Welcome to Prairie Country

Fresh food for thought served up any ol’ time by whim of Prairie Sunshine...do bookmark us and visit often. And share with your friends. And thanks for stopping by.

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

...............................................................Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 31, 2008

Breaking News: Two-fer


Love doin' the Breakin' News...

Seems Hillary has decided there's merit to Dean's 50-State Strategy after all. Announced today that Hillary Clinton will be appearing at the North Dakota State Convention. [details as we learn them]

Last week, Barack Obama was announced as the keynote speaker, kicking off the convention at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, ND.

By the way, this past weekend, ND Republicans held their convention here in Fargo at the local Holiday Inn. Well, at least it wasn't the H.I. Express....

And even though Hillary encompassed little ol' red state ND in that group of unimportant little states not worth considering in campaign 2008, we'll give 'er a warm ND welcome Friday evening, just as Barack Obama will receive earlier. Guess coming in on the tails of Obama is one way to avoid running up an event tab for the reportedly cash-strapped Clinton team.

And we thank both campaigns for helping with the economy of Grand Forks by appearing at the ND Dem-NPL Convention this Friday and drawing sizeable crowds. We encourage those crowds to stay awhile and drop a few coin in the coffers of a city still recovering from its own flood back in '97.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rites of Spring—Wind-up


We're seeing the beginning of the endgame now. Senator Amy Klobuchar is expected to endorse Barack Obama, another Super Delegate speaking out instead of prolonging the likely inevitable. Pundits like David Brooks and Peter Beinhart on Meet the Russet this morning describe Hillary as being in the untenable position of being a strong candidate, not a weak one, with miniscule possibility to win.

Endgame on display in America's game, baseball, too. George strides out on the red carpet and winds up from the pitcher's mound, to a substitute catcher because the regular guy is mired in a steroid scandal. This is about where we came in, folks.... except that now when the old-school media edits out the boos, you can still hear 'em loud and clear on the Internet.

In tonight's episode of John Adams on HBO [you're not watching? shame on you!], there is the awkward first meeting between Adams and George III. Diplomacy begins in place of the war for independence against the foolish, stubborn king.

A hopeful sign for the course of this country once again when the red carpet no longer lays for this George and he is consigned to the wind-up of this sorry administration and time in America's history.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour


Please join the global hour of awareness tonight about...global awareness. Join people and cities around the globe and turn off your lights between 8 pm and 9 pm in your local time zone. Stewards of the earth and all that....

You and I each hold in our own hands the power to turn off the light of awareness...and the power to turn it on.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Wrongs of Spring


Still gathering information, but having heard while driving in the tall timber some emerging details about a show by the Saddle and Sirloin Club at North Dakota State University that insults presidential candidate Barack Obama, women, gays, and who knows who else, I want to go on record immediately with the following:

I graduated from this university. I edited its newspaper back in the day. I had encounters back then with racist attitudes, including by a fraternity. It was an issue I thought would have been left in the dark, ignorant history of those Vietnam era times. I guess I was wrong.

As an alumnus and an almost lifelong resident of Fargo, I am ashamed to know that this kind of activity took place, and it goes to show just how much Barack Obama's speech on racism actually speaks to reality. A sorry time for our university.

And asinine arguments that it was their first amendment right to do it are a pathetic apologist effort. There can be no excusing, no rationalizing, no equivocating on the wrongness of this program.

It was wrong. It was offensive. It was stupid. It was willfully ignorant...of the times and of basic human decency. Mockery of people by stereotype is discrimination.

That it occurred under the umbrella of a university, my university, is beyond offensive. That it reflects the current standard of "willful ignorance" that is promulgated from the White House, through rightwing hate radio and down to the schoolyard is no excuse.

My name is Sandy Scheel Huseby, NDSU, Class of '71, and today, I am ashamed. And I'm sorry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rights of Spring


Chuck Hagel telling Blitzed that Iraq is a fiasco, the framing is wrong...cannot call it win or lose or we'll be there forever...Bush is Alice in Wonderland.

Just in case you hadn't heard that elsewhere.

Blitzed: but, but, but, but...who you gonna endorse, when you gonna endorse, don't you know it's all about "us" and the horse race??????????????

This is a right of spring I have a right to expect from the media if they expect me to take them seriously: Knock off the phony horse race/slugfest memes. Get real.

UPDATE: Some people are...getting real. Matt Taibbi this morning on Imus [interpret the pigeon crap however you will, stay for the conversation about media role....]

Wednesday, March 26, 2008



Just when you think spring's finally arrived and the long, dark winter of fear-n-smearmongering has run its course, out steps Commando Clinton to step in it again. Obviously, nobody would want the daily news cycle to keep regurgitating over and over one's lies about misadventure in Tuzla. So why not bring up the pastor again?

But the clarifying breezes of fresh air—from the pilot who landed the first lady and first daughter's plane a dozen years ago to the CBS reporter who accompanied her on the flight and recounted it this morning on the Imus Show [no, there isn't an Imus link...WABC dropped the ball, as usual]—and the accompanying video from CBS archives cut through the months of campaign spin designed to burnish Hillary's "experience" credentials.

