"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

May 16, 2012

Some financial sanity from Juan Cole:

Legalize Pot, Save Public Education, and end Student Indebtedness

Posted on 05/15/2012 by Juan
College students and graduates in the United States have a debt crisis on their hands, owing a trillion dollars.
Some 80% of university students attend public colleges and universities, which were set up to provide inexpensive education.
These public institutions are increasingly expensive, however, in large part because [pdf] state legislatures have systematically cut their contributions to their state universities since 1990, by 26%.
At the same time, states have vastly increased their prison populationsand prison costs, primarily because of the so-called ‘war on drugs,’ whicheveryone throughout the Americas recognizes as a complete failure except Barack Obama, Eric Holder and most other US politicians of both parties. Many of us suspect that the liquor corporations or private prison owners are bribing them through campaign contributions to keep marijuana illegal.
So here is a fix for the student debt crisis and the crisis in public education funding.
1. Legalize marijuana (Belgium, the Netherlands and Peru have not suffered from doing so, and it has been decriminalized in places like Portugal and Argentina with no ill effects; Portugal’s drug addiction rate has actually fallen).
2. Tax marijuana farms and dedicate the tax receipts solely to public higher education and student debt forgiveness
3. Pardon the hundreds of thousands of prisoners in state penitentiaries whose sole crime was using or selling marijuana. Save $40,000 per year per prisoner. Dedicate savings solely to public higher education and student debt relief.
4. Allow multiple sclerosis sufferers to use medical marijuana as a treatment, and let those with cancer, glaucoma and other conditions proven treatable via marijuana by science to use it for that purpose (as even conservative Arizona is now doing).
5. Tax medical marijuana clinics and dedicate their receipts solely to public higher education and student debt relief. (In California alone, pot is a $12 billion a year industry, and a ten percent tax would yield $1.2 billion a year to state coffers, helping save the University of California system).
6. Employ fewer narcotics police, achieve savings, apply those to, you guessed it.
7. Finance the education of new poor but outstanding students with the tax receipts on the marijuana industry, helping restore some of America’s former upward mobility.
These steps would not only solve the student debt crisis and allow universities to lower tuition, but would strengthen higher education in the US and allow us to remain competitive with Europe and rising nations in Asia (we are not keeping up). Our current declining investment in higher education will otherwise cause us to start falling behind in scientific and technological innovation and in cultural contributions, so vital for a dynamic democracy.

May 09, 2012

Snippet from a Noam Chomsky piece:
"....There are, for the first time in human history, real threats to the decent survival of the species.

"One has been hanging around since 1945. It’s kind of a miracle that we’ve escaped it. That’s the threat of nuclear war and nuclear weapons. Though it isn’t being much discussed, that threat is, in fact, being escalated by the policies of this administration and its allies. And something has to be done about that or we’re in real trouble.

"The other, of course, is environmental catastrophe. Practically every country in the world is taking at least halting steps towards trying to do something about it. The United States is also taking steps, mainly to accelerate the threat. It is the only major country that is not only not doing something constructive to protect the environment, it’s not even climbing on the train. In some ways, it’s pulling it backwards.

"And this is connected to a huge propaganda system, proudly and openly declared by the business world, to try to convince people that climate change is just a liberal hoax. “Why pay attention to these scientists?”

"We’re really regressing back to the dark ages. It’s not a joke. And if that’s happening in the most powerful, richest country in history, then this catastrophe isn’t going to be averted — and in a generation or two, everything else we’re talking about won’t matter. Something has to be done about it very soon in a dedicated, sustained way.

"It’s not going to be easy to proceed. There are going to be barriers, difficulties, hardships, failures. It’s inevitable. But unless the spirit of the last year, here and elsewhere in the country and around the globe, continues to grow and becomes a major force in the social and political world, the chances for a decent future are not very high."

May 04, 2012

Vile One

From The Rude Pundit:
In Brief: Mitt Romney Is Breathtakingly Vile:

Describing his successful business career at Bain & Company and Bain Capital last night after winning who the fuck cares which primaries, Mitt Romney said, "I became successful by helping start a business that grew from 10 people to hundreds of people." That was actually Bain Capital, which he founded with other rich prickfaces. After once again listing the few companies we've heard of that were successes once Bain came in, Romney continued, "I’d tell you that not every business made it and there were good days and bad days, but every day was a lesson."

