“What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy

“I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy

The following is taken from a post by Populista at Daily KOS. I am reprinting some of it here because I believe that this information far outweighs every stupid sign that makes my blood boil.

A few noteworthy statistics:

32 million of our brothers and sisters who would not have had healthcare coverage will have it because of this bill.

150,000 people who would have died will live because of this bill.

Our deficit will be reduced by $138 billion over the next decade because of this bill.

“The great unfunished business of our society” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy 

Before he died, Senator Ted Kennedy wrote President Obama a letter:

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me—and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me—and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles—there always have been—and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat—that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve,  And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will—yes, we will—fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign—and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend—and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,
—Ted

The Least Among Us . . .

In good conscience, when I tried to choose which parts of the letter to reprint, I realized that I had to post all of the late Senator’s words. Ted Kennedy fought decades for healthcare reform, knowing that a country is only as great as its citizenry. If even a fraction of its citizenry is oppressed by economic factors that inhibit the ability to prosper—intellectually, physically, emotionally—then that country can never truly call itself great. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 15.9 percent of Americans do not have healthcare. Wow. Staggering.

For every angry tea bagger out there who carps that healthcare reform will take us down a dark road, I have one question: Are you proud of the fact that the United States, this glorious powerful country, is ranked with some of the smallest third world countries when it comes to infant mortality? All of your bombastic declarations will not hide the more shameful realities of how we as a nation treat the poorest in our population.

I am fairly certain that our Constitution says something about “we the people,” not “we, the fortunate people,” or “we, the only people who matter,” or “we, the people who are fine and everyone else is f*cked.” To form a more perfect union we first have to right the wrongs, rid the injustices, and create a more balanced playing field. Oh there I go again, being a wide-eyed idealist. How very stupid of me.

More later. Peace now, more than ever.

Ruthie Henshall, “I Dreamed a Dream”

“There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Pentagon War Dead

Fallen Troops on Transport Plane Arriving at Dover Delaware

“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality.” ~ John McCain

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” ~ Jose Narosky

(Yes, I—screaming liberal that I am—have begun my post with a quote by John McCain. I know that this choice probably surprises those of you who have read me on a regular basis and know how much I opposed McCain’s bid for president. That being said, I will in no way dishonor the service that Senator McCain gave to this country, nor diminish the sacrifices that he and his family made. And as I was searching for the perfect quote to begin my post, I happened upon this one by McCain. I believe that his quote, spoken as someone who has seen war firsthand, sums up exactly what I am trying to say.)

Yesterday was Good Friday. I did not post. I was absorbed in my own little world, sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine and reading a book. Days like that are meant to be enjoyed and appreciated. And that is what I did.

But then, I went to bed early as I was not feeling well. How many times have I written that in this blog, “not feeling well”? I’ve lost count.

Today when I finally got myself moving, I was trying to think about what I wanted to post. What’s on my mind? What am I thinking about? What might catch a reader’s interest? So I sat down and began my usual routine by reading my comments first, always something from Maureen on White Orchid, and an interesting comment by my friend Sarah. Then I went to My Comments section in my dashboard.

This section on Word Press lets you keep track of threads of which you have become a part. So I was thinking about how aggravating it is to continue to see comments on a thread in which I have absolutely no interest, when I saw a thread from WillPen’s World (http://willpen.wordpress.com/), one of my favorite blogs.

“I finally saw that the story was not about the media at all. It was about honoring the heroes who sacrifice their lives to serve us all. ” ~ Courtney Kube

The comment made in the thread, which was regarding a previous post on WillPen’s site, was posted by regular visitor, Starshine, who always shares interesting tidbits and feeds to good posts. But this one brought me up short. It was a link to two different Daily KOS posts, both about U.S. casualties in the wars.

The first post, by greenies, was entitled IGTNT: With A Family’s Permission We Bear Witness. IGTNT, which stands for “I Got The News Today,” marked a bittersweet anniversary with this post: five years of posts in memory and gratitude to our fallen service members and their families.(http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/9/718378/-IGTNT:-With-a-Familys-Permission,-We-Bear-Witness).

The second post, entitled No One Could Have Asked For A Better Brother, was by noweasels (see link below), and although quite long, it was heart wrenching. Nevertheless, I would strongly recommend both posts to anyone who cares about our troops. The post brought to mind that the first anniversary passed in February of the death of one of my friend’s fiances. He was a U.S. Navy Seal, and he had already been in Iraq and Afghanistan far too many times. But it was what he did, what he loved to do, and he died serving his country in the company of his brothers, his Seal unit.
 

 

“In war, truth is the first casualty.” ~ Aeschylus

military-flag-draped-caskets1In February of this year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the lift of the 18-year ban by the Pentagon on media coverage of the flag-draped coffins of war victims arriving at Dover Air Force Base. The ban was imposed by Bush senior during the first Iraq war. Many people argued that the ban was the administration’s attempt to hide the very human cost of war so that the country would stand behind the president’s actions.

