Thursday, November 27, 2008

Change Is Already Happening

The Obama family went to a Chicago food bank yesterday and spent an hour handing out wrapped chickens to people waiting in line for food. The president-elect and his wife said they wanted to show their girls the meaning of the holiday, especially when so many are struggling.

You can see a slide show of pictures here.

Seriously, when was the last time you ever saw a President of the United States volunteer at a food bank the day before Thanksgiving?

This is a man who understands the role of the President of the United States, knows how to be a good figurehead and knows how to set a good example.

He is already effectively the acting President, since he is one who's actions are now effecting the markets. Meanwhile Bush, the guy who is still technically President, is given a free pass by the media for sitting around and doing literally nothing while the economy crumbles.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Never, Ever Talk To The Police

This seems counter-intuitive, especially if you are innocent, but this attorney and police officer lay out of a very convincing argument why you should never talk to the police.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Results - President Obama!


Remember to get out and Vote today!
If you haven't voted yet, get up right now and go vote!

Don't be complacent!
The 2000 election was decided by 537 votes!
Every vote counts!

5 More Friends

Remember all the people who risked and sacrificed everything so that we could have the right to cast any votes at all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McCain Supporters At It Again

Again with the racism and the hatred and the threats of violence from McCain supporters.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ron Howard for Obama

I never knew what Ron Howard's politics was but this video is a classic!

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Are You Better Off Than You Were 8 Years Ago?

A very powerful message from the original "Wasssup" guys.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

John McCain on Taxing the Rich

This is from the Hardball College Tour: October 12, 2000

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Neo and the McCain Robocall

This is funny! That scene really has a different feel, watching it now in the post 9-11 security state we live in.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Failure of Conservative Ideology

What we are witnessing in this economic crisis is nothing less than the complete failure of conservative ideology that thinks "deficit spending doesn't matter" and thinks credit is enough to fuel an economy indefinitely.

Obama Knew It Was Coming All Along

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Shock Doctrine Playing Out In Front Of Us

"Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."
- Milton Friedman : US Prof.Emeritus-Economics,Univ of Chicago, Nobel prize, Hoover Sr Res Fellow Stanford
Milton Friedman (1912 - 2006)

Let me start by stating that I believe this bailout is nothing more than the biggest scam and money grab in history. This is the shock doctrine playing out right in front of our eyes. This bailout is only a short term band aid that will postpone the inevitable collapse until the next sucker can take office.

In case you aren't really keeping up with it and don't really know the backstory of this bailout, I will explain what is going on right now.

In a classical supply and demand economy, demand is driven by wages and supply is driven by productivity. Demand is driven by the ability of people to purchase things. When people have enough money left over in their pocket after they pay for survival necessities like food and housing to be able to go to the store and buy things, that creates real demand. Businesses then open to fullfill that demand and that is how real jobs are created.

In the 1980s, under Ronald Reagan, the conservative Republicans proposed that we drive demand with debt by making credit more easily available and then business owners could stop raising wages and therefore make more money, especially when they were allowed to increase productivity at the same time by outsourcing their labor to peasants and slave labor in China and Mexico. That started causing a spike in unemployment that the government has been trying to cover up, but the fact is that we now have a real unemployment rate of around 12%.

At the same time they also lowered our tariffs to the point where we are economically defenseless, in order to encourage outsourcing. For instance if we want to sell a car in China we have to pay a 30% import tariff but if China wants to sell a car here they only have to pay a 2% import tariff.

That is why starting in the 1980s we saw the rise of not just easily available credit but downright open and flagrant predatory lending and usury. Credit cards became widely available and now today the average American household has over $8000 in credit card debt. Also since the 1980s we saw a rise in people using their houses like ATMs by taking out second mortgages or refinancing in order to try and take the equity out of their homes.

And it has all appeared to work for the last 30 plus years but the problem is that if you don't raise wages then eventually people aren't going to be able to pay back all their accumulated debt and the whole thing is going to fall down like a house of cards. All it takes to tip the scales is a significant rise in inflation that outpaces income.

And that is where we are today. The thing that tipped the scales was gas prices going up. That caused the prices of everything else to go up and now we have a real inflation rate of about 11%.

People suddenly found themselves unable to pay their mortgages so over the last two years we have seen record numbers of foreclosures. That caused the value of mortgage backed securities and hedge funds to drop which is the "crisis" we have today. The owners of these securities are saying that without money from the government they will have to stop making loans to people who can't afford them in the first place.

The real solution to this crisis is to get more money into the hands of the citizens at the bottom directly instead of sitting around hoping for some to "trickle down".
Raising wages means strengthening and supporting unions. It means protecting American industries with Tariffs like we did for the first 200 years of our nation's history.

At the same time what they should be doing with that $700 billion is making it available to American citizens who are facing foreclosure on their mortgages in the form of interest free loans. That will stop the foreclosures, boost the prices of the mortgage backed securities and solve this "crisis" for the long term instead of just bailing out those at the top for the short term.

Also, at the same time we need to save people from the skyrocketing costs of private health insurance by offering non-profit public health insurance. That alone could help save half the personal bankruptcies in America.

The whole thing has to be offered as a package like FDR did with the "New Deal" because individually no one thing is going to really save our economy and our country.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lady Quayle = "The Last Minute Desperation Pick"

John McCain is excited about her, but that's a dangerous thing for a man his age.

