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Time to Stop Watching the Today Show

Posted by libhom Monday, August 31, 2009 3 comments

The spawn of Shrub, Jenna Hager, has joined the Today Show. No, I'm not making this up. I didn't watch that corporate media product often because I have severe limits on the amounts of perkiness I can cope with in the morning.

Now, I can't watch it at all.

An unqualified person gets a high profile job because she is the daughter of a man who illegally occupied the White House for eight years due to two stolen elections. When I read about this on Monkey Muck, I almost gagged.

During, the Bush regime, one of the funniest jokes was:

WWJD: What Would Jenna Drink

I guess the Today Show was never meant to be taken even slightly seriously, but this is sinking to an incredible low.

 

Almost 1400 Mercenaries Have Died in Iraq

Posted by libhom Sunday, August 30, 2009 1 comments

There is a dangerous distortion of language in discussing the Iraq War in addition to referring to torture by names like "harsh interrogation techniques." One of the most common deceptions that has been foisted on us is the use of the word "contractors" to describe mercenaries. However, whatever word you use, they are getting killed in Iraq.

From Swift Economics 8/28/09 (bolding mine):

The next major segment overlooked by the statistics is American contractors. The United States military has privatized much of its non-military operations, things it used to do itself. For example, soldiers used to handle food services, now that is contracted out to companies like Halliburton. The United States has had well over 100,000 contractors in Iraq at any given time since the wildly premature declaration of “Mission Accomplished.” So far, 1395 contractors have been killed in Iraq.

The numbers of US mercenaries in Iraq, and the numbers of them killed in the war of occupation are seldom mentioned by the corporate media. It's difficult enough to get them talking about the war in general these days, much less about this.

The war isn't just costing us hundreds of billions of dollars we could be using improving our public infrastructure and providing jobs at home. It has a dangerous hidden costs. Private armies like the company formerly known as Blackwater pose a significant national security risk. These national security risks are completely censored from corporate media sources.

Meanwhile, the mercenaries and our troops are dying and the Iraqis are still being slaughtered.

 

NBC New York (8/26/09) has some bad news on SAT scores in the NYC public schools:

The city's average score on each 800-point section of the SAT has plunged 18 points in math, to 459, and 13 points in reading, to 435, after reaching a peak in 2005.

Scores on the writing component of the test, which began in 2006, fell six points, to 432.

SAT scores have been going down for four years in a row. The city is trying to spin this as more black and latino students taking the SATs, but it is silly to say that so many minority students are taking the test that the scores dropped by a cumulative 37 points. Besides, Bloomberg has been in office over seven years. He should have accomplished a lot more by now to address racial disparities in the quality of education in the district. We should also be skeptical when a politician or bureaucrat says anything that seems to play on racial prejudices.

National SAT scores changed very little (Dayton Business Journal 8/26/09)
Nationally, scores on the test dropped slightly compared to last year. The College Board data showed the average combined score was 1,509, down two points from last year. Ohio’s average combined score was 1606.

What's the real problem?

Bloomberg has turned the NYC public schools into educational test prep academies, focusing on New York state mandated exams. Teaching to tests always has been frowned upon in educational circles because it has very little applicability to anything outside of the tests. The plummeting SAT scores show that teaching to one test doesn't necessarily apply to another test. Such teaching is even less applicable to college or work.

Bloomberg is a terrible mayor.

 

Our embarrassment of an FBI Director opens his mouth and sticks his foot right in. AFP 8/22/09:

In a letter to Scottish Minster Kenny MacAskill dated August 21, FBI Director Robert Mueller said he was "outraged" at the decision to release Megrahi, who is dying of cancer, on compassionate grounds.

"Your action in releasing Megrahi is as inexplicable as it is detrimental to the cause of justice," Mueller wrote. "Indeed, your action makes a mockery of the rule of law.

"Your action gives comfort to terrorists around the world who now believe that regardless of the quality of the investigation, the conviction by jury after the defendant is given all due process, and sentence appropriate to the crime, the terrorist will be freed by one man's exercise of 'compassion.'"

Mueller is a jackass. This is another country's legal system. They get to decide. We don't. It's a typical ugly American attitude that we have any business bullying other countries. Do you agree with the release? Do you disagree? Unless you are Scottish, you should STFU.

Mueller also is the worst kind of hypocrite. The Iraq War is an act of terrorism on a far greater scale than the Lockerbie bombing. The Iraq War is illegal under US and international law, yet Muller refuses to arrest anyone responsible for getting us in that war. Until Mueller starts arresting these American terrorists, he's in no position to criticize anyone else for not being strong enough on terrorism.

