Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lovin' That Bad-Ass Bowen

I have a confession to make: I have a bit of a girl-crush on California Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Mind you, it's a purely innocent and respectful girl-crush, only slightly greater than my love for chunky peanut butter and dark, dark chocolate.

Nonetheless, a girl-crush it is.

How else to describe the feeling that swept over me last week when I read about her lawsuit against ES&S for selling uncertified electronic voting machines to California counties? Indeed, as I was on public transportation at the time, I was forced to suppress a happy squeal upon reading:
"ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught," Bowen said in a statement after filing suit against the company. "I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into the state, ignore the laws and make millions of dollars from California's taxpayers in the process."
It's enough to make a straight progressive girl all woozy from joy.

I was favorably impressed with Secretary Bowen from the moment I met her, back in her pre-SoS days of 2005, when she had been in the California Legislature for a number of years and your humble blogger was a wet-behind-the-ears activist of only three months, greener than a Granny Smith apple. Everything I've seen since has only cemented that initial favorable impression and I know that Secretary Bowen will continue to be very impressive.

Way to go, Secretary Bowen. And keep on gettin' down with your bad-ass self.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

To Feinstein's Staffers: RESIGN!

Guest Blogger: Michael Jay

Letter to Trevor Daley, District Director for Senator Dianne Feinstein

Dear Trevor,

Thank you for meeting with us yesterday.

I was deeply disappointed to awake to the news that Senator Feinstein has chosen to again side against her constituents and instead enable the Bush administration, this time by voting to confirm another atrocious choice as the highest law officer of the land. Mukasey's tortured parsing of his position on waterboarding is widely seen as a maneuver to protect those who would otherwise be guilty of war crimes for having ordered the use of this procedure.

It makes sense that Bush would offer a nominee who would cover for him; what doesn't make sense is why the senior Senator of the country's largest left-leaning state would give cover to Bush.

Don't take my word for that: Even Keith Olbermann could find a cynical reason as to what his own Senator had to gain by dealing with Bush, but was at a loss about California's Feinstein; he said, "Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and he has failed. What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess."

I can guess, for here, in California, Diane Feinstein's miserable record precedes this latest vote: Her votes to extend the Patriot Act and Bush's illegal circumvention of FISA, her support of Hayden to head the CIA (no surprise, in light of the aforementioned support for illegal wiretapping), her championing of bills and amendments on flag burning (I know that issue sure keeps my neighbors up at night), her atrocious giveaway to the vendors of electronic voting machines - oh, excuse me, I meant, her recent bill to revise HAVA, and her vote to censure MoveOn all make many wonder which Party our Senator belongs to.

Excuses about the possibility of Bush installing a much worse candidate, via a recess appointment, collapse in light of the courageous action by the many true Democrats on the panel, including Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold.

But there's a much deeper factor, isn't there? Senator Feinstein's current husband, Richard Blum, was a majority owner of the military contractors URS Corp. and Perini Corp. at the same time that the Senator supervised the appropriation of billions of dollars through her position on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) That means that, from 2001 through 2005, every time Senator Feinstein directed an appropriation, citizen Feinstein had a little bit more money for some fine dining in San Francisco. Again, this isn't just my theory; as you know, enough heat was brought to bear on this gross conflict of interest that the Senator had to resign from MILCON.

As you noted yesterday, I've politely lobbied the Senator in semi-private meetings, and it doesn't take much to see that the problems of one constituent don't amount to a hill of beans in the crazy world of the military industrial complex. Whether for profit or because she can't remember which Party she's in (let alone remember her oath to protect and defend the Constitution), Senator Feinstein chooses to enable Bush's disastrous agenda. So, now I need to repeat the request that I made to you yesterday:


As District Director, you are enabling one of the worst offenders among those who betray the Democratic Party and their country in this time of crisis. I submit to you that one man can have an impact; your resignation would be felt by the Senator, and noted around the nation. You said that citizen comments on Mukasey amounted to only a third of those concerning Judge Roberts, yet you also heard from several who reported that it was nearly impossible to phone the Senator's office. We are frozen out; you can send a message:


You could regain employment with one of the true Democrats. Help us build an opposition Party, before America goes past the point of no return. Help reverse the ludicrous stance of the Party, which has disappointed and abandoned its constituency to the point that more Republicans now approve of Congress than Democrats- despite our majority rule of both houses.

Please stop enabling those false leaders who enable this assault on our Constitution, our country and the world. You'll be able to look yourself in the mirror in the morning. Resign.

Thank you for considering this.


Michael Jay

Delegate, California State Democratic Party, 42nd Assembly District
Steering Committee, Progressive Democrats of America, Los Angeles
Coordinating Committee, SoCal Grassroots

PS - After our meeting yesterday, you saw me return to the building's lobby to criticize those guards who had lied to the police. Let me explain that, while Mimi Kennedy (National Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America), myself and four others waited politely for you to come down from the Senator's office, the lobby guards barred others from entering. After just a few complaints from these others, the guards summoned the police, by lying that "people were, or were trying to, break down the doors." I learned of this (mis-)characterization from the police officers themselves, who, thankfully, explained that they are experienced enough to know that people often exaggerate or fabricate in order to procure police presence. Know that the guards lied, that we were mischaracterized, and that the Senator and her staff are being ill-served by her landlord's employees.

To the hundreds of others reading this message: Please call Senator Feinstein's offices, and tell her how you think a Democratic California Senator should vote.
D.C.: 202-224-3841
SF: 415-393-0707
LA: 310-914-7300

Representative Howard Berman: Don't Block Impeachment

Guest Blogger: Michael Jay

Letter to Representative Howard Berman:
If you won't oppose Bush, at least don't oppose those Democrats who will!

Dear Congressman Berman,

On Tuesday Congressman Dennis Kucinich will introduce a privileged resolution to impeach Vice President Cheney.

It is a virtual certainty that another member will move to table this resolution.

What will you do?

We have debated at length our differences on the occupation of Iraq, and the wisdom of impeachment. Actually, we have no differences of opinion on Iraq: you have publicly agreed with every one of my observations, including the conclusion that the war makes us less safe; you differ, inexplicably, in the action that you take.

For years now I have begged you to be part of an opposition Party, to aggressively address Bush's assault on our country's reputation and bedrock principles. In this regard I have also demanded that you obey your oath to protect and defend the Constitution, by holding the Bush administration responsible for its irrefutably illegal actions.

You have espoused the same excuses I've heard from so many: "Impeachment will take too long" (though the time remaining is still four times the time it took to impeach Clinton and Nixon). "We don't have the votes"- as if they had the votes before they began investigating Nixon, and uncovered the smoking guns that even the Republicans couldn't deny. "It will keep us from more important work" - as if the current Congress was some beehive of new initiatives and unprecedented bipartisan efficiency. In reality, because of the failure of you and others to oppose Bush, he vetoes everything, and we pass nothing. The only thing my Party has achieved is to have squandered the wishes of those Democrats who put you in the majority with a mandate to stop funding the war and stand up to Bush. Your self described "conservative" agenda and the Party leadership's brilliant strategy has achieved one other thing: it has plunged Congress' approval ratings to 11%- less than half that of Bush's. Remember that, the next time you think my progressive stance is bad for the Party.

Well, here's your chance. You don't have to go out on a limb and introduce a resolution. You don't have to join a caucus or co-sponsor anything, or stick your head up out of the foxhole. This one's simple: I'm asking you to do nothing. That is, when the motion is made to table Kucinich's resolution to impeach, please DO NOT vote to table.

Is that so much to ask? That you not side with the Republicans (again)? That you let this action take its course, and give us a chance to get America back on track? That you see which other Democrats might show a spine? Maybe we'll surprise ourselves.

