Thursday, May 29, 2008

Not One More Child Killed

There is a bill in the US Senate right now that deserves our support. Senate Bill 594, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, currently has twenty-one sponsors in the Senate. This bill would ban the use of cluster bombs, which injure thousands of innocent people each year. Unfortunately the Pentagon and Department of Defense officials have fought the effort to outlaw these weapons. Their reasoning is difficult to understand given the sobering reality that almost thirty percent of the bomblets released in each bomb fail to explode initially, leaving a deadly legacy for future generations of children to discover. The Middle East is filled with children who have lost arms and legs to unexploded cluster bombs. This is not the legacy of freedom and democracy we wish to leave the people of Iraq.

As a candidate for federal office, I support passage of Senate Bill 594 and would make this a priority if elected to office. In the meantime, it is important to pressure the US Senate to pass this bill now, before one more innocent child is killed or maimed for life due to our reckless foreign policy. On the international level, some eighty-two nations have supported resolutions to ban the use of cluster bombs. The United States still insists on the effectiveness of these weapons and refuses to join the international movement to ban this weapon, in spite of the fact that cluster bombs are one of the most deadly weapons facing our own troops. Unexploded bomblets remain a real threat to US troops long after they have been dropped on their intended targets.

Although they are a threat to our soldiers serving overseas, the biggest threat that cluster bombs pose is to civilians who remain in the areas of conflict long after the fighting has subsided. Unexploded cluster bombs scatter across large tracts of land, turning the areas bombed into defacto land mine zones. According to the American Friends Service Committee, ninety eight percent of the casualties of cluster bombs have been civilians. The United States manufactures these weapons and private manufacturing companies profit from the use of these weapons, which are largely inaccurate and indiscriminate in whom they kill. The time has come for the United States to join the international community in banning these inhumane weapons.

Senate Bill 594 would prevent the US military from using cluster bombs on civilian populations and it would prevent the export of cluster bombs for use in residential areas. Finally the bill would restrict all use and export of cluster bombs by the government. This bill would go a long way toward preventing unintended deaths and injuries to children and adults. The reality of cluster bombs is that long after the war is over, non-combatants are still being killed because of our current policies. In Lebanon, for instance, US produced cluster bombs were used by Israel in 2006. These bombs killed 285 people during the conflict, which ended that same year. In the two years since that time an additional 250 people have been killed in Lebanon by unexploded cluster bombs, nearly as many as were killed during the conflict itself. Additionally, there remains an estimated one million unexploded US produced cluster bombs, which continue to pose a threat to civilians in Lebanon.

Now is the time for the United States to begin to work to restore the trust of the international community. We must withdraw our troops from areas of occupation, and we need to remove our military forces from Iraq. We should clean up the mess that we have made of that country, including clearing landmines and civilian neighborhoods, which have been contaminated with unexploded cluster bombs and depleted uranium. Passage of Senate Bill 594 will send a clear message to the people of Iraq and the surrounding region that we really do care about international human rights and the well being of their children.

to learn more about the campaign to stop cluster bombs visit:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Using your vote to fight the plutocracy

Using your vote to fight the plutocracy

Posted by: "Joel Hirschhorn" sprawlkills

Wed May 28, 2008 9:42 am (PDT)

Poisonous Plutocracy Pushes Economic Inequality

Joel S. Hirschhorn

The biggest political issue receiving no attention by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates is the powerful plutocracy that has captured the government to produce rising economic inequality.

Both major parties have enabled, promoted and supported this Upper Class plutocracy. Myriad federal policies make the rich super-rich and the powerful dominant in both good and bad economic times. Meanwhile, despite elections, the middle class sinks into one big Lower Class as the plutocracy ensures that national prosperity is unshared.

Why no attention? Why no explicit reference to a plutocracy that makes a mockery of American democracy? Simple answer: because both major parties and their candidates are subservient to numerous corporate and other special interests that use their money and influence to ensure that their elitist priorities prevail. Make no mistake. Barack Obama with all his slick rhetoric is just as much a supporter and benefactor of this Upper Class plutocracy as Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Everyone that is not in the Upper Class who votes for any of these presidential candidates is voting against their own interests. They have been hoodwinked, conned, brainwashed, exploited and manipulated by campaign propaganda. They elect people for the visible government while they remain oblivious to the secret government – the powerful pulling the strings behind the stage. Money makes more money, financing more political influence.

