Saturday, February 26, 2005

Vermont Leading The Way In Opposition To The Iraq War

It brought a smile to my face when I found out that Vermont is going to have 52 town hall meetings to determine if the state will be the first to go on record in opposition to the Iraq war. The first of these town hall meetings in scheduled to take place this Tuesday. Germany has a similar town hall structure that President Bush was expected to participate. Bush decided to decline participation when he found out that he could not screen neither questions nor questioneers. It is no small wonder that Howard Dean was governor of this progressive blue state. I remember comparing Bush's tenure as Texas governor to Dean's as Vermont governor. Vermont wins in practically all areas; education, budget, low crime etc. In 52 of the states 251 towns, residents will vote on a resolution that calls upon President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq and urges the state's elected leaders to reconsider the use of Vermont's National Guard in the war. The Boston Globe's Susan Schweitzer said "Vermont has a rich history of using town meetings as a venue to make its people's views known to the nation. In 1974, five towns voted to urge congressional leaders to seek the impeachment of President Nixon. Recent years have seen efforts to stamp out nuclear weapons, abortion restrictions, and the USA Patriot Act." Even my old alma mater Middlebury College is getting into the act. "Middlebury, a town of about 8,000 residents and home to Middlebury College, is among those that will be voting on the war resolution. Select men there initially resisted placing the resolution on the town meeting ballot, saying the war in Iraq was too far afield from local affairs." This local opposition that could grow nationally might serve as the catalyst that ignites the nation, especially if pro-war congressional candidates (regardless of party affiliation come to the realization that their pro-war stance could jeopardize their re-election.) I hope that we see this type of mobilization in all blue states and marginal red states, as a start. As Confucious once said "The thousand mile journey begins with just a single step."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Thelma Houston's Sunshower CD Available online

Thelma Houston will always be remembered for her #1 '77 disco anthem "Don't Leave Me This Way". But this outstanding vocalist's career did not begin in 1977. Master composer Jimmy Webb ( MacArthur Park, By The Time I Get To Phoenix) wrote and produced 11 of the 12 songs on this highly acclaimed yet seldom purchased (when initially released) album that yielded no top forty hits nor an entry into Billboard's top 100 albums. Over the years mainly through word of mouth interest has grown. This collection of fabulous material should have been a best seller. There is a rousing rendition of Jagger and Richard's "Jumpin' Jack Flash"(which was released as a single). There is also the poignant "Pocketful Of Keys" and the haunting title tune among others. This 1969 release is available on CD or vinyl online at www.musicstack.com

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Community Activism Prevents Wal-Mart from settling in Queens, New York City

This site was just one of the many blogs, community groups and business groups that protested the coming of Wal-Mart to New York City(See Feb. 11. 2005). The hard work has resulted in Wal-Mart abandoning plans for a new mega store in the Rego Park section of Queens. This is a battle won, but it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the war because Wal-Mart is looking at other places in other parts of the tri-state area(NY, NJ, Conn.) Wal-Mart was also rebuffed in Inglewood, California where just like in Queens a vigilant active combination of social and business groups reached out to the community and informed them that this type of enterprise is not in the community's best interest.

Stop This Ad Before It Starts: Stop Dishonest, Bigoted Attacks: Sign The Petition

The attack on senior citizens by the Bush administration and his conservative followers is relentless. They are not taking into consideration that the will of senior citizens and those who support them is also relentless. The time has come to confront the Swift Boat Liars who smeared Kerry and are now attempting to do the same to Senior citizen organization AARP. This site urges all those who oppose President Bush's attack on Social Security to sign this petition of DemocracyForAmerica, at www.DemocracyForAmerica.com. It is wonderful to see that President Bush's Fix Social Security tour hit a roadblock in Ohio with 2/3 empty seats. This should give the entire country proof of where most Americans stand on this issue. Democracy For America says "Stop USA Next".

STOP THIS AD BEFORE IT STARTS:
STOP DISHONEST, BIGOTED ATTACKS:SIGN THE PETITION
The right-wing fringe has declared war on Social Security -- and this week they launched their newest attack. This ridiculous ad is the latest from USA Next, a front group for radical conservatives who want to dismantle Social Security.
You won't be surprised to hear who they hired to publicize their efforts: the same team of hatchet men that ran the swift boat smear campaign against John Kerry. Now they are targeting the AARP, a group that millions of seniors rely on to defend their interests.
We must stop these people … now.
This petition will be delivered to every TV station that aired the false claims of the swift boat crew -- and any station that tries to air ads like these now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Richard Perle Almost Gets Some Sole.

Earlier this week chickenhawk neo-con Richard Perle was speaking in Oregon( a state that has lost a disproportionately high number of its sons and daughters in Iraq). I was deeply saddened when I heard that someone in the audience threw a shoe at him...........and missed. I would strongly suggest to the person who threw the shoe that when you have a singular opportunity to do something good you must practice your aim. You could have brought joy to millions if the shoe had hit its target.......preferably his head.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Mainstream Media Mum on "Gannon/Guckert"

The mainstream media continues to be very tight-lipped about the Gannon/Guckert scandal, while at the same time the story is all over alternative blogs(including this one). The most recent allegations are that there is a connection between James D. Guckert(a.k.a. Jeff Gannon) and suspect Republican dirty tricks operative Karl Rove. The two apparently went to the same school together. The other breaking story is that Guckert also played a role in the defeat of Tom Daschle in South Dakota. During the time Bill Clinton was president you could not watch any mainstream newscast without seeing the latest revelations about Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater. These two topics saturated the headlines of the major newspapers. We were also inundated with stories about the services Clinton adviser Dick Morris requested from prostitutes. Well as time went on we found out after a tremendous waste of time and taxpaper dollars all of the claims against the Clintons in Whitewater were baseless. Kenneth Starr exposed what should have been considered a personal matter between then President Clinton and his wife. Morris' actions may have been unconventional but they didn't warrant national exposure. The accusations against the Clintons pale in constrast to what we are seeing in the Bush administration....... 1) The president defies tradition by forcing Congress to give him the right to declare war without congressional approval 2) The president gets the nation involved in a costly war under false pretenses(weapons of mass destruction), leading to the deaths of close to 2,000 US soldiers and over 10,000 wounded US soldiers. 3) The President forces all CIA, and other intelligence operatives who do not agree with his initiatives to quit or retire 4) The president takes money from Social Security for his tax cuts for the rich and then claims that Social Security needs to be "fixed" 5) The Bush administration claims that Saddam Heussein arranged to purchase yellowcake uranium in Niger, when this is rebuked administration operatives out this agent's wife. These actions should all be headline stories, they are not....why? It is because we have a press that is either greatly intimidated or bought lock, stock and barrel. The greatest hypocrisy of all thusfar(because there may be more). Is the James D. Guckert/Jeff Gannon affair. The Bush administration is so "righteous". They are right up there in the forefront of fighting homosexuality by preventing same sex unions, yet they see no hypocrisy in letting a gay bashing homosexual prostitute ask softball questions during presidential press conferences. We now know that the news organization that Gannon represents(Talon News.com) came into being AFTER Gannon had already participated in several Presidential press conferences. To this point the Bush adminstration has said absolutely nothing and the mainstream media that hounded Clinton so vigorously has said little. Unless the people start acting we are on our way to becoming what George Orwell wrote about in "1984" a police state with no viable accountability to the people.

Representative John Conyers(D-Mich) Continues the fight for Voter Integrity

Here is a open letter from Congressman John Conyers to all those who realize that our voting progress is flawed and after two questionable presidential elections the time has come to take action.


