Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rocking the Coliseum: 6,000 Youth March Through Denver

See this story here and make sure to check out the photos especially!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Moral Turpitude and the Democrats

Tuesday, August 26, the 2008 DNC’s Keynote Address was by Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, followed by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Squared jawed Warner declared that Bush’s singular failing was (drum roll please) – Torture? War crimes? Crimes against humanity? Mass murder in a war based on lies? Declaring the White House above the law? Felonious spying on all of us? Threatening the use of nukes in yet another unjust war? Runaway corruption and venality? Theocracy? Katrina? Criminal failure to address global warming…?

No, no, no, a thousand times no.

Bush’s failing was (trumpets please)… not tapping into the creativity and initiative of the American people!

Warner’s stirring words – better he’d delivered this in a text message on one of the cell phones he made his fortune in – were upstaged, if we are to believe the media pundits, by Hillary.

Clinton revealed that this election cycle was about “taking back America” and about the “future.” The problem, she said, is that Bush and McCain are stuck in the past.

Funny thing about this past (and we should add: present) - the Democrats are a major, indispensable part of that past and present.

They have had the majority in Congress since January 2007. They have been Senators – Clinton, Obama and Biden included - lo all these years.

They have had the ability, the mandate, and the legal and moral responsibility to end the occupation of Iraq, shut down Guantanamo forthwith, put an immediate stop to the barbarity of torture, restore habeas corpus, indict, impeach and imprison the felons who’ve been openly spying on all of us, plundering the treasury, bankrupting the government, and making a mockery of civil liberties and the rule of law.

But, but, but, Pelosi claims: We’ve not had enough votes.

No problem, Nancy.

Filibuster it. Hole it up in committee. You’re the leaders of Congress. You have the power to do this. The GOP did it when they had the majority.

Besides, since when did crimes against humanity need bean counting to fight? Since when did infamous atrocities need votes to end?

You won’t hear any of this from the podium of the DNC. You won’t hear it from the mouth of CBS’s Katie – “I’m glamorous, can’t you see?” – Couric.

These unpleasant and grotesque facts no one in officious capacity will acknowledge or speak of.

Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter’s Party is nothing compared to this tragi-comedy.

The Democrats’ Donkey ought to be replaced by an Ass Wearing Blinders.

Truth today in Denver is to be found in the streets.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Tale of Two Conventions: A Running Diary of Night 1 of the DNC

By Malcolm Shore

Mainstream news coverage of the Democratic National Convention last night was, in a word, vacuous.

Among both the speakers and the media pundits, the lack of discussion of the grave issues facing the people of the world – and, with very few exceptions, the lack of discussion of any substantive issues at all -- was astounding, if not surprising. Between 8pm and 11:30 pm, I flipped back and forth between CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. I did not hear one mention of the word “Afghanistan” – where U.S. airstrikes just killed 95 civilians, including 60 children, according to Afghanistan’s president and the United Nations. Nor did I hear the word “torture,” “Iran,” or “spying” during that entire period. On the other hand, there was plenty of mindless cheering for predictable platitudes about “hope” and “change”; a sea of American flags; and several videos of Ted Kennedy on his sail boat.

Just exactly what kind of “change” and “hope” are we talking about here, Mr. And Mrs. Democrat?

Then, around 10:15, things got interesting. I saw an item flash across the ticker on MSNBC: “Police in riot gear have used pepper spray about a mile from the DNC.”

Some quick searching online led me to a live feed on the Denver Post Web site of a crowd of protestors who was chanting and refusing to be dispersed by the police.

As it turned out, at the same time the mind-numbing speeches were being delivered to much fanfare inside the Pepsi Center, police were using pepper spray on a crowd of hundreds of protestors to prevent them from marching to the downtown 16th Street Mall.

Police surrounded the crowd of protestors near the mall, ultimately letting many go while a sizeable crowd remained; it was difficult to tell from the video feed exactly how many protestors were still in the crowd when I clicked on to the Denver Post Web site around 10:15. But their chanting was definitely loud and energetic at times.

For the rest of this excellent and bitingly hilarious report, see here.

For breaking stories on the protests and analysis of the DNC and world events, see

Marching Through Denver: Fighting for an End to War, Torture, and Government Repression

By Elaine Brower here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Obama and the Elections: An Annotated FAQ


Q: Is Barack Obama the “anti-war candidate?”

