Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Beautiful Corpse: Sixteen Sure Signs That the Regressive Right Is Over by David Michael Green

Lordy, lord, it’s been a mean season, hasn’t it? And a long one, too.

We human beings (those bipeds lucky enough not to have been born a conservative or killed by one, that is) have suffered through the endless depravity, stupidity, duplicity and incompetence of the radical right for what now seems like forever. It’s been awful, and it’s been depressing, and that’s putting it mildly. To have had even a fraction of a heart this last decade means to have lived in Hell.

Finally, though, the end is nigh. The signs are all there. The regressive right is cracking up, a complete and utter victim of its own success at winning power and of its own absolute failure in wielding it.

The markers are everywhere, bubbling just below the surface. Here are sixteen of them, sure signs if ever there were that the era of destructive government is (nearly) over:

* Follow the money: If you know anything about how American politics has been played over the last century, you know that the concept of Democrats out-fundraising Republicans is about as likely as likely as George W. Bush getting an honorary degree from anybody besides Bob Jones U. It could happen, to be sure (especially in some freaky parallel universe), it’s just that it just ain’t very likely. But guess what? It’s happening now, and it’s a sure sign of the regressive apocalypse (where do I order tickets for that party?). What is even more telling than empty GOP coffers is that even the big corporate money is going to Democrats. Imagine Enron contributing to Al Gore’s campaign, and you’d just about have the picture. Is it possible that the healthcare industry had a recent change of heart and decided that guaranteed national healthcare is now more important than corporate profits, after all? It would be possible (though massively improbable), if they had ever had a heart to begin with. A much more plausible explanation is that the lobbyists for these fat-cats who are paid to sniff out power can see which way the wind is blowing, and that it ain’t to the east anymore, ladies and gentlemen. Even the finance, insurance and real estate industries are funneling more money to Democrats than to the Reprobatlicans. (Talk about your truly bizarro parallel universes! This is the stuff of science fiction novels.) House Democrats have $28 million in the bank right now, while the GOP has $1.6 million for its congressional races (no, that’s not a typo). When did that ever happen?

* Keep following the money: Has there ever been an economy this precarious for this long without throwing a rod or seizing an engine? Given how reviled Bush and his clones already are now, can you imagine how sour the public mood will be if there is a recession or worse in the coming year? When you start seeing stories about roving gangs of furious soccer moms beating up random Republicans caught without their Blackwater guards on K Street, you’ll know why. Just watch the American flag pins start flying off of lapels. Stay tuned for more on this one. Gasoline is now selling for five bucks a gallon in parts of California, and that was being headlined by the Drudge Report, that bastion of anti-regressive journalism. I smell a twenty-first century Whiskey Rebellion a-brewin’.

* Follow the leader: Everybody’s talking about him on the presidential campaign trail. It’s just that they all happen to be Democrats. Republicans desperately want to pretend that Bush never existed (though not as much as they will want to after another year of his follies). So much, in fact, that they don’t even mention his name in their debates or on the stump. The New York Times just reported that Democrats mentioned the lil’ Bush feller 47 times in their last debate. Republicans? Twice, with one being a critique by Ron Paul. And this is while they’re campaigning for conservative, pro-Bush votes, mind you. Did you know that Ronald Reagan (or, more accurately, the myth of Ronald Reagan) was still alive and in the White House? Neither did I, but if you listen to these bozos for more than five minutes you could certainly walk away with that impression (not to mention tinnitus and a whopping good brain hemorrhage as well, but that’s another matter). It’s a sure sign that your movement is in deep trouble when you can’t say the name of the sitting president who so completely exemplifies its principles, for fear that doing so will destroy your candidacy.

* Follow Tucker: Right out the door, in fact. Woo-freakin’-hoo. Was there ever an unctuous little bow-tied twit of a punky spoiled brat that you just wanted to slap silly more than Tucker Carlson? Well, guess what? His ratings are doing it for you. Seems that nobody is terribly interested anymore in what the young master debater has to say, and MSNBC is getting ready to pull the plug on him, bow-tie and all. Bummer, dude. Maybe you could become a liberal now! Or, hey, if you’re looking for a job, maybe you could get Bush to appoint you as ambassador to Smarmiland?

* Follow Keith: The reason MSNBC is getting ready to untuck the wee Carlson is because they want to make room for what viewers are actually interested in, which is more progressive politics, like the regular savagings of the rabid right by Keith Doberman. Here comes Rosie O’Donnell into the line-up, with a show that could make Keith look like a nice puppy by comparison. Apparently, even Joe Scarborough - fingers and toes all in the wind - is talking like a liberal these days. What was that Dylan line about not needing to be a weatherman…? You could almost come to love the free market, after all, eh?

* Follow Jon: Stewart, that is. And Stephen Colbert. Every night, incessantly, they do what sometimes seems like the only rational thing imaginable given the inanities of regressive politics in our unfortunate time. They mock it mercilessly. The good news is that for many people, especially young folk, this is their sole source of news about current developments. Is that a pretty serious indicator of the tragic state of the American polity? You betcha. But it could be a lot worse. People could be getting their ‘news’ from Fox, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, or even CNN or NBC. I think a very serious argument can be made that you learn more about the real world we actually inhabit from Stewart and Colbert than from the more subtle comedy shows presented every day by the mainstream disinformation media in the guise of ‘newscasts’. Brian Williams may be a more honest source of information than was Baghdad Bob, but not by much. Until The Nation becomes required reading and Democracy Now! the most watched news broadcast on television, Comedy Central may be the best alternative we’ve got.

