Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What is a progressive? Part 2

Campaign for America's Future is having a contest for a person to answer the question "What is a progressive?" in 30 seconds or less. They've narrowed it down to 10 finalists. Here's my favorite:

A progressive is someone who understands that personal wellbeing cannot be separated from the wellbeing of society, and that we are all better and stronger when we work together for the common good. From the air and water that we all depend on, to the education of our neighbors' children, a progressive understands that none is immune from the effects of community underachievement. Today's progressive understands that the individual is most effective when all in society function highly.

Basically the question is whether you adhere to the slogan, "You're on your own" or "We're in it together." The progressive believes that we're all in it together.

Still ANOTHER tax cut

They're insane. Or evil. Or both. Lately, I'm starting to think both. Read this excerpt from a Washington Post article entitled, "Estate Tax Lunacy":

Spring has given way to summer's full-furnace heat in Washington, apparently taking with it any scintilla of sense that Congress may yet possess.

In the House, Republicans who could not even raise an eyebrow at reports that the National Security Agency has been conducting warrantless wiretaps of Americans became instant civil libertarians when the FBI conducted a search of a congressman's office.

The Senate, meanwhile, is scheduled next week to take up legislation by Arizona Republican Jon Kyl that would permanently repeal the estate tax on the wealthiest Americans. If enacted, Kyl's bill would plunge the government another trillion dollars into the red during the first decade (2011-2021) that it would be in effect.

The Republicans hate the social safety net so much that they're willing to destroy the country over it. We simply cannot sustain our debt. The dollar is going downhill, next interest rates are going to go sky high and we'll all be in a serious pickle. But the wealthiest 1% have theirs so screw the rest of us, right?

Whistle blowers lose protection

Don't know if you've been following the Supreme Court lately but there's a new ruling that really undermines the First Amendment. I'm bringing you an article called, "Critics say court ruling leaves whistleblowers in fear". Here's how it gets started:

Critics today railed against a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court today that effectively bars public employees from reporting misconduct to their supervisors or within the chain of command, RAW STORY has learned.

In today's ruling, the high court determined that First Amendment protections do not apply to public employees who report government misconduct to their supervisors. The ruling does not, however, prevent them from reporting such incidents to the media.

"Open speech by a private citizen on a matter of public importance," Justice David Souter wrote in his dissent, "lies at the heart of expression subject to protection by the First Amendment."

The case, Garcetti v. Ceballos was argued before the court twice--once before and once after Justice Sandra Day O'Donnor's left the bench. On the second round, Justice Samuel Alito cast the tie-breaking vote.

"Public employees should be encouraged to report misconduct," said Peter Eliasberg, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which submitted a friend-of-the-court filing in the case. "This opinion does the opposite and can only cause government employees who are weighing whether or not to expose wrongdoing to decide to remain silent for fear of losing their jobs."

This is very worrying. How will society expose wrongdoing if conscientious people are afraid to report it? And why, I want to know, do "conservatives" want to protect wrongdoing anyway? How is it they justify this?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Progressive values

I got an email from today that listed ten positive goals for our country. They're having a contest to determine which are the "big three" to emphasize. Here are the choices:

* A living wage for all
* Global leadership through diplomacy
* Verifiable, accurate elections
* High quality education for all
* Balanced federal budget
* Health care for all
* Publicly funded elections
* Preserve our natural resources
* Energy independence: clean, renewable sources
* Restored constitutional rights

Which three would you most like to offer the country? You can vote right here.

Top scientist gives up on creationists

I came across an exasperated article today in the Guardian entitled, "Top scientist gives up on creationists". Here's part of what it says:

A leading British scientist said yesterday that he had given up trying to persuade creationists that Darwin's theory is correct after repeatedly being misrepresented and, he said, branded a liar.

Speaking at the Guardian Hay festival at Hay-on-Wye, the evolutionary biologist Steve Jones spoke of his frustrations when trying to debate with religious opponents.

"I don't engage with creationists directly," he said, saying that, when he had, they had frequently quoted him out of context or accused him of lying. "If somebody has decided to believe something - whatever the evidence - then there is nothing you can do about it."

The University College London professor spoke to the provocative title, Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right. He pointed out that acceptance of Darwin's theory on a global scale was a "minority belief". According to polls, 100 million Americans believe in creationism.

It's all very depressing, isn't it?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Just who served and who didn't?

Military Service Records, prominent Democrats:

* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68;Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell Heflin: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

Republicans (and these are the guys sending our kids to war):
* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* John Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued in NFL for 8 years.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

Pundits & Preachers, etc.
* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve.

Source: Pam's House Blend

There is no "war on terror"

Here's a blog post from Fire Dog Lake called, "Memorial Day Truth: There is no 'War on Terror'". Take a look at how it gets started:

There is no "War on Terror."

There is, however, a "war" on the U. S. Constitution.

After September 11, 2001, we've learned that we can take a punch and move on. We've faced far worse threats to our national survival in our history - the Civil War, the War of 1812, World War II to name a few - but we never abandoned our Constitution.
Until now.

Terror is an emotion. Emotions are part of human nature and cannot be eradicated. A "War on Terror" is therefore a war on humanity. The Bush administration has exploited the fear and shock of a nation in the wake of a surprising and dramatic act of violence to
whip national fear and paranoia into a constant boil. Why?

The evidence suggests the whole point has been to
seize power and steal money. We are witnessing a creeping coup in the United States, the overthrow of the idea, promulgated by our founders and by writers like Tom Paine, that the "Law is King."

But Bush believes that the "king" is law. And he's the king.

Yes, we are experiencing a "creeping coup" and yet we go right on having our Memorial Day barbecues and our Memorial Day mattress sales. Forgive me for being cynical but I wonder if, as a nation, we even deserve to be free.

Fake news

Well, it's not surprising that I found the following story in a British newspaper. If it's being reported in the U.S. it's well hidden. The story is certainly not on the CNN website. I refer to a report entitled, "Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'". Here's how it gets started:

Federal authorities are actively investigating dozens of American television stations for broadcasting items produced by the Bush administration and major corporations, and passing them off as normal news. Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted the companies' products.

Investigators from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are seeking information about stations across the country after a report produced by a campaign group detailed the extraordinary extent of the use of such items.

The report, by the non-profit group Centre for Media and Democracy, found that over a 10-month period at least 77 television stations were making use of the faux news broadcasts, known as Video News Releases (VNRs). Not one told viewers who had produced the items.

"We know we only had partial access to these VNRs and yet we found 77 stations using them," said Diana Farsetta, one of the group's researchers. "I would say it's pretty extraordinary. The picture we found was much worse than we expected going into the investigation in terms of just how widely these get played and how frequently these pre-packaged segments are put on the air."

Ms Farsetta said the public relations companies commissioned to produce these segments by corporations had become increasingly sophisticated in their techniques in order to get the VNRs broadcast. "They have got very good at mimicking what a real, independently produced television report would look like," she said.

The FCC has declined to comment on the investigation but investigators from the commission's enforcement unit recently approached Ms Farsetta for a copy of her group's report.

The range of VNR is wide. Among items provided by the Bush administration to news stations was one in which an Iraqi-American in Kansas City was seen saying "Thank you Bush. Thank you USA" in response to the 2003 fall of Baghdad. The footage was actually produced by the State Department, one of 20 federal agencies that have produced and distributed such items.

The dishonesty is simply staggering. One more reason why I'm glad I get my news from the internet.

