Archive for July 17th, 2009

Corporations Inventing New Definitions For Local Shopping

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

National chains and big-box stores are all jumping on board the “buy local” phenomenon, using the loose definition that visiting your local Starbucks is the same thing as buying coffee from the locally owned mom-and-pop shop down the road. There’s a real difference.

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Michael Wolff: Do I Have to Pay for Your Health Care?

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

The Democrats want me to pay for your health care and I am trying to think how I feel about this.

With a 5.4% tax on anything above $350,000, we’re not talking chopped liver.

True, I am happy to be in the top 2% of American earners. But not so happy, or flush, that I’m eager to pay your doctors’ bills.

I suppose, however, I don’t mind, if, say, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who made $68.7 million in 2007 and, with Goldman’s black arts, may match that this year, has to pay $3.7 million to cover your medical costs. Still, Blankfein probably feels paying $3.7 million for other people’s health care is a lot to ask. And, indeed, if you’re going to ask for $3.7 million — which, after all, still leaves him with $65 million — hell, why not ask for $60 million, which would still leave him with $8.7, which would make almost anyone else deliriously happy.

It’s all relative.

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Hailey Glassman, Jon Gosselin’s Girlfriend, "Is Bisexual"

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

Jon Gosselin’s new wild girlfriend, Hailey Glassman, “is bisexual,” one of her college pals confirms to the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.

“She’s open about it, and I’ve seen it happen,” the friend goes on.

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Steve Cobble: July 17, 1984: Carrying the Baton from King to Obama

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

“Our flag is red, white, and blue, but our nation is a rainbow–red, yellow, brown, black, and white–and we are all precious in God’s sight…America is not a blanket–one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt–many patches, many places, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread…
“Twenty years later, we cannot be satisfied by just restoring the old coalition. Old wine skins must make room for new wine. We must heal and expand.”

–Jesse Jackson, 1984 Democratic National Convention–
25 years ago today, July 17, 1984, a young African-American preacher and civil rights activist took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. For roughly an hour, he held an ever-growing television audience spellbound.
Millions and millions of Americans got their first live TV taste of the redemptive power of the African-American social gospel. And they liked it. American politics got more mature that night, more inclusive. The possibilities for change expanded. The possibility of a future African-American President grew exponentially.

“We are often reminded that we live in a great nation–and we do. But it can be greater still. The Rainbow is mandating a new definition of greatness. We must not measure greatness from the mansion down, but from the manger up…Jesus said that we must measure greatness by how we treat the least of these.”

I have written before about the concrete changes wrought by Jackson’s two Presidential campaigns in 1984 & 1988 (see, for example: ), changes that took African-Americans a long way up the mountainside.
Consider the 2 million voters who were registered during Jackson’s 1984 campaign, and another million registered by the end of his 1988 campaign, most of them young, most of them African-American–and most of them still voting 24 years later, helping Barack Obama carry states like South Carolina and North Carolina in the primaries, and win Virginia and North Carolina in the fall.
Or consider the Democratic Party rules changes the Jackson campaigns forced on the party establishment, forcing proportional representation into the delegate selection process, lowering the threshold for winning delegates, eliminating all winner-take-all and “bonus” delegate selection rules. (Note: I was Jackson’s 1988 National Delegate Coordinator.)
These changes alone won the primaries for Obama over Clinton. This is a mathematical statement, not a rhetorical one. The elimination of winner-take-all primaries in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey and California (all of them won by Hillary Clinton), and of “bonus” primaries in states like Ohio (also carried by Clinton), meant that Barack Obama could accumulate enough delegates from caucus states and smaller primary states to take–and then keep–the delegate lead.
Look at Pennsylvania alone. Clinton carried the state in a hotly-contested primary by about 9%. Because the Jackson rules changes meant that the delegates were distributed proportionately, Clinton’s victory garnered her a net gain of only about 10-12 delegates, at a time when she trailed in “earned” delegates by 100-150. Under the old rules, Pennsylvania used to have “winner-take-all” by Congressional district, which would have made a huge difference in the delegate results. The likely result would have been a statewide Clinton delegate margin of 130-150 delegates!
Given that she already would have won more delegates in New Jersey, California, Ohio, etc., under the old rules, this certainly would have been enough of a switch to put her back in the lead. In short, under the old rules, Hillary Clinton would have won the primaries.
It takes nothing away from the absolutely brilliant campaign that Obama & Axelrod & Plouffe ran last year to point out that because of Jackson’s two incredible campaigns, they got to start closer to the finish line.
There is also the psychological aspect of running for President. Young African-Americans interested in politics for the first time got to see one of their own winning Presidential debates, winning primaries and caucuses, winning delegates. When Jackson carried Mississippi in 1984, 20 years after Freedom Summer and Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City, that was clearly hope becoming real. When we pulled a stunning upset in Michigan in March of 1988, and took the lead in the nomination race, that was clearly a change. When we won Puerto Rico’s primary, and Vermont’s and Alaska’s caucuses, that suggested a new mindset–and a new politics–was possible.