* Follow the kids: Speaking of the young folk, they are becoming as scarce in the Republican Party as a good vowel in Kyrgyzstan. And why not? Who wants to be in the party that’s wrecking your environment, spending your future earnings, killing your friends for lies and telling you who you can sleep with? (Hint: You can’t sleep with anybody. Unless, of course, you’re a television preacher or a blow-hard regressive politician, in which case you can sleep with everyone. And everything. Baaaah.) What a fun bunch to hang with, eh? The even better news is that there is pretty strong evidence that people tend to stick for life with the party affiliation they adopt when they’re young. As in so many other ways, therefore, George W. Bush will be the gift that keeps on giving. Thirty years from now, when regressives are an extinct species visible only in dusty museum showcases, we may wonder why we weren’t as happy as little clams at a mollusk orgy to have had the Bush Leaguer around, doing a better job than we ever could have of smashing his ideology to bits.

* Follow Dobson: Please. Somebody get this destructive demon of the religious right into the home for doddering Precambrians where he belongs. As it happens, he might be taking care of it himself. It seems that Ol’ Jimmy is outraged that none of the Republican front-runners are as obsessed with controlling other peoples’ sexuality as his custom bible tells him they should be. He is therefore threatening to run a third-party candidate, thus ripping asunder the GOP, in which case I might just be forced into believing in god, after all. (Even better would be if McCain also launches a desperate last-call shot at the presidency with his own independent bid after losing the GOP nomination. Splitting the Halloween set vote three ways is definitely my version of heaven on earth.) Meanwhile, all indications are that the entire religious right is in complete disarray (oh, so that’s what they mean by “Hallelujah!”). Loads of its troops are disenchanted with politics, disenchanted with regressivism, disenchanted with the GOP candidates, and otherwise just generally reeking of betrayal, rage and a large dose of your garden-variety steroid-enhanced mass surliness. This does not a successful political movement make.

* Follow the polls: Which have been showing for a long time now that Americans are really pissed off about what has happened to their country, and in record numbers. That’s not exactly what you wanna hear when you’re an incumbent running for reelection, or trying to keep your party in power. It gets better yet, though. As Paul Krugman noted this week, political research is now showing that the American public is not just aimlessly angry, but is more liberal in its attitudes than it has been since the early 1960s. And the Baby Boomers haven’t even retired yet! Something tells me that killing stem-cell research and gutting Social Security, coupled with homophobia, environmental destruction, reckless aggression abroad and bankruptcy at home are not going to be big vote-getters in the coming decades. Call me crazy, but I’m going to go ahead and make that wild prediction.

* Follow the rude dude: Giuliani’s popularity in the GOP indicates that even those nuts have turned away, however reluctantly, from their own social conservatism. And now the nuttiest of them all, Pat Robertson, has just endorsed this nasty little Rottweiler with the sorta liberal social policies. There’s really only one viable explanation for that. Sex-obsessed pseudo-Jesus regressivism is a completely spent force, and the Pat Robertsons of this world have only two remaining choices: They can either jump on the bandwagon of sheer hypocrisy (Remember Robertson’s post-9/11 rant about the abortionists, and the lesbians, and the feminists, etc.? Remember how he once sued a certain mayor of New York City to block the latter’s support for gay marriage?), or they can demonstrate their utter irrelevance. Ol’ Pat has made his choice. He did both.

* Follow MoveOn: Sure, they’re not perfect, but they may be the best thing happening on the left these days in terms of real work with a real chance of success. More importantly, they’ve already shown that they know how to play hardball, and now they’re learning how to play sophisticated hardball. In many ways, they’re copying the playbook that the right adopted in the decades since the Goldwater ocean liner had its encounter with the proverbial iceberg, bringing the GOP back to the drawing board. Regressives have been winning for so long in part because they’ve been fighting smart, and in part because nobody was fighting back. The Democrats, of course, are still doing neither. But they’re not the only ones with fists. Look for the right to crumple like any schoolyard bully the minute somebody stands up to it, just as Move-On is now doing.

* Follow the retirements: Republican politicians are retiring in droves now. There are 14 so far who are quitting their House seats, including Ohio’s Deborah Pryce, one of the top members of the GOP leadership. Who wants the pleasure of defending the Republican record in next year’s election cycle, followed by a drubbing and an ignominious pink slip? Or, if you’re lucky enough to survive the tsunami, a lonely gig kicking around in forgotten wilderness of the mega-minority?

* Follow the numbers: As if the gods weren’t angry enough (perhaps at Robertson for backing the pro-gay rights Giuliani?), Republicans will have to defend twice the number of Senate seats up for election next year as will Democrats. That may seem like sheer coincidence, but there is actually a perverse irony here. This is the fruit of the GOP’s pyrrhic victory in 2002, when they used the Iraq war vote and general security hysteria to pummel hapless Tom Daschle-like Democrats. Now those very seats are up again, only this time the chicken has since come home to roost, and it’s an angry little fowl. That’s some awfully nasty karma to be carrying on your ledger, man. You might call Election 2008 the Revenge of Max Cleland.

* Follow the conversions: Just as might be expected, Republicans are starting to change their party affiliations, even in places like Missouri and Kansas (really!). And, just as also might be expected, you’re hearing the classic (and true) explanation for their move: “I didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me”. Sorry Ronnie Raygun, but what comes around… Watch for a whole lot more of this, especially after November 2008.