February 1, 2005
Dear Friend:
As 109th Congress convenes, I write to thank you for the energy and resources you continue to commit to the pursuit of a just electoral process. Once again, I am indebted especially to the internet activists and the members of the alternative media whose enduring efforts shed light on an issue that too few in the mainstream media have been willing to discuss. There is a new fight ahead, the fight for comprehensive election reform legislation, and I write to ask for your help.
To this end, I will be pushing a package of reforms to the electoral process and machinery. First, I am proud to introduce on Wednesday, the Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act as a means to comprehensive election reform on a national level. Among other things, the VOTER Act mandates clear regulations for audit capacity and periodic audits, voter verification, and the use of paper records in recounts. The legislation requires every state to establish a same day registration process, permitting any eligible citizen to register and participate in a federal election on election day. And it calls for increased protections of your civil rights, uniform standards for absentee and provisional voting, elimination of the disparity between machine allocations between urban and suburban areas, and early voting opportunities in all fifty states. I am proud that the Senate companion to this bill has been sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd on behalf of the Senate Democratic Leadership. There is no doubt in my mind the VOTER Act represents a renewed commitment to an electoral process that is both just and crystal clear.
Second, and of equal importance to me, I will also be vigorously supporting Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.`s proposal for a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee every citizen the right to vote. In the past, I have been hesitant to support new amendments to the Constitution, but I am now convinced this amendment is a worthy exception. In the infamous case Bush v. Gore, a narrow majority of reactionary Supreme Court justices declared "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States" unless that right is conferred by that citizen`s state legislature. I do not believe that such a radical interpretation of the Constitution should stand, where our most basic rights are subject to the whims and vagaries of a state legislature or reactionary judges. I will, therefore, urge this Congress to protect the enfranchisement of every citizen with the strongest means at our disposal.
Third, the lack of standards for voting machines and the partisan activities of machine manufacturers resulted in a substantial number of concerned citizens concluding that we simply should forgo the use of machines at all, and should instead simply use paper ballots and hand counting of such ballots. I most recently heard this proposal at my Ohio hearings and have read it often in your correspondence, and I believe it should be taken seriously. This week I am writing to the Election Assistance Commission and formally requesting an official review of the security and reliability of electronic voting systems, including an examination of whether such systems should be used in any event.
Fourth, while I look forward to fighting for these changes, the simple passage of Inauguration Day cannot make me forget the past. I continue to press both the Department of Justice and the Republican leadership to investigate Ohio voting irregularities and bring to justice those who would defraud the public of their most basic rights. I have once again requested the raw polling data used to justify a Republican victory in Ohio despite its inconsistency with actual voter turnout on November 2. I have also written to every county election official in Ohio, asking for their review of my 102 page election report; I have asked the FBI to investigate the additional evidence of voting irregularities in Clermont County, Ohio; I have asked the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel to investigate the misuse of the "great seal" by Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in a recent fundraising solicitation; I have written to Ohio Attorney General Petro expressing alarm over his apparent partisan attempt to sanction those attorney who sought to legally challenge the results of the Ohio presidential election; and I am working on an amicus brief before the Ohio Supreme Court on this matter as well. Here, too, your efforts have made all the difference. We have received over 30,000 emails offering your support and detailing hundreds of individual abuses. With that kind of advocacy, even our most partisan opponents will stop and listen.
Fifth, it is clear to me that election fraud is a national problem. I have instructed my staff to begin compiling preliminary information about election day incidents across the country, and I have also asked the Congressional Research Service to conduct a survey of recent voting irregularities in all fifty states. In addition, I am awaiting the report of the General Accountability Office concerning systemic failures in the 2004 election. We will work to catalog and preserve a record of the disruptions that plagued the 2004 Presidential election, and apply what we learn to make voting more efficient and fairer for everyone. To be sure, in a number of states, good faith efforts by election officials averted egregious irregularities, but in others, the process appears to have serious deficiencies.
Sixth, we must not forget the near complete disenfranchisement of our fellow citizens in the District of Columbia. It is simply inexcusable that concerns about the partisan makeup of the House and Senate have led the Republican majority to deprive the District of a Congressperson or Senator with full voting rights in the United States Congress. I will strongly be supporting D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton`s bill, H.R. 398, to correct this injustice. I also plan to cosponsor other reform bills when they are introduced, including Rep. Green`s legislation to eliminate the electoral college, Rep. Holt`s bill concerning voting machine paper trails, and Rep Sabo`s bill concerning same day registration. Seventh, I plan to again introduce, along with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, our felony disenfranchisement bill. Laws on the books, predominantly in the South, which prevent felons from voting in federal elections even after they have paid their debt to society are an embarrassing vestige of the Jim Crow laws, and have a massively disproportionate impact on minorities. We as a nation should be doing everything withing our power to integrate these individuals back into society, and voting in federal elections is one important way of doing so.
As we move forward with these changes, I will continue to solicit your opinions and ideas. I owe a special thanks to the thousands of supporters who have participated in our online survey on election reform. The results are truly encouraging. 87 percent of those surveyed advocate the expansion of early voting programs. 95 percent favor the creation of a public campaign to educate voters on voting rights and anti-intimidation laws. Nearly 99 percent have asked us to ensure that every voting machine has a verifiable audit trail. Your conviction that the electoral process can and will improve continues to inform our best policies, and I have made your concerns the center of my efforts.
To help me in these efforts, I would ask that you help me get out the word concerning the importance of these efforts, particularly in the face of stiff opposition by Republicans. Among other things, please forward this email to your friends, family, and colleagues so that they may learn of my efforts, encourage them to sign up for my email alerts at www.johnconyers.com and to visit the site for more updates. You can also complete a petition on my web site, which seeks support for the Conyers/Dodd omnibus election reform legislation.
Thanks again for your help.
Sincerely,
John Conyers, Jr.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Support Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act by Aysha Romney

Breast Cancer Hospitalization Bill - Important legislation for all women.Please send this to everyone in your address book. If there was ever a time when our voices and choices should be heard, this is one of those times. If you are receiving this it's because I think you will take the 30 seconds to go and vote on this issue...and send it on to others you know who will do the same.There's a bill called the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act which will require insurance companies to cover a minimum 48-hour hospital stay for patients undergoing a mastectomy. It's about eliminating the "drive-through mastectomy" where women are forced to go home hours after surgery against the wishes of their doctor; still groggy from anesthesia and sometimes with drainage tubes still attached.Lifetime Television has put this bill on their web page with a petition drive to show your support. Last year over half the House signed on. PLEASE!!!! Sign the petition by clicking on the web site below and help women living with breast cancer get the care they need and deserve!! There is no cost or monetary pledge involved. You need not give more than your name and zip code number.http://www.lifetimetv.com/health/breast_mastectomy_pledgehtml This takes about 10 seconds. PLEASE PASS THIS ON. THANKS

Social Security Battle: One Down One To Go

Last Saturday's Washington Post announced a triumph for working families throughout the United States with regard to Social Security. The Washington Post said Edward Jones resigned from the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security (AWRS) "after the AFL-CIO staged protests at two of the firm's offices and attacked it on the Internet....The labor federation staged rallies on Tuesday near the firm's St. Louis headquarters and outside its office in downtown Lincoln, Neb. It also instigated thousands of e-mails to the firm protesting its role in aiding the president's plan." But this is only half the battle. A much bigger and even more determined Wall Street firm, Charles A. Schwab is an avid supporter of George W. Bush's Social Security reform because his company could make billiions. The Anti-DLC Coalition supports The AFL-CIO and it's campaign to persuade Charles A. Schwab to take the same route as Edward Jones and withdraw support for George Bush's attack on Social Security. Working Families e-Activist Network states "Charles Schwab is another Wall Street money manager supporting Bush's Social Security privatization—and Schwab has not backed down. Although privatization would slash clients' guaranteed benefits, Wall Street firms "could reap billions of dollars in management fees and commissions over the long term" if Social Security is privatized, according to the Jan. 18 Los Angeles Times. That's a conflict of interest.
Tell Charles Schwab: Don't support Social Security privatization. Step down from the front groups pushing privatization. Click the link below:http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/schwab
Charles Schwab also is a member of the AWRS and of the Financial Services Roundtable. These and other front groups are raising millions for ad campaigns to sell Social Security privatization to the American public. Charles Schwab's corporate philosophy description says the company's goal is to offer individual investors "useful, ethical services at a fair price." The most ethical service Schwab could provide for working families is to withdraw from the front groups trying to privatize Social Security.
You convinced Edward Jones to leave the main Social Security front group. Now convince Charles Schwab to do the same. Click here:http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/schwab
Social Security is America's best-run, most successful family insurance program. Millions of retirees, survivors and people with disabilities rely on Social Security. President Bush's plan to move Social Security funds into private accounts may be good for Schwab's business—but it would hurt working families terribly, forcing devastating cuts in benefits and replacing retirement security with retirement risk.
Urge his company to drop its support for Social Security privatization and to step down from the pro-privatization front groups. Click here: http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/schwab
And when you've sent your message, please ask others concerned about retirement security to send their messages as well.

