It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1944 State of the Union
Friday, March 31, 2006
Truth alone will endure, all the rest will be swept away before the tide of time. I must, therefore, continue to bear testimony to Truth even if I am forsaken by all. Mine may today be a voice in the wilderness, but it will be heard when all other voices are silenced, if it is the voice of Truth.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Watching the Democrats, one would think that they never gave up believing in Santa Claus.
Like little kids in December, they seem to believe that just by being nice, Santa will deliver the gifts: election victories and control of the Congress.
The Republicans know better. They analyze, they scheme, they think things through, they act aggressively and ruthlessly, and thus they win.
Unfortunately, the Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. And opportunities aplenty are coming their way which, for the most part, they simply ignore. For example, when one of their number, Senator Russ Feingold, speaks up with a loud and eloquent voice, he is told to shut up. Demanding censure of the outlaw President, he is told by his own party, is "not nice."
One begins to wonder if the Democratic Party really wants to win in November. If they keep on behaving as they have, and if conditions remain essentially as they are now, they won't win.
Why is this so obvious to so many people and not to the Democratic strategists? It just boggles my mind.
Now take a look at this passage:
Critics who use "the F-word" (Fascism) to describe the Bush regime are denounced as "shrill" and "irresponsible." Are they? Consider this: when Bush signs bills from the Congress forbidding torture and warrantless surveillance, he issues "signing statements" which states that he is free to ignore these laws when, at his discretion, he chooses to do so. And now this: "Last month ... President Bush signed into law a bill that never passed the house." In effect, this demotes the Congress of the United States from a law-making to an "advisory" body. Add to that the fact that Bush and his party are "elected" with privately owned and operated, unverifiable "black box" voting machines and compilers, conveniently provided by GOP partisans. So it comes to this: rule by decree by a "leader" who has placed himself above the law and beyond recall by the voters. If this does not define a "dictatorship," I don't know what does.
Meanwhile, the Congress, the courts, the media, the Democratic Party, and public acquiesce in silence.
We've not fully descended to totalitarianism. Dissent, however muted, is still tolerated. (But don't you dare protest within sight or earshot of "Our Leader"). Those of us who continue to criticize the regime have not yet been charged with "thought-crime," and sent to "re-education camps." Not yet.
So the task before us is not to protect our democracy; it's too late for that. Our task is to restore our democracy, to re-institute the government we once had, "deriving [its] just powers from the consent of the governed."
I wonder how long it's going to be before dissent is not tolerated. If we don't do something soon - while it is still possible - we may, indeed, end up feeling our regrets in the camps.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Thurman: The loss of your own nation to China has been used as an example of the futility of nonviolence and tolerance. When is something worth fighting for?
Dalai Lama: This is hard to explain. In our own case, we don't consider the loss of a monastery or a monument the end of our entire way of life. If one monastery is destroyed, sometimes it happens. Therefore, we don't need to respond with desperate violence. Although under particular circumstances, the violence method -- any method -- can be justified, nevertheless once you commit violence, then counterviolence will be returned. Also, if you resort to violent methods because the other side has destroyed your monastery, for example, you then have lost not only your monastery, but also your special Buddhist practices of detachment, love, and compassion.
However, if the situation was such that there was only one learned lama or genuine practitioner alive, a person whose death would cause the whole of Tibet to lose all hope of keeping its Buddhist way of life, then it is conceivable that in order to protect that one person it might be justified for one or 10 enemies to be eliminated -- if there was no other way. I could justify violence only in this extreme case, to save the last living knowledge of Buddhism itself.
For Tibetans, the real strength of our struggle is truth -- not size, money, or expertise. China is much bigger, richer, more powerful militarily, and has much better skill in diplomacy. They outdo us in every field. But they have no justice. We have placed our whole faith in truth and in justice. We have nothing else, in principle and in practice.
We have always been a nation different from the Chinese. Long ago we fought wars with them. Since we became Buddhist, we have lived in peace with them. We did not invade them. We did not want them to invade us. We have never declared war on China. We have only asked them to leave us in peace, to let us have our natural freedom. We have always maintained that our policy is nonviolence, no matter what they do. I only escaped from Tibet because I feared my people would resort to desperate violence if the Chinese took me as their prisoner.
Thurman: How does one counteract violence without hatred or anger?
Dalai Lama: The antidote to hatred in the heart, the source of violence, is tolerance. Tolerance is an important virtue of bodhisattvas [enlightened heroes and heroines] -- it enables you to refrain from reacting angrily to the harm inflicted on you by others. You could call this practice "inner disarmament," in that a well-developed tolerance makes you free from the compulsion to counterattack. For the same reason, we also call tolerance the "best armor," since it protects you from being conquered by hatred itself.
We as Americans have been conquered by hatred itself. Not the hatred of Al Quaeda towards us but by our own hatred of others. It is truly tragic.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.
-- Winston Churchill
A United Methodist preacher in another state recently preached a sermon on homosexuality. He told his congregation he was going to read for them everything Jesus ever said about homosexuality. Then he stood in silence for five minutes, carefully turning the pages of the New Testament. At the end of five minutes of silence, the minister announced, "I have now told you everything Jesus ever said about homosexuality." It was a powerful sermon of silence.
That was from an article entitled, "Christian faith not a religion of political right". (Real Christian faith, that is.)
Denise Grier is a nurse at Emory University hospital in Georgia.
On March 10, she was driving home from dinner when a Dekalb County police officer pulled her over.
"At least initially, I was just surprised because I hadn't done anything wrong," she says.
"When he approached the car, he had his hand on his weapon, and I was in my nurse's uniform with a stethoscope around my neck. He asked for my license, and then said, 'Any idea why I stopped you.'"
"I said no."
"'You have a lewd decal on your car.'"
Grier says she immediately thought that one of her kids had put something nasty on her bumper as a joke.
"But then he mentioned the Bush sticker," she says. That one says: "I'm tired of all the BUSHIT." (This story was first reported by Joe Johnson of the Athens Banner-Herald.)
Grier says she told the officer it wasn't lewd, and that it was clearly a political statement. When he insisted it was lewd, she said, "I'm not going to discuss this any further. Just give me the ticket." Which he did.
Under "offense," it says: "Lewd decals."
The ticket is for $100.
Grier has no intention of paying it.
The ACLU is representing her. I'm proud to say that I send a monthly pledge to the ACLU. Here's a comment off of Smirking Chimp about this story:
The problem with fighting for your rights is that the right-wing cop is not put out even when he/she loses because he/she is working on your dime. You, on the other hand, must go out of your way to defend your Constitutional right to free speech.