A: Depends on which war you’re talking about.

*Barack Obama has repeatedly threatened military action against Iran, and refused to rule out using nuclear weapons. Think about that for a second: refused to rule out dropping nuclear weapons on civilians. In a June 2008 speech before the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), he said: “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Everything.”

*A major element of Obama’s platform is intensifying the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. In a July 14, 2008 Op-Ed in the New York Times, he argued, “We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there.” A huge part of why Obama wants to withdraw troops from Iraq is to send them into Afghanistan.

*Obama has also repeatedly threatened to attack Pakistan, including on August 1st, when he said, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.”

Oh, so he’s only arguing for going after terrorists – the “bad guys”? Sure, ok. This is exactly what Bush and Cheney have always claimed to be doing.

*Finally, Barack Obama devotes an entire section of his Web site (“Defense”) to his call for comprehensive expansion of the United States military.

Why would an “anti-war candidate” advocate massive expansion of the military?

Q: So does Barack Obama oppose the Iraq War? And why?

A: No and yes. And, for both answers, because of his desire to extend U.S. imperialist domination of the Middle East:

*“No,” Obama is not opposed to the Iraq War in the sense that he has voted over and over again to fund it. In June 2008, he voted to approve $187 billion in funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

*And “yes” he is opposed to the war, in the sense that he does have some genuine criticism of U.S. policy in Iraq: namely, that it is not going well for the U.S. military, and that it takes energy away from other wars he feels the U.S should be fighting. In that same July 14 New York Times Op-Ed, Obama made clear the true nature of his objection to the Iraq War: “I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks,” Obama wrote. “Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died and we have spent nearly $1 trillion. Our military is overstretched. Nearly every threat we face — from Afghanistan to Al Qaeda to Iran — has grown."

*This position shows that Obama’s objection to the Iraq War is motivated by the same factor as his decision to nonetheless keep funding it: The fact that, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, “He just wants to be on the side that’s winning.”

Q: But won’t Barack Obama defend our civil liberties?

A: This one’s easy – no. In July, Obama infamously voted in favor of the FISA Amendments Act, which greatly expanded the President’s power to spy on the communications of American citizens, and grants immunity to communications companies who carried out this spying in the past. This infuriated many supporters, especially since Obama had repeatedly promised to vote against immunity for telecommunications companies. This is what Obama is doing when he’s still trying to win your vote! Imagine what he’ll do once he’s been elected.

If that weren’t enough, Obama voted in 2006 to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act.

Q: What is Obama’s stance on immigration?

A: Assuming you believe that no “human being is illegal,” his stance is extremely bad.

*Obama voted for the “Secure Fence Act of 2006,” which approved the construction of an additional 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border and called for increased surveillance on all U.S. international borders.

*In March of this year, Obama also voted for the “Immigration Enforcement and Employer Sanctions Amendment,” which Project Vote Smart—a non-partisan organization that researches candidates’ voting records—summarized this way: “Vote to adopt an amendment that allows the Senate Budget Committee Chairman to raise spending levels to increase border security, expand enforcement of immigration laws, increase penalties against employers who hire undocumented immigrants, deploy National Guard troops to the southern and northern borders of the United States, and identify and deport non-citizen immigrants in prisons, provided that such spending would not increase the budget deficit."

*Obama’s own Web site proclaims: “Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.” In other words, Obama supports a system that makes immigrants official second-class citizens… If they’re lucky.

*All of the above reveals Obama’s platitudes about “keeping immigrant families together” to be just that—platitudes.

Q: But at least Barack Obama is against torture. Right?

A: As the saying goes: “Actions speak louder than words.”

*It is true that Obama has said that, if elected, he will close Guantanamo and restore habeas corpus. And that he has said, “it is never OK” for the U.S. to torture.

*But what action has Barack Obama taken now –during the time when our government has openly subjected detainees to waterboarding, vicious beatings, extreme isolation, sensory and sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, and countless other forms of sadistic torture; as hundreds of detainees have languished for years in Guantanamo with no trial; as more and more evidence has accumulated that the Bush Regime approved this torture, until Bush outright admitted approving meetings where torture was planned?

