30 June 2006

Supreme Court rules Gitmo tribunals invalid

It turns out that Bush doesn't have the Supreme Court totally wrapped around his little finger after all.

Yesterday, in a stunning victory for human rights and the rule of law, the Supreme Court decided that the military commissions/tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, which are being used to try some detainees, are invalid. The Court found that commission rules violate due process provisions of the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. [Read story.]

To read Amnesty International's official statement regarding this decision, click here.

But don't pop the champagne corks just yet. Bush is already looking for loopholes. He has indicated that "[t]o the extent that there is latitude to work with the Congress to determine whether or not the military tribunals will be an avenue in which to give people their day in court, we will do so." So apparently he will now try to get his lapdog Congress to legally authorize his kangaroo-court tribunals.

This would be something we must fight.

29 June 2006

The leak that wasn't

When the New York Times broke the news last Friday that the Bush administration had been tracking bank records, I remember thinking that it's really not news. Heck, even the lowest-level bank employees receive training these days on how to recognize potentially suspecious banking activity, and how to report it.

So why did the Bush administration appear so outraged that the New York Times wrote about it?

Apparently, I was not the only person with that question in mind. In a column yesterday at Capital Hill Blue, Martin Schram expands on the issue, and also points out how Bush himself, on 24 September 2001 "announced the first of a series of measures that made clear international bankers were cooperating to track al Qaeda's funding." [Read it.]

Cute, huh?

28 June 2006

Military fails some widows over benefits

An article in yesterday's New York Times outlines how the widows of some soldiers killed in Iraq are having to jump through proverbial hoops to collect the survivor benefits to which they are entitled. [Read story.]

According to the article, "[s]ometimes it is simply the Pentagon's massive bureaucracy that poses the problem. In other cases, laws exclude widows whose husbands died too early in the war or were killed in training rather than in combat. The result is that scores of families — it is impossible to know how many — lose out on money and benefits that they expected to receive or believed they were owed, say widows, advocates and legislators."

Meantime, Halliburton gets richer from this war.

This is horrendous.

These widows and their families paid an enormous price for this country. I don't like the idea of my tax dollars funding a bureaucracy so inefficient that it causes them further suffering beyond their already enormous loss.

Whether we approve of this war or not (and I do not), we cannot neglect the needs of our troops or the families they might leave behind. It's not the troops who made the decision to wage a war of choice on Iraq.

27 June 2006

Supreme Court will hear global warming case

Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that will determine whether the Bush administration should be required to regulate carbon dioxide emissions to combat global warming. [Read story.]

A representative from the other side, an economist with the American Petroleum Institute, responded by denying that CO2 is a pollutant. (Yeah, and the earth is flat.)

So will the Supreme Court do what's right for the earth and for our future generations? Or will they choose instead not to inconvenience big business with pesky regulations?

Can we please require that all the Supreme Court Justices see Al Gore's global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth before they consider this case?

26 June 2006

Bush cracks down on Congress's inappropriate spending

This past Saturday, in his weekly radio address, George W. Bush told us how strong our economy is, and how more people are now prospering under his leadership. (Sure, they're prospering if they're the billionnaires who benefit from his reverse-Robin-Hood tax cuts.)

Then George W. "Spend-Like-a-Drunken-Sailor" Bush told us how Congress needs to show some restraint in their spending bills, and that some new legislation granting him line-item-veto authority is just what the doctor ordered.

Now Bush can keep those costs in check by reining in those foolhardy expenditures on frivolous things like education, health care, and securing our ports. Let's direct the money to where we really need it -- Iraq and Halliburton.

Yep, let's learn some fiscal responsibility, from the guy who transformed a record surplus into a record deficit in just a few years.

But you have to appreciate the comic relief.

Because sometimes you just have to laugh at the absurdity. Otherwise, you just have to cry.

25 June 2006

Bringing the troops home - just in time for the mid-term elections

A story in today's New York Times quotes the top American commander in Iraq as projecting "sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September." [Read story.]

In other words, they're going to soon cut and run. (Oh, never mind, only Democrats cut and run.)

Now the Republican candidates in November's elections can tell us how the Bush administration won the war and are now bringing the victorious troops home.