Others, Republicans and Democrats, have argued vociferously that the ban should be lifted: “We should honor, not hide, flag-draped coffins,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. “They are a symbol of the respect, honor and dignity that our fallen heroes deserve.”

Sunday, April 5 marked the first time that the media was allowed to witness the ritual of returning the remains of fallen U.S. service members.

While I have long been vocal about how this imposed cloak was a disservice to our fallen warriors, there are others who are still opposed to lifting the ban, citing the possible misuse of the images for anti-war propaganda. Apparently, those families who do not want any pictures to be taken or any videos shot will have the final say in their participation. I can respect that need for privacy and hope that the media does as well.
 
Courtney Kube, Pentagon Producer for NBC News, movingly comments that “While the family witnesses the event just a few yards away from the media, the Dover rules strictly prohibit the media from taking any photos of them. Even though we all do our best to avert our eyes and give them their privacy, their presence is palpable and heartbreaking.”  (http://fieldnotes.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/04/08/1885755.aspx).

“If we let people see that kind of thing, there would never again be any war.”  ~ Pentagon official explaining why the U.S. military censored graphic footage from the Gulf War

But we must remember, the images of war help to educate the public. During the Viet Nam war, the images sent back home from war photographers and the footage beamed into American living rooms became the initiation of the American public to the stark realities of war. No heroic songs. No heroic slogans. Only young men dying in a brutal war that divided the nation in every conceivable way: class, race, and politics to name but the obvious.

That is why I was completely dismayed by the continued non-coverage during this Iraqi war and the war in Afghanistan. My belief is that if the people in our society and societies of other countries participating in these wars—regardless of political party affiliations— see the ultimate sacrifices made, then the war will cease to be an abstract idea, something thousands of miles away in a distant land that doesn’t really affect our day-to-day lives.

“In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.” ~ Herodotus

But war isn’t distant. It isn’t abstract. War is ugly, and it is brutal. And it should affect our day-to-day lives. As Americans, we should always be mindful of the prices paid to keep our country free, that these prices affect families in our own hometowns and neighborhoods every day of every week of every year that we are involved in battle.

The following statistics are taken from a Daily KOS post by noweasels:

To date, 4266 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Iraq. The death toll thus far in 2009 is already 45. More than 31,000 members of the military have been wounded, many grievously. The Department of Defense Press Releases, from which the information at the start of each entry in this diary was drawn, can be seen here. The death toll among Iraqis is unknown, but is at least 200,000 and quite probably many times that number.

To date, 676 members of the United States military have lost their lives in Afghanistan. The death toll thus far for 2009 is 46. 452 members of the military from other countries have also lost their lives. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/10/718820/-IGTNT:-No-one-could-have-asked-for-a-better-brother).

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

army-bugler1
Army Bugler at Military Cemetery

My father’s own casket was draped with the U.S flag at his funeral. He had a 21-gun salute. A veteran of World War II and Korea, and a non-military veteran of Viet Nam, he fought for a country that was not his original homeland. He earned a Bronze Star with valor. He earned the right to that flag-draped casket and that salute. And as much as it tore my heart out, he earned the right to have “Taps” played when he was laid to rest.

Fading light
Dims the sight
And a star
Gems the sky
Gleaming bright
From afar
Drawing nigh
Falls the night.
 
 

Major General Daniel Butterfield

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” ~ Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

The wars in which our country has been immersed since Bush 2’s declaration of victory continue today. Tomorrow, someone may have a knock on the door that they never could have foreseen and have prayed intently against ever hearing.

For too long, the citizens of this country have not been allowed to grieve collectively about our fallen military men and women. Without imposing upon the rights of their families, I believe that the lift of this ban could be healthy for our country. As one person commented on Kube’s story:

When you cry for and mourn a fallen soldier (especially one that you didn’t know), I believe that you are really mourning all of the soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom. I think that witnessing and really feeling these moments allows us to realize just how much the sacrifices these men and women have made actually mean to us.

and another:

I caught myself wanting to stand during the ceremony in my den.  This is something that this country has been missing since the war in Iraq started—honoring those who have given their lives.  We need never forget the sacrifices of the fallen heroes and their families.

“If we don’t bear witness as citizens, as people, as individuals, the right that we have had to life is sacrificed. There is a silence, instead of a speaking presence.” ~ Jane Rule

boots-and-rifles-memorial
Soldier's Cross: Boots, Rifles, Helmets, and Dogtags of the Fallen

We must continue to bear witness, as painful as that may be. We must continue to hold in our hearts and our thoughts our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and school mates. It is the very least that we can do.