Support our troops

I stumbled on a blog post that I really want to recommend. It's called Lions Led by Donkeys, the title being an allusion to World War I. It's an analysis of the current term "chickenhawk" to refer to those who are happy to send others to fight but refuse to go themselves. The posting also goes into what our responsibility is to those we send to war. Here's what we need to say to the young men and women we put in harm's way:

We will make sure you have the equipment you need.

We will make sure have a clearly defined mission.

We will make sure that such missions are as well-planned as possible.

We will take care of your families while you are gone.

We will take care of you when you come home.

That's what "support our troops" really means. As it is, our government is not supporting our troops. And that's shameful.


This sums it up:

As we remember the dead, we should consider the living, and stop sending people by the thousands to pointless, unnecessary deaths.

-- Bob Herbert

Honor the fallen, not the war

Greetings to you all on this Memorial Day. It is painful, I know, to observe this day according to its true meaning (and not just as the start of summer) because of the men and women still dying in Iraq and because there is no end in sight. I want to share with you an article called, "Honor the Fallen, Not the War" by James Carroll. Here's how it ends:

This Memorial Day, especially, we yearn to honor the more than 2,700 US soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the proper way to remember them? Even in condemning what made it necessary, can we not acknowledge the selflessness of their sacrifice? At Troy, soldiers were roused to battle by the promise that their exploits would be sung of far into the future. Is it a betrayal of our soldiers that we no longer want to sing? Does it mean they died "in vain" if we insist that no one else should die?

Perhaps on Memorial Day we can also remember alternative hopes. Not soft-headedness, but tough-minded measures required to build a different world.

What if we invested as much in preventing war as in the fighting of it? (What, say, would the Middle East be if the billions spent in Iraq had funded instead a new Palestinian economy?) Changes in the way we memorialize the past make possible changes in the way we envision the future. But here, too, it is the sacrifice of soldiers that makes possible such change. Indeed, it begins with them. The fallen heroes remind us with their lives that war must stop.

And yet how can Mr. Carroll write "that war must stop?" How can he have any hope that it will? I don't think it will stop. And yet those of us who believe in peace must bear witness to that belief as best we can.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

No more deaths

My friend, Sally Lloyd, called my attention to a website entitled No More Deaths that is dedicated to immigration humanitarian work and doing something about the injustices involved. Read this:

No More Deaths volunteers, Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, both 23, were arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol for medically evacuating 3 people in critical condition from the 105-degree Arizona desert in July 2005.

Shanti and Daniel were following the protocol of NMD training (acknowledged by NMD and US Border Patrol) by consulting medical professionals who advised them to evacuate the critically ill men to a medical facility, and then consulting a NMD attorney who approved the evacuation.

Their arrest and subsequent prosecution for providing humanitarian aid has shocked people of conscience around the world. These young humanitarians are facing prosecution by the US government which could result in a 15 year prison sentence.

We urgently need your help and support to stop this prosecution.

Statements from NMD representatives and supporters:

"...On the basis of the facts as presented,
Amnesty International is supporting calls for the charges to be dropped in this case and considers that, if convicted and imprisoned, Daniel Strauss and Shanti Sellz would be prisoners of conscience."

Arresting people for saving lives is horribly wrong. Those of us with a conscience about peace and justice issues believe it is our moral obligation to care for the stranger regardless of whether or not that stranger is documented or undocumented.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

John Kerry on Hayden's confirmation

Take a look:

I opposed the nomination of General Michael Hayden to serve as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Circumstances make him the wrong nominee in the wrong place for the wrong job.

The abuse of the CIA by the Rumsfeld Pentagon and the Cheney White House has hurt our credibility with unfounded claims of ‘slam dunk’ evidence of mythical weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I don’t think General Hayden is the person best equipped to restore the CIA’s independence and credibility. It’s not just that he comes from Secretary Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, but because he was the Administration’s principal spokesperson and defender of an illegal domestic spying program.

We are all committed to destroying terrorists and preventing terrorist attacks before they happen. But this vote was a test of this Congress’s willingness to restore the Founding Fathers’ checks and balances and stand up to a government run by people who hold themselves above the law. How many times will government secrecy shield decision-makers from any kind of accountability? It was a mistake to confirm General Hayden.

If you want a link it's here.

Good grief, this is horrible.

Look what I found on All Hat No Cattle:

An agent posing as a dealer called and asked to speak with Jeff. Nicole replied that he wasn't home, but gave the man a number where she thought Jeff could be reached. An innocent gesture? It sounds that way to me. But to federal prosecutors, simply giving out a phone number made Nicole Richardson part of a drug dealing onspiracy. Under draconian mandatory minimum sentences, she was sent to federal prison for ten years without possibility of parole.

-- Walter Cronkite, former Managing Editor and News Anchorman of CBS Evening News – Discussing the injustice and human toll of our current “war on drugs”, in “Telling the Truth about the War on Drugs

Two peas in a pod

George & Tony sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G: your little lovefest has killed untold thousands, devastated a country, destabilized a region, and invited unending worldwide terror. HECKUVA JOB... -- Grant Gerver

Fascism = corporatism

I want to share an article with you called "Our Socialized Corporations: America's Hitler, the Conclusion" . This article is Part VI of a series. Here's how it gets started:

The final argument of those who say ‘of course Bush is not like Hitler’ is the argument that every repressive regime in history has been a regime of extreme national socialism and no one is more pro capitalist than Bush.

True enough. Except for the fact that he is so pro capitalist that virtually all corporations that supported his election bids are now firmly on the public dole -- the energy companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and above all, the military contractors.

Middle class taxpayers of this and future generations are subsidizing Bush’s largesse and his favored corporations’ greed and waste.

Because of the vast sums of money needed to run a successful campaign, and because of the funds the people who head them lavish on candidates running for political office, corporations have become ever more powerful. Consequently, to quote Ramsey Clark
at the Washington anti-war rally in the fall of 2002 – another event ignored by the media -- “This is not a democracy, it is a plutocracy. The people don’t rule here, wealth rules, the corporations rule. They rule the Congress, they elect the President, they run the Pentagon, they own the media.”

Mussolini, himself the father of Fascism, adopted as his own the saying “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” If that is the definition of Fascism, we have been drifting toward it for some time, but under Bush the “drift” has become a gallop, and so can no longer be comfortably ignored. Not by anyone who is paying attention, at least. In a way, I guess you could say "the worst president in history"
has done us a favor by forcing us to pay attention in a way previous presidents did not.

The courts have given corporations the rights of people. Unlike most people, they have the money to fight any actions brought against them. Therefore, there is no person whose welfare is more guaranteed -- more socialized in our country than that of giant corporations. Socialism for corporations is paid for by the taxpayers while “regular” people – the people government exists to look out for -- increasingly become poorer and less able to afford and obtain the necessities of life, such as food, housing, and health care.

Additionally, when people feel without hope they self-medicate with drink or drugs. Consequently, crime of all kinds, increases, from using and selling drugs, to domestic violence to robbery to??? In a Fascist state, the solution to crimes brought about by poverty and despair is to build more prisons. More people are in prison in America than in any other country in the world, and Halliburton recently received a contract for $500 million to build “detention centers” for unspecified purposes.

I'm really worried about those detention centers. I have a feeling that the mainstream news sources are not bringing this information to the American people. Once the camps are built, it's only a matter of time before some of us get that knock on the door in the middle of the night.

You may say, "Oh, I can't believe it would come to that." Well, there was a time that I would have said, "Oh, I can't believe we would start a war of aggression" or "I can't believe we would get to the point where torture was considered normal" or "I can't believe we would round up Muslims and detain them without charge or access to legal counsel." We've done all those things and more. All I can say is this: The camps are being built, my friends.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday cat blogging!

