Saturday, April 12, 2008

Who's Out of Touch?

Senator Obama’s comments in response to the Clinton and McCain campaign’s attacks -

TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA – At a town hall meeting in Indiana, U.S. Senator Barack Obama made the following comments in response to the Clinton and McCain campaign’s attacks:

“When I go around and I talk to people there is frustration and there is anger and there is bitterness. And what’s worse is when people are expressing their anger then politicians try to say what are you angry about? This just happened – I want to make a point here today.

“I was in San Francisco talking to a group at a fundraiser and somebody asked how’re you going to get votes in Pennsylvania? What’s going on there? We hear that’s its hard for some working class people to get behind you’re campaign. I said, “Well look, they’re frustrated and for good reason. Because for the last 25 years they’ve seen jobs shipped overseas. They’ve seen their economies collapse. They have lost their jobs. They have lost their pensions. They have lost their healthcare.

“And for 25, 30 years Democrats and Republicans have come before them and said we’re going to make your community better. We’re going to make it right and nothing ever happens. And of course they’re bitter. Of course they’re frustrated. You would be too. In fact many of you are. Because the same thing has happened here in Indiana. The same thing happened across the border in Decatur.

The same thing has happened all across the country. Nobody is looking out for you. Nobody is thinking about you. And so people end up- they don’t vote on economic issues because they don’t expect anybody’s going to help them. So people end up, you know, voting on issues like guns, and are they going to have the right to bear arms.

They vote on issues like gay marriage. And they take refuge in their faith and their community and their families and things they can count on. But they don’t believe they can count on Washington. So I made this statement-- so, here’s what rich. Senator Clinton says ‘No, I don’t think that people are bitter in Pennsylvania. You know, I think Barack’s being condescending.’ John McCain says, ‘Oh, how could he say that? How could he say people are bitter? You know, he’s obviously out of touch with people.’

“Out of touch? Out of touch? I mean, John McCain—it took him three tries to finally figure out that the home foreclosure crisis was a problem and to come up with a plan for it, and he’s saying I’m out of touch? Senator Clinton voted for a credit card-sponsored bankruptcy bill that made it harder for people to get out of debt after taking money from the financial services companies, and she says I’m out of touch?

No, I’m in touch. I know exactly what’s going on. I know what’s going on in Pennsylvania. I know what’s going on in Indiana. I know what’s going on in Illinois. People are fed-up. They’re angry and they’re frustrated and they’re bitter. And they want to see a change in Washington and that’s why I’m running for President of the United States of America.”

I've been bitter, pissed off, irritated, angry... You name it... For eight years or more.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Olympic Torch in San Francisco

Olympic Torch Protests Overwhelm San Francisco
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 10 April 2008

San Francisco, California - A day-long mass gathering intended to protest the running of the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch ended anticlimactically when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to cancel the downtown closing ceremony and instead hold the ceremony at the airport.

Newsom told The Associated Press he decided to move the closing ceremony because of the protests.

Moving the ceremony away from the downtown area capped off a chaotic day and was seen as a victory by protesters who did not want the torch to pass through the city without resistance. Initially, the torch was supposed to travel along the waterfront and circle back to the downtown area for the closing ceremony. The route was altered because officials feared protesters might clash with police and disrupt the relay. The new route was kept secret until the runners were underway, leaving the protesters disorganized.

Deviating from their announced plans, San Francisco officials put the torch and all 80 torch bearers on buses and drove them up to Van Ness Avenue - about two miles away from the original route - where they proceeded to run through the city toward the Golden Gate Bridge with little interference.

Upon hearing reports the relay course had been changed, the most committed protesters sprinted uphill toward where they thought the torch was headed. A spectacle ensued with hundreds of confused protesters jogging through the streets of the business district, waving flags and asking each other if they knew where to go.

