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Bloomberg Trying to Buy Another Election

Posted by libhom Tuesday, March 31, 2009 1 comments

From Metro 3/29/09:

Mayor Bloomberg opened campaign offices in all five boroughs over the weekend, showing an eagerness to begin a race that may be his alone to lose. In 2005, he waited until June to open his first outpost away from Manhattan.

A recent Quinnipiac poll gave Bloomberg a 15-point lead over Democrat William Thompson. City Comptroller Thompson has opened just one office.

The billionaire mayor bankrolls his own campaigns, spending $155 million on his first two outings and so far more than all of his challengers combined.

The $155 million is not the whole story. It only includes the amount of money Bloomberg gave directly to his previous two mayoral campaigns/purchases. It didn't include surges of charitable giving around election time, both of his money and of company money from his media empire.

The man who became a billionaire by promoting irresponsible behavior on Wall St. has found a way to silence traditional constituencies who have opposed far right politicians like Bloomberg (e.g., advocates for the poor, artists).

His omnipresent media buys also have had a corrosive effect on the integrity of the New York press. NY 1 was the worst example. They had news anchors constantly saying that Bloomberg was doing a good job. Maybe Bloomberg was doing a good job improving the balance sheet of their station, but they neglected to mention many specifics to back up such extraordinary claims. It got so bad I started calling them "Bloomberg 1" and stopped watching them.

Of course, NY 1 was just the most blatant. The corporate media bent backwards, forwards, and to the sides to pander to Bloomberg. We have the worst elections and press money can buy.

On a lighter note, Bloomberg isn't too choosy about who he has involved in his campaign offices. Convicted drunk driver and former GOP Staten Island congresscritter Vito Fossella was there for the opening of Bloomberg's Forgotten Borough office.

Photo: 廷鈞

 

Pagan Sphinx is doing some interesting writing on the Peace Tree. She found an NPR story on the "Quiverful Movement" that merits concern. The article takes a features approach to this nuttiness, missing out on most of the hard news angles. What is the "Quiverful Movement"?

Among some conservative Christians, a movement is giving new meaning to the biblical mandate to "be fruitful and multiply."

The movement, called Quiverfull, is based on Psalm 127, which says, "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

Those in the Quiverfull movement shun birth control, believing that God will give them the right number of children. It turns out, that's a lot of kids.

How much breeding is going on here?
Their friends do, too. The average family at their evangelical church has 8.5 kids. They are children who the Swansons hope will spread the message of Christ.

The thing about this figure is that most of those fundamentalist families haven't stopped having kids. You can expect that many of these women have had over ten kids or will eventually.

Women dying in childbirth has been a tragically common thing through most of human history. Medical advances have played a major role in cutting way back on this cause of death, but so has limiting family sizes. If women keep having babies until menopause, you have to wonder how many of them won't make it to menopause.

Then, the whole issue of Global Warming comes into play. Having kids, especially large numbers of kids, is bad for the planet. At what point does society have to place limits on reproduction when excessive reproduction has terrible consequences for all the humans, and for our planet's ecology. That's why I laugh when Rick Warren pretends that he is concerned about climate change while opposing birth control and abortion. In the real world, you cannot have it both ways.

The motives behind this fundamentalist irresponsibility are both disturbing and encouraging. Nancy Campbell, a leader of this fundie movement and the religious extremist who wrote Be Fruitful and Multiply explains the mindset.
"The womb is such a powerful weapon; it's a weapon against the enemy," Campbell says.

Campbell has 35 grandchildren. She and her husband stopped at six kids, and it is her great regret.

"I think, help! Imagine if we had had more of these children!" Campbell says, adding, "My greatest impact is through my children. The more children I have, the more ability I have to impact the world for God."

She goes on to express her fears about the way that Muslims are outbreeding Christians.

This is a sicko mentality, but it does have an interesting aspect to it. The militant, Christian fundamentalists wouldn't be so concerned about breeding like rabbits instead of humans if they thought that their faith was persuading the world or even the US of its veracity. In many ways, the "Quiverful Movement" is an admission by the Christian Taliban that they are losing the battle to make American a fundie country via evangelism.

It also reflects disappointment on the Christian Right that the imperial conquest of Iraq did not lead to mass conversions to Christianity. The latter was highly unrealistic, but many in the Christian Taliban firmly believed this would happen, and it was one of their reasons for supporting the Iraq War.

The only way they ever have even the slightest hope of being a majority even here in the United States is to breed like crazy and hope their kids don't realize how crazy their parents are. The "Quiverful Movement" is a tacit admission that the Christian Right is losing the war, though they are hurting plenty of people needlessly as they continue to battle on.

There also is an interesting aspect of this. A woman writer is pushing efforts to objectify women and their reproductive systems. This should illustrate something that is true of other prejudices and systems of oppression. Male supremacy is not a genetic trait passes along with the Y chromosome. It is an ideology that far too many women buy into.

 

In a previous posting, I ranted about news reports that the Obama administration planned on delaying action on repealing the deceptively named "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (Military witchhunts routinely occur under the policy where the service members didn't come out to the military.)

Christopher of From the Left called my attention to the Bush family crony and still Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying that no action will be taken to lift the military ban. From the 3/29/09 AFP article:

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Sunday ruled out an imminent change in the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy on gays in the military, saying President Barack Obama believes the Pentagon has "a lot on our plates right now."

Gates comments in an interview on Fox television were in response to an assertion by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs in January that Obama would end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military.

"We will follow the law, whatever it is," Gates said. "That dialogue, though, has really not progressed very far at this point in the administration."

"I think the president and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates right now, and let's push that one down the road a little bit," he said.

Considering that Gates and Obama plan on keeping the Iraq War going at least until the end of 2011 and the Afghanistan War going on for the foreseeable future, it is difficult to imagine a time when Gates' and his underlings won't have "a lot on their plates."

A lot of hetero Obama supporters and a few queer ones were dismissive when many in the lgbt community loudly condemned Barack Obama's viciously heterosexist and misogynistic decision to involve Rick Warren in the inauguration. Some even said it was "just a prayer." When so many Democrats gave Obama a pass on an act of naked aggression and bigotry against queers, the Obama administration interpreted it as a blank check to be as bigoted against us as they want to be. Although he has thrown queers a few crumbs, President Obama has maintained the Pink Ceiling on cabinet level appointments.

Now, this has happened.

Those of us who have been involved in lgbt activism for a couple of decades have started to see a repeat of the heinous history we experienced under Bill Clinton. If we don't start fighting back against Barack Obama's heterosexism, we will be doomed to who knows how many years of oppression by a President of a party that claims to support us when they want our votes, our volunteer time, and our campaign contributions.

 

Here's an interesting video on the subject.



It would be tempting to ignore Warren now that his reprehensible speech at the inauguration is over. That would be a huge mistake. Warren is even more prominent and powerful than he was in the past. He still has a large flock and a huge following outside of his Christ-Mart. His actions are still increasing the spread of HIV in Africa. He still hates the Constitution, especially the parts about representative democracy and state/church separation. Like the rest of the Christian Taliban, Rich Warren won't be satisfied until our system of government is replaced by a totalitarian theocracy.

When I originally read about this, my jaw dropped. (From Daily Finance 3/27/09)

According to Bloomberg News, Charlotte-based BofA "plans to increase some investment bankers' salaries by as much as 70 percent following the takeover of Merrill Lynch & Co., people familiar with the proposal said." This is the same bank that got $45 billion in support from the federal government.

