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bigtree

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 75,429

Journal Archives

Stirring Up The Dust At Ground Zero

. . . Bush's invasion of Iraq made me go out and buy a computer, learn to use it, start a website, and eventually, arrive at DU in 2003. I must have pumped out about 200 or so Iraq articles; ending with a few directed at President Obama in the early days of his first term. This is an article I wrote in 2006...



"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -- T.S. Eliot


Is there anything more repugnant than hearing bin-Laden's taunting words so close to the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks? I don't mean the latest video he sent Bush to amp up the president's fear and smear campaign. I'm not thinking of the grainy shots of bin-Laden greeting his accomplices out in the open air of his mountain refuge.

Bush has been practicing his new protection scheme this past week with a series of speeches in which, as the explainer-in-chief, he's been methodical and zealous in his elevation of Osama bin-Laden; carefully reciting the most offensive and threatening of the terrorist's statements and dispatches. Beginning in the second in his series of speeches, Bush chose the moment right after he had remarked on the "flood of painful memories" and the "horror of watching planes fly into the World Trade Center", to amplify bin-Laden's gloating remarks that the attack was "an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind."

This weekend, on the eve of Sept.11, Bush traveled to New York's 'Ground Zero' looking for a pile of rubble and a bullhorn to elevate himself and talk down to us from some lofty perch. He bit his tounge - trying not to think of the deaths he had allowed to happen on his watch - as he and his wife silently placed two wreaths in the twin reflecting pools. Bush found his voice later at the firehouse overlooking the site.

"It's hard not to think about the people who lost their lives," Bush told reporters. "Horrific scenes" inside what he called a "fantastic place of healing" reminded Bush that "there's still an enemy out there.'"

Bush is desperate to revive and re-animate the demoted specter he had called his "prime suspect" in 2001. "I want justice," Bush had said then. "There's an old poster out West... I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.' Six months after the attacks, however, he simply turned away from his 'hunt' and acted as if he didn't care anymore about catching him. Our forces had Bin-Laden cornered at Tora Bora, and then, he was allowed to escape into the mountains. "I don't know where he is," Bush replied six months later when asked why the terrorist hadn't been caught. "I-I'll repeat what I said, Bush sputtered, "I am truly not that concerned about him."


It's five years from the date of the attacks, and Bush has finally found cause for concern. His party is poised to lose their majority in the House and, possibly, in the Senate. Voter opposition to Bush's occupation in Iraq has pulled his republicans down in the polls and threatens to take away the power that enabled him commit the troops to Iraq and keep them there. The specter of Osama bin-Laden is the only wedge Bush has to rally his dwindling base and convince voters that his party should be allowed to continue to lord over the authority they squandered in the five years since the attacks.

It's strange to hear Bush bring up bin-Laden. Bush has barely mentioned the terrorist since he claimed to be unconcerned about his whereabouts. In Bush's updated, 'National Strategy for Combating Terrorism' that he references in his speeches, Osama bin-Laden is mentioned only once, in a reference to his 'privileged upbringing'. In fact, the Senate went ahead and unanimously passed a Democratic amendment this week which restored the Pentagon's bin-Laden unit charged with finding the terrorist that Bush just up and closed without offering an alternative strategy or effort. Dredging up all of the offensive rhetoric from bin-Laden now is designed to re-inflate those emotions that were so raw right after the horror unfolded; to re-ignite that uncertainty and anxiety which first made Americans fold in the face of his consolidation of power.

Bush's own initial reaction to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 was a mix of paranoia and bluster as he cast the fight as a defense of 'freedom' that he said the attackers wanted to 'destroy'. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other," he declared in an address to a joint session of Congress. In his statement at the signing of the "anti-terrorism," Patriot Act, in October 2001, six weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush claimed that the measure would counter the threat of enemies that "recognize no barrier of morality and have no conscience." He sought to assure that the measure "upheld and respected the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution." He ends his statement with a pledge to enforce the law with "all of the urgency of a nation at war."

However, the President neglected to tell us which war he was referring to. The anti-terrorism measure was cobbled together in a few short months to take political advantage of the urge in Congress for a legislative response to the terrorist attacks, despite the president's claim that the bill was "carefully drafted and considered." It was a direct assault on the liberty, privacy, and free expression of all Americans.