Maybe it was the shamrock scarf...right up there, around her throat, silken fabric drawing tighter and tighter. Lie, Hillary, lie. Tell the blarney or you're history. Or maybe Hillary's just another same ol' same ol' politician, lying when the truth would serve her better. Something about that shamrock scarf moment as she laid on thick the details of a historic "moment" that never happened. And having insulted small states from earlier in the campaign, now she throws in insults to small countries. When the real sham is, the truth of her trip was pretty amazing, and a testimony to personal strength. But even the strongest iron can be broken under the heat of a campaign.

McCain for the moment is scooting around the country fundraising....I guess that would be so he could keep right on a-violating the very campaign finance laws his name is attached to. Not to worry, John, not all the dog-loyal media claque and b-b-q sauce in the world is going to cover up the stench of that.

And then there's Obama...peeved with the press—trying to be left alone—when CNN showed up on the doorstep of his mini-vacation in the Virgin Islands.

Hmmmm. Here's a thought. Next time you see a Wolf Blitzer or some other media-familiar face out and about, just walk right up and plunk down at their restaurant table...or butt into their conversation at the supermarket...or jump in next to 'em at the Hamptons, or Martha's Vineyard, or wherever it is the Very Important Media hang out these days and ask 'em:

Hey, do you need to take tranquilizers to suspend your conscience and your integrity when you pimp the faux horserace instead of talking about serious issues of policy and character these days?

Do you have to take a shower after spending an hour with the Crossfirish zombies who call themselves consultants, and pundits, and oh-so-very-important-opinionizers?

Just askin'.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gone to the Dogs....


The Clinton family's favorite junkyard dog—James Carville—is out and about in the media again today pushing his screed against Governor Bill Richardson for endorsing Barack Obama. "Judas" "30 pieces of silver"...the insults are flyin' thick and fast, and Carville shows no sign of backing down.

Why should he? It's a nice distraction from the more important story—Hillary Clinton's fabrication of her arrival in Bosnia under sniper fire.

We're hearing a lot of dog whistle talk these days from the Clinton team. And it's an unsavory sight. Bill Clinton's little stick with Hillary and McCain you won't have to deal with all that "stuff" bears the subtext of the dog whistle, and it's as repellent as a pile of poo.

And this puts the media in the spotlight, too. Will they be the same ol' lapdogs, letting oppo teams and campaign blast emails and conference calls drive their stories? Will they be distracted by some poison-laced red meat?

Or will they be the watchdogs of honesty, trustworthiness, and calling a dog a dog?

UPDATE: And, for the record... I personally find all references to Monica and blue dresses by anyone—media and politicians alike—way out of bounds. Clinton's penis is not the candidate and there's a woman who at long last deserves to be able to put a "youthful indiscretion" behind her instead of having that sleaze-n-snicker brought up every four years.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What digby said....


If you're not a regular reader of digby's hullabaloo, here's a good place to start: her Easter Sunday observations on Obama, Wright, and the state of politics and America. Solid food for thought. And no more posting here today, so you've no excuses not to take the time to go read what digby has to say on Wright and Wrong.


Sunday, March 23, 2008



We mark the sad milestone today...4000 American dead in Iraq.

Heckuva job, Bushie.
Heckuva job, Chee-knee.


Friday, March 21, 2008

RIP Hassler, Abigail, and Agatha McGee


Two lights have dimmed and flickered out in the heartland, and their passage needs noting.

The author Jon Hassler was a renowned Minnesota author, beloved for his tales of Staggerford and Agatha McGee and simple truths of living that transcended their small town settings and ordinary-seemingness. Minnesotans have a way of doing that. As more nationally well-known Minnesota cultural lights have also done, Garrison Keillor, the Coen Brothers, among them.

Staggerford is just up the road a piece from me this evening. Oh, the map makers might know it better as Park Rapids…or Bemidji…or…

There is a sweetness and beauty to small town America that too-often gets overlooked. These are the towns that raise the men and women who fight our wars and our floods.

The big media go looking for dark instead of light. Allentown. If you listened to the media today, you’d think it was all a town of bowlin’ rednecks barely hiding their “biases.”

Tonight, I prefer to believe that Allentown, too, has its Agatha McGees.

Late in life, Hassler takes his beloved character on a journey to Ireland to meet the pen pal she’s corresponded with for years only to learn he’s a priest who’s led her along.

We can still learn, late in life. And be the better and wiser for it.

A much younger light was Abigail Taylor, a child of six. She sat on a swimming pool drain and had part of her guts sucked out, and went thru organ transplants and testified before Congress and then succumbed to a cancer that can too frequently strike those who have organ transplants.

Her journey was much briefer in time than 74-year-old Hassler, who died of a chronic Parkinson-like disease. Much briefer than the life of Agatha McGee in Staggerford and on her Green Journey.

But she had a lesson to teach us as pure and honest as the lessons Hassler, the former schoolteacher, taught in his writing. That people matter.

That honor and honesty matter.

That the corporate “cost of doing business”--which a swimming pool manufacturer rationalized as justified not to fix a known flaw—is what Agatha McGee would call a sin.

Their passage dims life for all of us, and we note their lives with reverence…and tears.

And the hope that justice is done, for Abigail’s wrongful death, for all the people who are forgotten by the corporations and the Very Important Villagers as a “cost of doing business”--in war and in life.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Banality of Discrimination


Been a couple days now, time for the dust to settle a bit. The Obama speech on race, while addressing his pastor controversy [and we're lookin' forward to hearing Hillary and McCain address theirs...well, no, not really....], rose above it to open a door of opportunity to all of US. And the speech has rippled, resonated, roared through the discourse of politics and punditry.

