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Sign the Respect Our Vote Petition

Posted by libhom Friday, February 29, 2008 1 comments

It's time to let the "superdelegates" know that we will not be disenfranchised by them. The Respect Our Vote Petition is an incredibly important step for pro-democracy activists to take.

Dear Superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic Convention:

I am calling on you to ensure that our votes count.

Presented with two strong candidates, millions of voters have cast their ballots with a passion and enthusiasm not seen in decades. Yet we now face the possibility that 796 party insiders will decide the Democratic presidential nomination.

We must have a fair nominating process where the voters choose the candidate. The unity of our party and the strength of our candidate depend on it.

Respect our collective choice by casting your vote for the candidate who has won the most pledged voter delegates.

Sincerely,
[your name here]

I couldn't have said it better myself. We the people need to make a stand against this kind of blatant political corruption.

Sign the Petition!

 

Given that NBC is owned by General Electric (GE), a major defense contractor, it is no huge surprise that the network has a strong pro-war bias. But, sometimes it gets downright unprofessional.

Fairness and Accuracy in Media's (FAIR) Action Alert

On NBC, 'Expertise' Means Getting Iraq Wrong

2/28/08

In the February 26 Democratic primary debate, sponsored by MSNBC, NBC anchor Brian Williams questioned Democratic hopeful Barack Obama about his fitness to compete in a presidential race with the "vast foreign policy expertise and credibility on national security" of Sen. John McCain.

Obama's rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, "has compared your foreign policy expertise to that of George W. Bush at the same period," Williams said. "Provided you could be going into a general election against a Republican with vast foreign policy expertise and credibility on national security, how were her comments about you unfair?"

Yet on what most would call the most important recent issue of "national security"--Iraq--McCain was stupendously wrong.

In a pre-invasion interview on CNN (Late Edition, 11/29/02), McCain stated:
We're not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we're not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies.

He added, "I don't think it's, quote, 'easy,' but I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time." On MSNBC (Hardball, 3/24/03), he stated that "we will be welcomed as liberators."

In contrast, Obama made a prominent speech around the same time (10/2/02) that now seems strikingly prescient:
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al-Qaeda.

The assumption of Williams' question is that the candidate who was completely wrong about the Iraq invasion has "vast expertise" and "credibility" on national security, while the candidate who correctly foresaw the consequences needs to prove his foreign policy qualifications. One wonders whether Williams is using "expertise" as a synonym for "hawkishness."

ACTION:
Please write to Brian Williams and remind him that expertise and hawkishness aren't the same thing.

CONTACT:
NBC Anchor Brian Williams
Phone: 212-664-4971
Email: nightly@nbc.com

NBC's pro-war propaganda is one of many examples of how media ownership is an important issue. Americans need to become more savvy consumers of media, rather than accepting any product on face value.

Clinton Surrogate Insults Voters

Posted by libhom Thursday, February 28, 2008 4 comments

The Clinton campaign keeps sinking to new lows. Now, Geradline Ferraro has endorsed the ability of "superdelegates" to steal nominations in an infamous New York Times Op-Ed.

The very idea that "superdelegates" have any right to have any more say than you or I is a repugnant and reactionary to the core. Ferraro (like Clinton, Bush, and Karl Rove) thinks that the rest of us are unworthy of electing our president and that democracy is only OK if they get the result they have decided is best for us.

This isn't just an insult to Obama voters. It really is a personal attack against all voters, including people who voted for Clinton. How long are we going to go along with corrupt politicians treating us all like garbage?

If the Democratic nomination is stolen, I will be voting for and giving money to Nader. I may even volunteer for that campaign. Americans should not put up with being treated this way. An illegitimate nominee can expect to lose at least 40 states.

The is something bizarrely ironic about one passage of Ferraro's spin piece.

These superdelegates, we reasoned, are the party’s leaders. They are the ones who can bring together the most liberal members of our party with the most conservative and reach accommodation. They would help write the platform. They would determine if a delegate should be seated. They would help determine the rules. And having done so, they would have no excuse to walk away from the party or its presidential nominee.

The "superdelegates" are in incredibly divisive force in the Democratic Party. If they pull a scam to steal the nomination, they will tear the party apart. If they are allowed to do this, then it may well be time to give up on the Democratic Party for good. If I'm not good enough for my vote to be counted in the Democratic Party, I have every right to go elsewhere.

"Keating Five" McCain Reminds Me of Oscar the Grouch

Posted by libhom Wednesday, February 27, 2008 2 comments

Taking a break from the serious side of the world, I'm finally getting around to pointing out something funny I noticed after watching John McCain give his post Potomac primaries victory speech at a small rally of supporters.