 

Bloomberg Defends Astronomical Drug Company CEO Salaries

Posted by libhom Friday, August 21, 2009 2 comments

Mayor Bloomberg always has been out of touch with middle class and poor people here in NYC, but now he is showing that he has lost touch with reality.

From Crain's New York Business 8/21/09:

In its continued attempt to display Mayor Michael Bloomberg as out-of-touch with the average New Yorker, the Thompson campaign jumped on a comment made by the mayor during his weekly radio show that suggested pharmaceutical company chief executives are not highly paid.

After the mayor told WOR’s John Gambling, "You know, last time I checked, pharmaceutical companies don't make a lot of money, their executives don't make a lot of money,” the comptroller’s camp fired back with a press release declaring “Mike Bloomberg needs a dose of reality.”

The release included a list of the top 17 pharmaceutical CEO salaries, ranging from Miles White of Abbot, who earned $33.4 million in 2007, to Gerald Le Fur of Sanofi Aventis, who earned $3.3 million, according to the Web site Fiercepharma.

$3.3 million is an astronomical salary. It is physically impossible for any one person to earn that much money in one year. Yet, Bloomberg would have us believe that these parasites "don't make a lot of money."

Excessive executive pay at the drug companies, like enormous executive pay at the HMOs and health insurers, is an important area of inefficiency in our healthcare system that we need to address. We need leaders who will be reasonable and living on the same planet as the middle class and the poor.

We cannot expect that from Emperor Bloomberg. He will spend more of his personal fortune on this mayoral campaign than anyone can actually earn in a lifetime. When Con Edison performed execrably during a blackout a couple of years back, Emperor Bloomberg defended their scumbag CEO. Bloomberg will excuse any CEO for anything.

We need a new mayor desperately.

 

While I was channel surfing Wednesday night, I made the mistake of stopping at the Corporate News Network. The focus was on the people comparing Obama to Hitler.

The people mostly were followers of the rightist nutjob Lyndon LaRouche, the same guy who put a proposition on the California ballot that would have put people with AIDS in concentration camps if it had passed. CNN's corporate shill made a point of calling these people "far left." This not only is factually incorrect. It is patently offensive.

Make no mistake. The Corporate Nonsense Network had an agenda. With other rightists trying to silence opposing views at townhalls this summer, the corporate media are trying to create the impression that the nuts are evenly distributed. Never mind the fact that all the nuts at the forums on healthcare are from the right.

Then, they had pundits babbling about how there supposedly are legitimate objections to government run healthcare. Unless you work for an HMO/health insurer or own stock in those vicious corporations or you are a rich scumbag who doesn't want to pay for the social responsibility we all have to make sure everyone has healthcare, it is completely idiotic to oppose government provided healthcare. Single payer is cheaper than what we have now. More people get care, and the quality of care is dramatically higher. No one on the show said anything supporting government provided healthcare.

I've got to stop watching the Corporate Neocon Network. I'm almost completely out of patience with talking heads insulting my intelligence with infantile lies.

 

Canadians Say What They Really Think About Their Healthcare

Posted by libhom Wednesday, August 19, 2009 2 comments

Hat Tip to A Swift Blow to the Head:



Yet, the rightists and HMOs are lying and saying Canadians don't like their healthcare system. Canadians even point out that they have their choice of doctors. Americans in HMOs get far less of a choice than Canadians do.

Physicians for a National Healthcare Plan have run the following press release:

New poll shows Canadians overwhelmingly support public health care

The HMO/Health insurer PR flaques really screwed up by bringing Canada into the discussion.

 

He Should Have Died in Prison

Posted by libhom Tuesday, August 18, 2009 2 comments

Journalist Robert Novak dies at 78 (Los Angeles Times 8/18/09)

I have to laugh at the "Journalist" part.

 

boycott whole foods graphicSingle Payer Action has a blog posting on the Whole Foods Boycott in response to a WSJ Op Ed by Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey opposing single payer and any other kind of government run healthcare plan.

Whole Paycheck may market itself to liberals, but it is a nasty rightist corporation. Here are some examples from the Op Ed piece.

John Mackey is a right wing libertarian.

He’s a union buster.

He believes that corporations should not be criminally prosecuted for their crimes.

He has just launched a campaign to defeat a single payer national health insurance system.

And he’s the CEO of Whole Foods.

Isn't that just grand.