This is why everyone should support the ACLU, whether you appreciate their stand on every issue or not. It is not the Constitution that protects your rights it is lawyers that are willing to take a stand in court.
I so agree.
NEW YORK Emerging from mass in Boston on Sunday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an "obscene gesture" in responding to a question from a reporter, according to Monday's Boston Herald.
A Herald reporter outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross had asked Scalia, 70, if he faces much questioning over impartiality when it comes to issues separating church and state. "You know what I say to those people?" Scalia replied, making the "obscene gesture, flicking his hand under his chin," the Herald reported. He explained, "That's Sicilian."
A photographer with The Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper, caught the moment. "Don't publish that," Scalia told the photographer, the Herald said.
The Herald today called it "conduct unbecoming a 20-year veteran of the country’s highest court - and just feet from the Mother Church’s altar."
You know, part of what bothers me about right wingers is that they're rude. Of course, that's consistent. When you have, in general, disdain for the rights and feelings of other people, why be polite?
Monday, March 27, 2006
I wrote yesterday about a bill signing statement in which president Bush once again asserted his authority, under the rubric of national security, to ignore laws passed by Congress and signed by him. Glenn Greenwald offers a much more substantial response to the practice today, and Atrios, in pointing to the Greenwald piece, says “I have no idea how to wake the slumbering press.”
Well, I do. When I first wrote about this issue back in January, I said that “until someone gets around to challenging the White House, Congress is just an advisory body with the authority to dole out bucketloads of cash. For now, we have a coup.”
No, I don't think it's too strong a word.
After 2,300 Americans have been killed, 106 from Ohio, and so many Iraqis, we must say that when you go to war, whether you go to war, and whether you tell the truth about going to war is a moral values issue, too.
- Jim Wallis, speaking in Ohio
Well I am just going to stick to this point that the president led us in there with the background music of American culture. Everybody was led to believe that we were getting payback, we were avenging what happened on 9/11 and that we are going to get them. Vice President Cheney said we are going to attack terrorism at its base. Over and over the language was, this is where it came from, in fact most recently the President suggested that it was always the hot pursuit, like a new York police chase, we chased them back into their country. We pursued the terrorists back to Iraq and it's all nonsense. The reason there are terrorists in Iraq today like Zarqawi is we created the opening by blowing the country apart.
From the beginning it's been not true. Now you can't prove motive and you can't prove somebody lies, but from the beginning everything about how they've got WMD's, they are a threat to us, they are going to bomb us with a nuclear weapon, this country is going to be an easy liberate, it's going to be a cake walk. As Cheney said as recently as ten months ago the insurgents are in their last throws. Everything that is said is not true. And right to the end here, here we are now and it's not a civil war and when Allawi the prime Minster is saying it is a civil war and here is the president quoting his own people that it's not a civil war. I mean the denial has been continuous. So you really can't count on the administration to tell you what is going on. That is just the fact. You've got to check it out.
By the way, the president said this week that he wants the whole truth about what is going on in Iraq, the whole truth and that the media isn't telling the whole story. I'll tell you what we are not telling. We are not showing pictures of the twenty five hundred bodies coming back because they won't let us show the pictures. They don't want the whole truth out and that's the fact.
President Bush needs to understand that you just can't fool all of the people all of the time. People are starting to wake up.
(The above was posted on Crooks and Liars right here.)
Also in this week's Science are two articles that further strengthen the case that ice sheets are quite sensitive to warming climate. A paper by Göran Ekström et al. shows that the increased speed of Greenland glaciers occurs in distinct lurches (observed as micro "ice-quakes") that are strongly seasonal, with the greatest number occuring in late summer. This provides evidence that meltwater plays an important role in the acceleration of Greenland's glaciers. Essentially, the idea is that surface melting that occurs in the summer can make its way quickly down to the glacier bed, lubricating the bed and allowing the glaciers to slide more rapidly. The "ice quakes" occur because the rough bedrock surface causes the glaciers to stick; they only accelerate when enough hydraulic pressure has built up to help float the glacier over the bumps. This is strong evidence that climate, not merely "internal ice
sheet dynamics", has contributed to the recent increases in Greenland's glaciers. Indeed, a doubling of the rate of quakes has occurred over the past five years, just as the aerial extent of surface melting has increased.
So, on top of everything else we have "lurching glaciers".
Sunday, March 26, 2006
No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth.
Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.
From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial melts, the global climate seems to be crashing around us.
The problem -- as scientists suspected but few others appreciated -- is that global climate systems are booby-trapped with tipping points and feedback loops, thresholds past which the slow creep of environmental decay gives way to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse. That's just what's happening now.
It's at the north and south poles -- where ice cover is crumbling to slush -- that the crisis is being felt the most acutely.
Late last year, for example, researchers analyzed data from Canadian and European satellites and found that the Greenland ice sheet is not only melting, but doing so faster and faster, with 53 cubic miles draining away into the sea last year alone, compared to 23 cubic miles in 1996.
One of the reasons the loss of the planet's ice cover is accelerating is that as the poles' bright white surface disappears it changes the relationship of the Earth and the sun. Polar ice is so reflective that 90 percent of the sunlight that strikes it simply bounces back into space, taking its energy with it. Ocean water does just the opposite, absorbing 90 percent of the light and heat it receives, meaning that each mile of ice that melts vanishes faster than the mile that preceded it.
This is what scientists call a feedback loop, and a similar one is also melting the frozen land called permafrost, much of which has been frozen -- since the end of last ice age in fact, or at least 8,000 years ago.
Sealed inside that cryonic time capsule are layers of decaying organic matter, thick with carbon, which itself can transform into CO2. In places like the southern boundary of Alaska the soil is now melting and softening.
As fast as global warming is changing the oceans and ice caps, it's having an even more immediate effect on land. Droughts are increasingly common as higher temperatures also bake moisture out of soil faster, causing dry regions that live at the margins to tip into full-blown crisis.
Wildfires in such sensitive regions as Indonesia, the western U.S. and even inland Alaska have been occurring with increased frequency as timberlands grow more parched. Those forests that don't succumb to fire can simply die from thirst.
I want to take issue with something in the second paragraph above. The writer says, "Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us." It was not unexpected. It was not unexpected. Scientists have been warning us for decades.
But of course, here in Oklahoma we have people like Senator Inhofe who continue to insist that global warming is a myth. It tempts me to despair; it really does.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
If you had read the front page story of the SF Chronicle on Thursday, Dec.14, 2005, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body-her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside theGolden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her - a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer. They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.
When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around - she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never ever be the same.
