Friday, September 23, 2005

Indymedia roundup

Marshall e-mails to ask if we can note Grace Lee Boggs' "The fire next time" (The Michigan Citizen) one more time. Of course we can:

Hurricane Katrina gives us another opportunity to take a hard look at ourselves and begin the re-ordering of priorities necessary to prevent recurring natural, social and political disasters like 9/11, the Iraq war and New Orleans.
The fury of Katrina, followed by the racist, classist, subhuman herding of the Black, poor and elderly into the Superdome and convention center, left without food, air, water and toilets and to war against one another, while government officials at all levels (including Blacks) ran around like Keystone cops, has created a crisis of biblical and constitutional proportions. We must seize this opportunity to ask ourselves and one another "Why has this happened? Where do we go from here?"
Forty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr., agonizing over the twin disasters of the Vietnam War and the urban rebellions, called for a radical revolution of values. Our technological development has outrun our spiritual development, he warned. We have lost our sense of community, of interconnection and participation. To regain these, we must struggle not only against racism but against militarism and materialism.
We must begin a rapid shift from a "thing-oriented society" to a "person-oriented" one.

And we can also thank Liang who noted Grace Lee Boggs during women's history month and introduced her to the community.

Lyle e-mails to note Margaret Kimberley's "Where Was Dick Cheney During Katrina?" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

Where was Dick Cheney? In the days following the devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina, the Vice President of the United States became the invisible man.
The vice president’s job is to succeed the president in case of death, impeachment or resignation, and to preside over the Senate. He also attends the funerals of world leaders not deemed important enough to merit the attention and time of the President. The Veep is certainly on hand for post hurricane photo-ops showing distraught survivors and destroyed homes.
Not only was Cheney AWOL, but the corporate media rarely made note of his absence. Millions of Americans asked one another, "Where is Cheney?" but the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN never thought to address the issue that the rest of us discussed on our own.
When Cheney finally reappeared, his more than weeklong absence was still a media unmentionable. It was left to ordinary citizens to ask where he was as the indifference and ineptitude of his colleagues magnified an already enormous tragedy.

KeShawn e-mails to note Bruce Dixon's "Rescue Came From the Grass Roots: The People, Not Fema Saved Themselves" (The Black Commentator):

From her Atlanta home, former Gulf Coast resident Latosha Brown and a few friends watched the man-made catastrophe unfold in the wake Hurricane Katrina.
"We kept expecting to see the National Guard, the government, the Red Cross, somebody to do something. The idea that our leaders would allow people to fend for themselves two, three, five days with no food, water, medicine or help from outside -- we just couldn't get our minds around it.
"People were dying by the hundreds in New Orleans, and more folks we knew in Mississippi, in Alabama were hurt, missing and homeless or hungry. You've got two choices when you see something like that. Choice one is to feel defeated. Choice two is to be pro-active and do something about it. There were about six of us in my living room at that moment, all movement vets. We called around to see what we could make happen ourselves.
"The first folks to send a couple of vans of food and supplies was TOPS, The Ordinary Peoples Society, a prison ministry in Dothan AL founded and staffed by ex-offenders. They organized food from a food bank, pooled their money to get additional goods and moved it to Mobile where they connected with a second organization of formerly incarcerated brothers down there to distribute it while they went back to Dothan for more. That's why we tell everybody now that it was felons who were the first to feed, the first to respond to need, the first to get up and do something. They didn't wait for permission or for a contract. That's real leadership."
The Real Leaders
Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of Dothan Alabama and Paul Jackson of Mobile each spent a decade in prison. Both are part of a network of black civic and religious organizations that have fought for years to restore the right to vote to over 200,000 former prisoners in Alabama, most of them African American men. Glasgow and his organization hustled food and got the first vans on the road southbound to the gulf. Jackson and his organization met the vans and guided them to where the need was greatest. "We started going into the projects," said Glasgow. "We went to Orange Grove and other places, somewhere the water had reached second floor windows, but nobody had seen FEMA or the Red Cross. We just started targeting areas where nobody else was coming."

Quickly (there were a lot of e-mails) Luke of wotisitgood4 has a story on the Zogby polling at Raw Story.

BuzzFlash has their latest pick for Wings of Justice: Al Gore. This was noted in three e-mails including one from a member.

Keenan asks if I'd consider endorsing Al Gore if he ran in 2008 for president? Keenan's a newer member (and not the only one). So let me state something that older members already know. I won't be endorsing anyone. Al Gore is a very nice person and I'm sure he'd make a strong president. But whether it's him or anyone else, I don't see me making an endorsement. Keenan notes the comment on Wesley Clark the other day and assumes Clark won't be endorsed. Again, no one will. A) It's far too soon for endorsements. People don't even know who's running. This, "let me place my bet before the whistle blows!" is nonsense in my opinion. As someone who majored in poli sci, I've always loathed how the mainstream media turned (with each election more so) the campaigns into a horse race.

Since no one has a platform at this point and no one's declared, there can't be anything more silly (my opinion) then saying, "I'm for ____." Great for you. Go out to lunch with him or her. Date him or her. Screw him or her. I don't care. But don't act as though you've made an informed decision because you haven't. No one's declared, no one's presented any semi-full position on where they stand.