Because Obama also challenged US. Each of US. To step up to the plate. Not to be distracted by sturm und drang in the media. To examine our own hearts. To walk a bit in the other guy's shoes. To imagine what it must be. To be honest with ourselves. To think.

The Sunshine family came late to the concept of discrimination. When you're a white bread, white family in Middle America, even when a black brother marries into the family, you don't understand, because you open welcoming arms and it's family. When your friendship circles include people of all races, ethnicities, religions or not, you don't understand.

Until you do. Discrimination is far broader than the sexism, racism spearpoint of this human—or subhuman—conversation. It extends to those with disabilities, gays, ageism, livin' on the wrong side of the glass wall... anyone who some "one" can point to and call "other."

One of the many beauties of the Obama speech was his giving voice to the frustrations of both white and black discrimination perspectives.

And most of the time we don't even see it in ourselves. Does the neighbor who doesn't shovel their sidewalk know that he's made it impossible for his disabled neighbor to wheel down the block? Or think of it, even?

Does the quilting group that's decided to go modern and computer and freeform so we won't talk about hand-piecing anymore know that it's demeaning some of its elder members?

Does the friendship circle leave out one from conversation from time to time because her politics are different than most of theirs? Unconscious discrimination.

Looking in the mirror seems too often for primping and preening these days. Maybe all of us should, before we go out for our Easter dinners and gatherings, take a look in the mirror at the face of US.

The Usual Suspects.

Some are easy to name. The orchestrated demeaners and deriders quick with the dialing fingers to local talk radio after the Obama speech. Kitchen sink crowd or Rethuglican Rovers? The highly paid to be race-baiting pundits on national cable and radio with their questions. Hannity, Limbaugh, Elder, Faux News... masters of putting out their crapola in the form of questions they can then deny ownership of. All in the name of drowning out the message.

We have a thinking man. Who's offered us an opportunity to think beyond our own small self interests. Discrimination is...whether by religion or race, politics or place, gender or gay, health or.... bet you can fill in something I hadn't even thought of.

And that's all it takes. A little thinking instead of just swallowing the spew of derision and demeaning, corruption and misleading.

Whaddya think? Big deal? Or banality as usual...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shockingly Awful


Lest we forget among all the commentary about the historical Obama speech yesterday and the all-important gubernatorial penises...talk about the media going from the sublime to the ridiculous...that crapola was running as crawls under the Obama speech....

ive years ago today, the Bush Administration launched its "Shock and Awe" campaign against Iraq. We watched it on CNN in all its blaze o'glory...kind of like the guy with his eyelids pried open in Clockwork Orange. Captive to the infusion tubes of Mr. Sunshine's first chemo series, there was little to do except soaking up the rat poison that is chemotheraphy while watching the rat poison that is the Bush Administration's modus operandi unfold.

Lies to start, hollow words to carry forward, empty promises unfulfilled. This Current Occupant views the world...and himself...through rose-colored martini glasses of self-delusion, self-aggrandizement, and fantasy beyond the furthest reaches of Orwell or Herbert or Huxley. And we are consigned to live in his nightmare.

And in the subsequent five years, that pumping rat poison persists. Katrina—"heckuva job, Brownie." The run-amok under-regulated mortgage/financial sector/investment bank/Bear Stearns meltdown—"thanks for workin' the weekend, Henry." The "romance" of serving on the front lines.

Not that Bush ever served on the front line of anything, including his own administration. His life as the perpetual cheerleader can't even carry him in this debacle.

But he certainly had help along the way, and that is what we will be marking in reflecting on this fifth-year marker of ruin. Help from a compliant Congress that lay back and forfeited its moral authority too long. Help from an embedded, enabling media that served more as propaganda tool than exerciser of not just the right of the First Amendment, but the responsibility.

And we must each account for our own responsibility and learn from it and resolve to Do Better, to bring about change, to own a piece of this democracy. A fraction of a percent of American families serve in this war. But all of us can step up to the front lines and demand of our government, our Congress, our Presidential candidates...enough. Stop this madness. Stop this path.

Or shall we just go back to the same ol' crapola?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In His Own Words

Here's the video and full text:

Video: Barack Obama in Philadelphia


please share....

The Chatterati


Today is his test, they tell us. A shining moment or a campaign in crisis. We'll be listening. And we'll have more to say later.

But for right now, a cautionary tale.

In 2000, Republicans wanted to win in the worst way. And they did. And we let them. And we enabled them. And we chased the shiny objects of the chatterati, letting them tell us who "won" debates...and who "won" the White House.

We can repeat history, or we can turn the page.

We can hear with open ears, evaluate with open minds, share and understand with open hearts.

Or we can let the chatterati do our thinking for us.

What's it gonna be? Because it's our test, too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fire and Brimstone


e saw a lot of fire and brimstone and tut-tutting among the media talkers this weekend about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his incendiary comments. The former pastor of Barack Obama's church and former advisor or whatever the honorary title is that candidates affix to people so that they can try to draw on their names for promoting their campaign has turned out to be toxic to the campaign these days.

Kinda like John Hagee to the McCain campaign. Oh, wait a minute. The media took a look, bought into the slippery dodge of the man they would most like to eat barbeque with, and moved on. As they should with the story of Obama's former pastor. Question's been asked and answered. Last time I looked neither of these preachers is on the ballot.

