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Dennis Kucinich on the Bailout

Posted by libhom Tuesday, September 30, 2008 2 comments

This is what a real Democrat sounds like. (from a Kucinich campaign email dated 9/30/08)

The Bailout and What's Next

Dear Friend,

Yesterday marked a day that will go down in history, when Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike took on full responsibility to protect the interests of taxpaying Americans, and defeated the deceptive bail out bill, defying the dictates of the Administration, the House Majority Leadership, the House Minority Leadership and the special interests on Wall Street.

Obviously Congress must consider quickly another course. There are immediate issues which demand attention and responsible action by the Congress so that the taxpayers, their assets, and their futures are protected.

We MUST do something to protect millions of Americans whose homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions are at risk in a financial system that has become seriously corrupted. We are told that we must stabilize markets in order for the people to be protected. I think we need to protect peoples' homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions, to order to stabilize the market.

We cannot delay taking action. But the action must benefit all Americans, not just a privileged few. Otherwise, more plans will fail, and the financial security of everyone will be at risk.

The $700 billion bailout would have added to our existing unbearable load of national debt, trade deficits, and the cost of paying for the war. It would have been a disaster for the American public and the government for decades and maybe even centuries to come.

To be sure, there are many different reasons why people voted against the bailout. The legislation did not regard in any meaningful way the plight of millions of Americans who are about to lose their homes. It did nothing to strengthen existing regulatory structures or impose new ones at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve in order to protect investors. There were no direct protections for bank depositors. There was nothing to stop further speculation, which is what brought us into this mess in the first place.

This was a bailout for some firms (and investors) on Wall Street, with the idea that in doing so there would be certain, unspecified, general benefits to the economy.

This is a perfect time to open a broader discussion about our financial system, especially our monetary system. Such a discussion is like searching for a needle in a haystack, and then, upon finding it, discussing its qualities at great length. Let me briefly describe the haystack instead.

Here is a very quick explanation of the $700 billion bailout within the context of the mechanics of our monetary and banking system:

The taxpayers loan money to the banks. But the taxpayers do not have the money. So we have to borrow it from the banks to give it back to the banks. But the banks do not have the money to loan to the government. So they create it into existence (through a mechanism called fractional reserve) and then loan it to us, at interest, so we can then give it back to them.

Confused?

This is the system. This is the standard mechanism used to expand the money supply on a daily basis not a special one designed only for the "$700 billion" transaction. People will explain this to you in many different ways, but this is what it comes down to.

The banks needed Congress' approval. Of course in this topsy turvy world, it is the banks which set the terms of the money they are borrowing from the taxpayers. And what do we get for this transaction? Long term debt enslavement of our country. We get to pay back to the banks trillions of dollars ($700 billion with compounded interest) and the banks give us their bad debt which they cull from everywhere in the world.

Who could turn down a deal like this? I did.

The globalization of the debt puts the United States in the position that in order to repay the money that we borrow from the banks (for the banks) we could be forced to accept International Monetary Fund dictates which involve cutting health, social security benefits and all other social spending in addition to reducing wages and exploiting our natural resources. This inevitably leads to a loss of economic, social and political freedom.

Under the failed $700 billion bailout plan, Wall Street's profits are Wall Street's profits and Wall Street's losses are the taxpayers' losses. Profits are capitalized. Losses are socialized.

We are at a teachable moment on matters of money and finance. In the coming days and weeks, I will share with you thoughts about what can be done to take us not just in a new direction, but in a new direction which is just.

Thank you,

Dennis
www.Kucinich.us

 

Support Cindy Sheehan!


Crowd shots from yesterdays union led protest in front of the New York Stock Exchange.

Corrupt Republicans, including Republicans who pretend they are Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, don't do anything out of the kindness of their hearts. They only care about themselves. Pelosi will continue to run roughshod over the Constitution, the middle class, the poor, queers, and people of color worldwide until it creates problems for her to do so.

The most effective way to make trouble for Pelosi these days is to support Cindy Sheehan! Make a donation. I just did.

Once you have done this, you can contact her and let her know that you have given money to the Sheehan campaign and why.

If you don't live in San Francisco, contact her at the House Speaker's website.

If you live in San Francisco and can vote that Rethug out of office, contact her at her House Member website.

Here are some great quotes from Ms. Sheehan about the bailout on the Market Watch website:

"This massive bailout is nothing short of a scheme by irresponsible corporate pirates to privatize gains and socialize debt," Sheehan said. "Such a move will only further add to the burden of individuals and families, who are already struggling to make ends meet. Not one of our tax dollars should go toward rescuing an industry that is failing because of unregulated lending and trading practices."
...
"My opponent has half a million dollars in stock invested in AIG alone, which is included in this so-called bailout," said Sheehan. "We need elected officials who will stand up for our interests, not protect their own pockets or the pockets of the very same people who got us into this mess in the first place."

"We are tired of giving golden parachutes to greedy corporate interests," said Sheehan. "We're standing up and saying, 'Not this time, not with my money and not with my consent.'"

Don't forget the Sheehan campaign website:

www.cindyforcongress.org/

 

A Day in the Life of a Typical Wall St. Exec or Broker

Posted by libhom Saturday, September 27, 2008 8 comments

Wall St. firms try to create this image of solidity and rectitude. However, having lived in NYC for a while, this is the image I have gotten of these people.

7:00-8:00 AM
Arrive at office. Eat free breakfast provided by employer. Skim quickly over financial sites.

8:00-10:00 AM
Snort coke and masturbate to Internet porn.