Here's Edgar lazing on the front porch.
Photo by Ellie Finlay

Here's our problem

Sad but true:

I belong to no organized party - I am a Democrat.

-- Will Rogers

Rush Limbaugh in England

Found this comment on Smirking Chimp about when Rush Limbaugh went to England:

[W]hen he came back to the radio program he praised that country for its cleanliness and social honesty. He said lawn chairs could be left in the parks because there was no threat of theft. Then he commented on the miniscule number of gun crimes in England. The people seemed happy.

All this was in contrast to the wretched situation in this country. The gun-deaths. The lazy creatures living out of dumpsters. The constant begging for government hand-outs.

Nowhere did the slob note that guns were a no-no in England, or that all people were valued in a system with universal health care and compensation for those times when the people cannot adequately provide for themselves.

Nope. Limbaugh was sure his regular listeners would not (more likely could not) pick up on the contradictions.

The dishonesty and hypocrisy are just sickening.

Can Bush just do whatever he wants?

Here's an article that will really get your blood boiling. It's called, "Are you Bush defenders just blowing smoke, or do you really not get it?" and it's by Andrew Bard Schmookler. You really need to click through and read the whole thing to get the full impact but I'm going to give you this little tidbit:

Take for example the recent performance of President Bush's new press secretary, Tony Snow. In a recent press briefing, Snow was fielding questions about the NSA gathering of Americans' phone records.

Snow happily cited a quick poll indicating that almost two-thirds of Americans don't object to the government monitoring such records for the presumed purpose of catching terrorists. But when presented with other negative poll results, Snow declared that a president "cannot base national security on poll numbers."

A reasonable statement, but, as the press should immediately have asked: Mr. Snow, can a president base on poll numbers his decision whether or not to obey the law? And would you be interested in seeing what the American people would say to pollsters if asked, "Can the president do whatever he wants, regardless of the law?"

Who are you kidding, yourself or us? Do you really not get that the issue here is neither opinion polls nor national security, but rather a president who refuses to respect any legal limits to his powers?

This is the question: Can the president do whatever he wants, regardless of the law? The Bush defenders say "yes." What have we become? Dear God, what have we become?

Cheney to testify probably

Well, we all know by now that Cheney may well testify in the "Scooter" Libby trial. I want to show you what Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post has to say about it. Here's just how he gets started in a column called, "What would Cheney say?"

Vice President Cheney's testimony in the criminal trial of his chief of staff -- suddenly a distinct possibility -- would appear to be crucial to the case.

The more we learn, the clearer it becomes that Cheney was at the epicenter of a White House campaign to discredit administration critic Joseph Wilson -- a campaign that ultimately included the outing of Wilson's wife,
Valerie Plame , as a CIA operative.

Cheney is obviously the person in the best position to either confirm or contradict one of the hardest-to-swallow elements of Scooter Libby's defense: That Libby and Cheney specifically discussed Valerie Plame's status as a CIA operative in early June 2003, and then again after columnist
Robert Novak publicly outed her on July 14 -- but not in between.

This is a key element of Libby's defense, because in between, Libby has argued, he "forgot" that he knew.

Libby testified to special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's grand jury that "it seemed to me as if I was learning it for the first time" when NBC correspondent Tim Russert told him about Plame's CIA affiliation on July 10. Russert has denied that any such conversation took place.

Fitzgerald didn't buy Libby's story, and this past October
charged him with five felony counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.

Now does anybody seriously think Cheney won't lie? These people have no consciences. I just hope Fitzgerald has enough evidence to catch him if he perjures himself.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


One of my favorite commenters on Smirking Chimp wrote quite a long rant today and ended it with this:

The sad thing is that we have now had a President that has done his utmost to turn over Government to corporate interests and special interests. A pure, red blooded, rabid Communist couldnt have done more to destroy the fabric of America, than Bush has. He is America's worst nightmare come true. He is a 1000% lackey for corporate interests who would destroy the world in order to pay their CEO's salaries of $200 million a year, or more.

True. Devastatingly true.

An Urgent Appeal from the Climate Crisis Coalition

Today I got an email from the Climate Crisis Coalition that I want to reproduce here in its entirety:

Dear Friends,
Yesterday an important new documentary opened in New York City and Los Angeles. It is coming soon to other theaters around the country. "An Inconvenient Truth," featuring former Vice President Al Gore, is the most significant attempt to date to clearly communicate to all Americans the dangers that we face if we do not meet the reality of global warming.

"An Inconvenient Truth" has been hailed by critics: Claudia Pauig of USA Today as "illuminating, fascinating and sometimes frightening," A.O. Scott of the New York Times as "intellectually exhilarating...a necessary film," and Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times as "rousing." However, some pundits have labeled it “absurd,” and the ideas it inspires “destructive to the economy,” and many in the industry believe it is too unconventional to succeed at the box office.

We at the Climate Crisis Coalition believe it is essential that this film be a success. On behalf of Al Gore, we ask you to visit his site ( and pledge to see the film as soon as it opens in your community. Each person who signs this pledge will help ensure that the film is screened across the country. We hope that audiences will be convinced of its truth, no matter how inconvenient.

Please pledge to see the film here:

We appreciate your help in promoting "An Inconvenient Truth."

The CCC Steering Committee.

For current news about global warming, and to learn additional things you can do to help this and other campaigns, visit our home page,

Also printed on the email was this address:

That 30%

Good question:

All right, out with it: which 30% of you morons who voted for W approves of the job he's doing? It's all you multi-millionaires, ain't it?!

-- Grant Gerver

Fines for being unmarried

Oh my. The marriage police are at it again. Here's an article in the Guardian entitled, "Not married, with children? Not in our town thanks" with this as the subtitle:

· Missouri council defends policy to 'protect values'
· Unmarried couple could be fined $500 a day

Here's an excerpt from the article:

The town of Black Jack, Missouri, got its name from the variety of oak tree that once grew nearby. "Those stately trees represent who and what we are today, a proud city with strong roots, providing the safety and respite of community," its promotional literature explains. It is the kind of place where family is valued - just as long as the family in question meets certain criteria. Olivia Shelltrack and Fondray Loving's family, it seems, do not.

The couple could face fines of $500 (£270) a day, and Black Jack is already facing the unwelcome glare of national attention, as a result of a local regulation that bans unmarried couples with more than one child from occupying homes there.

"The character and stability of a city is not an accident, it is the result of years of hard work by the residents," Norman McCourt, the mayor of Black Jack, said in a statement after the city council rejected a proposal to abolish the regulation. Mr Loving and Ms Shelltrack now plan to file a lawsuit with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, while the US department of housing, in Washington, has launched an investigation to determine whether Black Jack's ban is illegal.

Mr Loving, 33, and Ms Shelltrack, 31, have lived together for 13 years. They have two children and also live with Ms Shelltrack's daughter, who calls Mr Loving her father. They bought their Black Jack home earlier this year.

"We're just like anybody else," Ms Shelltrack told the Guardian. "It's not like we're purple with polka dots or something. I just really feel like this shouldn't be anybody's business."

The couple were not opposed to getting married, she said, but wanted to wait until they could afford a "nice big wedding ... I don't think a piece of paper is going to validate our relationship, though. We love each other, and our kids are happy, healthy individuals. You can't define family."

I don't think it's anybody's business either. It think they're silly to be attached to the idea of a big wedding but, heck, they're entitled to be silly. It's not right to have a law against not being married.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Reproductive health and enlisted women

I just got an email from NARAL Pro-choice that said the following:

For the 350,000 American women enlisted in the military, getting basic health-care services like emergency contraception and abortion care from military hospitals is extremely difficult. Congress won't allow military hospitals to provide abortion care, except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest - and in the latter two cases, the woman must pay for the services herself. Military health-care facilities aren't required to carry emergency contraception like the morning-after pill, either.