Alan Keyes.....................?????????

Over the years there have been quite a few black Republicans that I respected even though politically we may have been miles apart. I always got the feeling that their perspective towards the black Democrat (or independent) was "You do what you can on your side and I'll do what I can on my side..... but the objective is to do what we can to improve the lot of black people specifically and the nation as a whole" I think of people like Edward Brooke, Jackie Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton(who became so outraged with the direction the Republican party was taking during his later years that he left it altogether). Today's crop of African-American Republicans anger me as soon as they open their mouths. It is blatantly obvious to me that these people are concerned about themselves and others who are in their income bracket or higher. I wince at the mere sight of J. Kenneth Blackwell, Condoleezza Rice, Armstrong Williams, Ward Connerly and Clarence Thomas, but the one who takes the cake has to be Alan Keyes, who seems to go out of his way to embarrass himself. I recall a few years ago seeing Mr. Keyes articulate his conservative idealogy on just about everything from abortion to affirmative action. The next day I turn on the television and the first thing I see is Mr. Keyes, the only black man in sight in handcuffs outside what appeared to be the Republican Convention. All I could do was laugh, but it really wasn't funny. The next thing I know is that there is a wave of new conservative pundits saturating the airwaves. At a time when Phil Donahue was the highest rated talk show host on MSNBC, he was fired because this cable organization wanted "balance" and it was also concerned about Phil Donahue being "against" the Iraq war. Well, Alan Keyes appears on cable, I am not sure if it was with MSNBC, CNN or one of the others. What I am sure about is that he didn't last at all, it must have been less than three weeks. When Hilary Clinton (from Arkansas) decided to run for the soon to be vacated senate seat in New York. Alan Keyes calls her a "carpetbagger". Then later I find that Alan Keyes(who is from Maryland) is going to run for the Illinois Senate seat and I wonder, does this man know the meaning of the word hypocrisy? But it doesn't end there. Alan Keyes criticizes Vice President Richard Cheney's daughter. He calls her a "hedonist" because she is a lesbian. It turns out that HIS OWN DAUGHTER, Maya Keyes is a gay 19 year old. Keyes throws her out of his house, refuses to pay her colleges expenses and threatens to never speak to her again. This act angers and saddens me at the same time. Why would a father want to subject his daughter to world-wide scrutiny and condemnation? Mr. Keyes doesn't realize that his daughter (who in spite of everything still loves him) did not ask to come into this world. He was responsible for bringing her here and has the responsibility of nurturing her until she reaches adulthood. I can understand his being opposed to that particular lifestyle but she is still HIS daughter. Conservatives are so quick to talk about "family values". Alan Keyes is as bad as Newt Gingrich who abandoned his wife while she was suffering with cancer. Keyes, Gingrich, Livingston are but just a few of the so called "moral" Republicans who really aren't.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Randi Weingarten Shatters Myths

The ultra-conservative right has achieved many of its goals during the Bush administation, even in New York where the union-busting process is still very much alive. In less than ten years the number of unionized in the US workers has fallen 13%. Congress has just passed legislation making it more difficult to make a class action suit. The most notorious anti-union business in the world is preparing to set up shop in New York (Wal-Mart intends to settle in Queens.) The "estate" tax was renamed the "Death Tax"by the Republicans as they convinced the masses to make it possible that when the wealthy die none of their "wealth" can go to the government but remain in their already wealthy family. In this "Right IS right world" there is little or no room for wage increases for the middle class.
New York's largest union 1199 under the leadership of Daniel Rivera has made a deal with
Mayor Bloomberg leaving the other major unions (Police, Fire Department, Teachers) out
in the cold. New York City is part of a state that had to be sued into order to distribute
badly needed educational funds to minority areas. A New York State Judge said that all
minority students need is an eighth grade education. Allegedly Governor Pataki concurred
with that statement, but the Governor vehemently denies it. We are being told that there
just isn't any money available for any salary increases but somehow the city is expected to
pay for the new New York Jets stadium in Manhattan. New York's billionaires and millionaires
are all beneficiaries of George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy, while middle and lower income
New York City residents have a hard time finding affordable housing. In this atmosphere
the United Federation of Teachers' president Randi Weingarten battles a right-wing friendly
media to try to expose all the lies heard in the press, on radio and on television that unnecessarily malign teachers.
This is what Randi Weingarten said in a January 25, 2005 article in the New York Daily
News, entitled "UFT to city: Get real"
As the city and the United Federation of Teachers have been trying to reach a new contract to replace the one that expired more than a year and a half ago, a number of myths about the current agreement are surfacing, distractions from the real problems. Let me shatter a few.
Myth 1: Because of "the union" it takes forever to dismiss incompetent teachers.
Reality: Reforms in the 2002 contract cut the time it takes to handle discipline cases once they are filed. Last year, more than half the cases were concluded in less than three months. The UFT has proposed help for struggling teachers and counseling out of the profession if the assistance fails.
Myth 2: Seniority rules permit teachers with experience to constantly move to new and easier assignment, while new teachers are concentrated in the toughest schools.
Reality: Less than 1% of the teaching force transferred last year under seniority rules. But the departmend had to find more than 7,000 teachers to replace those who retired of left. Futthermore, all new teachers do not end up inh the toughest districts. Department figures show that at the beginning of the last school year, three of the highest performing districts received 462 new teachers, while 375 new teachers went to three of the most struggling districts.
Myth 3: The union insists on lockstep pay with no recognition of spcial needs and circumstances.
Reality: This year we negotiated a project in the Bronx that gives additional compensation to "master teachers" the union also assisted Chancellor Rudy Crew in creating the Chancellor's District for struggling schools, where teachers worked longer hours for higher salaries. scores went up dramatically, but despite national recognition this experiment was one of the first casualties of the new administration. This year, the union suggested that along with providing competitive salaries for all city teachers, an Enterprise Zone be set up, where teachers a 200
hard to staff schools would receive a 15% differential.
Myth 4: "Work rules" make it impossible for schools to be managed.
Reality: Which work rule? The one that prevents more than 34 students in a high school class and 28 in a fouth grade class? Other work rules include allowing teachers to have lunch or have a break after teaching three classes in a row. While we have discussed many of these proposals with the Department of Education, so far we have had no substantive response. Meanwhile, the critical truth about our schools is that teachers here have the largest classes in the state, teach some of the most challenging students, work in overcrowded and sometimes unsaf building without proper equipment and supplies, and still make $10,000 to $15,000 less than their colleagues. Educators choose teaching to make a difference in children's lives. They wond be successful at helping all kids learn as long as people subscribe to the myth that the ral problems in our schools can be solved by making teahcing in New York City even less attractive than it is now.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ray, the movie great....Ray the DVD....even BETTER!

