AskWHYBlog: Carol Harvey In San Francisco

As Sentient Beings We Have The Right to Relentlessly Ask WHY --- And Demand Answers! PLEASE ASK WHY!

Friday, December 31, 2004

WHAT ARE THE EARTHQUAKE/ TSUNAMI DEATH TOLLS?

Friday, January 7, 2005: (AP) Tsunami Death tolls are reported as reaching 147,000.

As of 1:01 AM PST on Friday, December 31, 2004, several television networks (PBS, ABC, and others) put the estimated death totals at 118,000. Tolls are expected to rise to over 150,000. My personal estimate has always been, and continues to be 200,000.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday, December 30, 2004 that "according to official figures" "at least 114,758 people were killed in 11 countries in southern Asia and Africa."

For up-to-the-minute reports for Tuesday, January 4, 2005, on the Tsunami death toll and aid relief see this Associated Press site.

And thisNPR site.

These low totals estimated on Friday, December 31, 2004 were from government and official reports. They are much higher now, so "and counting" accurately reflects an exponentially rising body count.

- Indonesia: 79,940 on Sumatra, and counting.

- Sri Lanka: 24,743.

- India: 7,330, and counting.

- Thailand: 2,394.

- Somalia: 114, and counting.

- Myanmar: 90, and counting.

- Malaysia: At least 65, including some tourists.

- Maldives: 69, and counting.

- Tanzania: 10.

- Bangladesh: 2.

- Kenya: 1.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

WHY SHOULD YOU KNOW DOUG FERRARI?








BECAUSE HE'S ONE OF THE FUNNIEST STANDUP COMICS IN THE BAY AREA.
AND HE TELLS THE TRUTH.


"FOUR MORE YEARS OF THE WRONG PRESIDENT"

By Doug Ferrari

It’s obvious from the vote fraud and the “irregularities” (nice euphemism for “they screwed us”) that Kerry won the electoral votes. But for now, it’s time to bring back all my Bush jokes. I voted for Kerry because everyone said they wanted a strong and courageous leader, and according to the Repugnicans, Kerry shot himself five times to win those medals. That takes courage. He put shrapnel up his own ass, and that takes guts, doesn’t it? Then he pussied out and quit the morning after the “election.” Don’t get me started on Kerry. I’m more mad at him than I am at Bush.

Bush “won” on God, gays, and guns. Also by saying the word “terror” one thousand times. Terror alerts always help during an election. Like they ever told us what to do when it turns orange --- wear a hat? The people who invented the terror alerts are the same ones who told all of us baby-boomers to get under our desks during air raid drills. “Duck and cover.” How was that supposed to work? Were we going to be protected by that layer of old gum?

Bush wants to bring Democracy to the whole world but couldn’t find the earth on a globe.

He and the religious right want to ban abortion because all human life is sacred to them… until it’s born. Then you’re on your own. “We cut the cord, now get a job, you little lazy bald bum. We have just the spot for you in our ‘all volunteer’ army ---‘no child left behind,’ remember?”

It’s ironic that Bush is against stem cell research, because it’s his last chance to get a brain. I blame Laura Bush. She’s a teacher. You’d think she would have gotten him Hooked On Phonics or something. Get him some flash cards. He doesn’t want us teaching evolution because he knows he didn’t quite make it all the way.

He’s not the main villain. We know it’s Dick Cheney who even looks like a James Bond villain. I bet there’s a piranha tank in his office. All the people who work for Bush are from the Nixon Administration and the Reagan Administration. I blame medical technology. These old fuckers should be dead by now. They must live off the blood of virgins and small children.

Not only is Bush the worst president in history, he’s the worst one on the environment. He has a bill to allow more pollution called the Clear Skies Act. Who cares how much poison is in it as long as it’s clear? He’s allowing logging of national forests and calls it the Healthy Forests Initiative. Sure, you can’t have a forest fire if all the friggin’ trees are gone. They said it would create “a natural, uncrowded environment.” The birds have so much more elbow room when they’re all sitting on the ground. I guess they’re going to level all the mountains and call that the Better View Bill. He says the jury is out on global warming. It’s sunny in San Francisco all year round now. Are you telling me something isn’t screwed up?

