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Take Action to Resist Global Warming

Posted by libhom Friday, July 31, 2009 0 comments

There is a climate bill in Congress, one that is too weak. There is an online petition asking Senators to strength the bill. However, even if it were strong, other things would still need to be done to resist climate change. Some of these things follow.

1) Support More Funding for Public Transportation:
In the long term, expanding public transportation is the most important thing we can do do fight Global Warming. Improving mileage is good because it reduces CO2 production, but cars will never be able to compete on an emissions basis with public transport. The National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates has an Action Alert on efforts in Congress to increase public transportation funding. You can tell that the Action Alert is written by a DC lobbying group, but the cause is just. Here's the most important part.

The STAA recommends a five-year investment of almost $100 billion for public transportation programs - a more than 90% increase over the levels provided in the last surface transportation authorization bill. These funds would help create and maintain thousands of jobs, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and provide for new mobility choices for millions of Americans. In addition, the legislation would authorize $50 billion to help support President Obama's vision for the creation of a new high speed rail network in the United States.

Take Action!

2) Oppose Clear Cutting in Alaska:
Fighting Global Warming isn't just about reducing CO2 emissions, though that is incredibly important. It's also about opposing deforestation. Forests are important for storing carbon which otherwise would end up in the atmosphere as CO2. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration doesn't care. From Care2's petition:
In a stunning blow to the environment, the Obama Administration just approved a clearcut of 382 acres of timber in a roadless area of Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

The clearcut in the Tongass will involve building 6.9 miles of roads and rebuilding another 1.9 miles of old roads. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack put a temporary halt to timber sales in roadless areas of national forests -- but he approved this timber sale despite the concerns of people who care about this important temperate rainforest, home to numerous endangered species.

Vilsack argues it'll provide much-needed jobs for the region -- but even in troubled economic times, we cannot sacrifice the future of our planet! Urge President Obama to reverse this decision and ensure no more clearcutting and roadbuilding occurs in the Tongass.

This illustrates another problem. Forest management should not be in the Dept. of Agriculture. Agriculture involves using living things to make products. Forests have a lot of critical functions that fit completely outside this mindset.

Please Sign the Petition!

3) Don't Drill, Baby!
Defenders of Wildlife has a Care2 petition calling on the Secretary of Interior to reconsider shocking plans to allow drilling in Alaska. The focus of the alert is on the wildlife, but increased oil drilling anywhere contributes to Global Warming. We need more public transportation, not more oil drilling. Here is the text of their petition.
Just because Sarah Palin is stepping down as governor, doesn't mean Alaska's wildlife is safe. Bristol Bay -- home to sea otters, whales, sea lions and the world's largest run of sockeye salmon -- could soon be open to oil and gas drilling.

Bristol Bay is not only one of the most biologically productive places on the planet, providing vital habitat for hundreds of fish species and dozens of marine mammals, but it is also an economic powerhouse. Bristol Bay and the northern Bering Sea supply more than 40% of all U.S. fish catch and bring in more than $2 billion a year.

If action is not taken, Bristol Bay could soon be open to oil and gas drilling exponentially increasing the chances for a disastrous oil spill. Help stop the drilling and urge U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to reconsider plans to allow drilling in one of the world's most sensitive places.

Please Sign the Petition!

I Will Never Vote for Kirsten Gillibrand

Posted by libhom Thursday, July 30, 2009 1 comments

To say that David Paterson has been a disappointing governor for this state is an understatement. He has abandoned most of his liberal values on becoming governor in order to pander to wealthy donors. The worst example of this so far has been when he appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate. Gillibrand's involvement in the same corrupt, Republican political machine as indicted, former Sen. Joe Bruno should have automatically disqualified her for the seat. Gillibrand's opposition to gun control and her extremely irresponsible gun ownership should have made her appointment unthinkable.

Gun control opponents share in personal responsibility for all crimes committed with guns, including but not limited to, robberies, gay bashings, rapes, and murders. There are absolutely no legitimate reasons for private gun ownership. Any honest person who takes the trouble to actually read the Second Amendment is perfectly aware of the fact that it only applies to government sponsored militias defending the country from foreign threats. All claims to the contrary are NRA terrorist propaganda with no basis in fact.

Guns kill roughly 30,000 Americans every year. That's ten 911s every year. Gillibrand's opposition to gun control makes her as bad as ten Osama bin Laden's every year, no ifs, no ands, no buts, and no excuses.

As someone who has been held up at gunpoint three times, at least one of which was in a homophobic hate crime, I have an inalienable right to a gun free society. I also have a right to punish the responsible, including the pro gay bashing, robbery, rape, and murder politicians who oppose gun control.

I will punish Kirstin Gilllibrand for what she has done to me by voting against her and giving money to her opponents for the rest of her political career.

I also object to her homophobia. She tried to pull a time honored GOP trick and temporarily stop enforcing the military ban during a time of war. GOP politicians have been happy to use queers in the military as cannon fodder, only to kick them out of the armed forces when the war is over.

Gillibrand's delaying tactics on lifting the ban also are offensive. There is no need for any hearings. The military ban has been publicly debated for over 30 years. All that is necessary is legislation to end it to pass already. Gillibrand's efforts to fillibuster lifting the ban into perpetuity are offensive and absolutely unacceptable.

 

A version of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) which includes sexual orientation and gender identity is being considered by Congress. It's time to keep up the pressure to get the bill passed so lgbt people in every state have employment discrimination protections. The Transgender Law Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality have an online petition urging passage of ENDA. Here is the concise text of the petition.

