November 6, 2012

Stopping People From Voting? Seriously, Why Do We Put Up With This For One Minute?

More than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement and conservatives are still fighting to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting. A 97-year-old in Georgia -- who has voted in every single election since she was old enough to vote -- is denied her right to vote. Florida is making citizens stand in line 4,5,6 hours to vote. Why are we putting up with this for one minute? Why isn't our government sending the US Army into these states that are trying to stop "the wrong kind of people" from voting?

This Was Settled!

This country already settled this: you can't keep people from voting! In the 1950s and 1960s conservatives tried to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting and going to school. As a country we did something about it. We stopped putting up with it and ordered the army to push the conservatives aside and let people into the schools and voting booths.

In 1957 a Republican president sent the US Army into Little Rock to escort nine of "the wrong kind of" students into a school:

President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard after George Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door to prevent "the wrong kind of people" from entering:

Once again conservatives are trying to keep "the wrong kind of people" from fully participating in the rights and privileges that we are all entitled to as citizens. (They really hate the idea that as citizens We, the People are "entitled" to certain things. We all are ENTITLED to share in the fruits of democracy -- that is what an "entitlement" is!)

Georgia Blocking Voters

Georgia is one of those states that has found a way to keep lots of "the wrong kind of people" from voting. They have imposed "Voter-ID" laws that are designed to keep lots of the elderly, minorities and students from being able to vote.

For just one example of how this has made it difficult for "the wrong kind of people" to vote, read Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade

Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs ... Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. ...

She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.

The story describes the obstacles she encountered trying to get the right ID to vote... most people would be forced to give up -- which is exactly the intent because she is "the wrong kind of person."

Florida Blocking Voters

Florida is one state making "the wrong kind of people" wait 4,5,6 hours in line to vote. People who work, the elderly and the simply fed up can't or won't do that so they don't, and that is the intent. Florida cut early voting time in half -- because 2008 showed that it made it too easy for "the wrong kind of people to vote" -- for the wrong kind of people. The effect is that minorities, students and elderly people find it difficult or impossible to vote. Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports, in Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge.

While many Democrats viewed it as a victory when a few offices opened absentee balloting on Sunday, the process is not the same as early voting -- and could result in more individuals not having their votes counted.

"Absentee ballots have a much higher rejection rate for minorities and young people, if you look at the Aug. 14 primary," said Smith.

A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida's GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. ...

... Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that in 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.

Other States Blocking Voters

Conservatives in state after state have set up barriers to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting. Pennsylvania conservatives tried to implement a restrictive voter-ID law to keep "the wrwong kind of people" from voting. Several other states have implemented them. Ohio -- already famous for putting lots of voting machines in conservative areas and few in the areas where "the wrong kind of people" vote -- threw up barrier after barrier to voting including attempts to cut early voting hours.

Now Ohio will even throw out your provisional ballot if you write down that a drivers license was your ID when it was really some other valid ID!!! And the provisional ballot is set up to trick voters into doing that! Groups file emergency motion over last-minute move that could toss Ohio provisional ballots,

Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters.

... Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.

This is just blatantly trying to keep citizens from voting because they are "the wrong kind of people." We just should not put up with this for even one minute. Why isn't Husted in jail?

Where Is Our Government?

Conservatives who run several states are trying to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting for "the wrong kind of people." Where is our Federal government? Why are they allowing this? Why are they not sending the Justice Department to force those states to let people vote? Why are they not sending the US Army into those states that are trying to keep people from voting, so American citizens can vote?

I am getting fed up with accommodating these bigoted conservatives, just because they are backed by billionaires and giant corporations this time around. We are theoretically a country of laws. I mean, unless you're a banker.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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July 30, 2012

On Romney Bullying

Please watch, very short. From US Politics | AMERICAblog News: This man is having none of Romney's bullying:

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July 27, 2012

He's Not White (video) - updated

That's what this ad really says. Look at the ad with the sound off, and you'll see it.

Stunning, an ad with a doctored audio in it that makes it seem Obama said something that he didn't, and then the ad goes on with people saying "I can't believe he just said that."

He didn't say it, it's a lie.

PS We're not allowed to know which billionaire, company or country paid for this ad, by the way.

Update - Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly Political Animal, Return of the Scary Black Man,

Looking at the particular Crossroads ad Chait’s talking about, it is striking that all the “small business owners” who are reacting with horror to the highly edited Obama excerpts are white, and are watching him on what appears to be an iPad—like you’d watch some scary figure—maybe a criminal—in a distant news event. One through gritted teeth growls that she “worked—for—every—thing—we’ve—gotten”—a sentiment you hear often from middle-class retirees as well as “job creators.”

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March 12, 2012

The Psychopathic Right

Wanna guess how the right is reacting to the news of the atrocity committed by a soldier in Afghanistan, even killing children? Do you even need to ask?

Go read Little Green Footballs - Fox News Commenters React to Afghan Killings: 'A Dead Muslim Is a Good Muslim',

I’ve looked at about a dozen right wing sites this morning to see how they’d react to the news from Afghanistan, and the comments at every single one of them were full of people celebrating the killings, praising the soldier who allegedly committed them, and denying there was any crime, while at the same time frantically trying to blame the crime on President Obama.

Seriously, click through and read what they're saying. These are the people who might be in charge after the election.

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March 8, 2012

These People Are Just Nuts

The latest right-wing frenzy is over a film of Barack Obama as a student giving a speech in favor of racial diversity in universities, and then hugging Derrick Bell, who was the first black law professor at Harvard. At the time Obama has been elected President of Harvard Law Review - the first black person in that position.

That's it. They are saying that advocating racial diversity is "Marxist" and that being the first black law professor proves the guy is a "radical." They say that letting a black guy be a law professor is "demonizing whites." They say that Obama advocating racial diversity reveals "another corner of the president’s murky past," and proves that "Obama is not so secretly a radical."

That's it. He was the first black law professor at Harvard, therefore he is a "Marxist" and a "radical." Because Harvard is such a "radical" institution, I guess. Even though it didn't hire any black law professors before the 90s.

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February 15, 2012

China Is Very "Business-Friendly"

China is very, very "business-friendly." Corporate conservatives lecture us that we should be more "business-friendly," in order to "compete" with China. They say we need to cut wages and benefits, work longer hours, get rid of overtime and sick pay -- even lunch breaks. They say we should shed unions, get rid of environmental and safety regulations, gut government services, and especially, especially, especially we should cut taxes. But America can never be "business-friendly" enough to compete with China, and here is why.

Workers In Dormatories, 12 To A Room, Rousted At Midnight

China is very, very "business friendly." Recent stories about Apple's manufacturing contractors have started to reveal just how "business-friendly" China is. Recently the NY Times' Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher exposed the conditions of workers at Apple's Chinese suppliers, in How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work. They describe how China's massive government subsidies and exploitation of workers mean, as Steve Jobs told President Obama, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. ... New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Right. No American plant can roust workers out of nearby dorms at midnight to force them onto a 12-hour shift. And the corporate conservatives criticize America for this, not China, saying we are not "business-friendly" enough to compete. This is because we are a place where We, the People still have at least some say in how things are done. (Don't we?) Later in the story,

The first truckloads of cut glass arrived at Foxconn City in the dead of night, according to the former Apple executive. That’s when managers woke thousands of workers, who crawled into their uniforms — white and black shirts for men, red for women — and quickly lined up to assemble, by hand, the phones.

“Business-friendly” = living 12 to a room in dorms, rousted out of bed at midnight for 12-hour shifts, working in a plant paid for by the government, using a neurotoxin cleaner that harms people but enables more production for companies like Apple.

Forced Labor Is The Real "Business-Friendly"

Arun Gupta at AlterNet, in iEmpire: Apple's Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think, writes,

Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say that legions of vocational and university students, some as young as 16, are forced to take months'-long “internships” in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture than the Times does of how Foxconn, “the Chinese hell factory,” treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.

... Foxconn and Apple depend on tax breaks, repression of labor, subsidies and Chinese government aid, including housing, infrastructure, transportation and recruitment, to fatten their corporate treasuries. As the students function as seasonal employees to meet increased demand for new product rollouts, Apple is directly dependent on forced labor.

... The use of hundreds of thousands of students is one way in which China’s state regulates labor in the interests of Foxconn and Apple. Other measures include banning independent unions and enforcing a household registration system that denies migrants social services and many political rights once they leave their home region, ensuring they can be easily exploited. In Shenzhen about 85 percent of the 14 million residents are migrants. Migrants work on average 286 hours a month and earn less than 60 percent of what urban workers make. Half of migrants are owed back wages and only one in 10 has health insurance. They are socially marginalized, live in extremely crowded and unsanitary conditions, perform the most dangerous and deadly jobs, and are more vulnerable to crime.

Please read the entire AlterNet piece, iEmpire: Apple's Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think. These things are not “costs” that we can compete with by lowering our wages, these things are something else.

Not JUST Low Taxes -- Massive Government Subsidies

These stories also describe how the Chinese government massively subsidizes these operations, assists their low-wage labor-recruitment schemes, and looks the other way at violations of labor and trade policies. The Chinese government is very "business-friendly." They hand money to businesses so they are much more able to "compete." They are so friendly to business that they even own many businesses.

Trade Secret Theft

Another area where China has very "business-friendly" policies is when their own businesses steal from non-Chinese businesses. This NY Times story, U.S. to Share Cautionary Tale of Trade Secret Theft With Chinese Official details just one case of the "unbelievably endemic" problem of Chinese theft of "intellectual property" -- the trade secrets that keep businesses competitive. In this case China's Sinovel sole the software that ran an American company's products, and immediately cancelled their orders for those products because they could now make them in China:

Last March, China’s Sinovel, the world’s second largest wind turbine manufacturer, abruptly refused shipments of American Superconductor’s wind turbine electrical systems and control software. The blow was devastating; Sinovel provided more than 70 percent of the firm’s revenues.

... Last summer, evidence emerged that Sinovel had promised $1.5 million to Dejan Karabasevic, a Serbian employee of American Superconductor in Austria.

If you steal the ideas, processes, techniques, expertise, plans, designs, software and the other things that give companies a competitive edge, then you don't have to pay them and you can just make the things yourself. When you get in bed with a very "business-friendly" country, you might find that they are more friendly to their own businesses. Because they consider themselves to be a country with a national strategy, not a self-balancing, self-regulating "market."

Trade Deficit Drains Our Economy

As a result of our ideological blindness, refusing to understand China's game, we have a massive trade deficit with them. This means hundreds of billions of dollars are drained from our economy, year after year. And to make up for this we borrow from them in order to keep buying from them. But this does not cause their currency to strengthen in the "markets" because China loves this game the way it is going, and intervenes against the markets to keep their currency low. And so it continues, year after year. We believe in "markets" they believe in rigging markets so they come out ahead...

Markets Can't "Compete" With This

Corporate conservatives tell us we need to be more "business-friendly" to "compete" with China. But at the same time Steve Jobs was being a realist when he said "the jobs are never coming back" because he understood that the current political climate, controlled by a wealthy few who benefit from China's "business-friendly" policies will not let us fight this. Why should these companies bring jobs back here, when over there they can roust thousands from dorms at midnight and make them use toxic chemicals for 12 hours a day for very low pay to make iPhone screens that he can sell at fantastically high prices? Why should they, unless We, the People tell them they can't do that to people, and that we won't let them profit from it?

As long as we continue to think that this is about "markets" competing, we will lose. China sees itself as a nation, and they have a national strategy to continue to be so "business-friendly" that our businesses can't compete. Our leaders and corporations may have "moved on" past this quaint nation thing but China has not.

We, The People Need To Act To Fix This

As long as we continue to send our companies out there alone against national economic strategies that engage entire national systems utilizing the resources of nations, our companies will lose. But the executives at those companies are currently getting very rich now from these schemes, so what happens in the future is not their problem. Maybe the companies they manage won't be around later, but that is not their problem. Others are concerned, but are forced to play the game because no one can compete with national systems like China's.

When everyone is in a position where something isn't their problem, or where they can't do anything about it on their own, it means this is a larger problem, and this is where government -- We, the People -- needs to get involved. It is our problem but we have been convinced that we -- government -- shouldn't interfere, or "protect" our industries, because "the markets" don't like "government" -- We, the People -- butting in. This is a very convenient viewpoint for few who are geting very, very wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

We Need A Plan

In U.S. must end China's rulers' free pass at Politico, AAM's Scott Paul writes, Read it, read it, read it!)

We shouldn’t fear China’s citizens. But we should be worried about the actions of its authoritarian — and, yes, still communist — regime that tightly controls the People’s Republic. And we should be downright terrified by some of our own leaders’ attitudes toward China.

... China is not merely the key U.S. supplier of cheap toys, clothing and electronics: Its government is also one of our foreign financiers. China achieved this status by defying the free market and its international obligations toward more open trade and investment.

[. . .] History didn’t do in the Soviet Union. A sustained and aggressive strategy did. China engaged our business and political elites — and seduced them into believing these policies were no longer necessary.

... There has been no strategy, no effort to prevail economically.

... No one is suggesting that China is an enemy and we should just update our Cold War strategies. No one can accurately define what China’s intentions are in terms of foreign policy or defense. But on the economic front, the lessons of the past are instructive: We need a plan.

We need a plan. We need to understand that China is not competing with us in "markets' they are competing with us as a nation. We need a national economic/industrial strategy that understands the urgent need to fight as a country to win the industries of the future.

It’s not just price, it is things a democracy cannot allow. We can’t ever be “business-friendly” ENOUGH. We have to do something else. We have to understand that We, the People -- the 99% -- are in a real fight here to keep our democracy, or we will lose what is left of it.

Democracy Is The Best Economics

When people have a say they demand good wages, benefits, reasonable working conditions, a clean environment, workplace safety and dignity on the job. We need more of that, not less of that. We must demand that goods made in places where people who do not have a say do not have a competitive advantage over goods made in places where people do have a say. And we must demand that those places give their people a say.

As long as we let democracy be a competitive disadvantage, We, the People will lose.

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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February 10, 2012

Gotta Watch This, A Republican Talks About Gay Marriage

Here is a hero. Watch WA State Rep. Maureen Walsh:

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January 27, 2012

Democracy V. Plutocracy, Unions V. Servitude

Servitude: "a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one's course of action or way of life"

Democracy: "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections"

Plutocracy: government by the wealthy

Labor union: an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions

You may have seen the recent flurry of stories about how hi-tech products are made in China. The stories focus on Apple, but it isn't just Apple. These stories of exploited Chinese workers are also the story of how and why we -- 99% of us, anyway -- are all feeling such a squeeze here, because we are suffering the disappearance of our middle class. Our choice is democracy or servitude.

Working In China

A collection of excerpts from the Charles Duhigg and David Barboza story, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad and the Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher story, How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work both from the NY Times:

Rousted from dorms at midnight, told to work:

Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.”

Banners on the walls warned the 120,000 employees: “Work hard on the job today or work hard to find a job tomorrow.”

(How close is that to the very definition of servitude?)

Long shifts, legs swollen from standing:

Shifts ran 24 hours a day, and the factory was always bright. At any moment, there were thousands of workers standing on assembly lines or sitting in backless chairs, crouching next to large machinery, or jogging between loading bays. Some workers’ legs swelled so much they waddled. “It’s hard to stand all day,” said Zhao Sheng, a plant worker.

Write confessions if late:

Mr. Lai was soon spending 12 hours a day, six days a week inside the factory, according to his paychecks. Employees who arrived late were sometimes required to write confession letters and copy quotations. There were “continuous shifts,” when workers were told to work two stretches in a row, according to interviews.

Injuries from speed-up toxics:

Investigations by news organizations revealed that over a hundred employees had been injured by n-hexane, a toxic chemical that can cause nerve damage and paralysis.

Employees said they had been ordered to use n-hexane to clean iPhone screens because it evaporated almost three times as fast as rubbing alcohol. Faster evaporation meant workers could clean more screens each minute.

American companies forcing Asian suppliers to squeeze workers:

“You can set all the rules you want, but they’re meaningless if you don’t give suppliers enough profit to treat workers well,” said one former Apple executive with firsthand knowledge of the supplier responsibility group. “If you squeeze margins, you’re forcing them to cut safety.”

The Results For The 1%

A series of recent newspaper headlines tells the story of how China's working conditions benefit the 1% here.

NYT: Apple's Profit Soars‎

CBS Moneywatch: Apple shares close at record high

SF Chronicle: Apple CEO's Stock Awards Lift Compensation to $378 Million

ZDNet: Apple: made in China, untaxed profits kept offshore. We don't even get to tax the profits from moving our jobs to China, to use for schools, roads, police, etc.

The Results For The 99%

Headlines like these show how things are going better and better for the 1%. But what happened to our middle-class prosperity? We allowed companies to move jobs and factories across the borders of democracy to places where workers are exploited, calling that "trade." This enabled the breaking of unions and the weakening of our democracy.

The threat is in the air: "Shut up and take the wage cuts or we will move your job to China." How is that threat used on us? Here is an example: We have heard the stories of Mitt Romney's company Bain Capital, and how it "earned" its millions. According to the Christian Science Monitor, this is the story of what happened when a Bain-owned company "came to town":

The new owner, American Pad & Paper, owned in turn by Bain Capital, told all 258 union workers they were fired, in a cost-cutting move. Security guards hustled them out of the building. They would be able to reapply for their jobs, at lesser wages and benefits, but not all would be rehired.

Workers in countries like China where people have no say have low wages, terrible working conditions, long hours, and are told to shut up and take it or they won[t have any job at all. They are given no choice.

Increasingly workers here have their wages, hours, benefits, dignity cut and are told to shut up and take it or their jobs will be moved to China. Because we are pitted against exploited workers in countries where people have no say, we have no choice.

The unions are weakened, the government doesn't enforce or weakly enforces labor laws and regulations, age, gender or race discrimination laws, worker safety laws, so workers are placed in a terrible squeeze. Workers who try to organize unions are isolated, moved, smeared, fired, humiliated, whatever it takes.

This quote by Steve Jobs is from How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work,

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Why can’t that work come home? Mr. Obama asked.

Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

Democracy Brought Us Prosperity

We used to be a democracy, where everyone used to have a say in things. Because we had a say we built up a country with good schools, good infrastructure, good courts, and we made rules that said workers had to be safe, get a minimum wage, overtime, weekends… we protected the environment, we set up Social Security. We took care of each other. This made us prosperous. A share of the prosperity for the 99% was the fruit of democracy.

China, on the other hand, is not a democracy, and workers in China don't really have a say. So they don't make much money, they don't have good working conditions, the environment isn't protected, etc.

We Used To Protect Democracy

We used to protect our democracy. We used to put a tariff on goods coming in if they were made by people who didn’t have the ability to speak up and better their condition. We’d let the goods in but we would use a tariff to strengthen our country, our infrastructure, our schools – our democracy. This brought us prosperity.

For some reason, we started letting our companies move our factories over there, forcing our workers to compete with workers who have no say. We got tricked, by people who call that "trade," and said it would be good for us. (Like cutting taxes for the wealthy "job creators" is good for us.)

We opened the borders and let the big companies move the jobs, factories and industries over the border of our democracy, to places where workers don't have a say, so they are exploited. And the result was the big corporations were able to come back and cut our pay, and get rid of our pensions, and tell us, "take it, shut up, or we will move your job, too." We made the wages and working and conditions and environmental protections prosperity that democracy brings into a cost. We turned ourselves into a cost. We made democracy a competitive disadvantage.

Plutocrats Say Shed Benefits Of Democracy

Plutocrats say we need to shed the benefits of democracy and become more like China if we want to compete. They say get rid of regulations, employee protections, environmental protections, good wages, benefits like pensions and time off, etc... They say that We, the People (government) "get in the way of doing business." They say the taxes that pay for good infrastructure and schools and police and courts and services like Social Security and care for the disabled and health care for children "take money out of the economy" but they mean these take some of the money that they have been taking from the economy.

Democracy Is The Best Economics

Look at the primary target of the corporate/conservatives: unions. That should tell you something. This is a power confrontation. This is the power of the 1% overcoming the power of the 99%.

Democracy is the power of the 99% to make the decisions, and to build structures that protect us from exploitation by the wealthy and powerful. This confrontation is the story of the origin of our country -- how We, the People confronted the power and corruption of the British aristocracy, overcame that power, and built a country of, by and for the people.

Democracy and the taxes it enabled us to ask from the wealthiest is what enabled us to build the infrastructure and schools and everything that enabled our prosperity. The regulations of democracy are what enable our smaller businesses to compete with the giants. The shared prosperity -- redistribution of wealth -- is what enabled the middle class to grow, and turned us into the most prosperous country and largest market in the world.


Unions are about building up the power of groups of people, to confront and overcome the advantages of wealth and the power wealth brings to a few. When a union is strong enough to be able to confront the power of big corporations the result is that the 99% get a share of the pie. When unions are strong we all get better wages and better working conditions and a say in how we are treated, whether we are in unions or not. The benefits flow to the rest of the economy.

It would be nice if our system worked well enough that we didn't need to organize unions on top of the structure of laws and regulations, but it is just the fact of life that the wealthy and powerful and their corporations have throughout our history been able to exert tremendous influence over legislative bodies, again and again. So to fight that working people organize and build these organized unions of people, and leverage that power of the group to demand wages and benefits and weekends and a share of the prosperity. The story of the power confrontation between unions of working people (99%) and the large corporations (1%) is the story of how we built a middle class that brought us the prosperity we enjoyed.

It is not just a coincidence that the weakening of the unions coincides with the decline of the middle class. It is not just a coincidence that the current rise of the plutocrats brings in a swarm of anti-union legislation. It is not just a coincidence that the times when our democracy is strongest we all do so much better. And now, when our demcoracy has been weakened by the money and power of the 1% and their corporations, the rest of us are so much worse off.

Not US v. China

This is not about US workers and markets vs China. Working people in all countries are at risk when their countries trade with countries where workers are exploited. China's huge trade imbalance is threatening the world's economy. The loss of manufacturing to countries that exploit workers is threatening workers in many countries.

The US market is still large, and the US can still demand that imported goods be made according to better standards for workers. The rest of the world can also demand that China's workers be brought up to international standards. And we can certainly hold companies like Apple accountable, and demand that they only buy from suppliers that treat and pay workers according to international standards, because allowing companies to cheat, exploit workers and commit fraud drives the good companies out of business.

This is not about taking jobs back from Chinese workers! This is about demanding they be paid fairly and given a say in their workplaces! This is about not exploiting people there or here!

Trade can be an upward spiral, rather than a lever for exploitation of the 99% by the 1%. If Chinese workers are given a say and paid fairly then they can buy things we make and we can keep buying things they make.

Unions = Democracy = Middle Class = Shared Prosperity

Jon Stewart explains:

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

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January 16, 2012

Don't You Let Nobody Turn You Around

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January 14, 2012


Read how working people in Europe are treated. No wonder Republicans dread "European-style" government! Human rights, dignity, decent working conditions, health care... Daily Kos: Musings of a housekeeper in Belgium

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December 24, 2011

Homo for the Holidays - "Born this Way"

Just wow:

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January 15, 2011

Why No Right To A Job?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Note: See also Isaiah Poole's We Need An Unemployed People's Campaign

Why don't we all have a right to a job? Who is our country and our economy for? The first three words of our Constitution provide us with a hint: "We, the People."

There are millions of people out of work and millions of jobs that need doing. The jobs that need doing pay for themselves because they make our economy more competitive, like modernizing our infrastructure and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Millions Of People Out Of Work

Here is The Chart (from Calculated Risk.)


The following two charts are from this analysis. They are unemployed over 26 weeks and part time for economic reasons (underemployed)

UnemployedOver26WeeksDec2010 PartTimeDec2010

Millions Of Jobs That Need Doing

Since the Reagan-era tax cuts caused us to defer maintaining out infrastructure we have fallen behind much of the world in economic competitiveness. Modernizing ports, roads, rail, airports, Internet, wireless, water, sewer, schools... Retrofitting buildings and homes to be energy efficient would save us from buying so much oil from the Middle East. So would building wind, solar, electric car charging stations, efficient power grids, etc.

Meanwhile our economic competitors, countries like China and Germany and India, have been investing in their people and building modern infrastructure like crazy. Other countries are investing, educating, improving public services because they know these things make the economy explode later, paying dividends for decades.

The Right To A Job

Robert Borosage wrote this week about the 67th anniversary of FDR's Second Bill of Rights,

How does America dig out of the hole we are in? Surely the focus must be on first principles: how do we recreate an economy that works for working people? With the right talking about a return to the principles of the Constitution, it is worth remembering how Americans thought about first principles coming out of the last great economic calamity.

Among the rights FDR proposed: "The right to a useful and remunerative job..."

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"If a man doesn't have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists."

"If a man doesn't have a job or an income he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness, he merely exists." "All labor has dignity." "It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages." "... bridge the gulf between the haves and the have nots .. we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty."

