Grandmother sentenced to sweeping street in subfreezing weather as punishment for protesting




                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Emily J. Reynolds, COX WASHINGTON BUREAU Diane Baker, a 60-year old hospice chaplain at United Church of Christ in Dallas, was one of 71 people arrested four months ago for crossing a police line to sit on the steps of a Senate office building during a protest in Washington. As punishment, she was sentenced to eight hours of street sweeping on Tuesday — in 20 degree weather.

Baker suffers from myoclonic epilepsy, a degenerative muscle condition that causes her voice to quiver and hands to shake.

“I’m a rather fragile, small woman,” said Baker.  “Being a minister, I offered to do counseling, but this is what they gave me.”

She wore 10 multicolored T-shirts with messages ranging from “End the War in Iraq” to “Shut Down Guantanamo” and “Save Darfur.” She also wore her clerical stole with a dove carrying an olive branch sewn into the fabric.

But on top of her layers of pacifism, Baker donned a fluorescent red vest with bold letters to remind her of why she was holding a dust bin and broom: “DC Superior Court Community Service.”

As Baker slowly dragged her trash can down the streets of downtown Washington, she acknowledged that she had learned a lesson, albeit one on the “stupidity” of the justice system in “a country built on freedom of speech.”

“They like to use this as a system of shame,” she said, crouching down to pick up a cigarette butt lodged in a crack in the sidewalk. “But I’m not ashamed to be an American.”‘

via the Austin American Statesman, registration required

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta eat


I don’t have any source info on this, other than it was the Photo of the Day at The Cellar yesterday.

Edwards gets a new blogmaster

bye bye

Austin blogger extraordinaire Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon has just announced she’s going to be taking the job of running John Edwards‘ blog. Congratulations, Amanda!

Wrapped up in ‘dis special CIA napkin!



Firedoglake continues to lead the pack in covering the Libby trial and today features a guest appearance from Leftcoaster eRiposte, focusing on the tangled web of secret dossiers, reports, public statements, coverups, then coverups of coverups, and of course, plain old blatant lies about Iraq obtaining African uranium. eRiposte lays out how Britain colluded to help the Bush Administration cover its ass.

Partly, this was to save face because their White Paper had already made the uranium from Africa claim; but it is also quite likely that they stuck by their claim to provide the last bit of support to Bush in the aftermath of Joseph Wilson’s op-ed and the Bush administration’s retraction of the SOTU uranium claim in July 2003, shortly before the expose of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity.

Go read the whole thing

I will not pretend. I will not put on a smile.

Since it’s Sunday and BSG is on tonight, here’s a great fan vid I found on the YouTube. Martha Wainwright’s great song and Starbuck. Good fit.

Vid by hushpuppy22

Listening to Barbara Jordan #1: “There is no president of the United States that can veto that decision.”


February 21 is the seventy-first anniversary of Barbara Jordan’s birth and I’ve decided to “count down” to that anniversary with series of posts to celebrate. She was a hero, a Democrat, and a force of nature whose moral authority and eloquent voice inspired so many in this country through some of our darkest days as a nation.

Naturally, since I’m a Democrat, I don’t really have a plan …..

It’s just that during the past week, since the State of the Union address, I started looking for transcripts, audio and video of Jordan for inspiration because of the dark days we find ourselves in right now. Also because during the past few weeks, after a long time in the gloom, we’ve heard some very strong voices urging change, urging individuals to stop and think, ask themselves if they can’t do better, to remember that America is better than this.

Reading, watching and listening to Ivins, Kennedy, Edwards, Hagel, Leahy, and Webb has inspired me and given me hope. It took me back, to when I was a kid, watching the Watergate hearings with my parents, and seeing Barbara Jordan deliver the opening statements. Really seeing her for the first time.

I already knew who she was because she was from Texas, was in the news, but that was the first time I really saw, really listened, and like everyone else who saw and listened that day, just sat there with my mouth open in awe of the woman who would one day speak at my college graduation. Your mind didn’t wander when Barbara Jordan spoke. It couldn’t. You had to listen and you sat up straight and just opened yourself up because you didn’t have any choice.

On that July 25, 1974, Barbara Jordan knew the eyes of history were on her, and on the Congress of which she was a member. “We are trying to be big,” she intoned, “because the task we have before us is a big one.”

She needn’t have worried. Even via the television, she was huge- her clarity and strength commanded that room full of so-called powerful men, and anyone else listening. She was innately majestic and she spoke truth to power.

Bill Moyers said of it, “”Just when we despaired of finding a hero, she showed up, to give the sign of democracy…. This is no small thing. This, my friends, this is grace. And for it we are thankful.”