The theatrical version of "Ray" was a masterpiece about the life of the late, great Ray Charles. Jamie Foxx gives an Oscar worthy performance as the legendary entertainer in this fifteen years in the making production. The DVD is even better than the version seen in theatres because it contains several scenes that were deleted from the movie. One of these scenes was about the time when Ray was set to tour with another legendary performer Ruth Brown. Ruth at the time was pregnant and had to cancel the tour. Instead of giving up, Ray kept his musicians together and toured with Ray Charles as the main attraction. At the time this was a very risky venture because Ray's popularity was growing but not big enough to sustain a national tour. Another great scene that was deleted from the original theatre production was when Ray fired one of his musicians for playing the wrong notes during a major performance: the drug- influenced musician called Ray a hypocrit because Ray also was a junkie at that time. Ray explained that when he did what he did he didn't do it in front of an audience because the people in the audience paid a lot of money to see his show and he felt obligated to give them the best show he could provide. This scene, though short gives the viewer great insight into the character of Ray Charles, who even in his later years gave as many as 230 performances per year. Ray, a blind man, seldom missed a date or was late for a date and he expected those in his employ to uphold the same high standards.
In the course of his lifetime Ray became a very wealthy man but his kindness touched so many people. Had it not been for Ray Charles, we may have never known Smokey Robinson (no relation) & The Miracles because very early in their career Apollo owner Bob Schiffman was very disappointed with their initial performance.
They were in a position where they needed their music altered fast. It was Ray Charles who re-wrote their charts. The rest is as they say "history" Smokey Robinson & The Miracles went on to become one of the most popular groups in the country and sold millions of records world-wide. It was Ray Charles who gave singing-songwriting sensations Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson their first big break when he performed the Ashford & Simpson R&B classic "Let's Go Get Stoned". Ray Charles also donated 20 million dollars to African-American charities and to organizations of the blind.
His musical legacy speaks for itself: 20 grammies, 34 top 40 hits, 3 number one songs. His multi-genre productions encompassed R&B, Gospel, Country and Jazz. His last studio cd "Genius Loves Company" became the best selling Ray Charles album of all time, even surpassing the award winning classic "Modern Sounds in Country Western Music" of the early sixties.
Eventhough Ray Charles did receive flack for playing in South Africa during the apartheid era. We must always keep in mind that Ray Charles was THE FIRST major African-American recording artist to refuse to play in front of a segregated audience. This was an incredibly courageous act because the performer who did this faced economic ruin in an era where blacks were still forced to ride in the back of the bus in the southern states. Ray Charles was not a saint. He was a human being who made a few mistakes; womanizing and drug addiction, but the movie and the DVD deal with these issues honestly, telling it the way it was. Ray was able to overcome these obstacles. He fought heroine addition in the most challenging way.......cold turkey. Ray Charles was loved by millions and he will continue to be loved for generations to come. Not just for his wonderful music alone, but because of his charity, his honesty and most of all his undying confidence that he
had in himself that touched those around him. There will NEVER be another Ray Charles Robinson Sr, but the
world is a better place because he was here.

US Troops....Out Now.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 the second anniversary of the U.S> invasion of Iraq, is a world day of protest. A broad coalition of antiwar, community, solidarity, and labor organizations will march to Central Park in New York City to demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Help to build a broad national mobilization to resist Bush's new war budget of $80-to-$100 billion. We need
money for schools, health care and human needs - not endless war!
These challenges facing the anti-war & social justice movements merit attention:
* Support for GIs who are resisting illegal and criminal orders
* Fight any attempt to reinstate the draft
* Affirm the right of Iraquis to resist the occupation of their country
* Denounce the ongoing occupations in Afghanistan and Haiti.
*Hands Off Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Korea, Sudan, Colombia, Philippines and all countries the U.S. threatns
*Support the Palestinian struggle against occupation & their right to return
*Defend civil liberties and immigrant rights.
Forge the widest possible unity among all anti-war & social justice forces in this country.
To support, endorse & help build Out Now Coalition contact
www.TroopsOutNow.org 39 West 14th St, #206, New York, New York 10011 212-633-6646

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ward Connerly is at it again....in Michigan

Fresh from his November 2003 Affimative Action defeat in California Ward Connerly has resurfaced in Michigan once again trying to dismantle Affirmative Action. If this were coming from a white racist maybe I would understand, but it's coming from a black man. Connerly's movement more than likely has deep pockets. He is receiving money from influencial ultra-conservative organizations outside of Michigan. Apparently Mr. Connerly has run into a few roadblocks in Michigan too. He says he has 360,000 signatures. He will need 500,000 to put it on the ballots. Connerly's group the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (another example of Republican doublespeak) ran into roadblocks in Michigan. "MCRI originally wanted the initiative on the November 2004 ballot. However, several months before the election, a Michigan judge held that the anti-affirmative action initiative was "blatantly in direct conflict" with the Michigan Constitution and did not fully inform voters of its effect. Connerly eventually ended his efforts due to the court decision and his failure to garner the requisite number of signatures. In the summer of 2004, Connerly restarted the signature-gathering process, but the campaign faced more criticism when reports showed that 100 percent of the funding for the Michigan ballot initiative came from outside of the state. The organizations that are pro-affirmative action are very vigilant and determinded to stop Connerly in the same way that he was stopped in California. CivilRights.org reports "One suit had been filed by Citizens for a United Michigan, a diverse coalition including the Detroit Renaissance, Michigan Catholic Conference, and Michigan chapters of the American Association of University Women, NAACP, and ACLU. The other lawsuit came from the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, United for Equality and Affirmative Action, and two Detroit-area AFSCME unions. " CivilRights.org also says "Groups opposed to Connerly's MCRI said that the ballot's title was misleading and that it was falsely promoted to Michigan voters. According to MCRI opponents, instead of enhancing civil rights, the petition language would have amended existing civil rights clauses within the Michigan constitution so as to end affirmative action and equal opportunity. Further, affirmative action advocates in Michigan say that, if passed, this initiative would have undermined the Supreme Court's ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger and the autonomy of any public college or university in the state, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. Ward Connerly must be kept under constant surveillence in the same way that one watches the first sign of a cancer. His actions must be monitored in all 50 states. We cannot be complacent just because he lost in California and seems to losing in Michigan.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Reps. Slaughter & Conyers Call on Special Prosecutor and Secret Service to Investigate Growing Gannon Scandal

Mediamatters.org was able to get a copy of the letter calling for further investigation into Gannon's role inte the Valeria Plame CIA document leak.
Washington, DC - Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Rules, and Rep. John Conyers (MI-14), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, called on Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the leaking of a classified Central Intelligence Agency memo containing the identity of undercover agent Valerie Plame to a man at the center of the White House Press Briefing Room scandal, "Jeff Gannon."
Rep. Slaughter, a long-time advocate for media reform and accountability, brought this story into the national spotlight days ago when she wrote President Bush asking for an investigation into the issue.
"This matter is growing more serious by the day. We now know that 'Jeff Gannon' had access to classified CIA documents that contained the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. This is more than an issue of media manipulation by the White House... this is now an issue of national security," said Rep. Slaughter. "What is the White House hiding? This man, Mr. Gannon, should never have been admitted into the White House briefing room in the first place. Someone let him in day after day. Someone gave him access to classified CIA documents. Someone must answer for this. It is critical that we uncover the exact nature of the relationship between Gannon and this White House," added Slaughter."
In addition, Reps. Slaughter and Conyers wrote W. Ralph Basham, Director of the Secret Service, calling on his office to provide details on the security clearance of day pass holders in the White House briefing room as well as any and all information they can provide on Mr. Gannon.
"White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was unable to answer these important questions in yesterday's briefing so we hope the Secret Service will be able to fill in the blanks," said Slaughter. "Since the White House has denied any role or responsibility in this matter I hope the Secret Service can shed some light on their procedures for clearing day pass holders to the White House briefing room," continued Slaughter.
The letters follow:
February 10, 2005Mr. Patrick J. FitzgeraldUnited States AttorneyUS Attorney's Office219 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 5000Chicago, IL 60656
Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:
We write to ask that you investigate the leak of a classified Central Intelligence Agency memo containing the identity of undercover agent Valerie Plame to James D. Guckert, a member of the White House press corps. It appears that the White House was so focused on smearing the reputation of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that it knowingly leaked his wife's identity to a Republican activist posing as a journalist.
James D. Guckert, who operated under the false name "Jeff Gannon," and may have engaged in criminal activity, had been attending press events at the White House for up to three years. Mr. Guckert reportedly received an internal and classified CIA memo that revealed the identity of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife. Because of the extremely sensitive nature of this leak, and its relation to the investigation you are conducting, we believe that you as special counsel are the most appropriate person to conduct the inquiry.
Under Department of Justice regulations, a special counsel should investigate when (1) a "criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted," (2) the investigation "by a United States Attorney Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department," and (3) "it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter."1 In the present case all three factors have been met.
As has been long discussed, revealing the identity of an undercover agent violates myriad laws. Whoever in the Administration gave Mr. Guckert the memo risked Ms. Plame's very life and must be punished to the full extent of the law.
There is a clear conflict of interest in the Administration investigating Mr. Guckert's role in this crime. Mr. Guckert and the White House press operation work together closely to forward the President's policies.
First, Mr. Guckert would not be considered a bona fide journalist by his peers in the press corps, as most of his claims to legitimacy have already been discredited. Access to the President and his press corps is highly competitive, and many seasoned journalists have not had the honor of attending the events or enjoying the access Mr. Guckert has. That a person of these dubious qualifications was given such close contact to the President, perhaps in violation of standard security procedures, demonstrates the Administration's affinity for and bias towards Mr. Guckert.
Second, Mr. Guckert's questions clearly reiterated the White House's policy, and simply asked for concurrence. Finally, Mr. Guckert's "articles," published by a news front for GOPUSA, track White House talking points word for word.
Clearly, Mr. Guckert returned the White House's favor by advancing the President's policies with gusto. With such a close relationship between Mr. Guckert and the White House, the conflict of an administration-led investigation is all too apparent.
Finally, the public interest has been thwarted far too long over the leak of Ms. Plame's identity. It has been over a year and a half since Robert Novak published Plame's identity and we are no closer to finding who in the Administration illegally leaked her status as an undercover agent. Having a special counsel immediately follow up this lead is necessary to ensure that those who risk their lives for our country to gather intelligence are fully protected.
We look forward to hearing whether you will be following up on this new information, or if you have, what progress you have made.
Sincerely,
Louise Slaughter John Conyers, Jr.