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:36 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 18, 2010

Republicans Filibustered DREAM Act!

Republicans successfully filibustered the DREAM Act.

DREAM Act Fails in Senate, 55 to 41

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 17, 2010


Looks like the vote is tomorrow. This is really important to a lot of PEOPLE.

I received this:

Right now it looks like: * Murkowski is leaning yes * Lugar (IN), Bennet (UT) will vote yes * Tester, Baucus, Nelson (NE) are likely no's on the D side. Tester in particular has enjoyed netroots support and should feel some pain for this.

People monitoring closely think we're within 4 votes on this.

There's a number that will randomly assign you to someone we're trying to persuade if you call: 866-587-6101.

Click through for local numbers:


Lisa Murkowski (R)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-6665 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Anchorage: ph: 877-829-6030 adr: 510 L Street, Anchorage, AK 99501
Fairbanks: ph: 907-456-0233 adr: 101 12th Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Juneau: ph: 907-586-7400 adr: 709 West 9th Street, Juneau, AK 99802
Kenai: ph: 907-283-5808 adr: 130 Trading Bay Road, Kenai, AK 99611
Ketchikan: ph: 907-283-5208 adr: 540 Water Street, Ketchikan, AK 99901
Wasilla: ph: 907-376-7665 adr: 851 East Westpoint Drive, Wasilla, AK 99654

Pryor (D)

George LeMieux (R)
Washington, DC ph: 202-224-3041 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 205100001
Coral Gables, FL ph: 305-418-8553 adr: 8669 NW 36th St., Coral Gables, FL 33166
Jacksonville, FL ph: 904-398-8586 adr: 1650 Prudential Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32207
Pensacola, FL ph: 850-433-2603 adr: 1 N. Palafox St., Pensacola, FL 32502
Tampa, FL ph: 813-977-6450 adr: 3802 Spectrum Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612

Kirk (R)

Mary Landrieu (D)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-5824 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Baton Rouge: ph: 225-389-0395 adr: U.S. Postal Building, Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Lake Charles: ph: 337-436-6650 adr: One Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70629
New Orleans: ph: 504-589-2427 adr: Hale Boggs Federal Bldg, New Orleans, LA 70130
Shreveport: ph: 318-676-3085 adr: U.S. Courthouse, Shreveport, LA 71101

Susan Collins (R)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-2523 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Augusta: ph: 207-622-8414 adr: 68 Seawall Street, Augusta, ME 04330
Bangor: ph: 207-945-0417 adr: 202 Harlow Street - Room 204, Bangor, ME 04401
Biddeford: ph: 207-283-1101 adr: 160 Main Street, Biddeford, ME 04005
Caribou: ph: 207-493-7873 adr: 25 Sweden Street - Suite A, Caribou, ME 04736
Lewiston: ph: 207-784-6969 adr: 11 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, ME 04240
Portland: ph: 207-780-3575 adr: 1 City Center, Portland, ME 04101

Olympia Snowe (R)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-5344 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Auburn: ph: 207-786-2451 adr: Two Great Falls Plaza, Auburn, ME 04210
Augusta: ph: 207-622-8292 adr: 68 Sewall Street - Suite 101C, Augusta, ME 04330
Bangor: ph: 207-945-0432 adr: 1 Cumberland Place, Bangor, ME 04401
Biddeford: ph: 207-282-4144 adr: 231 Main Street, Suite 2, Biddeford, ME 04005
Lewiston: ph: 207-784-6969 adr: 11 Lisbon Street, Lewiston, ME 04240
Portland: ph: 207-874-0883 adr: 3 Canal Plaza - Suite 601, Portland, ME 04112
Presque Isle: ph: 207-764-5124 adr: 169 Academy Street, Presque Isle, ME 04769

Claire McCaskill (D)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-6154 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Cape Girardeau: ph: 573-651-0964 adr: 555 Independence Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
Columbia: ph: 573-442-7130 adr: 915 East Ash Street, Columbia, MO 65201
Kansas City: ph: 816-421-1639 adr: 4141 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO 64111
Springfield: ph: 417-868-8745 adr: 324 Park Central West, Springfield, MO 65806
St. Louis: ph: 314-367-1364 adr: 5850 A Delmar Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63112

Max Baucus (D)
Washington, DC ph: 202-224-2651 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Billings: ph: 406-657-6790 adr: 202 Fratt Building, Billings, MT 59101
Bozeman: ph: 406-586-6104 adr: Federal Building, Bozeman, MT 59715
Butte: ph: 406-782-8700 adr: Silver Bow Center, Butte, MT 59701
Great Falls: ph: 406-761-1574 adr: 18 5th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59401
Helena: ph: 406-449-5480 adr: 225 Cruse Avenue - Suite D, Helena, MT 59601
Missoula: ph: 406-329-3123 adr: 211 North Higgins - Room 102, Missoula, MT 59802

Jon Tester (D)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-2644 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 205100001
Billings: ph: 406-252-0550 adr: 222 North 32nd Street, Billings, MT 59101
Helena: ph: 406-449-5401 adr: 208 North Montana Avenue, Helena, MT 59601
Missoula, MT ph: 406-728-3003 adr: 116 West Front Street, Missoula, MT 59802
Butte, MT ph: 406-723-3277 adr: 125 West Granite, Butte, MT 59701
Great Falls, MT ph: 406-452-9585 adr: 321 First Avenue North, Great Falls, MT 59401
Kalispell, MT ph: 406-257-3360 adr: 1845 Highway 93 South, Kalispell, MT 59901

Kay Hagan (D)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-6342 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Greensboro: ph: 336-333-5311 adr: 701 Green Valley Rd, Greensboro, NC 27408
Raleigh: ph: 919-856-4630 adr: 310 New Bern Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601

Kent Conrad (D)
Washington, DC: ph: 202-224-2043 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510
Bismarck: ph: 701-258-4648 adr: Federal Building, Bismarck, ND 58501
Fargo: ph: 701-232-8030 adr: Federal Building, Fargo, ND 58102
Grand Forks: ph: 701-775-9601 adr: Federal Building, Grand Forks, ND 58203
Minot: ph: 701-852-0703 adr: 100 First Street SW, Suite 105, Minot, ND 58701

Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Washington, DC ph: 202-224-5922 adr: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 205100001
Harlingen, TX ph: 956-412-1468 adr: 222 East Van Buren Street, Harlingen, TX 78550
Dallas, TX ph: 214-361-3500 adr: 10440 North Central Expressway - Suite 1160, LB 606, Dallas, TX 75231
Houston, TX ph: 713-653-3456 adr: 1919 Smith Street - Suite 800, Houston, TX 77002
Austin, TX ph: 512-916-5834 adr: Federal Building, Austin, TX 78701
San Antonio, TX ph: 210-340-2885 adr: 145 Duncan Drive, San Antonio, TX 78226
Abilene, TX ph: 325-676-2839 adr: 500 Chestnut Street - Suite 1570, Abilene, TX 79602

Joe Manchin (D)
Washington, DC
ph: 202-224-3954 adr: 311 Hart Office Bldg., Washington, DC 20510

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:24 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

September 3, 2010

Labor Day: Labor Got It Right -- Who Could Have Known?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

"Who could have known?" That's the cry from the big-corporate and DC elite as the economy and the environment and so many imporant things crash around us. (Around us, not them, they're doing just fine and taking good care of each other.)

Who could have known that 25%-per-year house price increases was a bubble?
Who could have known that a housing bubble could burst?
Who could have known that deregulating the financial industry could lead to a financial meltdown?
Who could have known that concentration of wealth could cause consumer demand to dry up?
Who could have known that huge tax cuts for the rich combined with huge military spending increases could cause massive budget deficits?
Who could have known that the Social Security trust fund needed a "lockbox" so it wouldn't be given away as tax cuts?
Who could have known a deregulated deep-water well could cause a massive, destructive, uncontrolled underwater gusher?
Who could have known that continuing to put carbon into the air would cause problems for the climate?
Who could have known that moving our factories out of the country would lead to high unemployment and structural trade deficits?
Who could have known that invading Iraq was wrong and a deadly, disastrous, costly, long-term mistake?
Who could have known that a too-small stimulus that focused on tax cuts wouldn't turn the economy completely around and then conservatives would claim that the stimulus "killed the recovery?"

(List continues into infinity...)

Add organized labor to the list of those who got it right, time after time.

Organized labor was right about the 40-hour workweek.
They were right about the middle class.
They were right about the weekend.
They were right about paid vacations.
They were right about paid holidays.
They were right about paid sick leave.
They were right about providing good, secure retirement plans for everyone.
They were right about providing unemployment benefits to tide people over.
They were right about providing maternity leave, child care and family leave for families.
They were right that trade agreements like NAFTA and letting China into the WTO would lead to massive trade deficits and job losses.
They were right about workplace and consumer safety.
They were right about keeping manufacturing in America.
They were right about fighting discrimination in the workplace.
They were right about raising the minimum wage and the effect that low-wage policies would have on the economy.
They were right about the effect of excessive CEO pay on the economy.
They were right about the devastating effect of the Bush tax cuts.
They were right about the need to maintain and modernize our country's infrastructure.
They were right about going green.
They were right ab out the dangers of Wall Street's financialization of the economy.
They were right about providing good health care to everyone.
They were right about strengthening, not cutting Social Security.
They were right about democratizing corporate governance.
They were right about fighting privatization.
They were right about fighting deregulation.
They were right about providing good education opportunities to everyone.
They were and are right that we need a national jobs agenda
Labor was right about people joining together instead of being on our own.

(List continues into infinity...) They were right and they continue to be right.

And unions have been fighting for these things for all of us, not just for their members.

Please add to these lists in the comments! What other things could nobody have known, and what other things did labor get right?

Enjoy Labor Day. In fact, for those of you that still have jobs after the decades of conservative policies, enjoy having weekends off, the 40-hour week, paid vacations, sick pay, health care, etc. And if you have a job but don't have those things ... JOIN A UNION!

P.S. Here's an example of being right:

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 1, 2010

Immigration Rallies Larger Than Any Tea Party Event Ever

There were large immigration rallies in cities across the country today. 50-100,000 people marched in LA.

Do you think now there will be wall-to-wall coverage in the news for months now, like there has been for the Tea Party events?

Here's the question: WHY not?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:20 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Your must-Read of the Day

Please go read Read This Before You Debate Immigration Reform

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 27, 2010

The Race Card

This post originally appeared at Open Left.

There is a big story out there, but not so big in the progressive blogosphere. For days now the Drudge Report has had a headline up, "OBAMA PLAYS RACE CARD". Initially the big headline (but no siren), it is still there as a smaller headline. The headline links to Politico: Obama seeks to 'reconnect...young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women' for 2010

Of course, the Politico story makes no "race card" claim.

Turning out those so-called "surge" voters -- who turned out for the first time to back Obama, but who sat out gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia last year -- has become the Democrats' central pre-occupation for the midterm elections, and the new Democratic effort to nationalize the election around Obama and his agenda mark an attempt to energize those voters.

Currently there are over 3000 comments to the Politico story, like:

"Pathetic...the very people who are his "base" are the ones who are the problem, the non-producers, the takers. These are the people who pay no taxes. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic."
Ahhh, the opening shot to garner the Hispanic vote as they work their amnesty legislative blitzkrieg through Congress, continuing their Socialistic attack on the Republic.
The racist president at it again. This white hating man should be thrown from power now, he does not reprent the American people, he represents hatred.

And 3000 more like those. Of course it's all over talk radio. Rush Limbaugh chimed in at length. And, of course, Fox News. Of course the RW blogs (scroll down to a list of other blogs just linking to this one post). Wash. Times.

So ... was President Obama "playing the race card" by appealing to those who were first-time voters in 2008? Are women even a "race?" Are right-wingers idiots?

Media Matters has more.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 11, 2010

Inciting Hatred

Professional victimology. Inciting hatred. Racism. General nastiness.

This is as bad as anything you will find on any white supremacist site, but it's at Townhall: aka Republican Central.

What’s a Muslim Gotta Do to Go to Jail in Obamaland? -

Rather than repeat any of it, go read it for yourself.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 3, 2010


Given a national platform by Fox News, retired Air Force Lt. General Tom McInerney says it is really time to crack down on the kind of people who commit terrorist acts,

“We have to use profiling. And I mean be very serious and harsh about the profiling.”

I can't imagine how they are going to be able to handle intensely searching anyone who looks like or has a similar background to Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Scott Roeder, ...

... oh, wait, he doesn't mean those terrorists. They don't count, for some reason.

He means only racial and religious profiling. Even though most terrorism here has come from white right-wingers. He continues, on his Fox News national platform,

“If you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched,” he said. If we don’t do that, we’re going to lose an airliner, he explained.

So it isn't about keeping us safe from people who are known to have committed terrorism at all, it's all about going after people because of their race and religion. And Fox News gives this bigotry a national platform. Shame.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

June 14, 2009

Wear Green Tomorrow In Support Of Freedom In Iran

The word going around is to wear green on Monday to show support for Iranians who have had the election stolen from them #weargreen

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:28 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

June 1, 2009

DC Vigil For Dr. Tiller

am in DC for the America's Future Now! conference. Last night there was a spontaneous vigil in Dupont Circle for Dr. Tiller, killed by a right-wing terrorist. About 100 people showed up on very short notice from a Facebook, Twitter and emailed announcement a few hours earlier. Here is a picture, (taken in the dark with a cell phone):


Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 22, 2009

Europe vs U.S.

Want to know how pensions, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, disability, unemployment pay, worker health care, etc. in European countries compare to ours? See Social Security Programs Throughout the World: Europe, 2008

Who is their economy FOR, anyway?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

It's Torture

A conservative radio host claims that waterboarding is not torture, and says he'll prove it by being waterboarded himself. Guess how long he lasted.

Conservative radio hosts gets waterboarded, and lasts six seconds before saying its torture,

The upshot? "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow told listeners. " ... I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

Yes, and that is why we - the United States - tried and executed people in the past for waterboarding people. So when is Bush and Cheney's trial?

Update - Video here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:43 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

May 1, 2009

Violent Authoritarianism

The Republican Party has released a video supporting torture "techniques" and "methods" and saying that President Obama has made us "less safe" by banning the torture of prisoners.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

March 31, 2009

Thanks, Ralph

Remember when Ralph Nader was running around the country saying there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats? That got him 90,000 votes in Florida in 2000, handing the election to Bush

PageOneQ | Report: Gays sentenced to death in Iraq, executions to begin next week

Thanks, Ralph.

Oh, yeah, and for this, too.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos

February 27, 2009

Uh Oh

Some bad news might be coming up about things the Bush people have done. This is about the Leahy Truth commission, so it probably involves torture. Watch this whole thing:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

January 9, 2009

Error Found in Prop 8 Wording

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

An error was found in Proposition 8 that may have broad implications for many Californians. It is hoped that the error is corrected before this weekend's full moon.

Read the story here: Typo In Proposition 8 Defines Marriage As Between 'One Man And One Wolfman',

Activists on both sides of the gay marriage debate were shocked this November, when a typographical error in California's Proposition 8 changed the state constitution to restrict marriage to a union between "one man and one wolfman," instantly nullifying every marriage except those comprised of an adult male and his lycanthrope partner. "The people of California made their voices heard today, and reaffirmed our age-old belief that the only union sanctioned in God's eyes is the union between a man and another man possessed by an ungodly lupine curse," state Sen. Tim McClintock said at a hastily organized rally celebrating passage of the new law.

This is from The Onion, but it makes about as much sense as what Proposition 8 really says. Prop 8 wasn't a typo, it was one group of people deciding how another group of people they don't even know should live.

Click through to Speak Out California.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 3, 2008

Prop 8, The Musical

A bit late, but...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Credits: Conceived and Written (six weeks later than he shoulda) by-Marc Shaiman Directed and Staged by: Adam Shankman Produced by Adam Shankman, Marc Shaiman and Mike Farah Edited by Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis Cast (in order of appearance) California Gays and The People That Love Them Jordan Ballard, Margaret Cho, Barrett Foa, J.B. Ghuman, John Hill, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Rashad Naylor, Nicole Parker Proposition 8'ers and The People That Follow Them Prop 8 Leader- John C. Reilly Prop 8 Leader's #1 Wife- Allison Janney Prop 8 Leader's #2 Wife- Kathy Najimy Riffing Prop 8'er-Jenifer Lewis A Preacher- Craig Robinson Scary Catholic School Girls From Hell-Rashida Jones, Lake Bell, Sarah Chalke The Frightened Villagers Katharine "Kooks" Leonard, Seth Morris, Denise "Esi!" Piane, Lucian Piane, Richard Read, Seth Redford, Quinton Strack, Tate Taylor Jesus Christ Jack Black A Very Smart Fellow Neil Patrick Harris Piano Player Marc "Marc" Shaiman ---- Co-Choreographer: Anne "Mama" Fletcher Recorded and Mixed by Frank Wolfe & Greg Hayes Director of Photography: Michael Barrett Camera Operators: Jake Szymanski, Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis Production designer: Nelson Coates Costume designer: Shanna Knecht Costume assistants: Leslie Schilling, Annalisa Adams, Elizabeth Abate Hair: Laura Sanchez Make-up: Shauna O'Toole, Atticuss Sharp Production sound: Bradford Craig Music editor: Lisa Jaime Music assistant: Brian Naguit Snacky: "Snacky" Special Thanks to Adam McKay for the nudge.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

December 2, 2008

Nasty People

A "Christian" news site called Christian Examiner has an article, Proposition 8: Separating the fiction from fact. Note this objection:

FACT 4: Also in October, a Hayward, Calif. school hosted a “Coming Out Day” in conjunction with “Gay and Lesbian History Month.” In addition, a kindergarten teacher at the same school passed out pledge cards, created by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, to her young students asking that they sign the cards as part of their pledge to avoid using anti-gay slurs and to protect homosexual students. Parents were not notified of the activities.
They OBJECT to students being taught not to hate other people! The want parents to be notified that their children are being taught not to bully gay people!

These are some nasty, hateful people. Shame on them!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 22, 2008

Race Boating

Great name for what the Republicans are doing: Race Boating.

Go read Open Left:: Race Boating: Swift Boat Backer Funds Racist Mail.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 16, 2008


Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 7, 2008

Cultivating Prejudice, Racism, Fear and Ugliness

At their rallies McCain and Palin have been encouraging the worst from the Republican base. Accusations of "palling around with terrorists" and causing the financial crisis, and you-name-it they're accusing. Jack Turner says what needs to be said, at Jack & Jill Politics,

Everything we need to know about John McCain and Sarah Palin is summed up by their reaction to these incidents. Their positions on health care no longer matter. Their tax policies are irrelevant. Their talking points made moot. Not only do they bring out the worst in people, but they feed the worst in people. They are basing their campaign on painting Obama as a terrorist and monster. They are cultivating prejudice, racism, fear and ugliness.

America has been down this path before, and it is the exact opposite of what this country needs right now.

History awaits moments like these. We are on the brink. When a society’s pent up frustration and anger searches for an outlet, it is a leader’s job to step up and focus those wild emotions away from destruction and toward something productive. At least that is what a good leader would do. [emphasis added]

Go read the rest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 28, 2008

What Caused the Financial Crisis?

There are several letters-to-the-editor and TWO op-eds in my morning paper saying that the cause of the financial crisis was Democrats forcing Fannie and Freddie to give mortgages to minorities.

It's everywhere. All over the radio, right-wing blogs, etc. This is how they do it.

P.S. And while we are on the subject of how they do it, an e-mail I just received from the "Republican Majority Campaign" titled, "Truth is Spreading about Obama's Ties to Terrorist!"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:19 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

August 7, 2008


This headline actually made me a little sick to my stomach. And this is only August. Can Black Journalists Be Trusted to Cover Obama?

Will word "coon" be in common use in September?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2008


Is this headline, Obama’s moneywoman was a subprime mortgage queen, racist? Just asking. I'm thinking it evokes the older "welfare queen" image.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:32 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 17, 2008

Immigration Questions II

This post originally appeared at, Speak Out California.

The other day I brought up immigration, asking the practical question of how we would identify people who are here without documentation.

Suppose -- just suppose -- the people who advocate harsh treatment of non-citizens are successful in their efforts, and our government starts an effort to locate and deport them. How do we identify who is here without authorization? This is a practical question.

Americans are not required to "carry papers." We do not have checkpoints, and inside of the country we do not have to prove that we are traveling with proper authorization. We certainly do not have to prove that we are citizens. Many of us could never even locate the documentation necessary to prove citizenship if we were, in fact, required to prove it.

One answer that comes up frequently is to deal with the immigration question through employment. The reason people come here is to try to have a better life, which means employment. So this opens up a two-pronged approach. One, attack the undocumented resident problem through the employers, and the other is to help the countries south of us to improve their economies so people are not desperately trying to come here so they can feed their families. (And opening up markets of people who can afford to buy things we make here, by the way.) Meanwhile, employers here are taking advantage of desperate people for their own gain.

So to approach this problem though employment we ask employers here to check for documentation when hiring. This is a natural time to do this, because people already need to show they are who they say they are when applying for jobs. An employer who hires an undocumented worker is the one committing the crime.

But what happens to families and lives if we cause people working now to be fired? What happens to neighborhoods, businesses, already-eroding housing prices, local tax bases, and all the other things that can be affected if hundreds of thousands -- maybe even millions -- of people are suddenly without jobs and forced to move? Perhaps part of the answer to the problem is to freeze any new hiring of people who are not citizens or have resident status, so the problem at least stops getting worse and ever harder to solve. But it is not a good idea for human and economic reason to punish people who are already living and working here.

The current discussion of immigration is so focused on the word "illegal" and that word helps turn human beings into a faceless, criminal "them." But it really is human beings, with families and lives just like everyone else.

Please discuss.

Ckick through to Speak Out California to join our discussion there.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 11, 2008

Atria Lazard Wasserstein Friday Recap

So far this week, in the unfolding story of Atria Senior Living, Bermuda-based (HA!) buyout firm Lazard and the really, really rich guy at the top of the food chain Bruce Wasserstein:

Part four: Gouging Vulnerable Seniors -- What Can Be Done?:

The world recognizes that there is a problem with this kind of uninhibited greed. Many people and organizations recognize that such a system is not sustainable, harms the people who work for the companies, the communities around them, the customers and the economies in which they operate. Sure, a few executives make out like bandits for a while, but over time it doesn't do the rest of us any good, not even their companies.

[. . .] I am writing here to encourage PGGM and CDP (La Caisse de Depot et Placements du Quebec) to ask Lazard to clean up their act, and have Atria treat their elderly residents and their workers better. Ask them to support the International Labor Organization's core conventions, especially Freedom of Association: "The right of workers and employers to form and join organizations of their choice is an integral part of a free and open society. It is a basic civil liberty that serves as a building block for social and economic progress. Linked to this is the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. Voice and representation are an important part of decent work." They work for YOU, you have responsible investment policies, and what Lazard is doing goes against these policies.

Part three: Living and Working at Atria:
We are people, not economic units, and there is a difference. This may be a difficult concept to grasp after three or four decades of constant corporate-funded "free market" propaganda. But people make decisions for higher reasons than just making or saving a buck or two. Most people, anyway.

[. . .] But even though there are people who don't measure the value of their existence according to how well they feed the economic machine -- and their efficiency at generating profits for the wealthy -- this does not mean they do not deserve respect and fair compensation for their work. The caregivers at Atria, at every level, deserve to be treated with respect and compensated fairly for their work.

But they're not. Of course.

Part two: Extreme Wealth Just Isn't Enough:
Wasserstein and Lazard just have to have more and more. Elderly people who can't take care of themselves and low-wage workers are weak and vulnerable. Does this mean that we as a community of people join together and protect them? No, this makes them an easy target in today's America, so Wasserstein and Lazard have stepped in to harvest this vulnerability. They just have to have more. Already extremely wealthy, they just have to have more.

Part one: When Seniors Are the Product:
Here is what is going on: Atria has been reducing services, raising rates, cutting wages, and generally treating the residents and employees like money trees that exist to be squeezed...

[. . .] Who is Lazard’s customer, in this situation? According to the front page of Lazard's website Lazard "provides advice on mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and capital raising, as well as asset management services, to corporations, partnerships, institutions, governments and individuals." Lazard's customer is people and companies with a ton of money. They hand the money to Lazard and expect a good return.

The seniors under Atria's care are Lazard's product, not their customer! In today's America the vulnerable, elderly, sick and captive are a product to be exploited.

Yesterday there was an action at Lazard's headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York. (No that is not New York, Bermuda, even though Lazard is somehow allowed to call itself a "bermuda" company (HA!)) Martin at Boztopia writes about it and has pictures:
Yesterday members of SEIU’s Campaign To Improve Assisted Living teamed up with Atria workers and residents for a “rolling premiere” of Brave New Films’ video, “Gouging Grandma: Billionaire Bruce Wasserstein,” which documents how the CEO of investment house Lazard used an affiliated real-estate fund with Atria as its primary asset to walk away with billions in salary and bonuses, even as the workers toil away for $8-10 an hour, the residents endure increasing neglect, and the shareholders of the fund watch their investment reenact the Titanic’s maiden voyage.