They also say they don’t believe in the hole in the ozone layer. Come on. We all know there’s a hole the size of Australia over the North Pole. I saw a National Geographic special --- the penguins had tan lines. They had sun block on their beaks. If they ever do admit to a problem, they’re probably going to try to take the rest of the ozone in the world and just comb it over the top.

All Bush’s projects have those bogus names. But, they actually do make sense: it’s equal and opposite implementation. “Help America Vote” --- we just saw what that meant. What keeps me up at night is “Restore the Constitution” --- can’t wait to see what Alberto “Abu Ghraib” Gonzalez will do with that one. Hope there's cable TV at Gitmo!

Bush hasn’t done anything right, but it doesn’t matter because all his zombies keep saying what a great success he is. Like the claim that we won the war in Iraq. Mission accomplished! The Iraqis are now free --- free to form an anti-Western Islamic theocracy. We’ve also freed 50,000 or 100,000 Iraqis from life on Earth.

What does Bush know about war? His father was a war hero. We know because CNN keeps running a special on him called, “A Flyboy’s Story.” They’re going to do one on Bush’s Vietnam years called “Full Dinner Jacket.”

You can’t have a religious war. It will never end. You can’t bomb a belief. There are good Muslims, and there are fanatic fundamentalist terrorist Muslims, and they’re winning because there are millions of young male Muslims who have never had a job, never seen a woman, and never been laid. They just get them together and say, like the Taliban did, “You can’t have alcohol. You can’t have television. You can’t have music. You can’t have photography. You can’t fly a kite, and if you ever get a wife, she has to dress like a beekeeper. Now, who wants to strap dynamite to themselves and die?” “Me first! Take me, please!!!” You take away my TV for three days, and I’ll blow myself up.

Congress just passed the new spending bill --- 3,000 pages that nobody read. Nice going. They’ve funded Mars research but couldn’t fund childcare for families trying to get off welfare. Maybe Bush is planning to send poor people to Mars. (What would you prefer, another four years of Bush or roughing it in outer space?)

I hope before Bush invades Iran, he invades the United States. Then WE can have health care, education, jobs, and free elections. Wouldn’t that be nice?

(This article first appeared on the cover of "Street Sheet," a publication of San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. It is reprinted with the kind permission of Chance Martin, Editor, and writers/ comedians, Beth and Doug Ferrari. Catch Doug at the Marsh Upstairs on January 28, and in many clubs around the Bay Area.)
WHERE IS ALL THE U.S. TSUNAMI AID MONEY GOING?

As bodies lay bloating in Thailand, Sumatra, India, and Indonesia, and as Sri Lankans dug graves with their bare hands, the Sri Lankan Ambassador pled for food, medicines, and water purification tablets to protect survivors of earthquake-generated tsunamis against diarrhea and bowel diseases.

The World Health Organization warned that cholera could double the number of dead, which at 3:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday, December 29, 2004, has reached 60,000.

Help is pouring in from individuals and aid organizations world wide.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004, The United States announced it more than doubled its initial pledge of $15 million dollars. raising the amount to $35 million. The State Department said The Agency For International Development planned to offer a $20 million dollar line of credit.

Yet, Jan Egaland, the UN Under Secretary General of Humanitarian Affairs insisted Western Countries need to do more to address what could be one of the worst disasters in human history.

He said, "We were more generous when we were less rich. It is beyond me why we are so stingy."

Colin Powell responded defensively saying he wished Egaland hadn't said this. "The United States has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." He cited a "significant increase" in aid.

Egaland protested that he had not singled out any one country.

But, Europeans, Africans, and Asians know that, relative to its wealth, America gave less to "ethnically cleansed" Ruwandan and Darfour survivors than any other country.

