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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Are Called to Garden

So did you join all the hoo-hah about Obama's first 100 days? A lotta hype and an equal lotta hyper-partisanship and then on to the next insta-media topic. I guess that's still the "swine" flu. Or maybe it'll be the car industry today. Or whatever is Michele Bachmann's latest lie masquerading as comic relief.... Hoot-Smalley? Really? Stuart would be so proud.

Amid all the chaff, there's some organic gardening going on. Seeds that were planted during the Obama presidential campaign have begun sprouting all over, although we have yet to realistically judge whether we've actually got a crop worth harvesting.

We've seen on the macro national level that change can be achieved. And from state to state we've seen that as well. But there's much hoeing and weed pulling and tilling of the political landscape still to be done.

Oh, yes, some of that change is the sheer large arc that slowly swings back and forth, conservative to progressive, wet season to dry. [We could use some of that dry hereabouts!]

But more of it is change we can control ourselves.

Case in point, here in North Dakota there's a big flap about Measure 3, which citizens voted for last fall and now small cadre of Republican legislators are trying to functionally gut. Measure 3 says a citizen panel would control the funds from the tobacco settlement instead of the legislature, that funding would be spent on tobacco education and stop-smoking programs instead of diverted by a small group of politicians.

Are they tied to the tobacco lobby? Are they drunk on the power of longstanding Republican control of the State Legislature? Are they convinced they are smarter, holier, more righteous than the voters and the citizens of North Dakota?

Does it really matter?

What's increasingly clear is they do not listen to their constituency, they listen to themselves and special interests. They do not learn from history [the recent national downfall of the Republicans] because they think they are immune.

They smugly cling to the taproot of incumbency, digging deep into the soil of crony, martoony-fed smoke-filled roomies.

For that there is only one cure, and that is to either vote them personally out of office... Or to vote enough of their like-minded legislators out of office so that they are no longer in the majority.

Weeding out takes work. It's not an event, one day in a voting booth. It's a week-in, week-out chore requiring the tools of democracy: the sunshine of transparency and dedicated workers determined to bring in a good harvest.

Recently President Obama said "We are called to govern." For me, I prefer to think "We are called to garden."

This country will produce its better harvest when the weeds are hoed out, voted out. And we keep tilling the soil—week-in, week-out—through wet season or dry, ever mindful of whether the seeds we've planted are bearing good fruit.

President Obama gets stellar grades for his first 100 days. How about the rest of us?
~ Sandy Huseby, blogging as Prairie Sunshine
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Valiant Vilsack vs. the Media


Watching Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, try to school Kyra Phillips of CNN about the misperceptions that are being planted by calling the new flu "swine" flu is truly a headshaker.

After methodically going through point by point that this flu is not food-borne, it is airborne, Vilsack notes that it is safe to eat pork chops, he ate pork for breakfast. That calling it swine flu creates false fears in people's minds.

The minute the segment ended, Kyra was right back to calling it swine flu. As the chyron always did. Every other sentence seems to be swine flu, swine flu. They have their script of the day and they're not budging.

And CNN is not alone in this. After reporting Tuesday that the administration had requested that the flu be called H1N1 flu (admittedly a cumbersome name), Brian Williams and the medical correspondent went out of their way to repeat "swine" flu over and over throughout the newscast.

Is this the way it's gonna be? We're still in the schoolyard with the petulant, lazy media incapable of revising and updating their coverage? Because it's "out there"? Cokie Rules still apply?

You'd think they would've remembered how they got it wrong in the Oklahoma City bombing coverage blaming Arab terrorists.

Give the media Grade D- on this one...until they provide reasonable public health information without the hyperventilating hysterical hoo-hah that they've pegged their reporting to thus far.


crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

UPDATE — after watching Wednesday's Nightly News reporting, I'm left to wonder whether we should consider calling this "open lagoon" flu...who knows what's lurking down in those waters running out of the controversial factory farm near La Gloria, Mexico.

Bachmann with 2 N's

A "eureka!" moment this morning. Finally I have figured out how it is that Michelle Forked Tongue Bachmann manages to get elected over and over.

While discussing her latest verbal gaffe/fluff/LIE, a local talk radio personality noted that she's related to those great folks in Minneapolis who sell the flowers.

