by Tom Kertes, Tue Oct 25, 2005 at 08:58:12 AM EDT
that the number of American military deaths in Iraq had passed the 2,000 mark.
The difference between 1,999 deaths and 2,000 deaths speaks more to a fondness of round numbers than to any trend. It's a grim milestone - a chance to stop and reflect on what George Bush is doing to America's military families.
2,000 dead soldiers is 2,000 grieving mothers, 2,000 grieving fathers. It's thousands of children, cousins, aunts and uncles. It's friends, co-workers, lovers, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends. It's childhood memories. First kisses. Camping trips. Getting stoned with buddies. Shoplifting at 13. Standing with friends. Fights. Tears. Laughs. Hugs.
2,000 dead soldiers is over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians. And that is over 200,000 parents. Countless children, cousins, aunts and uncles. Countless hugs, tears, joys and all the other little things in life.
Cross posted: Political Porn
by Tom Kertes, Sat Oct 22, 2005 at 03:52:07 PM EDT
When Dan Rather reads the news with a machine gun, Bible and American flag at his side, we'll know that modern democratic liberalism is dead. (And since the American flag is already plastered all over the news, we're two steps on the way to the funeral.)
"Good evening, and welcome to your program, 'The weekly news overview for the Muslim community.'" With this friendly greeting, the program begins. Their contrast to the image with which they're paired -- the anchor man is wearing a military uniform and a black mask and upon his table rests a Koran and a machine gun -- could hardly be more jarring. And indeed, this is no normal television show. It's al-Qaida TV -- the terror group's latest attempt to widen its group of sympathizers. Source: Spiegel Online (Germany)
by Tom Kertes, Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 03:17:12 PM EDT
The United States has locked most of our most caring people into the least effective and stupidest organizations possible: Non-profit social service agencies. These agencies seem good, since they do good things like deliver hot meals, pass out bags of surplus food and pat themselves on the back all the time. But the reality is that most non-profits aren't good, they're just "not bad."
Non-profits are primarily patronage and public relations programs. They are also a kind of outsourcing initiative, with non-profits saving money by doing work that should be done by higher paid and better benefited government employees. As patronage and public relations programs, non-profits are very effective. A big part of what they do is link politicians to people who care about issues, by inviting the pols to thank you galas, ribbon cuttings and other p.r. events. Non-profits spend a great deal of their time and resources gathering money - which positions them as key nodes in the fund raising networks that politicians depend on.
Cross posted: Political Porn
by Tom Kertes, Thu Oct 20, 2005 at 08:27:58 AM EDT
The United States is responsible for the conduct and the supervision of its soldiers. And it looks like the culture of the war, and the conduct of our soldiers, is a disgrace. Here is a photo from the burning of killed "enemy combatants" for public display.
From transcripts of the original Australian broadcast:
Reporter: At the top of the hills above the village the soldiers have taken the tactics of psychological warfare to a grotesque and disturbing extreme. US soldiers have set fire to the bodies of the two Taliban killed the night before. The burning of the corpses and the fact that they've been laid out facing Mecca is a deliberate desecration of Muslim beliefs.
Soldier: Wow, look at the blood coming out of the mouth on that one, fucking straight death metal.
Reporter: PsyOps specialist Sergeant Jim Baker then broadcast an inflammatory message over the loudspeakers in order to taunt and bait the enemy. Source
We are either bound by the rule of civilized law or we are not. When we invade other countries we have the absolute responsbility to do so (yes, I know that there's a paradox here) in a civilized and lawful manner.
Cross posted at Political Porn
by Tom Kertes, Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 10:48:01 AM EDT
I just got back from a two week trip to Germany. I had a wonderful time, and came back in love with Munich and Berlin. My best friend just moved to Berlin. I went to Germany for the baptism of his son, my godson Otto.