They watch the U.S. slash its own safety net --- health care, care for the poor, the young, the elderly ---to fight a war which slashes Iraqi lives.

Bush put three trillion into a botched missile sheild but didn't spend money to protect our soldiers with combat vehicle armor technology readily available in Silicon Valley.

Is that where all the aid money is going?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

WHO REFUSED TO SIGN THE PATRIOT ACT?






ANSWER: A single Senator and 66 Representatives refused to sign the Patriot Act in 2001.

Here are profiles of three:

UPDATED FRIDAY, JANUARY 28, 2005, TO INCLUDE:

REPRESENTATIVE BERNIE SANDERS, INDEPENDENT, VERMONT
(See above: 'Which Congress Member is Undoing the Patriot Act?')

REPRESENTATIVE BARBARA LEE, DEMOCRAT, CALIFORNIA

AND

SENATOR RUSS FEINGOLD, DEMOCRAT, WISCONSIN

AND

REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS KUCINICH, DEMOCRAT, OHIO?

Here are brief profiles of three Congressmembers who did not sign the Patriot Act.

BARBARA LEE

Congresswoman Barbara Lee was born in El Paso, Texas in 1946 and moved with her family to California in 1960.

She studied Psychology at Mills College, and graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a Masters in Social Work. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband. The couple has two daughters.

On April 7, 1998, Lee was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Her 9th Congressional District is one of the nation's most progressive.

In an interview posted to "The Nation" on September 20, 2001, Bay Area Representative Lee recalled standing alone against the Congressional vote to respond to the 911 attacks with military force.

She warned of "a rush to judgment," and a fellow Congressperson's words, "As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore."

Of the Patriot Act Barbara Lee said it "fundamentally alters the nature of our civil liberties" and "...does little to increase public safety."

At a March 2003 San Francisco anti-war rally, Lee announced her plans to introduce a resolution against force in Iraq and to repeal the USA Patriot Act.

Barbara Lee reported receiving many personal threats after she stood her ground virtually alone. She is much admired and respected by her constituents and throughout the Bay Area.



On December 27, 2004, at 9:58 PM, WindyCityLefty wrote saying, "I believe that Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) also voted against it. His opponent in the last election used it as his main point and Feingold beat him handily."

"WindyCityLefty" is correct.


RUSS FEINGOLD

Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold has served in the Senate since 1992. He was an Oxford Rhodes Scholar and graduated Harvard Law School.

He has worked with John McCain on Campaign Finance Reform, and he won his first campaign with virtually no money.

Senator Feingold supports gay rights, health care reform, AIDS prevention, and the preservation of social security. He is strong on the environment and wants improved foreign policy.

As Ranking Member of the Constitution Subcommittee Senator Feingold is positioned to understand and uphold the core values protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

In his October 12, 2001 Milwaukee address to Associated Press managing editors, "On Opposing the U.S. Patriot Act," Senator Feingold said that it is especially in times of crisis "that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action.

"The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.... In no other way can we transmit to posterity unimpaired the blessings of liberty, consecrated by the sacrifices of the Revolution."

He voted against the Patriot Act on the grounds that it limits American Civil Rights.

(See WindyCityLefty's BLOG for more excellent material on Russell Feingold.)


DENNIS KUCINICH

In his own words from his website:

"It's time for our Party to show some backbone. It's time to stand for the repeal of the PATRIOT Act. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I spoke against it, I voted against it, and I introduced legislation for its repeal. From traveling across America, it's unmistakably clear to me that there is an almost universal rejection of the PATRIOT Act.

Just 45 days after the September 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush rammed the PATRIOT Act through Congress with virtually no debate. This law poses an unprecedented threat to Americans' individual freedoms and is a violation of our civil liberties. Many provisions of the act had been long sought after by law enforcement and repeatedly rejected by Congress in the past.