* Follow the food chain: They’re eating their young now. Predictable, to be sure, but still so much fun to watch. Did you hear that five conservative authors - including one of the Swift Boat hatchet-men, no less - are now suing their publishing house, Regnery (did they actually mean to call it ‘Degeneracy’ but it just got by the spell-checkers somehow?), and its parent company, Eagle Publishing? It seems they’re a little upset that Eagle “orchestrates and participates in a fraudulent, deceptively concealed and self dealing scheme to divert book sales away from retail outlets and to wholly owned subsidiary organizations within the Eagle conglomerate”, and thus rip the authors off of royalties owed to them. No kidding - really? I’m sorry, guys, but just who exactly did you think you were dealing with here? Look in the mirror! You cut a deal with a conservative press to publish your fraud, deception and self-dealing and you expected them to treat you better than George Bush did when he gave the gift of freedom and democracy to the Iraqis? And what’s up with your wanting fair treatment and fair pay for your labor? You guys are starting to sound like a bunch of whiney socialists, fer crissakes! And tort-reform-needing litigious ones, at that! This is America, Dudes. Your America. Get used to being scammed by people who are richer than you.

* Follow the fallow: The right’s agenda is not only bankrupt of real policy ideas, but nowadays it’s even bankrupt of effective red-herrings as well. Yesterday’s tried-and-true tropes no longer have that old magic anymore. “Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. Gays, gays, gays.” Yawn, yawn, yawn. “Honey, have you seen the remote? I really need to change the channel. And what time are we supposed to pick up Johnny from Little League practice?” Ho. Hum. This show is over. Regressives would like to thank everyone in the audience for their participation. Unfortunately, neither your wallets nor your articles of clothing are available for return to you at this time…

If the signs of the looming conservative apocalypse get any clearer, even blind cave fish will be reading them. These guys are getting ready to crumble like a poppy seed muffin six days past its sell-by date.

It certainly couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch, could it?

I hope they get every little thing that is coming to them.

Except, of course, their Regnery royalties.

This article originally comes from COMMONDREAMS.ORG 11/10/07

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bush allied Democrats must go; Wiretap sanctioning is the last straw.

Once again the "new" Democratic majority collectively failed to do what it was elected to do. It once again caved into the wishes of George W. Bush. What are these Democrats afraid of? George W. Bush is one of the most unpopular presidents of all time with poll numbers hovering just below 30 per cent. Thanks to the Democratic majority George W. Bush now has congressionally sanctioned powers to wiretap American citizens at will. Until those Democrats who continue to support unconstitutional Bush actions are shown that there are consequences for their actions they will continue to do what they having been doing.....becoming the silent partners of the morally challenged Bush administration. With the previous do nothing congress Democrats could always say "We were outnumbered" They can say that this time because they are in control of both houses. They have to be made to feel the heat. Every progressive voting Democrat should write to his or her representative in the Senate or House and express his or her outrage at Democratic inaction. What does King George have over them? Did he threaten them? Did he tell them "If you don't vote the way I want you to you the same thing that happened to Paul Wellstone will happen to you? I am really suprised at those Democrats who supported unconditional wiretaps (Webb, Inouye). This type of betrayal and complete disregard of the constitution by DEMOCRATS as well as Republicans can't continue. Something has to be done about it immediately. Bush cannot continue to have a rubber stamp Congress. The only was to stop this is to replace the Blue Dog/DLC Democrats with progressives. This will not be difficult because the Democratic/Progressive wing of the party is estimated to be at least 40%. I have always admired John Conyers. He has been on the right side of so many issues. I don't understand why the man who wrote a book on impeaching Bush is not backing off from doing so. The wiretap issue just shows the urgent need for the Impeachment of Bush, Cheney, Gonzales etc. NOW because they can do considerably more damage in the remainder of their lame duck term. Initially I was pleased to see Nancy Pelosi become the Democratic Congressional leader. I don't feel that way now. She continues to coddle this dangerous president. She is NOT reprensenting the will of the people who supported her. Most US citizens want impeachment. How can she be so compassionate with a tyrant when the Democratic presidential predecessor WAS IMPEACHED for one personal matter. George Bush's offenses are just too numerous to mention in this article. This why people around the country, and especially in California MUST support the candidacy of Cindy Sheehan when she runs against Pelosi. We cannot continue to financially support these people when they continue to forget us when the time comes to vote on issues crucial to the average US citizen. Of course we do have many progressive Democrats who have voted correctedly, but we need more of them. Democrats in this and the preceeding Do Nothing Congress have dropped the ball when it came to 1) The Iraq War 2) Supreme Court Nominations 3) Insurance 4)Abortion 5) Electoral Disenfranchement 6) The Environment 7) Partisan firings of Districts Attorney and now Unwarranted Domestic Surveillance. It's time to let the DINOS know that we're fed up and we're not going to take it anymore.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Centrists Didn't Hold by Noam Schieber