"Huh," the Rude Pundit thought. "I wonder which day or which business he was talking about." Was it Georgetown Steel in South Carolina, which was gutted by Bain once it took over, with managers "replaced by people who knew nothing of steel," with equipment upgrades avoided, with union benefits cut, which was fine for making the quick buck Bain wanted it to make so it could look better on paper and be sold, but not so good for making, you know, steel products, and Georgetown was driven into bankruptcy.

Or was it a bad day when a Bain-run corporation bought a paper plant in Marion, Indiana, in 1994 and immediately fired everyone who worked there and forced them to reapply for their jobs "at lower wages and a 50 percent cut in health-care benefits"? When the workers striked, Bain closed it down and shipped the jobs to Mexico. Was that a bad day or a good day? It's hard to tell. Probably both, depending on where your paycheck was at the end of it.

Was it a bad day when Bain's management, specifically Romney's, created the financial situation that forced a Kansas City steel mill to close after 100 years in business, with 750 people losing their jobs and the pension fund shorted by $44 million? Or maybe ask the 1700 workers laid off from Dade International in Illinois after Bain took over?

The thing that President Obama needs to keep in mind about Mitt Romney is that he is a ruthless, amoral son of a bitch. Like Bain Capital, he makes promises that are lies when they get in the way of his greater good or his bottom line. With his polished smile and primped hair, Romney is one of the most outright depraved and evil sociopaths ever to run for office, and that's including Richard Nixon and Pat Robertson.

Beware the man who presents himself as honorable when his actions have demonstrated nothing but disgrace.

// posted by Rude One @ 4:13 PM

May 02, 2012

Romney the Muslimphobe

"....So the real problem with Romney is not that he would not have taken out Bin Laden. It is that he sees the Muslim world as in the grip of a congeries of pan-Islamic Caliphate movements against which he wants to wage a Mormon jihad with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. But in fact almost none of the movements he mentions has anything to do with al-Qaeda or a Caliphate. Romney supported Hosni Mubarak to the hilt and opposed the Arab Spring. He doesn’t understand the youth movements sweeping the Arab world. He lumps all kinds of unrelated, and changing, Muslim movements together with al-Qaeda. He doesn’t even seem to understand that if he works to get rid of the al-Assad regime in Syria, he likely will be bringing the Muslim Brotherhood to power there, one of the groups he is sworn to fight as fiercely as he would Bin Laden.

"The problem with Romney is that when it comes to the Muslim world, he doesn’t have the slightest idea what he is talking about, and seems intent on alienating 1.5 billion Muslims, a fifth of the world. He wanted to substitute a crazy conspiracy theory for a tactical approach to getting Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda leadership. In this regard, the Obama campaign has correctly nailed him, but they haven’t gone far enough in emphasizing the truly creepy character of his obsession with Muslims in general, far beyond the fringe al-Qaeda element."

April 30, 2012

The U.S.'s Descent Into Unexceptionalism

April 28, 2012
Unexceptionalism: A Primer


TO achieve unexceptionalism, the political ideal that would render the United States indistinguishable from the impoverished, traditionally undemocratic, brutal or catatonic countries of the world, do the following:


If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, ignore the first sacrament of a democracy and suspend the counting of ballots in a presidential election. Appoint the candidate of your choice as president.

If you’re the newly anointed president, react to a terrorist attack by invading a nonterrorist country. Despite the loss or disablement of untold numbers of lives, manage your war so that its results will be indeterminate.

Using the state of war as justification, order secret surveillance of American citizens, data mine their phone calls and e-mail, make business, medical and public library records available to government agencies, perform illegal warrantless searches of homes and offices.

Take to torturing terrorism suspects, here or abroad, in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Unilaterally abrogate the Convention Against Torture as well as the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war. Commit to indeterminate detention without trial those you decide are enemies. For good measure, trust that legislative supporters will eventually apply this policy as well to American citizens.

