Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why does Obama have to keep affirming his Christianity?

Granted truth should trump right-wing rumors about political candidates.
But does it bother anyone but me that Obama has to keep denying that he is a Muslim and keep reaffirming his Christianity?
Why should anyone care which god he worships?
Americans need to grow up.
Can you say, national chauvinism? Can you say racism?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday, February 28th @ 7PM - $10 to 20 Suggested

Remembering Spirit, Remembering Audre Lorde
A Benefit For The Audre Lorde Project
Come out and honor the life and work of Audre Lorde in a reading of her poetry,
essays and memoirs as we celebrate her birthday. Hear from Andrew Blint,
Holiday Simmons, Victor Tobar and other writers and artists as they share
pieces of her legacy.

172 Allen Street @ Stanton
(1 block south of Houston)
phone: 212-777-6028

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Pre Oscar nods

The day before the Oscars yields several awards. Film Independent presented its most coveted awards to Juno for Best Feature and its star Ellen Page for Best Female Lead and its screenwriter Diablo Cody for Best First screenplay. Best Male Lead went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Savages, which also won the Best Screenplay for Tamara Jenkins. The Best Director Award went to Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly , which also won the Best Cinematographer Award for Janusz Kaminski, The two supporting acting awards went to Best Supporting Male Chiwetel Ejiofor for Talk To Me and Cate Blanchett for Best Supporting Female in I'm Not There, clearly the most unusual film of the year as attested to by the Robert Altman Award to the following: Director: Todd Haynes; Casting: Laura Rosenthal and Ensemble Cast: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, Bruce Greenwood, Marcus Carl Franklin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, David Cross, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams. The Best first feature went to Director Scott Frank for The Lookout . For further information on Film Independent and this year's spiritawards

If all that's not enough at the annual Razzie Awards, honoring the worst in film, Lindsey Lohan took home record honors for her work in the horror-suspense movie, I Know Who Killed Me.

The movie beat out the previous Razzie record-holder, Showgirls by rounding up eight awards including worst actress and worst screen couple for Lohan (she plays two people) and worst picture.

But Lohan wasn't alone: Eddie Murphy was a close second, nabbing this year's worst actor and worst supporting actor. His comedy Norbit snagged three Razzies, while Daddy Day Camp, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. took home an award, too, for worst prequel or sequel.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Here's Harry Reid's response to my petition demanding the U.S. end torture. But we have to keep the pressure on Congress.

Dear Daniel,

Since Tuesday, tens of thousands of you stepped forward and took a stand against torture. I am happy to announce that all your hard work paid off. Thank you.

The Senate passed the Intelligence Authorization bill banning torture. This sent a clear signal to the world: the United States Senate believes torture is immoral and does not work.

Now the bill will go to George Bush, who has a choice: He can sign it into law and declare America does not torture. Or he can continue to damage America's reputation in the world.

Now is the moment when we all need to join together and say "no" to torture. If you've already signed the petition, please forward this e-mail to your friends and family and ask them to sign. If you haven't signed, take a stand against torture now by visiting:

Nearly every expert on interrogation agrees that torture is counter-productive. Most of the information it generates is simply unreliable, causing our intelligence agencies to waste time chasing down false leads. It also puts U.S. troops at risk, in addition to undermining our counterinsurgency operations.

Now is the time for George Bush to show some moral leadership and sign this bill into law. That is why, right now, all of us need to join together and take a stand against torture by visiting:
Thank you,

Harry Reid

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Please sign superdelegates petition


You've probably heard about the "superdelegates" who could end up choosing the Democratic nominee.

The superdelegates are under lots of pressure right now to come out for one candidate or the other. We urgently need to encourage them to let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama—and then to support the will of the people.

Why did the party adopt this undemocratic system?

Super-delegates were created to provide the powers that be control over the nominating process.

Before 1972, party elders, such as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Bronx boss Charlie Buckley, who helped John Kennedy clinch the 1960 nomination, wielded inordinate power.

But in early 1970’s, in response to the demands of grass-roots activists, women, and people of color, the party’s rules were reformed to make them more democratic.

But after Sen. George McGovern, a leading anti-Vietnam war liberal, won the 1972 nomination and then won only one state and the District of Columbia in the general election. The Democrats decided to give elected officials and other party regulars greater last-minute control over the nomination. This is much like the undemocratic electoral college, which was put in place because many of the "founding fathers" didn't trust the will of the masses.