None. Except, that is, for repeatedly refusing to work for – or even endorse the idea of – impeaching an administration that has repeatedly admitted to carrying out torture. In April, after ABC News reported that top Bush administration officials met in the White House multiple times to plan and approve torture, a Philadelphia Daily News reporter asked Obama whether, as president, he would be willing to investigate whether the Bush Regime committed crimes. Obama waffled by saying “If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated,” even though it was quite apparent that the Bush administration had committed crimes; days earlier, Bush himself had acknowledged approving meetings where torture was planned.

In the course of answering the reporter’s question, Obama also said: “One of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing between really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I've said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances."

*Obama also refused to filibuster -- i.e. block the passage of– the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which eliminated habeas corpus and allowed the President to define what constitutes “torture.”

*There you have it. Obama is supposedly opposed to torture, but he is utterly unwilling to take any action to stop it. He apparently does not think the use of torture is an “exceptional circumstance” that would merit impeachment proceedings. He offers only verbal denouncements and promises that, once elected, he will work to end torture. Remember, if we go on words alone, Bush and Cheney have also said on many occasions that it is not OK for the United States to torture.

Q: Wouldn’t having the first Black president in U.S. history represent tremendous advances in ending racism?

A: Ask yourself these questions: If Barack Obama becomes president, will 1 in 9 Black males in the U.S. between the ages of 20 and 34 no longer be in prison? Will hundreds of thousands of Black males no longer be subjected to stop and frisks by the NYPD every year on the streets of New York? Will the police stop shooting one unarmed man of color after another? Will it no longer be true that 3 times as many African-Americans as whites live below 125 percent of the poverty line in the U.S.? Will Black children not be twice as likely as white children to have no health insurance?
Will the demolition of housing projects and massive displacement of African-Americans in post-Katrina New Orleans suddenly be undone?

These are just a few extremely powerful facts about racism in the United States. The point is this: While sickening individual acts of racism are a pervasive, daily occurrence throughout society, white supremacy has always been an institutional, societal phenomenon. Having a Black man at the head of the government that enforces this white supremacy doesn’t signal the end of this phenomenon.

*Beyond that, there is the specific matter of how Barack Obama has himself addressed issues of race. After the police officers who murdered Sean Bell with 50 shots were let off without even a slap on the wrist, here is what Obama had to say: “Well, look, obviously there was a tragedy in New York. I said at the time, without benefit of all the facts before me, that it looked like a possible case of excessive force. The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down.”

We’re supposed to “respect” a verdict that allows police to gun down innocent Black men with no impunity?!

*And, in his recent Father’s Day speech, Obama blamed Black fathers for much of the problems confronting Black America:

“But if we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing - missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it. You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled - doubled - since we were children. We know the statistics - that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it."

Q: So you’re saying we’ll be OK if progressives sit out the election and McCain wins?

Of course not. But we won’t be “OK” if Obama wins either.

That McCain makes clear his intent to continue the criminal and brutal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; he repeatedly threatens Iran and “jokes” about killing Iranian civilians; vehemently opposes abortion rights; and rails against the recent Supreme Court decision to grant habeas corpus rights to detainees…. These are just a few of an endless list of examples that show the nightmare that a McCain presidency would bring.

But an Obama presidency would also be a nightmare for the people of the world. As the above facts have shown, a vote for Obama is a vote for (among other things): Extended war and heightened brutality in Afghanistan; increased big brother surveillance of American citizens; threats of war (if not actual war) against Iran and Pakistan; repression of immigrants; and complicity in the face of torture. And that’s just what Obama is telling us now. Who knows what else he’ll do if he wins the election.

The question—“So you’re saying we should let McCain be elected?” —is the wrong one to be asking. The question we should be asking is: What are we doing right now, up to, and after the elections to resist the direction both McCain and Obama want to take this country and the world?

Q: So if elections aren’t the vehicle for change, then what is?

A: Recognition. Declaration. Determination.

*The real change we need starts with a recognition: That whatever Obama’s bromides about “hope” and “change,” the actual principal motivations of his campaign are: 1) To divert genuine resistance to the program of our government from the streets to the ballot box. 2) To make people “feel good” about their country again, even if that country is raping, torturing, and pillaging the world. 3) To propagate the lie that racism, even if it still exists, cannot be an “excuse” for Black people anymore because— look— there is a Black man in the White House! 4) And to win a popular mandate for a program that will in fact lead to more endless war and repression.

*After this recognition comes a declaration - -to society and to yourself: “I’m not getting conned by the ‘lesser of two evils’ logic anymore. Period. I want the crimes of our government brought to a halt, not continued under the guise of “change.”