Lynne Stewart Conviction: A Travesty of Justice

The federal court conviction of Lynne Stewart happens at a time when a torture advocate who says that the Geneva Accords are "irrelevant"assumes the position of US Attorney General. It happens at a time when a man with questionable credentials from a suspect publication is permitted to enter a presidential press conference to ask "softball" questions. It happens at a time when a homophobic president permits an alleged homosexual matchmaker to have in his posession information that can expose an undercover operative. It happens at a time when Martha Stewart is behind bars but Ken Lay( who was referred to as "Kenny Boy", believed to be the modus operendi behind a scheme to swindle millions from the 401k plans of his own employees) walks free. It happens at a time when the U.S. president gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to right wing pundits to promote his policies. Lynne Stewart's crime seems to be doing her job, seeking information to help her client. In spite of the onerous act her client is accused of doing (bombing one of the World Trade Center buildings) he still deserves a fair trial. Why give a 65 year old woman a 35 year prison sentence for doing what she is supposed to do as a lawyer? ....if not for vengeance? Ms. Stewart makes her livliehood in this country and she has a rather large family in this country. Why would she jeopardize all this? Apparently Lynne Stewart (a lawyer who has had success in the past defending unpopular clients) "attempted" to communicate with someone in Egypt who was accused of another onerous crime on behalf of her client. This kangaroo court conviction is "guilt by association". According to this logic if you asked Charles Manson the time of day before he went on his murderous rampage you are an accesory and you are just as guilty as Charles Manson. The federal courts under Bush are becoming agents of the right which punish lawyers who defend political undesireables of the right and intimidate other lawyers who might consider defending such individuals. This is even more evidence of how "big brother" has intruded into our daily lives. The constitution is disregarded. This is an administration that continues to commit crimes while punishing others who are innocent.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Another reason to oppose the planned Wal-Mart in Queens, New York

The AFL-CIO Working Families e-activist network sent this open letter to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott on behalf of millions of its members and sympathizers, reflecting the outrage against Wal-Mart for closing a store rather than give workers the right to organize. "Fair-minded people who respect the rights of workers call on Wal-Mart to abandon plans to close its Jonqueiere, Quebec, store. Workers have the right to unionize for a voice on the job, as well as the right to negotiate fair wages and benefits. It is wrong for a company to close a business simply because it doesn't want to engage in a process that would bring a fair and impartial settlement between workers and the company. We call on Wal-Mart to live up to the responsibilities that come with being the world's largest retailer. Those responsibilities begin with respecting workers, consumers and communities. Wal-Mart spent hundreds of millions last month in an advertising campaign that asked people to find out the facts about your company. The fact that you would eliminate jobs and displace an entire community because you want to deny workers their right to negotiate for a fair wage is the only fact I need to know. Do the right thing. Reverse plans to close your store. Negotiate in good faith with Wal-Mart workers."
AFL-CIO The Working Families e-activist network has also exposed little known facts about how Wal-Mart abuses the U.S taxpayer as well as the Wal-Mart employee in several areas. In it’s commercials Wal-Mart boasts of it’s low, low prices, but in the end it is the taxpayer who is giving Wal-Mart a free ride. The benefits that Wal-Mart rightfully should be paying for it’s employees are thrown on the backs of the tax paying public. "Everyday low wages; The hidden price we all pay for Wal-Mart" divulges some eye-opening facts. If there is a Wal-Mart in your area chances are your taxes are paying for: 1)$36.000 for free and reduced school lunches for the children of 50 qualifying Wal-Mart employees 2) $42.000 for federal housing assistance 3) $125,000 for federal tax credits and deductions for low income families 4) $100,000 for Title 1
Educational funds based on 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families with an average of two children. 5) $97,000 for energy assistance subsidies for low income families. Yes Wal-Mart workers deserve these services, but Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company should be paying for them, not the local taxpayer. These are all facts every working adult should know but most of us don't because we depend on the "established" media for news. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN will give us the most intimate details about the sex life of a president but won't tell us anything about how major corporations are not paying taxes and shifting their responsibilites on to an already overburdened taxpayer. What we really need to know mainstream media is not telling us because they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them. Now when one takes into account the expense of this unjustified, unnecessary war in Iraq, and major cuts in social services for our veterans and our students we can see that the stage is being set for a major confrontation the likes of which we haven't seen since the time another ultra-conservative Herbert Hoover occupied the White House. To make matters worse Wal-Mart pays embarrassingly low wages "Wal-Mart’s employees—more than 70 percent of them women—are paid an average $9.64 an hour if they are full-time employees, according to Business Week. Yet full-time workers, who comprise only about two-thirds of Wal-Mart's workforce, may be scheduled for as few as 34 hours weekly. Even at $9.64 hourly, working 34 hours a week, a Wal-Mart employee earns only $17,043 annually, well under the $18,850 federal poverty guideline for a family of four in 2004. " This is the main reason why residents and businesses in the Queens Boulevard/Elmhurst area of Queens(New York City) should vigorously oppose the planned first giant Wal-Mart in the New York metropolitan area at Queens Center. Write your elected officials today! When Wal-Mart wins communities lose.