Too bad nobody else is very excited.
"He is reaching out to the Eskimo vote"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brian Schweitzer's Barn Burner

Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) speaking at the Democratic National Convention.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Thom Hartmann Blasts Neo-Con Insanity

Thom blasts the Bush administration for taking us to the edge of a depression and world war three.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Memo to Democrats - This Is How You Do It

Here is Gov. Tim Kaine kicking the crap out of Karl Rove in 90 seconds. My favorite part is the "Karl Rove?!?" you hear off screen when David Gregory first mentions him.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Barack Obama in Berlin Today

These are two of the most iconic photos of the Obama and McCain campaigns I have ever seen.

Obama in Berlin today:
McCain was also represented:

As Matt Littman put it so well:

McCain Makes the Biggest Political Mistake of Our Lifetimes

Mondale promised to raise taxes. Dukakis was in the tank. Kerry was for the war before he was against it. All mistakes, mistakes that should never have been made and errors that turn the course of an election. We hear about them all the time. But now, just as the memory of Bill Buckner's error took a backseat for Red Sox fans when their team finally won the World Series, John McCain has made the biggest mistake in politics, an error of such magnitude that he has probably cost himself a shot at the White House.

Senator McCain, knowing that he held an edge on Barack Obama on the "Commander in Chief" question, badly overplayed his hand. He taunted Senator Obama on his lack of foreign policy experience and he challenged Obama to go to Iraq. He sneered at Obama for formulating an Iraq policy prior to traveling to the war zone. He even offered to go with him to Iraq, as if Obama needed his hand held by the man with military experience.

McCain wanted the public to believe that Obama was a novice, a whipper-snapper who would jeopardize our nation's security.

Obama listened to McCain's attempted bullying and said, "You know what? I'll go to Iraq. And Afghanistan, Israel, Germany -- I'll make this a big foreign policy trip abroad. I'll show the voters back home that the world still really does love the United States, they just don't love President Bush or John McCain."

And Obama went abroad, with the world's press following him, clinging to his every word, oohing and aahing at his every jump shot, hoping to catch a glimpse of his every smile.

The trip: the biggest success of the campaign. The Commander in Chief question: negated. Heck of job, McCain.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Naomi Klein Debunks Bush's Offshore Drilling Plan

And she does it from within the belly of the beast.


Last week, after the Supreme Court's ruling on the 2nd amendment, a gun activist decided to sue Disney and challenge their gun ban claiming that he has a constitutional right to bring firearms to Disneyworld.

This week, another guy shot himself with his own gun at Downtown Disney while taking his son to a movie.

Oh, the irony...

Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain Campaign Kicks Out Little Old Lady For Holding A Sign

From the Denver Post:

It was Sen. John McCain's staff who asked security at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to remove people holding protest signs at the venue -- not U.S. Secret Service agents, who were not involved in Carol Kreck's ouster from the galleria.

A video of the incident circulating widely on the Internet shows a DCPA security guard saying that he was told by the Secret Service to remove Kreck, who was holding a paper sign that said "McCain = Bush."

But Thursday, after two days of being vilified by bloggers, letter writers and others, the Secret Service emphatically denied involvement.

"Contrary to some recent reporting, the Secret Service had no involvement in Ms. Kreck being removed from the area," said Malcolm D. Wiley Sr., spokesman for the Secret Service. "It was not done at our request or suggestion. Any assertion to the contrary is inaccurate and inconsistent with our established policies and procedures."

She asks a great question at the end. Why would a Republican be offended by a sign that says "McCain=Bush?"
Personally I think she is lucky she didn't get tasered.

UPDATE: Carol Kreck, the little old librarian herself, wrote a blog over at HufPo about this.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Gore Vidal: Since Bush, "We No Longer Have A Republic"

This is an interview with historian, Gore Vidal, on what appears to be a European television show.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th of July - The Declaration of Independence

This is a great reading of the Declaration of Independence by Thom Hartmann on his show the other day.

U.S. Rep calls for Impeachment hearings after McClellen testifies

Check out the story. They have video of Representative Wexler questioning Scott McClellen.

McClellen said that he doesn't think Bush was involved in the outting of Valerie Plame but that he would not defend Cheney and that he "would not rule out" that Cheney is responsible for the worst national security breach since 9-11.

Wexler closed by thundering: "The vice president's own hand betrays him, and Libby, and implicates the President of the United States. These facts in your testimony, Mr. McClellan, are more than enough, in my view, to open up impeachment hearings."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Obama Speaking With Iraq War Vets

This is an interesting video of Barack Obama meeting with a group of young Iraq war veterans where he lays out his strategy for Iraq.

I prefer Obama's strategy over John McCain's rhetoric.

General Wesley Clark Is Right!

Here is General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, speaking the simple and absolute truth, John McCain's war experience does not make him qualified to be President of the United States.

General Clark does not word it as bluntly as I would, but he is speaking from exactly the right frame, that John McCain is a victim. While John McCain has my greatest sympathy for what he went through and I honor his sacrifice, that doesn't mean I want him to be my President.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin on Death

I am really going to miss George Carlin.

RIP George Carlin

George Carlin in an interview earlier this year talking about the Obama phenomenon.

Do you think that over the past years of the Bush Administration - the FCC stuff and Nipplegate with Janet Jackson and the focusing on 'morality' and the rise of the Evangelicals, all of that - do you see that as being a direct correlation with the American situation as you've observed it?