Without a warrant or probable cause, the FBI can now search your private medical records or access your library records. Your doctor or local library is forbidden from notifying you when these searches take place. The government may search your home while you are away and in some cases even confiscate your property. Judicial oversight of these measures is virtually nonexistent. These are only a few of the PATRIOT Act's provisions that compromise our civil liberties."


BELOW ARE THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VOTES ON THE PATRIOT ACT

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The Bill Title was: "To deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world."

On October 24, 2001 at 11:05 AM there were 357 YEAS, and 66 NAYS, and 9 Not Voting.

Of 66 NAYS, Ney, Otter, and Paul were the only Republicans. All the rest were Democrats. (I have added the first names of the Reps I have, to date, profiled in this BLOG.)

Baldwin,
Barrett,
Blumenauer,
Bonior,
Boucher,
Brown (OH),
Capuano,
Clayton,
Conyers,
Coyne,
Cummings,
Davis (IL),
DeFazio,
DeGette,
Dingell,
Farr,
Filner,
Frank,
Hastings (FL),
Hilliard,
Honda.
Jackson (IL),
Jackson-Lee (TX),
Johnson, E. B.,
Jones (OH),
Dennis Kucinich,
Barbara Lee,
Lewis (GA),
McDermott,
McGovern,
McKinney,
Meek (FL),
Miller,
George,
Mink,
Mollohan,
Nadler,
Ney,
Oberstar,
Olver,
Otter,
Owens,
Pastor,
Paul,
Payne,
Peterson (MN),
Rahall,
Rivers,
Rush,
Sabo,
Sanchez,
Bernie Sanders,
Schakowsky,
Scott,
Serrano,
Stark,
Thompson (MS),
Tierney,
Udall (CO),
Udall (NM),
Velazquez,
Visclosky,
Waters,
Watson (CA),
Watt (NC),
Woolsey,
Wu

SENATE VOTE ON THE PATRIOT ACT: This one is easier. Out of 100 Senators, one abstained, and of the 99 remaining, every Senator except for Russell Feingold voted for the Patriot Act.

NAYs ---1
Russell Feingold (D-WI)

Not Voting - 1
Landrieu (D-LA)

Grouped By YEAs ---98
Akaka (D-HI)
Allard (R-CO)
Allen (R-VA)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Bennett (R-UT)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Bond (R-MO)
Boxer (D-CA)
Breaux (D-LA)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burns (R-MT)
Byrd (D-WV)
Campbell (R-CO)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Carnahan (D-MO)
Carper (D-DE)
Chafee (R-RI)
Cleland (D-GA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corzine (D-NJ)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dayton (D-MN)
DeWine (R-OH)
Dodd (D-CT)
Domenici (R-NM)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Edwards (D-NC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Fitzgerald (R-IL)
Frist (R-TN)
Graham (D-FL)
Gramm (R-TX)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagel (R-NE)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Helms (R-NC)
Hollings (D-SC)
Hutchinson (R-AR)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Inouye (D-HI)
Jeffords (I-VT)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Kohl (D-WI)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (D-CT)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Lott (R-MS)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Miller (D-GA)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Nickles (R-OK)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Santorum (R-PA)
Sarbanes (D-MD)
Schumer (D-NY)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Smith (R-NH)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thomas (R-WY)
Thompson (R-TN)
Thurmond (R-SC)
Torricelli (D-NJ)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)
Wellstone (D-MN)
Wyden (D-OR)



Thursday, December 23, 2004

IS THE PATRIOT ACT RETROACTIVE?









Yes. The Patriot Act is retroactive: That is, if someone participates in an act of "terrorism," which could alternatively be called "freedom fighting," and it happened before the passage of the Act, even in another country, the accused person can be prosecuted, detained, and/ or deported.

One such case is actually happening in Michigan. A Turkish "freedom fighter," Ibrahim Parlak, immigrated to the U.S., became an upstanding member of Harbert, Michigan, ran a restaurant, raised a family and contributed to the community.