I googled the story and found the San Francisco Chronicle article right here. How can anyone read a story like this and not realize that whales are highly intelligent, sensitive creatures with rich emotional lives? And it has recently been discovered that whale songs actually have grammar and that whales "sing" in different dialects. (See article here.) How can we possible justify killing such creatures or not supporting efforts to save them?
The campaign to censure him contends that Carter has met with some unsavory characters in his multitude of diplomatic efforts and thus has brought discredit upon the United States and undermined US Diplomatic policy and efforts. In particular, the website that is the center of this effort has huge pictures and makes a bid deal of Carter’s meetings with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, the late Yassir Arafat and leaders of Hamas. As always, these Republican protagonists have not thought things through. In the first week of January, 2002, Republican Senators Lincoln Chafee, and Arlen Spector met with Castro in Cuba as part of a bi partisan congressional visit (see here). On January 10, 2005 another bipartisan congressional group visited Hugo Chavez (see here). On April 5, 2002 George W. Bush sent US special envoy Zinni to meet with Arafat (see here). Thus far, to my knowledge, no Republican or administration officials have met with Hamas, but they have promised to do so if Hamas recognizes the right of Israel to exist, but the point is made. If we include the pictures of Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s, the hypocrisy of this effort to censure Carter becomes laughable.
Those wanting to dishonor Carter would do well to remember that he is a former officer in the US Navy and a graduate of Annapolis. The Synagogue Council of America awarded Carter with the International Human Rights award in 1979 and of course, he won the Nobel Peace prize in 2002 just to mention a few of a long list of accolades from various countries and organizations on a variety of subjects. Carter is in no way a traitor, would never work in cross-purposes to the United States and has the respect of people and governments in all countries around the world. This baseless effort to censure him is a blatant knee-jerk reaction to the efforts to censure President Bush and should be condemned by all thinking people everywhere.
What part of "Bush broke the law" do they not understand? Heck, he even admitted it - bragged about it. Those of us who want him censured are saying that the president is not above the law. He's saying he is. It's really pretty simple.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Here's the plot synopsis on the off chance that anybody doesn't already know this:
In the early 1950's, the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States and exploiting those fears was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. However, CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly decided to take a stand and challenge McCarthy and expose him for the fear monger he was. However, their actions took a great personal toll on both men, but they stood by their convictions and helped to bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history.
It saddens me that an actor has needed to take on the role of the Fourth Estate and call to our attention how civil liberties are systematically being destroyed given the overall cowardice of today's press. We are, of course, experiencing a new McCarthyism and who knows what the outcome of this one will be. It doesn't look pretty, that's for sure.
I want to leave you with two quotes by Edward R. Murrow that were displayed during one of the special features:
The soul of America is clearly in very great danger. But as long as movies like Good Night and Good Luck are still being made it is not yet dead. Thank God for that.
No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.
We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, think the soul of America dies with it.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Late into Dana Spiotta's brilliant new novel, "Eat the Document," the protagonist, a woman who has lived "underground" for years, hiding from the consequences of a 1960s political protest gone badly awry, flashes back to the moment of choice:
"The question is, do we want to leave action to the brutes of the world? ... There are some inherent problems built into acting. It lacks perfection. But I believe we must fight back, or we will feel shame all our lives. We, the privileged, are more obligated. It is a moral duty to do something, however imperfect. ... If we don't do something, all our lives we will feel regret."
Here's the sentence: "We, the privileged, are more obligated." Noblesse oblige. I was brought up on that concept and I will be grateful for that upbringing until my dying day. I was brought up to believe that the privilege of being from a "good" family, having a good education and being of above average intelligence meant I was obligated to give back to the world and to help those who are less fortunate than I am. And I was further brought up to believe that being privileged does not entitle me to make demands on others so that I may have even more privileges than I started out with.
What has happened to our country that we believe privilege entitles people to grind the poor under their feet, exploit the earth's resources and destroy the environment? What has happened to the noble concepts of altruism and stewardship?
It is so, so painful to see what we have become as a society. Selfishness has been elevated to a virtue.
I so agree with the above declaration about taking action. If I don't fight back, I will feel shame all my life. My way of fighting back may be small - email activism, producing this blog, financially supporting the ACLU - but it is something. Anyone who chooses to put me under surveillance will know that I took a stand and so the risk of speaking out is real.
However small it is, it is something.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I've found an article about this on a blog that is not for the faint of heart. It's called Come Armageddon and it's both terrifying and refreshingly truthful and real. The posting I'm quoting from here is simply called "Iran" . Here's a sample:
If Bu$h attacks Iran with tactical nuclear weapons we will open the floodgates of hate upon this country the likes of which we have never before seen. We will be the pariah of the planet. NOBODY will want to deal with us. NOBODY. They all hate us already, I can imagine what an attack against ANOTHER country (escpecially one using nuclear weapons) would do to our position in the world. Has Bu$h et al even thought of the reprocussions of such an attack? What if everyone stared dumping our bonds? The dollar would bottom out and we'd have a depression that would surapss the 1930's by a thousandfold. What if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz? How difficult would that be? This Strait links the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman through which travels the majority of our oil. All Iran would need to do would be to sink a freighter at the opening of the Strait and no oil would get through. Oil prices would skyrocket to $100 a barrel and gas would be $10.00 a gallon. Now please remember, every aspect of our comfy lives is dependant upon oil. If they cut off the oil, our comfy lives will quickly fade into oblivion. No more malls, no more country clubs, no more SUVs, no more air conditioning, no TELEVISION! What would you people do?
What about retaliatory attacks against our mighty "homeland?" Have we thought of that? You can bet your ass that if we attack Iran we would see suicide bombings and other forms of terror take place in "the homeland" on a daily basis. You idiots who get all erect over the thought of carpet bombing and dropping nukes are idiots. Total idiots. You have no idea what such an attack would do to us.
Bu$h is a man with no soul. He and Cheney and Woflowitz and Rumsfeld are blood drenched murderers. They don't care about you and me. They don't care about "securing the homeland" as they claim every 15 seconds. Bu$h and his crime family are out for themselves and for the monetry advancement of their rich friends. Someone really rich will get richer by our attacking Iran. Look at every move this man and these Republicans in both the House and the Senate have ever made in the last 5 plus years. Every bill, every law, every attack has benefited the wealthy in one way or another. While the little guy, the regular American is left to die on the battlefield, to clean up the mess and to foot the f**king bill. Bu$h doesn't need congressional approval to attack another country. We ALREADY GAVE HIM THAT POWER when we authorized force against Iraq. Did you idiots think of that when you were screaming for revenge for 9/11? With revenge in your eyes and no thought in your heads, you gladly gave this ex-alcoholic and coke addict the power to attack whomever he and his cabal of bloodthirsty freaks wants. This man can do anything he wants with our military, with our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. He can bomb WHO he wants WHEN he wants. We have no say. We are at this man's mercy and this man is insane.
