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Resist More Media Consolidation

Posted by libhom Wednesday, December 19, 2007 7 comments

From a Free Press Email Alert:

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and his two fellow GOP commissioners approved new rules that will unleash a flood of media consolidation across America. The rules will further consolidate local media markets -- taking away independent voices in cities already woefully short on local news and investigative journalism.

In 2003, the FCC tried to do the same thing, but millions of people demanded that Congress reject the FCC's rules. And they did. It's time to do it again.

Amy Goodman gave further detail on the rule changes on Democracy Now!
Martin would increase media consolidation by relaxing the rules for companies seeking to own both a newspaper and television or radio station in the same city.


Free Press has an open letter to Congress which they are urging people to sign.

Take Action!

This, from the 12/16/07 online edition of the New York Times:

With just weeks left before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8, Mr. Huckabee has climbed to near the top of a crowded Republican field. But he may have given his rivals an opening when he decried what he called “the Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality.” Writing last week in the journal Foreign Affairs, he said, “American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out.”

Perhaps sensing that Mr. Huckabee might have offended the core conservatives vital to securing a Republican nomination, Mr. Romney pounced.

“That’s an insult to the president, and Mike Huckabee should apologize to the president,” Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said Sunday on the NBC News program “Meet the Press.”

In an earlier appearance in Humboldt, Iowa, Mr. Romney was even more scathing. “I can’t believe he’d say that,” he said. “I’m afraid he’s running for the wrong party.”

Romney wants to make it clear to GOP primary voters that he is Bush's biggest sycophant. But, Huckabee was quick to minimize any independence from Bush:
Mr. Huckabee, in a CNN appearance apparently added belatedly to his schedule, sought to explain. “I didn’t say the president was arrogant,” he said. “I said that the policies have been arrogant.”

Genuflecting to an incompetent, unelected tyrant is still the order of the day in the GOP.

How pathetic!

From the Washington Blade 12/6/07:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) Thursday morning acquiesced to requests by House Democratic leaders to drop a gay and transgender inclusive hate crimes bill from the National Defense Authorization Act, a knowledgeable Capitol Hill source said.

Frank attempted to defend House Democrats as follows:
“House Democrats tell me, ‘Of course I support the hate crimes bill, but don’t tell me to vote for the war,’” Frank said.

“They’re saying why are you asking me to vote for the war in order to vote for this,” he said.

Where were Frank's criticisms of the Democratic Party "leadership" including war funding? Why was war funding included in the Defense Authorization in the first place? Democrats keep saying they are against the war, yet both Democratic-controlled houses of Congress keep voting to fund it.

Frank was more interested in defending removing hate crimes protections from the Defense Authorization bill than condemning the inclusion of war funding in it.

As usual, Frank is putting partisan interests ahead of the queer and peace movements.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune 12/14/07:

The Housing Authority of New Orleans agreed in court today not to demolish the C.J. Peete, Lafitte or St. Bernard public housing developments unless the New Orleans City Council approves permits for the work.

The agreement allows HANO to proceed with demolition work, approved in November 2003 by the City Council, at the B.W. Cooper housing development.

Officials with the housing authority and attorneys for demolition opponents, who sued HANO Thursday to stop tear-downs at C.J. Peete, Lafitte and St. Bernard, reached the accommodation after meeting privately with Civil District Court Judge Herbert Cade, who said he would sign an order later today approving the deal.

Plaintiffs argued that the City Council had to approve demolition work at the three housing complexes. HANO had not secured that approval for the three demolition projects.

Attorney Tracie Washington, representing the plaintiffs, said HANO's willingness to halt demolition work pending a City Council review is a first: "We have never (before) been able to get a court to order a stop to demolition."

The City Council is expected to address the demolition matter next week.

The Housing Authority of New Orleans is administrating federally-funded housing in that city. They have been expected to tear down safe housing projects and replacing them with far fewer housing units for poor people.

The ultimate authority for doing this is coming from the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! explains:
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD, is expected to begin demolishing four of the largest public housing projects in New Orleans this Saturday. For more than two years after Hurricane Katrina, some 4,600 apartments in these buildings have been boarded up and closed to former residents.

Only 744 affordable housing units will replace the 4,600 units. That’s an 82% drop in a region where affordable housing remains a key issue.

The people who write the funding checks generally call the shots, and that is what has happened between HUD and HANO.

On the show, Bill Quigley, attorney and housing advocate, described the tenants:
And there’s a couple things that I think it’s important for people to know. These are 100% African American-rented apartments, overwhelmingly female-headed households. Most of the people that we work with are grandmothers, usually on disability after a lifetime of working as a nurse’s aide or working as a cafeteria worker or a minimum-wage job in the tourist industry.

The timing of the demolitions are bad as well. Quigley estimated that homelessness in New Orleans has doubled since Katrina.

Take Action to Oppose War Funding

Posted by libhom Sunday, December 09, 2007 2 comments

Progressive Democrats of America has an Action Alert to oppose funding for the war. They are expecting a vote as early as this Monday.

Ninety-two members of Congress have already signed an open letter to President Bush pledging that they "will only support appropriating additional funds for U.S. military operations in Iraq. . .for the protection and safe redeployment of all our troops out of Iraq."

Congress can end our military involvement in Iraq and can stop the senseless killing of our young men and women - as we elected them to do. With the omnibus spending package for 2008, which includes additional funding for the Iraq occupation, to be voted on this week, now is the time to express your frustration with their capitulation to Bush.

If your member of Congress has signed the letter, please ask him/her to stand firm.

If your member of Congress has not signed the letter, ask "why not?" Recent polling indicates the vast majority of Americans want our troops and contractors withdrawn from Iraq.

Take Action to Oppose the War!

Form Time online 12/9/07

Obama's Oprah offensive was calibrated not just to get women's support — though of course, that would be nice — but to get Iowa's women to pay attention to the race full stop. In 2004, just 66,690 of 340,241 female registered Democrats in Iowa caucused. Even a few thousand more could make a difference; sure enough, with Oprah as a sweetener, 1,385 people (no gender statistics were available) worked four-hour volunteer shifts for Obama in order to qualify for a ticket to Winfrey's appearance. (The campaign distributed a total of 12,000 tickets to supporters with another 11,000 given away online.)

In a state like Iowa, people are bombarded with communication from candidates. It is only natural and sane for them to tune most of it out. Once thing Oprah could do and succeeded at is to get people to show up and listen to Obama. That alone will make a difference in any state, but an especially large one in Iowa.

Another benefit for Obama is that one of the nation's most prominent African-American women is supporting him. This is significant, since Obama trails Clinton nationally among black women by about 15 points.

Oprah's support also should increase the level of enthusiasm among Obama's supporters. This translates to increasing volunteer support (beyond the four hours required to get into that Iowa event) and should help with fundraising too.

In a caucus state like Iowa, only a small percentage of eligible voters participate. Also, caucus meetings often end up being long, endurance contests which result in some people going home before they are over. Ms. Winfrey's effect will be magnified by the particular nature of caucuses. The candidate who gets people to show up and stay wins.

What Oprah won't do for Obama is to directly deliver significant numbers of votes. Fans will read a book on Oprah's recommendation in part because the choice of a book is lower in risk than the choice of a president. In a presidential campaign, voters naturally would be expected to listen to a variety of sources before making up their own minds.

In a previous post, I pointed out the moral and ethical issues involved in Mitt Romney's speech attacking atheists while defending his Mormonism in the name of tolerance.

American Atheists, in their 12/6/07 press release, made an argument against it in terms of practical, electoral politics.

Ellen Johnson, President of American Atheists, said that Romney "is no John Kennedy when it comes to the First Amendment."

