Saturday, February 11, 2006

How Do They Know What He Looked Like?

This is weird:

Presidents are often memorialized in their most famous moments -- George Washington crossing the Delaware, Theodore Roosevelt at San Juan Hill.

Now President Bush's time in the Texas Air National Guard has been immortalized in bronze. The National Guard Association of the United States yesterday unveiled a bust of a young Lt. George W. Bush. The association expressed its pride in Bush, who is perhaps its most famous alumnus around today.

Bush's service may still be a bit of a sore subject for him, though. He seemed no more eager to talk about it yesterday than he did in his 2004 reelection campaign, when critics questioned whether he manipulated his guard service to avoid having to serve in Vietnam.

If Only She Could Skate...

Two different standards? Wow, this is really shocking, isn't it?

In December Congress speedily passed special immigration legislation to benefit just one person: an ice dancer. As a Canadian, she couldn't join the 2006 U.S. Olympics team. But a law was written that lasted exactly two days, long enough for her to be fast-tracked for citizenship and sent to compete for the United States.

Around the same time, we at the Safe Harbor Project at Brooklyn Law School received notice that the U.S. immigration system had denied entry to Teresa, a 14-year-old African girl who has been stranded as a refugee in Guinea almost all her life. She is trying to join her adoptive mother, Momara (no real names are used here, as is generally practiced with asylum), a refugee from Sierra Leone who was granted asylum in the United States.

Teresa's harrowing story began when she was born in the bush, where everyone from her town had fled to escape rampaging rebel forces threatening to kill them. Her birth mother died giving birth to her. Without a second thought, Momara scooped up the infant and from that moment on considered Teresa her own.

[snip]

Since she is not Momara's biological child, she can qualify for a visa only with proof that she is adopted. The Department of Homeland Security denied her application because she does not have an "official adoption decree" from Sierra Leone.

[snip]

The country does not have a functioning government, much less a formalized adoption procedure.


Maybe if the girl tried out for the US track team...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Can We Af-Ford Him?

A couple of days ago, African American Congressman Harold Ford from Tennessee added to his aura of muddled centrism with an entry on the Huffington Post blog about Coretta Scott King's funeral.

After a couple of paragraphs of boilerplate commeration, Ford wrote:

As the nation paused yesterday to reflect on what Mrs. King meant to each one of us, it is important remember [sic] we cannot divorce the way she lived her life from the way we celebrate her after her passing. Funerals should not be ceremonies to fabricate a life's works. Instead, they are a time to celebrate with honesty and dignity a woman's life, and to consider the legacy that she has left behind.

In the comments section following the post, readers demanded Ford to explain just what, exactly, he thought might have been "fabricate"d about her life in the funeral. It sounded like Ford was dipping a toe into the those-Negroes-don't-know-how-to-behave waters as part of his ongoing effort to become U.S. senator from a Southern state.

I read his post over a couple of times to try to figure out just what he was getting at. For, as sickening as his obession with "centrism" is, I was having a hard time accepting that a Southern black man, even Ford, would actually be questioning the truths that were spoken at the funeral.

This morning Ford appeared on the show of radio racist Don Imus and commented further on the King funeral. Despite a couple of remarks that the world could have done without ("Some things may have been said that were out of wack." On the Presidents Bush: "I thought they were both awesome!"), his words there made it clear that he was speaking of those who would deny the truth of what Coretta's life was about as the fabricators -- the haters on the right we heard from Tuesday.

The reason Ford stumbled over himself on what should have been a slam-dunk condemnation of Right's crybaby response is that he is so concerned with maintaining that center line, he is afraid of saying anything that will offend large numbers of the white Southerners in his home state that he needs in order to achieve his short-term goal. A less cautious and more authentic black -- and Democrat -- elected official would have written that those on the right are giving us crocodile tears over the uncomfortable truths about the immoral activities of their beloved president that Coretta's death and life give us pause to take note of.

But that would have been too direct. Too "liberal."

Besides, that Ford would regularly appear on Imus (who today told Ford that Jimmy Carter is a "weasel," "dishonest," and was "just trying to embarass President Bush," before certifying that "I know I'm right and you're wrong, Congressman.") speaks volumes about who he sees as his constituency.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just Following Orders

Well, well, well. It looks like "Scooter" Libby is rolling over on his old boss, Mr. Cheney.

This is gonna be REAL good.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.


Can you just imagine a Vice President being indicted?

More on Coretta

The reason, I think, that conservatives are in such a huff over the words spoken at Coretta King's funeral is that her death, and the corresponding attention paid to reviewing her life, unmasks the perverted nature of their brand of Christianity.

Conservatives like to think they own the patent on the image of Christ and definition of morality. Yet these same people can spend an entire afternoon defending a decision to launch an unprovoked war against a non-threatening country, which action has lead to the deaths of tens of thousands to-date. These same people go mute if you ask them to explain the morality of cutting taxes for rich people while cutting funding for Medicaid.