Introducing......www.BushMark.com

There is a new outlet for those of us who want to remove the Bush Administration and it is called BushMark.com. On this site you will find a variety of bumper stickers that tell it like it is. This site is totally "off the hook" and "one of a kind" The Anti DLC Coalition gives it a thumbs up. Here's what they have to say in their own words. Remember November 3, 2004, the day after the election. Were you angry, dejected, shocked? Did you want to make a change, make sure your voice was raised? Are you a moderate who fears higher deficits and extreme social conservatism? Are you a liberal who fears an encroachment on your civil liberties by the government? Do you want to voice your concern and make your presence known for next couple of years to come?
Join our not so quiet revolution. Use a bumper sticker, make a statement, raise your concern, leave your Bush-Mark on this presidency. Thousands of people are getting their slogans, and voicing their opinions, telling the world that something is wrong. Join us, help us, and get the word out! Above all things, evil flourishes when good people do nothing. All this contributes to the mid-term elections and next presidential election in 2008. If we work together, then we can change the course of this country. The sooner we begin, the better. Enlarge a bumper sticker and print-out at no charge, or simply order one from our growing selection to have it delivered to you.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Tell Congress To Protect Social Security

Dear friend:
George Bush and Republican leaders have made phasing out Social Security through privatization and massive benefit cuts their top priority for 2005. Members of Congress are choosing sides over the next couple of weeks.
We need to make sure they choose correctly now—before a massive election-style campaign by George Bush and the Wall Street interests gets to them including what might be a $100 million TV ad campaign.
MoveOn’s trying to gather 200,000 signatures to present to lawmakers when they return after the inauguration. You can sign the petition now at:
http://www.moveon.org/socialsecurity/
Social Security is a complicated issue, but the basics are really pretty simple:
° Social Security provides monthly benefits to some 44 million Americans who are retired, disabled or the survivor of a deceased parent. It provides most of the income for older Americans--some 64 percent of their support. It has lifted generations of seniors out of poverty.
° Social Security is not in crisis. That is an outright lie perpetrated in order to create the urgency for radical changes. Under conservative forecasts, the long-term challenges in Social Security do not manifest themselves until 2042. Even then Social Security has 70 percent of needed funds. That shortfall is smaller than the amount needed in 1983, the last time we overhauled Social Security. George Bush's Social Security crisis-talk is an effort to create a specter of doom -- just like the weapons of mass destruction claim in Iraq.
° Phasing out Social Security and replacing it with privatized accounts means one thing: massive cuts in monthly benefits for everybody. Social Security privatization requires diverting taxes used to pay current benefits into privatized accounts invested in risky stocks. Without that money Social Security benefits will inevitably be cut -- some proposals even cut benefits of current retirees. These benefit cuts are inevitable, since diverting Social Security money into privatized accounts means less money to pay current and future benefits.
° Every serious privatization proposal raises the Social Security retirement age to 70. That might be fine if you're a Washington special interest lobbyist but it is incredibly unfair to blue-collar Americans with tough, physical jobs, or for African Americans and Latinos with lower life expectancies.
° Privatization means gambling with your retirement security. There is probably an appropriate place for a little stock market risk in retirement planning -- but it isn't Social Security. Privatization exposes your entire retirement portfolio to stock market risks -- and the risk that you'll outlive any of your savings at retirement. You can't outlive your Social Security benefit.
° So who does benefit? Wall Street. Giant financial services firms have been salivating for decades over the prospect of taking over Social Security. Wall Street would make billions of dollars in profit by managing the privatized accounts -- money that would come directly from your benefits.
° Action is urgently needed today. President Bush and Republican leaders in Congress are joining forces with the financial services industry for a major campaign to convince the public there is a major crisis and pressure members of Congress to vote for privatization. Action is needed now before it is too late. Please sign MoveOn’s petition to protect Social Security at the link below.
http://www.moveon.org/socialsecurity/

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

URGENT: MoveOn.org and Campaign For America's future plan Anti Bush Social Security Plan Rally Near Philadelphia.

George W. Bush's nationwide Social Security tour will be outside Philadelphia, February 10, 2005, Thursday afternoon. The Campaign For America's Future is organizing a rally outside Philadelphia to counter Bush's visits and have asked all MoveOn members to join them. Participants will assemble at 1:30 PM at the Quality Inn 969 Bethlehem Pike in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania 18936. Please let MoveOn/Campaign For America's Future know if you are planning to attend at: http://moveon.org/socialsecurity/rsvp/pa.html?=5087-1453416-jiyRyAHTDgQUO TgrKpBuw In order to be sure the rally has a clear and consistent message, signs will be handed out at the event. For best press coverage, the organizers have asked you use these rather than bring your own.

Fight Bush Budget NOW....Sign The Petition

Jesse Birney posted what I believe to be a very accurate assessment of the infamous Bush budget in his article "Bush's Deficit Disaster" He writes "The proposed 2006 federal budget President Bush released yesterday would drive America deeper into debt while making cuts that will hurt veterans, farmers, and other working Americans.
Bush's budget leaves out the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, currently running at $5 billion per month. It leaves out the cost of his Social Security privatization scheme and makes other unrealistic assumptions and ignores costs in an attempt to paint the rosiest picture possible. But his budget does nothing to decrease the deficit.
Despite Bush's failure to rein in the deficit, his budget still includes cuts to programs that will hurt Americans who need the most help. Areas Bush wants to cut include:
Medicaid
Veterans' health benefits (forcing veterans to pay more for health care)
College loans
Education programs that help poor children
Farm subsidies
Community development grants
Bush's allies in Congress are already expressing their opposition to the cuts in his budget. One Wall Street economist called the numbers "not credible," saying they "haven't been for the last few years and they shouldn't be looked at with much seriousness now." Opponents of this inhumane budget must put their rage in action. Such action could ultimately lead to a March On Washington. You can start my signing a petition to let the president-select know how you feel . Sign our petition today and tell President Bush to take his budget back to the drawing board. America needs a responsible budget that meets our priorities while making serious reductions in the deficit. At this rate the quality of life of our grandchildren will be greatly diminished. Northeastern states like New York and New Jersey send the most money to Washington and get the least back. Upward Bound and Veterans Upward Bound would be completely eliminated. The only way to prove that we still have a viable democracy is to see huge numbers of people protesting the budget to such an extent that politicians on both sides of the aisle would feel threatened by the common man and woman. The initial step would be to hold the media to the fire, by pressuring it to cease to be the tool of the right. This could be done by refusing to patronize sponsors who vigorously support the war in Iraq as well as this odious budget. Make your voice heard. http://www.democrats.org/action


Monday, February 07, 2005

Congratulations to Howard Dean

Howard Dean has made a miraculous comeback to become the leader of The Democratic Party. In my opinion this is the best thing to happen to the Democrats in a long time. With Donnie Fowler and Tim Rohmer dropping out of the race Howard Dean is the last man standing. It is my sincere hope that Dean will encourage movement towards the core values of the Democratic Party, the party of Roosevelt. This is the first step towards freeing the party of the Democratic Leadership Council members who are more like Republicans in their thinking and actions. Just like the Republicans have forcefully gone after those who don't whole heartedly endorse their party platform (like what was done to Arlen Specter) a similar move should be enacted by Democrats against those who tell their constituents one thing, but vote with Bush. With a solid grassroots movement the party will not need to get money from corporate influenced Democrats. Those who don't endorse core Democratic principals should be replaced in primaries by Democrats who do endorse core Democratic principals like the protection of Social Security (just the way it is) and a timetable for an early withdrawal from Iraq. The Progressive and soon to be dominant wing of the Democratic party was forced to compromise on this issue. The situation has deteriorated and has led to massive loss of life without any tangible gains. I believe Howard Dean will represent an end to losing elections provided he makes an issue of voter suppression, which to this point most Democrats are wary to admit the last two elections were frauds. Hopefully Dean can lead the Democrats and the country in another direction.