10:00 AM - 12:00 Noon
Make sales calls (broker). Attend meeting (executive).

12:00 Noon - 2:00 PM
Have long lunch with several alcoholic beverages with Wall St. colleagues.

2:00 - 4:00 PM
Snort coke and masturbate to Internet porn. Make an occasional trade to look busy. Fill out form to get reimbursed for lunch.

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Make sales calls (broker). Attend meeting (executive).

5:00 - 7:00 PM
Snort coke and masturbate to Internet porn. Take short breaks to eat free food provided by employer.

7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sober up somewhat on train to suburbs.

As you might guess, I'm not too shocked that so many investment banks and brokerage firms are in trouble.

 

The corporate media have been censoring discussion of John McCain's involvement in the Keating Five scandal. Here's a blog that features it.

www.mccainkeatingfive.com

This blog even discusses the censorship. It will stay at the top of my link list until after the election.

 

Ecoralguy has caught someone from the DOJ checking out his blog and other gay blogs. I hope this is just an employee taking a break from work, but the more likely explanation is that they are monitoring gay blogs. Whoever it was at the DOJ, they got to his blog via Always Gay, Always.

 

The Bailout Is Bullshit

Posted by libhom Thursday, September 25, 2008 4 comments

crowd shot from protestThis was a slogan from today's protest on Wall St. It concisely sums up the situation.

Before the specifics of the situation have been addressed, there is a general lesson that we need to be reminded of. Every time the Bush regime tries to rush Congress and the public into something, they are perpetrating a fraud. We have seen that with the Iraq war, and we also are experiencing it with their efforts to rush into a war with Iran despite the fact that US intelligence has shown that Iran is making no efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

I have to admit that, at first, I was buffaloed by the runs on poorly managed investment banks and the hysterical corporate media coverage. However, in a couple of days, I have been able to come up with an alternative proposal that makes more sense. Here it is:

1) There should be no government guarantees of mortgage paper.

2) The government should offer tens of billions of dollars in assistance to people having trouble paying predatory mortgages. (This would be cheaper than what the ongoing bailout will cost us by far.)

3) There should be a 2 year moratorium on foreclosures, and all foreclosures during the last year should be nullified.

4) There should be a 3 year freeze on all increases of interest rates for Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs). (Note that the Federal Reserve has been lowering interest rates for some time now. With reputable rather than predatory ARMs, interest rates and mortgage payments should be going down.)

5) After that, annual interest rate increases should be at no greater rate than the increase in Federal Discount Rates. (Obviously, the interest rates of the mortgages would need to be higher, but the increases should be limited.

If a lay person like me can come up with a plan that is cheaper, fairer, and better for our economy than the one that the Bush regime is selling, then that plan should be dismissed. If you knew more about the architect of the plan, Treasury Secretary Paulson, you would have even more reason to be suspicious. Naomi Klein on yesterday's Democracy Now! (bolding mine):

NAOMI KLEIN: You know, Amy, I don’t think we can stress this enough. Henry Paulson is one of the key people, the top people, responsible for creating the crisis that he is now claiming he will solve, you know, and this is—if we think about the 9/11 analogy and, you know, the state of shock that Americans were in after 9/11 and the emergence of Rudy Giuliani as the savior—and, you know, people have so much regret about that. And in the book, I write about this as the state of regression that we go into when we’re frightened. And I think Henry Paulson has really been cast in this role as an economic Rudy Giuliani, saving the day, impartial, bipartisan, a strong leader.

I found this article in BusinessWeek that ran when Paulson was appointed to the Treasury, and I just want to read you one sentence, because I think it’s all we need to know about Henry Paulson. This is from BusinessWeek, when he got the appointment as Treasury Secretary in 2006. The headline of the article is “Mr. Risk Goes to Washington.” It says, “Think of Paulson as Mr. Risk. He’s one of the key architects of a more daring Wall Street, where securities firms are taking greater and greater chances in [their] pursuit of profits. By some key measures, the securities industry is more leveraged now than it was at the height of the 1990s boom.”

Then it goes on to say that when Paulson took over Goldman Sachs in 1999, they had $20 billion in debts. When he—in these high-risk gambles. When he left, they had $100 billion, which means he took their risk level from $20 billion to $100 billion. So it is absolutely no exaggeration to say that Henry Paulson, far from speaking for Main Street, is actually bailing out his colleagues for some of the very debts that he himself accumulated. This is an extraordinary conflict of interest.

It gets even creepier:
AMY GOODMAN: It’s interesting who Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is, served as an assistant to Richard Nixon’s assistant, John Ehrlichman, and moved right from there to Goldman Sachs, then became head of it when, well, the now-Senator and then-Governor Corzine left Goldman Sachs.

It's beginning to sound like Paulson should be facing an FBI investigation.

Here are some more shots from today's Wall St. protest. It is somewhat comforting to know that there are people who care enough about this to take action and who are smart enough to figure out that this bailout is a total scam.

protest sign that says, Jump you fuckers
Sorry that the pic is fuzzy. The sign says, "Jump, You Fuckers," which expresses the sentiments of a lot of Americans these days. (Update: Get Off This! has a better picture taken by Democracy Now! alum, Jeremy Schahill.)

crowd
Here's another crowd shot.

The following picture is of a small group of people doing street theater under the name "No Millionaire Left Behind." I think the guy on the right is really cute. Another guy from the group (not pictured) kept saying, "Bring us your blank checks."

photo of street theater group


 

Whenever I see Log Cabin Republicans at a queer pride event, I simultaneously cringe and note the irony. It is no secret that the GOP is literally a heterosexist, white supremacist, misogynistic, AIDSphobic, and Christian supremacist hate group. I also never forget to note their faces. I don't want to accidentally date or socialize with any of those bigots.