From that document came a flood of legislative 'remedies' that would take advantage of the administration's blanket defense of 'national security' that they and their minions in Congress draped over every stalled piece of legislation that could be remotely tied to their 'war on terror'. But, their transparent politicking with their new anti-terror tools had nothing at all to do with catching the perpetrators they said were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Their hunt for Osama bin-Laden became eclipsed by the violence their Iraq diversion had produced. Iraq became a terror magnet, just as Bush had planned. Instead of just "fighting them over there" as combatants responded to his call to bring it on, his occupation has had the effect of producing more individuals with a grudge who would harm our troops, our interests, or our allies; not less as Bush claims.

No amount of saber-rattling at Iran, showdowns with North Korea, or escalation of troops in Iraq to further prop up the crumbling Maliki regime can substitute for bringing bin-Laden to justice. The White House suggested yesterday that bin-Laden had not been found because they had degraded al-Qaeda's ability to use the phone and fax. "One of the things I can say is that bin Laden is harder to find these days because he, in fact, does not feel at liberty to move about," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters.

"He does not feel at liberty to use electronic means of communications. In many ways, the senior leadership of al Qaeda has been degraded. And under such circumstances, somebody leaves fewer clues."

"Harder to find than when, since we haven't found him?" he was asked. "It sort of sounds like since he's harder to find is a sign of our success."

"Well, in some ways, it is," Snow answered. "I mean, if bin Laden was thoroughly successful, he'd be sitting on a throne conducting press conferences or issuing fatwas in full view of everyone -- and he is not doing so."

There is apparently no throne, and no press conferences or fatwas in 'full view'. But, five years on the loose has made bin-Laden into an inspiration for others who have been provoked into violence of their own by the mindless collateral killings in Bush's dual Mideast occupations, thinking they can escape and rise to the same level of attention that Bush gives Osama. Yet, Bush has decided to elevate bin-Laden even more in his speeches and remembrances leading up to the 9-11 commemorations.

In Bush's radio address Sunday, he speaks of a 'solemn occasion' and proceeds to muddy it up with more of bin-Laden's taunts. The president advances the terrorist's call for a Caliphate as he bids us to "hear the words" of the terrorist. "Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks, "A great step toward the unity of Muslims and establishing the righteous Caliphate," Bush tells us. "Al Qaeda and its allies reject any possibility of coexistence with those they call "infidels."

"Hear the words of Osama bin Laden," Bush says about his partner. In their respective protection schemes, both use the extreme violent reactions of the other to justify their self-appointed roles as saviors and protectors of their followers. Both are counting on their words to elicit fear among their minions and their foes alike, but, Bush is playing bin-Laden's surrogate in this latest promotion; elevating the terrorist to a political equal, looking to give bin-Laden's words a place in our commemorations; hoping Americans will focus on the barbarity and zeal of the attacker rather than his own inability to suppress and capture him.

Bush returned to ground zero, looking for rubble and a bull horn to elevate his made-up role as protector-in-chief. But, the residents there have gone on with their lives, removed the debris, and paved over the hallowed ground for politicians to posture and preach on, and for others, to pray. All that is left in that city of the tragedy of September 11 are survivors and memories; and dust; the scattered remains from those pernicious, poisonous mountains of dust that exploded from the towers as they fell. The dust of the humanity of innocents and terrorists alike co-mingled with the debris, hovering for an eternity before it fell down upon the city; memories and the past inextricably mingled in the miasmic haze.

Bush can do nothing this September 11 except stir up settled dust from that hallowed ground; stir up resentments and recriminations, deliberately soiling his immaculate cloak. He will not be traveling to unify our nation; not in the way we came together on our own right after the attacks. Bush came to ground zero with bin-Laden's specter on his sleeve, looking for a political lift out of his swaggering militarism. He will be looking to widen the divide that he's been nurturing since he ascended to power, between those who have resisted his imperious grab for false authority in the wake of the violence, and those who still believe that he's protecting them with his blustering militarism and assaults on our own civil liberties.

