Friday, December 30, 2005
Mitch Haaseth) Aidan Quinn
in The Book of Daniel
"The American Family Association (up until 1988 the Federation for Decency), which has recently ramped up its efforts to target TV programming it finds offensive, is calling on its members to e-mail NBC and their local NBC affiliate asking them not to air The Book of Daniel, and to put affiliate contact numbers and station call letters in their church bulletins."
Well, Christmas is over. So the Bill O'Reilly-Fox News-generated, ratings boosting "War on Christmas" is also over. I had been wondering what they would do next to make their troops feel discriminated against and keep them at the ready to strike any newly spied enemy. Then I realized, they were ready with the war on The Book of Daniel, an otherwise innocuous TV show, to which I would never have even paid any attention, had the American Family Association not entered the picture.
The Book of Daniel "is an example of that network's anti-Christian bigotry," said the homophobic bigots in the AFA.
But it sounds like a hoot: according to the official newspaper of the right wing - the New York Post - Rev. Daniel Webster...is an 'unconventional' Episcopalian Minister who speaks with a hip, modern-day Christ...and is battling an addiction to prescription painkillers while also battling the church hierarchy. According to the AFA, he also has a wife who 'depends heavily on her midday martinis" and "a 23-year-old homosexual Republican son, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter" and "at the office [the rev's] lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law."
Sounds a bit like the evil twin of Seventh Heaven, doesn't it?
This all reminds me of Terry Rakolta's 1989 war on Fox's Married with Children which put the then-new network on the map and made the show a hit.
According to Juiceenewsdaily: The writer for the program is Jack Kenny, a practicing homosexual who describes himself as being “in Catholic recovery,” and is interested in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation and isn’t sure exactly how he defines God and/or Jesus. “I don’t necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him (Jesus) is true,” he said.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes before NBC is intimidated and The Book of Daniel slinks away into another tv dimension with its tail between its legs.
For anyone who is interested The Book of Daniel premieres Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. EST with two back-to-back episodes, before moving to its regular 10 p.m. slot the following week.
What's Best for the Country?
By Robert Parry
In 2006, the United States will be confronted with a stark choice about what kind of country it intends to be, or – in the quaint language of the Founding Fathers – what it will pass down to “posterity.” There is no room left to duck the issues or finesse the facts.
Either the United States will accept a future governed by an authoritarian Executive, with few safeguards of a citizen’s constitutional rights and no real checks and balances from other branches of government, or the American people will challenge the White House in defense of a traditional Republic, where no man is above the law.
George W. Bush has left almost no wiggle room. He has asserted as clearly as any Executive could that he is the law; that he can define his own powers; that the Constitution is whatever he says it is; that Congress can’t constrain him; and that the Courts must not try to “usurp” his authority.
(For more of this)
filmmaker/animator John Douglas"
Homeland Security still lacks cohesion and efficiency, report says
BY JAMES GORDON MEEK (New York Daily News)
The Department of Homeland Security, the sprawling agency created to defend the country against terrorists, is a bureaucratic mess plagued by "major management challenges," a scathing internal report charged Wednesday.
"While DHS has made progress, it still has much to do to establish a cohesive, efficient and effective organization," the department's inspector general concluded.
"Major challenges - now that is an understatement," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the Democrats' Homeland Security Task Force. "You only need look at their response to Hurricane Katrina to see they have major challenges."
(For more of this)
The real question is: what, if anything, can they do right. - Dan
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Shock, awe and Hobbes have backfired on America's neocons
Iraq has shown the hubris of a geostrategy that welds the philosophy of the Leviathan to military and technological power
The tragic irony of the 21st century is that just as faith in technology collapsed on the world's stock markets in 2000, it came to power in the White House and Pentagon. For the Project for a New American Century's ambition of "full-spectrum dominance" - in which its country could "fight and win multiple, simultaneous major-theatre wars" - was a monster borne up by the high tide of techno euphoria of the 1990s.
Ex-hippies talked of a wired age of Aquarius. The fall of the Berlin wall and the rise of the internet, we were told, had ushered in Adam Smith's dream of overflowing abundance, expanding liberty and perpetual peace. Fukuyama speculated that history was over, leaving us just to hoard and spend. Technology meant a new paradigm of constant growth without inflation or recession.
But darker dreams surfaced in America's military universities. The theorists of the "revolution in military affairs" predicted that technology would lead to easy and perpetual U.S. dominance of the world. Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters [now a NYP columnist - Dan] advised on "future warfare" at the Army War College - prophesying in 1997 a coming "age of constant conflict". Thomas Barnett at the Naval War College assisted Vice-Admiral Cebrowski in developing "network-centric warfare". General John Jumper of the air force predicted a planet easily mastered from air and space. American forces would win everywhere because they enjoyed what was unashamedly called the "God's-eye" view of satellites and GPS: the "global information grid". This hegemony would be welcomed as the cutting edge of human progress. Or at worst, the military geeks candidly explained, U.S. power would simply terrify others into submitting to the stars and stripes.
Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance - a key strategic document published in 1996 - aimed to understand how to destroy the "will to resist before, during and after battle". For Harlan Ullman of the National Defence University, its main author, the perfect example was the atom bomb at Hiroshima. But with or without such a weapon, one could create an illusion of unending strength and ruthlessness. Or one could deprive an enemy of the ability to communicate, observe and interact - a macro version of the sensory deprivation used on individuals - so as to create a "feeling of impotence". And one must always inflict brutal reprisals against those who resist. An alternative was the "decay and default" model, whereby a nation's will to resist collapsed through the "imposition of social breakdown".