NOT very long ago, the Democratic Leadership Council was a maker of presidents — or, at least, the maker of a president. In 1991, Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, then the council’s chairman, elucidated the “New Democrat” ethos and previewed the themes of his presidential candidacy (“opportunity, responsibility, community”) with a speech at the centrist group’s annual conference. “It became the blueprint for my campaign message,” Mr. Clinton later wrote in his autobiography. He added, “By embracing ideas and values that were both liberal and conservative, it made voters who had not supported Democratic presidential candidates in years listen to our message.”
But few headlines will be made this weekend at the council’s “National Conversation” in Nashville. The next president of the United States almost certainly won’t be there. Not only are Democratic front-runners like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama planning to skip the conference, but so are the Bill Richardsons and Chris Dodds of the field. That’s probably a good move for the candidates, as the council has become radioactive among Democratic primary voters. But the Democratic Leadership Council’s fading influence is also good news for the entire party.
One cause of the council’s decline is obvious. The group lost a direct line to the White House when Bill Clinton left office. But the change has also come about for more subtle reasons. The New Republic, where I work, was once closely associated with the council’s moderate agenda. These days, however, many of the fights the group picks seem as quaint to me and my colleagues as an old Fleetwood Mac song. Despite what you hear from the council, the biggest problem facing the Democrats, and the nation, is not the party’s liberal activists.
Before the Clinton presidency, the leadership council’s critique of the Democratic Party had merit. Many voters emerged from the 1970s and early ’80s deeply skeptical of liberalism. As Mr. Clinton put it in his 1991 speech, people who once voted for the Democrats no longer “trusted us in national elections to defend our national interest abroad, to put their values in our social policy at home or to take their tax money and spend it with discipline.”
The council grew out of frustration with Walter Mondale’s crushing 1984 defeat. Mr. Mondale had maneuvered to win the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s endorsement during the Democratic primaries, but his victory was pyrrhic. The endorsement solidified Mr. Mondale’s reputation as the candidate of special interests. In order to shake the label, Mr. Mondale proposed raising taxes to cut the deficit, which only worsened his image among swing voters.
During the 1980s and ’90s, the council played a vital role in curbing both the perception and the reality of liberal excess inside the Democratic Party, and its efforts paved the way for Mr. Clinton’s ascendance. The council’s medicine worked. The centrist wing of the party won important battles on welfare reform, crime and the budget. By the late ’90s, Americans trusted Democrats to run the economy and keep their neighborhoods safe.
But George W. Bush taught Democrats of all stripes that their differences with one another were minor compared with the differences between them and Republicans. For seven years, Democrats have faced a radical administration that operates in bad faith. Yet there was the Democratic Leadership Council, still arguing that teachers unions endanger the republic.
Democrats, moderate and liberal, have been bewildered by the group’s post-Clinton agenda. Take, for example, the law passed by Congress in 2005 that makes it harder for ordinary people to declare bankruptcy. The measure’s only obvious beneficiary was the credit-card industry, and most Democrats opposed it. One main exception was a coalition of House members allied with the council. In an implicit rebuke to their Democratic colleagues, these New Democrats declared their support for the bill “as champions of both personal and fiscal responsibility.”
But Democrats had by this point done much to establish themselves as proponents of “personal and fiscal responsibility.” They were in no danger of trashing the party’s post-Clinton reputation. More important, the bill hardly seemed like a high priority amid the Bush administration’s vast upward redistribution of wealth.
The leadership council made an analogous mistake in the aftermath of the Iraq war. By 2006, most Democrats who supported the invasion had recanted. But council officials doubled down in the face of the fiasco, attacking opponents of the war during Ned Lamont’s Senate campaign against Joe Lieberman.
Today, the council has almost no constituency within the Democratic Party. About every five years, the Pew Research Center conducts a public opinion survey to sort out the country’s major ideological groupings. In 1999, Pew found that liberals and New Democrats each accounted for nearly one-quarter of the Democratic base. By the next survey in 2005, New Democrats had completely disappeared as a group and the liberals had doubled their share of the party. Many moderates, radicalized by President Bush, now define themselves as liberals.
On a variety of issues the council, and not the party’s liberal base, is out of touch with the popular mood. A recent Washington Post poll found that 60 percent of independents, along with 70 percent of Democrats, favor withdrawing from Iraq by next spring.
Two decades of work by the Democratic Leadership Council — and a not inconsiderable assist from President Bush — have made the Democratic Party the healthiest it has been in the 22 years of the council’s existence. Democrats should thank the group and then tell it that it’s no longer needed.
Noam Scheiber is a senior editor for The New Republic.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Democratic Congress Gives Bush a blank check for the Occupation

It seems hard to believe, but the Democrats have once again embarrassed themselves and their constituents by giving George Bush billions of dollars to be squandered on this fruitless illegal occupation. 86 Democrats bowed down to King George and said yes master we will give you everything that you want. We will not permit any time restrictions of withdrawal. The progressive wing of the Democratic party(which also happens to be the majority of the Democratic party) will remember this in November. I just thought it would be different this time with Democrats in the majority of both houses, but this cowardly submission only shows that even with a Democratic majority it is still business as usually. The vast majority of the Democrats of this Congress was elected to put and end to this occupation, yet they have not done so. Money that should go to education, infrastructure, healthcare and natural disasters that happen within the United States (i.e Katrina and the Kansas tornados) will be squandered on death and destruction and more profits for the war profiteers. I am so tired of hearing that lame excuse "We had no choice, if we didn't go along with what the president wanted he would tell the American people that we Democrats don't support the troops" This is not only stupid and cowardly it is also illogical. The overwhelming majority of the people of the United States are opposed to this occupation. Who in his or her right mind would think that "this" administration supports our troops. This president to my knowledge has never attended the funeral of one fallen soldier. This administration sent our troops into illegal combat poorly equipped. This administration has worked feverishly to limit benefits our troops are entitled to. Those coming home injured were not adequately cared for at Walter Reade and other hospital facilities. How can it be said that this president supports our troops when mercenary outfits like Blackwater have contractors do the work of soldiers and get paid thousands of dollars more. There IS money available to give to the troops if Democrats decided to resist Bush. This president is peddling fear by saying "If we don't fight them there we will have to fight them here" That is a LIE! The Viet Nam war ended because Congress decided to end it. We were able to make a safe exit. If that happened in Viet Nam it can happen in Iraq.
"THEY" don't want "US" there! The Iraqi parliment voted for the exit of US troops, that is further evidence that we are "not" welcomed in Iraq as Mr. Bush or Mr. Cheney would have us believe. Democratic leadership MUST be challenged on this issue, which is just as egregious as anything done by Mr. Gonzalez, Mr. Wolfowitz or Mr. Bush. These Democrats have become the co-signers of an illegal aggressive occupation and must be dealt with at the polls.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Return of the DLC DC Democratic Party