There is no pile of rubble and humanity left in New York, or anywhere else, that Bush can stand on and bullhorn his way back into the nation's confidence. Some of the dust was wiped away from the stalled 9-11 investigation; revealing a shameful, reckless indifference to catching bin-Laden, as those individuals in the top echelons of our government, responsible for directing our nation's defenses, ignored the myriad of reports coming from the agents in the field. Bush's 'War on Terrorism' has been nothing more than a scam unleashed against the liberties of blameless Americans, and the waging of bloody military campaigns which have had a unifying effect among those combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan who would resist Bush's swaggering imperialism and consolidation of power.

President Bush spoke of "vigilance" at the end of his radio address. "With vigilance, determination and courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom," he says, "and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren. That's an amazing contradiction to his own strident use of our nation's military to overthrow and occupy two sovereign nations in his term. It's a load of hubris from Bush, who has pledged to continue the occupation of Iraq "as long as he's president", and has bequeathed the disaster to "future presidents.'"


Abraham Lincoln spoke of our responsibility to vigilance. "While the people retain their virtue and vigilance," he said, "no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years. By the frame of the government under which we live," Lincoln continued, "these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals."

We must resolve ourselves to vigilance against Bush's campaign to divide Americans into those who support his terror policies that he regards as patriots; and those that he portrays as traitors: who resist his imperious assaults on our civil liberties, diversion of forces and resources to Iraq, and question his failure to catch the perpetrators defined in the very authorization that he claims gives him the power to ignore our nation's laws and our Constitution.

Come this November we must hasten the return of our democracy to our hands. No amount of fear-mongering from Bush and his murderous specter should be allowed to stand in the way. Bush should not be allowed to dictate our future to us, using the voice of this terrorist's violence.




painting by my wife, Karen

my (mostly Iraq invasion and occupation) article archives at OpEdNews.com: https://www.opednews.com/populum/authorspage.php?sid=176&entry=articles&pg=1#start

The harm in the 'Kamala is a cop' canard is good policy gets obscured, and not just at her expense

...but I guess that's the point in the attack. It's designed to not only draw a wedge between Kamala and the black community, her most reliable allies, but it's also used by people who never believed in criminal justice reform to discredit progressive criminal justice initiatives and programs, preventing this perfect advocate from making any impact, politically, or with Sen. Harris' myriad policies that seek to undo decades of injustice and abuses.

A blogger who goes by the name of 'BlackWomanViews has taken the time to compile a list of 50 things Kamala Harris did as prosecutor, DA, AG, and Senator to advance the issue of reform of our legal and criminal system of justice.

https://twitter.com/blackwomenviews/status/1171482666685751296

This list was mostly ignored here, even though the issue of her service as the senior law enforcement official in California was used extensively here to claim that Kamala Harris isn't a 'progressive prosecutor.' As most know, those charges were almost exclusively taken from one dubious article, and pretty much all the rest refer back to that false trope.

No one can credibly look at this amazing list of accomplishments and initiatives and conclude anything other that Kamala Harris has been focusing like a laser on reforming the criminal system that she oversaw and regulated. Indeed, NO OTHER CANDIDATE HAS A RECORD OF SUCCESS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM THAT COMES CLOSE TO KAMALA HARRIS.

By no means were her efforts perfect or inviolable, startup programs come with all sorts of stops and starts, and setbacks, but Kamala Harris stepped up to try and make a difference and be counted.

So, what I want to do is bring the receipts to DU (brilliantly provided by BlackWomanViews) which show an unflagging dedication to criminal justice, as well as reform of a system in which black Americans and other people of color disproportionately find themselves targeted by police and dealt with more severely by courts.


Issue #1:


Deputy DA, opposed proposition 21 (passed with 62%) which increased a variety of criminal penalties for crimes committed by youth offenders and incorporated many of them into the adult criminal justice system.




#2. Deputy Da- Cofounded the Coalition to end the exploitation of kids, to provide legal and health services to sexually exploited children, including 'teenage prostitutes."




*CONTINUE HERE***
https://www.democraticunderground.com/1287272808

The fight for right in Kamala goes way back

Ian Sams @IanSams 3h
"Stacey Johnson-Batiste recalls how Kamala Harris stood up for her in kindergarten against a boy who broke one of her artistic creations. She says the Harris she knew back then is the same person she is today."