Media didn't have a whole lot to say about McCain's politically opportunistic trip to Iraq. Wonder if they'll bother to ask who comes to his fundraiser in London?

Selective fire and brimstone and faux [or is it Fox?] media outrage have worn thin among the voters who are actually paying attention this season. Which is to say most all of 'em. So we have high hopes that Issue #1 moves up to the front burner instead of more driven by the competition drivel designed to drive up somebody's negatives.

Don't know about you, but I'm fed up with media who let politicians' oppo research teams drive their reporting. Grow up, fellas.

We're seeing glimmers of change, like the series CNN is launching this week on the economy. How's that for timing?

Bear Stearns, J.P. Morgan and the Fed will provide plenty to talk about, on top of the subprime mortgage story. Because, contrary to what the Current Occupant believes, no financial meltdown is an island, and the ripple effect will be felt by us all. As the global markets are showing even as I type.

So just as Obama says his pastor's rhetorical style is old school to be condemned for its over-reaching hyperbole, the ways of the media have been over-reaching as well. Too much 4-T and G. Tabloid Tramps, Taunts, Titillation, and Gotcha is old school. It's childish when we are in serious times and need responsible reporting instead of infotainment. Information instead of spin and Rush-ian hyperbole.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. I Corinthians 13:11

The people are way ahead of the pols and the pundits. The political partisans and old-school media can perpetuate the hypocrisy of lambasting fire and brimstone with their own inflammatory gas-baggery. Or they join the rest of us grown-ups in a new generation. Not defined by age, but by ideas. And hope.

And for those who shrug and say so what, I recommend HBO's series on John Adams. A worthy lesson in just what it is we're trying to preserve and protect here. Democracy, if we can keep it, has been on shaky ground for a while now.

So enough hyperbole about hyperbole and let's get about the business of restoration...and reality.

Saturday, March 15, 2008



Spring’s coming to Prairie Country. You can feel it, just over the horizon in the soft breath of the wind. Hear it, in the meltwater dripping down from the roofs and the low booming from under the ice blanket of the lake. Little sprigs of green show where the snowbanks have pulled back There is a freshness to the air and the step.

But even though the days are warming, the nights are still below freezing, and the fire is a welcome companion. Crackling yellow flames flicker above the grey ash bed and embers glowing orange warm the body and the spirit.

There are all kinds of fires and they require much tending so they don’t get out of control. There’s a conflagration raging in the U.S. economy and the media dance around saying it’s so. Alarm bells are ringing loud as the fire even singes the Bear, and the economists gather.

And to a forest fire in the economy, the president brings a water pistol, half full.

Maybe he has other things on his mind. His thoughts are full of romance. How he envies the soldiers on the front lines for the romance of their duty in Afghanistan. Probably Pat Tillman and some others would have opinions on that. Does he envy, too, the soldiers on the front lines in Iraq? Bogged down in occupation? Separated from family? Serving as much as a fifth tour of duty--that we know of?

Here’s my thought on romance. It’s a dinner for two, a united family, sitting at a fireside, with candlelight. Because they choose it. Not because they can’t afford to pay their electric bill.

You have to wonder how detached this Napoleonic little Current Occupant is from reality, and the people he leads, and his own soul.

Fires burn in people these days, the demand for change fills the belly that hungers for democracy again, for the liberties of we, the people. And small changes are beginning to take shape.

They’re coming from the people, like the good folks at firedoglake and other blogohomes and on the ground in communities where people say, enough. And strange alliances are formed, libertarians and progressives, feeding together the flames of liberty as our forefathers did generations ago.

Some say whoa, not so fast. Natural gas fires will do just fine, moving in through the pipelines, and so what if we’ve outsourced our national capacity to take care of and defend ourselves. From tyranny.

I prefer the campfire.

On beaches, in firepits, in tall timbered forests in a stone fireplace. Built on twists of paper saved for the occasion. Fed by kindling, each a tiny length of wood on its own, easily bent and snapped, but when carefully placed and tended, nurturing the flame, growing it, building it for the heavier oak that will sustain us and keep us warm and seeing beauty.

Atavistic, the flame is. We are drawn to it. Fed by it.

But it requires careful tending by each one of us. And each one of us being the kindling that sustains it.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Economy. Stupid.


The Current Occupant is giving what’s being called an upbeat speech on the economy this morning. Maybe it’s the setting. The NY Economic Club.

How about going down to the Ninth Ward and talking economy? Or the subdivisions in Cleveland or Colorado or California where the foreclosure rates are perilously close to the CO’s IQ?

The economic reality of this country has finally started hitting the Have-More’s and the Have-Too-Much’s. We’ve lived in Bush Administration neoconomics for over seven years now, and it does. not. work.

And the new inflation report? I ain’t buyin’ it.

Ain’t buyin’ the bananas in the store either. The price jumped from 45 cents to 55 cents since last month in my grocery store. And the gas? Went up a dime while I was in the store. I kid you not. Gas has hit $4 a gallon out west.

And as I write, the news breaks that Bear Stearns had to go begging to the Fed because of a liquidity crisis.

And the Republican candidate is talking about making the tax cuts permanent for "you"--are you one of the Have-More's? That's who got the tax cuts. And those were supposed to trickle on down to you, the real you, not just the "you"-know-who. From McCain's perspective, neoconomics are workin' just fine.
How's that workin' out for ya?