Last week I visited a place where 200,000 Jews, gays and others were either killed, moved someplace else to be killed or made slaves by their government. A few days before that I visited an exhibit on law, justice and torture during the Dark Ages. I can't help but think of how these two places connect to the upcoming debates about Harriet Miers.
originally posted at my blog: Politcal Porn
by Tom Kertes, Mon Oct 17, 2005 at 11:45:44 AM EDT
According to a report from the Washington Post
today (via front page Seattle Times), "House GOP lawmakers will take steps to cut as much as $50 billion from the fiscal 2006 budget for health care for the poor, food stamps and farm supports, and will consider across-the-board cuts in other programs." This may mark a real turning point for the Democrats, if they handle it right.
Cross posted at Political Porn
by Tom Kertes, Mon Sep 26, 2005 at 09:01:17 AM EDT
After a day of "being Bill," by wearing a pink dress, matching heels and a pink purse to the Peace March in DC, I decided it was time to get a bit riskier. My legs were almost broken from marching in the heels all day, so now it was time to break the law.
Breaking the law is a tricky thing to do, even when it's just a little law, such as sneaking onto someone's property to play an innocent prank (and get a great photo). I was scared to death (well, almost) when I trespassed on the yard of Bill and Hillary Clinton's DC home to hang a banner on the front door of their house with the rest of the campaign staff at Bill-for-First-Lady.com. I stood in front of the banner that read "Move the Clintons Back In! Bill-for-First-Lady.com 2008" And our photographer snapped photos, unable to see in any direction but straight ahead - sweating, my heart pounding - wondering if we'd get out before the Secret Service or Green Berets stormed us as we stood on the former President's, current Senator's and future President's home.
by Tom Kertes, Sat Sep 24, 2005 at 11:32:25 PM EDT
I was Bill Clinton at the Peace March in Washington, DC. I've never been famous,
or president, or had anyone but my mother want to take my photo before. But
today well over 5,000 people snapped photos of me. I grinned, I smiled, I laughed...
and no one saw any of it. I was the guy underneath an oversized (think "Jack"
from Jack-in-the-Box) head of Bill Clinton. People stood in a row of 15 and
took my photos. Click. Click. Click. Then in groups of 5. Click. Click. And
on and on like that for hours. Of course, I wasn't just sporting an over-sized
Bill head, I had on a pink suit and pearls with high heels and a pink purse
to match. I was Bill as First Lady, campaigning for Hillary for president in
2008 with the Bill-for-First-Lady.com
Yes, I was Bill Clinton in a pink dress, heels and a matching purse, at Saturday's
pro-peace rally and march in Washington DC. I stood in front of the White House
with a couple of campaign staffers as the march passed by. We were campaigning
for Bill's (hopefully) new role as First Lady in 2008.
by Tom Kertes, Tue Sep 20, 2005 at 05:49:56 AM EDT
Getting heard. Being understood. Creating change.
Politics is not about what I believe. And it's not about what you believe. It's about what we believe, as community. And it's about turning community beliefs and values into community action.
To function as a community a lot of talking and a lot of listening must take place. That's how values get shared, priorities set and politics decided. To be effective at politics, you've got to get heard, be understood and create change.
Getting heard requires more than just talk. That's because there is so much noise, so much static and so much interference that to get heard you've got to stand out. And not only must you stand out, but you must also do so in a way that gets you point across.
by Tom Kertes, Tue Sep 06, 2005 at 09:07:46 PM EDT
What is wrong with Americans that we don't protest or demonstrate, even in times of national political crisis. Sure, will memorialize, cry in public and lend a helping hand. But when it comes to hitting a political crisis head on, we are like deer in a headlight. Why do only 1-2% of Americans actually value going out to demonstrate, to make it costly for our government to be overthrown, or to make a ruckus when things go as badly as they did last week? What's wrong with us? Do we even care about democracy?
I ask this as we are presented with a series of protests tomorrow (Sept 7) - in the hopes that more will join in this time. In part, I ask in response to those who think that we can only handle one protest (the one in DC on the 24th), and that it's a bit much to ask citizens to be part of a news cycle, to make demands while a crisis is unfolding. More info: Demand Bush Resign - Nationwide Katrina protests Wed Sept 7th
more on why we don't protest below fold...