"His speech was a 'pitch' to the religious right which already has too much political clout in this country," said Johnson. "Like other candidates, Romney is overlooking the 13% of Americans who profess no religious beliefs, and will voting their principles next November."

Johnson added that Romney "drapes himself in the mantle of religious self-righteousness, and then gives token mention to the First Amendment."

Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists said that "while there should be no religious test for public office, public officials -- including the President -- take an oath of office to defend the Constitution, not preach from some holy book like the Bible or the Koran."

"The President is supposed to represent all of the people in this country, not just the minority who say they go to church once a month," said Silverman. "Romney ignored America's Atheists and other secularists, and he -- along with any other candidate who makes the same error -- is missing out on millions of potential votes."

Romney's efforts to pander to the Christian Right will backfire in at least two different ways.


1) The speech will primarily serve to remind fundamentalist Christians that Romney belongs to a non-Christian faith.

2) The speech will alienate freethinkers, a large voting block in our society.

No, I didn't make this up. It's the main title of his new book, which he co-authored with Alvin F. Poussaint. The full title is: Come on, People!: On the Path from Victims to Victors

If you look at the book cover, the font for the words "Come on People" is huge, while the subtitle is quite small. They even used white lettering.

How could Cosby be so clueless? Is he a subconscious perv?

You also have to wonder how such a salacious book title could have gotten through the editors from the publishing house. Also, why didn't Poussaint say something? These are the kinds of questions Cosby's editors should have asked.

Are you sure about that title?

Do you really want the title to be "Come on People"?

Are you absolutely sure?

The lascivious sounding title is even funnier considering that Cosby's latest shtick is to serve as a self-appointed and tedious scold for the African-American community.

I love unintentional humor.

Romney Insults Atheists in "Mormon Speech"

Posted by libhom Thursday, December 06, 2007 0 comments

Mitt Romney is getting desperate to appeal to the Christian Taliban, many of whom don't want him because he is a non-Christian. He has responded to this in a suck up speech. Romney, the crafty politician, knows you cannot pander effectively to religious extremists without attacking non-believers. He certainly gave them some red meat.

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

In the real world, you can not be free on the subject of religion unless you are free to opt out entirely. However, facts like that make no difference to someone who wants to argue that you need to be religious to have a legitimate role to play in politics.

Romney's hateful rhetoric does not end there.
Whether it was the cause of abolition, or civil rights, or the right to life itself, no movement of conscience can succeed in America that cannot speak to the convictions of religious people.

This is transparently hateful against atheists.

It also is misogynistic. Equating the anti-choice movement, a jihad to reduce women to the legal status of breeding animals, with the abolition and civil rights movements is a truly nasty attack on women. It also is an incredibly racist insult to all African-Americans.

Romney then attacked separation of church and state, except where he finds it personally convenient.
We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It's as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.

The notion of secularism being a "religion" is downright silly. It also is a favorite talking point of the Christian Taliban.

Romney also advocates continuing many forms of discrimination against atheists.
We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'

In other words, Romney revels in the way those of us who are atheists are treated as second-class citizens in this country.

Romney is in a difficult position. He needs to convince the militant, Christian fundamentalists who make up the majority of GOP primary voters that they should be tolerant of him. Yet, he also needs to show them that he shares many of the other prejudices that have united the Religious Right.

This speech may help Romney is his political objectives for now, but it also shows why atheists, agnostics, and humanists would be out of their minds to vote for him.

Progressive Democrats of America released the results of their straw poll yesterday:

Kucinich 41%
Edwards 26%
Barak Obama 13%
Clinton 9%
Bill Richardson 5%
Joe Biden 3%
Chris Dodd 1%
Mike Gravel (less than 1%)

Despite an eight candidate field, Kucinich was fairly close to winning an outright majority in the poll and left the second place candidate far behind. Clinton couldn't break the single digits.

This shows that Ms. Clinton is very weak among progressives, even though she could become the first woman president, and, at least at the PDA events I've attended, most of the people in the organization are women. Clinton's conservative policies have alienated liberals and progressives in the party.

The poll results also offer a window into what Americans' political views might be like in the absence of right-wing corporate media propaganda. PDA members tend to be much better informed and get their information from a much broader pool of sources than the general public.

"Liberty University" May Have Violated Tax Exempt Status

Posted by libhom Wednesday, December 05, 2007 5 comments

When religious groups except tax-exempt status, they make a promise to the taxpayers in return, not to use tax-free assets to support political candidates. So much for Christian fundamentalists keeping promises. Excerpted from Americans United for Separation of Church and State Press Release 12/4/07:

Americans United Asks IRS To Investigate Falwell's Liberty University For Endorsement Of Mike Huckabee

Liberty Chancellor Used School Resources To Promote Presidential Candidate, Church-State Watchdog Group Says

Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. violated federal tax law by using school resources to endorse Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the Internal Revenue Service today.

In a complaint filed with the federal tax agency, Americans United noted that Falwell hosted the candidate at Liberty University and then sent an email message on Liberty University letterhead endorsing Huckabee.

In a “Liberty News Alert” dated Dec. 1, 2007, Falwell wrote, “Recently, Governor Mike Huckabee called to brief me on the progress of his campaign for the presidency. I invited the Governor to speak to the Liberty University students in Convocation on November 28. He graciously accepted. I was so impressed with the Governor’s sincerity and his positions on the issues that are important to conservative Christians that I personally endorsed Governor Huckabee before he left Lynchburg.”

Falwell goes on to say, “My father strongly supported Governor Huckabee when no one thought that he had any chance to succeed in the presidential race. I believe with all my heart that, if my father had witnessed Governor Huckabee’s surge in the polls and his ascension to first place in the Iowa polls, he would have endorsed Governor Huckabee without hesitation.”

The alert was accompanied by an article from a university-run online publication implying that Huckabee is God’s candidate.

Americans United sent a letter to IRS officials today, asking them to investigate the matter. The letter notes that on Nov. 19, the IRS issued a press statement reminding charities and churches about the ban on politicking and asks the tax agency to back that up with enforcement in this case.

“Falwell surely knows that these types of political endorsements are illegal,” remarked the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Tax-exempt religious institutions may not be used to support or oppose candidates for public office.”

Falwell seems to be following in the footsteps of his late father Jerry Falwell Sr. In 1993, Falwell Sr.'s Old Time Gospel Hour had its tax exemption retroactively revoked for the years 1986 and 1987 and the ministry was required to pay $50,000 because of involvement in partisan politics.

Pastors and heads of 501(c)(3) non-profit groups are free to endorse candidates as private individuals, but the Internal Revenue Code does not allow them to use institutional resources, such as official publications, Web sites and other forms of communication, to back or oppose candidates.

Showing just how far he will go to pander to Bush, Charles Schumer joined almost every Republican voting and far too many "Democrats" in passing the corporate-controlled trade deal with Peru.

Never mind that the deal with eliminate American jobs and dramatically increase poverty in Peru. All Schumer cares about are big money donations from the rich and corporate interests. The 77-18 vote is a terrible indication of the pervasiveness of corruption in the Senate, and Schumer is one of the worst pigs at the campaign contribution trough.

If politicians like Schumer actually cared about middle class and poor people, they would be working to repeal corporate trade deals, not pass more of these attacks on the non-rich.

This is another excellent reason to boycott the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is headed by Charles "Loves Torture" Schumer.

Express your outrage to the DSCC!

An exchange between Hillary Clinton and John Edwards in today's Democratic presidential debate shows that Ms. Clinton is starting to see political danger in her vote for war with Iran.

"Declaring a military group sponsored by the state of Iran a terrorist organization, that's supposed to be diplomacy?" Edwards interjected. "This has to be considered in the context that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with George Bush terminology that we're in a global war on terror, then she voted to declare a military group in Iran a terrorist organization. What possible conclusion can you reach other than we are at war?"

Clinton objected. "You know I understand politics and I understand making outlandish political charges, but this really goes way too far," said the New York senator. She is locked in a tight three-way race with Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, and Obama, a senator from Illinois, in this first-voting state.

"None of us is advocating a rush to war," Clinton said.

In the weird world of politics, telling the truth is often considered something that "goes way too far." Iran's Revolutionary Guard is an arm of the Iranian state. Declaring it a terrorist organization at a time when this country is at a state of war with all terrorist organizations is a de facto war authorization by Congress, though a somewhat sneaky one. For Hillary Clinton to deny that the vote was anything other than an effort to start a war with Iran insults the intelligence of Democratic primary voters.

Another statement by Ms. Clinton at the debate shows that her testing of political winds has moved her in a different direction than when she voted for war with Iran.
I have for two years advocated diplomatic engagement with Iran and I think that's what the president should do. He should seize this opportunity and engage in serious diplomacy using both carrots and sticks.

This invokes mixed emotions on my part. It is good to see that the efforts to sell a lunatic war with Iran are failing to win over the American people. On the other hand, Ms. Clinton's lying about her vote brings back bad memories of her horrible, horrible husband lying on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the deceptively named version of the military ban which succeeded in increasing the numbers of discharges and witchhunts for queers in the military.

It also reminds me of how Bill Clinton repeatedly lied about NAFTA, trying to claim that NAFTA would create American jobs, rather than exporting them, and exporting US jobs is exactly what NAFTA did. The dishonesty of the Clintons may not be on the same level of that of the Bushes, but our country deserves more ethical leadership than merely being less mendacious than the leader of an unelected regime and a father who was involved in Iran-Contra.

A Web Site for Iraq Exploiters

Posted by libhom Sunday, December 02, 2007 7 comments

There actually is a web site just for people making money off of the suffering of the Iraqi people:

Investor's Iraq Forum

According to the site, the purpose is:

Investors Iraq Forum is a unique place where many people from around the world share investment ideas on the new emerging Iraq. Here you can get the latest exchange rates, news, and information regarding the Iraqi Dinar, which has risen in value by 20% over the past year. At Investors Iraq, you can also learn how to open an interest bearing bank account in Iraq and invest in the Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) which officially opened to foreign investors on August 2, 2007.

Here are a couple of the creepier forums:
Iraqi Dinar Speculation

Liberty's Children (2 Viewing)
A special cove for the soldiers defending freedom around the world and the contractors planting the seeds for democracy.

The notion that the contractors are "planting the seeds for democracy" is positively Orwelian.

From Americans United for Separation of Church and State:

Americans United Blasts Ouster Of Texas Educator For Supporting Sound Science

Church-State Watchdog Group Calls On Officials To Rehire Staffer Forced Out For Noting Lecture Criticizing ‘Intelligent Design’

Officials with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) should rehire a science curriculum expert who was forced to resign after she notified people about a lecture critical of “intelligent design” (ID), says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Chris Comer, director of science curriculum, was pushed out after she circulated an e-mail mentioning that a leading scholarly critic of ID, the latest variant of creationism, would be speaking in Texas. Comer sent a notice about the talk as an “FYI.”

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, blasted officials at TEA and called on them to promptly reinstate Comer.

“It’s a sad day when a science expert can lose her job merely for recommending that people hear a speaker defend sound science,” Lynn said. “Officials in Texas seem intent on elevating fundamentalist dogma over academic excellence and common sense.”

Lizzette Reynolds, a former staff member at the U.S. Department of Education now working for TEA as a senior adviser, played a key role in Comer’s ouster. She responded to Comer’s e-mail about the ID lecture by urging Comer’s bosses to fire her.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that Reynolds’ message said, “This is highly inappropriate. I believe this is an offense that calls for termination or, at the very least, reassignment of responsibilities. This is something that the State Board, the Governor’s Office and members of the Legislature would be extremely upset to see because it assumes this is a subject that the agency supports.”

Lynn noted that the lecture on ID was to be given by Barbara Forrest, who serves on the Americans United Board of Trustees. She is an acknowledged expert on intelligent design. Coauthor of the book Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design, Forrest served as an expert witness in a federal lawsuit in Dover, Pa., that struck down the teaching of ID.

“By noting Forrest’s talk, Comer was simply doing her job: alerting people to a resource they might find useful,” Lynn said. “I am appalled at this action by TEA and urge officials to immediately correct this gross injustice.”

AU isn't the only organization concerned about this. Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education quoted in the Austin-American Statesman.

This just underscores the politicization of science education in Texas. In most states, the department of education takes a leadership role in fostering sound science education. Apparently TEA employees are supposed to be kept in the closet and only let out to do the bidding of the board.

The British journal Nature is concerned and a bit perplexed.
Attitudes to education differ round the world, but things are looking pretty odd in Texas right now. The director of the state’s science curriculum is claiming she was forced out for forwarding an email. Its content was not a risqué joke or a sleazy photo: it was a note about a forthcoming lecture by a philosopher who has been heavily involved in debates over creationism.

They also see the tie-in between creationist influence and the quality of education.
In other news, a new international ranking of the science ability of 15 year olds has been conducted by the OECD. The US is below average, a little under Latvia. Finland tops the chart. Those with spare time might find it interesting to compare this chart of the new OECD ranking, with this chart of belief in evolution.

Questions on Iraq Violence Reporters Won't Answer

Posted by libhom Friday, November 30, 2007 11 comments

There are two questions I have been emailing reporters lately when they write that the violence in Iraq is decreasing. The wordings have varied, but the gist has been as follows.

What are your sources for your claim that the violence in Iraq is decreasing?

Is your claim based exclusively on statements from the Pentagon?

Reporters never reply to these emails. This is especially interesting since reporters usually will email me back when I criticize or ask questions about a story.

Hrmmmmmm.

Remembering Connie Norman

Posted by libhom Tuesday, November 20, 2007 2 comments

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance (Described by Gender.org):

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgendered — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgendered people.

We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgendered people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgendered people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.

Today, I can't help but remember the transgender person who most affected me and my views of life and the world, Connie Norman. She was an incredible AIDS and queer activist who died in 1996 of AIDS. Some might not think of an AIDS death as one due to violence, by I disagree with that view. Our society has sabotaged HIV prevention, provided insufficient care, and done far too little research to find a cure. All of these things may seem passive, but they have proved to be as deadly as knives, guns, baseball bats, and other instruments of active violence. Our society's behavior has been motivated by homophobia and racism for sure. But, transphobia also has contributed to the sick sense among too many in America that people with AIDS are expendable.

Nobody is expendable.

Connie's obituary identified her in part as:
Sometimes called "the AIDS Diva," Norman championed reform of federal AIDS funding formulas, routine offering of HIV tests by medical providers, testing newborns for HIV and better treatment of those who have HIV or AIDS.

I remember her as "Momma Connie." She was constantly taking care of young activists at demos, and she always had so much to teach to anyone who wanted to learn.

I learned how to lead chants at demos from her. I learned how to express anger in public settings in ways that make it difficult for people to dismiss or ignore you. Most of all, I learned that no matter how righteous an activist's anger is, that anger is based on love. We can never forget that we are motivated most of all by love for people who aren't treated fairly or humanely in this world.

Thank you Connie!

I miss you!

This is from Democracy Now a while back, but it still is relevant today. Kucinich makes an excellent point about how NAFTA and the WTO create poverty in Mexico which in turn forces many people there to immigrate to the US. It would be nice if the only people migrating to the US from Mexico and other countries were coming here because they wanted to, not due to artificially generated, desperate poverty.