The Detroit Immigration Court could deport Ibrahim allegedly because his "freedom fighting" is interpreted by his accusers as "terrorism."

The actions in which he participated occurred years before the passage of the Patriot Act.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

WHO IN CONGRESS SIGNS BILLS THEY DON'T READ?







QUESTION: Who Are the Members of Congress Who Signed Us Onto The Patriot Act Without Reading It?

Back in early fall 2004, I rushed to the movies at 1000 Van Ness in San Francisco and stood in long eager lines to see Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911." I was shocked when Michigan Democratic Representative, John Conyers explained how Congress could pass the Patriot Act without reading it.

"Sit down, my son," Conyers told Moore. "We don't read most of the bills."

In the wash of intervening horrific events of Election and War, I shoved this stunning factoid to the back of my mind. The subject came up again tonight, Friday, December 17, 2004, on the PBS NOW program during Bill Moyer's interview of the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero.

Romero has been in the news a lot lately for his investigations of the Pentagon for military torture.

Additionally, Moyers reported that Romero has been "filing suits around the country to find out who is being investigated under the Patriot Act."

Romero defined the ACLU's role stating, "We are there to make sure that the guarantees in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution are not just paper guarantees. They are not just things that we read about and file away in our school papers. Those are things that we live and we breathe and we act on."

He agreed with Moyers that terrorism is here to stay, saying, "This war on terror is unlike any other war we have fought before.

"The questions that Americans and our Congress and our leaders will have to ask is 'How do we want to live in our Democracy in the age of terror?' We want to make sure that we have safety and security, but that alone can't be the sole charge of our government officials.

"We want to make sure that those concerns are equally balanced and represented with our concern for freedom.

"We are Americans dedicated to the Rule of Law," he stated emphatically. "We are Americans who believe that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is what makes us strong as a nation."

Romero pointed out that many Americans have been asked whether we are willing to give up the freedoms of immigrants, arresting, detaining, and deporting them in the service of national security "for reasons that had nothing to do with 911."

However, Americans have never been asked whether we are willing to give up our own freedoms for national security. "That is where the fallacy in bargaining comes out."

Romero pointed out the awesome Powers given to the Government under the Patriot act, the seizing of personal information: library records, financial, and employment records.

"The question," he said, "is not as much 'How are these Powers now being used?' The question is: 'Why are those Powers there in the first place?'

Romero stated that John Ashcroft told Congress he had never tried to use these powers but pointed out that these Powers lie there "like a loaded gun," available for use at any time. Romero knew of a couple of instances where the Government did try to use these powers against an individual citizen.

The question is: 'Is stockpiling law enforcement powers that don't make us any safer good for our Democracy?' Shouldn't we be asking our Government officials to really go through the job of justifying to the American public, 'Are these measures necessary?' 'Are they effective?'"

"And then secondly, we better ask them, 'Are they defensible?' 'Is what you give up worth what you get back in return?'

"That's the debate we ought to have in Congress." He pointed out that we did not have that debate on the Patriot Act.

Bill Moyers recalled the significant fact that many members of Congress admitted that they voted for the Patriot Act, and only read it later, "if at all."

Romero emphasized that at that moment in time the Congress were eager to stand behind the President against terrorism, unable to "ask the tough questions." Were they perhaps incapable of reason because they were afraid? Romero said, they "refused to kick the tire on core issues and core values."

He suggested we ought to keep the parts of the Patriot Act that work to protect us, and that it is up to the American Electorate and the Citizens of the United States to insist of the Congress and the President that the entirety of the Patriot Act be wholly defensible, that it be used to protect our freedoms instead of taking them away.

For a complete transcript of the Moyers-Romero interview, click here, and scroll down through the complete transcript of the NOW program on December 17, 2004, Bill Moyer's last.