Heaven help us if their Democratic challengers aren't strong enough to shine a big enough spotlight on the hypocrisy.

New York Times and Los Angeles Times are aiding the terrorists, says Bush

The American mainstream media (well, some of them) are starting to wake up from their 5-year coma.

The latest sign is a story published Friday in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times exposing the fact that the government is now also looking at our banking records.

In response, of course, the Bush adminstration is once again blaming the messenger. They say that these newspapers are helping terrorists, by leaking info about the government's classified anti-terrorism methods.

Do they really believe that the terrorists are that stupid? Do they really believe that we are that stupid? (Never mind, of course they do.)

According to the Bush administration, we should all just remain blissfully ignorant. Just trust the government to take care of us.


Well, it worked in the red states. And look where that has gotten us.

The rest of us had better hope that the media will continue to get back to doing some real journalism.

24 June 2006

Fox News lied about human rights groups

On the June 21 edition of the Fox News show The Big Story with John Gibson, Gibson alleged that human rights groups remained silent about the recent torture and killing of two U.S. troops in Iraq. He tried to make it appear that the human rights groups are quick to speak out against torture committed by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, etc., but that we remain silent when Americans are the victims.

Gibson clearly forgot to do his homework.

As a matter of fact, Amnesty International had issued a press release that same day containing the following statement by Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, condeming the killing and torture of those two U.S. soldiers:
"Amnesty International, first and foremost, extends its sincerest condolences to the families of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker for their tragic loss. We are deeply disturbed by reports that these two soldiers were brutally tortured. These reports, if proven true, may rise to the level of war crimes.

Amnesty International condemns the torture or summary killing of anyone who has been taken prisoner and reiterates that such acts are absolutely prohibited in international humanitarian law. This prohibition applies at all times, even during armed conflict. There is no honor or heroism in torturing or killing individuals. Those who order or commit such atrocities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law without recourse to the death penalty.

Amnesty International again calls on armed groups in Iraq to immediately cease all executions, torture or ill-treatment of people. Armed groups, like other parties to the conflict in Iraq, are required to comply strictly with international law and remain accountable for their actions."
[Read the entire release on the Amnesty website.]

Furthermore, Human Rights Watch had also weighed in the matter.

Many thanks to Media Matters for America for bring this deception to my attention.

23 June 2006

Russ Feingold kicks butt (but the Republicans keep their heads in the sand)

Earlier this week, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) made some very powerful speeches on the senate floor promoting the Kerry-Feingold Amendment for the redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq.

He made some very good points which, unfortunately but predictably, were ignored by the Republicans who chose politics over reason.

Nevertheless, everyone should read and consider Feingold's words. Here are links to the transcripts posted on his website:

• 21 June: Feingold's statement presenting the Kerry-Feingold Amendment (a must-read)

• 22 June: Feingold's statement prior to the vote on the Kerry-Feingold Amendment

Unfortunately (but, again, predictably), the amendment was defeated. And an alarming number of ordinary Americans, like too many of those senators, keep talking as though Iraq had something to do with 9/11.

Those senators who voted against the amendment are simply putting all of us, and especially our troops, in more and more danger. Disdain for America continues to grow throughout the world each day that we remain in Iraq. Nobody wants us there, especially the Iraqis. The only people who want us in Iraq are the oil-thirsty neocons and their apologists.

Will America wake up in time to make a difference in November?

22 June 2006

Seven marines and one sailor to be charged with murder of Iraqi civilian

No, this is not about the cold-blooded Haditha massacre. This is about yet another Iraq war scandal -- the cold-blooded murder of an innocent, unarmed Iraqi man, who was dragged from his home and killed by some marines with an attitude who were "letting off steam". [Read story.]

They had planted props to try to make it appear that the victim was a violent terrorist. Fortunately, the investigation saw through the elaborate hoax.

It is good that these troops will be held accountable for their disgusting violation of the Geneva Conventions. War crimes must not be tolerated.

So now, in the interest of avoiding a double standard, will we also hold George W. Bush responsible for his own violations of the Geneva Conventions? (I know, I know. He's above the law. It's a rhetorical question. But not really.)