Alternet has more information on Whole Paycheck and its CEO.
Mr. Mackey, you just shat all over your best customers. Given the years of pseudonymous postings on Yahoo finance slamming a competitor you were quietly trying to acquire at the time, double talk and unethical behavior arguably seems to be becoming a habit for you.

I had forgotten about those postings.

Mother Jones provided an example of Whole Paycheck's union busting and intimidation tactics against its workers.
Shortly before the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the manager of a Whole Foods grocery store in the San Francisco Bay Area gathered his employees in a conference room for a chat about labor organizing. “This is not a union-bashing thing whatsoever,” the manager began, adding, however, that he’d called the meeting because Whole Foods believed Obama would sign the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation intended to ease unionization that was opposed by the company’s lobbyists. According to a tape of the meeting obtained by Mother Jones, the manager went on to imply that joining a union would lead to reprisals: “It’s interesting to note that once you become represented by the union,” he said, “basically everything, every benefit you have, is kind of thrown out the window, and you renegotiate a contract.”

These kind of meetings are scripted by anti union consultants and pushed on local managers by CEOs of all sorts of corporations.

Michael Bluejay lists 14 practices of Whole Paycheck. I'll list the titles, you can read his blog posting for the details.
(1) Aggressive monopolization.
(2) Failure to support farmworkers.
(3) Fierceless devotion to profit.
(4) Refusal to carry only turtle-safe shrimp.
(5) CEO posing as someone else on the Internet.
(6) Poor working conditions.
(7) Anti-Union.
(8) Low Wages.
(9) Refusal to come clean on the use of GMO's and toxic chemicals in its products.
(10) Selling dangerous food.
(11) Misleading shoppers about its support of small farmers.
(12) Gagging shareholders.
(13) Obfuscating executive compensation.
(14) Forcing smaller competitors to hand over private financial data.

This boycott has been quite educational indeed.

I think the things that have gotten such a strong reaction are first the fact that Whole Foods is luxury consumption. No one really needs to shop there, so it's easier to give up. More importantly, customers justifiably feel that they have been deceived. Whole Foods presents itself as this warm and fuzzy, progressive company when it's CEO is a hateful rightist.

Anyway, Americans have an inalienable right to government provided healthcare. We have every reason to fight back against greedy CEOs who are trying to steal from us what is rightfully ours.

Image: gezellig-girl.com

 

Our Not Really Green Mayor and an Anti Bloomberg Blog

Posted by libhom Saturday, August 15, 2009 1 comments

Here's a couple of brief items on Emperor Bloomberg.

Today, I got yet another mailing from Bloomberg's effort to buy the mayor's office again campaign.

For someone who pretends to be an environmentally conscious person, Bloomberg sure does kill a lot of trees just to bullshit about his horrible record as mayor. Very little is being done about AIDS; it's exceedingly difficult to get Bloomberg's NYPD to even file a report when you are a crime victim; gay men are targets of a Bloomberg entrapment campaign; cops get to break the law with impunity; homelessness is getting worse; Wall St. crooks aren't even being prosecuted; services are being cut instead of rich people paying their fair share in taxes; and that's just for starters.

Most of Bloomberg's "environmental initiatives" are just on (lots of) paper in reports recommending action for mayors in office at least ten years from now. Even his congestion tax had nothing to do with the environment. He would have just given the money to his rich cronies, like he has done with so much government money already.

Anybody But Bloomberg!

...

If you want to read someone telling the truth about our execrable Mayor, try this blog:

No Th3rd T3rm for Micha3l Bloomb3rg!

The author(s) are pissed off at our pathetic excuse for a Mayor for a variety of reasons, including Bloomberg's broken promise to accept the results of not one, but two voter referendums for limiting terms of councilmembers and mayors to two.

Hat tip Fishbowl America!



Let's start with the military ban. Bill Clinton claims that the problem with his deceptively labeled "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was with its implementation despite the fact that he deliberately designed it to increase the number of discharges and witchhunts. Queer veterans groups at the time were warning people that this version was even worse than the version Reagan put in place as an Executive Order.

Clinton also lied about congressional support to sustain a veto of a military ban. In 1993, 35 Senators voted to lift the ban completely with no support from the Clinton White House. It only takes 34 Senators to sustain a veto.

Here are a couple of facts about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that you may not know.

1) Military commanders are allowed to launch investigations of sexual orientation without anyone coming out based on any or no evidence. These witchhunts even have involved placing undercover military police in gay bars.

2) If a soldier tells her mother she is a lesbian, she is violating "DADT" and is subject to discharge.

