Wednesday, January 30, 2008
We are faced with a strange dilemma, as progressive Democrats begin to take power from the clutches of those who would use power for their own gain (the religious fundamentalists and corporate republicans), we have been given the chance to make history by electing a woman or an African-American man to the highest office in the land. The symbolism does have a certain appeal to me, as either one's success will shut up the complaints of 'challengers' either female or black, but I still have reservations.
When I study the issues, and the various platforms of the candidates', it is obvious that John Edwards was the most progressive, the most honest, and the best one to pull this country back from the brink of oblivion. Only Dennis Kucinich has provided us with a smarter, more radical and more honorable path than John Edwards, but unfortunately Kucinich lacks the essential charisma and gravitas, a natural communication skill necessary to lead a nation such as ours.
Hillary Clinton is a politician, and although I believe her to be competent and intelligent enough to run this country well, she lacks a kind of moral idealism that both Edwards and Obama have communicated. There is no hope in her, she has accepted the world the way it is, and therefore I don't believe she will fight to make it the way it should become.
The only republican I would even consider is Ron Paul, but he is not really a republican is he? More like a libertarian Kucinich.
Thus we are left with Obama, and we could do worse. After seeing the speech by Ted Kennedy this week, I must admit that I am inspired. However, Obama has run a campaign that is conspicuously devoid of specifics. He has tried to remain a mystery, so that diverse groups can imagine him to be what they want, and that makes this man a cunning politician, and a manipulator. In not telling us specifically what he means by "CHANGE" or "HOPE", he lets us impose our desires upon him.
I don't trust people who know so well how to manipulate the public masses, but now we have no choice. Obama or death.
I hope he lives up to the hype. Our nation's freedom now depends upon him.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
January 20, 2008
The Honorable John R. Edwards
410 Market Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Dear Senator Edwards:
It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father's legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father's legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.
I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are - a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.
You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don't have lobbyists in Washington and they don't get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.
I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.
From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.
I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.
So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father's words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.
Martin L. King, III
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Showtime: Tuesday, January 15th, 2008 - 8-9PM Eastern
Listen Live on BBSRadio or you may also join us live in our virtual auditorum!
Jamie Leigh Jones is the founder of The Jamie Leigh Foundation and has brought charges against Halliburton/KBR stating that she was drugged and raped by Halliburton/KBR employees in July 2005 while working at Camp War Eagle in Iraq.
Jamie Leigh Jones was a young military wife, just 19 when she began working at KBR as an administrative assistant in Houston. About a year later, she was transferred to Iraq. While there, Jamie states that she was drugged and then raped by numerous unnamed coworkers inside the Baghdad Green Zone. After the incident, she says she was confined by armed guards under orders by her employer KBR to a shipping container containing only a bed and denied food, water, and medical forensics.
Jones used a borrowed cell phone to contact her father, who in turn contacted Representative Ted Poe (R, TX) who contacted the State Department. Agents were dispatched from the US Embassy in Baghdad and removed Jones from KBR custody. US Army medical doctors performed an examination that discovered proof of vaginal and anal rape, but that the sexual assault kit disappeared after being turned over to KBR security forces. According to her statement of facts, the kit was later found, but was missing a few key elements, including photos of her bruises. The kit does still contain the proof that she was raped.
The Justice Department has brought no criminal charges against the alleged assailants. Neither the U.S. or Iraqi legal systems can be applied to contractors in Iraq. Jones has filed a civil lawsuit against KBR and former parent corporation Halliburton. KBR has requested a private arbitration, and claims this is required by her employment contract. In private arbitration, there would be no judge or jury, and the case would be handled by an arbitrator hired by the corporation.
Jamie’s response has been quite heroic and inspiring, and she continues to seek justice as well as educate, inform, and offer help to other victims through her Jamie Leigh Foundation:
“The Jamie Leigh Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping United States citizens and legal residents who are victims of sexual harassment, rape and sexual abuse while working abroad for federal contractors, corporations, or government entities. We believe that overseas contractors and corporations should act responsibly, and be held accountable to provide safe housing and a work environment free of sexual harassment, and limit the potential for abuse. We believe that United States civilians who perpetrate crime while working in foreign countries should be held accountable for their actions. The Jamie Leigh foundation will assist victims through advocacy, education, referral and providing support. We work toward the day that no person shall face sexual abuse and harassment, and all persons, regardless of gender, will be able to work without fear, consternation, and safety concerns.”