We believe in workplace fairness and the rights of Americans to be judged on the quality of our work, not on our gender identity and expression or sexual orientation. We recognize the need to extend non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans so that we can keep our jobs, support our families and contribute to our society.

Twelve states and over one hundred localities currently include gender identity and sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination laws; however, this patchwork of protection is not enough to cover the majority of American workers. Federal legislation is needed to consistently address and end workplace discrimination. Intolerance is bad for business and bad for America.

We, the undersigned, urge the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Please Sign the Petition!

Learn more about ENDA from the National Center for Transgender Equality.

 

More Bush Regime Spying Exposed

Posted by libhom Wednesday, July 29, 2009 1 comments

From a Democracy Now! Exclusive 7/28/09:

Newly declassified documents reveal that an active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in Washington state was actually an informant for the US military. The man everyone knew as “John Jacob” was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. The military’s role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States. The Fort Lewis military base denied our request for an interview. But in a statement to Democracy Now, the base’s Public Affairs office publicly acknowledged for the first time that Towery is a military operative. “This could be one of the key revelations of this era,” said Eileen Clancy, who has closely tracked government spying on activist organizations. [includes rush transcript]

We shouldn't kid ourselves. We are slowly becoming a military/police state on behalf of wealthy and corporate interests. President Obama and the Democrats have not done nearly enough to reverse this trend.

Here's more:
ANJALI KAMAT: We begin with a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive. Peace activists in Washington state have revealed an informant posing as an anarchist has spied on them while working under the US military. The activists are members of the group Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance, which protests military shipments bound for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Before his true identity was revealed, the informant was known as “John Jacob,” an active member of antiwar groups in the towns of Olympia and Tacoma. But using documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, the activists learned that “John Jacob” is in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at the nearby Fort Lewis military base.

The activists claim Towery has admitted to them he shared information with an intelligence network that stretches from local and state police to several federal agencies, to the US military. They also say he confirmed the existence of other government spies but wouldn’t reveal their identity.

The military’s role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States.

When you have an occupation and war in Iraq that violates US law, international law, American values, and common decency, it makes it difficult to avoid violating the rights of people here at home in order to continue it. Violations of our rights as Americans are an important part of the war on Iraq, a war that is continuing under President Obama.

 

Single payer healthcare, which in this Congress means the Medicare for all approach of HR 676, is the only healthcare proposal at the moment which provides universal healthcare for two reasons.

1) The other current proposals don't provide coverage for the poor and near poor, they just fine people who can't afford it.

2) Insurance companies and HMOs don't provide universal care for people who have "coverage." They routinely deny needed medical care to amp up their profits.

Single payer is the cheapest system. Not only is it cheaper than what the Congressional leadership and Obama support, it also is cheaper than the current system. Why?

Single payer eliminates the byzantine insurance company/HMO bureaucracies, enormous executive pay, and obscene profits that currently eat up so much of our healthcare dollars. Insurance companies and their HMO counterparts have managed what would seem to be impossible: creating bureaucracies even larger and less efficient than those created by the Soviet Union.

It's past time for President Obama to stop paying footsie with the lobbyists and big money donors and support real healthcare reform. Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) has an open letter asking him to do just that.

Please sign that letter!

You can also sign and contribute to PNHP if you wish.

The open letter also has some words of warning about the "public option" being pushed by center right Democrats instead of single payer.

Moreover, a “public plan option” would do little to mitigate the damage of a reform that perpetuates private insurers’ dominant role. Even a robust public option would forego 90% of the bureaucratic savings achievable under single payer. And a kinder, gentler public option would quickly fail in a health care marketplace where competition involves a race to the bottom, not the top, where insurers compete by NOT paying for care. But HHS Secretary Sebelius has made clear that any public option will be far worse than that, specifically crafted to prevent it from evolving to a single payer. This kind of public option would amount to a government-run clone of private insurance, reproducing the worst features of private plans.

 

Defending the Indefensible in the Gates Attack

Posted by libhom Friday, July 24, 2009 6 comments

As you are aware by now, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. was taken from his own home by the Cambridge, MA police despite the fact that he had broken no laws when the police received the initial call by a racist and the fact that he broke no laws once the police arrived. Let's not play games and call this an "arrest." That implies that there was some kind of legal basis for what the police did. That is absolute nonsense.

The sickening level of support these racist cops are getting says two terrible things about our society. First, white supremacy is still rampant. If police did something like this to a white, heterosexual, male Harvard professor, there would be universal outrage. Pretending otherwise is as dishonest as it is racist. When many people actually think it's perfectly OK to harass and snatch someone for Being At Home While Black (BAHWB), you know that white supremacy is at batshit crazy levels.

Another aspect of this is the fascist, yes literally fascist, mentality of so many of the defenders of the police. There is a significant segment of the population that believes that police should be able to do anything they want, and that it is always the victims' fault no matter what. This kind of blind support of authority, even putting it above the rule of law, is the mentality of fascists globally.

I think it is sad that President Obama wimped out and said that he made a mistake by even tepidly criticizing the Cambridge Police Department. He should have condemned this outrage and demanded criminal investigations against the police officers involved. How can I even hope that Barack Obama will ever even start supporting the queer community when he is too afraid to strongly speak out against the most blatantly obvious racist misconduct imaginable?

 

Why Single Payer Polls Better Than the Obama Plan

Posted by libhom Thursday, July 23, 2009 6 comments

Healthcare Now has cited a poll showing majority support for single payer healthcare, when it is called by its other name, national health insurance. On the other hand, the support for President Obama's approach to healthcare has slipped below 50%.