3) If a marine tells his boyfriend he is gay, he is violating "DADT" and is subject to discharge.

(That's why it pisses me off when people call it "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" itself is one of Bill Clinton's homophobic lies.)

Bill Clinton also lied about DOMA. He said he didn't want to sign it, yet he ran campaign ads in 1996 on fundamentalist Christian radio bragging about signing it. Oops!

Lane Hudson deserves a lot of credit for challenging this vicious and evil bigot. I find it disturbing how little support he got from the audience. It shows how serious a problem heterosexism is at Netroots Nation. That a vicious and evil bigot like Clinton was invited to speak at a supposedly liberal grassroots conference is truly disturbing. It isn't that surprising, given the fact that Netroots Nation was started by the center right, sexist, and homophobic Daily Kos.

Clinton's bigotry was hardly limited to his heterosexual supremacy. He pushed fraudulent "welfare reform" legislation designed to scapegoat and punish women of color because we live in a society without full employment. Clinton also supported high interest rate policies of the Federal Reserve deliberately designed to keep unemployment higher than it otherwise would be in order to promote downward pressure on middle class wages. Bill Clinton's crusade to undermine affirmative action is yet another example of his racism.

Let's not forget that Clinton maintained sanctions on Iraq long after the first US/Iraq War was over. These sanctions killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Bill Clinton isn't just a racist. He's a genocidal racist. In fact, under international law, Clinton should be serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.

If you look at policy rather than rhetoric, it is obvious how little difference there is between Bill Clinton and the most bigoted of Republicans. If you think there is a meaningful difference, you have fallen for the hype.

 

Are Most of the Anti Healthcare Astroturfers Being Paid?

Posted by libhom Thursday, August 13, 2009 0 comments

coinsAre some or most of the astroturfers disrupting townhall meetings being paid off to do so by the HMOs, the insurance companies, or their PR people?

Who are these people spewing absolute nonsense about healthcare and trying to shut everyone else up?

How many of these people are paid employees of the very same corporations that stand to lose money if we really did reform healthcare?

Questions like these are perfectly reasonable. Yet, the corporate media don't even ask them, much less investigate them. Any intelligent, sensible person can tell from body language that most of the people hogging the mikes at the townhalls are not even close to sincere. Then, consider that these jackasses are stringing together corporate talking points in ways that are completely forced and unnatural. Many of these people have trouble even pronouncing the words that they are being fed.

pile of $50 and $100 billsIf there was any professionalism in the corporate media, these people would be subject to intense scrutiny. Yet, they all are treated as completely above board.

Photos: Nils Geylen
Tracey O

 

Now that the corporate media are inciting hatred, perhaps violence, against President Obama and other Democrats, people are going beyond merely complaining about corporate media propaganda. People are starting to fight back. It's about time.

The Color of Change is demanding that advertisers stop funding hate mongering Faux News talk show host Glenn Beck. The logic makes perfect sense. Why should people buy products that fund racist hatred against themselves and people like them? Why should anyone buy those products? From the Color of Change's Action Alert:

Call on advertisers to drop sponsorship of Glenn Beck

FOX's Glenn Beck:
"This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people ... this guy is, I believe, a racist."
Beck is on a campaign to convince the American public that President Obama's agenda is about serving the needs of Black communities at White people's expense. It's repulsive, divisive and shouldn't be on the air.

Join us in calling on Beck's advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

We are not obligated to pay for this racist and incendiary garbage. Let these disgusting corporations know that paying for hate is bad for the bottom line.

Please Take Action Now!

 

I broke down and bought an IPod a few months ago. One of my favorite uses for it is listening to podcasts (audio and video programs that anyone with the correct equipment can make and which the audiences download to their computers). Now that I'm more experienced as a user, I can offer some advice for present and future podcasters. I should say that some podcasts I really like don't follow all of these and that this is intended as constructive criticism.

1) Keep Your Podcasts Relatively Short:
Most professional podcasts are from 1-20 minutes in length. That should tell you something. People usually listen or watch while on the go, and often don't have time to listen to something really long. Just because many radio and TV programs are an hour long or longer, that doesn't mean that podcasts should be that long. Podcasts are a very different medium than television and radio.

If you have an hour long podcast that stands up after editing (see point 6), break it up into 2-3 podcasts and run your episodes more often. You can produce them all at once and upload them at different times. You will make your podcasts more attractive to listeners.

2) Try Not to Be Too Captive to the News Cycle:
One thing I noticed is that I don't update my podcasts every day. I doubt other people do too. I also often will get a dozen or more past episodes podcasts.