The activist group stood outside Lazard’s headquarters at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, handing out free candy while wearing miniature flat-screen televisions displaying the “Gouging Grandma” video. (It’s more eye-catching than your typical sidewalk solicitation, that’s for certain.) From there the group went on to Lazard’s swanky residence at 927 Fifth Avenue, one of the most upscale apartment buildings in the city, to show passersby how Wasserstein makes money.

This has been an interesting week. I have learned a lot. I hope that you have as well. This series continues next week.

This post was sponsored in part by The Campaign To Improve Assisted Living.

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July 9, 2008

Gouging Vulnerable Seniors -- What Can Be Done?

This is part four of an unfolding series on the Atria Senior Living chain of senior living facilities, and how they treat their residents and workers. So far:
Part three: Living and Working at Atria
Part two: Extreme Wealth Just Isn't Enough
Part one: When Seniors Are the Product

I have been writing this week about the Atria Senior Living facilities, which are owned by a Lazard-"affiliated" fund. The elderly people who live in these corporate-owned and managed facilities are treated as a product, neatly packaged up and flowing to the investors. Services for them are costs that must be reduced and reduced, while the rates increase and increase. Employees are an irritating necessity, not human beings to be fairly compensated and treated with respect.

And, of course, at the top of the Lazard-corporate food chain are executives like Bruce Wasserstein, living large. Really large.

What can be done about this?

The world recognizes that there is a problem with this kind of uninhibited greed. Many people and organizations recognize that such a system is not sustainable, harms the people who work for the companies, the communities around them, the customers and the economies in which they operate. Sure, a few executives make out like bandits for a while, but over time it doesn't do the rest of us any good, not even their companies. (Lazard and the Lazard fund that owns Atria, for example, have not been performing all that well. Meanwhile Wasserstein personally took home $42 million last year - even as Lazard stock lost 14%.)

Many recognize the problem, but how do you do something about problems like this?

In response to the problem the United Nations invited a group of institutional investors to develop a set of "Principles for Responsible Investment." This led to the UN's Principles for Responsible Investment investor initiative which publishes these Principles and asks responsible institutional investors to sign a commitment to follow them. From the UN-PRI About page:

There is a growing view among investment professionals that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios. Investors fulfilling their fiduciary (or equivalent) duty therefore need to give appropriate consideration to these issues, but to date have lacked a framework for doing so. The Principles for Responsible Investment provide this framework.

The Principles are voluntary and aspirational. They are not prescriptive, but instead provide a menu of possible actions for incorporating ESG issues into mainstream investment decision-making and ownership practices.

Well, at least two of the institutional investment groups that have signed these Principles are investors in the Lazard fund controlling Atria. They are responsible investors who have signed these commitments, and they are in a position to act on that commitment now.

PGGM is a large pension fund in the Netherlands that serves that country's public social workers and health care workers.

La Caisse de Depot et Placements du Quebec ("CDP") -- a large public pension fund in Quebec.

These are prominent, large funds with good reputations on a global stage. They are responsible investors and take it seriously enough to be signatories to the UN-PRI. The Principles' FAQs say "The Principles suggest a policy of engagement with companies rather than screening or avoiding stocks based on ESG criteria (although this may be an appropriate approach for some investors)." I am writing here to encourage PGGM and CDP to ask Lazard to clean up their act, and have Atria treat their elderly residents and their workers better. Ask them to support the International Labor Organization's core conventions, especially Freedom of Association: "The right of workers and employers to form and join organizations of their choice is an integral part of a free and open society. It is a basic civil liberty that serves as a building block for social and economic progress. Linked to this is the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. Voice and representation are an important part of decent work." They work for YOU, you have responsible investment policies, and what Lazard is doing goes against these policies.

Now, how do we take on the larger problem of companies like Lazard and Atria? How do we take on the problem of companies squeezing and mistreating customers, exploiting and underpaying workers, and generally harming the communities around them? One way is to find out where you own money is -- your pensions funds if you are so lucky, and mutual funds you have if you are so lucky -- and encourage them to become signatories to the UN's Principles for Responsible Investment investor initiative. Another way is to support organized labor -- the only real voice and counterbalance we all have to fight against corporate power. Finally, just stay on top of this issue and be involved, because solutions are going to be proposed and discussed after the election.

I'll be writing more tomorrow, and maybe about some other investors involved with Atria and Lazard.

This post was sponsored in part by The Campaign To Improve Assisted Living.

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May 11, 2008

On "Race-Baiting"

People are saying that Hillary is "race-baiting" because she mentioned "blue-collar whites." Save the racist accusations for what's coming -- because it surely IS coming.

Hillary is engaging in the standard old-style politics of looking at the electorate as a bunch of groups -- dividing the electorate up into groups and going after key targets. There are "soccer moms" and there are "blue-collar whites" in that view. It is similar to the "big states" view that says don't campaign in small states. It assumes you have a majority, it cannibalizes the voters you have instead of persuading new voters, and Dean's (and Obama's) 50-state strategy is proving to be a much better strategy.

It is the old way, and it worked for a long time, and it stopped working and the 50-state strategy is what we need now. But is isn't racist and isn't intended to divide us. Is going after "soccer moms" or "NASCAR dads" as a demographic voting block a sexist tactic? Yes and no, but it isn't intended to divide. She is just saying that voting patterns show that she is bringing in more of certain groups -- and confirming her unfortunate entrenchment in the old-style "big state" view.

Let's talk about real racism. Look at what has already started from the right. We already have seen them using "boy" and "darkest Africa." As November approaches you will be hearing about "our women." There will be stuff about how Obama wants the While House so he can lure in white wives of important Senators, etc. There will be a lot of "us" vs "them." And much, much worse. Believe me, much, MUCH worse. THAT is when you want to talk about people using racism as a campaign tactic. And when that happens you really don't want the right saying "well that's what you said about Hillary, too."

I was for Edwards. I worked for Richardson for a while. Between today's two candidates I lean Obama a lot and sense that he could be a historical transforming leader. I really want a strongly progressive candidate with an instinct to defend fellow progressives and that isn't Hillary or Obama right now, so I haven't endorsed anyone I'll work for Obama enthusiastically, and will defend him, and then when he is in office I'll work to push the country and Obama in a more progressive direction.

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May 2, 2008

Mainstreaming Racial Hate

Take a look at this. This is an example of "mainstreaming" of white supremacist hate, over at the "conservative" Human Events site. Thjs is from MSNBC commentator Pat Buchanan. If this is what they are doing in May, imagine what we'll be seeing as the election gets closer.

The Way Our World Ends - HUMAN EVENTS,

In 1950, whites were 28 percent of world population and Africans 9 percent, a ratio of three-to-one. In 2060, the ratio will remain the same. But the colors will be reversed. People of African ancestry will be 25 percent of the world's population. People of European descent will have fallen to 9.8 percent.

More arresting is that the white population is shrinking not only in relative but in real terms. Two hundred million white people, one in every six on earth -- a number equal to the entire population of France, Britain, Holland and Germany -- will vanish by 2060.

The Caucasian race is going the way of the Mohicans.


And be sure to scan the comments:

What have YOU been doing for the white race?

I never heard whether you are married. Are you, and do you have any children?

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April 23, 2008

The Missing Word -- FILIBUSTER

Republicans block pay discrimination bill | Politics | Reuters,

On a 56-42 vote, mostly Democratic supporters of the bill fell short of the needed 60 in the 100-member Senate to clear a Republican procedural hurdle and move toward passage of the bill.
"a Republican procedural hurdle." Wow, that's some fancy wording in this "news" article. In fact the wording is designed to block the information about what happened here from reaching the reader.

What happened here is that the Republicans FILIBUSTERED the bill that would bring fair pay to women for the same work.

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April 16, 2008

One image, One moment - On the Road to the Beijing Olympics

Guest Post by Michelle Kraus

There is a promise of hope in the Beijing Olympics if global leaders come together for the Dali Lama and human rights. The image of the torch is not just the Olympic Torch, but rather the beacon of hope for the people of the world.

One image, One moment, a chance for peace.

Stepping back and taking a moment and to consider him carrying the Torch or stepping onto the podium at the Opening Ceremony - perhaps there is a chance for peace. Maybe what we must do is take baby steps and lobby for his presence at the Opening Ceremonies and that would be enough.

One image, One moment, a chance for peace.

A bold, online campaign launched today at proposing a solution to all the controversy surrounding the Beijing Olympics this summer. Amidst all the outcries for boycott and the resulting acrimony, businessman Steve Varon proposes a plausible solution.

"With controversy and strife surrounding the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay over the past few months, this proposal is the first publicly announced solution to the dilemma. Imagine the Dalai Lama carrying the Olympic torch along the torch relay route, past the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet - or anywhere else on the relay route. It has the potential to quell the violent protests and return the focus of the torch relay to a celebration of peace through sport, inspiring hope for all people around the world. Corporate, civic and government leaders globally have been encouraged to support this opportunity. The idea has been warmly embraced publicly and privately."

See the video and hear the words of this quiet man, a businessman, who has committed himself to this one moment of light.

Sign the petition online and form the human link to this one moment.

All the political and global forces are wrong for this to have a prayer of success. The Chinese own a substantial amount of the US debt at a time in which the economy is teetering on recession. Human rights activists have lost their spokesperson in the late Congressman Tom Lantos. A United States boycott of the games is impossible, and not the answer.

One image, One moment, a chance for peace.

Sports should be about freedom, not politics. So let's have the games and abide by this Call to Action. Sign the petition and consider the solution is of finding a way to unify the Dali Lama and the Chinese government on this one day.

"If constructive dialogue with China could result in the world seeing the Dalai Lama carrying the torch" said Varon "it would send a powerful message about the Olympics as a force of good, and truly symbolize the 'One World, One Dream' slogan of this year's Games."

One image, One moment, One World, One Dream - On the Road to Beijing.

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March 30, 2008

McCain and "Gooks"

From 2000: McCain Criticized for Slur / He says he'll keep using term for ex-captors in Vietnam,

Arizona Sen. John McCain refused to apologize yesterday for his use of a racial slur to condemn the North Vietnamese prison guards who tortured and held him captive during the war.

"I hate the gooks," McCain said yesterday in response to a question from reporters aboard his campaign bus. "I will hate them as long as I live."

McCain, a former Navy pilot who spent five years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp, was questioned about the language because of a story last month in the Nation magazine reporting his continued use of the slur.

Since then, reports of McCain's language have been circulating on Internet chat sites and e-mails among Asian Americans, many of whom find the the term offensive and inappropriate for an elected official.

[. . .] The word "gook" was first used in 1899 by American soldiers fighting Filipino insurgents. During the Korean War, the term was aimed at Koreans and Chinese. It was directed at the Vietnamese when Americans were fighting in Vietnam. It is now used as a slur toward any Asian or Pacific Islander.

Understandable on a personal level, but from a potential President?

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February 15, 2008

Political Suicide II

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Earlier this week I wrote about how "conventional wisdom" says that politicians acknowledging reality and offering solutions that could actually fix the state's problems is considered "political suicide."

Here is something else that is considered political suicide: Acknowledging that undocumented residents live and work here and are members of our communities. But it is a fact. A lot of people have come across the country's borders and settled in California, especially across the southern border.

Economic conditions have forced people to come here to try to find work. This is something that each of us would do if the situation were reversed. Heck, if the financial crisis that we are reading about in the news continues we might be doing just that very soon.

It is especially dangerous for a candidate to acknowledge that undocumented residents drive on the state's roads and suggest that while we work out solutions to the documentation problem, we test and license them so they can be insured. And so instead there are lots of unlicensed and therefore untrained, untested and uninsured people driving. This endangers all of us. But woe to the politician who actually tries to suggest realistic and workable ways to fix this.

Second to this on the political suicide scale is acknowledging that these undocumented residents are human beings, just like the rest of us.

The challenge here is to find solutions that fit our progressive value system. As progressives, we recognize and celebrate the humanity of every person. We don't ignore reality and we don't condone lawbreaking. We must look for practical, humane, innovative, equitable and democratic approaches to resolving these difficulties. We must always look for progress.

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February 13, 2008

Further And Further Towards Police State

People take their queues from the top. A torture-accepting mentality trickles down. Over time America becomes more ruthless, less humane and people get used to it. It happens in little ways that add up. But add up they do...

Pam's House Blend:: The police state continues: quadriplegic dumped from wheelchair. Just go see for yourself.

And then go read This is your police state - woman violently strip searched and The Blend TASER brutality files

Pam is sounding a warning, and she's right.

Watch your backs.

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December 22, 2007

Romney Didn't Make Up MLK Story

Mitt Romney's father George was solid on civil rights, and probably did walk with Martin Luther King - at least would have if he had the opportunity. I saw something that indicated this yesterday, but not enough to post. But this has more: Talking Points Memo | Witnesses Back Up Mitt Romney On MLK,

It's looking like Mitt Romney might have been judged too quickly on the Martin Luther King business. Two witnesses have now come forward to The Politico, insisting that they saw the late Gov. George Romney (R-MI) make a surprise appearance alongside King in 1963.

The campaign has also posted a collection of citations — including a contemporary account from the Detroit Free Press — attesting that it happened.

Fair is fair. This certainly is not an endorsement of Mitt Romney.

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December 19, 2007

Guantanamo Holding Musharraf Rivals?

You need to go read this. Firedoglake: Disappeared Into Secret Pakistani and US Prisons,

US reporting on General Musharraf's suspension of Pakistan's Constitution and displacement of its Supreme Court focused on Musharraf's desire to remain in office. Musharraf also claimed the Court had undermined his fight against terrorism. But today's New York Times reveals that Musharraf also had the same motives the Bush Administration has in preventing their respective illegal detention programs from seeing the light of day or facing judicial scrutiny.

Today's article by reporter Carlotta Gall reveals that in apparent cooperation with US CIA and other officials, Musharraf had, long before his recent emergency actions, arrested hundreds, perhaps thousands of Pakistanis and detained them in secret prisons without charges. Some of the detainees were then rendered by US agents into Afghanistan, other countries, or Guantanamo, where some still languish without charges.

Go read.

So was Musharraf shipping his rivals into the US secret detention system? Did Musharraf disband Pakistan's Supreme Court because they were ordering these political prisoners released?

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December 17, 2007

All The Way To The Top!

Governor Richardson said Friday if elected he will investigate and prosecute the torturers - all the way to the top. And Senator Dodd is filibustering right now against retroactive immunity for crimes committed at Bush administration request. Now we should ask the rest of the candidates if, once elected, they will also hold Bush administration officials accountable for crimes they committed in office.

Gov. Bill Richardson: Torture: Leadership Requires Accountability, All the Way to the Top - Politics on The Huffington Post,

We learned this week that the CIA destroyed tapes of American officials committing torture. The American people deserve to know whether laws were violated and whether the President was directly involved in illegal activities. Torture is a black and white moral issue. A failure to act decisively in this case will be an unacceptable failure of leadership.

Torture is un-American, it violates international law, and it is wrong. And when I am President, I will make sure that those who are responsible for torture are held accountable for their actions.

And yet, in the thirteen months since winning back the House and Senate, Democrats in Congress have done too little to force this administration to stop torturing.

Perhaps one reason that Bush and Cheney have been so comfortable with torture is that they feel they will never be held accountable for their actions.

Indeed, despite consistently stating that they can't accomplish anything because they lack a filibuster-proof majority, Senate Democrats failed even to block an Attorney General who equivocated on torture.

They have taken no action on the International Criminal Court.

They have failed to appoint a Special Prosecutor to provide for high-level accountability.

They failed to restore habeas corpus.

They have done nothing to enforce the Constitution or any of our laws against torture.

This must change. If Congress won't act, then our next President must.

The next President must be clearly and unequivocally committed to changing our country's stand on torture, and that is exactly what I pledge to do. Strong leaders are not afraid to be held accountable, nor are they afraid to hold others accountable for acts that we all know are wrong.

As soon I am inaugurated, I will order investigations to find out who is responsible for torture -- those who allowed it, those who sanctioned it, and those who carried it out. We can and will find out who is responsible.

And, once we've completed those investigations -- and if we find cause for prosecution -- I will insist on criminal prosecutions of anyone we find responsible for torture in this current administration. No one will be given a pass. NO ONE is above the law.

Go read the rest.

Full disclosure - I have been doing some consulting with the Richardson campaign.

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December 13, 2007

199 Republicans Vote AGAINST Banning Torture - And Bush Says Will Veto

House Approves Measure Barring Use of Waterboarding

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to bar CIA agents from using waterboarding during the questioning of suspected terrorists, drawing a veto threat from President George W. Bush.

. . . The legislation approved by the House today would require that all U.S. spy agencies follow the Army Field Manual's interrogation standard, which doesn't authorize waterboarding or other harsh techniques.

To become law, the legislation approved today would have to be approved by the Senate, which hasn't scheduled a vote, and be signed by Bush, who has stated his opposition.

Also US House votes to outlaw CIA waterboarding,
Defying a White House veto threat, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to outlaw harsh interrogation methods, such as simulated drowning, that the CIA has used against suspected terrorists.

On a largely party line vote of 222-199, the Democratic-led House approved a measure to require intelligence agents to comply with the Army Field Manual, which bans torture in compliance with the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.

Meanwhile, FOX News: Waterboarding: It's a Good Thing,
We've heard a lot about waterboarding lately — but only from people who never have anything nice to say about our country anyway.

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December 11, 2007

Just Pure KKK-Style Racial Hatred

I came across this hate-piece yesterday, and it is still bothering me, so I am bringing it up here. It's a right-wing anti-immigrant piece, going after the Republican candidates who participated in the Spanish-language debate. It becomes clear early on that it is direct hatred toward Hispanics in general - but then starts going after all non-whites, complaining about "politically correct" pandering to get votes from people who are not "us.".

Vanishing American: Chasing the elusive 'Hispanic vote'

I hate even having to write about this disgrace: the Spanish-language 'debate' for the Spanish-language, pro-illegal immigration TV channel, Univision.

... They are legitimizing the idea that people can come here, refuse to learn our language, and expect to participate in our political system while being part of a non-English speaking, culturally isolated enclave.

. . . So here they are, truckling to Hispanics, leavening their tough talk about illegal immigration with fawning praise and flattery to Hispanics.

. . . how about some compassion and love for your American constituents, who are tired of violence on the border, bankrupt hospitals, overcrowded schools, crime waves, neighborhoods destroyed, and exotic diseases being introduced into our country -- all of which require taxpayers' money to deal with, or even American lives lost? Where is your love and compassion for your own?

. . . Well, Hispanic citizens -- if indeed they are citizens, and most it seems are not -- supposedly have the same interests and concerns as the rest of us Americans. At least that is what the politically correct party line holds. ... And why should politicians court only certain races and ethnicities? We already had, historically, a special group of people that demands coddling and catering 24/7, and now you politicians have made sure that we have an even larger group of overgrown children who will demand special treatment and coddling and concessions.

[. . .] And I'm really tired of this liberal twaddle about how everybody deserves 'dignity.' Who dictated that? Sneak thieves, liars, and frauds don't deserve dignity. Dignity, like respect, has to be earned and deserved.

And just to drive the point home,
Well, good luck, guys; we will see if your mostly white conservative base is fooled by your contortions and your doubletalk. I am sad to say, I fear they may be taken in.

. . . And if there is any justice, these pandering sell-out politicians will all be out of a job, replaced by people like Villaraigosa, Bill 'Richardson' Lopez (who will by then have dropped the superflous 'Richardson' from his name) and Melquiades Martinez. These presidential wannabees are fools if they think they can join up with what they perceive as the winning side; they are hoping they can maintain their place in a Spanish-speaking America. Well, buena suerte with that, guys.

This stuff is just pure KKK-style racial hatred. This is what the Republican Party has become.

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December 7, 2007

Child Soldiers in Burma

More bad news: Burma's Generals Flaunt Laws, Recruit Child Soldiers,

Prominent human rights groups are urging the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Burma in response to its military government's continuing recruitment of child soldiers.

"Burma's army has recruited thousands of children to fill its ranks," said Jo Becker of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) group. "The Security Council needs to show Burma's generals that they cannot get away with such horrendous practices."

The call for sanctions came as members of the Council's working group on children and armed conflict met in New York Thursday to consider a new report accusing the Burmese regime of "grave violations" against children, including patterns of underage military recruitment.

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December 6, 2007

Video - I Am A Muslim

Through the LinkTV One Nation Many Voices contest. Go see. And if you make a film you can win a bunch of money.

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November 30, 2007

Burma - Democracy Still Dead

The corrupt government in Burma is still there, still imprisoning monks, still reppressing its people.

Myanmar's missing monks still a mystery months after crackdown,

Bangkok - Two months after Myanmar's brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in Yangon led by Buddhist monks, the former capital is noticeably short of monks, a senior US diplomat said Friday.

'Prior to September, almost any place you looked in Rangoon (Yangon) there were 25 to 50 monks, they were everywhere, but now you only see one or two,' said Shari Villarosa, charge d'affaires of the US embassy in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Don't forget about Burma.

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November 28, 2007

Sanctuary Mansions and Conspiracy Highways

I'm watching the authoritarian Republican debate. Giuliani just accused Romney of not only having "Sanctuary Cities" in Massachusetts, but of having a "Sanctuary Mansion" by hiring undocumented workers himself.

And Ron Paul, wow - black helicopters started flying out of his ears, talking about a conspiracy highway between Mexico and Canada...

Question - Spending is out of control. NAME the top three programs you would cut. Will we hear an actual answer?

Thompson - "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid," then, "No I didn't say that."
Ron Paul - Education, Energy and Homeland Security. And Defense.
Huckabee - Get rid of the IRS, bring in the "Fair Tax". Homeland Security.

None of the others were asked to answer.

A bunch of white guys talking about black crime - and the answer is that those people need more moms and dads. I'm so tough on crime...

Romney mentions "I didn't have a police commissioner." I wonder what he meant by that?

It is really irritating how only one or two of the candidates are asked to answer any question.

Huckabee came across as the honest candidate. I really don't understand the Republican base but I suspect he'll be way ahead after tonite. But the Ron Paul appeal could well have been enhanced.

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November 19, 2007

Red Cross ASSISTED Bush Law Violations!

It is a violation of international law to "disappear" prisoners, and refuse even to let the Red Cross see them. But who cares, so what, and who's gonna do anything about it?

Not the Red Cross, apparently.

Red Cross Monitors Barred From Guantanamo,

Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the organization was aware that it was not seeing all Guantánamo detainees from 2002, when the detention camp was opened, to 2004. He said the policies outlined in the manual “run counter to the manner in which the I.C.R.C. conducts its detention visits at Guantánamo Bay and around the world.”

He added that Red Cross officials worked with American officials “to resolve this issue confidentially, since gaining access to all detainees in full accordance with its standard practice was paramount.”


Sorry for shouting - I got a bit upset. The story continues,

The Red Cross has been critical of Guantánamo, saying publicly in 2003 that keeping detainees indefinitely without allowing them to know their fate was unacceptable and, in confidential reports, that the physical and psychological treatment of detainees amounted to torture.
So the Red Cross was complicit in these violations of international law.

The Red Cross has been looking worse and worse.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2007

Drivers Licenses

I'm watching the debate. The "drivers license" question is a trick. It is a "gotcha" attempts to get the candidates to answer a complex question entirely in a right-wing frame.

Hooray for Obama for his courageous answer. Shame on Hillary.

Richardson answered exactly right.

And how did you like the right-wing anti-union teachers union question? Wow, like, "Unions are bad, what are you going to do about them. One-word answers, please."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Saudi Woman To Be Whipped For Being Gang-Raped

BBC NEWS | Saudi gang-rape victim is jailed, and her sentence more than doubled from 90 lashes to 200 for daring to appeal:

An appeal court in Saudi Arabia has doubled the number of lashes and added a jail sentence as punishment for a woman who was gang-raped.

. . . According to the Arab News newspaper, the 19-year-old woman, who is from Saudi Arabia's Shia minority, was gang-raped 14 times in an attack in the eastern province a year-and-a-half ago.

Seven men from the majority Sunni community were found guilty of the rape and sentenced to prison terms ranging from just under a year to five years.

But the victim was also punished for violating Saudi Arabia's laws on segregation that forbid unrelated men and women from associating with each other. She was initially sentenced to 90 lashes for being in the car of a strange man.

On appeal, the Arab News reported that the punishment was not reduced but increased to 200 lashes and a six-month prison sentence.

. . . The victim's lawyer was suspended from the case, has had his licence to work confiscated, and faces a disciplinary session.