All of this came to be applied in Iraq in 2003, and not merely in the March bombardment called "shock and awe". It has been usual to explain the chaos and looting in Baghdad, the destruction of infrastructure, ministries, museums and the national library and archives, as caused by a failure of Rumsfeld's planning. But the evidence is this was at least in part a mask for the destruction of the collective memory and modern state of a key Arab nation, and the manufacture of disorder to create a hunger for the occupier's supervision. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported in May 2003, US troops broke the locks of museums, ministries and universities and told looters: "Go in Ali Baba, it's all yours!"
(For more of this)
(also see: PNAC and for a broader critique of the neo-cons and the new right strategy for world dominance see: Hidden Agenda: The Films and Writings of John Pilger)
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
The I-Word Is Gaining Ground
In the late 1990s, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, currently under indictment on corruption charges, proclaimed: "This nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law.... The other road is the path of least resistance" in which "we pitch the law completely overboard when the mood fits us...[and] close our eyes to the potential lawbreaking...and tear an unfixable hole in our legal system." That arbiter of moral politics, Tom DeLay, was incensed about the danger of letting Bill Clinton escape unpunished for his "crimes"--lying about sex.
Fast-forward to December 2005. Nobody in the entire Bush administration has been fired, not to mention impeached, for shedding of American blood in Iraq or for shredding of our Constitution at home.
As Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter put it--hours after The New York Times reported that Bush had authorized NSA wiretapping of U.S. citizens without a warrant-- this President has committed a real transgression that "goes beyond sex, corruption and political intrigue to big issues like security versus liberty and the reasonable bounds of presidential power."
In these last months, several organizations have formed to urge Bush's impeachment. AfterDowningStreet, Impeach Central and ImpeachPAC.org are some of the best known. But until very recently, their views were virtually absent from the broadcast and print media, and could only be found on the Internet and in street protests.
But the times they are a-changin’. The I-word has moved from the marginal to the mainstream....
(For more on this)
(also see): Our "war president," his favorite title, says he can do anything to anyone at any time to "protect" the American people. No restraints. No checks and balances. No accountability. Congress has no role, and the people mean nothing.
The New York Observer's Joe Conason spoke to Bruce Fein, a conservative legal scholar and former Ronald Reagan aide, about the implications of Bush's wild claims of authority.
"If President Bush is totally unapologetic and says 'I continue to maintain that as a wartime President I can do anything I want -- I don't need to consult any other branches,' that is an impeachable offense. It is more dangerous than Clinton's lying under oath, because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for ages. It would set a precedent that ... would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant," said Fein.
(and see): U.S. Rep. John Conyers, the Michigan Democrat who was a critical player in the Watergate and Iran-Contra investigations into presidential wrongdoing, has introduced a package of resolutions that would censure President Bush and Vice President Cheney and create a select committee to investigate the administration's possible crimes and make recommendations regarding grounds for impeachment.
(Also) What sense does it make that some of the same Washington media and political leaders who countenanced the Clinton impeachment over a semen-stained dress, somberly intoning about the "rule of law," consider impeaching Bush beyond the pale?
No sense at all.
The question about impeaching Bush has nothing to do with legal grounds, and everything to do with politics.
But in the last few weeks, the political climate has been changing, so that more people are seriously considering whether Bush has committed one or more impeachable offenses. The revelations about Bush's spying on Americans through the NSA helped change things a bit.
Representatives Johns Conyers and John Lewis and Senator Barbara Boxer are talking, in public, about impeachment now.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
A special evolution education update to bring you the news from Harrisburg. The decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover was issued, and the plaintiffs [the parents opposed to Intelligent Design] triumphed. In his 139-page decision, Judge John E. Jones III concluded, "The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents."
Judge John E.
Jones III (AP Photo)
HARRISBURG, Pa. Dec 20, 2005 — "Intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.
Dover Area School Board members violated the Constitution when they ordered that its biology curriculum must include the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III said. Several members repeatedly lied to cover their motives even while professing religious beliefs, he said.
The school board policy, adopted in October 2004, was believed to have been the first of its kind in the nation.
The plaintiffs challenging the policy argued that intelligent design amounts to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools. The judge agreed.
"We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board's real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom," he wrote in his 139-page opinion....
Said the judge:
"It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."
The board members were replaced by a slate of eight opponents who pledged to remove intelligent design from the science curriculum.
The dispute is the latest chapter in a long-running debate over the teaching of evolution dating back to the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Tennessee biology teacher John T. Scopes was fined $100 for violating a state law that forbade teaching evolution. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed his conviction on a technicality, and the law was repealed in 1967.
(For more on this story)
Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Bolivian Indian activist Evo Morales, who describes himself as the "United States' worst nightmare," won election as president of South America's poorest nation.
Today begins a new Bolivia…This is not just about changing the government or changing the presidency, but changing our history. I am a candidate of those despised in Bolivian history, the candidate of the most hated and the most discriminated against. --Evo Morales
From Cuba Solidarity - New York:
Dear Sister and Brothers,
What more inspiring way to end 2006 than the decisive victory of Evo Morales and his Movement to Socialism (MAS) party in the presidential and legislative elections in Bolivia. The initial results indicate a clear majority of over 50% for Morales confounding the pre-election polls of 32-34%. The results confirm what had become obvious on the ground—and even reported by numerous reporters from the big-business press—that the Morales campaign had become a mass movement, an extension of the social explosions of workers, peasants, and indigenous peoples that brought down the murderous, neo-liberal, pro-imperialist regime of Sanchez de Lozado in 2003 and the vacillating Mesa government earlier this year which refused to carry out popular demands to nationalize Bolivia’s vast energy resources to benefit working people and confirms the political radicalization, class polarization, and the rise of indigenous people’s struggle in the country.