My listening habits aren't that linear either. My moods change, and the same podcast I will listen to three times one week I will not get to for three weeks after that. When I find podcasts that are new to me, I often will download episodes from weeks or months ago.

The upshot is that what is topical when you create your podcast will be old news for many of your listeners. Keep allusions to the latest items in the news cycle short and try to illustrate more lasting points with those allusions.

3) Be Sure to Show Your Personality:
One thing you can offer with your blog that nobody else can is your personality. One of the things about podcasts that make them so interesting is that you get to hear voices and personalities that vary from the bland, narrow range of corporate media.

4) Focus on One Broad Area for Each Podcast:
If you have a passion for PHP programming and a passion for cooking, don't put both on the same podcast, much less the same episode. If you are trying to teach people how to speak Farsi, a long English diatribe about the best kind of donuts probably won't be too helpful for your audience.

Think about your audience. How many people are going to be interested in both subjects? How many of those people will want to listen to or watch a podcast about both at the same time?

5) Try to Have More Than One Host and to Find Guests:
More voices make podcasts more interesting. Also, interaction can improve the quality of ideas presented. You probably don't want to listen the same person you don't know that well for an hour (or even 20 minutes) unless that person is absolutely fascinating beyond belief. The second or third voice can really break things up.

6) If You Have Time and Expertise, Edit Your Podcasts:
If you don't have time to do this or to learn how to do this, skip to the next point. However, if you have one hour of raw material, you probably have about 15-30 minutes of content that is really worth listening to or watching. Also, you may think your bloopers are hysterical, but podcast bloopers are so common that they all are boring now. If you have lost your topics list or other piece of information, definitely try not to subject your listeners to hearing about it for 2-3 minutes.

7) Be Careful About Getting Self Referential:
For much of your audience, your latest episode is their first episode. If you are on episode 154, don't expect many people to know about or even remember what you said in episode 21. A lost audience member is a bored audience member who soon will be an former audience member.

Please put other advice for podcasters in the comments. Improving the quality of liberal podcasts helps get our points across more effectively.

 

Keep Pushing on ENDA

Posted by libhom Tuesday, August 11, 2009 0 comments

hanging rainbow flagFrom Pride At Work's 8/5/09 Email:

Today, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D) joined by Senators Susan Collins (ME-R), and Edward M. Kennedy (MA-D) introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in an important show of bipartisan support. This bill, which would extend existing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is much needed and long overdue.

We have a good chance of passing this bill, but we need your help! President Obama has said that he is ready to sign this bill. All we need now is for the Senate to act.

It is essential that you contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill and ask them to become a co-sponsor. Becoming a co-sponsor shows other members of Congress that your Senator will stand in solidarity with our community, which helps build momentum for the bill’s passage.

Here are two critical facts from the Action Alert.
In 30 states a person can be legally fired solely because of their sexual orientation.

In 37 states, a person can be legally fired just because of their gender identity or expression.

I rewrote the default text from the Action Alert to ask my New York Senators to cosponsor the legislation and push hard for it. It generally is a good idea to rewrite default text in Action Alerts so the emails generated will be taken more seriously.

In the comments section of a post I wrote on GLAAD's dismal behavior after Perez Hilton was queer bashed, two crows asked me what lgbt organizations I consider worthwhile. Pride At Work is certainly one of them. I can not think of any queer group where your donations will get more bang for the buck.

Please Contact Your Senators!

Photos: Jamison
Gilberto Viciedo

 

I remember when the Goppers pushed the phony baloney impeachment of Bill Clinton. Clinton was widely unpopular among liberals and progressives for his conservative, Republican policies. Yet, the unfair and anti democratic impeachment fraud led many on the left to sympathize with a President who brought us financial deregulation, NAFTA, the WTO, scapegoating and punishing women of color on welfare, draconian budget cuts, and a harsher version of military ban signed into law, replacing the previous executive order.

I saw so many liberals identify with Bill Clinton, our political enemy. It was so surreal.

Now, the Goppers have gone even further. They are trying to rile up their nutjobs into assassinating Barack Obama and other center right Democrats. This is vile and unpatriotic. It's no wonder that so many liberals and progressives are defending politicians who are, once again, their political opponents.

We are allowing ourselves to be backed into a corner by the far right tactics. There must be another way, and there is.

We need to strongly attack and condemn the far right for what they are doing. But, that must not stop us from speaking out against policies of center right Democrats that are far too similar to the corporatist agenda of the last 29 years. Speaking out against conservative policies pushed by Democrats also has the beneficial tactic of raising questions in the minds of some of the rightists as to just how "liberal" the Democratic Party leadership really is.