"Keating Five" McCain reminds me of Oscar the Grouch (from Sesame Street).





If you aren't American, you are excused for scratching your head.

Obama Gets It on Nader

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 24, 2008 5 comments

John Nichols has an excellent commentary on Obama and Nader. Nader Runs, Obama Responds Wisely. A particularly interesting passage follows:

Nader's greatest value in any race is -- like Socialist Norman Thomas in his races against Democratic Franklin Roosevelt -- as a source of pressure on the Democratic nominee to address fundamental questions and perhaps to take more progressive stands on a few issues. As in 2000 and 2004, Nader's appeal will be determined in large part by the extent to which the Democratic candidate is willing to be bold.

Obama seems to understands this. Unlike Gore or Kerry, who never quite "got" the point of Nader's runs in 2000 and 2004, the Illinois senator appears to recognize that it is pointless to grumble about Ralph Nader as a "spoiler." Rather, the point is to be more appealing to progressive voters who might consider voting Green or independent.

"I think the job of the Democratic Party is to be so compelling that a few percentage [points] of the vote going to another candidate is not going to make any difference," says Obama.

I seriously doubt that any Nader supporters are going to vote for Obama because Democrats have vilified them or Nader. A more productive approach is to emphasize the positive differences between Obama and McCain. Hillary Clinton proved that venom is poisoning the person spewing it in this election cycle.

I have decided to vote for Obama, but I want liberals to have a choice in November so we cannot be taken for granted.

 



Hat tip to Bloodless Coup for pointing out this one.

Members of Congress take an oath of office to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States" in solemn looking ceremonies, yet most of them are voting for blatantly unconstitutional spying programs. And, the illegal spying is creating an information overload that makes it more difficult for real intelligence to be seen in an ever-increasing fog of the irrelevant.

Learning about what really happened in the Vietnam War and what is going on in Iraq is an unsettling experience, though a valuable one. This Thursday, I attended an IAVW fundraiser for their Winter Soldier project. The project is summarized as follows:

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans' health benefits and support.

When: Thursday March 13 to Sunday March 16

The amount of education provided at the fundraiser was worth far more than the suggested donation of $20 (less for vets and military families). Some of the things I learned were:

- The US has 731 military bases throughout the world.

- In the attacks on Fallujah in 2004, over 12,000 Iraqis were killed and ID'd as “insurgents.”

- Although we usually hear the term “enemy combatant” in the context of the Gulag at Guantanamo, the phrase is commonly used by the military in Iraq to describe insurgents and people who get killed who may not be insurgents.

- Returning veterans from the Iraq War reported seeing no rebuilding of the country and that construction by contractors was limited to US military installations.

- National Guard members at Fort Dix in New Jersey have been trained to run over little children in the middle of the road on the grounds that they may have explosives strapped to their bodies.

- Soldiers in Vietnam were given no training regarding the treatments of civilians and prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.

- Throwing Vietnamese people out of helicopters was so common that soldiers were ordered to do prisoner counts after the helicopters had landed, not before.

Over 150 people attended the event in Manhattan and saw a truly disturbing video from the Winter Soldier project. It started with horrific house and business destruction in Iraq by the US military, and then went on to the horribly mutilated bodies of people killed in bombing attacks ordered by the Bush regime. The video footage was shot by veterans when they were in Iraq.

One of the speakers at the event said, “We went easy with the video.” Yet, the images in the video were so repulsive and frightening that I had to keep forcing my eyes open. Psychological services were offered for veterans who might be traumatized by reliving what they saw in Iraq. I just don't know how our troops cope with the terrible things they see and are ordered to do in Iraq.

There was a group of chickenhawks protesting outside, misappropriating American flags for their pandering to Big Oil, corrupt mercenary companies, and defense contractors. They attempted to look intimidating, but they didn't harass me as I went in. (Being male and over 6 feet tall does have its advantages.) However, they did harass and try to intimidate an Iraqi woman who went in anyway. The vets running the fundraiser pointed out that none of the people outside were veterans.

In an excellent indication that the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War is becoming important, the extreme right already is attacking it.

- A Very British Dude not only had a temper tantrum about the blogswarm, he also showed his mentality by using the misogynist slur "lefty twats" to describe the people involved in it.

- Dizzy Things joined the right-wing War on Science by ranting against the peer-reviewed Lancet article which demonstrated that as of the fall of 2006, over 650,000 Iraqis died in the war. His argumentation reminds one of that which comes from the "Creation Science" people.

Bush's Job Approval Down to 19%

This headline shows how unpopular Shrub is. So, why do so many politicians in Congress kiss up to him? Why do Pelosi and Reid act as if he is a beloved president whose approval is needed for anyone's political survival? Why do so many other Democrats go along with this?