21 June 2006

How things really are in Iraq

George W. Bush keeps telling us about how we've liberated the Iraqi people, given them the right to vote, set up a free democracy, and made their lives so much better.

Heck, he's an eyewitness. He was there just last week, right smack in the heart of the Green Zone. So, yep, he knows.

And then there's reality.

3+ years ago we did our "Shock and Awe" thing and bombed Iraq to bits. But so far we've done no significant rebuilding. Apparently that would be too much work, even for Halliburton.

But, of course, we reserve all rights to the rebuilding efforts. Bush-crony-owned companies only. No local workers need apply. The Iraqis shouldn't expect actual employment in addition to the privilege of living in the "liberated" Iraq of George W. Bush.

And unemployment isn't the only problem, nor is the daily violence.

In this Bushian wonderland, Iraqis still don't have reliable electric power. Imagine living in the desert with temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit each day with only an hour or two of electricity. Room air conditioning takes a back seat when you're trying to keep your family's food from spoiling.

And then there's the small matter of Iraq's rapid transformation from Saddam's secular government into an Islamic theocracy.

Iraqi women are having a particularly hard time. Modern professional Iraqi women are now facing repression that they've never experienced before -- pressure to wear the veil and otherwise conform to conservative Islamic rules. Kinda like the American religious right's efforts to put women in their place here in this country. Coincidence?

A leaked memo to the Washington Post from the Iraqi embassy outlines the grim details. [Read more.]

Nice "liberation", George.

20 June 2006

Torture is not a one-way street

I am saddened by the news that the two missing U.S. soldiers in Iraq were found dead. [Read story.]

And I am sickened by the revelation that their bodies showed signs of torture.

Sickened, but not surprised.

We torture our detainees, and Bush and Gonzales jump through hoops with semantics and signing statements to "justify" it. Why should we expect our own soldiers to be treated any differently by their captors?

If anything, our own use of torture would give the enemy more reason to torture any American that they can capture -- as retaliation for the way we treat their captured brethren.

Way to go, Mr. President. Way to set an example for the world.

Gitmo suicides -- U.S. reputation goes down another notch or two

Just after the attacks of 9/11, the world was on our side. There were all those television commercials featuring people from around the globe saying "I am an American." The world identified with us. The world wept for us. The world stood by us.

But then George W. Bush squandered that momentum. He squandered that love. He squandered that support.

We had gone into Afghanistan, which was good, because Afghanistan had supported al-Qaeda, who were probably behind 9/11. But then, just when we had Osama bin Laden cornered at Tora Bora, Bush said "never mind," switched gears, and shifted all our attention and resources to Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

Bush invaded Iraq illegally, in defiance of the UN Security Council's determination that the UN weapons inspectors should be given more time to do their job.

Forget the UN weapons inspectors! They couldn't be relied on to find those darned weapons of mass destruction!

And forget the wussy United Nations! We don't eat French Fries, we eat Freedom Fries, dammit!

So we invaded Iraq. This swaggering lawless cowboy arrogance brought us down a notch in the eyes of the world. And justifiably so.

Then Bush decided that we needed to torture people. He had Alberto Gonzales and his other goons rewrite the dictionary and semantically tapdance around the Geneva Conventions so that we could perform on our detainees the same kinds of torture that we cited as justification for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. And we even used the same prison that Saddam used for his own torture -- Abu Ghraib.


Brought us down another notch or two in the eyes of the world. And justifiably so.

But that still wasn't enough.

We blamed it all on "a few bad apples", threw Lynndie England in jail, and proceeded to continue the torture at Abu Ghraib and also at Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and reportedly in secret prisons all around the globe. And since we're so into torture that we don't even have enough staff to do it all ourselves, we started sending our detainees to Syria, Egypt, and other countries who would do the torturing for us.

Down another notch. And justifiably so.

We denied it all despite clear evidence.

Another notch southward. And so on.

And now our detainees -- held indefinitely without charge and with no means to challenge their detention in a court of law -- are committing suicide. They are hanging themselves in their stuffy little prison cells, in an act of hopeless desperation.

Can you blame them?

I can't, but Bush does.

The administration says it's a PR move.

The administration says it's an act of war. (Huh?!)

It's no wonder that a recent Harris survey of Europeans indicated that the respondents consider George W. Bush to be the single greatest threat to global stability.