Huh? That just didn't sound right to me, so I googled. And sure enough. Michelle Bachmann—2 N's is different than Bachman Flowers—1 N.

Everybody loves Bachman Flowers. They're the Minnesota folks who came up with the lighted Christmas houses in their "Dept. 56."

But they're totally different than the slitherin' tongued Miz Michelle Bachmann.

So in the interest of fact checking—something Bachmann herself is woefully oblivious to, given her latest "interesting" "Democrat" fever proclamation—especially for voters in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, remember, it's Michelle, 2 L's; Bachmann, 2 N's.

Bachman Flowers are totally different. Not that Michelle Bachmann has likely gone out of her way to clarify, I'm bettin'. Nope, she's too busy trading in the innuendo and smear and false witnessing to her hyperpartisan audiences.

And on behalf of all the pork producers of the region, its "new" flu...not swine flu, or Democrat flu, or any of the other hyperpartisan attempts to spin a public health issue for political gain. As another local talker pointed out, imagine if it were labelled Catholic flu.

Pat Buchanan would melt down. To say nothing of Peggy Noonan.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prairie's Potpourri of Politics

Yes, the photo op fly-over New York City was a mistake. It qualifies as a "bonehead mistake" and should be an opportunity to set process that assures such does not happen again. The question "what could possibly go wrong" should be chiseled into the grey matter of all Democrats, especially all Obama Administration officials.

No, I am not going to use this as a moment to bash the Republicans for never asking the "can turkeys fly" kind of question in all their years of power. What's that? You say I just did? Well, fancy that....

And Arlen Specter, formerly a Republican, apparently can recognize reality when he sees it. Welcome to the Democratic [notice how he called us "Democratic" once he was no longer a lock-step Republican?] Party.

And in hometown news, local media are reporting that Drew Wrigley—North Dakota's US Attorney for the Bush Administration, close confidante of Ashcroft and Gonzales, and aggressive part of the Brooks Brothers riot in Florida 2000—has announced he will sign on with the local Blues. Because the health insurance industry is all about caring and concern for the patient rather than their own greedy a**es and opportunism, doncha know....

Wrigley makes no bones about the fact that he sees his sojourn in corporate work as a mere waystation on the Republican trail.

Wrigley, best known for having prosecuted the man convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering Dru Sjodin, will become a vice president at Noridian Administrative Services.

The company, an affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, announced that Wrigley has been hired as its vice president of compliance, audit and corporate ethics.

Yes, I do find the job description's inclusion of veep of ethics ironic...why do you ask?
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ground Zero for Swine Flu?

Officials in eastern Mexico may have located Patient Zero, Ground Zero in the swine flu crisis—the village of La Gloria.

By coincidence (yeah, me neither), Smithfield pork farms are located there.

By another coincidence (yeah, me neither), said Smithfield pork farms was fined for contaminating the watershed of Chesapeake Bay back in 2000 and subsequently moved to...ta, dah...the neighborhood of La Gloria.

There's lot more to come on this story.

We can only hope the media will drop their face masks and their panic buttons long enough to actually report on the, oh, what's the word...it's been so long... oh, yeah... facts.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Saturday, April 25, 2009

First Pillar of the New Foundation

The magnificent Glenzilla over at Salon reminds all the lavender-scented hankie waving Villagers that it's not about pointing a finger while ignoring your own other fingers pointing back at yourself. It's not about Republican vs Democrat. It's not about politics. It's not about parsing and clever wordsmithing. It's not about retribution.

It's about acts of torture. Who directed them? Who knew? Who....

The inability of so many people (both Republicans and Obama-loyal Democrats) to view the need for prosecutions independent of political considerations is a potent sign of how sick our political culture has become. The need for criminal investigations is motivated by one simple, consummately apolitical fact: serious and brutal crimes were committed at the highest levels of the government, ones that left a trail of many victims. A country that purports to live under the rule of law has no choice but to treat its most powerful members who commit serious crimes exactly the same as ordinary citizens who do so. That has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats.

And thus, it's about the foundation of this nation.

There is none so blind as those who willfully will not see. And none are more blind than the incestuous denizens of The Village.