Well, there are a number of things you've brought up here. First of all - let me go back to an idea that I usually express in a different way, okay? And then I'll get back to your question. I don't believe anymore in my fellow human, or my fellow American. I divorced myself from these two groups a long time ago, somewhere around 30 years ago. I found myself feeling completely outside of the human race and the American experience. Abraham Maslow, the psychologist said, the fully realized man does not identify with the local group. And when I read that it really hit me. I said, "That's me." I really don't identify with these people, I don't feel a part of this - I've never, never felt a part of this. And by "this" I mean - the human race yeah I know, I'm human, by definition I'm in it, I mean feeling like I'm in it. I mean feeling like I'm American. I just don't give a shit anymore. I stopped giving a fuck. And because I did that, it gave me a great deal of artistic freedom - it gave me emotional detachment from which I could operate with a more even-handed look at everything. I didn't have a rooted interest. I didn't have an outcome I was interested in. I didn't have a rooted interest. I wasn't a cheerleader. I was really just an observer. When you're born in the world you're given a ticket to the freakshow; when you're born in America you're given a front-row seat. And some of us in the front row have notebooks and pencils. That's you, Rachel, that's me. We sit there and we say, "Look at the fucking shit that going - look at this. Do these people know what they look like? Let me write this down." And so, that kind of divorces me from any of these attachments. Yeah, underneath it all I'm a disappointed idealist. Yes, I think the Obama story is an inspirational story, it's a wonderfully unique American story and it's exciting and fun to watch but even if he's elected and makes a lot of changes I still retain the right not to belong.
I just like it out here. And I understand that the flame of the idealist flickers underneath, and that's fine - I can't deny that - but I kind of like it the other way because it kind of gives me the freedom to point at everything.

Wow. Okay, so let me ask you this: You brought up the Obama thing, and you seemed to have done so sincerely and not with irony or being jaded. How do you view that as a phenomenon, even as one you don't want to belong to?

Well, it's an exciting story to watch. What's exciting is that it doesn't happen in this country very often. There were moments in the history of the American people - and by the way, one of the reasons I got off the train of the American experience is I think - I'll get back to Obama in a minute - I think that human beings were given great gifts and had great potential and they squandered it all on goods, possession, power, territory and on a superstitious God that watches everything and controls. These things, I think, crippled the human animal to the extend that we never lived up to their potential. The same thing happened in this country. We were given great potential. We were given this great system of self-government, the best one that had been devised so far.
And we've given it all up for gizmos, and goods, and toys and possessions, and - in this country - God, overlooking everything and spoiling everything. So... there have been moments in this country when people have, leaders have emerged who were inspirational, and who could carry the people with them because — in order to effect change in their lives and experience as a group, they need to be led, and they need to believe in something and they need to believe in themselves, and they need to believe that they can change things. And they way that happens is through an inspirational leader. FDR was that, Franklin Roosevelt - he gave people something to believe in, and mainly it was themselves, that they could weather the storm, and he got them through the Depression and a fuckin' World War. So, these things happen and they're interesting to notice - I don't know how much overall meaning it has, I do respect what's going on as a true American phenomenon, this rising up of someone who - maybe, I don't know - has the quality to inspire people.

Friday, June 20, 2008

My Response To An Obama Smear Video

This was my response to a friend of mine who forwarded me an Obama smear video and asked me if I thought it was all lies. I think it is worth sharing.

Sorry it took so long to respond, but I wanted to watch the whole thing before I responded to it. I have been busy lately and it took me a while to get the time to sit down and watch it all.

In an interview last year Karl Rove said that the reasons his tactics work are not because Republican voters are stupid, but because they have "short memories" and they "don't pay attention to the news." That video plays off of both those qualities.

The short answer to your question is yes, that video is full of lies. You can tell the guy who made it is an experienced rightwing propagandist because of his opening shot "I invented the internet", which references a popular fallacy that Al Gore supposedly said he "invented the internet". The truth, as I am sure you already know, is that Al Gore said in an interview that he "was instrumental in creating the Internet" and the fact is, he sponsored the legislation that privatized ARPANET and created the Internet. Without his legislation, the internet you and I are using to communicate right now would still be just another "big government" project. (which, incidentally, was started under the last Republican who understood the role of government, Eisenhower)

A better description for that video is "propaganda", because it is more insidious than a mere lie. It will take one true fact and draw a bunch of false conclusions from it. It gathers and propagates all the worst lies about Barack Obama and tries to slip them in randomly to make them seem more legitimate. It also just cherry picks the most unflattering clips and pictures they can find and strings them together to paint the person in an unflattering light. You can find thousands of videos like this about both the Clintons and Bushs all over the internet. It is a very common propaganda tactic.

Basically it piles the bullshit so high, you have a hard time picking out individual pieces anymore. It just becomes one big stinky pile of bullshit.

It partakes in what is called "molehill politics". Taking something insignificant and trivial and theatrically trying to blow it up into a much larger issue than it really is.

"Flag-pins" for example. Seriously, who really cares about flag pins? How does wearing a cheap flag pin made in China mean you are a patriotic American? With everything else that is going on right now, inflation, gas prices, outsourcing, unemployment, forclosures, credit crisis, the falling value of the dollar... who is really concerned about flag pins? Seriously.

It seems to me that if you were a politician who really secretly wasn't patriotic, you would be wearing one 24x7 to cover for it.
Patriotism is caring about the welfare of your country and I think that means caring about the real issues instead of wasting time on meaningless theatrical bullshit like flag pins.

The "National Anthem Photo" is another example, you don't have to put your hand over your heart for the national anthem. All you have to do is stand. You are only supposed to put your hand over your heart for the pledge of alliegence. ...because its a pledge... The national anthem is just a song. Just look around the next time you are at a sporting event, everyone stands and takes their hats off and some people put their hands to their hearts and some do not. The announcer even says it at the beginning of almost every sporting event "Please stand for the national anthem".

Do you see? They take a true photo and draw all sorts of false conclusions from it. They mislead the viewer into drawing the specific conclusion that they want you to draw. That he is supposedly insufficiently patriotic.

