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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pawlenty violates constitution

A judge has ruled that MN Governor Tim Pawlenty violated the constitution. Pawlenty is a threat to democracy, and an enemy of good government.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009 Christmas Blog Post

Seasons Greetings to family and to friends, old and new. As many of you know, this blog is mostly political, but once a year, I use it as a personal update, where I try to resist talking about politics, though some years it can be quite difficult, because the Green Party is “Who I Am.”

I write this Christmas Blog Post instead of sending out Christmas cards. This is ironic because my day job is delivering mail, but hey, I figure I deserve the break. I do appreciate receiving postal cards and letters, and we do appreciate the business, though I recommend the use of recycled paper whenever possible. (Some have pointed out the environmental impact of my job. I guess I go where the economy takes me!)

On the job front, I’m thankful to have an honest living, and a feeling of relative job security. My route has slipped to 36 hours, but I am hopeful the decrease will level out soon. It is said that mail is a leading economic indicator, so let me know and I’ll “keep you posted.”

Spencer graduated from high school this year. His mom kindly invited my family to the open house, and it was great to catch up with former in-laws who I hadn’t seen in a long time. They had a karaoke machine there, and I sang “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” as a tribute to Michael Jackson. (My niece Suzanne has put our “
Billie Bob” video on YouTube!) Spencer sang “Lean On Me.” Luckily, most of the guests had left by the time I sang “It’s Been a While” by Staind, haha.

Spencer is now taking science classes at the University of Minnesota, on the Minneapolis campus. This fall, we helped him move into a dorm on the St. Paul campus, where he catches the same shuttle bus my sister Janet and I used to take when we parked at our grandmother’s. Spencer’s dorm is just up the mall from the Andrew Boss Meat Science Lab, named after his great, great grandfather. Spencer is the fifth generation to attend the U, including his mom and me, my father, his father, and his father-in-law. My grandfather, also named Spencer Cleland, also taught agriculture at the U. This fall, Janet and I attended the homecoming parade and pep fest, visiting with Spence and his girlfriend.

My sponsored child Celso has also started college, in the Philippines. He is a leader of his ballroom dance group, which competes each December, which brings me to my next topic.

Last New Year’s, I wanted to go where people were staying up past midnight, so I went to a dance school party. I made it my resolution to become a competent social dancer, and I’m pleased to say, I think I did it! This past Saturday, I danced the tango and cha cha with my instructor in the Holiday Showcase. I was pleased that Janet and her friend were able to attend and watch me dance. So far I have a modest repertoire of steps in about 12 ballroom and Latin dances.

Shifting abruptly to a more serious note, in October we attended the funeral of my Aunt Marty, who died at age 75 of pancreatic cancer. She is missed by all.

For those interested in what I’ve been up to politically, I’m including some brief descriptions and links. On
July 4, I blogged about how I may have unwittingly tipped the balance in the election of Al Franken. On July 20, I held a press conference with six candidates running in Minneapolis. I worked mainly on three city council campaigns: Marcus Harcus, whose contest went to Instant Runoff, Dave Bicking, who got the most votes of any Green, and Jeanine Estimé, who received a majority of second-choice votes, and who I blogged about Nov. 10. On Nov. 7, at our state meeting, I was honored to be recognized, along with Amber Garlan, in a speech by Cynthia McKinney, for getting her on the ballot in 2008. And I hope you’ll also check out my Dec. 23 review of all my predictions which came true. I guess I fancy myself as some sort of modern-day Nostradamus!

I am looking forward to Christmas at my nieces’. I have been assigned the task of preparing the Christmas curry.

Once again, I want to wish you all the warmest holiday greetings, and as we celebrate Christmas with all its various trappings, let us not forget the reason for the season: The prospect of spiritual renewal and everlasting life, the greatest gift of all, made possible by the birth of the sun. ; )


2008 Christmas Blog Post

Reviewing my predictions

Now that the year is ending, we are treated to the annual parade of end-of-year lists. I thought it might be nice to review some of my past predictions.

On Jun. 3, 2008, I predicted the VP running mates would be Tim Pawlenty and Amy Klobuchar. I at least got it right that it would be a white man and a white woman, and the white woman would be a relative newcomer, but I definitely got the parties switched around.

On Nov. 7, 2008, I predicted Obama would not make much progress on the following issues:

Single payer health care
Nuclear power phase out
Sign the Kyoto Protocol
Repeal the Military Commissions Act
Reverse the FISA laws allowing domestic spying
Test troops for depleted uranium
Repeal Taft-Hartley
Indict Bush and Cheney
Independent investigation of 9/11
Investigate $2 trillion missing Pentagon money
Living wage of at least the federally-defined poverty level

So far these predictions have all come true, but that was easy, since Obama never promised any of it.