by A. Alexander, May 20th, 2007
By mid-2006 it looked like the DC Democrats had learned their lesson. It appeared they had finally realized that the Democratic Leadership Council's (DLC's) political playbook, was little more than the perfect recipe for becoming an irrelevant political party. During the last election cycle the once spine-challenged DLC smitten Republican wannabe DC Democrats, had actually embraced their base and began confronting the GOP's failed anti-working class policies. The result was electoral victory.To their credit, for the first two or three months, the DC Democrats governed the nation with the enthusiasm that they had co-opted from their thriving political base. Democrats opened meaningful investigations into the Bush administration's many illegal activities; they fashioned and passed a minimum wage increase; Reid and Pelosi worked together to close holes in domestic security; Democrats formulated legislation designed to reduce corporation representing lobbyist influence; and they formulated plans to end the Iraq War.One by one the Republicans managed to stall the passage of the Democratic agenda and the Democrats immediately reverted to their inside-the-beltway, guaranteed to lose DLC playbook. Instead of continuing to confront the administration over Iraq, Democrats entered negotiations that will eventually yield them nothing and bring the wars end no closer than the day it began in 2003. Instead of continuing to pressure the White House and Republicans to end the war, Pelosi and Emanuel hitched their political fortunes to the DLC inspired "free trade" agenda and immediately went about the business of selling out the American worker. That single act, selling out the American worker in favor of enriching corporations, is proof that the DC Democrats have sidled up, again, to the failed approach and agenda of the DLC. Incredible as it may seem, it appears to have taken the Democrats all of five months in power to forget that it had been the DLC's failed policies that had kept them in the political wilderness for all those years. And, too, Democrats seem to have forgotten that following their base had returned the Party to political power. The Democratic Congressional leadership would do well to be rid of the DLC and, perhaps, have Senator Webb of Virginia school them on something called "populism". Senator Webb understands the wave of discontent that is sweeping across America. He understands that the American worker is sick and tired of always getting the short end of the stick and that more policies designed to benefit corporations, won't win any elections for the Democratic Party. Corporations, if the Democrats hadn't noticed yet, have a Party...the Republican Party. Webb senses that Democrats could, if they had the courage and wisdom to align with the working people, establish a political dominance that would last into the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, DC Democrats have no interest in what Senator Webb might have to say. The DC Democrats have already turned their back on the base - on the working American and have realigned themselves with the guaranteed-to-lose DLC. The proof of the DC Democrat re-conversion can be found in the recent corporate coddling and selling out of the American worker - eh-hem - "fair trade bill" that Congressional Democrats secretly negotiated with the Bush administration. This article originally appeared in THE PROGRESSIVE DAILY BEACON

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Two week suspension of Don Imus insufficient

MSNBC/CBS radio personality Don Imus' two week suspension is tantamount to a slap on the wrist. Mr. Imus is a multi-millionaire. The amount of income lost to him during this two week period is peanuts. Mr. Imus has earned the dubious distinction of being permanently barred from the public airwaves for refering to the Women's basketball team of Rutgers as "nappy headed hos". ESPN fired Rush Limbaugh for making disparaging remarks about Donovan McNabb, the African-American quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Limbaugh said that McNabb received an abundance of media attention because he was black. This was an obviously racist remark because that year McNabb led his team to the Super Bowl. Any quarterback, regardless of race who gets his team in the Super Bowl would get a lot of media attention. ESPN did the right thing. Mr. Limbaugh for many years has been the darling of right wing radio. In many parts of The United States the mere mention of his name conjures up images of dollar signs to the managers of radio stations, but this did not deter ESPN from taking the high road and firing Limbaugh. Like Limbaugh, Imus also represents big bucks for national radio, but unlike ESPN MSNBC/CBS radio prefers to give Don Imus a slap on the wrist. We are human and we all make mistakes. If this had been the first time that Imus made a racist remark I could probably support a two week suspension, but Mr. Imus as well as his associates Mr. McGuirk and Mr. Rosenberg have a history of making overtly racist remarks......and getting away with it. This has been documented by Media Matters "While purporting to "know" Imus, Oliphant apparently disregarded Imus' history and that of his executive producer, Bernard McGuirk -- as well as frequent guest and former Imus sportscaster Sid Rosenberg -- of making racially insensitive and incendiary remarks, which Media Matters for America has extensively documented." This incident should also be a lesson to the so-called Hip-Hop community. Mr. Imus , no doubt has been exposed to the more violent, mysogenous, anti-intellectual rantings of African-American hip-hop artists who have gone to such extremes as to malign such heroes as the late Rosa Parks. I know of no other ethnic group besides African-Americans who willfully degrade their own people (the frequent use of the "N' word and calling black females 'hos") for the almighty dollar. This by no means is a condemnation of all hip-hop because I have seen some very positive work from artists like Dead Prez and Public Enemy, but these are not the artists that are being promoted. They are not the ones who are making the BIG money. BET, since it's take over by Viacom has been saturated with derogatory videos. As people of African descent in the United States, it is our obligation to demand that people on the PUBLIC airwaves who commit slander like Don Imus be FIRED, no ifs, ands, or buts. Black people who commit similar offenses against other black people should also be dealt THE SAME punishment. Think about it.... Do you hear Jewish people refer to each other as "kikes"? Do you hear people of Italian descent refer to each other as "guineas"? Do you hear Hispanics refer to each other as "spics"? Do you hear Chinese people refer to each other as "chinks"? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding NO. That is because they have a love and respect for their people. Who is the beneficiary of this black on black degradation? ....besides the modern day minstrel who will do anything to get the "bling " there is also the conservative white owned and operated media empire "Clear Channel", that owns the vast majority of the profitable hip-hop outlets across this country. Payola is rampant in today's music industry, such negative videos and recordings can be "seen" or "heard" 3 or 4 times in just one hour. We have to let the broadcast media know we are not going to tolerate this nonsense anymore and there is no one better to start with than Don Imus.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why the 15 British soldiers are REALLY held captive