But Iraq is the bad guy and the A\Saudis are our "friends." We invaded Iraq - a secular, non-Islamic country. Right.

I won't hold my breath waiting for Bush and the Republicans to denounce the Saudis.

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November 7, 2007

Free Burma

From the Free Burma campaign

Also check daily Burma updates at

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CNN Host Calls For Genocide Against Muslims

On CNN, on the air, CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck called for genocide against Muslims. Crooks & Liars has the video

But right now, I want to focus on one important one, and that is “You can’t make deals with Islamic extremists.” Pakistan has tried everything so far to stomp out the Islamicist threat. They’ve tried bringing them into the fold. They’ve tried to negotiate with them. They’ve even tried to co-exist with them by creating “no-go” zones. But despite all of that, along with all of the billions in aid, and all the intel that we’ve given them, everything they’ve tried has failed. There’s one thing in my book they haven’t tried yet and that is: Killing. Every. Single. One. Of the radicals.
Talk about eliminationist rhetoric!

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October 27, 2007

Rumsfeld Charged In France With Torture

Torture Complaint Filed Against Rumsfeldt,

Several human rights organizations based in the United States and Europe have filed a complaint in a Paris court accusing former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of responsibility for torture.

The group, which includes the International Federation for Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, made the complaint late Thursday and unsuccessfully sought to confront Mr. Rumsfeld as he left a breakfast meeting in central Paris on Friday.

Jeanne Sulzer, one of the lawyers working on the issue for the human rights groups, said the complaint had been filed with a state prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, saying he would have the power to pursue the case because of Mr. Rumsfeld’s presence in France.

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October 24, 2007


From Al Jazeera: Al Jazeera English - News - Palestinian 'Torture Widespread',

Amnesty International has accused Hamas and Fatah of widespread human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention and other ill treatment against each other.

The rights watchdog on Wednesday released a report criticising the Palestinian governments in both Gaza and the West Bank for harming civilians in their clashes.

... In the report, the group said: "Arbitrary detentions and torture or other ill treatment of detainees by Hamas forces are now widespread and the initial improvements in the security situation which followed Hamas' takeover [of Gaza] are fast being eroded."

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Donatella Rovera, author of the report, said Hamas forces were now conducting a clampdown on Fatah supporters and anyone else critical of them in the Gaza Strip.

However, she said: "What we're finding in the West Bank is pretty much a mirror image, even though it is much less reported.

... In the Gaza Strip, members of Hamas' military wing act as police and have detained and tortured Fatah activists and critics. Hamas police routinely beat protesters to break up demonstrations, and have roughed up journalists covering the events, Amnesty said.

In the West Bank, security forces detained about 1,000 Hamas sympathisers and members, forcing many to sign statements condemning the group and disavowing their loyalties to it.

Although most were held briefly, many reported being ill-treated or tortured, the Amnesty report said.

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October 19, 2007

Richardson to Atty General Nominee: Answer the Question on Torture or Withdraw

Bill Richardson for President Blog: Answer the Question on Torture or Withdraw,

In response to U.S. Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey's refusal to say
whether waterboarding is torture, the Governor this morning issued the following
"Waterboarding is torture, and anyone who is unwilling to identify it as such is not qualified to be the chief legal officer of the United States of America. If I were in the U.S. Senate, I would vote against Mukasey unless he denounces such specific forms of torture.

"Torture does not work. Mistreatment backfires and destroys our international leadership, as we saw with Abu Ghraib. Torture also endangers our own troops. The standards we adopt may well be what our own troops are subjected to.

"Anytime one makes a person think he or she is being executed, the very nature of waterboarding, it obviously is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, international law, and basic human decency.

"ABC News has described waterboarding as follows: 'The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face, and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in, and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.'

"If another nation engaged in waterboarding against American citizens, we would denounce that country and call the practice barbaric, and rightly so.

"We must stand against torture without equivocation, without compromise, and without exception. Torture is a violation of everything we stand for as Americans and as human beings."

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October 10, 2007

Once Again It's Conservatives Against Jews

Monday, one of the most prominent conservative pundits said the following on a TV show:

[Interviewer] "If you had your way ... and your dreams, which are genuine, came true ... what would this country look like?"

[Prominent conservative] responded, "It would look like New York City during the [2004] Republican National Convention. In fact, that's what I think heaven is going to look like." She described the convention as follows: "People were happy. They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America."

[Interviewer] then asked, "It would be better if we were all Christian?" to which [Prominent conservative] responded, "Yes."

Later in the discussion, [Interviewer] said to her: "[Y]ou said we should throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians," and [Prominent conservative] again replied, "Yes."

Will this prominent conservative be condemned by the Congress, as MoveOn was? Of course not.

Every one of us should be writing to our newspapers, calling radio shows and showing up at local offices or public "townhall" meetings of Republican politicians, reading these comments out loud, and demanding that they condemn them - or associate themselves with them. We should be doing this every time another prominent conservative says something like this, until the public understands that the core of this conservative movement is about hate.

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October 4, 2007

Conservatives Talking About Taking Away Womens' Right To Vote - Seriously

Conservatives are actually talking about taking away women's right to vote. I'm not kidding. If you think this is settled don't forget that blocking the Equal Rights for Women Amendment was a major conservative cause - and they won.

Here's the top-ranked conservative columnist promoting it, starting with the column's title: Reconsidering the 19th Amendment,

According to a recent poll of women voters ... the top concerns of half or more of the respondents are these: the "insufficient effort to cure breast cancer," gun control, medical benefits, childcare, the rising cost of a college education, the connection between pollution and health risks, violence against women, and equal pay.

Nearly three-fourths believe it is more important for the government to shore up the Social Security Ponzi scheme than to bother with those silly tax cuts.

These could only be the poll results of people who have nothing to do with the creation of wealth. They sit home waiting for their husbands to bring home the money, or toil away at little jobs dreamed up to assuage the egos of bourgeois women living in the suburbs.

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September 12, 2007

Did Texas Execute Innocent Men?


Dan Rather Reports reveals new details surrounding two capital murder cases in Texas - leading to the executions of two men that may have occurred as the result of flawed evidence.

In “Did Texas Execute Innocent Men?” Dan Rather speaks with key players in the cases of both Ruben Cantu and Carlos De Luna both of whom died by lethal injection in Texas where more than one-third of the nation’s executions take place.

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September 6, 2007

From The Human Rights Conference

So I'm standing around in the lobby, drinking a coffee, waiting for things to start, and Jimmy Carter wanders over to say Hi...

I always wanted to say that.

I'm at the opening session of the 2007 Human Rights Defenders Forum, Faith and Freedom Conference, and President Carter is being introduced. I'll try to summarize what he is saying:


The rest is over at the Social Edge Blog.

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September 5, 2007

Blogging from the 2007 Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum

I am at the Carter Center in Atlanta to observe the 2007 Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum. The Carter Center brings together leaders of the world’s human rights effort for discussions to try to find policy solutions that can help lessen the problem of human rights violations and atrocities that occur again and again in the world. In the next couple of days former President Jimmy Carter will be speaking, as will Louise Arbour, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Karin Ryan, Director of the Carter Center’s Human Rights Program writes,

“Why does the international community fail again and again to respond to these crises before they take on catastrophic dimensions?”
The ongoing Human Rights Defenders Policy Forums attempt to answer that question and find solutions.

This year’s conference brings together human rights defenders of different faiths, to discuss ways that the common traditions of faith in the struggle for human dignity can be utilized to provide new channels for approaching these problems. Karin again,

“What might be accomplished if the reawakening of faith that is taking place throughout the globe were accompanied by a heightened commitment to put a stop to human rights violations in many places where they are ignored?”

So I find myself in Atlanta to observe and write about this conference. Today's discussions are off the record as the participants work to find common areas to discuss in the public conference of the next two days. This gives me a chance to write about what it is like to be here.

What is it like? The Carter Center is a very nice facility, with excellent conference amenities. It includes the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. (The museum includes a replica of the Oval Office and I hope I get a chance to sneak over and see it. I'll let you know.) The conference takes place in an auditorium, with a horseshoe-shaped table for the approx. twenty international Human Rights Defender participants and ten or so organizational representatives. (There will be more over the next couple of days.) There are two rows of observer tables at the edges of the room, which is where I am. I have an earpiece for translation as people speak if needed. During the coffee break I spoke to a man who showed me the places where agents of his government cut him with a machete.

And that is what my first day as an observer is like. I flew here from California and landed in a nice airport. I am staying in a nice hotel. I am typing on a computer in the hallway of a very nice conference center. I carry in my head what is probably a widely-shared image of an ideal modern, civil life. I might not live that life (or even want to or think it is sustainable) but I feel that many of us reading this probably do share the image, because you are probably reading it on a computer in a modern society. In this Ideal Modern Life we have our jobs. We drive around in cars and go to shops. We consume and have our brand attachments. We watch TV shows and are entertained. We have houses and gardens. And somewhere else in the world these things are happening.

It is the 21st century and these things are not only happening, but the world's ability to confront such problems seems to be diminishing. The forces of racial, religious, national, ethnic, ideological, economic and environmental division seem to be gaining the upper hand. This is a conference where Human Rights Defenders struggle to find ways to help keep them from continuing to happen. The people here come from places where these things happen, but part of their message is that these things can happen when the world does not make it enough of a priority to keep them from happening.

Over the next two days I will be blogging at the Skoll Foundation's Social Edge blog, and cross-posted at the conference's own blog. I invite you to drop in. I'll post summaries here as well, when I can, but mostly I'll be posting there.

Blogging is a conversation. It is interactive. So please join this discussion and leave comments here - or better, leave them over at the Social Edge blog as the conference unfolds.

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September 4, 2007

This Week From The Carter Center

Today I am flying to Atlanta to blog this week from the Carter Center's 2007 Human Rights Defenders Policy Forum

Human rights activists from all continents are meeting with leaders of faith communities and policymakers to discuss how we can overcome inaction in the face of human rights violations before they escalate into mass crimes.

I will be blogging for Social Edge, at this link and occasional updates here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 31, 2007

Five Letters: B.L.A.C.K.

While writing today about what conservatives are saying, I came across this little gem -- The mortgage crisis is because we allowed black people to get mortgages. Subprime Mortgage Market In Perspective,

Scarcely a soul will recall that political pressure over red-lining was partially responsible for the subprime failures in the first place.
And while on this subject, in my earlier post about conservative philosophy, I chose not to comment on the blatant racism of the conservative Townhall post but I will point it out now. That post wrote about the "shiftless people" of New Orleans and makes a point of calling the mayor, "Mr. "Chocolate City." And the readers "got it."

I don't usually fault bloggers for the comments they elicit, but this post was very clear in its point, and the number of readers leaving racist comments demonstrated that they got that point. Comment examples,

Yes, Katrina was different. It was different because of the huge fat women sitting on the kerb surrounded by their 12 year old daughters with their babies, chanting WE WANTS HEP! instad of getting up off their fat behinds and looking after themselves.

Two weeks after 9/11 the news cameras had packed up and refused to show us any more video or film; months later in New Orleans we were still being treated to shots of wailing Black women and their fatherless babies sitting on their backsides and screaming for cash.

The difference between Katrina and New York City on 9/11 is five letters long. B L A C K.

Other comment examples:
You're very lucky you don't own a business because a Mr. Jackson and a Mr. Sharpton would be on your doorstep shaking you down for reparations payments.

...Presidents from now on will have to tell all the citizens down there, sitting on their fat, welfare fed butts, that we'll never forget and the checks are coming.

In a nation where many people think that they are entitled to reparations for slavery, it is unlikely we will get over Katrina anytime soon.

Time to get these 'welfare queens' off the government dole.
Has no one noticed that the middle class blacks left New Orleans? It was the ones who were poor that got left behind. And one of the main reasons they are poor are because of liberal policies that hurt family values and promote a general sense of irresponsibility - not just among blacks but among liberals in general.
The fat Blacks in New Orleans should take a note.
...they need a Guliani-esque type mayor to reshape i.e. clean out the inept police force and instill a tough clean up the streets type police chief who will dredge up the thugs that rule New Orleans and deposit them in the can.
Yes, they came here to Houston. Our crime rate is over the top. Between the "victims" and the illegals you can just imagine. ... They are still having regular Americans pay their rent. Of course, ACORN is involved as well as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Go figure.
Before intergration, we dealt with MORE issues than waiting on a governement check
if the pictures from NOLA had shown fat WHITE women sitting on the kerbstone chanting WE WANTS HEP! instead of stirring their stumps on their own behalf, the answer would now be a yawn, just as it was when the Wal-Mart Looter Video showed that even the Black COPS were stealing. And remember how many of these same people said that the reason "Whitey" did not come with sedan chairs to carry them away to a Five Star Life of Ease was RACISM.
The dems have created, coddled and kept down an entire population for the past forty years. The "victims" have become the life blood of your party. The population of NO is a great example of what your party has done. There are people who literally can't do a darn thing for themselves. That's not being compassionate, that's being elitist and superior. Lastly, I find nothing progressive about your party. You have used the same ploys for decades, race baiting and class envy.
It is NOT katrina that wiped-out and ruined NO. It is a large segment of this citizenry that created the nightmare that is NO prior too, during and after. There is no amount of government money that will make these citizens change themselves or their behaviors.
Nagin's "Chocolate City" was a s*** hole before Katrina, and an even worse one now. I lost whatever sympathy I had for the NO "refugees" a few days after the storm, when so many of them wound up here in Houston, and prompty started scamming everyone in sight, from the Feds on down, for money. Never mind how much the crime rate here skyrocketed after they showed up, and even how the local school district was talking about setting up separate schools for the "refugee's" kids, since they could not seem to attend the regular schools without assaulting the locals right and left.
the theme of blacks on Welfare dominates because in New Orleans, blacks dominate. It is, as the Mayor said, a "chocolate city."
Did you forget to mention that blacks represent 13% of the population yet 47% of the welfare recipients are black? ...You're intellect is stellar. So.....what you meant is blacks are approx. 10 times more likely to be on welfare white people, nnless you "forget" to use poulation statistics.
There is a lot more there but it's too sickening to continue...

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A Propagandized Military Is A Danger to Democracy

There is an important story out today, Lawmakers Describe 'Being Slimed in the Green Zone', about how troops in Iraq are provided with propaganda denouncing Democratic lawmakers who visit Iraq.

Talking Points Memo Disgusted but really only gets part of what it means

.It's all par for the course for this administration, how they've politicized every branch of the government and every agency, eroding democratic institutions in American while they pretended to build them in Iraq. In fact, from the start the White House tried to stock the Green Zone and the US occupation authority with GOP operatives.
Here is why this is important. Combine this propaganda effort with past practices like Armed Forces Radio pushing Rush Limbaugh while refusing to offer other points of view (this has changed due to pressure from Democratic lawmakers) and the history of government-paid propaganda promoting the Republican Party viewpoint, and this represents a danger to democracy. It is a very bad idea to have a propagandized military supporting one party.

Demonstrating The Party's politicization-of-troops efforts, Bushist Don Surber writes,

Moran and Tauscher are part of a clique of Democratic politicians who want us to lose in Iraq so they can gain on Republicans.
Is this what the troops are being told? Bushist-blog Wizbang shows what the propaganda is intended to make the troops think,
Do these antiwar Congressmen think the troops don't know who supports them and who does not?
To really get the feel of what the right is advocating, read the comments at these sites.

Update - Think Progress is now censored - troops can not visit their website since they allowed Ret. Maj. Gen. John Batiste to guest-blog in opposition to Bush's policies.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

The Difference Between Conservatives and Progressives

Progressives believe we are a community, all in it together, taking care of each other, helping each other. Conservatives believe we should each be on our own, and responsible only for ourselves ("personal responsibility").

There is a good articulation of conservative philosophy today at the conservative movement's It's Time To Get Over Katrina Already. Some excerpts:

Two years after Katrina, everywhere you turn, there are people carping, whining, and kvetching. Just why hasn't the pity party for the citizens of New Orleans run out of booze and chips yet?

... we're all supposed to eternally sit around and weep tiny little tears of sadness for the people who really took it on the chin in a hurricane because they chose to live in a city shaped like a soup bowl on the coast. Let me tell all the citizens of New Orleans something that should have been told to them 18 months ago: it's time to stop playing the sympathy card and get over it.

Nobody is owed a living for the rest of his life because he had a bad break two years ago.... How sad and pathetic is it that these shiftless people are still leaching off their fellow citizens?

... Guess what, buddy? You're right; nobody does "give a s*** about New Orleans" any more other than a few saints and a lot of manipulative Democrats looking for a political issue they can exploit. That's the nature of life. [emphasis added]

This pretty clearly shows how conservatives think about the idea that people should take care of each other - no?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 19, 2007

Anti-Gay Republicans Crash Worship Services

The Columbus Dispatch : Anti-gay activists crash worship services,

A conservative Christian values group has been interrupting services at two central Ohio churches to protest their support for homosexuality.

Minutemen United vowed to attend services every Sunday.

The group started its crusade when First Baptist Church in Granville hosted "Love Makes a Family," a traveling exhibit by the Family Diversity Project showing photos of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families.

[. . .] "They rebuked me as a pastor for preaching that God's love is for everyone," Keeny said.

The Bilerico Project writes,
...this comes down to respect for people's religions, and the Religious Right always declares themselves on the side of religious freedom promulgating paranoid fantasies of police rounding up pastors after hate crimes legislations gets passed or school teachers locking away students with Bibles or whatever. But then when it comes to anyone who disagrees with them, suddenly the word "freedom" gets exposed for the window dressing that it is.

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August 15, 2007

California Needs Eyewitness Identification Reform

This is a guest post by John F. Terzano of The Justice Project

Herman Atkins suffered for 12 years in a California prison – for crimes he did not commit. Then DNA exonerated him. Mr. Atkins was a victim of faulty eyewitness identification.

Mr. Atkins’ wrongful conviction for rape and robbery began when the victim and a witness identified him as the perpetrator after seeing his picture on a wanted poster for an unrelated crime. Then, the photo array used later by police also contained the wanted poster photo, which had already been viewed by the witnesses.

Watch three minutes of Herman’s story on YouTube:

What happened to Mr. Atkins is not as uncommon as it should be. Eyewitness identification is notably unreliable. According to a detailed 2004 analysis of California wrongful convictions by San Francisco Magazine, faulty eyewitness identification was a factor in 60% of the 200 cases of people proven to have been wrongly convicted in the state since 1989.

Indeed, study after study has shown that faulty eyewitness identification is one of the most common causes of wrongful convictions. Faulty eyewitness identification played a pivotal role in 75% of the cases nationwide where DNA later exonerated the person convicted.

We now know through decades of empirical research that practical changes to identification procedures such as

  • cautionary instructions to witnesses,
  • effective use of fillers,
  • full documentation of the lineup procedures and a witness’s statement of certainty,
  • and double-blind administration
can significantly improve the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. (Please visit The Justice Project’s web site: for more details of eyewitness identification reforms.)

In California, however, only the Santa Clara Sheriff and Police departments have voluntarily adopted these best practices.

The good news is that Senate Bill 756, sponsored by Senator Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles, Culver City), addresses the development of new guidelines for statewide eyewitness identification procedures.

The bill has already passed the State Senate and Assembly Public Safety Committee, and it will soon be heading to the Assembly Floor for a final vote. An earlier version of an eyewitness reform bill was taken up in the legislature last year, but it was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. If this new eyewitness reform bill passes the Assembly, the Governor will soon have an opportunity to sign into law this important reform.

It is also important to note that in addition to improving eyewitness identification, videotaping custodial interrogations and corroborating jailhouse informant testimony have been shown to help prevent wrongful convictions. Senate Bill 511, sponsored by Senator Elaine K. Alquist (D-Santa Clara), would require full electronic recording of interrogations in both juvenile and adult cases and Senate Bill 609, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), would require corroboration for jailhouse informants.

Given the documented cases of miscarriages of justice in California – and the research indicating that many of the errors leading to wrongful convictions can be prevented - we hope that Legislators will support these three essential bills, and that the Governor will ultimately sign them into law. Lawmakers have a duty, not only to the public safety, but also to the wrongly convicted like Herman Atkins, to take the necessary steps to ensure that the state’s criminal justice system is as fair and accurate as possible.

John F. Terzano is the President of The Justice Project, a nonpartisan organization that works to address unfairness and inaccuracy in the criminal justice system, with a focus on the capital punishment system.

Click here to help The Justice Project.

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July 30, 2007

Bill O'Reilly, hatemonger

David Neiwert writes about Bill O'Reilly of FOX News in Orcinus: Bill O'Reilly, hatemonger. He has a number of quotes from O'Reilly himself, including "Well, I want to kill Michael Moore" and "Mexican wetbacks" and talking about a "final solution" for dealing with Arabs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 13, 2007

See This Photo - Republican Candidates Shun NAACP

A Picture of the GOP on Civil Rights,

The one photo the GOP does not want anyone to see was snapped at yesterday's NAACP GOP Presidential Candidate Forum. The NAACP invited all 9 Republican candidates to the forum, but only one showed up: Tom Tancredo. All the Democratic Presidential hopefuls showed up for their forum.

The excuses given by the Republican campaigns mostly had to do with scheduling conflicts--just too busy to make it.

... One has to wonder why this photo was not the lead on every morning show and on the front pages of every morning newspaper in America.

No, one does not have to wonder...

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July 5, 2007

Broder Weighs In Against Democracy

I have been saying here for some time that we are at a turning point for democracy. The corporatist authoritarians, disguised as an ideological movement, have been waging a propaganda war for decades. They want to convince us that "markets" and "market solutions" are superior to self-governance and a common-good, watch-out-for-each-other society. The result is that we are increasingly a one-dollar-one-vote instead of a one-person-one-vote country. Pay-or-die health care is just one example. Stopping government inspection of food-processing plants is another.

Today the "dean" of the Washington pundits weighs in - against democracy. David S. Broder - A Mob-Rule Moment

A particularly virulent strain of populism has made official Washington altogether too responsive to public opinion.
Broder complains about Congress "caving" to public insistence on adding labor and environmental minimum requirements to trade deals, writing, "But the action by the House means that any further deals are unlikely as long as Bush is president." And that's the public's fault, for wanting a living wage and a clean environment, not Bush's for being against those.

Broder ends by writing, "In today's Washington, the "wants" of people count far more heavily than the nation's needs." His prescription to remedy this?

You can win elections by promising people what they want. But you win your place in history by doing what the country needs done.
And by this he means pro-corporate and cheap-labor trade and immigration deals.

Are you for democracy or are you for corporate rule? It is time to choose.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:44 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 31, 2007

McCain, O'Reilly: It's About Keeping Jews, Blacks and Women Out Of Power

The Democratic Party,

Near the end of the video, there was this exchange:

Bill O'Reilly: But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you're a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. In that regard, Pat Buchanan is right. So I say you've got to cap with a number.

John McCain: In America today we've got a very strong economy and low unemployment, so we need addition farm workers, including by the way agriculture, but there may come a time where we have an economic downturn, and we don't need so many.


O'Reilly: But in this bill, you guys have got to cap it. Because estimation is 12 million, there may be 20 [million]. You don't know, I don't know. We've got to cap it.

McCain: We do, we do. I agree with you.

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May 5, 2007

Obama and the Race Zombies

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:09 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 4, 2007

Fred Thompson Writing At Anti-Semitic Website

I received this in my e-mail, from the far-right website Townhall. What is Fred Thompson, possible Republican presidential candidate doing writing there?

In the screenshot of the e-mail I received below, see Thompson advertised right under "What is it with Jews and guns?" It is an article about how Liberals are Jews and Jews are "paranoid."

Click for larger image

I've written about the the anti-Jewish stuff on this site before. Previous Townhall stuff includes,

The sad fact is that the ACLU is made up in good part of Jews, and it is that organization and its lawyers who are leading the assault against Christmas.
So what is Fred Thompson doing writing for them? Is this how he drums up support from the far-right of the Republican "base?"

Seriously, which Republican will denounce this stuff, rather than participate in it?

Another screen shot follows in the extended entry.

Here is his listing at the site.

Click for larger image

The site is also carries articles that say things like:

Since 9/11, many of us have wondered: Where are the moderate Muslims? If they are out there, why are we not hearing more, and getting more help, from them in the fight against our common foe -- the totalitarian Islamists?
And, Islamic leader or cleric has denounced those who recruit, indoctrinate, train and arm the suicide bombers who kill children.
And this,
In addition to not being a country, the "European Union" happens to be composed of people who hate our guts. It is the continent where lunatics are the friendly, pro-American types and the rest are crazy Muslims.
But Wait! There's More! Stuff like this: Why Feminist Mommies are like Pimps,
The liberated feminists in our society see this as the ultimate victory. Eliminating men from the lives of children in their book is a very good thing.
And this: Mormonism: Religion, Denomination, or Cult?