We are in a difficult situation, but losing our nerve only makes things worse. Failing to learn from our mistakes during the Clinton Administration is not a luxury liberals or this country can afford.

 

Disorderly Conduct Laws Are Dangerous

Posted by libhom Monday, August 10, 2009 1 comments

The racist attack against Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. has put disorderly conduct laws in the spotlight. They were used to arrest him for doing absolutely nothing wrong. Massachusetts Criminal Defense Resource Page describes the law in that state.

A "disorderly person" is defined as one who:

* with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or
* recklessly creates a risk thereof
* engages in fighting or threatening, violent or tumultuous behavior, or
* creates a hazard or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.

This is incredibly vague. Criminal Law Lawyer Source describes the dilemma created by disorderly conduct laws in general:
Given the wide range of behaviors that could constitute disorderly conduct, a person may be arrested for this crime without proper cause. Virtually any socially offensive or disruptive conduct may be prosecuted as disorderly conduct.

These vague laws would be bad enough if cops always made accurate police reports. However, police reports in police misconduct cases are notorious for not being worth the paper they are written on.

To put it bluntly, disorderly conduct laws function as "I'm arresting you because I feel like it" laws.

Wikipedia describes the constitutional law concept of Void for Vagueness as follows:
Void for vagueness is a legal concept in American constitutional law that states that a given statute is void and unenforceable if it is too vague for the average citizen to understand. There are several ways, senses or reasons a statute might be considered vague. In general, a statute might be called void for vagueness reasons when an average citizen cannot generally determine what persons are regulated, what conduct is prohibited, or what punishment may be imposed. Again, though, there are specific ways a lawyer might make a void for vagueness argument.

Disorderly conduct laws are certainly vague enough to where you don't really know which conduct is prohibited and which conduct is acceptable. Even worse, personal feelings about the targeted person play an inherent role in what is considered a "public inconvenience" or "socially offensive." Disorderly conduct laws are deliberately written to be unconstitutionally vague in order to expand police powers beyond those tolerated in a society governed by the rule of law.

The failure of courts to strike down disorderly conduct laws and the fact that such laws get passed in the first place put a spotlight on the authoritarian tendencies within our legal system and in our society as a whole.

 

This reminds me of the Bush Administration. From an Organic Consumers Association Action Alert (Hat Tip: News from the Underground):

Genetically modified foods are not safe. The only reason they're in our food supply is because government bureaucrats with ties to industry suppressed or manipulated scientific research and deprived consumers of the information they need to make informed choices about whether or not to eat genetically modified foods.

Now, the Obama Administration is putting two notorious biotech bullies in charge of food safety! Former Monsanto lobbyist Michael Taylor has been appointed as a senior adviser to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner on food safety. And, rBGH-using dairy farmer and Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff is rumored to be President Obama's choice for Under-Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety. Wolfe spearheaded anti-consumer legislation in Pennsylvania that would have taken away the rights of consumers to know whether their milk and dairy products were contaminated with Monsanto's (now Eli Lilly's) genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH).

Having a former Monsanto lobbyist as a adviser to the FDA Commissioner on food safety poses dangers that go beyond genetically modified foods. Chemical companies like Monsanto make all sorts of toxic crap. Talk about a conflict of interest.

Putting industry lobbyists in regulatory positions was one of the most common corrupt acts of the Bush regime. I know Obama is more about continuity with Bush than change, but we should try to push for as much change as possible.

Please Act Now!

 

I'm Adding Immoral Minority to My Link List

Posted by libhom Sunday, August 02, 2009 7 comments

photo of Sarah Palin

In the latest example of intimidation tactics by the extreme right, Sarah Palin's attorney has threatened the blog Immoral Minority with legal action for reporting on claims that Ms. Palin and her husband are getting a divorce. Personally, I couldn't care less whether or not they are getting a divorce. What I do care about a lot are rightist intimidation campaigns, whether they involve legal threats, physical threats, or shootings like the one of the great patriotic hero, Dr. Tiller or the murders at a Unitarian Church by someone who hated liberals.

In a way, this also reminds me of the birther movement. In each case, the far right is trying to bulldoze over American freedoms and American democracy. So, I am expressing my objections to all of this by adding Immoral Minority to my link list.

The far right needs to respect the freedoms and votes of other Americans.