Thusfar the US media has told us that 15 British soldiers have been captured by the Iranian government. We were told that they were captured because Iran says that they were in Iranian waters. Rumors are already circulating about a Good Friday attack on Iran. British PM Tony Blair says that the British soldiers were in Iraqi waters and for that reason they should be immediately released. Well once again I see that we are not being told the real story. Once again we see a crucial foul-up by the Bush administration. It always seems be the case that if you want to know the truth you have to depend on the press that is outside of the United States when it comes to international matters. According to The Independent (UK) The United States was making an attempt to capture the head of Iranian security, which turned out to be a miserafble failure. It appears as if the 15 British soldiers were assisting the US in the accomplishment of this objective. "Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil - and the angry Iranian response to it - should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf. The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.'' How can this ridiculously idiotic move be justified in the eyes of the world. This act once again seriously damages the integrity of the United States. It also gives Iranian leadership political ammunition to convince their people of the need for further nuclear development for defensive purposes as a deterrent to United States aggression. This should be considered one of at least six impeachable acts committed by this president, yet with the exception of John Conyers and a few of his allies nothing is being done towards impeaching George W. Bush, even when the opposing party controls both houses of the legislative branch. The rest of the world is more than likely to think that the only impeachful offense is having sex out of wedlock. It's ok to bring your country into a war based on a lie and have over 3,500 soldiers killed. It's ok to remove Habeus Corpus. It's ok to spy on your own citizens without congressional approval. It's ok to remove district attorneys for doing their jobs. There are those who say that Mr. Bush only has a year left in his presidency and that we should just wait until his term is over. I say look at the damage he has caused in seven years. Why give him one more year to create even more havoc?

Eddie Robinson (1919 - 2007)

Eddie Robinson, Grambling's outstanding football coach has passed away at the age of 88. Robinson won 408 games while losing only 165. He was responsible for sending over 200 football players to the NFL. Robinson often said two things that he was most proud of was being married to the same woman and having the same job for 57 years.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Billy Henderson (1940 - 2007)

Billy Henderson, long time member of popular R&B vocal group the Spinners died this morning as a result of complications with diabetes. The Spinners were one the major acts of the 70s and 80s. In the early seventies the group had only marginal success with the talent laden Motown stable. One their last recordings, the Stevie Wonder written and produced "It's A Shame" became a major hit. The Spinners sought greener pastures at Atlantic Records where they enjoyed their greatest success with hits like "Rubberband Man' , "Then Came You" and ""(They Just Can't Help It)The Games People Play".

Joe Hunter (1930-2007)

Pioneer Motown pianist Joe Hunter passed away this morning in Detroit. Hunter was one of the members of the Funk Brothers, an agregation that has played together on more hit records than Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. Joe Hunter was the first pianist to be hired by Berry Gordy for his Motown record label during its infancy. Hunter was the driving force behind Smokey Robinson and The Miracles huge hit "You Really Got A Hold On Me" as well as Martha Reeves and The Vandellas "Love Is Like A Heat Wave" and Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is( To be loved by you). Hunter joins other Funk Brother alumni like Pistol Allen and Johnny Griffin who did not make the Motown transition from Detroit to Los Angeles.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins (1945 - 2007)

One of the most vibrant voices of the progressive community, Molly Ivins, has passed at the age of 62 of breast cancer. The nationally syndicated columnist spent many of her formative years at the New York Times. Ivins was a resident of Austin, Texas and is credited with giving George Bush the nickname "Scrub" and Texas governor Rick Perry, the nickname "Good Hair".

