Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Honor

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from my blogfather*, Kyle E. Moore at Comments From Left Field (a very intelligent and thoughtful blog where I used to post cartoons in those far-away days when I had free time), asking me to pass along a link to his post about the two active-duty soldiers who "joined with five other soldiers to pen a critical OpEd in the New York Times entitled The War As We Saw It. Weeks later, Sgt. Yance T. Gray, and Sgt. Omar Mora were killed in a non-combat-related vehicle accident on September 10th in western Baghdad."

I don't know about you, but it hit me pretty hard.

That NYT piece really moved me. I was struck by the bravery of these patriotic soldiers who felt that it was important for Americans to hear the truth about the 'war' directly from the soldiers who were involved in it. Not armchair generals or Keyboard Kommandos (of which I, needless to say, am one) or war salesmen anxious to promote their 'product'; not soldiers who had left the armed services, but soldiers who were there, and staying there - soldiers who felt that their duty was to serve their country by putting their lives on the line to carry out the mission their commanding officers gave them. I was in awe of what it must have taken to write that piece and sign their names to it. I won't go on about it because Kyle has put it better than I ever could, but when I heard of the deaths of Sgt. Yance T. Gray and Sgt. Omar Mora, it put a name and a face and a voice on the countless deaths that this occupation has caused.

I do not have friends or family who have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. I do have friends, and children of friends, who have come back from there who will never be the same - who have lost their mental health to PTSD, and may never get it back. I have seen families that I love destroyed by the consequences of this occupation. A leg that has been blown apart can be dealt with. A mind and spirit that has been blown apart takes everyone down with it. Marriages collapse; the ability to earn a living is gone forever; parents, children, spouses scarred for life also. But I have never known the horror of losing a child or a spouse or a parent to war - a strong, healthy, brave, beloved person.

Anyway, long story short - the folks over at Comments From Left Field have started a fund drive In Honor of Sgt. Omar Mora & Sgt. Yance T. Gray. 100% of the profits will go to Fisher House, an organization that builds houses near military medical facilities, where loved ones of those who have been injured in the line of duty can stay free of charge while their service member undergoes necessary treatment.

I have kicked in, and I hope you will too. Anything you can contribute, no matter how small, is welcome. Regardless of how you feel about the conflict in Iraq, these soldiers deserve our support - and not just with words.

Here's the link to donate through ActiveGiving. It is tax-deductible.

Here's the link to Kyle's post, which is a must-read.

*it drives him crazy when I call him that!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Maybe They're Right - Maybe Dems ARE 'Weak On Terror'!

I'm blogging today from my sister's house in beautiful Stevensville, Montana, looking out at the Sapphire Mountains from my window as I write. It's a great opportunity to get my book done with no distractions, and I just finished the chapter on Hunters and Farmers - how there may be a genetic relationship between the outlooks of liberals and conservatives, having to do with leftover genetically-transmitted survival traits from when humans lived in hunter societies and later on, agricultural societies.

One difference I have noted (and has been backed up by research) is that conservatives are more susceptible to perceived threats than liberals are.

And we all know that the GOP has exploited this mercilessly. They are continuing to do it because - it works! Why abandon such a successful strategy?

Another trait of the authoritarian follower personality, according to Dr. Altemeyer, is the tendency to be aggressive towards the opponents of the leadership that they follow. Lord knows the Repubs have been relentlessly and aggressively attacking Dems, whether they were in the minority or majority. And Dems have been sitting there and taking it.

Is this giving credence to the Republican assertion that Democrats are 'weak on terror'?

After all, if we (as the majority, mind you) can't even stand up to terrorizing by Republicans, how can we expect Americans to believe we will be strong on security? Now that the shoe is finally on the other foot, the Republicans are doing exactly what they excoriated Dems for doing while we were in the minority! And instead of pointing this out, and instead of using our majority to push through legislation that we believe in by forcing the President to veto it, and sending it back again and again, we capitulate! We give away our power voluntarily!

No wonder the public has a hard time taking Democrats seriously.

As liberals, we are community builders, and we aim for consensus and compromise so that everyone gets something. And our ability to empathize makes us loath to assert that our way is the only way.

But, unfortunately, the Repubs have no such scruples. They do believe that their way is the only way, and they are willing to go to the mat for it. And Democrats are paying the price for refusing to answer the challenge.