“If you want change in this nation, you enforce that Voting Rights Act…If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It’s the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics, and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come up together. We must come up together.”

Here’s the last point I want to make–that Jesse Jackson is smarter than he is ever given credit for, especially when it comes to political strategy. Consider the quote above, especially in combination with the quote I used to open this essay–is there a better short summary of the essence of the politics of progressive success? Is there a more poetic expression of the need to expand the party base to win?
Isn’t this an early test version of Obama ‘08–an electoral strategy based on expanding the party, depending on young voters, winning a unified African-American vote, piecing together a “majority-minority” victory?
For those of you who are young, it is important to understand that the Rainbow’s “expansion” strategy for the Democratic Party was widely disparaged by the pundits, the mainstream media, the party insiders–in fact, the DLC was explicitly created to counter such a progressive strategy, with its stated goal of winning back the Reagan male and Southern White voters.
Instead, a quarter of a century later, Barack Obama won the Presidency with an expansion electoral strategy, ovecoming a Republican Party which is still too Southern, too White, too male.
It was Jesse Jackson who articulated the vision that fits most smoothly with the demographic changes that are transforming our politics. It was Jackson who made the case for a party strategy that started with minority voters as our base vote. It was Jackson who registered young people wherever he went, campaigning even in high schools among those too young to vote–and ended up carrying the youth vote in 1988.
Jackson did not win the nomination. But in 1988, he did win 7 million votes, 13 primaries and caucuses, and 1,218.5 delegates. All were landmark accomplishments at the time. All were done with little money and no internet. All built the foundation for bigger successes in the future.
Jackson’s 1984 & 1988 campaigns are the precursor to Barack Obama’s success in 2008, much as Barry Goldwater’s 1964 effort sowed the seeds that led 16 years later to Ronald Reagan.
Jackson became a prophet of change, setting out a vision of how to make America better by expanding the party to include more of America. He taught us to keep hope alive. His vision of expansion was vindicated by Obama’s incredible campaign and historic victory.
Jesse Jackson took the baton from Dr. King, and made up ground as he ran his leg of the relay race for a long generation, followed by Barack Obama sprinting brilliantly across the finish line to higher ground.

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How To Make Organic Cocktails

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

Made with organic and sustainable liquors, these cocktail recipes make use of garden-fresh herbs and fruits.

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American Conservative Union Responds To Politico’s Pay-For-Play Story

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

The American Conservative Union has sent out a press release today addressing Politico’s story from this morning alleging a pay-for-play scheme between the ACU and FedEx for a reported 2 to 3 mil in exchange for the group’s endorsement.

The accusation:

For the $2 million plus, ACU offered a range of services that included: “Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and/or other members of the ACU’s board of directors
. (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)”

The conservative group’s remarkable demand — black-and-white proof of the longtime Washington practice known as “pay for play” — was contained in a private letter to FedEx , which was provided to POLITICO.

And the group’s response:

An article containing a false headline has been published by Capitol Hill newspaper Politico today regarding an issue with expansion of the National Labor Relations Board.

This article concerns two letters; one issued by ACU and another issued by a separate organization.

Mr. David Keene’s name was on a letter prepared by another organization. This was a personal decision on his part and he was not representing ACU at the time. No permission was given by ACU, and no logo was provided by ACU, to the organization who issued the letter in question.

ACU’s policy position on this issue has not changed and it will not change.

ACU’s positions on important policy issues have never been for sale.