With Senator Feinstein enabling yet another lying Bush appointee for Attorney General, I'm so deep in this upside down world that I'm now asking you to do nothing: Please don't cast another vote that makes us citizen Democrats sick to heart to be Democrats. Please don't generate another front page headline in the LA Daily News like the one that read, "Berman Sides with GOP." Please let this one vestige of Thomas Jefferson's process take root for. Bottom line: If you won't oppose Bush, at least don't oppose those Democrats who will. Please remember that you took an oath- one you have yet to respect. Here's your chance. I, and the several hundred people with whom I'll be sharing this message, will be watching.


Michael Jay

Delegate, California State Democratic Party, 42nd Assembly District
Steering Committee, Progressive Democrats of America, Los Angeles
Coordinating Committee, SoCal Grassroots

PS - To those citizens reading this message: CALL CONGRESS (202-225-3121) and tell your Democratic Representative NOT to vote to table Kucinich's resolution of impeachment.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What Is Torture? Why Is the United States Government Willing To Practice It?

With all the controversy over the newest Attorney General nominee of this President, one has to ask the question: just what is torture and we will use the example of waterboarding.

Waterboarding is the horrendous method of interrogation that simulates drowing by dropping voctims strapped to a cruel albeit efficient version of our childhood teeter-totter and immersing them in water. This causes panic, can trigger cardiac incidents and drives victims to a near death experience.

Is this torture? President Bush's nominee Judge Mukasey says he doesn't know. But according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and even the US Military it is.

While our hosting organization has not taken an official position on the President's nominee; I would urge you to investigate the issue and convey your position to our Senator Diane Feinstein, as she sits on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Many of the organizations that many of us are in solidarity with have clearly stated their opposition to this nomination. We do not need a Alberto Gonzalez in sheep's clothing as the next Attorney General.

Why we protect our California Coastline

As a native Californian who was born, raised and grew up on the coast of California; I appreciate that we continue to strive to protect one of nature’s golden treasures, California’s coastline. Back in the Nixon administration, his Secretary of the Interior, Walter Hickle, who was a former governor of Alaska issued an order to not allow offshore oil drilling. He lost his cabinet position over that action.

A decade later we precincted and gathered signatures to qualify proposition 20, the California Coastal Initiative. This was done back when signature gatherers were not paid. We did all this when I was a college student. We created the California Coastal Commission which helped protect our coastline all these past years.

Lately the Liquid Natural Gas industry has taken two runs at getting approval for an LNG offshore terminal off of our coastline. They failed in Long Beach, and have been stopped at the Oxnard hearing of the State’s Land Commission. Now they are pushing for an offshore floating terminal in the Santa Monica Bay, or even taking over an unused former oil platform off of Santa Barbara.

We must strive to protect our pristine, natural coast to prevent any dangerous and environmentally tragic proposals such as an LNG terminal. This is a critical battle that we must win, we have to win every battle and the overall war. Let your elected officials, local, state, and federal know that you oppose any LNG terminal on our coastline.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Starting To Calm Down Just A Tiny Bit…

...some of the fires in Southern California, I mean.

Many of them are still ferociously blazing, unfortunately: the worst of them in San Diego County, for instance. But apparently the winds are finally starting to die down in L.A County, allowing the firefighters to start to get an upper hand.

Many have said this, but it's true: this is the worst fire season that I've ever seen. I've lived in Southern California since 1977 and many fire seasons have come and gone, but so many fires simultaneously springing up over such a wide area is unheard of in my recollection. When I first heard about how broad an expanse the various fires covered, my first thoughts were arson. It looks like that may be the case in several of the fires. These are the sorts of people who need to be strung up by their most sensitive body parts and left alive for a very long time.

No one I know has yet been affected, which is of the good, but I still feel for everyone who's been affected. If y'all want to help out and haven't done so yet, please do.

On a less positive (and far more cynical) note, while I'm happy that the folks in San Diego County who are being displaced have found shelter at Qualcomm - amongst other refuges - I am furious that this sort of coordination and level of help wasn't available to the folks profoundly affected by Katrina. Granted, part of it is that the head of FEMA in 2005 was an idiot who didn't have the first clue of how to organize a sock drawer, let alone such a vitally important federal emergency agency. The current FEMA chief comes from an emergency response background and shows signs of competence that is stunning for anyone appointed by Bush and Buddies.

However, that doesn't excuse the continuing lack of attention paid by the federal government to the fine folks in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. There's no reason why ALL the federal attention is going to the displaced in Southern California and none is being diverted to NO. Well, no good reason. The only other thing I come up with - besides FEMA being run by someone who knows a thing or two about fires - is that the areas hardest hit by the fires< are in northern San Diego County. And if'n ya know anything that area, you know that the residents are, for the most part, rich, white and Republican.

Cynical? Perhaps. But being "governed" by those currently in the Executive Branch has engendered a definite cynicism where none previously existed. Besides which, I, like many others, have seen how this administration caters to the wealthy and Republican. It's certainly not beyond the realm of probability. It would also explain why the only people really doing anything to help the Katrina-ravaged areas are those who live there. People who, for the most part, are not rich, are not Republicans, and are less white per capita than the population of NE San Diego.

Again, I am happy that the displaced have got quality shelter. But the federal government still needs to turn their attention back to the Gulf Coast.

We're ALL American citizens, Bush and Co. Don't you dare forget it again.

crossposted from just an ordinary goddess

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The US Under Apartheid & the 2008 Election


  • An official policy of segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against select members of society.
  • A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
  • The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

One of the concerns I hear most frequently voiced by democrats is that during the next election the Democratic party will split between the idealist, activist, grassroots and the more pragmatic, pro-business, pro-moderation members. The Common Wisdom is that a precursor of this disaster was seen in 2000 when Nader sucked up enough votes to help George Bush win the election. The Common Wisdom is wrong. It wasn't a lack of votes that caused the problem. The folks who "won" the election were determined to do anything they had to do in order to be handed the White House without open riots. The worst you can say about the Nader folks was . . . they probably saw it coming. They'd stopped trusting either party.
In preparation for the 2000 election, the "the powers that be" in Florida commissioned a "voter purge" that pulled 50,000 voters off the rolls, most of whom were liberal democrats, most of whom were black. Many of those voters came to the polls to vote in the election, as they had for years, only to find that they had been disenfranchised.
And when that wasn't enough to win the election, the Republican's turned to the courts of Florida to stop a vote count, and subsequently to the Supreme Court, to have the Florida court's decision over turned.
In the 2004 election, voters in Ohio were disenfranchised in a wide variety of well documented ways.
Across the country we are now using polling stations that are easy to tamper with. It has been proven, over and over again, that the vote HAS been tampered with. That it will be tampered with again is a foregone conclusion. Why else wouldn't those machines have been replaced and discarded. There's certainly been enough outcry and enough legal challenges to have brought that about. If the Democratic or Republican party leadership wanted those machines gone, they'd be gone.
And all this is in addition to all the ways in which key members of both parties have been effectively determining who will be a candidate and what issues will be voted on for years. You'll note that the population of this nation never gets to vote on a national health care system, and that's been something with a more than 60% approval for decades. These same folks determine which laws will be enforced. There are laws on the books against war profiteering and Halliburton is alive and well. We have laws against lying to congress and giving money to political cronies and torture. Bush is still in office, our last Attorney General was allowed to resign.
All of which means that we live under an apartheid government which effectively disenfranchises most of the people most of the time. If you are a democrat and the votes of OTHER democrats aren't counted, YOU are disenfranchised because you cannot ever "win" an election even if you have "won" the election. In fact, when the votes of Democrats aren't counted, even Republicans are disenfranchised because the election wasn't legal, didn't create consensus, doesn't represent the will of _anyone_ except the folks who rigged the election and their collaborators.
Its hard to imagine why the "pragmatic" among us, especially those in the democratic party, can't see their way clear to demanding immediate and visible action on election protection from the party and every single elected official as a condition for receiving their vote in 2008.
Actually I'm afraid I do understand why so many Democrats who call themselves pragmatists won't make that demand. Its because they know it will be refused. They want to believe there is still hope, that some how by accepting these "flaws" we can move on to other business. They believe that widespread election fraud is some kind of snafu that will ultimately be worked out.
If that's true . . . its terrifying. Ending apartheid _starts_ with giving every citizen a right to vote, and ensuring that vote is counted. As folks in South Africa, activists who fought for the rights of blacks in the US South, and survivors of the Holocaust will tell you . . . appeasement leads to tyranny.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Friday Afternoon, September 28th - Bring Our Troops Home Billboard Unveiled

From SoCal Grassroots - San Gabriel Valley

This Friday afternoon, September 28th, on the corner of Foothill Blvd and Archibald Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga a new billboard will be unveiled. It will proudly announce to all who pass that we should bring our troops home.