This certainly contradicts the corporate media's narrative, but reality often contradicts corporate propaganda. Let's explore some of the differences between single payer and Obama's approach, which explain the difference in support.

1) Single payer is a proven success. Single payer is working quite well in Canada and other countries. Medicare works well here. (The financial problems it currently is experiencing are due to a prescription drug plan pushed through by the GOP which was designed to make Big Pharma richer in the short term and to bankrupt Medicare in the long term.)

2) Single payer is cheaper. President Obama and the Goppers both talk about costs as an issue, and well informed people know that single payer is much cheaper than what we have now, much less the corporate lobbyist pandering Obama plan.

3) Obama's approach is confusing. His plan is based on juggling various corporate interests rather than a policy based approach. Congressional Democrats are still joining Obama in figuring out how to pander to corporate lobbyists, making them unsure of most of the details of the plan that would have such a huge effect on all of our lives.

4) The main reason people with health insurance want reform is to get the HMOs and insurance companies out of their healthcare. The health insurers and HMOs corporate mottoes mights as well be "Lie, Cheat, and Steal." They constantly refuse to provide necessary care while using up enormous amounts of money on byzantine bureaucracies, outrageously high executive pay, and windfall profits. Every day, Americans die because their "healthcare coverage" didn't cover life saving healthcare. Single payer puts a stop to all of that. Any "reform" proposal that doesn't get rid of these murderous corporations is not real reform.

Regardless of how President Obama's current proposal does, we need to keep fighting for single payer. In the long term, it's the only reasonable option.

 

The corporate media are reporting that President Obama's polling numbers are starting to soften, and they are spinning it as people thinking Obama is too far to the left. Pollsters are citing government spending by the Obama administration as part of it. Let's think about it.

Our troops are still in Iraq. Nothing much has been done on queer issues. The Obama administration has pretty much ignored passing the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama supports involving insurance companies and HMOs in "healthcare reform" instead of single payer healthcare. Even the biggest area of government spending is going towards the banksters and the brokesters instead of the middle class and the poor. Obama's and the congressional Democrats' efforts on Global Warming have been weak at best.

Who should be angry?

My suspicion is that President Obama is losing support from the left, not the center. But, the corporate media want to pretend that Obama's center right policies are the farthest left that can even be considered by significant numbers of Americans. Corporate interests have led to censorship of real news that makes their news outlets sillier by the day.

 

President Obama is once again legitimizing a fanatical religious bigot. This time, it the leader of the Mormon church/hate group. From UPI 7/20/09:

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet the head of the Mormon Church in the Oval Office Monday, the White House announced.

The announcement said Obama would meet Thomas Monson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a private session.

Presidents of the United States of America should respect state/church separation and not meet with any religious leaders. However, giving a high profile meeting to the fanatical leader of a hateful, heterosexist cult based on plagiarized science fiction is even worse as it serves to help Monson pursue his agenda of promoting discrimination and violence.



 

Jewish Religious Extremists Are Crazy Too

Posted by libhom Sunday, July 19, 2009 4 comments

Islam, Christianity, Scientology, Mormonism, and Hinduism certainly don't have a monopoly on religious extremism. Judaism has its nutjobs too.

I find it amusing that militant, Jewish fundamentalists have been rioting in Israel. From the BBC 7/16/09.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem have clashed with police in protest at what they see as interference by the Israeli authorities in their community.

Police said at least 28 people were arrested after protesters threw stones at officers and burned rubbish bins.

Hundreds of police have been deployed - 10 were reported to have been injured.

The incidents followed the arrest of an ultra-orthodox woman for allegedly starving her three-year-old son deliberately. The child is in hospital.

The revolt over "interference" by the Jewish religious nutjobs reminds me of how Muslim religious extremists want to have Sharia based communities, free of "interference" by secular authorities.

The similarities between Jewish and Muslim religious nuts doesn't stop there. From the BBC 12/9/08:
Lipa Schmeltzer looks and sounds every inch the popular ultra-orthodox Jewish singer that he is.

He sings in Yiddish. He dresses in the clothes of a Haredi Jew and all of his song lyrics come from the scriptures.

You would think this would be just peachy for the militant, Jewish fundamentalists. You would be mistaken.
"They are leading the public astray and are causing a great negative influence on the young generation," says Rabbi Efraim Luft, head of an ultra-orthodox organisation in Israel called the Committee for Jewish Music.

Supported by leading Haredi rabbis, Rabbi Luft has drawn up a black-list of musicians and bands - music that he says that is not kosher and cannot be played at ultra-orthodox weddings or public events because of its decadent nature.

What has made this Jewish religious music not kosher? Get ready to giggle at Rabbi Luft.
"The main part of the music should be the melody. Percussion should be secondary. They should not bend notes electronically and should not use instruments like electric guitars, bass guitars or saxophones in Jewish music," he says.

The BBC also included comments with the article, one of which was from an Islamic religious extremist.
As a Muslim, I support the Rabbi's decision, finally they are thinking like conservative Muslims; after all Muslims and Jews are very much alike. Majority of modern music is immoral and degrading the faith.
Zuber Iraqi, Louisville, KY

The attitude of the nutty rabbis reminds me of the Taliban's attitude about music. The banned all music except for the stuff they produced and distributed.

If scriptures played to a rock beat scandalize poor Rabbi Luft, just think what my blog would do to the poor guy. It would probably make his head explode.

 

Buchanan's Bigotry Makes Him Say the Darndest Things

Posted by libhom Thursday, July 16, 2009 6 comments

Pat Buchanan made the most outrageous comments on tonight's Rachel Maddow Show regarding the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. One thing that really struck me, aside from Buchanan's typically bigoted fanaticism, was the desperate nature of his rhetoric.