I signed a MoveOn petition urging the superdelegates to respect the will of the voters. Can you join me at this link?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Congressional races also count

As the corporate-owned media almost exclusively cover the presidential primaries, Americans are voting to enhance their 2006 vote to put Democrats in charge of Congress. Only Amy Goodman is covering the Congressional races on Democracy Now. Despite the (or maybe because of the) Democrats latest collaboration with the Bush regime, Democrats are voting for congress members who will actually vote to reject the Bush regime immoral and illegal moves.
In [Maryland's] Fourth Congressional District, Democratic activist Donna Edwards defeated eight-term incumbent Albert Wynn in a fiercely contested race.
The race has been described by The Nation magazine as “a bellwether contest in the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party.” Edwards ran a populist, antiwar campaign that drew support from national liberal groups.

Feb. 15: Film Showing: All Power to the People: The Black Panther Party and Beyond

New York City Film Showing:

All Power to the People! The Black Panther Party and Beyond

Feb 15, 7pm
2295 Adam Clayton Powell (at 135th St.)
2/3 or C/B to 135th street
$7 donation suggested.

Opening with a montage of 400 years of race injustice in America, this powerful documentary provides the historical context for the establishment of the 60's civil rights movement. Rare clips of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton and other activists transport one back to those revolutionary times. Organized by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, the Black Panther Party embodied every major element of the civil rights movement, which preceded it and inspired the black, brown, yellow, Native American and women and gay and lesbian power movements.

Get involved! Contact 212-694-8720 or

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 323-464-1636
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311
Seattle: 206-568-1661

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sen. Clinton abandons older Americans

I have just sent the following e-mail to Sen. Clinton criticizing her non-vote on the amendment last week to expand the economic stimulus package to include older Americans whose primary income is from social security.

I'm sorry that you didn't think it was important enough to vote Yes on the amendment to include older Americans in the economic stimulus package. This will help provide economic relief to approximately 20 million older Americans who depend primarily on Social Security, as well as fairly and effectively boost our troubled economy.

It is too bad you didn't listen to the American public who have been urging Senators to push through partisan gridlock to address national problems. Our country needs the leadership of elected officials to address the economic concerns of all Americans. I'm sorry you chose not to provide swuch leadership. If running for president precludes you from doing your job in the Senate, you should resign and allow someone for whom it is their primary concern and can provide us with a full-time Senator.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

It's The L Word, stupid!

The two new Sex and the City (SATC) pretenders, Cashmire Mafia and Lipstick Jungle have provoked Entertainment Weekly's "The Search for the Next Sex and the City." The article by Jennifer Armstrong talks about every conceivable buddy show from the two new mediocre shows to Black female buddies (Girlfriends), white male buddies (Entourage and Carpoolers) and other white female shows like Desperate Houswives and shows that include women of color (Grey's Anatomy); but she (and her editors) ignore the most obvious heir to SATC, The L Word. I can't help but wonder why. Armstrong even quotes writer-producer Jenny Bicks' comment: "The question is, who is the next group who hasn't had a voice yet?" And never even seems to consider the obvious answer.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

MSNBC's Davd Shuster raises a firestorm

Last Thursday MSNBC's regular news comentator David Shuster started a mini-firestorm when as subtitute host on Tucker he asked
"Doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out [by the Clinton campaign] in some weird sort of way?"
I think it's clear that, the New York Post and the Clinton campaign notwithstanding, this wasn't "nappy-headed hos" redux. But it was obviously an incredibly stupid comment. It's hard to understand why anyone would question an adult daughter campaigning for her mother, especially in terms as insulting to everyone concerned. (The women on The View also found humor in phone calls Chelsea made to them.) It's important to note that Shuster apologized for his stupid language and he was almost immediately indefinitly suspended by MSNBC, but for how long.

This was an opportunity for Hillary Clinton and her campaign to take the high road, to show everyone how diplomatic she could be and say something like "He apologized, he's been suspended, let's get back to the real issues." But not surprisingly she played the sympathy and angry mother card. Her spokesperson Howard Wolfson said:
I, at this point, can't envision a scenario where we could continue to engage in debates on that network, given the comments that were made.
Come on Howard I'll bet you could envision such a scenario.

It's also not surprising that the New York Post would be stoking the fires of this controversy. They are, after all, intimately related to MSNBC's primary competitor the Fox News Channel, a fact the Post failed to mention in its front-page headlined story: "Chelsea 'pimp' Fury; Hill rips MSNBC on campaign slur." It's clearly in Fox's interest to screw up the MSNBC debate, since they are trying to schedule one of their own, to which Clinton has agreed despite a Democratic candidates agreement not to do so.

A pro-choice Clinton supporter, according to the Post, wrote to MSNBC to say:
Your tolerance for [Shuster's] behavior speaks volumes about the corporate culture of MSNBC.
As someone who watches MSNBC with some regularity this question has bothered me as well. MSNBC's staffing decisions should raise red flags. After Morning Joe, with Joe Scarborough, about 11AM, the news anchors are all attractive young mostly white women. Unless something important happens (like Romney ending his campaign) then the MSNBC male contingent takes over. But daily at 5PM promptly Chris Matthews comes on and then it's wall-to-wall men (mostly white) until 10PM, when some sleazy "documentaries" come on. Not only the anchors but also most of the pundits on MSNBC are white men (except for Air America's Rachel Maddow, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, a scattering of NBC female correspondents and Allison Stewart who sometimes substitutes for Keith
Olbermann). This, it seems to me, "speaks volumes about the corporate culture at MSNBC."