President Obama promised to build a new foundation under the country on the shattered shards of the Bush years. No doubt he was focused on the wretched state of the economy, and health care, the environment and implications of global climate extremes, and education. But we must rebuild the strong pillar of the rule of law in order for this new foundation to sustain the nation.

When rule of law is restored, then the other pillars will rise in like fashion.

Strong, built to endure like rock...not sand that melts away and clouds umpire's eyes.

These are all interlinked, you can see it if you have the will.

If you are committed to the most fundamental foundation on which this nation and our Constitution were founded:
We, the people...
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

75 Former AGs Call for Investigation on Siegelman Case


The AP is reporting:

A bipartisan group of 75 former state attorneys general from across the country has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

This is an investigation that should encompass not only the Siegelman prosecution but also the larger umbrella of DOJ politicization under Bush.

The public will is on the side of transparency, investigation and accountability. Now we await learning whether the man who knows a coward when he sees one will have the courage to stand against the predictable partisan firestorm that would erupt and launch this investigation.


crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Roxana Saberi: Context from a Fellow Journalist Held Captive in Iran


For Camelia Entekhabifard, the experience of Roxana is deja vu all over again. Moments ago on MSNBC, correspondent Richard Engel brought his Iranian colleague to discuss the context of Roxana Saberi's imprisonment.

Camilia told of being held prisoner and subjected to harsh treatment so that she would confess to whatever those holding her wanted to hear. She spoke about demands to collaborate with the Iranian officials to spy on her fellow journalists.

She met Ahmedinejad and told him of the treatment she was subjected to and he denied it, although it was later confirmed to him by an aide.

Camilia said she is optimistic for Roxana's release, although MSNBC reported that Ahmedinejad has said he will not intervene.

Separately WABC Radio reported this morning that Ahmedinejad has said he hopes Saberi will be released.

Small signs of progress in a complex situation.


crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just Walk On By?

Senator Russ Feingold rightly blasts the so-far weaselly attitude about investigating how BushCo became torturers in our name...

From the Congress to the White House to the Newseum set of This Week, far too many are taking a hands-off, don't ask don't investigate response to the rising outcry for investigation and prosecution where warranted in the matter of torture.

None exemplifies this disgraceful attitude more than the newly glammed up conservative partisan Peggy Noonan's observation that some things should just remain mysterious, that we should just walk on by....

Like the Catholic Church remains mysterious to this day about pedophile priests?

The examples are legion of the inherent hypocrisy and danger of cover-up.

You cannot treat wounds until you clean out the infection and apply the right remedy to heal.

I watched President Obama speak to the boisterous crowd at the CIA yesterday. And my first thought was not that they welcomed him because he was there to protect them, but rather that he, on behalf of all Americans, was there to help them cleanse the taint that had been placed upon them by the order-givers who preceded him. We owe them no less.

And as repellent as it may be to read, I would accept the selective use of pardon power or prosecutorial discretion in order to get the truth. With no quarter for those who abused their position—whether in an interrogation/torture room or inside the Oval Office.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Roxana Saberi's Case Inches Forward

While hometowners are rallying support for Roxana Saberi via coverage on local radio and editorial commentary and, yes, the obligatory yellow ribbons, in Iran the momentum seems to be growing for Roxana's sentence to be eased.

Everybody's treading carefully on this one, our Congressional delegation is circumspect in their comments. But it wouldn't surprise our household if Roxana were released and presented with the oh-so-polite suggestion to depart the country permanently.

Is the outcome a fait accompli? We don't yet know...but we can hope this is all over but the posturing.

h/t and thanks to cbl for the msnbc link


Just heard on a Fargo radio station that Roxana’s father Reza Saberi has said that she has told her parents if the sentence is upheld by the appeals court, she will go on a hunger strike to the death.

We in her hometown all share the concern that she is distraught. We urge that compassion over-ride whatever are Iran's internal political considerations and she be immediately released.

crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Torture Truth Will Out


There's been a great hue—look away! and cry—look forward! among the media P-class. Pundits and politicians alike doing their best to deny, avert their eyes, hide their noses behind their lavender-soaked hankies lest they breathe the stench of the T-word.