If you are tempted to claim that I am bigoted or intolerant because I don't want any voluntary social interactions with people who are bigoted and intolerant, you really need to take a basic course in logic. If you would seriously and sincerely dispute the fact that the Republican Party is a heterosexist, white supremacist, misogynistic, AIDSphobic, and Christian supremacist hate group, you are so severely detached from reality that I would recommend that you check yourself into an inpatient psychiatric care facility. I'm not joking.

Thanks to From the Left, I have found out that John McCain's Senate Chief of Staff Mark Buse has been outed and given a Roy Cohn Award by Mike Rogers at Blog Active. I have no way of verifying whether the outing is correct, but I know one thing for sure.

The queer community should boycott dating, sex, or any other social interaction with that homophobe.

Buse has gone beyond merely being part of a homophobic hate group, the GOP. He is the Chief of Staff for a vicious and fanatical homophobe, John McCain. It goes way beyond heterosexist comments "Keating Five" McCain makes. His overall record is sickeningly bigoted against queers.

There literally is no possible way to work as McCain's chief of staff without deliberately promoting discrimination and violence against queers. Regardless of his sexual orientation and gender identity, Mark Buse shares in personal responsibility for every heterosexist hate crime. He also shares responsibility for every case where someone is fired from a job or thrown out of a home because they are queer. It is equally important and valid to point out that there is no possible way to be McCain's chief of staff without deliberately promoting discrimination against women and people of color, regardless again of sexual orientation or gender identity.

There is no reason why people who endanger and attack the queer community should be able to expect companionship or participation in that very same community. Some pictures of Buse are available here, here, and here. That way you can avoid any kind of social interaction with him. I just don't have the stomach to put his hateful and bigoted mug on my blog.

Update
Three people have made comments regarding this post that are racist, heterosexist, Christian supremacist, misogynistic, and AIDSphobic in nature. Those comments have been deleted. The comment guideline from the comment form follows:

heterosexist, racist, misogynistic or otherwise bigoted comments are subject to deletion

 

Sarah Palin is hardly the most sympathetic figure, given her fanatical heterosexism and her militant, Christian fundamentalism. However, I can't help notice a pattern of sexist treatment of her by John McCain and his campaign.

The Republican presidential nominee's campaign set the tone early.

Look at this headline:
Sarah Palin, Laura Bush, Cindy McCain meet in Minneapolis


WTF?????

Sarah Palin's husband should have been meeting with Ms. Bush and Ms. McCain. Talk about inappropriate and disrespectful!

The blatantly sexist behavior by the GOP during the RNC didn't stop there. The fact that Palin and her own speechwriters did not have anything to do with the writing of her own RNC acceptance speech tells us a lot about the contempt with which she is being treated by the "Keating Five" McCain campaign.

It also was painfully obvious during her interview by ABC News' Charlie Gibson that Palin was expected to regurgitate talking points rather than actually express herself. This resulted in her having to make a fool of herself on Iran.

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don't think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

GIBSON: So if we wouldn't second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would cooperative or agree with that.

PALIN: I don't think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right.

PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.

I actually had a bit of sympathy for that heterosexist bigot under the circumstances.

Despite McCain's transparently obvious mental difficulties, it is Sarah Palin that his campaign is protecting in the upcoming Vice Presidential debate. From the New York Times 9/20/08: (hat tip to Progressive Eruptions)
The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates, which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

Last, and creepiest, is the behavior of the candidate himself. "Keating Five" McCain hugs Palin way too long and way too closely at public appearances. What we have is a doddering old man sexually harassing someone he chose to be a weak heartbeat away from the presidency. It really is sickening.

The disrespectful treatment of Palin is backfiring on the GOP. It sends a message that McCain and his own people don't take her seriously. How can they expect the voters to do so under these circumstances.

 

Democracy Now Update

Posted by libhom 2 comments

The false charges against the Democracy Now! journalists and other journalists have been dropped by the city of St. Paul now that the RNC is over. This is similar to a pattern during the 2004 RNC in New York City.

In 2004, outlandish criminal charges were leveled against protesters in order to stifle dissent. The charges had no chance of holding up in court, but they did function as a method of preventative detention, and they were dropped after the event was over.

Similarly, the 2008 charges against journalists were used to prevent coverage of police misconduct during the Convention. It would be interesting to know if the false charges against protesters this year will be chucked similarly.

Hat tip to Ten Percent for pointing to the Star Tribune story about the $10 million the RNC paid St. Paul to cover legal costs from police misconduct. The fact that the city of St. Paul demanded this payment is the equivalent of a signed confession that they intended to break the law repeatedly during the convention.

Here's the Democracy Now! press release with details on the charges against journalists being dropped:

September 19, 2008
Charges Dropped Against DN! Journalists–Investigation Needed

The St. Paul City Attorney’s office announced Friday it will not prosecute Democracy Now! journalists Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also issued a statement Friday that “the city will decline to prosecute misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists arrested during the Republican National Convention.”

Both announcements come two weeks after the conclusion of the Republican National Convention where over 40 journalists were arrested while reporting on protests taking place outside the convention center.

Upon learning of the news, Democracy Now! Host, Amy Goodman said, “It’s good that these false charges have finally been dropped, but we never should have been arrested to begin with. These violent and unlawful arrests disrupted our work and had a chilling effect on the reporting of dissent. Freedom of the press is also about the public’s right to know what is happening on their streets. There needs to be a full investigation of law enforcement activities during the convention.”

