Hat Tip to Boycott Mormon Businesses:
This video makes an important point that goes beyond the Mormons. Churches don't have to make any financial disclosures to the IRS or the general public. Anyone who thinks that churches are run honestly should really start asking questions.
Hat Tip to Boycott Mormon Businesses:
Orcinus has an excellent posting on the motives for the GOP trying to delay the nomination of Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis. The posting does an excellent job of addressing the merits of Ms. Solis, who certainly should be confirmed.
What I would like to focus on is the tactic being used to prevent her confirmation: anonymous holds. From the Pasadena Star News article referenced in Orcinus.
Democrats have announced that a Republican senator is using a parliamentary procedure to delay Solis' confirmation, the Washington paper Congress Daily reported Friday.
The anonymous hold - as the tactic is known - was placed because of Solis' support for "card check" legislation aimed at facilitating union organization and another bill regarding pay-discrimination, and for non-responsive answers during her confirmation hearing, according to GOP aides, the paper reported.
They also provide a description of the anonymous hold.
A senatorial hold is an informal practice that allows a single senator to anonymously delay a vote on a nomination or bill by telling Senate leadership of his or her opposition, and potential to filibuster efforts to move the legislation or nomination forward. The hold can, technically, be overridden by a vote of 60 senators, like any filibuster. However, such votes are rare as the senatorial hold is considered one of the prerogatives of each senator.
Setting aside the question of why only one Senator can block a nomination, there is an aspect of this that is so blatantly corrupt, it deserves discussion and condemnation.
There is no legitimate reason for these holds to be anonymous.
The Senate belongs to the American people, not just the Senators. The Senators work for the American people, not the other way around. Nominations for cabinet level agencies are the public's business. Conducting the process in a secretive fashion violates our right to know what is going on in our own Senate. Keeping legitimately classified information secret on national security grounds is one thing. But, engaging in a cover up on a matter that should be subject to the utmost public scrutiny is another.
This practice shows that the Senate considers the voters to be lower than the scum they scrape off of their shoes. There needs to be a major ethics push in Washington to clear out all of this corrupt nonsense.
Ms. McCaskill is speaking for every middle class American with an IQ over 60 when she calls for limiting salaries of all employees from companies receiving financial bailout money to the same salary as the President of the United States. The big banks and brokerage firms have been misused for all sorts of corrupt purposes, including unearned executive bonuses and unnecessary corporate jets.
Why aren't CEOs flying commercial? They aren't any better than those of us who actually work for a living. Why do these failures getting bonuses rather than pink slips? Why are hard working, competent employees more likely to get laid off then lazy, irresponsible, incompetent executives?
Why should bad management be rewarded with high salaries? Bankers and brokers get treated as if they are deities. It's so repugnant.
Note to the empty suit, Andrew Cuomo, who is my state's Attorney General: So many Wall St. executives are guilty of fraud. Start prosecuting them already.
Funny Anti Iraq War Song
Apologies to Amy Winehouse.
President Obama has signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is good news, especially considering some sexist behavior by Obama lately. The media coverage has been poor in most cases, not even telling people what the legislation actually does. The Reuters wire service coverage was better, though they buried the substance pretty far down (second page of the story online).
A jury found she was the victim of discrimination. But during the Bush administration, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision reversed what critics described as decades of legal precedent by declaring that discrimination claims must be filed within 180 days of the first offense.
The court rejected the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's contention that each new discriminatory paycheck triggers a new 180-day statute of limitations.
The law signed by Obama amended the 1964 Civil Rights Act to put the old EEOC standard into law, and covers pay discrimination based on gender, race, national origin, religion, age and disabilities.
Under the ruling, the fact that someone did not know that he or she was being discriminated didn't matter. They still couldn't sue. Given the widespread and unethical practice of keeping salaries and other compensation confidential, the ruling basically rewarded employers for this practice by making discrimination lawsuits almost impossible.
Reading most of the media coverage, you would think that the change was limited to sex discrimination. Oops!
Passage of this legislation is wonderful news. President Obama's response to it and the rest of his recent record illustrate important points about Obama and how liberals need to look at his administration to provide valid analysis and effective tactics.
1) Obama is usually on the fence on women's issues and other issues important to liberals. We aren't doomed on the issues we care about, but we cannot trust Obama either. We need to fight like heck on every issue and give the Obama administration grief every time they act like Republicans.
2) Obama wants desperately to seek approval from Republicans, but he sometimes will rise above this in order to get things done. Liberals need to publicly remind Democrats and the general public that the bulk of Republicans will never behave in a bipartisan manner. The GOP leadership and grassroots always will take bipartisan approaches as signs of weakness.
3) We need to pressure Congressional Democrats to move to the left of Obama. It's important for us to get our agenda enacted into law. It's also in their best interests. If they don't provide real leadership on the issues that matter most to liberals, liberals will stay home or vote Green like many of us did in 1994. Remember what happened in 1994?
One lesson that people should learn from recent history (and from the distant past) is that we cannot rely on politicians to bring about real change in this country. If we want things to get better, the people are going to have to fight for it. Here are a few examples of things you can do to fight for real change.
Support the Unplanned Pregnancy Prevention Bill
The National Partnership for Women and Families has an online petition in favor of the Unplanned Pregnancy Prevention Bill. Here is their description.
The measure's goals are lofty – to tackle the unacceptably high rate of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. Currently, half of pregnancies are unintended and half of those end in abortion. The bill would tackle the problem from several angles, by:
* Increasing family planning funding,
* Ending insurance discrimination against women,
* Improving awareness about emergency contraception, and
* Requiring programs to focus on medically accurate sex education.
The latter is an incredibly important AIDS issue as well. "Abstinence only" scams promote the spread of HIV just as they promote unplanned pregnancies. They all fit in with the fundamentalist desire to punish unsanctioned sexuality, especially among women.
Sign the Petition
Support Domestic Partnership Benefits for State Department Employees
From an American Humanist Association email Action Alert
Send a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urging her to extend equal benefits to the same-sex partners of foreign policy workers.
There are a range of benefits and rights granted to the spouses of State Department staff but which are denied to gay or lesbian partners. For example, same-sex partners are denied paid travel to and from overseas posts, visas and diplomatic passports, and mail privileges. Worse yet, they are even deprived of evacuation in case of a security emergency or medical necessity.
This is unacceptable. Gay and lesbian foreign policy workers shouldn't have to choose between their families and service to their country. It's absurd that the State Department will reimburse the cost of transporting a pet overseas but won't do likewise for a same-sex partner.
Many other nations already extend a partnership benefit. It's time that the United States caught up with the times. Write to Clinton today and urge her to ensure that equal benefits are extended to all foreign-policy couples.