We had the whole world on our side.

We trashed it.

For oil. For greed. For vengeance. For Halliburton. And for George W. Bush's ego.

The Bush administration lends a whole new meaning to the term "ugly American".

How long will it take to recover?

19 June 2006

Mayor Street, please sign the bill for a smoke-free Philly

They had been talking about it for years. But, finally last week, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill that would ban smoking in most public places, including restaurants and most bars. [Read story.]

It's about time. It would be nice to meet a friend for cocktails downtown and not come home smelling like a dirty, nasty ashtray.

But I was surprised to learn that Mayor John Street hasn't said for sure whether he will sign the bill.

Mayor Street is a health advocate, a vegetarian, and a teetotaler. A few years ago, he launched a huge, successful initiative to inspire Philadelphians to cut back on the cheesesteaks, lose weight, work out, and get fit.

Why then would he not want to take the city's health to the next level by protecting us from second-hand smoke?

Smokers speak out against the bill by telling us that they have a right to smoke. But their right to smoke ends where the next person's airspace begins. Smokers do NOT have the right to force nonsmokers to breathe in their toxic second-hand tar and nicotine.

Cities have laws protecting us from our neightbors' noise and our neighbors' fists. We also need laws protecting us from our neighbors' deadly and disgusting smoke.

Please sign the bill, Mr. Mayor. It's the healthy and responsible thing to do.

18 June 2006

United Police States of America

It's not enough that the Bush administration is spying on Americans and collecting our phone records and other personal facts without judicial oversight.

That apparently just doesn't do enough damage to our so-called rights.

So, to take it a step further, Bush's buddies on the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that police no longer have to knock before busting down your door and searching your home. [Read story.]

What's next? The end of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? Oh, wait, that's already gone, as evidenced by the hundreds of detainees in the "war on terror" who are being held arbitrarily and indefinitely and without due process.

The Constitution was really good while it lasted.

God bless America.

17 June 2006

"An Inconvenient Truth" is now in more theaters. See it.

When I saw "An Inconvenient Truth" a couple weeks ago, it was in limited release, showing mostly at urban art-house theaters.

But it's catching on, and this week it's showing in a lot of suburban cineplexes and in smaller towns around the country.

Everyone needs to see this film, in which Al Gore makes a very strong case for the need to take immediate action to stop global warming. Now that this movie is easier to find, there's absolutely no excuse not to see it.

Visit the movie's official website here to find a theater near you, view the trailer, read reviews, etc.

Then see it as soon as possible. Take all your friends with you. I think you'll be impressed. And shocked. And angered. An inspired.

16 June 2006

The Senate wants more dead U.S. troops (as long as they're someone else's kids, of course)

Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that the the U.S. military death toll in Iraq had reached 2,500.

So the U.S. Senate promptly responded by rejecting a proposal to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by year's end. [Read story.]


Shame on them!

Before long, the number of dead U.S. troops from this Iraq war will exceed the number of Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks. And, despite what too many people still seem to believe, Iraq didn't even have anything to do with 9/11.

This is gross irresponsibility on the part of our senators.

And this is a hideous misuse of my tax dollars and yours.

Note to the pro-war folks: If this war is so necessary, why are Barb and Jenna Bush not serving on the front lines? Ditto all the 20-something children of all those senators? If this war is so necessary, why are their own kids above it all?

15 June 2006

Breaking news: U.S. military death toll in Iraq war reaches 2,500

We have reached a very sad milestone. The Pentagon has just announced that the U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,500.

18,490 have been wounded.

[Read story.]

How many more must be killed or maimed in Bush's illegal war of aggression?

More crackdowns on freedom of the press: What is Rumsfeld hiding at Gitmo?

Just when it seems as though the American mainstream media might be waking up from their 5-year coma, Donald Rumsfeld throws up another roadblock to freedom of the press and the American public's right to know.

The admiral in charge of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay had invited journalists to come on down and cover the recent suicides of three detainees.

But, yesterday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld rescinded the invitation and expelled all reporters from Guantanamo. [Read story.]

What is he hiding?