Why do so many Republicans pander to him and his unpopular policies?

It's as if our votes don't matter. The politicians have become so beholden to big money donors it is sickening.

Signups for the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War have broken the century mark, as more blog writers see the need to take a strong stand against a war that never should have been started and has lasted far too long.

The death and destruction in Iraq continue with an increasing level of bombing by the Bush regime. Yet, the corporate media keep avoiding the subject of the war and lying to us about what is really happening in Iraq.

We need to be our own media.

Pennsylvania Governor Shows Favoritism to Clinton Campaign

Posted by libhom Tuesday, February 19, 2008 4 comments

This is truly disturbing.

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign failed to file a full slate of convention delegate candidates for Pennsylvania's April 22 primary.

This despite the possibility the primary proves critical and despite Clinton owning the full-throated support of Gov. Rendell, state Democratic Party leadership, Mayor Nutter and, presumably, the organizational skill all that entails.

And despite a Rendell-ordered extension of the filing deadline that could be viewed as more than just coincidental.

I've pretty much lost the respect I used to have for PA Governor Rendell. Governors should not use the powers of their offices to favor political candidates.

This problem also raises questions about the competency of the Clinton campaign.
It appears Clinton came up 10 or 11 candidates short across a number of congressional districts, including two in Philadelphia.

That's close to 10 percent of the 103 delegates to be decided by voters.

It appears the shortage would've been double that if Rendell hadn't extended last week's candidate filing deadline by a day and a half, ostensibly due to bad weather.

This at a time when Clinton's campaign, like Barack Obama's - which did file a full slate in the state - hoards delegates like diamonds.

Let's see. Hillary Clinton, who supposedly is more ready to be in the White House than Barack Obama, is having trouble running her campaign.

In the real world, as opposed to Clinton spinland, Obama has more experience in public office than Ms. Clinton does. Yet, we are expected to believe that he lacks experience and "isn't ready."

The corporate media share lot of blame for this by not reporting the facts when Ms. Clinton claims that she is more experienced. This is typical of the media favoring the more conservative of two candidates. Another example of the pro-Clinton bias is that incidents like the Rendell favoritism don't get the national coverage they deserve. When it comes to political corruption, the Clintons get the same free pass that the Bushes do.

 

Obama Leads by 11% in Wisconsin

Posted by libhom Monday, February 18, 2008 5 comments

Good news in a new poll on Wisconsin

Obama 50%
Clinton 39%

The most important thing to the anti-war movement was this gem of news (bolding mine):

A new poll out today in Wisconsin shows that Obama has a 50 percent to 39 percent lead over Clinton, boosted by a 21-percentage-point edge among voters most concerned by the Iraq war.

When the vote for the Iraq War was taken, the corporate media made it sound like the only politically sound choice for Democrats was to vote to devastate that country. A defeat for Clinton for the Democratic nomination would give pause to Democrats who think that voting for senseless wars is a good career move.

 

The War on Iraq

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 17, 2008 5 comments

When I was commenting on a post on the Monkey Muck blog, I had a Freudian slip. Instead of typing "the war in Iraq," I typed:

"the war on Iraq"

I think that actually is a more accurate description of what the Bush regime is doing there.

Good for Kosovo

Posted by libhom 2 comments

It's official. Kosovo has opted for survival of its people by declaring independence. This really was a matter of necessity for them, since escape from Serbia really is the only viable way to prevent future ethnic cleansing and genocide campaigns from the Serbs.

The fascist government in Russia is using the tactics of intimidation to try to block this.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging the United Nations to annul the declaration and warned of the risk of an escalation in ethnic violence in the region.

"We expect the UN mission and NATO-led forces in Kosovo to take immediate action to carry out their mandate," the statement said, "including the annulling of the decisions of Pristina's self-governing organs and the taking of tough administrative measures against them."

"The decisions by the Kosovo leadership create the risk of an escalation of tension and inter-ethnic violence in the province and of new conflict in the Balkans," the ministry said.

It would be suicidal for the people Kosovo to go along with this. The world has a responsibility to recognize the newly free Kosovo in order to prevent future bloodbaths.

With each passing day, it becomes more and more difficult to tell Putin apart from Bush. Both of them are fascists who have a murderous obsession with Muslims and want to bully the rest of the world into going along with them.

 

Video Appeal from Dennis Kucinich

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 16, 2008 5 comments



Kucinich has been the strongest voice in the House for impeachment, an end to the Iraq War, and Universal Healthcare. No wonder corporate interests are out for blood. No wonder they have recruited a bought politician to run against him in the primary.

You can learn more and contribute at the Kucinich Campaign website.

Stopping the war will require sticking with the brave people opposing it.