My only disagreement is that I think that the State Department should provide domestic partnerships regardless of the gender(s) of the partners.
The AHA is suggesting that people write Sec. Clinton at the State Department.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
You may also wish to go to the questions/comments page for the State Department. If you do so, you have my permission to giggle at the wildly inappropriate items placed on the final confirmation page under "The answers to the following questions may be relevant to your question: ."
Oppose Hate Based Initiatives in the Stimulus Plan
The term "faith based initiatives" should be replaced by "hate based initiatives." Such diversions of government funding from inclusive charities to religious ones discriminates against atheists, and the whole scam is justified on the bigoted and silly notion that being religious makes people morally superior. Such initiatives also violate state/church separation. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is opposing the latest hate based legislation on Establishment Clause grounds in their Action Alert.
Protect Church-State Separation in the Stimulus Package!
Urge the Senate to keep funding for the Compassion Capital Fund out
The House recently passed its version of the economic stimulus package, which would provide funding for many services designed to relieve Americans from the burdens of our current economic crisis. Throughout this process, the staff of Americans United has engaged our many allies in Congress to ensure that this bill, which provides $819 billion dollars of funding, does not disrupt the important separation of church and state or diminish important religious liberty or civil rights protections that we hold dear.
We applaud the drafters of the House bill for their wise prohibition on the funding of private or religious schools. This is consistent with the Constitution and an important safeguard to place on the expenditure of our tax dollars. We are disappointed, however, that the House economic recovery package contains funding for the Compassion Capital Fund. The Compassion Capital Fund has a myriad of Constitutional problems. The Fund lacks oversight, sends money directly to Houses of Worship, and allows recipients to hire employees based solely upon their religion for government-funded jobs. Clearly, more taxpayer dollars should not be expended on this program.
Fortunately, the Senate version of the bill does not contain unwise funding for the Compassion Capital Fund - and we need it to stay that way! Please thank your Senators for eliminating this funding stream and urge them to use our tax dollars wisely in this important time. As we all know, now is not the time to continue unwise and unconstitutional practices of the Bush Administration. Please enter your information below to urge your Senator to maintain the ban on funding religious schools and the elimination of funding for the Compassion Capital Fund. With your help, we can ensure that the separation of church and state is unharmed in the first major act of the 111th Congress.
Contact Your Senators!
It was bad enough when Obama involved Rick Warren, one of the most vicious and fanatical misogynists in US history, in the inauguration. Now, Obama's sexism is affecting policy. From ABC News 1/27/09:
House Democrats have agreed to drop family planning funds for the low-income from an $825 billion economic stimulus bill.
The contraceptive provision was dropped after President Barack Obama placed a call to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., on Monday. Waxman is the chairman of the committee that inserted the contraception provision into the stimulus package last week.
Obama asked him to remove the measure from the bill, according to a Democratic congressional aide familiar with the call, and the decision was made by House Democrats on Tuesday to do so.
Under the scuttled contraceptive provision, states would have been able to offer family planning services -- including contraceptives -- under Medicaid, the government health program for the poor, without having to obtain federal permission.
Contraception is just as legitimate as any other kind of healthcare. Keeping contraceptive funding out of Medicaid is pure sex discrimination against women. There is no legitimate reason for anyone to object to such funding.
Misogynists have tried to claim that the funding has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. This is a flat out lie. Keeping family planning clinics open and fully staffed protects jobs, stimulating the economy.
President Obama has shown that women's rights and women's lives are less important than pandering to far right Republicans who will resist his agenda no matter what he does. This leaves one question.
Why doesn't Barack Obama respect women?
Former Hitler Youth and current Roman Catholic Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, has left the Jewish community understandably upset by reconciling with a Catholic traditionalist and Holocaust minimizer. Ratzinger took this disturbing action as part of letting four traditionalist bishops and their followers back into his Church. From Reuters 1/25/09:
One of the four, the British-born Richard Williamson, has made statements denying the full extent of the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews, as accepted by mainstream historians.
In comments to Swedish television broadcast on Wednesday and widely available on the Internet, Williamson said "I believe there were no gas chambers" and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million.
"I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler," he said.
Ratzi has been noted for having a similar face and sinister demeanor to that of Emperor Palpatine of the Star Wars movies. The more you know about Ratzinger, the more sinister he seems in real life.
It's too bad that Ratzinger is so vicious and so dangerous. Otherwise, the cartoonish villainy he exudes would be quite entertaining.
Photos (top to bottom):
Gov. Paterson's decision to select the notorious gun extremist, Kirsten Gillibrand, to be my state's newest Senator, is both dangerous and irresponsible. As a victim of gun crimes, I find gun nuts like Gillibrand morally reprehensible.
Gillibrand, like all opponents of gun control, is personally responsible for putting guns in the hands of the crooks who robbed me at gunpoint three times. Being in the same near death situation three times completely needlessly gives one a sense of real clarity. There is no excuse for supporting private gun ownership. Hunting with guns is too one sided to honestly be referred to as a "sport." Gun ownership increases the likelihood for death and injury for the gun owner. The Second Amendment only applies to government sanctioned militias, contrary to the propaganda of the nation's largest terrorist group, the National Rifle Association.
Opposing my basic right to live in a gun free society is something I take very personally, because I have experienced the consequences of gun extremism like Gillibrand's very personally. I am not obligated to passively go along with politicians who put guns in the hands of muggers, rapists, and murderers.
If this monster runs in the 2010 Democratic primary, I will vote for a primary challenger. If she wins the primary, I will vote for the Green Party candidate. I don't care which of two Republican gun nuts wins.
I seriously doubt I could vote for David Paterson after this horrifying betrayal either. Why did he vote for an inexperienced, Republican, gun extremist like Gillibrand over so many capable and qualified people who actually are Democrats and who are decent human beings?
There Iraq War isn't magically going to stop merely because we have a different politician in the White House. We will have to take action to stop it. The corporate media would very much like us all to forget about the following:
- The Iraq War has killed over 4000 US troops and an unknown number of mercenaries.
- Tens of thousands of US troops have been wounded in this war.
- The Iraq War is severely damaging our economy.
- The war on Iraq has killed over 1.3 million Iraqis.
- The war on Iraq has devastated that country's economy.
- The war on Iraq has forced at least 2 million Iraqis to become refuges.
There are plenty of veterans who are even more opposed to the war than the rest of us are. Some of them are taking decisive action against it.
Iraq Veterans Against the War has "Over 1,300 Members, 56 Chapters, in 48 States." They have managed to do this despite the fact that they limit their membership to veterans and despite the corporate media's near total censorship of their actions.