14 June 2006

Priority check

Great bumper sticker spotted yesterday in the Philadelphia suburbs:

"It will be a great day when schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

13 June 2006

Philadelphia's latest embarrassment

Anti-immigrant sentiments have reared their ugly head here in Philadelphia.

The owner of Geno's Steaks, one of the city's most popular purveyors of the Philly cheesesteak, has put up a sign that reads: "This is America. When Ordering, Speak English."

I guess his business is doing so well that he doesn't need the business of Philadelphia's many non-English-speaking tourists.

But now the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has filed a complaint, indicating that Geno's message is so unwelcoming, it may actually violate a Philadelphia civil rights / fair practices ordinance. [Read story.]

On one hand, I feel that it might be his First Amendment right to hang that disturbing sign in his store. And I hope that it costs him millions of dollars in lost business.

On the other hand, given that his shop has become a major tourist attraction over the past several decades, I find it a huge embarrassment.

Yo, Geno's: Philadelphia is supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love, not the City of Xenophobic Bigotry.

12 June 2006

Since when is killing oneself (and no one else) an act of war?

One of the big news stories over the weekend was the suicide of three prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. They hung themselves using bedsheets and clothing. [Read story.]

Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris reportedly described the suicides as an "act of asymetric warfare".

Excuse me?

They killed themselves. They did not kill anyone else in the act. How is that an act of war?

If they had set off a suicide bomb in a crowded part of the prison, that could be considered an act of war. But that isn't what happened. They didn't take any unwitting participants with them.

They have been held at Gitmo for years without charge and without legal recourse. I don't know if they are guilty or innocent of terrorist ties, but international law dictates that they are entitled to their day in court so we can all find out.

But Bush doesn't care.

These detainees are presumed guilty and subjected to unimaginably harsh treatment.

It's no wonder that some of them kill themselves to escape this living hell.

Theirs was clearly an act of desperation.

They're not the ones committing the acts of war.

11 June 2006

Zarqawi is dead. So now what?

Now there are conflicting reports about how Zarqawi died. An Iraqi eyewitness is suggesting that American troops found him alive and then beat him to death. [Read story.]

An autopsy is now being done on Zarqawi's body, and the results might be announced as early as tomorrow. I'm sure I'm not the only person wondering if the Bush administration will censor the autopsy results.

But, in any case, he's dead. He is out of the picture, and he won't be able to abduct and behead any more people, at least not personally. That is very good. But I must ask: Now what?

Zarqawi is only a small part of the terrorism problem. Osama is still on the loose. And some believe that Zarqawi's "martyrdom" will give rise to renewed terrorist activity against Americans and our allies in Iraq and beyond.

The attacks will continue as long as George W. Bush continues to ignore the true roots of terrorism and hide behind the propaganda that they attack us because they "hate our freedom."

The attacks will continue as long as Bush keeps swaggering and smirking and taunting them with "Bring 'em on."

Zarqawi is dead, but I don't feel any safer. Neither should you.

10 June 2006

Proof that Bush is not making progress in his "war on terror"

George W. Bush keeps telling us that he's making progress in the war on terror.

The facts, however, tell us a very different story.

A friend (hi, PG) just told me about the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base online.

Go to the chart module and look up the number of international and domestic terror incidents from 2000 through 2006.

Of all the terrorists incidents over the past six years:

• only 7% happened in 2000, before George W. Bush was elected;

• 10% happened in 2001;

• 16% in 2002;

• 11% in 2003;

• 16% in 2004;

• 29% in 2005;

• and 11% happened already in 2006, and we're not even halfway through the year!

Way to go, George.

09 June 2006

Michael Berg on Zarqawi's death: Revenge begetting revenge begetting revenge

In May of 2004, Philadelphia native Nicholas Berg became the first American civilian contractor to be abducted and beheaded in Iraq by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his thugs. The experience turned Michael Berg, Nick's dad, into a very busy peace activist and critic of the Bush administration's war policies.

While it's likely that many (indeed, perhaps most) parents in that kind of situation might instinctively react with bitterness and a thirst for revenge, Mike Berg seems to be more highly evolved than that.

Yesterday, just a few hours after the news of Zarqawi's death hit the airwaves, I received a message from Mike which provides a good example of why I've come to admire him so much after meeting him almost two years ago at a local rally for social justice.