On Nov. 8, 2008, I predicted people would be squeezed economically. This year, unemployment hit 10%, and it’s still unclear whether we have turned the corner. Home foreclosures have continued, and were up in the third quarter. Yes, Bush left a huge mess, but BHO’s first 100 days were nothing like FDR’s.

Also on Nov. 8, 2008, I predicted there would be some sort of early media distraction. The inaugural invocation by Rick Warren may have fit the bill, while Obama failed to issue an executive order suspending implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” among many missed opportunities on Day 1. Media distractions like the passing of Michael Jackson and the infidelity of Tiger Woods may have been unavoidable as the administration pushed for some sort of health care reform later in the year. However, I would argue that, in a way, health care reform was itself a distraction. I know that there’s something to be said for “staying on message,” but with all the attention on health care, other reforms, like the Employee Free Choice Act, have had to wait. Apparently they can’t “walk and chew gum at the same time” as it is so often described. Republicans know how to ram their agenda through, but Democrats seem to throw it back on the people, rather than expediting the people’s business on their own.

On Nov. 13, 2008, I suggested that Obama would allow enough reforms to keep the economy afloat, but that the corporate bankers would still be allowed to reap huge profits from interest on loans. I think that was pretty accurate.

On Nov. 18, 2008, I expressed concerns about President Obama’s security. The party crashers at the recent White House state dinner with India certainly surprised us. Recently, liberal radio talkers have wondered if the mafia isn’t pulling Obama’s strings from behind the scenes.

Also on Nov. 18, 2008, I predicted that the credit crisis would include an event which significantly affects the average person. I’m not sure that has specifically come true, although credit card rates are expected to rise, despite the new law.

On Nov. 22, 2008, I included some tongue-in-cheek predictions: “Joe Lieberman anguishes over whether to confirm a Supreme Court appointment. Ted Kennedy is brought in by stretcher to cast a dramatic tie-breaking vote.”

While Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by a comfortable 68-31 margin, Joe Lieberman has been utterly loathed lately for threatening to filibuster the health care bill. And while Ted Kennedy passed away this year, Robert Byrd was brought in by wheelchair this week in blizzard conditions to achieve the 60 votes needed to break the Republican filibuster threat.

Also on Nov. 22, 2008, I expressed serious concerns about Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He is now widely seen as a tool for Wall Street.

On Nov. 25, 2008, I predicted that Obama would do a balancing act between working people and rich people. This one may have been wrong, since Obama seems to be coming down on the side of the rich people.

On Dec. 1, 2008, I predicted that Obama would not consider PRT or mitigate sonar. To the best of my knowledge, these were accurate.

John Munter and Dave Bicking were correct in predicting Obama would bomb Pakistan.

As things stand today…

Guantanamo and Bagram AFB are still open.
U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Troops are not being tested for depleted uranium.
…and much more.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Unanswered health care questions

I listen to a lot of talk radio, but I haven’t heard the answers to these questions. When I’m at work I can’t call in, so if anybody knows, please post a comment.

1) Can Lieberman still filibuster after the bill goes through the conference committee?
2) Bernie Sanders withdrew his bill after the Satanist Republican Sen. Colburn insisted the bill be read aloud, and it was 700 pages. I thought Sanders’ friend Thom Hartmann said Medicare Part E (for Everybody) would only be about 3 pages. Why doesn’t Sanders submit that instead? Or, if the current bill is so bad, let them read the 700?
3) Ed Schultz talked about having a town hall meeting in Canada. Whatever happened with that? Couldn’t get a passport? My understanding is that Canadians who come here for treatment are still covered by the Canadian plan, except for certain elective procedures.
4) Can progressives win enough Senate seats to get 60 votes in 2010? Of the four Conservidems that are holding everything up, only Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas is up for reelection in 2010. The others are Joe Lieberman, Connecticut, 2012; Ben Nelson, Nebraska, 2012; and Mary Landrieu, Louisiana, 2014.
5) If they’re going to mandate 40 million people to buy health insurance, what if the individuals can’t pay for it?

Friday, December 04, 2009

I’m calling you a racist

It’s not logical at all. A Minneapolis cop kills a kid. The evidence is unclear at best, but the Police Chief rewards the cop anyway, sending a dangerous message to the department and the community. It’s part of a pattern of brutality, resulting in millions of dollars paid out in lawsuit settlements. The Police Chief comes up for reappointment, and must be approved by the City Council. The citizens have a chance to replace the Police Chief by voting out the City Council, but they don’t. In the weeks leading up to reappointment, there is no public outcry.