The great people’s victory in electing Evo Morales president also confirms and is a major leap and turning point in the left-wing dynamics and drive for Latin American integration and solidarity. Morales victory opens the door to new economic arrangements with Venezuela (photo left: Morales with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez) and Brazil to develop, produce, and expand a nationalized energy sector in the interests of workers and peasants and Latin American integration. It will give new impetus to re-establishing an outlet to the sea for Bolivia. It will inspire the indigenous people of Ecuador and Peru to unite and fight for power. It will put pressure on the Colombian government to reach a peace agreement with guerrilla movements and move away from Washington’s Plan Colombia and confrontation with Venezuela. It will open the door to deepening ties between Bolivia and revolutionary Cuba; we can expect to see an expansion of Cuban medical and educational missions as the new government focuses on raising the living and cultural standards of working people, starting with literacy and medical access. And, of course, the Morales victory is a slap in the face and a major blow to Washington’s already sputtering campaign to isolate and undermine Cuba and Venezuela and salvage pro-imperialist economic policies.
Over the next few weeks Cuba Solidarity New York will be finalizing plans to send a delegation to the World Social Forum in Caracas January 21-29. If you want to be part of this historic gathering, you must act quickly and email CSNY at the address below.
2006 will undoubtedly see giant new development in the pattern of deepening anti-imperialist struggle in Latin America, with Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia at the center of growing popular resistance which is breaking down and dismantling the so-called Washington Consensus. We are looking at greater openings than ever to challenge Washington’s economic and political war against Cuba, to win support for freedom for the Cuban 5, and to stop intervention against Venezuela.
We look forward to a new year of solidarity and struggle and building our movement in 2006!
Seasons Greetings from Cuba Solidarity New York,
Ike Nahem, Nellie Bailey, and Jaime Mendieta for
CUBA SOLIDARITY NEW YORK
P.O. Box 423
New York, NY 10044
Monday, December 19, 2005
Che Guevara: 2006 Pocket Planner
This pocket planner features mixed media images of Che Guevara with quotations. The week-per-page format makes planning simple and the small size makes it easy to take along wherever you go! This item goes great with the Che Calendar!
(Size Closed: 5" x 3.5" Size Opened: 5.12" x 3.42" Grid Size: Small Rectangle Binding: Wire-O Time Span: 52-week) $10.00
Buena Vista Cuba: 2006 Wall Calendar
This beautiful calender for 2006 features scenes from Cuba
(Tushita, Format: Standard Wall, Size Opened: 11.75" x 23.5" Grid Size: Small Square) $12.95
Colors of Palestine: 2006 wall calendar
"This calendar is dedicated to the memory of Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, a Pioneer Palestinian artist (1920-1994)." --Resistance Art
Culture and art are the soul of human civilizations. Throughout history, culture and art have always been the celebration of freedom under oppression. The blooming of Palestinian culture and art under harsh and thorny conditions is a true example of the strength and defiance of the Palestinian character.
(The wall calendar features 12 months each on a 2 page spread with 12 paintings from Palestinian artists. Palestinian important dates are marked on the calendar.
Resistance Art, 2007 calendar included. Size when folded 12" x 12", opened 12" x 24") $13.99
It's Not Too Late
That's right. If you use leftbooks' express mail service (USPS Express) orders will be accepted until Dec. 23, 3PM EDT (12 noon Pacific time) and get your order delivered by December 24
And, remember to take advantage of leftbooks' holiday *FREE GIFT offer with every order of $50 or more. You'll receive a best selling book as a thank you for your support and help in building the coming year of struggle.
Here's to a new year of struggle - Don't be Late, Order NOW!
As the Year Ends
By Ted Glick
(Future Hope column, Dec. 18, 2005)
In many ways a year-end review is artificial. The structures of injustice, oppression and environmental destruction continue to grind people down and seriously threaten all forms of life on this planet, and they will keep doing so next year. Conversely, progressive organizations of varying sizes and effectiveness, including some governments, will continue to resist and build alternatives, continue to strive toward a world in which the words, "peace on earth and good will to men and women," will be not empty and hypocritical words but truly the operating principles of
In a number of respects, 2005 has been a better year for us than might have been expected. One year ago many people on the Left were deeply apprehensive, scared of what a second Bush/Cheney term would bring.
Without doubt, there is much damage that has been done this year by the cabal running the government. Their criminal neglect after Katrina led to much unnecessary and continuing suffering and death. They are deliberately denying the science which tells us that global warming is real, it is accelerating and that there is an urgent need for governments to take action now to slow and stop it. They continue the war, they continue support of Israel's occupation, they continue to attack the rights of labor, they continue to cut back on programs for "the least of these." The list can go on and on. They are doing and attempting to do what we expected.
But they have failed in a number of ways. The effort to weaken Social Security was an abject failure. The war in Iraq has gotten worse, the U.S. peace movement demonstrated its strength in August and September and, as a result, the Bushites have lost the support of a majority of the U.S. American people and growing numbers of Congresspeople. Just recently, at the United Nations Climate Conference in Montreal, thanks to international mass demonstrations, effective lobbying by environmentalists and nearly unanimous world sentiment, they were unable to prevent an agreement by 180 nations to move forward to strengthen the Kyoto Protocol. And just this week they came up short in their attempt to get the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act extended, although it is uncertain what the final results in this area will be.
What about movement toward a more unified, mass-based, progressive alternative to both Republicans and Democrats? Without such a movement and its organizational expression, a political party or something functioning like it, there is really no hope that U.S. society will ever fundamentally change for the better.
Here the concrete developments in 2005 are certainly limited.
As far as the two major third party groups, the Green Party and the Labor Party, neither has made much progress this year. They are both alive, they are active in various respects, and there are some modest accomplishments, but "treading water" feels like the most honest summation of their situation, and that may be a generous description.