Shuster's unquestionably stupid and sexist comment may well end up being a tempest in a teapot, but it raises some important questions about how MSNBC, the Murdoch media, and the Clinton campaign operate. And they all leave something to be desired.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Quote of the day: The Vice-presidential Dick

The wisdom of Dick Cheney: .(At the CPAC convention to thunderous applause)
The United States is a country that takes human rights seriously… We do not torture, America is a fair and a decent country… The war on terror is, after all, more than a war of arms and a test of will. It is a war of ideals,
It's very simple, if you're in Dick Cheney's head, the U.S. doesn't torture, so whatever we do must, by definition, not be torture.

Sign letter to candidates: change course!

I just signed an important global letter to the U.S. Presidential candidates. The outcome of the next U.S. election will greatly affect the world and I thought you might want to sign this letter too. Here’s the link:
Yesterday, the candidates for the next President became clear. They are Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. The winner will decide whether the nightmare of the Bush foreign policy is reversed or continued for another four years.

All around the world, including in the U.S., people want to see the next President change course. Although only U.S. citizens can vote in the election, we can still have a voice. Global public opinion matters to U.S. citizens -- they know that U.S. respect in the world has plummeted under Bush. That’s why the Avaaz global community has sprung into action. In the next few days, we can influence the candidates as they develop their campaign strategy. Click below to read and endorse the letter to the candidates. And, if we get more than 100,000 signatures, Avaaz will publish it in U.S. newspapers and deliver it personally to the Clinton, Obama and McCain campaigns--sign and forward this email to friends right away:

I think this is a great idea on an important issue, and I hope you'll join me by signing up!


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Super Tuesday. What Now?

Although I would much rather talk about Super Sunday, it seems clear that we have to shift our gaze to the aftermath of that other media-hyped super day: super Tuesday.

As we watch the Republican candidates (almost surely at this point John "I don't know much about the economy" McCain) move further and further to the right to please the Limbaugh wing of the party. Watch them cowtow to the Conservative Political Action Committee this weekend. I think McCain will probably pick extreme right-wing Huckelberry (as my friend Bert calls him) as his running mate. Although it's interesting to watch McCain hold a live press conference with right-wing independent(?) Joe Lieberman (possibly the perennial vice-presidential candidate) peering over his shoulder. Is Romney taking today off to talk to his family (about how much of their inheretance he should spend to tilt at windmills) a portent of dropping out? We now have to figure out how progressives (Democrat or independent) should relate to the two Democratic candidates left standing - Clinton and Obama.

The first thing we have to understand is that they are both politicians and therefore will do whatever they have to do to get elected. Try this on for size: Sam Stein reports on The Huffington Post:
Risking the ire of progressive activists, Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced that it has accepted a debate to air on Fox News on February 11, according to her chief strategist Mark Penn. (for more on this)

We have to make it clear that they have to attend to progressive issues if they want our votes. It seems to me that the big mistake progressives often make is to tie our movement to a particular candidate - in other words, to reify electoral politics at the expense of the progressive movemement, to commit ourselves without getting what we need for our support.

A very good friend and comrade has said in an e-mail he sent out explaining his decision to vote for Clinton, even at the expense of angering his Obama-supporting family: "I remain deeply skeptical about Obama and voted for Clinton," he writes. Although I share his skepticism about Obama's tendency to paper over deep and abiding divisions (class conflicts?) within this society. But I don't quite follow the conclusion that voting for Clinton better speaks to these differences. Is she more sensetive to these real differences than is Obama? I think not.

In the same e-mail he questions some progressives who are
very happy that Obama's campaign is bringing young people into electoral politics. I too applaud this altho I do not think that the core issues our society faces can be basically addressed in the electoral or legislative arena. I am only slightly overstating the case when I say that a pre-occupation with electoral politics can draw attention away from more substantive, core, socio-economic issues. I realize that there is some overlap between the two. Participation in electoral politics is by no means an error in and of itself.
The real question it seems to me is why should we applaud young people being brought into electoral politics as individuals rather than as part of a movement that can confront the candidates and say, "if you don't share our values, why should we vote for you?" Drawing young people into electoral politics is exactly what, I think, legitimates a Nader or other small party candidacy.