One of the biggest delusions of Americans is that if they retain their constitutional rights that they still live in a country with a working democracy. Wrong. American democracy is delusional because the two-party plutocracy makes citizens economic slaves. This represses political dissent. It is 21st century tyranny. Two-party presidential candidates, unlike our nation’s Founders, lack courage to fight and revolt against domestic tyranny. Placebo voting distracts citizens from the political necessity of fighting the plutocracy.

Economic data show the plutocracy’s assault on American society. Consider these examples.

The top 20 percent of households earned more, after taxes, than the remaining 80 percent in 2005, while the topmost 1 percent took home more than the bottom 40 percent.

No American state has seen the gap between rich and poor widen faster than Connecticut. From 1987 through 2006, the top fifth of the state’s households saw their incomes increase by 44.8 percent, after inflation. Incomes for the bottom fifth fell 17.4 percent. On the other coast, just three of every 1,000 Californians in 2005 reported at least $1 million in income. But they got $213 of every $1,000 Californians earned in 2005 income. The state’s top 1 percent – average income $1.6 million – pay 7.1 percent of their incomes in income, sales, property, and gas taxes. The poorest fifth of California households pay 11.7 percent.

Real hourly wages for most workers have risen only 1 percent since 1979, even as those workers' productivity has increased by 60 percent. Higher efficiency has rewarded business executives, owners and investors, but not workers. What's more, American workers now work more hours per year than their counterparts in virtually every other advanced economy, even Japan, and without universal health care.

A typical hedge fund manager makes 31 times more in one hour than the typical American family makes in a year. In 2007, the top 50 hedge fund income-earners collected $29 billion – an average of $581 million each. John Paulson took home $3.7 billion from his hedge fund labors. These figures do not count profits from selling shares in their companies. Importantly, hedge fund players contributed nine times more to the Senate Democratic fundraising arm than they gave to Senate Republicans in 2007.

In 2009, Americans who make over $1 million a year will save an average $32,000 from the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. The average American household will save $20.

Between 1986 and 2005, the income of America’s top 1 percent of taxpayer jumped from 11.3 to 21.2 percent of the national total. Their federal income taxes dropped from 33.13 percent of total personal income in 1986 to 23.13 percent in 2005. From 2001 to 2008, the net worth of the wealthiest 1 percent grew from $186 billion to $816 billion.

Economic inequality and injustice reflect a political disaster, even with regular elections. It has resulted from government decisions on tax cuts, spending, trade agreements, deregulatory measures, labor unions, corporate handouts, and regulatory enforcement. All crafted to benefit the rich and powerful and leave the rest of us behind. It has happened under Democratic and Republican presidencies and congresses. Bipartisan domestic tyranny propels greed driven plutocracy.

What do we desperately need? A national discussion and referendum on inequality-pumping plutocracy, that none of the major presidential candidates shows any interest in having. Certainly not Barack Obama with his vacuous talk of change (but not about the political system) and John McCain’s incredulous talk of reform.

And it is delusional to think that populist global Internet connectivity producing what is called personal sovereignty threatens plutocracy. Networking among the rich and powerful strengthens the global plutocracy, placing it above national sovereignty. More than produce an army of revolutionaries to overturn the system, the Internet has fragmented every imaginable movement. Individuals indulge themselves with their own or social websites or fall victim to conventional politicians. Technology and media owned and controlled by plutocrats serves them while it shackles and deceives the multitudes.

Only one presidential candidate sees our core national problem and the need for revolutionary thinking and action to correct the system: Ralph Nader who said recently, "We need a Jeffersonian revolution." Plutocrats should heed these wise words of John F. Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." With all the guns and pain Americans have, the ruling class should worry and start reforms. To start, let third party and independent candidates into televised presidential debates. If the stage can be filled with a bunch of primary season candidates, why not more than two in the general election?