The call by Minister Louis Farrakhan for a "party of the people" at the Oct. 16 demonstration in D.C. organized by the Millions More Movement was a potentially significant development, but so far there has not been much follow up.
United Progressives for Democracy, a grouping that emerged a year ago out of a meeting organized by the Independent Progressive Politics Network, has played a valuable role as a meeting point, a "circuit center" for a range of progressive leadership, most recently around post-Katrina coordinated action, but its potential is certainly much greater than what it has been able to actually accomplish so far.
Finally, there have been various statements and articles from prominent labor, African American and women's movement leaders to the effect that we can't keep blindly supporting the Democrats and/or that we need to be looking for alternatives. However, these haven't been much more than statements, have not taken concrete shape as far as actual organizing.
An optimist would say about all of this that, given the reactionary, repressive nature of the Bush regime, we should feel positive that we've been able to accomplish what we have, that we're still very much alive and kicking, that we've
in no way lost our will to resist and that there are grounds for hope that, sooner or later, this year or some future year, we'll get it together and burst forth onto the U.S. political scene with the multi-cultural, multi-issue, mass-based independent political force so clearly needed.
A pessimist would say that we're still spinning our wheels, unwilling or unable to join together into a potent, dynamic coalition, able to talk together, yes, but not act and organize together.
Both would be right.
Will 2006 see a change?
(Ted Glick is active with the Climate Crisis Coalition and the Independent Progressive Politics Network . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.)
IWW Starbucks Workers Union Benefit Show
347 Maujer St., Apt. C
(Take L train to Grand St. Walk northeast on Grand w/ high school on your right. Take right on Waterbury and left on Maujer.)
$5-$10 sliding scale
All Starbucks workers get in free!!!
No one turned away for lack of funds...
Come support the organizing efforts of Starbucks workers by
joining us for some great music and affordable drinks.
Joe Agins, Jr.
protests his unlawful
termination by Starbucks
Special Guest performer David Rovics, the revolutionary folk
singer, will be in New York City for a night of
resistance against the world's largest coffee chain!
Also featuring a diverse lineup of local artists:
Kontrast - political hip-hop
Into Exilie - punk/metal/hardcore ft.
Starbucks worker Ivan Hincapie
Tina G. - spoken word poet, Starbucks worker, and Catalyst member
Performances will be followed by an open mic session featuring local IWWs
Joseph Agins Jr., Tomer Malchi w/ Clark Merrefield, and others...
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Shocking The Conscience Of America: Bush And Cheney Call For The Right To Torture And Are Decisively and Correctly Rebuffed by the House
By JOHN W. DEAN
If the events I am about to describe were taking place in a movie, or novel, I would lose my ability to suspend disbelief: Who could conceive of an American President and Vice President demanding that Congress give them authority to torture anyone, under any circumstances?
Yet that is exactly what happened. Until Congress -- finally -- showed some institutional pride and told Bush and Cheney that it would not tolerate torture.
To place this activity in context, I have been trying to think of a similar "un-American" low point in the American presidency. Possible candidates might include John Adams's approval of the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798, or Abraham Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War.
But neither of these moments strikes me as sufficiently shameful. Indeed, not even Franklin Roosevelt's horrific internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is, in my view, as low a point as President Bush and Vice President Cheney's call for the unrestricted, unreviewable power to torture. It seems the precedent for Bush and Cheney's thinking resides in the Dark Ages, or Stalin's Russia.
The Bush/Cheney presidency has been pushing the nation toward an atrocity unmatched in the annals of American infamy and ignominy. Thankfully, a few wiser men and women in Washington have saved us from the national disgrace Bush and Cheney insisted upon imposing on the nation.
If you have not been following this shameful saga, here is a brief recounting of the key events. A sensible resolution appears to be at hand.
(For more on this)
Friday, December 16, 2005
Anyway here's Rep. John Dingell's poem on the so-called "war" on Christmas:
'Twas a week before Christmas and all through the House,
no bills were passed 'bout which Fox News could grouse.
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
so vacations in St. Barts soon should be near.
Katrina kids were all nestled snug in motel beds,
while visions of school and home danced in their heads.
In Iraq, our soldiers need supplies and a plan,
and nuclear weapons are being built in Iran.
Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell.
Americans feared we were in a fast track to ... well.
Wait, we need a distraction, something divisive and wily,
a fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly.
We will pretend Christmas is under attack,
hold a vote to save it, then pat ourselves on the back.
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up Congress, they're in no danger.
This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches to homes to schools and, yes, even Costco.
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy
when this is the season to unite us with joy.
At Christmastime, we're taught to unite.
We don't need a make-up reason to fight.
So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter and those right-wing blogs.
You should sit back and relax, have a few egg nogs.
'Tis the holiday season; enjoy it a pinch.
With all our real problems, do we really need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight,
a Merry Christmas to all, and to Bill O'Reilly, Happy Holidays.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.
[Dingell read his poem on the House floor prior to the passage of a resolution (House Resolution 579) calling for support of "the symbols and traditions of Christmas." The vote was 401 for and 22 against, with 228 Republicans, 172 Democrats, and one independent voting in favor of the measure. Twenty-two Democrats voted against it. The poem suggests that the legislature's time might be better spent on other things.
Thanks to MediaMatters for the Poem and commentary.
Also check out, Dr. Gerry Lower, "Bill O'Reilly and his 'War on Chritmas'."]
President Hugo Chavez
In the footsteps of Che Guevara: Democracy in South America
Thirty-eight years after the revo- lutionary perished in the Bolivian foothills, Evo Morales is poised to become the first indigenous president of the impoverished country [Bolivia] which has been run by politicians of European descent since independence in 1825
By Daniel Howden in La Paz
At the end of one of its corridors, just visible through office doors, hangs the more modern image of Che Guevara. Inside the room, he is everywhere. Among the myriad images is a black and white poster showing his patchy, iconic beard and piercing eyes above the slogan, "I'd rather be an illiterate Indian than a North American millionaire".