Earlier this month, anti-choice leaders in Congress refused to even allow votes on two pro-choice measures that would have improved military women's access to birth control and abortion care. When will anti-choice leaders put the health needs of our brave servicewomen ahead of their far-right politics?

The situation is further explained in a short article entitled, "House Blocks Votes on Amendments to Improve Military Women's Health". It's subtitled with the following statement:

Anti-choice legislators deny improved health services for rape victims in the military, even as attacks against servicewomen rose 40 % since 2004

Service women should be protected from rape in the first place. It's beyond outrageous that they are not. And denying them appropriate reproductive health care is the establishment of religion pure and simple.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Do they practice what they preach?

Atrios says this on Eschaton:

A genuinely relevant political article in the New York Times would involve a detailed examination of the sex lives of all non-married members of the Bush administration. Abstinence-only education is a key policy feature of the Bush administration, and it would certainly be legitimate to ask if they are, in fact, saving it.

I would love to see such an article. Not jolly likely, however.

I should have known - Part 2

I posted below on the original "I should have known" entry that big corporations were going to benefit from Bush's new interest in border security. I definitely should have known that one of them would be Halliburton. Take a look at this excerpt from an article entitled, "Halliburton, Bechtel could be factors in border security plan":

Two big and controversial corporate names -- Halliburton and Bechtel -- could benefit from mammoth increases in federal spending on border security.

Federal and state efforts to bolster porous border security include plans for increased security infrastructure, expanded use of technology, including radar. Other plans include construction of more prison beds, and additional law enforcement operations, security roads and improved employment verification systems and ports of entry.

That will mean billions of dollars in border-related contract opportunities for defense, technology and other government contractors. A substantial number of border security contracts are expected to go to major contractors -- including big infrastructure, construction and contract management experts such as Halliburton Co. and Bechtel Corp.

"It's the big boys that will benefit from this," said Congressman Ed Pastor, a Phoenix Democrat. "Most of the big contracts are going to go out to the Halliburtons and Bechtels."

Those two companies are well-known for being politically connected and have received top infrastructure, energy and construction management contracts in Iraq. They also have critics who worry about their political ties to the Bush administration and Washington, D.C., power brokers.

Sickening. Just sickening. You know, I wouldn't mind except that they are well known for overcharging the government. Whatever happened to the concept of stewardship? Bush has an obligation to be a good steward of public resources. But he doesn't see it that way. Any way to make his already wealthy friends wealthier is the way to go as far as he's concerned.

That fence again

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said the following:

Show me a 50-foot wall, and I'll show you a 51-foot ladder.

Aptly observed.

U.S. moral authority

Here's the latest Quick Vote results on CNN International Edition:

Do you agree with Amnesty International that the U.S. has lost its moral authority?

Yes 77%

No 23%

I voted "yes", needless to say.

More on Goebbels

I found myself exploring the PBS web pages on the American Experience program I mentioned below. One page is devoted to questions and answers about Goebbels with Professor Martin Kitchen providing the answers. Here's part of what Kitchen has to say:

Goebbels' major contribution was to introduce what the German-Jewish philology professor Victor Klemperer, who survived under the Nazis in Dresden, called "Lingua Tertii Imperii -- The Language of the Third Reich," in which common words took on new meanings. This enabled people to accept certain aspects of Nazi policy, particularly anti-Semitism, in a way that they previously wouldn't have done, because they learned to think and speak in a different language.

Take for example the different words used to describe how the Nazis intended to deal with the "Jewish problem": "removal", "resettlement", "evacuation", "final solution", "eradication", "annihilation". Most of these words are imprecise and their real meaning changed until they all finally meant "murder". Endless repetitions, euphemisms and shifting meanings became internalized, lowered the threshold of acceptance, and individuals treated with indifference what they would have previously found morally questionable. As Schiller wrote: this was a new vocabulary that insidiously became "a language that writes and thinks on your behalf."

In part this is due to peculiarities of the German language. Hitler was always described as the Führer, a word that has many meanings in German. "Leader" is the best-known, but it also means "guide", or simply "person in charge."

"Faith" was the key word in the creation of the Hitler myth. As he himself said: "All certainty comes from faith". A faith that he contrasted to "sterile intelligence." He insisted that "feelings have to take the place of thinking." The amazing thing is the number of people who had an absolute faith in Hitler. As Goebbels said in 1944: "We do not need to know what the Führer is going to do -- we believe in him." Even after the war, there were people who said they still believed in Hitler. It was a kind of religious fervor that had nothing to do with the realities of the war situation itself. Hitler constantly talked about will. His attitude was, if you will it, you can do it. This was part of his appeal. People saw him as a strong figure, a man of destiny, able to convey the absolute conviction that he was correct. He had a mission and a will to fulfill it.

Just think about this analysis and then about what's going on in our country today. Just think. My only hope lies in the fact that Bush's poll numbers are low. But the Republicans are still able to frame the issues with their language. That's what's so discouraging.

I really love Bill Moyers

Please go on over to Common Dreams and read the Baccalaureate address by Bill Moyers to the graduating class of Hamilton College. It is truly moving. It really needs to be read in its entirety (it is short) as I can't do it justice with an excerpt. But I do want to give you these two paragraphs:

The hardest struggle of all is to reconcile life's polar realities. I love books, Beethoven, and chocolate brownies. Yet how do I justify my pleasure in these in a world where millions are illiterate, the music never plays, and children go hungry through the night? How do I live sanely in a world so unsafe for so many?

I don't know what they taught you here at Hamilton about all this, but I trust you are not leaving here without thinking about how you will respond to the dissonance in our culture, the rivalry between beauty and bestiality in the world, and the conflicts in your own soul. All of us have to choose sides on this journey. But the question is not so much who we are going to fight against as it is which side of our own nature will we nurture: The side that can grow weary and even cynical and believe that everything is futile, or the side that for all the vulgarity, brutality, and cruelty, yearns to affirm, connect and signify. Albert Camus got it right: There is beauty in the world as well as humiliation, and we have to strive, hard as it is, not to be the presence of one or the other."

There is beauty in the world in spite of everything. Last night I watched American Experience on PBS which was about Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister. The entire show was in his own words - from his diaries - and it was chilling, truly chilling. What sickened me is how much his time was like our own - the nationalism, the scapegoating and persecution of minorities, the militarism, the wars of aggression and, of course, the propaganda. We are living through a terrible time and yet there is beauty in the world. I remember that every day. Let us remember it together.

Some comic relief

My friend Walter Calahan sent me the following:

What if the hokey pokey really is what it’s all about?

"Thought provoking," he says! I love it!

"Thank a protester"

I found this at the bottom of an email that was sent to me by Frank Ford:

If you like your freedoms, ... thank a protester.

-Brian Terrell, director of Catholic Peace Ministry

He references the abolitionist, labor, women's suffrage and civil rights movements as evidence that civil disobedience plays an important role in social change.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Finally some good news for animals

I'm glad to see at least one of my email activism efforts has paid off. Here's an excerpt from a CNN article entitled, "Congress considers pets' place in disaster plans":

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A television shot of a little boy losing his dog during Katrina rescue operations was the catalyst for the House to pass legislation Monday that would require pets to be considered in emergency-preparedness plans.

"The dog was taken away from this little boy, and to watch his face was a singularly revealing and tragic experience," said Rep. Tom Lantos, a California Democrat and sponsor of the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act. "This legislation was born at that moment."