Suspend progressive taxation so that the wealthiest pay less proportionately than the middle class. See to it that the wealth of the country accumulates to a small fraction of the population so that the gap between rich and poor widens exponentially.

By cutting taxes and raising wartime expenditures, deplete the national treasury so that Congress and state and municipal legislatures cut back on domestic services, ensuring that there will be less money for the education of the young, for government health programs, for the care of veterans, for the maintenance of roads and bridges, for free public libraries, and so forth.

Deregulate the banking industry so as to create a severe recession in which enormous numbers of people lose their homes and jobs.

Before you leave office add to the Supreme Court justices like the ones who awarded you the presidency.


If you’re one of the conservative majority of a refurbished Supreme Court, rule that corporations, no less than human beings, have the right under the First Amendment to express their political point of view. To come to this judgment, do not acknowledge that corporations lack the range of feelings or values that define what it is to be human. That humans can act against their own interest, whereas corporations cannot act otherwise than in their own interest. That the corporation’s only purpose is to produce wealth, regardless of social consequences.

This decision of the court will ensure tremendous infusions of corporate money into the political process and lead to the election in national and state legislatures of majorities of de facto corporate lobbyists.


Given corporate control of legislative bodies, enact laws to the benefit of corporate interests. For example, those laws sponsored by weapons manufacturers wherein people may carry concealed weapons and shoot and kill anyone by whom they feel threatened.

Give the running of state prisons over to private corporations whose profits increase with the increase in inmate populations. See to it that a majority of prisoners are African-American.

When possible, treat immigrants as criminals.

Deplete and underfinance a viable system of free public schools and give the education of children over to private for-profit corporations.

Make college education unaffordable.

Inject religious precepts into public policy so as to control women’s bodies.

Enact laws prohibiting collective bargaining. Portray trade unions as un-American.

Enact laws restricting the voting rights of possibly unruly constituencies.

Propagandize against scientific facts that would affect corporate profits. Portray global warming as a conspiracy of scientists.

Having subverted the Constitution and enervated the nation with these measures, portray the federal government as unwieldy, bumbling and shot through with elitist liberals. Create mental states of maladaptive populism among the citizenry to support this view.


If you’re a justice of the Supreme Court, decide that the police of any and all cities and towns and villages have the absolute authority to strip-search any person whom they, for whatever reason, put under arrest.

With this ruling, the reduction of America to unexceptionalism is complete.

E. L. Doctorow is the author, most recently of the novel “Homer and Langley.”

April 20, 2012

A long campaign season

From Hunter:
This is going to be a long campaign season. Really, really, really long.

So far, at least, this campaign season is going to go down as being relentlessly, unremittingly negative. There's no bigger vision involved in any of them. The economy is being used as a handy bludgeon, but I don't think anyone honestly thinks anyone in Congress is going to do a damn thing about it, and so "bludgeon" is the best that can be hoped for. There are no constructive proposals, in the literal sense; all of the "big ideas" in government revolve around how much can be trimmed, and lopped off, and destroyed. The closest we get to a positive vision of our American future is when someone proposes we amputate a little less of it than the other guy.

Think about it; what are the big visions being proposed this election season? What are the plans for the nation? Behind the nationalism and flag pins, what, precisely, are candidates proposing that would make America one damn bit better? There is social rhetoric galore, but the only concrete, "big" vision is tax cuts. Very specific tax cuts, targeted at very specific people—the same people that have reaped a whirlwind of tax cuts for the last thirty years. There is a "big" vision to reduce the deficit—but it isn't met with any actual plan to reduce the deficit, because the "tax cut" vision is much, much more important. There is muttering about how religion should play a larger role in American life, and how government must defer to it to a much greater extent, and while I imagine that is seen as a bright future for a certain, narrow set of people, those of us who suspect our religion will not be the be-all, end-all religion chosen for this status regard that rhetoric as a horror show.