From the YouTube page description:
Iraq Veterans Against the War's "End the War Now" ad, aired once coast to coast on NBC during the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 at 8:57am PST/11:57am EST.
Visit http://www.ivaw.org for more information about Iraq Veterans Against the War
You can go to the Digg.com page to promote the video too.
IVAW members also are asking that people post this video on their social networking pages and blogs. Here's the code:
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry announced on Sunday it was setting up an "army of bloggers," to be made up of Israelis who speak a second language, to represent Israel in "anti-Zionist blogs" in English, French, Spanish and German.
"During the war, we looked for a way to contribute to the effort," the ministry's director general, Erez Halfon, told Haaretz. "We turned to this enormous reservoir of more than a million people with a second mother tongue." Other languages in which bloggers are sought include Russian and Portuguese.
Within 30 minutes of announcing the program, which was approved by the Foreign Ministry on Sunday, five volunteers were already in touch, Halfon said.
I'm kind of curious to know if I've gotten one or more of these trolls, or if the trolling has been done by independent anti-Arab bigots. One thing is for sure. The pests I've gotten either don't read or disregard this blog's policy stating that racist posts are subject to deletion.
Barack Obama's transition can best be described as depressing and infuriating. Obama engaged in blatant heterosexist discrimination in cabinet appointments; he loaded his administration with inept Clinton administration retreads; and he proposed a stimulus plan that won't make much overall difference in stimulating the economy. Worst of all, Obama promoted bigotry, discrimination, and violence against women and queers by involving the totalitarian fundamentalist, Rick Warren, in the inauguration.
However, in his first days, President Obama has taken some welcome and reasonable steps
From the Los Angeles Times (online):
When President Obama today signed executive orders to create a task force to study how to close Guantanamo Bay Prison within one year, he was delivering on an oft-repeated campaign pledge to make sure U.S. foreign policy conformed to U.S. values. With reporters looking on and cameras clicking, Obama said:
"This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."
It is a good thing that President Obama set up this task force. However, be careful. This is not the same thing as actually closing Gitmo. The media and even many activists are getting this story wrong. This is a baby step in the correct direction, but more needs to be done. Also, one year is an awfully long time, especially for the many detainees who are innocent and have been imprisoned and tortured for years.
Again, from the LA Times:
As for his campaign pledge to ban torture, Obama also signed a directive to ensure that the techniques in the Army Field Manual -- which prohibit waterboarding -- will be the rule for all intelligence and law enforcement services.
This will significantly reduce torture and President Obama deserves credit for this. However, there could be some disturbing wiggle room in the Executive Order. From the Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release 1/22/09:
Again, we caution that the order may leave an escape hatch if the CIA should want more tactics, i.e. torture, available in its arsenal. The Geneva conventions should be the only arbiter of what is possible for governments to do to human beings.
As good as this step is, this also means we will have to keep advocating for an end to all torture by our government.
The Freedom of Information Act
In excellent news, President Obama signed an Executive Order indicating that he would follow the law in regards to the Freedom of Information Act. From the Washington Post:
The first memo instructs all agencies and departments to "adopt a presumption in favor" of Freedom of Information Act requests, while the second memo orders the director of the Office of Management and Budget to issue recommendations on making the federal government more transparent.
"The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," Obama said in the FOIA memo, adding later that "In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public."
This should prove very useful for journalists and activists seeking to investigate and expose the rampant criminal activity that took place during the Bush regime.
Limits on Lobbying
Obama is chipping away at the power of lobbyists. From the Washington Post 1/22/09:
In two executive orders and three presidential directives, Obama laid out stringent lobbying limits that will bar any appointees from seeking lobbying jobs while he is president and will ban gifts from lobbyists to anyone in the administration.
These actions show the potential of an Obama presidency just as his transition and his inauguration rather pointedly illustrated the dangers. People are going to have to fight at least as hard as they did under Bush if we want positive, meaningful change.
From Geek.com 1/19/08:
The nightmare for Microsoft seems to be far from over as the European Commission are going after them again for bundling a web browser with the Windows operating system. The charge being that they are harming competition by shipping a web browser with their OS and therefore are breaking European laws.
Microsoft now has eight weeks to review and respond to the findings the European Commission has documented. If those conclusions hold then Microsoft will likely face further fines and be forced to come up with a solution that promotes choice for the consumer.
If the US government took our antitrust laws seriously, Microsoft would have been broken up years ago. I hope the Obama administration will do something about this.
Internet Explorer is an execrable web browser. It still doesn't even render CSS correctly. If it wasn't automatically installed on Windows computers with an icon called "Internet," it wouldn't have much of a market at all.
A silent movie homage and social commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The arielsnewusername channel on YouTube has a lot of interesting videos. I'll have to mine it for content in the future.
People who thought that the GOP lost the last two elections handily must be surprised that President Obama is embracing one of the most dangerous and irresponsible GOP policies: tax cuts. It's as if McCain is in the White House.
Tax cuts have had a dismal place in our nation's economic history. The Reagan tax cuts led to the worst recession in our country since the Great Depression. Only an effort by Congress to raise taxes, led by Bob Dole of all people, got our economy moving again and helped to reelect Reagan.
Bush's tax cuts have been disastrous. The small checks for middle class and poor people did nothing to help our economy. They might have stimulated China's economy marginally, but China doesn't buy much anything from us.
Bush's enormous tax cuts for the rich have played a key role in our desperate economic situation. They contributed significantly to our government and foreign debt while doing nothing to create jobs here in the US. The wealthy used these unearned windfalls in an orgy of speculation, creating bubble after bubble (stocks, subprime mortgages, oil, gold, etc.) leading to crash after crash. Our treasury was looted to a huge extent to create money which mostly disappeared in 2008.
Now, Barack Obama actually wants more tax cuts?
A stimulus package should stimulate the economy, not slow it down. But, tax cuts will do just that. People aren't spending money because they are lusting after $500 checks. They are holding back on spending because they are afraid of losing their jobs. Only direct job creation will revive the economy.
The stimulus package also includes education, energy, and infrastructure spending with money thrown in to prevent layoffs of state and local government employees. There's even a bit for public transportation, a bit which should be much, much more. However, the beneficial effect of this spending will basically be wiped out be the damaging effects of the tax cuts.
Obama's stimulus package is a short term economic wash that vastly increases the federal debt. Oops!
Tell Obama that there should be no tax cuts in the stimulus package!
Contact President Obama Now!
The more you learn about Rick Warren, the more you should be worried.
Hat tip to BuzzFlash, which ran an excerpt from the April 17, 2005 speech:
"In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.