But maybe this time it won't work. Just as the rightwing teaparties were ultimately a great colossal failure in large part because the media stopped being compliant megaphones for the FOX/con propaganda machine, so too can we stop the momentum of see-no-evil hear-no-evil which makes-us-evil, if we seize the opportunity to make right what was done so very wrong in our name.

We're seeing right here in the progressive blogosphere that the chorus of voices calling for reason and accountability are building. For plain old common sense. Time to use that common sense for the common good.

Mistakes were made. Legal opinions were followed. It all rings pretty hollow, now doesn't it.

Better we lance this gangrenous infection of the body politic now lest it destroy us all. My grandparents emigrated from Germany in their youth, and their son, my father, fought with his fellow Marines against the tyrants in World War II. I am as mindful of their legacy as I am of my young grandson who will inherit the results of how we act these days. Never let it be said, in their name, that I shirked from standing against tyranny in this land they and I love so much.

Even for the deniers of history, the ignorers of history, one thing remains...truth will out. Sooner. Or later.

Please, join in: Sign the petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture here.

crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Roxana Saberi's 15 Minutes of Trial

Reports are that the Roxana Saberi trial—behind closed doors—lasted all of 15 minutes. [earlier CNN coverage]

He told CNN her trial only lasted about 15 minutes.

"The trial of course was not a real trial," her father told CNN. "A few minutes until the trial, she still didn't know there was a trial," he added. "It was a mock trial."

That pretty much sums up the sham that this whole process is. Not a matter of justice, but rather gamesmanship with an important election coming up in Iran in June.

And Roxana is caught in the middle.

Could it be that's too much even for the president of Iran?

Or is this a moment for him to try to curry favor with those who might be inclined to vote against him in the next election unless he pulls out a nice shiny object to polish and buff his own image in the mirror?

Huffington Post is reporting that Mahmoud Amedinejad is now saying Roxana should have a full defense at her appeal.

Sincerity from Amedinejad? Or convenient triangulation? For those of us who watch from Fargo, we do not care about the gamesmanship within Iran or between Iran and the US.

All we know is that Reza Saberi is an anguished parent seeking the release of his daughter Roxana who is, he says, "quite depressed" and "very frail."

And we want her and her parents to come back home...together and safe.
h/t cbl of fdl for the signpost to HuffPo's article
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette
UPDATE: News sources and her colleagues at Medill School of Journalism are reporting that Roxana's defense team has gained a powerful new advocate, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roxana Saberi Convicted of Spying


Roxana Saberi, according to a report at Huffington Post, has been convicted of spying charges.

Heartsore at this news for a fellow Fargoan, for her family, words fail me today.


UPDATED: More on Roxana's story this evening from the website of the Fargo tv station where she worked for a time before moving to Iran. Her father speaks out with deep concern about her being quite depressed.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Get Your Green On for Earth Day

Earth Day's almost here...Wednesday, April 22. Now's a good time to start Getting Your Green on...for Earth Day and everyday.


Use less... walk, don't ride.

Plant a tree... or start a garden... or find a locavore gardener and set up a produce contract for summer.

Contribute... got a favorite? No? Well, there's Nature Conservancy. World Wildlife Fund. Sierra Club... and that's just for starters. Go ahead, exercise your googlefingers and find the right one for you.

And come Wednesday, show your colors. Get your Green On. Make a statement with the color you wear. Green for Earth Day.

However much else you do is up to you. What're you planning?
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Modest Proposal for Protecting America from the Texas Secessionists

Now that George W Bush has spent the last eight years destroying the American economy, and thus everything from healthcare to infrastructure...

Now that Texas Governor Rick Perry has threatened secession from the United States....

Now that former Congressman and Republican House Majority Leader and K Street Project hammer Tom Delay has told Chris Matthews on Hardball that he supports Perry in his threats against America for Texas sovereignty....

Seems to me we need preemptive action to protect America from further destruction at the hands of the Texans. Freeze their ass...ets, lock up the military bases like the ring around San Antonio, establish checkpoints at their borders.

Yep. Time to protect America from the anti-American Texans who have held a hammerlock on America until we elected President Barack Obama.

Swift action is called for.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Rob Riggle vs. Glenn Beck

Hard not to watch in morbid fascination the media freak show that is Glenn Beck, even from a distance, via the blogs or the youtube clips or the "analyses" of folks like Matt Taibbi and Don Imus this morning.