Thirty-eight years after his death in the foothills of the Bolivian Andes, trying to spark a Marxist revolution, the socialist soldier of fortune's boast reverberates in the dilemma now facing the country.
Bolivia is at a crossroads and goes to the polls on Sunday to choose between a Harvard-educated, American-married, member of the business elite and an indigenous Aymara Indian and radical former coca farmer.
The two leading presidential candidates, Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga and Evo Morales, personify the bitter divide between the European-descended haves and the majority indigenous have-nots, in Bolivia and beyond.
(For more on this) (also see: Chris Kulczycki at Daily Kos)
America's right rally to protect a Christmas 'under siege'
(From: The Guardian)
The appearance of Santa Clauses, fir trees and fairy lights are a sure sign that it is combat season once more in America's culture war. But this time it is a do-or-die battle, some of the nation's best-known conservatives are warning.
They claim there is a stealthy "war on Christmas" under way, and they are gathering their forces, mostly lawyers and talk-show hosts, to fight back.
They argue that Christmas has become almost a dirty word in a politically correct society, where "merry Christmas" is being replaced by "happy holiday" on greetings cards and public displays so as not to make people of other faiths feel excluded.
Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel has spearheaded the media offensive. One of its leading talking heads, John Gibson, has published an angry polemic entitled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.
He claims the assault on Christmas has reached "a shocking level this year". His colleague, Bill O'Reilly, has launched an on-air "Christmas under siege" campaign outing shops and department stores for failing to use the word Christmas.
(For more on this)
(Santa image from Ridiculopathy.com)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
By Jack De Groot
The world's trade ministers meeting in Hong Kong this week carry with them much more than just the aspirations of their own vocal farm lobbies and exporters. The silent hopes of millions of the world's poorest and most vulnerable people will also rest on their shoulders.
Trade, when combined with more and better aid and debt relief, has an enormous role to play in making poverty history. A 1 per cent increase in developing countries' share of world exports could lift 128 million people out of poverty.
But without ministers taking concrete steps towards a substantial overhaul of the global trading system at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong, developing countries will continue to get a raw deal — particularly on agriculture.
We all rely on agriculture to feed us. In the world's poorest countries, seven out of every 10 people also depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Yet nearly 900 million people in these countries do not have enough food to eat and despite being home to 98 per cent of the world's farming population, developing countries capture just a third of agricultural trade.
For too long rich countries have been manipulating international trade rules to protect their own interests.
(For more on this)
By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - If the Bush administration has its way, some factories won't have to report all the pollution spewed from their smokestacks, making it harder for government scientists to calculate the health risks of the air Americans breathe.
(For more on this)
[From Democracy Now] President Bush took to the nation’s airwaves on March 19, 2003 to declare that the war to “disarm Iraq” had begun. Bush claimed the U.S. was entering the conflict reluctantly but that the war was needed to prevent Iraq from having what he called weapons of mass murder.
The Independent newspaper of London has published a series of statistics to mark what has happened in the 1,000 days since then:
*Zero weapons of mass destruction have been found.
*At least 30,000 Iraqi civilians have died so far though some studies put the toll over 100,000.
*66 journalists have been killed.
*183,000 British and American troops remain in Iraq.
*Over 2,300 U.S. and coalition troops have been killed.
*At least 16,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in action.
*$200 billion has already been spent by the U.S. And news reports today indicate the total cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars could top half a trillion dollars.
*Between 60% and 80% of Iraqis still strongly oppose the presence of U.S. troops in their country.
*67% of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation.
*There are currently an average of 90 attacks staged each day by the Iraqi resistance.
*8% of Iraq’s children are suffering acute malnutrition.
March 18-20, 2006
Global Days of Action: Third Anniver- sary of the “Shock and Awe” Invasion of Iraq
The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition joins with antiwar organizations globally in calling for March 18-20, 2006, to be Global Days of Action. This is the third anniversary of Bush's criminal aggression against the people of Iraq.
March 18 - March 19
Locally-Coordinated Antiwar Protests
On March 18 and March 19, 2006, locally-coordinated demonstrations will take place in cities and towns across the U.S. and around the world, including New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and many more.
Youth & Student Day of Resistance to Imperialism
On March 20, young people will organize acts of resistance in their schools and communities. See below for the statement that was adopted at the November 6 Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Strategy Meeting held in New York City at Hunter College
Read the Call to Action
Getty Images file)
Inside Joe Lieberman
By Bob Burnett
You have to hand it to Karl Rove. Before every election he manages to convince a prominent Democrat to abandon his Party and support President Bush. In 2004 the turncoat was Georgia Senator Zell Miller. In 2006 it’s Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman.
The overwhelming majority of Congressional Democrats feel that the occupation of Iraq is an unmitigated disaster and that we must have a plan for withdrawal.
Not Lieberman. November 30th George Bush made a major speech and unveiled his “Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” The day before, the “Wall Street Journal” carried an Op-Ed by the Connecticut Senator, “Our Troops Must Stay.” Point by point Lieberman backed the President.
(For more on this)
The message, however, was serious. "Free trade is destroying the lives of rice and corn growers," said Tri-Heru Wardoya, a Sumatran farmer. "People in my village earn just $20 a month and use traditional methods ... How can they compete with rich international businesses?"
Locals, many of whom had recently taken part in huge pro-democracy rallies, said they were sympathetic. "If I were them, I'd probably do the same thing," said IT consultant John Chiu.
