Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Only Real Democratic Candidates

The corporate media has apparently decided Hillary Clinton has won the Democratic primary before the first vote has ever been cast. I cannot say why the corporate media is reporting Hillary as the presumptive nominee. It is blatant and shameless at this point. Last Sunday, on Meet the Press, they were discussing who the candidates might choose as their Vice President and they talked about every Republican candidate and Hillary Clinton. They did not even mention who Barak Obama or John Edwards might pick.

This is why john Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are leading the pack in progressive straw polls, despite the best efforts of the conservative corporate media. They actually represent the feelings of the American people.

And here is Dennis Kucinich kicking ass and taking names. He is actually saying what a vast number of people in the United States want to hear.

Monday, October 29, 2007

No Such Thing As "Islamofascism"

I think Paul Krugman said it very well:

[T]here isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Beyond that, the claim that Iran is on the path to global domination is beyond ludicrous. Yes, the Iranian regime is a nasty piece of work in many ways, and it would be a bad thing if that regime acquired nuclear weapons. But let’s have some perspective, please: we’re talking about a country with roughly the G.D.P. of Connecticut, and a government whose military budget is roughly the same as Sweden’s. […]

Mike Huckabee, whom reporters like to portray as a nice, reasonable guy, says that if Hillary Clinton is elected, “I’m not sure we’ll have the courage and the will and the resolve to fight the greatest threat this country’s ever faced in Islamofascism.” Yep, a bunch of lightly armed terrorists and a fourth-rate military power — which aren’t even allies — pose a greater danger than Hitler’s panzers or the Soviet nuclear arsenal ever did.

All of this would be funny if it weren’t so serious.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Worry About the Future...

I know that the entire scenario is set up for Bush, or whoever is President, to take complete dictatorial control if there is ever another disaster or emergency anywhere in the world. He simply has to enact HSPD 51 and he would take control and all other branches would become subservient to him.

We already lost Habeus Corpus.

They already repealed Posse Comatatus.

They already created a private army of foreign mercenaries who have already been patrolling American streets since hurricane Katrina.

All the dominoes are in place, all it is going to take is some force to knock the first one down...

The only thing is, I sincerely do not believe that Bush wants to stay in power. I don't think he thinks being President is fun or cool anymore. I really think he is ready to get back to the ranch and "refill the old coffers".

Honestly, I am very concerned about what is going to happen at the
election of 2008. The Republican Caging Operation remains out there,
for the most part, unopposed and unknown to the public at large. Their
partisan Secretaries of State remain in power in many key states, some
them them still brazen in their partisanship by being involved in a
candidates campaign while at the same time being responsible for the
validity of the election in their state. Does anyone seriously believe
Katherine Harris was not a Bush toady? Especially after her complete
meltdown last year during the election, does anyone still believe that
she was not capable of throwing the election in Florida for Bush? Is
that is why they had to make the inappropriate, desperate, 11th hour
appeal to the Federal Supreme Court to stop the recount in Florida? I
can't prove anything but the circumstantial evidence is there and the
whole thing stinks to high heaven of criminality.

Add to that the fact that our economy is teetering on the brink of
recession and the whole thing becomes very ominous.

In the 1980s under Reagan, they fundamentally changed our economy with
supply-side economics and instead of fueling demand with wages, as had
been successfully done for decades, they started fueling demand with
credit instead. That was when credit cards really took off and the sub
prime mortgage market started to boom. It worked for two decades, but
you cannot fuel an economy on debt forever and we are at the end of
our rope. All it is going to take is China, India or some other major
foreign investor to stop buying our debt, or for OPEC countries to
peg the price of oil to the Euro instead of the
Dollar and the value of our money will plummet.

The value of our dollar has been in free fall for a while and the
bottom is about to fall out, but I think that they are just trying to
keep it from happening until after the 2008 election.

Imagine, a Republican, chosen by the corporate powers that be, gets
the nomination and after a contentious election, on the morning of
November 8th, 2008 the media simply announces that the Republican
candidate has won the election.

Who is going to stop them?
Who is going to challenge it?

The Bush administration?
The Partisan Justice Department?
The Roberts Supreme Court?

So after being in office x amount of days, a large bomb goes off in a
major US city during rush hour and kills hundreds of people.

