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.