This all began nearly a year ago when the newly founded Inland Valley Democratic Club, in the heart of Bush country started demonstrating against the war in Iraq. It has been a remarkable example of grassroots democracy. At first it was a small group of demonstrators made up of veterans of the war in Vietnam and others who had the courage to stand on that corner of a very busy thoroughfare to express their outrage and displeasure with the war in Iraq. They withstood a lot of unhappy motorists in the beginning months, but gradually things turned around. Instead of the verbal abuse they initially encountered that disagreement turned to support as time went on. It has been an amazing transformation to where they now get many of the cars and trucks that pass by to honk their horns in support.

This adventure in grassroots democracy will culminate this Friday with the unveiling of the sign announcing to the world that, "We support the troops bring them home." All of you are invited to join in the demonstration against the war in Iraq and support of our troops that begins at 4:00 PM.

Here's that info again:
Friday, September 28, 2007
4:00 pm - ???
Corner of Foothill Blvd and Archibald Ave
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

Iowa & New Hampshire in a compressed Primary Season

In this front loaded primary season; the media would have you believe that the old rules still apply! This is the same media that is anointing the partisan leaders in the two party marathon for their respective nominations.

The fallacy is that when the primaries started moving up on the calendar and Super Duper Tuesday, February 5th, was filling up with California and New York the pundits said this was totally to the benefit of the Frontrunner/s! But, as the primaries and caucuses filled in the survivability of all the contenders changed. Every Democrat can stay through the California plus Tuesday elections. Delegates are selected in varying formulas; using the CA model any candidate that crosses the 15% threshhold will get delegates to Denver in the summer. The junior senator from New York is in it with a lot of cash until the end. The junior senator from Illinois can also afford to be in it through February. The next two candidates of Senator John Edwards and Governor Bill Richardson can both afford and have the grassroots operations that will guarantee a strong February showing. The two senior senators from Connecticut & Deleware can also stay in until February though they might be the first who drop out. Congressman Kucinich is in it for the message and will hold on with delegates to Denver! Lastly, the former senator from Alaska, I hope he returns home to run against Ted Stevens, will last for his message as well.

What does all this activity portend? In my humble opinion it portends the strongest possibility of a brokered or a small d democratic convention in Denver for the Democratic Party. There will be so many delegates attributed to the field of eight, that no one candidate will lock it up before the gavel is sounded on the first night!

The scenario under the classic rules was that you were bound as a delegate to the person you ran to represent, with the exception of uncommitted party leaders, until they released you. Under the DNC rules you are bound through the first ballot. If Senator Clinton is not the presumptive nominee or negotiates a first ballot victory; then the nominee can well be another. The band wagon delegates, the opportunist delegates in CA for example who ran after the primary, and those who are smarting under the bare knuckle bruising of the primary; they will look around the room and become the new majority for another nominee for 2008! You read it here and I will either be part of the vanguard for new politics, or "how could you have been so naive"?

Bush Transcript Proves He Intentionally Deceived US

I think this is the smoking gun. We had the Downing Street memos which indicated what this proves, but that was a "report" of a conversation had with the Bush Administration. It did not feature Bush's actual statements word for word. We now have a word for word transcript of statements made to Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, and Condoleeza Rice. He made these statements while he was telling the people of the US (and Congress) that all options were on the table with Iraq, and war would be a "last resort".

Saddam was willing to leave Iraq without war. Why, if regime change was the desired outcome, did we have to go to war with Iraq? Saddam could have walked away (could have been captured, imprisoned or assassinated despite assurances to the contrary). War was never necessary to oust him.

I suspect the truth is . . . the occupation of Iraq was always the objective.

And that is distrurbing. Becuase it indicates that this administration has gone to a great deal of trouble to "acquire" Iraq, and thus likely has no plans whatsoever to leave that nation, any more than it plans to remove all its troops from Germany or Japan.

Since this is SO CAL GRASSROOTS, I have every confidence you'll want to make up your own mind based on the evidence. Here's some documents to refer to.

Link to English story

Link to original transcript (in Spanish)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Best Liberal Laugh event -- with Stephanie Miller

Although Stephanie Miller's progressive talk show/comedy cavalcade is beamed every weekday morning right out of Burbank to stations nationwide, her SoCal fans seldom get the chance to see her right here, especially in a political setting--and with her WHOLE CREW. Now's your chance.

The Burbank Democratic Club-of which I am the founding past president- is presenting our “Best Liberal Laugh of the Year” award, the BLLOTY, to her whole show from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 13.

The event includes dinner, dessert, plus the chance to mix, pose and hurl questions in Q&A style with not only Stephanie but also her on-air mates: executive producer Chris Lavoie and “voice deity” Jim Ward, plus associate producer Rebekah Baker (“on phones and drums.”) It's a rare chance to see all four together, in person, and enjoy some of the impromptu, unpredictable wit and barbs that make their rapid-fire show such a hoot.

Keynoter will be Elliott S! Maggin, the principal scribe for 15 years of "Superman comics" who's now running as the “Truth, Justice, and the American Way!” Dem in the CA-24 House race. I'll be serving as your humble emcee, and we'll also have the musical punchlines of Elton John and "What's My Line, Live on Stage" keyboardist Adam Chester.

For more information about the event, click here.

Seating is limited. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How Not to Get Microwaved At Future Protests & Riots (Really)

As Katrina indicated, this government is perfectly capable of abusing its own people just as it has abused the Iraqi people. And, isn't that a truism? What a nation does to people outside its borders eventually comes home. And it is not as if this nation is a stranger to domestic oppression. Native Americans and people of color are all to aware that being born in this country is no guarantee of civil rights.
So, I'm here to warn you. One day you may be at a protest and truck will drive up with a big flat rectangular screen. At first you may wonder if it is a television sattelite truck. If that screen is flat, it is not. Start moving _away_ from the truck. Its a "Microwave" weapon. Look up ACTIVE DENIAL SYSTEMS on Google. You'll find it described in great detail in the national media.
Active Denial Systems (or Directed Energy Weapons) are already being deployed in Iraq. "A Belgian doctor who braved the war in Iraq has, in his Baghdad Diary, provided an account of a possible first military antipersonnel use of DEW. The horrible account is given of a bus containing civilians that was fired upon on 1 April 2003 in A1 Sqifal, near Hilla, from an American checkpoint. According to reports from Dr. Saad El-Fadoui, a 52-year-old surgeon who studied in Scotland and who immediately went to the site of the incident from Hilla Hospital, "the bodies were all carbonized, terribly mutilated, torn into pieces". In and around the bus he saw heads, brains and intestines. According to witnesses no one had heard the sound of an explosion and no traces of shrapnel were found on the bodies..."
The manufacturers of the ADS system say say its a non-lethal weapon. It just boils the top layer of skin all over your body. And they'll tell you is not a "microwave" weapon. It's a millimeter wave weapon. The shorter the wave, the more the damage. I wonder . . . Could there be a dial (or a hack) that lets you set the length of the wave and the power behind it?
There's a hand held model of this weapon, so in addition to tasers we may soon have "Hand Held People Friers" in the hands of soldiers, policemen, INS agents, the FBI, etc.
Some folks say metal stops the rays. Skin boils, even skin under clothes . . . but clothes don't burn. In those old SCI Fi shows everyone's always wearing shiny metal clothes. Now you know why. Actually, I'm not entirely sure light-weight metal will stop the effect. You might need a suit of armor to face down these machines.
So if LA gets a big Earthquake, and the feds fail to respond with humanitarian aid (as they did with Katrina) and National Guard (oops, they're in Iraq, so maybe we'll get federal troops instead) are sent to quell the rioting caused by hunger, thirst and despair . . . I'm telling you. Stay away from the flat paneled trucks and the hand held people friers.
PS: There's a new hand held thermobaric weapon that is also being tested in Iraq. "This is a version of the standard USMC Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon but with a new warhead. Described as NE - "Novel Explosive"- it is a thermobaric mixture which ignites the air, producing a shockwave of unparalleled destructive power, especially against buildings." http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001944.html
This really is a brave new world . . .