The President steps in and the first domino falls...

Karl Rove gets his 100 years of Republican rule...

The neocons get their war with Iran...

"The real question is not whether you are too paranoid, the real
question is are you paranoid enough?" - strange days

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

California Fires - Half of Firefighting Equipment in Iraq

This is absolutely disgusting. I thought America might have started to wake up after Katrina, but if this does not hit home the need to have a functioning National Guard here on American soil, I don't know what will.

May 11, 2007
As state forestry officials predict an unusually harsh fire season this summer, the California National Guard says equipment shortages could hinder the guard's response to a large-scale disaster.

A dearth of equipment such as trucks and radios -- caused in part by the war in Iraq -- has state military officials worried they would be slow in providing help in the event of a major fire, earthquake or terrorist attack.

The readiness of the Guard has been described as a national problem and has become a political liability for the Bush administration, which came under fire this week when the governor of Kansas complained that the National Guard response to a devastating tornado in her state was inadequate. National Guard readiness has become a growing concern as the Guard has taken on extra responsibilities caused by the Iraq war and the increased threat of terrorism.

In California, half of the equipment the National Guard needs is not in the state, either because it is deployed in Iraq or other parts of the world or because it hasn't been funded, according to Lt. Col. John Siepmann. While the Guard is in good shape to handle small-scale incidents, "our concern is a catastrophic event,'' he said.

"You would see a less effective response (to a major incident),'' he said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Wellstone of Hope

“If you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me…” – V in “V for Vendetta”

Like many Americans, I grew up believing that America was a beacon of freedom and democracy and like many Americans; I became disillusioned with that notion in the six years since September 11th, 2001. Like many Americans who care about our freedoms and our rule of law, I am very displeased with the direction our country has been heading for the last seven years and I am frustrated by the lack of results in affecting change.

Despite hundreds of thousands of people gathering around the country in protest, even after giving control of Congress to the so-called “opposition party”, the ill-conceived, illegal and immoral behaviors of this administration continue unabated. We invaded and continue to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, we continue to hold prisoners, including American citizens, in secret, denying them the basic human right of Habeas Corpus, and we continue to use torture, which is a violation of human rights.

Worst of all though, are the blatant assertions by this President and his supporters that he is above the law. Their unfounded claims that the President has “unwritten powers” is absurd and illegal. The President does not have the constitutional authority to take away anyone’s rights. The only place that authority appears in the U.S. Constitution is Article I, section 9, which gives that authority to the Legislative branch, not the Executive and only in times of “invasion or insurrection.” The failure of Congress to hold the Executive to task for that claim is setting a disastrous precedent of giving the Executive branch more power than the U.S. Constitution allows. Unless we do something now, those powers will be passed onto the next President which will give it the legal standing of precedent and will make it much, much harder to take away. Having a President with swollen, king-like power will only make corruption and abuse of that power more likely as time goes on.

I have always been politically aware, but I have not always been politically active. I grew up around politics, my father being a local politician. I remember following the 1980 election between Reagan and Carter when I was only eight. When I was in high school I founded our school newspaper and even back then, my favorite topic to write about was politics. But my primary activity in regards to politics, besides voting and working on a couple of campaigns, has usually been contained to writing. Although I have written letters to my representatives since high school, I never really knew how to properly lobby my elected officials. I have written articles for online magazines, letters to the editor of numerous newspapers and made phone calls to my representatives, but in the face of the multibillion-dollar corporate lobbying machine my feeble efforts seems futile and insignificant.

On top of that, after I spent months last year working to get Democrats elected to Congress, they have failed again and again to take any meaningful stand. As I watched them roll over repeatedly to the minority party, my frustration only grew until it flirted with despair.

I was on the verge of giving up completely and becoming another member of the disinterested masses when an email, forwarded to me by my father, told me about a place where I could go to learn how to be a more effective citizen activist.

Camp Wellstone.

Camp Wellstone is a three-day course put on by the Wellstone Action group, out of Minnesota. There are three educational tracks to choose from, How to run for office, how to be a campaign volunteer and how to be a citizen activist. I chose the citizen activist track because it seemed to me to be the “introductory level” course.

