing Resolution debate after Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) suggested the House cease use of the term. Too much hot air from a town known for it. One hopes the electorate is watching these shenanigans.
~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton
BFIA Call to Action on Egypt
[Editor's Note:The past month we have gotten to know Egypt better than we have in a long time. While talking with colleagues, we affirmed that this is a "power to the people" moment in which President Mubarek, someone whose time to move on had come, bowed to the will of the people and resigned. He left the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in Power in Egypt as the caption on this screen shot from Al Jazeera indicates.
Mubarek's resignation precipitates many questions, and with that in mind, BFIA passes along this note from Drew Hudson of USAction/True Majority]
“The whole world has been inspired by the pro-democracy revolution underway in Egypt. But here in America, we're also worried about further government escalation and crack downs against the non-violent opposition.
We should be. We’ve already seen a scary preview of what that would look like, when Egypt’s brutal police forces used ‘Made in America’ tear gas on protesters.
You see, the U.S. gives Egypt over $1.3 billion every year to buy tanks and guns. We even REQUIRE them to buy those weapons from American gun merchants, in a huge backdoor subsidy of the U.S. weapons industry.
Instead of helping Egypt build schools or roads or even a working court system — things that could really help them in a moment of crisis like this one — all we’ve put in their hands is the means to kill people.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Congress is about to set a new budget for 2012, and how much and what kind of aid we give to Egypt and other countries is very much under discussion. Click here to tell Congress that we want to invest in CIVILIAN aid, not military aid and make freedom and democracy our leading exports again.
It’s not just Egypt – all over the world our government gives repressive dictators billions of dollars specifically to buy weapons from American manufacturers. The reality is that a lot of those governments use the weapons bought with our tax money to oppress their own people.
The weapons builders don’t care who shoots who with their guns, so long as they can make a fortune selling them. And most taxpayers don’t even know that we spend most of our foreign aid money on weapons.[...] If the Egypt crisis shows us one thing, it’s that cutting the Pentagon budget is a good idea internationally, as well as domestically.
Help us send that message to Congress, and then, tell some friends too. Everyone wishes we could do something to help the Egyptian protesters – disarming their government is a good place to start.”
USAction / True Majority
USDA Releases Revised Dietary Guidelines
by Paul Deaton
This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the results of its mandated five year scientific review of its dietary guidelines. Robert Post, Deputy Director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, appeared on C-Span's Washington Journal on Saturday and spoke about the report. (You can view the 46 minute segment here).
According to Post, “Today Americans are consuming far more calories from foods where there are empty calories, far more calories from foods that contain excess amounts of added sugars, and excess sodium as well as excess saturated fat. Certainly we need an improvement in the amount of fruits and vegetables, and whole grains and low fat milk and milk products in our diet.”
In addition to dietary guidelines, the study included a review of environmental factors that indicated children need less time in front of the television and more exercise. Said Post, “We advise in the physical activity guidelines that adults get about 150 minutes of physical activity a week, they don't. Children should get at least 60 minutes a day and that's to balance the calories in.”
So the short version: less added sugar, salt and saturated fat, more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products and more physical activity, and creating a balance between calories consumed and energy expended. Sounds so simple.
~Paul Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton