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Support the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project

Posted by libhom Thursday, August 30, 2007 3 comments

The Color of Change has an excellent proposal to help rebuild New Orleans and other areas still devastated by Hurricane Katrina.

Here's the proposal as laid out by Prof. Myers-Lipton:

The Proposal:
The GC Civic Works Project will hire 100,000 Gulf Coast residents to rebuild New Orleans and the surrounding region. The residents, who will be given subsidized tickets back to their neighborhoods, will build and repair houses, schools, parks, and other civic buildings and spaces.

The Gulf Coast Civic Works Project accomplishes 4 things:

1. provide our citizens with living wage jobs,
2. make housing available for themselves and their communities,
3. restore a sense of personal empowerment and hope, something which has been stolen from our people, and
4. restore faith among our citizenry of the government’s ability to respond to the needs of its people through a public-private partnership.

Projected Cost:
Based on a ratio of labor to materials of 80-20, and a wage rate of $12 per hour, the total cost of the Gulf Coast Civic Works Project is $3.125 billion. The projected cost of wages is $2.5 billion, while the cost of materials is $625 million.

Contact Congress to Support This Important Project

I'm partly putting this on my blog for my own convenience, but I suspect that some other people might find it interesting or helpful. With mass media trying to get us all addicted to consumption, training oneself to ask questions before consuming is a good habit, from both a financial and an environmental perspective. Like most atheists in this society, I became liberated from religion by questioning an ideology. Transferring that skill to another harmful ideology is only natural.

New Stuff


1) Do I need or really want it?

2) Can I grow it?

3) Can I get it local?

4) Can I buy it used?

5) Can I buy it recycled without extra driving?

6) Can I get it organic?

7) Can I get it fair trade?

8) Is there an unrelated emotional reason for wanting it?

9) Is there a less expensive alternative?

10) Will obtaining this be worth not having the money later?

11) Is there a version of it with less packaging?

12) Can I find an alternative made in the USA?


Old Stuff


1) Can I fix it?

2) Can I give it away?

3) Can I recycle it?

4) Can I repurpose it?


Energy Using Stuff:

1) Does it need to be on?

2) Does it still need to be on?

3) Would it be too much of a hassle to unplug it?

4) Is there a lower energy way of doing it?

As detailed in a fairly recent New York Times article, Obama, Edwards, and Clinton are taking positions on the Iraq war that will result in tens of thousands of US troops staying their and occupying that country. Obama and Clinton are being more open about it, while Edwards is being sneaky. He is saying that he will take US troops out of Iraq but would have troops return (or presumably stay) if Shi'a Muslims committed genocide against the Sunni Muslims.

This sounds noble, but it ignores the fact that such genocide already is occurring and the occupation is not deterring it. The Sunnis also are busy bombing Shi'a civilians, especially during religious events. Edwards has set a condition that will keep our troops in Iraq indefinitely. Even worse, our troops are being forced to make the situation more horrific by killing many Iraqis.

It is time to let these three politicians know that all US troops need to come home from Iraq, not just some of them. The occupation of Iraq by a large foreign power is destabilizing the country and adding to the carnage.

Contact the Edwards Campaign

Contact the Clinton Campaign

Contact the Obama Campaign

Boycott Las Vegas Sands Corporation Hotels

Posted by libhom Sunday, August 26, 2007 4 comments

John Ehrenfeld is spot in his blog posting, Boycott the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino for Supporting Iraq War!

Obviously delighting in hundreds and thousands of deaths and the disdain of the entire world, Iraq War supporters today launched a $15 million propaganda offensive with the detestable goal of distorting the truth about the dismal failure that is Bush's Iraq policy and continuing the immoral carnage indefinitely.

The group, Freedom's Watch named billionaire Sheldon Adelson, CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation as one prominent backer of the effort.

Voice your disgust with this reprehensible, war-mongering ad campaign and exercise your right not to patronize the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, The Sands Expo and Convention Center, or any other Sands Corporation property the next time you are in Las Vegas.

If we are truly mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore, this is one small way to make our voices heard.

It is time to stand up to the rightist, anti-American extremists who want our troops to die in Iraq for war profiteers and fundamentalist Christian religious extremists. The anti-war movement needs to get tougher with the corporations behind a war that is helping Al Qaida recruit and train terrorists.

Until a troop-hating extremists like Sheldon Adelson resigns or is fired, and until the hotel chain calls for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, it is critical that the corporation he runs face the economic consequences of his anti-Americanism.

Note: it would be difficult not to notice the deceptive name, "Freedom's Watch," that the rightists are using for their anti-troops, pro-war profiteers, campaign.

The corporate media tend to present everything that happens to our country as a series of unconnected events. However, real societies are not that atomized. Often, things that appear unrelated on the surface have huge impacts one or both ways.

An example of this involves the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the Iraq War and the sub-prime lending problems. To understand how the dots are connected, it helps to look at the main direct trigger of the defaults of so many of those loans.

People were given Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs), which are admittedly dubious financial instruments, especially from the perspective of consumers. The initial rates of the loans were quite low at the time, but interest rates have gone up, increasing monthly payments for people when the loans are adjusted. Many of the homeowners just do not have the funds to pay the higher monthly payments.

The loan qualifications often were based on the lowest of the possible payments, not on potential higher payments later. This lending practice was based on at least two assumptions.

  1. Most people would have more available money by the time the monthly payments adjusted upward.

  2. If the loans defaulted, increasing housing prices would cover the amounts of the loans and often create windfall profits for the lenders.

The Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq have played a role in undermining both. Both have cost the federal treasury enormous amounts of money. This in turn has led to major increases in federal borrowing. More federal borrowing creates upward pressure on interest rates in two ways.
  1. It increases the demand for credit without increasing the supply, increasing the price.

  2. It increases inflationary pressure, which pushes the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates.

Enlarging budget deficits has unpleasant economic consequences.

Increasing interest rates have driven some people out of the housing market, reducing housing prices, which means that foreclosures often do not cover the entire costs of the loans.

The Iraq war has had another unpleasant effect on the economy. It has resulted in a higher cost for petroleum. Rising oil prices increase interest rates, making monthly payments on ARMs higher. Rising oil prices lead to rising gasoline prices (plus higher prices on anything that is shipped or grown with petroleum products) which compete with larger house payments for peoples' economic resources.

In other words, the Bush tax cuts for the rich and the Iraq War have led to more defaults of the questionable loans by sub-prime lenders. That has helped to send the lenders into even more financial turmoil.

If you want to understand our economy, it pays to connect the dots.

With daily news reports of the continuing and unabated violence in Iraq, it is amazing that the corporate media keep repeating the rightist corporate talking point about the surge "making progress" or having some "military success." The fact is that the surge has been a dismal failure for everyone except war profiteers and Al Qaida. Those two groups are benefiting tremendously.

I pointed out that Bush had lost his war on June 08, 2005. If I can figure this out, why can't all the supposedly intelligent pundits figure it out too?

The answer is that they already have figured it out. But, they would be fired from the corporate media if they actually acknowledged Bush's humiliating military defeat in Iraq.

Does the Blue Dog Leash Do Enough?

Posted by libhom Friday, August 24, 2007 7 comments

Matt Stoller of Open Left deserves a lot of credit for his Tighten the Leash on the Blue Dog Democrats Campaign. He has put together a list of rightist House “Democrats” who are wholly deserving of primary challenges in 2008. Here is that list.

Jason Altmire, PA-04
Brian Baird, WA-03 (he didn't vote for FISA, but he just switched his position and now supports the surge)
John Barrow, GA-12
Melissa Bean, IL-08
Dan Boren, OK-02
Leonard Boswell, IA-03
Alan Boyd, FL-02
Chris Carney, PA-10
Ben Chandler, KY-06
Jim Cooper, TN-05
Jim Costa, CA-20
Bud Cramer, AL-05
Henry Cuellar, TX-28
Lamar Davis, TN-04
Joe Donnelly, IN-02
Chet Edwards, TX-17
Brad Ellsworth, IN-08
Bob Etheridge, NC-02
Bart Gordon, TN-06
Stephanie Herseth, SD-AL
Baron Hill, IN-09
Nick Lampson, TX-22
Dan Lipinski, IL-03
Jim Marshall, GA-08
Jim Matheson, UT-02
Mike McIntyre, NC-07
Charlie Melancon, LA-03
Colin Peterson, MN-07
Earl Pomeroy, ND-AL
Ciro Rodriguez, TX-23
Mike Ross, AR-04
John Salazar, CO-03
Heath Shuler, NC-11
Vic Snyder, AR-02
Zack Space, OH-18
John Tanner, TN-08
Gene Taylor, MS-04
Tim Walz, MN-01
Charlie Wilson, OH-06

You have to wonder if this is enough. The three most prominent “Democratic” presidential candidates, Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, all support keeping tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq to continue Bush's illegal and unAmerican occupation. The many important similarities in political views of Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush are downright scary.

Congressional Democrats could easily stop the war by refusing to fund it, yet they continue to support the war by paying for it with our tax money. Congress refuses to even try to impeach Cheney or Bush despite their many crimes against US law and crimes against humanity. Democrats in Congress continue to illegally expand Bush's wiretapping powers, despite the fact that the Bush regime had more than enough intelligence information to prevent then 911 attacks.

It is starting to look like November 2008 will be a good time to boycott the Democratic Party entirely and stick to progressive Green and Independent candidates. How much more of this corrupt, right-wing garbage are liberals supposed to accept from the Democratic Party before we finally stand up for ourselves?

Christian Right extremists were bound to throw fits over the event, and they certainly lived up to their reputations. Caleb H. Price, “research analyst” from “Focus on the Family,” the country's largest Religious Right hate-group spewed the following venom:

The fact that this debate even took place reflects the wildly disproportionate extent to which a very few super-wealthy homosexual activists have commandeered the political machinery of the Democratic Party through their contributions and influence.

If queers really had “commandeered the political machinery of the Democratic Party,” our legislative goals would have gotten a lot further in Congress by now. The quote also illustrates the highly partisan nature of these supposedly non-partisan Christian fundamentalist groups.

The Family Research Council's take on the subject was nasty, but unintentionally humorous.
The debate is hosted by the far left wing gay activist group, Human Rights Campaign and will be broadcast from Los Angeles on the Logo channel.
...
The debate will be solely focused on advancing the homosexual agenda.

One has to laugh at the notion that a cautious and moderate organization like the HRC is “far left wing,” especially given the extraordinary lengths the HRC goes to pander to its wealthy Republican donors.

J. Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues at “Concerned Women for America,” won the battle to be the most apoplectic.
But the fact that this debate even took place is a sad commentary on the moral state of our union. It's shameful that our nation's moral standards have nose-dived to the point that it's now considered good and "tolerant" to hold a debate organized entirely around the promotion of sexual immorality.

What's next? Are presidential candidates going to be asked to participate in a debate on how to garner widespread acceptance of adultery or incest? Are members of the growing polygamy lobby and the pedophile group NAMBLA going to tap candidates for a televised debate to promote their chosen lifestyles?
...
The good news is that although "the wages of sin is death," we all have access to a loving and forgiving Redeemer in Christ who selflessly offers freedom from the spiritual and physical death which is a natural consequence of immoral self-indulgence.

And on that, there's no debate.

Actually, there is plenty of debate on that subject, at least among the rational.

Bringing in the particularly nasty Bible citation showed just how visceral the reaction was among the Christian extremists. Hatred certainly is not a family value, but it certainly is the unifying value among the Christian Taliban.

Ordinarily, I would object to having candidates interviewed in a talk show format rather than in a debate format where they can challenge each others views. However, there is a specific concern that queers are stuck with trying to ascertain in presidential candidates:

How comfortable are they with us and being around us?

This may sound shallow, but it reflects political reality. Bill Clinton's painfully obvious discomfort with us and even talking about us made it even more difficult for us to challenge the military ban while he was president. Our chances of getting meaningful results on queer issues will be enhanced with a politician whose comfort with us leads the general public to be less uncomfortable about progress on our legislative priorities.

The talk show format was a strenuous test for most heteros and it should have been. Very few heteros, much less hetero politicians, have been in a room surrounded by queers, with few or no straight people. The absence of the other candidates in the room made it an even more difficult test.

How did they do?


1. Dennis Kucinich: Not only was Kucinich great on queer issues, he was comfortable and genuinely happy to be there. Part of it had to do with the fact that he was with an audience that agreed with him on the issues being debated, of course. But, being able to see queers primarily as a friendly audience of people he likes puts him miles ahead of most politicians. Kucinich was engaged with the audience in a way no other candidate came close to demonstrating. He made sure to look at people sitting in all parts of the room, empathizing with people who got less desirable seats and their natural desire to feel included.

2. Barack Obama and Mike Gravel (tie): Both of them were at ease in the setting and happy to be there. They weren't as engaged as Kucinich, but that says more about Kucinich than anything else. They even were able to relax and be themselves as hetero minorities in a queer environment.

4. John Edwards: He was occasionally awkward around queers, even squirming a bit in his chair, but he obviously was moved by the going to the queer center in L.A. and seeing that queer youth who were kicked out of their homes. I think this may genuinely change his view on queer people as individuals and make him a better person.

5. Hillary Clinton: She often was stiff and very tense around the panelists and tried to ignore the audience except when she was using one of them as a prop. She had a disdainful attitude that suggested she felt she was entitled to our lowly support, regardless of what she had done or might do in the future. Clinton's smile showed more hostility than warmth. She also seemed to think we were gullible and would fall for the weakest spin on issues such as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.” She showed a Bush-like inability to acknowledge mistakes. The best that could be said was that she showed up and did not say anything overtly homophobic.

6. Bill Richardson: He is an oddity. The abstract idea of lgbt equality obviously is more important to him than his visceral dislike and discomfort being around people who are not heterosexual. His performance and the reactions to it said a lot about him, American society, and the queer community.

What about the Democratic no-shows?

The absence of Dodd and Biden was disturbing to say the least. One would think that trailing candidates would have a strong incentive to show up to a forum with a large national audience of Democratic voters. Obviously, their issues with homosexuality trumped political expediency.

What about the Republicans?

The refusal of every Republican to accept an invitation to attend a similar event by the same sponsors speaks volumes about just how fanatical the homophobia is in that party.

Note: I am referring to the event as a “talk show” in the interests of factual accuracy, not as a criticism. There are specific reasons that I will detail in a future posting as to why this was the best format for this event.

Link to Transcript

Hillary Clinton, in my mind, showed how untrustworthy she is for queer voters when she made the following statement:

I think we have moved a long way on this and other issues, but I think it's important to recall how much of an advance "Don't ask; don't tell" was at the time.
However, it was not implemented appropriately.

We should certainly hope that Ms. Clinton was lying when she said that DADT, a different version of the military ban, was “an advance.” The two main impacts of the policy have been the following:
  1. Replacing a policy which was at the level of an executive order with a federal law, which is much more difficult to overturn.

  2. Dramatically increasing the numbers of people being discharged from the military on the basis of sexual orientation.

Discharges increased by 106% from 1994 to 2001. Discharges have gone down since the second US/Iraq war started, despite the Bush Regime's bizarre focus on firing Arabic translators. However, this should not be taken as an encouraging sign. They are following the policy of the elected Bush Administration during the first US/Iraq war: postponing homophobic discharges until after the war was over. (Queers can fight and die in combat, but are not considered good enough to serve after the war is over.)

Chart from Service Members Legal Defense Network

Out gay soldiers sent to Iraq (Washington Blade)

Clinton's claims that the persecution of queers in the military is due to inappropriate implementation is absolute nonsense. DADT was specifically intended to perpetuate and intensify the discrimination. It has succeeded in this far too well.

Clinton made another statement on the military ban which was highly misleading.
It was a transitional action that was taken back at the beginning of my husband's administration, because at the time there was such a witch hunt going on.

An uninformed person might think that the DADT has stopped the witch hunts, upon hearing what Ms. Clinton said. I remember a few years back when I lived in DC, the military was sending undercover MPs into gay bars to find closeted lgbt people serving in the armed forces.

The situation is so bad that the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) has prepared a survival guide for people subject to these witch hunts.

Inside a Lesbian Witch Hunt (another interesting article on the subject)

One of the things that facilitates the witch hunts is that a queer in the military does not have to tell anyone in the military that they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual in order to be thrown out. They can tell people outside of the military and get thrown out. If they have sex with someone of the same gender and the military finds out, they will be thrown out. “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” itself is a misleading name for a devastating policy.

Even a personal ad can get someone kicked out of the military.

Opponents of the military ban at Georgetown University have an excellent article on the ban from a legal perspective.

The military ban is terribly important to a queer movement that is ground in inclusion and social justice. The military is disproportionately made up of people of color. Queers face economic discrimination that ads to the potency of the “economic draft,” the financial pressures that push people to enlist in the military. That is one of many reasons that Hillary Clinton's dishonesty about DADT, a more egregious form of the military ban than the one that existed before, is so frustrating and disappointing.

Too often, liberals and progressives fail to point out the connections between various problems, connections that make it easier to see where our political and media systems are failing us. That is one of the reasons why Dennis Kucinich deserves so much credit for the following two statements during the YouTube Democratic presidential debate.

Well, we have to understand the connection between global warring and global warming. Because when we start talking about wars for oil, we're essentially keeping the same approach to energy.

And I think that the reason is that if you support, for example, in Iraq, if you say that Iraq should privatize its oil for the U.S. oil companies, then what you're doing is you're continuing a commitment to use more oil. If you believe that all options should be put on the table with respect to Iran, that's about oil.

So we need to move away from reliance on oil...

This illustrates the largest connection between the nutty war in Iraq and global warming. There also is a smaller, but significant connection that Kucinich did not have time to get into.

The war itself involves wasting energy and results in extra CO2 emissions.

If you are serious about fighting global warming, part of the effort is calling for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. A lot of conservative Democrats would prefer not to think about this, as would many of the less extreme members of the GOP. But, the longer you drag out the war, and the harder you push for the Iraqi legislation to give Iraqi oil profits to US, British, and Australian oil interests, the more damage you are doing to the planet.

"The Cycle of Netroots"

Posted by libhom Monday, August 06, 2007 1 comments

Democracy in Action has a great graphic with the dilemma liberals face:

Most Important Election Ever, Democrats Enact Horrible Policies (You are here), Need for More and Better Democrats, back to start

Any ideas on how to break this cycle?

(Thanks to The Left End of the Dial for pointing publicizing this.

Video Challenge from One Million Blogs for Peace

Posted by libhom Sunday, August 05, 2007 0 comments


From One Million Blogs for Peace:

The Contest: Make a video promoting peace in Iraq that mentions One Million Blogs for Peace.
The Contestants: Anyone signed up as part of One Million Blogs for Peace who submits a video posted to YouTube between August 15 and September 30, 2007.
The Prize(s): $50 Amazon.com gift certificate and front-page posting at One Million Blogs for Peace (for one month) to the winner. Other prizes as donated by OMBFPers or their supporters.

All you video makers, get busy.

If you have a blog and are not already part of One Million Blogs for Peace, please join and help them reach their goal.

Ron Paul has a swarm of zealots on the Internet, spewing pro-Paul propaganda in all sorts of liberal and progressive forums. The Paul worshipers will accurately point out his opposition to the Iraq War and the Unpatriotic Act, but they conveniently omit the vast majority of Paul's views, which are hateful and wacky right-wing. The deception is starting to offend a lot of liberals, and I'm one of them. After all, if Paul could get a 75% rating in 2005 from the “Family Research Council,” a Christian Right hate-group, that should give you some idea of where Paul really stands.

Here are some other ratings of interest:

  • Secular Coalition for America: 20% (2004)

  • Americans for the Arts Action Fund: 0% (2000, 01, 02, 03, 04)

  • Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: 38% (2005)

  • Human Rights Campaign: 25% (2003-04), 0% in previous years

  • John Birch Society: 100% (2004-2006 in quarterly ratings, except for 88% in Spring 04)

  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: 14% (2004), 30% (2005)

  • Campaign for America's Future: 0% (2005-06, energy issues)

  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: F (2006)

Bigotry Against Atheists

It should be noted that each of the following three positions contradict Paul's claims that he is a libertarian and that he supports individual freedom.

Opposes Restoring the Pledge of Allegience to the Version Without “Under God”
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2002/pr062702.htm

Co-Sponsored Constitutional Amendment Pushing Coerced Prayer in the Public Schools
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d105:HJ00078:@@@L&summ2=m&

Voted to Allow Bigoted Alabama Judge to Post “Ten Commandments” in Courtroom
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/votes/?votenum=257&chamber=H&congress=1091

Homophobia

Here are a couple of examples of Ron Paul's views, aside from his opposition to ENDA.

Opposes Hate Crimes Laws
http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2007/tst050707.htm

Supports “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul#Gay_equality

Voted for Amendment Attempting to Block DC Government from Allowing Same-sex Partners to Adopt
http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/votes/?votenum=346&chamber=H&congress=1061

Other Right-Wing Extremism,
from his congressional web site:


Opposing Federal Funding for Stem Cell Research:
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2005/cr052405.htm

Anti-UN:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2006/pr061506.htm

Pro-Tax Cuts, Nearly All of Which Go to the Rich:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2006/pr042606.htm

Favors Cutting Gas Taxes:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2005/pr090705.htm

Against Corporate Accountability:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2005/pr041405.htm

http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2004/pr091604.htm

Glorifying Ronald Reagan:
http://www.house.gov/paul/press/press2004/pr061004.htm

Supporting Corporate Efforts to Ship US Jobs to China
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2005/cr072605.htm

Attacking Gun Control and DC Self Rule
http://www.house.gov/paul/congrec/congrec2004/cr100404.htm

Anti-Union
http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst98/tst072798.htm

Hillary Clinton's political alliance with far-right bigots is getting more disturbing as the details come out. Rupert Murdoch held a major fundraiser for Ms. Clinton and NewsCorp executives have donated over $20,000 to her campaign in this election cycle alone.

Rupert Murdoch is the founder and major shareholder in the secretive NewsCorp., an Australian media giant that owns all the Fox Networks and studios, including the viciously homophobic, sexist, and racist Faux News. That corporation owns the New York Post and a multitude of bigoted, right-wing propaganda papers around the globe. Murdoch's empire also includes cable and satellite television providers, including DirectTV.

The bigotry of Murdoch's media empire is reprehensible, as its insistence that its mouthpieces lie to the public about the news.

Ms. Clinton has a responsibility to reject Murdoch, his corporation, and the dishonesty and bigotry that they represent and promote. It is past time for her to return the dirty money and to promise to never take any more contributions from NewsCorp executives again.

Please contact her campaign and let her know she should do just that.

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