Pay for managing directors would climb to about $300,000 from $180,000 while less senior directors would increase to $250,000 from $150,000, and vice presidents would get $200,000, up from about $125,000, according to Bloomberg.

There's a good chance that Bank of America Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis is raising the salaries simply because he does not like being told what to do. When Wall Street raised concerns about the acquisitions of Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial, he basically ignored them. Earlier this week, he vowed to begin repaying its federal TARP money next month because he did not like the strings that came attached with it.

Some analysts have argued that the Charlotte-based bank, which lost $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter, should be nationalized, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some critics think Lewis is full of it.

The money is coming from the bailouts. B of A has no money to pay for salaries that doesn't come from the bailouts. I think President Obama is absolutely wrong to try to dampen anger at the banksters and the brokers. He should be leading the charge and using it to crack down on these scum.

There simply is no possible way anyone can actually earn a $300,000 salary. It's just plain skimming based on power relations. Apparently, the B of A leadership is trying to send a message that if people don't want scandalous bonuses, then they will get astronomical salaries instead.

Having lived in California where B of A originated, I remember their legendary arrogance and contempt towards depositors and the general public. They really had an Exxon-Mobile level of hubris. It's gotten even worse these days.

Any bank, participating in the bailouts or not, should lose its banking licenses and incorporation if they pay anyone $300,000 a year. That money either belongs to the taxpayers or the depositors. We should stop coddling the banksters.

An aside: I just noticed that the word "broker" starts with "broke." It fits as in bankrupt or to have broken something.

 



Yep, we're still being spied on by our own government.

 

Fairness Advocates Debunk Bloomberg BS

Posted by libhom Friday, March 27, 2009 2 comments

Michael Bloomberg, the worst mayor our city has had since Jimmie Walker, has consistently put the financial interests of his rich friends above the general welfare and the needs of middle class and poor NYC residents. Now that the state is facing a fiscal crisis, Bloomberg is taking this to ridiculous extremes. He actually is opposing efforts to make the rich pay something a bit closer to their fair share in taxes. (New York Times 3/18/09)

It is perhaps the most potent argument offered by those who oppose increasing the income tax on wealthy New Yorkers: If you raise it, they will flee.

That case has been made repeatedly by Gov. David A. Paterson, who says that higher taxes should be a last resort. It has been featured in a campaign by Taxpayers for an Affordable New York, a coalition of real estate and business interests. And it has been on the mind of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City’s richest person, who said in a radio interview, “You can’t tax too much those that can move.”

I wish Bloomberg would leave New York and never come back.

Anyway, this bullshit has been debunked by Fiscal Policy Institute and the Center for Working Families. Here's their 3/22/09 press release.
New Report Debunks Criticisms of Progressive Income Tax Reform in New York

Raising Taxes on Wealthy New Yorkers Is the Best Option for Balancing the State's Budget During the Recession


Albany - The Fiscal Policy Institute and the Center for Working Families released a new report today debunking criticisms of progressive income tax reform. The report also explains why increasing taxes on the portion of income over a relatively high level is the "best option" for solving New York's current budget crisis.

The report, Back on Track: Why Progressive Tax Reform Is an Essential Part of New York's Budget Solution, looks at the economic changes and policy choices that caused New York's current fiscal crisis and examines the consequences of rolling back some of the state's income tax cuts on the wealthiest taxpayers.

"In less than two weeks, New York policymakers must decide how to balance next year's $14.2 billion deficit; the federal stimulus helps, but there's still a gap of about $8 billion," said Jason Angell, Director of the Center for Working Families, who co-authored the report. "Progressive income tax reform is not only the fairest way to get New York back on track, it's also the most economically sound. Low- and moderate-income families already are being battered by the recession. The State shouldn't add to that pain with damaging budget cuts."

"When you look at the economic evidence," said Frank Mauro, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, "there's little reason to believe progressive tax reform that adds one or more brackets to the personal income tax at relatively high levels would hurt New York's economy, and good reason to think it's the best option policymakers have left. The experience in other states that have raised high-end income taxes shows that the wealthy have not deserted their states just because their taxes were increased."

Under current law, the threshold for the top personal income tax rate is $20,000 for single taxpayers and $40,000 for joint filers. "Relatively few taxpayers would be affected by a high-end tax increase," said James Parrott, Chief Economist and Deputy Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. "In 2006," according to Parrott, "only 2.5 percent of New York residents had annual incomes above $250,000, one of the thresholds often discussed for an increased tax bracket. In most New York counties, fewer than two percent of taxpayers would be affected."

The study notes that drastic state budget cuts will harm the economy more than progressive income tax reform, and that such reform would provide balance to the overall tax system and help make New York more economically productive in the long-term.

An Executive summary, Table of contents, and Full report are available as well if you scroll down a bit.

If not for decades of tax cuts for the rich, our state wouldn't have much to worry about fiscally. Now, middle class and poor people in our state will be forced to have reduced services and higher fares for public transportation if the rich aren't forced to pay their share. Financial speculation by the rich was one of the main cause of the Wall St. meltdown that is creating the fiscal crisis. The rich should cough up the money to make up for what they have done.

 

My Right to Say "Islam Sucks"

Posted by libhom Wednesday, March 25, 2009 4 comments

Religions should be subject to any criticism anything else is. The notion that religions should get special treatment is not just patently offensive, it discriminates against those of us are atheists.

In case you are wondering why I chose Islam in my title when any religion would be deserving, the reason follows: (Scoop Independent News 3/26/09)

More Than 180 Organisations Reject Defamation Of Religions Campaign

More than 180 rights organisations worldwide, including 27 IFEX members, have banded together to oppose a "defamation of religions" campaign at the UN mounted by Islamic states that would make criticising religion a crime in UN resolutions, declarations and world conferences.

Most recently, Pakistan, on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), tabled a resolution on "combating defamation of religions" at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council. Although the text refers frequently to protecting all religions, the only religion specified as being attacked is Islam. The resolution is to be put to a vote on the last day of the session, 27 March.

OIC, an intergovernmental organisation comprising 57 states with majority or significant Muslim populations, has stepped up its fight for the concept of religious defamation to be added to UN resolutions since the 11 September attacks. Pressure to protect religions from defamation has been growing, especially since the Danish cartoons controversy in 2005.

Instead of dealing with the oppressive and violent aspects of Islam, these countries want to stifle perfectly legitimate criticism. It's the same mentality and agenda of the militant, Christian fundamentalists here in the good ole USA.

These nutjobs all need to get over it and to get over themselves. I forgot who said it first, but one person's religion really is another person's belly laugh.

A funny, anti religious blogger Pat Condell has a biting response to this resolution. (Hat Tip to MuckMakers)



 

Specter Attacks Middle Class, Poor Americans

Posted by libhom Tuesday, March 24, 2009 3 comments

Specter looking like his sinister self

Arlen Specter shows how much power wealthy interests have, even over "moderate" Republicans. (Politico 3/24/09)

Saying he is the “decisive vote,” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Arlen Specter has announced he will oppose the divisive Employee Free Choice Act, delivering a major blow to one of organized labor's top priorities.

Specter was the lone Republican in the last Congress to vote to advance the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize. The business community – which calls the legislation the “card check” bill — is strongly opposed to the bill and has been lobbying Specter hard to oppose the measure. Both Big Labor and business interests have plunged significant money into lobbying on the legislation, which has stalled in the Senate.