That Coretta's life stands in sharp contrast to that of faux Christians like George W. Bush and so many of his supporters was unavoidable Tuesday, and that's what upset them so much.

Spilling the Beans

Uh-oh! Better get Alberto on the phone so we can work up some sort of dubious legal justification for stopping this...

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former disaster agency chief Michael Brown is indicating he is ready to reveal his correspondence with President Bush and other officials during Hurricane Katrina unless the White House forbids it and offers legal support.

Brown's stance, in a letter obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, follows senators' complaints that the White House is refusing to answer questions or release documents about advice given to Bush concerning the August 29 storm.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Imus Be Listening to a Racist

Apparently Don Imus, radio host whose show is simulcast on cable news outlet MSNBC, was troubled by yesterday's Coretta King funeral. He implored the mourners to "act like Jesus," whatever that meant, and called Jimmy Carter "despicable."

If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black! (Actually it isn't, since the kettle has been inaccurately described in this case.)

You might find it interesting to know over the years, Imus and characters on his radio show have:
  • compared the appearance of black NBA players to apes
  • called award-winning black New York Times journalist Gwen Ifill "the cleaning lady"
  • referred to award-winning black New York Times journalist Bob Herbert as a "quota hire"
  • referred to residents of Harlem as "molignans" (the Italian equivalent of "coons")
  • referred to the black wife of former Secretary of Defense William Cohen as a "big-haired ho"
  • called tennis players Venus and Serena Williams "animals"

And in a July 19, 1998 interview on "60 Minutes," Imus admitted to hiring a producer specifically "to do nigger jokes" for the show.

So I'll be damned if I'm gonna let a dusty racist cracker alcoholic like Imus tell me how to mourn the loss of a leader in my community.

Fit For a King

Yesterday's funeral for Coretta Scott King was one for the ages, more powerful and substantial than even that of her husband. Along with rememberances, preaching, and song came razor-sharp political commentary.

With "President" Bush in attendance -- indeed, right up on the stage the entire time, a series of speakers wove perfectly contextual commentary and rememberance into a verbal leather whip, and used it to flay Mr. Bush before thousands of cheering mourners.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin reminded us of how King decried “the senselessness of war” with a voice that was heard “from the tintop roofs of Soweto to the bomb shelters of Baghdad.”

Senator Ed Kennedy read from the Book of Matthew, with special emphasis on on word in particular:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Former US President Jimmy Carter pointed out that for Martin and Coretta, "It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated, and they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance." He also went on to say that one only had to look at the color of the folks who suffered from Hurricane Katrina to know the inequality still exists in America.

And to absolutely thunderous applause, the Reverend Joseph Lowery, co-founder with Martin Luther King of the Southern Christian Leadership Council, told us: "we now know there were no weapons of mass destruction over there, but we know and she knew there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war -- billion$ more. But no more for the poor."

Conservatives were apoplectic, suggesting that it was inappropriate to inject politics into the funeral for a... um, well... political activist.

Whatever.

Coretta must have been rolling in her casket when Mr. Bush rose to sing her praises. He used her husband's birthday in 2003 to announce his opposition to affirmative action. He used her husband's birthday in 2004 to appoint a federal judge that many blacks felt had a suspect record on racial sensitivity. It seems likely that were she able to speak, she would have told Bush to sit down, cheered on Lowry and Kennedy, and joined the mourners in the standing ovation they gave to Carter's comments.

That's whose opinion we care about.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pat Robertson Strikes Again

WE'VE ALREADY HAD:

The prime minister of Israel suffered a stroke as punishment from God for wanting to give land to the Palestinians.

We should assassinate the president of Venezuela because he dislikes Gerge Bush and controls a lot of oil.

9/11 happened because God was punishing the US for abortion and homosexuality.


AND NOW COMES:

"Europe is right now in the midst of racial suicide because of the declining birth rate."


This moment brought to you by an alleged man of God.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Gonzales Let's One Slip

Under friendly questioning from Republican Senator Kyl, Alberto Gonzales inadvertently undercut a key GOP talking point on its warrantless spying:

Kyl asked whether this kind of spying is authorized for communications between two al Qaeda suspects who are both within the United States. Gonzales responded NO, and that they would have to look into the legality of that.

How can that be, since, in the faux folksy manner George W. Bush likes to use when discussing this matter, "If al Qaeda calls, we want to know what they are sayin'?" If this is so important for national security, why not monitor conversations within the US? Why monitor only international calls?

Let the Lies Begin

The Senate is grilling Attorney General Gonzales on the warrantless wiretapping of Americans Mr. Bush has been running. Before the hearings, the Democrats wanted Gonzales to be placed under oath, like when was being confirmed for his Attorney General appointment. The GOP, for no expressed reason, said no. The decks are now clear for Mr. Gonales to lie his behind off.

This will be fascinating.