And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, "Hitler, we are yours."
And they nearly took the world.
Lenin once said, "give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I'll change the world." And, he nearly did.
A few years ago, they took the sayings of Chairman Mao, in China, put them in a little red book, and a group of young people committed them to memory and put it in their minds and they took that nation, the largest nation in the world by storm because they committed to memory the sayings of the Chairman Mao.
When I hear those kinds of stories, I think 'what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say 'Jesus, we are yours'?
What kind of spiritual awakening would we have?"
Later, the Ayatollah Warren tells his flock to hold up their "Whatever It Takes" signs. They blindly follow.
Chad on BuzzFlash is absolutely correct when he says the following:
"Whatever it takes." To do what? Giving Warren the legitimacy of his place in the Inauguration makes him stronger, not weaker. And given his extreme stances on his fellow human beings, that makes us off to a less than ideal start on Tuesday.
Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaigns played a vital role in dismantling the apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza often is compared to apartheid. It is time for a BDS campaign against Israel?
Naomi Klein, one of the most important thinkers of our time, certainly thinks it is overdue.
It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.
In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era." The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—BDS for short—was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.… This international backing must stop."
I'm beginning to wonder myself. Is the BDS campaign justified? Is there an argument against it that doesn't involve minimizing Israel's heinous crimes against the Palestinians?
These are listed in alphabetical order, since it just isn't worth trying to decide which one is the worst. Nutty rightist policies are just as nutty regardless of the political affiliations of the people who shove them down our throats.
Micheal Bloomberg isn't just the most execrable mayor in NYC history, he has been one of the biggest driving forces in bringing our economy to its knees. His Bloomberg media empire constantly pushed short term profits over long term security to bankers, brokers, and to CEOs in companies that actually produce value in the economy. If his media assets had acted rationally and responsibly, we would be in a much smaller economic whole.
GEORGE W. BUSH
The Iraq War has been a huge drag on our economy during its long, disgusting time. It also has massively increased our foreign debt, a major problem during a liquidity crisis. Bush's tax cuts for the rich financed massive speculation which expanded and burst several bubbles when the money should have gone to a better social safety net for middle class and poor Americans. This corrupt and unelected regime also refused to enforce the limited financial market regulations that hadn't been wiped out by the previous administration and its collaborators.
This alleged "Democrat" pushed hard for financial deregulation which enabled the wave of irresponsible behavior on Wall St. The Internet bubble happened on his watch, and the economic conditions Clinton pushed created a climate for bubble hopping (dot coms to gold to real estate etc.,) which continued after his miserable presidency was cut off due to term limits. Clinton also made his top policy priority pushing corporate controlled trade initiatives such as NAFTA and the WTO which dramatically increased our trade deficits (causing massive borrowing from foreign interests). These corrupt trade arrangements shipped a lot of decent making jobs overseas, making it harder for Americans to afford mortgages. Bill Clinton's "welfare reform" created a climate of scapegoating for women of color which made it more socially acceptable for them to be targeted for predatory and downright fraudulent subprime mortgages.
This schmuck refused to take the regulatory responsibilities of Treasury Secretary even remotely seriously. Even worse were his actions as Goldman Sachs' CEO. In a previous posting, I quoted Naomi Klein on Democracy Now! Her quote is equally valid today.
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.
I would say that a fox was watching the chicken coop, but foxes are too clever for this metaphor to really work.
I still can't believe this sick joke is Obama's chief economic adviser. Summers was the architect of the economic equivalent of the Minnesota bridge collapse: Bill Clinton's trade and deregulation policies. Anyone who took the trouble of reading an American History book that covers the 20th Century would have known that unregulated financial markets were the main cause of the Crash of 1929, which was a major cause of the Great Depression. No responsible economist would have supported the lunatic economics of Bill Clinton's misadministration.
Kucinich had enough courage and integrity to later be one of only five members of the House to vote against a non-binding resolution supporting Israel's slaughter in Gaza.
Like so much in the corporate media, the efforts to make Rick Warren's AIDS record seem quite good are a bunch of bull. In, Rick Warren's Africa Problem in The Daily Beast, Max Blumenthal digs up the actual facts. I recommend reading the full article, but here are some of the most important facts from it.
Warren’s man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempe enjoys close ties to his country’s First Lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House.
Joining Ssempa at Warren’s church were two key Bush administration officials who controlled the purse strings of the president’s newly minted $15 billion anti-AIDS initiative in Africa, PEPFAR. Ugandan first lady Janet Museveni also appeared through a videotaped address to tout the success of her country’s numerous church-based abstinence programs.
During the early 1990s, when many African leaders denied the AIDS epidemic’s existence, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni spoke openly about the importance of safe sex. With the help of local and international non-governmental organizations, he implemented an ambitious program emphasizing abstinence, monogamous relationships, and using condoms as the best ways to prevent the spread of AIDS. He called the program “ABC.” By 2003, Uganda’s AIDS rate plummeted 10 percent. The government’s free distribution of the “C” in ABC—condoms—proved central to the program’s success, according to Avert, an international AIDS charity.
Two years later, Janet Museveni flew to Washington at the height of a heated congressional debate over PEPFAR. She carried in her hand a prepared message to distribute to Republicans. Abstinence was the golden bullet in her country’s fight against AIDS, she assured conservative lawmakers, denying the empirically proven success of her husband’s condom distribution program. Like magic, the Republican-dominated Congress authorized over $200 million for Uganda, but only for the exclusive promotion of abstinence education. Ssempa soon became the “special representative of the First Lady’s Task Force on AIDS in Uganda,” receiving $40,000 from the PEPFAR pot.
Emboldened by U.S. support, Ssempa took his anti-condom crusade to Makerere University in Kampala, where senior residents of a men’s dormitory promoted safe sex by greeting incoming freshmen with a giant effigy wearing a condom. According to Helen Epstein, one day after she visited the school, Ssempa stormed on to campus, tore the condom from the effigy, grabbed a box of free condoms, and set them ablaze. “I burn these condoms in the name of Jesus!” Ssempa shouted as he prayed over the burning box.
By 2005, billboards promoting condom use disappeared from the streets of Kampala, replaced by billboards promoting virginity. “Until recently, all HIV-related billboards were about condoms. Those of us calling for abstinence and faithfulness need billboards too,” Ssempa told the BBC at the time.
AIDS activists arrived at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto in 2006 with disturbing news from Uganda. Due at least in part to the chronic condom shortage, HIV infections were on the rise again. The disease rate had spiked to 6.5 percent among rural men, and 8.8 percent among women—a rise of nearly two points in the case of women.