On Wednesday morning, human rights activists gathered outside of a well orchestrated official rally, complete with Chinese drums and colorfully costumed dancers. The tension was palpable, as police escorted people holding Tibetan flags out of the area. "Its not safe for you here," a smiling police officer told a young protester with Tibetan prayer flags wrapped around his body, while escorting him to the designated protest areas.

The ceremonial Olympic torch relay across the globe has drawn heated protests in recent days, with activists flooding relay routes throughout Europe, and attempting to extinguish the Olympic torch. Tibet freedom activists have capitalized on the world attention being paid to the Chinese government in advance of the Beijing Olympics by voicing their opposition to what they see as an occupation of Tibet by China and the human rights abuses China has perpetrated against the people of Tibet.

About half an hour before the torch was scheduled to be set aflame and carried along the San Francisco Bay waterfront, protesters began marching down The Embarcadero - a wide street that borders the eastern edge of the city - toward McCovey Cove where the lighting ceremony was underway.

A blue tour bus escorted by police motorcycles suddenly pulled away from the ceremony location. Apparently thinking the Olympic torch was aboard the bus, protesters began running toward the bus and crowding in front of it. The driver seemed to panic momentarily as protesters began banging on the windshield and shouting "free Tibet, free Tibet, free Tibet." After initially stopping to avoid running over the protesters, the driver began to accelerate, attempting to drive through the crowd at roughly five miles an hour.

Screams and shouts from the protesters and police in front of the bus eventually compelled the driver to stop after traveling about 100 feet. Protesters clung to the windows and windshield wipers of the bus, plastering it with Tibetan flag stickers. As police stepped in to try and disperse the crowd, a large metal object, thrown from a long distance, clanged off the windshield. A bottle was smashed against a side window. A police officer caught in the throng looked terrified as he was swallowed up among the rowdy protesters.

The situation was diffused when fellow protesters decided the bus was empty, a decoy used by police to try and draw the protest away from the ceremony. Police said the bus had just dropped people off at the torch lighting and was not intended to misdirect the crowd.

Early reports stated San Francisco officials decided to change the route of the torch relay in anticipation of violent demonstration. It is unclear whether the tour bus incident prompted the course change, but the incident made clear the level of anger and energy driving the protests.

The successful rope-a-dope maneuver left thousands of protesters and casual observers milling around the waterfront area, unsure if they were going to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch on its only stop in North America.

Left stranded away from the action, the two protest factions turned on one another.

"The Tibetan protesters are rioters. China is making good progress," Steve Hu, a Chinese immigrant and vocal counterprotester said. Many counterprotesters waving Chinese flags marched through the streets, exchanging insults and fiery rhetoric with those advocating for an independent Tibet. Interactions between the two groups varied. The most common encounters were limited to basic insults and impolite hand gestures.

In more heated confrontations, people yelled at one another, their faces just inches apart. On multiple occasions, the warring groups actually clashed in what can only be described as flag on flag sword fights.

The emotional battles remained peaceful, with calmer individuals stepping in when violence appeared imminent. The majority of protesters on both sides recognized both had the right to demonstrate and to express their deeply held political positions.

"Everyone has a right to protests," Justin Zhang, a Chinese immigrant who was waving the Chinese flag said. "I'm disappointed because I didn't get to see the torch."

Tsering Choedon, an Indian immigrant who was protesting in favor of Tibetan independence, said she was thankful the city of San Francisco could hold such an event where both sides could be heard. "I want the Chinese government to let the reporters into China and Tibet so that the world can know the truth," Choedon said from her seated position on the crowded sidewalk. The small woman held a Tibetan flag and wore a mask over her mouth to represent the silencing of Tibetan voices in China.

While protesters advocating for the freedom of Tibet tend to receive the majority of attention, various other groups were quite prominent.