In trying to claim that Sotomayor did not have the intellectual capacity to serve on the court, Buchanan actually picked Justice Scalia, yes Justice Scalia, as an example of the kind of intellectual that should populate the court. Buchanan is absolutely flailing on this one.

Justice Scalia is the Ted Baxter of the Supreme Court. He is by far the least intelligent Supreme Court Justice of my adult life, while Judge Sotomayor certainly is well above average in intelligence. Few things are more embarrassing as an American than having to watch Scalia make a fool out of himself while trying to represent our nation's highest court of law.

Scalia's approach to being a Supreme Court Justice is to repeatedly lie about the Constitution with little or no skill and throw temper tantrums when people don't go along with his nonsense. Facts tend to be missing or distorted in Scalia's argumentation; logic is rare; and even coherency often is lacking from that joke of a Supreme Court Justice. Roberts, Alito, and Thomas are as dishonest as Scalia, but at least they are reasonably articulate.

If anything, Buchanan's choice of Scalia shows that he sees intelligence as a trait of being white rather than something that involves reasoning ability or knowledge. Pat's rant also is an example of how many US rightists are unable to distinguish bluster and elitism from intellectual acumen. Hardcore white supremacists are usually the dimmest of white people. Buchanan certainly fits this description.

At least Pat isn't on the Supreme Court.

 

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is quite effective at exposing corporate media bias and censorship. FAIR has found a wild example of censorship by Disney's ABC. From their 7/16/09 email alert:

The doctor who served as Obama's personal physician for 22 years speaks out about how ABC disinvited him from their healthcare forum two days before the prime-time event where he was planning to ask about single-payer healthcare

The censorship of the far more efficient and just single payer plan is so pervasive in corporate media. It shows that corporate interests trump real news coverage the overwhelming majority of the time in their news outlets.

Here's FAIR's video:



From FAIR's Online Petition:
Reforming the dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system is a major issue in the news these days. The goal of the reform efforts, we're told, is to expand coverage to the uninsured and to reduce costs. But what many experts and citizens see as the most sensible solution to these problems is kept out of the discussion by the corporate media.

Single-payer national health insurance is a model in which healthcare delivery would remain largely private but would be paid for by a single federal health insurance fund (much like Medicare provides for seniors). Single-payer is favored by a majority of Americans and physicians, according to recent polls (New York Times/CBS, 1/11-15/09, Annals of Internal Medicine, 4/1/08).

Yet a recent study by FAIR found that of hundreds of stories about healthcare in major outlets earlier this year, only five stories included the views of advocates of single-payer--none of which appeared on the TV networks. In May, news coverage of the arrests of single-payer advocates showed that practically the only way to get single-payer mentioned in the corporate media is to get thrown out of Senate hearings.

Let's send a message to the networks: The insurance lobbies and many politicians don't want to talk about single-payer. But that makes it all the more important that the media do. Sign our petition to ABC, CBS and NBC, demanding that single-payer be a part of their coverage of the healthcare debate. Add your name below to lend your voice to this effort to broaden the debate over the broken U.S. healthcare system.

Remember the earlier era when we were warned about communism because the media was so heavily censored? The corporate media remind me of Pravda of the days of old.

Please Sign FAIR's Online Petition

 

GLAAD's Shameful Hypocrisy on Perez Hilton

Posted by libhom Wednesday, July 15, 2009 5 comments

I don't read Perez Hilton's blog because I don't care about celebrities. From my perspective, Hilton's blog kind of clogs up Queer Filter sometimes. I realize this makes me even more of a heathen in this culture than being an atheist, but I thought I should disclose where I'm coming from, given what a hot button issue Perez Hilton has become.

What I do pay attention to is when queer activist groups don't support the queer movement yet bellow with self righteous hypocrisy. A rather blatant example of such bellowing is seen in GLAAD's press release on Perez Hilton.

"These are vulgar anti-gay slurs that feed a climate of hatred and intolerance toward our community," said Rashad Robinson, Senior Director of Media Programs at GLAAD. “For someone in our own community to use it to attack another person by saying that it is, quote, ‘The worst possible thing that thug would ever want to hear,’ is incredibly dangerous. It legitimizes use of a slur that is often linked to violence against our community. And it sends a message that it is OK to attempt to dehumanize people by exploiting anti-gay attitudes.”

This comes from the same organization that not only refused to support the queer community's boycott of Utah, but sponsored an event there. So desperate to suck up to racist, sexist, and heterosexist celebrities, GLAAD actually sponsored an event at the Sundance Festival, whose organizers were too bigoted to remove the event from Utah.

Get this, GLAAD actively subsidizes the crusades of the Mormon Church, a hate group as racist, sexist, and heterosexist as the Ku Klux Klan, yet GLAAD rants about the use of the word "faggot" by Perez Hilton. This is sickening hypocrisy. There is literally no possible way to travel to Utah without financing heterosexist, misogynistic, and racist discrimination and violence.

The press release also reveals another problem with GLAAD in recent years: they have become a bunch of quasi groupies who are more concerned with getting their pictures taken with celebrities than fighting the still rampant heterosexism in the entertainment industry. I find it odd that GLAAD is more upset about the words Hilton used than the fact that he was queer bashed. But, since the basher is a celebrity, GLAAD wants to divert the focus to the victim.

Apparently, Perez Hilton did back down and apologize, but I don't think that means queer activists should let GLAAD off the hook for its transgressions.