*This declaration and recognition must then lead to a basic determination: to become part of, and to contribute as much as you can, to a mass independent movement that is resisting both of the two evils being offered to us; a movement that is fighting to stop endless war, torture, spying and repression, no matter which party is carrying it out.

To find out more, visit our Web site at Find the contact information for the chapter nearest you. Learn more about what we’re all about, and different initiatives and actions we’ve got in the days and weeks coming up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Deaths in Detention in New York

A heartrending story in today's New York Times illuminating some of the barbaric policies and practices under the new DHS rules, invoked post-9/11. Under the rubric of the "war on terror," the DHS and our government more generally have been waging terror on us and anyone that has the misfortune of falling afoul of their new rules.

The Wide World of Sports = Beach Volleyball, Beach Volleyball, Beach Volleyball?

I love watching the Olympics. Seeing Usain Bolt live up to his name in the 100 meters was one of the most remarkable athletic events I've ever seen.

I just wish I could actually see more of the Olympics via NBC.

Now I love team volleyball and I know that beach volleyball is a sport, but if I hear about Misty May and Kerri Walsh one more time ...

Did you catch Walsh being interviewed during the Opening Ceremony, gushing about spending time with (War Criminal and Felon) George Bush and wife Laura? I wanted to go wash my ears out.

And Bob Costas' feeding Bush a bunch of softballs during his interview about holding the Chinese feet to the fire about human rights violations and about the terrible Russians invading poor Georgia?

Please. Which world is Costas living in?

Was he paying attention when Bush admitted that he approved waterboarding? Did he notice that the White House has been caught forging evidence to justify their invasion of Iraq and purveying literally hundreds of lies for an invasion and occupation that has led to the deaths of 1.2 million Iraqis and thousands of Americans?

And that Bela Karolyi- what a bellyache he is! Good thing I can't make out all of his gibberish, otherwise I'd probably be even more annoyed!

The Olympic athletes do so many remarkable things and many of them have to make incredible sacrifices in solitary training for years. Wouldn't it be great if we could see and marvel at it all without the distorting lens of narrow nationalism?

On Georgia, Russia and the U.S.

See this excellent analysis by Larry Jones here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Protest at the DNC!

A World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime ALERT


Press contact: Linda Rigas (714) 235-8213
National contact: Debra Sweet, World Can't Wait (718) 809 3803


Prominent anti-war voices have issued an open letter calling on people to come to Denver to protest war, torture, and repression at the upcoming August 25-28 Democratic National Convention.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, noted historian Howard Zinn, actor Mark Ruffalo, anti-war mother Cindy Sheehan, and Vietnam war veteran Ron Kovic are among the 1,000 plus who have signed the letter, which calls for ending threats against Iran, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and expanded government spying.

"The anti-war movement must set a standard of resistance, not accommodate what is intolerable,” the letter states. “Only the people—not the politicians—can force open debate over why the U.S. occupation must end now.” Letter and signers online at:

The breadth and prominence of the signers reflects rising concerns and anger over Obama’s direction, including his recent FISA vote, calls for escalation in Afghanistan, expanding faith-based initiatives and his support for off-shore oil drilling.

“Whether one plans on voting for Obama or not, we all must be in the streets making our clear opposition to torture, bloody occupations and any new war against Iran vividly clear,” the letter states.

“Some people say protest does not work. They are WRONG! What does not work is passivity in the face of a government being more widely exposed as committing war crimes and a public increasingly sickened by what is being done in their name. If the anti-war movement was so ineffectual why did the New York Times have to call it the ‘other superpower’?”

Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime! which is circulating the letter, states, “World Can't Wait will be joining thousands of people in the Denver protests who want to send a different message to the world. Bring the whole Bush program of lying to start illegitimate wars, and threatening other countries, spying on citizens, justifying torture -- to a HALT!”

The Aug 23-29 week of protest in Denver will include anti-war and pro-immigrant marches, counter-protests against anti-abortion actions by the Christian right, film showings, strategy sessions, a wide range of panel discussions, and much more.

Interviews on Denver protests available with anti-war mother/Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan; Vietnam war veteran Ron Kovic; Debra Sweet; revolutionary activist and journalist Sunsara Taylor; military mother Elaine Brower; and author Larry Everest.