Goodman was arrested while asking police to release Kouddous and Salazar who had been violently arrested while reporting on street demonstrations. After being handcuffed and pushed to the ground, Goodman reiterated that she was was a credentialed reporter. Secret Service then ripped the credential from around her neck.

During demonstrations on the first day of the convention police used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and force against protesters and journalists. Several dozen demonstrators were arrested, as was a photographer for the Associated Press.

John Lundquist, attorney for the Democracy Now! journalists, said, “The most notable lapse by law enforcement during the RNC was the record-breaking number of journalists indiscriminately arrested and detained for doing nothing more than performing in the best tradition of reporters who gather the news.”

In the weeks after the journalist arrests, tens of thousands of members of the public contacted St. Paul officials to protest the unlawful arrests of working journalists. Goodman said, “We were deeply moved by the outpouring of support. We thank everyone who called and wrote first to have us freed and then to have the charges dropped. We thank everyone who stood up for press freedom and the First Amendment.”

The YouTube video of Goodman’s arrest was the most watched YouTube video during the convention week. It has now been viewed over 830,000 times. Salazar’s video of her own violent arrest is also available on YouTube.

Time to Spread the Award

Posted by libhom Saturday, September 20, 2008 7 comments

billiante weblog premio 2008
Thanks to Christopher at From the Left for choosing mine as one of his seven blogs to give out the Brillante Weblog Award. His blog is a great source for news on the political campaigns and the views of Obama supporters. It also is a great place to vent when frustrated by the obnoxiousness of the right.

I accept this most awesome award

The rules for this award are as follows:

(1) Put the logo on your blog

(2) Add a link to the person who awarded you

(3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs

(4) Add links to those blogs on yours

(5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

I hereby nominate the following 7 blogs for their excellence and commitment to blogging:

Some Notes on Living:
A collective effort of transgender bloggers, Some Notes on Living has excellent analysis and information on trans issues, other queer issues, and the world in general.

Ten Percent:
This site from the UK has insight, analysis, and righteous outrage at injustice from a non-sectarian, anti-capitalist perspective. In other words, you will be exposed to news and views that get zero play in the corporate media of the US.

Queeristan:
This is a blog by queer South Asians (desis) who provide you an opportunity to learn about queer life in South Asia and queer immigrant life. Unless you are very lucky and well informed, you will get perspectives that are completely unavailable in most US media, queer or non-queer. The writing is quite lively too.

Granny Peace Brigade:
Not all blogs are about sitting in front of keyboards. The Grannies give you insight into what actual street activism is like while promoting their pro-peace point of view. They inspire me to get off my ass.

GDAEman:
This blog deserves a lot more attention. The insights and analysis on GDAEman give real substance to progressive concerns and frustrations.

Marylyn's Non-Violent Planet News Page:
Non-violence certainly deserves a better hearing than it is getting these days. Marylyn's blog helps to address. She deserves special credit for persevering with grace in spite of harassment from gun nut trolls.

Pagan Sphinx:
Arts and politics don't always mix well on blogs, but they do quite well here. Her action orientation is refreshing, compared to a blogosphere where action often gets left out of the analysis.

Gail's Tails:
The voices of Greens don't get much attention in our society, and that is a shame because they have a lot of important things to say. Gail's Tails says those things quite well. While the corporate media tries to keep you from knowing anything about Cynthia McKinney's presidential campaign, this blog will let you know why people are supporting the only woman presidential candidate and one of only two liberals running (the other being Ralph Nader).

Atheist Revolution:
Want to know more about atheist perspectives and atheist activism? This is the best blog I've seen to go as a starting place. It also gives people who are atheists excellent information and online activism opportunities.

To be honest, I couldn't be bothered to go through the painfully difficult task of trying to figure out which of these blogs are better. So, the order presented has no meaning whatsoever.

Ordinarily I avoid anything remotely memish, but this is a great way for people to publicize excellent liberal to progressive blogs. I'm hoping this will do a lot to promote community building among left of center bloggers.

Another blog I would have listed, if I hadn't seen that it already got this award is Dusty's.

It's My Right to Be Left of Center

 

The Republicans get more sickening with each passing day. From The Color of Change:

It's the ugliest attack on voting rights we've seen in recent history--if you live in Michigan and you're in danger of losing your home to foreclosure, Republicans will try to take away your right to vote.

McCain's response? Silence. Like Bush in 2000 and 2004, he's trying to keep a safe distance from these tactics, while benefiting from them. McCain could end this with a phone call. But he won't.

It's voter-suppression at its worst. They're taking advantage of folks falling on hard times and using it for political gain--kicking people while they're down. It's time to hold McCain publicly accountable for this strategy.

...

For years, Republicans have engaged in "caging"--challenging the eligibility of voters on election day to suppress turnout and intimidate voters. They'll often try to reject voters by claiming they don't live at the address where they're registered. This year, they've taken it to a new low--the chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County, Michigan said last week, "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses."

In other words, they'll target every voter whose house is on a foreclosure list, and challenge their voting rights on election day. But just because your name is on a list, it doesn't mean that you've lost your home or moved. In fact, many homeowners stay in their homes for months after the foreclosure process has begun, and some people are able to catch up on their payments and reverse the process.