As at previous WTO summits, the security focus yesterday was on Korean farmers, who say they need to adopt desperate measures to protect their livelihoods and national culture. The Hong Kong security forces were well prepared. As well as a presence on the streets, dozens of riot police were bobbing up and down in dinghies, which one wag described as a "wall of rubber" in the waters around the conference centre.
But the Koreans used more humour than violence. Once they reached the protesters' containment zone, separated from the centre by a 100m stretch of water, they used protest flags as the walls for makeshift changing rooms, stripped off and donned their luminous lifejackets.
"My wife would kill me if she could see me," said one member of the Korean Peasants League. "I have no pants."
(For more on this)
Ending the War in Iraq, Building a Broad Movement for Peace and Justice, And Our Experience with A.N.S.W.E.R.
From the Steering Committee, United for Peace and Justice
(Dec. 12, 2005)
United for Peace and Justice aims to build the broadest, most diverse movement for an immediate and complete end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. We see this as our immediate priority in the long-term effort to build a durable peace and justice movement that connects domestic and international issues. We are committed to working in a way that makes it possible for the widest array of people to come together around common aims, including communities of color, military families, Iraq war veterans and other veterans, the labor movement, youth, religious community, the women's and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender movements, professional organizations and community groups.
As our coalition moves forward, we try to evaluate our experiences in order to strengthen our efforts and overcome our shortcomings. In recent months, a difficult and controversial aspect of our work has been our engagement with International A.N.S.W.E.R in co-sponsoring the September 24, 2005 Washington, D.C. Rally and March. Following this experience, and after thorough discussion, the national steering committee of United for Peace and Justice has decided not to coordinate work with ANSWER again on a national level. Here we want to share with all UFPJ member groups our summary of this experience and the decisions we have made as a result.
In spring 2005, based on previous experiences, UFPJ did not believe it would be productive to make coordination with ANSWER a centerpiece of our September 24 efforts. (See memo dated May 23rd – click here). We had a particular vision for this specific action:
(1) its central demands would hone in on ending the war in Iraq, thus sending a focused message to the U.S. public and providing an entryway into the antiwar movement for the expanding number of people prepared to turn out for a protest demonstration; and
(2) the connections between the Iraq war and Washington's overall empire building, the U.S. support of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, racism, repression and injustice at home would be articulated in accessible and creative ways, not only via rally speakers, but also at an interactive two day peace and justice festival, and throughout a 12 hour concert.
We did not believe ANSWER shared this perspective on the September 24 activities. Therefore we decided that working with them would hinder rather than help in maximizing the breadth and impact of such a demonstration at an urgent political moment.
As Sept. 24 came closer and some circumstances changed, we changed our perspective. Regarding the weekend in general, the spotlight Hurricane Katrina's aftermath put on racism and class inequities led us to highlight the demand for Funding Full and Just
Recovery in the Gulf Coast. Regarding our relations with ANSWER, our concerns grew about the potential confusion of having two totally separate demonstrations in the same city on the same day. We seriously considered the thoughtful concerns expressed by some anti-war groups and activists that an agreement for a joint UFPJ-ANSWER
action needed to be worked out. As a result, after much reflection and without unanimity among us, we reversed our earlier decision. With the help of mediation by U.S. Labor Against the War, we worked out an agreement with ANSWER for joint sponsorship of the September 24 Rally and March (but not other weekend activities). (See the text of the agreement, click here).
There were two positive results of this agreement. First, we avoided the problem of two completely separate demonstrations in Washington, DC on Sept. 24. Second, the rancorous public dispute over the whos, hows and whys of Sept. 24 was largely ended for the important period immediately preceding the action.
But there were many negative results as well.
First, ANSWER violated the terms of our agreement in ways that substantially and negatively impacted September 24's message and impact:
(1) ANSWER did not honor the agreed-upon time limits for its sections of the pre-march Rally, going more than an hour over in one section. The time was to be evenly divided in 30 minutes segments alternating between the two coalitions. Besides the impact in terms of disrespect to other speakers and the attendees in Washington, DC, this meant that the C-SPAN broadcast of the rally presented a one-sided picture
of the antiwar movement to the U.S. public. In the extended ANSWER section broadcast on C-SPAN, there was in fact very little focus on, or explanation of, the central demand motivating hundreds of thousands of people to attend the demonstration: U.S. Out of Iraq Now.
(2) ANSWER delayed the start of the March for an hour past the agreed upon time. We learned that morning that while our agreement with ANSWER was to begin the march at 12:30, the permit ANSWER had negotiated with the police had the march starting at 1:30. This led to confusion, which in turn prevented the agreed-upon lead contingent
carrying the agreed-upon lead banner ("End the War in Iraq, Bring the Troops Home Now, Justice for Hurricane Victims") from actually leading the March. This diluted the March's message – especially in terms of media images of the March's front rank. It also jeopardized relationships between UFPJ and the representatives of several
organizations whom we asked be part of the lead contingent of the March. An antiwar movement still not as strong as we need to be when compared to the tasks before us, in which developing relationships of mutual trust and accountability is of vital importance, can ill afford such short-sighted and narrow-minded practice.
(3) ANSWER did not turn out many volunteers to provide for fundraising, security and media operations for the March and Rally. UFPJ was also short of volunteers, but the much smaller numbers from ANSWER meant that many of the practical burdens of attending to the needs of the crowd fell on UFPJ, while ANSWER concentrated its attention on extending the time their speakers were on the stage.
