Saturday, August 30, 2008

GOP breaks out the Jackboots for Peace Protesters at the RNC

The Republican convention hasn't even started yet and they've had at least 5 raids against students and protesters in MN/St Paul. A groups at the Convergence Space, including a 5 year old child, were made to lie on the floor face down and were handcuffed. The were only release if they agreed to be photographed.

In another raid, a Democracy Now journalist was held at gunpoint based on an incorrect warrant. The warrants were written so that simple things like nails, spray paint and iPods could be used as proof of criminal intent.

Just a bit ago, an Earth Justice bus, which is used for permaculture demonstrations, was confiscated and the passengers left on the side of the highway. Welcome to Bush's America, where hippie kids are treated like terrorists and Gestapo tactics are SOP.

Seriously, we need to get that son of a bitch out of our White House and restore some sanity to our law enforcement.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Is Condi Rice gay?

Michaelangelo Signorile has a post about his conversation with Glenn Kessler, author of The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, who brought up a few interesting facts. First, Condi's closest male friend is an openly gay man. Second, her closest female friend is a woman of unspecified sexual preference with whom she owns a house and shares a line of credit. I should have such friends.

This wouldn't be relevant if it weren't for the fact that Condi's work boyfriend/boss keeps his minions loyal by bashing gays and trying to suspend their rights to equal protection under the law. Are there ANY straight Republicans left? I'm beginning to wonder.

I've said many times that the opposite of attraction is not revulsion - it's apathy. If you aren't interested in a particular sexual activity, you just don't think about it. It isn't on your radar. If you obsess about it; want to pass laws against it; want to arrest consenting adults for doing it; think they're going to hell for it and want to speed things along by executing them; fire desperately needed interpreters in a time of war because they might be doing it; sneak male prostitutes past the secret service and into your press corps... you have a problem with your OWN attraction to said activity. Sooner or later, you get caught propositioning a cop in an airport bathroom or chasing little boys or sexually harrassing young men on your (ahem) staff.

Not that this would happen to Condi. Lesbians tend to be a little more discreet in their liasons, particularly when they have a long term partner. There are exceptions, of course, but that's the trend.

This bothers me because it smacks of venality. It means that the people in the Republican administration are working against their own kind for political gain. It means that they are manipulating the homophobia of their radical religious base while secretly doing that which they profess to abhor - kind of like those Televangelists who get caught with prostitutes. I don't know what's worse - the temerity, the hypocrisy or the denial and double-think required to function with such cognitive and behavioral dissonance.

The American people are, in large part, quite gullible. They are also poorly educated, superstitious and bigoted. If you can dig down below all of that, you'll usually find a good heart that wants to do the right thing. And that's the really furstrating part. The "Good Germans" thought they were good people, too. Patriotic, loyal, proud of their heritage, and generally everything good people want to be. The problem is that when you convince people that they have a divine mandate, the best of them will do the most horrible things, or at least turn a blind eye while others do.

I'm not convinced we can afford people the luxury of a closeted existence when whole groups of people are under attack, especially when some of those attacks originate in those self-same closets. I think it's time we all begin to deal with who we are, and to insist that those in positions of power do the same.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Black nooses hanging from the 'white' tree

Facing South:

Bill Quigley
Guest Contributor

In a small, still mostly segregated section of rural Louisiana, an all-white jury heard a series of white witnesses called by a white prosecutor testify in a courtroom overseen by a white judge in a trial of a fight at the local high school where a white student who had been making racial taunts was hit by black students.

The fight was the culmination of a series of racial incidents starting when whites responded to black students sitting under the "white tree" at their school by hanging three nooses from the tree. The white jury and white prosecutor and all white supporters of the white victim were all on one side of the courtroom. The black defendant, 17-year-old Mychal Bell, and his supporters were on the other.

The jury quickly convicted Bell of two felonies -- aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Bell, who was a 16-year-old sophomore football star at the time he was arrested, faces up to 22 years in prison. Five other black youths await similar trials on attempted second-degree murder and conspiracy charges.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The rest of the story, which is being reported across the world in papers in China, France and England, is just as chilling.


I don't know whether to cry, scream or throw up. For the love of Goddess, who loves ALL of her children, please go read the rest of the story. The entire succession of events, and the fact that the whites are virtually unscathed while the black are being victimized by the entire system, including a prosecutor who told the black kids "that if they didn't stop making a fuss about this "innocent prank I can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen." "

Apparently he's trying to do just that and it's working.

From the article:

People interested in supporting can contact:

The Jena 6 Defense Committee,
P.O. Box 2798
Jena, LA 71342

jena6defense@gmail.com

Friends of Justice
507 North Donley Ave.
Tulia, TX 79088,
www.fojtulia.org

ACLU of Louisiana
P.O. Box 56157
New Orleans, LA 70156

www.laaclu.org or 417-350-0536.




This is an urgent situation, so if you can send money, please do. If nothing else, join the ACLU because your dues go for things like this. This affects all of us, not just because the world is watching, but because none of us is free when shit like this can go down, and you know the Alberto's Justice Department won't do their jobs and stop this the way they should.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Blowback...

