Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Those Poor Poor Plutocrats.....

This post is in response to a Letter in the DNR titled, "Automakers need to stand up to UAW." In it the author, Aaron Lam, advocates strongly for the Automakers stand against the union. His main point is that the benefits and wages demanded by the union are the cause of the recent demise in the fortunes of the auto companies.

He's given up on American car makers because the foreign makers don't deal with the UAW. It's a fun read, if only to hear this expansive argument for Old South Plutocracy. The argument is clear and the passion is evident. Wages are too high, workers need to be replaced by robots, the true mission of the unions is to protect the employers, it's better to have a low paying job than no job, workers have outrageous benefit plans, almost [but not quite] make as much as TEACHERS, and have "nothing but their own (extreme) well-being in mind."

He's wrong of course. My response:

Radical plutocracy. Welcome to the Old South. Mr. Lam advocates the rule of the wealthy, an elite ruling class whose power derives from their wealth. Welcome to the Plantation. You can work here [for the smallest wage I can get a way with], you'll have a roof over your head [how does an efficiency apartment for you and your family sound?], and we'll give you credit at the company store, [where I can charge any price I want and kindly extend credit to keep you indentured forever!] and of course there's the company health clinic to take care of your health needs [but only in debilitating circumstances and only just to keep you on the job.] Want a pension? Forget it, you're going to die right here.

Now seriously, here are some stories of those poor plutocrats who are getting stomped by the almighty worker: [source]

  • Big 3 honchos are guilty of "bad optics" as they fly in on corporate jets with their hands out for loans to save the companies that the "workers destroyed." Never mind that they couldn't even give Congress a clue about how they were going use the money to save themselves.

  • The Robber Barons of Wall Street led by Hank Paulson swooped down on Congress and demanded and received an astounding guarantee of 8 Trillion, again with no plan or news of where the money was to be spent. Didn't even say thank you to those nasty workers and taxpayers, plebeians all who are now stuck with the bill.

  • Those poor Wall Street tycoons..... tsk tsk... they are feeling a bit better with their new $$. They went right to doing what they do best... buying up competitors, hoarding the capital, and raising their own banking fees. How much has gone to ease the credit crunch? ZIP! NADA! Thank you very much. Will they even tell us how they are spending the dough? Yes, but they'd have to kill us.

  • $70 bucks an hour is a hoax, ginned up by Mr. Lam by combining all the health care and pensions plus costs of training and payroll taxes owed by the companies. It's more like 29 bucks an hour. Remember Mr. Lam is advocating that workers are WAYY out of line asking for health care or pensions. [Also remember that Mr. Lam is very strongly against universal health care and Social Security because they are socialist programs.] Mr. Lam would reduce the standard of living, reduce the quality of life in essence returning the middle class to servanthood. Welcome to the 18th century!

  • The UAW, bad boys all, have already agreed to concessions that would give U.S. Companies labor-cost advantages over the foreigners. Is spreading the gradual return to lower pay and benefits through 2010 too much to ask? To Mr. Lam would say yes! He'd want his cake right now thank you.

  • Mr. Lam might like to know that labor, pensions and health care only amount to around 10% of the cost of a car. The UAW could work for FREE and still would not solve the current financial crisis. [It would be a day of joy for Mr. Lam, however.]

  • The Auto CEO's were the ones who decided on the business model that keeps us addicted to cheap foreign oil forever, nice move.

  • Plutocrats fought tooth and nail against fuel efficiency ratings and emissions controls essentially giving up the territory to the foreigners.

  • Plutocrats killed the electric car years ago. Another brilliant move.

  • Plutocrats were so pleased with their own work that they decided to pay themselves salaries ranging from $7,000 to $10,000 per hour.

  • Back to the bailout..we do know what the Big 3 finally proposed to do with the money. First they'll pay themselves a bonus for being smart enough to drive to Washington the second time and then they'll boot another 25,000 workers out the door. A tax-paid mass firing! Yet another great idea. Let's watch and see what changes are made at the TOP of the organizational ladder.
Mr. Lam is wrong for America. America is NOT about the rule of the wealthy, it's about the rule of "We the People." The American middle class is what brought us to greatness and it is the Corporate Plutocracy that has caused it's recent decline. Mr. Lam has decided to advocate the powerful Masters of the Plantation, not a bad choice if you are selling your soul, but "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," it's not. Mr. Lam, back to the plantation with you. You've declared war on the American worker. You are a royalist tory seeking a return to the monarchy of the wealthy. You lost. American workers ARE every bit as stubborn, strong, willful, and powerful as you fear. You'll lose again.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kicking the Unions in the pants...

Jim Hightower does a great blog today, explaining the union bashing that's been going on in Congress and in the Media lately. It's worth the subscription cost just to read it. If you want a guest pass leave a comment and an email address and I'll get you a freebie.

Evidently, according to Big Jim, the Big 3 didn't get the bailout they wanted because they aren't a part of the Wall Street royalty. They represent the working class. The Big Banks demanded and got a huge [8 TRILLION DOLLARS when all peripheral costs are counted in] bailout package, no questions asked, no accountability required. The Big 3 asked and Congress squawked and demanded plans, goals, and concessions. It's class warfare, pure and simple.

What's wrong with union members making a good living? What was that stuff we learned in Civics Class in High School about the rise of the middle class being the greatest strength of America.

"Yes, these union workers make a good living--but what exactly is wrong with that? Indeed, they're a tremendous American success story. UAW members define our country's middle-class ideal. They can afford to buy homes (and cars), send kids to college, take vacations--and pay taxes, including those that cover salaries and benefits for U.S. senators.

Sustaining, expanding, and extending such a vibrant, productive middle class ought to be the top goal of economic policy makers. Yet, too many Washington officials keep pushing in the opposite direction, constantly pursuing a cheap-labor America that enriches the few at the expense of our nation's true economic strength."

It's not the payroll costs that burden the auto companies, it's the health care and the pensions. Want to be competitive? Level the playing field by providing Universal health care. Talk about no-brainers. Wingers, let the squawking begin. Fact is only 10% of the cost of an auto is labor, the rest goes to [nod to Jim Hightower]

"bankers, bondholders, investors, executives, suppliers, dealers, and a myriad of others who are part and parcel of every vehicle we drive. The senators could force UAW members to work for free, but that would not begin to solve the industry's financial problems."

Take a page from Henry Ford: [again a nod to Jim Hightower]

The auto pioneer famously outraged his competitors by paying Ford workers $5 a day, more than double the industry standard at the time. As he explained in 1926,

"An underpaid man is a customer reduced in purchasing power. He cannot buy. Business depression is caused by weakened purchasing power. Purchasing power is weakened by uncertainty or insufficiency of income. The cure of business depression is through purchasing power, and the source of purchasing power is wages."

That remains true today. Middle-class wages are the lifeblood of the American automobile industry... and of the American economy.

So where should the real bailout money go? How about building the purchasing power of regular citizens? How about leveling the playing field with universal health care? How about building up the middle class? Why not invest in the American Dream? Corporations! What are you waiting for? It's better business for you and better business for the workers!

McConnell digs in against America... Again

The Southern Plutocrats, led by Mitch McConnell, have vowed to slow, stall, or outright block the Obama stimulus package now being planned for the first hundred days. Under the guise of "protecting the taxpayer" he is willing hang the economy, the workers, the ordinary citizens, not to mention health care, energy and education out to dry.

In the meantime, Mr. McConnell was at the front of the line, leading the charge to bail out the Wall Street tycoons, no questions asked!