So today the Current Occupant is going to give an upbeat speech on the economy from the perspective of his joyous presidency. Who you gonna believe? The liar or your lyin’ eyes?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Menage à Trois


The Armed Services Committee—oh, wait, it's McCain, Lieberman, and Graham-cracker—are headin' to the Middle East, according to Lieberman on the Imus Show this morning.

Can the political campaign propaganda begin soon enough? Not for these guys. One-issue campaign coming for McCain... 'cause trivial stuff like domestic issues, healthcare, economics, well, they'll leave that to their lobbyist campaign staff.

Hope they're fully clothed in body armor and have lots of helicopters overhead and armed troops surrounding as they move from site mall to site mall. Unlike the front line troops. But then we don't want to report on those pesky statistics, do we.

Given the weak dollar, one hopes Graham can bear up under having to pay $10 for his rugs instead of $5 this time.

And since Lieberman's reportedly opting for Sec Defense in the McCainiac administration, we shudder that he'll bring the same level of due diligence as he has brought to Katrina oversight.

Yeah, none.

Haven't eight years of breaking America been enough?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

40 Years Ago Today....


Earlier today, I had this to say in a comment at Firedoglake in a thread led by Pachacutec's post, The Ferraro Fiasco.

Revising and extending my [previous/yesterday? it seems like a lifetime ago] remarks:

I denounce and reject Hillary Clinton.

It is too convenient by half to lay this on Geraldine Ferraro…that ol’ Gingerbread Boy fable has it… she is what she is, and demonstrably was in the past.

This is on Hillary Clinton. This divisiveness was her choice of campaign tactic. Her minions should all be called to denounce and reject her and this tactic as well. I’m lookin’ at you, Bill Nelson, Ed Rendell, Gov. Spitzer Corzine, et cetera, et cetera….

Just heard a conversation on MPR reminding us that 40 years ago today, Gene McCarthy upset the “rules” in the New Hampshire primary. I worked for Gene McCarthy’s national field staff. On this date back then, the outlook was positive, uplifting even. Before the darkness and hate set in. Spawned by purveyors of division.

On this date today, there’s still time to stay together, to be positive, uplifting even. But the fork in the road is coming up awfully fast.

The pattern of racist tactics of the Clinton campaign is clear. Unconscionable. And no smarmy half-assed wink and a nod smirking “tug back the reins” response from Hillary Clinton will suffice.

She should do as another politician has done today. Resign. Her campaign is on the wrong side of history. And the wrong side of honor.

This evening, Keith Olbermann spoke out in a powerful Special Comment.

The voices of the people must be heard. If not by Hillary Clinton, then by the Super Delegates, and the voters in the remaining primary states. Do not ally yourselves with one who divides, who chooses staff and advisors and advocates who carry out politics of hate and division. Do not let yourselves be brought down to the level of this campaign.

Pimps, Hoes, and Presstitutes


Lotsa dust flyin' in the skies East of Prairie Country these days. Sturm und drang in New Yuck City and DeeCee.

Everybody tumblin' all over themselves to try to get a piece of the story. Powerful man, hubris, hypocrisy, narcissistic, risk-taker. Puttin' it all out there for a high-priced bunch of pros.

Yep, it's springtime, the snow's melting, and the dirty underbelly of the lives of the rich and famous is on full parade for we peasants out here in the hinterlands.

I prefer to think about gardens.

There's something about a basic garden tool like the hoe. It's got a sharp edge to it, a sturdy wood handle, cuts through the topsoil, sends the weeds a-flyin'.

We could use a few good hoes in Washington right now.

Of course in Washington, they dress it up and give it fancy names, and maybe put a motor on it, and of course it burns oil, and might even have a five-star rating. Certainly that kind of hoe gets branded.

Bet you think I'm talkin' about Eliot's Mess [dibs: Colbert], now don't you. Well, that, too, but these days you need a scorecard to keep up with the scoundrels on both sides of the aisle—and their surrounds—who wear their hypocrisy on their sleeves and their campaign buttons under their lapels.

Don't have much love for hypocrisy around here.

So that's why what really perked up my ears this week was that Gridiron dinner the other night. You know the one. Brown, brown grass of home, anyone?

Chris Matthews got it right in his smackdown of the attendees and the standing O's of the night. Better late than never, Mr. Matthews. [digby's Hullabaloo has the serenade video and text of Matthews' commentary here; if you haven't yet visited digby, do stop by those good folks. For some strange reason I can't seem to find it over at MS/NBC.]

Must be some really interesting behind-the-scenes conversations over at MS/NBC these days, what with reports that Russet was at the Gridiron Dinner. Bet ABC's Stephanopoulos is glad he sat that one out. Would be interesting to know who else was in attendance.

If you don't tend the garden, pretty soon you can't separate the weeds from the veggies. And you kinda forget you're supposed to be one of the veggies. Not as glamorous, I know, as rubbin' elbows with the rich'n'famous...or tellin' yourself you is one.

But no matter who you are, dirt still clings to your shoes when you walk in it.

And it's not that hard to pick out the hoes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Striving for Peace


This weekend, Concordia College of Moorhead MN hosted the Peace Forum, which circulates annually among a consortium of colleges in the region. Among the guest speakers were Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, and Muhammed Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner for his microloan program.

"Striving for Peace: Investing in Community" was a sell-out, and Concordia is promising video will be available on their website today. Do stop by and we'll update the link as soon as it's up.

Given the fractious, and yeah, tawdry, ol' world right now, we think this is a nice place to be today.