See this BLOG for the answer to the question: 'What Are the Names of Members of Congress Who Signed Us Onto The Patriot Act Without Reading It?' Judging from John conyer's comment to Michael Moore, it is a fair assumption that all Congress members who signed onto the Patriot Act did so without reading the entire Act with all its fine print beforehand.
ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: "VALUES" OR "RULES?"






QUESTION: WHAT ARE GEORGE BUSH'S REAL "VALUES?"

I was raised in the Red states of Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, among the good people of the Christian Right. I lived in the Midwest for several decades and attended the same Churches. Then, I left for the far West Blue state of California

Pundits say Bush won the 2004 Presidential election by appealing to the "Values" of the Christian Right in the middle Red states.

This is a distorted use of the word "Values."

The Christian Right is more about "Rules" than "Values." For the Christian Right, these, specifically, are the "Rules" in the Bible's Ten Commandments.

People who need "Rules" sometimes lack an internal moral compass guided by inborn humane values and must cling to an "Outer Authority" to tell them what to do.

Bush and Karl Rove knowingly created a war where there was none without proof of need for war. They jumped on the idea of terror, and then pumped up fear in the groups of people lacking the internal moral compass. Bush spoke to them as a self-appointed Moral Authority saying, "Be afraid. Be very afraid. But, be less afraid if you follow the Rules in the Good Book. Then you, too, will be Good, and God (and I, George Bush) will protect you from all harm."

Then, after tempting them with promises of education and travel, George Bush sent all the sons and daughters of the Good People to die in the war he created.

The Good People will ultimately emerge from the cloud of denial and realize that their children were sent out ahead by the Great Authority Bush to die to protect them --- but also Himself ---from harm. Then perhaps, their great personal pain and loss will teach them that they must develop their own internal moral compass instead of following in blind faith The "Rules" of a Bible thumping leader as he guides them over the edge of the precipice and into the Valley of Death.

Carol Harvey in San Francisco
ARE WE ARE ASSERTIVE CREATORS OR VICTIMS?





THE QUESTION: Is Michael Moore right? Do members of the Bush Camp display abusive behavior? Does this mean those who voted against him automatically become weaklings and victims?

Today, Wednesday, December 15, 2004, because I am subscribed to Michael Moore's email list at www.michaelmoore.com, I received the below email.

I dedicate AskWHYBlog to the sentiments expressed by Michael Moore and his friend, Mel Giles, a woman "who has spent years working as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse who sees many parallels between her work and the reaction of many Democrats to last month’s election." I could not have said this better than they have.

Michael Moore wrote:

It's Time to Stop Being Hit... a letter from Michael Moore

12/13/04

Dear Friends,

It is no surprise that the Republicans are sore winners. They have spent the better part of the past month beating their chests, threatening to send to Siberia any Republican who doesn’t toe the line (poor Arlen Specter), and promising everything short of martial law if the Democrats don’t do what they are told.

What’s worse is to watch the pathetic sight of the DLC (the conservative, pro-corporate group of Democrats) apologizing for being Democrats and promising to “purge” the party of the likes of, well, all of US! Their comments are so hilarious and really not even worth recognizing but the media is paying so much attention to them, I thought it might be worth doing a little reality check.

The most people the DLC is able to get out to an event of theirs is about 200 at their annual dinner (where you have to pay thousands of dollars to get in).

Contrast this with the following:

* Total Members of Move On: More than 2,000,000
* Total Attendance at Vote for Change Concerts: An estimated 280,000
* Total Union Members in U.S.: Around 16,000,000
* Total Number of People Who Have Seen “Fahrenheit 9/11”: Over 50 million
* Total Number of You Reading This: Perhaps 10 million or more

The days of trying to move the Democratic Party to the right are over. We lost a very close election (a one-state difference) by running the #1 liberal in the Senate. Not bad. The country is shifting in our direction, not to the right. But the country was attacked and people were scared. They were manipulated with fear. And America has never thrown a sitting president out during wartime. That’s the facts. Oh, and our candidate could have run a better campaign (but we’ll have that discussion another day).