A similar point can be made about Haiti. If "our" government would stop supporting the murderous oligarchs and overthrowing democratically elected governments there, far fewer Haitians would be fleeing political persecution and horrific poverty.

That Kucinich Guy Keeps Talking Sense

Posted by libhom Sunday, November 18, 2007 3 comments

Dennis Kucinich got a chance to express himself at the latest Democratic "debate" in Las Vegas, which he often does not. Here is a great edit of what Kucinich had to say.



Thanks to researchris2 for posting the video. Hat tip to Tennessee Guerilla Women for posting it on that blog.

Those of us who support Kucinich should do everything we can to publicize his views. It is a win-win. It helps his candidacy and provides a soapbox progressive views.

One of the responses to the video is particularly interesting: a personal, hip-hop endorsement of Kucinich.

Protests already are being planned against the Republican National Convention (which some New Yorkers called the "Repugnant Nazi Carnival" when we were stuck with it in 2004).

Find out more at www.protestrnc2008.org

Folks in the Minneapolis area might be interested in the Organizers Conference Feb. 9-10.

Organizers Conference
February 9-10, 2008
@ University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War invites activists and organizers to join us for a national conference to help organize the September 1 march and discuss other plans for protests at the Republican National Convention. For more Information contact info@protestrnc2008.org.

There have been so many ways in which the Democratic Party "leadership" has betrayed the party's values in addition to supporting the war and pushing through the nominations of Mukasey and other dangerous right-wing extremists.

ENDA
I have blogged extensively on how the Democratic Party "leadership' has sabotaged ENDA by excluding gender identity and through other efforts to water the legislation down. In a year where ENDA faces certain veto, the party power brokers have diluted ENDA so that any bill that will reach a Democratic president in the future will be either incredibly weak or completely worthless.

Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin, acting on behalf of Nancy Pelosi and other heterosexist bigots in the party, have ignored the views of the queer community on what kind of civil rights bill we want. Heterosexual liberals who are vaguely sympathetic to lgbt issues may be fooled by this phony show of support by the Democratic Party insiders, but queers are not. Liberal queers know what was done to us and will remember it in 2008.

Katrina
It is a sad day when liberal Democrats need to lobby Democratic Party bigwigs to actually take action to deal with the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. From Progressive Democrats of America:

Push the Senate Today to Support Katrina Survivors
September 25th, 2007

100,000 displaced. 65,000 families still living in FEMA trailers. This is the Gulf Coast two years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. After years spent dragging its feet, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs is holding hearings today on the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act, the bill that will create a real road home for thousands of renters and owners in New Orleans and throughout the region.

The Gulf Coast Civil Works Project, an even more comprehensive approach to helping people still being screwed over years after Katrina and Rita still languishes in the House with a leadership more interested in supporting Katrina profiteers than Katrina victims.

Trade
House and Senate Democratic ringleaders have been pushing through more corporate trade deals that hurt wages and jobs in the US while promoting abject poverty abroad. How are they going to get union members to turn out and vote Democrat in 2008 when the party is doing everything to destroy their standards of living?

Impeachment
How can anyone talk about the betrayal of liberal Democrats and constitutional responsibilities without mentioning impeachment?

Bush and Cheney don't just have bad policies, they have committed serious crimes including but not limited to:

- Illegally occupying their offices due to stolen elections.
- Fraud in order to get us into the Iraq War.
- Perpetrating a war of aggression and genocide in Iraq, crimes against humanity which carry life imprisonment as penalties
- Torture
- Illegal wiretapping and email monitoring
- Ordering federal employees to engage in campaign activities, while on the clock.
- Blocking and obstructing criminal investigations of themselves and other administration figures.

Every member of Congress, regardless of party, has a constitutional obligation to impeach Cheney and Bush. Yet, Nancy Pelosi and other DINO's have violated their oaths of office by keeping impeachment "off the table."

Impeachment is one of the most important issues to liberal Democrats and to many conservatives and moderates who place the rule of law above ideology. Yet, power brokers in the Democratic Party treat those views with utter contempt.

How Out of Touch Can the Party Apparatus Get?
If you look at the tone of fundraising appeals from the DCCC and DNC, you would think everything is just fine between the power brokers and liberals in the party. It is as if Howard Dean and other Washington insiders have lost complete contact with the party's base. They only seem to talk to the pundits and corporate interests who write the biggest checks.

You can see what party liberals think by looking at Democrats.com's call for a donor strike.

Impact on 2008
Obviously, Democratic candidates face major obstacles to getting liberal support in November 2008. The Democratic Party is in an amazingly weak position during an election where the party should be poised to pick up the presidency and win a few Senate seats.

However, the GOP has enormous problems too. The military defeat in Iraq is helping to divide the party even though they won't admit publicly that Bush has lost the war. The rapture that never came is weakening the resolve and unity of the Christian Taliban, just as the sexual behavior of many Republicans fails to conform to the puritanical idiocy of Christian extremists. GOP economic policies are kicking many out of the middle class while making the lower middle class and poor whites who used to faithfully vote Republican even worse off.

The Republicans face the opposite problem than the Democrats. The GOP's fanatical pursuit of far right policies has left them incredibly vulnerable as those policies are failing miserably for the vast majority of Americans and the country as an entity. The Democrats are in serious trouble because they have shown contempt for liberal positions and policies that can save our country.

The two major parties in this country are at their weakest point since the time of the disintegration of the Whigs in the middle 18th Century.

Ron Paul Coins??? ROTFLMAO

Posted by libhom Friday, November 16, 2007 9 comments


What Ron Paul Coins Should Look Like

Admittedly, there are plenty of otherwise sensible people who are supporting Ron Paul out of sheer disgust with the Republican presidential candidates and nearly all of the Democratic candidates. However, there also is a cult of Ron Paul worshipers who enter into a frenzied state at the mere mention of his name.

Blog postings criticizing His Holeyness get frenzied responses from Paulians who go to great lengths to try to convince progressives and others they should abandon nearly everything they stand for to join in the Crusade. Many of the comments from the Ronitarians are filled with unintentional humor.

But, the funniest group of Paulian extremists is the one that issued coins in his name. If you want to see the actual coins, the Washington Post article has the pics.

Bernard von NotHaus, NORFED's founder and executive director, said in an interview from his home in Miami Friday night that his employees in Evansville had received the copper dollars late last week and managed to mail out only about 3,500 of them so far. After a six-hour raid, he said, the agents left with the rest of the coins, which weighed about two tons total, as well as smaller amounts of silver Ron Paul dollars, gold Ron Paul dollars that sell for $1,000 and platinum Ron Paul dollars that sell for $2,000. There was a separate raid, NotHaus said, of Sunshine Mint in Coer D'Alene, Idaho, a company that prints the organization's coins, where von NotHaus said agents seized the huge pallets of silver and gold worth more than $1 million that the organization says back the paper certificates issued to its customers.

"They took everything, all of the computers, everything but the desks and chairs," said von NotHaus, who says he served 25 years as the mintmaster for the Royal Hawaiian Mint. "The federal government really is afraid."

The Bush regime would have to beat its own paranoia record to be afraid of this. It sounds more like a prosecutor heard about this because of the Paulipalian frenzy.

I did a fairly comprehensive posting myself on Paul's actual stands on the issues, and I received the requisite flood of comments from the Ronmons. Some of Paul's zealots may be quite funny, but his policies are anything but.

Paul's agenda is, for the most part, frightening.

Like many liberal Democrats, I was stunned When Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein announced that they would vote for Mukasey, despite the fact that Mukasey had lied about the legality of waterboarding in his testimony, condoned torture, and actually claimed that the Bush administration actually has a constitutional right to break the law.