So why are Republicans illegally targeting homeowners who've had a tough time under Bush's economy? Because they know they're likely to vote for Democrats, and for Obama for President. In Michigan, over 60% of sub-prime loans were made to African-Americans.5 And in general, people who've been hit hard by the economy are less likely to vote for Republicans. This tactic won't just affect struggling homeowners--it will cause longer lines and delays at the polls for everyone that lives in a neighborhood with a high number of foreclosures. And that's the point.

The Color of Change has an online petition calling for McCain to condemn these tactics and for the RNC to put a stop to them.

Please Sign the Petition!

It isn't difficult to see why the GOP wants to keep people who have lost their homes from voting after nearly eight years of Bush's occupation of the White House. The fact that people defrauded in the mortgage crisis were disproportionately non-white plays a role as well.

One of the most common methods the GOP uses to steal elections is voter suppression. Fraudulent voter challenges are one method. Arranging things so that there aren't enough voting booths for students and people of color also is a common Republican tactic.

It's becoming obvious that election protection is just as much an issue this time as it was in 2000 and 2004. We better wake up and take what is happening seriously.

 

Brave New Films has a website, TheRealMcCain.com, where they have issued a call for John McCain to release his medical records.

Here is the description that goes with their open letter. So far, over 37,000 people, including over 1600 doctors have signed it.

John McCain has not yet released his medical records to the public. McCain is 72 years old, and has been diagnosed with invasive melanoma. In May of this year, a small group of selected reporters were allowed to review 1,173 pages of McCain's medical records that covered only the last eight years, and were allowed only three hours to do so. John McCain's health is an issue of profound importance. We call on John McCain to issue a full, public disclosure of all of his medical records, available for the media and members of the general public to review.

They also have made a YouTube video to argue their case.



Maybe the medical records would explain why McCain behaves so strangely. I should note that "Keating Five" McCain still hasn't been tested for senility by an independent physician.

 

"Keating Five" McCain, Palin, Heart, and Dishonesty

Posted by libhom Tuesday, September 09, 2008 6 comments

"Keating Five" gives us yet another reason not to trust him.

From MTV.com 9/9/08:

Republican nominees John McCain and Sarah Palin have ignored Heart's request to stop using their song "Barracuda" at political events, CNN reports.

On Tuesday morning (September 9), the 1977 hit played before McCain and Palin showed up for an outdoor rally in Lebanon, Ohio. Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson initially complained when it was played at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, before Palin's appearance last Wednesday and after McCain's speech on Thursday. Palin gained the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" while on her high school basketball team, and Republicans are likely using the rock anthem to remind voters of the Alaska governor's reputation as a tenacious leader.

The band responded to the initial use of the song at the RNC in a press release:
Heart Condemns the Use of the Song Barracuda at the Republican Convention [ 9/5/2008 ]

Rock Group Heart Condemns The Use of The Song Barracuda at The Republican Convention

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have informed the McCain/Palin Campaign that Universal Music Publishing and Sony BMG have sent a cease-and-desist notice to not use one of Heart's classic songs "Barracuda," as the congratulatory theme for Sarah Palin.
The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission.

"We have asked the Republican campaign not to use our music.

We hope our wishes will be honored."

If the McCain/Palin campaign had stopped using the song at that point, there wouldn't be that much of an ethical concern. However, continuing to use the song delibiberately misleads the people attending their campaign events. As the MTV.com article noted, the purpose of using the song was to build Palin's image. But, since that song is being used over the strong objections of the creators, the image is a lie.

This provides a simple and clear example of the deceptive and dirty tactics that have permeated the McCain campaign. On Saturday, I was watching the Weather Channel for information on Tropical Storm Hanna, and the same John McCain ad ran over, and over.

McCain's campaign made all sorts of accusations against Obama and other Senators which were not only false, but extremely hypocritical. "Keating Five" McCain actually attacked other politicians for supposedly wanting too much government spending. Yet, McCain has pushed harder than any other Senator for continuing and expanding the hugely expensive war of colonial occupation against Iraq.

It gets stranger. Even though McCain has insisted on supporting the hugely expensive Iraq War, the ominous voice over jerk said, "No Balanced Budgets" when talking about Obama. Never mind that "Keating Five" McCain also insists on perpetuating Bush's budget busting tax cuts for the rich.

The ad made no attempt to tell the viewer what John McCain actually plans on doing once president. It just played on fear to make people reluctant to vote for Obama and other Democrats.

Under these circumstances, it is easy to see why members of Heart want nothing to do with disreputable people like McCain and Palin. More from MTV.com:
Later, in an e-mail to EW.com, the Wilson sisters said that "Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. ... While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."


The McCain/Palin campaign's response has been lawyerly, as exemplified in the MTV.com paraphrase.
The Republican Party did in fact obtain the necessary license to use the song, which can be played when a venue pays a blanket fee to ASCAP, the organization that protects music copyrights.

This too is hypocritical, given the GOP's constant demonizing of lawyers.

 

"Keating Five" McCain: A Bloodthirsty Warmonger

Posted by libhom Sunday, September 07, 2008 4 comments

John McCain really is dangerous. Hat tip to Gold Star Mom Speaks Out:



The only thing the video gets wrong is the number of Iraqis killed in the war. The correct number is over 1.2 million. Just Foreign Policy explains the numbers and offers a petition to Congress to stop the war on Iraq.

You might also be interested in an excellent article - John McCain: A History of Corruption

Corruption and war mongering are closely tied with McCain and a lot of other rightist politicians. President Eisenhower is famous for warning us about the Military Industrial Complex. These days, that complex has grown catastrophically. Corrupt politicians like "Keating Five" McCain support war, after war, after war and are handsomely rewarded with literally millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the war contracting corporations and the rich people who own them.