“It appears that 59 Democrats will vote to proceed with 40 Republicans in opposition. The decisive vote will be mine,” Specter said. “In a highly polarized Senate, many decisive votes are left to those who are willing to listen, reject ideology ... and resist the party line.”

Note the extreme right bias at the Politico, which refers to the EFCA as "divisive."

Specter's official statement contains an outright lie about the EFCA.
On the merits, the issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society.

The Employee Free Choice Act does not eliminated the secret ballot. It lets the employees decide whether they want card check or a secret ballot, instead of letting the employers decides as is the case with the current system. Specter's rather blatant lying about this shows that nothing he says on labor issues can be trusted.

We desperately need public financing of elections. The only reason why Specter is opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (and lying about it) is that he has been bought and paid for by wealthy donors. We need to end the situation where votes and positions in the Senate are auctioned off to the highest bidders.

Unions are one of the most important means that middle class and poor Americans have to fight back against mistreatment by corporations and the rich. Specter's donor base is made up of the same rich people who want the rest of us as powerless as possible. We know what side Specter is on.

If you live in Pennsylvania, please contact Specter and let him know that you want him to support the Employee Free Choice Act.

 

A System Reinforcing Our Passivity

Posted by libhom Monday, March 23, 2009 3 comments

My last post, A Rapid Fire Rant on Controlling Corporations, got a particularly interesting comment from Christopher of From the Left. I wanted to expand on my interpretation of it, since it brings up some things which have been bothering me for some time, but I haven't gotten around to ranting about.

I wish more people would rant about the greed and excess of corporate America.

But I also understand how damned worn out most Americans are today.

From the realities of unemployment, to worries about their housing and concerns about losing health insurance.

The country is in a bad way and the real victims are regular folks like us who have to make choices each day as in, what bill gets paid first and will the HEEP allocation cover the cost of the utility bill before the warm weather finally arrives.

These all are wonderful points. Yet, it is useful to keep in mind that this didn't all start recently for millions of Americans. When you add the economic inequality and difficult financial positions of major segments of our population that started with Reagan and kept getting worse except during the tech bubble, you can see why many people feel so beaten down.

There are other factors. College costs have been going up way faster than the cost of living. I think this is partly intentional. It freezes many people from not so wealthy backgrounds from good universities, and it buries millions of Americans in student loans. When you have to pay back enormous amounts of money, you are less likely to fight for justice in college and less likely to cause trouble when you get out.

Being in an economic equivalent of a vice is bound to make many people feel depressed and demoralized, even powerless. People who are quite understandably "worn out," are facing a food industry that is not even close to being on their side. If you are having trouble finding the energy to get out of bed in the morning, are you going to cook yourself a healthy meal or are you more likely to buy crap at a fast food place?

This is problematic. The movie Supersize Me (available free here), shows a rather hardcore example of the kind of diet that so many Americans eat. The most sensational aspect of the movie is the threat to peoples' lives posed by eating fast food.

I would like to focus on another part. Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's 30 day Mickey Sleaze only experiment caused major mood shifts. After a few days of eating only McDonald's food, he became lethargic, apathetic, and "worn out." It makes perfect sense. Digestion takes energy. Overeating makes you lethargic. Overeating without getting adequate nutrition makes you even more "worn out."

Then, why not pile on other reasons why people feel powerless and frightened. After all, that's exactly what society does. Search engines make so much of our lives open to employers and future employers. It is a standard practice at most workplaces to "Google" people before they are hired. Kind of makes you want to avoid taking a controversial stand on an issue, doesn't it?

Let's not forget the media. The heavily biased, inaccurate, and censored "news" the corporate media hand to us is designed to make any improvement in our lives seem futile, extreme, crazy, and even unAmerican. It's like Soviet Pravda in the closet. It makes people distracted and encourages them to stay in denial, reinforcing what their difficult lives does to them all the time.

The most extreme example involves that major war our country is in...you know, the one in Iraq. It's ravaged that country, killed well over 1.3 million of its people, while devastating ours. Yet, it is so easy to watch TV news and pretend everything is OK.

It's too damned easy.

I wouldn't say there is one big conspiracy behind all of this, though there are little conspiracies within many of the parts. What we have is a system which makes a few people a lot of money while keeping most people deprived, fearful, disenfranchised, and miserable.

When candidate Obama and his competitors kept talking about "change" it felt great. How could it not? The problem is that we have become so demoralized, alienated, and separated from the realities of our own lives, much less society as a whole, that most of us have little left to actually come up with our own ideas of what meaningful change would be.

I think it is worth the effort. If we don't engage in hard thinking about how we think the world could be, we will be powerless to push for a society we actually want to live in.

 

A Rapid Fire Rant On Controlling Corporations

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 22, 2009 7 comments

220
9
lab.drwicked.com


Blue Gal has found an excellent toy. Dr. Wicked's Write or Die is a system of nagging you to write faster. I decided to try out the system and see what fun I could have. I set it to 200 words in ten minutes. I had to deliberately stop longer than I needed to see the negative reinforcement that is used to push you to keep typing. I think it would be more difficult if I had decided on the topic of ranting before I started typing. Anyway, it was fun, and I may use it again when I get bored.

There is one caveat. You really do need to copy and paste your work elsewhere before clicking "Done" because the Dr. Wicked system doesn't preserve paragraph breaks.

If you get blogger's block (or you are addicted to the latest geek toys like me), you might want to try it too. Here's what I produced in a short period of time.
What is the point of forced progress? Forced progress sometimes is necessary. Big Oil isn't going to change and become socially conscious on its own. It will need to be forced. That means tough laws. It may also mean changes to its terms of incorporation.

The corporation originally was meant to give a special privilege, limited liability to shareholders which means they only lose the money they invested, in return for doing a public good. This often meant that corporations produced public works projects such as toll bridges.

Over time, the need for public good was whittled away. A farcical Supreme Court ruling even gave corporations legal "personhood." No, I'm not making this up. A government construct meant to give investors special treatment became a constitutionally protected "person."

Things have gotten so bizarre that corporations actually can be sued by shareholders if they do something in the public interest that reduces profits. Investors not only get limited liability, but they also get an absolute obligation to maximize profits no matter how society is damaged in the process.

We don't need to passively accept this. A publicized campaign on the absurdity of corporate personhood could well force a future Supreme Court to reverse that dubious 19th Century ruling. Then, the government could put conditions on how corporations conduct their affairs.

It's past time that we got control of corporations. Our government created corporations. We have every right to exert control over them.

CODEPINK Remembers Bloody Iraq Anniversary

Posted by libhom Saturday, March 21, 2009 2 comments

The corporate media are downplaying the story, because they don't want us to think about the people being slaughtered in Iraq. They would prefer that we feel sorry for the rich people who were so irresponsible that they were easy pickings for Madoff. CODEPINK isn't forgetting.

From their 3/12/09 press release:

CODEPINK women across America to mark Iraq War’s sixth anniversary
Call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, aid to Afghanistan, end to war economy


WHAT: Events nationwide organized around sixth anniversary of Iraq War, occupation of Afghanistan
WHEN: March 14 to March 20
WHERE: Cities and towns across America

NATIONWIDE — To recognize and mourn six tragic years of war in Iraq, CODEPINK
women across America on its anniversary this year will host rallies, film screenings, marches and conferences, connecting the failing U.S. economy with continued military spending.

