Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Going undercover

A neighbor who knows I'm supporting Barack Obama asked me to come over on Sunday for a "Hillary Party" she is having. I don't plan on making an argument there for people to vote for Barack, (it is her party, after all), but I want to discover what it is that would cause women to continue to support Hillary at this time.

My neighbor said it is because 'Hillary is a woman'. I hope to elicit answers from the attendees that will throw more light on this subject. I am puzzled why anyone, even a strong feminist, would prefer a woman with some serious flaws over a man who has proven to be a more skilled leader, and a more thoughtful speaker.

To put it simply - how can someone run a country if they can't even run a campaign? Hillary's campaign has failed to deliver a consistent and believable message (one day she's Paulette Revere, the next day she's Rocky Balboa, one day she's dodging bullets in Kosovo, the next day it was 'just mis-speaking from exhaustion - on at least four different occasions?); she failed to raise enough money (she had to 'loan' her own money to the effort); failed to plan for contingencies (was sure the race would be over in February); alienated supporters with her attacks on fellow Democrats (when Gov. Richards endorsed Obama, her campaign labeled him 'a traitor' and 'a Judas'); and she has not, with all this flailing, managed to take the lead from Obama.

I fail to see the attraction here, and hope to be enlightened on Sunday. Are there really Democrats who think they would be better off with a leader who is closely tied to the murderous, anti-union thugs in Columbia, just so long as she is the 'right gender'? Exactly what do they think she will do for them that Barack wouldn't do?

I've always had a problem understanding why people do things, so maybe I will be just as confused on Monday, but it won't be for lack of trying to understand.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

New Widget added

is for the Daily KOS, where the news you wanted to find on the television is really happening.

I love the Daily KOS most of all because there are so many well-informed people who post high-quality diaries where I learn important news about US politics and the rest of the world. I love the KOS because I can learn about new books like the one I just ordered last month "So Wrong For So Long", by Gregg Mitchell. I love the KOS because we all have an equal opportunity to post our opinions, diaries, tips and recommends. I love the KOS because I can be part of a lively community of caring people, and I'm glad to be there.

Far Infra Red Sauna arrived

in one piece on Friday afternoon, and Goldibear has it nearly all assembled. My Finnish grandmother would be proud.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"The American People have to know"

"The American people have to know." This was how Daoud Hari, author of The Translator, a Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur, began his talk at Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon last night. Following is my report, based on my notes of his speech.

More chairs were needed, and the seating capacity nearly doubled, before Daoud could begin speaking. He has been in the U.S. for one year, as a refugee. His talk was marked with frequent references to the deaths of people who also did the work he did, but who were killed. He clearly feels that his narrow escapes from death, and his opportunity to come to America, are for a purpose - so that he can tell people what is happening in Darfur.

The violence in Darfur has a long history, and Daoud spoke only on the most recent years. He said in 2005 there was peace, and when the government started bombing the villages in 2006, President Bush intervened, and there was peace - for a season. Now the violence is worse than in 2006, according to Mr. Hari.

He spoke of his village of 250 to 300 people, ruled by a sultan, the person who had final authority over decisions. He described his life growing up with his camel and his friends. They would stay out until 11:30 pm or midnight, playing games, and his camel would take him back home, knowing the way even if he was asleep. Daoud said that life in the desert is very different than our lives in the U.S., with a harsh climate and very few trees and plants.

Even so, there was enough to sustain the villagers, until the climate changes narrowed the margins of sustainability on the land, and brought back old problems between Arabs and Zaghawa. The government in Khartoum, the capital city, fanned the conflict with a plan to "cleanse" the desert of the indigenous tribes and give all the land to the Arabs, who arrived there about two hundred years ago.

As Mr. Hari described the recent history of his people, I was reminded of his comment near the end of his book, where he said that the problems of Darfur are not 'simple genocide', but that it is complicated. The result, he made clear in his book and in his talk, is still the threat of extinction of his people, but the complex human and political relationships make solutions difficult, make peace agreements quickly void, and create discouragement among those who intervene and try to help.

Daoud spoke of the network of tribal relationships that his people and the Arabs have among people in Chad, Kenya, the Congo and elsewhere in Africa, so that the conflict which began in Darfur has spread to other nearby countries, and threatens the stability of the entire region. The solution to peace in the region, he says, is to create peace in Darfur, and the way to do that is to restore the tribes to their ancestral lands with security.