Forgive me for scaring you here but I honestly think it's best to be psychologically prepared. Do I hope this stuff never happens? Of course. But do I think it is likely? I'm afraid I do, indeed.
On the March 17 broadcast of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks falsely claimed that "in the Reagan years, unemployment went from 13 percent to 5 percent."
In fact, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1981, Ronald Reagan's first year in office, the U.S. average unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent. During Reagan's presidency, it reached a high of 9.7 percent, and had declined to a level of 5.5 percent when Reagan left office. The rate from when Reagan entered office through his last year declined by 2.1 points, far less than the eight-point drop for which Brooks credited Reagan.
Why do they do it? Sometimes I think they just can't help themselves - that it's some kind of compulsion or something.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Alan Shore: When the weapons of mass destruction thing turned out to be not true, I expected the American people to rise up. Ha! They didn't.
Then, when the Abu Ghraib torture thing surfaced and it was revealed that our government participated in rendition, a practice where we kidnap people and turn them over to regimes who specialize in torture, I was sure then the American people would be heard from. We stood mute.
Then came the news that we jailed thousands of so-called terrorists suspects, locked them up without the right to a trial or even the right to confront their accusers. Certainly, we would never stand for that. We did.
And now, it's been discovered the executive branch has been conducting massive, illegal, domestic surveillance on its own citizens. You and me. And I at least consoled myself that finally, finally the American people will have had enough. Evidentially, we haven't.
In fact, if the people of this country have spoken, the message is we're okay with it all. Torture, warrantless search and seizure, illegal wiretappings, prison without a fair trial - or any trial, war on false pretenses. We, as a citizenry, are apparently not offended.
There are no demonstrations on college campuses. In fact, there's no clear indication that young people seem to notice.
Well, Melissa Hughes noticed. Now, you might think, instead of withholding her taxes, she could have protested the old fashioned way. Made a placard and demonstrated at a Presidential or Vice-Presidential appearance, but we've lost the right to that as well. The Secret Service can now declare free speech zones to contain, control and, in effect, criminalize protest.
Stop for a second and try to fathom that.
At a presidential rally, parade or appearance, if you have on a supportive t-shirt, you can be there. If you are wearing or carrying something in protest, you can be removed.This, in the United States of America.
This in the United States of America. Is Melissa Hughes the only one embarrassed?
Alan sits down abruptly in the witness chair next to the judge.
Judge Robert Sanders: Mr. Shore. That's a chair for witnesses only.
Alan: Really long speeches make me so tired sometimes.
Judge Sanders: Please get out of the chair.
Alan: Actually, I'm sick and tired.
Judge Sanders: Get out of the chair!
Alan: And what I'm most sick and tired of is how every time somebody disagrees with how the government is running things, he or she is labeled unAmerican.
U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Evidentally, it's speech time.
Alan: And speech in this country is free, you hack! Free for me, free for you. Free for Melissa Hughes to stand up to her government and say "Stick it"!
U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro: Objection!
Alan: I object to government abusing its power to squash the constitutional freedoms of its citizenry. And, God forbid, anybody challenge it. They're smeared as being a heretic. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American. Melissa Hughes is an American!
Judge Sanders: Mr. Shore. Unless you have anything new and fresh to say, please sit down. You've breached the decorum of my courtroom with all this hooting.
Alan: Last night, I went to bed with a book. Not as much fun as a 29 year old, but the book contained a speech by Adlai Stevenson. The year was 1952. He said, "The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live and fear breeds repression. Too often, sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to freedom of the mind are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-Communism."
Today, it's the cloak of anti-terrorism. Stevenson also remarked, "It's far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."
I know we are all afraid, but the Bill of Rights - we have to live up to that. We simply must. That's all Melissa Hughes was trying to say. She was speaking for you. I would ask you now to go back to that room and speak for her.
Stream video from Boston Legal website: http://www.boston-legal.org/19-
I have written to ABC in support of this courageous programming. You can do the same right here: http://abc.go.com/site/contactus.html You know they're getting plenty of complaints from the right-wingers.
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday.
Habitats ranging from coral reefs to tropical rainforests face mounting threats, the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said in the report, issued at the start of a March 20-31 U.N. meeting in Curitiba, Brazil.
"In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago," said the 92-page Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report.
Apart from the disappearance of the dinosaurs, the other "Big Five" extinctions were about 205, 250, 375 and 440 million years ago. Scientists suspect that asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions or sudden climate shifts may explain the five.
Information like this makes me ashamed to be human. Why have we no sense of responsibility for other life forms? I truly wonder if we're living in the last generation because the earth may well decide to shake us off like a bad case of fleas. It would be good for the rest of the earth if it were that easy but probably what will happen is massively drastic climate change or nuclear war and either of those will destroy other living beings as well as humans.
The culture around us teaches that a vision of peace is just a dream, and that the only way to live in the real world is to make as much money as you can, acquire power, and dominate as much as possible.
Instead of a culture of inclusion, we live in a culture of division. Instead of a culture of justice, we live in a culture of injustice. Instead of a culture of compassion and forgiveness, we live in a culture of revenge and retaliation. Instead of a culture of nonviolence, we live in a culture of violence. Instead of a culture of peace, we live in a culture of war.
If we want to move toward a culture of peace and nonviolence, we will have to open our eyes, see with new vision, and recognize every human being as our very own sister and brother. This vision of peace is the center of the world's religions and a spirituality of peace and nonviolence.
As we begin to see the world through the lens of nonviolence, we are not only appalled by the world's violence, we commit ourselves to ending it. We begin to resist wars, violence, and other injustices, and promote peace, justice, and active nonviolence for all of humanity.
I know it can be disheartening to believe in peace at a time like this. But even when the world is exploding around us, it is important for those of us who do believe in peace to continue to say so. Only then will we ever reach the critical mass necessary for people to believe that there really is a better way.
In December, the New York Times disclosed the NSA's warrantless electronic surveillance program, resulting in an angry reaction from President Bush. It has not previously been disclosed, however, that administration lawyers had cited the same legal authority to justify warrantless physical searches. But in a little-noticed white paper submitted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Congress on January 19 justifying the legality of the NSA eavesdropping, Justice Department lawyers made a tacit case that President Bush also has the inherent authority to order such physical searches. In order to fulfill his duties as commander in chief, the 42-page white paper says, "a consistent understanding has developed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless searches and surveillance within the United States for foreign intelligence purposes." The memo cites congressional testimony of Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, in 1994 stating that the Justice Department "believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes."