Is THIS how Fred Thompson wants to be known?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:58 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 19, 2007

On Imus

The Enablers of Imus: A Study In Careerism,

It's hard to predict when you will be confronted with a moral test. The Imus controversy arrived suddenly and challenged the vital interests of the Washington press corps and political pantheon. In the end, they willfully overlooked Imus' bigotry, advocating forgiveness to protect their platform, their careers -- and their paychecks. For the enablers of Imus, it was never about freedom of expression, it was about themselves.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:24 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 18, 2007

Don't Reward Failure

At Firedoglake: Don’t Reward Failure By Giving Money to NARAL,

And what did they do with all that cash? They sat it and didn't do a damn thing, didn't lift a finger to fight Samuel Alito. Worse yet, when the Gang of 14 decided to vote in favor of cloture, they said that they did not consider cloture votes "significant" and would not be considering them in their scorecard. They then went on to add insult to injury by asking their membership to thank Lincoln Chafee and Joe Lieberman for the beatings they delivered with their "aye" cloture vote by pretending that their "nay" floor votes were significant. They then poured salt into the wound by endorsing both "short ride" Lieberman and Chafee over their opponents who made it clear that they would not have voted for cloture for Alito, which gave us the 5-4 decision we have today.
Go read.
Don't reward failure. Tell your friends. Don't give money to NARAL when they come knocking on your door to tell you that choice is going down the crapper unless you give them a lot of money, because what you'll be giving money for is Nancy Keenan's ability to point her little pinky over tea at Washington cocktail parties and tut-tut over the state of choice in this country at the hands of the fundamentalists. She'll take no responsibility for the fact that NARAL will not fight, will not back those that fight, and worse yet, that NARAL sucks up all the pro-choice money so nobody else can mount a meaningful fight, either.

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April 13, 2007

Iraqi Civilian Deaths - A Visual Representation

How many Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the war?

Go to Daily Kos: Picture this: 69 Times the Number at Normandy and scroll down. This is a visual representation of how many.

Note - this is not direct casualties, this is the number of additional deaths over the pre-war baseline. For example, if due to the war a diabetic can't get insulin, or there are not enough antibiotics in a region, or no power for a hospital...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 12, 2007

For Kurt Vonnegut

"How to love people who have no use?"

This is the end of a 2003 Who Is Our Economy For? post. It's a post worth reading, by the way.

"... a problem whose queasy horrors will eventually be made world-wide by the sophistication of machines. The problem is this: How to love people who have no use?

In time, almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering and probably medicine too. So, if we can't find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as so often has been suggested, rub them out."

- Kilgore Trout, in Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 9, 2007

Racism In The Media - With Update

For those of you who do not know, radio personality (simulcast on MSNBC) Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team, which has black members, as "nappy-headed hos." Another guest on the show referred to a game between "The Jigaboos vs. The Wannabees."

Right-wing blogger Macsmind,

Another “White” celebrity in trouble for supposed “racist” remarks, this time it’s Don Imus. [...] this “parsing for racism” ONLY when it’s occurs by whites needs to stop now. ... Until then shut up.
Update - MSNBC today "suspended" Imus for two weeks. MSNBC didn't suspend him after this happened on the show, it suspended him after this started to become a widely discussed issue.

The white boy's club that runs this country...

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April 6, 2007

Treatment of Prisoners

Mistreatment of prisoners is wrong when the United States does it, and wrong when Iran does it. Bush and the authoritarian right's acceptance of such treatment doesn't make it right when Iran does it. Bush should be removed from office and tried for war crimes, and so should Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 4, 2007

Pelosi Wears Scarf - Wingnuts In Full-On Frenzy

Sheesh. Speaker Pelosi wore a head covering whie visiting a mosque, and the right-wingers are in a frothing, seething, full-on anti-Muslim racist frenzy.


Never mind that Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice ALSO wore headcoverings when visiting mosques, as well as when visiting the Vatican.

22cnd-laura-bush.2.jpg condi.jpg

So here they go: Pelosi Allows Radical Muslim Propaganda Coup,

"The anti-American propaganda this woman has given the very people who want to totally destroy us is immense."
Here's a good one,
"Tired of being beheaded, hijacked, kidnapped and terrorized? Try Dhimmitude! It's 100% submissive and guaranteed to appease the enemies of freedom. Well, temporally anyway. Because that's all we have to do you know, is just be nice to them. [. . .] The left wants peace at any cost. Terrorism pays."
Another, with a dose of pure anti-Muslim racism:
"I guess the Muslims will give her props for the head scarf, after all she is playing the role of a good dhimmicrat. Then again, depending on how sensitive the Syrians are feeling, she may of sparked another international “Religion of Peace” murderous rage."
See also Has speaker Pelosi committed sedition by her visit to the mideast?

Go see the pics and read The Mahablog : Pelosi Wears Scarf; Righties Bark at Moon

And to really understand America's right, read the 800 comments here.

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March 30, 2007

Iran Violates Geneva Conventions

Broadcasting pictures of the captured British sailors and marines is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Unlike the United States, England has not withdrawn from that treaty.

We face here another example of the consequences of Bush's violation of the compact between a democracy and its leaders. When the leader of your country says he has information that we face imminent attack, you must believe him. Bush did this to lead us into an attack on Iraq, and was lying. So now Bush tells us that Iran is a threat to peace - and it probably is, as this recent action demonstrates. But we can not believe Bush and we can not trust that there is no hidden agenda involved.

As I have said before, if Bush and the Right's claims about Iran come out of true concern for the country, then Bush must step aside. We must have leadership that the people can trust to tell us this is so.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 26, 2007

Digby Digby!

Iran has captured 15 British sailors and marines and says they are "interrogating" them. The fear is that the Iranians might follow the example set by the United States for "interrogation" procedures. Digby said what many of us have been thinking,

I can't believe we are in the position of having to hope the Iranians show more restraint and good sense than Dick Cheney, but we are.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 21, 2007

Is THIS Offensive Enough?

Media Matters - Latching onto L.A. Times op-ed, Limbaugh sings "Barack, The Magic Negro",

On the March 19 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, host Rush Limbaugh highlighted a March 19 Los Angeles Times op-ed that described Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as "running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination -- the 'Magic Negro'" -- a term used by critics of pop culture to describe certain benevolent African-American characters. Limbaugh stated: "The term 'Magic Negro' has been thrown into the political presidential race in the mix for 2008.

... Limbaugh continued to refer to Obama as the "Magic Negro" throughout the broadcast -- 27 times, to be exact -- and at one point sang "Barack, the Magic Negro" to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon." Limbaugh defended his use of the song, stating, "Well, that's what we always do here. We do parodies and satires on the idiocy and phoniness of the left."

It was based on an offensive column in the LA Times. So now the LA Times is offensive enough to provide content for the Limbaugh show?

Update Am I reading the LA Times column wrong?

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February 22, 2007

Bush Forming Religious Police?

Hoo-boy here's one to worry about. Attorney General launches religious freedom initiative at SBC meeting. (SBC means Southern Baptist Convention.)

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met with Southern Baptist leaders Feb. 20 to unveil a new Department of Justice initiative aimed at educating Americans about their religious liberties and to ask for the Southern Baptist Convention’s help in identifying and reporting abuses of those liberties. [emphasis added]
Great. The government working with the Southern Baptists to identify and report abuses of their religious liberties. And of course, the usual right-wing gibberish accompanies this new campaign,
“Why should it be permissible for an employee standing around the water cooler to declare that ‘Tiger Woods is God,’ but a firing offense for him to say ‘Jesus is Lord’?” he said to vocal affirmation from Executive Committee members. “These are the kinds of contradictions we are trying to address.”
Has anyone, anywhere ever been fired for saying "Jesus is Lord?" Of course not.

So it looks like we are about to experience a massive wave of right-wing Christians screaming that they are being victimized every time a Jewish or Muslim person appears on TV or gets a job they wanted. Backed by the full resources of the government. Just great.

With the unveiling of the “First Freedom Project,” the Department of Justice is creating a department-wide Religious Freedom Task Force, the attorney general told Executive Committee members. Another component is the initiation of a program of public education to ensure that people know their rights. Gonzales said the justice department will hold a series of regional training seminars for leaders interested in religious liberty issues, starting in Kansas City, Mo., March 29.

Also, the department has launched a new website,, with information on the laws they enforce and how to file a complaint. Justice officials will be distributing informational literature to religious organizations, civil rights groups and community leaders on how to file a complaint, Gonzales said.

Talk To Action has more,

Imagine if the religious right's beloved "war on Christmas" was a year-round affair. Legions of lawyers ready to pounce on school and civic administrators, the persistent neon buzz of ACLU-paranoia in the air, Pat Robertson and the Bill O'Reilly Persecution Complex (nice band name...) pressuring corporate America to replace every "gezundheit" with a "God bless you." Now, imagine if the leaders of the effort weren't just the Jerry Falwell Admiration Society, but instead the full weight and force of the Department of Justice...
Watch your backs. Here it comes.

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January 29, 2007


Over at The Reaction: This is what a racist looks like ... read about "annoying people with their ear-splitting boom boxes."

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January 16, 2007

Marketing Conservatism and Corporatism

"Conservatives and their ideas are good, liberals and their ideas are bad."

You hear the message repeated a thousand different ways, over and over, every day. It is a strategy, an organized marketing campaign to create demand for conservatives, their policies and their candidates. Over time and unanswered, it sinks into the brain.

The fact is, marketing creates demand. So after decades of this, people start to demand conservative policies and candidates and their politicians just ride that wave. In some areas conservative candidates can just point and shout, "liberal, liberal" and win elections. We see the results all around us - trillions of OUR dollars flow to the top. Our resources are "privatized" into the hands of corporations. We work longer hours for lower pay, losing our health insurance and pensions and rights... Our environment is polluted and our resources extracted.

Repeat: this is a strategic marketing campaign to get people to accept being ruled by wealthy corporatists. Marketing creates demand. Repetition drives a point home.

Today's example just came in the morning e-mail. Read this and you'll see that it follows the same tired script: liberals and their ideas are bad, and conservatives and their ideas are good. Marketing creates demand, and this is marketing, promoting conservative values and ideas and candidates.

The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11

"Why do they hate us?" Some conservatives, following President Bush, believe that Muslim anti-Americanism stems from irrational hatred of our freedom and democracy. Others lay the blame on our foreign policy. Now comes bestselling conservative author Dinesh D'Souza to argue that both views, while they contain elements of truth, miss the larger reason. In The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, D'Souza makes the startling claim that the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist acts around the world can be directly traced to the ideas and attitudes perpetrated by America's cultural left.

"In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," D'Souza explains. "I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the non-profit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage - some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left."

In The Enemy at Home, D'Souza uncovers the links between the spread of America's decadent pop culture, leftist ideas, and secular values and the rise of virulent Anti-Americanism throughout the world. He shows how liberals are responsible for fostering -- and exporting -- a culture that angers and repulses not just Muslim countries but also traditional and religious societies around the world. He also reveals how liberals' outspoken opposition to American foreign policy -- especially our conduct of the war on terror -- contributes to the growing hostility, encouraging people both at home and abroad to blame America for the problems of the world.

Though we are accustomed to thinking of the war on terror and the culture war as distinct and separate, D'Souza argues, they are really one and the same. Conservatives must recognize that the left is now allied with the Islamic radicals in a combined effort to defeat Bush's war on terror. A whole new strategy is therefore needed to fight both wars. It is only by curtailing the left's attacks on religion, family, and traditional values that we can persuade moderate Muslims and others around the world to cooperate with us and begin to shun the extremists in their own countries. In short, writes D'Souza, "to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad, we must defeat the enemy at home."

This is horrible, lying, smearing propaganda, designed to incite hatred against half of America. And it works. We see this stuff in one form or another every single day. Conservatives bathe in it, but the regular public also is showered with it. The worst thing is, it is largely unanswered. People in some parts of the country never hear an opposing viewpoint.

In Are Progressives Good? Then TELL PEOPLE! I wrote,

So it is time to change the game. It is time to start funding organizations that talk to the public about the benefits that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates bring to them. $1000 given today toward building public appreciation of progressive values could have greater impact than $100,000 spent in support of a candidate in the days before an election.
And I closed that piece by writing,
Marketing creates demand. Let’s create a demand for progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates.

The Commonweal Institute wants to tell people that progressive values and ideas and policies and candidates are good for them. (Commonweal means "the public good" or "the common good.")

As I wrote the other day, I am an unpaid Commonweal Institute Fellow. Let's change that. Click here to help.

Marketing and repetition work, so Click here to help

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January 3, 2007

Save 1-800-SUICIDE

One more thing the Bush cronies are doing to hurt people.

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December 20, 2006

Iraq - Where From Here?

I ask everyone to go read this diary at DailyKos about a family in Iraq, and the local reaction to the sense that American troops will be leaving. Daily Kos: A Sobering, Agonizing Reality.

My family in Baghdad - it's bad. They can't go out and go to get food. We call and they are in their house because they can't go out. They have separated Baghdad and put Sunnis in one area and Shi'ia in another. And they have people there to keep them apart. But now with your report, they are going to leave and the Shi'ia are going to come over there. I talked to one family member and he told me 'they are going to kill us when the Americans leave'. They don't want electricity and food and jobs anymore. They just want to be safe. It's the only thing they want. And now the Americans are going to leave.
Yet at the end of the day, to simply pack up and go home means that my friend's in-laws get slaughtered. Literally slaughtered. Whatever tiny semblance of control there is in Baghdad exists at the end of an American rifle. No more Americans, and those people are GONE.
We all need to come fully to grips with the situation Bush has caused. It isn't a TV show that ends in an hour with everything neatly wrapped up. It's people's lives.

Yes, it's a terrible situation. We should not have invaded Iraq and the people involved need to be tried for war crimes. But what do we do now?

We started a war, and the war continues. If we "just leave" it gets worse. If we stay it gets worse. But we all have to stop thinking that it can be made to just go away, and start thinking about where we go from here.

Here is a fact - the Geneva Conventions require an occupation force to provide for the security of the occupied region. That's international law, too, just like invading was against the law. Bush and everyone involved in the invasion and aftermath should be tried for their part in it - but from now on the US government STILL has the legal - and moral - responsibility to bring security to the people of Iraq. THAT is what our conversation needs to be now about because that is the most serious need today.

WE invaded - America, not just Bush. We said, "Not in our name!", but it was done - in our name. Citizens in a democracy share responsibility for what that country does. We, the people of the United States, finally lived up to our responsibility to get rid of the Republican majority in the Congress. But that takes us only part of the way back home. It is still our responsibility to impeach Bush and then fulfill our obligation to find a way to protect the people of Iraq.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 18, 2006

Ten Years In Prison For Oral Sex

The Georgia Supreme Court just upheld a sentence of Ten Years in Prison for 17-Year-Old Who Had Consensual Oral Sex with 15-Year-Old -- even though Georgia later changed the law to a misdemeanor. That's ten years with no possibility of parole, by the way.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:58 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 17, 2006

Vacation Days Off - Who Is Our Economy FOR, Anyway?

In the United States there is no legal minimum number of vacation days for workers. I guess we're all supposed to be thankful to the rich for "giving us jobs."

The rest of the world? Different. (As you read this, remember that 20 days means minimum four weeks vacation by law, not three.)

Here are a few examples:
Austria: 5 weeks, for elderly employees 6 weeks
Belgium: 20 days, premium pay
Brazil: 30 consecutive days, of which 10 can be sold back to the employer
Bulgaria: 20 business days
Croatia: 18 working days
European Union: 4 weeks, more in some countries
France: 7 weeks
Tunisia: 30 work days
Saudi Arabia: 15 days

Who else gets none? China...

So a question: Who is our economy FOR?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:43 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 12, 2006

War On Darkies's not just about the Koran or the Bible...::. Apparently it's also about darkies reading the Koran:

It’s about all the books and documents that follow—like the Constitution. It’s about being on the same page, for the one who takes office with his hand on the Koran, as Congressman-elect Keith Ellison proposes to do, makes a profound statement. By rejecting the Bible, he rejects its and our country’s principles of reason and free will. ... Keith Ellison wants to govern in a country whose values he rejects. Keith Ellison rejected American values quite deliberately and not insignificantly as a college student at Wayne State University in the early 1980s. He made that choice in the tradition of the 1960s radicals who turned to other religions in their wholesale rejection of Western values--with white radicals turning to Eastern and pagan religions repackaged as New Age “spirituality,” and black radicals turning to the putative religion of their African forebears: Islam. This is about someone who followed the lead of a black separatist, Malcolm X … [emphasis added]

… Most recently, he rushed to the defense of the six imams kicked off a U.S. Airways flight for suspicious behavior. Consider his ties to these imams through their mutual terrorist-linked organizations, CAIR and NAIF, at whose conferences he gave speeches just days before the removal of the six imams.

Consider the fact that he has a long association with black supremacist Louis Farrakhan and publicly echoed his anti-Semitism under pseudonyms, such as Keith Ellison-Muhammad. Consider the fact that this has been well-documented, but that he was elected anyway.

Consider the fact that he has downplayed this association for the benefit of the useful idiots, the left who celebrate his election as an example of “diversity” and “inclusiveness.”

… In spite of decades of civil rights legislation, affirmative action, and special funding for minorities, professors are still repeating the same lectures about the terrible Western hegemony.

… The multiculturalists presented reason and truth as notions of a Western imperialistic culture; as a result, now reigning in our educational institutions is the unquestioned dogma of multiculturalism that dismisses debate about the dangers of Keith Ellison as merely “intolerance.”

Yikes! Muticulturalists!

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December 5, 2006

Paid Sick Days

There is a move to require companies to pay for sick days. Conservatives say this is "Socialism."

If basic human rights is "Socialism" then I guess I'm a Socialist! How about you?

In Europe people get several weeks paid vacation each year - by law. They get generous pensions and fully-paid health care for everyone.

What sorts of things should we, the people, require of the companies we, through the laws we pass, allow to operate? Who is our economy FOR? Discuss.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

The Rich ARE Richer

Richest 2% hold half the world’s assets,

Personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two per cent of adults own more than 50 per cent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only 1 per cent of wealth.
You often hear that it wouldn't matter if the wealth of the rich were divided up - there would still be poor people. That's not the case:
So much of the world’s wealth is concentrated in few hands that if all the world’s wealth was distributed evenly, each person would have $20,500 of assets to use.
We're talking everyone IN THE WORLD here. Every single poor, starving African, Indian and everyone else would be relatively rich if only the top few percent would settle for only millions.

Should the people of the world do something about this? Discuss.

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Think Equal

Think Equal

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October 11, 2006

National Coming Out Day

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October 4, 2006

What Is Personal Responsibility?

Personal Responsibility is a tobacco (and other) lobbyist PR slogan that tries to persuade us that children - and the rest of us - should be left on their own, against corporations capable of spending billions of dollars on the very latest methods to get people to do things that are not healthy for them, but which bring immense profits to the companies.

Do we want everyone to be left on their own, in a dog-eat-dog, everyone-out-for-themselves world? Or do we want to stick together and watch out for each other?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 2, 2006

Nobody Here But Us Rascists

I think the title alone says it all: danger from the Dark Continent,

The African continent - vast, remote, and perhaps strategically unimportant in the minds of many unknowing Americans – is one of the most critical fronts in the global war on terror. And it is for a variety of reasons beyond humanitarian concerns.
CREEPY! But it will drive the base.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 29, 2006

Who Voted For Torture?

Go read: Daily Kos: The REAL List Of Congressmen Responsible for Torture,

Keep this in mind. If your neighbor's mean-ass pit bull comes into your yard and bites you, you don't get mad at your own dog for not protecting you. First order of business is to get rid of the god-damned pit bull. After all, he's the one that's really responsible for your wounds. Once that's done, then you can worry about giving your own sorry pooch some watch-dog training.
Go see the whole list, then send EACH of their challengers in this election $1000. EACH ONE!

(And if you really do that, remember my tip jar, too!)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 26, 2006

The Message The Conservatives Are Getting

I have said that the way to understand what Bush and the conservative movement leaders are saying is to listen to what their followers are hearing. And you don't have to go far at all to get the message - the conservatives want war with all of Islam, especially American Muslims.

Over at Townhall - which is a Republican commentary hub, this: Home grown terrorists,

“We are not at war with the Muslim faith.” So say various members of the media and government, either because they actually believe it, or because their blind adherence to political correctness dictates as much.

... Make no mistake, these were your fellow citizens cheering a terrorist organization that has already proudly killed hundreds of Americans. If they would cheer such a despicable group, what else might they do for them or Al Qaida? A logical question that political correctness forbids us to ask.

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August 20, 2006

Terror Alerts Causing General Racist Reaction

President Bush recently changed his definition of who "the enemy" is from bin Laden and the al Queda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 to "Islamic fascists" in general, sending the right after Islam in general and Middle Easterners in particular. The other day I wrote about how the Right's amplification machine was picking up the signal on this, calling for "racial profiling" of Middle-Easterners, even though not all Muslims are Middle Eastern. Of course, never mind about Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph and others of domestic origin.

Let's be clear what "profiling" means - it means singling out all people of a certain racial appearance for harassment and intimidation. And let's be clear about what complaints about "political correctness" and "multiculturalism" are - they are racist phrases demanding domination and privilege for those of European descent.

The Right is also heavily promoting books like, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,

When PC propagandists assure us that jihadist terror doesn't reflect "true," "peaceful" Islam, they're not only wrong, they're dangerous...
... reveals all the disturbing facts about Islam and its murderous hostility to the West that other books ignore, soft-pedal -- or simply lie about.

This book is a unique guide to the bloody teachings and history of Islam, and to the Crusades that still stand today as the Western world's most sustained and successful defense against the warrior hordes who were inspired by those teachings.

and The Life and Religion of Mohammed, sold with
"Mohammed: the ugly truth about the founder of the world's most violent religion." and "With Islam on the march everywhere and Muslims streaming into the U.S. in record numbers, the candor, common sense, and solid Christian faith of this book are needed more than ever."
Today the Right is promoting a story about a "mutiny" aboard a British flight in which fearful British passengers refused to let a plane take off because there were two dark-skinned, Arabic-speaking men aboard, encouraging people to follow this example and start taking matters into their own hands. As I write this the lead post at the "respectable" right-wing hub Towhhall has the very popular TV and radio celebrity Bill O'Reilly writing,
Of course, the sane way to protect Americans in the sky is to stop looking for nail files and begin profiling people who might actually cause terror damage. That is not "racial" profiling, that is "terror" profiling. Most of the recent terror activities have been perpetuated by young Muslim men.
Now take a look at this right-wing blog post, British Air Passengers Mutiny and the comments it solicits, the post blaming "politically correct touchy-feely multiculturalism" for the passengers' reaction.

This one, like many others, make the appeal for people to take matters into their own hands.

It appears that if “we the flying public” are going to be safe, no one but ourselves is going to save us. The hell with political correctness! We need more mutinies of this nature. It’s our money paying for these trips and, ultimately, our lives that are in jeopardy. If the airlines and our “PC” brethren don’t like it, I say “Then follow your own rules!”

I now doubt that anything will bring the so-called “moderate Muslims” out from their hiding places, in order to speak against their suicidal and homicidal brethren. But, at least a few, or many, more of these mutinies might just get the airlines to step up and listen. Contrary to politically-correct opinion, profiling is a good thing—at least if you want to have your best chance of remaining alive.

Or take a look at this one that goes after those who resist "profiling," writing,
One mustn’t risk offending anybody, after all, even if tippy-toeing around the obvious truth leads to hundreds or thousands of dead civilians.
This one says "'Asians,' of course, is UK mediaspeak for Muslims." It goes on to make the typical victimized claim that there will now be
"calls by Muslim leaders and their willing Leftist stooges for some kind of institutionalized and nationwide "education" (i.e. propaganda) campaign to prevent this sort of thing."
The comments at these MAINSTREAM hate sites talk about having the "guts" to go after "towel heads" and praising the "Second Amendment," asking for "Arab-free flights" and saying things like, "Arabs and Muslims need to feel the pain." "They [Muslims] Mshould all be banned from flying and have to pay for their own extremists directly by not flying, the extremists and moderates have caused all of this murder and chaos." "I have been reading the articles and comments for over a year and have to say they have woken me up to the reality of Islam."

Is this just a conservative build-up to the election -- or the beginnings of something worse?

Watch your backs.

Update Lawyers Guns and Money noticed this, too. And Mahablog. Glenn Greenwald.

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August 18, 2006

Go Read

Go read slacktivist: 3.14159265 ...: The area of the circle of the barrel of a gun.

(Through The Sideshow.)

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Does Bush Denounce This Stuff?

My experience is that ANY time you hear someone use the phrase "politically correct' you're dealing with a bigot. I'm not holding my breath for Bush or other Republican leadership to denounce this kind of crap -- these are surrogates getting the Republican election messaging out to the public. correct airport screening puts us at risk,

...So when I calmly suggested that there be a “Muslims Only” line at security checkpoints in our airports, Mr. Gross, predictably, almost became unhinged.