Here is an excerpt from Michael Berg's note (which he requested be shared):
I was awakened at 4:30 AM with the news of Zarqawi's death. I have said to over a dozen reporters so far today, that every human death diminishes me. I have said that Zarqawi's death is a triumph for revenge, for revenge is what killed Nick. I have said that Zarqawi's death will inflame the Iraqi resistance and perpetuate the endless cycle of revenge begetting revenge begetting revenge. I have said that the cycle must end, and that it ends with me. I take no joy in Zarqawi's death.


Imagine how much healthier and happier the world would be if more people shared this man's attitude.

08 June 2006

Al Gore on SNL

Presumably as part of his tour to promote his new global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", Al Gore recently appeared on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

He was surprisingly hilarious. [Download the video clip. It's definitely worth seeing.]

This isn't the stiff Al Gore of the 2000 presidential campaign. Without the party strategists telling him how to act, he's actually very personable, likeable, and funny!

I saw this same new side of Gore in the movie. The SNL gig kinda reinforces this new image.

I suppose I just wish we'd had this Al Gore in the leadup to the 2000 presidential election.

07 June 2006

Good news: Marriage amendment defeated in the Senate

This morning, the Senate defeated the Federal Marriage Amendment by a 49-48 cloture vote. [Read story.]

The bad news: 49 senators voted in favor of discrimination.

The good news: They failed to get the 60 votes needed to end the debate and move to a vote on the actual amendment.

Anyway, now that this vote is behind us, maybe they will stop wasting our tax dollars on ridiculous non-issues like this one and move on to something important.

[See how your senators voted.]

Bush vs. the facts on gay marriage

This week, the Senate is wasting our tax dollars debating whether to enact a Constitutional Amendment outlawing gay marriage and other spousal benefits for same-sex couples. George W. Bush has really been pushing for this.

In short, the Republicans want to write discrimination into the Constitution, so that gay and lesbian Americans would officially be designated as second-class citizens.

Fortunately, not everyone wants this, and the measure is not expected to pass. Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress has taken the trouble to do some fact checking.

Click here for their reality check on Dubya's June 5th remarks on the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment.

06 June 2006

Army manual to skip Geneva Convention rule

Remember how the Bushies kept telling us that the torture at Abu Ghraib was just a few isolated instances caused by "a few bad apples"?

Well, now it's more than a few bad apples. It's the whole orchard. Apparently it's now official policy.

According to a piece in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, they are rewriting the Army Field Manual to deliberately exclude the parts about the Geneva Conventions and how you're not supposed to torture people.

The sky's the limit, folks. Torture is now U.S. military policy. God bless America. Wouldn't Jesus be proud?

Ummm, so does this mean that they'll free Lynndie England?

05 June 2006

Everyone must see "An Inconvenient Truth"

"An Inconvenient Truth", Al Gore's new film about global warming, came to Philadelphia this weekend. So, of course, I saw it.

My first thought as I watched the film: Wow, this global warming thing is even worse than I thought.

My second thought: Everyone must see this. Everyone in the world, but especially everyone here in the U.S.

If you haven't seen it yet, please see it immediately. And take all your friends and family members with you, especially those who have been listening to (and believing) the right-wing naysayers. Also take anyone who drives a vehicle that gets less than 25 miles per gallon. No, make it 30.

Click here to go to the film's official website and view the impressive trailer, check for show times, etc.

If this groundbreaking film is not yet scheduled to come to your town, please visit your local theater managers and urge them to show this film.

Global warming is about the future of this planet. The relatively near-term future, actually. This is urgent, folks.

It is not a Democratic issue nor a Republican issue. It should not be a political issue at all.

It's a family values issue. It's a human rights issue. It's a life-and-death issue.

04 June 2006

Senator Frist's twisted priorities

In a recent appearance on Fox News, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) discussed what he believes are America's most pressing priorities: flag burning and gay marriage.

Excuse me?!