We are in the not-so-long, not-so-slow march to a full-blown police state. And no one is stopping it.
Monday, March 20, 2006
How different our foreign policy might have been had we empanelled a group of experts to study the root causes of terrorism and had we initiated a nationwide conversation about the roots of terrorism and about what drives people to give up their lives to suicide? The pathetic rationale that “they hate our way of life” and that “they hate our freedom” would be comical if it were not so tragically naïve.
What might have been if the President had called on Americans to sacrifice something other than our civil liberties? How much safer might we be now if the President had called upon the wealthiest Americans to sacrifice some of the profits they have made, at least in part because of our country’s infrastructure, an educated workforce, low tax rates and a robust economy? Would not genuine patriotism have dictated that the richest Americans, those who have benefited most from America’s prosperity, would make some financial sacrifices to make our country more secure?
What might have been if we had translated the world’s support after 9/11 into a serious attempt to solve, once and for all, the problem between Israel and the Palestinians? And how much safer might we now be if we had not abandoned Afghanistan to the opium lords? What might have been possible, if the President had immediately and strongly supported the creation of the 9/11 Commission and allowed this commission to do its job and had then gone on to follow its recommendations, instead of fighting the process all the way and then performing poorly in implementing the Commission’s recommendations?
Just think about it. And think about this:
For of all sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these: it might have been.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
The Republicans won complete control of government not by running to the center, but by running to the right and persuading the media and the American public to shift right with them. They don’t tolerate defections from the party line; they stick to centrally-distributed talking points and abide by rigid party discipline enforced by a man nicknamed “The Hammer.” They don’t fall silent when discourse turns discordant; they trot out the Big Lie and repeat it so often that it becomes Truth in the same way that big mountains create their own weather. They won by doing the exact opposite of what the DLC crowd preaches we need to do to win.
It’s as if the Democratic leadership doesn’t understand how mirrors work: the key to Republican success wasn’t in the fact that they ran to the right (and that we similarly must shift right if we want to win); it’s in the fact that they ran AWAY from the center -- became more extreme -- and in doing so earned both the support of their base and the trust of centrist voters, who respect people who can articulate and adhere to principles even if they don’t agree with all of them. Copying the Republican formula for success doesn’t mean becoming more conservative, it means becoming more liberal and being proud of it.
It's so obvious. Why don't the Democratic strategists see it?
You can read more of what Thersites2 has to say on this subject by reading his post entitled "Lies, Democratic Unity and the Real Path to Power".
Yes - 33%
No - 67%
It is simply tragic that so many people think it will not make any difference at all if we take to the streets. And, of course, Diebold now "delivers" the vote for Republicans. So, if the 67% are right, it means the people have been utterly disempowered.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
1. My base is the loony left. The Republican base is the mainstream.
The only thing crazy the Democratic base has done is vote for the spineless representatives they have now. Other than that, they thought it was a bad idea to go into Iraq -- they were 100% right. They thought the Bush administration was lying about Iraq's connection to 9/11 -- they were 100% right.
They thought the Bush administration was exaggerating Iraq's WMD program to justify an unwarranted pre-emptive strike against a country that did not attack us -- they were 100% right.
They think that Bush clearly broke the law by ignoring FISA's unequivocal language to get a court order before spying on Americans -- they are 100% right.
The Republican base believes they are going to get sucked up into the air by the Jesus Hoover vacuum during the Rapture. That they are literally going to be sucked up into the sky! And the liberals are the crazy ones?
The Republicans win elections by running to their base. Instead of taking that as a lesson to run to their own base, the Democrats instead learn the lesson that they should also run to the Republican base. Are we stuck in some bad comedy the French would enjoy? Even Jerry Lewis wouldn't be this goofy.
Here's my hope: You know, a lot of articles like this are being written. Perhaps at some point, some Democratic strategist will get the message.
At a news conference in Washington, some of America's most influential conservative leaders said the current perception among evangelical Christians was that the Republican majority was not doing enough for them.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said that apart from confirming two conservative judges to the Supreme Court, "core values voters" did not feel that Congress was advancing their interests.
The leaders appear to be reflecting a growing sense of frustration among the Christian right, over what they see as a lack of legislative progress on issues such as banning same-sex marriages.
And while this was not quite a call to arms, it will cause concern in Republican circles in the run-up to the mid-terms.
These people want to turn America into a theocracy. I really wonder what we're going to look like, say, five years from now.
On that note I want to recommend a film I watched last night. It's entitled Vera Drake and it's set in Britain in 1950. The movie is about an ordinary woman who's an illegal abortion provider who eventually gets arrested. This is a powerful, well written, amazingly acted film that I hope you'll see because we are definitely going back to those days. Very troubling.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Thursday that given Mr. Bush's record, "I really do believe this man will go down as the worst president this country has ever had."
So why won't he get behind Feingold's resolution to censure Bush?
Opinion polls indicate that the Bush regime has succeeded in its plan to make Americans fear Iran as the greatest threat America faces.
The Bush regime has created a major dispute with Iran over that country's nuclear energy program and then blocked every effort to bring the dispute to a peaceful end.
In order to gain a pretext for attacking Iran, the Bush regime is using bribery and coercion in its effort to have Iran referred to the UN Security Council for sanctions.
In recent statements President Bush and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld blamed Iran for the Iraqi resistance, claiming that the roadside bombs used by the resistance are being supplied by Iran.
It is obvious that Bush intends to attack Iran and that he will use every means to bring war about.
Yet, Bush has no conventional means of waging war with Iran. His bloodthirsty neoconservatives have prepared plans for nuking Iran. However, an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran would leave the US, already regarded as a pariah nation, totally isolated.
I recommend that you click through and read the whole article. It's short. It will also scare you silly. But we need to know what is possible - and not only possible but likely.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
If you are one of those Democrats like me who is completely fed up with the inside-the-Beltway party hacks who continue to lose elections because they have no spine and no vision, listen closely to a little something you can do this week to rap the knuckles of the Democratic Party machine.
Two years ago, Christine Cegelis took 44 percent from Henry Hyde, the arch conservative congressman and Congressional father of the anti-choice movement, in the suburban Chicago-area 6th District in Illinois. Her race pushed Hyde to announce he would retire. Cegelis, supported by a broad grass-roots network, decided immediately to run for the seat in 2006.
Rather than line up behind a candidate who was poised to capture the district, the Beltway Democrats recruited a primary opponent to take on Cegelis. Why? Because Cegelis is precisely the kind of progressive candidate the Beltway Democrats are afraid of: she is a progressive, anti-war, pro-choice, pro-renewable energy, pro-universal health care and opposes NAFTA-like trade deals. She's called for a quick and safe withdrawal of troops.