Harris took a rock to the head for supporting her friend

Stacey Johnson-Batiste recalls how Kamala Harris stood up for her in kindergarten against a boy who broke one of her artistic creations. She says the Harris she knew back then is the same person she is today.



watch: (CNN) https://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2019/07/28/kamala-harris-profile-kindergarten-story-orig.cnn


"Ooh, It's A Blackout!

https://twitter.com/Kantrowitz/status/1150215632513748993

Who Built Our Garden?



Looking out this year at the magnificence of my garden yard, it's tempting to take an undue share of the credit for its vigorous and unprecedented growth. It's lushness that's developed over the 20 years I've been working on it betrays very little of the trials and deaths of countless would-be companions and allies I tried to mesh with this glad and busy assortment of perennials, shrubs, trees, vines and other volunteers gathered so close together in this well-established 'woodland' habitat.

Gone forever, from the front of the house, is that marvelously perfect lawn that I had maintained with pride at the highest height that I could set my favorite lawnmower. It was a gratuitous and patronizing notice in the mail from the neighborhood association that my lawn needed cutting (my favorite lawnmower had died) which gave me the resolve to eliminate it altogether; and fill the space with anything but the short, butchered grass which so improbably makes up the vast majority of the flora which is grown on the long, sloping front yards in our nature-filled community and is polluting our signature lakes like they were farmlands- with their excesses of nitrogen, potassium, and other grass-growing chemicals.

In place of my vanquished trophy lawn is a refuge of plants of like and different varieties; daylilies; hostas; iris; campamula; black-eyed susans; Asian lilies; snakeroot; sundrops; loosestrife; euonymous; lamium; strawflower; butterfly bushes; ferns; clematis; lirope; trumpet vine; oakleaf hydrangeas; climbing hydrangeas; hydranga-hydrangeas; kerria; Japanese maple; forest-pansy redbud; witch-hazel; Harry-Lauder walking stick; diverse assortment of viburnums; astilbe; virginia creeper; phlox; poppy; ajuga; sweet flag; sunflowers; monarda; comphrey; mint; perennial geraniums; vinca; sedum; mondo grasses; other ornamental grasses of various sizes; peonies; barberry; bayberry; beautyberry; oxalis; assortment of perennial hibiscus; chinese lantern; crepe myrtle; azaleas; firebushes; goldenrod; ballonflower; hechuera; dianthus; lobelia; and the rest of my rescued annuals which were fortunate enough (or, not) to spend the winter inside - all of this suburban habitat opportunistically assembled for my big and little animal friends to congregate and propagate amongst the tangle of leaf, flower, berry, and branch.





My new neighbor asked me how much water his yard would need to grow and prosper. I told him that plants will send up new growth to match the nourishment and sustenance you're able to provide. More water and food means more growth, so, you're then obliged to continue to nurture that growth at the risk of withdrawing that support and abandoning your sprouts to the ravages of the elements.

Are we actually caretakers in this menagerie, or, are we merely antagonists bent on shuffling and scrambling nature about for our own edification? In mostly all of the natural world, we find most species adapted to an almost routine pattern of survival which advantages itself of every other instinct and expression of the environment - taking a bit of nature for themselves, here and there; giving another bit back, in return.





Does that nature manifest itself in the fox who found refuge for the majority of the day last winter (and warmth) on top of the pile of composting leaves at the back of my yard?

Or is that nature the providence of the family of rabbits who live (and, presumably, are killed) in the burrows under the bank of day lilies facing our driveway - the rabbit family that was the subject of the fox's intense hunt that I witnessed one night from an upstairs window; the garden predator weaving back and forth through the dense growth of foliage to find his innocent quarry?





Is the hawk less welcome atop the heights of the dead pine in back than the chipmunks who perform their death-defying feats of seeming mischief and frivolity with little visible worry or fear of the threat from above?

Are the deer who also time-shared the same cramped but accommodating space of refuge during the winter days - who now migrate through the yard and forage on every bit of nutritious foliage and flower they can find - friends or ultimate enemies of this arranged habitat?





Would that we could all be as enthusiastic and grateful for nature as the lowly caterpillar which has suddenly been transformed from a grub into a fluttering butterfly - able, at last, to explore and take advantage of the riches of nature from one garden to the next.