So here you go, Fat Cats and corporations get everything they want, America gets nothing it NEEDS. The Master of the Plantation must be taken care of first, no matter the cost, and the workers and common folk will be fine when the Master can get around to them.

Mr. McConnell's famous concern about the taxpayers? hmmm.... Let's decipher that loaded coded bit of double-speak. Taxpayers are bailing out the Masters [banks, plutocrats, and Wall Street] and are assured of NOTHING. Meanwhile, the rest of America gets thrown under the bus? Isn't he just saying that America is ONLY about gathering and maintaining the wealth and power of the Masters? The taxpayers he is really concerned about, not you and me, but the Masters!

Keeping taxes low on the rich, ensuring their profit margin means that you and I get to pay those prices, pay those taxes, and live our lives scrapping for health care, paying for dirty energy, spilling our blood on plutocratic wars of conquest all in the name of preserving the Masters wealth.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Feelin' Po'... Merry Christmas

With all the depressing news about the economy, the billions and billions lost in the stock market, the billions and billions spent on warfare and destruction, you'd think that the Christmas spirit this year would be a little hard to find. I just watched an interesting scene on the news showing a reporter doing a little shopping at a mall in one of America's cities. He had a list all ready to go, but had to make a report first. Shops in the mall are already offering after-Christmas specials, 2 for the price of 1's, and deep discounts on almost everything. The bad news about the seasonal shopping won't hit until next week, but don't hold your breath for good news.

The homeless rate is up, the crime rate is up, the infrastructure is failing, the nation's money is going down the bailout black hole, the Big 3 automakers are facing bankrupcy, the South is rising again [yeeeeehaaaah!], nobody is shopping......

Where's the love people? What are we doing with our chins down and sadness all around? This is the bed we made. Our economic house of cards is falling down. Buying and buying on credit all the while pretending it really is money? It was an illusion and our fantasies have finally caught up with us. And the bad news is......

Folks, we're finally in a national economic state that my family has been in for a long time. We are finally coming to terms with the difference between what we WANT and what we NEED. Look around. How many cars in your driveway, how many computers in your house, how much junk in your garage will you get around to putting away or dealing with some day? What are you doing with all that STUFF you bought? How important was it anyway?

How much have you given away? When was the last time you loaded up the van and took a dozen big garbage bags of old toys, clothing, shoes, used appliances or books to Mercy House or the Salvation Army? Did you send a check to the Children's Cancer Fund AND the other 25 agencies in need that called you during supper? Why not?

The joy and spirit of Christmas is a little bigger than our nation collectively feeling sorry for itself. If you truly want some joy this holiday season, give some stuff away, write some checks, volunteer. Remember the jolliest of all the elves, Santa himself. Why is he so happy? Let Santa be your hero and show you how to spread Christmas cheer. Give some stuff away and smile and laugh while you're at it! Be Like Santa!

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plantations, the Confederacy, and "Good for Business"

Consider the Plantation mentality that has taken hold in the United States over the last fifteen years and especially in the last eight. Not that it hasn't been with us since the beginnings of American history, but considering the successful struggles for liberty and justice during the Civil War, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights era, the fact that this mentality has not been rejected completely is amazing.

The plantation had a master with a family, a trusted staff of servants, a coterie of trusted advisors, a LOT of money, and slaves that worked the plantation. It was a feudal system with each Master the absolute ruler of his domain. If the Master kept everything humming, he got even wealthier. If he was smart, he paid his help with favors, privileges and just enough money to keep them working. It was all in the name of "good business." If the plantation system worked properly, the local government served the Masters in its jurisdiction. Government then represented the local Masters in larger commercial enterprises, always with an eye on what was "good for business."

Government, in this model, served the Masters, the Plantation owners, the big business interests that in turn employed, fed, housed and cared for the workers, helpers, staffs, and trusted advisors on the Plantation. It was a classic top down system, building a huge gap in wealth between the Masters and the general population.

The workers on the plantation, if they were busy, well-fed, had a place to sleep, and could raise a respectable family were quite happy with this arrangement. The house staff and the supervisors were satisfied because they also had good living arrangements and lived a little better than the field workers. All of these folks actually would defend their Master if he showed them at least some minimal respect and took care of their basic needs.

It was largely the abuses of the Plantation system, the arrogance of the oligarchy that was the old Confederacy, that caused the Civil War, the first great rising of the working class. The union movement in the early 20th century, the New Deal in the 30's, the Post War growth of the middle class, and the Civil Rights movement in the 60's were all steps in the overthrow of the old Plantation system.

So today on "Morning Joe" there was an animated discussion about the plight of the working class, sparked by Bob Herbert's op-ed in the New York Times, "Race to the Bottom."

Working men and women are not getting the credit they deserve for the jobs they do without squawking every day, for the hardships they are enduring in this downturn and for the collective effort they are willing to make to get through the worst economic crisis in the U.S. in decades....

We need some perspective here. It is becoming an article of faith in the discussions over an auto industry rescue, that unionized autoworkers should be taken off of their high horses and shoved into a deal in which they would not make significantly more in wages and benefits than comparable workers at Japanese carmakers like Toyota.

That’s fine if it’s agreed to by the autoworkers themselves in the context of an industry bailout at a time when the country is in the midst of a financial emergency. But it stinks to high heaven as something we should be aspiring to.

The economic downturn, however severe, should not be used as an excuse to send American workers on a race to the bottom, where previously middle-class occupations take a sweatshop’s approach to pay and benefits.

The great quote about bailing out the folks that shower before work and not those who shower after work fueled the discussion as the guests railed about the blank check given Wall Street to the tune of 700 Billion and the blocking of the measily 15 Billion bailout for the Big 3 and their workers. Mr. Herbert even wondered aloud if the new Justice Department would follow the money trails greasing the tubes from Wall Street to Congress and instigate prosecutions on behalf of the taxpayers.

It's not just the economic downturn that reminds me of the old Plantation system. Our military is very much an elitist top-down organization especially with the difficulty in recruiting new soldiers. Remind me again, whose sons and daughters are being put in harms way? When soldiers are no longer of use in in the war [profiteering] zone, just how are they being taken care of?

The K street lobby, the health care industry, the military industrial complex, the unregulated investment banks, all are enablers of this modern day Plantation system. Thank goodness a basic awareness is dawning and bloggers, journalists, and now the Mainstream Media are finally sensing a new awareness of the plight of the middle class.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cowboy George - UPDATED

What could be more illuminating about the George Bush's view of foreign policy that the recent shoe throwing incident in Iraq. President Bush, as usual put a sunny face on it and professed that he found the incident "amusing." “I don’t know what his beef is,” said Bush. “But whatever it is I’m sure somebody will hear it.” Watch it:

Bush laughed it off, as good cowboys do, and went on national TV to declare that the incident was meaningless and didn't represent a "broad movement" in Iraq. Mr. Bush is just laughingly silly! Anyone can look into the incident and find out that the act of throwing a show [and yelling, "This is a farewell kiss, you dog."] is a serious insult and the act actually represented a broad spectrum of Iraqi's who are finally protesting the civilian casuaties of the war. According to Think Progress and the Washington Post the journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi, is a "hero" and thousands of Iraqis are demonstrating in the streets supporting his actions.