Impeachment by the People by Howard Zinn

Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 by The Progressive


Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C. The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos. But all we hear in the nation’s capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about “unity” and “bipartisanship,” in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.
These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters. But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.
The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government.”
The “ends” referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” True, no government in the history of the nation has been faithful to those ends. Favors for the rich, neglect of the poor, massive violence in the interest of continental and world expansion—that is the persistent record of our government.
Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the President to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.
The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Representative John Conyers, who held extensive hearings and introduced an impeachment resolution when the Republicans controlled Congress, is now head of the House Judiciary Committee and in a position to fight for such a resolution. He has apparently been silenced by his Democratic colleagues who throw out as nuggets of wisdom the usual political palaver about “realism” (while ignoring the realities staring them in the face) and politics being “the art of the possible” (while setting limits on what is possible).
I know I’m not the first to talk about impeachment. Indeed, judging by the public opinion polls, there are millions of Americans, indeed a majority of those polled, who declare themselves in favor if it is shown that the President lied us into war (a fact that is not debatable). There are at least a half-dozen books out on impeachment, and it’s been argued for eloquently by some of our finest journalists, John Nichols and Lewis Lapham among them. Indeed, an actual “indictment” has been drawn up by a former federal prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega, in a new book called United States v. George W. Bush et al, making a case, in devastating detail, to a fictional grand jury.
There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of “people’s impeachment hearings” all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.
These hearings would be the contemporary equivalents of the unofficial gatherings that marked the resistance to the British Crown in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The story of the American Revolution is usually built around Lexington and Concord, around the battles and the Founding Fathers. What is forgotten is that the American colonists, unable to count on redress of their grievances from the official bodies of government, took matters into their own hands, even before the first battles of the Revolutionary War.
In 1772, town meetings in Massachusetts began setting up Committees of Correspondence, and the following year, such a committee was set up in Virginia. The first Continental Congress, beginning to meet in 1774, was a recognition that an extralegal body was necessary to represent the interests of the people. In 1774 and 1775, all through the colonies, parallel institutions were set up outside the official governmental bodies.
Throughout the nation’s history, the failure of government to deliver justice has led to the establishment of grassroots organizations, often ad hoc, dissolving after their purpose was fulfilled. For instance, after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, knowing that the national government could not be counted on to repeal the act, black and white anti-slavery groups organized to nullify the law by acts of civil disobedience. They held meetings, made plans, and set about rescuing escaped slaves who were in danger of being returned to their masters.
In the desperate economic conditions of 1933 and 1934, before the Roosevelt Administration was doing anything to help people in distress, local groups were formed all over the country to demand government action. Unemployed Councils came into being, tenants’ groups fought evictions, and hundreds of thousands of people in the country formed self-help organizations to exchange goods and services and enable people to survive.
More recently, we recall the peace groups of the 1980s, which sprang up in hundreds of communities all over the country, and provoked city councils and state legislatures to pass resolutions in favor of a freeze on nuclear weapons. And local organizations have succeeded in getting more than 400 city councils to take a stand against the Patriot Act.
Impeachment hearings all over the country could excite and energize the peace movement. They would make headlines, and could push reluctant members of Congress in both parties to do what the Constitution provides for and what the present circumstances demand: the impeachment and removal from office of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Simply raising the issue in hundreds of communities and Congressional districts would have a healthy effect, and would be a sign that democracy, despite all attempts to destroy it in this era of war, is still alive.

Friday, January 19, 2007

William Pepper: "Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated by U.S. government"

In his newly released book "An Act Of State" Willam Pepper, a lawyer from England states that civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered as part of plot authored by The FBI, under the leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis and Lloyd Jowers, who Pepper identifies as the actual triggerman. Pepper has made an "unimpeachable" exhaustive 39 year study that proves his thesis beyond a doubt. Pepper represented the King family in court where a verdict of "unlawful death" was concluded. This heinous act included the collusion of US media and local law enforcement within the city of Memphis. James Earl Ray, who we were lead to believe was the assassin always proclaimed his innocence up until the day of his death. Ray initally asked Pepper to represent him in court. Pepper declined to do so until he was absolutely convinced that Ray played not even a minor role in the murder of Dr. King. In a short while Pepper concluded that Ray was indeed an innocent pawn in a government sponsored assassination. In addition to being a brilliant speaker, King was a master organizer who was putting the same relentless energy behind the Poor People's march and opposition to the Viet Nam war as he put behind the March On Washington. What will the history books say of this event? .....more than likely nothing. Those who know the truth will once again be called "Conspiracy Theorists", but this time it is not a theory. Pepper has given us the undisputed truth. It is our responsiblility to tell our children and our children's children the truth about the deaths of both Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both victims of state sponsored racist terrorism. This is precisely why words like "freedom" and "liberty" mean nothing when they come (or came) out of the mouths of establishment warmongers like George W. Bush and the late, not so great J. Edgar Hoover. Like minded people were responsible for the New Orleans disaster. Could they also have played a role in the deaths of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Paul Wellstone? It is not so farfetched after all.

Pookie Hudson (1934 - 2007)

One of the founding fathers of Doo Wop Pookie Hudson has died from cancer at the age of 72. Hudson was the lead singer of the Spaniels, who along with The Penguins became the Doo Wop pioneers when they came on the scene in 1954. Hudson wrote most of the Spaniels material including the legendary "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight. Hudson's life was one of perserverance. He had the uncanny abilty to bounce back. In the early sixties his life took a dramatic change which would take him from being a revered performer to a homeless man. But the resilient Hudson put the Spaniels back together and provided the group with new audiences which led to national tours on the oldies circuit. The Spaniels like so many R&B groups of the fifties suffered the indignation of having their songs remade by a white group shortly after their initial release and see the white group make a fortune on their record. The McGuire Sisters version of "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight" surpassed The Spaniels' version in sales. in the same way as Hound Dog (Big Mama Thorton/Elvis Presley), Shake Rattle & Roll(Joe Turner/Bill Haley & The Comets) and Ain't That a Shame(Fats Domino/Pat Boone). Hudson continued to write material for the Spaniels up until the time of his death but unfortunately the demand was for the old songs, which really is a pity when one considers the high quality of the most recent Spaniels recordings.