Why is this not the biggest story in the media? I've never even heard about this until today (Jan 2008)!
This exposes the Military Contractors for what they truly are. We need to end these no-bid contracts with Halliburton/KBR. Turn over their profits to the survivors.
Jamie Leigh's Foundation ( http://www.jamiesfoundation.org ) should be funded forever by the money these evil companies have stolen from us.
Each of the KBR Firefighters should be criminally prosecuted individually and sued civilly for everything they made working for KBR, hell everything they have got.
Compensation is one thing, punishment is another. It would be fortunate if the names of those firefighters were accidently released in public documents or anonymously on the internet. When the law fails to protect us, then justice must prevail by any means necessary.
I never thought I'd say this about a Republican Texan, but thank god for the courage of Representative Ted Poe (R, TX), because if he had not gotten her out of there she would be dead.
Jamie Leigh is amazingly strong, she has turned tragedy into hope. She should be proud and honored for her heroic stand. I hope that this warns other young women who have naive ideas about what kind of 'work' they will get in high paying overseas jobs for government contractors.
Kellogg, Brown and Root should be criminally and civilly prosecuted.
The Halliburton/KBR 'security' agents responsible for the cover up and destroying evidence should be criminally prosecuted and civilly sued.
She should also sue the US Army for turning over her rape kit to KBR 'security'.
"It was when I got to the Constitution that a security woman said to me, "Miss, you need to go see that man over there.' I asked why. She said it was because of my t-shirt. I asked, 'Why my t-shirt?' She simply responded that I couldn't wear it in the building. At this point the big, burly security guard that she wanted me to go to, approached me."
"I said, 'What happened to the First Amendment?' The security woman told me to lower my voice. I raised my voice. Susan from Code Pink came over and offered me a jacket to cover my shirt, and I stayed."
Suzanne Haviland reported that a guard told her, "The reason I'm stopping you is that you are wearing something that criticizes the President. I'm a federal employee, and I'm not allowed to criticize the President."
I have lived in DC all my life, and have seen everything from choirs of LaRouche supporters singing on the street while aggressively handing out literature, to banners protesting the School of the Americas and demonstrations against the Shah of Iran. I have never heard of people being forced to leave a public street for having a spontaneous protest. It never would have occurred to me that we would face such problems. My biggest worry about the march was that people would just say, "So what?" No wonder there is a perception that there is no support for impeachment when this very well behaved little rally (it was like a Unitarian Church picnic) was stamped out at every turn.
Sometimes when I hear about somebody having their right to free speech or assembly violated, I think that there must have been some extenuating circumstances. Maybe they were loud, and preventing people in offices from doing their work, or blocking a sidewalk or picking fights and arguing with them. But in this case, because we removed all other factors that could have been pointed to as a potential threat to safety, and had even walked through metal detectors and left all our signs inside, and were not even clustered together but were rather 'picked off' signly by the guards, I have to believe what the guard told Suzanne. Our crime was "criticizing the President." If the guards had been Chinese and not English-speakers, there would have been nothing to distinguish us from the other tourists but the opinions expressed on our shirts, including language from the very Constitution we were prevented from viewing.
Friday, January 11, 2008
The media corporations that use PUBLIC AIRWAVES to broadcast their propaganda have no right to limit the political debate.
MSNBC is banning legitimate debate by restricting which presidential candidates can attend.
How come we allow this?
Turn off NBC.
"The media corporations should divest themselves of all other interests and work for the public good when they lease public media spectrum."
- Dennis Kusinich, D
"The President and Vice-President ought to be Impeached.
They should be held accountable, for WAR CRIMES.
Because we invaded a nation that did not attack US."
- Dennis Kusinich, D
"I absolutely believe to my soul,
that this corporate greed and power
has an iron clad hold on our democracy."
- John Edwards
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
I am bothered by the recent movement to repackage the Surge as a success. Today, I released an editorial (below and also published on the Daily Kos) regarding my view of the Surge's so-called "success." If you have a moment, please read it when you get a chance.