...When they’re not suing to remove crosses from public view or fighting for the rights of child molesters, the ACLU loves to complain about “racial profiling.” They don’t like the fact that privately, police officers everywhere admit that profiling is a valuable and effective tool in law enforcement.

... Racial profiling is a tough tactic that can effectively keep another 9/11 from happening again.

..Let’s stop playing politically correct games and being worried about what the ACLU is going to do. This isn’t some charade, this war is real. The terrorists who want to kill us are looking for every opportunity to pounce. It’s time to formally and officially launch profiling in our nation’s airports.

As I often say, not all Muslims are terrorists. But all the terrorists are Muslims.

Timothy McVeigh. Eric Rudolph. And this guy doesn't even know that Muslims aren't a "race" - or even that not all Muslims are Middle-Eastern. But, of coure, that's logic and reason and the right-wing message isn't about logic or reason, it's about hatred and bigotry and fear. And it's used to get votes.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 16, 2006

Indian-American Republicans Say "Macaca" Not Offensive

On July 6 the Indian American Republican Council issued a strong press release rightly denouncing Joe Biden for saying, "You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." Shame on him.

In response to Republican Senator George Allen's racist slur against Indian Americans they, they issued a press release insisting the term is not offensive. Shame on them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 14, 2006

Virginia Senator Uses Racist Slur To Describe Dark-Skinned Man

A video is online of Senator George Allen of Virginia insulting a dark-skinned man, and saying "welcome to America," at an otherwise all-white Republican gathering. He calls the man "Macaca" and then says, "Well friends, we're in a war on terror." See for yourself.

NOTE - Alternate video source at AlterNet

Jeffrey Feldman of Frameshop did some research and found that the term is used on far-right racist sites, and provides examples. Frameshop: 'Macaca' or 'Macaque'. Go read it, but I warn you, it's pretty sick stuff.

So seeing how it is used on the right-wing, racist websites Feldman found, there is no question what Sen. Allen was saying. Also, it seems that Senator Allen has had a problem with this in his background. From GEORGE ALLEN'S RACE PROBLEM,

Campaigning for governor in 1993, he admitted to prominently displaying a Confederate flag in his living room. He said it was part of a flag collection--and had been removed at the start of his gubernatorial bid. When it was learned that he kept a noose hanging on a ficus tree in his law office, he said it was part of a Western memorabilia collection. These explanations may be sincere. But, as a chief executive, he also compiled a controversial record on race. In 1994, he said he would accept an honorary membership at a Richmond social club with a well-known history of discrimination--an invitation that the three previous governors had refused. After an outcry, Allen rejected the offer. He replaced the only black member of the University of Virginia (UVA) Board of Visitors with a white one. He issued a proclamation drafted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month. The text celebrated Dixie's "four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights." There was no mention of slavery. After some of the early flaps, a headline in The Washington Post read, "governor seen leading va. back in time."

[. . .] Before there was a Governor Allen, there was a state legislator Allen. Allen became active in Virginia politics in the mid-'70s, when state Republicans were first learning how to assemble a new political coalition by wooing white Democrats with appeals to states' rights and respect for Dixie heritage.

Allen was a quick study. In his first race in 1979--according to Larry Sabato, a UVA professor and college classmate of Allen's--he ran a radio ad decrying a congressional redistricting plan whose main purpose was to elect Virginia's first post-Reconstruction black congressman.

... In 1984, he was one of 27 House members to vote against a state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, "Allen said the state shouldn't honor a non-Virginian with his own holiday." He was also bothered by the fact that the proposed holiday would fall on the day set aside in Virginia to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That same year, he did feel the urge to honor one of Virginia's own. He co-sponsored a resolution expressing "regret and sorrow upon the loss" of William Munford Tuck, a politician who opposed every piece of civil rights legislation while in Congress during the 1950s and 1960s and promised "massive resistance" to the Supreme Court's 1954 decision banning segregation.

One thing ab out the video was his comfort using the term with the all-white Republican gathering, and the assumption they all understood and appreciated hat he was doing.

Update - This pro-Allen blog calls it "good-natured ribbing" and one of the commenters says, "He should have called him Saddam!" Go read the racist sites cited above and think about that.

skippy gets into the good-natured spirit of it all.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 13, 2006

Just Get Rid Of Government?

Today my local newspaper' subjects me to this right-wing propaganda comic strip (click to enlarge):


Today the cartoon's message is: Get rid of public schools, then we don't have to pay property taxes, and everyone can pick out for themselves what education their kids get. At least today we get to see the pure, honest message of the Right without the usual disguises -- today's cartoon is not even offering the usual pretense of vouchers.

The larger exchange offered is clear: just get rid of government and the taxes it requires, and leave everyone to fend for themselves.

This exchange extends beyond just schools -- it's about parks, water systems, sewer systems, roads, bridges, highways, public transportation, public health systems, hospitals, Social Security, Medicare and everything else that we as a people, a community, have decided to gather together and provide for the people of this country. The Right dismisses all of this as "collectivism."

I'll just make a couple of points here. If you get rid of schools only the richest will be able to get any education at all. This is the way things used to be. But in America every town got together to build a school and hire a teacher, and this is how public education grew. Everyone understood (learned the hard way) that more education for everyone ends up being better for everyone. If the kids in poor neighborhoods are provided with an education, the community is a better, safer and more prosperous place.

And, likewise, if you get rid of public health systems, the rich are still just as susceptible to catching diseases as everyone else. If we as a collective group don't work to keep the poorest among us from catching TB, then we ALL are at risk of catching TB.

Democracy is about one-person-one-vote and not about one-dollar-one-vote. History has proven that systems based on the Right's dream of one-dollar-one-vote just do not work. But we don't hear this side - the pro-democracy side - of the argument anymore. The increasing concentration of our sources of information into just a few corporate hands means that we even have to be subjected to this kind of far-right propaganda in our Sunday comics. (And when was the last time you saw someone on TV advocating that workers form unions?)

But the reason we are constantly subjected to far-right propaganda like this without hearing counter-messaging is not just because of this concentration of media. It is also because the counter-messaging just isn't being produced and distributed. The Right has a vast messaging machine pumping out propaganda designed to systematically attack the institutions of democracy. But Progressives -- the forces of democracy and community -- aren't doing much to counter it.

We need to build organizations designed to reach the general public with messages that explain and reinforce the values of democracy and community, to counter the Right's incessant messaging.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 11, 2006

Men Arrested For Having Funny Arabic-Sounding Names

And for Local Links to Terrorist Arrests

The activity seems to be more than just a coincidence. All three men are from Dearborn, Michigan
And they had ... CELL PHONES!!!!!
"They are digital for detonating car bombs and they have a particular digital frequency and that's what they're using them for," said Sheriff Larry Mincks.
Althought there were no car bombs involved... Just cell phones. But wait, there's MORE!
Wal-Mart places a limit on the number of cell phones that can be purchased at once, that number is three. The three men allegedly bought 80 by purchasing them three at time so that an alert wouldn't be triggered by the cash register. They also paid cash. An alert clerk grew suspicious and called Tuscola County central dispatch. The Caro Police Department sent a unit and stopped the rented van on M-81 just east of Caro. The suspects were headed towards Bad Axe on M-81 where there is another Super Wal-Mart.
Headed toward ... BAD AXE! Where there is ANOTHER WAL-MART!!!!!

But wait, there's MORE!!!

The three men are described as being of Palestinian descent but live in Texas.

... The men have been "cooperative, upfront, not hiding" anything according to police. They also told officers they get stopped frequently and say they buy the phones for $20 and sell them elsewhere for $38. They sell them without the packaging or charger.


Update - Even the FBI is rolling their eyes at this one.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:19 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

George Galloway Takes On Britain's Fox News

With a longer-term view of what's happening in Lebanon.

"What a silly person you are." "No justice no peace."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 28, 2006

Bush Wants "Protections" From Torture Laws

The Bush administration is asking Congress to pass "protections" from prosecution of people who kill or torture prisoners. The specific law they want changed was passed by a Republican-controlled House, and unanimously by a Republican-controlled Senate in 1996.

WP: Detainee abuse charges feared,

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

... Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said.

... Jones and other advocates intended the law for use against future abusers of captured U.S. troops in countries such as Bosnia, El Salvador and Somalia, but the Pentagon supported making its provisions applicable to U.S. personnel because doing so set a high standard for others to follow.

The Bush administration was predicted in one of the great tunes of all time (there is a sound clip sample at the end of the referenced page):

It's time to taste what you most fear
Right Guard will not help you here
Brace yourself, my dear

It's a holiday in Cambodia
It's tough kid, but it's life
It's a holiday in Cambodia
Don't forget to pack a wife

Your a star-belly sneech you suck like a leech
You want everyone to act like you
Kiss ass while you bitch so you can get rich
But your boss gets richer on you
Well you'll work harder with a gun in your back
For a bowl of rice a day
Slave for soldiers til you starve
Then your head skewered on a stake
Now you can go where people are one
Now you can go where they get things done
What you need my son:

Is a holiday in Cambodia
Where people dress in black
A holiday in Cambodia
Where you'll kiss ass or crack

Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot, Pol Pot


The law don't mean shit if you've got the right friends
That's how the country's run
Twinkies are the best friend I've ever had
I fought the law
And I won

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 27, 2006

Save the Baby Or the Freezer?

I don't know if you have heard this pro-choice and pro-stem-cell-research riddle: Suppose there is a fire at a fertility clinic. In one room is a freezer with 100 embryos. In another room is a baby. Now, suppose you have only enough time to enter ONE room. Do you save the baby, or the freezer?

The Republican case is that you must save the freezer, not the baby, because there are 100 "babies" in the freezer and only one in the other room. Burn, baby, burn.

With Republican government in mind, I want to put this a different way. If someone goes in and saves the baby instead of the freezer, do you prosecute? Republicans would prosecute you for saving the baby.

Here's what I want you to do. There is an election coming. In your local Congressional districts, please show up at a "meet the candidate" event and ASK the Republican candidate if they would save the baby or the freezer. Demand a clear answer. Write letters to you local newspaper's "letters to the editor" asking the Republican candidate to put their answer on the record - baby or freezer?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 23, 2006

Why Destroy Lebanon?

With Iraq, the question is why did we do it? Ask ten people why we invaded Iraq and you will get ten answers, which means there is no real reason which people understand. From Republicans you get a different answer every week...

Now the same question comes up about Lebanon. Why is Israel destroying Lebanon? Destroying the civilian infrastructure, bombing fuel depots and power plants and water pumping stations even in the northern part of the country... and Bush responds by rushing them more bombs. Of course this has nothing to do with the soldiers that were taken or the rockets shot into Israel. But even if it were just because of that, it is collective punishment, which is a war crime. One-third of civilian casualties so far have been children.

I think that maybe what is happening is a "show of force." What I mean is maybe the Republicans and Israel think they are showing the world that even though the US is tied up in Iraq, we can still destroy a country any time we want to, and have no compunctions at all about law or humanity. But the "little people" like you and I aren't going to be let in on the reasons things happen. THAT sort of thing is for old-fashioned democracies and republics. So we just have to speculate.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 20, 2006

Survivor Lebanon - Like Katrina, Americans On Their Own Again

Bush greenlights Israeli bombing of Lebanon with 25,000 Americans in-country and no plan for evacuation. Just like what happened when Katrina struck New Orleans, once again Amercans are left on their own while Republican government pursues a hidden ideological agenda and protects the interests of a select few.

This contrast between right-wing and public interest was also clear in 2003, when Bush interrupted his vacation to fly overnight to Washington to sign "emergency" legislation keeping brain-dead Terri Schiavo alive against her and her husband's wishes. This from the same President who two years before had received the August, 2001 intelligence warning titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US" and left FOR vacation.

And this time it's the same, with the Middle East in crisis Bush acts -- not to protect living Americans, but by vetoing the only bill he has vetoed, refusing to allow stem cell research because the discarded, frozen embyos must stay frozen. But Bush refuses to act to try to ease this crisis or to protect the 25,000 Americans trapped in Lebanon. Instead, surrogates smear them, just like how they smeared the victims of Katrina, in an attempt to provide PR cover and distract Americans.

The great Bob Geiger said to me this is like a TV show, "Survivor Lebanon," so I'm stealing the line. Because so-called "conservatives" believe in a philosophy of "you're on your own" and "everyone out for themselves," Americans are left trapped in a war zone while Bush vetoes stem cell legislation instead of working for peace.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 11, 2006

Murder Supreme Court Justices?

Here we go.

Prominent right-wing blogger today calls for the murder of Supreme Court Justices - the Right fails to condemn it. Go read.

It's based on the Right's call to murder journalists. This has been around a while.

Seriously, watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 6, 2006

Bush Administration Bans Wicca

AlterNet: Blogs: PEEK: Bronze star, but no Pagan star about a soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan, but the Bush administration will not allow a Wicca symbol on his marker.

Through Cynical-C, from the Washington Post.

That's because Stewart was a Wiccan, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has refused to allow a symbol of the Wicca religion -- a five-pointed star within a circle, called a pentacle -- to be inscribed on U.S. military memorials or grave markers.

The department has approved the symbols of 38 other faiths; about half of are versions of the Christian cross. It also allows the Jewish Star of David, the Muslim crescent, the Buddhist wheel, the Mormon angel, the nine-pointed star of Bahai and something that looks like an atomic symbol for atheists.

... Wicca is one of the fastest-growing faiths in the country. Its adherents have increased almost 17-fold from 8,000 in 1990 to 134,000 in 2001, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. The Pentagon says that more than 1,800 Wiccans are on active duty in the armed forces.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 3, 2006

Prayer In Schools

Jewish family flees Delaware school district's aggressive Christianity

A large Delaware school district promoted Christianity so aggressively that a Jewish family felt it necessary to move to Wilmington, two hours away, because they feared retaliation for filing a lawsuit. The religion (if any) of a second family in the lawsuit is not known, because they're suing as Jane and John Doe; they also fear retaliation. Both families are asking relief from "state-sponsored religion."

The behavior of the Indian River School District board suggests the families' fears are hardly groundless.

[. . .] Classmates accused Alex Dobrich of "killing Christ" and he became fearful about wearing his yarmulke, the complaint recounts. He took it off whenever he saw a police officer, fearing that the officer might see it and pull over his mother's car. When the family went grocery shopping, the complaint says, "Alexander would remove the pin holding his yarmulke on his head for fear that someone would grab it and rip out some of his hair."

Read on...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:14 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 18, 2006

Criminal Injustice System

[There are now more corrections officers (29,000) in California than there were state prisoners 20 years ago (24,000) when the individual featured in the article below went to prison. During that period, the prison population has increased more than six-fold, to 160,000. The cost to society to imprison these folks, many of them who belong elsewhere, and the wasted human potential they represent, is breathtaking in its scope.

The article below, printed in this month's "Street Spirit - Justice News and Homeless Blues in the Bay Area" (a publication of the American Friends Service Committee), highlights the destructive and inhumane nature of our prison system... and also the difficulty that even truly redeemed and repentant individuals face in obtaining parole from a system politically biased against it. I've excerpted several paragraphs from it, in the hopes that STF's readers will be inspired to read the full article off the Street Spirit web site.

An extensive and moving interview with the Rev. James Tramel is also available on their site. -Thomas]

From Prison to Priesthood
With a little help from his friends, Rev. James Tramel makes the journey from darkness to light.
by Terry Messman

In ministering to prisoners who were dying the loneliest deaths imaginable behind the prison walls of the House of the Dead, Father Tramel found friendship, a new reason to live, and a hope that could not be buried, not even behind the fortress walls of some of the nation's toughest prisons -- San Quentin, Folsom, Solano State Prison, and Vacaville. [...]
Father Tramel is a man of many firsts -- the first man ever to be ordained as an Episcopal priest while in prison; and the first prison inmate ever admitted into an Episcopal seminary, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley.
He was also the youngest prisoner in San Quentin when he was locked up in the notorious California prison in 1986 when he was only 17. He spent his entire adult life in San Quentin, Folsom, Vacaville and Solano prisons until his release on March 12, 2006, after serving more than 20 years for second-degree murder. [...]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

June 13, 2006

South Central Farm Eviction In Process - Call Mayor Villagairosa Now!

[Call Mayor Villagairosa at 213-978-0600 and let him know that the whole world is watching, and that you want him to put people first, and step up his efforts to facilitate a resolution that preserves the farm as a space where poor urban residents, many of them immigrants and people of color, have an opportunity to grow healthy food and maintain a connection with the natural world. All the farmers need is time, the system is beginning to respond, not only as evidenced by the widespread support from celebrities, but by the fact that the Annenburg Foundation had stepped in and volunteered to help raise the last 8 or 9 million needed to purchase the farm - an activist friend of mine tells me that, in fact, they guaranteed that they'd be able to raise the money. The developer doesn't stand to lose money, he got the land in a sweetheart deal for less than market value, and will still make quite a bit of profit at a $15 million sale price. -Thomas]

To learn more about the South Central Farmers, visit:


Circle of Life Family,

This press release was just sent to us from the South Central Farm where Julia had been fasting and tree sitting for over 3 weeks. Daryl Hannah and John Quigley are still there and at last report were still in the walnut tree but about to get removed by sheriffs at any moment.

NEWS FLASH - 8:59am, 8 people have been carried out on stretchers and they have started to bull doze the land!

WHAT: Hundreds of officers with the Los Angeles Sheriff department swarmed onto the peaceful, non-violent South-Central Farmers garden at 5:15am today accompanied by six helicopters buzzing over the sleeping supporters.

Supporters of this 14 acre organic farming community remain outside the locked-down area on the street chanting their protest of this forceful action while 20 are still inside the farm.

Dozens of supporters have been living on the land, sleeping in tents, and taking turns living in the Walnut tree on the premise while fasting to show solidarity with the Farmers. Julia-Butterfly Hill just came down last week after fasting for 23 days. Several celebrities have shown up in the last few weeks - Willie Nelson, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Ed Begley, Jr, Joan Baez to name a few.

As of this time, Daryl Hannah and aerial artist John Quigley are up in the Walnut tree refusing to come down. 20 campers on the land have locked themselves to benches, fences and the base around the tree while L.A. County Sheriffs are attempting to saw their locks off.

Yesterday, a peace offering of organic flowers and fresh produce from the Farm was presented to the developer, Ralph Horowitz at his offices in Brentwood, California and to Mayor Antonio Villagairosa at City Hall. Their response to this
appears to be this early morning raid.

Citizens are frustrated with the Mayor because of his apparent lack of political leadership in this, even though he has publicly stated supported of the Farm in the last few weeks.

The Farm supporters are asking people to:

1. Call City Hall to ask that Mayor Villaraigosa step up and exhibit political leadership
and interfere with the eviction. PH: 213-978-0600

2. Come down to City Hall to express their support.
Address: 200 N. Spring Street - Los Angeles, CA 90029

3. Come to the Farm to Protest this oppressive and destructive action against the Farmers and their supporters

WHERE: 41st & Long Beach Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(Alameda exit off Interstate 10)

WHEN: All Day
June 13, 2006

****A SPECIAL 7:00PM candlelight vigil will be held on-site
The public is encouraged to attend

To learn more about the South Central Farmers, visit:
Contact: Fernando Flores: Co-Chair of South Central Farmers Support Coalition
PH: 909-605-3136


The South Central Farm, a 14-acre green oasis in the middle of downtown Los Angeles, is in danger of being lost to warehouse development. This community garden has been operated mainly by Latino immigrants for more than a decade and has become an important part of the culture and open space in Los Angeles.

In 1992, the Farm was created in response to the Rodney King uprising to help develop and align the local South-Central
community. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank signed a lease with the city of Los Angeles to set aside the South Central Farm as a community garden. Since then more than 350 impoverished families have banded together as the South Central Farmers to transform an industrial dump into an urban paradise. These families have been successfully augmenting their household food supply with the resultant harvest.

But in 2003 the city sold the land to a private developer to build warehouses. The community was outraged, and the farmers refused to leave the land while they tried to raise the money to buy the property themselves. For the last several weeks -- in the face of a deadline to come up with the money or be evicted -- the farmers, with the help of appeals by activists and celebrities, worked around the clock and successfully raised the money to purchase the property. At last report, the Annenburg Foundation had offered to help raise the 15 million to purchase the land but it seems responding to pressure, the developer has changed his mind and decided not to sell the land to the farmers after all.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:41 AM | Comments (22) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 19, 2006


Senate Votes English as 'National Language',

After an emotional debate fraught with symbolism, the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English...
I think the idea that a majority can vote to require everyone to speak their language is a BIG mistake. You see, I live in California and my Spanish is not fluent.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Republicans and Racism

At Feminste, When Will the Right Renounce Racism — And Mean It?

Wake up, Republicans. This is some vile stuff you’re spewing, and allowing people like Coulter and Limbaugh to be the face of your party is troubling. Now, it may help you win elections, given that much of the American public is apparently racist, misogynist and homophobic as well, since they keep on voting for you (or perhaps they’re too busy living their lives to notice how repulsive you all are). But I don’t imagine that history will be particularly kind to you.

(Through Daou Report)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 18, 2006

Harmful to Minors - Conservative Christian Paranoia

So, Merck has allegedly developed a 100% effective and safe* vacinne against HPV (human papilloma virus), which together cause "nearly 70 percent of all cervical cancers and genital warts". The vacinne can work in girls as young as 9 years old, and so could easily be incorporated into childhood vaccination routines and essentially wipe these things out. Wonderful news, right?

Not if you're Focus on the Family, or Physicians Consortium (an obscure ultra-conservative organization whose spokesperson is blithely quoted in this article without any background whatsoever being supplied about it) - apparently, these folks are prepared to risk having untold numbers of young women become infected by HPV and have god knows how many develop cervical cancer, et. al., as a result, because the virii in question are "sexually transmitted" and this makes them somehow exempt from the normal logic applied to preventative medicine.

To the point of this blog, note that no "liberal family groups" are quoted or identified as supporting adding this to the normal set of vaccinations. Instead, you have a politician and a bureaucrat vs. two right-wingers, one of them so far off the deep end that he makes Focus on the Family sound reasonable. Classic example of a "balanced" piece of journalism from modern American media.

Apparently the concept that:

a) young girls and women can be abused and raped, and while nothing reduces the horror of such an event, I'm sure they'd be happier not carrying around HPV and getting cervical cancer as a result... and not having to worry about it

b) young women (just like young men) can display awfully bad judgement and/or naivete, the results of which can be disasterous... but a lot less lingering and damaging if they aren't accompanied an HPV infection and cervical cancer!

I have two young step-daughters, 11 and 12, and while I sincerely and profoundly hope that nothing awful happens to them, and any lapses of judgement or naivete on their part are minimal and minimally traumatic, if there was a way I could get them a vaccine which would 100% guarantee immunity to any and all "STDs", I'd jump on it forthwith, and sleep much easier at night as a result. Do I think that such a vacination would somehow induce them to be promiscuous or careless? I'd sure hope not, sure would hope that some of the many things they've been told by parents, teachers, and as many authority figures as possible would be present in their mind at any moment of decision.

Seriously, I don't get the logic put forth by these people:

"This is a disease that's sexually transmitted," said Linda Klepacki, spokeswoman for Focus on the Family. "Because of that, this is a very personal subject and we feel parents should make that decision for their children."
Other opponents go further. Hal Wallace, head of the Physicians Consortium, says the vaccine would send kids a message that, "you just take this shot and you can be as sexually promiscuous as you want."

What are they afraid of? That a shot administered by a doctor at age 9 or 10 is somehow going to have a greater impact on their children's attitude and behavior than a lifetime of parental and churchly indoctrination?!? Explain to me, exactly, how that would work? If that is not the case, and parental and social and religious guidance all weigh more heavily in a young woman's decision making process, then what is there to fear?

Or is the truth that they don't see themselves as credible proponents of their own values, and need the "stick" of STDs to keep their kids in line? That's the only rationale I can see.

... and personally, given the rate at which young women are abused and raped, and the lifetime consequences of contracting HPV as a result, I don't see the "benefits" as a worthwhile tradeoff.

* I'll reserve my skepticism about any such claims for the moment.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 16, 2006

Wingnuts Against Women

Wingnuttery (also filed under Party over Country): Violence Against Women Act abuses the rights of men. Bush should not have supported the Violence Against Women act because,

The act, which costs nearly $1 billion per year, is one of the major ways former President Bill Clinton bought the support of radical feminists. ... It's unlikely that the feminists who will spend all that money will ever vote Republican.
Right, our government is only for Repubicans. (Works even better if you give them money.)