Troubled by what he was witnessing in Africa, Rep. Tom Lantos led the new Democratic-controlled Congress to reform PEPFAR during a reauthorization process in February 2008. Lantos insisted that Congress lift the abstinence-only earmark imposed by Republicans in 2002, and begin to fund family planning elements like free condom distribution. His maneuver infuriated Warren, who immediately boarded a plane for Washington to join Christian right leaders including born-again former Watergate felon Chuck Colson for an emergency press conference on the Capitol lawn. In his speech, Warren claimed that Lantos’ bill would spawn an increase in the sex trafficking of young women.
With safe sex advocates on the run, Warren and Ssempa trained their sights on another social evil. In August 2007, Ssempa led hundreds of his followers through the streets of Kampala to demand that the government mete out harsh punishments against gays. “Arrest all homos,” read placards. And: “A man cannot marry a man.” Ssempa continued his crusade online, publishing the names of Ugandan gay rights activists on a website he created, along with photos and home addresses. “Homosexual promoters,” he called them, suggesting they intended to seduce Uganda’s children into their lifestyle. Soon afterwards, two of President Yoweri Museveni’s top officials demanded the arrest of the gay activists named by Ssempa. Terrified, the activists immediately into hiding.
But when Uganda’s Anglican bishops threatened to bolt from the Church of England because of its tolerant stance towards homosexuals, Warren parachuted into Kampala to confer international legitimacy on their protest. “The Church of England is wrong and I support the Church of Uganda on the boycott,” Warren proclaimed in March 2008. Declaring homosexuality an unnatural way of life, Warren flatly stated, “We shall not tolerate this aspect [homosexuality in the church] at all.”
Democrats to defend Warren don't have any idea who and what he really is. Those of us who know about Orange County, CA fundamentalists do. That county is littered with heterosexist and misogynistic Christ-Marts that promote dangerous misinformation on HIV.
When are people going to stop making excuses?
With all the discussion over the Weblog Awards, we shouldn't forget that there is another, older, major set of blog awards. The official name is very similar, but the nickname stands it appart, The Bloggies.
Atheist Revolution has an excellent suggestion on the matter.
Nominations close on January 12 for the 2009 Weblog Awards. If there are any blogs you'd like to nominate for any of the categories, you'll need to do so by then. They do not have a category for atheist blogs, but there may be some others that would fit various atheist blogs. I nominated several atheist blogs for what seemed like the best category matches. I'd be shocked if an atheist blog won in any category, but at least it might generate some traffic for the nominees.
I nominated a bunch of blogs from my link list in appropriate categories. I'm not pleased that they got rid of the GLBT category, but I tried to compensate by nominating some queer blogs in several categories. I also nominated some liberal and atheist blogs. This is a great way to try to drive some traffic to blogs you think are worthwhile. Nominations close on Monday. Note that the site makes you do a weird horizontal scrolling thing.
Nominate Blogs Now!
In the comments for my previous posting on Deconstructing the "That's So Gay" Crap, Giggles of Gay Boy News pointed out that there was another video from GLSEN on the subject with the incomparable Wanda Sykes.
Misster-Kitty is running the video, and it's fabulous.
I encourage you to embed the video on your blog. Here's the code:
PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY….
PLEASE JOIN US
Monday, January 12 at 5:30 P.M., in front of the Israeli Consulate, at 800 Second Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, NYC
We are Jews who say “Not in Our Name” to the Israeli Government.
We ask you to stand with us as we call for:
- an immediate end to the massacre of the Palestinian people
- an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli troops
- an immediate end to the blockade of Gaza
- immediate steps taken to end the Israeli occupation
We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, with our sisters and brothers in Israel who are bravely opposing the brutality of their government, and with all those around the world calling for justice and peace in the Middle East.
There will be no speakers at this event. We will stand together in silence, holding up signs reiterating the points above.
initiators of this call for action:
I recognize the name Michael Ratner. He is from the Center for Constitutional Rights and is on WBAI's Law and Disorder.
I think it is important to publicize these kind of events to oppose the war and to break down the view that being Jewish necessarily means supporting everything the rightist government there does. That is essential for healing and understanding.
There has been a lot of commentary by Obama supporters on the reaction of the queer community to Obama's decision to have a fanatical bigot like Rick Warren give a blatantly unconstitutional invocation at the inauguration. Many Obama apologists have seen the furor merely as leftover rage at the passage of Prop. 8 in California and Warren's role in helping it to pass.
That certainly plays a role for many people, but the outrage, disappointment, and disgust among lgbt Americans at this goes way deeper than that. When someone has devoted an enormous amount of time promoting discrimination and violence against queers and women, giving them such a prominent role in an important government ceremony sends a viciously misogynistic and heterosexist message.
Such bigoted and divisive behavior from Barack Obama is seen among queers quite legitimately as a bait and switch. Obama had marketed himself as a supporter of lgbt issues and had made "change" his main campaign theme. Yet, Obama hasn't appointed even one openly queer person to his cabinet, following in the footsteps of Bush and Clinton. The involvement of a dangerous religious extremist like Warren is vintage Karl Rove politics...divide, divide, divide. Queers voted for Obama overwhelmingly, but we are getting Bush instead.
Those of us who have followed politics longer remember the betrayals, homophobia, and triangulation we experienced under Bill Clinton, a far right Republican who pretended to be a centrist Democrat. We have learned that you never "give him a chance" when "him" is a politician that has behaved as a heterosexual supremacist early on. We have learned the hard way that we have to fight bigots every step of the way.
Learning from history is a sign of political maturity in the queer movement. Obama, like Bush, has tried to pretend that history doesn't matter. It makes it easier for them to get away with doing whatever they want.
We know better.
The loss of lgbt support cost the Democrats a lot of House and Senate seats in 1994. Many of us stayed home. Very few of us volunteered for Democratic campaigns or made contributions to Democrats. Some of us voted Green instead of voting for a party that acted as if even treating us as second class citizens was too good for us. During the last Congress, we saw the efforts of Pelosi, Frank, and Reid to sabotage ENDA and hate crimes legislation. Now, with Obama's frighteningly homophobic behavior of late, we are a constituency the Democrats have lost.
They will have to do a lot at this point to win us back.
Here are my votes for the Weblog Awards. I didn't vote in the categories of blogs I don't read or care about. I also decided not to vote on the foreign blog categories, since I think people from those areas should be the ones voting. (Nominees list - Vote)
The best part of this for me is finding out about blogs that I hadn't heard of before. That makes it more than worth the effort for me. I should point out that there are blogs on my link list which I think are as good, if not better, than many of the nominees listed. Too bad they weren't options to pick.