Thank you again for your support.
Congressman Robert Wexler
A Surge of More Lies
by Congressman Robert Wexler
A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is critical that the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media, Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President's surge in Iraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negatively impacts America's national security. The Surge had a clear and defined objective - to create stability and security - enabling the Iraqi government to enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds.
This has not happened.
There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are no closer to solving the complex problems - including a power sharing government, oil revenue agreement and new constitution - than we were before the Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq.
Too many Democrats in Congress are again surrendering to General Petraeus and have failed to challenge the Bush Administration's claims that the surge has been successful. In fact -- it is just the opposite.
The reduction in violence in Iraq has exposed the continuing failure of Iraqi officials to solve their substantial political rifts. By President Bush's own stated goal of political progress, the Surge has failed.
Of course raising troop levels has increased security - a strategy the Bush administration ignored when presented by General Shinseki before the war in Iraq began - but the fundamental internal Iraqi problems remain and the factors that were accelerating the civil war in 2007 have simply been put on hold.
The military progress is a testament to the patience and dedication of our brave troops - even in the face of 15 month-long deployments followed by insufficient Veteran's health services when they return home. They have performed brilliantly - despite the insult of having President Bush recently veto a military spending bill that enhanced funding and benefits, and increased care.
Despite the efforts of American soldiers, the surge alone cannot bring about the political solutions needed to end centuries of sectarian divide.
As it stands, little on the ground supports the assertion that Iraqis are ready to stand up and govern themselves. Too few Iraqi troops are trained, equipped and combat ready, and they cannot yet provide adequate security. Loyalty is also an issue in the Iraqi army as Al Queda and Sunni insurgents infliltrate their defense forces. The consequences turned deadly just recently when an Iraqi soldier purposely killed two U.S. troops.
On the streets of Baghdad and Mosul, the Sunni and Shia factions have paused their fighting, awaiting guarantees and protections that have not yet been delivered. As Iraqi refugees return, there is no mechanism to help them rebuild their lives, nor recover their now-occupied homes. Neighborhoods once mixed are now segregated.
In Northern Iraq, Kurdish terrorists conducting nefarious operations across the border into Turkey have compelled our NATO ally to strike at bases, inflaming tensions between Baghdad and Ankara.
The surge is working? We suffered more U.S. casualties in 2007 than in any other year of the war. We can't afford any more of this type of success.
How can we create the situation that is most likely to deliver political progress in Iraq? Not by continuing the surge and occupation. Our best chance (there is no guarantee) is by putting real pressure on the Iraqi government to force action. Telling the national and local Iraqi leaders that we are withdrawing our troops can help accomplish this goal. Today, the majority Iraqi Shia government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has little incentive to act when American troops remain in the country to provide security and stability.
Based on the Administration's plan, John McCain's proposal of a 100-year US occupation could be a reality!
The Democratic Congress must act aggressively to first cut off funding for the surge and then the entire war. Many of my colleagues avoided a showdown with the administration because they mistakenly believed such a fight would endanger the safety of the troops.
In fact, we must accept that every soldier killed or injured in the coming months should have already been home. Every billion dollars of war-appropriations we spend from here on should have been spent on genuine priorities here at home such as children's heath care.
Enough is enough: While the Administration over-commits American forces in Iraq, we see Al Qaeda-regrouping and Osama Bin Laden still at large. We remain seriously bogged down in Afghanistan, and are witnessing a crisis in Pakistan that has left a nuclear country on the brink of a meltdown. America's resources and attention are desperately needed elsewhere and our soldiers must no longer be needlessly sacrificed as we wait for Iraqis to stand up.
The Surge has failed. If my colleagues gullibly accept the moving rationale for the Surge, just as so many have for the war itself, we will have failed as well.
I received this message from Michael Moore and I thouht you all would like to read it.
Who Do We Vote For This Time Around?
A Letter from Michael Moore
January 2, 2008
A new year has begun. And before we've had a chance to break our New Year's resolutions, we find ourselves with a little more than 24 hours before the good people of Iowa tell us whom they would like to replace the man who now occupies three countries and a white house.