This March 14 to 21, most will call on Pres. Obama to keep his campaign promise to withdraw all troops from Iraq by early 2010, urge him to stop any military efforts in Afghanistan and rely on diplomacy first and last. They will also call for investigation and prosecution of U.S. officials, proper care for American veterans and refugees.

“After six devastating years of war, thousands of people from San Francisco to Central Florida are planning inspiring marches, vigils, film screenings and more to continue the call for end to war, proper care for veterans, and a reinvestment in America,” said Rae Abileah, CODEPINK’s local groups’ coordinator. “In every pocket of the country this month, they’ll tell Obama they want U.S.-Middle East foreign
relations to be replaced with diplomacy and peaceful solutions.”

Born in the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003, CODEPINK Women for Peace has become a vibrant, creative voice in the peace movement, an outlet especially for women in the United States and worldwide. The consistent hard work of thousands in more than 200 chapters worldwide has helped to turn public opinion against the atrocities of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza.

Nearly two dozen sixth anniversary events are planned thus far nationwide, and more are currently being finalized. For updated information, please visit the CODEPINK website here.

The call for ending the war economy is telling. If we keep shoveling resources to an effort to dominate and humiliate Iraq, that could very well push us into another Great Depression.

 

Phonycrats Start Their Own Club

Posted by libhom Thursday, March 19, 2009 5 comments


Photo: TitaniumDreads

At least liberals will know which "Democrats" to never give money to.

From Raw Story 3/18/09:

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) proclaimed today on MSNBC's Morning Joe the beginning of a new group of conservative Democrats that could work to block Obama's budget priorities.

The group, which is composed of 14 Senate Democrats and Joe Lieberman(I-CT), are the same Senators who met two weeks ago to discuss how centrists can assert more leverage on the policy debates that are dominating Congress. The goal of Bayh's “Moderate Dems Working Group” is to “work with the Senate leadership and the new administration to craft common-sense solutions to urgent national problems,” according to the press release. "You have to get the 60 votes in the Senate and that's going to be hard and it will take the centrists to get there. We want to help make the changes we need and that's what our group is all about," Bayh told MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.

In addition to Senators Bayh and Lieberman, others joining the group are Tom Carper of Delaware, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

The Democrats are already governing too far to the right as it is. These jackasses seem determined to reduce voting for Democrats to a futile gesture.

The Green Party keeps looking more attractive...

 

Six Years in Iraq

Posted by libhom 7 comments

photo of shot up Iraqi civilians
Photo: publik16

The war on Iraq already seems endless, yet President Obama wants to drag it out at least until the end of December of 2011. A war the has cost the lives of far more than one million Iraqis and 4000 American troops needs to end ASAP. This same war of aggression and genocide has devastated the Iraqi economy while being one of the biggest factors causing our financial collapse.

Let's get real. Continuing the war on Iraq all the way until the end of 2011 could cause a Great Depression.

Tell President Obama it is time for a rapid and full withdrawal in Iraq. There is absolutely no excuse for any US troops being in Iraq past the end of April of this year. Claims that it would take longer insult the competency of the US military.

Contact President Obama and tell him way too much is way too much.

Web: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

Phone Numbers:
Comments: 202-456-1111
FAX: 202-456-2461

TTY/TDD
Comments: 202-456-6213

Postal Mail:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

 

Religion so often is on the opposite side of justice. (NY Times 3/11/09)

Roman Catholic and Orthodox Jewish officials in New York are mounting an intense lobbying effort to block a bill before the State Legislature that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children.

State Senator Thomas K. Duane, who met on Wednesday with the New York Coalition to Protect Children, is the sponsor of a bill that would suspend the statute of limitations on abuse claims.

A perennial proposal that has been quashed in past years by Republicans who controlled the State Senate, the bill is now widely supported by the new Democratic majority in that chamber, and for the first time is given a good chance of passing.

If signed by Gov. David A. Paterson, a longtime supporter, the bill would at minimum revive hundreds of claims filed in recent years against Catholic priests and dioceses in New York, but dismissed because they were made after the current time limit, which is five years after the accuser turns 18. Similar legislation has passed in Delaware and in California, where a 2003 law led to claims that have cost the church an estimated $800 million to $1 billion in damages and settlements.

The rekindled prospects of the New York bill, known as the Child Victims Act, come at a delicate juncture for the Archdiocese of New York, the nation’s flagship see, where Cardinal Edward M. Egan is scheduled to hand over the reins in April. His successor, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of Milwaukee, was so hard hit by settlements for past abuse by priests in that archdiocese that he was forced to put its headquarters up for sale.

“We believe this bill is designed to bankrupt the Catholic Church,” said Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, a group representing the bishops of the state’s eight dioceses. He said that Cardinal Egan and Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn visited Albany this week to voice their opposition, and that a statewide network of Catholic parishioners had bombarded lawmakers via e-mail.

Orthodox Jewish leaders have gotten into this.
But while the Catholic Church is leading the opposition, in recent months a loose coalition of disparate groups has also joined the effort. They include leaders of the Hasidic and Sephardic Jewish institutions in Brooklyn, which could face equally costly abuse claims.

Never, ever trust a preacher.

Bankrupting these monstrous churches would be the best thing that could ever happen. It would dramatically reduce brainwashing, and cut way back on raping children too.

 

Reminder: Blog Against Theocracy, April 10-12

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 15, 2009 2 comments

Church with American flag altered to replace the stars with a cross, all in a no symbol
Graphic: Used with permission from My Thoughts Are Free

Visit the Blog Against Theocracy site for information on how to participate.

The breadth of grassroots support for the Christian Taliban has waned since the AWOL Rapture around 2000 and the miserable failure of the last regime and its militant fundamentalist leader, George W. Bush. However, the fundies still have an enormous organizational network, and wounded animals often are the most ferocious. As the chances of the Christian extremists to become the majority in our society become close to nil, the Rick Warrens of this country will be even more determined to seek power via extraconstitutional means.

This is no time for supporters of state/church separation to be complacent or celebrate victory. This struggle has years left.

 

Demanding That Obama Do More

Posted by libhom Saturday, March 14, 2009 5 comments

A recent post on Preserve, Protect, and Defend does an excellent job of pointing out the frustrations Obama supporters have with his conservative critics in the corporate media and in Congress. I encourage you to read the whole post, part of which I'm excerpting here.

I'm so sick of all the talking-heads that spout only drivel, second-guessers, back-seat-drivers, know-nothings and do-nothings that I could vomit.

At the same time that they're telling Obama that he's not doing enough: that he should have solved the economic crisis by now— you know, the one that took at least all the years since Reagan took office to create —they're managing to tell him that he's doing too much. Somehow, they've managed to convince themselves he can do both simultaneously.
And they accuse us of calling him Superman.

What they're actually saying is that they don't want to save the environment and create sustainable energy sources. They don't want the rest of us to have affordable health care. They don't want to care for our veterans. They don't want to allow the children of us peons to receive an education. And they absolutely refuse to see how all these matters are related to each other and the economy.

It is understandable that people would be tired of the nihilism and opportunism of the right. However, we all have a responsibility to be "back seat drivers" and "second guessers." In a democracy , that is our responsiblity and inalienable right. We have to remember that politicians work for us, not the other way around.

There are critics on the left who are making legitimate points about the need for Obama to do more. He needs to do more, a lot more, in many areas. Here are some blatantly obvious examples.