The Beltway Democrats tapped Tammy Duckworth, a person who has never lived in the district. Her central asset: she is a member of the Army Reserves who lost both her legs in Iraq. She isn't even running against the war--she is simply a symbol of patriotism. While her personal story is moving, she is also precisely the kind of candidate that the Beltway Democrats love--centrist and pro-business.
What a way to lose. Faced with a choice between Republican and Republican-lite, voters tend to pick the Republican. When are we going to learn?
In closing, the author suggests that we do what we can to support Cegelis:
That is precisely what this race is about. With a week left, a little help for Cegelis from every person thirsting for a vibrant party will go a long way to answering the question: will the progressive movement stand up to the Beltway Democrats who will continue to lose elections because they have no vision for our country?
Let's hope the good people of the Chicago-area 6th District step up to the plate.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Years before Sen. John Kerry fell under the spell of national Democratic "strategists," he believed that a Democrat's best hope for winning the White House was to run as an insurgent. To overcome built-in Republican advantages, Kerry felt a Democrat had to show principle and challenge the status quo.
But Kerry had that thinking beat out of him. In the late 1980s, he got pummeled by the mainstream news media and the political establishment for exposing cocaine trafficking by Nicaraguan contra rebels and for embarrassing their Reagan-Bush patrons. Respectable Washington didn't want to believe the ugly reality.
Mocked by the big newspapers and branded a "randy conspiracy buff" by Newsweek, Kerry was persuaded by party insiders that his political future required him to trim his sails and dump his rebelliousness overboard. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Kerry's Contra-Cocaine Chapter."]
So, by the time he ran for president in 2004, Kerry was silent about his heroic investigations of the 1980s. He presented himself instead as a careful politician who spoke in a fog of nuance. Whenever he seemed poised to crush the bumbling George W. Bush, Kerry retreated into poll-tested platitudes.
As it turned out - as the younger Kerry would have understood - the greatest risk was to play it safe.
Now, to hear Kerry tell it, he has relearned the lesson that he once knew. He has vowed to fight with clarity and passion. But the tragedy of John Kerry - like "The Natural" in Bernard Malamud's novel (not the movie) - may be that opportunity missed is often a chance lost for good.
So here's what the "strategists" did to Feingold:
While Feingold's proposal could be viewed as a moderate step - expressing congressional disapproval short of impeachment - Washington Post reporter Charles Babington searched out unnamed "Democratic strategists" to make Feingold's plan look both craven and crazy.
"Some party strategists," Babington wrote, "worried that voters will see the move as overreaching partisanship." Then, going in the opposite direction, Babington quoted the strategists worrying that the real problem with Feingold's initiative was that challenging Bush on abrogating the Fourth Amendment wasn't the smartest partisan move."
Several Democratic strategists said (illegal) surveillance issues are not Bush's most vulnerable spot, and they fear the party may appear extremist," Babington wrote.
EXTREMIST???? You've got to be kidding me. And the Republican's are not? Oh please. Could we just take a look at who's winning these days? Playing it safe makes us losers over and over again. God, I'm getting tired of backing a losing team.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
1) Should women who abort get life sentences in prison and/or the death penalty?
2) If a woman's husband knows she is aborting, should he be charged as an accessory to murder?
3) How about her friends who know?
4) Should abortion doctors receive life sentences in prison and/or the death penalty?
5) If a woman smokes during her pregnancy and the fetus dies as a result, should she be charged with murder?
6) If her husband knew she was a smoker and could kill the fetus, is he criminally negligent?
7) If a woman eats unhealthily during pregnancy and the fetus dies, should she be charged with negligent homicide?
8) If the husband knew, should he, too, be charged?
9) If a woman has a serious medical condition that would almost always lead to the death of a fetus, but gets pregnant anyway, should she be criminally liable if the fetus dies?
10) If her husband knew of this condition, should he, too, be criminally liable?
11) If a company manufactures a product which lights a fire in a fertility clinic, destroying 1500 frozen embryos, should they be liable for mass murder?
12) If an electric company has a power failure which cuts power to a fertility clinic, thawing embryos and rendering them unusable, should they be liable for mass murder?
13) If a pregnant woman reports to her doctor that she is smoking during her pregnancy, should her doctor be mandated to report it to the appropriate agency for dealing with child abuse?
14) If a woman has cancer and her chemotherapy kills a fetus, should she be given a life sentence and/or sentenced to die?
15) If her doctor was aware of her pregnancy, should he be charged as an accessory to murder?
16) Should children who are disabled be allowed to sue a parent for any negligent conduct during pregnancy that may have caused their disability -- for instance, smoking or consuming alcoholic beverages?
17) Should a person with 15 frozen embryos in storage be required to carry each embryo as soon as possible?
18) If I had 15 embryos in storage, should I be able to claim them as dependents on my tax paperwork?
19) If a government agency determined that a woman was being neglectful to her fetus during her pregnancy, should she be forced by the Department of Children and Families to care for the child and/or have it forcefully removed?
20) Should one in three American women be imprisoned or sentenced to death?
She concludes with this remark among others:
If you answered "no" to ANY ONE of these questions, you may hate abortion with all your heart, but you do NOT believe a fetus has the same legal rights as a person from the moment of conception.
These are important questions and we're going to have to deal with them if abortion is made illegal.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the mountain pine beetle, a pest once kept in check by winter cold, has decimated huge swaths of forest in western Canada. Officials with the Canadian Forest Service say that the beetle has crossed the Rockies and they fear that it will soon start eating its way east. “People say climate change is something for our kids to worry about,” one official told the Post. “No. It’s now.”
What will it take to bring Bush out of denial?
UPDATE: Google is your friend! I found the article referred to above. It is entitled, "'Rapid Warming' Spreads Havoc in Canada's Forests" and it starts out like this:
QUESNEL, B.C. -- Millions of acres of Canada's lush green forests are turning red in spasms of death. A voracious beetle, whose population has exploded with the warming climate, is killing more trees than wildfires or logging.
The mountain pine beetle has infested an area three times the size of Maryland, devastating swaths of lodgepole pines and reshaping the future of the forest and the communities in it.
Scientists fear the beetle will cross the Rocky Mountains and sweep across the northern continent into areas where it used to be killed by severe cold but where winters now are comparatively mild. Officials in neighboring Alberta are setting fires and traps and felling thousands of trees in an attempt to keep the beetle at bay.