For GLAAD to have any real standing to criticize Perez Hilton or anyone else in the queer community under similar circumstances, they must take the following steps.

1) Apologize for participating in the last Sundance Festival and make a commitment to boycott the event as long as it is held in the Hate State.

2) Make a firm commitment to work with grassroots queer civil rights activists rather than to sabotage the queer movement.

3) Publicly condemn the Mormon Church as a racist, sexist, and heterosexist hate group comparable to the Ku Klux Klan.

4) Go back to GLAAD's roots as an activist group challenging the entertainment industry, rather than drooling all over it.

Until GLAAD takes these steps, this faggot will know GLAAD is full of shit.

 

I am ambivalent about the nomination of Sonya Sotomayor for the US Supreme Court. The lack of any clear public record on the inalienable constitutional right to abortion is somewhat troubling.

Sotomayor's opinion in Flamer v. City of White Plains was a shocking attack on the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and the civil rights of atheists. From the First Amendment Center:

In 1993, Sotomayor ruled in Flamer v. City of White Plains that a rabbi had a First Amendment right to display a menorah in a city park. The city of White Plains, New York, prohibited “fixed outdoor displays of religious or political symbols.” The rabbi asserted that the regulation violated his free-exercise-of-religion and free-speech rights.

She wrote that the city may not “preclude a private speaker from erecting a fixed display of a religious symbol, free-standing or otherwise, in a City park on the basis of such display’s religious message.” She rejected the city’s establishment clause-based defense that it was trying to prevent perceived state endorsement of religion: “The Establishment Clause does not provide a compelling justification for the Resolution’s content-based restrictions on expressive conduct.”

First of all, there is no real "restriction on expressive conduct." That Rabbi easily could have put up the display on private property. Placing it on public property involves a taxpayer subsidy which is blatantly establishes religion by the government. Not only does Sotomayor think that governments can establish religion, she went so far as to force a local government to establish religion.

Obviously, being a target of Ms. Sotomayor's anti atheist discrimination doesn't exactly make me thrilled by her nomination to the Supreme Court. However, since President Obama has shown himself to be almost as rabidly rightist as Hillary and Bill Clinton. I suspect any other Obama nominee would be at least as bad.

If I were a Senator, I would reluctantly vote for her. However, this nomination certainly has given this voter yet another reason to vote Green in 2010 and 2012. I am so sick of being treated like shit by the GOP and the Democrats as a queer, as an atheist, and as a middle class American.

Having said that, I don't see any reason to let ranking Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama get away with the most egregious behavior in his capacity on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Talking Points Memo has Sen. Sessions opening statement during the hearings, which is disturbing for a variety of reasons.

Here's an example of Sessions' deception and dishonesty. (deception in italics, and lie in bold, mine)
We have seen federal judges force their own political and social agenda on the nation, dictating that the words "under God" be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and barring students from even silent prayer in schools.

The words "under God" weren't part of the Pledge of Allegiance until the McCarthyism of the 50s. Acting like those words are a natural part of the Pledge is misleading, to put it mildly.

Sessions was deliberately lying when he said that students can't pray silently in schools. What is absolutely constitutionally forbidden is for the government to set aside time for the purpose of prayer in the public schools. Students continue to pray silently in schools, usually immediately before tests. Prayer as an individual decision is not affected. Efforts by the government to promote religion are banned, as they should be. Sessions, like so many militant, Christian fundamentalists, is deliberately lying about the issue because he knows he can not win if he debates it honestly.

Sessions embeds more than one lie in this gem of a paragraph.
Judges have--contrary to the longstanding rules of war--created a right for terrorists, captured on a foreign battlefield, to sue the United States government in our own courts.

The detentions without trial, torture, and violations of the Geneva Conventions that have occurred against the alleged terrorists at Gitmo and other illegal detention facilities (a.k.a. gulags) are direct violations of the rules of war. Sessions is also deliberately lying when he said judges were the ones who created the right of the alleged terrorists to sue the government, when in fact the people who wrote and ratified our constitution were the ones who gave created that right. Sessions claim that everyone detained is a terrorist is misleading, especially since most of the people in Guantanamo are perfectly innocent.

Another quote shows spectacular hypocrisy from Sessions.
Like the American people, I have watched this for a number of years, and I fear this "empathy standard" is another step down the road to a liberal activist, results-oriented, and relativistic world where:
• Laws lose their fixed meaning,
• Unelected judges set policy,
• Americans are seen as members of separate groups rather than simply Americans, and
• Where the constitutional limits on government power are ignored when politicians want to buy out private companies.

In the first three points, Sessions is aptly describing the judicial actions of Samuel Alito and John Roberts, judges that Sessions enthusiastically supported. Oops!

I am so sick of both major political parties. I can't wait to return Democratic fundraising letters with messages explaining why that party isn't getting a dime from me.

 

I am so sick of pro torture propaganda in the corporate media, and that definitely includes NPR.

From Glenn Greenwald in Salon 6/22/09:

Anyone who believes that NPR is a "liberal" media outlet -- and anyone who wants to understand the decay of American journalism -- should read this column by NPR's Ombudsman, Alicia C. Shepard, as she explains and justifies why NPR bars the use of the word "torture" to describe what the Bush administration did. Responding to what she calls "a slew of emails challenging NPR's policy of using the words 'harsh interrogation tactics' or 'enhanced interrogation techniques' to describe the treatment of terrorism suspects under the Bush administration," Shepard hauls out every trite and misleading bit of journalistic conventional wisdom to dismiss listeners' concerns and defend NPR's Orwellian practice (as I noted recently when writing about The New York Times' refusal to use the word "torture," NPR's compulsive use of Bush euphemisms has been a constant complaint of the excellent blog NPR Check).