I waited until March or February of 2003 to decide whom I was supporting. (John Kerry, as has been noted in other posts.) I then didn't run around to everyone I know saying, "Vote for John Kerry!" It was the primaries. What I did was make sure they had information (in print form) on all the candidates and I'd discuss it with them. Only after someone had strongly made up their mind did I share whom I was supporting. (I contributed money to Carole Moseley Braun's campaign and I also attended several Dean events.) (I also attended a Ralph Nader event as a favor to a student study group who agreed to trade that for work on the Patriot Act in their area -- they and others in their community were successful and the city council passed a resolution against the Patriot Act.)

We have third party members (not just Third Party) and we're a site for the left, not for a party. There's no reason for me to make endorsement. We're a smart community and we'll be able to make up on our minds. Members can, if they want, weigh in during the primary. That means if a supporter of X writes something, it will go up. (This will be from members, not visitors.)

It may happen, as with the DNC chair race, that membership dictates a choice. If that's the case, I don't see that happening, then we would note the community's feelings. (Dean was quickly the sole choice of the community. That's unlikely to happen again for a number of reasons not limited to the fact that we've gone from a small, tight community, to a larger one.)
With Green Party members and others as members of our community, I don't think it would be fair to make an endorsement (once the race begins and people declare -- which no one has).

As for right now, if Al Gore wants to run, he should run. If Medea Benjamin wants to run, she should run. Anyone who wants to should. This is America and we're supposed to be a democracy so anyone who thinks they could do a strong job should run. During the last primary while others were belly aching about the number of candidates, I saw it as an opportunity for people to make up their minds. We need more voices. And more voices from outside the two party system as well.

I'm not going to pretend that I've ever voted anything but Democratic for a general presidential election. That could change. (Third party members snicker at the idea of it ever changing.) But regardless, this is a community and there are a wide range of views and ideas (from the left) present in the community.

I criticized Wesley Clark this week for his reliance on the Pentagon as the standard answer to any problem. Wesley Clark's also been praised at this site (back in November) for an action. When primaries start, that's the sort of thing members can expect to see from me. Any other commentary will depend upon what members elect to share with the community.

If there's any obvious bias (I won't say there won't be any because I'm sure some will slip in on my part even as I try to watch for it), it will hopefully be in noting third party candidates. (That third party members of the community support.) That's because the media does a poor job of covering them. But the ideal, on my end, that I'll be striving for is to critique and to make sure members are aware of what's out there. For the general election itself, I'm less assured that I can maintain any kind of distance and will depend upon members to keep me focused and fair.

I voted for Gore in the primary and the general elections, I voted for Kerry in the primary and general elections. (I could go further back but I think the point's made.) If they, or for instance Hillary Rodham Clinton who was a key factor in my whole hearted support of Bill Clinton in 1992, ran in 2008, my past support shouldn't be seen as an endorsement. I've offered positive and negative comments regarding Hillary Clinton here. And hopefully that's how it will go with a primary. Third party candidates may get a pass because I'll be much more limited in my knowledge of them. (Originally, when this issue was discussed here in November, I'd thought I'd be more informed but the e-mails and the entries take up a great deal more time than I ever expected so it's doubtful that I'll be anymore informed than I would be normally. As a result, they may result in more information passed on and less critique.) I'll try to be as neutral as possible. (Hopefully, Lieberman won't want to run. I bit my tongue through the primaries last time until friends made up their own minds. I doubt I could pull that off again.)

But we don't raise funds for candidates here and we don't do endorsements. We're a resource/review and we should be attempting to match people up with the voices that speak to them. Who speaks to Brady won't necessarily speak to KeShawn.

Again, members will be allowed to express their own opinions and they can do their own endorsement, note that they want it posted, and it will go up. (Hopefully, in their endorsement, they will be respectful of the feelings of other members.) We're a resource/review. Members shouldn't have to fear that next week they'll be logging in and I'll be praising candidate X and urging everyone to get behind her or him.

So that's what you can expect. Campaign politics was one of my fields of emphasis so I can't imagine not weighing in with some commentaries/critiques. But I'm not going to do an endorsement. (And if you ask Elaine or Rebecca, they will tell you they didn't know I was for Kerry until they decided for themselves. Rebecca took longer than Elaine to decide and she can tell you that I bombarded her with information on all the candidates -- including Lieberman -- so that she could make her own choice. At one point, she even asked me if I was for Lieberman because I bent over backwards to be fair to Lieberman. I told her she'd have to make her own decision before I shared mine.)

Hopefully, we'll have a number of strong choices in the Democratic Party and in the third parties to choose a candidate from. In the Democratic Party last time we had a wide range of strong choices. (Plus Lieberman.) The press treated this as "there are too many choices!" There weren't. The problem for some in the press was that they didn't want to do their job -- inform you about candidates. They wanted instead to play horse race. In a large field, that's harder.

I will note, before the primaries begin, that the usual pattern is that whomever the press gives "heat" to early on does not end up winning the primary. The press loves to build up and tear down and they also base their choices on something other than what voters are thinking. A very good friend who supported Howard Dean was so excited about the press Dean was receiving at one point. I warned him that the press coverage only meant that Dean would be the first destroyed.

It's not a horse race for the press if they can't handicap. It's not "fun" apparently if they can't treat it as "X is in the lead, X is rounding the corner, wait here comes Z!" That really shouldn't be the function of reporters (op-ed writers can write about whatever they want however they want). Reporters should be crawling through the records, the platforms and the public statements to illuminate the pluses and minuses of a candidate.

BuzzFlash also has an interview with Joe Conason.

Thanks to Elaine and Rebecca for all their help this morning with e-mails and selecting things to include in the indymedia roundup. And thanks to Dallas who's already hunting down links for our New York Times entries.

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