Here's my favorite part:

This criminalizing of ordinary private behavior and incarceration without due process follows classic police-state practices. Evidence is irrelevant, hearsay is admissible, defendants have no right to confront their accusers, and forced confessions are a common feature.
And here we enter the yee-ha zone:
Violence Against Women Act money is used by anti-male feminists to train judges, prosecutors and police in the feminist myths that domestic violence is a contagious epidemic, and that men are naturally batterers and women are naturally victims. Feminists lobby state legislators to pass must-arrest and must-prosecute laws even when police don't observe any crime and can't produce a witness to testify about an alleged crime.
These far-right "conservatives" are the people in charge of every branch of our government.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:30 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 15, 2006

Our SOUTHERN Border (wink wink)

How come our NORTHERN border isn't a problem to the Republicans?

AP Wire | 05/15/2006 | Text of Bush's speech on immigration,

At our southern border, others have organized to stop illegal immigrants from coming in.

... up to 6,000 Guard members will be deployed to our southern border.

...we must ensure that every illegal immigrant we catch crossing our southern border is returned home. More than 85 percent of the illegal immigrants we catch crossing the southern border are Mexicans...

...nd I will ask Congress for additional funding and legal authority, so we can end "catch and release" at the southern border once and for all.

Republicans and people people with brown skin...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 9, 2006

Making My Case So Well

I'd like to bring everyone's attention to a comment left by one of our regular "conservative" visitors, at the post Rallying the Base, in which I wrote, "Republicans are down in the polls, so blatant racism is used to remind them who they are for and who they are against."

Here's the comment, judge for yourself whether it makes my point:

Wow...your racism-Detecto-matic must be set to "hypersensitive"...why is it racism to point out that in large measure, the refugees from New Orleans brought their city's high crime rate with them when the moved to Houston?

Would you rather the matter not be discussed because the cold truth (Blacks commit crimes in numbers that are WAY disproportionate to their percentage of the population) makes liberals uncomfortable?

First, I'm "hypersensitive" to think Rush was talking about Black people. Rush was oh-so-careful not to say he meant Black people when he talked about "New Orleans refugees." That's what's known as a "code word." Republicans are so good at using code words, but so-called "conservatives" sure are good at picking up the message that is being sent, no?

And then, of course, comes the racist argument that Black people are different, are criminals, etc. But I was just being a typical "hypersensitive" liberal to think this was about race. It must be a conspiracy theory to think it was about race...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 10, 2006

Republicans Whipping Up Racial Hatred

Republicans are working hard to keep their base together. See Democrats Recruiting at Illegal Immigrant Protests.

No one except white Repubicans are real Americans. Non-whites are unthinking groups that all vote the same. Etc... "The Dems have cornered the black voting collective..." "the Hispanic vote..."

Here's another one, whipping up racial hatred today, MUSLIMS FOR OPEN BORDERS,

Many interesting characters are showing up at the illegal alien demonstrations against immigration enforcement. Black Panthers. A.N.S.W.E.R. agitators. And...America-bashing Muslim activists.
Americans of Hispanic descent are "illegal aliens." Muslims are "America-bashing."

But to really see it, go here,

...the illegal immigrants whose rudeness and disregard for anti-littering laws have made it impossible to take my family to Miami Beach for several years, now...

...the illegal immigrant who leeched off of our friend and neighbor for years, not doing a lick of work around the house, until the neighbor finally became so fed up that she moved out of state...

...the illegal immigrants whose children have made several of our public schools so dangerous and disorderly...

...the illegal immigrants who dump trash all over our neighborhood park every weekend...

Disgusting, but typical.

Update - Mahablog sees it.

Update II - And Digby, writing at firedoglake, explains the origins.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:06 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 6, 2006


McKinney and the racists,

The fact that white Democrats are so unwilling to stand up for McKinney is just plain shameful. It's bad enough that they're cowards, but do they really think there is no downside to letting McKinney get pummelled by these right-wing loonies who keep attacking her? Those people are racists, and it's outrageous to see Democrats sitting on the same side with them.

... You can't appease these people, you have to fight back every time they do this crap. And liberal bloggers who talk about this stuff all the time should be really embarrassed to be falling for it now.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:50 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

April 3, 2006


I just love hearing all the Republicans talking about how undocumented workers "broke the law." Republicans talking about how laws should be respected? Give me a break! How many laws is the Bush administration breaking? A better question - is there a law they respect?

What about enforcing the laws against warrantless wiretapping? What about the law that says the Social Security Trustees must issue their annual report to Congress by April 1? What about the laws that say people can not be punished for trying to start unions?

But back to immigration. I think we need to secure our borders. Duh! And not just to protect our own wages, but to protect against crime, terrorism, smuggling... I think we need to make it illegal rather than profitable to hire undocumented workers. I think we need to fix NAFTA because it is causing poverty south of the border, driving people across the border, while costing us jobs and benefits as well.

And we have 11 million people here who are forced to work for substandard wages which drives down the wages of citizens, and causes us to lose pensions and health care. We need to find a way to bring these people to full citizenship so they can vote. But we need to do this in a way that does not encourage more illegal immigration. Perhaps fines, back taxes, some kind of term of public service...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:36 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 31, 2006

Republican Calls Democratic Representative "Ghetto Slut"

More blatant (but typical) Republican racism. Media Matters - Boortz: Rep. McKinney "looks like a ghetto slut"

On the March 31 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, Neal Boortz said that Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) "looks like a ghetto slut."

... Boortz said that McKinney's "new hair-do" makes her look "like a ghetto slut," like "an explosion at a Brillo pad factory," like "Tina Turner peeing on an electric fence," and like "a shih tzu." McKinney is the first African-American woman elected to Congress from Georgia.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:07 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 28, 2006

Athiests Can Marry!

Trust me, I’m an atheist,

We’re unorganized and don’t wear our beliefs on our sleeves. We’re not pushing for changes to marriage institutions. (We can already marry your daughters, even if you don’t want us to. Nyaah, nyaah.) Radical sects of us don’t go blowing things up. Other than having a suspicious amount of free time on Sundays, we fit right in.
It's not right that they (we) can marry. The government has to do something about that.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 22, 2006

All Good Jobs Going Away? Who Is Our Economy FOR?

In Will Your Job Survive? Harold Meyerson writes,

In the new global order, Blinder writes, not just manufacturing jobs but a large number of service jobs will be performed in cheaper climes. Indeed, only hands-on or face-to-face services look safe.

... the grand total of American jobs that could be bound for Bangalore or Bangladesh is somewhere between 42 million and 56 million. That doesn't mean all those jobs are going to be exported. It does mean that the Americans performing them will be in competition with people who will do the same work for a whole lot less.

Meyerson quotes an economist who recommends that people specialize "in the delivery of services where personal presence is either imperative or highly beneficial. Thus, the U.S. workforce of the future will likely have more divorce lawyers and fewer attorneys who write routine contracts."

Here's the problem with "service sector" jobs: they require people with money to service. We won't all be able to service the top few who are winding up with all of the money and property in the country.

Meyerson agrees, writing,

Every other advanced economy -- certainly, those of the Europeans and the Japanese -- has a conscious strategy to keep its most highly skilled jobs at home. We have none; American capitalism, dominated by our financial sector, is uniquely wedded to disaggregating companies, thwarting unionization campaigns and offshoring work in a ceaseless campaign to impress investors that it has found the cheapest labor imaginable.
His proposals (go read them) are much more modest than what I would recommend. I think we need to completely redefine the concept of "ownership."

Who "owns" a corporation? The government - you and me - grant corporations certain protections, including limitations of liability. In other words, stockholders in a company are not liable for the debts of the company. When a company goes bankrupt the shareholders don't have to cough up the money to cover what the company owed. So what is happening here is that for the benefit OF ALL OF US, we allow companies to operate in certain ways. It isn't about letting a few people get really rich while stealing our pensions and cancelling our health insurance. It's supposed to be about ALL OF US ending up better off.

A society shares resources. Does an oil company "own" the oil, or water, or air? Or does society grant them a license to profit from the extraction and development of that commonly-shared resource, FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL OF US?

Companies are granted charters to operate by the community-at-large. Does a drug company have the right to refuse to develop new antibiotics? Shouldn't we instead yank their licence to be a drug company and give that license to a different company that agrees to develop needed drugs? I mean, they were chartered as a corporation to serve the public by developing drugs! And what about vaccine companies that reduce costs by shutting down or otherwise reduce their vaccine-making capacity?

So why are we letting corporations export our jobs in order to enrich a very few people? Why aren't WE sharing in the proceeds? Why is it COSTING us our pensions and health insurance and wages? WHO IS OUR ECONOMY FOR, ANYWAY?

This throws a few ideas into the air. Discuss - let's see where they land.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 19, 2006

Death Penalty For Converting to Christianity - In Afghanistan

Good Job Bush the Incompetent: Conversion to Christianity could bring death penalty in Bush's Afghanistan. Story here and here.

This with Americans still fighting in Afghanistan!

And where did blue meme hear about this?

The only reason I know about this story is because I heard about it on BBC World News in the car -- most major U.S. news outlets have ignored it.
Further discussion at Below the Beltway.

Of course, this is what is coming in Iraq, too. Iraq was a secular country under Saddam. But now we've put in place a Shiite government alied with Iran... Conservatives, for some reason, are surprised that the results of "bringing democracy to the Middle East" (I think that was reason #47, floated after reason #46 didn't sell...) might not have been in America's interests!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

March 18, 2006

What You Won't See On American TV

This remarkable video from al Jazeera shows an Arab woman arguing against the "backwardness" of the fundamentalist Muslims. (Arabic with subtitles.)

When is the last time you saw someone on American TV arguing against the backwardness of fundamentalist Christians? American TV wouldn't allow that -- not in today's environment of threats and intimidation.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:03 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 27, 2006

The inside story on the fight over abuse and torture within the Bush Administration.

[You can read the "secret" twenty-two page memo authored by Mora, the subject of the article below. -Thomas]

How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted.
Issue of 2006-02-27
Posted 2006-02-20

One night this January, in a ceremony at the Officers’ Club at Fort
Myer, in Arlington, Virginia, which sits on a hill with a commanding
view across the Potomac River to the Washington Monument, Alberto J.
Mora, the outgoing general counsel of the United States Navy, stood next
to a podium in the club’s ballroom. A handsome gray-haired man in his
mid-fifties, he listened with a mixture of embarrassment and pride as
his colleagues toasted his impending departure. Amid the usual tributes
were some more pointed comments.

“Never has there been a counsel with more intellectual courage or
personal integrity,” David Brant, the former head of the Naval Criminal
Investigative Service, said. Brant added somewhat cryptically, “He
surprised us into doing the right thing.” Conspicuous for his silence
that night was Mora’s boss, William J. Haynes II, the general counsel of
the Department of Defense.

Back in Haynes’s office, on the third floor of the Pentagon, there was a
stack of papers chronicling a private battle that Mora had waged against
Haynes and other top Administration officials, challenging their tactics
in fighting terrorism. Some of the documents are classified and, despite
repeated requests from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee
and the Senate Judiciary Committee, have not been released. One
document, which is marked “secret” but is not classified, is a
twenty-two-page memo written by Mora. It shows that three years ago Mora
tried to halt what he saw as a disastrous and unlawful policy of
authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects.

[continued at URL above]

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 9:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 17, 2006

Illegal to Have a Middle-Eastern Name?

Daily Pundit: Homeland Insecurity

Debbie Schlussel has the facts about a truck-driving school in Missouri where about 300 people who took the licensing test from May 2004 to December 2005 “had names that appeared to be Middle Eastern in origin.” That’s about 60% of the total number of people tested at the school.
Fortunately, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (a fancy name for a group that hasn't done much) raided the school, and the Missouri Highway Patrol has blocked the school from testing new students or issuing further licenses. Well, it's about time. What took so long?
The so-called "War On Terror" seems to be about War On People With Middle-Eastern Names. All the wingers are getting whipped into a frenzy because dark-skinned people are learning to drive trucks. I guess the fear is that soon they'll be dating the daughters of Republicans...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:34 AM | Comments (43) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 16, 2006


I have a cold, so I'm doing a lot of directing elsewhere... Don't get too close, you might catch it.

At The Reaction, Ann Coulter's conservative bigotry,

Last week, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Ann Coulter, whom we already know is a dangerous idiot, called Muslims "ragheads" -- see Max Blumenthal at The Raw Story. Even Michelle Malkin, ever-so-sensitive defender of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, called Coulter's remarks "spectacularly ill-chosen and ill-timed" (more on Malkin below).
Go there for the links and the rest. Now I need some rest, too.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 13, 2006

My Public Key

Per Dave's comments to "Watch your back."

I've actually gone ahead and figured out how to use "gnupg" and "Evolution" (the Linux based email client I use on my desktop) to sign and/or encrypt my emails (and other items). To that end, I invite anyone wanting to write me to download my "public key", at:

This can be used to verify the "signature" attached to any emails I send you, and to decrypt any file I send to you (assuming you have a public key available). If you supply me with a public key, I can in turn decrypt files you send me, and authenticate any "encrypted signatures" attached to email you send me.

I found these two "tutorials" useful:
Cooking with Linux - Fran�ois, Can You Keep a Secret?, by Marcel Gagné in SysAdmin magazine
Adding a photo id to your GNU PG key.

Caveats: Encryption only secures communications in transport: ultimately, they must be decrypted on the machine which is used to read them, and at that point, the communication is vulnerable (as it is prior to encryption). The simple expidient of sticking a keylogger onto your desktop (hardware or software) or even a small wireless video camera pointed at your monitor, can bypass even the strongest encryption.

What is secure now, may not be secure in the future. Quantum computing and other technologies may well make even the most "secure" encryption vulnerable at some point in the future.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:43 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 9, 2006

More Racist Republicans

Paperwight made a good catch here. Republicans complaining about declining white birth rates...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

February 8, 2006

Blatant Racism at Republican Blogs

Referring to this post at RedState, Matt Stoller points out the blatant racism that is accepted by Republicans as they try to turn Coretta Scott King's funeral into a political opportunity. As John at Americablog put it,
Get ready for the white men of the Republican party to lecture black leaders about not knowing their place.

And the comments... The civil rights movement "was an extortion scam to enrich themselves" "Bush should take back New Orleans money and force these aholes to come begging for it."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:05 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 31, 2006

Alito Sworn In - 5 States Readying Abortion Bans

Same-day service. Alito sworn-in, 5 states readying abortion bans.

Moonie Times, Sweeping anti-abortion laws proposed,

Legislators in at least five states are proposing bold anti-abortion measures as the Bush administration reshapes the U.S. Supreme Court, a report said.

With the goal of challenging the Roe vs. Wade ruling that ensured a woman's right to an abortion, lawmakers in Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota and Tennessee propose banning all abortions except when the woman's life is in danger, reported.

If enacted, legal experts said the laws would be the first absolute abortion bans since the landmark 1973 ruling.

As I said earlier, don't be fooled by Senators who voted 'No' on Alito today but voted to end the filibuster. They put Alito on the court.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Torture On TV - A Question

Just a question. How many TV shows have you seen lately that have one of the character using torture? I'm watching a Tivo'd episode of Surface now, and one of the main characters is torturing someone. I was just thinking I've been seeing a lot of torture on drama shows for a while now. Just asking.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 29, 2006

Welcome Straight, Not Narrow

Straight, Not Narrow, " a blog that promotes GLBT equality in Christianity and politics and addresses the agendas of those narrow minded people who are determined to prevent it. "

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 25, 2006

Saddam Files Suit Againt Bush, Blair

United Press International�-�The Washington Times, America's Newspaper,

Defence lawyers for Saddam Hussein Wednesday distributed copies of a lawsuit against President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair for destroying Iraq.
The suit accuses Bush and Blair of committing war crimes by using weapons of mass destruction and internationally-banned weapons including enriched uranium and phosphoric and cluster bombs against unarmed Iraqi civilians, notably in Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, al-Kaem and Anbar.

The Amman-based legal team had said Sunday that the ousted president intended to start legal action against the two leaders of the Iraq war in the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but the text of the suit was made available Wednesday. The suit also accuses the U.S. president and British prime minister of torturing Iraqi prisoners, destroying Iraq's cultural heritage with the aim of eliminating an ancient civilization, and inciting internal strife. Bush and Blair were also accused of polluting Iraq's air, waters and environment. The lawsuit demanded that Bush and Blair appear before court to answer the charges filed against them and requested the harshest punishment in line with Dutch legislation and the rules of international and humanitarian laws. It also requested compensation for all material and moral damage inflicted on the Iraqi people.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:59 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 24, 2006

Afghanistan's Chief Justice: stone adulterers to death, ban cable-tv, close co-ed schools

Juan Cole reports on the Bush Regime's judicial appointments elsewhere...

"Co-education violates Islamic injunctions and social morality."

"Cable tv undermines social morality and the people of Afghanistan oppose it."

This are direct quotes from media interviews with Afghanistan's Chief Justice, Fazil Hadi Shinwari (the head of their Supreme Court). Nice, eh? Real high quality democracy we've got going there, American style human rights are clearly high on the agenda... NOT. With this as an example, whadda ya think we're going to wind up with in Iraq?

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 20, 2006

Washington Post Smears Gay People

AMERICAblog : Washington Post publishes bigoted anti-gay comic strip has the strip.

Liberals are like Osama, Gay people are disgusting, animal rights activists and environmentalists are terrorists... and when their readers complain on their blog they just shut down the comments. Ah the public discourse in America under Republican control...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 18, 2006

Republican Logic

From Death row elder needed 2 injections,

Having suffered a heart attack back in September, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request prison officials said they would not honor.

"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. "We would resuscitate him," then execute him.

OK, what's the bet that this is a Republican speaking. Sheesh. "Sanctity of life?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

January 9, 2006

Worse and Worse Every Day

US Troops Seize Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist

American troops in Baghdad yesterday blasted their way into the home of an Iraqi journalist working for the Guardian and Channel 4, firing bullets into the bedroom where he was sleeping with his wife and children.

I had several rather dismaying conversations over the holidays, filled with morbid jokes about the FBI knocking on one's door subsequent to even slightly ill-advised comments. Found myself thinking, several times, "it is hard to believe I'm in America, and having this conversation." Sigh.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 29, 2005

British Bloggers Publish British Torture Memos

Markos details the smackdown by British bloggers of an effort by Blair and the British government to prevent publication of British memos that document UK complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers.

Markos has also re-published the British Torture Memos.


Posted by Gary Boatwright at 1:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 28, 2005

Bush Allows Human Trafficking

The administration of zero moral values has reached a whole new low. Obsidian Wings has the story:

A proposal prohibiting defense contractor involvement in human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor was drafted by the Pentagon last summer, but five defense lobbying groups oppose key provisions and a final policy still appears to be months away, according to those involved and Defense Department records."

What sorts of "human trafficking" are at issue? Just buying women as sex slaves and little things like that.

"Bush declared zero tolerance for involvement in human trafficking by federal employees and contractors in a National Security Presidential Directive he signed in December 2002 after media reports detailing the alleged involvement of DynCorp employees in buying women and girls as sex slaves in Bosnia during the U.S. military's deployment there in the late 1990s.

Ultimately, the company fired eight employees for their alleged involvement in sex trafficking and illegal arms deals. (...)

This fall, the Chicago Tribune detailed how Middle Eastern firms working under American subcontracts in Iraq, and a chain of human brokers beneath them, engaged in the kind of abuses condemned elsewhere by the U.S. government as human trafficking. KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, relies on more than 200 subcontractors to carry out a multibillion-dollar U.S. Army contract for privatization of military support operations in the war zone.

The Chicago Tribune retraced the journey of 12 Nepali men recruited from poor villages in one of the most remote and impoverished corners of the world and documented a trail of deceit, fraud and negligence stretching into Iraq. The men were kidnapped from an unprotected caravan and executed en route to jobs at an American military base in 2004."

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 4:22 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 27, 2005

Bush greatly alarming conservative civil libertarians

Check out this article Victims of the darkness: Government surveillance and intimidation on Pravda.Ru (of all places) by John W. Whitehead, founder and president of The Rutherford Institute (the folks who brought you the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit, and generally categorizeable as "conservative" in orientation). Here's the lead:

Not since the notorious McCarthy era of the 1950s, when American freedoms faced extinction, has there been such an attack against the Bill of Rights.

Pretty hardcore, heh?

Whitehead also says, "... the American government has a near paranoia about dissenting citizens." He even goes so far as to compare the tactics of "fear and intimidation" used by the Bush administration to those of the "Nazi and Soviet secret police of former regimes". The fact that the Bush administration's disregard for basic civil liberties has so alarmed folks on his side of the political spectrum illustrates how exceptional his policies are. The big question, of course, is how this is going to manifest itself in terms of political action within the right, and within the Republican Party... at what point is the level of alarm and dissent going to rise so high as to precipitate real change?

I'm afraid the answer is, "far too late". The Republican Party and the right are reaping the whirlwind of thirty years of extremist propaganda, which has acquired a momentum of its own - a tsunami of rhetoric whose operators broke no dissent from the party line, and whose tactics, in many ways, can be seen as functionally analogous to those used by the Nazi and Soviet secret police referred to above. I have to wonder what type of heat Whitehead is taking from Administration loyalists as a result of this article... it might be interesting to see whether or not the Rutherford Institute's funding is affected over the next few years.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 19, 2005

Why Condoning Torture Is Stupid (and not just immoral)

Excellent op-ed on torture in the Washington Post, from a victim of torture himself: Torture's Long Shadow. The author's central point: from a purely pragmatic point of view, the shortcut methods precipitated by the use of torture destroy the effectiveness of intelligence gathering - not to mention driving out the talented folks in favor of the brutal hacks, and destroying the lives and shriveling the souls of every non-sociopathic individual forced to participate in it.

It makes me violently ill to think that the people running this country, my country, condone "cruel, inhumane or degrading" (CID) treatment of captives. Moving to Sweden when my kids turn 18 becomes more attractive on a daily basis.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 14, 2005

Ford Retreats - Will Back Gays

Regarding that Ford thing? We just won.
Read about it at AMERICAblog

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

December 6, 2005

Ford Conspires With Far-Right Against Gays, For Scalito

In case you didn't know, Ford Motor Company has made a deal with the far-right American Family Association to pull all of its ads from Gay media. What's next - denying health care and pensions? Firing all gay employees?

And, get this, the individuals at Ford are ex-White House, and are conducting meetings IN FORD OFFICES coordinating strategy on getting Scalito on the Supreme Court

Look to AMERICABlog for ongoing coverage of this story.

More today: Ford's Jaguar, Land Rover Brands End Ads In Gay Media

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 30, 2005

Gays In Military - From the Right

The Daou Report is linking to this fascinating post and discussion of gays in the military at a usually right-wing site, BLACKFIVE: Lively discussion on gays in the military. It started with Blackfive's post Why can't gays serve proudly? saying "the ban on gays serving openly in the military is wrong."

"If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there."

That sentiment fits not only gay troops, but any other group that experienced discrimination. The military has been the leader in leveling the playing field for women and minorities for a long time, and it is well past due that we terminate the farce of "Don't ask, don't tell".

Needless to say, there is reaction. Comments include

Leveling the playing field? More like being forced to conduct social experiments at the direction of a do-gooder Congress. The integration of women in the military into a variety of formerly prohibited MOSes over the last 15 years has been a hindrance to readiness, esprit d' corps, and probably recruitment.
Lots more over there. Go take a look.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 11, 2005

Guantanamo Bay for American Children

The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that has stuck with me: "NIXON IS NO LONGER THE WORST PRESIDENT EVER". God damn, how true that is...

Check out this interview of Alternet reporter John Gorenfeld by Mark Levine over at Radio Inside Scoop, entitled, appropriately, This Bush Crony Has Blood on His Hands!

The "crony" is Melvin Sembler, former Bush-appointed ambassador to Italy, drug policy advisor, and campaign donor. The blood on Melvin's hands is that of thousands of tortured and abused children, participants in the pseudo-scientific "STRAIGHT" drug "rehabilitation" program he headed (shut down in 1993 by state regulators and lawsuits). Read John Gorenfeld's Alternet article, Ambassador de Sade, for more information. Also, check out the comments following the Radio Inside Scoop articles, and search on Google for STRAIGHT and "humble pants" (make sure you haven't eaten anything recently). Then go hug your children.

A civilized society would render this man a pariah - ours named a $30 million dollar public building in Italy after him!

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:18 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 10, 2005

Nixon would be green with envy.

The Washington Post has an excellent and detailed article on the FBI's increasingly profligate use of "National Security Letters" (warrantless demands to produce information).

The upshot is: the government can demand a huge amount of information about you from third parites (your ISP, your local public library, the telephone company, etc.) without a warrant, on the flimsiest of excuses, and even after determining that you are not a threat to the United States, can retain that information indefinitely. Even better: no one they ask for information is legally permitted to inform you of the request. Oh, and the information can be released to "appropriate private sector entities" (left undefined)... are we contracting out law enforcement and anti-terrorism efforts, now?