 

Democracy for America Says: "Let the Voters Decide"

Posted by libhom Friday, February 15, 2008 4 comments

This is the name of their new petition and campaign to make the so-called "superdelegates" follow the will of grassroots Democrats and primary voters.

Sign Now!

From their online petition:

Thirty-seven states and U.S. territories have already voted and we don't have a clear nominee. Senators Clinton and Obama are in a delegate race to the nomination.

There are a lot of ways that delegates get assigned to a specific candidate, but almost all of the allocated delegates are directly tied and bound by the actual votes in each primary or caucus - all of them that is, except super-delegates.

Super-delegates are a contingent of almost 900 elected officials, party insiders, and current DNC members and they aren't required to follow the voters. In fact, after every Democrat has voted and the last allocated delegates are assigned, super-delegates have the power to overturn the popular vote and crown a different winner.

That's right, if super-delegates don't like who you choose to be our nominee, they can overturn your vote. We can't let that happen. Our nominee must be chosen by Democratic voters not by back room deals of the party elite.

Why should Democrats who voted in primaries and showed up for caucuses vote for a nominee that was chosen against the will of the people in a series of disreputable backroom deals?

 

Taslima Nasreen's Visa Extended

Posted by libhom Thursday, February 14, 2008 2 comments

"Nature says women are human beings, men have made religions to deny it. Nature says women are human beings, men cry out NO!"
- Taslima Nasreen

Great News from Rationalist International:
Dear friends:

We are pleased to inform that the Government of India has formally announced that they extend the visa of Taslima Nasreen. We express gratitude for your timely support of our appeal to the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Till now we have received copies of more than 3800 letters requesting him to extend Taslima's visa.

The official statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, some minutes ago, is given below.

Sanal Edamaruku
President,
Rationalist International & Indian Rationalist Association

Statement by Official Spokesperson on extension of visa of Ms. Taslima Nasreen
14/02/2008

The Government of India have decided to extend the visa of Ms. Taslima Nasreen. Throughout its history, India has a tradition of offering hospitality to those who seek it. It has also afforded protection to those who have come as our guests. Ms. Taslima Nasreen is our guest and, in keeping with our traditions, we have offered her the same privileges.

It is incumbent on those who are welcomed as guests in India that they remain sensitive to India’s traditions and do not conduct themselves in a manner that either affects our relations with other countries or cause hurt to our secular ethos. We expect that they do not undertake actions that could hurt the sentiments of the many communities that make up our multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation. These are the same restraints which we in India follow. We expect nothing less from our guests.

New Delhi
February 14, 2008

Background on Taslima Nasreen follows. (Note: her name is in a language with a different alphabet than English, so the spellings vary depending on how it is transformed into English.)

Taslima Nasreen's Website
2004 Free Inquiry Interview
BBC Bio
 

These are some scary quotes from Clinton's communications director, Howard Wolfson. It looks like the Clinton campaign will try to steal the nomination with "superdelegates" if they lose with legitimate delegates from primaries and caucuses.

From the February 13 Boston Globe:

"I want to be clear about the fact that neither campaign is in a position to win this nomination without the support of the votes of the superdelegates,'' Wolfson told reporters in a conference call.

"We don't make distinctions between delegates chosen by million of voters in a primary and those chosen between tens of thousands in caucuses,'' Wolfson said. "And we don't make distinctions when it comes to elected officials'' who vote as superdelegates at the convention.

"We are interested in acquiring delegates, period,'' he added.

If the Clinton Smear Campaign and the party insiders steal the nomination by using illegitimate "superdelegates," they will have sent a message of utter hatred and contempt for Democratic voters and grassroots Democrats.

Also, if the Democratic Party steals the nomination to keep a man who is half African American off of the ballot, the Democratic Party will openly proclaim itself as racist as the Clintons and the rest of the GOP.

If Clinton actually gets away with this vicious attack on democracy and civil rights, the following will happen.

1) Many Democrats will stay home.

2) Many other Democrats will vote Green.

3) Many Democratic-leaning independents and pro-Obama Republicans will vote for John "Keating Five" McCain.

4) Clinton will lose at least 40 states.

 

An Appeal on Behalf of Taslima Nasreen

Posted by libhom Tuesday, February 12, 2008 0 comments

Learn More About Freethought Heroine Taslima Nasreen from her web site.

From Rationalist International 2/10/08:

An Urgent Appeal from Sanal Edamaruku, President of Rationalist International

Help to prevent Taslima Nasreen’s expulsion from India!

“All I want to do is live peacefully in this country. I have nowhere else to go!"

I request you to react immediately and support our appeal to the Government of India to grant residence permit to renowned writer Taslima Nasreen, who is an Honorary Associate of Rationalist International.