Bush can't change, doesn't want to and is showing that his feckless, good-natured, cowboy world view can still do damage. He holds the key to al-Zaidi's release. If he doesn't drop the charges, look for more demonstrations and a further decline of our nation's reputation. Would he drop the charges? Not likely. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 12/16/08

From Think Progress today:

An Oxfam report from February 2008 put into startling focus what the U.S. invasion has really meant for Iraqis:

– More than four million Iraqis forced to flee either to another part of Iraq or abroad.
– Four million Iraqis regularly cannot buy enough food.
– 70 percent are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50 percent in 2003.
– 28 percent of children are malnourished, compared to 19 percent before the 2003 invasion.
– 92 percent of Iraqi children suffer learning problems, mostly due to the climate of fear.

The Brookings Institute’s Iraq index also notes that the national unemployment rate is somewhere between 25 and 40 percent. Fifty-six percent of Iraqis say things in Iraq are going “quite bad” or “very bad.” Sixty percent rate economic conditions as “poor” and 75 percent rate security conditions “poor.”

These, President Bush, are the issues the Iraqi's are so upset about. These reasons are why a shoe was thrown at you. Yes, you freed 25 million Iraqi citizens....from their homes, food, schools, healthcare, and that famous "piece of mind." Need to hear it again?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Remember the "Clinton Rules?"

Just to prove the party of "don't ever change" never will, Joe Conason writes a thoughtful but sobering opinion piece in today's Salon Magazine. He documents the right wing's joyous reversion to the "Clinton Rules." Remember them? Here's Greg Sargent:

When it comes to the Clintons, many pundits have simply stopped requiring themselves to adhere to the most basic evidentiary standards. It has become acceptable, even normal, to say whatever the hell you want about the Clintons, and if you insist on anything approaching real evidence, you're just a party-pooper. The "Clinton rules" governing punditry about them are that there are no rules.

It seems that the Right Wing Noise Machine, with little else to promote has taken to hunting the President-elect. The unstoppable rumor-mongering about Obama's birth certificate, and the insatiable appetite in the gossipy puntitry, not to mention the right wing blogosphere, concerning Illinois corruption case show us that the RWNM is back to it's old tricks. Conason again:

Questions are raised. Connections are drawn. Conspiracies are theorized. Guilt is imputed, implied, asserted and very widely associated. And more of the same feckless fingerpointing is exactly what Barack Obama should expect from the Republicans, the right-wing propaganda machine and their enablers in the mainstream media...

Tried and true or desperate and stupid? My buddy, Michelle Malkin, recently wrote a piece that declared,
"I believe Trig was born to Sarah Palin. I believe Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. I believe fire can melt steel and that bin Laden’s jihadi crew — not Bush and Cheney — perpetrated mass murder on 9/11. What kind of kooky conspiracist does that make me?"
Was she finally signaling a truce in the political arena? Or maybe it was just a blip, a brain fart, a momentary glimpse of reality? In her very next Op Ed she recovers her lost bearings by declaring,
Fitzgerald says President-elect Obama was not implicated in the plethora of charges against Democrats Blago and Harris. The national media went out of their way to absolve him, too. But declaring Team Obama’s hands clean — especially with Blago crony and indicted Obama donor Tony Rezko in the middle of it all — is premature.
So.... picking up on the Rezco blather, adding in an obscenity-laden rant by the hard core Governor of Illinois, adding the word Democrat and presto! Obama in an orange jumpsuit!

The Clinton Rules have once again been adopted and are in full force. The Right Wing is trading journalism for Conspiracy Theorizing. Here's a great piece by Alex Koppleman. He says basically that the psychology behind conspiracy theories prohibits any contrary evidence or information that contradicts the theory to be believed and any presentation of contrary evidence, no matter how truthful, just makes the theory stronger.

..according to several experts in conspiracy theories, and in the psychology of people who believe in conspiracy theories, there's little chance those people who think Obama is barred from the presidency will ever be convinced otherwise. "There's no amount of evidence or data that will change somebody's mind," says Michael Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a columnist for Scientific American, and who holds an undergraduate and a master's degree in psychology. "The more data you present a person, the more they doubt it ... Once you're committed, especially behaviorally committed or financially committed, the more impossible it becomes to change your mind."

Any inconvenient facts are irrelevant. People who believe in a conspiracy theory "develop a selective perception, their mind refuses to accept contrary evidence," Chip Berlet, a senior analyst with Political Research Associates who studies such theories, says. "As soon as you criticize a conspiracy theory, you become part of the conspiracy."

This sounds a lot like the pundits and wingnuts who can't let go of the Clinton Rules. It also sounds like many local wingnuts who bend and twist every political maneuver, issue, or statement into a partisan political point. Anything goes, especially with those who would rise to the defense of Obama and the rest of the Democrats. To the RWNM, any defense of any Democrat simply strengthens their resolve.

What to do? I love Obama's response to all of this. He knows that it is just Kindergarten chatter. He plays it by the book, is the adult in the conversation and continues his work with barely a glance or a pause. The famous moment in the campaign when he showed us all how to deal with the nattering nabobs of righteous wingnuttery should never be forgotten... brush it off, just brush it off and move on.

Friday, December 12, 2008


A Response to the Editorial in the Daily News Record this morning. [12.12.08]
"And it was Frank and Waters who swore to Heaven above that nothing was amiss with the federal lending agencies, one of them run by Democrat Andrew Cuomo, that helped create the subprime mort-gage crisis, itself driven in large part by racially-driven lending.

If Mr. Dodd and his friends want to lend money to the auto industry, so be it. If they don’t, that is their option. But given their role in wrecking the American economy, they should really refrain from giving advice to anyone on how to run anything."

Would hearing from the horse's mouth be helpful? When "Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) asked the four CEOs whether poor people caused the current financial crisis. All said “no”:

Richard Syron, former Freddie CEO: “I would think that it wasn’t mostly trying to do things for poor people.”

Daniel Mudd, former Fannie CEO: “[W]hen the market goes down, it’s the folks who are the closest to the margin who — who get hurt first and longest every time.”

Leland Brendsel, former Freddie CEO: “I cannot recall ever being forced to make — or to purchase a mortgage loan that I didn’t feel, as a matter of policy at Freddie Mac, was a good mortgage loan, a sound mortgage loan, and an attractive mortgage loan for the homebuyer or the owner of an apartment building.”

Franklin Raines, former Fannie CEO: “I do not believe that poor people are the cause of the current financial crisis. … Most of the losses, as I read the record, have come on mortgages that were made to middle-class and upper-middle-class people, not to poor people.

But hey, these guys are just fat cats, what do they know? Right? According to the Southern Plantation System, it's ok to ALWAYS blame the poor. After all, we must preserve the plantation against all contamination by the more objectionable elements of our society. God Bless the South, suh!

Just for good measure:
Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman and Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Dean Baker, have also explained that while Fannie and Freddie made many bad decisions, they weren’t primarily to blame for the financial crisis. At a hearing in September, former top government economic experts agreed that conservatives were pushing myths, rather than facts. [EMPHASIS MINE]
Now with regards to the following:
"But Sen. Dodd’s suggestion that GM fire its top executive may be a nonpareil example of chutzpah. In short, is this man kidding?"
Chutzpah: shameless audacity; impudence.

Mr. editoggor, Chutzpah? Really? Are you talking about the GM CEO who LOST 10 million bucks per quarter for his company when the economy was supposedly humming along nicely? Are you talking about the company that historically has REFUSED to modernize and has INSISTED on selling products that feed our addiction to foreign oil?