Sure, burning the American flag is in very poor taste. Sure, a very vocal minority believe that their religion prohibits homosexuals from acting on their God-given sexual orientation. But are these really the two greatest concerns affecting the everyday lives of the American people? Or is this a smokescreen designed to distract us from the real issues?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that today, almost five years after the attacks of 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still beyond our reach? That the greatest power in the world cannot find and capture a 6'5" Arab on dialysis hiding within a fairly limited geographical area?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that today, almost five years after the attacks of 9/11, they're still not screening much of the cargo on planes, trucks, trains, and ships?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that more than 2,400 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, in a war of aggression based entirely on lies?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the Bush administration talks about human rights even as it plays with semantics and signing statements to reserve for itself the "right" to torture?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that in the past few years we went from a record surplus to a record deficit?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the middle class is shrinking and the gap between the rich and the poor is growing wider?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that they’ve been giving tax breaks to billionaires while cutting back on the needs of the poor, the sick, and the elderly?

Is it meant to distract us from the cuts in education programs even as the U.S. holds an embarrassing ninth place among industrialized nations in its percentage of the population that holds at least a high school diploma?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the chairman of Exxon received a $400 million retirement package while we're paying more than $3 for a gallon of gas?

Is it meant to distract us from all the domestic emergency response issues that still haunt the Bush administration almost a year after Hurricane Katrina?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that senior administration officials outed a covert CIA agent in order to punish her husband, who publicly criticized their phony justifications for war?

Is it meant to distract us from the fact that the Bush administration boasts about spreading freedom across the globe even as our own Constitutional rights are being systematically dismantled?

According to Senator Frist, these things aren't so important. We have far greater concerns than these. We must worry about the possibility that someone might set a piece of cloth on fire. And we must worry about what consenting adults are doing in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

According to Senator Frist, we must legislate discrimination and intolerance.

According to Senator Frist, nothing else really matters.

03 June 2006

Revenge of the Dixie Chicks

It wasn't too long ago that the Dixie Chicks were blacklisted for criticizing George W. Bush during a concert. (Remember the First Amendment?)

But, ahhhhh, sweet revenge!

The Dixie Chicks are back, with an ass-kicking new album. And America is waking up.

Put those two things together, and you have the Dixie Chicks' new album debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts this week. At the same time, they become the first female group to have three albums debut in the top slot. Not the Bangles, not the Go-Gos. Only the Dixie Chicks. Wow.

This is a very good sign, socio-politically speaking.

You go, girls!

02 June 2006

Bobby Kennedy Jr., Rolling Stone, and the fair voting crisis

I have long been a fan of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s environmental activism.

Now he's taking on the issue of fair elections, with an article in Rolling Stone. [Read it.]

Will his article make a difference in the upcoming mid-term elections? I doubt it, unfortunately. But we have to appreciate every effort to get the word out.

Ever since the 2000 election fiasco, we've been reading about how voting machines are so easily rigged. But I don't get the feeling that anyone in power is really doing anything about it.

The exit polls never produced hugely different results from the "official" count until these machines -- with no paper trail or other recount provisions -- came into common use. Coincidence?

We know how easy it is to flip votes cast on those machines, especially in so-called "blue states".

And we know that the head of the Diebold voting machine company promised to deliver the crucial state of Ohio to the Bush camp in the 2004 election.

But crying foul seems somewhat futile, since the Democrats in Washington lack the power and the cojones to fix this problem.

In the meantime, however, I want to point out that the Republicans shouldn't feel secure in their control of the voting apparati. You see, all it takes is one disgruntled software engineer on the other side of the fence to foil the plan.

So let's just play fair. If not for the sake of democracy, then do it because you just never know....

01 June 2006


According to a recent piece by Jared Bernstein at TomPaine.com, American politics boils down to the "you're-on-your-own" (YOYO) camp vs. the "we're in this together" (WITT) camp.

That is probably an over-simplification, but it's a valid one nonetheless.

Acronymic doubles-entendres aside, Bernstein does a good job of summarizing the dichotomy, the YOYO conservative state of denial, and why it's time for the WITTs -- i.e., a charged-up and well-messaged Democratic party -- to take over. [Read it.]

Is it not ironic that the YOYO Republicans keep touting themselves as Christians, even though the selfless and compassionate Jesus was clearly a WITT?

And do we have a strong enough leader to push the WITT movement forward?

Ultimately, a society is like a chain: only as strong as its weakest link.