Conspiracy theories abound, filling the vacuum where more reasonable thoughts might once have stayed. Birtherism is the most prominent example, since it is a cheap and easy way to appeal to racists without coming out and copping to being one yourself: From Donald Trump to a two-bit Arizona Sheriff, it is the go-to move when you want to mark yourself as conservative leadership material. That's a view that smacks entirely too much of the past, and the nastier parts of the past at that.

Part of the problem is the Republican rejection of the very concept of government. It cannot be a force for good, in their new philosophy, and so the only allowable government actions are to destroy a small part of it. No matter how uncontroversial the program is (S-CHIP, anyone?), it is now railed against as abomination. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, enormously successful social insurance programs, are now all evidence of socialism. Environmental regulations? Screw the entire concept, and call it a secret United Nations conspiracy for good measure. It is a radical and reactionary vision, but more than that, it is relentlessly mean-spirited, and shallow-minded, and it is relentlessly focused on dismantling and destruction. Even if you were to accept the premise that all of this dismantling would somehow lead to a lovely economic renaissance that it has never, ever once led to, that best case scenario still sounds rather grim—a world led by the largest of large corporations, and scraps to everyone else.

I don't know. Republicans used to be quite good at nationalist rhetoric, and stoking notions of American exceptionalism, but even those panders seem to have become far more plasticized and stagnant of late. Yes, we still hear that America is the greatest country in the world, but it's been a long while since any candidate has stated a concrete something that we are best at. Instead we hear that we can't compete with other nations because our standards are too high, and need to be lowered. Our health care? Cut it. Wages? Cut them. Worker rights? Axe them. Environmental rights for your town? Screw it: China doesn't worry about protecting its environment, and look—they're beating us!

Back when Newt Gingrich was the current flavor of the month, the Not-Mitt of that one small moment, he proposed America build a base on the moon. He was roundly laughed at. He was laughed at by Republicans, because they knew he didn't really mean it, and because any Republican congress would disembowel any proposal like that with a gusto usually seen only among serial killers. He was laughed at by Democrats, because we knew he didn't mean it, too, and because it was so ridiculous coming from a modern Republican as to make us wonder whether he stored himself in a sealed box since he had last been in elected office. It was, admittedly, a momentary vision of America as a nation doing something that was grand, and unique, and that only America could do. But it barely lasted a week, and was never heard of again.

There's nothing like that these days. Or even half of it, or a tenth of it. Or even a damn thing. There is no proposal for how America should boldly do this, or America should take the lead on that. There are a hundred different futures waiting to be explored, and our great national vision is to do whichever one is the least ambitious, and takes the least effort, and dismantles the most government. Our grand national vision is not to build rockets, or build dams, or bring electricity to a far-flung nation, or build a transportation network that is the envy of the world; our national vision is to give some tax cuts to wealthy people, because anything else would be socialism, and call it done.

What a rotten national vision. What a long, long campaign season this is going to be.

March 12, 2012

Dennis Kucinich

....Kucinich was one of the those rare people in Washington whose commitment to his beliefs outweighed both his loyalty to his Party and his desperation to cling to political office. He thus often highlighted the severe flaws, deceit and cowardice of his fellow Democrats and their Party as well as the broader political class. That’s why he has to be vilified as crazy and wacky. He’s long been delivering an unpleasant message about the Democratic Party and Washington generally, and like all unwanted messengers, has to be dismissed and marginalized so that this criticism disappears. Thus, those who brought us the Iraq War, Endless War in general, citizen assassinations, the systematic incineration of the Constitution known as the War on Terror, the financial collapse, the destruction of the middle class, and the financial and political supremacy of banker-criminals are sane and respectable. Those who most vehemently opposed those assaults, like Dennis Kucinich, are the “wackiest.”....