Another example is the "danger" that his middle name supposedly represents. They spend quite a bit of time trying to evoke some fear from the viewer because his middle name sounds like the name of a dead bad guy. Even Karl Rove asked Republicans to stop saying his middle name all the time because he said it sounds racist.

It also uses blatent race baiting, even going so far as using a clip of a radical extremist, Ann Coulter, talking about his "three muslim names". Barack and Obama are actually African names, not Islamic. Hussian is actually a very common Arabic name which means "Blessed one". Islam is a religion not a nationality or ethnicity. She is using that term to lump Arabs, Persians and Africans into one group... basically, "brown people". We should all fear the brown people. Thats the real message.

The Rev Wright thing was all just the attempt to redefine Obama as an "angry black man". Before that whole boondoggle, the question that was asked was "is he black enough". They are trying to do the same thing to his wife Michelle. Tell you what, watch her appearance on the View from this week and tell me if you think she is the radical they try to paint her as.

It does state some blatently untrue things, obviously.
The claim that there is no information available about Obama's background is a lie. How lazy can they get? He wrote two autobiographies for pete's sake. All anyone has to do is read them. A good portion of his life is already public record. He has been a public figure in Chicago for decades so the facts of his background have been gone over with a fine tooth comb.

Also the claim that he was raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. Thats a lie.
He spent most of his childhood in Hawaii and Kansas. He only visited Indonesia when he was a kid. He also traveled all over Africa, Europe and Asia. By the time he was a teenager, he was more well traveled than a lot of Congressmen.

The claim that sitting down and talking to the leaders of countries we don't like is "radical". That's a blatent lie.
Every President before George W. Bush practiced more open diplomacy and they very often met with the leaders of countries we didn't like. George Washington parlayed with leaders of the British Army. George Washington also met with and enlisted Pirates to help the revolutionary army. John Madison talked to the British and Indians during the war of 1812. Jefferson signed a treaty with the Barbary Pirates. They founding fathers all would have talked to King George if they had the chance, but the King had a policy that he did not talk to his enemies.
How did that work out for him?

FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Reagan all talked to the Soviets.
Nixon met with the Red Chinese.

Anyway, I think you get my point. The claim that talking to our enemies is a "radical" idea is a big steaming load of crap.

That video is a lot of things, but true is not one of them. I would think that most people would find their intelligence insulted by a video that tries to make all three assertions, that Obama is 1. a radical muslim, 2. a Marxist (athiest), and 3. a radical Christian, all the in same video just a few minutes apart. How stupid does this guy think his audience is?

Anyway if you are curious about doing any fact checking, you should check out these sites:

By the way, if you are curious about my take on Obama, you can read about it on my blog.

Your friend,

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Good News for Michigan - Drolet Fails Again

This is good news for Democracy and for the rule of law. The far right wing fringe in Michigan failed to get enough signatures for their frivolous recall petition for House Speaker Andy Dillon. Their attempt to disrupt the state legislature would have been harmful to Michigan, especially at a time when we need constructve progress, not chaos from some angry extremists who don't understand how taxes or economies operate.

Drolet and ilk, such as far-right radical Grover "drown government in a bathtub" Norquist, are a group of anti-tax zealots who offer only criticism and negativity and present no solutions of their own to the many problems faced by the citizens of Michigan.

All they have to offer is exactly the kind of minimalist, ineffective government we saw respond to Katrina.

They have a very narrow, ideological view of taxation that is not based in reality or pragmatism. They obviously do not have the best interest of the citizens of the state at heart because they offer no constructive solutions to any of the real problems we face, such as record layoffs and foreclosures.

On the other hand, Andy Dillon has been instrumental in the bill earlier this year which created 29,000 new jobs by investing in Michigan and brought the movie industry to Michigan by offering the best incentives in the nation.

What people like Drolet and Norquist do not understand is that taxes are merely the mechanism by which government generates revenue and that governments are non-profit, so if they really wanted to lower taxes they would offer meaningful ways to lower costs so we can cut spending and thereby legitimately and responsibly lower taxes.

The sad, inescapable truth is that Leon Drolet is more interested in pushing a failed ideology than in helping the citizens of Michigan.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Defining the Candidates - Professor Obama

As the Republicans make their inevitable attacks on Barack Obama as "inexperienced", there are some things the voters should be aware of, but that the conservative corporate media is not going to tell them.

First lets remember that many of the scandals of the Bush administration came out of the fact that he neither knows nor cares about the law. Bush is a CEO president with a background in business. He has open disdain for lawyers, who are the primary mechanism for we the people to redress grievances with business. Bush's ignorance and disdain for the law is reflected in his actions and his exercising of illegal powers, like torture, or the pushing through the Patriot Act which gives the President the unconstitutional power to take away any citizen's rights. This illegal and unconstitutional power-grab by the executive branch is a serious threat to our freedoms and our Democracy. This is understood by all liberal activists and many lifelong conservatives, but because of the partisan "division" which is perpetuated by the corporate media in this country, there is not yet enough reaching across the aisle to work together toward what we know are common goals that would benefit all Americans.

The conservative corporate media has been promoting the idea that Barack Obama is an "unknown" and they used the Rev Wright "scandal" to start referring to Senator Obama as "the black candidate". Instead of fulfilling it's responsibility to the public to inform us and tell us who he is, the corporate media choose instead to lead us along with nebulously scandalous declarations that the people "don't know who he is". Of course they don't know who he is, because after a year and a half of campaigning the media still hasn't properly informed the public about who he is!


Because simply informing us is not as profitable as sensationalism.