Monday, March 10, 2008

W = Waterboarder

and the captive media tap-dances along....

waterboarding is drowning, until the "waterboarder" decides to stop. Just so you can't say you didn't know.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Power of One...and Many


Ever since ABC News named our family—well, okay, our entire state of North Dakota—their Persons of the Week earlier this winter, I’ve been paying closer attention to their other weekly choices.

North Dakota got the honors because as a multitude we rose up to protest National Geographic’s depiction of the state in its January issue…bleak, empty, pretty much dying out. Wrong-o! And a lot of people learned it’s not acceptable to insult a whole state like that.

This week, ABC named one 20-year-old kid, a college student, as their Person of the Week, and some person he is. When Josh Sommer learned he had a rare form of cancer, he didn’t accept the status quo, he didn’t say nothing can be done, he didn’t say well the doctors aren’t giving me any hope. Nope. He organized his own foundation. He set up a conference attracting global experts. He does his own research.

He’s been told he has a seven year survival window, but he didn’t let that slow him down. If anything, it made him all the more determined. Fate has lent a hand. The University he chose for study before he had any idea of the cancer he would face is Duke University, renowned for its cancer research. We wish him the best.

The power of one is sometimes beyond the ability of us ordinary ol’ folk to imagine.

There seems to be a lot of that going around the political world as well. Where the power of one to move multitudes is something people are still coming to grips with.

For his opponents, that power to inspire, to lead, is a thorn in their sides that they choose to mock and ridicule. The status quo of small thinking and old ways permeates their campaign body like a cancer, eating away. Talk of “honor, I honor” becomes action of dishonor…fearmongering, petulance.

The media’s body of work is being eaten at, too, by a cancer, as they egg on the one to diminish himself, betray his principles, become just like the rest of us…. Look at Dukakis, they say, or Kerry, or McGovern, or….

I prefer he look at those who seem to be inspiring him now. Not holier-than-thou Very Important Pundits. Not his political opponents. Not losers of the past. But leaders who have transcended small thinking and small acts.

Some would say Jesus is their most trusted advisor and then go and dance with the devil, while America and Iraq are overtaken by the cancers of greed and hubris and real people die, and suffer grievous injuries, and lose their homes and their livelihoods and their hope.

One says hope is still out there, but it will take all of us working together committed to change, unwavering no matter how big the challenges. There’s a multitude of people listening to that. Responding to that.

Whether it’s one college kid who inspires far beyond his narrow slice of a medical circumstance. Or one U.S. Senator who inspires a multitude of college kids and far beyond to multitudes of every demographic group you can name, the determination not to accept the status quo is unmistakable.

Because we see the body politic today, and it is riddled with cancers of corruption, and cronyism and ideology, hubris, greed, and stubbornness, and too much tap-dancin’… and we cannot, will not accept that it must be so.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you,

then they fight you, then you win.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Worst Way


Can there be any doubt? Hillary Clinton covets that address—1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—in the worst way.

And that's the way her campaign is starting to shape up...or down, depending on your perspective.

More and more in her effort to position herself against Barack Obama she's simultaneously branding herself as McCain Lite. To win battles against Barack in primaries and caucuses, she's willing to cede the big event to four more years of BushCo.

Meanwhile, the Big Dawg himself successfully got The Village and the Very Intelligent Pundits to go chasing after the canard that Hillary "had" to win Texas and Ohio to win. As though there was really any doubt. These two states were her strong suits, after all. She didn't "win" in Texas, or Ohio, she didn't "succeed" on Tuesday. She fulfilled expectations set a long way back. Well, kinda. Actually, she didn't measure up to the numbers she was polling weeks ago. So it seems to me, she actually, kinda, really, you know, "lost."

Hence the increasing desperation under the guise of confidence. The 60 Minutes race/religion pander. The 3 a.m. phone call. The Wolfson projecting his inner Rovian Atwater.

The foot-stamping demands for counting Florida and Michigan. What happened to rules are rules? Fact is, I'm not as worried about what the world thinks of us as what do we tell our children? Don't steal the other kid's backpack? Pfffgt. If you can bluster, bully, or well up and play the victim and get away with it....

Sorry, that's not a lesson I taught my kids, nor one my grandson's learning now. Don't know how it works in your house, but false witness is false witness and stealing is stealing. And no, the ends don't justify the means. And yes, there's a better way to do it...that works when you're the better man.

All the smarmy tactics that remind everyone of the soap opera that is Clintons—Party of 2, that brand may have dimmed a bit with intervening years since the scandals of the '90s, but Billary/Hillabubba are burnishing it up just fine again.

Oh, and contrary to what Bill Clinton says, it's not "on me" whether or not his wife gets the nomination or, if she does, subsequently loses in the General. That's all on her.

Heckuva job, Hilly.

Oil on his Hands


So while Dubya's tap-dancin' in front of his fans at the White House waitin' for McCain to appear, his good buddies at OPEC are tellin' him, essentially, go piss up a rope. Dubya, a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Oil, may be making his buddies richer, but they seem to be more contemptuous as well. Lot of that going around....

The head of OPEC
is saying why should they lower the price of oil, when it's "mismanagement" of the American economy that's causing the problems. The sticker shock at the pump isn't their fault, they protest.

Apparently, holding hands with the guys what brung ya ain't what it used to be.