 

Atheists in the US Have More in Common Than One Might Think

Posted by libhom Saturday, September 06, 2008 5 comments

I was reading the comments in the following blog posting: Atheist Revolution: A Different Kind of Atheist Outreach. A common thread was that atheists don't have that much in common beyond a lack of belief in a deity.

This view ignores context and takes for granted many things about how atheists are treated that I don't think atheists should accept so passively. In this and most cultures in the world, there are some bigger things about being an atheist than merely a lack of belief in a deity.

1) Unless you became an atheist because of following an ideology like Marxism or Objectivism, you have questioned and rejected a belief system that has brainwashed you since birth, using some kind of critical thinking. (Even if you were lucky enough to have atheist parents, the rest of the society had been doing serious brainwashing.) Critical thinking is actively discouraged not only by the church, but also by the corporations and the government.

2) Being willing to accept something as absurd as religion means that you can accept anything, as long as some authority figures have told you to. Being an atheist means that you have the capacity to disregard what authority figures tell you to think. This is part of why corporate media are so hostile to atheists.

3) Atheists are often despised in this society and certainly not treated as equals. We are used as scapegoats by militant, Christian fundamentalists and their corporate enablers for nearly every problem in our society, despite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that religion and corporate power are the main causes of the vast majority of problems in our society.

4) Atheists don't have refuge in the cheapest and most irrational justification for our behavior, the notion that a good or bad deity is responsible for it.

5) Atheists don't believe in an afterlife, which makes us more difficult to manipulate and which makes it more difficult for us to accept injustice in the here and now. Accepting that when you die you rot means that our lives and the lives of others are much more important than they would be in most religious world views.

6) The gradual shift away from democracy in this country to a hybrid plutocracy/theocracy endangers us specifically as atheists, although we certainly are not the only people who are endangered (e.g., queers, feminist women, labor organizers, non-Christian religionists, liberals, progressives, Marxists, etc. are other such groups).

Atheism and atheists are so seldom mentioned in our media accept as public enemies that we often forget our commonalities, even if we are aware of them in the first place.

 

McCain sure gets confused a lot. He also should make an effort to try to learn a little about South Asia and the Middle East, given their strategic importance.

McCain, "We Should Be Able to Deliver Bottled, Hot Water to Dehydrated Babies"


McCain Butchers Foreign Affairs


Randi Rhodes: Senile McCain loses it at biker rally


Help John McCain Count His Houses


McCain Thinks Iraq Borders Pakistan


McCain's senile moment: thinks Karzai is President of IRAQ! (This one goes back to 2003.)



He also has issues with women.

McCain Jokes About Exploiting Wife for Topless Biker Beauty Pageant:


 

More on Human Rights Abuses During the RNC

Posted by libhom Friday, September 05, 2008 1 comments

Here are some of the many condemnations of the wide array of human rights abuses during the Republican National Infomercial...er...Convention.

Use of Force Against RNC Protesters “Disproportionate,” Charges Amnesty International (9/5/08)

ACLU Renews Its Call For Investigation Into Civil Liberties Violations At RNC (9/4/2008)

Greens condemn brutal 'police state' raids, arrests of peaceful protesters and journalists outside the GOP convention in St. Paul (9/2/08)

National Lawyers Guild Seeks Judicial Review of Preventative Detentions Ordered by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher (8/31/08)

There is some good coverage of the clampdown on the First Amendment in the independent media as well.

LiveWire - Breaking news from the streets (Note: Link is to home page. I don't know if or where this may be archived later.)
Twin Cities Indymedia

St. Paul in the Hot Seat over Journalist Arrests
by Timothy Karr
Huffington Post (9/5/08)

Police detain ex-DI writer, other journalists covering Republican Convention protests
by Danny Valentine
The Daily Iowan (9/5/08)

The Poor People's March
By Lindsay Beyerstein
Majikthise (9/3/08)

Journalists including DN! producer targeted by FBI in St. Paul
by Mary Turck
LA Indymedia (9/3/08)

Peaceful RNC Protesters Shot with Rubber Bullets/Tear Gas.
by Jodin Morey
ImpeachForPeace.org (9/2/08)

Democracy Now! has done some of the best reporting on RNC human rights violations, and three of their producers still face criminal charges for it. The attacks on freedoms we Americans used to take for granted are happening on a regular basis, and most people don't even hear or read about it.

 

Tracking the Three Named Storms Out There

Posted by libhom Thursday, September 04, 2008 6 comments

If you want to know the latest on Hanna, Ike, and Josephine, these three widgets from the NOAA should be a start.

Hanna:


Ike:


Josephine:


Global Warming sure is making the weather more bizarre, uncertain, and unpredictable.

 

Sarah Palin holding something and looking out of it
Photo: triciaward

From the Huffington Post:

When Chuck Todd asked her if this was the most qualified woman the Republicans could nominate, Noonan responded, "The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives. Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and that's not what they're good at, they blow it."

Murphy characterized the choices as "cynical" and "gimmicky."

For those unfamiliar with the cast of characters, Peggy Noonan was a notorious Reagan bullshitter/speech writer. She now propagandizes for Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. Mike Murphy is a Time columnist who used to work for "Keating Five" McCain. Apparently, both of them thought that taping was over.

 

From Today's Democracy Now! show:

AMY GOODMAN: Police in St. Paul are being accused of continuing to intimidate a group a video makers that traveled to the Twin Cities to document police misconduct during the Republican National Convention.

On Saturday, police raided a home where members of I-Witness Video collective were staying. Members of the group were detained for over two hours. We talked about that on Monday.