The bill, which passed 349-24, would require state and local preparedness offices to take into account pet owners, household pets and service animals when drawing up evacuation plans. Offices that fail to do so would not qualify for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Republican Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut, with Lantos a co-chairman of the Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus, said estimates are that some 600,000 animals died or were left without shelter as a result of Hurricane Katrina. He added that the lack of pet rescue plans also put many pet owners in danger.

"When asked to choose between abandoning their pets or their personal safety, many pet owners chose to risk their lives," he said.

The Humane Society of the United States cited a recent Zogby International poll that found that 49 percent of adults say they would refuse to evacuate if they couldn't take their pets with them.

I would too. There's no way I would abandon my animals in a situation like that.

The way rescue workers treated animals and their owners during Katrina is beyond reprehensible. The suffering was simply horrible.

That fence

Good snark:

Immigration is the big issue right now. Earlier today, the Senate voted to build a 370-mile fence along the Mexican border. ... Experts say a 370-mile fence is the perfect way to protect a border that is 1,900 miles long.

--Conan O'Brien

I should have known

I should have known that the real reason Bush is so concerned about border security is that this enables him once more to channel tax dollars into private corporations. That's right, private security companies are bidding to patrol our borders. Read this excerpt from an article entitled, "A little fascism goes a long way":

Most stunning was the sudden relevance of the New York press, headlining in a timely manner the crucial context to keep in mind: that this is the month when billion dollar bids will be submitted for a megamammoth border contract called SBInet (the Secure Border Initiative Network). Bidders will include such military-industrial behemoths as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Most interesting is the last-minute entry of the European-based Ericsson company, because they provide surveillance along the Russia-Finland border, matching up nicely with the ideological model of the USA-Mexico border pushed by the fascist crowd's cold-war compulsions.

On the question of ideological models, it would be prudent to consider that the Vice President's description of the next Mexican border sounded a lot like the Israeli border with Palestine. In this context, the Bush-Cheney troop deployment will provide free of charge to the winning bidder of border security services a cadre of perma-temp employees who are already trained, dressed for photo-ops, and security-cleared (in case you missed the simultaneous news this week that the agency in charge of security clearances was shutting down because of poor budgeting).

Anything to make the rich richer and funnel tax dollars away from the people.

The greater casualties

I want to bring you a brief passage from the latest article by Paul Craig Roberts called "The administration that won't stop lying" and then suggest that you click through and read the whole thing. It's really good.

The Republican Party has been reduced to one principle – its own power. It protects the Bush regime from accountability and covers up its lies and misdeeds. Under the myths and lies that enshroud 9/11, the Democrats have collapsed as an opposition party.

The Bush regime has destroyed Iraq without being able to defeat the resistance. Its greater casualties, however, are the American people, voiceless with no political representation, defenseless in the face of police-state depredations such as illegal warrantless surveillance, the possibility of property seizures, and indefinite detention without charges.

The Bush regime's war on terror has defeated truth and the constitutional protections of liberty in the United States. No conceivable number of Muslim terrorists could inflict comparable damage on America.

I still shake my head sometimes and think surely I'm going to wake up from this bad dream. It's so hard for me to believe what has happened to this country.

Climate change education

Here's some hopeful news as found in Grist magazine in an article called, "The Sway of the World":

Think you've been hearing a lot about global warming lately? If a new climate-focused group hatched by Al Gore has its way, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

After nine months of behind-the-scenes planning and wrangling, the Alliance for climate Protection is now nearly ready for prime time. Gore spoke about the alliance in an exclusive interview with Muckraker. He said the group aims to raise big bucks for a single goal: "To move the United States past a tipping point on climate change, beyond which the majority of the people will demand of the political leaders in both parties that they compete to offer genuinely meaningful solutions to the crisis."

Practically speaking, this means launching a massive media and grassroots education campaign trumpeting the urgency of global warming and targeted at all manner of Americans -- "NASCAR fans, churchgoers, labor-union members, small businessmen, engineers, hunters, sportsmen, corporate leaders, you name it," said Gore -- with the assumption that "where public opinion goes, federal policy will follow."

With a leadership team that includes Brent Scowcroft, national-security adviser to presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford; Carol Browner, head of the U.S. EPA under Bill Clinton; and other heavies, the alliance could considerably pump up the volume of the green movement's barely audible public outreach on global warming. It plans to raise "tens of millions at least," said Browner. The group's official launch date is not confirmed, but will likely be in the coming weeks. The search for a CEO is under way, and board meetings have already commenced.
Gore has been a strong proponent of using paid advertising. He and some board members said the alliance could do for climate change what the Truth Campaign, launched in 1999, has been credited with doing for the anti-smoking crusade -- trigger a cultural and political shift with print and television advertising.

Unfortunately, there's already a backlash:

Already climate skeptics are mounting an opposition with paid ads of their own. This week, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, unveiled two 60-second TV ads pillorying "global warming alarmists." They'll air in more than a dozen cities nationwide, timed to coincide with the release of Gore's documentary. "

We'll be quick to respond," said [board member Larry] Schweiger, explaining that the alliance plans to issue a request for proposals to major advertising and design-consulting firms in the next few weeks.

It's good to know somebody's finally taking helpful action instead of just engaging in handwringing. Let's do what we can to reinforce the message when it comes our way.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Our embassy in Baghdad

I found this on Smirking Chimp:

As you no doubt know, the biggest embassy IN THE WORLD is being built in Baghdad, at a cost of...are you ready for this?

...$600,000,000+ - at TAXPAYER EXPENSE.

You can read all about it here.

Look what I found.

It's called being a "chicken hawk" - that's what it's called.


This is good:

A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.


The idea of justice

Yesterday, I posted the following quotation:

There's a simple, elegant saying. If you want peace, work for justice. Amen.

An anonymous commenter then posted the following in response:

Who gets to decide what is just?

I don't know whether the question is meant to elicit an answer or if it is merely rhetorical. If rhetorical, it could imply, I suppose, that, since people disagree on what is just, there is no need to make an effort to behave justly. I hope that is not what the commenter meant but I mention that attitude because it is very prevalent today. Equally prevalent among today's so-called conservatives is the fundamental embrace of selfishness that basically says, "I've got mine; screw you." Justice then becomes irrelevant, doesn't it?

When I read the comment, I immediately thought of that wonderful book by philosopher Mortimer Adler called, Six Great Ideas. The ideas discussed by Adler are: Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Liberty, Equality, Justice. Bill Moyers conducted a series of interviews with Adler on these ideas back in the early 80s. I remember sitting in front of the TV absolutely riveted. I was equally engaged reading the book. I certainly recommend it for anyone who wants to explore the idea of justice.

Basically there are two approaches to justice that date back to antiquity. One is that "might makes right" and that there is, therefore, no obligation by those in power toward those who are conquered or otherwise oppressed. The other approach is that there exists a fundamental obligation to basic fairness using some version of the Golden Rule as a reasonable guide: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or "that which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor." Needless to say, I favor the fairness approach.

As to who gets to decide --- well, we do that collectively, don't we? When our nation was in its infancy we decided that justice included equality of all people under the law and a society that would promote "the general welfare". Sadly, the political climate today has lost sight of those lofty ideals. I am a patriot, however, and I still believe in liberty, equality and justice. They are increasingly unpopular virtues among right wingers. But true conservatives embrace them as passionately as progressives.

You might like to read an essay on justice which is excerpted from Six Great Ideas and published on the web as Some Thoughts on Justice.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Simple, elegant

Found on Dependable Renegade:

There's a simple, elegant saying. If you want peace, work for justice. Amen.