Taslima Nasreen is in a desperate situation. I am in regular contact with her and talked to her over telephone yesterday and today.

The Indian Government is keeping her - allegedly for security reasons - in complete isolation at an undisclosed location. Guarded by officials, she is not allowed to meet anybody. Her only connections to the world are mobile phone and laptop. Her health is deteriorating under stress and lack of competent medical care.

In this situation, the government of India tries to force her to leave the country. This is clearly to appease Muslim fundamentalists. It seems they think that the fundamentalists have influence on the Muslim 'vote bank'.

After fleeing from Bangladesh in 1994 to escape fatwa and death threats by Muslim fanatics, Taslima lived in Sweden, Germany, USA and France. In 2000 she moved to India and found in West Bengal, an Indian state, her adoptive home. She has been living there since then. "I am a Bengali within and without; I live, breathe, and dream in Bengali."- Taslima wrote about her stay in West Bengal.

The communist led state government of West Bengal, in a move to please the Muslim fanatics (whom they try to please since years by banning her book), forcefully deported Taslima in November 2007 to Rajastan, an Indian state ruled by the Hindu nationalist party BJP. The next day Rajastan state government sent her to Delhi, the capital of India. Shunt off by two state governments, the central government took her away to an undisclosed place in Delhi claiming to protect her.

“You can decide, when you want to leave, but before 16th February, when ‘they’ [fanatic Muslims] will start shouting to throw you out”, Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee told her. Since she was not ready to vanish secretly and silently on her own, a show-down over her visa started. The visa is expiring on Sunday, 17th February. Contrary to misguiding public statements of ministers and false press reports, her visa has not been extended yet. If the Indian government does not grant her visa extension or any other form of residence permit in time, she may be forced to leave India - with nothing in her hands but a mobile phone and a laptop.

Please write to the Indian Prime Minister today!

Request him to grant Taslima Nasreen residence permit with immediate effect and to make security arrangements that allow her to leave her "prison"!

Send an email appeal to Dr Man Mohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India.

His email address is given below.
manmohan@sansad.nic.in

Write your full address, and official position also.

Please mark a copy of your appeal to taslima@rationalistinternational.net

Taslima Nasreen writes about her situation..

Where am I? I am certain no one will believe me if I say I have no answer to this apparently straightforward question, but the truth is I just do not know. And if I were to be asked how I am, I would again answer: I don’t know. I am like the living dead: benumbed; robbed of the pleasure of existence and experience; unable to move beyond the claustrophobic confines of my room. Day and night, night and day. Yes, this is how I have been surviving.

This nightmare did not begin when I was suddenly bundled out of Calcutta – it has been going on for a while. It is like a slow and lingering death, like sipping delicately from a cupful of slow-acting poison that is gradually killing all my faculties. This is a conspiracy to murder my essence, my being, once so courageous, so brave, so dynamic, so playful. I realize what is going on around me but am utterly helpless, despite my best efforts, to wage a battle on my own behalf. I am merely a disembodied
voice. Those who once stood by me have disappeared into the darkness.

I ask myself: what heinous crime have I committed? What sort of life is this where I can neither cross my own threshold nor know the joys of human company? What crime have I committed that I have to spend my life hidden away, relegated to the shadows? For what crimes am I being punished by this society, this land? I wrote of my beliefs and my convictions. I used words, not violence, to express my ideas. I did not take recourse to pelting stones or bloodshed to make my point. Yet, I am considered a
criminal. I am being persecuted because it was felt that the right of others to express their opinions was more legitimate than mine.

Does India not realise how immense the suffering must be for an individual to renounce her most deeply-held beliefs? How humiliated, frightened, and insecure I must have been to allow my words to be censored. If I had not agreed to the grotesque bowdlerisation of my writings by those who insisted on it, I would have been hounded and pursued till I dropped dead. Their politics, their faith, their barbarism, and their diabolical purposes are all intent on sucking the lifeblood out of me, because the truths I write are so difficult for them to stomach. How can I—a powerless and unprotected individual—battle brute force? But come what may, I cannot take recourse to untruth.

What have I to offer but love and compassion? In the way that they used hatred to rip out my words, I would like to use compassion and love to rip the hatred out of them. Certainly, I am enough of a realist to acknowledge that strife, hatred, cruelty and barbarism are integral elements of the human condition. This will not change; and how can an insignificant creature like me change all this? If I were to be eradicated or
exterminated, it would not matter one whit to the world at large. I know all this. Yet, I had imagined Bengal would be different. I had thought the madness of her people was temporary. I had thought that the Bengal I loved so passionately would never forsake me. She did.