"This is an all-out battle," said David Coutts, Alberta's minister of sustainable resource development. The Canadian Forest Service calls it the largest known insect infestation in North American history.
This is really bad, folks.
But on the other hand, the Democrats refuse to be outcowarded. In the face of overwhelming facts -- on their side for the love of God -- they will not back their fellow Senator in pressing forward with a censure.
This is not an impeachment. This is not to throw the guy out of office. This is something that is obvious -- and absolutely necessary. The President says he is going to continue to spy on Americans WITHOUT getting a warrant. I have never seen a clearer violation of a federal law in my life. If the Senate doesn't censure him, he is rightfully going to believe that he is above the law. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not men.
So, why oh why, would the opposition party not support this move to censure -- because they are worried about the effect it is going to have on centrist voters? Are you fucking nuts? George Bush is at 36%!!!!!!!! America can't stand him. They think he is incompetent, that he has blown Iraq and Katrina and Social Security and the budget and the economy. And you're worried that you are going to alienate centrist voters by coming out against him?
This is unjustifiable. Independent voters give the President a 27% approval rating -- that is stunningly low. It's hard to imagine that number being lower for any President at any time. What are you waiting for?!!!
What can I say? It's just plain depressing to have Democrats who are so afraid of their own shadows. They really know how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Monday, March 13, 2006
I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.
In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, "We were misled." It makes me want to shout, "Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."
Bottom line: it's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can't demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, But please don't say bad things about us. You gotta be a grown up and take your hits.
I am a liberal. Fire away.
...if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties.. if that is what they mean by a "liberal" then I am proud to be a liberal.
-- John F. Kennedy
Sunday, March 12, 2006
What I'm interested in is my colleagues acknowledging that we as a Congress have to stand up to a president who acts as if the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were repealed on September 11. We didn't enact martial law on September 11. We still have a constitutional form of government, and if the Congress of the United States does not stand up for that authority at this point, it will be an historic failure of our system of government.
-- Senator Russ Feingold
Eastern Kentucky is a long way from Britain. What do we care if another million acres of the Appalachian mountain range are lost to strip mining? If the habitat of the flying squirrel and the cerulean warbler is blown up and bulldozed? If one of the oldest temperate forests in the world with some 80 species of trees is destroyed by the greed of a few coal companies? Why should it matter to us?
I'll tell you why. First, because this story exposes the pathological destructiveness of the Republican political and religious elite. Not content with the ruin it has caused in Iraq, George W. Bush's administration lays waste the great American wilderness in a way that tests your faith in the reason of man.
Second, this campaign against nature is being plotted, sanctioned and carried out by men - it is exclusively men - who are on their knees in little, white churches every Sunday praying to a god whom they believe created this earth. The same people who reject Darwin and promote the idea that life on earth is too complex and varied to have been created by evolution, a theory known as intelligent design, are the ones who show such contempt for God's creation.
And let's not forget the last crucial point. With the United States accounting for 30 per cent of the world's CO2 emissions, much of it from heavily polluting, coal-burning power stations, we may all to some extent consider ourselves downwind of what's going on in the coal industry of Kentucky and parts of West Virginia.
In Britain, we are not exposed to the horrors of 'mountaintop removal', but owing to a new book by Erik Reece, Lost Mountain: A year in the Vanishing Wilderness, which I happened on in a New York bookshop, I learned that it has nothing to do with coal mining in the traditional sense. Mountaintop removal is just that. You blow up the top of the mountain with a mixture of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel, the same combination used by Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing, and bulldoze the millions of tons of debris into the valleys and streams below. A slender seam of coal is then exposed, at which point a fearsome machine called a dragline is deployed to strip out the coal.
The result is that local water supplies are polluted with mercury and the chemicals used in the mining process; the uninterrupted habitat of many rare creatures and plants is destroyed; and the landscape is ruined forever. The scars that you are now able to see on satellite pictures will be there until the end of time.
Porter then makes the point that the American media is virtually silent about this reality. I'll say. I had to read an article published in the UK to find out about it.
I also appreciate the point that destruction of the environment is not consistent with a belief in Intelligent Design. If God deliberately designed this wonderful creation, how dare we recklessly destroy it? Have the Republicans never thought of the blasphemy involved? But I don't think the big corporatists really believe in God. They just cynically use the votes of the religious right in order to get their puppets in power.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
As usual, the Democrats have forty good issues on their side and want to run on thirty-nine of them. Here are three they should stick to:
1) Iraq is making terrorism worse; it's a breeding ground. We need to extricate ourselves as soon as possible. We are not helping the Iraqis by staying.
2) Full public financing of campaigns so as to drive the moneylenders from the halls of Washington.
3) Single-payer health insurance.
Every Democrat I talk to is appalled at the sheer gutlessness and spinelessness of the Democratic performance. The party is still cringing at the thought of being called, ooh-ooh, "unpatriotic" by a bunch of rightwingers.
Take "unpatriotic" and shove it. How dare they do this to our country? "Unpatriotic"? These people have ruined the American military! Not to mention the economy, the middle class, and our reputation in the world. Everything they touch turns to dirt, including Medicare prescription drugs and hurricane relief.
This is not a time for a candidate who will offend no one; it is time for a candidate who takes clear stands and kicks ass.
As far as I'm concerned the Democrats can take ass kicking lessons from Molly Ivins herself. She's got it down. Now, what are you waiting for? Go read the whole article!
Friday, March 10, 2006
Fred Phelps, as readers are probably aware, is a Christian extremist who heads a bunch of benighted bigots who get their twisted jollies by appearing in public with placards saying things like "God hates faggots." His "church" keeps a running tally of how many days Matthew Shepard has supposedly been roasting in Hell.
Headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, these raving homophobes travel all across America to spread shameless intolerance...in Jesus' name.
They've long been an odious, protesting adjunct at pride parades and other demonstrations backing gay equality.
Visit their website (godhatesfags.com) to see just how hideously depraved ultra-conservative religionists can get. Here's a sample from their FAQs page: "Why do you preach hate? Because the Bible preaches hate. For every verse about God's mercy, love, compassion, etc., there are two verses about his vengeance, hatred, wrath, etc. The maudlin, kissy-pooh, feel-good, touchy-feely preachers of today's society are damning this nation and the world to hell..."
Did you know that they've been protesting the funerals of American military personel killed in Iraq because they believe the tolerance of gays in the U.S. is repsonsible for those deaths? Well now there are state legislatures that want to ban those protests. Here's why the protests need to be protected:
While we despise everything Phelps so loathsomely represents, the First Amendment must trump personal feelings.