February 08, 2012

Climate Change: Already Forgotten

The Great Carbon Bubble 
Why the Fossil Fuel Industry Fights So Hard
By Bill McKibben
If we could see the world with a particularly illuminating set of spectacles, one of its most prominent features at the moment would be a giant carbon bubble, whose bursting someday will make the housing bubble of 2007 look like a lark. As yet -- as we shall see -- it’s unfortunately largely invisible to us.
In compensation, though, we have some truly beautiful images made possible by new technology.  Last month, for instance, NASA updated the most iconic photograph in our civilization’s gallery: “Blue Marble,” originally taken from Apollo 17 in 1972. The spectacular new high-def image shows a picture of the Americas on January 4th, a good day for snapping photos because there weren’t many clouds.
It was also a good day because of the striking way it could demonstrate to us just how much the planet has changed in 40 years. As Jeff Masters, the web’s most widely read meteorologist, explains, “The U.S. and Canada are virtually snow-free and cloud-free, which is extremely rare for a January day. The lack of snow in the mountains of the Western U.S. is particularly unusual. I doubt one could find a January day this cloud-free with so little snow on the ground throughout the entire satellite record, going back to the early 1960s.”

In fact, it’s likely that the week that photo was taken will prove “the driest first week in recorded U.S. history.” Indeed, it followed on 2011, which showed the greatest weather extremes in our history -- 56% of the country was either in drought or flood, which was no surprise since “climate change science predicts wet areas will tend to get wetter and dry areas will tend to get drier.” Indeed, the nation suffered 14 weather disasters each causing $1 billion or more in damage last year. (The old record was nine.) Masters again: “Watching the weather over the past two years has been like watching a famous baseball hitter on steroids.”
In the face of such data -- statistics that you can duplicate for almost every region of the planet -- you’d think we’d already be in an all-out effort to do something about climate change. Instead, we’re witnessing an all-out effort to... deny there’s a problem.
Our GOP presidential candidates are working hard to make sure no one thinks they’d appease chemistry and physics. At the last Republican debate in Florida, Rick Santorum insisted that he should be the nominee because he’d caught on earlier than Newt or Mitt to the global warming “hoax.”
Most of the media pays remarkably little attention to what’s happening. Coverage of global warming hasdipped 40% over the last two years. When, say, there’s a rare outbreak of January tornadoes, TV anchors politely discuss “extreme weather,” but climate change is the disaster that dare not speak its name.
And when they do break their silence, some of our elite organs are happy to indulge in outright denial. Last month, for instance, the Wall Street Journal published an op-edby “16 scientists and engineers” headlined “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.” The article was easilydebunked. It was nothing but a mash-up of long-since-disproved arguments by people who turned out mostly not to be climate scientists at all, quoting other scientists who immediately said their actual work showed just the opposite.
It’s no secret where this denialism comes from: the fossil fuel industry pays for it. (Of the 16 authors of the Journal article, for instance, five had had ties to Exxon.)Writers from Ross Gelbspan to Naomi Oreskes have made this case with such overwhelming power that no one even really tries denying it any more. The open question is why the industry persists in denial in the face of an endless body of fact showing climate change is the greatest danger we’ve ever faced.
Why doesn’t it fold the way the tobacco industry eventually did? Why doesn’t it invest its riches in things like solar panels and so profit handsomely from the next generation of energy? As it happens, the answer is more interesting than you might think.
Part of it’s simple enough: the giant energy companies are making so much money right now that they can’t stop gorging themselves. ExxonMobil, year after year, pulls in more money than any company in history. Chevron’s not far behind. Everyone in the business is swimming in money.
Still, they could theoretically invest all that cash in new clean technology or research and development for the same. As it happens, though, they’ve got a deeper problem, one that’s become clear only in the last few years. Put briefly: their value is largely based on fossil-fuel reserves that won’t be burned if we ever take global warming seriously.
When I talked about a carbon bubble at the beginning of this essay, this is what I meant. Here are some of the relevant numbers, courtesy of the Capital Institute: we’re already seeing widespread climate disruption, but if we want to avoid utter, civilization-shaking disaster, many scientists have pointed to a two-degree rise in global temperatures as the most we could possibly deal with.
If we spew 565 gigatons more carbon into the atmosphere, we’ll quite possibly go right past that reddest of red lines. But the oil companies, private and state-owned, have current reserves on the books equivalent to 2,795 gigatons -- five times more than we can ever safely burn. It has to stay in the ground.
Put another way, in ecological terms it would be extremely prudent to write off $20 trillion worth of those reserves. In economic terms, of course, it would be a disaster, first and foremost for shareholders and executives of companies like ExxonMobil (and people in places like Venezuela).
If you run an oil company, this sort of write-off is the disastrous future staring you in the face as soon as climate change is taken as seriously as it should be, and that’s far scarier than drought and flood. It’s why you’ll do anything -- including fund an endless campaigns of lies -- to avoid coming to terms with its reality. So instead, we simply charge ahead.  To take just one example, last month the boss of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue, called for burning all the country’s newly discovered coal, gas, and oil -- believed to be 1,800 gigatons worth of carbon from our nation alone.
What he and the rest of the energy-industrial elite are denying, in other words, is that the business models at the center of our economy are in the deepest possible conflict with physics and chemistry. The carbon bubble that looms over our world needs to be deflated soon. As with our fiscal crisis, failure to do so will cause enormous pain -- pain, in fact, almost beyond imagining. After all, if you think banks are too big to fail, consider the climate as a whole and imagine the nature of the bailout that would face us when that bubble finally bursts.
Unfortunately, it won’t burst by itself -- not in time, anyway. The fossil-fuel companies, with their heavily funded denialism and their record campaign contributions, have been able to keep at bay even the tamest efforts at reining in carbon emissions. With each passing day, they’re leveraging us deeper into an unpayable carbon debt -- and with each passing day, they’re raking in unimaginable returns. ExxonMobil last week reported its 2011 profits at $41 billion, the second highest of all time. Do you wonder who owns the record? That would be ExxonMobil in 2008 at $45 billion.
Telling the truth about climate change would require pulling away the biggest punchbowl in history, right when the party is in full swing. That’s why the fight is so pitched. That’s why those of us battling for the future need to raise our game. And it’s why that view from the satellites, however beautiful from a distance, is likely to become ever harder to recognize as our home planet.