- Budgeting a massive expansion of our nation's public transportation network

- Rapidly and completely withdrawing from a war on Iraq that is devastating our economy while destroying theirs

- Working for a moratorium on foreclosures

- Supporting HR 676, the single payer healthcare bill, rather than imperiously saying that single payer is "off the table"

- Restoring all the financial regulations that were included in the Glass-Steagall Act, which was slowly eviscerated by Republicans as well as Phonycrats like Bill Clinton

- Subjecting hedge funds to all the same transparency and regulations of regular mutual funds

- Repealing the Bush tax cuts for the rich ASAP, given the easily observed fact that tax cuts for the rich slow the economy and helped to cause the crises we face

- Budgeting money for the Gulf Coast Civil Works Project

- Working in a calm, cooperative manner with the international community to repeal NAFTA and other corporate controlled trade agreements, including dissolving the World Trade Organization

- Strongly enforcing our nation's antitrust laws so we won't have the economic disruptions caused by huge corporations going under

- Firing Larry Summers, chief Clinton administration architect of financial deregulation and corporate controlled trade deals

These are just areas where there are deficiencies in Obama's economic policies. There are a lot of policy deficiencies in other areas too.

We need to push Obama hard, not blindly support a center-right Democrat like him. We can't afford to go along with too much of the same when the same is devastating our country. Liberals and progressives cannot afford to make the same mistake we made before of giving Bill Clinton a chance. That was a disaster. We need to fight hard no matter which politician is in office.

 

Some Lessons from the Jim Cramer Kerfluffle

Posted by libhom Friday, March 13, 2009 8 comments

I always wondered how people could take advice on something as serious as investing from someone who acts like Jim Cramer does on TV. It turns out my instincts were absolutely correct. (Hat tip Balloon Juice)



That's right. This schmuck told people not to sell Bear Stearns right before it collapsed. He didn't just give bad advice, he accused people concerned about BS's liquidity problems of being "silly." (BS sure was an apt acronym for that company.)

Cramer's recent attacks on the Obama administration have put Cramer's record under more scrutiny. That is so overdue. He is a clown, literally, not an investment adviser. How can he be so influential and have such a big audience among our wealthy elites?

The reality is that most rich people don't invest, they speculate. For them, it's a big fucking game. That's why so many of them base their speculative decisions on the rantings of a clown, rather than doing serious research of the long term prospects of what they are buying and selling.

The problem is that these imbecilic rich people are taking the rest of us down with them.

One of the reasons why the Bush, and yes Reagan, tax cuts for the rich have helped to cause our economic crises is that most rich people are simply too irresponsible to be allowed to handle large sums of money. Giving them more money to throw around is just plain dangerous. If you want to dispute this, think about how many rich people fell for Madoff and similar scammers. Think of the bubbles irresponsible rich speculators have created in technology, gold, real estate, etc. If the majority of wealthy people invested responsibly, the Crash of 2008 would not have been possible.

Cramer would throw a tantrum if he read this, but making the rich pay their fair share in taxes is critical to creating a sustainable economic recovery.

Another aspect I find disturbing is that the only critics of Obama's economic policies that get corporate media play are on the right. What about grassroots activists who want Obama to help people with predatory mortgages? (That would help the banksters in the process too.) What about people who want Obama to nationalize the big banks and use them to fuel a recovery?

Even when rightist economic policies have been recently proven to be dismal failures, the corporate media give the Rush Limbaughs and Jim Cramers of the world endless airtime to promote their 2 + 2 = a baloney sandwich "logic" to their viewers.

Sigh.

 

Blasphemy Conviction in Afghanistan

Posted by libhom Thursday, March 12, 2009 1 comments

WTF?!?!?!?!?!

From the Globe and Mail 3/12/09:

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- The Afghanistan Supreme Court has secretly upheld a 20-year sentence imposed on a young journalism student who allegedly questioned Muslims' treatment of women.

The lawyer for Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh said he was stunned to find that the ruling had been made without his knowledge.

"On Saturday, I went to the Supreme Court asking for the date of the hearing and also to submit my defence," said Mohammad Afzal Nooristani, who has acted for Mr. Kambakhsh in the case that has drawn international attention.

"They told me they already decided about the case a month ago behind closed doors."

This is really disturbing. One of the rationales for this war is that it was supposed to end religious extremism.

It gets worse. Here's the "blasphemy."
In late 2007, Mr. Kambakhsh, 24, was charged with blasphemy after he allegedly disrupted classes with questions about women's rights in Islamic society. He was also said to have illegally distributed an article he printed from the Internet, asking why Islam does not give women equal rights, and to have added three paragraphs to the article himself, one of which read: "This is the real face of Islam. ... The prophet Mohammed wrote verses of the holy [Koran] just for his own benefit."

Another rationale for the war in Afghanistan was improving the situation for women. From what I've read, that only has happened in Kabul.

This is absolutely offensive. It is morally reprehensible to make a victimless action like blasphemy into a "crime."

What are we doing in Afghanistan? What are the goals for the expanded number of US troops being sent there? What will be done about the corruption and religious extremism in Afghanistan? Is there going to be any serious effort to rebuild Afghanistan after decades of war? (There hasn't been any real rebuilding in Iraq in spite of all the money being sent to war profiteers for "rebuilding projects.")

 

photo looking up CNN buildingFairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) recently has exposed anti middle class and pro insurance company/HMO bias on CNN (which I sometimes call the Corporate News Network).

Before I reproduce the Action Alert, I would like to point out that CNN and this reporter are not doing their jobs as journalists to expose the massive fraud committed by the insurance companies and HMOs which literally causes so many Americans to die needlessly.

One of the truly reprehensible practices of these evil corporations is to delay care as long as possible in hopes that the patient will die before making the companies pay out for surgery, chemotherapy, etc. If CNN was really doing its job, people would realize that their suffering and the suffering of people they know are not isolated incidents, but rather the results of massive and deadly fraud by the insurance companies and HMOs.

CNN: Single-Payer Is So '90s
Medical reporter warns against 'government-run health system'

3/12/09

In one of the few recent corporate media mentions of single-payer healthcare, CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen (3/5/09) explained why healthcare "reform" is more possible now than it was under President Bill Clinton:
Fifteen years ago you sometimes heard--actually you heard quite a bit--people saying: "Let's have a single-payer system like in Canada. The government is going to be the health insurer for everybody." You don't hear that as much as you used to. So more people are on the same page more than they once were.

Cohen is right that there were many people in favor of single-payer 15 years ago; as an Extra! article from that era (7-8/93) pointed out, New York Times polling since 1990 had "consistently found majorities--ranging from 54 percent to 66 percent--in favor of tax-financed national health insurance." The numbers today? A New York Times/CBS poll (1/11-15/09) found 59 percent in favor of government-provided national health insurance. In other words, contrary to Cohen's claim, people are on pretty much the same page today as they were 15 years ago.

Cohen's suggestion that it was those loud voices that stymied "reform" is likewise unsupportable; as Extra! reported back in 1993, corporate media were then solidly behind the Clinton administration's big insurer-friendly "managed competition" plan:
While the phrase "managed competition" appeared in 62 New York Times news stories in the six months following the 1992 election, "single-payer" appeared in only five news stories during that period--never in more than a single-sentence mention.

Establishment journalists thus silenced those single-payer voices in 1993, just as Cohen and her contemporaries silence single-payer advocates today, as a new FAIR study recently revealed (3/6/09).