And that’s the sense I’ve felt stirring these last few weeks, thankful even for the chance that we as a country might be able to turn things around, maybe even to even trust some of the people we’d elected to power to do the right thing and rise to the occasion, to “give the sign of democracy.” We can hope anyway, and this is no small thing…

Moyers (no oratorical slouch himself) would begin his famous eulogy for Jordan with this:

When Max Sherman called me to tell me that Barbara was dying and wanted me to speak at this service, I had been reading a story in that morning’s New York Times about the discovery of forty billion new galaxies deep in the inner sanctum of the universe. Forty billion new galaxies to go with the ten billion we already knew about. As I put the phone down, I thought: it will take an infinite cosmic vista to accommodate a soul this great. The universe has been getting ready for her.

Now, at last, she has an amplifying system equal to that voice. As we gather in her memory, I can imagine the cadences of her eloquence echoing at the speed of light past orbiting planets and pulsars, past black holes and white dwarfs and hundreds of millions of sun-like stars, until the whole cosmic spectrum stretching out to the far fringes of space towards the very origins of time resonates to her presence.

I’m starting off this series with an audio clip, not from the impeachment proceedings, since I just linked to that here, but with an brief excerpt from her first (she gave two) Democratic Convention keynote address, in 1976.

I find it particulary relevant for right now, for us at this moment, 31 years later:

Audio copyright

Ivins hospitalized again


Meditate, pray, light a candle- do whatever you can do to send Molly Ivins your love and care. In her ongoing battle against cancer, she’s once again been hospitalized.

I remember hearing Molly speak years ago, in Austin, on the eve of the first Iraq war. There had been a gathering at one of the churches on the Drag, and Molly was in attendance as a member of the community, not a speaker, but as people rose and spoke about their reactions to the latest bad news, the frustration and anger was growing and the direction of the comments was getting less and less focused. Molly stood up and while I no longer remember her exact words, I do remember that she urged people to take action, not just talk about it, and to remember that we still had the power to make change. I also remember that what she said seemed to ground everyone.

Her latest column: Stand Up Against the Surge

Friday night video

The Mountain Goats – Woke up New

Check the Diversions page for more videos.

Then let us speak of “the misconduct of public men”

Firedoglake’s Scarecrow:

The policy is still “We know best; trust us,” “stay the course,” and keep throwing American troops into Iraq’s civil war because we can’t afford to fail. Never admit failure. And keep using the statements of the pathetic Joe Lieberman as proof that they’ve got us into such a catastrophic mess that the predicted outcome of doing anything other than continue to listen to them will be even worse. But of course, except for a question on the Cafferty segment of CNN, the word “impeachment” is hardly spoken.


Opening Statement to the House Judiciary Committee, Proceedings On the Impeachment of Richard Nixon by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. July 25, 1974

“Borrowing to Stay Healthy”

That’s title of a report put out last week by New York public policy group Demos, and the Access Project, affiliated with Brandeis University. According to the report, 29 percent of low- and middle-income families with credit card debt reported using their credit cards to pay expenses related to major medical problems.

This is further proof that a viable health care plan, and the political capital to make it a reality, has got to be among the top requirements for the Democratic candidates now lining up for a presidential run in 2008.  As anyone who’s been through a major medical health crisis can attest, it ain’t cheap. Even those with “gold-plated insurance” plans end up paying a bundle out of pocket during an extended illness, hospitalization, or treatment. Since credit is often easier to get than cash flow, and medical expenses are on the rise, it’s no surprise to find that people with no other recourse are using plastic when the worst happens.

What’s frightening is that health care crises can be on-going and things often get worse before they get better, which is going to leave folks paying, or worse yet, not paying, interest on a rapidly mounting pile of debt.

Imagine for a moment the seriously ill patient who needs to be hospitalized. In the cold new world of health care, the primary message to such patients is often “Show me the money!”

In many instances, of course, the patient does not have the money. What the report found is that even people with health insurance are being drained by health care costs to the point where the credit card seems the only option.

“As deductibles and co-payments increase,” the report said, “hospitals are finding more patients unable to pay their medical bills. Some hospital management analysts are expecting an increase in self-pay patients and are bracing for higher levels of bad debt.

“In recognition of the evolving payment landscape and the risk of hospital bad debt, health care providers are more aggressively seeking upfront collection of co-pays and deductibles. A component of this strategy is to encourage patients to use third-party lenders such as credit cards to pay for medical expenses they cannot afford, which families frequently do to meet high medical bills.”

It’s one thing to reach for your Visa or MasterCard to pay for a Barbie doll or flat-screen TV. It’s way different to pull out the plastic because you’ve just learned you have cancer or heart disease, and you don’t have any other way to pay for treatment that would prevent a premature trip to the great beyond.

A society is seriously out of whack when legalized loan sharks are encouraged to close in on those who are broke and desperately ill.

This medical indebtedness is hardly surprising. Health care costs continue to rise much faster than family income and inflation, and Americans (who have stopped saving altogether) were already mired in staggering amounts of personal debt. Some families have been putting their groceries on credit cards. Many have taken the financially disastrous step of using home equity loans to bring down credit card balances.

A serious illness for people already in shaky economic circumstances can be the final push into bankruptcy.

Full story here