ACU does not support moving businesses under the jurisdiction of the NLRB or expanding the federal government’s power, reach or authority under the NLRB.

In fact, as we pointed out last year when auto bailouts were first proposed, the actions of organized labor in Detroit helped lead to a downfall of America’s storied auto industry. This is a clear example of what can happen when organized labor extends its fingers too far into American business.

In this regard, ACU stands with the policy that FedEx should not be placed under the NLRB.

This was ACU policy – before and after – any letters in question were drafted.

No contributions, to date, regarding this issue have been given or promised to ACU from any organization mentioned in the Politico article.

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Shirin Neshat: A Cry for Help: An Open Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

“The children of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time afflicts one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others
Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of Man.”

These are the words of the 13th century Persian poet, Saadi. Many may recognize the first two sentences from President Barack Obama’s Persian New Year speech to the Iranian people.

Soon after this speech President Obama was faced with the news that Roxana Saberi, an American journalist of Iranian/Japanese descent had been imprisoned in Iran and he did not hesitate to publicly demand her release, which soon followed.

Growing up in Iran, we had our own definitions of what certain countries represented to us: the British were seen as colonizers who tried to steal our oil and the Americans were seen as imperialists who dashed the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people by overthrowing Dr.Mossadegh’s elected government in a CIA Coup in 1953. But when it came to Canada, we fell short of any wrong doing to attribute to them. To us, Canada represented a nation that stood for peace, democracy and most importantly, demonstrated a spirit of generosity by welcoming a host of people from countries with oppressive regimes seeking ’security’ and ‘freedom.’

As I write this letter however, I can’t help but wonder if the Canadian government still stands by this principle today. Maziar Bahari, the Iranian/Canadian artist/journalist, might be asking the same question as he sits in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison since June 21 and is probably wondering: will the Canadian government come to my rescue?

Maziar may have been a journalist on an assignment when he was arrested; but those of us who know him well, are aware that he is foremost an artist of the highest caliber, with a great humanitarian perspective. But Maziar’s art, whether a piece of theatre, a documentary or a fictional film always remained inseparable from the reality of the world he lived in. He found no choice but to place himself at risk by going to Iraq during the worst days of battle, or to be present for the Iranian election. Unlike many of us artists who choose to live in ‘exile’ as a space for creativity; Maziar was the storyteller that had to get close to his subjects.

Sadly, Maziar is now trapped in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for some baseless, false accusation made against him by the Iranian government which one needs not repeat as they are so shamefully untrue.

We in the world now are well aware of the atrocities that are practiced in Iranian prisons. And as a fellow artist I can’t help but be terribly worried about Maziar’s state of uncertainty. His life is in jeopardy as Zahra Kazemi’s life was in jeopardy, when she too was taken to this same prison where Maziar sits today. Then the call for help came too late and Ms. Kazemi, a Canadian citizen, was brutally murdered in prison under false allegations.

I think of myself, an Iranian/American artist, and wonder what would I want if I’m ever imprisoned by the Iranian government for the work that I make? I answer: I would hope that the United States government comes to my rescue. I would pray that President Obama would speak in the media demanding my freedom as he once did for Roxanne Saberi Maziar is a jewel of an artist to any society. Let us protect our artists so they can live to go on to tell our stories.

So I am asking you, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of Maziar Bahari, will you demand his freedom?

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Robert Naiman: The Day They Arrested President Roosevelt

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

What a dark day for American democracy it was – February 5, 1937, the day they arrested President Roosevelt.

The pretext for this assault on democracy was President Roosevelt’s proposal of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill of 1937, which would have allowed President Roosevelt to appoint more members to the Supreme Court, which had blocked New Deal measures President Roosevelt had introduced to try to bring America out of the Great Depression. Supporters of the New Deal were particularly galled by the Supreme Court’s decision the previous year throwing out New York’s minimum wage law.

But some of President Roosevelt’s opponents in Congress (including many conservative Democrats), the Supreme Court, and the military claimed the proposed bill was an assault on the Constitution – even though the Constitution doesn’t say how many Supreme Court justices there should be, and Congress had changed the number of Supreme Court Justices many times in the past – and that Roosevelt’s move was a dangerous power grab. So dangerous, in fact, that Roosevelt’s proposal could not even be considered in Congress. Roosevelt’s opponents claimed that he had violated the Constitution by even suggesting the idea, and had to be removed from office immediately; that Roosevelt and his supporters were such a threat to the established order that due process had to be dispensed with — if Roosevelt were put in prison, maybe there would be riots.