As the anecdotes about the show pile up—the tears streaming, the guest fainting, the phony gasoline pouring—you have to wonder where this is all headed. The Alamo for teabagging time. I mean, really. Symbolism, much? This is not going to end well.

Meanwhile, you have the Daily Show. And last night's guest, Elizabeth Warren, Congress' watchdog on the TARP program. Who did more to explain and clarify and contextualize where we are in the economic universe and how we got there and how we may be able to pull ourselves out...if we stay on track and don't keep pulling out the threads of regulation...than all the ranters and pontificaters seen anywhere in teeveeland. That segment alone justifies Daily Show's existence for the millennium.

I am not exaggerating. From kindergarten to Congress, everyone, including the clueless Pensacola teabaggers, should be sat down and forced to pay attention.

And then there was the discrete Zen Moment:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If Texas Secedes....


Now that Texas Governor Rick Perry has ratcheted up the rabble-rousing with his suggestion of Texas secession, I've got a few questions.

* Can we refuse to issue 'em passports to visit the US of A?
* Can the Bakken Oil Field in the Dakotas and Montana and Wyoming keep the oil revenue instead of sending it to Texas?
* Can we give Texas the joy of protecting the likes of Bush senior and junior? After all, they won't be 'murricans any more.
* Can we let Texas have the fun—and expense—of building that damned gate for Dubya?
* Can we cut the Rangers and the Oilers and all other sport teams of Texas out of any national championships anywhere, anytime?
* Can they please take back Delay and Armey and Chee-knee and Kay Bailey and all of the rest of the Texans who've done their level best to destroy America the last eight years...including the ones who showed up for the Bushie picnic and strategerizing about the liberry meeting...and keep 'em?
* Can we take back our border patrol and our airbases and our astronauts and our tourism dollars and our hurricane relief and....

Your thoughts?


crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

And More on the NeoConJob

David Niewirt over at C&L gives a pointed reality check to the NeoConGamers who are stirring up the rabble rubes on Tax Day. As David Niewirt points out, it's all about them...except when it's not.

Taxes are the admission fee to the greatest country on earth for me, and I'd just as soon keep paying to finance roads, and bridges, and education, and medical research, and food safety inspectors, and our military and cops on the beat, and, oh, yeah...dikes and sandbags.

Fair? Balanced? That's Teabag

Just in case we didn't already know the un-fair and im-balance is far bigger than FOX,

what digby said.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roxana Saberi Trial Today


When a trial is conducted behind closed doors, then we must rely on context from past history...and hope.

Context for Roxana Saberi's current situation—on trial today on espionage charges in Iran—seems so bizarre to those of us who know her or her work from her growing up years here in Fargo.

It's hard to process, this imprisonment. For a young woman whose high school team played soccer against Saberi's team from Fargo's North High. For a community absorbed with the floodwatch which goes on hereabouts, threatening smaller neighboring communities now, yet still Roxana's plight tugs at our heartstrings.

We empathize with the anguish her parents have gone through—so strong that they have travelled from Fargo to Iran to give their daughter what moral support they can with limited family visits allowed.

As Omid Memarian, Rotary World Peace Fellow at UC Berkeley, writes, this trial, this framing as spy is business as usual in Iran. And he has strong expectations that within weeks she will be released.

We have strong expectations around here, too. That we can stay one sandbag, one dike ahead of the flooding which licks at our towns and roads and farmsteads.

Hard lessons, this patience business, this getting up and straining muscles to fill sandbags or toss 'em into place, or feeding volunteers. Fargo, expected now to have a manageable second crest, is today in the business of trucking sandbags to help Valley City keep the Sheyenne out of its backyards and basements...and attics.

Today, President Barack Obama is expected to tell the American people that our expectations for economic recovery, too, must be grounded in patience and dogged persistence, until we are once again safe from the deluge. But that will come at a price, a "new normal" that accepting will not come easy.

Accepting that your home is lost to you forever doesn't come easy to flood victims.

Accepting that the country you loved from your heritage can imprison you on whim doubtless doesn't come easy either.