Why do the cops behave this way, and why do the voters permit it? I quote from the 2001 book “Police Unbound” by Anthony V. Bouza, retired Minneapolis Police Chief…

Page 13: “There is a clear, yet subliminal, message being transmitted that the cops, if they are to remain on the payroll, had better obey. The overclass—mostly white, well-off, educated, suburban, and voting—wants the underclass—frequently minority, homeless, jobless, uneducated, and excluded—controlled and, preferably, kept out of sight. Property rights are more sacred than human lives. And some lives are more precious than others.”

…In 2009, the voters have spoken, and the message appears to be the same: Get tough on crime. We don’t care how you do it. We don’t want to be bothered with it. Randomly beat people if you have to. Never mind cultural and language barriers. Teach the community a lesson, that if you run from a cop, you can be shot. Juveniles like Fong Lee are expendable…

Page 17-18: “‘Stand-up guys,’ who protect the brethren, keep quiet, and back you up, are proudly pointed out…‘Rats’ are scorned, shunned, excluded, condemned, harassed, and almost invariably, cast out.”

…This would explain why Police Chief Tim Dolan gave the Medal of Valor to the shooter, Jason Andersen. This would explain why the other cops did not contradict Andersen. I find it quite plausible that the gun used as evidence was retrieved from the police property room. The gun’s owner, Dang Her, testified that his stolen gun had been recovered and was in police possession…

Page 19-20: “Policing provides a fascinating look at the real animal beneath the patina of civilization we conceitedly assume to be our true nature…. Cops, by learning just how very thin the veneer of civilization is over every human’s psychic skin, know what that animal is capable of.”

…It’s easy for latte liberals on listservs to spout the common wisdom from the comfort of their chairs, desks, and computer screens, and to become enablers for the entrenched power structure, waiting around to see what other people do. What they can’t see are the vicious moral hazards that they themselves have created…

Page 23: “The overwhelming majority of cops are dedicated, noble workers, but the unstated truth is that they are all complicit in the code of silence.”

…If there is a code of silence, then there cannot be transparency and accountability. There cannot be justice. If there is an entrenched culture of silence on the inside, then it is up to us on the outside to change that culture, by bringing in new methods, new leadership, and if necessary, new personnel…

Page 24: “A search warrant for drugs was being executed on an apartment when a black woman walked by on the sidewalk in front of the building. She was swept up and roughly rushed into the apartment, strip-searched, and after an hour reluctantly released. She, to everyone’s surprise, sued. No one expected a ‘street person’ to complain…. The city attorney for the cops had been perfectly content to have a compliant jury, very likely mostly white, sop up the police fictions. He knew that white America loves and trusts its cops, whatever the police protestations to the contrary.”

…I see a real racial component to police misconduct in Minneapolis. Examples include the fatal tasering of Quincy Smith, the beating of Darryl Jenkins, the harassment of Somali cab drivers, and the racial discrimination settlement with five high-ranking black officers. And I see a real racial component to societal attitudes. An all-white jury acquitted Jason Andersen. They probably wrote off Fong Lee as just another Hmong gang member…

Page 28: “The overclass wants—rightly, it must be said—order, but it also wants tidiness. It does not want to encounter unappetizing or threatening visions. Messages are transmitted in evolving and usually carefully woven euphemisms. ‘Law and order’ gave way to ‘those people,’ and currently the threat is ‘gangs and outsiders.’ The cops get it. They’d better. The overclass will not admit that its practices of privilege and exclusion create pressures for the underclass that drive it to revolt. This takes the form of street crime and, occasionally dotted over our history, riots.”

…And when there’s a chance to take actions that might relieve the pressures on the underclass, the overclass is mostly silent. When racism is occurring in front of you, silence implies consent. Racism is prejudice plus power. Your prejudice is that people of color are ok as collateral damage in the war on crime. Your power is your vote, your time, your money, and your influence as an opinion leader. If this is not on your radar screen, ask yourself why. If you’re not upset about this, if you’re not voting against it, speaking out against it, or doing something about it, then I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re a racist.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Outside job?

Obama’s Afghanistan strategy seems entirely based on the assumption that 9/11 was an outside job. I’d like to see more evidence to that effect before I take him seriously. I thought Omar Saeed Sheikh of the Pakistan military intelligence wired the money. Why doesn’t Obama level with the American people? One radio caller said yesterday that along the natural gas pipeline is where most of our troops are stationed. And we know that Hamed Kharzai was with UNOCAL. I can see trying to improve human rights for women, but I don’t think that was one of the reasons given. Generally, wars violate the Green Party Key Value of Nonviolence, which is why Greens have been against this war from the start.