In the meantime, while we reflect on what went wrong, I would like to pass on to you an essay that a friend who works with abuse victims sent to me. It was written by a woman who has spent years working as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse and she sees many parallels between her work and the reaction of many Democrats to last month’s election. Her name is Mel Giles and here is what she had to say…

Watch Dan Rather apologize for not getting his facts straight, humiliated before the eyes of America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and career of over thirty years. Observe Donna Brazille squirm as she is ridiculed by Bay Buchanan, and pronounced irrelevant and nearly non-existent. Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the ‘new’ language of America. Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated, confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"

And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if they have heard this before.

They will tell you: Every single day.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq, physical violence.

As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.

Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won't; we will never be worthy).

And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance themselves from gays and civil rights. See the Democrats cry for the attention and affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.

How to break free? Again, the answer is quite simple.

First, you must admit you are a victim. Then, you must declare the state of affairs unacceptable. Next, you must promise to protect yourself and everyone around you that is being victimized. You don't do this by responding to their demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right. You also don't do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring its over faster and hurts less if you don't resist and fight back.

Instead, you walk away. You find other folks like yourself, 57 million of them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up. You tell them what you've learned, and that you aren't going to take it anymore. You stand tall, with 57 million people at your side and behind you, and you look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell. Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But it's better than the abuse.

We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core, must not be altered. We are 57 million strong. We are building from the bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break free and we don't know how.

Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who has defied her oppressor will tell you this: There is nothing wrong with you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are strong. You must change only one thing: Stop responding to the abuser.

Don't let him dictate the terms or frame the debate (he'll win, not because he's right, but because force works). Sure, we can build a better grassroots campaign, cultivate and raise up better leaders, reform the election system to make it fail-proof, stick to our message, learn from the strategy of the other side. But we absolutely must dispense with the notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too liberal, naive, amoral, "loose,” irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to be extinct. We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of oppressed people throughout history.

Even if you do everything right, they'll hit you anyway. Look at the poor souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy education.

And they don't even know they are being hit.

How true. And that is our challenge over the next couple of years; to hold out our hand to those being hit the hardest and help them leave behind a party that only seeks to keep beating them, their children, and the kid next door who’s on his way to Iraq.

Yours,

Michael Moore
www.michaelmoore.com
MMFlint@aol.com


POST SCRIPT: When individuals and nations display criminally abusive behavior, we have the right and the obligation to repeatedly and relentlessly ask WHY?
WHY UNARMORED COMBAT VEHICLES IN IRAQ?





On Wednesday, December 8, 2004, Specialist Thomas Wilson of Chattanooga, Tennessee stood in a group of U.S. soldiers in Kuwait and blindsided Donald Rumsfeld questioning why troops have to dig up scrap metal to protect unarmored combat vehicles from being blown up by enemy explosives planted on roads. This seemed an unprecedented rebuke from the military ranks to a Defense Secretary.

Rumsfeld’s response, a game of smoke and obfuscation, said everything.

“I don’t know what the facts are but somebody’s certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know, and that’s a good thing. I think it’s a very constructive exchange,” Rumsfeld said of the questioner.

It a fit of similar incisive thinking, Rumsfeld also rationalized that both armored and unarmored vehicles were at risk. "It's interesting... you can have all the armour in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up."

First question: Have you ever heard any media reports that George W. Bush said something Presidential such as: “This is unforgivable. I expect --- No, I Command --- my Defense Secretary to correct this situation immediately."

Second Question: Did you ever wonder how much value George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld place on the lives of either American soldiers or the Iraqi people when they have subjected them both right from the start to a war launched without an end-game plan, and a slew of fatally sloppy incidents like this?

Third Question: Bush and Rumsfeld seem distracted. Since their attention appears to be focused elsewhere, what is the real agenda?

Carol Harvey in San Francisco – Sunday, December 12, 2004.