Are you accusing, yet again, the Democrats of being unable to stop the Republican Party from feeding at the trough, enriching themselves and their cronies while letting the infrastructure, the health care system, the city of New Orleans, the national defense, and the good will and reputation of our great nation fall in the gutter? Chutzpah sir?? Are you serious?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Loyalty or Incompetence?

The Center for Public Integrity has just put out a report entitled, "Broken Government: An assessment of 128 executive branch failures since 2000." This is the same group the published a report of the 935 lies told by Bush Administration officials in the run-up to the Iraq War.

In many ways this is just old news that keeps getting worse. "Incompetent" was the word most folks agreed that described the Bush regime. It wasn't like they were trying to be stupid, just that competence was not valued, and the "failures" of government were celebrated as "loyalty." In a perverted way, the Bushies STILL THINK that the way Government should be run is the way THEY did it!

Dan Froomkin:

Bush and Vice President Cheney intentionally put into key posts people who didn't support the traditional missions of the agencies they led. Competence or experience often weren't as important as loyalty to the White House, rigid ideological commitment to deregulation, aversion to oversight and allegiance to corporate and special interests over consumers and the general public.

The Full List:

One of the more interesting aspects of the transition period is the Bush Legacy Tour. We can see that the art of spin is still the primary policy and watching the loyalists "spin" in the wind is THE most entertaining show of this political season. Reports of 935 lies and 128 government failures during the Bush Administration will provide a truthful backdrop for the Legacy Tour. Let's watch..

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wrong about Teachers... Again

In response to "Politics Without Class: VEA Should Not Stage Partisan Support While On The Taxpayers’ Dime: posted 10/6/08)

The VEA is most definitely NOT a union. It is an professional association that has struggled mightily to advocate for teachers and students in the Old Dominion. Its sole concern is with the ADVANCEMENT of education, the betterment of students, and with support of teachers who are dedicated to the liberal education of the students of Virginia. The Association of American Colleges and Universities defines liberal education as

"a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of value, ethics, and civic engagement."

The most political it can ever be is as a lobbyist in Richmond for the advocacy of teachers and students in Virginia.

The level of paranoia in the editor's comments is stark and his tone is aggressively partisan. It is, in fact, a simple, ignorant, partisan smear to even suggest that the VEA is a union engaged in inappropriate political activity. Anti-unionism is a right wing signature political issue. To base the whole article on a partisan lie negates the entire argument. To use this lie to accuse teachers (citizens with 1st amendment rights) of partisan political behavior is the ultimate in hypocrisy!

The writer and politicians in this area are very happy to promote blatantly political AND religious right wing policies in our schools. Educators are forced by to "teach the test" to or teach the discredited "abstinence only" sex education program. The "starve the beast" mentality of the anti-tax crowd forces the schools into overcrowding, squeezes teacher salaries, and discourages efforts to help CHILDREN achieve their true potential.

It would be good to remember the true value of education

"When asked how much educated men were superior to those uneducated, Aristotle answered, 'As much as the living are to the dead.'" - Diogenes Laetius

as well as the truly monumental task faced by teachers today in uncertain and often un-supportive school environments.

"It is a greater work to educate a child, in the true and larger sense of the word, than to rule a state." - William Ellery Channing

Liberal education is the antitheses of political propaganda. The religious and political agenda of the editor and his fellow conservatives is message control, the essence of political propaganda. To charge teachers with inappropriate political behavior because of their support of the democratic political process in the United States of America is simple partisan hackery and a tragedy foisted on the children of Virginia.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pity Poor Sarah?

The Sarah Palin Pity Party is about to begin. Pundits and writers, voters, acquaintances, and just plain folks everywhere are getting out the crying towels and weeping for Sarah. What has she gotten into? Why is everyone picking on her? What happened to the "pit bull with lipstick?"

I love Rebecca Traister's piece in Salon today. Want to feel sorry for Sarah? Do you really feel that she's being treated unfairly? Traister pulls the curtain back and with piercing commentary speaks the truth:

Sarah Palin is no wilting flower. She is a politician who took the national stage and sneered at the work of community activists. She boldly tries to pass off incuriosity and lassitude as regular-people qualities, thereby doing a disservice to all those Americans who also work two jobs and do not come from families that hand out passports and backpacking trips, yet still manage to pick up a paper and read about their government and seek out experience and knowledge.

When you stage a train wreck of this magnitude -- trying to pass one under qualified chick off as another highly qualified chick with the lame hope that no one will notice -- well, then, I don't feel bad for you.

When you treat women as your toys, as gullible and insensate pawns in your Big Fat Presidential Bid -- or in Palin's case, in your Big Fat Chance to Be the First Woman Vice President Thanks to All the Cracks Hillary Put in the Ceiling -- I don't feel bad for you.

When you don't take your own career and reputation seriously enough to pause before striding onto a national stage and lying about your record of opposing a Bridge to Nowhere or using your special-needs child to garner the support of Americans in need of healthcare reform you don't support, I don't feel bad for you.

When you don't have enough regard for your country or its politics to cram effectively for the test -- a test that helps determine whether or not you get to run that country and participate in its politics -- I don't feel bad for you.

When your project is reliant on gaining the support of women whose reproductive rights you would limit, whose access to birth control and sex education you would curtail, whose healthcare options you would decrease, whose civil liberties you would take away and whose children and husbands and brothers (and sisters and daughters and friends) you would send to war in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and wherever else you saw fit without actually understanding international relations, I don't feel bad for you.

Yes this is the willful decision of Sarah Palin and John McCain. They chose this ticket and they are in the throes of the political "vetting" process of their own making. This so-called "political cauldron" is how our Presidents and leaders are formed. (Que up the Obama trials and tribulations.) I love the comment I read somewhere online yesterday. To the wingnuts:
"Before you ask for mercy regarding Ms Palin, please remove the knife from Obama's back. Oh, and send a note to Hillary apologizing for the "sexism" used against her for the last 20 years, before you cry "sexist" to any Palin critique!"

Monday, September 29, 2008

A guest blog from Michael Moore

Guest Blogger, Michael Moore, wrote an email today that warns about what's really going on in Washington today. Read it pass it on and DO SOMETHING! Here's Michael's letter:


Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!


Michael Moore

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Curses! McCain at the Debate

McCain lost it when Obama called him out on his recent Spain gaffe.. Watch this:

Didn't the FCC see or hear this? Did any MSM folks catch it? Is this part of the POW Pass that McCain carries with him? Hmmm... Amusing....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Political Fraud: Selling America a Bill of Goods

It's beginning to sound more and more like a Palin vs. Obama Presidential race. My biggest fear is that conservative and independent voters around the country will wake up on November 5 and find out, much to their surprise, that it's John McCain that won the office of President of the United States and only then will they wake from their stupor and see, and regret the silliness of what they've accomplished.

Talk about a bill of goods. The sales pitch that the Republican supporters swallowed hook, line and sinker is something to behold.

The Democrats used their meeting to tell a richer, more expansive national story, one more or less in tune with the party's platform and aspirations. In contrast, as we go to press, the Republicans are staging an elaborate fraud, the purpose of which is to divert the public's attention from their disastrous mismanagement of government and to deceive voters about their agenda. Rick Davis, John McCain's campaign manager, admitted as much when he said, "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates." [The Nation Editorial Board - 8/3/08]

They are once again getting snookered by the pandering politicos who run the radical right. Evangelicals, ever the willing suckers, are getting sucked in yet again. Same thing with rednecks, soccer moms, and erstwhile social conservatives of all stripes. "Join us again, [wink, wink]. We'll string you along for another four years!"