 

From the NY Times 7/30/09:

A senior American military adviser in Baghdad has concluded in an unusually blunt memo that Iraqi forces suffer from entrenched deficiencies but are now able to protect the Iraqi government, and that it is time “for the U.S. to declare victory and go home.”

CODEPINK has some interesting commentary on the memo:
This is frustrating, if not welcome news, for millions of Americans involved in the peace movment, who’ve marched in the street, signed petitions, called Congress, worn “Boot Bush” buttons and more. They’ve called for an end to the war for six years, citing the same reasons at Reese and the common, basic idea that violence begets more violence, further alienates Iraqis and is not a productive strategy to effect change worldwide — unlike diplomacy (imagine if we all solved all problems with guns, bombs and occupation?). The U.S. military destroyed Iraqi infrastructure, killed thousands of innocent civilians and alienated most of the world with its effort, not to mention Iraqis. Troops must be withdrawn now so Iraq can stand on its feet. The same must happen in Afghanistan, as military presence there only helps to further destabilize it.

What interests me the most is that so many people in the corporate media act as if this memo is surprising. There has been a lot of opposition to the war on Iraq within the military for years. Our troops are threatened with discharges and imprisonment for speaking out against the war, yet no penalties are involved for any member of the military that wants to speak out for the war.

The Iraq War is much different than other wars the US is currently fighting, different in ways that make it especially frustrating for the military. Iraq did not attack the US, and we now know that the Bush regime was lying when they said Iraq had WMDs at the time of the invasion. Our troops on the ground see that no reconstruction of that country is happening, despite corporate media propaganda to the contrary.

The views of Iraq Veterans Against the War represent a significant faction, if not a majority, of our active duty troops in Iraq, despite propaganda to the contrary. These same propagandists would like us to forget that there was significant opposition in the war in the Pentagon before it even started.

Being forced to fight a brutal war that has nothing to do with defending the US is bound to alienate our active duty military. In some cases, it also is resulting in dangerous, even deadly behavior by our troops when they get home. The most common resulting violence is the violence that our Iraq War vets commit against themselves in suicides and suicide attempts. But, that isn't the whole story.

In mid July, Ten Percent noted a murder spree in Colorado by former Iraq War vets. Democracy Now has given national publicity to a series of stories on this by the Colorado Springs newspaper, the Gazette. Here's the summary paragraph from the 7/30/09 Democracy Now broadcast.
A startling two-part series published in the Gazette newspaper of Colorado Springs titled “Casualties of War” examines a part of war seldom discussed by the media or government officials: the difficulty of returning to civilian life after being trained to be a killer. The story focuses on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. Soldiers from the brigade have have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. The Army unit’s murder rate is 114 times the rate for Colorado Springs. We speak with the reporter who broke the story and get the Army’s response.

Iraq Veterans Against the War has done a lot of excellent work publicizing the atrocities during the war on Iraq during in their Winter Soldier project. Obviously, those atrocities have a horrific effect on the Iraqis. But, we don't have the luxury of ignoring the damage they do to our troops and how that damage lasts years after they return home.

Here are some examples of the carnage in Colorado Springs.
In August of 2007, twenty-four-year-old Louis Bressler robbed and shot a soldier he picked up on a street in Colorado Springs.

In December of 2007, three soldiers from the unit—Louis Bressler, Bruce Bastien and Kenneth Eastridge—left the bullet-riddled body of a soldier from their unit on a Colorado Springs street. Two months earlier, the same group intentionally drove into a woman walking to work. One of the soldiers then repeatedly stabbed her.

In May and June of 2008, police say Rudolfo Torres-Gandarilla and Jomar Falu-Vives drove around with an assault rifle, randomly shooting people.

In September of 2008, police say John Needham beat a former girlfriend to death.

Josh Butler was sent to prison for beating his pregnant wife. Months later, his child was born with severe birth defects and died. Butler blames himself, in part, for the child’s death.

While Fort Carson has instituted a number of new policies and programs to help returning soldiers adjust to civilian life, the killing has continued. In May, Thomas Woolly was charged with manslaughter after shooting a nineteen-year-old woman. Two weeks later, another member of the unit committed suicide in California.

An irony in all of this is that Colorado Springs is ground zero for the militant, Christian fundamentalist hate groups that strongly supported the Iraq War as a religious crusade.

I have to wonder how much of this is happening in other parts of the country, without the diligent reporting of the Gazette.

 

Hysteria on Obama's Health Plan

Posted by libhom Saturday, August 01, 2009 3 comments

Make no mistake, there certainly are problems with the healthcare plan President Obama supports. It involves the HMOs and insurance companies, which means the costs will be higher than what we have now, much less the cheapest plan: single payer. Also, the private corporations do everything they can to avoid covering expensive, life saving care.