Denny Doherty (1941 -2007)

Rock's first casualty of 2007 is Denny Doherty of The Mamas & Papas, one of the most popular groups of the 1960s. Although Doherty was the lead singer on most of the Mamas & Papas hits much more attention was focused on the flamboyant John Phillips who wrote most of their hits like "California Dreaming" "Monday Monday" and "I Saw Her Again" Upon the passing of Denny Doherty, actress-singer Michelle Philips becomes the sole survivor of the sixties trend setting group which also became famous for their remake of the Five Royals/Shirelles' hit "Dedicated To The One I Love" which was one of their few hits that was not penned by Philips. The group's female lead, "Mama" Cass Elliot died in 1974. Elliott was a successful solo artist with the hits "Words Of Love" and "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" The chart life of this group was very short, a meager three years, but in that three years period they were frequently on the charts and on the road. In 1982 Phillips formed a reincarnated Mamas and Papas with Doherty, his daughter MacKenzie Phillips and former Spanky & Our Gang lead singer Spanky McPharland. The intragroup relationships kept the Mamas & The Papas in the public eye in the same way as another two man two women sensation Fleetwood Mac, a generation later.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Tribute To A KIng

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed a giant among men. As we celebrate his life and try to benefit from the lessons he taught we can't help but wonder what would he have been able to accomplish beyond his 39 years. King was able to mobilize the youth of his day with actions that produced results. With steadfast determination he made it possible for blacks to sit anywhere on the bus and he also filled the jails with demonstrating young men and women to such an extent that belligerent local authorities were neutralized. Today there is little doubt that Dr. King's assassination was a sophisticated plot by those who considered him a threat to the status quo. When the late Vice-president Hubert Humphrey said that Dr. King was on his potential list of vice presidential candidates the previliged right wing element felt compelled to act. If James Earl Ray was responsible (as the media led us to believe) ...he was not working alone. Former New York Times, New York Daily News and current WBAI radio personality Earl Caldwell was at the scene of the King assassination, but was prevented from giving testimony. Mr Caldwell wrote a book that could not find a publisher. There was and still is a deliberate attempt to muzzle his account of what happened that day. The right-wing pundits always say "Conspiracy Theory, Conspiracy Theory, Bah....." but what if there actually was a conspiracy and what if it is still going on?" Numerous attempts were made on the life of Malcolm X long before that fateful day at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Clinton confident Ron Brown was found with a bullet in his head with no explanation of how it got there. Isn't the timing of the "accidental" death of Minnesota's Paul Wellstone somewhat suspect? There was a time when we would say we would never know but nevertheless the killers of Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman had to and will have to pay for their cowardly acts; De La Beckwith and Killian did not escape prosecution even though both faced justice late in life. Maybe one day the same thing will happen to the true killers of Martin King, who killed the man but not the dream. Isn't it odd that the vast majority of the victims of assassination or "accidental" death find themselves on the left of the political strectrum. The only exception in recent times to survive such an attack was Ronald Reagan. We should all remember Dr. King's ideals and honor his courage in these troubled times in which an administration bent on empire wants to use Social Security money to further its aim of world domination. Were he alive to today Martin King would oppose the Iraq War as vigorously and wholeheartedly as he opposed the Viet Nam War. In the area of Civil Rights things are as bad and in some cases even worse than they were in the 60s. These times may call for different tactics but they will require the same determination and focus Dr. King had to bear fruit.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The First Major Impeachment Event of '07 begins in San Francisco

On January 4th, the first day of the new Congress, impeachment activities began in cities around the country. These actions are continuing including the very creative impeachment event that will take place at Ocean Beach in San Francisco, tomorrow, Saturday January 6. (See below for how you can get involved)Impeachment supporters are refusing to accept the notion that George W. Bush's criminal conduct is "off the table," as Nancy Pelosi stated. In fact, between now and the first day of spring, there will be a "winter offensive" by the impeachment movement. We will be outlining specific details of a nationwide action plan shortly.The ads in the New York Times and other newspapers are scheduled to appear in the coming weeks. Impeachment supporters have been ordering thousands of t-shirts, sweat shirts, bumper stickers, lawn signs and baseball caps, wearing and giving the ImpeachBush message - a great way to spread the word. The resource center is fully stocked and is continuing its 50% off sale on sweatshirts for a short while longer, so take advantage while you can. If you haven't worn one before, you'll be amazed at the positive response. Click here to get your ImpeachBush apparel.Tomorrow's impeachment action
San Francisco impeachment action at Ocean Beach Saturday, January 6, 10:30am-12 noon
Just two days after the new US Congress convenes, 1,200 people will gather for an impeachment event in Nancy Pelosi's backyard - on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Early that morning, in 100 foot letters stretching 450 feet across the sand, volunteers from the Beach Impeach Project will outline the message: "IMPEACH."
At 10:30 a.m., the 1,200 attendees will arrive and lay their bodies down inside the message's lettering. At 11:00 a.m., a helicopter will arrive overhead and photographers will record the 1,200 in the sand spelling out "IMPEACH" with the SF skyline and the Golden Gale Bridge in the background. News editors will have compelling photos for the next morning's Sunday papers and the event will provide powerful visuals for the impeachment movement.
Join the event at Ocean Beach on January 6, 2007. 1000 Great Highway (Stairway 17), 10:30 a.m. to noon.