Twice before, we have begun the process to stop this man, and twice we have failed. Eight years of our lives as Americans will have been lost, the world left in upheaval against us... and yet now, today, we hope against hope that our moment has finally arrived, that the amazingly powerful force of the Republican Party will somehow be halted. But we know that the Democrats are experts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and if there's a way to blow this election, they will find it and do it with gusto.
Do you feel the same as me? That the Democratic front-runners are a less-than-stellar group of candidates, and that none of them are the "slam dunk" we wish they were? Of course, there are wonderful things about each of them. Any one of them would be infinitely better than what we have now. Personally, Congressman Kucinich, more than any other candidate, shares the same positions that I have on the issues (although the UFO that picked ME up would only take me as far as Kalamazoo). But let's not waste time talking about Dennis. Even he is resigned to losing, with statements like the one he made yesterday to his supporters in Iowa to throw their support to Senator Obama as their "second choice."
So, it's Hillary, Obama, Edwards -- now what do we do?
Two months ago, Rolling Stone magazine asked me to do a cover story where I would ask the hard questions that no one was asking in one-on-one interviews with Senators Clinton, Obama and Edwards. "The Top Democrats Face Off with Michael Moore." The deal was that all three candidates had to agree to let me interview them or there was no story. Obama and Edwards agreed. Mrs. Clinton said no, and the cover story was thus killed.
Why would the love of my life, Hillary Clinton, not sit down to talk with me? What was she afraid of?
Those of you who are longtime readers of mine may remember that 11 years ago I wrote a chapter (in my first book) entitled, "My Forbidden Love for Hillary." I was fed up with the treatment she was getting, most of it boringly sexist, and I thought somebody should stand up for her. I later met her and she thanked me for referring to her as "one hot s***kicking feminist babe." I supported and contributed to her run for the U.S. Senate. I think she is a decent and smart person who loves this country, cares deeply about kids, and has put up with more crap than anyone I know of (other than me) from the Crazy Right. Her inauguration would be a thrilling sight, ending 218 years of white male rule in a country where 51% of its citizens are female and 64% are either female or people of color.
And yet, I am sad to say, nothing has disappointed me more than the disastrous, premeditated vote by Senator Hillary Clinton to send us to war in Iraq. I'm not only talking about her first vote that gave Mr. Bush his "authorization" to invade -- I'm talking about every single OTHER vote she then cast for the next four years, backing and funding Bush's illegal war, and doing so with verve. She never met a request from the White House for war authorization that she didn't like. Unlike the Kerrys and the Bidens who initially voted for authorization but later came to realize the folly of their decision, Mrs. Clinton continued to cast numerous votes for the war until last March -- four long years of pro-war votes, even after 70% of the American public had turned against the war. She has steadfastly refused to say that she was wrong about any of this, and she will not apologize for her culpability in America's worst-ever foreign policy disaster. All she can bring herself to say is that she was "misled" by "faulty intelligence."
Let's assume that's true. Do you want a President who is so easily misled? I wasn't "misled," and millions of others who took to the streets in February of 2003 weren't "misled" either. It was simply amazing that we knew the war was wrong when none of us had been briefed by the CIA, none of us were national security experts, and none of us had gone on a weapons inspection tour of Iraq. And yet... we knew we were being lied to! Let me ask those of you reading this letter: Were YOU "misled" -- or did you figure it out sometime between October of 2002 and March of 2007 that George W. Bush was up to something rotten? Twenty-three other senators were smart enough to figure it out and vote against the war from the get-go. Why wasn't Senator Clinton?
I have a theory: Hillary knows the sexist country we still live in and that one of the reasons the public, in the past, would never consider a woman as president is because she would also be commander in chief. The majority of Americans were concerned that a woman would not be as likely to go to war as a man (horror of horrors!). So, in order to placate that mindset, perhaps she believed she had to be as "tough" as a man, she had to be willing to push The Button if necessary, and give the generals whatever they wanted. If this is, in fact, what has motivated her pro-war votes, then this would truly make her a scary first-term president. If the U.S. is faced with some unforeseen threat in her first years, she knows that in order to get re-elected she'd better be ready to go all Maggie Thatcher on whoever sneezes in our direction. Do we want to risk this, hoping the world makes it in one piece to her second term?