Here are some of the facts about Barack Obama that the corporate media has been ignoring that may help you understand who he is:

  • Barack Obama is the son of a black father and a white mother. He is as much a "white candidate" as he is a "black candidate".
  • Barack was raised by his mother in a lower middle class household in a mostly white community in small town Kansas.
  • Barack Obama put himself through college with his own ability and hard work, using scholarships and working numerous jobs to pay the bills.
  • Barack Obama is an attorney and a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago.
  • Barack Obama started in politics as a community organizer in Chicago and his whole campaign has been founded on the values of community organizing and citizen involvement in politics.

Because of its foundation in community organizing, the Obama campaign is more than just a campaign to elect one person. It is a movement to get citizens involved in the political process which is so necessary for us to take back out Democracy. Voting is not enough! If you want your Democracy to work right then you have to get involved! Getting involved means a lot of things. It could mean getting involved by joining a party, participate in setting the agenda and picking the candidates. Getting involved also means learning how to organize with our fellow citizens effectively and one you organize, how to effectively lobby our representatives to pursue your causes. Our represenatives can only represent us if they know what we want.

Hillary lost because she made her campaign about mostly one individual... Hillary. She constantly talked about herself, her experience and what she would do for us. Barack Obama's campaign is about us... all of us. It is about America and it's future and empowering We the people to take back our Democracy. That is why the Rev Wright attacks did little to slow down Obama's growing support, because his campaign is not about one man alone. Many Republicans still have not figured this out and they will continue with character attacks that just will not work. As one Republican talking head who does get it said, "Obama is not a butterfly, he is bulletproof."

If you are one of those people who believes that if only we could get the right people to run for office, they would fix all our problems and everything would be better, then I have news for you.

It is never going to happen.
There will never be one person who gets elected and solves all our problems.

It is when We the people get involved in our own Democracy, that our problems get addressed.

There is a historical pattern here that most people are not seeing. The cycle of freedom in America has not been about the individuals we read about in history class, like Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln or FDR. The thing that happened at the same time those people were in office was a great influx of public participation in the political process.

The Tax Acts from British Parliment effected the daily lives and local economies of many American colonists and thus motivated a large number of people to find some way to act out. The Boston Tea party wasn't committed by founding fathers alone. The 13 states were not each convinced to join in union against the British by just a few men, but rather because enough people got involved who also demanded change.

The same thing happened when slavery because such a hot issue that the nation erupted in a civil war. People did more than fight during and after the civil war. Again, the daily lives of so many average citizens was so impacted that many of those who came home from fighting or didn't fight got involved in the political process and started movements of people for causes.

Again, after the depression and into WW2, so many people's lives were effected that they wanted to do something, to act somehow, and so they got involved in their communities and the political process. Many movements were started or gained surges in membership during and after that period. FDR's many public works projects also brought many citizens into the workings of government and got then involved. Thus the period from WW2 to the 1980s was the greatest period of prosperity and wealth America has ever seen. In the 1980s, government became the enemy and the people stopped participating in our Democracy. Ronald Reagan famously declared that "Government is not the solution, government is the problem."

People who do not believe in government cannot govern effectively. That is why Reagan ran up the largest national debt in history at the time. He has since been overshadowed in fiscal irresponsibility by G.W. Bush because he took the same conservative anti-government ideology one step further. Now we have an era of private mercinary armies that pose as much a threat to our freedoms as any rouge nation.

Barack Obama knows history and he understands this cycle and he knows that what needs to happen for America to make the recovery we all want to see, we are all going to have to start getting involved in our communities. Barack organized his campaign in such a way to help enable the kind of community organization that empowers us. That is why his campaign has been about inspiration and he spoke so much not about himself, but about the possibilities of what we can achieve if we work together.

The presidential campaign of Howard Dean was a similar precursor of this phenomenon and as a result the Dean for America movement survived the 2000 election cycle and grew into Democracy for America, which is now a nationwide organization going around teaching citizens how to get involved in our Democracy. They hold classes regularly and if you are one of those who is waking up and wants to find out how to get active, I recommend you check them out.

When the Republicans inevitably attack Barack Obama on "experience", ask yourself this: What kind of experience do I want a President to have?
Do I want a President who knows and respects the law, like Barack Obama? Or do I want a President who is willing to break even a law bearing his own name, as John McCain is doing? Do I want a President who wants citizens to get involved in the political process or one who just wants us to go shopping?
Do I want a President who's campaign is full of corporate lobbyists, like John McCain's? Or do I want a President who's campaign is staffed and funded by We the people, individual citizens acting out of a sense of social responsibility?

We have tried the President we wanted to have a beer with and who ran the country like a business, now America knows it is time we try a President who could teach a class in Constitutional law and who represents the unique and varied nature of modern American society.

After 8 years of a President with open disdain for the law America is ready for a President who knows and respects the law.

Barack Obama has the right kind of experience for America.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Mother's Day Proclamation

This is worth reposting. Especially this year.

The Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


Friday, May 02, 2008

John McCain is a Victim, not a Hero

John Sidney McCain III is not a “war hero”.

John Sidney McCain III is a victim.

John McCain is a victim of torture and a broken man who has demonstrated repeatedly that he is willing to sell out his principles for political power.

That is the frame that Democrats and progressives need to aggressively push if they want to win in November. That is how they need to redefine McCain.

Barack Obama only hurt himself when he opened a speech in Ohio with “John McCain is a great American hero.”

What he should have said was “John McCain has my greatest sympathy for what happened to him in Vietnam, but his policies are bad for America.”