Exiled from Bangladesh, I wandered around the world for many years like a lost orphan. The moment I was given shelter in West Bengal, it felt as though all those years of numbing tiredness just melted away. I was able to resume a normal life in a beloved and familiar land. So long as I survive, I will carry within me the vistas of Bengal, her sunshine, her wet earth, her very essence. The same Bengal whose sanctuary I once walked many blood-soaked miles to reach has now turned its back upon me. I am a Bengali within and without; I live, breathe, and dream in Bengali. I find it hard to believe that I am no longer wanted in Bengal.

I am a guest in this land, I must be careful of what I say. I must do nothing that violates the code of hospitality. I did not come here to hurt anyone’s sentiments or feelings. Wounded and hurt in my own country, I suffered slights and injuries in many lands before I reached India, where I knew I would be hurt yet again. For this is, after all, a democratic and secular land where the politics of the votebank imply that being secularis equated with being pro-Muslim fundamentalist. I do not wish to believe all this. I do not wish to hear all this. Yet, all around me I read, hear, and see evidence of this. I sometimes wish I could be like those mythical monkeys, oblivious to all the evil that is going on around me. Death who visits me in many forms now feels like a friend. I feel like talking to him, unburdening myself to him. I have no one else to speak to, no one else to whom I can unburden myself.

I have lost my beloved Bengal. No child torn from its mother’s breast could have suffered as much as I did during that painful parting. Once again, I have lost the mother from whose womb I was born. The pain is no less than the day I lost my biological mother. My mother had always wanted me to return home. That was something I could not do. After settling down in Calcutta, I was able to tell my mother, who by then was a memory within me, that I had indeed returned home. How did it matter which side of an artificial divide I was on? Now, I do not have the courage to tell my mother that I have been unceremoniously expelled by those who had once given me shelter, that my life now is that of a nomad. My sensitive mother would be shattered if I were to tell her all this. Instead, I have now taken to convincing myself that I must have transgressed somewhere, committed some grievous error. Why else would I be in such a situation? Is daring to utter the truth a terrible sin in this era of falsehood and deceit? Is it because I am a woman?

I know I have not been condemned by the masses. If their opinion had been sought, I am certain the majority would have wanted me to stay on in Bengal. But when has a democracy reflected the voice of the masses? A democracy is run by those who hold the reins of power, who do exactly what they think fit. An insignificant individual, I must now live life on my own terms and write about what I believe in and hold dear. It is not my desire to harm, malign, or deceive. I do not lie. I try not to be offensive. I am but a simple writer who neither knows nor understands the dynamics of politics. The way in which I was turned into a political pawn, however, and treated at the hands of base politicians, beggars belief. For what end, you may well ask. A few measly votes. The force of fundamentalism, which I have opposed and fought for many years, has only been strengthened by my defeat.

This is my beloved India, where I have been living and writing on secular humanism, human rights and emancipation of women. This is also the land where I have had to suffer and pay the price for my most deeply held and fundamental convictions, where not a single political party of any persuasion has spoken out in my favour, where no non-governmental organisation, women’s rights or human rights group has stood by me or condemned the vicious attacks launched upon me. This is an India I have never before known. Yes, it is true that individuals in a scattered, unorganised manner are fighting for my cause, and journalists, writers, and intellectuals have spoken out in my favour, even if they have never read a word I have written. Yet, I am grateful for their opinions and support.

Wherever individuals gather in groups, they seem to lose their power to speak out. Frankly, this facet of the new India terrifies me. Then again, is this a new India, or is it the true face of the nation? I do not know.

Since my earliest childhood I have regarded India as a great land and a fearless nation. The land of my dreams: enlightened, strong, progressive, and tolerant. I want to be proud of that India. I will die a happy person the day I know India has forsaken darkness for light, bigotry for tolerance. I await that day. I do not know whether I will survive, but India and what she stands for has to survive.

No More Victims Raises Awareness of Human Costs of Iraq War

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 10, 2008 2 comments



No More Victims is putting human faces on a war in Iraq that the pundits describe with floating abstractions. Here is what else they do:

No More Victims works to obtain medical sponsorships for war-injured Iraqi children and to forge ties between the children, their families and communities in the United States. We believe one of the most effective means of combating militarism is to focus on direct relief to its victims.

The reality of what is being done to Iraq is staggering. We cannot turn our heads away and ignore it.

It Looks Like Obama Will Win the Nomination

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 09, 2008 5 comments

Obama's wins in the Washington and Nebraska caucuses appear to be repeated with a victory in the Louisiana primary, if early returns hold up.

There are other signs of the Clinton campaign's difficulties. Ms. Clinton's personal loan to her campaign reflected finance problems due to her reliance on super rich donors who had already reached their legal limit in campaign contributions.