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One More Major Reason to leave Iraq Now

Just when I was preparing to blog this week on another subject - what do I see on the mornings headlines? "Safety an issue without Blackwater". The article continues with the fact that trips outside the Green Zone are restricted or not happening; and that means the US support meetings cannot occur with the various Iraqi ministries. That really makes it simple. The State Department is stating that they cannot do the diplomatic mission in Iraq without the services of Blackwater mercenaries! Yes, let's not be timid; these private security personnel are mercenaries. They are being paid large salaries to kill without the color of authority; but we have forced the occupied government of Iraq to exempt them from any prosecution for their violence upon the people of Iraq.

What is simple - this - GET OUT OF IRAQ now. Governor Bill Richardson is correct. Evacuate the country in six months. It can be done. Muslim nations will supply a force of peacekeepers. The vacuum that we are warned about will not occur, and the nations in closest proximity along with nations that bow to Mecca six times daily will supply troops to assist in stabilizing Iraq.

What have we lost by leaving Iraq. Let's enumerate them. We lose the carnage of young men and women continuing this folly. We lose sweet heart deals with the Vice President's cronies. We lose the improper control of another nations oil. We start to regain our reputation in the eyes of the world community. This reformation to moral standing in the world will have to be accomplished by a Democrat in the White House!
Not any Democrat, but one who has the experience of world diplomacy, UN experience, congressional skills in dealing with the people's congress, and a record of accomplishment. Where do we find such a paragon of leadership. Right here in the neighboring state of New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson would be the right person for the job at this time in history.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Have You No Shame

I was going to add to the din of "good riddance" at the soon to be departed Attorney General of the United States. What dissuaded me?
The President had the gall to go to New Orleans and add his simpering platitudes to the real mourning of the city and its citizens at the 2nd Anniversary of Katrina! This lame duck executive cares more about any city in Iraq then the entire Gulf Coast of this country. It isn't that one shouldn't have an expansive heart; it is the false note of this administration doing anything substantive for the devastated gulf coast and Crescent City. I will admit that my families roots are from New Orleans and a young Annie Gleeson came from Ireland in the hold of a Cotton Ship before she became what my French Cousins call "Shanty Irish". My mothers ashes rest below the caskets of one set of grandparents in St. Louis Cemetary # 2, the second oldest cemetary in New Orleans.

Back when Senator Joe McCarthy was conducting another witch hunt during the infamous Army-McCarthy hearings; the plaintiff's attorney asked the senator, "Have You No Shame" in response to a particular bit of verbal slander.

This morning the current occupant of the West Wing used the ceremony to again launch in on a litany of failed and dubious programs. He should just send down an armed car with disbursements for the people, release the Louisiana National Guard, authorize the Seabees to help rebuild the devastated infrastructure, and find someone competent to head up FEMA. President Bush, "Have You No Shame".

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Fly to Drop - Conny McCormack

First Rove, then Gonzales, now Conny McCormack - Registrar of Voters for Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States - has announced that she is retiring, effective the end of 2007.


Long time readers of this humble blog remember that we here at SoCal Grassroots aren't exactly fans of L.A. County's RoV. We've written about her insistence that we just not worry our pretty little heads about proprietary software and that she just doesn't concern herself about the "statistical abnormalities" of Ohio's voting during the 2004 presidential election. I've seen her speak several times and she has always struck me as someone who is more concerned about making her job easier and getting her buddies at Diebold nice fat contracts than the accuracy of the vote.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, however. It seems that - much like Rove and Gonzales - she's planning on entering the private sector, concentrating on "shifting [her] energies and experience to election administration research and consulting both within the U.S. and worldwide."

I feel very sorry for those whom choose to hire her as a consultant.

My Oh My...

....this looks like a week for Schadenfreude Pie.

Not only has yet another anti-gay Republican legislator been caught with his hand in the "soliciting gay sex in a public restroom" cookie jar and dear ol' Al Gonzales resigned as US Attorney General, but last week even Republican creationists on the Texas State School Board voted against including intelligent design in science classes.

Schadenfreude Pie - dark, rich and delicious...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank You, Teddi

Early Tuesday morning, Teddi Winograd passed away in her Beverly Hills home from cancer, her family by her side. She was 87.

Your humble blogger didn't know Teddi all that well. I worked for her daughter Marcy last year, when Marcy ran for Congress against Jane Harman. It was through Marcy that I met Teddi and attended several events and meetings in her home. She always impressed me as being kind, warm and generous, welcoming to all who entered her home. She seemed to be strong of heart and mind, didn't suffer fools gladly and was fiercely devoted to her family.

She was also quite the activist, sure to be on the front lines and in the front rows of numerous protests and progressive events, many of those events in her own home. Her convictions drove her to fight for peace and justice and the real American Way.

I didn't know Teddi well, but I was amongst those who could count themselves as lucky for knowing her at all.

Thank you for your hard work, your graciousness and your positive energy, Teddi. You will be missed by many.

Teddi Winograd: The "Maternal Heart" of Progressive Democrats

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

POTUS is really amazing

POTUS, the President of the United States, this morning spoke to the National Convention of the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars. In his lack of timerity, this President spoke to Veterans without addressing veterans problems. He thanked them for fighting, dying, and serving their country! No where did I hear any apology for declining VA services, inhospitable Hospitals, nor a lack of budgetary concern for military families.

What did he speak of on this informercial shown almost completely by the faux fox clone, CNN; well I'll tell you.
He gave us a history lesson complete with fallacies that would make a Logics professor blush. He started with Japan and World War II, took a reminiscenct visit to the Korean Police Action, and even spoke of Vietnam as a precursor to the current occupation of Iraq. He compared Vietnam to Iraq while spinning a fiction that would make for a great Kubrick farce; though this occupant of the White House oozed that hypocritical sincerity he is infamous for with no shame at all exhibited. He even mentioned Graham Greene's "The Quiet American", it is good that someone in the West Wing is literate!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Keep an eye out for the westwitch from Texas

First off an apology for all white witches and good people - the west witch moniker just seemed to fit. Karl Rove, political beastie and policy wonk, is not setting his sail and going off in the west. Notwithstanding how he may protest that it is what he is doing, and that he has no new West Wing/Oval Office plans - yes, absolutely I believe everything this white house tells us!!!

At the least the Texas Republican paryty has to be warmed by the fact that this political pirranha is back in their coastal waters - remember that Politics at it's best or worst is a Blood Sport not made for the squeamish! Soon he will be the new Public Affairs Senior Vice President at a Cheney like salary in some heretofore unknown company. Who knew Hughes Tool before Howard, Halliburton before Cheney, and then we will discover that this unnamed company has been the recipient of the largess of great amounts of Federal dollars from the DOD, NASA, State Department and other administration bagmen!

Of course, to discover this news one would have to listen to, view or read the foreign press - you know the last bastion of an inquiring media outside of the print work of a hand full of Grey Ladies, the NY Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, and the former Wall Street Journal front page bullet articles. I would start with the BBC, the Economist, and other open sources available as long as the internet is neutral and free
in so far as access that is!