Even if it additionally anguishes already broken hearts -- or further fuels all-too-pervasive homophobic sentiment -- the freedom that surviving loved ones of those who've perished like to think their kin died for in Iraq has to be upheld.
Being a true American entails graciously tolerating unpopular views -- not to mention nutcase rants -- just as the Founding Fathers intended. (That also means that flag burners ought not be punished for their chosen, albeit distressing means of venting grievances.)
Besides, in the increasingly totalitarian-friendly mood that Bush's malicious manipulation of 9/11 has fostered, now is the time for all good Americans to come to the defense of their country's noble, original ideals.
America is best served by providing open channels for diverse expression, even if some of it strikes many folks as being utterly obscene. In fact, it's exactly our willingness to tolerate that which makes our blood boil that keeps democracy alive.
We always have the option to peacefully protest the protestors.
Of course, what troubles me is that the state legislatures didn't bother to consider banning the Phelps demonstrations when they were just held a the funerals of gay people like Matthew Shepard. Why are the grieving families of military people more worthy of consideration?
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Yet it is no exaggeration to say that no administration in American history has had as much contempt for the law as this one. There may have been administrations more corrupt—in the briefcase-full-of-cash sense—but none which so regularly proclaimed in the light of day its belief that it alone can decide which laws to obey and which to ignore.
But while I'm at it I'll share a bit more:
The administration has offered as its blanket defense to the charge of law-breaking an updated version of Richard Nixon’s “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” George W. Bush’s authority as commander in chief of the armed forces, they tell us, means that he can ignore any law he pleases if he finds some connection to national security. In the case of Jose Padilla, they argued that the president has the sole discretion to decide who is an “enemy combatant,” and if he so chooses he can have an American citizen seized in Chicago and thrown into prison for life with no trial. If he finds the FISA law inconvenient or outdated, he is under no obligation to come to the legislative branch to change the law; he can simply choose to ignore it. As Bush explained, “The FISA law was written in 1978. We’re having the discussion in
2006. It’s a different world.” Indeed.
Or to take an example that has not yet occurred, if Bush decides that Nancy Pelosi’s criticisms of him are impeding his War on Terror, he could invite her to the White House, bring her out to the South Lawn, and shoot her in the head. After all, it’s a matter of national security—and that means he decides what’s illegal and what isn’t.
Of course, he would never do such a thing, right? But a democracy does not depend on the good will and good sense of its leaders to constrain such behavior. It depends on the rule of law—laws from which no one is immune no matter what office he holds.
I have to say that it's just downright depressing. This new doctrine of the "unitary executive" seems to have taken on a life of its own. That's what we get with what is essentially one-party rule.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
And so I really want you to go over to Mother Jones and read an incredibly riveting article entitled, "The way it was". Read it all the way through so that you will know what it was like in the "good old days" that the Republicans want to bring back.
Here's an excerpt:
After a date rape (by a "poet") during a trip to Paris in 1967 when she was 23, she found herself pregnant. She tried the usual "remedies" -- scalding hot baths, violent jumping, having someone walk on her belly. When she got home to Minnesota, she was two months along. A doctor friend there said he couldn't help her himself, but sent her to a local prostitute who did abortions.
The prostitute had her own speculum. The procedure was done on the prostitute's bed: The catheter was inserted through the cervix and left there. After four days of high fever, chills, bleeding, and passing big chunks of tissue, she landed in the hospital. They said her uterus was perforated, that she had acute peritonitis and an "incomplete" abortion. She was given a huge dose of penicillin and treated as if she were some sort of contemptible lower life form. The emergency-room doctor snarled, "What have you done to yourself?" Later, she realized that the first doctor -- her friend -- had known all along that she'd probably get desperately ill. Only then could a hospital legally give her a D&C.
She recovered -- sterile, violently allergic to penicillin, and so "paralyzed and ashamed" by the experience that she stayed away from men for four years. Who says deterrence doesn't work?
Then there's the famous 1964 police photograph of a woman's corpse on a motel-room floor in Connecticut. She's kneeling naked, face down as if to Mecca, legs bent to her chest, bloody towels bunched under her. The case had made local headlines, but the picture wasn't seen by the general public until Ms. Magazine ran it in a 1973 article lauding the ruling of Roe v. Wade. Details emerged about the woman's life and death: She was 27, married with two young daughters, but estranged from her violent husband. Her lover had performed the abortion, using borrowed instruments and a textbook. When she started hemorrhaging, he panicked, fled the motel, and left her there.
Is that what we want? Because that is what we will get. Abortions will not stop when we criminalize them. They will just go underground and women will be maimed and will die.
The religious right-wingers do not really want to prevent abortions. If they did, they would be in favor of what works: social programs that make abortions unnecessary. No, what they want is to control and punish women.
And you want to know what really makes me sick? Single women were the biggest demographic who DID NOT VOTE in the last election. And now many of them will die.
I'm just glad my child-bearing years are behind me.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Vision: A world where animal welfare matters, and animal cruelty ends
Mission: To build a united global animal welfare movement
Here's something else they say about themselves:
With consultative status at both the United Nations and the Council of Europe, WSPA is building a united global animal welfare movement to further our vision of a world where animal welfare matters, and animal cruelty ends.
WSPA supports and implements animal welfare programmes. These typically incorporate elements of campaigning, educational work and/or direct aid.
Our work is focused on four priority areas:
*Commercial exploitation of wildlife
*Disaster relief for animals
Animals are sentient beings that suffer just the way we do. Please consider making a contribution - no matter how small - to the animal relief organization of your choice.
The above excerpt is from an article by Alex Sabbeth entitled, "America anesthetized". Why do we Americans, as a people, tolerate these blatant lies? You would think we would be in the streets screaming for impeachment.
The new Zogby poll gauging the opinions of American troops in Iraq has drawn attention mostly because it finds that 72 percent believe the United States should withdraw in a year or less and only 23 percent favor George W. Bush's plan to "stay the course."
But the poll also illustrates the power of propaganda.
Shockingly, 85 percent of the troops questioned believe they are fighting in Iraq "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9-11 attacks" - one of the key Iraq War myths built by Bush's frequent juxtaposition of references to Osama bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein.
This subliminal message has stuck with the vast majority of U.S. troops even though Bush eventually acknowledged publicly that there is no evidence linking Saddam to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
In other words, more than eight in 10 of the U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq think they are there avenging the 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, even though the U.S. government lacks evidence of the connection.
The poll also found that 77 percent think that a major reason for the war was "to stop Saddam from protecting al-Qaeda in Iraq" - another myth nurtured by the Bush administration even though Hussein's secular government was a bitter enemy of al-Qaeda's Islamic fundamentalists.