I know that America is a nation of consumers and so should be a little more cautious about these kinds of advertising and aggressive sales pitches. This time, it seems as though simple brand loyalty has kicked into high gear and the whole Party has bought into the sales pitch and is now shouting together in unison this fantastic, unbelievably bloated, false, and expansive advertising campaign.

The upshot here is that nothing short of a divine thunderbolt will get through to these people. They were wrong about Vietnam, wrong about Reagan, wrong about Clinton, wrong about Gore, wrong about Bush, wrong about Iraq, wrong about McCain, wrong about Obama, wrong about everything important to the political life of the country. And they were not only wrong; they were, and remain, proud of being wrong. Remember Richard Cohen on Iraq? "You and your kind were wrong to be right; we were right to be wrong," he said. (Cohen--who, coincidentally, was also wrong about Clinton, Gore, Bush, Iraq, McCain and Obama--was quoting a French ex-Stalinist approvingly in that statement, thereby laying bare the similarities among power-worshiping courtiers across time, space and ideology.) [Eric Alterman - The Times, They Have A-Changed - The Nation 9/22/08]

Are there any educated consumers left? Do these Republicans understand the damage they are doing to the country? Have they no shame? Don't they understand that they are promoting a bombastic, wily, calculated, devious, overblown, scheming, empty shell of pseudo-conservatism wrapped in a sheen of falsehood and innuendo?

It's the masters of spin. Spin the news, turn truth on it's ear. Tell tall tales with wide-eyed fascination and call it truth. The tales and falsehoods are brazenly apparent and the Republicans are joyously and enthusiastically lying their fool heads off. It doesn't matter if it's national TV or the local newspaper. Lies, repeated endlessly, sell. Just ask a used car salesman. Have Americans ever bought a used car that the salesman REALLY wanted to sell?

Is anyone thinking of the United States of America? The Palin "bubble" is the conservative base getting excited about the return to the "Culture War." Social conservatives have suddenly found their "feminist" side? The word "sexist" has now been added to their arsenal of rhetorical bludgeons? This does the country any good?

The governor was aggressively marketed in terms of her maternity, yet questions about how she managed to mother five and lead the state were dismissed as sexist. The governor's two years leading Alaska, which in terms of citizens served is the equivalent of being mayor of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was said to be the linchpin of her appointment, but questions about her breadth of experience were dismissed as sexist. Her surrogates wanted the press to write about mooseburgers and ignore how the governor had once pursued the kind of earmarked federal funds she now insists are anathema to her. Conservatives have probably used the word "sexist" more in the past week than they have in the past 50 years. [Anna Quindlen, "Can You Say 'Sexist'? - Newsweek, 9/15/08]

"Drill Baby Drill" is all about Oil company profit NOT the welfare of the people. What is good about this for Americans?

...the dirtiest little secret in this dirty game is that Big Oil doesn't really want more crude coming to market. Oh, it does want the ANWR and offshore leases, because it wants to lock up and stockpile every last acre of public oil property before Bush-Cheney exit, stage right. But the Big Five (Exxon Mobil, ChevronTexaco, Conoco Phillips, BP, and Shell) are siphoning enormous profits from our pockets by keeping supplies tight.

The Big Five control 55% of the U.S. gasoline market, and the top 10 control 81% of the market. It's in their self-interest to use their monopolistic grip to squeeze the supply line, which means squeezing you and me. When Exxon Mobil says it is eagerly searching for more deposits, it is talking about bank deposits, not oil.

Some focus on McCain the "War Hero." Wouldn't it be smarter to see if his "message" could at least be deciphered in a coherent way?

I should note that there’s nothing offensive about a political figure changing his or her mind once in a while. Policy makers come to one conclusion, they gain more information, and then they reach a different conclusion. That is, to be sure, a good thing — it reflects a politician with an open mind and a healthy intellectual curiosity. Better to have a leader who changes his or her mind based on new information than one who stubbornly sticks to outmoded policy positions, regardless of facts or circumstances.

So why do McCain’s flip-flops matter? Because all available evidence suggests his reversals aren’t sincere, they’re cynically calculated for political gain. This isn’t indicative of an open mind; it’s actually indicative of a character flaw. And given the premise of McCain’s presidential campaign, it’s an area in desperate need of scrutiny. [Steve Benin - The Carpetbagger Report]

Wouldn't it good for Americans to be able to trust this man's honor and dignity? Wouldn't it be good to know how this translates into real policies that will improve the lives of Americans? How is this tale of pandering and rhetorical gymnastics helping Americans improve their lives?

McCain has been mesmerized and overshadowed completely by the dazzling Ms. Palin! He's sold himself completely to the radical base of his party. He is deliberately confusing us, lying to us, and bringing only disgrace to himself and his Party. Who is John McCain? Does he ever speak for himself anymore? How is this good for America? Sarah Palin is NOT running for President! WAKE UP AMERICA!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Four Reasons to Vote for Sam Rasoul for Congress

Sam Rasoul is for Affordable Single-Payer National Health Insurance. I worry about health and heath care for myself and my loved ones more than any of the issues in this current campaign season. The Single Payer Plan endorsed by Mr. Rasoul expands and improves upon one government success story, Medicare. Single Payer is the same system our public servants in Congress get and it's the one system that will include everyone. Our Medicare system is a model that has been copied around the world as a total health care system that works! One such country is Taiwan, where 100% of it's citizens have health care at a fraction of the cost that we pay in America. The service is excellent, there is plenty of choice, private clinics, hospitals and health agencies are involved and with the government acting only to cap costs and administrate the program.

If you heard of a country that in 1995 introduced single-payer universal health care, with complete freedom of choice of doctors and no waiting lists, you would expect all the presidential contenders to be beating a path there to find out what was happening. After all, this is not Shangri-La. It is Taiwan, which also offers dental and prescription-drug coverage, and the choice between Chinese traditional or modern medicine, all for just over a third of the proportion of the GDP that the U.S. "system" costs. - Ian Williams, Washington Spectator

A healthy citizen is productive citizen, a healthy child is a child that can learn and grow. Health care for all helps our nation's health, our economy, and our national security.

Sam Rasoul is a fiscal conservative. A true conservative simply does not continually borrow money to support unnecessary and wasteful government spending. Not only earmarks are targeted by Mr. Rasoul, but he'd work on
"tax loopholes, unnecessary subsidies, limit influence of PACs and lobbyists, increased transparency in government and true campaign finance reform."
Mr. Rasoul is not only a fiscal conservative, but has managed to avoid any associations with the big money corruption that has tainted politics locally and across the nation. He walks the walk by accepting no money from PACs, lobbyists, special interests, or even the Democratic Party! His focus is on representing he citizens of this District as well as the American people. Here's a politician who is willing stand firm against "business as usual" and stand up for democracy and honest representation in Congress.

Mr. Rasoul brings the common sense of a private small businessman to the running of government. It takes an uncommon politician to pledge half of his salary to help children and small business. He will support two innovative ideas with that salary called FUTURECARE and FUTUREJOBS. These two programs are initiatives that will need to be developed, organized and implemented. Helping small businesses get started and improving accessibility and lowering costs of health care are programs that show Mr. Rasoul's commitment to Virginia and the constituents of the Sixth District.

I support Sam Rasoul's Energy Plan and most importantly his view that our dependence on Oil is a national security risk. American ingenuity and the "can do" spirit that we proudly claim as a part of our national identity can certainly achieve the goal of energy independence. Mr. Rasoul supports taking on this challenge with a comprehensive, pragmatic plan emphasizing clean energy, modern technology, and alternatives to fossil fuels.

