Happy new year, everyone! This is a time of celebration, but this year especially, also of reflection and rememberence. As you enjoy this day with your family and friends, let your thoughts be with the victims of the deadly tsunami in Asia, the misguided war in Iraq, and every other human tragedy of this year.
You remember the Iowa caucuses (2004), don't you? You know, when John Kerry pronounced himself the come-back Kerry? Well, if you ask anyone in the media, they will probably say, "Oh yeah, I remember that! That's the night when Howard Dean had that 'I have a scream speech.' " Right after the Iowa caucuses, the media did a tremendous disservice to the American people by cutting out of context and repeating 700 times. ABC News, to its credit, ran a mea culpa of that terrible coverage. Basically they put the speech into perspective. There were 3000 screaming orange hats in the room, and Gov. Dean's so-called scream could not even be heard if you were actually there. His microphone was designed to cancel out background noise. Well, guess what? The media is shameless. And they are back. In all the major networks, their lookback at the Year 2004 included - somewhere, that "scream." Not his whole speech in perspective, just that cut-out-of-reality made-by-the-media scream. I don't know when they'll get it. Fairness in reporting matters, and after ALL the major Networks (including Fox news) admitted their coverage was over the top with this, they come right back and do it again. The networks like spoiled brats that never learn anything. But then again, "news" no longer has the public interest, facts, and fairness as its motivator. That void has been filled by corporate greed. Can you imagine? 90% of the "news" you see on TV is controlled by three corporations - giant corporations. Of course, our president has a solution to this problem. Let them control all 100%. Anyway, back to the Iowa speech, because if I start venting my disgust at the media, I will be writing this blog entry all night long. The speech was in fact a very good one. Howard Dean was enthusiastic, not angry. His passion was pouring over every word he spoke. And the 3000 orange hats in the room gave him (rightly) a hero's reception. He deserved as much. After being the target of a 5 team circular firing squad, he came up short in Iowa (the same night, we got Mr. John 'Electability' Kerry annointed, who would eventually lead Democrats to a loss to the weakest incumbent president in history), but it did not diminish his spirit, or his belief in the goodness of his country. 3000 young people busted their bottoms for Howard Dean in Iowa. They deserved a rousing speech from Howard Dean. Dean did not disappoint. He showed real leadership then, and he continues to do it today. And I pledge to you, Guv: We're going to go to New Hampshire, and Michigan, and California, and Nevada, and Washington, and then we're going to Washington, DC! YEAAHHHHH!!
What can you have but the deepest sympathy for the people who were devasted in the worst natural calamity in recorded hisrtory? I am not going to post any pictures, since you have already seen plenty on the Net and on your TV. I have a special geographical connection to the area: I am an Indian native. I am not claiming that the tragedy impacted me any more deeply than any other person living in a western country, I mean, I had no relatives or friends affected in the disaster, but it's hard for me to watch the images of destruction. The death toll, it seems, almost doubles on a daily basis, and nobody knows where it will stop. But what's worse than the death toll is the images of the survivors who are not only suffering great personal tragedies - mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, and entire families are wiped out - but are also certain to be hit by a onslaught of diseases to which children are especially vulnerable. I think I heard an official calling the current picture only the "tip of the iceberg", and that's exactly what it is. The infrastructure in many of these countries is poor, and so while aid is flowing into airports, transporting them to the people who need it most is a completely different story. Meanwhile, the human suffering grows and grows and grows. Yet of all devastations rise the caring character that make us human beings. It is our conscience that does not let us sit still in the face of human tragedies like this. It is our inner being of moral sense that urges us to stand in empathy, and to extend a helping hand. From a distance of tens of thousands of miles, we can do an aweful lot. Relief agencies all over the United States and the world are seeking donations to deal with this calamity that is really of epic proportions. To see a list of these organizations, click here. What's needed? Lots, but at the moment, the priority is clean, safe, drinkable water. That is almost the sole factor which will determine if millions more will die in outbreaks of diseases in the aftermath. And then there is the need for food, clothing, medical care, and finally rebuilding what amounts to an entire civilization. Well, sorry it took me so long to post something about this, but it is just so surreal it took me some time to get off the initial shock and... to a certain degree, denial.
So I got an email from MoveOn the other day. They want their members to send a message to the DNC about the qualities they should be looking for in a new party leader. I am really disgusted with the national Democratic party's tendency to move to the right every time they lose. The thing is, they do this, then lose, then move to the right again, then lose again, and so forth. Someone ought to give these people a good spanking and tell them that doing the same thing over and over and over is not going to turn out a different result. So here is what I wrote the DNC: Party leaders. What is that? Especially in the Democratic party. Today. Here is the straight truth: at the national level, there are no leaders. A leader must lead the people who built the party, who stick to the party through thick and thin, and lead with conviction in the values the party aspires to. Equal rights, universal healthcare, free and equal public education, investing in our infrastructure and our children - these are the values America aspires to. Anyone who believes we need to become more like Republicans by supporting bills titled "partial birth abortion" or by voting for an unjustified war is not a leader. Nor is anyone who thinks the Democratic party needs to move to the side of the biggest corporate forces and abandon its base of hard working people and organized labor. We don't need a "leader" who abandons the African American, Hispanic and other minority communities because the Republicans play the race card in the South. We don't need a crackpot who thinks gay bashing is the latest fashion in politics. We don't need somebody who thinks speaking to southern white people about race and racial understanding in America is somehow talking down to them. Frankly, if your opinion is to keep moving to the right, there is no purpose for the Democratic party, and you should leave and join the Republicans instead. That's all the things we don't need. Here is what we do need. We need a fiscally iron-fisted leader who believes deeply in all 10 Amendments of the Bill of Rights. Someone who believes that privacy is not a prerogetive of the president or the Congress, but it is a Constitutional and inalienable right of everyone. We need someone who believes that every single person - regardless of their origin, race, creed, color, sex or sexual orientation - is entitled to the equal and same freedoms and rights as every other person. Someone who believes that the party needs to stand with and be proud of the people who brought the Democrats to the dance: the trade unions, women, Black and Hispanic Americans, the economically disenfranchised, the hard working people. Somebody who believes that America's greatest strength is her moral convictions, not her military might. Someone who knows "school choice" is just a nice phrase for the beginning of the end of public education. Someone who is not afraid to stand up to Bush and his cronies. Someone who is not afraid to take on the corporate media. In other words, if he privilages the Democrats with his candidacy for the DNC chair, we need Howard Dean.
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