The citizen activist track teaches you how to build a base around an issue, how to form coalitions between groups, how to stage earned media events and how to effectively lobby elected representatives. They brought in media experts and professional lobbyists who put the students through exercises where we staged our own media events and met with several “Senators” in order to practice our technique and receive constructive criticism from professionals who do it for a living. They also taught how to organize and execute an effective “get out the vote” campaign.

The only thing that they were lacking, as pointed out first by a blogger, farleftfield, who attended the same track as I did, was that they did not have anything on Internet outreach, organizing, or blogging. I can see how that could take up a whole day to itself.

I was fortunate enough to have some of Wellstone’s best trainers running my track. They were able to not only communicate the information necessary, but they also got the students involved and inspired us to take what we learned back to our local communities and put it to use.

But the best thing about the whole experience; the thing that was worth more than the cost of the camp, was not something they taught. It was a natural byproduct of groups of passionate, energetic people gathering together to focus their energy toward a common, positive goal.

The best thing that I took away from Camp Wellstone was HOPE.

Even the conversations during breaks and in the dining room were crackling with energy and passion. Everyone, regardless of race, sex, appearance or ability all shared a deep, passionate love of liberty and desire to make things better. There were three people in my track of the camp who had traveled all the way from New Mexico to attend. The knowledge that I am not alone in the fight to restore fairness, justice and liberty to America; the fact that there are other people out there who care as deeply as I do, gives me the motivation and energy to continue the good fight. And all I have to do to participate in the good fight is to help and support these other people. Camp Wellstone made me believe that, together, we really can change this world.

The overriding lesson of the camp is a simple one that Paul Wellstone himself used to chant like a mantra. If you want to affect political or social change, you have to “organize, organize, organize!”

The people who came out from Minnesota to put on this camp were extraordinary and inspiring in their own right. You could sense their passion and commitment to the cause of getting ordinary people involved in our political process. One of them even announced she had decided to run for Congress in Minnesota that week and we were among the first people she told. The simple fact that they were here, taking action and working constructively toward a positive goal made those of us attending the camp feel motivated to get out and do more ourselves. Historian Kenneth Davis once wrote that human history has been influenced by the presence of strong personalities in the right place at the right time, like Washington, Lincoln, or King. In my opinion, the Wellstone Action group may well be a gathering of strong personalities.

The fantastic folks at Wellstone Action have been busy. As of this writing they have trained over 14,000 people so far to either run for office, work on a campaign or work as an activist on an issue. And those of us who have been through the training are taking what we learned back into our communities and not only putting it to use, but we are also teaching others what we learned so that the effectiveness of all our efforts can grow exponentially.

For anyone who has felt the creeping sense of despair that our country is going down the wrong path and is headed straight for a cliff, that despair is caused by fear… fear that there is no solution to the problem.

But there is a solution.

The solution is for all of us who feel this way to get organized. If you aren’t sure how to do that, or where to start, of even if you just need a booster shot of hope and motivation, there is no better prescription than attending a session of Camp Wellstone.

That is why I ask that all of you reading this, who sees what I see, who feels as I feel, who would seek as I seek, to go the Wellstone Action website. Donate if you can spare the money. Sign up for Camp Wellstone if it is coming to your area. If it is not coming to you then you go to it. If you can’t travel that far then call them or write them and ask them, beg them or bribe them to come to your area. It may be the single most important thing you do this year.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Naomi Wolf - The End of America

This is a fantastic talk by Naomi Wolf (the other Naomi) about the weakening of our Democracy, the fascist-shift taking place in our society and it's parallels in history. She also emphasizes just how urgent this threat truly is.
This is a bit long at 47 minutes, but it is definitely worth the time!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Naomi Klein Speech from 2005

This is a fantastic speech by Naomi Klein, the author of The Shock Doctrine, the rise of disaster capitalism. This is the first of eight parts. You can find the rest by clicking here. Here she talks about the true story of the struggle for Democracy in Iraq and relates how the U.S. actually fought against Democracy in Iraq at every turn. Everything she brings up has been documented in other locations, such as the book, Fiasco.

The 8th part is a Q&A where she talks about some important points in moving forward that is definitely worth watching!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Into the Great Wide Open

My buddy made this awesome video during his recent travels across the country.