Haven't we learned our lesson yet? Don't we understand that 'giving in' to Bush in hopes that it will be reciprocal only screams 'weakness'? Compromise is not in his vocabulary (way too many letters!), nor is 'bipartisanship' (ditto!) - it only means 'do what I say'. Bush's way is "Let's compromise - I'll do what I want, and you go f*** yourself!" How is it that Dems are not understanding this?

When Tom ‘The Hammer’ DeLay was Speaker of the House, he got Republican votes in line by bribing and threatening – using his K Street influence to support those members who agreed to vote his way, and threatening non-compliant members with supporting and funding a challenger to their seat. He created order and obedience by fear. Is this the only way to get party unity? Dems have got to step up, or we will continue to get stepped on. We're not bringing 'knives to a gun fight' - we're bringing overcooked linguine.

It is more urgent and important to Repubs than to Dems that they get their way, because the rank and file really believe that "Islamofascists are coming to get us." The 'leadership' knows better, but it's the sure-fire way to get everything they want. It's their trump card, and they play it like Diamond Jim Brady every time. Logic is trumped by fear, so conservatives will buy any lie or exaggeration and take it to heart, because that's how they're built. And since we don't feel the urgency of believing that they're right around the corner getting ready to follow us here to blow us up, we don't have the need to crush anyone who stands in the way of our 'safety'.

But we should be afraid - not of Republicans; not of 'Islamofascists' (after all , our long-time Cold War enemy the Soviet Union - which was much more of a threat than Iran could ever be - had nukes and we didn't attack them), but of losing our rights and civil liberties. And we need to be as willing to fight to keep them as the Repubs are willing to fight to get rid of them. We need to be as willing to fight for peace as the Repubs are willing to fight for war. We need to be as willing to fight for the well-being of the little guy as the Repubs are willing to fight for the well-being of the wealthy and the big corporations.

Dems 'weak on terror'? Apparently so, when they're terrorized by Republicans.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I think I'll make 'Must Lighten Up' a regular feature here at Hooterville. Jolly Roger of Reconstitution recommended this wonderful site The Sixth Brother, featuring Seth Romney-Levinson, someone we should all get to know better. The videos are especially noteworthy!

Who cares about you, Seth? We do!

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Yes, friends, there's been quite enough Seriousness and Earnestness here in Hooterville lately, so what better way to lift one's spirits than by a visit from Princess Sparkle Pony's famous Hand Turkeys? Some folks may make disparaging remarks about the intelligence of turkeys, but I think these little gobblers are always brilliant. Especially when compared to certain over-educated yet staggeringly, bumblingly inane persons I could think of. So here, without further ado, I present....the lovely and talented...Hand Turkeys™ (Yay!)


Friday, September 07, 2007

Never Give Up, Never Surrender (or, Hope is for Pussies)

I got the title for this post (at least the first part!) from Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake.

Yesterday at work, I was talking to a progressive friend of mine, and she was frustrated at the lack of Dem spine. We had such hopes after the 2006 midterms, and then...bupkis. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Yessir, Massa! How can we further your agenda, sir?

I get frustrated, too. It seems as though no one is going to stop this runaway train of disaster. But I'll be damned if I'm going to allow these people to determine what I do or say. They can only have that power if I hand it to them. This is what I wrote to my friend today:

It gets really frustrating when we're confronted with this appalling apathy and the sense that nothing's going to change because everyone's standing around with their fingers in their ears going "La la la, I'm not listening - I wonder if Lindsay will go to jail - do you like my new car? la la la!" I know you're someone who walks the talk, and it's very disheartening to think that most people aren't even aware of the problem we're facing, much less willing to cowboy up and do something about it.

But something else I realize is - it doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter if we get the results we want from our activism.

It only matters that it's right; that we stand up for what's right.

Whether we have popular support doesn't matter. Whether things change on the schedule we want doesn't matter. Whether things change at all doesn't matter.

What matters is that we do what's right.

It's right to end the invasion.

It's right to get these crooks out of office.

It's right to stand up for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It's right to put people before corporations, and to take care of those who need it.

It only matters that we stand up, individually, for what's right.

If we only take action if we know we'll get our way, if we get a 'good feeling' and validation out of doing what we do, then that's not real activism.

We have to search our hearts and consciences, decide what's right, and then stand up for it.

Nothing else matters.

So, stay strong, and let's keep fighting the good fight.

I believe that we will prevail if we do.

But if we don't, that's no excuse to quit. That just means we need to do it more.