Naturally, the news had to bring in a lyin' ass Republican to counter the Edwards Tour on Poverty. This time around we have RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, your basic evil, entitled white guy speaking from Washington. The first thing he mentions is the haircut. *sigh... Then he says Edwards is out of touch with poverty in America - as statement dripping with such irony it makes my eyes hurt - and starts talking about how big Edwards house is and blaming him for the health care crisis in North Carolina because he used to sue doctors for medical mistakes.

Then, wouldn't you know, he mentions the bible. The Republicans' favorite line in the whole thing is "the poor will always be with us" and he trots it out, implying that we have no obligation to help the poor because Jesus says they can't be helped, and there's the implicit understanding amongst the Republican rich that anyone who wants a job has one, and if you were a good, "god"-fearing Xtian you wouldn't be poor anyway. I'm glad this guy isn't here in KY, because I might have to hunt him down and scream at him. Edwards even used the Gordon Gekko line in saying that the view in Washington has been "greed is good" and he resoundly rejects that. The Repubs don't have a leg to stand on here, put they keep throwing labels at Edwards that more accurately apply to themselves. When you haven't got a conscience, it's easy to lie like that, especially when you have no respect at all for your intended audience. Edwards does have the distinction of having used the "L" word in the debates for 2004. He said of Bush and Cheney "they will absolutely lie about anything." The person who will stand up and call shrub out for being the Liar that he is gets my vote, hands down.

Duncan next hammers the sore spot for this area - liquid coal plants. A lot of people in this area think liquid coal is going to save Eastern Kentucky, but they're only going to do what the coal industry has always done here - make the mine owners rich, get a bunch of miners killed, and destroy our environment. It won't do shit for poor people, even if they're directly employed by such a plant.

This area is still struggling to get plumbing and potable water to our poorest residents. (The coal industry has destroyed our ground water. You should see the sludge that comes out of the faucets in some places - or wells, if they don't have faucets.) The average income in the area Edwards visited today is $12,000 dollars a year. The drop-out rate is the highest in the state and therefore in the country. 1 in 4 people in Kentucky is disabled, and a large part of the population is simply unemployable, even for the most menial jobs because they are illiterate. Yet Floyd county has more millionaires per square mile than any other county in the country, because there are a few VERY wealthy mine owners who maintain residences here. Nowhere in America is the "2 Americas" analogy more accurate.

It's not a visible difference, though. That table full of guys in trucker hats and overalls at the local Dennys might have a combined worth that would make Donald Trump drool. Rich people here don't necessarily look rich, and their houses are hidden up in the hills behind gates and stone walls. The money isn't visible here.

Now here's where I get in trouble with my middle-class family...

The poverty in Eastern Kentucky is in. your. face. I can't begin to describe to you the conditions some people live in here. My best analogy is that Eastern KY is like an Indian reservation, without the sovereignty or government aid. We're isolated geographically and we have no infrastructure, so nobody gives a shit about us. They're trying to create tourism in this area with native arts and crafts, golf ranges, skate parks, ATV trails, horse trails and our new elk population, but tourists need things like hotels and restaurants. Except for fast food and an occasional Chinese smorgasboard or Mexican place, there's no such thing. The best meal in the area is supposedly the catfish at the Lodge at Jenny Wiley State Park. There is some higher culture in Kentucky, including fine restaurants, hotels and art galleries, but it's in Lexington and Louisville on the other side of the state.

Let me tell you about the hotels. There's a former Holiday Inn that one of my many, many cousins redecorated with a gun during a party. He was away for a few years. There's a motel that used to be the home of a satanic vampire cult that made the national news when it's "leader" - who was something like 17, and whose mom was a part of it and having sex with his friends - murdered his girlfriend's parents in Florida. There's one other place that Hillary Clinton got to stay in, which I understand is passable, but not great. So if you're coming to visit, bring a tent. We've got an abundance of open mountain land, as long as you don't mind copperheads, rattlesnakes (like the huge one my dad killed in the front yard last week) mountain lions (like the one my cousins down in hollow saw up on our side of the mountain the other night, so we can't let the dogs out after dark) bears, deer, tics and the aforementioned giant elk. No bees, though, so it's getting hard to grow anything. Don't get me started on the foreign insects and flora that have been brought into the area which all caused greater problems than they might have solved.

A friends husband once said that I lived in the middle of nowhere, but my reply was that I have to drive 3 hours to get to the middle of nowhere. That's why my family had to camp at the hospital in Lexington when my mom had two brain surgeries and couldn't be left alone. There are fabulous hospitals even in this area, though, because everyone is sick. Diabetes, heart disease and lung ailments (from exposure to coal) abound. Then there are the accidents, like the toddler who was burned this week when he dropped his sippy cup on some black powder some boys had been playing with, and the car that went driving down the state highway in front of my place shooting randomly the other night. Did I mention that we are the reason oxycontin is called "hillbilly heroin?" It's the number one form of recreation for our young people. We have the same pervasive problems with domestic violence and rape that are found on reservations, too.