Well, yesterday, police armed with batons and battering ram entered a St. Paul office building that housed the offices of I-Witness Video. Police claimed they were investigating reports of anarchists holding hostages in the building. Members of I-Witness Video accuse the police of blatant harassment and of using the bogus hostage claim to seek entry to their office.

Even the Associated Press joins Democracy Now! in having a journalist illegally detained.

Protesters have had to go to court to try to get the police and sheriffs to stop stealing video cameras and cellphones which can be used to document police abuses. These actions demonstrated intent by local "law enforcement" to break the law.

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press 8/31/08:
Two organizations said today they filed an emergency motion with the court Saturday to try to prevent police from seizing video equipment and cell phones used to document officers' conduct.

The move came after the Ramsey County sheriff's office raided on Friday night a center used by protest groups in St. Paul, and three Minneapolis homes Saturday. Five people were arrested. Sheriff Bob Fletcher said they are key leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee, a self-described anarchist group.

The National Lawyers Guild and Communities United Against Police Brutality filed the motion late Saturday, according to a press release.

The release said "examples of police interference with the right to document their conduct" included seizure of equipment in Minneapolis from three journalists with Glass Bead Collective and targeting of journalists during a raid in St. Paul on Saturday.

The National Lawyers Guild has been active in opposing these attacks on our constitutional rights, as can be seen in two recent press releases.

8/31/08
National Lawyers Guild Seeks Judicial Review of Preventative Detentions Ordered by Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher

8/30/08
National Lawyers Guild Condemns Fabrications of Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher and Preventative Detention Arrests

The array of human rights violations in Minnesota this week is disgusting. Although the Republican Sheriff of Ramsey County has been the instigator, Democratic politicians in the area have been way too willing to go along with these attacks on our constitution.

 

Palin the Crusader and Understanding the Iraq War

Posted by libhom Wednesday, September 03, 2008 3 comments

photo of Sarah Palin
Photo: sloomis08

This item is appearing in many news sources, but I'm quoting the Iranian Press TV to make a point.

Like US President George W. Bush, Governor Palin attempted to justify her policies by claiming they were divinely-ordered during a speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God church in June.

"Pray for our military. Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right for this country - that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," the Alaska governor said in her address posted on the website of the Wasilla Assembly of God.

We tend to forget that when militant, Christian fundamentalists make nutty statements like this, they tend to be more widely publicized in predominantly Muslim countries than they are here. They reinforce the perception that America is run by Christian Crusaders who are bent on destroying Islam and subjugating or killing Muslims.

There is a certain degree of accuracy to that perception.
Many opponents of the Iraq war of occupation are determined to see one main or exclusive cause of America's involvement in this seemingly permanent nightmare. However, in reality, there have been several causes of the US entry and stubborn refusal to end the Iraq War.

The Influence of Militant Christian Fundamentalists:
Although the corporate media tend to deny or downplay this, Bush is a Christian extremist of the same ilk as Sarah Palin, James Dobson, or Pat Robertson. While most of Bush's advisers don't share Bush's religious extremism, that desire to be a religious Crusader played a key role in motivating Bush to get us into Iraq in the first place. The desire of militant Christians like Palan to convert or conquer Muslims plays a huge role in forming a political base for the war.

Greed and Corruption:
Let's not forget that Bush and Cheney own oil stocks and that Cheney had strong ties to Halliburton (which then owned Iraq mercenary company KBR). Not only does Cheney own Halliburton stock, Cheney received a golden parachute from that company for the first years while he was occupying the office of Vice President. Also, war profiteers and Big Oil give a ton of money to pro-war politicians.

The Desire for More Global Power:
This is where the infamous neocons come in. It was believed that grabbing Iraq would give this country absolute control over Mideast Oil, which was, in turn, believed to keep the economies of other nations at our mercy. This hasn't turned out so well. The debt from the war has made the US largely subservient to China, and overextending our military dramatically reduced the US's influence over Latin America and Russia.

The Pro-Likud Lobby:
Mislabeled as the "pro-Isreal lobby," this is a coalition of conservative Jews who equate Likud's rightist policies with Israeli security along with Christian fundamentalists who hope that supporting Likud's provocative policies will result in a catastrophic war for Israel which will lead to the Apocalypse. It should be noted that most of these fundies are quite antisemitic when talking among themselves.

A variety of forces resulted in getting us into the war, and those same forces are working to continue it indefinitely. It hampers anti Iraq war analysis to ignore the role that the Christian Taliban, including Palin, play in perpetuating the Iraqtastrophe.

 

More info is becoming available on the illegal detentions and charges against Democracy Now! producers:



Hat tip to Product Shop NYC.

I could clearly hear her identify herself as press. That seemed to encourage acts of brutality against her. There is no excuse for what happened to her.

The corporate media are generally censoring the story. I wish I could say I was surprised.

 

Video of Amy Goodman being arrested for pleading on behalf of her producers who were illegally arrested by corrupt, Republican controlled "law enforcement."



There has been a massive police effort to stamp out any protests during the Republican National Convention.

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis - Glenn Greenwald (hat tip to Where's the Outrage?)

The corporate media and corrupt government officials are trying to spin these attacks on our Constitution and our freedoms as Americans by falsely claiming that the people arrested and detained are all anarchists bent on violence. Glenn Greenwald (a libertarian) and Jane Hamsher (a Democrat) were among those illegally detained.