Bush May Not Like The Outcome of Iraqi Elections

In Iraq the votes are now being counted ,so far it doesn't not look like "President" Bush will be pleased with the results. The Sunnis for the most part did not participate in the elections to the extent that Kurdish representation surpassed them. The majority Shia went to the polls in relatively large numbers. The Shia have voted for the candidates who are followers of Ayatollah Sistani (who prefer government under Islamic law). The U.S. backed Ayad Allawi seems to be totally out of the picture. This puts the Bush administration in a very uncomfortable position. Since Allawi looks like he will not be the Iraqi head of state, U.S. influence in the new government will be minimal. It is obvious that Bush doesn't want a religious state, but it looks like that is exactly what is going to happen. Columnist Ken Layne described U.S. backed candidate Ayad Allawi in these terms. "Allawi, a secular Shiite from a wealthy merchant family, was a spy and -- maybe! -- assassin for Saddam Hussein. As a high-ranking officer in the dreaded Mukharabat, the Ba'athist secret police, he was Saddam's friend, colleague and eventual rival. His Baghdad medical degree is said to be phony; the Ba'ath Party gave it to him so he could travel Europe on a World Health Organization grant and infiltrate Arab student groups." Mr. Bush continues to be very hesitant about giving a date when U.S. troops with leave Iraq. By now he must realize the gravity of the situation. What was thought to be an easy invasion and installation of a friendly puppet government has gone awry.
Iraq was the first step in the quest for empire. Both the vice president and the secretary of defense have hinted about a future invasion of Iran. But Iran is a bigger country that is not in the disabled state Iraq was in prior to the US occupation. Under Heussein Iraq was a secular state, whoever the Iraqis chose as president he will have to appease the country's most powerful Shia cleric, the Ayatollah Sistani who is an advocate of an Islamic state.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mr. Bush, Are You On The Road To Damascus?

Bob Dylan once said "Smokey Robinson is America's greatest living poet" which is more than just a ringing endorsement when you think of the stature and artistry of the man who is giving the compliment. Syria, whose capital city is Demascus is one of the countries added to Mr. Bush's expanded Axis of Evil. The chickenhawks of this administration eye confrontations with Syria, using the same false pretenses which lead to the Iraq occupation......."Weapons of Mass Destruction(Nuclear Weapons). Mr. Bush gives the impression of being a man of very strong religious convictions who on various occasions has said the he talks with God and God talks with him. We are told that Mr. Bush has the overwhelming support of the religious community...especially the Evangelicals. In fact we are told that "morals and morality" were the major advantages Mr. Bush had over his opponent Mr. Kerry in the last election. This happened to such an extent that the Christian Right put George W. Bush back in the white house. Evangelist Bill Graham thanked God for George Bush's re-election. What is not getting across in the media is that the election looks very much like it was stolen. I may be wrong but isn't there something in the bible about stealing being one of the things you should NOT do? I also think there was something in the bible about bearing false witness. Is there something in the bible about NOT killing?" All of these are things that George Bush has done, directly or indirectly. Once again the 2000 and 2004 elections were STOLEN (that is why Bush won, not because of the overwhelming presence of the Evangelicals). The existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a LIE. Saddam Heussein surrogates did NOT make arrangements to purchase yellowcake uranium in Niger. There is NOTHING wrong with Social Security. I came across a recent Smokey Robinson composition that may or may not have been written with George Bush in mind. If it wasn't, it certainly could have been. I would like to share it with a wider audience...the world wide web.


Road to Damascus
By William Robinson Jr.

Are you on the road to Damascus?
Are you on your way to do somebody wrong?
Are you trying to do what he asks us?
And love your fellow man through Jesus’ love we can get along
We can get along

Lift up your eyes and be blinded by his light
See better than you could with twenty twenty sight
Fall off your high horse and be humbled on the ground
His voice is the sound that can turn your life around
His voice sound can turn your life around
Turn around now, turn around
Yeah turn around now, turn around

Are you on the road to Damascus?
Are you on your way to do somebody wrong?
Are you trying to do what he asks us ?
And love your fellow man through Jesus’ love we can get along
We can get along

Take some time to think before you speak
He is the answer you’ll find if you seek
He gave you free choice you can use
But He don’t have to like the road that you choose
He don’t have to like the road you choose
Turn around now, yeah turn around

Turn around now, turn around
Turn around now, turn around

Are you on the road to Damascus?
Are you on your way to do somebody wrong?
Are you trying to do what he asks us
And love you fellow man through Jesus’ love we can get along
We can get along




Simon Rosenberg Drops Out of DNC Race

Former Vermont governor and presidential aspirant Howard Dean moved one step closer to becoming the Democratic National Chairman because one major opponent Simon Rosenberg dropped out of the race. Rosenberg had this to say "Effective today, I am ending my campaign for chair of the Democratic National Committee. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to share my vision with Democrats around the country, and I remain encouraged by the depth and thoughtfulness DNC members have brought to this important process of picking our next chair.Today, I am endorsing Governor Howard Dean to be the next Chairman of the DNC. While we have not always agreed on every issue, I believe his passion for our Party, his remarkable fighting spirit, his direct and powerful way of speaking, and his commitment to bringing regular people back into our Party will allow him to revitalize our Party and help us win again in the 21st century. " Rosenberg became the second major Dean opponent to drop out of the race this week. Earlier former Denver mayor Wellington Webb also removed himself from the running. Like Rosenberg, Webb also endorsed Dean for the chairmenship. This should sent a strong message to the DLC Democrats that they are out of touch with what the party and what the nation really wants, which is NOT "Bush Lite".

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ossie Davis 1917-2005

It is with great sadness we acknowledge the passing of the multi-talented actor-writer-activist Ossie Davis, who triumphed in so many varied types of media, Broadway (Purlie), TV (Evening Shade). Ossie Davis will always be remembered for the eulogy he gave at the funeral of Malcolm X. Ossie Davis' 50+ year marriage to Ruby Dee became the model of love and fidelity for this generation. He will be missed.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A.N.S.W.E.R. answers the "Fortunate Son"