There's a lot of talk around the blogosphere about oil and gas prices right now. But that just scratches the surface. As deep as the oil wells are is the muck that surrounds this mal-administration's dis-handling of the affairs of the nation. Healthcare, education, the economy, treatment of troops and veterans...the reckless, profligate, tap-dancin' preznit despoils everything he touches.

And he's got a legion of dance partners. Including the next man who would be president, who seeks out the endorsement of right wing extremists like John Hagee...and right wing wastrels like George.

But when you dance with the devil or his disciples, you better watch out what you're gettin' on your hands.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Show Me The Paper


Now that Hillary Clinton claims bragging rights for her wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island, isn't it about time she shows us the paper? Her tax returns. Her White House papers while First Lady—to back up that experience she's been proffering?

She's artfully dodged and stalled on that, but the time for stallin' and weavin' is over.

Will the press start pressin' her on this? Now that even Imus has smacked down Russet for the "gotcha" grabs as the bullshit they are, isn't it time the press shape up and wipe the barbeque sauce from their chins and throw away the spin machine press releases and The Village conventional wisdom cocktail weinies and quail wings and start acting like journalists for a change?

We're in a damned serious situation in this country. Important choices must be made, especially in November. So let's see who's up to the job, who's up to chicanery, and stop makin' a bloody horserace out of the mess we're in.

History Lesson


Three people deeply believe that each one is the only one fit to lead America starting in January. Three people.

One says don't look back, "stuff" is old news.
One says don't look into my background, just believe that I'm the experienced one.
One says together we can change America.

Lots of chaff is flying around these days, overt and under the radar. 'twill take the wisdom of Solomon to sort it out. Nobody will make that easy. Not the candidates. Not the campaigns and their surrogates. Not the bloody-minded media. Not people who can be manipulated by appealing to their fears... or their darker selves.

Today, let's take a breath. And do some homework.
1 Kings 3:16-27 would be a good place to start.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Looking Back, Looking Forward


Yesterday Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble was at long last given the Medal of Honor he so richly deserved. Posthumously. He is long gone, wife and son as well. The honor was accepted at the White House by his stepson and nephew, with the North Dakota governor and other North Dakota dignitaries and his surviving family and friends in attendance for the presentation by the Current Occupant.

ABC gave the ceremony brief note on last night's news [damned if I can find it this morning on their website, though], and a fuller story is told here in the local press. Too soon, the attention of the media will move on...already has, truth be told. They'll be full of "the politics" today, like junkies givin' breathless hyperbole to get one more "fix" of primary nastiness and battle/horserace/slugfest and a po' victimized blonde white woman.

Will the touts give any note today to Jamiel Shaw, Jr.?

He's posthumous now, too. Gunned down while talking on his cell phone to his girl friend. The proverbial good kid trying to rise above the stereotypes and work hard and succeed as an athlete. At 17, he already was seen as a rising star, scouted by Stanford and others.

And now, he's a statistic. Another victim of gun violence. A black youth, workin' like a man to make something of himself. His mother serving in Iraq, his father keepin' it together back home.

Tell us again how tough we white women have it, Gloria.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Honor for an American Hero


Today in a ceremony at the White House, Master Sergeant Woodrow Wilson Keeble will finally receive the Medal of Honor for his heroism and sacrifice. Keeble is the first full-blooded Dakota Oyate (Sioux) to receive the honor.

The full story of his heroism is recounted in our local media, and here at military.com, and in the words of ND Senator Byron Dorgan here. A story of heroism so profound his comrades all submitted him for Medal of Honor consideration. But the paperwork was “lost.” Maybe they thought the Purple Hearts and other awards were enough. Funny how that happens when you’re a person of color.

Not daunted, his name was again submitted for Medal of Honor consideration. Paperwork “lost” again.

Many don’t know that Native Americans serve in the military at the highest percentage of demographic groups. Serve, and are wounded, and come home in flag-draped coffins. And to what?

“Lost” paperwork it takes half a century to put right.

For some, the fate of Ira Hayes. Or for lives on reservations that too often look like Appalachia…and apartheid.

There are heroes serving today, of all colors and demographics. Most of us will never know their names. As Prince Harry—who was fighting for us, by the way—pointed out, he’s no hero. It’s the guys coming home, on the plane with him, on other flights, missing a leg or an arm, or suffering emotionally from the traumas of war.

The men and women who selflessly serve. How shall we honor them? With a White House ceremony in a few years or past a lifetime?

Master Sgt. Keeble’s award will be presented posthumously. He lived 65 years among his people and his neighbors and died in 1982. A giant in stature, a giant among men.

As a commenter notes at the military.com website:

America the "Greatest" Country in the world but we still have some of the Greatest problems, Racism, Bigotry and Hatred so we must continue to Pray and ask God to bring about Change. This Medal is Long overdue and it adds to what someone once said "Please" give me my Flowers while I can still smell them... God Bless America.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Im-plausible Deniability?

The dogwhistle's gettin' pretty shrill in Ohio, it seems. Tonight on 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft asked Hillary Clinton whether she thought Barack Obama was a Muslim [which he is not. You can read about it and see the video at CBS News.] My ears perked up at this question, and good golly Miss Molly Ivins, if the ears of Marley and Nova, our resident spaniels, didn't perk up too:

Schoenholtz told Kroft he is leaning towards Obama, but that there were a couple of issues he was “not too clear” on.