Most people are older, poorly educated even if they finished school, and they're deeply indoctrinated in the local religion which is reactionary far beyond anything justified by the actual text of the bible, but they don't know that because the preachers they listen to are illiterate, too. Not just unschooled in theology, I mean can't read a word at all.

The middle class here is tiny, and even a county employee can be the biggest fish in this pond. The bigger fish get angry that this area is portrayed as impoverished. These are proud people, but frankly, they're in denial. You should see what passes for a newspaper here. It's more like a church newsletter, with columns by paperboys and adults who can't write, or even conjugate a verb. They won't touch anything controversial and there's no "investigative reporting" though we sorely need some for reasons I'll get into later on. I don't usually read it because it makes me want to hurt somebody.

Finally, the government recently decided not to put a bio-weapons lab in London, KY because they wouldn't be able to get anyone to work in it that would actually consider living here. The kicker for me is that people here were upset that they weren't going to get a lab full of anthrax and ebola in their back yards because it would have created jobs. Get that? They'd rather have a job doing scutt work around bio-weapons than live.

Is there really anything left to say after that? More power to you, John. Even if you don't succeed, at least you've got people thinking about the poor.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Gingrich Cites "Opportunity" to "Convert All Of America" To Fundamentalism

Think Progress

In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814


True, he was speaking at Liberty University, which was built by the late Jerry Falwell, and he was paying tribute to the old bigot. Never take these people lightly. They're dangerous.

Yes, Gingrich is a hypocrite that cheated on his wife while trying to impeach Bill Clinton over a blow-job, and we on the Left consider him a joke. The danger lies in the fact that too many people who just want to be good Christians end up being "good Germans" because they don't question people who are saying the things they want to hear.

The same people who never think to question the religion they grew up within also rarely question leaders who espouse that religion. They don't dig deeper, they just bask in the glow their own self-righteousness, thinking they are good people and people who think differently are not. People like Gingrich make a lot of money and wield a lot of power by manipulating the uneducated and well-intentioned. He's no more a Christian than Osama bin Laden, no matter what church he attends. His real "god" is money and he'll do anything to make it and to keep it. He'll tell lie after lie, with a straight face and conviction in his voice.

Yes, Newt would LOVE to turn this country into a theocracy. People would be much easier to control. It would be much easier to oppress the voices of dissent, or anyone who doesn't match his W.A.S.P-y ideal of an American citizen. He could make sure you never see anything on TV or read anything in a paper or on the internet that wasn't approved by Karl Rove - we barely do now. The more control these Christo-fascists get, the tighter the control they'll exercise over the media. Look what they did to PBS in the short time they controlled it. They got rid of Bill Moyers, one of the finest journalists in the world, and hired the odious Tucker Carlson. Tucker's another well-paid Republican liar, and spouted his nonsense weekly in spite of all evidence contradicting his lies.

The Bush administration has used their cloak of piety to loot the United States treasury and undermine the Constitution. I have no doubt that much of the 8 Billion (!) dollars that disappeared under the auspices of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq - a group consisting of young, poorly qualified true believers hand-picked for their loyalty to Bush - found its way into Republican pockets. Bush has wasted a Trillion dollars and nearly a million lives on his Christian Crusade, and he has violated not only the Constitution but international law as well.

The people who support him don't look past the facade of faith. They think he's a good Christian. He defends rape, torture and murder of people guilty of nothing but being in the wrong place at the wrong time, including women and children. He has imprisoned thousands, some for nearly 4 years, without due process. He spies illegally on your mail, your phone, your library and the internet, and is taxing the working public rapidly into abject poverty, but his followers still think he's listening to "god" so they let him create a new feudal state by voting against their own interests.

In the new Christian army, the solders might be believers, but the leaders are motivated by greed. Unfortunately, those soldiers will torture or kill anyone who isn't one of them, and feel like a good soldier for doing it. I'm not exaggerating - these people are dangerous.

Keep in mind that Bush expects Armageddon any minute now and he has the nukes to make it happen.

Learn your American history and keep it handy. When you hear the fundamentalists spouting their revisionist bullshit, stop them. They get away with too much. They'll continue to repeat the party line no matter what you do, but it you challenge them you might be able to reach others who are listening. The more you know, the more you have to fight with, and have no doubt that this is a fight - nothing less than your freedom as an American citizen is at stake.

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Francis Hopkinson, March 13, 1789

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.
Author: Thomas Jefferson

They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
Author: Thomas Jefferson
Source: letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.
-- John Adams, "this awful blashpemy" that he refers to is the myth of the Incarnation of Christ, from Ira D Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, quoted from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

"The founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected [Washington; Adams; Jefferson; Madison; Monroe; Adams; Jackson] not a one had professed a belief in Christianity....
"Among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."
-- The Reverend Doctor Bird Wilson, an Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, in a sermon preached in October, 1831.


"As the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] ... it is declared ... that no pretext arising from religious opinion shall ever product an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries....
"The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
-- Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate and signed into law by John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)

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