Stealing the vote

Well, I've believed the 2004 election was stolen since election day itself. What I didn't realize is that the majority of people except for Fox News viewers believe so too. Here's an excerpt from an article entitled, "Why is the media downplaying our voting scandal?":

Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman who follow this story closely and wrote a book about what really went down in Ohio comment in a recent story in the Free Press published in Columbus Ohio, "there has been barely a whiff of coverage in the major media about any problems with the electronic voting machines."

The public on the other hand not only believes that there are problems but many insist that the elections were stolen. Write Wasserman and Fitrakis: "A recent OpEdNews/Zogby People's poll of Pennsylvania residents, found that "39% said that the 2004 election was stolen. 54% said it was legitimate. But let's look at the demographics on this question. Of the people who watch Fox news as their primary source of TV news, one half of one percent believe it was stolen and 99% believe it was legitimate. Among people who watched ANY other news source but FOX, more felt the election was stolen than legitimate. The numbers varied dramatically."

"Here, from that poll, are the stations listed as first choice by respondents and the percentage of respondents who thought the election was stolen: CNN 70%; MSNBC 65%; CBS 64%; ABC 56%; Other 56%; NBC 49%; FOX 0.5%.

"With 99% of Fox viewers believing that the election was "legitimate," only the constant propaganda of Rupert Murdoch's disinformation campaign stands in the way of a majority of Americans coming to grips with the reality of two consecutive stolen elections."

Without the press getting on this story I don't see how it will be fixed. I'll tell you this: it makes me very depressed about voting.

Religious liberty

The British newspaper, the Guardian, has a regular Saturday column called "Face to Faith". Today's is very interesting in that it talks about the origins of our ideas on religious liberty:

With civil liberties, anti-terrorism, racial incitement, freedom, toler-ation and liberty now high on the public agenda, this may be the moment to give an airing to Thomas Helwys. He was one of the 17th-century founders of the Baptist denomination, but his relevance today stems from what he wrote in The Mystery of Iniquity, a small work published in 1612 and claimed by Baptists as the first full plea for religious liberty in England and Wales.

In the aftermath of the Reformation, when Dissenters, Catholics and Jews found all kinds of doors closed to them and were frequently persecuted for their faith, the central issue for Helwys was neither rights nor toleration, but liberty. Religious liberty, of course, but what he had to say provided a sound foundation for other kinds of liberty as well. Pleas for toleration too often came only from the persecuted seeking toleration for themselves, and usually with scant toleration for the views of others once they got into ascendancy.

For Helwys, religious liberty was a right for everyone - heretics, Turks and Jews, whoever they were, whatever they did; even for Roman Catholics, when the memory of the Gunpowder Plot was still acute. Anything less was a loss to the community, as well as to the individual. No parliament could legislate against it. No monarch could overrule it. He reminded James I that he too was a mortal, "dust and ashes" like the rest of us, with no power over the immortal souls of his subjects. James responded by putting him in prison, where he remained until his death.

Baptists may not always have lived up to his ideals, but with the exception of the ultra-conservative wing of the Southern Baptists in the US, they still bridle at the slightest threat to religious liberty.

How ironic that Southern Baptists in the U.S. are so willing to deny religious liberty to others. I remember when Southern Baptists still vehemently believed in separation of church and state and there was such a thing as a liberal Southern Baptist. How that has changed since the fundamentalist take over of the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm being very careful here to refer specifically to Southern Baptists in my comments. To my knowledge, the members of American Baptist Churches USA still believe in religious liberty and the primacy of the individual conscience.

Mine safety

Well, as you know, there's been another mine accident. Here's what CNN has to say about the current policies in an article entitled, "Five dead in Kentucky coal mine explosion":

Mine safety issues have been a key concern of lawmakers ever since two accidents in January killed 14 West Virginia coal miners.

Earlier this week, a key Senate committee endorsed a bill to make coal mining safer. The legislation would require miners to have at least two hours of oxygen available instead of one as under the current policy. It also would require mine operators to store extra oxygen packs along escape routes.

The bill also would require mines to have two-way wireless communications and tracking systems in place within three years. It now goes to the full Senate.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration recently issued a temporary rule requiring coal operators to give miners extra oxygen, but miners have been pressing Congress for a permanent fix.

In the January 2 Sago mine explosion in West Virginia, one man was killed in the blast and 11 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Randal McCloy Jr., the only miner who survived, has said at least four of the miners' air packs did not work, forcing the men to share.

Mine safety will not improve until mine owners are sentenced with truly punitive fines for safety infractions. As it is now, they're getting a slap on the wrist at best.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Right you are


Besides telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children, and die the GOP has done a fine job of getting government out of our lives.

-- Zing!

Friday cat blogging!

Ethel under the peach tree
Photo by Ellie Finlay

Please don't shop at Wal-mart's - Part 10 (at least)

Would you believe the above billboard was censored by Clear Channel? Here's what Campaign for America's Future has to say:

We empowered our supporters to send a message of their choice to Wal-Mart -- through a prominent billboard that we reserved less than one mile from Wal-Mart's Bentonville, Ark., World Headquarters. We received thousands of excellent slogan submissions, and narrowed the field to ten finalists. Tens of thousands of our supporters voted on the finalists and a clear winner emerged, "Wal-Mart: Killing Local Businesses One Main Street at a Time."

After selecting the winning billboard slogan, supporters contributed enough money to publish it for one month. We designed the billboard artwork and submitted it to the billboard leasing company -- the Fort Smith, Ark., division of Clear Channel.

Unfortunately the division president, Bob Sadler, decided unilaterally -- and based on what we believe are partisan political grounds -- to censor and deny the posting of our slogan.

Nearly 12,000 Campaign for America's Future emailed Bob Sadler to demand that he not censor the truth about Wal-Mart, and publish our billboard. He has yet to deliver an official response, and we're currently exploring legal options to pressure him and Clear Channel to overturn the censor.

Simply outrageous.

And now read this found on Wal-mart Watch:

“America, as we know it, can’t afford Wal-Mart,” said Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America’s Future. “People across America are starting to realize the stark reality: Wal-Mart’s triumph is the defeat of middle-class America. If Wal-Mart sets the pace, Americans will pay the price, in declining wages, rising health care costs, longer hours, worsening workplace conditions and rising personal taxes to offset soaring corporate subsidies."

Please don't shop there. Those low prices represent the exploitation of people all over the world and the destruction of local businesses. Be willing to pay a decent and appropriate price for the goods you buy. That willingness translates into a better quality of life for us all.

What is a progressive?

I got an email today from Campaign for America's Future. Apparently they had a contest for answering the question, "What is a progressive?" Here are some of the responses:

* A progressive is someone who cares about the other guy. It's as simple as that!! (Lawrence F. - San Francisco, CA)

* A progressive is someone who realizes that she did not get where she is completely on her own. She had help along the way ... and wants to make sure others have the same opportunities, no matter where they started. (Colleen R. - Silver Spring, MD)

* A progressive ... believe[s] in liberty balanced with responsibility, economic opportunity balanced with just and open structures, and peace based upon being a global partner not a benevolent empire. (Norman B. - Cambridge, MA)

* A progressive is a person who thinks the best is yet to come ... (Craig S. - Fort Collins, CO)

Isn't it sad that the word "liberal" has been so demonized that we're afraid to use it anymore? I don't mind calling myself a progressive but I miss the word "liberal" to mean generous, responsible and free. What are we going to do when the wingnuts manage to demonize "progressive" as well?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

They hate us.