We'd do well to remember that doesn't just happen "there"...it happens here, too.


crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Monday, April 13, 2009

More than Sufficient

Spanish prosecutors are on the cusp of plans to proceed with a criminal investigation of six members of the Bush Administration alleged to have participated in the legal rationalizing of the torture of six Spanish citizens at Guantanamo, according to law professor and writer Scott Horton over at Daily Beast today.

You know their names: Alberto Gonzalez. John Yoo. Jay Bybee. William Haynes II. David Addington. Douglas J. Feith.

You know they gave the legal opinions their bosses wanted them to produce to justify their own conduct.

You know those higher-ups' names should be on the list, as well: Bush. Cheney. Rumsfeld.

And others whose names we do not know. Cowboys who postured and fogged to mask their own cowardice.

We may never judge them. The court of Spain may, ultimately, never judge them. But:
“The evidence provided was more than sufficient to justify a more comprehensive investigation,” one of the lawyers associated with the prosecution stated.
They will not go unjudged.

Stop the Stall, Norm

At long last, Coleman, have the dignity to stop the stall, stop showing yourself as a conniving weasel, stop being a sore loser.

Minnesota has been more than fair to you. I know it's too much for you and Red Skull Ben Ginsberg to comprehend that it's time to pack up your dog-and-pony show, fold your tent, accept the facts.

You lost the election. But it's you, Norm, and your actions in the months since, denying Minnesota its much needed second U.S. Senator, that have put the stamp on you:


There's still time to let go with some measure of your....ah, ferget it. That time's already past.

Now you and your Republican handlers are just further skewering the people of Minnesota.

Enough, Norm.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sojourn


In a time when we see Iran hold an Iranian-American prisoner and charge her with being a spy,
when our "entertainments" offer up the likes of Observe and Report of date rape,
when the Republicans choose as the metaphor for their tax protest events "teabagging"—which is known in some quarters as a sexual assault,
when Afghanistan passes then retracts a law permitting spousal rape,
when the Fargo diocese does its Stations of the Cross in front of the Women's Health Clinic and turns a blind eye to their own hypocrisies,
when an Afghani teenage girl is whipped by Taliban for the gory eyes of Youtube,
when Bristol and Sarah Palin are iconized by the rightwing as paragons of redeemed motherhood,
when...well, fill in the blank for yourself.....

But first consider that women are not sexual objects—drools for Limbaugh, tools for WWE and fools for FOX.

Women are toilers at the side of men, and during the recent flooding time in Fargo—and that which may still be to come—they labored to fill sandbags and build dikes and save our communities and still have time to feed and nourish our spirits.

Remember who it was that Jesus showed himself to after the doubting Thomases and thrice betraying cocks had their say.

Sojourner Truth says it best:

"But what's all this here talking 'bout? That man ober there says that women needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches, and have the best place everywhar. Nobody every helps me into carriages, or ober mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have plowed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man—and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out my mother's grief none by Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

"Then that little man in black there he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! What did your Christ come from? War did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all 'lone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it—the men better let 'em. Obliged to you for hearing me. And now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say."*

For the rest of us, much remains to be done, civil rights and civil liberties have both been under the whip for too long, for too many. We can't sit back and expect someone else to make sure we see Employee Free Choice pass, or single payer healthcare, or gay marriage, or well-regulated banks and guns and ....

When the call comes for you to help made change happen, remember, you and me...we got more to say.


h/t The Gadfly, Ed Raymond
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Roxana Saberi: "Experts Say..."

Takes a big story to knock a flooding story off the front page, above-the-fold position of Fargo's daily nowadays.

The Iranian decision to charge Fargoan Roxana Saberi with espionage—a major ratchet-up from buying a bottle of wine, the first rationale offered for her detainment—is such a story.

Context on that espionage charge, based on one reporter's interviews with experts on the science of politics, reinforces my reaction yesterday to the first announcement of the charge: political gamesmanship likely in play.

Right now, I'm thinking about the important role we count on from so many in this delicate process. The Iranian lawyer representing Roxana, the US State Dept and Hillary Clinton who has taken a personal interest in this case, our Congressional delegation, journalist groups around the world on behalf of their sometime colleague, and ordinary folks raising one voice at a time.

And it's a delicate dance.

All the more important that we—and they—get it right.