I miss the days of my youth when I would listen on the shortwave, a Zenith Transoceanic, to both the world edition of the BBC, and also Radio Moscow, the english language version. Now that gave you a world eye's view of different opinions.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Congressional Cowardliness: Good for Bush - Bad for the US

Saturday's capitulation by Congress to Bush and his administration's desire to pay more attention to citizens' private communications than to National Intelligence Estimates and real intelligence gathering has, understandably, got a lot of knickers in knots (including my own). By making a previously - and rightfully - illegal act into a legal one, Congress has ensured that private communications with friends, business contacts and loved ones in other countries are now within the purview of a power-hungry administration. Because you know our letters and packages are next.

Good one, guys. And here I thought you Dems were elected to stop this mad, mad, mad administration.

Oh, they say that they're doing it for us and have limited the law to a six month period, to end in February. And several of the Dems that said, "Sure, Bush, go ahead and infringe on the privacy of law-abiding American citizens," have said that they'll be working to fix the law. Speaker Pelosi's her blog said that S. 1927, "[...]contains many provisions that are unacceptable and she does not believe that the American people will want to wait that long before corrective action is taken." Question for all of you Dems who decided to capitulate: if this law is so very broken that it requires fixing, 1) why wait until September to start fixing it and 2) why even pass it at all? A bad law is a bad law. Pure and simple. And if y'all think Bush and Pals are going to let the sunset clause take effect, you have another think coming. Even if they do, they'll just bully Congress again and, yet gain, Congress will cave. They did it with the Patriot Act - you can be damned sure they'll do it with the Protect America Act.

BTW, California's own Senator Feinstein "defended her vote for the Republican version of the spy bill in part by circulating a letter she had received from McConnell describing the ways that the intelligence community would safeguard U.S. citizens' privacy under the new espionage authorities." Because they've been doing such a great job of that in the past, when wiretapping was illegal. Yeah, that's pretty damned believable.

Not surprisingly, protesting has commenced. MoveOn has got a petition urging Congress to reverse their capitulation. The ACLU "will today file legal papers with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requesting that it disclose recent legal opinions discussing the scope of the government's authority to engage in secret wiretapping of Americans." Even the telecoms have gotten in on the act, though there is speculation they're doing it more to avoid lawsuits than to protect US citizens' privacy.

Let's keep screaming. Contact your senators and represnetatives. Let them know that this is an unforgivable act by the very people we elected to curb the abuses of the Bush administration.

Let's protect our privacy.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Voting Machines Have Failed The Hacking Tests...

..color me the opposite of surprised.

(View LIVE hearing now!)

A few months ago California Secretary of State Debra Bowen decided to do something strange and unusual: she kept her campaign promises and instituted a top-to-bottom review of California's voting systems. The results of her review - published on Friday - showed that every electronic voting system had security issues:
The report documents 15 security problems found in the devices. For example, researchers were able to exploit bugs in the Windows operating system used by the Diebold GEMS election management system to circumvent the system's audit logs and directly access data on the machine. They were able to get a similar level of access to Sequoia WinEDS data as well.

Testers were also able to overwrite firmware, bypass locks on the systems, forge voter cards, and even secretly install a wireless device on the back of a GEMS server.
Those in the election protection community have been decrying the probabilities of such security failings for years, as have computer experts who have studied the problem, some of whom have been working on alternative, non-proprietary voting systems. So it's rather gratifying to learn that we have elected a secretary of state who listens to the concerns of the voting public and experts in their fields and takes the appropriate steps to rectify the situation.

However, something rather disturbing has been revealed: ES&S - the company that provides to Los Angeles County its electronic voting systems (including the machines that tabulate the InkaVote ballots) - did not provide access to its machines until it was too late to be included in this report. Secretary Bowen has said that ES&S systems will be evaluated at a later date. It is uncertain at this time whether the evaluation will be done in time for the February 2008 primaries, which could leave LA County (the county in which your humble blogger resides and the most populous county in the country) without certified machines. And the chances are excellent that our Registrar of Voters, Conny McCormack (who never met Diebold sales literature she didn't like), will be amongst the Californian RoV's and County Clerks who may choose to ignore Secretary Bowen's findings and use systems currently in place, even should they be uncertified.

There's a tough fight ahead, my dears. Thank heavens we have Debra Bowen on the side of transparency and democracy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

State GOP Leaders - Not Fond of the Poor

For the last month the California State Senate has been unable to pass a budget, thanks to stalling by the Senate's Republicans. Flatly rejecting the budget passed by the Assembly, the Republican Caucus, as led by Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine), has insisted that the new budget slash an additional $1 billion in spending without giving detail as which programs would bear the brunt of such heavy slashing.

Until today.

Senate Republicans will present their budget to the California Senate today, but Ackerman has revealed a few of the proposed cuts: in a move that surprises no one, state welfare is a primary victim of the budget cuts, with $324-million to be yanked from its already too-lean budget:
After holding up the state budget nearly a month past deadline, Senate Republicans offered Tuesday to end the impasse if Democrats would move tens of thousands of poor families off welfare and make dozens of additional program cuts.
I understand the need to make sure that welfare is going to those who need it most and to root out fraud, which is what Ackerman says these cuts are supposed to accomplish. But the fact of the matter is, children will be hardest hit by these proposed cuts, since the slashing "[...] would eliminate safety net cash grants that are intended to keep children whose parents do not meet work requirements from becoming homeless. Children whose parents are in the country illegally also could lose assistance under the Republican plan."

Once again the GOP leadership shows that they don't care about those in our society that are most in need.

What a surprise.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Executive Branch Job Description Includes Treason

Today the lawsuit against Cheney, Rove, Libby and Armitage brought by Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson was dismissed because, according to Judge John Bates, Plame and Wilson "failed to show the case belongs in federal court."

I don't see how a case of treason, in which a covert agent's cover was blown in an extremely public manner by members of the current administration, could possibly NOT belong in federal court. But I'm not a Bush appointed judge who worked for Kenneth Starr during the Clinton impeachment debacle, so maybe my grasp of conservative legalese is a little off.

As is, it would seem, my knowledge of what is included in the job description of members of the executive branch as, according to the defense lawyers and Judge Bates,"federal law protects Cheney and the other top administration officials from being sued for actions taken as part of their official duties."

Who'da known that treason was part of their official duties? Guess all those former members of the executive branch over the last 200+ years were just not performing their jobs in a satisfactory manner.

I hope future administrations take note of this.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We Have Nothing To Fear...

...except for whatever's rumbling in Michael Chertoff's gut.

Apparently Chertoff ate some really bad calamari, because he's saying that he has a "gut feeling" about possible terrorist attacks within the US:
He based his assessment on earlier patterns of terrorists in Europe and intelligence he would not disclose.

"Summertime seems to be appealing to them," Chertoff said in his discussion with [The Chicago Tribune] about terrorists. "We worry that they are rebuilding their activities."
Can't say that's surprising. There's something about a beautiful hot summer day that inspires feelings of suicidal and murderous hatred of the Western Capitalist Dogs in all of us.

And that's not the only thing to fear, my friends. Anonymous government sources have informed the media that an Al Qaeda cell might be on its way to the US or may already be here!

(Execpt. According to Global Security.org, the United States is most likely already home to autonomous underground al Qaeda cells. So the possibility of a "new" cell on its way to terrorize us all is ludicrous.)

Then again, perhaps we've nothing to fear after all. The FBI is building a new database and mining data on Americans in an effort "to assess the risk posed by people identified as potential or suspected terrorists." So we should be fine, right? It's not as if the FBI would abuse it or force people to keep quiet through National Security Letters, would it? And if it did and the Attorney General was told about it, he wouldn't lie about it, would he?

Hmmm, maybe we have something to fear after all. And it ain't Al Qaeda.

Damn that bad calamari...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Matter of When, Not If

The fact that Libby isn't going to jail comes as no surprise to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. I think most of us knew it was merely a matter of when, not if.

However, there is some surprise that the form this deus ex machina took was one of commutation, not pardon. It's a savvy move, though. Pardoning a criminal convicted of obstruction of justice in a case of treason whilst the defense is still appealing the conviction shows that, high-handed as Bush's administration tends to be, they're still trying to give the appearance that they believe in following the at this stage than an outright pardon.