I have not even touched on her other numerous -- and horrendous -- votes in the Senate, especially those that have made the middle class suffer even more (she voted for Bush's first bankruptcy bill, and she is now the leading recipient of payoff money -- I mean campaign contributions -- from the health care industry). I know a lot of you want to see her elected, and there is a very good chance that will happen. There will be plenty of time to vote for her in the general election if all the pollsters are correct. But in the primaries and caucuses, isn't this the time to vote for the person who most reflects the values and politics you hold dear? Can you, in good conscience, vote for someone who so energetically voted over and over and over again for the war in Iraq? Please give this serious consideration.
Now, on to the two candidates who did agree to do the interview with me...
Barack Obama is a good and inspiring man. What a breath of fresh air! There's no doubting his sincerity or his commitment to trying to straighten things out in this country. But who is he? I mean, other than a guy who gives a great speech? How much do any of us really know about him? I know he was against the war. How do I know that? He gave a speech before the war started. But since he joined the senate, he has voted for the funds for the war, while at the same time saying we should get out. He says he's for the little guy, but then he votes for a corporate-backed bill to make it harder for the little guy to file a class action suit when his kid swallows lead paint from a Chinese-made toy. In fact, Obama doesn't think Wall Street is a bad place. He wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan -- the same companies who have created the mess in the first place. He's such a feel-good kinda guy, I get the sense that, if elected, the Republicans will eat him for breakfast. He won't even have time to make a good speech about it.
But this may be a bit harsh. Senator Obama has a big heart, and that heart is in the right place. Is he electable? Will more than 50% of America vote for him? We'd like to believe they would. We'd like to believe America has changed, wouldn't we? Obama lets us feel better about ourselves -- and as we look out the window at the guy snowplowing his driveway across the street, we want to believe he's changed, too. But are we dreaming?
And then there's John Edwards.
It's hard to get past the hair, isn't it? But once you do -- and recently I have chosen to try -- you find a man who is out to take on the wealthy and powerful who have made life so miserable for so many. A candidate who says things like this: "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy." Whoa. We haven't heard anyone talk like that in a while, at least not anyone who is near the top of the polls. I suspect this is why Edwards is doing so well in Iowa, even though he has nowhere near the stash of cash the other two have. He won't take the big checks from the corporate PACs, and he is alone among the top three candidates in agreeing to limit his spending and be publicly funded. He has said, point-blank, that he's going after the drug companies and the oil companies and anyone else who is messing with the American worker. The media clearly find him to be a threat, probably because he will go after their monopolistic power, too. This is Roosevelt/Truman kind of talk. That's why it's resonating with people in Iowa, even though he doesn't get the attention Obama and Hillary get -- and that lack of coverage may cost him the first place spot tomorrow night. After all, he is one of those white guys who's been running things for far too long.
And he voted for the war. But unlike Senator Clinton, he has stated quite forcefully that he was wrong. And he has remorse. Should he be forgiven? Did he learn his lesson? Like Hillary and Obama, he refused to promise in a September debate that there will be no U.S. troops in Iraq by the end of his first term in 2013. But this week in Iowa, he changed his mind. He went further than Clinton and Obama and said he'd have all the troops home in less than a year.
Edwards is the only one of the three front-runners who has a universal health care plan that will lead to the single-payer kind all other civilized countries have. His plan doesn't go as fast as I would like, but he is the only one who has correctly pointed out that the health insurance companies are the enemy and should not have a seat at the table.
I am not endorsing anyone at this point. This is simply how I feel in the first week of the process to replace George W. Bush. For months I've been wanting to ask the question, "Where are you, Al Gore?" You can only polish that Oscar for so long. And the Nobel was decided by Scandinavians! I don't blame you for not wanting to enter the viper pit again after you already won. But getting us to change out our incandescent light bulbs for some irritating fluorescent ones isn't going to save the world. All it's going to do is make us more agitated and jumpy and feeling like once we get home we haven't really left the office.
On second thought, would you even be willing to utter the words, "I absolutely believe to my soul that this corporate greed and corporate power has an ironclad hold on our democracy?" 'Cause the candidate who understands that, and who sees it as the root of all evil -- including the root of global warming -- is the President who may lead us to a place of sanity, justice and peace.
Michael Moore (not an Iowa voter, but appreciative of any state that has a town named after a sofa)