Sam is a true populist. He's concerned about the citizens in the district. He's spent the past 14 months traveling throughout the District to meet his future constituents and find out about their concerns. I met Sam at a local coffee shop at a small gathering of no more than a dozen folks. His willingness to engage in conversation and discuss at length any issue that was brought forward impressed me very much. He cares about the issues I care about, he's a good man and he'll have my vote on election day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stealing from Democrats...Smearing Themselves

Republicans know good political strategy when they steal it... from themselves! I'm talking about messiah's, celebrities, family values, and job readiness, issues that Democrats have been hit pretty hard with this year. Eugene Robinson makes a timely point in today's WAPO editorial.

"Not that Barack Obama lacks a healthy opinion of himself, mind you. And no one wants the next president to be paralyzed with insecurity, or to doubt, even for a minute, that he's the right man for the job. But after ridiculing Obama as a preening celebrity, if not a self-proclaimed messiah, McCain is campaigning on a platform that can be summed up in three words: me, me, me."

McCain is electing himself. "Vote for ME! I'm not like those old Republicans. You know the ones we're running against in this election? I'm a maverick, I'm was a war hero, I'M the anointed one." As Robinson says:

"Much has been made of the fact that he's a Republican running on a pledge to clean up the intolerable, unforgivable mess created over the past eight years by a Republican president -- and, for much of that time, a Republican-controlled Congress in which McCain himself had great power and influence. It's amusing to listen to a man in his fourth term in the Senate (after two terms in the House) rail against evil "Washington," as if he weren't one of this modern-day Sodom's most prominent denizens."

Sarah Palin is the celebrity. She's fiesty and flashy, a dominatrix with as yet to be determined substance. She hasn't been tested in the national political cauldron, or perhaps she won't have to be tested, if, as Chucky Kraut says in his column this morning,

"...she too can neutralize unreadiness with star power.. "

There you have it! Ms. Palin can help McCain if she takes a page from Obama's playbook and uses her star power! It was Jon Stewart reflecting on the recent Olympic gymnastics competition, comparing it to the rhetorical acrobatics on display at the RNC that summed it up nicely...

"To see the Republican leadership and the contortions they are having to make with this Palin nomination, it's been fascinating to me."


Seems that the Republicans are all for family values and identifying with the Soccer and Hockey Moms of the world until they are against it....

"Of course, Palin's handlers are being hypocritical: They want to focus on her family life and her identity as a hockey mom when doing so helps them and to push aside any story that mars this perfect picture. Conservatives are always against identity politics until they are for it."

Until she recently agreed to an interview with Charles Gibson, Palin hadn't been allowed to take ANY questions from the press ANYWHERE. Rick Davis said it was because of the lack of "respect and deference" to her as a woman and a politician. This of course is unprecedented in the world of presidential politics. As E.J. Dionne says in this morning's WAPO,

"Deference? That's a word used in monarchies or aristocracies. Democracies don't give "deference" to politicians. When have McCain, Obama, Biden or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton asked for deference?"

It seems that the Republicans are all for playing nice...except when they don't want to.

And finally: The Republicans are all over the Democrats for questioning Palin's readiness for the office of Veep and most importantly the Presidency. Seems that qualifications and experience aren't really all that important until they are. Again from Dionne:

"Nonetheless, what matters is not Palin's personal life but whether she is prepared to assume the presidency if called upon. The actions of McCain's lieutenants suggest that they know the answer. And they are doing everything they can to keep the media from finding it. "

Republicans can't help it. They are for family values, just don't ask and don't tell. They depend on the "Star Power" of their candidates, but will villify opponents for being "celebrities." They call Obama the "chosen one" yet their own candidate spends his entire stump speech anointing himself as "Messiah." They are proponents of change, just don't ask them to change anything. Hey at least THEY know what they're talking about..... Jason Jones:

"As we've learned this week, unlike Democrats, Republicans are patriotic, honest and decent."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Are We Safer Now? UPDATED 9/2/08

A chilling report from Glen Greenwald today (Sunday 8/31/08) documents his visit to the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. He reports that as a part of the security apparatus, the local police with the help of the FBI have raided various headquarters, private homes, and meeting places of activist groups with plans to protest at the Convention. The raids were carried out using warrants to search for "fire and code violations." Never mind that the Fire Marshall was never notified, the fact that ONLY the protest groups that were legally planning to demonstrations were raided highlights the real intent. Here's a description of one of the raids:

"I heard somebody saying, 'They're coming, they're coming!' And feet pounding on the back stairs, pounding on the door saying they had a search warrant. They busted through the door. They've got their guns cocked at people." Sammy Schutz held tightly to five-year-old Gabe, who had been watching a video with his mother and father and about 20 other people when the police stormed into 827 Smith Avenue in St. Paul, ordering everyone down on the floor.

"All I could feel was Mama Bear - do whatever you want to do to me, but I need to get my son out safe. He was watching his dad get handcuffed. And he's saying, 'Mommy, mommy, why did they crash through the door?'"

Gabe's question remained unanswered. Ramsey County sheriff's deputies said they were executing a search warrant, but would not show a copy of the warrant to lawyers or reporters. More than a dozen police vehicles , almost all unmarked, and more than 20 sheriff's deputies and St. Paul police arrived at the building about 9:45 Friday night and were still there at 1 a.m., when I left.

Of course Minnesota Public Radio had it a little differently:

Authorities have searched several homes in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul Saturday ahead of the opening of the Republican National Convention.

These raids followed a search of a former theater in St. Paul being used by an anarchist group.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. — Police said the raids were the result of a long-term investigation into a group of more than 30 anarchists that call themselves the RNC Welcoming Committee. They said there were other groups, including Food Not Bombs, that were affiliated with the group, but those groups were not targets of the raids.

The searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Deputies coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Here's another report documenting a police raid on Food Not Bombs.

MnIndy RNC reporter Jeff Severns Guntzel is at the Minneapolis Food Not Bombs house, which was raided by police this morning. Facts are still coming in, but Guntzel says that at 8 a.m. neighbors near the home, located at 2301 23rd Avenue South, reported hearing a loud bang followed by yelling. A single police squad car was parked out front. When Guntzel arrived he saw eight or nine officers enter the house in what he says is a joint operation between officers of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department, the Minneapolis Police Depatment, and the FBI. According to one witness who was in the house at the time of the raid, the action is related to last night’s raid on the RNC Welcoming Committee’s “convergence space.” Several other spaces have been raided this morning.

Here's an overview of what is happening in Minneapolis this weekend, again from Glen Greenwald:

Homes of college-aid protesters were raided by rifle-wielding police forces. Journalists were forcibly detained at gun point. Lawyers on the scene to represent the detainees were handcuffed. Computers, laptops, journals, diaries, and political pamphlets were seized from people's homes. And all of this occurred against U.S. citizens, without a single act of violence having taken place, and nothing more serious than traffic blockage even alleged by authorities to have been planned.

A man whose sister was one of those arrested at one of the raided houses in Minneapolis yesterday emailed me a photograph of her and her friend who was also arrested -- Monica Bicking (r.) and Eryn Trimme -- and he wrote this:

"They are still in custody. I've been told that the police have 36 hours to charge her, and that 36 hours starts after the labor day holiday, so they only have to charge her sometime Wednesday. It seems unlikely that they'd do anything to expedite her or Eryn's release."