In our view, it was because we had insisted (against ANSWER's objections) that the terms of our agreement be made public; and through the costly expenditure of time and energy to deal with one issue after another in the weeks just before Sept. 24, that additional problems were avoided. However, the interactions required to accomplish this were tremendously difficult and stressful, taking a major human toll on the UFPJ representatives participating in meetings with ANSWER. UFPJ has made our share of mistakes and no doubt some of us may have made intemperate and inappropriate remarks in the heat of political difficulty. We also see that while our agreement with ANSWER did not require us to do so, the fact that we did not inform them about the plans to include speakers during the late afternoon/evening concert might have contributed to the tension. But the souring of the political atmosphere is largely due to ANSWER, which, in our experience, consistently substitutes labels ("racist", "anti-unity") and mischaracterization of others' views for substantive political debate or problem solving – both in written polemics and direct face-to-face interactions.
Beyond all this, the priority given to negotiating and then trying to carry out an agreement with ANSWER hurt rather than helped galvanize the participation of many other groups and individuals in the Sept. 24 activities. In part this is simply a question of where time and resources were directed. But it also stems from the bridges ANSWER has burned over the years with other broader forces in the progressive movement. Many longtime antiwar and social movement activists – and many groups only recently embracing mass action against the war - have had the same kind of negative experiences with ANSWER that we did in the run-up to, and on Sept. 24. Some people, and some UFPJ member groups, believe this stems from ANSWER's political and strategic perspectives. Others attribute the problems to what is often called style of work, or to issues about democracy, decision making and control. Whatever the case on this level, co-sponsorship with ANSWER on Sept. 24 was welcomed by some in the anti-war movement but limited or prevented completely the participation of others.
This is not surprising: "unity in the movement" doesn't happen in the abstract. Especially when up-close coordination is involved, unity takes place between specifics groups and individuals, and choices to work in close cooperation with certain groups with certain approaches simultaneously means choosing not to work in the same fashion with other groups. Of course we all dream of a situation where everyone gets together as one cooperative movement family. But we still must
deal with politics as they are, not as we wish them to be. Sometimes it is necessary for groups with extremely bitter relations to cooperate for a common aim. But there are many circumstances when effective movement building and the long-range process of developing unity is better served by different groups pursuing different courses, until conditions change or the groups themselves evolve and transform.
In terms of UFPJ's relationship with ANSWER, our national steering committee has concluded that the latter path is best for the foreseeable future. We did not have consensus. But by a more than two thirds supermajority we voted on Dec. 4 not to coordinate work with ANSWER again on a national level. We simultaneously recognized
that other settings and situations may be different. We make no recommendations or mandates on this issue to UFPJ member groups in
local or constituency-based areas, who will continue to decide whether and/or how much to coordinate efforts with ANSWER based on their own experiences, conditions and judgments.
The tasks in front of the anti-Iraq war movement and all of us who are struggling for peace and justice are immense. Yet this is a moment of great opportunity, as popular anger at Bush's wars against people abroad and at home grows, and as an expanding number of organizations – many with massive constituencies among poor, working and oppressed peoples – are willing to consider taking up aggressive protest mobilizations. United for Peace and Justice will redouble our efforts to push forward the antiwar movement and to bring the broadest and most diverse array of people and groups into the struggle for peace and justice.
(Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War
P.O. Box 821
New York, NY 10116-0821
Monday, December 12, 2005
Age Range...Blogs Created by Age...................Percent
Source: Perseus Development Corp.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Bush "holiday" card miffs conservative Christians
ALAN COOPERMAN; The Washington Post
WASHINGTON: What's missing from the White House Christmas card? Christmas.
This month, as in every December since he took office, President Bush sent out cards with a generic end-of-the-year message, wishing 1.4 million of his close friends and supporters a happy "holiday season."
Many people are thrilled to get a White House Christmas card, no matter what the greeting inside. But some conservative Christians are reacting as if Bush stuck coal in their stockings.
"This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture," said William Donohue,
president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com. "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."
Religious conservatives are upset because they have been pressuring stores to advertise Christmas sales rather than "holiday specials."
They celebrated when House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) insisted that the sparkling spectacle on the Capitol lawn should be called the Capitol Christmas Tree, not a holiday spruce.
Then along comes a generic season's greeting from the White House, paid for by the Republican National Committee. The cover art is also secular, if not humanist: It shows the presidential pets - two dogs and a cat - frolicking on a snowy White House lawn.
(For more on this)
by Kristen Lombardi, Village Voice
Suddenly, Hillary Clinton has not one but two anti-war challengers in the 2006 Senate race.
Cheered on by none other than "Peace Mom" Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war movement has been hounding Clinton for voting to support the war in Iraq and refusing to demand the immediate withdrawal of troops.
Now the movement has a pair of candidates pledging to dog Clinton throughout the Democratic primary, forcing her to keep explaining her vote on Iraq. (for more on this)
The first is Steven Greenfield of New Paltz, a musician and volunteer firefighter [A former Green Party member who advocates an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq says he will challenge incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2006 Democratic nomination for Senate.
"She's in favor of the war and in favor of continuing the occupation," Steven Greenfield, a professional saxophone player, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his New Paltz home. - Fox News]
The second is Jonathan Tasini
a Washington Heights resident and labor activist best known for Tasini v. New York Times, a landmark lawsuit over writers' digital rights.
[Jonathan Tasini, a labor advocate and former president of the National Writers' Union, announced a campaign Tuesday to challenge Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination for Senate, saying her vote to authorize the war in Iraq proves she is out of step with New Yorkers.
"People who supported the decision to go to war must be held accountable -- and that includes my opponent," Tasini said. "The war in Iraq was a war of choice, not a war of necessity." Fox News]
(Tasini photo - in front of the NYT bldg. - by Stacy Walsh Rosenstock)
event starts at 7 p.m. we should be there at 6:30 p.m.
Fundraising dinner hosted by Bill Clinton
the New York Hilton
1335 6th Avenue
(bt 53rd & 54th Sts)
tickets start at $500 and $4200 gets you a photo with Hillary and Bill
THIS IS A BIG ONE AND WE SHOULD BE THERE!