Of course, once the appeal is rejected (and trust me, it will be rejected), Bush will play the pardon card.

Unless the appeal makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Chances are damned good that another 5-4 decision would be handed down by those unjust justices.

Either way, Libby will never see the inside of a prison.

Guess treason just ain't as serious as it used to be.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Let the Chipping Away Commence!

It seemed to take a long time, but it's finally happened. In what's proven to be a very busy week for those folks in the long black robes, the conservative U.S. Supreme Court has finally started chipping away at limiting corporate-funded broadcast ads, separation of church and state, voluntary affirmative action and antitrust laws. These new decisions go cozily hand in hand with the recent upholding of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.

If it weren't so vital to the citizens of the United States to fight against these injust justices, I'd be tempted to sit back with some buttered popcorn, Twizzlers and SnoCaps and watch the show. Because, my friends, this is only the beginning of the epic foulness to come.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Give Federal Appeals Court a Cookie

Actually, they deserve a boat-load of cookies - Court overrules Bush 'enemy combatant' policy:
The Bush administration cannot legally detain a legal U.S. resident it believes is an al-Qaida sleeper agent without charging him, a divided federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The case involves a Qatari national and suspected al-Qaida operative who is the only person being held in the United States as an "enemy combatant."
Thank heavens that the rule of law wins the day. Let's hope that this leads to the appeals court recognizing that this rule of law should apply to "enemy combatants" held on behalf of the US in other countries. No one should ever be held indefinitely without being charged. Because the Sixth Amendment is a good thing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It's A Step...

Senate OKs referendum on Iraq war:
California could become the first state to formally call for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq under a ballot proposal the state Senate approved Wednesday.


The resolution is an advisory measure that voters would consider on the presidential primary ballot next February. The proposal is expected to be approved by the Assembly, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said publicly whether he will sign it.
Many see this resolution as a cynical ploy to bring out more Democratic voters to the polls in February, mainly so that voters will also vote for the change in term limits that Democratic law-makers are pushing for.

Frankly, I don't care.

Granted, though I'm not entirely crazy about term limits (we lost Jackie Goldberg, Dario Frommer and Paul Koretz when they were termed out), I'm not sure about voting to change term limits to keep Perrata et al. in state leadership positions.

However, it's time that California - and states in general - sent a strong message to the Bush Administration that we need to get the hell out of Iraq. Especially after the horrific capitulation of Congress to Bush's need to kill even more of our fine soldiers.

(Your erstwhile contributor was unable to write about that miscarriage of voter trust as everything came out as incoherent spittle. I'm barely able to keep from reverting even now. Back to the state resolution...)

Republican legislators are saying that such a resolution is not within the state's purview:
"We're elected by the people of California to handle the issues of California," asserted Senate GOP leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine. "If you want to handle federal issues, you can try to be elected to Congress."
What an extremely narrow view of the responsibilities of California legislators. Every aspect of the Iraq Occupation affects Californians on a deep level. We're losing soldiers over there. Our National Guard troop strength is down, in part due to deployment in Iraq. Like other states, our taxpayers are throwing money into a spiraling federal deficit.

We've got to get out. We've got to move on this now. And this is a good step.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Treatment Is Worse Than the Disease

Earlier this year Governor Schwarzenegger put forth a bold new health care proposal for California, requiring that all Californians purchase health insurance. While laudable, there is concern that the subsidized coverage which is promised to those who cannot afford insurance could put a serious strain on an already over-burdened budget, even with companies pitching in 4% of their payroll to a state account, should they decide not to provide insurance to their employees.

In response, Democratic legislators have put together their own proposals, which would require companies to foot a larger piece of the pie:
Escalating the already tense fight about what financial burden businesses should bear, the Democrats who control the Legislature proposed Tuesday that most California employers be required to spend the equivalent of at least 7.5% of their payrolls on health care — nearly twice the amount Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed.

The mandate on employers would raise more than $5 billion and — along with federal taxpayer money and worker contributions — allow California to extend insurance to about 69% of the 4.9 million people who lack it at any given moment. Among states, only Hawaii has a significant employer mandate. But the Democratic proposals in California would go further by including dependent coverage and more part-time workers.
Those of us to the left-of-center tend to celebrate proposed legislation that helps those who, for whatever reason, cannot do for themselves. Especially if large corporations are the ones who contribute a healthy percentage of the costs.

The problem with this, however, is that large corporations, as a rule, already offer health care benefits to their employees and would not be required to give to the state fund unless the employee benefits equaled less than 7.5% of payroll. So guess who the burden to fund the desperately needed health care state fund would fall upon?

The small business owner.

Another thing that we liberals tend to like to encourage is independent business. We usually like our local mom-and-pop record stores and book stores over the soulless mondo-stores. We think Geek Patrol is kinda neat, but prefer to give our computers to the repair guy in the neighborhood who is a wiz at retrieving our info from fried drives. And isn't it better for the little guy to make money at coming up with new toys than for Mattel to rake in even more from ever-expanding toy opportunities?

Problem is, the average small business owner simply cannot afford to contribute 7.5% of payroll. That's assuming employees can even be afforded. Says Larry Spinak, founder of CompuNerds, "I have two employees, but they're really subcontractors and I use them part time. A big reason I don't have regular employees is because I can't afford all the benefits, etc. Another 7.5% would make it even more difficult."

And for those who do have employees? The proposed requirement could potentially put them out of business. According to a local business owner working in the toy industry (who prefers to remain anonymous), "Any additional tax on small business is potentially crippling. 7.5 percent of payroll is a huge number once you know that payroll is the largest expense in any business, 40 to 70% of all company income in many cases. Add that to the myriad of existing taxes - state, federal and local - insurances required by law, unemployment contributions and the ever famous 7.5% matching funds for Social Security. [...] This expense can make the difference between hiring and not hiring and not having a business to employ anyone including oneself."

Many large companies, should they decide the requirements of a certain state are too onerous to their bottom line, can opt to move to a friendlier state. It's not cheap, but they have the resources.

Not so the small business. Even if the business isn't tied to the community - as many of them seem to be - uprooting to another street would be prohibitive, let alone another state. We'd lose more of what we lefties love and there are precious few of those independent minded business folks as it is.

This is another reason why single-payer health care is so important to Californians. The system needs to be completely revamped and the playing field needs to be leveled, but not on the backs of the poor.

And not on the backs of small business owners.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Politics, Film -- United They Stand

I'm always shocked when someone says "I hate political films". Isn't almost every film political? Crime, punishment, war, peace, racism, oppression, liberty, the right to work, the fight to feed a family . . . those are all political topics and those topics form the foundation for many of the very, very best films.

I think politics and film are a match made in heaven . . .

Why are people so afraid to discuss and debate the critical issues of our time? Is it because they fear one another? Is it because they fear the future? Is it because they fear our nation and our world will never find consensus again? I think so . . .

Which is why we need to keep politics in film.

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", "Lilies of the Valley", "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "1984", "V for Vendetta", "Schindler's List". . . Films can and do change the world. They create a forum in which we can discuss the most difficult aspects of the problems that confront us. They create a common experience we can explore.

When people find a way to talk about issues and events that effect folks on the silver screen, they find it that much easier to dicuss the issues and events that effect them in the real world. We need politics in film to start the conversations that shape our collective destiny.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Brother, Can You Spare a Twenty?

On May 10, Robert Greenwald testified before congress about profiteering.

He took on a misguided conservative congressman, and gained a committment to from that congressman to go with Greenwald to talk to soldiers in his district. Those of us who have talked to soldiers regarding profiteering know what this congressman will hear. Soldiers will wonder why their water is contaminated with parasites. Soldiers will ask why military contractors get paid $100,000+ a year tax free when soldiers get paid less than $24,000 as a rule. Soldiers will want to know why tens of billions that should have been spent on rebuilding Iraq have disappeared and why no one has been held accountable for the theft.