Many of us didn't think even those two "Democrats" could sink so low. There was a protest outside of Schumer's Brooklyn residence. I also joined liberal New York voters who flooded the Schumer offices with calls, emails, etc. demanding that Schumer not give a de facto endorsement of torture by voting for Mukasey.

As usual, Schumer gave liberal, New York Democrats the middle finger.

Thanks to Dusty for collecting information on who voted for Mukasey. Here are the "Democrats" who mocked their oaths of office to uphold and defend the constitution by voting for the Mukasey nomination.

Bayh (D-IN)
Carper (D-DE)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Nelson (D-NE)
Schumer (D-NY)

A look at the full roll call vote gets even more disturbing. 7 not-so-illustrious Senators couldn't even be bothered to vote.

Alexander (R-TN)
Biden (D-DE)
Clinton (D-NY)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Dodd (D-CT)
McCain (R-AZ)
Obama (D-IL)

In other words, none of the Democratic Presidential candidates even voted. It looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made a dirty deal to push the vote through, according to Talking Points Memo.

According to sources inside and outside the Democratic leadership, Harry Reid allowed a vote on Mukasey because in exchange the Republican leadership agreed to allow a vote on the big Defense Appropriations Bill, which contains $459 billion in military spending but doesn't fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reid had wanted to get this bill passed before the end of this week, and in fact, the defense bill did come up for a vote late last night and was passed after the Mukasey vote.

Some might want to justify the absence of the Democratic Presidential candidates by saying they did not have adequate notice of the vote. Reid deserves criticism of his repugnant decision, but the line of reasoning fails on two grounds.

1) Moral: Those Senators should have been in Washington, leading the fight against the Mukasey nomination. If they are unable or unwilling to lead the fight against an Attorney General nominee who displayed utter contempt for the rule of law in his confirmation testimony, are they really capable of leading the country?

2) Practical: An irony of this is that if Obama, Clinton, Dodd, or Biden led a filibuster fight against Mukasey, that display of integrity would have helped their campaigns more than glad handing and baby kissing.

The Independents did worse than the Democrats, splitting 50/50. Sanders voted against the nomination while Lieberbush voted for Mukasey. Every GOP Senator who voted chose to betray the country by supporting Mukasey.

Looking at the Mukasey confirmation outside of its broader context would obscure much of the dissatisfaction with the Democrats among liberals in the party. Democrats in the Senate have a history of allowing heinous Bush nominees to go through, including anti-Constitution Supreme Court justices Roberts and Alito.

Pundits like to go on about how the Senate supposedly is very jealous of its powers and determined to protect them. Yet, both parties have abandoned their advise and consent powers and responsibilities since Bush took office.

The Senate Democrats have been playing a sneaky game, arranging things to where most Democrats vote against the most unconscionable of Bush's nominees, but enough Democrats support those nominations to give Bush exactly what he wants. It really is like pro wrestling.

Liberal Democrats are starting to catch on.

I attended the NYC October 27 protest, and many things struck me. One of them involved which Democrat protesters were supporting. There were lots of signs supporting Dennis Kucinich, but I didn't see even one sign during the march supporting another Democratic candidate for president. Obama supporters set up an impromptu table at the peace fair after the march, but they got very little interest, facing a similar circumstance to the late arriving Ron Paul table that was set up by a couple of his devotees.

The Kucinich table in the fair was bustling. The Kucinich campaign took the time and effort to get their table in as part of the official fair, and with good reason. Liberal Democrats are quite open to Democrats who listen and take their constitutional responsibilities seriously.

The majority of the protesters were liberal Democrats. There were the usual handfuls of socialists and communists handing out newspapers. Something different happened than usual, though. A significant plurality of the protesters were actually taking the newspapers, which had been a rare occurrence at previous mass mobilizations I had attended.

It would be silly to think that liberal Democrats are suddenly becoming Marxists. However, the behavior did show a greater openness to political ideas and organizations in the face of unrelenting hostility to liberal ideas and values in the Democratic Party.

The change in attitudes towards the Democratic Party is far from limited to street protests. The blog This Can't Be Happening has organized a petition drive to get people to quit the Democratic Party. So far, over 1300 war opponents have switched to independent.

It is clear that the reason Democrats won control of House and Senate in November 2006 is that they campaigned on a promise to protect civil liberties and to end the war. That promise brought independents in record numbers across to the Democratic side. But Democratic election strategists don't get this. They still harbor the illusion that unaffiliated voters are middle-of-the-road or conservative-leaning people who only care about so-called wedge issues, not the big issues of our day. In fact, my travels across this country have taught me that the unaffiliated voter is usually someone who is cynical about politics, believes that there is little difference between the two parties, and that he or she is being screwed, by corporations, by government, and by his or her own political leaders.

The sad truth is that the current Democratic Party deserves that opinion. They briefly managed to convince these skeptics that they were better than that, but in office, they have reverted to form, and these voters will not be back in '06.

Although I prefer to retain my ability to vote against particularly repugnant "Democrats" in the primaries, and to vote for the handful of real Democrats like Dennis Kucinich in those primaries, I cannot help note that the exit of over 1300 highly involved liberal Democrats is a sign of a larger problem for the party in the 2008 elections and beyond.

The response to the peace movement from Nancy Pelosi has been to unilaterally declare that eliminating funding for the Iraq war is "off the table." Other Democratic Party leaders have used less confrontational language to push the same pro-war agenda.

The only House campaign that is generating much excitement among anti-war liberals this time out is Cindy Sheehan's. An independent candidate running against the "Democratic" House Speaker is doing more to capture the imagination of the anti-war movement than any other House Candidate.

Pelosi's mentality is most strongly expressed in a now infamous quote circulating anti-war blogs:
“I’ve had, for four or five months, people sitting outside my home, going into my garden in San Francisco, angering my neighbors, hanging their clothes from the trees, building all kinds of things-Buddhas, I don’t know what they are-couches, sofas, permanent living facilities on my front sidewalk. You can imagine my neighbors’ reaction to all of this. And if they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering. But because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it’s the First Amendment, four or five months into that. So I’m well aware of the unhappiness of the base.”

Pelosi managed to get a trifecta in terms of showing her true contempt for war opponents, the homeless, and the poor. Pelosi may be aware of the anger of the Democratic Party's base, but she is far from understanding it or the values behind it.

Democratic politicians should be worried.

I went to a recent meeting of a queer Democratic Club. Two things struck me.

1) The meeting had a presidential candidate endorsement, and it was the most poorly attended meeting I had ever seen of the group.

2) The club endorsed Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she is the least supportive Democratic candidate on lgbt issues.

I know of few liberal Democrats who are supporting Clinton, queer or otherwise. She is being pushed by Rupert Murdoch and other wealthy Republican donors on a Democratic Party where she and her husband are far from trusted. On the other hand, conservative and centrist Democrats, people with career ambitions in the Party, and those who are uncompromising in their partisanship are strongly supporting Ms. Clinton.

You can guess who made up the majority of attendees at that particular meeting of the club. People with outlooks more along the lines of lgbt activists and liberals didn't even bother to show up in significant numbers.

Regardless of what you think of one endorsement in one lgbt political club, this is a microcosm of a larger trend in the Democratic Party. There is a conservative establishment run by well-funded power brokers which is growing increasingly arrogant and dismissive of liberal Democrats. Liberal Democrats are starting to look outside the Democratic Party for venues of political expression and activism. It also is starting to affect liberal donor behavior.