The most disturbing aspect for me in the events over the weekend at the RNC is the involvement of the FBI and concerted effort by the Federal Government to systematically, transparently, and unapologetically shut down all planned protests. Evidently to our government, any and all protesters are suspected "anarchists" and should be rounded up and locked away to preserve the peace. Is there anything more disturbing than rounding up Peace Activists with a SWAT team? Could this very clear attempt at intimidation and suppression of the rights of American citizens be any more blatant?

The Message is clear. Do not protest, do not demonstrate, but stay in your houses and behave. Anyone who is caught protesting on the street or in public venues will be attacked, detained, and harassed. Anyone who tries to dissent or protest WILL BE ARRESTED.

A few blocks away, Dave Bicking says his daughter, Monica, was one of the five people arrested in the raids. He said he thought police were trying to discourage people from legitimate expression outside the convention in St. Paul, rather than fight crime.

"You know they're intimidating people from even coming to the demonstrations, so they're intimidating everybody, not just, you know, the anarchists or the whatever," Bicking said. "They're intimidating everybody when this news gets out from coming downtown to engage in even legally and permitted marches and the whole thing."


UPDATE 9/2/08

Amy Goodman, journalist and anchor for Democracy Now, was arrested when she tried to step in and rescue her producers. The headline from Democracy Now's website:

"Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar Released After Illegal Arrest at RNC

Goodman Charged with Obstruction; Felony Riot Charges Pending Against Kouddous and Salazar."

Minneapolis police along with the FBI and the St. Paul police are rounding up protesters, entrapping them, using pepper spray, rubber bullets, and overwhelming force to deal with the peaceful protesters.

More updates here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Engaging Issues

Amidst the recent spat of editorials critical of Barack Obama warning us of the perils of a Democratic government comes a challenge from the Editor of the Daily News Record. In his column of 8/28 (Democrats and the Rich), he challenges Barack Hussein Obama to "engage Mr. McCain on the issues." A simple question comes to mind. Wouldn't it be a good time for John Sidney McCain to engage Mr. Obama on the issues?

As an editorial writer, what better place than the Editorial Forum to start the ball rolling at least here in the Valley. Here are some issues to start on: fair wages, fair markets, health security, retirement security, equal justice, Common Values, or One Country "with liberty and justice for all." I would invite the Editor or anyone else who favors the incumbent party to join in the discussion and support the record of the current administration by telling us why they support torture, illegal wiretapping, "justified" law breaking by the President, CIA black sites, restrictions of habeas corpus, secret rendition, and the "use it or lose it" approach to environmentalism. Then we could start on the privatization of the military, the health care system, social security, the infrastructure, and education, or we could begin the discussion of corporate welfare, the wealth gap, the mortgage meltdown, and the growth of government. It's time to "engage on the issues."

Friday, August 22, 2008

The DNR's Radical Friends

So in the spirit of today's Op-Ed in the Daily News Record, let's look at some of the writer's "Radical Friends." First there is Stanley Kurtz writing in the National Review - Senior Fellow at the think tank known as Ethics and Public Policy Review... noted conservative commentator and colleague of Senior Fellow, Rick Santorum, humiliated former Junior Senator from Pennsylvania who famously warned in 2003 that the repeal of laws banning sodomy would lead to "man on dog" sex.

Then there is the late Reed Irvine - founder of Accuracy in Media and father of current Chairman Don Irvine. The elder Irvine called for sedition charges to be brought against the SDS, the Black Panthers, and the Progressive Labor Party thus certifying his Right Wing credentials. He called for a nuclear strike against Iraq during Desert Storm, he rails against environmental causes with great stridency (his primary funding sources are the big chemical and oil companies), and famously advocated for government policing of major-network newscasts for "accuracy and fairness."

For facts and information the editor refers us to that fount of knowledge and self-edited bastion of scholarship, Wikipedia.

Other sources of information include the famously "fair and balanced" Fox News, the noted conservative rag The National Review, and the admittedly conservative Washington Times (although the Times reporting an AP story, gives our editor some wiggle space here.)

These are bona fide right wing sources, every bit as legitimate as the mainstream media or equally bona fide left wing sources. My point is simply that this "opinion" is so dramatically slanted towards the extreme Right that it loses it's credibility! It's simply PROPAGANDA for the Right Wing. There is no rational argument given for any issue that is relevant to the Presidential campaign only vague references to "judgement." In fact the editor's only point is to demean and slander an American Presidential candidate on hearsay alone, in the newspaper, using the community's bully pulpit. In the vain attempt to find out who Obama really is, all we get is standard Right Wing replays of tired and well-worn gossip, a little fear-mongering, some subliminal race baiting, and an underlying well spring of white pride.

A rational informative opinion piece does not include such hot button, innuendo-laden terms and phrases such as: "terrorist" - "tossing bombs and killing cops" - "infantile coniption known as the 60's" - "bomb thrower" - "America hating leftist" - "crazed lunatic" - "incendiary anti-American and (more importantly my emphasis) anti-white sermons" - "left-leaning poet" - "card carrying Red" - "slavishly pro-Soviet communist party" - compared to, "Joseph Stalin and his apostles of death who murdered millions" - "advocated violent overthrow of the country" - "cosmically radical lunatics" - and again, "terrorists, race hustlers, and communists" - and once again "apologist for Stalin."

Just WHO is the paranoid radical here? How desperate is our Right Wing editor? How far into the mud will he finally dig? If he loves America so much, why is he making villains and enemies of the 75% of Americans who AREN'T Right Wing Radicals?

Here's the op-ed I'd love to see in the interest of "fair and balanced," "John McCain and his Radical Friends." I dare ya!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why I like Obama

An interesting thread on the DNR discussion board this morning started in on the qualifications for President. Talk of resumes, beliefs, and readiness ensued. Here's one blogger's comment followed by my response. It's a pretty good summary of the reasoning behind my support of Barack Obama for President. Read on....

BoDuke 319 said:

Rager you said: "It is becoming more common to find presidential candidates who didn't serve in the military, yet their qualifications are adequate to hold the highest office in the land."

I agree with the first part of that. You don't have to be ex-military to be a great president. However, you must find adequate qualifications to hold the highest office in the land. I agree with that. Where we differ is Barack Obama. I cannot believe that you are willing to give the ball to a JV player in the NBA championship. Obama has no resume to be president of this country. I undersatnd you not supporting McCain, but standing behind Obama like he's parting the Red Sea is ridiculous. You really have no idea what he plans on doing with this country. I hear what he's saying he plans on doing, but even that has switched up a few times. How can you so passionately support someone you know so little about?

My Response:

Bo: Good questions..

I put great weight in Obama's education at Columbia University, his reluctant acceptance of the position of President of the Harvard Law Review and his academic prowess at Harvard Law School. A good education.

I also put great weight in the fact that he was a constitutional law professor (Senior Lecturer) at the University of Chicago. That's a difficult subject that he was evidently VERY good at teaching. He's a teacher and a learner.

I am very impressed with his community service work in Chicago. From the US News and World Report:
"As a community organizer in the Altgeld Gardens public housing project in the mid-1980s, Obama, then 23, quickly emerged as a tireless and pragmatic advocate for the community—traits that characterize the kind of president he says he wants to be."
He learned the ability to listen to folks and try to put together a consensus. The word "pragmatic" is important to me, as is the word "listen."

I respect his choice to enter the world of community service work and I think he's the real deal simply because he turned down a much more lucrative career in the corporate world.