So the next time I complain about not feeling well, about having a headache, or how my back is in so much pain, I need to remind myself that I am here in my house, writing what I want to write, when I want to write it because of the men and women who haven’t had a real shower in weeks, who sleep without pillows and soft mattresses, who wear the same dirty clothes day after day, who carry with them the smallest of talismans to remind them of home.

I must admit that they are doing what I could not. Many are over in that desert for the third or fourth time. Living in a community filled with military families, I am aware that people all around me are waiting for their loved ones’ safe return, and hoping against hope not to get  the letter and the knock on the door.

And so I will leave you with this quote by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a video to remind you that your bad day will never be as bad as those who have been sent to war:

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.

 

 

If the content on this post has offended anyone in any way, I apologize.

More later. Peace be with you and yours.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

WARNING: This blog is longer than my longest blongs, but the information that it contains needs to be read by anyone who cares about freedom of speech.

freedom-of-speech-collage

Images of Freedom of Speech by L. Liwag

“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” ~ Charles de Montesquieu

Outing Mudflats: Doogan is a DoDo

I just found out from visiting one of my regular sites, WillPen’s World, that something truly incredible has happened to one of my favorite blogs: Mudflats (http://www.themudflats.net). I’m sure that many of you probably read Mudflats as it is a very well-written, informative political blog. In fact, Mudflats was voted best political blog of 2008, and I helped to put it there, me along with thousands of other faithful readers.

However, I recently learned of something very dismaying: Representative Mike Doogan of Anchorage, Alaska has gone out of his way to out the writer of Mudflats. That’s right, he spent his time finding out the real name of the author so that he could out her.

Here is what Doogan had to say in outing this blogger:

Anonymous Blogger Anonymous No More

The identity of the person who writes the liberal Democratic Mudflats blog has been secret since the blog began, protected by the Anchorage Daily News, among others. My own theory about the public process is you can say what you want, as long as you are willing to stand behind it using your real name. So I was interested to learn that the woman who writes the blog is Anchorage resident Jeanne _____.*

Best wishes,

Apparently, all of this ill-conceived, pompous drivel was a result of  Doogan’s unhappiness with the Mudflats post on the politician’s rude e-mails to his constituents and took it upon himself to find out the real identity of the popular blog’s moderator. How very mature of him.

“If you don’t understand that you work for your mislabeled ‘subordinates,’ then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny.” ~ Dee Hock

As Dawn Teo reveals in her post on HuffingtonPost.com about Doogan’s actions, ” He had saved up all of the emails from constituents on the Troopergate issue, and in December he responded to all of them at once, CC’ing a list of about thirty perfect strangers together in one email, telling them,

Are you people nuts? You send me—and everybody else in the legislature, from the looks of things—Spam and then lecture me on email etiquette—as if there were such a thing? Here’s an etiquette suggestion: Abandon your phony names, do your own thinking and don’t expect everybody to share your obsessions.

doogan-who-me
Rep. Doogan: "Are you people nuts?"

Yes America, this is how an elected official actually responded to concerned constituents. I know that I would be supporting and campaigning for someone who addressed me in this fashion. Apparently, Doogan doesn’t care about being re-elected, or at least, that is how it appears. But what really torqued Doogan out of shape was when AKMuckRaker of Mudflats posted an entry in which Doogan’s rudeness is made public for all to see; in addition, the moderator (whose name I will not use out of respect for her desire for privacy, even though she has been outed), took Doogan to task for his lack of etiquette in e-mail.

Even though Mudflats was completely within its rights to voice opinions anonymously under the guise of AKMuckRaker, Doogan’s vanity got the best of him, and he made it his quest to find out the moderator’s name, even e-mailing people to try to get them to identify her. Of course, no loyal reader would reveal such information.

Obviously, Representative Doogan does not know his history. Consider the anonymous authors of The Federalist Papers—Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, who published their 85 letters using the name “Plubius.” Or how about Thomas Paine’s anonymously published Common Sense, or for that matter all of the work that Benjamin Franklin published under the pseudonym Silence Dogood. We’re talking about the nation’s founding fathers and favorite citizens. Doogan, in his self-righteous justification for outing the blog author, forgot one of the most important lessons of U.S. history: Opposing political views are what made this country.

“The framers [of the Constitution] knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.” ~ Hugo Black

What Doogan did not count on was the support that Mudflats enjoys nationwide, nor did he stop to consider that bloggers are a very steadfast and loyal group. We look out for our own as we realize that if something like this can happen to one blog, it can happen to all blogs. Bloggers come from all walks of life, countries near and far, different religious and political backgrounds, but we all realize that being able to write about issues that concern us is a precious right, one that we will not cede without a fight. 