It is not even dishonest like the “Swift boat” attacks were; it is the absolute, documented truth. Right now John Sidney McCain III is running around the country touting his “war hero” image and getting a free pass by the media, who appear too busy buying him his favorite doughnuts to ask any tough questions.

I have written in other essays about framing and how it is the most vital skill Democrats and progressives need to learn in order to win in modern politics. One of the most key elements of framing in politics is to define your opponent and define yourself in the public’s mind. Democrats have a very bad habit of buying into Republican frames and thus allowing Republicans to define themselves, their opponents and the entire debate in the public’s mind. This is why we have the common media narrative of Republicans as ‘macho’ and Democrats as ‘weak’ even though the facts do not match the story. It is a testament to how good cons have gotten at framing and to the inherent bias by the conservative corporate media.

John Sidney McCain III is no more of a hero than every other soldier who actually did go fight in Vietnam.

John McCain is a victim of torture, a victim of bad policies that put him in Vietnam in the first place and ultimately a victim of his own hubris that comes from his elite status in society as the son of an Admiral.

There is a difference between feeling really sorry for someone and considering him or her a “hero”.

Sure there is some argument to be made that everyone who goes to war at all is a “hero” in some sense of the term. But no one can expect that to be enough to warrant the title “war hero” when running for national political office, yet John McCain is trying to do it based on his story that he got shot down in Vietnam, taken prisoner and held captive for five years.

What exactly is a “Hero” anyway?

The root of the word is the Greek word “Heros” which in Greek mythology was someone who was blessed by the gods.

The dictionary says a hero is:
1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal:

Generally a hero has come to mean someone who as the second definition states, “performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal”.

Martin Luther King, Jr. for example, is rightly considered a hero for his non-violent approach to civil rights and his unwavering courage in sticking to his message in the face of threats that ultimately were fulfilled.

So what exactly is John McCain’s story?

John Sidney McCain III is the son of a Navy Admiral and Grandson of a Navy Admiral. He was born into moderate wealth but great power and ultimately married into great wealth with his mistress-turned-second wife, Cindy.

According to Wikipedia:

“John McCain’s capture and imprisonment began on October 26, 1967. He was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam, when his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down by a missile over Hanoi. McCain fractured both arms and a leg, and then nearly drowned when he parachuted into Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. After he regained consciousness, a mob attacked him, crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt, and bayoneted him; he was then transported to Hanoi's main Hoa Loa Prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton".”

Wikipedia also notes this about John McCain’s time in the Hanoi Hilton:

“In August of 1968, a program of severe torture began on McCain, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery, and McCain made an anti-American propaganda "confession". He has always felt that his statement was dishonorable, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine."”

What does being broken do to a person’s psyche? How long can the effects from a traumatic experience like that last? A lifetime? How much of John McCain’s infamously unstable temper comes from his experience as a victim of torture? Is that a person we really want with his finger of the nuclear button?

Ok, now I feel very bad for McCain and he has my deepest sympathies for what he experienced, but that does not qualify him for status of “hero”. Especially when McCain just recently voted against banning torture!

If we are supposed to consider John McCain a hero by virtue of him being held captive and tortured until he was broken then what are we supposed to think about all the people we are doing that to now? Are they also heroes? What does that say about us now that we are doing it to others?

Getting shot down, captured, and tortured and being broken both physically and mentally does not strike me as someone “blessed by the gods”. Neither does bombing runs on villages or creating propaganda videos for the enemy strike me as particularly “noble” and it certainly is not something I think should be regarded as a “model or ideal”.

Now lets look at the story of another Vietnam veteran who shares his first name, John Kerry. This is just one story of how he earned one of his medals in Vietnam. Also from Wikipedia.

“Eight days later, on February 28, 1969, came the events for which Kerry was awarded his Silver Star. On this occasion, Kerry was in tactical command of his Swift boat and two others. Their mission included bringing a demolition team and dozens of South Vietnamese soldiers to destroy enemy sampans, structures and bunkers. Running into an ambush, Kerry "directed the boats to turn to the beach and charge the Viet Cong positions" and he "expertly directed" his boat's fire and coordinated the deployment of the South Vietnamese troops, according to the original medal citation (signed by Admiral Zumwalt). Going a short distance farther, Kerry's boat was the target of an RPG round; as the boat beached at the site, a VC with a rocket launcher jumped and ran from a spider hole. While the boat's gunner opened fire, wounding the VC on the leg, and while the other boats approached and offered cover fire, Kerry jumped from the boat and chased the VC and killed him, capturing a loaded rocket launcher.

So what I want to know is, if John Kerry’s war record was not above reproach, why do Democrats act as if John McCain’s is? The one thing that Karl Rove was right about was the tactic of taking your opponent’s strength and turning it into a liability. John McCain’s war record is his greatest strength and it is the reason the media is treating him with kid gloves. If Democrats want to win this they are going to have to take off the kid gloves and bring up the hypocrisy of someone who was broken by torture turning around and voting against banning the same behavior by Americans. They are going to have to bring up the fact McCain cooperated with the enemy and made anti-American propaganda for them.

John McCain’s low moral standards and questionable judgment have been repeatedly shown by his behavior. From the fact he was one of the infamous “Keating Five” to the fact he is breaking his own campaign finance laws right now by taking public financing and then going over the spending limits and by using his wife’s corporate jet for free, we have seen examples again and again of a man who is willing to sell out his principles for political convenience.

Hypocrisy is also a serious issue with John McCain. His record as a Senator shows a pattern of opposing Veteran and POW/MIA issues.

John Sidney McCain III opposed the Missing Personnel Act and the POW/MIA Rescue Act, which would have granted political asylum to any Southeast Asian national who brought a living American POW to freedom.