Given that you can vote once per day, the old Chicago adage, "Vote Early and Often," actually seems valid here.
Comment Is Free (from The Guardian)
The Guardian will give you information and perspectives that are largely ignored by corporate outlets. The writing style is excellent too.
Best New Blog:
There were three blogs from this category that I've added to my link list. The choice was tough, but I had to go with synthesis. When I read this blog, I kept thinking, "I never thought of that before." There just aren't many blogs that can manage that. I also like how the blogger manages to stay independent of the corporate news cycle.
Best Individual Blogger:
I added three blogs to my link list from this category too. I find field negro the most informative of the blogs I selected.
Best Liberal Blog:
There were some good choices here, but I'm going with BlueGal because she has used her blog to launch Blog Against Theocracy blogswarms. A blogger who also is an organizer deserves a lot of credit.
Best Political Coverage:
From the Left
I'm voting for Christopher for several reasons. He picks out the most important stories in the corporate media first, which means I don't have to wade through as much bs propaganda. He also brings a desperately needed queer perspective to liberal blogging where pink perspectives often are marginalized. I've enjoyed going back and forth with him when we have agreed and when we have disagreed. I also respect him for being able to change his mind when he gets access to new information. There are a lot of politicians who could learn a lot from this.
Best Celebrity Blogger:
Is there any other celebrity whose blog is even worth reading, much less is as fabulous as hers? Of course not!
Best Technology Blog:
Of all the blogs listed, this is the one I've found most useful. It has a ton of design tools and resources.
Best LGBT Blog:
I'm going with this one because it has the most information that I have trouble finding out about in the rest of queer media (e.g. New York queer politics, Latin America). In case you haven't noticed, one of my main criteria for reading blogs is how many new things I will learn by doing so.
Technorati Runs Our Lives
The next few categories are based on how many links in blog postings Technorati thinks each blog gets ("blog authority"). I admit that there is a lemming like aspect to this, and I will only vote in categories where I genuinely like at least one of the nominees.
Best Very Large Blog (Authority between 501 and 1,000)
This is quite a good blog. The only problem with it is that it got too popular, and the comments sections are too flooded to follow anymore.
Best Large Blog (Authority between 301 and 500)
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
This is a good blog with a great name facing a set of weak nominees. It's an easy choice.
Best Midsize Blog (Authority between 201 and 300)
This is the strongest category of all, and I had trouble picking a winner. I did enjoy adding some great links to my list. I'm going with Rod 2.0, though it wasn't easy. To be honest, I would have voted for several of these blogs over the winners in some of the other categories.
Best Hidden Gem (Authority between 0 and 50)
Hip Young Thing
This is a really interesting blog on the subject of design. I recommend it.
The corporate media have some strong financial motives for supporting the slaughter in Gaza, and they are acting on those motives. After all, arms merchants regularly advertise on news shows, not to directly sell their products, but to push a pro-war bias that sells more wars. More wars mean larger markets for the death merchants. Even worse, NBC and MSNBC are owned by GE (General Electric) which is an arms manufacturer.
Just as we must show the humanity of the Palestinians getting killed in Gaza, we also need to show the Israelis who are opposing this carnage. We need to promote human values and humane responses, rather than blindly accepting the pro-war propaganda.
To this end, I posted a message from an Israeli peace activist which deconstructs the narrative that is being shoved down our throats, one that treats Israelis and Palestinians as permanent and intractable enemies.
Pagan Sphinx is linking to a wonderful article by Amy Goodman on Truthdig which covers the Israeli peace movement from a journalistic perspective.
Here's an Israeli perspective you probably won't see on ABC News:
Israeli professor Neve Gordon is chair of the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in southern Israel, the region most impacted by the Hamas rockets.
Speaking over the phone from Beersheba, Gordon said: “We just had a rocket about an hour ago not far from our house. My two children have been sleeping in a bomb shelter for the past week. And yet, I think what Israel is doing is outrageous. ... The problem is that most Israelis say Israel left the Gaza Strip three years ago and Hamas is still shooting rockets at us. They forget the details. The detail is that Israel maintains sovereignty. The detail is that the Palestinians live in a cage. The detail is that they don’t get basic foodstuff, that they don’t get electricity, that they don’t get water. And when you forget those kinds of details, all you say is, ‘Why are they still shooting at us?’ That’s what the media here has been pumping them with, then you think this war is rational. If you look at what’s been going on in the Gaza Strip in the past three years and you see what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, you would think that the Palestinian resistance is rational. And that’s what’s missing in the mainstream media here.”
Here's some info about a peace march that won't get much press here in the US either (bolding mine):
Gordon attended a large peace march last weekend in Tel Aviv with more than 10,000 other Israelis. Longtime Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery was there. He called the invasion “a criminal war, because, on top of everything else it is openly and shamelessly part of Ehud Barak’s and Tzipi Livni’s election campaign. I accuse Ehud Barak of exploiting the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers in order to get more Knesset seats. I accuse Tzipi Livni of advocating mutual slaughter in order to become prime minister.” Israel’s elections will be in February.
It turns out that Jonathan Ben-Artzi, nephew of raging rightist and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is one of many Israelis who opposes the war.
An item at the end of Ms. Goodman's piece is particularly disturbing (again bolding mine):
While Israeli planes drop pamphlets urging Palestinians to leave, the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip, perhaps the most densely populated place on Earth, have no place to run, no place to hide. Calls for an immediate cease-fire are ignored by Israel and blocked by the U.S. government. It is not clear what the Obama administration will do—but the people of Gaza can’t wait until the inauguration. There must be a cease-fire now. And that’s just the beginning.
Those pamphlets are direct evidence of ethnic cleansing. This isn't about self-defense. The siege and now war in Gaza are about the Israeli government trying to drive out the Palestinians and take the land.
GLSEN and the AdCouncil are responsible for this PSA. They deserve a lot of credit for it. The "that's so gay" saying is obnoxious at the very least. At its worst, it creates a more hostile climate and culture for lgbt people.
Here's the code to put this in your blog. Just copy and paste.
Hat Tip to Queers United.
Here's GLSEN's press release on the PSA:
Ad Council Names GLSEN's "Think Before You Speak" Its Top Creative Campaign of the Year
Nov 20, 2008
NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2008 – The Advertising Council awarded advertising agency ArnoldNYC its Gold Bell Award for Creative Excellence on Wednesday for developing the "Think Before You Speak" campaign with GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The campaign topped more than 50 Ad Council campaigns from the past year and was selected by the Campaign Review Committee of leading advertising executives.