Tim Carpenter of Progressive Democrats of America put it this way this morning on Democracy Now:
the challenge for the progressive movement and the peace and justice movement is to come off the sidelines and continue in this effort to hold the Clinton machine back, to hold back this election to make sure that we get a full accounting of all of the primaries and caucuses, and to try to make Barack Obama a better candidate.
The key, I think, is that we need to do this as a movement not as a bunch of individuals relating to different candidates.

Tom Hayden says about the participation of the peace movement in the electoral process:
hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of voters will make up their minds on which of the candidates is best on ending the Iraq war with little involvement by peace activists in the debate.
There are differences that matter between Clinton and Obama, not as great as between the Democrats and McCain, but significant nonetheless. They are these:

1.Obama favors a 16-18 month timeline for withdrawing U.S. combat troops. Clinton favors “immediately” convening the Joint Chiefs to draft a plan to “begin” drawing down U.S. troops, but with no timetable for completing the withdrawal.
2.Obama opposed the measure authorizing Bush to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, widely regarded as an escalating step towards another war. Clinton voted for the authorization.
3.Obama opposed the 2002 authorization for war that Clinton voted for. Clinton still calls that decision a “close call” and refuses to say it was a mistaken vote.

It’s true that both candidates support leaving thousands of 'residual' American troops behind for a likely counterinsurgency conflict that we should all oppose. Peace activists should demand a shift to peace diplomacy beginning with a U.S. commitment to end the occupation and withdraw all troops.
This is, of course, the point: do we applaude bringing people into electoral politics as individuals or as part of a larger and thereby stronger movement?

Bill Fletcher of The Black Commentator also said on this morning's Democracy Now:
while it’s true that many younger people have been inspired and motivated to the Obama campaign and have been prepared to put race aside in certain respects, we should keep in mind that the Obama campaign has not exactly made racial justice central programmatically to its campaign. So while people may have—or may be prepared to ignore the fact or accept the fact that Obama is black and they’re prepared to vote for him, that’s very different than having a discussion about race.

That's it for now. We could say much the same about the environmental movement, health care, the economy, but ultimately the question is about the dialectic between the progressive movement and the political process. If we jump on a bandwagon too soon we will have no effect on the outcome, but if we stay out of the process we will slso have no effect. You know, they say you gotta be in it to win it, but if you jump in too soon with too much, soon you'll be gambling away the rent.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Obama on Iraq

Whatever happens tonight, Obama keeps looking better. This is from Lev Weitz and Andrew Cohen-Gael:
holy shit check out this speech:
I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
For more of this speech

Monday, February 04, 2008

Giants again

I don't mean to belabor the Giants victory, but I just want to tell you that last night's game was the second most watched event in TV history. Oh! the Mash finale is still champion.

One other note: In the last three games Eli and the Giants have beaten Tony Romo, Bret Favre and Tom Brady not a bad trifecta in anyone's book. If you're going to win you might as well beat the best.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Giants recreate the 1969 Super Bowl upset

Posted earlier today: When thinking about tonight's Super Bowl XLII game, remember Jan. 12, 1969 when in Super Bowl III the New York Jets defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7. And when the upstart quarterback Joe Namath outplayed the great Johnny Unitas. So remember IT CAN BE DONE.

photo by Mike Blake, Reuters

Giants 17, Patriots 14

I told you it could be done

Now Eli Manning and this year's Giants go down in New York sports legend. This is an even bigger upset than the 1969 Jets and Namath.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ralph DiGia: 1914-2008

Ralph DiGia

December 13, 1914 - February 1, 2008

Ralph DiGia, lifelong war resister and pacifist died this afternoon in New York City. Ralph had a bad fall a couple of weeks ago, broke his hip, and has had a series of serious health problems following his admission to St. Vincent's Hospital.

Ralph, 93, has been the heart and soul of War Resisters League since he came on staff shortly after the end of WWII and his release from federal prison, where he had served a term for refusing service as a conscientious objector.

An associate of A. J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Dave Dellinger, Barbara Deming, and many others, Ralph held key posts over the years with Liberation magazine as well as being on the staffof the War Resisters League. While Ralph was not a public speaker or a writer, he played a key a role within the radical pacifist movement, and was central to many of the major antiwar actions of the past six decades.

Ralph was deeply loved by the movement, especially by those at his political home, the War Resisters League. He is survived by his wife, Karin DiGia, his children, and his two brothers.

Funeral and memorial arrangements are forthcoming.

Celebrate the life of Al Hakim, Dr. George Habash

Please join the Palestinian & Arab Community

Sunday Feb 3rd, 2:00 p.m.

at Widdi Catering Hall
to Commemorate and honor the life and work of
Al Hakim, Dr. George Habash.

Habash, who passed away on a week ago founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP),

Widdi Catering Hall
5602 6th Ave (Corner of 56th & 6th Ave)
Sunset Park, Brooklyn, NY
Subway - N/R to 59th Street