Earlier (CNN Newsroom, 2/26/09), Cohen had argued that "if in time, Americans start to think what President Obama is proposing is some kind of government-run health system--a la Canada, a la England--he will get resistance in the same way that Hillary Clinton got resistance when she tried to do tried to do this in the '90s."

As noted above, a government-financed national health insurance program is broadly popular in opinion polls, so it's unclear why Obama would get "resistance" if "Americans start to think" he's proposing such a plan. (If insurance companies start to think that, on the other hand, then they're certainly likely to create resistance.)

And Hillary Clinton in 1993 was certainly not proposing a government-financed system like Canada's, let alone a government-run system like Britain's; her "managed competition" plan was explicitly designed to preserve a central role for private insurance companies. It's hard to square the suggestion that Clinton was proposing a government-based healthcare system with Cohen's later acknowledgment that single-payer advocates were not "on the same page."

CNN plays a significant role in the healthcare debate. The channel's other top medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, was Obama's first choice to be surgeon general, and was one of the leading critics attacking Michael Moore's pro-single-payer documentary Sicko (FAIR Action Alert, 7/11/07). Cohen should use her prominent journalistic role in the healthcare reform debate to broaden and clarify the debate, rather than confuse and narrow it.


ACTION: Please write to Elizabeth Cohen and ask her to include the single-payer proposal as an option in the healthcare reform debate with continuing popular support.


CONTACT:
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN
404-827-1500
elizabeth.cohen@turner.com

You might also point out that she should be reporting on the evil activities of insurance companies and HMOs instead of making false and ridiculous claims about the popularity of single payer.

Photo: brianwallace

 

Action for Change

Posted by libhom Tuesday, March 10, 2009 3 comments

We can not rely on politicians to create change. We need to fight for it. Here are some things you can do to fight for change.

1) Oppose "Abstinence Only" Scams
Militant Christian fundamentalists have been foisting what they pretend it "abstinence only education" on the public schools for years. These are basically anti-sex nagging used in place of legitimate sex education. Preaching this nonsense instead of teaching our youth about their bodies results in higher levels of unplanned pregnancies HIV infection rates. The National Partnership for Women and Families has an Action Alert calling on President Obama not to include this crap in the final version of his budget which he will submit in April.

Tell the White House "No More Abstinence Only Scams"

2) Support the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and a Trans Inclusive ENDA
There are so many reasons to support this legislation. Making it harder for employers to intimidate employees into not joining unions is a basic matter of fairness. Organized labor is a strong ally of lgbt issues and the issues of other disenfranchised groups in our society. Strengthening unions is a matter of practical politics for queers, women, and people of color. Also, increasing unionization improves the quality of lives for union workers. Indirectly, it helps non union workers because it pushes up wages and benefits across industries.

Of course, there also is the issue of balancing the power between various classes in our society. A strong labor movement means that the rich don't have absolute power over our nation's politics.

The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) is federal legislation banning most employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Harry Reid tried to get the gender identity protections taken out last sessions. But, gender identity is back for now.

Pride @ Work sent me an email asking people to fill out an Action Alert from organized labor supporting both the EFCA and ENDA. Here's Pride @ Work's take on the Employee Free Choice Act:

The Employee Free Choice Act was just introduced! Simply put, this legislation will allow employees to make their own decision about whether they want to bargain together - to advocate for fairer wages, benefits and working conditions - without the threat or fear of harassment and retribution and fear of losing their livelihood.

With no federal workplace protections, the LGBT community is already especially vulnerable on the job. Easier access to collectively bargained, inclusive contracts will benefit LGBT workers and their families immensely, especially during these tough times.

Support ENDA and EFCA Now!

3) Help People Facing Foreclosures
I'm amazed that there isn't a federal effort to stop foreclosures altogether for a few years, but this is a good step in that direction. Consumers Union is supporting legislation to help people keep their homes.
During its work this week on economic stimulus and the banking system rescue, Congress may allow struggling homeowners facing bankruptcy to restructure their mortgage payments and stay in their homes. This proposal won't cost taxpayers a cent, and is expected to save a million homes.

But some of the same financial institutions whose lending recklessness got us into this economic mess are fighting the change!

Right now, bankruptcy courts can modify all sorts of loans -- for corporations, commercial real estate, even vacation homes -- but can't do the same for families on the verge of losing their only home. The change would let homeowners get the same chance to restructure their loan and keep paying their mortgage.

Take Actions to Prevent Foreclosures!

 

One of the reasons why allowing conservative and rightist judges to sit on the Supreme Court is so awful is their lack of respect for the Establishment Clause of the US Consitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that the First Amendment does not merely prohibit the establishment of "a particular religion" or even "a religion," common propaganda claims of the militant fundamentalists. The First Amendment prohibits the "establishment of religion."

Voucher programs exist for the sole purpose of subsidizing religious schools, despite the wink and nod propaganda of the far right in this country. Vouchers have failed to improve educational performance, even in studies performed by voucher supporters. Given the amount of time religious schools waste on religious brainwashing, which reduces intellectual capacity, instead of education, this is hardly surprising.

Now, a bunch of luny Republicans want to continue to impose an unwanted voucher plan on the District of Columbia which DC doesn't want and never did. Congress should reject this nonsense and focus educational funding on education. Congress should also stop treating DC as a playpen for its most obnoxious and unproductive schemes.

Atheists shouldn't have to pay to subsidize religion. We have a right to live our lives as free from the oppression of religion as possible.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a 3/6/09 press release on the subject:
U.S. Senate Should Reject Ensign School Voucher Proposal, Says Americans United
Friday, March 6, 2009

Watchdog Group Says Washington, D.C., Program Forces Taxpayers To Fund Religious Schools And Diverts Attention From Public School Improvement

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has called on the Senate to reject Sen. John Ensign’s proposal to extend Washington, D.C.’s private school voucher plan.

The program, Americans United asserts, funds religious schools, diverts attention from public school improvement and has not raised student achievement.

“The sad truth is, this fight is not about helping kids in D.C. or anywhere else,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “It’s about ideology. Some people just don’t like public schools and want to use vouchers to funnel public funds to religious and other private schools.

“The American people have rejected this approach over and over again at the ballot box,” Lynn continued. “The Senate should reject school vouchers as well. Our focus should be on improving public schools, not undercutting them through vouchers.”

D.C.’s federally funded voucher plan was foisted on the District of Columbia by private school advocates in the Bush administration in 2004. It was initially funded by Congress for five years as an experiment.

The program is due to expire this year, but some senators, notably U.S. Sens. Ensign (R-Nev.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), are pushing to continue it.

Ensign has put forward Amendment 615 to the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 1105) that would have the effect of extending the program. The matter could face a Senate vote as early as Monday.

Lynn noted that some voucher supporters have resorted to extreme rhetoric. Yesterday, DeMint said during a news conference that most D.C. public school students end up joining gangs.

“If you send a kid to [public] school in D.C., chances are that they will end up in a gang rather than graduating,” DeMint said.

On March 3, Americans United sent a letter to every senator, urging them to vote against Ensign’s amendment.

“Senator Ensign’s amendment would open the door to the indefinite funding of the expired D.C. voucher program even though it has been proven ineffective, would harm civil rights and civil liberties, and would strip necessary accountability standards needed to fix identified problems that exist in the current program,” asserted the letter.

AU’s letter notes that reports issued by the U.S. Department of Education in 2007 and 2008 show that the academic achievement of D.C voucher students is no better than that of students attending D.C. public schools.