The Bush Administration, of course, is resisting any and all attempts by Congress to exercise any oversight. Their line and that of the FBI's bureaucracy is "trust us, we're your government, we won't abuse the information" and "what harm can it do, if you're innocent of any wrongdoing?". The quotes on the subject, from Jeffrey Breinholt, deputy chief of the Justice Department's counterterrorism section, and Michael Mason, who runs the Washington field office and has the rank of assistant FBI director, are astonishingly naive.

The counter to thier assertions is simple: what would Nixon have done with this power? The answer: he would have had a field day with it. As will any President or executive branch member inclined to abuse their authority and "get" their enemies. Perhaps I should quote Dave here, and say, "Watch your back."


The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.
The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined.

Also, check out the story about the manhunt in Las Vegas, where they seriously attempted to assemble a real-time record of every visitor to the city over a two week period. ... all that information is still on file somewhere, waiting for a fishing expedition to use it. Along with everything else produced by other National Security Letters.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 8:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

November 6, 2005

"Stateless" children: GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship

[Eliminating "birthright citizenship" is all about punishing babies and children for the "sins" of their parents. This would create a permanent underclass of "stateless" residents, born and raised in the United States, but with no legal right to reside here or to the Constitutional protections and privileges associated with citizenship - and no citizenship status anywhere else as well... what are these kids supposed to do?!? What happens when their parents are deported, and their home country refuses entry to their children? The idea is repugnant, and downright unAmerican. This, along with the ridiculous and racist barrier idea, shows that the mainstream of the Republican Party has gone off the deep end. -Thomas]

GOP mulls end of birthright citizenship

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- House Republicans tackling illegal immigration were reported looking closely at ending birthright citizenship.
They also were discussing building a barrier along the entire U.S.- Mexican border, The Washington Times said.
Those two ideas have floated to the top of the list of possibilities to be included either in an immigration-enforcement bill later this year or in a later comprehensive immigration overhaul.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 24, 2005

Horrific and brutal punishment of children in Nigeria met with silence by "leadership" of U.S.

lashings for teen lesbians in nigeria

Six teenage "lesbians", aged 12!!!! to 17 have been sentenced to 90!!!!!!!! lashes of the cane, each, for a "shameful and abominable act" of "lesbianism".

These are children! I have a daughter who is almost twelve. This is horrific. ... and getting almost no media attention, anywhere (blogosphere or M$M).

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 11:44 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 2, 2005

A poem: Las Tormentas (The Hurricanes)

[When I saw this, I had to share it. The author is a personal friend, I met him while he and I were serving as chairperson and secretary of the National Lavender Greens Caucus. -Thomas]

Las Tormentas

I've wanted to write something
A Terrible Adventure
Wrath of Mother Nature
Epic Betrayal
but the 10 o'clock news got to it first
but not before it got to them
poverty @ 160 miles per hour
blowing apart lives
uprooting communities
knocking down life lines
parishes perishing
lost precious days
that could have saved them
except no one really cared
no value, no economic importance
when you're
that refuse to return to refugee camps
or an astrodome ghetto
that refuse to give up what little they have
paid for in blood and history
written in floor boards
in Creole and Cajun
in halls frequented by Octoroon ghosts
where the third world isn't an intellectual exercise
but another name for the Gulf Coast
Rita/Katrina just cleverly named smokescreens
natural chances
for disenfranchisement
because this is no time for partisan politics
according to the Republicans/Democrats/Wealthy/Insured
the ones with the means to get out early

but the latest poll of a 1000 dead disagree
they say that the time for politics is now
or revolution
whatever will give meaning
to needless deaths
32 elders left in their beds
as water surrounded them
and they died from thirst
that's what happens
when a rescue is run like a horse show
and proper breeding determines who lives
and who gets put out to pasture
nothing I could have written
would have imagined India & Venezuela
offering aid to the world's most powerful nation
truth is stranger than fiction
and hurricanes never hit the land of make believe
children don't go missing
somewhere over the rainbow

this must be real

as the lost stare out from CNN and FOX
which declared that this isn't about race
while black faces continue to flash across the screen
missing, missing, missing
last seen praying for a meal
a glass of water
that the police where guarding
from looters taking survival
into their own hands
providers doing what they could
to make it one more day
one more chance to find their children
despite the best efforts of FEMA and the EPA
hoping that they'll have a home to return to
if the real looters
don't get to them first
Halliburton, Fluor, and Bechtel
finding heaven in the hell of the meek
who shall inherit nothing
while the rich find new ways to pass through a needle
with an eye of a storm
spinning incompetency
into a "heckuva job"
never mind that this could have been prevented
never mind that this was predicted
no time for finger pointing
no time for explanation
while the FBI
finds the time
for a political assassination
another Puerto Rican murdered
in the fight for liberation
what could be more perfect
than an act of God cover-up
to draw eyes away from Iraq
where poor brown people die
like poor black people die
thrown to their deaths
in the race/class divide
a shallow grave
filled by the sons and daughters of
all chasing the American dream
into Kabul and Baghdad
into Port-au-Prince and Sarajevo
into broken promises and disillusionment
into weeping mothers that need no convincing
that Sheehan is right
Kanye too
that in America dreams have been outsourced
and so have the futures of 1,000,000 displaced
or so they want us to believe
but 1000 dead disagree
say it's time for a grassroots solution
poor people in motion
because 1,000,000 is an army
a liberation brigade
that says we will not go back to the ghettos
we will not go back to full time jobs that pay for a part-time life
we will not go back because that has been washed away
and the wave is moving forward
moving towards something that I can write
a blow by blow account of a capitalist knock-out
a Republican dissolution
a Democrat implosion
cuz truth is stranger than fiction
but sometimes fiction is truth waiting to happen
and this time we are making the news
acknowledging the surety that racism didn't end with slavery
that the war is on the poor and not on poverty
that we've paid for this invasion and that catastrophe with tomorrows wages
promising our children nothing but deficit and inflation
passing on an insurmountable debt to future generations
that this is pure insanity

and it will stop

because a tsunami is coming
1000 dead agree
that when it hits the change will be beyond imagining

-W. Brandon Lacy Campos
-September 30, 2005
-Albuquerque, NM

From the author:

"I am going to be working on a chapbook in the near future, and I am planning on donating 5% of the proceeds to the Southern Partners Fund to help support the rebuilding of community organizing infrastructure in the Gulf Coast and another 5% to the GPUS earmarked for the LGC."

If you're interested in a chapbook of Brandon's work, you can write him at:

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 5:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

October 1, 2005

"Secret Tribunals" for journalists in Iraq

The Guardian UK ends an article on the detention and killing of journalists in Iraq by U.S. Forces with this excerpt, which I think, even more than the disputably accidental shootings, should be headline news:

Earlier this week Reuters demanded the release of a freelance Iraqi cameraman after a secret tribunal ordered that he be detained indefinitely. Samir Mohammed Noor, a freelance cameraman working for Reuters, was arrested by Iraqi troops at his home in the northern town of Tal Afar four months ago. A US military spokesman has told the agency that a secret hearing held last week had found him to be "an imperative threat to the coalition forces and the security of Iraq". The news agency has demanded that he be released or given a chance to defend himself in open court. [Emphasis mine, TL]

As another article in the Navhind Times makes clear, this is the United States military (not the Iraqi government), arresting journalists without charge, refusing to disclose the charges against them, denying them any chance to defend themselves, detaining them for months before conducting secret hearings, and promising to review their cases "within six months" afterwards. There are at least four journalists being held this way. Awfully convenient way to get rid of troublesome reporters, eh?

Obviously, freedom of the press and due process have no place in a "free" and "democratic" Iraq. If this is what they're doing to members of the press with connections to international media, think of how screwed your average joe blow must be.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 12, 2005

Housing For Refugees

There is a drive in New Orleans to demand proper treatment from FEMA, and temporary housing for people.

A message (video clip) from Ernst Johnson of the New Orleans NAACP.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

September 6, 2005


[This is a personal account of one group's onerous evacuation odyssey, Homeric in it's extent. Maybe we oughta stand outside the White House and chant "Shame! Shame! Shame!" -Thomas]

Another NO Story from the inside

"Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist. There was more suffering than need be. Lives were lost that did not need to be lost."

If there is any question in your mind as to the authenticity of the article, here's a link to the original posting, on EMSNetwork.

P.S. I see that Cheney's shopping for a $2.9 million dollar mansion in Maryland, near Rummy.

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 26, 2005

Legal Ravers vs. Camo Clad Cops. Police Dogs, and Assault Rifles

The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd [...] I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. [...] A few "troops" rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone "get the fuck out of here or go to jail". [...] They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of fucking TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.Now, this is all I saw with my own eyes [...]
One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.- The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. priceless footage.

This in person account of a SWAT team raid on a legally permitted rave in Utah just came across my inbox, via Dave Farber's Interesting People list. What happened is just flat out friggin' insane. Unfortunately, I can't honestly say "I can't believe this is happening", but I'm still outraged. If you don't like what you read, hear and see below, I've included information about how you can take action at the end of this posting.

Take a look at this two minute video (quicktime and wmv). I just downloaded it... you can hear the helicopter, hear the dogs barking, see the cops in full camo storming the stage, shouting threats, waving assault rifles around (not just holding them)... at least two people getting the crap beat out of them, video is abruptly cut off, not clear why (unless this is the individual referred to in the first quote).

According to the promoter's statement the event had full permits, and was widely advertised in advance, and every effort had been made to comply with the law. The email quote above also says they did not have a warrant (no independent verification of this).

"Dozens of Men in Full Camo, Kevlar Vests, Gas Masks MP5 Navy's AUG's and many other fire-arms. Attack Dogs, were barking somewhere ahead of me. Suddenly I saw the sight that disgusted me. A person whom I had met before was on the ground face first, 4 Reservists had their guns pointed to his head, and were handcuffing him. Their attack dog was mauling his: Shoulder, Neck and Torso areas. I was quickly shuffled along but was very disgusted. I had attempted to record the man on the ground with my Camera-Phone, but a soldier approached me and took my phone and said "move Along" I still have not recovered it." (source: discussion thread below)

More personal accounts of the mayhem, like the one above. One of the first ones discusses how the police went after anyone and everyone with a video camera (not to mention beating the crap out of people on the slightest of pretexts).

Here's a feature article on the raid from PLUR Meets SWAT as Utah Cops Attack Electronic Dance Party.


Salt Lake City resident member Jonathan Meander, the Utah director of DanceSafe, a harm reduction group that works with the dance culture, was one of the hundreds who had arrived at the party before the big bust. "About 11:30, a helicopter circled the party and people started to scatter," he told DRCNet. "The cops started coming in with cammo gear and assault rifles and dogs and tear gas, and they were yelling and pushing and hassling people. If you tried to get your stuff, you got hit. I saw people get beaten to the ground. They were also trying to prevent people from filming them. The way we got the footage that has made its way to the Internet is that one guy was filming and a cop knocked the camera out of his hand, and one of his friends grabbed the camera and ran away," Meander said.
"I am disgusted. I saw a lot of stuff that just wasn't right," said Meander. "We wanted to go dancing in the desert, and they come with their assault rifles and beat us up."

From the promoter's statement:

To the people who were not in attendance

1. Be it local or international, it does not matter; WE NEED YOUR HELP! Not only to spread the truthful word about what happened, but to do whatever possible thing you can assist us with. People in the media, public relations, internet related business, people who can provide additional legal help, financial assistance, or people willing to help with leg work are of great necessity to us, please contact –or- All other music and event lovers keep talking! You have our never ending gratitude, you guys are so amazing!

Ultimately to prevent something like this ever happening again, it is up to ALL OF US. We must have teamwork and solidarity – having unity goes without saying. This fight is neither going to be short nor easy; we want to ensure that it is not you who needs our help someday. In order to have good teamwork, we need to be able to communicate so please visit the website, do what you can do, and please feel free to contact the people below as needed.

Contact Information

Brandon Fullmer
Phone; (801) 363-7955 Fax (801) 363-7943

For all matters related to needed legal statements contact-
Dimitri Mumulidisz
Phone: (801) 577-8281

For all internet related issues -

For all press related issues please contact-
Justin Kahn
Phone: (801) 755-9300

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 10:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 24, 2005

Is Bush Founding an Islamic State in Iraq?

In their ongoing effort to provide cover for Bush, NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, the Right is now excusing that Iraq is forming an Islamic State. See The Fourth Rail: Islam, Democracy and Iraq's Constitution:

One of the most controversial items from a western standpoint is the role Islam will play in the laws of Iraq. The common cry [paraphrased] is “did we sacrifice our soldiers to establish an Islamist state?” . . . The text of the constitution gives sound reason to believe Iraq is not being established as an Islamist state. . . . But to state an Islamist regime has been created based on the text of the constitution is unfounded.
Follow the trackbacks and read the comments, too. Fascinating, that this whole "Islamic State" thing is a fabrication by the Liberal Media to make Bush look bad...

But Tapped has a good post on the realities of the situation:

When contemplating the extent to which Iraq's new constitution will implement Shiite theocracy in the country, it's worth keeping in mind that which words appear on a piece of paper isn't necessarily the most important thing.

[. . .] Indeed, the single most important political leader in the country is the country's chief Shiite cleric. There are various good things you can say about the Grand Ayatollah, but as you'll see here he clearly has retrograde views on a variety of key social issues. The political party of the prime minister (al-Dawa) is a socially conservative Islamist party. Its main coalition partner, SCIRI, is a more socially conservative, more Islamist party. The most powerful opposition movements in the country are a super-violent Islamism-inflected Sunni insurgency and the frankly anti-democratic, Khomeinist movement of Muqtada al-Sadr.

On top of that, aside from the insurgency and the U.S. military, real power outside of Kurdistan lies in the hands of violent Islamist militias with links to the less-pleasant elements of Iraq's most powerful political parties. The foreign nation with the most influence in Iraq is Iran, which, due to being located directly next to Iraq, isn't ever going to stop being involved in Iraqi affairs. Under the circumstances, the constitution can be as awesomely liberal as you like, and it won't make a whit of difference. [Visit original to follow its links]

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:39 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 21, 2005

Abu Ghraib California

From the pages of the O.C. Weekly, Justice Takes a Beating: OC court greenlights torture in local Jails

Sheriff Mike Corona's deputies could teach Gen. Geoffrey "Gitmo" Miller a thing or two about torture.

Last month, on the other side of the planet from Abu Ghraib prison and 3,200 miles from Guantanamo Bay, right here in Orange County, *five jail deputies handcuffed, hooded, beat and tortured a 38-year-old San Clemente businessman*, according to a claim filed this week.

Still in pain three weeks after the July 17 incident, Greg W. Hall told OC Weekly about a Sunday evening that began auspiciously: enjoying a beer early in the afternoon and later several coffees, contemplating surfing and walking his dog at the beach. As Hall backed his SUV out of a parking space, his dog jumped in front of a side-view mirror and distracted him. He sideswiped another vehicle, causing minor damage.

Just in case you were wondering, Hall is a white man.

Just another day at the beach:

When police arrived, they gave Hall a field-sobriety check and two Breathalyzer tests. Crime lab records show his blood alcohol level was 0.00. Nevertheless, deputies believed Hall acted oddly. Currently on probation for an illegal prescription case in 2003, Hall told the officer at the scene about the beer and admitted that he used Paxil, an antidepressant medication. The deputy arrested him on suspicion of DUI and transported him to the Orange County Jail for a drug test. After a nurse took his blood, the arresting officer told Hall, “You’ll probably be out of here in about an hour,” and left.

But a 16-hour “hellish nightmare” awaited Hall, who attended Newport Harbor High School, graduated in 1991 from UC San Diego with a degree in economics, and says he has operated several small companies. When he complained about the tightness of his handcuffs, five deputies swarmed him, yelled obscenities and attacked without legitimate provocation, Hall claims. Handcuffed and overwhelmed, his body was treated like a piñata.

Those good old boys at the OC jail know how to have a good time:
According to documents filed Aug. 11 with county officials, the deputies dragged Hall down a corridor, shoved his face into a cell door frame, threw him to the floor, punched him, kicked his ribs, stomped on his back and legs, bent and twisted his arms and wrists, and repeatedly slammed his face into the concrete. Hall says one deputy tried to break his right foot with his bare hands. He remembers an unrelenting, “two- or three-minute attack” that ended only when a superior officer ordered the deputies to stop.

“I thought they were going to kill me,” said Hall, bandaged and wearing a wrist cast. “They had no right to torture me. I was in handcuffs. I was cooperating.”

At press time, the results of Hall’s drug test were not available. But medical records show that during his visit to the jail he suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a gash in his leg, an eye contusion, broken veins in his feet, a shattered front tooth, lacerations and bruises over his body, contusions to a knee, neck pain, a fractured right wrist and nerve damage to his left hand. The handcuffs were locked so tightly that the steel sliced his hands and caused dangerous swelling. An imprint of a deputy’s boot could be seen on the back of his leg for days.

The beating was so severe that Hall defecated in his pants. Deputies laughed and called him a “shit monkey.” When they returned to his cell later, they cursed at him again—*and tied a black mesh hood over his head*.

The "Psycho Crew":

But law enforcement sources, defense lawyers and former inmates tell the Weekly that a minority of officers in the Orange County Jail are, as a sheriff’s department official familiar with excessive force cases described them, “pure and simple thugs who don’t have the mental or emotional makeup to wear a badge.”

“Outsiders might think the department wouldn’t tolerate these bad apples,” said the official. “But they’re definitely there. They’re an embarrassment to the department. They’ve even had names, including ‘The Psycho Crew.’”

Unimaginable brutality has been publicly reported:

Brown, now with a Tennessee newspaper, found evidence in 2000 that jail deputies entertained themselves by encouraging fights between inmates. In 2001, Brown and Register reporter John McDonald disclosed that four deputies had taken a 20-year-old inmate to an isolated area of the jail in December 1999 and *crushed his testicles*. Prosecutors agreed that the man had been tortured but said a code of silence among jail personnel prevented the filing of charges. Deputies claimed their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when they were brought before the grand jury

The California Court of Appeals condones torture:

But the Court of Appeal comprises well-connected individuals. And for those with further political ambitions, it’s unwise to take sides against law enforcement or to dig too deeply into local institutions like the jail. So it’s not surprising that Sills’ panel routinely ignores the screams of beaten suspects and inmates.

What’s alarming, however, is how far that panel will go to make life more miserable for inmates, many of whom are still—nominally, at least—innocent. Just before Hall’s alleged July 17 beating, the appeals panel gave tacit support for jailhouse torture. On June 29, Justices William Rylaarsdam, Richard D. Fybel and Eileen C. Moore overturned a jury’s decision to award $177,000 in damages to Robert N. Carter, an inmate who suffered numerous injuries while in custody for possession of drug paraphernalia. Forty years old and overweight, Carter claimed that deputies refused to give him medicine for a critical heart condition, kicked him in the groin repeatedly, pepper sprayed his face, beat his ribs, broke his jaw and hog-tied him. He said he was forced to use his cell’s toilet water to rinse the pepper spray from his eyes.

The Court of Appeals has repeatedly condoned brutal beatings:

But the most troubling ruling from the court came on June 8, when Justices Moore and Fybel joined William Bedsworth. The case was simple: Santa Ana police took Hong Cuc Truong, who’d been arrested for shoplifting in 2002, to the Orange County Jail. There, Truong—a Vietnamese immigrant diagnosed with schizophrenia—initially refused a deputy’s command to undress and take a shower before she was to be issued a jail jump suit. Truong began undressing about 10 minutes later, after another inmate convinced her it was safe to disrobe. As she pulled her sweater over her head, however, four deputies pounced, beating and kicking her and painfully twisting her arms behind her back. In the process, Truong suffered a severe arm fracture, according to records reviewed by the Weekly. Tossed in a cell, she said she was denied medical attention for hours.

The appeals court ruled there had been no excessive force. Never mind that the woman was in the process of complying when the attack occurred, wrote Justice Moore: “Truong’s refusal to obey the lawful order and the events that led to her injuries are part of an unbreakable chain of events.” It was “temporal hair-splitting” to consider that the woman had “changed her mind and started to remove her sweater.”

But lost in Moore’s justification was a missing explanation: Why did it take four trained deputies—using considerable violence—to handle Truong, who, at the time of the incident, was 54 years old, an inch over 5 feet tall and barely 100 pounds?

Cross posted at MyDD

Posted by Gary Boatwright at 3:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 20, 2005

DEA strikes a blow against "marajuana legalization movement"

This is outrageous: The Canadian Police have arrested marajuana legalization activist Marc Emery (a Canadian citizen, and founder/head of the British Columbia Marajuana Party) and two employees of his marajuana seed distribution company. This was done at the request of the U.S. Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (which obviously has nothing better to do, like taking out meth labs and breaking up crack distribution networks). They are attempting to have him extradited to the US, where if convicted, he faces prison time (up to ten years), and is even theoretically subject to life in prison or the death penalty, as a "drug kingpin" (ala Pablo Escobar). Why? Well, the quote below tells you: a transparent attempt to suppress a political point of view. Facism, pure and simple.

a column by Joel Connelly in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer this morning quotes a statement by DEA chief Karen Tandy suggesting political motivations: " Today's arrest of Mark (sic) Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the US and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement... Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."

Here's the full article, from Marc Emery Busted -- Canada's Leading Marijuana Activist Facing Life in American Prison Over Seed Sales

Here's the full column quoted above: Pursuit of drug case all smoke, no fire

Take action: encourage the Canadian government to refuse extradition for actions that are either not crimes under Canadian law, or for which the penalties in the U.S. are vastly greater than in Canada.

Send a message to Canada's Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler at
or fax 613-954-0811
or mail
The Honourable Irwin Cotler
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H8

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 6:15 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

Over The Rainbow

Jesse at Pandagon comments on a Dear Abby letter complaining about a neighbor with a Gay Pride flag and doesn't want children "to be subjected to that kind of thing."

Because gays are uncommonly obsessed with sex and children (I heard it from James Dobson, so it must be true), the merest exposure to homosexuality is enough to send your child on a downward spiral into drugs, debauchery and death. But what if we took common symbols of homosexuality - pride flags, Margaret Cho, short fingernails on women - and instead made homosexuals think of specifically targeted messages? A pride flag instantaneously communicates hedonistic perversion, but what if that gay man and every gay or lesbian he knew congregated around that flag, and instead thought of United States presidents? Basketball statistics? Basic math?
Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

August 11, 2005

The Agronomist

I want to draw your attention to the BuzzFlash entry on the right, entitled:

"If you are completely perplexed or disinterested by the title of this documentary by Hollywood director Jonathan Demme, reserve your judgment a second. Why? Because this is one of the most fascinating, engaging documentaries about an individual's passion for democracy that we have seen."

What they're talking about is a film entitled, "The Agronomist", a documentary about the late Haitian radio owner and journalist, Jean Dominique, which has now come out on DVD. I saw it on film a while back, and it was one of the most powerful, inspiring, and enraging films I've ever seen. The Newsday quote below sums it up. You MUST see this movie, you will be the better for it.

"A film guaranteed to promote righteous indignation, sadness and guilt -- as it makes the case that the intertwined history of the United States and Haiti is one of almost unutterable shame."
-- Newsday

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 31, 2005

The Greatest Second Act in Politics?

... at least in the last century or so, unquestionably.

Jimmy Carter: Guantanamo Detentions Disgraceful

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 4:11 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

July 21, 2005

Islamic "Law"

Through TalkLeft, IRAN EXECUTES 2 GAY TEENAGERS. For being gay. Age 18 and age 16 or 17 - but younger when the "crime" was committed.

According to the website Age of Consent, which monitors such laws around the world, in Iran "Homosexuality is illegal, those charged with love-making are given a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch.
Bush has pretty much handed Iraq (and its oil) over to Iran (it's all over but the troop withdrawals), delivering the people of Iraq over to this kind of "law."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 20, 2005

Today's Required Reading

MyDD :: The War On Civilization

And this at Hullabaloo.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:28 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos

May 15, 2005

It's Because They ARE Gay

Frank Rich asks Just How Gay Is the Right?

I'll say it a little clearer: The rabidly anti-homosexual wingnuts are obviously gay and ashamed of it.

Why else would they be insisting that the presence of gay people risks "luring" straight people to become homosexual? This wouldn't even occur to a person who is not fighting such urges.

Why else would they be insisting that being gay is a "lifestyle choice?" These are people who think they can act straight, and are fighting their impulses every minute of their lives.

It's obvious. And it's why so any of them DO turn out to be gay and living double lives.

Update - From the comments, this, with my favorite line,

This time they bring out a beautiful porterhouse and a freshly roadkilled possum. Do you see the difference? Only someone who was truly fond of possum AND beef would see it as a choice.
"Beef and Possum" -- sounds like a great name for a gay bar.

Update - A great name for a blog: "Beef and Possum." What do you think?

Update II - Take the poll!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:02 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack | Link Cosmos