For electoral dissent, stop being a presidential romantic; use your vote to fight the plutocracy. Reject the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Put an end to serial disappointments. Time is running out. Talk is cheap. Action is crucial. Violent revolution is an option.

[Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through]

Monday, May 26, 2008

Evade Human Extinction Now!

Evade Human Extinction Now!

After watching The 11th Hour, an environmental film on a scale even greater than An Inconvenient Truth, I came away with several new understandings.

First of all, the climate change issue of global warming is really only the worst of a self-inflicted interconnected web of issues killing off species the world over. Together, all of these issues, from deforestation, to pollution, to killing off 90% of sea life, (something we've already done) are adding up to the perfect storm that will wipe the human species off the face of the planet in only a few generations if we don't act now. It isn't just global warming anymore. It isn't just pollution anymore. It isn't just species extinctions anymore. It isn't just crazy weather anymore. It isn't just overflowing land fills anymore. It's Evade Human Extinction Now!

As with everything else that is a result of a collective cultural insanity, framing the issue is one major key to solving it.

This Earth will continue spinning around the Sun whether or not we exist upon it. We are making the choice, in the next ten to fifteen years, whether or not most life, including humans, will survive on this planet. It is that simple, and that direct, and that urgent.

The good news is, once we have enough awareness built up out there, and the collective grass roots will to change, human society is capable of changing quite radically in a very short time. If Detroit can completely retool in six months during the 1940's from making cars to making tanks and airplanes, so can the rest of global industry.

Already, per The 11th Hour, there are over one million environmental activist organizations around the world beginning to act in concert to effect large scale change.

If we as a species do not follow their lead, the humankind can not survive more than another century or two on this planet. If we get it together, and work together, we can have a long and healthy run on this planet, and beyond. We can save the future of innumerable other species as well, many of which our own survival depends on in subtle but critical ways.

Watch The 11th Hour all the way through, and you'll see an integrated presentation of the problems we face during the first half. That alone is more than most other films on such subjects have achieved. Many present only one facet of a larger picture. The 11th Hour goes on to also present an integrated array of solutions. If there were unlimited time, perhaps many of those solutions could be explored more in depth, but there is plenty there to present the overall picture of a society of solutions instead of a society of destruction or of regression.

It is NOT necessary to go back to stone knives, berries, roots, and wearing skins. It is simply necessary to re-design modern society to be able to function withing the available resources and that preserves the diversity of life on this planet, including humans. Additionally, many possible resources we have available that would be beneficial instead of harmful are grossly under-utilized. In a strange way, this is actually good news, as it gives us something good to change TO.

Critically important is the concept that every person in global society votes, regardless of their age, every single time they make a purchase. Granted, what happens in the political voting booth has huge repercussions, but every day we vote with every bit of currency we spend as well.

So, to Evade Human Extinction Now, what we really need to do is love and respect life, use forms of energy that are beneficial to life, and respect the rights of nature to coexist with us. If we don't respect the rights of natural systems to exist, they will ultimately fail - and no technology can save us from the loss of our own right to exist.

Evade Human Extinction Now! - Our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be very grateful for it, and even we ourselves will end up with better lives as a result.

Choose life. I know we can do it. What I don't know is if we will do it.

With great hope,

Dan Stafford
Publisher: The Great Lakes Zephyr - Wind Energy & Hydrogen Journal
Publisher: The 1st Church of Healing The Earth

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What Has He Done For You Lately?

We all know that Lamar Alexander is a fixture in Washington DC politics, but what has he done for you lately? In a recent interview with the Cookeville Herald Citizen, Senator Lamar Alexander said that we are not in a recession in Tennessee. He said that recession is "a technical word" and that technically we are not in a recession. Speaking to the graduating class of Tennessee Tech Alexander said that there are some big challenges ahead but that we are currently only in an "economic slowdown." Alexander said that something needs to be done but I am wondering what the good Senator from Tennessee intends to do. If you examine his voting record, it is clear that the policy decisions that Alexander has favored are part of the reason we are in this recession in the first place.