In addition, a November 2007 report by the General Accounting Office criticized the program, finding that “accountability and internal control were inadequate.”

Rush Limbaugh's wholly owned political party gets more and more offensive every day.

 

Opposition to Obama's Decision to Drag Out the Iraq War

Posted by libhom Thursday, March 05, 2009 4 comments

I am so ashamed that I voted for Barack Obama in the Democratic primary. I should have stuck with Kucinich. I'm so proud of voting for Cynthia McKinney in the general election. The latter decision was better informed and far wiser.

Anyway, it looks like bloggers aren't the only people disappointed by Obama's decision to drag out the war on Iraq at least until the end of 2011.

From CODEPINK Press Release 2/27/09:

CODEPINK calls Obama’s announcement of timetable, residual troops in Iraq a “broken promise”
Americans must continue to push for change


WASHINGTON — CODEPINK Women for Peace is disheartened by President Obama’s announcement this morning for troop withdrawal by Aug. 2010, later than his campaign promise, leaving residual troops until December 2011.

Americans voted for Obama largely based on his opposition to the war since its start, and his promise to end the occupation in 2009.

“While the move toward withdrawal is positive, this timeline and leaving tens of thousands of residual troops sounds more like occupation-lite than an end to occupation,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. “But compared to the past eight years of moving backward, at least there’s an atmosphere now where we can continue to apply pressure on the administration to push forward.”

CODEPINK women call on Obama and his administration to immediately withdraw all U.S. troops, including residual forces from Iraq. Instead, the U.S. government should increase efforts in diplomacy, humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement. Continued troop presence will only encourage more armed opposition within Iraq and will not force the Iraqi government and Iraqi factions to negotiate power. In addition, with the continued presence of U.S. troops, the international community will doubt the U.S. commitment to withdrawal and will wait to invest in diplomatic and reconstruction efforts.

From Iraq Veterans Against the War
IVAW Wants to See Obama Call for a Complete Withdrawal from Iraq

As an organization of Global War on Terror veterans and Active Duty service members, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is pleased that President Obama is taking important steps to bring our fellow service members home. However, his plan to slowly remove combat brigades over the next 18 months and leave a remaining 35-50,000 troops throughout 2011 is a plan for almost three more years of an unjustified military occupation that continues to claim the lives and livelihoods of our troops and innocent Iraqis.

President Obama speaks of a change in mission, from a combat role to a support role, but yet still leaves room for “conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions” with a portion of the transitional forces remaining combat-ready. He also does not include a timeline for removing the more than 150,000 private defense contractors and mercenaries still in Iraq, nor does he address the question of disallowing permanent military bases.

The ANSWER Coaltion was a bit more direct in its email:
With his speech today, President Obama has essentially agreed to continue the criminal occupation of Iraq indefinitely. He announced that there will be an occupation force of 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq for at least three more years. President Obama used carefully chosen words to avoid a firm commitment to remove the 50,000 occupation troops, even after 2011.

The war in Iraq was illegal. It was aggression. It was based on lies and false rationales. President Obama's speech today made Bush’s invasion sound like a liberating act and congratulated the troops for "getting the job done." More than a million Iraqis died and a cruel civil war was set into motion because of the foreign invasion. President Obama did not once criticize the invasion itself.

He has also requested an increase in war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, and plans to double the number of U.S. troops sent to fight in Afghanistan.

President Obama has asked Congress to provide more than $200 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars over the next two years, in addition to increasing the Pentagon budget by four percent.

Based on President Obama's new budget, the Pentagon would rank as the world's 17th largest economy—if it were a country. This new budget increases war spending. Total spending in 2010 would roughly equate to an average of $21,000 a second.

This is not the end of the occupation of Iraq, but rather the continuation of the occupation.

There is only one reason that tens of thousands of troops will remain in Iraq: It is because this is a colonial-type occupation of a strategically important and oil-rich country located in the Middle East where two-thirds of the world's oil reserve can be found.

Obama's speech was a major disappointment for anyone who was hoping that Obama would renounce the illegal occupation of Iraq. Today, the U.S. government spends $480 million per day to fund the occupation of Iraq. Even if 100,000 troops are drawn out by August 2010, that means the indefinite occupation of Iraq will cost more than $100 million each day. The continued occupation of Iraq for two years or three years or more makes a complete mockery out of the idea that the Iraqi people control their own destiny. It is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty and independence.

It is no wonder that John McCain came out to support President Obama's announced plan on Iraq. McCain was an supporter of former President Bush's and Vice President Cheney's war and occupation in Iraq.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld—the architects of regime change in Iraq—never had the goal of indefinitely keeping 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. They wanted to subdue the Iraqi people and exercise control with a smaller force. The Iraqi armed resistance prolonged the stationing of 150,000 U.S. troops.

Bush's goal was domination over Iraq and its oil supplies, and domination over the region. This continues to be the goal of the U.S. political and economic establishment, including that of the new administration.

Contact the President and Demand a Full and Rapid Withdrawal from Iraq!

Web: www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
Phone: 202-456-1111

 

Protest Sign with Cat saying I Can Has Nootral Internets?
Photo: acroll

President Obama has nominated an Internet industry backer of Net Neutrality to be the next Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman. (From CNET 3/3/09 - Hat Tip to From the Left)

President Obama on Tuesday nominated Julius Genachowski as the nation's top telecommunications regulator, picking a campaign advisor who has divided his career between Washington, D.C., political jobs and working as an Internet executive.

Genachowski had been mentioned as a likely candidate for the Federal Communications Commission post, in part because he participated in the Obama campaign's Internet efforts and previously worked as chief counsel to Democratic FCC Chairman Reed Hundt.

"He will bring to the job diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service," Obama said in a statement.

Genachowski is likely to continue the Democratic push for more Net neutrality regulations, which are opposed by some conservatives and telecommunications providers. He was a top Obama technology advisor and aided in crafting a technology platform that supported Net neutrality rules.

This is good news from an administration whose overall performance has been all over the map so far. It doesn't make up for President Obama's Clintonian discrimination against queers in Cabinet level appointments. It certainly won't absolve him from potential war crimes prosecution if he really does carry out his threat to drag out the war of aggression against Iraq until 2011. But, it is good news.

One word of caution on Genachowski. He works in the Internet industry. His industry is experiencing consolidation; companies in his industry will go bankrupt as in other industries; and many potential employers after his government service will be the same people who will be lobbying him against Net Neutrality. This is no time to declare victory. People who want a free Internet will have to keep fighting.

Note on the Budget: As usual, corporate media coverage of the Obama budget is mostly on the politics, not the policy. The actual policies embedded in that budget appear to be just as all over the map as everything else this administration has done so far. It invites further study, and selective activism to try to improve it in Congress. Liberals and progressives need to be very careful not to reflexively support or oppose this administration. At this time, it's a matter of putting pressure on the White House and Congress to improve.

 

 

Did Obama Make a Dirty Deal with the Bush People?

Posted by libhom Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1 comments

Obama giving speech before small audienceI've been wondering about this, but I didn't have the balls/ovaries to write it first. Here's a shoutout to Advice Unasked.