Traditionally, the power brokers have used understandable fear and anger at the behavior of Republicans to hold the party together around overly conservative candidates. However, the behavior of more Democratic politicians gets more frightening and infuriating to liberals with each passing day.

Boycott the New York Daily News

Posted by libhom Friday, November 09, 2007 1 comments

New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin went way beyond the boundaries of journalistic professionalism in his column demonizing people who are against torture. Goodwin has some choice words for people who are against torture:

  • "rabid"

  • "the fanatical fringe"

  • "blinded by their hatred"

  • "ridiculous"

For those of you outside of the New York area, the New York Daily News is a conservative tabloid that is similar to Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, though the Daily News usually is a bit less strident.

Democrats.com has started a boycott against the NY Daily News:
I am joining the boycott against the New York Daily News and its advertisers because columnist Michael Goodwin viciously attacked all progressive New Yorkers in his 11/7/07 column entitled "Chuck bucks the loony left."
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2007/11/07/2007-11-07_chuck_bucks_th...

I will boycott the New York Daily News and its advertisers until Michael Goodwin apologizes for this outrageous attack on progressive New Yorkers - or is fired.

The overwhelming majority of people in NYC are against torture. Why in the world would the New York Daily News print infantile personal attacks against us? Why should we pay them to print these infantile personal attacks by buying their newspaper?

There is something wrong when the only way a daily newspaper will cover a human rights protest is to demonize and ridicule it. Liberals and progressive need to start fighting back when news outlets print hateful nonsense to try to intimidate us into silence.

My Response to a Tammy Baldwin Fundraising Letter

Posted by libhom Thursday, November 08, 2007 2 comments

Please Take Me Off Of Your Mailing List

When I received your campaign mailer a few days ago, I seriously considered sending in a check. However, past experience with so many horrible Democrats has taught me to be very careful before trusting any Democratic politician. It seemed best to wait and see what actually would happen with and to ENDA.

That definitely turned out to be a wise approach.

Nancy Pelosi still is the same heterosexist bigot she was when she gay-baited her way into Congress. She sees Barney Frank's anti-ENDA revisions as part of a broader strategy. She is working to erode ENDA during a time when there is no Democratic president so that any bill that would reach a future Democratic president's desk would do little or nothing to protect any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Americans.

You presented yourself as a progressive politician who was a leader on queer issues, unlike Barney Frank who is a shill for the viciously heterosexist Democratic Party leadership. You even offered an amendment to reverse one of the more important efforts to sabotage ENDA: taking out gender identity.

When you withdrew your amendment, it dashed any hopes that there was any lgbt person in Congress that actually cares about the queer community.

If House Democrats don't pass a real ENDA by November 2008, I will avoid voting for any Democratic candidates for any office. I'm mad as hell, and I'm simply not going to take it any more.

I'll write the check to Cindy Sheehan's campaign. At least SHE is honest.

Official Kucinich Endorsement

Posted by libhom Tuesday, November 06, 2007 2 comments

As you can tell if you read this blog, Dennis Kucinich is the Democratic candidate who I agree with on the most issues and of whom I have the most admiration. The Kucinich campaign rests on the view that decency, compassion, and integrity matter.

That is why I'm endorsing Dennis Kucinich for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Want to know more about why I support Dennis Kucinich?

See my previous blog postings mentioning him.

The Brooklyn protest against Sen. Charles "Loves Torture" Schumer to confirm Mukasey was a bright spot in a time when Democratic politicians routinely induce nausea by their actions.

NASA photo of BrooklynAlthough I arrived late, I didn't miss out on the most interesting part of the protest. People who had started across the street from Schumer's coop building moved to the same side of the street as Schumer's quasi-residence in Park Slope. The 30+ people who arrived for a last minute and barely publicized protest expressed sentiments that go way beyond them and beyond Brooklyn.

Brooklyn for Peace, the Green Party of Brooklyn, and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID) deserve credit for organizing the moment of sanity in an increasingly insane country.

The support of the latter organization is encouraging. Often, Democratic clubs are so blindly partisan that their members forget why they are Democrats. That certainly was not the case tonight with CBID.

The speech at the end was mercifully short and expressed the protesters' general sense of betrayal that a politician from Brooklyn could so brazenly endorse torture. The speaker, whose name I didn't get, also made an excellent point about Schumer's support of Mukasey.

Schumer put cronyism ahead of the Constitution.


Displaying her fanatical loyalty to a war criminal, Nancy Pelosi diverted Dennis Kucinich's Cheney impeachment resolution to committee, which is expected to bury it.

The Los Angeles Times' coverage showed its right-wing bias in a rather brazen fashion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) hoped to avoid a bruising floor fight that would have required Democrats to choose between a liberal base that might cheer a Cheney impeachment and a broader electorate that might view it as a partisan ploy at a time of war. She held open the vote, technically slated for 15 minutes, for more than an hour and finally forced the measure to an uncertain future in the committee.

The notion that upholding and defending the Constitution of America is a "partisan ploy at a time of war" is as reprehensible as it is dishonest.

Nancy Pelosi was not the only member of the "Democratic" leadership to act in an execrable fashion:
"Impeachment is not on our agenda," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). "We have some major priorities. We need to focus on those."

When upholding and defending our constitution is not one of his priorities, Hoyer is unfit to hold public office.

Kucinich's statement is excellent and shows what a Real Democrat is like.

You can find the full text of Kucinich's impeachment resolution on his web site.

Article III addresses Cheney's military threats against Iran. This is terribly significant since an attack against Iran would be a war of aggression, a crime against humanity under international law.
Article III
In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and done so with the United States proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States, to wit:

The corporate media, who are trying to start a war between the US and Iran, are largely ignoring Article III.

Kucinich also has made a logical and courageous call for impeaching George W. Bush.

11/06/07 Press Release from Parents of High School IL Protesters

Parents Urge High School to Reverse Expulsions for Students Who Held ‘Day of Dead’ Iraq War Protest
* Petition in support of students draws signatures from Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, peace activist Kathy Kelly, antiwar veterans, teachers, parents and students across the nation.
* School administrators say they will expel dozens of students who took part in peaceful school cafeteria sit-in to voice opposition to Iraq War – and routine presence of military recruiters.


BERWYN, Illinois - November 6 - Parents of Morton West High School students will gather for a press conference at 9:30 AM Tuesday, November 6 in front of the school, to urge school administrators to reverse their decision to expel dozens of children who marked All Saints Day last week by staging a peaceful, non-violent sit-in at the school cafeteria to voice opposition to the Iraq War.

The November 1 school cafeteria event served in part as a counterpoint in the school setting to military recruiters on campus, who routinely visit the high school cafeteria seeking to enlist young people into military service. Dozens of students participated in the anti-war protest through the course of the day. All Saints Day -- November 1 – is a revered holiday in the Latino community, when families and friends traditionally gather to honor dead loved onesloved ones.

Students complied with an administrator's request to move the action outside the cafeteria after initially being assured that the only disciplinary action they would face was citation for cutting classes. But administrators have since issued formal expulsion notices to dozens of students, suspended many more, and threatened to bring criminal charges against students age 17 and older who participated in the anti-war action.

School administrators also put the school on lockdown briefly during the All Saints Day protest. That action stands in stark contrast to administrators’ response to a report of a student with a gun on campus last month. In that incident, administrators chose not to lock down the school.

At the press conference, parents and students will read a letter to the superintendent demanding complete amnesty for the students before delivering the letter to the School District 201 office. Administrators have said they’ll issue final decisions on appeals of the suspensions, on Tuesday – but also say expulsion orders still stand. The District 201 School Board will meet at 7PM at Morton East High School on Wednesday evening, located at 2423 S. Austin in Cicero.