From Blazing Indiscretions 7/1/09 which indirectly led me to the Greenwald article I cited above:
I've been following this discussion/debate closely. I read Ms Shepard's lame excuses (and she's a journalism professor, too!). I've read the comments at NPR. Today I learned about Ms Shepard's refusal. "Vermont's NPR Station" and North Country Public Radio (both of which have award-winning local programming I enjoy) are always asking for money, but donations cannot be earmarked to local programming. So, next time my local public radio stations ask for a hand-out, I'll tell 'em, don't expect any dosh from me until they - as an affiliate - tell NPR to clean up its act.

Contact NPR and Tell Them to Stop Lying About Torture!

Here is the text of the email I sent NPR:
http://www.npr.org/ombudsman/2009/06/harsh_interrogation_techniques.html

This column was the most disturbing pro torture propaganda I've seen in a long time. It's bad enough that the author claimed that sleep deprivation is not torture, despite the fact that it is one of the most common and devastating forms of torture employed.

I also have to take issue with the author's insistence on the propagandistic term "harsh interrogation techniques" when referring to torture. "Harsh interrogation techniques" is a propaganda term invented by the Nazis to try to give themselves legal cover for their crimes.

The acts of torture committed in our country's name cannot honestly be disputed as such. Claims to the contrary constitute deliberate lies. The acts of torture referred to by fascists in this country as "harsh interrogation techniques" fit exactly within the legal and cultural framework against torture.

When a supposed news organization calls torture "enhanced interrogation techniques," it goes beyond mere pro torture bias. It is a shameless act of pro torture advocacy.

NPR stations are not going to get a dime from me until the ombudsman is fired for using her column to advocate in favor of torture and until NPR stops lying about torture in order to promote it.

NPR went downhill severely when it started running commercials. (Yes, they are in fact commercials, regardless of whatever bs euphemism you use for them.)

NPR is now as unreliable, rightist, and propagandistic as Faux News and Rush Limbaugh. Donating to NPR stations is a complete waste of money.

Don't trust anyone who refers to torture as anything but.

 

No One Will Take a Texas Tech Degree Seriously Again

Posted by libhom Wednesday, July 08, 2009 2 comments


From UPI:

LUBBOCK, Texas, July 8 (UPI) -- Former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales has accepted a teaching position at Texas Tech University, the school announced Tuesday.

Gonzales, who resigned from the George W. Bush administration in 2007 while embroiled in controversies over the firing of several federal prosecutors and the national wire-tapping policy, will begin his role as a visiting professor Aug. 1, The Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock reported. His initial contract will be for one year, paying him about $100,000, the school said.

Sigh.

 

It was bad enough that Israel committed an act of piracy in international waters by seizing a private relief ship en route to Gaza and stealing equipment from the ship.

Even worse, they took those aboard hostage and sent them to Israel. The three Americans on board were the people held as hostages the longest by the Israeli government.

Make no mistake, this is literally an act of war by Israel against the United States of America.

Israel impossiblly claims that the actions of the relief ship and its passengers were illegal. Let's look at the actual laws involved. The relief ship was not violating any aspect of international law by sending humanitarian relief to the Palestinians in Gaza. The ships destination was Palestine, not Israel, and providing humanitarian relief to Palestinian law certainly is no violation of Palestinian law. Since the ship was in international waters and headed towards Palestine, the ship was never going to be in Israel's jurisdiction.

Fortunately, the last of the hostages, Americans, have been freed from captivity by the Israeli government terrorists, but that does not let Israel off the hook for its act of aggression against the USA. The appropriate responses of the US government to this Israeli act of war are the following.

- Breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel.

- Formally indicting every Israeli official involved in the piracy, kidnapping, and hostage taking from the top to the bottom of that country's government.

- Ending all aid to Israel.

- Seizing Israeli assets in the US for the purpose of compensating the former hostages and the organization whose ship was taken as an act of piracy.

- Issuing a travel ban for Americans to Israel.

- Enforcing a complete ban on trade with Israel in addition to other economic sanctions against that terrorist government.

- Using the US Navy and marines to provide equipment and supplies to the Palestinians in Gaza.

This isn't the first act of war by Israel against the USA. Israel's terrorist murder of US citizen Rachel Corrie in 2003 wasn't the first either. Most Americans don't even know that Israel knowingly attacked the USS Liberty in 1967.

Why does "our" government let Israel continue with its history of acts of war against our country while still funding that belligerent government?

One of the Americans held hostage by Israel was former congressmember Cynthia McKinney. Here is her eloquent statement made by phone while being a hostage of the Israeli government.

This is Cynthia McKinney and I'm speaking from an Israeli prison cellblock in Ramle. [I am one of] the Free Gaza 21, human rights activists currently imprisoned for trying to take medical supplies to Gaza, building supplies - and even crayons for children, I had a suitcase full of crayons for children. While we were on our way to Gaza the Israelis threatened to fire on our boat, but we did not turn around. The Israelis high-jacked and arrested us because we wanted to give crayons to the children in Gaza. We have been detained, and we want the people of the world to see how we have been treated just because we wanted to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

At the outbreak of Israel's Operation ‘Cast Lead' [in December 2008], I boarded a Free Gaza boat with one day's notice and tried, as the US representative in a multi-national delegation, to deliver 3 tons of medical supplies to an already besieged and ravaged Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, U.S.-supplied F-16's rained hellfire on a trapped people. Ethnic cleansing became full scale outright genocide. U.S.-supplied white phosphorus, depleted uranium, robotic technology, DIME weapons, and cluster bombs - new weapons creating injuries never treated before by Jordanian and Norwegian doctors. I was later told by doctors who were there in Gaza during Israel's onslaught that Gaza had become Israel's veritable weapons testing laboratory, people used to test and improve the kill ratio of their weapons.