The Super Tuesday results were a disaster for the Clinton campaign. Over 20 primaries, of which four were in the huge states of California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey, was an ideal situation for Clinton. This situation made grassroots campaigning and campaign rallies less influential, and it made name recognition the largest factor. Analysts are debating over whether Clinton or Obama got the most delegates, but the close delegate results eliminated the Clinton camp's best chance to win the nomination.

There is nothing comparable to Super Tuesday left, and that is resulting in desperate tactics by Clinton and her supporters. They are trying to create fear over a deadlocked convention, which is close to impossible given that there are only two candidates with significant numbers of delegates. Clintonites are even talking about a "dream ticket" (nightmare ticket for liberals) which would have Obama be Clinton's VP.

Obama would be a fool to fall for this one. In 2016, Chelsea Clinton will be 36, old enough to run for the White House. The Clinton dynasty would be break any deal to continue its hold on power.

There are two main reasons why Clinton is going to lose the nomination.

1) She voted to get us into the war in Iraq rather than leading opposition to it.

2) Her campaign used their version of the GOP's "Southern Strategy," using surrogates to attack Obama for being the "black candidate." This really infuriated Democratic primary voters of all races.

 

Hat tip to BlueCoffee for this one. From the Lambert, Edwards and Associates prospectus on Church-Construction Financing Futures (2005-2010) issued on April 1, 2006.

We believe the annual financing opportunity for the church construction market currently stands at $28 billion annually. We anticipate this market will grow at a rate in excess of 40% over the next five years to $40 billion by 2010, according to our proprietary church finance market (CFM)™ model.

Our forecast is driven by three primary factors: Exponential growth in church attendance within specific segments of the non-denominational and evangelical church population; the trend toward non-traditionalist, unconventional forums of worship, highlighted by the rise of the modern “mega-church” and; the marked growth in financial contributions to churches, specifically within certain non-denominational sects characterized by a younger, upwardly-mobile demographic commonly found in suburban or newly developed localities. [...]

Non-denominational membership doubled between 1990 and 2001, according to our analysis. We believe the growth in attendance at non-denominational churches marks the emergence of a broader trend in which denominational affiliation is perceived as an unnecessary limiting factor in attracting new members. We believe the notable success of non-denominational mega-churches throughout the country is supporting evidence of this trend. While church attendance at the average American church increased by 12% between 2000 and 2005, average church attendance at mega-churches across the country increased by an astounding 57.3%.

Read more

Most atheists have realized what a racket religion can be. Just the construction of megalomaniacal megachurches is a billion dollar business. Christians try to justify their faith by saying how much churches help the poor, but look where so much of the money is going. It reminds me of the Middle Ages where the Catholic Church built enormous, ornate cathedrals while most people were in miserable poverty.

 

Today, Democracy Now covered the rightist lunacy that erupted from John McCain's mouth when he was trying to appeal to the fascist fringe of the GOP. Read it and gag.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I will start by making the Bush tax cuts permanent. I will cut corporate tax rates from 35 to 25 percent to keep industries and jobs in this country. I will end—I will end the alternate minimum tax, and I won’t let a Democratic Congress raise your taxes and choke the growth of our economy.

They will offer a big government solution to healthcare insurance coverage. I intend to address the problem with free market solutions and with respect for the freedom of individuals to make important choices for themselves.

They will—they will appoint to the federal bench judges who are intent on achieving political changes that the American people cannot be convinced to accept through the election of their representatives. I intend to nominate judges who have proven themselves worthy of our trust, that they take as their sole responsibility the enforcement of laws made by the people’s elected representatives, judges of the character and quality of Justices Roberts and Alito, justices who can be relied upon to respect the values of the peoples whose rights, laws and property they are sworn to defend.

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will withdraw our forces from Iraq based on an arbitrary timetable designed for the sake of political expediency and which recklessly ignores the profound human calamity and dire threats to our security that would ensue. I intend to win the war and trust in the proven judgment of our commanders there and the courage and selflessness of the Americans they have the honor to command.

In other words, McCain is completely bought and paid for by corporate interests, the country and our troops be damned in his sick mind.

 

Join the March 19 Blogswarm Against the Iraq War

Posted by libhom Tuesday, February 05, 2008 4 comments

As of March 19, the Iraq War will have gone on for five years.

Can you believe it? Five years?

It is nuts. To make things worse, the corporate media largely ignore the war, and give us deceptive propaganda when they do mention the war. We need to get the war back in peoples' minds and in peoples' faces. One way to do this is to blogswarm a passionate reminder of how our troops and the Iraqi people are getting injured and killed in an illegal war.

http://march19-blogswarm.blogspot.com/


Please join in and make your voice heard against this senseless war on March 19.