Maybe the ephemeral life of a butterfly wouldn't be such a smart trade-off. There's nothing at all which will ever completely ingratiate the former leaf-eater on a forced, slimmed-down diet with his nurtured, pollinated hosts. Yet, nature, by its own design, attracts and invites the obliging butterfly to become a vital and integral partner in the perpetuation of an important bit of what we call life on this planet.





Poet, John Ashbery ('Some Trees'), describes the accommodating mix of menagerie and flora as an arrangement of chance and opportunity:

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though
Speech were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I (and others)
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness,
we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles . . .
Place in a puzzling light,
and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents
seem their own defense __


It is hard, but, not impossible, to imagine that all of this magnificence around us would occur without some hand in singling out new sprouts and nurturing, protecting, refereeing among their neighbors, and helping them take full advantage of the light, water, and nourishment that nature obligingly provides. Caretaking and nurturing them is as intimate as we humans can be with these miracles of nature, unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper like they do; plant our own feet that firmly in the ground and we would surely rot away with time.



bigtree

Kamala Harris: 'Unions built the middle class in this country'

Kamala Harris @KamalaHarris
Unions built the middle class in this country and during our campaign we are going to remind people of that fact.

https://twitter.com/KamalaHarris/status/1113924512100360192

Harris on Warren

Elizabeth Warren
by Kamala Harris
April 20, 2017

During a Senate floor debate this year, Senator Elizabeth Warren read a letter from Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow Coretta Scott King. Minutes later, she was silenced mid­sentence by majority leader Mitch McConnell, under an obscure and rarely invoked Senate rule.

“She was warned,” Senator McConnell said. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Yes, she did. And it was just the latest example of this plainspoken daughter of the Plains standing up for the middle class and the marginalized.

I first met Elizabeth after the 2008 housing crisis, when we battled the big banks and mortgage lenders together. I witnessed a fierce and fearless fighter, the same progressive champion who oversaw the $700 billion bank rescue and fought to create a consumer-­protection agency. Today I’m honored to serve alongside her in the Senate.

In these tough times, Elizabeth Warren persists. And America’s hardworking families are lucky that she does.

http://time.com/collection-post/4736325/elizabeth-warren/?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=social-share-article


...and Warren on Harris:

https://twitter.com/dilemmv/status/1113618223302311938

Kamala Harris in Reno, NV: "It is critically important that our nominee knows how to fight"

chris evans @notcapnamerica 19h19 hours ago
@KamalaHarris in Reno, NV: "It is critically important that our nominee know how to fight, and I do. I took on the biggest banks of our country"

watch clip:

https://twitter.com/notcapnamerica/status/1113469430242193408


watch full event:

https://www.pscp.tv/w/1MnxnNPNwoyxO

https://twitter.com/ABC/status/1113162791634915328

Republicans can't maintain Trump and Family's innocence for too long

...there have been tens of thousands of subpoenas in the Mueller investigation, alone.

The report will be a wealth of crimes and abuses to investigate further, and for Congress to determine whether they crossed the line into impeachable offenses. More bombshells are coming, more shoes to drop, and lists of questions still unanswered by Barr's opportunistic, clearly biased summary.

Also, as observers have noted, much of the collusion with Russia was not directly with Putin's government, so it's probable there are paper-thin defenses about degrees of separation Trump and family's Russian oligarch partners had with Putin. Most of the conspiracies involving Russia will be found in the financial connections surrounding Trump Tower Moscow.

There are other less treasonable matters like Cohen's payoffs to women accusing Trump of sexual assault and other misconduct, which, nonetheless put Trump and associates in legal jeopardy. There are also other investigations and prosecutions to come from probes into Trump charities, which are out of reach of Trump's pardon power.

The right wing is having their day behind Barr and Rosenstein's attempt to absolve with a memo to Congress. That moment is actually over today, as more people are pointing out the lack of ANY guidance in Barr's summary from what Mueller actually wrote in the report.

I guess they were hoping we didn't notice the president's handpicked appointee, ramrodded through by the republican-controlled Senate, and the president's flunky, Rosenstein (who wrote the cover memo for Comey's firing), crafting a defense friendly to their boss almost completely removed from the reams of evidence contained in the actual Mueller report.

Eyes on the prize.
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