January 23, 2012

Bits and Pieces for the Week of January 22 - 28

Raising Arizona... to HATE. "The photo above showing seven young men with guns holding what seems to be a bullet-riddled T-shirt depicting President Barack Obama was, until recently, up on the Facebook page for Sergeant Pat Shearer of the Peoria Police Department." (7 of 6)

Tucson School Walk Outs Grow: Protest School District's Folly and Mexican American Studies Banishment (7 of 6)

Dear Newt, Please Apologize

An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich From the Pastors of Poor Children

Mr. Gingrich,
For this you still owe our children an apology:
"Some of the things they could do is work in a library, work in the front office, some of them frankly could be janitorial; what if they clean up the bathrooms, what if they mopped the floors, what if in the summer they repainted the school; what if in the process they were actually learning to work, learning to earn money; if they had their own money, they didn't have to become a pimp or a prostitute or a drug dealer. [If] they had the dignity of work and learned how to be around adults who actually wanted to mentor them and help them. This is not a casual comment... It grows out of a lot of thinking over many years of trying to figure out how do we break out people trapped in poverty who have no work habits." -- Gingrich
We, the students and faculty of the Delaware Annual Conference Ministerial Institute of the AME Church, representing over 34 congregations and their constituents throughout Delaware and southern Pennsylvania are outraged at your continued demeaning of poor children and their families.