Asked what they were, Schoenholtz said, “Well, I'm hearin' he doesn't even know the National Anthem, you know. He wouldn't use the Holy Bible. He's got his own beliefs, got the Muslim beliefs. Couple issues that bothers me at heart.”

“You know that's not true,” Kroft remarked.

“No. I’m just…this is what I've been told,” he replied.

Now, to be clear, Kroft did tell him "you know that's not true." And Kroft did ask Obama about this smear tactic.

Kroft also asked Hillary Clinton about it. And got this for an answer:

“Of course not. I mean, that, you know, there is no basis for that. I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that,” she replied.

“You said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not…a Muslim. You don't believe that he's…,” Kroft said.

“No. No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know,” she said. [emphases mine.]

Watch the video here

Tone matters, just as words matter. And Senator Clinton does a very artful job of stating a positive and then pulling back, planting seeds of doubt. And judge for yourself whether there's a bit of the ol' artful dodger in those "catch me if you can" eyes as she speaks.

We'll see how this all plays out in Ohio and the other primary states on Tuesday, but one wonders if the candidate who proposes a timeout from trade is also taking a timeout from ethical campaigning.

The Big Dog may have been leashed and put back in the kennel, but the dog whistles sure seem to be blowin' in Ohio.

Is Your Preacher Packin’ this Morning?

ust where is the line between civilization and total anarchy and chaos? Thanks to those “good folks” like the testosterone challenged at the National Rifle Association and their zealous Republicronies who need “my big kill” “hunting” stories to supplement their deficient manhood, it’s open season for gun carrying in the Minnesota side of Prairie Country and a whole lot of other places.

And we don’t mean those rifle racks that decorate pickups in hunting season. Or the bozos sittin’ boozed up on the side of the road, guns clutched in their cold, passed-out hands. Yep. Seen that myself. Not surprised it goes on in those fancy-schmancy “hunting” preserves, too.

No, thanks to conceal and carry laws like the one in Minnesota, preachers can go packin’ to their Sunday sermons. But then, so can anyone walking in through the front door. Unless the church proactively says no. Oh, not as “no” as the gun nuts tried to force, thanks to some sensible justice for a change, but still...

And if you think you can stay away from people packin’ by sleepin’ in on Sunday morning, well, has George W. Bush’s Interior Department got a new wrinkle for you:
Park rangers, retirees and conservation groups are protesting a plan by the Interior Department to reconsider regulations restricting loaded guns in national parks.

But then what would we expect from the folks who gave us shootin’ an old guy in the face and feedlot plinking for quail and other game. Like skeet shooting, ’cept they kick up the quail. Might as well hunt your grandkids’ stuffed animals, eh, Grandpa Dick?

Well regulated? That’s for chumps like you and me who believe in sensible gun laws, strictly enforced, with loopholes and nutty exemptions closed.

As for those macho guys, let’s make it sportin’—why don’t you go out on the front lines in Afghanistan or Iraq? Hey, if a fresh-faced young Prince can do it, why not you?

They corrupt everything they touch. Everything.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Blue Collar? Vote Blue.

In a move that stunned many members of Congress, the Secretary of the Air Force gave a $35 billion-with-a-B contract via Northrup-Grumman to the French manufacturer of Airbus.

Conventional wisdom was running so strongly against Northrop-EADS in some corners of Capitol Hill that Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's office issued a statement late on Friday declaring Boeing the winner. It was swiftly retracted, reports Reuters.

Washington State and Kansas jobs will now go to France.

Ah, but George W. Bush's defense dept. gets to stick it to a blue-state-based American corporation and give the business—or at least a front of it—to red state Alabama. High crime? Or misdemeanor?

As for Kansas? Maybe now they'll wise up and stop voting against their interest.

Come November, any blue collar working American who still votes Republican is one of the last vestige of "fool some of the people all of the time"...

Vote Blue... And in the meantime, call your Congresspersons 'til you're blue in the face.

The Prince and the Paupers

Once again the moral bankruptcy of BushCo is on display.

This week Prince Harry was outed by GrudgeMatt—where is the toxic Hazmat cleanup crew for this sewer spewer?—with much the same craven gaminess as the outing of Valerie Plame.

Why do Republicans and their minions hate the footsoldiers?

Prince Harry was on the front lines in Afghanistan, serving side by side with his mates, an ordinary Harry, when GrudgeMatt took it upon himself to blare he was there thru the Internet.

Takes some real guts to betray a serving soldier, doesn’t it?

But then service on the front lines—as Plame and Harry both were doing in their areas of expertise—is something few in BushCo have done. Champagne National Guard, anyone? AWOL in Alabama? Other priorities…?

And then there’s the little stoolie who used his place in the White House to plagiarize again and again. Timothy Goeglein, another Rove disciple, so no surprise he proves to be yet another pustule on the body politic. His “borrowed” writings revealed in the morning, he was gone by the end of the day. So long and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Would that anyone could believe this was anything but damage control for a no-longer-usable tool.

Does this all rise to the level of Judas and Brutus?

You’ll have to search your own heart about that one. I know my answer.

Scum walks among us in rich raiment, and The Village politely nods and turns back to their quail wings and cocktail wienies. *yawn*

Except, scum rubs on a lot easier than it rubs off.

And moral bankruptcy has a nasty way of oozing into many a nook and cranny.

From the White House to too many in Congress to K Street to editorial offices of corporate media moguls and their court jesters...and back again in a merry ballroom dance…of princes, moral paupers, and those who should be pariah.