Greenwald spoke for me that day. He asked if our nation really wants to have corporations make billions off war. Greenwald and I agree. If you wage war with well-paid mercenaries, you'll end up in a lot more wars.

The US needs a National Defense Department, not a Murder for Hire Department.

Greenwald is going to be producing a host of short films in the weeks and months to come. He's going to do the kind of explosive investigative reporting that exposed Iraq profiteering, the strange and frightening relationship between Fox News and the White House, and Walmart's war on the middle class.

Pledge $10-$20 a month to support Greenwald's work. Let him speak for you as he has spoken for millions. You're buying your country back.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Online Entertainment for Soldiers? Not In This Man's Army...

...at least not easily.

Over two weeks ago it was revealed that the US Army was clamping down on soldiers' blogs, even after the soldiers returned home. Now the Pentagon has has blocked access to sites such as YouTube and MySpace on military networks:
No more using the military's computer system to socialize and trade videos on MySpace, YouTube and nine other Web sites, the Pentagon says.

Citing security concerns and technological limits, the Pentagon has cut off access to those sites for personnel using the Defense Department's computer network.

The change limits use of the popular outlets for service members on the front lines, who regularly post videos and journals.
The Pentagon still allows soldiers to use their own computers, nor does it affect internet cafes in the area, which are run by a private vendor. However, for those soldiers who don't have the money to go to internet cafes or purchase laptops (or for those whose families are too poor to afford computers to ship to them), their access possible morale boosting entertainment has been severely curtailed.

As usual, those without money are getting the short, pointy, infected end of the stick.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Divide and Conquer

The most effective lie the Fascists running the national Republican Party have tried to foist on the nation is the idea that "the Democrats are Disorganized".

What they really mean is, the Democratic Party isn't an army.

That's for the best. Being in the "Republican Army" sucks. To be a "good Republican" these days you have to tell the world you believe invading Iraq to the tune of 500+ Billion dollars was a grand idea. You have to swear you don't think the President lied to Congress and the rest of the world about the necessity for war. You have to promise not to do anything significant about Global Warming . . . You really have to sell yourself and your family down the river to stay in that marching band.

Remember this . . . the Best Defense against an army is millions of well armed, well funded revolutionaries.

Revolutionaries don't have a "plan", they have objectives. They work in small cells to acheive those objectives. Armies hate revolutionaries because you never know where they will strike next.

Some Democrats are the "angry mob" that gather outside the the White House gates demanding Impeachment. Others fight for freedom in the courts, working hard to hold this junta accountable. Still others fight in the media to free the minds of fellow Americans . . .

The folks running the Republican Party wish they were facing an army. It would make things so much easier. Instead they just face more than a hundred million angry citizens determined to get their country back.

The next time someone says "Those Democrats are sure disorganized," smile. That's what the Red Coats always say . . .

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"It's Midnight in America, Jon"

I found my political salvation, as many have, in Jon Stewart. He is a secular messiah to hundreds of millions because he demonstrates the only successful and peaceful strategy for restoring sanity to our nation in these troubled times.

He is not afraid.

He's not afraid of his government, the terrorists, his fellow Americans. And his lack of fear keeps his anger in check and lets him address the issues the rest of us run from. He looks into the heart of darkness . . . and laughs.

Thank God for Jon Stewart and for the fine men and women who work with him. Here's a link to his take on the Republican Presidential Debate. Enjoy.

What's "Political" Anyway?

The term political seems to have no meaning any more. Like terrorist, it has turned into a word that means what the speaker wants it to mean.

In practice, it is now "political" to simply describe something that people don't want to know more about.

Think Iraq under US Occupation shouldn't have the highest infant death rate in the world? Think it should not be the case that the US has prisons for whole families of immigrants who aren't allowed to see lawyers or have timely trials?

That's political. Because sooner or later a discussion of how things are has to become "What are we going to do about it?"

I don't feel too bad about "being a little political" these days. As the kids in Iraq and the Prison Camps will tell you, its an uncomfortable time.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Those Irritating Environmentalists And Those Damned Bees

I'm not an environmentalist. Well, at least, not the way some are. My trash has too much paper and plastic in it. And I leave my computers on all the time. And I'll be going to hell for the water I and my family use every day. So I'm one of the billions planet-wide who finds environmentalists somewhat irritating. I'm tired of those folks being right.

They are always trying to tell us that the little stuff matters. Pour your paint in the gutter and it will poison your oceans. Food grown and harvested abroad using techniques that are illegal here can kill you. (Did you know American's ate 2.5 million chickens fed the same poison that's been killing our cats and dogs? Lets all talk about the concept of fake protein made from the same inorganic compound used to manufacture hot tubs and counter tops.)

Now its the damned bees.

Something is killing the bees. Lots and lots and lots of bees. Its making them fly away from their hives leaving queens and baby bees behind. The problem is so shocking, so unnatural, so horrible in its implications that its starting to make nationwide news.

Cause it turns out we need bees. They hop from plant to plant fertilizing things. They are responsible for the fertilization of about 1/3 of the plants we eat. And they've been doing all that hard work for free.

Some folks think the widepread use of genetically engineered crops is causing BCC (Bee Colony Collapse). Some folks think its related to new pesticides, or ever larger cell phone towers. We do know something is causing a fungus to grow that kills whole hives in a matter of 48 hours or so and that bee predators seem far less inclined to consume the dead and dying bees from infected hives.

Once again those pesky environmentalists are right. The little stuff matters. Bees, as it turns out, matter a whole lot. Unless this problem is resolved quickly, you'll be eating far less, and paying far more for what you do eat, in the years to come.

If this infection continues its exposive growth, we are looking at something even the environmentally-stupid people like me can understand . . . Starvation.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

ACTION ALERT: Help Keep Internet Radio Alive!

The giant corporate music labels have decided that going after college kids downloading music from peer-to-peer networks and Digital Rights Management (DRM) aren't enough to keep the average music listener from cutting into their huge profits. Now they've strong-armed the Copyright Review Board into hiking fees for each song streamed by webcasters:
The new fee structure would change the basis of the payments to a flat fee for each song streamed on a per-user basis. Thus, in 2007, every song sent to every listener would net SoundExchange $0.0011, regardless of whether the broadcaster made any money by doing so. But that's probably not the worst of it. The fees are scheduled to more than double over the next five years, and apply retroactively to the start of 2006. Under this plan, it's hard to imagine that Internet broadcasting will make much financial sense without a dramatic increase in commercial time.
Luckily, Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), along with Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), has introduced H.R. 2060 - the Internet Radio Equality Act, which would overturn that recent ruling.

If your representative is not one of the co-sponsors, I urge you to sign FreePress' petition and let your Congressmember know how important it is to keep internet radio alive.

Why on Earth Would We Stand for This?

Don't you hate it when you go out to a group dinner and someone runs up a huge percentage of the bill and then decides to walk out on the check? Or they decide "we should just split things evenly" when you had soup and they had steak?

As I think back to the Democratic Convention, and the conversations I've had after, I find myself wondering how many folks who won't demand impeachment put up with these "lesser crimes" for years on end.

The truth is, Bush has run up one hell of a bill. 500,000 dead Iraqi's, 3000+ dead US troops, 500 Billion dollars. All for a war based on lies. And that's just the war thing. Illegal wiretapping, stripping away Habeas Corpus, illegal prison camps, torture, no-bid contracts to campaign contributors, the list goes on and on . . .

And I'm not sure why anyone wants to let him get away with it. And I'm not sure why those folks are so afraid of taking a stand and demanding that the Democrats hold Bush and his hive of evil geniuses accountable.

Some folks say impeachment will split the party and the nation. I find that hard to believe. If you don't hate George for the war, you hate him for something else.

Who doesn't think the guy is an out and out criminal?

Some say its more important to win in 2008 than to hold the Junta accountable. I think if we don't hold people accountable, now that we have the Congress we need to do it, we'll never get to pick another President.