One of the pieces to the puzzle that is Darfur, is that the Chinese government is providing weapons and hard currency to the government in Khartoum. Mr. Hari tied the Chinese to the killing of his people and the rest of the tribal people in Darfur.

I asked the first question after his talk, which was, "Should people boycott the Olympics, or write letters of protest to the government? What do you think would be most helpful in cutting off the support of Chinese weapons and cash?"

Daoud responded by saying, "Don't go. This is the Blood Olympics. This is not sport." He added that twelve thousand new refugees have fled into Chad and the government has bombed another five villages. Daoud Hari said Darfur is not under control for anybody, even the government. The government wants the aid workers out of the country, and the workers are helpless without security and transportation. He said, "Disarm Janjaweed! The war is the humanitarian crisis!" He pointed out that before the attacks of the Janjaweed (the Arab guerrilla fighters on horseback and in land cruisers) the people had access to food and water, shelter and crops. The Janjaweed, he said, poisoned the wells and killed the animals, so that even those who survived their attacks would have to leave their villages.

Daoud ended by asking everyone to add their voice to ask for help for Darfur. He pointed out that President Bush acted in 2006 after one million people petitioned him to do so. He said we need one million people again to ask for the killing to stop, to ask for the United Nations to send in all their peace keepers, to get President Bush to act. In his country, if he were to protest a government policy, their response would be to have him killed. We have the freedom to petition our government, and Daoud's mission is to convince us to take action.

"Let me get another voice" - this was the hope of Daoud Hari last night at Powell's Books, speaking on the need for One Million Voices to stop the killing in Darfur.

Here is the link to the organization, Save Darfur, where you can get information on how to help the tribal people of Darfur regain their place on our earth. There are over 200,000 refugees living Chad, which is a country too poor to help them. The Janjaweed come over the border from Darfur and kill the men and rape the women when they go out to gather firewood. This can stop and will stop if enough people lend their voice. Will you lend yours?

I made an effort to check this report but as Daoud says, the history and situation in Darfur is complicated. He is a very intelligent man with an excellent understanding of Darfur. Any mistakes in this post are mine, and mine alone.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

It Works

Yes, that marvelous little 'Barack-itizer' on the sidebar works. I just spent some time listening to Michelle Obama, and then I heard Barack's speech to the AFL-CIO in Pennsylvania. I never thought I'd hear a U.S. Senator say that it was wrong for them to have better health care than the rest of the country - but that is what he said. I never thought I'd see a person run for the office of President who never took money from lobbyists - but that is who he is.

That is why the motto for the campaign is 'change'. That is real change - when we have a choice to elect someone who is not part of the same old politics that we've had for decades. But don't just take my word for it - try out that handy little tool and then - let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Some Changes

I haven't lost my dedication to the WWF for a living planet. Their link is in a new location on my sidebar.

The top information widget on PandaBaby, until the election, will be for Barack Obama. It is temporarily replacing the WWF widget, because the election of a pro-earth president will have more long term positive impact than moving a widget for a while. I hope my earth-friend readers will understand my strategy. PandaBaby is still all for the animals - ALL the animals!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Why Pandababy has been AOL

Judge by Traviss came out March 25. You may notice that is the date of my last blog entry.

I read Judge immediately when it came out. I intended to publish a review right away. I'm not going to review Judge after all, at least not here and not now.

All I can say is that it is not at all what I thought it would be. I'm going to need to get some more distance before I can add anything to that.

It takes me awhile to back up and go in a different direction than the one I had in mind. Sometimes that is good - determination, tenacity even. Sometimes it doesn't work well for me, and it is just plain stubborn refusal to deal with facts that are not what I want them to be.

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I'm waiting impatiently for the arrival of my next Early Review book: The Spirit of the Place, by Samuel Shem. It will be out June 15, and the early review copy is somewhere in the mail this week.

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Our house is undergoing a very slow, small remodel, one bit at a time. The next piece is the two-person Far Infra-red Sauna, which is to arrive any day now. It is recommended by many health care experts for MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) and for FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) so we expect it to benefit both of us. This is going to use up our entire 'tax refund' boost to the economy - and then some. But if our health improves, it will be worth every penny.