Muhammad Suleiman, a Sudanese immigrant and a protester with the Save Darfur coalition, said his presence at the protest was intended to "send a message to China that genocide and the Olympic games cannot coexist." Suleiman accused China of supplying weapons to the government of Sudan who, in turn, use them to commit atrocities against their own population. "I want the Chinese government to know that they have a moral obligation to stop this," Suleiman said.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Game at Left of Centrist

Play Bush x 3 - a new game launched by Robert over at Left of Centrist. I played and feel better already! I'm having kind of a crappy day, but this game is sure to lift your spirits, well if your Left of Centrist that is.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years - A Personal Memoir


Fear arrived at my door
with the evening paper
Headlines of winter and war
It will be a long time to peace
And the green rains
by Virginia Adair

Five years ago today I was eight months pregnant with my son and staying with my mom in her home day and night as she tried desperately to recover from surgery to remove a tumor and battled painfully against the cancer which had spread throughout her body. My daughter, still a toddler lie sleeping in an extra room my mom had made just for her. My mom lay in her own bed while I waited for her to call for me, for ice chips, for meds, for anything at all she needed. I sat staring at the TV without recognizing sound or images, a book in my lap, not knowing what to do next, just waiting.

My mom and I had both opposed the beginnings of any kind of invasion of Iraq, but watched day after day as our government fed the world lies and any opposition was crushed and/or faded from the landscape. While sanctions and inspections and non-violent negotiations were thrown aside, my mom and I helplessly glimpsed the loss of our own personal battle. No amount of medication could ease the suffering she endured and no amount of reasoning or resistance could thwart our government from invading Iraq.

When the news broke that evening I sat frozen, more incapable of movement than I had the moment before. I wept quietly so as not to wake the house. I knew at that moment half a world away people were dying; innocent people we were expected to demonize so their deaths would not faze us or we were expected not to acknowledge in light of our country's agenda. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself trying to convince neighbors and yes, even some friends that the people of Iraq are just like you and me. They are mothers and fathers and children and brothers and sisters who seek to be happy and to be able to care for one another just like you and me. It's exasperating that I've ever needed to even address this idea.

I did not know whether to go tell my mom the news. What would this mean to her? She was already dealing with so much. At some point a while later she called to me. I brought her ice chips and water, her medications and straightened her bed clothes. Such small comforts were all it seemed I could give her. I told my mom the news then. She insisted I help her to the living room to see the reports for herself. We all hang onto every thread of hope until it's gone, don't we? We wept together. We hung our heads in grief. We spoke little of what the future would bring for the world, for us. I know we both thought of my children, her descendants. One sleeping peacefully in the next room and one waiting to be born.

The next few weeks are a blur of memories for me. We tried to keep going against fading hope. My mom pretended to regain her strength and sent me home only to call me back to her side almost immediately. By the end of March my mom was in the hospital unable to open her eyes or speak anymore. I caught glimpses of what was going on in Iraq as I passed hospital TV sets. My only contact with the outside world... I could not bear to watch. My mom died at Hospice less than a month after the war began.

Five years later, though I see the truth everyday, it is inconceivable to me that this war still continues, that the war is as old as my son and as old as my own grief. For awhile after my mom died I couldn't grieve her passing. I thought instead of the people of Iraq and how my own grief could not even compare to what so many of them had lost. It took me awhile to understand that my grief was my own and that I needed to feel it and not compare it with others, so that I might move forward. So that I might one day be able to again emulate the things my mom had taught me and shown me through her own great life, her hard fought convictions and her endless strength.

I have watched friends and neighbors leave for Iraq in the last five years, some more than once. It seems each time two or three are coming home, two or three are on their way. A friend of my husband's lost his life in this terrible war and we see the effects on those who came home with their lives, but with their lives irrevocably changed.