Update: I sent this to my fave radio host, Mike Malloy, who read it on the air. You can hear the clip by going to the sidebar under 'Audio Clips' and clicking on the arrow button.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Suicidal Insanity

Insanity is defined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Since 2000, Bush and Co. have been able to implement their destructive and illegal agenda with no opposition. They have yet to be held accountable for anything they have done, starting with their usurping of the White House and continuing from there into pre-emptive war, the emptying of our Treasury from the public coffers into the greedy, grasping hands of the Bush corporate cronies, staggering corruption, politicization of the entire government en route to a one-party permanent majority and the dismantling of what we used to assume were our most basic Constitutional rights - separation of powers, separation of church and state, privacy, habeas corpus, freedom of speech. And our tax dollars have gone to pay for all of this.

Some of us have been screeching about this from the get-go, only to be ridiculed first as 'sore losers' and then, after 9/11, castigated as 'terrorist-loving, America-Hating Traitors'. But as the Bush Administration grows bolder with every success - notwithstanding the 2006 elections and the ostensible Democratic majority - more and more people are beginning to question the wisdom of setting the whole world on fire. Many conservatives are beginning to back away from the excesses of this power-mad cabal, rightly seeing it as a departure from 'conservative values' - the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, smaller government, avoiding 'nation-building'. Yet there seems to be no way to stop the Administration on its drunken bender.

But is it only Bush that fits this definition of insanity?

The Democrats in Congress, who after the 2006 elections seemed to hold out hope for arresting the headlong flight of democracy and the voice of the people, have simply rolled over and are continuing to enable these thugs, like the battered wife who says, "If I behave myself, try to get along with him better, and not make him mad, he won't hit me anymore." And the Alcoholic-in-Chief goes along his merry way down the path of total destruction, seemingly oblivious to the damage he and his Administration's fearmongering, world-intimidating neoconservative policies are inflicting on not only Iraq, but the United States and the rest of the world as well.

Then, when we have the temerity, the gall, to ask to be told what's going on, we're slapped down with a 'None of your damn business, woman! I'll do whatever I want - I'm the man of the house! My job is to make the decisions and your job is to do as I tell you and not ask questions! Or do you want another fat lip?" And we whimper and cower and get him another beer out of the fridge, hoping to take the edge off his anger.

When someone asks us why we let him get away with treating us like that, we say, "He really loves me - he's not mean on purpose! It's only when he gets frustrated that he acts that way, and if I was a better wife he wouldn't do it. It's only because he loves me so much and wants to protect me! And he's taken all my money and credit cards, and my passport, so I don't have any way to get out, and nowhere to go that he can't find me. He listens in on all my calls and opens my mail. He's cut me off from all of our friends. And I don't know where he goes and what he does when he's not home - he won't tell me. Everyone tells me I should divorce him, but I don't want to break up my family. Besides, I can't stop him - he's so big and strong, and I'm afraid I'll end up in the hospital or dead if I get him mad. He's already given me a black eye and broken my jaw. If I just try harder to get along with him, he'll be sweet again, like when we were first dating. He was so much fun to have a beer with!"

Insanity is defined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Why do we think that placating Bush and giving him everything he asks for is the way to get him to behave? Over and over again, he breaks the law, and we wring our hands, but no one ever stops him. Talk about 'emboldening the terrorists'!

My husband thinks that there's no way Bush will attack Iran. He thinks Americans wouldn't stand for it. I wish I could believe that, but we've stood for everything else. Why would he not think he could do it? He has no reason to think otherwise, based on what has happened over the last 7 years. We have done the same thing, over and over.

And now, like many alcoholics, we're on a suicide track. When there's a drunk driver at the wheel, eventually there will be a fatal crash. Power is the ultimate intoxicant, and the Cheney/Bush cabal are hooked through the bag. Attacking Iran is insane, but when you're an alcoholic, the consequences of your decisions don't matter to you. All that matters is getting your fix, your high, your buzz. When you have a partner that enables you, it's a family disease that affects not only the alcoholic, but everyone you are in contact with.

If Bush succeeds in attacking Iran, there is a high likelihood that World War III will ensue (if it hasn't already). We are talking suicide here. But that doesn't seem to register on the neocon radar, or if it does, it is of no consequence. Common sense and logic would tell Americans to rise up and put a stop to this, but the co-dependent electorate so far has been incapable of standing up for itself.

Insanity is defined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."