Therefore, on the morning of February 5, soldiers under the command of General Smedley Butler arrested President Roosevelt and deported him to Canada, still in his pajamas.

With President Roosevelt out of the way, the Supreme Court overturned Washington State’s minimum wage law on March 9. On April 12, the Supreme Court threw out the National Labor Relations Act — which sought to guarantee the rights of workers to organize into “unions” so they could bargain collectively for higher wages and better working conditions. Finally, on May 24, the Supreme Court overturned the law establishing Roosevelt’s proposed “Social Security” system – a public pension scheme to guarantee some income to less privileged workers and their dependents in retirement and to the disabled. The New Deal was crushed.

Imagine how different America might be today, if President Roosevelt had been allowed to continue his term and the New Deal had been allowed to proceed. Maybe sixty per cent of our fellow Americans wouldn’t live in poverty, as they do today.

Some of the foregoing things didn’t happen in the United States, but some of them did. The Supreme Court really did overturn New York’s minimum wage law, and many feared that it would overturn Washington’s minimum wage law, the National Labor Relations Act, and Social Security. The Court narrowly upheld them — 5 to 4 — after Roosevelt introduced his proposed judicial reform, when one of the anti-New Deal justices switched sides. Roosevelt’s proposed judicial reform itself was decisively defeated in Congress, with strong Democratic opposition – many did say, including many Democrats, that it was an attack on the Constitution.

U.S. soldiers never arrested President Roosevelt and deported him to Canada, although General Smedley Butler did testify to Congress that he had been recruited by people claiming to represent corporate interests to lead a coup against President Roosevelt.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deported by Honduran soldiers to Costa Rica on June 28 for the “crime” of proposing that Hondurans be allowed to consider a non-binding, advisory referendum on reforming their constitution.

US corporate interests — including textile and clothing importers that pay their Honduran workers poverty wages — recently sent a letter to President Obama asking for “business as usual” with the coup regime in Honduras, a letter the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation denounced as ‘disgusting.’

Today sixty per cent of Hondurans live in poverty. They deserve a better future — a future they may never see if this coup is allowed to stand.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress are starting to stand up against the coup. Rep. Bill Delahunt and Rep. Jim McGovern have introduced a resolution calling for President Zelaya to be returned to office. Ask your Representative to support this resolution. The Capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121; or you can send an email here.

The Obama Administration has many levers it can use to pressure the coup regime. The Los Angeles Times has called for the Administration to consider “imposing sanctions on individuals involved with the coup, such as canceling visas and freezing bank accounts.“. The Obama Administration is much more likely to exert more pressure on the coup regime if Members of Congress speak out against the coup – so call or write your Representative now.

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David Beckham’s Shirtless Victory (PHOTOS)

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

David Beckham is trying his best to make soccer popular in America, and one tactic for filling stadiums could be to keep taking his shirt off.

Beckham and the LA Galaxy played and beat the New York Red Bulls 3-1 at the Meadowlands Thursday night. After the victory, Beckham whipped off his jersey before walking to the locker room, tattoo sleeves and Armani-endorsing abs on display.


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Pat Hardy: Should Volunteers Fill Gaps for Prison Cuts?

July 17th, 2009 admin No comments

Recent budget cuts leave many opportunities for volunteers to fill the gaps of services no longer available to those who need them.

The question arises: Are we doing a favor for an organization which should be seeing as crucial/vital/core the services offered by volunteers?

Actually the work being done by the volunteers in prisons is rarely done by staff.

The Alternatives to Violence Project’s independence from the prison is a core premise of the offering of these weekend workshops. Not receiving money and being only facilitated by volunteers brings a credibility of the workshops to the prisoner-participant as well as to the staff.

The participants and the prisoner (and outside) facilitator team members also are volunteers.

So while the legislature slashes and burns program after program, our monthly workshops in 17 California prisons, still keep being offered, deeply affecting the lives of prisoners and their families, same as always. See or

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