The world saw Israel's despicable violence thanks to al-Jazeera Arabic and Press TV that broadcast in English. I saw those broadcasts live and around the clock, not from the USA but from Lebanon, where my first attempt to get into Gaza had ended because the Israeli military rammed the boat I was on in international water ... It's a miracle that I'm even here to write about my second encounter with the Israeli military, again a humanitarian mission aborted by the Israeli military.

The Israeli authorities have tried to get us to confess that we committed a crime ... I am now known as Israeli prisoner number 88794. How can I be in prison for collecting crayons to kids?

Zionism has surely run out of its last legitimacy if this is what it does to people who believe so deeply in human rights for all that they put their own lives on the line for someone else's children. Israel is the fullest expression of Zionism, but if Israel fears for its security because Gaza's children have crayons then not only has Israel lost its last shred of legitimacy, but Israel must be declared a failed state.

I am facing deportation from the state that brought me here at gunpoint after commandeering our boat. I was brought to Israel against my will. I am being held in this prison because I had a dream that Gaza's children could color & paint, that Gaza's wounded could be healed, and that Gaza's bombed-out houses could be rebuilt.

But I've learned an interesting thing by being inside this prison. First of all, it's incredibly black: populated mostly by Ethiopians who also had a dream ... like my cellmates, one who is pregnant. They are all are in their twenties. They thought they were coming to the Holy Land. They had a dream that their lives would be better ... The once proud, never colonized Ethiopia [has been thrown into] the back pocket of the United States, and become a place of torture, rendition, and occupation. Ethiopians must free their country because superpower politics [have] become more important than human rights and self-determination.

My cellmates came to the Holy Land so they could be free from the exigencies of superpower politics. They committed no crime except to have a dream. They came to Israel because they thought that Israel held promise for them. Their journey to Israel through Sudan and Egypt was arduous. I can only imagine what it must have been like for them. And it wasn't cheap. Many of them represent their family's best collective efforts for self-fulfilment. They made their way to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. They got their yellow paper of identification. They got their certificate for police protection. They are refugees from tragedy, and they made it to Israel only after they arrived Israel told them "there is no UN in Israel."

The police here have license to pick them up & suck them into the black hole of a farce for a justice system. These beautiful, industrious and proud women represent the hopes of entire families. The idea of Israel tricked them and the rest of us. In a widely propagandized slick marketing campaign, Israel represented itself as a place of refuge and safety for the world's first Jews and Christian. I too believed that marketing and failed to look deeper.

The truth is that Israel lied to the world. Israel lied to the families of these young women. Israel lied to the women themselves who are now trapped in Ramle's detention facility. And what are we to do? One of my cellmates cried today. She has been here for 6 months. As an American, crying with them is not enough. The policy of the United States must be better, and while we watch President Obama give 12.8 trillion dollars to the financial elite of the United States it ought now be clear that hope, change, and ‘yes we can' were powerfully presented images of dignity and self-fulfilment, individually and nationally, that besieged people everywhere truly believed in.

It was a slick marketing campaign as slickly put to the world and to the voters of America as was Israel's marketing to the world. It tricked all of us but, more tragically, these young women.

We must cast an informed vote about better candidates seeking to represent us. I have read and re-read Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's letter from a Birmingham jail. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I too would one day have to do so. It is clear that taxpayers in Europe and the U.S. have a lot to atone for, for what they've done to others around the world.

What an irony! My son begins his law school program without me because I am in prison, in my own way trying to do my best, again, for other people's children. Forgive me, my son. I guess I'm experiencing the harsh reality which is why people need dreams. [But] I'm lucky. I will leave this place. Has Israel become the place where dreams die?

Ask the people of Palestine. Ask the stream of black and Asian men whom I see being processed at Ramle. Ask the women on my cellblock. [Ask yourself:] what are you willing to do?

Let's change the world together & reclaim what we all need as human beings: Dignity. I appeal to the United Nations to get these women of Ramle, who have done nothing wrong other than to believe in Israel as the guardian of the Holy Land, resettled in safe homes. I appeal to the United State's Department of State to include the plight of detained UNHCR-certified refugees in the Israel country report in its annual human rights report. I appeal once again to President Obama to go to Gaza: send your special envoy, George Mitchell there, and to engage Hamas as the elected choice of the Palestinian people.

I dedicate this message to those who struggle to achieve a free Palestine, and to the women I've met at Ramle. This is Cynthia McKinney, July 2nd 2009, also known as Ramle prisoner number 88794.


 

Tell the House to Pass the Trans Inclusive ENDA

Posted by libhom Monday, July 06, 2009 1 comments



After the debacle on ENDA during the last Congress, it's important to push for a real Employment Non Discrimination Act this time. People in all 50 states should not have to worry about losing their jobs based on being queer. Care2.com has a petition supporting ENDA. Please sign it.

From the petition's text:

There is no federal law as of yet that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination. As a result, hardworking Americans are denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against simply because of their sexuality.

If enacted, ENDA would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all aspects of the workplace including hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, and most terms and conditions of employment.

Sign the Petition!

It's also a good idea to specifically mention trans inclusion in the signature part.

Photo: alephnaught

 

Back on 11/5/08, I called on Sarah Palin to resign as Alaska's Governor based on previous scandals she was involved in.