"Arnold's work on the 'Think Before You Speak' campaign is both creatively brilliant and strategically compelling," said Priscilla Natkins, EVP, Director of Client Services at the Ad Council. "The agency took a potentially inflammatory subject matter and developed thoughtful inclusive communications that is truly resonating with teens nationwide. We delight in their success."
The Ad Council's first LGBT-themed campaign, unveiled last month, targets anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language among teenagers. It features humorous TV public service announcements that star Hilary Duff and Wanda Sykes interrupting teenagers who use the term "that’s so gay."
Nearly 9 out of 10 of LGBT students (86.3%) experienced harassment at school because of their sexual orientation in the past year, according to GLSEN's 2007 National School Climate Survey.
"We are deeply honored and thrilled that the Ad Council recognized the humorous but powerful campaign creative developed by ArnoldNYC in partnership with GLSEN," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "We are deeply grateful to the Ad Council, Arnold NYC and the countless others who recognized the need for such a message of respect and tolerance."
The campaign is supported by the interactive website ThinkB4YouSpeak.com. that allows youth and educators to take action to ensure a safer and more welcoming environment for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.
The campaign has received widespread media coverage, including The New York Times, ABC’s "The View," "Entertainment Tonight," CNN, ABC’s "Good Morning America" and Perezhilton.com. Bill O’Reilly of FOX News' "The O’Reilly Factor" even referred to Hilary Duff as a patriot for her work on the PSA.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established nationally in 1995, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. For more information on GLSEN’s educational resources, public policy agenda, student organizing programs, research, public education or development initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.
I know this PSA has been around at least a couple of months, but the content was new to me and probably is new to many others. Challenging heterosexist ideology is a long task, but a worthwhile one.
I have had tremendous respect for Cynthia McKinney for a long time. I am so proud to have voted for her in the 2008 election. This is an example of why.
Ms. McKinney has gone with the Dignity, an unarmed boat from the Free Gaza campaign, which was trying to bring desperately needed medical supplies to Gaza. She was on board when the Isreali military attacked them. I have included her full account below.
From FreeGaza.org (Hat Tip to Ten Percent which is doing an excellent job of covering the Gaza carnage:
Oh What a Day!
by Cynthia McKinney Date : 12-30-2008
I'm so glad that my father told me to buy a special notebook and to write everything down because that's exactly what I did.
When we left from Cyprus, one reporter asked me "are you afraid?" And I had to respond that Malcolm X wasn't afraid; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't afraid. But little did I know that just a few hours later, I would be recollecting my life and mentally preparing myself for death.
When we left Cyprus, the Mediterranean was beautiful. I remember the time when it might have been beautiful to look at, but it was also filthy. The Europeans have taken great strides to clean it up and yesterday, it was beautiful. And the way the sunlight hit the sea, I remember thinking to myself that's why they call it azure. It was the most beautiful blue.
But sometimes it was rough, and we got behind on our schedule. We stayed on course, however, despite the roughness of the water and due to our exquisite captain.
There were no other ships or boats around us and night descended upon us all rather quickly. It was the darkest black and suddenly, out of nowhere, came searchlights disturbing our peace. The searchlights stayed with us for about half an hour or so. We knew they were Israeli ships. Who else would they be?
They were fast, and they would come close and then drop back. And then, they'd come close again. And then, all of a sudden there was complete blackness once again and all seemed right. The cat and mouse game went on for at least one half hour. What were they doing? And why?
Calm again. Black sky, black sea. Peace. And then, at that very moment, when all seemed right, out of nowhere we were rammed and rammed again and rammed again the last one throwing me off the couch, sending all our food up in the air; and all the plastic bags and tubs--evidence of sea sicknesses among the crew and passengers--flew all over the cabin and all over us. We'd been rammed by the Israelis. How did we know? Because they called us on the phone afterwards to tell us that we were engaging in subversive, terroristic activity. And if that if we didn't turn around right then and return to Larnaca, Cyprus, we would be fired upon. We quickly grabbed our lifevests and put them on. Then the captain announced that the boat was taking on water. We might have to evacuate. One of my mates told me to prepare to die. And I reflected that I have lived a good and full life. I have tasted freedom and know what it is. I was right with myself and my decision to join the Free Gaza movement.
I remembered my father's parting words, "You all will be sitting ducks." Just like the U.S.S. Liberty. We were engaged in peaceful activity, a harmless pleasure boat, carrying a load of hospital supplies for the people of Gaza, who, too are sitting ducks, currently being bombarded in aerial assault by the Israeli military.
It's been a long day for us. The captain was outstanding. Throughout it all, he remained stoic and calm, effective in every way. I didn't know how to put my life jacket on. One of the passengers kindly assisted me. Another of the passengers pointed out that the Israeli motors for those huge, fast boats was U.S. made--a gift to them from the U.S. And now they were using those motors to damage a pleasure boat outfitted with three tons of hospital supplies, one pediatrician, and two surgeons.
I have called for President-elect Obama to say something. The Palestinian people in the Gaza strip are seeing the worst violence in 60 years, it is being reported. To date, President-elect Obama has remained silent. The Israelis are using weapons supplied to them by the U.S. government. Strict enforcement of U.S. law would require the cessation of all weapons transfers to Israel. Adherence to international law would require the same. As we are about to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, let us remember that he said:
1. The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and
2. Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter.
I implore the President-elect to not send Congress a budget that contains more weapons for Israel. We have so much more to offer. And I implore the Congress to vote "no" on any budget and appropriation bills that provide more weapons transfers, period.
Israel is able to carry out these intense military maneuvers because taxpayers in the U.S. give their hard-earned money to our Representatives in Congress and our Congress chooses to spend that money in this way. Let's stop it and stop it now. There's been too much blood shed. And while we still walk among the living, let us not remain silent about the things that matter.
We really can promote peace and have it if we demand it of our leaders.
Why hasn't Obama condemned this outrageous attack on a peaceful civilian vessel?
Why hasn't Obama condemned Israel's unconscionable slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza?
Outside of Saturday's protest in NYC against Israel's slaughter in Gaza, some peace activists were handing out the text of a recent email from an Israeli peace activist. What that activist said was incredibly important.
we are experiencing the worst repression inside israel i have experienced since the eighties. maybe its because there is a big anti war movement, arabs and jews working closely together. the media is only reporting the "violent arab mob" and ignoring the thousands of jews and arabs demonstrating together. they can't admit that there are israeli jews against this war. the friday weekend newspapers almost a week later were a bit better but still we are very worried about tomorrow and the next week. of course i acknowledge that the people of gaza have it 100 times worst, and the citizens of the south of Israel are poor hostages of our government's cynical election campaign.
i'll keep you posted.