How can a former POW oppose that?

John McCain disagreed with the findings of the 1990 Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which concluded that our government had indeed abandoned some of our men when the war ended.
John McCain then went on to single handedly undermine the Senate Select Committee created to investigate the issue.
“During the course of their several month-long investigations, they heard unbelievable testimony from hundreds of people. No less than four former Secretaries of Defense testified that men were left behind. National Security analysts testified that they tracked the movements of our men long after the war ended. Radio transcripts of American POWs being moved in Laos were recorded in the early 1980s:

There were satellite photos of pilot distress signals taken as recently as 1992, complete with pilot name and authenticator code numbers. Former Soviet Commanders testified that they debriefed our men in the Soviet Union, and even Boris Yeltsin admitted American POWs had been transferred there.

No less than four committee investigators provided the Senators of their estimates ranging from a low of 150 to as many as 600 men who they believed were still alive and in captivity. This doesn't even include the testimony they heard behind closed doors that supposedly endangered our national security.

The conclusions of this committee was that "no credible evidence was provided to support the possibility that Americans were still alive and in captivity," This, despite documents from Soviet Archives that showed that the Vietnamese were holding more than 1,200 American POWs, and released less than 600, John McCain signed his name on this incredibly flawed report.”

John McCain opposes Senator Jim Webb’s New GI Bill, which would become the military’s greatest recruiting tool, because he says he thinks it would encourage soldiers to leave the military. God forbid they should leave the military to pursue an education! Who would occupy Iraq for 100 years if they do that?

John Sidney McCain III is not a hero by any standard of measure. He is an old, rich elitist with an infamously explosive temper and very questionable morals, which he has a record of selling out for political convenience. John McCain is a victim of torture, a victim of crimes against humanity, a victim of war crimes and a victim of bad policies and poor judgment that put him in that position in the first place. Probably worst of all, John Sidney McCain III is a victim of his own hubris.

That is a person I feel very sorry for, but I do not admire that person and I do not think that qualifies that person to be any kind of a leader.

That is not the kind of person we need leading this country at this time in history.

We don’t have to wait for the media to pick this frame up before we start using it either. That is not how it actually works. We the people, individual progressives and Democrats, can set the frame in the public debate by using it ourselves. If we get in the habit of actively re-framing the issues instead of passively accepting whatever frame the media is putting out. That is how we change the discussion in America, by refusing to have the discussion the cons want to have and steering the conversation toward the issues we want using our frames for them.

Cedar Fest 2008 - Michigan State University

I was at East Lansing during the first Cedar Fest back in 1989 after the Michigan/Michigan State football game. It was crazy and it looks like it hasn't changed much except the police response seems a lot more militant now. 52 rounds of tear gas were fired at the kids assembled.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bush Sending "Stimulus" Checks Early - Economy Worse Then Expected

This is why the economy is going to be a huge factor in this year's elections. With everything that is going on, the Republicans seriously think the answer to the average American's problems is a $600 check and more tax cuts for the wealthy.

The underlying story here is that the economy is slowing down faster than they expected.
By November we may be in a full blown recession.

Bush hails early delivery of stimulus checks

President expresses hope tax rebates will boost weaker economy

WASHINGTON - President Bush says the economic-stimulus tax rebates will begin going out Monday and will help people cope with lofty energy and food prices, as well as giving the economy a jolt.

“This money is going to help Americans offset the high prices we’re seeing at the gas pump, at the grocery store, and will also give our economy a boost to help us pull out of this economic slowdown,” Bush said Friday in brief remarks at the White House.

“It’s obvious our economy is in a slowdown,” Bush said.

Earlier this week, the president denied the nation was in a recession, instead saying, “We are in a slowdown.” But many economists believe the economy may already be in a recession.

A trio of crises — housing, credit and financial — has threatened to plunge the economy deep into recession.

The economy grew at an anemic 0.6 percent in the final three months of last year and is believed to have gotten even weaker in the first three months of this year. The government will report on the first quarter’s performance next week. A growing number of analysts believe the economy is shrinking now.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Supreme Court gets the telling off they deserve

But of course it doesn't happen in real life. This is an awesome scene from Boston Legal where Alan argues before the Supreme Court against the death penalty for a non-homicide case. He also takes time out to say what millions of Americans are thinking about their job performance lately.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lifestyles of the Rich and Fameous McCains

The Democrats had better learn how to define John Sidney McCain III and quick or they are going to lose this election. John McCain is not a "war hero"; he is a victim of torture.

He is victim of torture who was broken, physically and mentally and cooperated with the enemy because of it! That makes him someone I feel very sorry for but it doesn't make him a hero.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Governor Jesse Ventura Speaking his mind

This is a really interesting interview with Jesse Ventura on Hannity and Colmes.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Conservative Corporate Media and Framing the Debate

I have to give the Cons credit where it is due, they mastered the art of Framing the Debate years ago and the corporate media has been using it unseen in plain sight for decades. In his book, "Don't Think Of An Elephant", Dr. George Lakoff explains that framing the debate is the most important political trick that the Democrats and Progressives need to become familiar with if they want to compete with the Cons. In his book, Dr. Lakoff uses the example of the Frame of the "Tax Burden" and how that simple phrase immediately puts taxes in the position of being something unwanted that needs to be reduced and how that has effected public perception of the debate over time.

Lets look at another more recent example in today's news:

Economy Sheds 80,000 jobs in March

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The employers cut payrolls for a third month in a row in March, slashing 80,000 jobs for the biggest monthly job decline in five years as the economy headed into a downturn, government data on Friday showed.