Here is a big opportunity to get out and challenge Hillary. All of the big-money democrats will be there and it's very important we turn out en masse to show that only anti-war candidates will get support next year. So, if you have an hour or so, please come by and add your body to the numbers - fake big ears, bright clothing and witty signs a bonus. You can also bring along Peace Action's Out of Iraq petition and get signatures from people. You can download these from our website if you don't already have some at home.
VERY IMPORTANT. BRING YOUR FRIENDS. HAVE FUN.
Code Pink is setting this up. A big yay to them.
Peace Action New York State
Thursday, December 08, 2005
By Jim VandeHei and Shalaigh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Strong antiwar comments in recent days by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean have opened anew a party rift over Iraq, with some lawmakers warning that the leaders' rhetorical blasts could harm efforts to win control of Congress next year.
Several Democrats joined President Bush yesterday in rebuking Dean's declaration to a San Antonio radio station Monday that "the idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), the second-ranking House Democratic leader, have told colleagues that Pelosi's recent endorsement of a speedy withdrawal, combined with her claim that more than half of House Democrats support her position, could backfire on the party, congressional sources said.
Steny H. Hoyer
These sources said the two leaders have expressed worry that Pelosi is playing into Bush's hands by suggesting Democrats are the party of a quick pullout --an unpopular position in many of the most competitive House races.
(For more on this)
[The Democrats seem to have a very slow learning curve, especially on this issue - Iraq. If the disastrous presidential campaign of John Kerry didn't teach them anything else, it should have made it clear that "reporting for duty" doesn't win elections.
Ah well, it seems we have our work cut out for us.
But one thing we have to make clear is that we will not back any candidate who doesn't call for immediate withdrawal of the troops. To play politics with U.S. and Iraqi lives is simply unacceptable - Dan]
Leaders from around the world are meeting right now in Montreal on new steps to cut the pollution that is causing global warming. They are beginning the crucial discussion about how the Kyoto Protocol will work in the next phase of its implementation, beyond the year 2012.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration is not only keeping the US from joining in these negotiations, it is also actively working to undermine talks among other nations, halting global progress on post-2012 plans. Instead of joining with the world to build a solution, the US is blocking the Montreal negotiations. The US needs to lead the world, not obstruct progress on this important issue.
The negotiator’s official actions run counter to the needs and desires of the American people. Governors, mayors and corporate leaders are taking action to protect public health, create new jobs and cut global warming pollution. Faith leaders, workers and farmers are demanding more action from the administration and Congress. Even in Washington a bipartisan majority of the Senate passed a resolution last June calling for mandatory legislation to “slow, stop and reverse” the growth of dangerous heat-trapping pollution. Americans are already taking action to stop climate change, and we need our administration to join in the process.
It’s time for the U.S to join the world in recognizing the promise of clean energy solutions. We need real leadership from our representatives in Washington. It is time for the Bush Administration to quit stonewalling and for the US Senate to pass legislation that will place real limits on global warming pollution.
We appreciate your help in this call to action.
Ted Glick and Tom Stokes
Climate Crisis Coalition
== What to do ==
Contact your Senators right away and urge them to speak out publicly to support positive U.S. action in Montreal and for mandatory action to slow, stop and reverse global warming pollution in the U.S. Ask them to send a message to the White House to let the Kyoto Protocol move forward and to stop blocking negotiations for global action in Kyoto’s next phase after 2012.
With the assistance of Working Assets we have provided you a quick and easy way to email your U.S. Senators, with copies going to your Congressperson, Senate Majority Leader Frist, Senate Minority Leader Reid, and President Bush. The Working Assets site will also provide you with appropriate emails for letters to the editor in your area. If you could adapt the letter to your Senators (copied below) to a letter to the editor this would also be much appreciated.
By Robert Parry
Having already destroyed the credibility of his first Secretary of State, George W. Bush has now eviscerated whatever trust the world might have placed in his second Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
By sending Colin Powell to the United Nations to pitch a dubious – and ultimately bogus – case for war against Iraq in 2003, Bush unmasked the warrior diplomat as a rank opportunist who put his career and loyalty to his superiors ahead of truthfulness and the welfare of American soldiers. Powell later called the U.N. speech a “blot” on his record.
Now, Rice has suffered a similar fate, appearing before European leaders and making assertions that were known to be lies as they passed her lips.
In a larger sense, however, Rice’s torture denial – like Powell’s earlier deceptive case for war – represents a longstanding approach to information by the neoconservatives who dominate Bush’s foreign policy.
For decades, the neocons have followed the approach that when lacking the facts, simply lie. Then, count on your allies in the media to browbeat the doubters by impugning their patriotism. Also, recognize that America’s weakened checks and balances will seldom hold you accountable.
(For more on this)
[A far better writer than I once said: "Oh! What tangled webs we do weave, when first we practice to deceive." - Dan]
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. on Monday criticized Senator Joseph I. Lieberman's continued support of the war in Iraq and said that if no candidate challenged the senator on the issue in the 2006 election, he would consider running.
Joseph I. Lieberman
" When you've become the president's best friend on the war in Iraq, you should not be in office, especially if you're in the opposing party," Mr. Weicker, 74, said in a phone interview from his home in Essex, Conn. "I'm going to do everything I can to see that Joe Lieberman does not get a free pass
He said that Mr. Lieberman, a Democrat, currently had no challengers, either from within his party or from Republicans, in his campaign for a fourth term. Mr. Weicker said he believed that no Republican would challenge Mr. Lieberman on the war.
"If he's out there scot-free and nobody will do it, I'd have to give serious thought to doing it myself, and I don't want to do it," added Mr. Weicker, an independent, who said he had been opposed to the war from the beginning.
(For more on this)