The students are marshalling national support through the blogosphere, the Illinois Coalition for Peace & Justice (www.ilcpj.org) and a national petition circulated by a local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. Signers include Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist Kathy Kelly, authors Jeffrey St. Claire and Joshua Frank, a growing number of anti-war military veterans, local Berwyn residents and teachers, and supporters from New York to Oregon.

To view the national petition in support of the students, see this link: www.petitiononline.com/mortonw/petition.html

For more information on the case, go to
chicago.indymedia.org.

Things like this aren't supposed to happen in America.

Kucinich Rocks

Posted by libhom Monday, November 05, 2007 1 comments

We need politicians in the country who are as honest as Dennis Kucinich.


I voted for him in the Democracy for America poll. You should too.

From Brooklyn for Peace via Democrats.com:

TUESDAY, NOV 6th, 6:00 pm

PROTEST VIGIL at Senator Schumer's residence: 9 Prospect Park West
(corner of President Street in Park Slope)

o Protest Schumer's support of Michael Mukasey - who will support Bush's continued use of torture.

o Protest Schumer's increasing support of military action against Iran and Bush's attempt to launch a new war.

o Protest Schumer's continuing support of funding for the war against Iraq.

Senator Schumer, abandoning his own party and angering many of his constituents, has announed that he will support the nomination of Mukasey. This, despite Mukasey's repeated refusal to state, categorically, his opposition to waterboarding, a form of torture. Mukasey also stated his belief that President Bush has the right to ignore laws passed by Congress in his capacity of Commander-In-Chief, thus showing that he would continue the drift toward authoritarian rule which has become a hallmark of the Bush Administration.

Futhermore, Schumer, originally one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq , has been supportive of the increasing bellicose plans of Bush and Cheney to foment a new and even more dangerous war against Iran. He voted in favor of the Kyl-Lieberman bill which many experts beliee Bush can use as justification to launch a new war and he refused to join 30 other Democrats in supporting the Webb bill which warns the President that he has no authority from Congress to take military action against Iran.

Now is the time for Brooklynites to express their anger and concern for Schumer's increasingly pro-war and anti-democratic positions. The election of November 2006 demonstrated clearly that Americans want to end the war in Iraq and reverse the disastrous course of the Bush Administration. Charles Schumer is ignoring the will of those voters and is serving, instead, the interests of George Bush which is to pursue the war, launch new ones and undermine our democratic rights.

** Please attend the protest vigil this Tuesday, November 6th at 6pm outside Schumer's residence at 9 Prospect Pk West.

** Please contact all your friends, family and colleague so that hundreds will gather to protest the Senator from New York who ignores the will of his constituents.

** Call Charles Schumer to tell him he must change his position and oppose Mukasey as nothing short of our constitution and democracy are at stake. Call now Congressional switchboard, ask for Congressman Schumer's office: (800) 828-0498 or direct: (202) 224-6542.

Charles Schumer has been a disgrace and embarrassment to New York for some time now. His support for Bush's illegal and unpatriotic war in Iraq is unconscionable. Schumer's efforts to start an insane and dangerous war with Iran are inexcusable. However, I never thought even Schumer would sink this low.

Schumer has openly endorsed waterboarding and other forms of torture by endorsing the Mukasey nomination.

I don't think I can find words to express how repugnant Schumer's actions are. He is literally as unAmerican as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Alberto Gonzalez.

The Pensito Review is asking people to contact Schumer and Feinstein, his partner in torture. Here are the Schumer numbers. Living in New York, I would like to focus on the monster who claims to represent me.

Sen. Charles Schumer:

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-6542
Fax: 202-228-3027
TDD: 202-224-0420

New York City
757 Third Avenue
Suite 17-02
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212-486-4430
Fax: 212-486-7693
TDD: 212-486-7803

Albany
Leo O’Brien Building, Room 420
Albany, NY 12207
Phone: 518-431-4070
Fax: 518-431-4076

Buffalo
130 South Elmwood Avenue #660
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: 716-846-4111
Fax: 716-846-4113

Binghamton
15 Henry Street, Room M103
Binghamton, NY 13901
Phone: 607-772-6792
Fax: 607-772-8124

Hudson Valley
One Park Place, Suite 100
Peekskill, NY 10566
Phone: 914-734-1532
Fax: 914-734-1673

Long Island
145 Pine Lawn Road #300
Melville, NY 11747
Phone: 631-753-0978
Fax: 631-753-0997

Rochester
100 State Street, Room 3040
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: 585-263-5866
Fax: 585-263-3173

Syracuse
100 South Clinton Street, Room 841
Syracuse, NY 13261-7318
Phone: 315-423-5471
Fax: 315-423-5185

Trade Agreements Cause Global Warming

Posted by libhom Sunday, November 04, 2007 1 comments

In my previous posting on how Vatican policies cause Global Warming, I touched on a problem with the efforts to fight climate change so far. The only ones getting any traction so far are politically safe, market-oriented ones that don't threaten established interests and ideologies. With all sorts of bizarre and dangerous weather all over the world, it is becoming obvious that we will have to change the way our societies do business in far more controversial and uncomfortable ways (at least for the wealthy and the right wing).

Peak Oil people often mention that we won't be able to economically ship items long distances if we run low on petroleum, and then they point out the differences in economic practices that would result.

There is a pressing question that all of us should be asking. Can we afford to wait until petroleum starts running out before we stop relying so heavily on long-distance trade?

Corporate-controlled trade deals are bad for the environment in lots of ways because they are written to let corporations despoil the environment. But, there is a more pressing issue. Shipping goods over oceans and over long distances on land puts a lot of unnecessary CO2 in the air at a time when we need to cut back drastically.

If politicians are really serious about fighting Global Warming, they will need to work to repeal corporate trade deals such as NAFTA, withdraw from the World Trade Organization, and put huge tariffs on products from the old world. "Made in China" will end up flooding much of China at the rate we are going.

However, that is only the first step. In addition to emissions caps, there need to be local manufacturing targets so that the average shipping distance of products consumers purchase is limited and gradually decreased.

"Free trade" has a quasi-religious following among so many on the right, but the planet just cannot sustain the damage and sustain decent lives for the people who live on it. Reality, at some point, needs to triumph over ideology.

While this blog does encourage expression of a lot of views in a lot of areas, comments that are heterosexist, racist, sexist, or based on some other forms of bigotry are not considered acceptable. Those comments are subject to deletion.

There are plenty of other online forums for hatred and bigotry. If that is what you wish to promote, you will have to go elsewhere.

In a 5/11/2007 article from Catholic Online, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, a Vatican official, commented before the UN on Global Warming. Here are some fairly representative samples.

“The earth is our common heritage and we have a grave and far-reaching responsibility to ourselves and to future generations."

“Experience shows that disregard for the environment harms human coexistence."

“Through such education, states can help their citizens grasp the urgency of what must be done, teaching them in turn to expect and demand a very different approach to their own consumption and that around them.”

These comments are perfectly reasonable and are what one would expect responsible people say about Global Warming. They also are typical of the Vatican's position on climate change. However, there is a catch.

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest single cause of Global Warming and its policies promote climate change.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, there were over 1.1 billion Catholics in 2005. That number is growing and growing way too fast. One of the realities of the climate change debate that many would like to evade is that efforts to prevent ecological disaster are doomed if we don't get human population under control.

The last quote displayed above shows that the Vatican knows that human consumption is a problem, but it does not address the fact that reducing human consumption is an unrealistic hope if we keep dramatically increasing the numbers of humans. Before the Vatican tells the rest of the world what to do on climate change, that church needs to put out the burning fire in its own home.