The Labor Department revised the first two months of the year's job losses to a total of 152,000 from a previous estimate of 85,000. The March unemployment rate jumped to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent, the highest since a matching rate in September 2005.

The March job report was more bleak than expected. Economists polled ahead of the report forecast a decline of 60,000 in non-farm payrolls and a rise in the unemployment rate to 5 percent.

During the first quarter of this year job losses averaged 77,000 a month, compared to average monthly gains of 76,000 in the last half of 2007, according to Keith Hall, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner.

Job losses were widespread during the month, with the biggest losses in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

(Reporting by Joanne Morrison; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

Now... My dog "sheds" her extra fur.
I may "shed" my coat if I get hot.
We all try to "shed" some extra pounds.

This headline makes it sound like the economy was just getting rid of some extra jobs it didn't need or want anymore.

The thing is, more people read just the headline than will ever read the entire article, so everybody in the newspaper business understands the importance of the headlines and how they can be used to frame things, even if it is contrary to the content of the actual articles.

I found that part at the end particularly interesting because I am curious to know who is responsible for that headline, the reporter or the "editor".

A quick google of "Joanne Morrison" found another example of her writing, this time without the "editing".

U.S. recession could be worse than recent downturns

Nope, I don't think she was the one who came up with that deceptive headline.

Then I did a quick search on "Neil Stempleman" which revealed these examples of his work:

Financial system may need public funds-IMF's Lipsky

Bernanke repeats economy in difficult period

Personal income rises, inflation moderates

This one was particularly funny since the first paragraph reads as follows:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. personal income rose more than expected in February as the economy teetered on the brink of a recession, while both personal spending and a key price measure increased only slightly, a government report showed on Friday.

Obviously there is someone at Reuters who believes that they need to "moderate" the headlines they put on their newswire, thus the conspicuous "editing" in so many of their articles by people like Mr. Stempleman.

Apparently the people at Reuters don't think we, the American people, can handle the unvarnished truth and they think they need to sugar-coat everything to the point of twisting its meaning in the headline.

Of course this beggars the question, Who owns Reuters?

Well, it turns out they just recently got bought by the Thompson Corporation, a Multinational Conglomerate who makes about $3 Billion worth of profit in the Financial sector each year.

Isn't Media Consolidation wonderful?


Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Interesting Photo Of Rev. Wright

This is an interesting photo I found. It shows Rev. Wright treating President Johnson when he was in the Navy and shows the letter he got thanking him for helping the President.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Comments on the President's SOTU Address

I agree with a friend of mine;

I liked this guy's comments better.

Bush Kicked Out Weapons Inspectors, Not Saddam

The author of this video says it very well.

The GOP has been trying to rewrite history, claiming "Saddam would not let the inspectors back in" to justify invading Iraq.

Unfortunately for them, we have a little something called "video tape". Clips of UN/UNMOVIC inspectors in Iraq destroying Saddam's stockpile of al-Samoud missiles in the MONTHS just prior to the invasion of Iraq before President Bush orders everyone out of Iraq the week before the invasion on March 19, 2003.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bush Wants To Cut Anti-Terror Funding By More Than 50%!

I would think the corporate media would be giving this more coverage, since a lot of that money would end up in their hands. General Electric, who owns NBC, also owns defense companies that could be losing money over this.

Yes, the President who has, for years, assured us that it is his job to keep us all safe while at the same time relentlessly fear mongering about the threat of terrorism, now says he wants to cut the amount of money going to states for Homeland Security by more than half.

Is he admitting that terrorism is not the problem that he has been hyping it to be?

The Bush Administration wants to cut Homeland Security money to cities across the country.

According to papers obtained by the Associated Press, the administration wants to reduce anti-terrorism funding by more than 50% next year.

States that expected to get more than $3 billion to protect against terrorist attacks would get $1.4 million instead.

It could mean agencies that have bought high-tech rapid response trucks, as Tucson has done, may not have the money to maintain the equipment years down the road.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Go John Go!

This is a great video by the Edwards campaign, highlighting the media blackout of John Edwards.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

From The 1956 Republican Platform

My, how times have changed.
Red text mine.


Under the Republican Administration, as our country has prospered, so have its people. This is as it should be, for as President Eisenhower said: "Labor is the United States. The men and women, who with their minds, their hearts and hands, create the wealth that is shared in this country—they are America." Today that kind of talk sends Republicans into convulsions, sputtering on about tax cuts and wealth trickling down. Wealth is created from the ground up. There is no capital without labor. Republicans used to get it.

The Eisenhower Administration has brought to our people the highest employment, the highest wages and the highest standard of living ever enjoyed by any nation. Today there are nearly 67 million men and women at work in the United States, 4 million more than in 1952. Wages have increased substantially over the past 3 1/2 years; but, more important, the American wage earner today can buy more than ever before for himself and his family because his pay check has not been eaten away by rising taxes and soaring prices. (Eisenhower was able to do this with a 91% top tax rate for any wages over $3.2 million a year in todays dollars. This is precisely what Reagan declared war on by lowering the top tax rate for Millionaires and Billionaires and raising the social security tax, which has a cap on it, so it is only paid by the middle and lower classes.)

The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen's compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees. All policies that worked. Policies that created the strongest middle class in the history of the world. All policies that the Republicans now oppose. Hows that working out for them?

In addition, the Eisenhower Administration has enforced more vigorously and effectively than ever before, the laws which protect the working standards of our people. I can't even remember a time when Republicans gave a shit about the working standards of our people.

Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions. They are trumpeting the fact that union membership grew under Eisenhower's administration. Ironically, it is these very same strong unions the Republicans created that they now wage war on.