Which brings me back to that local daily covering the story. We rely on our media for facts, for information and education that leads to reasoned understanding of issues and situations.

Yeah, we've all seen the traditional media folk who defensively point fingers and say the bloggers are all based on what they read in the papers or pick up from the electronic media.

To which I say, well...yeah. And your point is?

Because what too often gets lost in the fingerpointing and the media survival struggle is just how important that information, that education is. And too many of the media are too quick to cheapen, to denigrate, to tarnish their own product by failing to do their due diligence and just regurgitating one side's talking points or create colorful characters to shill and shrill with disdain and contempt for truth.

So when a local newspaper gets it right, does its job, does the reporting we should see as routine rather than exception in the media cosmos, I tip my hat—to the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Whether it's flood reporting or Roxana Saberi's story or whatever, they get it right most of the time.

It's not a Pulitzer, but today they get the Prairie Award = I'm a subscriber.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Roxana Saberi Charged with Espionage


The details are scant, but devastatingly harsh.

Fargo native Roxana Saberi, who had reported from Iran with press credentials for globally respected news organizations including the BBC while a graduate student in Iran, has now been charged with espionage.

We're an optimistic and positive-thinking bunch in the upper heartland, so we'll think positive. But the charges, which have gone from allegations of buying a bottle of wine to espionage, hit our hearts with the same deep concern as looking out upon the Red River which will rise again and batter against sandbags with a second crest soon.

It's easy to jump to the conclusion that this idealistic woman who wanted to inform and educate people in the Western world about the everyday people of Iran is now being used as a pawn in global diplomacy and brinksmanship.

We only want to see her back home. We could use another sandbagger.


crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Questions Not Asked


This morning on the Imus Show, Orrin Hatch coulda been asked what he thought of Michelle Bachmann's attack on the bill he co-authored. Whether he agrees with her that he's facilitating re-education camps.

Let's all start making note of "questions not asked" and start pushing back about them.

Which brings me to...more shootings of police this morning.... What will be the "questions not asked" on the string of cop killings and violence against immigrants, hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, Mr. Beck? Mr. Dobbs? Hannity? Limbaugh? Hmmm, FAUX, CNN, MSBNC?

Prairie's Question asked: Why do rightwing Republicans incite violence and hate against America's cops on the beat protecting the "homeland"? And why does our media enable them with half-truths and whitewash?

Just askin'....


Monday, April 6, 2009

Saberi Monday

On Monday, Iranian prisoners are allowed weekly visits from members of their families.

On Monday, Roxana Saberi's parents visited her for half an hour.

Roxana's father described her as in good spirits.

On Monday, Roxana Saberi's imprisonment near Tehran continued....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

To Your Good Health

Sunday evening, ABC Nightly News showed the tape of the Afghan girl being beaten by the Taliban.

Just minutes later, on 60 Minutes, Scott Pelle interviewed Americans who have been beaten down--sentenced to death--by the state of health care and insurance...or lack of it...in this country.

What exactly is the difference?
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Friday, April 3, 2009

Roxana Saberi Not Forgotten

Sunday, April 5 UPDATE: Roxana's parents have arrived in Iran and reportedly have been granted permission to see their daughter.
Saturday, April 4 UPDATE: Read more about Roxana's current circumstances in this LA Times article.
Two powerful forces heighten the efforts to gain freedom for graduate student and one-time journalist Roxana Saberi. She has been imprisoned in Iran despite efforts from around the world to gain her freedom.

Now, Roxana's parents are on their way from Fargo to Tehran to personally appeal for her release.
Reza Saberi said he worries about his daughter’s mental health. Roxana was devastated when a prosecutor in Iran told her she would remain in detention for months or even years, her father said.

And in a most unusual step, the U.S. State Department has directly contacted Iranian officials during an international meeting about Afghanistan.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Americans delivered a letter to the Iranians at Tuesday’s meeting in The Hague. The letter asks Iran to help resolve the cases of three detained or missing Americans, including former Fargo resident Roxana Saberi, a journalist working in Iran.
Reaching out, in ways grand and so very personal as only parents can be, with results yet to be determined.
crossposted at firedoglake's Oxdown Gazette

Thursday, April 2, 2009

There's No Place Like Home....

Recharging. Be back here again soon.