The Alaska state legislature, in a committee dominated by Republicans, has ruled that Ms. Palin violated Alaska's ethics laws. She has left a trail of wrongful terminations and attempts at wrongful terminations.

The vice presidential campaign might be a slightly plausible excuse for postponing the resignation. Now, there is no excuse.

It's time for Palin to resign.

Palin finally has left. I take no credit for her exit, but I do have to say it was long overdue. Her official explanation for leaving office makes no sense to reasonable people, which started fueling speculation on what is really going on. An attorney for Ms. Palin has taken steps that have only served to fuel the speculation.

Palin with a deranged looking smilePolitico (7/5/09) has reported legal threats by Sarah Palin's attorney. (Hat Tip to From the Left)
In an extraordinary four-page letter, Alaska-based attorney Thomas Van Flein warns of severe consequences should speculation that until now has largely been confined to blogs — about whether Palin embezzled funds in the construction of a Wasilla, Alaska, sports arena — find its way into print.

“This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who republish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, The New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law,” Van Flein warned, citing Alaska liberal blogger Shannyn Moore.

I'm not a lawyer, but the allegations, if actually true, sound more like a bribery scandal than an embezzlement scandal. Anyway, the effort at intimidation certainly offended Christopher at From the Left.
Few things set me off faster than being threatened. People who know me are well aware of this. If you want me to do something for you — just ask. I’ll give you the shirt off my back, invite you to eat dinner with us and even give you my last dollar. But, don’t threatened me. Maybe at the end of the day, I’m just a typical male after all?

So when I learned Sarah Palin’s lawyer had the unmitigated gall to threaten legal action against news organizations if they publish “defamatory” stories relating to whether Palin is under Federal investigation, this became not only a threat to me as a blogger but, an attack on my First Amendment rights of free speech.

Those legal threats have backfired. When I just ran a Google News search on "Palin embezzlement," I literally got thousands of results. Palin's shark has made the scandal a news story by using such extreme tactics to try to shut that story down.

Efforts at intimidation by the extreme right are wearing very thin. Whether it's the murder of Dr. Tiller or a fascist attack on the First Amendment by Sarah Palin's lawyer, centrists, liberals, and leftists all have every reason to be pissed off. Legitimate conservatives (as opposed to actual fascists) should be furious too.

The Los Angeles Times is running a story with a statement from an FBI agent in Alaska who says that she is not under investigation. If not for the Palin team's legal threats, this might have put an end to the story. But, legal threats only heighten suspicions, and there are two logical questions.

1) What if the investigation is being run out of a different FBI office and the guy just doesn't know?

2) Do FBI offices always issue accurate statements during criminal investigations when doing otherwise could make suspects careless and slip up?

What we do know is that the legal threats have had the opposite effect of their intent.

In any event, GOP presidential primaries tend to be fought dirty. You can be sure that if Palin runs for president in 2012, there will be robocalls put out by consultants working for Gopper opponents accusing her of being guilty of these allegations. The legal threats by Palin's lawyer have firmly implanted these very same allegations in peoples' minds.

Sarah Palin's political career is officially over.

 

Short Selling and Hedge Funds Should Be Banned

Posted by libhom Saturday, July 04, 2009 3 comments

Halloween costume with woman dressed up as greedy rich personOur corporate media are so propagandistic that most people in our country don't even know the difference between investment and speculation. Investment involves buying a commodity (e.g., anything from a bank CD to a stock to a bar of gold) with the intent of making money on it over a long period of time based on its actual value and rational analysis of real value in the future. Speculation involves short term gambling on commodities in order to exploit or create market irrationality.

Short selling involves agreeing to sell stock at a certain date in the future in hopes that the price will go down at the time of sale. Often, the selling party doesn't even own the stock. This is such a transparent form of speculation it isn't even funny. Most forms of gambling are illegal in this country. It is illegal to start up an Internet gambling site, unless the gambling is in financial gimmicks like short selling.

Short selling tends to exaggerate fluctuations in stock prices, especially in bad economic times. Declines in the markets are pushed over to crashes and crashes are pushed over into disasters by the role of short selling in creating emotional momentum for falling stock prices.

pile of buttons that say Greed Kills

Hedge funds are vehicles for people and institutions with large sums of money to pay alleged experts to speculate on their behalf. They don't have the same public disclosure requirements as legitimate mutual funds. The bad decisions that are made by hedge fund speculators tend to be magnified throughout the economy because of the enormous amounts of money involved. Even worse, pension funds are allowed to put their money into hedge funds, endangering peoples' retirement incomes.

At the very least, you would think that it would be illegal for pensions to invest in these dangerous hedge funds. Ideally, the hedge funds would be abolished as such and the funds would be converted over to legitimate mutual funds, subject to the same openness and regulation which protect investors and, more importantly, protect the general public who suffer the economic consequences of the irresponsible behavior of the hedge funds.

hand of man grabbing flying moneyThe Securities and Exchange Commission is considering some additional restrictions on short selling. This is a small step in the correct direction, but it doesn't go far enough. Legislation to ban short selling altogether is absolutely critical to help avoid speculative bubbles. Banning the hedge fund also is terribly important.

Any person that defends short selling or hedge funds is clueless on economics and ignorant of history.

Photos: (in order)
Beau B
madhavaji
Steve Wampler

 



I like how Dennis Kucinich uses this to express their common values too. He does a good job of expressing the concerns of progressives in this country today in a brief message.

Kucinich also has a lot to say about Global Warming. He discusses the problems with loopholes in latest Global Warming legislation.



 

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