We have given literally tens of billions of dollars to the people who put Bush in the White House. All the loopholes and backdoors are still wide open so they can rob us blind whenever they like. Imagine the media they can buy, the candidates and campaigns they can fund, the profits they can make.

Still want to let them all off?

This is just a question of morality and courage.

I am not afraid of this President and his friends and I'm not putting up with their crap any more. I and millions of others across the US are going to make sure this is a bill Bush & Company don't walk out on. We'll make it clear for generations to come this country is not for sale.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Guest Entry: The Late Great Constitution (and the Coming Civil War?)

by Nancy Fulton (blogging from the California Democratic Convention in San Diego)

Here we are at the convention with thousands of delegates, activists and ordinary citizens, all discussing our nation and its future.

I think it might be bleak.

This convention is split between "impeachment" folks and pragmatists. Should we impeach a president/vice president and administration who seem to have broken so many laws we lost count? Or should we be pragmatic and focus on electing a Democratic president so we don't get a guy that makes Bush look good.

Half the folks at this convention, educated, affluent, wealthy, politically active . . . have no idea why impeachment is critical.

They don't understand that if they do NOT exercise impeachment when the crimes are so aggregious . . . we are saying we cannot hold the president and the executive branch accountable for anything. We are effectively eliminating the use of impeachment as a means for controlling a president.

If you don't prosecute a President who has lied you into a war that's killed 500,000 people to the tune of $500 billion dollars, tortured people, given his friends tens of billions, who says he can arrest, torture and hide people, who has done a hundred other impeachable things, . . . you are saying a President can do ANYTHING.

If you don't impeach him because you fear losing an election, how WILL you hold him accountable?

Tell me what will happen when this incestuous relationship between government and industry lets businesses contaminate ground water without repercussion or when it leads to civil suits being dismissed due to "national security".

The people of this nation have to reaffirm that even presidents and vice-presidents will be held accountable for crimes they commit, and that the rule of law founded in the constitution is in full force.

Failure to do this will result in a US without a constitution. And then this nation will be torn apart as we have to try to "reinvent" some kind of social contract and foundation in law.

Some of us won't pay taxes to support a dictatorship that won't guarantee the validity of their elections. I am personally disinclined to pay for a government that tortures and runs secret prison camps. I know soldiers who are telling other soldiers to desert rather than fight an illegal war.

This kind of thing translates into riots.

People will not like having their rights stripped away. As individuals they will try to hold the government (and others) accountable. That, in turn, will result in an escalation of force exerted by the government as the folks running it try to protect themselves and the public. It will create widespread division between communities and populations with differing economic and cultures interests.


We NEED the constitution because it is the only social contract we have that spans the nation. Tearing apart that contract means all of us who must live together must reinvent a new social contract and that is a very bloody process.

I wouldn't be active in SO CAL GRASSROOTS if I weren't a patriot and a progressive. I know 99% of people are intelligent. I know that our constitution was shot to pieces by a bunch of fascists. I know we can tape it back together and it will be STRONGER for all that tape.

But it starts with holding Bush, Cheney and their fascist junta accountable. Because without impeachment they will face no prosecution at all. We absolutely must, as a nation reconfirm our committment to the constitution and to public servant accountability . . . or you can expect some very, very ugly times ahead. Bush was bad. Worse is on the horizon.

Guest Entry: What I learned at the California Democratic Convention

by Nancy Fulton (guest blogger from the California Convention in San Diego)

So, I'm new to "official politics", party conventions and the "back room" but this first convention has been an eye-opener. My favorite e-ticket ride so far has been the Resolutions Committee.

So Groups like So Cal Grass Roots and Progressive Democrats of America write resolutions to propose to the California Democratic party. The resolution committee reviews the resolutions, and the top ones get voted on the floor of the convention and may be adopted. The adoption of those resolutions by the convention can be used by activists and others to lobby congressmen and party members.

So, there were multiple resolutions calling for IMPEACHMENT of BUSH and CHENEY brought by groups to the Resolution Committee. They are supposed to give them an up/down vote. In the case of about nine (of 105 resolutions) they decided not to.

Instead they decided to "refer" them which means that the language of the resolution (which folks like YOU might have voted for if you were member of a grass roots group) was NOT voted on. Instead they pointed to another resolution and said "its basically the same thing". Except, in many cases the language was entirely different in meaning and context.

The rules state that you are supposed to get an up or down vote on your resolution. If it gets voted down, you can collect 300 signatures and take it onto the floor.

Except when it gets referred (as many resolutions were) the Resolutions Committee decided not to give people the forms required to collect signatures. Thus resolutions couldn't be taken to the floor.

So, what I learned is . . . stupid little rules matter. Matters of procedure matter.

Except . . . . I'm sitting in a room with 700 people or so. They are an angry mob. And they are having quite an impact on the Resolutions Committee. We just made them give us our impeachment resolution. In a few minutes we'll decide if its one of the 10 that get to the floor.

So Rules Matter . . . but so does being an angry mob. Its amazing how the 700 people in this room have managed to change the behavior of that little committee.

Now we have to do it to Congress :) It is time to Impeach the President.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Guest Entry: Anger and Fear

By Nancy Fulton

I've been saying for a long time that the problem we
have in this nation is NOT that the people aren't
intelligent, reasonable, or reasonably united. It's
that the Bush Administration honestly doesn't care
what the American People think. They have no interest
at all in doing what the vast majority of us want

The Bush Administration cannot be called "public
servants". They do only what we force them to do by
conducting investigations and issuing indictments.

I think this first person account of an
encounter with Karl Rove
at the White House
Correspondence Dinner makes this very clear.

This account demonstrates that when members of this
administration come "face to face" with voters who
want to hold them accountable, they show anger and

Monday, April 23, 2007

Requiescat In Pace, Ms. Millender-McDonald

Three days after taking leave from the House after being diagnosed with cancer, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Carson) passed away at the age of 68.

Thank you for your service, Rep. Millender-McDonald.

Friday, April 20, 2007

How about a law enforcement officer who enforces the law?

We have been very impressed with the questioning of both Republican and Democratic US Senators of Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, in the Senate hearings about the political purging of capable US Attorneys by the Justice Department.

This Attorney General, who is supposed to be the Chief law enforcement officer of these United States is a tragic disappointment. While a White House Counselor, he advised that the Geneva Convention protocols were outmoded. With his seat mate in the West Wing, Harriet Meiers; they proposed a political loyalty test that transcends the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution. We know this because we read the e-mails; oh right, they have lost the e-mails. Alberto Gonzales also believes that torture is not the usually international standards recognized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others. He believes in the Abu Grahib standards of interrogation and rendering to foreign countries.

This Attorney General, dishonest, ethically challenged, and unable to remember from one statement to another what he said has to go. After he leaves, the man who appointed him, President Bush needs to follow him out of office. Now is the time as never before.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Did the British talk to Iran covertly - of course they did!

The British Sailors and Marines are on their way home and thank cooler heads for prevailing. They officially say that there were no conversations between governments and no deals were made; I sincerely doubt that and that is allright!

There have always been cut outs; unofficial representatives with portfolio, and human rights being protected above the veneer of official government posturing has prevented a new war in the Middle East. In the days of the Irish struggle for their freedom and self government; there were "unofficial" conversations throughout the years of the "Troubles". During the Cold War there were discussions and meetings that exchanged personnel at the East Berlin gate, or on that county bridge away from the view of most of the world.

Nobel Peace Prizes are given for this type of diplomacy, and lives are saved by this type of shuttle conversation. Why is this important! Because it is a Counterpoint with the Pre-Emptive, Bomb First, Bush-Cheney war mongering. If these had been US forces seized in a possible incursion into Iran territorial waters; does anyone believe that there wouldn't have been bombing, air raids, and a newer conflict igniting the Middle East!

Thank you again for statesmanlike accomplishments by both the Government of Iran and the Government of the United Kingdom! The Bush Administration should take note and learn from this lesson of intelligent backing away from the brink of war!