Thanks so much to Rick from Ten Percent for all the work he has done on this.

Humanists Concerned About Voting

Posted by libhom Sunday, February 03, 2008 4 comments

From an American Humanist Association email:

Please vote in your primary and help raise your Humanist voice in the public square! This is important even though we Humanists don't always have a chance to vote our values. Often we're presented with less-than-ideal options. But such civic participation is critical if we are to develop the influence we need to make a difference in the public debate on the issues that matter most.

And in a time like this, when we see violations of church-state separation sweeping through every level of government, this election offers us an opportunity to make a difference. In particular, we're asking you to pay special attention to your local polling place.

If you are one of many Humanists whose polling place is in a church, synagogue or temple, please take notes on your experience and e-mail them to our Appignani Humanist Legal Center coordinator Bob Ritter at britter@americanhumanist.org.

When houses of worship are used as polling places, obvious religious symbols within the voting area are supposed to be covered up so that no voter feels intimidated or that she or he is an outsider. Also, church leaders and members are forbidden to proselytize at the polls. Yet we have reason to believe that these rules aren't always being followed.

Let's make sure everyone has the right to vote their own conscience, free from religious coercion. Share with the AHA your observations, any religious statements that you heard by poll workers or any one affiliated with the church, and any pictures you may have taken of outside or inside the polling area (pictures inside the polling room probably have to be taken the day before or after the election). Send them to Bob Ritter at britter@americanhumanist.org. We would also suggest that you call your supervisor of elections to request that any religious signs and/or icons be covered up.

Many Queer Edwards Supporters Now Siding With Obama

Posted by libhom Saturday, February 02, 2008 6 comments

On 2/1/08, The Advocate reported that many Edwards supporters have switched to Obama now that Edwards has dropped out of the race.

A critical mass of John Edwards’s LGBT steering committee is going public with support for Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton. Twenty-two members of the Edwards campaign’s original 59-person gay and lesbian committee will now be working for Obama victories next Tuesday and throughout the rest of the primary season.

The article mentioned a lot of insider stuff, but it left out the obvious subtext. LGBT activists who were involved in the queer community at the time of the beginning of the Clinton administration remember how the Clintons broke important promises on lifting the miltary ban and on a "Manhattan Project" to cure AIDS.

The Clinton Administration never even tried to implement that "Manhattan Project." On the military ban, they created a fraudulently labeled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which was designed to increase the number of military witchhunts and discharges. DADT did just that and even resulted in undercover MPs in gay bars in Washington, DC.

When Melissa Etheridge mentioned during the Logo/HRC debates that Bill Clinton was guilty of "throwing us under the bus," she was speaking for a huge constituency of queers who recognize how we were screwed over by the Clintons in the past and know not to trust any Clinton in the future.

Here is the list of former queer Edwards supporters now siding with the Obama campaign.
Below is the full List of former Edwards supporters who are now publicly supporting Obama as provided by Eric Stern:

Eric Stern, former political adviser to the John Edwards for President campaign, former National Stonewall Democrats executive director, former director of LGBT outreach for the Democratic National Committee (California)

David Mixner, writer, Democratic Party activist (New York)

Linda Elliott, member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign (Arizona)

Evan Low, council member for the city of Campbell, Calif.

David Garrity, vice chair of the Maine Democratic Party

Andy Szekeres, former Colorado Stonewall Democrats cochair, former Wisconsin LGBT field director, Kerry-Edwards (Colorado)

Kyle Bailey, former board member, National Stonewall Democrats, LGBT Caucus vice chair of Young Democrats of America, Chair of Atlanta Stonewall Democrats (Georgia)

Pam Cooke, National Stonewall Democrats board member; past president, Stonewall Democratic Club of Los Angeles (California)

Bill Hedrick, president of Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats

David Mariner, former Out for Howard Dean cochair (Maryland)

Jason Lansdale, past president of Central Ohio Stonewall Democrats

Daniel Hinkley, Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus president

Misty York, communications director for the Kentucky Fairness Alliance

Christopher Prevatt, chair of Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club (Orange County, Calif.)

Jim Maynard, president of Memphis Stonewall Democrats (Tennessee)

Daniel Graney, past president of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio (Texas)

Arthur Nunn, former Missouri for Edwards volunteer organizer and founder of LGBT for Edwards MySpace Group

Brad Reichard, public pelations executive (Massachusetts)

Michael Shannon, national security expert (D.C.)

Les Krambeal, board member for the National Stonewall Democrats, cochair, Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats

Robert D. Horvath Jr., member of the board of directors for the Mautner Project (D.C.)

Patrick J. Lyden, LGBT community activist (D.C.)

All organizations listed for identification purposes only.

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