As a former journalist, Doogan should have had better sense than to make public the name of someone who deliberately chose to remain anonymous. In fact, what Doogan did could be considered illegal as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court:

As JJEagleHawk pointed out in Daily KOS:

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that “an author’s decision to remain anonymous, like other decisions concerning additions or omissions to the content of the publication, is an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.” In a concurring decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote “we should determine whether the phrase ‘freedom of speech, or of the press,’ as originally understood, protected anonymous political leafleting. I believe that it did.” Please note that, in this same decision, Justice Stevens also said that anonymous speech protects “unpopular individuals from retaliation—and their ideas from suppression—at the hand of an intolerant society.”

A lawyer who contacted Daily KOS made this very insightful point:

This is a violation of federal law and of the state common law right to privacy. The fact that he did it on state time and in his capacity is what is called “state action” for a section 1983 civil rights claim. The Mudflats blogger, who was absolutely entitled to comment on matters of public interest and equally entitled to do so anonymously, has a significant lawsuit against this clown . . . In addition to awarding damages, they also award attorneys’ fees. That is the only way to stop this sort of abuse of public position.

“I can remember when Democrats believed that it was the duty of America to fight for freedom over tyranny.” ~ Zell Miller

doogan-on-the-news
Doogan: "Who me?"

By the way, did Democrat Doogan use his state office and state computer in his search for vengeance? Was it on the time of the citizens of Anchorage that Doogan chose to behave like a schoolyard bully? How did he obtain this information? Did he use his political connections?

Important things that should make the people who elected this man to office might want to consider. And consider they are. I have read many blogs posts reacting to Doogan’s petty antics in which they promise to vote for anyone but Doogan and to offer monetary support to anyone willing to take on Doogan in the 2010 election. Count me in on that pool; I’ll add Doogan to Michele Bachman as people I will help to defeat even though they do not represent my state.

Fortunately, the support for Mudflats’ moderator has been very vocal and has not been limited to small-time bloggers. For example, Scout Finch on Daily KOS had this to say:

Whatever your reasoning, you’ve certainly caught our attention. And if you think we are going to scuttle back into the shadows and let this pass, you’ve got another thing coming. Your petty, vindictive, unprofessional, unethical, and perhaps even illegal actions are certain to come back to haunt you.

But one of the responses that really speaks to the heart of the matter is by DemFromCT in The Patrick Henry Press News:

I’m sure Alaskans can appreciate your focus on outing a blogger who is most known for exposing the hypocrisy, questionable ethics, and corruption of Alaskan officials. I’m sure they appreciate your focus on warring with bloggers instead of taking on the difficult economic and social issues Alaskans find themselves faced with this winter, including those who can’t afford to heat their homes. But, instead, here you are — gloating about your efforts to ruin somebody’s life.

For her part, the moderator of Mudflats was been extremely professional and considered in her response, especially considering that she is not the professional writer and Doogan was. Here is a sample of Mudflats’ comments in regards to the whole situation:

I was a bit surprised to see my real name, as you can imagine.  But after the initial surprise wore off, it really hit me.  This is an elected State Representative, of my own political party, who has decided that it’s not OK for me to control the information about my identity; that it’s not OK to express my opinion on my own blog without shouting from the rooftops who I am.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” ~ C. S. Lewis

I know that I am a bit late in joining the game, but I’ve never let that stop me before. What Representative Mike Doogan of Alaska did is reprehensible, but at the same time, it shows exactly how insecure he is.

I have enjoyed visiting Mudflats ever since I began blogging last year. During the election, it was the one source to which I turned to find out what was really  going on with the Governator. This blog has been an incredible resource, both through its moderator and through the comment threads. What Doogan did was unconscionable, not because we now know the author’s name as she should be proud of what she has created here, but because a politician should not have the time to go searching for a blogger’s identity.

doogan
Michael Doogan: Man of the People As Long As They Agree With Him

Politicians should be working on fixing this country, fixing their states. The economy is in the crapper, Doogan. Your ignoramus of a governor is going to refuse money from the Federal government without considering how much Alaska needs this support. As for yourself, look at your state and tell me that the time you spent in outing an intelligent, well-versed, source of news for thousands of people is more important than the bigger issues facing your constituents and all Americans right now.

Doogan, your priorities are incredibly out of whack. Oh, and about 2010? I wouldn’t count on it if I were you. Unfortunately for you and those of your ilk, bloggers have a very long reach, which too many politicians tend to forget.

See these other blogs for more information about Doogan:

http://www.themudflats.net/2009/03/27/in-exposing-the-identity-of-mudflats-rep-mike-doogan-exposes-himself/

http://progressivealaska.blogspot.com/2009/03/mike-doogan-outs-mudflats.html

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/28/714126/-Response-to-Rep.-Mike-Doogan

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/3/28/714053/-Open-Letter-to-Alaskan-Rep-Mike-Doogan

http://patrickhenrypress.info/?p=586150

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dawn-teo/famed-anonymous-anti-pali_b_180313.html