VIDEO: “Food Not Bombs” Protesters Raided in Minneapolis
By: Jane Hamsher Saturday August 30, 2008 10:53 am

If you have actually seen the Food Not Bombs people at one of their efforts to feed the homeless, it is obvious that they are among the sweetest and gentlest people imaginable. Portraying them as violent would be laughable if not for the fact that it is being used as a pretext for illegal detainment and kidnapping by the Ramsey County Sheriffs.

Three other people (who are not anarchists, by the way) who were illegally detained by "law enforcement" (two with fraudulent felony charges still pending) were Democracy Now! producers, including Amy Goodman. Being members of the press did not exempt people from the attacks on civil liberties. Here's the latest press release from the Democracy Now! website:

September 01, 2008
Update: Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 1, 2008

Contact: Mike Burke

UPDATE

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

Goodman Charged with Obstruction; Felony Riot Charges Pending Against Kouddous and Salazar

ST. PAUL--Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and producers Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar have all been released from police custody in St. Paul following their illegal arrest by Minneapolis Police on Monday afternoon.

All three were violently manhandled by law enforcement officers. Abdel Kouddous was slammed against a wall and the ground, leaving his arms scraped and bloodied. He sustained other injuries to his chest and back. Salazar’s violent arrest by baton-wielding officers, during which she was slammed to the ground while yelling, “I’m Press! Press!,” resulted in her nose bleeding, as well as causing facial pain. Goodman’s arm was violently yanked by police as she was arrested.

On Tuesday, Democracy Now! will broadcast video of these arrests, as well as the broader police action. These will also be available on: www.democracynow.org

Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the unlawful detention of Kouddous and Salazar who were arrested while they carried out their journalistic duties in covering street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman’s crime appears to have been defending her colleagues and the freedom of the press.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told Democracy Now! that Kouddous and Salazar were arrested on suspicion of rioting, a felony. While the three have been released, they all still face charges stemming from their unlawful arrest. Kouddous and Salazar face pending charges of suspicion of felony riot, while Goodman has been officially charged with obstruction of a legal process and interference with a “peace officer.”

Democracy Now! forcefully rejects all of these charges as false and an attempt at intimidation of these journalists. We demand that the charges be immediately and completely dropped.

Democracy Now! stands by Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and condemns this action by Twin Cities’ law enforcement as a clear violation of the freedom of the press and the First Amendment rights of these journalists.

During the demonstration in which the Democracy Now! team was arrested, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force against protesters and journalists. Several dozen demonstrators were also arrested during this action, including a photographer for the Associated Press.

Amy Goodman is one of the most well-known and well-respected journalists in the United States. She has received journalism’s top honors for her reporting and has a distinguished reputation of bravery and courage. The arrest of Goodman, Kouddous and Salazar and the subsequent criminal charges and threat of charges are a transparent attempt to intimidate journalists.

Democracy Now! is a nationally-syndicated public TV and radio program that airs on over 700 radio and TV stations across the US and the globe.

Video of Amy Goodman’s Arrest: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYjyvkR0bGQ


 

Brokaw Gets Partisan

Posted by libhom Monday, September 01, 2008 2 comments

Tom Brokaw seems to think it is his job to repeat the McCain campaign talking point that no one can ever legitimately criticize "Keating Five" McCain, one of the most corrupt politicians in the history of the Senate, because he was a POW.

From an 8/29/08 Action Alert from Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting:

During NBC's August 26 convention coverage, Brokaw--the current host of Meet the Press--weighed in on Hillary Clinton's speech: “She'll be tough on John McCain, but he is her friend, and you have to be careful about how you go after an American Vietnam War icon, really.”

The next night, Brokaw appeared on MSNBC to discuss Bill Clinton's convention speech:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Tom, first, what did you make of the acknowledgment of the service of John McCain in very glowing terms?

BROKAW: Well, look, for Bill Clinton, and for anyone in the Democratic Party, for that matter, it's a very tricky case taking on John McCain and trying to rough him up. When John McCain was sitting in a prison in Hanoi, Bill Clinton was writing letters to his ROTC commander and trying to get out of the draft, which he did successfully. It was an issue that he was really able to manage when he was running for president. But at the same time, that's still a very short fuse in America, as you know, Chris.

Brokaw continued:
But I think especially you have to be careful about how you go after John McCain because of that Vietnam experience. Jim Webb has written in his latest book, A Time to Fight, and repeated to me again just yesterday, the Democratic Party still has a long way to go to win the confidence of Vietnam veterans, and they don't want to squander that here in the big hall.

Because Brokaw is a frequent analyst on NBC and MSNBC, and the host of the network's Sunday talkshow, his message is an important--and troubling--one. Nothing in Hillary or Bill Clinton's speeches suggested any criticism of McCain as a Vietnam veteran--in fact, they both praised his service to his country--so Brokaw presumably isn't referring to Swift Boat-style attacks on his military record, but to criticism of McCain in general. Exactly how “careful” does Brokaw believe Democrats must be in challenging their political opponent in a presidential election?

ACTION:
Ask Tom Brokaw to clarify his warning that Democrats have to be "careful about" criticizing Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

CONTACT:
Meet the Press
Webform: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6872152/
Phone: 202-885-4598

This brings up the old issue of media ownership too. NBC is owned by General Electric, which is a military contractor. A war monger like John McCain would be more profitable than any of the other candidates running for president this year.

 

This just in from It's My Right to Be Left of Center:

Meanwhile, bus companies that were contracted to haul po' folks out of the area are NOT living up to their contracts. Sending only a couple hundred bus's when they are liable for 700.

Such bullshittery. Its fucking maddening.

Privatization isn't just corrupt and inefficient. It can be dangerous.

 

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