And it's only getting worse. I'm talking, of course, about the rest of the world's attitude toward the United States and its citizens. The article I'm referring to is entitled, "World opinion of U.S. sinking: Dislike of everything American on the rise". Here are a couple of passages:

Polls now show an ominous turn. Majorities around the world think Americans are greedy, violent and rude, and fewer than half in countries like Poland, Spain, Canada, China and Russia think Americans are honest.

"We found a rising antipathy toward Americans," said Bruce Stokes of the Pew Global Attitudes Project, which interviewed 93,000 people in 50 countries over a four-year span.
Kohut finds a significant decline among those holding "favorable" views of the United States. In Brazil, 52 percent held a favorable view of the United States in 2002; by the following year that had dropped to 34 percent. In Russia, the pro-America portion of the population dropped from 61 percent to 36 percent over a year.

That's a big drop over a very short time.

I have friends overseas. And, let me tell you, it's embarrassing to be an American these days.


He deserves this:

President Bush also said in his speech that immigrants have to learn English. The immigrants said, "Hey, you first."

--Jay Leno

The reality of poverty

I want to share an article published by Common Dreams entitled, "Of Congress and Camels". The title is an allusion to the words of Jesus when he said it was easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Funny, I don't hear members of the religious right quoting that one. Here's an excerpt from the article:

... In the midst of a half-trillion-dollar war, in an age of stagnating wages and skyrocketing health care, fuel and housing costs, and in the face of exploding deficits and entitlements, the Republican-controlled Congress is set to pass yet another multi-billion-dollar tax cut, nearly ninety percent of which will go to the richest fifteen percent of Americans.

As if this shocking fiscal indiscipline weren’t enough to make anyone sleepless with confusion and worry for our children’s future, these selfsame Republicans, a majority of whom profess themselves “born-again” through Jesus, are brazen enough to once again enrich the rich while governing under the banner of “compassionate conservatism."

Now I’m not out to question anyone’s faith. But would the same Jesus who put first those who society counted least and put last, and who proclaimed his ministry was to “bring good news to the poor," have rejoiced at the news of yet another tax cut for the wealthy paid for by borrowing and by budget cuts for our nation’s growing poor?

Low-income Americans find themselves today in a more precarious position than at any time since the Great Depression. Nearly forty million Americans live in poverty every day. Many millions more are living in near-poverty, working hard, and often without benefits, doing all the things society tells them that they should to get ahead. And yet they’re falling further behind, watching the American dream sail away.

What really upsets me is that the right wingers blame the poor people themselves for their poverty:

Republican leaders seem to believe that the solution to poverty is to grow the economy out of the problem. And yet despite nearly two decades of generally robust economic growth poverty, especially severe poverty in single-parent families with children, has risen dramatically. Even now, in the 21st century, we do not even have to leave our country to find third-world poverty.

Republican leaders also seem to believe that the blame for poverty lies with the individual poor people themselves. Poor people are the authors of their own poverty. If you’re poor, you must not be smart enough. You must not be willing to work hard enough. In the eyes of these Republican leaders, poverty is proof of bad character, and confirms a personal flaw.

Then the author puts the real gospel message before us:

And who did Jesus speak for? The dispossessed, widows, orphans. The hungry, the homeless, the helpless. The least, the last, the lost. Jesus reminded his followers that as they have done to the least of these, they have done to him. Few plainer words have been spoken.

So, late at night, I wonder: How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich and pro-business? What of the biblical imperatives for social justice and for uplifting the poor? How did compassion come to be reserved primarily for the rich and the unborn, with little or no interest in those who Jesus put first?

I wonder too. I don't understand how following Jesus can include completely ignoring what he actually had to say.

"Values voters"

Let's be clear. I can't stand George Will. He's smug. He's superior. He's condescending. And he shills for the right wing. But this time he's written a column for the Washington Post that the wingnuts are not going to like. I found this article by way of AMERICAblog, by the way. It's called, "Who Isn't A 'Values Voter'?" and here's an excerpt:

An aggressively annoying new phrase in America's political lexicon is "values voters." It is used proudly by social conservatives, and carelessly by the media to denote such conservatives.

This phrase diminishes our understanding of politics. It also is arrogant on the part of social conservatives and insulting to everyone else because it implies that only social conservatives vote to advance their values....

The phrase "values voters," which has become ubiquitous, subtracts from social comity by suggesting that one group has cornered the market on moral seriousness...

I certainly vote my values. And my values include peace, social justice and care for the earth.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A comment I found:

Fascism is the revolt of the elites against the masses. It is usually welcomed when it comes, by precisely those folks whom it will eventually oppress...

Biting, oh yes:

Last night was the season finale of 'West Wing.' 'West Wing' is gone. And ABC has cancelled 'Commander In Chief.' So, now the only fictional president is Bush.

--David Letterman

The coming economic collapse

I have such a sense of futility about this stuff. The train wreck we're headed for seems unavoidable. Well it is unavoidable by little people like me. But the people with power - George Bush and Company - could avoid this if they just would. But they seem to want to ruin our economy.

Read this:

Let's say you have a brother who just can't manage money or pay his bills. He's in debt up to his eyeballs. His kids aren't getting adequate medical care or education because of his spending.

Five years ago, he did have money, but blew it all, and more, on a wasteful and destructive foreign adventure that made your family a lot of enemies. Last week, however, he topped that.

He arranged to borrow a whole lot, most of it, presumably, from the Chinese. But he didn't use it to pay his bills; he gave most of it to a bunch of millionaires who didn't need it, to curry favor with them.

So you tell me: Is it time that we stepped in and did an intervention, or whatever it's called, before our family is ruined forever?

Guess what: Surprise, surprise — this is a story about you, dear comrades! Your recklessly insolvent brother is our own smirking, stoop-shouldered George W. Bush, the worst president in history.

Today the press is so weak, and we are so used to his outrages, that we barely noticed the latest atrocity — another $70 billion tax cut, nearly all of it for the well-to-do to wealthy. The worst part is not that it is unfair, though it is. The worst part is that it hastens the collapse of our economy. The Seattle Times quoted Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's, a financial consulting service based in Philadelphia."

If you do the math," he said "under any kind of reasonable economic assumptions the budget deficit will be 10 percent of gross domestic product 20 years from now. That's untenable. The economy will break before we get there."

That's from a conservative investor. Even if you are totally in sympathy with Puddin'head George's values, share his belief we should be launching a military crusade to save the world from radical Islam, and even if you think the war in Vietnam — oops — Iraq can be "won," you cannot be happy about his wrecking of our own economy.

The above passage is from an article entitled, "The destruction of our America" by Jack Lessenberry.

Here's a comment off of Smirking Chimp about that article:

It is not incompetence with these people. They know exactly what they are doing. They intend to wreck our economy as an excuse to dismantle Social Security and Medicare.

It makes me quite ill to consider that this commenter is right but I think he or she is.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bitter irony

Hurts, doesn't it?

You know who I feel sorry for is Osama bin Laden because all that hating us for our freedom, and now he has to come up with a completely new reason to hate us.

--Bill Maher

The real treason

I want you to read an excerpt from the latest article by Paul Craig Roberts and I want you to think about it seriously. The article is entitled, "The real assault on America" . Here you go:

The question presents itself: Are Americans guilty of treason when they turn their backs on the Constitution? Treason is betrayal of country. And what defines country? In the United States, the Constitution defines country. The Bush regime's assault on the Constitution is an assault on America.

Moreover, it is a far more dangerous and deadly assault than a terrorist assault on buildings.