When I refer to the "Christian Taliban," I'm not joking. I wish I were, but I'm not. When you monitor the militant, Christian fundamentalists, you find out that they are just as determined to create and run a totalitarian theocracy as the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The relatively reasonable public face that Rick Warren, the corporate media, and the Obama transition team have tried to present doesn't fool people who know about the Warren or who have followed the activities of the Christian Right closely. But, if you haven't invested the time and energy in the depressing enterprise of monitoring the fundies, you might be easily fooled by the spin.
Warren's generation of Christianists behaves differently than people like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. The latter let their hatred show as bellowing fury. The people who they have indoctrinated are different. Their hatreds make them feel like good, moral people. Their prejudices make them smile serenely because they think those prejudices make them good Christians who are following Christ and who will go to Heavan.
This brings up the more general issue of the difference between what the Christian extremists say in public versus what they say when they think they are communicating with each other. All of the following are direct quotes of things I've heard or read from these nutjobs, and they accurately reflect the agenda and values of the Christian Right.
Anybody who isn't a Christian will go to Hell.
Women should be submissive to their husbands.
America is a Christian country.
Homos want our children.
Jews are Christ killers.
Women who work are bad mothers.
Muslims should be killed.
Catholics aren't really Christians.
God's laws come before man's laws.
Homosexuals should get the death penalty.
Abortion is today's Holocaust.
Those AIDS people get what they deserve.
I would ordinarily be reluctant to repeat these things, but people need to wake up. In fundamentalist churches throughout this country, statements like these are considered perfectly normal and reasonable.
Like all cults, fundamentalist churches know to keep much of their belief systems as secret as possible from the general public. This serves two purposes. It makes their churches seem more socially acceptable to the general public. It also keeps from scaring off recruits with the more bizarre and frightening aspects of those cultish faiths. Cults generally wait until people are partly indoctrinated and dependent before they reveal their less mainstream beliefs.
It's easier psychologically to turn away from the kind of filth I quoted. However, those disgusting views shape a lot of public policy and also show up in behavior such as hate crimes, employment discrimination, and rapes. It really is dangerous to look the other way from the real nature of the Christian Taliban.
One of the reasons why FDR's New Deal was such a good deal for the country was that it included public works projects that enhanced economic growth for decades. If we are going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in a Stimulus Package as Obama would like us to do, that should include a major investment for public transportation, especially rail transit. This would accomplish the following for decades:
- Fight global warming
- Reduce stress for commuters
- Reduce our consumption of foreign oil, reducing trade deficits and foreign debt
- Fight the obesity epidemic, since car culture is more sedentary
- Put less money in the hands of fundamentalist regimes like the one in Saudi Arabia
The Transit Riders Alliance has a wonderful Action Alert on the subject. Here is the default text, which you should rewrite.
The right investment for our future is transit.
Make sure to include $48 billion for transit in the stimulus bill.. $48 billion would fund all transit projects that are ready to go over the next two years, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
A transit investment will reduce our business and energy costs in the long term, particularly for drivers who will enjoy less traffic congestion, by getting more riders onto public transportation.
And in the short term, these green construction jobs will get people working again.
Other infrastructure investments are not as economically powerful by reducing both transportation costs and energy costs.
Please note that the $5 billion for high-speed and intercity rail is on top of the $48 billion for transit. The times call for bold, innovative investments that will pay off in the long run.
Let me know if you will tell your leaders that you support $48 billion for transit in the stimulus.
Take Action to Support Public Transportation
Please also contact Change.gov to support funding for public transportation in the Stimulus Package.
Photos (top to bottom):
Brent and MariLynn
andy in nyc
Palestine Will Never Die
This was the most popular chant during today's protest in Manhattan against Israel's massive slaughter in Gaza. Given that Israel has been engaging in a decades long campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, this is especially appropriate.
One of the many encouraging things about today's protest is that there were so many people of non-Middle Eastern ancestry in attendance. Don't get me wrong. People of Middle Eastern decent have every right to publicly protest and plenty of reason to be outraged by what Israel is doing. What has been so fucked up in this country is that so few other Americans have been outraged at what Israel has been doing.
This sign was especially comforting to me. There is a tendency of so many people to assume that all Jewish people are Arab haters who blindly support the Israeli government's appalling policies. That just isn't true. There was a visible presence of Jews at the protest who vocally participated in it.
Despite the stereotype that all Arabs, Middle Easterners, and American opponents of Israel are motivated by some kind of hatred of Jews, the Jewish participants were entirely welcome. I remember seeing one Middle Eastern woman thank the woman holding the sign I like so much. Seeing people at their best is so refreshing when compared to seeing politicians who are almost always at their very worst.
The NYPD was engaging in some unethical behavior I had seen from them before. They harassed and dispersed people taking photos of the protests. I'd seen this before at a Wall St. bailout protest. They make photographers leave the prime spots for taking pictures on the pretext that they are supposedly blocking sidewalks, even though the photographers (professional and amateur) are not blocking peoples' ability to use the sidewalks.
The NYPD always has been corrupt and rightist. Now, with a rightist nutjob like Michael Bloomberg in the mayor's office, attacks on civil liberties of protesters and efforts to prevent any documentation of what they do are standard procedure. Remember the massive number of illegal arrests during the 2004 Republican National Convention?
The people running the rally made two beginners' mistakes in how they did things.
1) When the weather is bad (in this case frigid cold), speakers should cut the lengths of their speeches way, way down.
2) The volume on the PA system was turned much higher than the speakers could handle. This hurt peoples' ears while making it difficult for people to understand what was said during the really long speeches.
I hope Israel's latest round of intense brutality against Gaza ends before this set of protest leaders gets a chance to work all the bugs out. I hope they get protest organizing experience under better circumstances.
Of course, there also was a small contingent of racist counter protesters. I guess even they are important in reminding people that there really is no refuge from bigotry and cruelty in the world, at least for now.
The corporate media and the Israeli government don't want us to see the people being injured and killed in Gaza as human beings. Photos can go a long way in countering that. Here are three people have posted on Flickr.
A wounded Palestinian girl is carried into the Al-Shifa hospital on December 28, 2008 in Gaza City, Gaza.Photo: Amir Farshad Ebrahimi
I was at Blazing Indiscretions when I saw the Iraq Casualty estimate graphic.
Over 1.3 million Iraqis have been killed in an illegal war that is damaging our economy and decimating theirs. Can we really be satisfied with Obama's proposal for a partial withdrawal in 16 months?
The organization behind the estimate, Just Foreign Policy, has a lot of excellent Action Alert items on their home page. They are an important activist's resource.
Please Help CODEPINK Lobby Obama Against This Horrifying War!