I think of my mom and what her thoughts and feelings would've been during the last five years. I know she would've felt compassion, sorrow and worry for everyone involved in this war; the Iraqi citizens, the soldiers, the people who have lost something and sometimes everything due to this war. I know she would've worried about what she loved most in her life, her grandchildren. Just as she and my father had hesitated to have children due to the tremendous turmoil of the the sixties and seventies because they worried what kind of world I would grow up in, I know she would wonder and worry the same for her grandchildren. I know on this day, five years after this terrible war began, my mom if she were alive, would be attending the vigil to be held in our city. I know I would be with her. Tonight, I will be there and my mom will be with me in my heart.

Because of all the ways my mom and I are alike, we both just always hoped and wanted for a better world for our children and for all children.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Women For Women International

Linda at Ramblings of an Ageless Hippie Chick posted about Women For Women International. Read her post! Watch this video! Visit their website!

One woman can change anything. Many women can change everything.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Little Friday Fun

Gobble! Gobble!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'll See You There!

Please join Allen County 4 Obama for an informational gathering. Meet local Obama supporters and learn how you can get involved. Change can’t happen without you!

The event will be held at:

Downtown Library Branch

900 Library Plaza

Fort Wayne, IN 46802

February 27, 2008 at 7:15pm

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Our Time Is Now!

I double dog dare you to try not to believe...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

March 19 Iraq War Blogswarm

Statement of Purpose from March 19 Iraq War Blogswarm
Hosted by March 19 Iraq War Blogswarm blog, "this blogswarm will promote blog postings opposing the war in Iraq and calling for a full withdrawal of foreign occupying forces in Iraq. Five years of an illegal and catastrophic war is five years too many. On the March 19 anniversary of the conquest of Iraq by the Bush Administration, there needs to be a loud volume of voices countering the pro-war propaganda from far too many politicians and corporate media outlets."

If you also have a lot to say and want to make your voice heard sign up and pass the word. For more details on how to participate, click here or on the link on our sidebar.

Other March 19 Actions
Five Years Too Many
Resist In March
ANSWER Protest - Los Angeles

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Hopeful Year for Unions!

From an editorial in The New York Times

By virtually every indicator, 2007 was a dismal year for American workers. Job growth slowed, unemployment jumped and wages lost what little ground they had gained against inflation since 2003. There is one sliver of good news: the percentage of American workers who belong to a union rose for the first time in three decades...

...There is little doubt that American workers need unions. Wages today are almost 10 percent lower than they were in 1973, after accounting for inflation. The share of national income devoted to workers’ wages and benefits is at its lowest since the late-1960s, while the share going to profits has surged. The decline in unionization has been a big part of the reason that workers have lost so much ground...

...the uptick offers hope that the renewed emphasis on organizing workers by some of the nation’s largest unions — like the service employees’ union, the Teamsters and others that split off from the A.F.L.-C.I.O. to form the Change to Win coalition — might start paying dividends despite the difficult odds.

A bill that would have made it easier for unions to organize workers died in the Senate last June. Congress should take up this issue again to stop companies from using threats and other aggressive tactics to keep organized labor out, and to help win workers their rightful share of the economic pie.

View full article here.

I constantly wonder where the public and our country's labor force's outrage is when CEOs consistently walk away with such a higher percentage of the profits than do the labor force. I completely agree with analysts when they attribute this to union busting and the decline in union membership. Another contributing factor is how our country's CEOs have been transformed from the bosses into media icons. They are praised rather than criticized for their high incomes and their lavish lifestyles. We have been "convinced" that the outright disparities between the workers and the bosses is okay.

As noted by economist, teacher and author Paul Krugman whose most recent book, The Conscience of a Liberal, "the percentage of workers in unions declined from a high of 35 percent in the mid-1950s to today’s level of 12 percent. As a result, the United States has 'lost something that’s essential to maintain a decent society.' Krugman attributes the nation’s worsening economic inequality in large part to declining unionization and the erosion of legal protection of workers’ freedom to choose unions and bargain...
Krugman explained that when a high percentage of workers are in unions and workers’ freedom to choose unions is protected, there is an “umbrella” effect in which all workers, union and nonunion, benefit."