As a candidate vying for the Republican Presidential nomination, to suggest that poor children collectively lack a work ethic and drive for legal and productive work is entirely classist. Your national platform is no place for such irresponsible remarks. Our children deserve better than your degrading rhetoric.
In fact, they deserve an apology, and we -- their pastors and advocates -- demand one.
Mr. Gingrich, what your remarks have demonstrated is a failure to acknowledge the resilience of many who work daily and yet are unable to escape poverty. For many, low wages, a poor economy, and sparse full time employment opportunities have landed many families into the category of what the U.S. Department of Labor & Labor Statistics call the working poor. Contrary to what your remarks propagate, a significant number of children in households below the American poverty line (and those one paycheck away from it) are in homes with working family members; many of them are in our congregations weekly and are active citizens.
Mr. Gingrich, not only did you get the "cause" of poverty wrong, but your "solution" is just as unsubstantiated and offensive. Mandating that poor children become the janitors of their own failing public schools to better their work ethic is not a well thought out, viable, or realistic solution. Such a proposal is not only insulting, it is ridiculous.
Where would the currently employed janitors work (obviously this is a back handed assault on union employees)? If poor children are to benefit from extracurricular employment, why not at least provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities to increase their competitiveness in the global marketplace? Why not invest in education reform instead of cutting back early education/head start programs? Why not put forth solutions to the unemployment crisis in our nation, so that those who have the dignity, but not the work, can have an opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their children?
But, no -- instead you fan the flames of prejudice to get votes. With a move right out of Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy play book (i.e., "Welfare Mothers" = Lazy Blacks), you have managed to stir the xenophobia and racist fears of your far right republican base with the statement:
"I've been talking about the importance of work, particularly as it relates to people who are in areas where there is public housing, et cetera, where there are relatively few people that go to work." (Emphasis added)
Mr. Gingrich, the poverty of many poor minority children is the byproduct of systemic injustices that bar them from participation in the American Dream because of their racial and social location -- not laziness.
We understand that you are of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" camp, but the last time we checked Mr. Gingrich, it is impossible to pull yourself up by your own boot straps, and even more difficult when you have no boots to begin with.
Consequently, as pastors and leaders of the poor and their children, we are called to champion those without the boots of opportunity, fair play, and justice. For us not to mandate an apology for such biased, erroneous and offensive remarks would be as irresponsible as the remarks themselves. Today, Mr. Gingrich, we extend to you the opportunity to recant your "war on poor children" rhetoric and the opportunity to apologize to our children for speaking such falsehoods over their lives.
Awaiting your response,
Delaware Annual Conference Ministerial Institute
The Rev. Dr. Janet J. Sturdivant, Dean of Ministerial Institute
The Rev. Silvester S. Beaman, Chairman of Board of Examiners
Sis. Joi Orr, M.Div, Organizer & Institute Student

January 20, 2012

Bits and Pieces for the Week of January 15 - 21

Man dying of cancer wishes his wife "happy birthday". (Mike)

The "one-space" vs. "two-space" controversy. (Mike)

Military drones are much more expensive, more likely to fail, and deadlier than you might think.  (Mike)

"...ALEC bills itself as the nation’s largest bipartisan legislative membership organization, dedicated to the advancement of “federalism” and “Jeffersonian ideals.” In reality, ALEC is a conduit through which roughly 2,000 state legislators (almost all Republicans) are paired with legions of lobbyists representing more than 300 of the nation’s top corporations... ALEC holds three major conferences each year for member lawmakers, lobbyists and member “think tanks.” At the end of such conferences, member lawmakers carry pieces of ALEC “model legislation” to their home assemblies for introduction..." (7 of 6)

Why Obama deserves, and the U.S. needs, a second Obama term. (Mike)

In racist Arizona, the Tea Party's agenda continues to attack the Mexican-American studies (MAS) program. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop at classroom studies. "As part of the state-mandated termination of its ethnic studies program, the Tucson Unified School District released an initial list of books to be banned from its schools today." Including, Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest.” More banned books, "Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years", "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", "Occupied America: A History of Chicanos", "Chicano!: The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement", "500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures", "Critical Race Theory". More from Blog for Arizona. (7 of 6)

January 11, 2012

Bits and Pieces for the Week of January 8 - 14

Don't ignore Pakistan.  It's becoming more destabilized by the day. (Mike)

If there had been NO Bush tax cuts, average-income Americans would be bringing home around $9,000 MORE per year.  In a related issue, Romney's proposed tax cuts will allow the rich to bring home tax cuts twice the size of those under Bush. (Mike)

No, Iran is NOT developing a nuclear weapon program. (Mike)

"There is an old quote from Lord Baron Acton that says, 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' ...there is no better example of this in Maricopa County than Joe Arpaio. Since coming to office with a promise to serve one term, Arpaio has become the most sued sheriff in America, costing taxpayers over $42,000,000 in settlements from over 5,000+ lawsuits with over 2,600+ just for civil rights violations--including those cases that cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars." (7 of 6)