Yet, the HMOs and insurance companies aren't satisfied with trying to scuttle the Obama plan, which might cut back a bit on their profits. They want to create absolute hysteria among religious extremists on the very subject of government involvement in healthcare.

I got signed up for the rightist TownHall.com because I wanted to comment on Hugh Hewitt's blog. Ever since then, I have been getting bizarre emails from them. Some of them try to sell me crap people with IQs over 60 wouldn't touch. Others include the wackiest far right propaganda, stuff the corporate overseers of the rightist noise machine keep far from the general public. One case of the latter is the email I got from them trying to engender frantic raving by the Christian Taliban on President Obama's healthcare plan. This one appeals to the nuts who actually wanted Terry Schiavo's wishes disregarded by the courts.

A nation of Terri Schiavos with a National Euthanasia Bill?

In 2005, a COURT ordered the removal of a feeding Tube from Terri Schiavo. It outraged a nation. If the Government takes over health care, bureaucrats will decide who lives and dies in America. In the name of "creating efficiencies," they will delay – or deny - treatment to critically ill patients because it costs too much.

We will have a NATION of Terri Schiavo’s, with a faceless Federal Bureaucracy pulling the plug instead of a Court.!

Sound crazy? It happens every day in Great Britain.

Horror of horrors! Respecting the desires and needs of women! What will that evil Obama think up next!

The email doesn't stop there in taking advantage of anti choice people and their frothing hatred of women.
A National Abortion Bill?

That is what the legislation should be called, because the bill pending in Congress includes the unlimited right of a woman to end the life of her baby, with the government footing the bill. And groups like Planned Parenthood will be the beneficiaries of your tax dollars.

Personally, I think Planned Parenthood is fabulous. I want them to get abortion funding, but I also want them to get funding in other areas of reproductive health too. If they got a bunch of government funding for family planning and sex ed, our country would benefit tremendously from it. However, the Bible thumpers get apoplectic at the very thought. If we really were a civilized society, knowledge of proper condom use would be required of all students by the age of 15 in any school.

However, the "pro lifers" hate life saving programs to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases.

The rightist noise machine preys on the stupid.

 

PETA has a long history of vicious racism, and now they have drawn their celebrity shill, Bob Barker, to join in one of their white supremacist crusades. They are actually meddling in the affairs of the Cherokee people. From the Asheville Citizen Times 7/29/09 (Hat Tip IDiosyntocracy):

Bob Barker and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals will take their campaign to free the bears in captivity to the nation’s animal lovers, Barker said in a press conference today.

“Things are going to change on the Cherokee Reservation, I promise,” said Barker, the game-show host and animal advocate.

Barker became involved at the request of the wife of Rep. Bill Young of Florida. The Youngs visited Cherokee last summer on a family vacation, and Beverly Young said she was outraged when she saw bears kept in concrete pits.

The Cherokee dispute the farcical claim that the bears are being treated badly.

It is an outrageous example of white supremacist hate and an assertion of white privilege for Barker and PETA to think that they have a right to get even slightly involved in the matter. The racist attitude that the Cherokee people are colonial subjects to be dictated to is offensive and absolutely unacceptable.

I would find this offensive enough as a matter of bigotry and social injustice. Being part Cherokee, I find this personally insulting. Here is my message to PETA and Barker:

Shut the fuck up you racist scum!

I also find it interesting that the wife of a Republican politician is involved. The Goppers have used racist hate against indigenous peoples in rural areas as a political tactic for generations. Ms. Young's conduct is part of an evil and bigoted history this country needs to overcome.

As for PETA, PETA has huge problems with racism. Remember when PETA threw a psycho temper tantrum just because President Obama killed a fly? This was part of the rightists' strategy of throwing the metaphorical kitchen sink at Obama, and is comparable in intent to the birther crap. No one can honestly dispute the fact that PETA never would have gone off the deep end over something so petty and trivial as a white President killing a fly.

PETA's racism goes deeper than that. PETA still opposes using animals for medical research to fight AIDS. By doing this, they are placing a lower value on the lives of people of color and queers than those of non human animals.

In order to try to get away from accountability for their racist and homophobic conduct, the PETA propagandists use Hitler's Big Lie tactic, saying that animal research isn't scientifically valid when it is a proven fact that animal research is scientifically useful and valid.

The Cherokees have every right to tell the PETA bigots where to go.

 

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