As a member of VoteNoWar.com I felt compelled to have A.N.S.W.E.R.'s response to King George's saber rattling attack on Social Security State of the Union Address on this blog.
"Empire - the true aim of the U.S. government - is barely concealed under the lofty rhetoric of Bush's State of the Union address. In its pursuit, the U.S. government is committed to the destruction of every government and people that stands in its way, in the Middle East and throughout the world.
"Freedom and democracy" for Iraq and "liberty" around the world are new code words for a very particular global strategy. According to this strategy, the Pentagon's military pre-eminence will be used to invade, bomb, subvert and threaten any and all countries in the formerly colonized and semi-colonized world that seek to maintain control over their own resources and retain even nominal independence and sovereignty. Bush and the neo-conservatives are the political spokespersons for this strategy. Congress and the courts fade into an ornamental status as Pentagon-enforced capitalism asserts itself as the real power in contemporary U.S. politics.
Bush and the Iraq "elections"
The Bush State of the Union Address comes days after the "elections" in Iraq. The timing of the two events was carefully scripted by the White House. Both were organized in Washington D.C. After killing more than 100,000 Iraqis and destroying the Iraqi social and political structure (not to mention the previous Iraqi state apparatus), the Bush administration tonight demagogically postures as the great liberator. This is the pose assumed by all aggressors in modern history on the "home front."
The Iraq elections were manipulated by foreign occupation. Political parties outlawed by the occupiers could not participate. Foreign troops held the country in lock-down. Large areas of Iraq never participated. But even for those who did vote, participation was not a signal of support for the occupation of their country or an expression of love for Bush. The great majority of people in Iraq, who have suffered greatly, want to re-gain control over their country.
The anti-war and progressive movement must look reality in the face as it prepares for the coming struggle.
The real objectives of the U.S. war in Iraq
The Bush administration hoped to quickly invade Iraq and set up a puppet regime. The goal was to destroy the previous government, further secure its geo-strategic interests in the region, and weaken Iraq to a point that any new government would be on its knees before Wall Street and the IMF. This was the overarching goal of thirteen years of economic sanctions from 1990-2003.
This was also the Clinton administration's objective when it forced the removal of the UN weapons inspectors in 1998 and began the daily bombing of Iraq that continued right up to the full-scale "shock and awe" invasion.
Also of primary interest to the U.S. is the economic re-colonization of Iraq. The U.S. government hopes to turn the situation back to the one that existed decades before the 1972 nationalization of Iraq's vast oil resources.
On top of this, the Bush administration added additional goals to the pre-existing imperialist agenda. The most important of the new goals was the creation of 14 large permanent Pentagon bases in Iraq that could be used as a forward staging ground for new aggressions against nations of this oil-rich region.
The goal of the Bush administration was not to occupy Iraq with hundreds of thousands of troops forever. But the vast armed resistance in Iraq has made the withdrawal of the occupation forces impossible. The resistance, as a widespread urban guerrilla force, can only exist with widespread popular support. It has tied up and prevented the Pentagon juggernaut from moving on in full force against Iran, Syria, Lebanon, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and elsewhere, but it is clear from tonight’s speech that Syria, Iran and others are Bush's next targets.
The Bush administration hopes that the January 30 "election" can confer semi-legitimacy to a new puppet Iraqi government. But the staged "election" will not mean a new dawn for peace - on the contrary. The U.S. government is threatening that if they can stabilize a puppet regime in Iraq, it will open new wars of aggression in an attempt to secure U.S. imperialist global geo-strategic interests.
The U.S. plan for Palestine
Palestine and the Palestinian leadership and people were not officially included with Iraq, Iran and North Korea in Bush's "axis of evil" list during the State of the Union Address three years ago. But the full-scale assault against the Palestinian people has proceeded relentlessly.
Israel's murderous terror campaign against the Palestinian people and their political and grassroots leadership is an organic extension of the war waged against the Arab and Middle Eastern peoples by the U.S. empire. Years of exile, assassinations, colonization, mass imprisonment, the construction of the hideous Apartheid Wall, the forced imposition of mass unemployment and malnutrition are now followed by Bush celebrating the election of new "leaders." Such is the embrace of "democracy and freedom!"
Washington is attempting once again to undermine, divide and destroy the Palestinian national movement. Bush and his advisors are trying to get the Palestinian National Authority to accept a Bantustan-style quasi-mini-state - broken up pieces of non-sovereign territory under the direct control of the Israeli army. They want the Palestinian leadership to sign away the inalienable right of return of the Palestinian people who were driven from their homeland, despite the fact that this right is fundamental under international law. The Bush team is seeking the confinement of the Palestinian people in a Bantustan entirely dependent on the United States.
Empire and "democracy"
Bush claims that the U.S. is not seeking to form an empire. Rather, he claims, "it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture." A look at Haiti exposes this sham propaganda. In twenty-six days the people of Haiti will angrily commemorate the first anniversary of the Bush/Pentagon coup and kidnapping of the democratically elected President of that country. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was the first democratically elected president of Haiti. The Bush administration smashed that government and installed a U.S. puppet regime.
The Bush administration's support for the failed coup and later recall election against the democratically elected government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, along with the ongoing U.S. campaign to overthrow the Cuban government, further expose Bush’s lies about "freedom and democracy."
In the name of making the world safe for the spread of democracy, Bush has invaded and set up puppet governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti. He is attempting to deal a dangerous blow to the legitimate national aspirations of the people of Palestine. The U.S. intends to use all available tools to overthrow the government of Syria and reincorporate Lebanon into the U.S. economic sphere of influence. The U.S. is working to draw Libya, with or without the current government, into the its sphere of influence. It is attempting to re-draw the economic and social map of the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa.
War and diplomacy
War, whether overt as in Iraq now or covert as in Iran, should not be considered as separate from diplomacy. Those who plead that the Bush administration should pursue a diplomatic approach, as opposed to naked military aggression, are making a phony distinction. War, threats of war, economic sanctions and diplomacy are merely tactics and methods, means in pursuit of certain ends. For the Bush administration, the end is creating a far-flung U.S. empire. All the U.S. corporations, the banks and both political parties have 100 percent agreement about the desire of attaining this goal. Whatever differences over tactics, policy and timing they might have are secondary. This is what accounts for the widespread acquiescence among the Democratic "opposition" to even the most adventuristic tactics on the part of Bush, Cheney and their neo-conservative crew.
Defend social security and social programs
The people of the United States must stand against the empire. Defying empire is not only an act of solidarity with those around the world who are demanding the right to determine their own destiny free from U.S. domination. Working people across the United States are also the victims of the empire. Our sons and daughters are sent to kill and be killed. Billions of dollars are being transferred from education, health care, housing and job training in order to finance one imperialist war after another.
Bush announced tonight that there will be a freeze or near freeze for all spending with the exception of military programs. This will mean an additional severe cut in programs that working and poor people depend upon. But he has proposed $80 billion in new money to fund the war on Iraq. This is on top of the $150 billion already spent on the Iraq war (nearly $270 million each day), and over and above last year's $420 billion Pentagon budget.
Every new region of the country that is "globalized" into the U.S. economic sphere of influence becomes a new playground for U.S. corporations in endless pursuit of creating new areas for starvation-wage jobs. Whole industries, not just jobs, are being outsourced. It is clear from tonight's speech that Bush and Wall Street want to privatize Social Security as a devious scheme to steal the deferred wages of more than 100 million workers. The empire benefits the banks and corporations, not the people.
The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition calls on everyone to intensify the organizing that we have all been doing together in the last few years. Millions have demonstrated together, coordinating with people in countries all over the world. This is an epic battle between the people on one side and the plutocrats who own and run the country on the other. Politicians have proved to be incapable of stopping war and empire.
The hope lies with the people. Every step forward in the 1930s or the 1960s and 1970s came from the creation of a mass peoples' movement."

The Project For A New American Century

New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka's poem about 9/11 caused quite a stir in the garden state. I have always considered him a major talent of great influence in the African-American community. In his poem he said that what happened to the World Trade Center was planned. Several friends asked me what I thought of Baraka's statement. At the time I neither agreed nor disagreed. I only said that he should provide proof. Now after reading about the shadow government and the Project For A New American Century, Mr. Baraka's theories don't seem far fetched at all. Several foreign intelligence operatives repeatedly warned the U.S. and their warnings were ignored. Planes are never permitted to fly at low altitudes in the heart of New York City..........unless they have government clearance. Tales abound about how Ariel Sharon was told not to come to New York on 9/11 and how former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown was also warned. Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Cheney and other so called "chickenhawks" had a vision that started during the Reagan years. This was the Project For A New American Century....a plan for Empire, which would start with Iraq and then lead to Iran, Syria and eventually to world domination. Besides Iraq we have already seen evidence of U.S. aggression with the toppling of the democratically elected Haitian president John Bertrand Aristide. Threats have also been made towards Venezuela, Zimbabwe and Cuba. George Bush frequently uses words like "Freedom" and "Liberty" and flagwavers eat it up like ice cream on a hot day. I am asking questions and hoping that more people in the U.S. will also ask questions, write their Congressperson to seek answers......while we can.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Lost Opportunity For Democrats

One more time the congressional Democrats lost a golden opportunity to motivate its base by refusing to philibuster the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez, the man alleged to be one of the architects of the torture policy in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Yet another example of a collective lack of intestinal fortitude that brings a smile to the faces of Republicans and has many Democrats scratching their heads. Mr. Gonzalez is even more of an embarrassment to the Bush administration than his predecessor, John Ashcroft (who has the dubious distinction of losing an election to a dead man). It is believed that at least 40 of the 44 House Democrats will vote against the Alberto Gonzalez nomination. A time consuming philibuster would have attracted mainstream media attention that the right wing leaning networks would be forced to cover, but once again the Democrats chose to do otherwise. This is happening at a time when Howard Dean seems to be closer to becoming the leader of the party. The situation has become so acute that right-wing columnist Robert Novak wrote about it the Chicago Sun-Times. He mentioned the fears of the fat cat democrats who have made big donations to the party who would refuse to give anymore contributions if Howard Dean is chosen party leader. The grass roots support for Dean continues to grow. If progressive organizations like MoveOn.org can raise money like they did in the presidential campaign the progressive democrats would have a shot at party control. It could mean an end to the negative influence of the Democratic Leadership Council because the progressive wing could pump funds into the campaigns of true Democrats who compete against DINOs(Democrats In Name Only).
In New York City there are signs posted on buildings that say "Bush Lied to us and Kerry turned his back on us" The people who share those sentiments within the Democratic party are the ones who must be motivated to action. The
failure to philibuster by the House Democrats only leaves them in a state of bewilderment.