Here are the kinds of policies that Roman Catholic Church, the world's largest sect, would have if they took Global Warming seriously.
  • The Vatican would embrace birth control rather than condemning it. They would start distributing condoms during their church services, rather than interfering with efforts to distribute condoms by governments.

  • They would stop lying and saying that abortion takes human lives. They would endorse abortion and make the kind of abortion sacrament that would exist if men could get pregnant.

  • They would endorse homosexuality as part of a new church teaching that the primary purpose of sex should not be procreation. (Considering the well known fact in the gay male community that most priests are sexually active gay men, such a step really shouldn't be that difficult.)

  • They would call on Catholic families to limit themselves to at most one child.

The Vatican's talk on Global Warming has been pretty cheap so far. Will they ever take serious action?

The pro-Global Warming policies of the Roman Catholic Church are hardly unique. Far too many other sects have similar or identical policies. They are an example of how religion is the single greatest source of human suffering.

Proud Progressive used the comments section of my last posting on yesterday's massive demos to point out that there has been very little "A-list" blog coverage of the actions in 10 US cities against the war in Iraq. This is disturbing, since one of the main purposes for people to have political blogs is to fill in the blanks left by a corporate media that largely downplayed this massive show of opposition to a war which is making so many corporations richer.

It seems like a good idea to highlight examples of blogs (mostly small but not entirely) that get it when it comes to the role of blogs as independent media.

Seattle marchers join nationwide protest day - Sticker Shock Music

Thousands Protest Iraq War- jobsanger

Photos From The Oct 27th SF Anti-War Protest - IndyBay

Great Attendance at Denver October 27 Peace Rally - Metro Denver Greens

Everyday Citizen had two articles on local protests:


There was some big blog coverage, though nowhere near enough.

Thousands call for swift end to Iraq war - Michael Moore

Truthout ran the San Francisco Chronicle article on the protest.

NYC Protest Report and Follow Up

Posted by libhom Saturday, October 27, 2007 3 comments

Despite the rain, it was energizing and reassuring to march along with thousands of people in one of eleven protests today against the insane and illegal war in Iraq. (It also was fun to yell "shut up and enlist" at the three GOP counter protesters.)

One of the things the organizers, United for Peace and Justice, did really well was to host a peace fair after the protest to connect protesters to organizations and build the movement for peace, human rights, and social justice.

The most moving thing for me was seeing the military families holding their signs at the peace fair. You could see how speaking out against the war was part of the grieving process for many of them. It is so tragic knowing that they are suffering so a bunch of war profiteers can make vast, unearned profits.

The best tee-shirt said: "My friends went to Iraq looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction and All They Found Was This Lousy Tee shirt"

Whether you attended or not, you still have a responsibility to follow through on what was done during this protest. Here are some excellent organizations and resources that you should look into both in NYC and nationwide.

United for Peace and Justice
This is the coalition of organizations that is trying to stop the Iraq war and prevent an even crazier one with Iran. They have an excellent events calendar with actions by a variety of groups trying to stop the war.


Kucinich Campaign Site

Kucinich has the strongest anti-war message of the major party candidates, and he supports the broadest range of liberal positions.

Hillary, You're not listening.  Bring the troops home now
Code Pink NYC
They have a variety of actions you can support in the NYC area and had a big contingent in the protest march.

www.listenhillary.org
This is a Code Pink project trying to get Hillary Clinton to listen to the movement to stop the Iraq war. Their Bird Dog Talking Points does an excellent job rebutting the corporate media's claim that Clinton is a liberal.

Granny Peace Brigade
These grannies are some of the most courageous peace activists in the country. Their description tells us a lot about them and one of the more famous free assembly cases in recent memory.

Who We Are: When a group of women ages 59 to 91, many of us grandmothers, tried to enlist in the United States military on October 17, 2005 The Granny Peace Brigade was born. We asked to enlist in order to replace grandchildren who had been deployed in Iraq unnecessarily. However, we were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. After a six-day trial, we were acquitted. That was the beginning.

Here is an action of theirs you can support, and more are available on their web site.
Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 5:30 PM Grandmothers Against the War holds a vigil at Rockefeller Center. All are welcome.

Let Gravel Debate!
I prefer Kucinich to Gravel because I don't like Gravel's tax policies, but he certainly should be included in the Democratic presidential debates. NBC is excluding Gravel from the upcoming debate (actually joint appearance) at Drexel University. NBC is owned by GE, a war profiteer which is why one of the anti-war candidates is being excluded. They want the debate highly biased in favor of the war.

Half Empty has an excellent posting on the issue. The article has a variety of email addresses of NBC/GE executives you can contact as well.

Progressive Challenge 2008
They have an excellent, though abreviated, version of a progressive platform. When rightists ask "what do liberals stand FOR?," you can send them the link.

Peace Action New York State
Peace Action is one of the coalition partners in United for Peace and Justice, and does a lot of important work on its own as well. Staten Island has a particularly vibrant and active chapter.

Military Families Speak Out
They are doing an incredible job framing the war funding debate in a way that cuts through the corporate media spin.
"Funding the War is Killing Our Troops
Support Our Troops
Fund a Safe and Orderly Withdrawal from Iraq and Care for Them as They return"
"Military Families Speak Out continues to call on Congress to end funding for the war in Iraq, save what is needed to bring our troops home quickly and safely. Funding the war is not supporting our troops. The way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here."

Read How Military Families Responded to the "Betray Us" Report. They also have some excellent actions you can take.

US Labor Against the War
This website has in depth coverage of the Iraqi oil law and mistreatment of Iraqi workers.

International ANSWER
This is the other organization that launches large, anti-war protests on a regular basis. They oppose the war in Iraq in a broader context of fighting racism and social injustice. Our society often ignores the racism involved in the Iraq war, but ANSWER does not. Check their website for future actions.

Stark Apologizes for Telling the Truth About Bush

Posted by libhom Tuesday, October 23, 2007 3 comments

It is a sad time for Congress and the country. A member of Congress actually tells the truth about something that really matters; that member is inappropriately criticized by his party leader; the rest of his caucus either criticizes are keeps quiet; and he is pressured into apologizing for doing absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever.

From the Left is linking to the YouTube video. I don't have the heart to do it.

We really are moving towards a one-party state.

Pride at Work's ENDA Action Alert

Posted by libhom Monday, October 22, 2007 1 comments

Pride at Work, once again, is showing that they understand the meaning of solidarity.

Help Fix ENDA: Tell Your Congressional Representative To Support The Baldwin Amendment

This coming Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives is set to vote on HR 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The bill, as currently written, does not include gender identity. Representative Tammy Baldwin will be offering an amendment from the floor, aptly titled the Baldwin Amendment, that would add "gender identity" to HR 3685.

This is our last chance to ensure that ENDA passes as an inclusive bill, including both gender identity and sexual orientation. Without gender identity, Pride At Work can not support the passage of HR 3685.

We would not even have the option of the Baldwin Amendment if it had not been for the thousands of people who have relentlessly called their Congressional Representatives and demanded an inclusive ENDA or no END-a!

Take Action One More Time For Inclusion

Take Action!

"What's Wrong with the New York Times?"

Posted by libhom Saturday, October 20, 2007 0 comments

I found Marc Crispin Miller's excellent blog. I also was impressed when I saw him at a live speaking engagement a while back. He has been a tireless advocate on behalf of people disenfranchised by GOP election fraud and for restoring democracy to America.

"What's Wrong with the New York Times?" is a provocative title for one of his vlog entries. Of course, a 5:48 video cannot begin to discuss everything wrong with the Times and its rightist/pro-GOP bias. However, he does provide an excellent and disturbing example.

Crispin Miller also does an excellent job explaining robocalling and the difference between voter fraud and election fraud.

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