But, croaks the Raven, I don't think that where it's at. It looks to me like a bargain was struck with the criminals of the Bush administration, just like the bargains made with other corrupt dictators who have been forced, finally, to leave office: defend us, let us retire, and we will go quietly. Frankly, I'm astonished. These people have already "left" public life. Unless they are punished, they will return again, or their next generation. I don't want to see another pointless war of aggression, I don't want another great depression, I want my civil rights back, I want all these things for future generations as well. There is also an ethical problem: this is corrupting. If the biggest criminals get off, what reason is there for the rest of us to toe the line? Corruption breeds corruption. And what are we going to do when the Arab/Islamic world decides that, under the Bush doctrines of enforcement of national laws internationally, they can deal out justice against these people within our own borders?

Deals with murderous dictators are nothing new in other countries. It certainly would explain a lot.

image of vampire Bush biting the bleeding neck of the statue of liberty
Image: George W. Bush addenta il collo della Statua della Libertà.
(George W. Bush bites Statue of Liberty's neck.)
Stencil. Authors: Soggett & Ego.
Via Bologna - Andria (Ba) - Italy
Photo: smeerch

 

RNC Chair Michael Steele did the unthinkable. He tried to win elections for the GOP.

By trying to distance the GOP from the voluminous Rush Limbaugh, Steele attempted to do what any competent professional would do in his job. The vast majority of Americans think that Limbaugh is worse than anything you could ever scrape off of your shoe.

I've read that Steele already has backed down to the lunatics who have been captured into an orbit of Limbaugh. Planet Limbaugh has conquered the GOP. However, the Rushtroopers have scorched the ground of the GOP in the process.

Poor babies.

 

Don't Buy Stocks Until All US Troops Are Out of Iraq

Posted by libhom Monday, March 02, 2009 3 comments

Crossposted to Out of Iraq Bloggers Caucus

A lot of financial news and blog articles are speculating on when is a good time to start buying stocks again. One factor they fail to consider is the Iraq War. President Obama's plan to continue the occupation of Iraq with at least 50,000 more US troops is an important consideration, one that should not be overlooked.

The war on Iraq is enormously costly in lives. The over 4,000 US dead are dwarfed by the over 1.3 million Iraqis killed. Another cost is economic. Iraq's economy has been obliterated by this war. The US economy has been severely damaged as well.

The illegal war against the Iraqi people is one of the causes of the financial crises we are facing. Logic insists that stopping the war is a critical step in getting our economy on a productive course. Yet, Obama and the politicians ignore reason in favor of pandering to corporate and wealthy campaign contributors who want to keep making money on the carnage.

Until the last US troops are out of Iraq, it is crazy to buy any stocks. The war's damage on our already precarious economy is reason enough, but there is something else to consider. The refusal of the political establishment to abandon business as usual and end the war shows that they think they can keep getting away with making the same mistakes that got us here.

As long as there are any US troops in Iraq, you can be sure that Obama and the rest of the politicians are not taking our economic situation as seriously as they need to.

 

62 Senators voted Thursday to launch a massive terrorist attack against the innocent civilians who live in our nation's capital. They voted support the NRA, the nation's largest terrorist group, by voting for the Thune amendment to the DC voting rights legislation which would flood Washington, DC with guns. This action was taken knowing full well that the result of the amendment becoming law would be the senseless killings, rapes, and robberies of District residents.

Here's the Roll Call Vote:

Grouped By Vote Position

YEAs ---62
Alexander (R-TN) · · · Barrasso (R-WY) · · · Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN) · · · Begich (D-AK) · · · Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT) · · · Bond (R-MO) · · · Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY) · · · Burr (R-NC) · · · Byrd (D-WV)
Casey (D-PA) · · · Chambliss (R-GA) · · · Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS) · · · Collins (R-ME) · · · Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN) · · · Cornyn (R-TX) · · · Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC) · · · Dorgan (D-ND) · · · Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY) · · · Feingold (D-WI) · · · Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA) · · · Gregg (R-NH) · · · Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT) · · · Hutchison (R-TX) · · · Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA) · · · Johanns (R-NE) · · · Johnson (D-SD)
Kyl (R-AZ) · · · Landrieu (D-LA) · · · Lincoln (D-AR)
Martinez (R-FL) · · · McCain (R-AZ) · · · McCaskill (D-MO)
McConnell (R-KY) · · · Murkowski (R-AK) · · · Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR) · · · Reid (D-NV) · · · Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS) · · · Sessions (R-AL) · · · Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME) · · · Specter (R-PA) · · · Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD) · · · Udall (D-CO) · · · Udall (D-NM)
Vitter (R-LA) · · · Voinovich (R-OH) · · · Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA) · · · Wicker (R-MS)

NAYs ---36
Akaka (D-HI) · · · Bingaman (D-NM) · · · Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH) · · · Burris (D-IL) · · ·Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD) · · · Carper (D-DE) · · · Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL) · · · Feinstein (D-CA) · · · Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA) · · · Inouye (D-HI) · · · Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA) · · · Klobuchar (D-MN) · · · Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ) · · · Leahy (D-VT) · · · Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT) · · · Lugar (R-IN) · · · Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR) · · · Mikulski (D-MD) · · · Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL) · · · Reed (D-RI) · · · Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT) · · · Schumer (D-NY) · · · Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI) · · · Whitehouse (D-RI) · · · Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting - 1
Kennedy (D-MA)

None of these gun nut Senators are going to get a dime from me in campaign contributions. Strong gun control is my inalienable right as a gun crime victim. America needs to reject the terrorist propaganda saying that the Second Amendment applies to private gun ownership.

Sen. Harry Reid (Phonycrat - NV) has played a truly shameful and unAmerican leadership role in getting this terrorist attack through the Senate. America's only hope is that the Amendment will be wiped out in Conference committee.

It's bad enough that a Phonycrat like Harry Reid regularly abuses his position as Senate Majority Leader to push the heterosexist, misogynistic, and racist agenda of his Mormon cult. He always has been in bed with the gun extremists, showing a complete lack of regard for victims of gun crimes such as gay bashings, robberies, rapes, and murders. Reid is a sleazy Bush Republican who went along slavishly with the Bush agenda for eight years. He desperately deserves a primary challenge for so many reasons. If he wins the Democratic nomination, I look forward to the hope that I can give money to a Green Party opponent of his.

I did notice that our new New York Senator Gillibrand voted against this. I guess she is starting to realize just how outraged gun crime victims are at her past support of gun terrorism. One vote won't be enough to get her our support. She needs to get the guns out of her house for good, and she needs to work to get guns out of our streets, parks, and peoples' homes.

Another aspect of this that is so offensive is the racism. These rightist nutjobs think it is perfectly OK to meddle in DC's affairs merely because a majority of the population is black. This is a long tradition in the Senate, and Harry Reid is displaying his Mormon racism by taking such a leading role in this action.

 

There are two obvious reasons why the punditocracy overwhelmingly favors the rich.

1) Rich people own the media corporations.

2) Rich people own the major advertisers.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) points out another reason in its blog. Many of these talking heads are the rich.

Matthew Yglesias writes today (2/23/09) on the oddity of Gregory making a distinction between fat cats and people like himself. I can't find a published estimate of Gregory's salary, but his NBC colleague Chris Matthews reportedly makes $5 million a year (Washington Post, 1/8/09), as did his Meet the Press predecessor Tim Russert (Washington Post, 5/23/04), so Gregory's salary is probably in that neighborhood, give or take a few million. This is a hundred times the median family income in the U.S.--not counting Gregory's spouse's income; she used to be a vice president at Fannie Mae, making an estimated $3 million a year.

And you wonder why the corporate media sympathize so much with the banksters.

 

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