Ask yourself, gentle reader, what are we without the Constitution? Without the Constitution, how do we differ from the hapless subjects sent to Soviet and Nazi death camps? The Constitution protects our rights, and without our rights we are nothing.

It has been widely reported, apparently without causing Americans any unease, that the Bush regime has awarded Halliburton $385 million to build concentration camps in the United States. Who are to be the inmates? Certainly not terrorists. The Bush regime has proven inept at catching terrorists, and those few who are captured are kept offshore out of the reach of the courts where they can be tortured and abused. The camps are certainly not for illegal aliens who both political parties want to give amnesty and citizenship.

Concentration camps epitomize the horrors and inhumanity of the Stalin and Nazi era. Why is the Bush regime building concentration camps in America?

Just because they are called "detention centers" doesn't change the fact that they are, in fact, concentration camps. Don't say "it can't happen here". Because it is happening.

More effects of global warming

Here's a Reuters article published by CNN called, "Report: Climate change may kill millions of Africans" that goes into some of the effects of global warming:

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Disease spread by global warming could kill an extra 185 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of the century and turn millions more into refugees unless rich nations take action now, a report said on Monday.
Christian Aid said it based its estimate of 185 million deaths due to disease on figures from the United Nations and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Global warming should allow carriers like mosquitoes to expand their ranges.

Melting ice caps and glaciers were not only eroding coast lines at a rapid rate but were also raising sea levels and reducing reliable sources of fresh water.

At the same time changing weather patterns were increasing the incidence of floods and droughts, with arid regions becoming drier and wet regions getting wetter.

These changes would increase tensions as key resources like water and fertile land became more scarce, the religious charity said, noting the farmers in northern Kenya were fighting over a diminishing number of waterholes to feed their cattle.

"The unfolding disaster in east Africa, where 11 million people have been put at risk of hunger by years of unprecedented drought, is a foretaste of what it to come," the report said.

"In this sense, the environment is too important to be left to the environmentalists," Christian Aid said, declaring that it was switching its campaign goals to focus on the four great effects of global warming -- pestilence, floods, famine and war.

I keep bringing these articles about climate change to your attention so that we will not be infected with the mind poison of delusion - that is, the need or impulse not to know. It is important that we be willing to know what is happening. Only if a critical mass of people who understand what's at stake is reached will enough people demand change so that change takes place.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A different poll

I told you yesterday that I didn't believe that Washington Post/ABC poll that said 63% found the domestic phone spying to be acceptable. Seems there's a USA Today/Gallup poll that pretty much says the opposite:

A majority of Americans disapprove of a massive Pentagon database containing the records of billions of phone calls made by ordinary citizens, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. About two-thirds are concerned that the program may signal other, not-yet-disclosed efforts to gather information on the general public.
About two-thirds say they're concerned that the federal government might be gathering other information about the public, such as bank records and data on Internet use, or listening in on domestic phone conversations without obtaining a warrant.

Two-thirds are concerned that the database will identify innocent Americans as possible terrorism suspects.

That's a lot of concern out there.

Now the question is this: Will the political pundits correct themselves in this regard? Friday night I heard Martha Raddatz on Washington Week in Review make the solemn pronouncement that two-thirds of Americans support the spying program. Next Friday night will she say, "Sorry, I was wrong" or at least, "Sorry, but there's some conflicting evidence now?" I'm not holding my breath.
Not so far-fetched:

Are Democrats poised to re-take Congress in 2006? Joke's on them. By November, there won't be a Congress.

--Stephen Colbert

Net neutrality

Please go on over to Smirking Chimp and read an article entitled, "Saving the Internet is saving freedom". This is important. I've posted about it before but it needs to be regularly in our consciousness so that we will take action.

The United States Congress is currently drafting a bill known as "The Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Efficiency Act of 2006", known as "COPE." This means privatizing the Internet, by allowing such private corporations as AT&T, BellSouth, Verizon and others to actually own it, and, in the process operate the internet and other digital communications services as private networks. The bill very, very clearly states that "certain classes of Internet providers may-- not unreasonably-- impair, interfere, restrict or limit applications or services such as Web sites or voice-over IP phone connections."

On April 26, 2006, the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications rejected an amendment to the bill (the Markey Amendment written by Ed Markey, D-Mass) that would have strengthened provisions for network neutrality. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 28 to 8.
If we are deprived of free and complete and independent access to the Internet, we will lose the last vestige of getting the real news, and the last vestige of free and open communication available to any of us.

I just wrote a scathing letter to my legislative representatives, stating -- amongst other things -- "Please remember: I am old, but I sure vote." All of you who read this, must do the same. Let them know how you feel. Let them know. After all, you are undoubtedly reading this very article on an internet site, are you not?

I've signed petitions about this and I phoned my congressman, John Sullivan. It didn't do any good though. He voted against the Markey amendment anyway. Still, we must try. Some of you who live outside Oklahoma may have representatives who are not so utterly loyal to big business.

Damage done

I want to share with you a passage from Bob Herbert's op-ed in the New York Times entitled, "America the Fearful". Unfortunately, I can't link to it because it's a subscription only article but I'll give you an excerpt here:

If you listen to the Bush version of reality, the president is all powerful. In that version, we are fighting a war against terrorism, which is a war that will never end. And as long as we are at war (forever), there is no limit to the war-fighting powers the president can claim as commander in chief.

So we've kidnapped people and sent them off to be tortured in the extraordinary rendition program; and we've incarcerated people at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere without trial or even the right to know the charges against them; and we're allowing the C.I.A. to operate super-secret prisons where God-knows-what-all is going on; and we're listening in on the phone calls and reading the e-mail of innocent Americans without warrants; and on and on and on.

The Bushies will tell you that it is dangerous and even against the law to inquire into these nefarious activities. We just have to trust the king.

Well, I give you fair warning. This is a road map to totalitarianism. Hallmarks of totalitarian regimes have always included an excessive reliance on secrecy, the deliberate stoking of fear in the general population, a preference for military rather than diplomatic solutions in foreign policy, the promotion of blind patriotism, the denial of human rights, the curtailment of the rule of law, hostility to a free press and the systematic invasion of the privacy of ordinary people.

There are not enough pretty words in all the world to cover up the damage that George W. Bush has done to his country.

The sentence above with which I've ended the excerpt tells it all. How true. How true.

The Arctic ice

It's time for another global warming article. This one is from the Guardian and is entitled, "Meltdown fear as Arctic ice cover falls to record winter low":

Record amounts of the Arctic ocean failed to freeze during the recent winter, new figures show, spelling disaster for wildlife and strengthening concerns that the region is locked into a destructive cycle of irreversible climate change.

Satellite measurements show the area covered by Arctic winter sea ice reached an all-time low in March, down some 300,000 square kilometres on last year -an area bigger than the UK.

Scientists say the decline highlights an alarming new trend, with recovery of the ice in winter no longer sufficient to compensate for increased melting in the summer. If the cycle continues, the Arctic ocean could lose all of its ice much earlier than expected, possibly by 2030.

Walt Meier, a researcher at the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, which collected the figures, said: "It's a pretty stark drop. In the winter the ice tends to be pretty stable, so the last three years, with this steady decline, really stick out."

Experts are worried because a long-term slow decline of ice around the north pole seems to have sharply accelerated since 2003, raising fears that the region may have passed one of the "tipping points" in global warming. In this scenario, warmer weather melts ice and drives temperatures higher because the dark water beneath absorbs more of the sun's radiation. This could make global warming quickly run out of control.

The article goes on to say that some scientists believe the summertime Arctic could be ice-free within a decade. How people in our government can continue to dismiss the reality of climate change is utterly beyond me.