I've looked over his record as an Illinois congressman and pretty much agree with what he's done there, and I've checked his Senate record and I'm impressed with what he's done in the short time he's had.

I respect but do not admire his political ability. He's a smart tough politician who will say what he thinks will get him elected leading to some embarrassing flips and flops. I'm not really convinced that he's as liberal as he's made out to be. His views concerning the military budget (he will increase it, I want to cut it), the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, (to slow for me) and his cozying up to various lobbying groups dismays me.

I admire his ability to communicate through his speeches. He's very good at plunging into difficult problems and working for consensus. (the race issue for example). He also has written two best selling books that provide a lot of insight as to who he is, where he came from, and what he stands for.

He's a husband and father and an active participant in the African American cultural and social community. This is the big question mark for me and I'm still learning about what it means to have an African American man running for President. None of us have any real frame of reference, it's never been done at this level (Jessie Jackson aside) so we really don't know what to expect. Various allegations of playing the race card have been tried and it seems that so far the electorate is working through the issue in fits and starts.

I put ABSOLUTELY NO WEIGHT in Obama as messiah, or Moses.... That's just dumb. The only ones who go there are the Obamaphobes. Just silly.

To me Obama is still an open book and I agree that really don't know what he will actually do as President. Unfortunately, that's the way it's gone with the last four Presidents. They've all said one thing and done quite the reverse when they actually begin to govern so I think that argument is a wash. I strongly disagree with you in that I think it McCain who is the JV player. Always has been, always will be. An underachiever and wise ass everywhere he's been. Right now I'm leaning towards the education, the communication, the teaching and learning ability coupled with his pragmatism.

To review:

Service as an Illinois State Senator, community service organizer, graduate of law school, constitutional scholar and professor, best selling author, elected to the US Senate, husband, father, American citizen, and an active participant in the African-American social and cultural lifestyle is more than enough to qualify for the office of president of the United States.

He is the CEO and leader of the Democratic Party's Presidential campaign and before that ran the most successful primary campaign in modern history defeating an opponent who was heavily favored to win the nomination.

Thanks for asking!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Point/Counterpoint on: The Race Card and Bigotry - UPDATED

Concerning the playing of the race card referenced in this post, Sarah Palin brings a whole new dimension to the political arena. This link is admittedly from the "kook" osphere, but it needs reading anyway, I mean it's a waitress in Alaska for heaven's sake! In the context of "Who is Sarah Palin?"

Here's and interesting point/counterpoint from the Obiter Dicta in the DNR today: Who's playing the race card, exactly what is the race card? Which side is the most anxious to put it in play? All good questions for a confused electorate. Seems that nobody really knows how to handle Senator Obama's race and that the typical, usual smears don't seem to be having much effect, though not for lack of trying. Read on:

Point: (Daily News Record editorialist)

Barack Obama should quit while he’s ahead, but he doesn’t just seem to understand that Americans are wise to the race card and won’t be fooled when he deals it, as his opponent John McCain said, from the bottom of the deck.

Reprising comments he made in June, Mr. Obama unbosomed these ridiculous remarks last week in Rolla, Mo.: “Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Obama said. "You know, he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name, you know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

The ploy isn’t working. The latest Rasmussen Poll reveals these interesting data: Only 22 percent of those polled think John McCain’s ad comparing Mr. Obama to a celebrity is racist. Yet 53 percent of those polled think Mr. Obama’s dollar-bill remark is racist.

A few things about Mr. Obama’s remarks. First, he does have a funny name. Second, he doesn’t look like any other presidents. But if he loses this election, those won’t be the reasons. He’ll lose because he’s the most extremist liberal in the U.S. Senate."

Counterpoint: (Blue Rager)

Interesting points and counterpoint. Polling indicates the confusion of the American people concerning the race issue. I agree that Senator McCain has avoided the whole topic of race and the race card, but his campaign has played it rather aggressively. Senator Graham, one of Sen. McCain's surrogates played the race card loud and clear on "Fox News Sunday" when he put the words, "victim" and "racist" into play. Never mind that Obama never spoke them, Graham and friends know very well who they are talking too, and what they mean to say when they put words like this in Obama's mouth. As Gene Robinson of the WAPO stated,

"This battle over Obama's image as a black man is arguably the central front of the presidential campaign right now. Once-sharp lines between the candidates on issues such as withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq or allowing new offshore oil drilling are becoming blurred. The Democratic Party's structural advantages going into the election are formidable. It's hard to imagine how McCain could possibly win unless he generates doubt in voters' minds about Obama

One way to do that would be to fabricate the impression that Obama is demanding special treatment and privilege because he is black -- in other words, turn a self-made man into a stereotypical beneficiary of affirmative action."

The last point of the letter today, reveals the silliness of this newspaper's point of view. I have a funny name, LOTS of folks have a funny name, I think the name of this newspaper is pretty funny... I think the editorialist is a real scream! If he wants to be taken seriously, I'd suggest leaving the name alone. Veiled bigotry is still bigotry. No candidate for president has ever looked like John McCain either. Of course ALL presidents look like John McCain, but only AFTER their terms in office are over and the stress and strain of holding the highest office in the land is etched on their faces....

And... much to our editorialist's dismay, being liberal is a point of pride for Mr. Obama, for me, and for the progressive community. The editorialist's use of the word liberal as a pejorative renders his opinion meaningless and uselessly one-sided. Anything he writes becomes simplistic political propaganda, and a danger to our pluralistic democracy.

The history of liberalism in America is filled with the ideals, the leadership, and heroism that we all associate with our great country. The same can be said about the history of conservatism! To disrespect and dismiss half of the political spectrum as useless simply because of what they believe is yet another form of bigotry, pure and simple. Nothing can be written herein by the editorialist without a dramatic reinterpretation of the remarks by the reader to remove the prejudice.

Of Actors and Visions...

A simple comment in the Daily News Record bulletin board this morning:

"Truth be told, with all the intelligent people wandering around and voting in this nation of ours, many people will probably shallowly vote for Obama based on his star power and great speech deliverance alone." - jfo11

Sadly, this personality based, star-power, political style has dominated our elections since 1980, when the callow inexperienced, teflon-coated former governor of California, dazzled America with his charisma and stage presence. He played the part so well that we actually believed what he and his handlers told us about governance.

This personality-based, cult-figure, hero worshiping style of selecting the president has been perfected by none other than those who are now throwing the mantle of "celebrity" and "super star" and "messiah" on Senator Obama, and using it to make a point that he's therefore unfit for higher office. This is most amusing, not to mention, silly way to select a president. Always has been, always will be.

Did someone question Mr. Obama's ability to govern and lead? Check out the yearlong national campaign that has made history and is the new definition of "state of the art" in political campaigning. Did someone mention "the vision thing?" The speeches have been written with only some help from his handlers, are about a vision that is as real as the man is real. He's not really a great actor, but is indeed a fine politician and as honest as a politician can be. He inspires his staff, and his constituents, not to worship him, but to believe in his "vision." This is stuff of a level of leadership that has been missing from our political scene for 30 years.

Read the commentary in the opinion pages and the comments in the blogosphere and reject those who simply throw slime into the mix. Ignore the personality based attacks and the subliminal racism that is being thrown around. Obama is the first black man to run for president and no one has ever had any experience in how to do it or how to respond to it. Want to see courage in action? Watch Obama run for president! Can anyone imagine what kind of fortitude and leadership is necessary to get even this far? Stay tuned ladies and gentlemen.....