For starters, let's look at the Senator's record on the war in Iraq. The war, which has cost us some $700 billion dollars and has cost the state of Tennessee directly some ten billion dollars in taxpayer expenditures for the war effort, means that there are less dollars available in the federal budget for education and alternative energy development and it means that there is more federal debt. Alexander voted for the original war and since then he has voted for every expenditure that has come before the Senate to extend funding for the war. He has voted against pulling troops out of Iraq when the opportunity has arisen.

Lamar has voted for the most destabilizing foreign policy expenditure in recent memory. Experts agree that the biggest reason for high oil prices in the global market is because of instability and uncertainty in the Middle East. Investor confidence has been greatly shaken by US activities in the Middle East and has driven down the value of the dollar in relation to other major international currencies. As a candidate for federal office, I support an immediate withdrawal of US armed forces from Iraq. I have spoken out clearly and directly on the issue of the war and my opposition to the current misadventure. If we had not invaded Iraq, the international marketplace would have greater confidence in the American economy and the global markets would not be reacting with so much fear and uncertainty to current market conditions.

Now let's look at taxes. Senator Alexander supports a flat income tax. He supports reducing the tax rates that wealthy people pay to 15% while at the same time he supports expensive, taxpayer funded military ventures. A flat income tax means that rich people will pay less and poor people will pay more. Flat taxes are already inherently unequal in terms of revenue and the response of a flat tax by state and local municipalities will be to simply increase sales taxes and other income generating revenues which will disproportionately affect the poor. Lamar also voted to cut taxes on capital gains and dividends. Lamar has made it clear where his interests lay, and it isn't with the working people of this country.

The record of Senator Alexander’s votes means we have a higher federal deficit because Lamar doesn't believe that rich people should pay their fair share. It also means less opportunity for working class people to get ahead which only drives them further into poverty. As a candidate for federal office, I believe that we need to roll back the Bush tax cuts. Corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share. They are members of this country, the same as everyone else. It is time to restore progressive taxation as a national policy.

Now let's look at Alexander's record with regard to working people. I've already talked about how a flat tax will end up costing working people more money in the long run. Less federal revenue means more toll roads, privatization of public services and higher local, municipal and state taxes to pick up the extra needed revenue. These aspects alone will reduce the standard of living for the middle class, but if we continue to support the policies of Alexander, we will find that standard of living even further eroded.

Alexander has supported fundamental dismantling of one of the most important social safety nets our country has created, the Social Security System. Now why Alexander would be against a federal program that provides support and resources to our senior citizens is beyond me, but if it is any indication of where he stands, Lamar was given a big fat zero by the Alliance for Retired Americans for his anti-senior voting record. Social Security works, and in spite of the Republican scare tactics, the program isn't going broke. If we were to privatize social security, then there is a guarantee that the poorest Americans will have nothing when they retire and the whole purpose of the program will have been rendered meaningless. As a candidate for federal office I fully support the Social Security program and commend it as one of the most successful government programs of the twentieth century for ensuring quality of life into old age.

There are so many other ways that we could look at Alexander's record which show that he votes against the interests of working people and for the interests of the wealthy and corporations. Since Tennessee is mostly made up of working people, I wonder who Alexander's decisions are going to work for. It is time for progressive leadership in Tennessee. Time to restore the minimum wage to a living wage with annual increases to adjust for cost of living. It is time to support universal single payer health care to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care and it is time to use the federal government as an agency for lifting up working people rather than letting the market drag them down.

We can make it out of this recession and make this country into a nation that works for everyone, but we have to follow sound federal policies in order to make this a reality. It is time to restore progressive taxation as a national policy and ask the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. It is time to strike down anti-union legislation that increases profits for investors by reducing labor costs, shipping jobs overseas and turning our manufacturing base into a Walmart service economy. It is time to make sure that education is funded as a priority and defense is secondary in terms of budget allocation to the health and well-being of children and families. As a candidate for the US Senate in Tennessee I believe that these are the policies that will insure a modest national prosperity for all.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Now is the Time to Stop Funding War

This year, the United States government is scheduled to spend more than $622 billion dollars on the military budget, which includes an additional $171 billion dollars for the occupation of Iraq. In comparison, the US will only spend $56 billion dollars this year on education and only $3.4 billion on energy development. At the current rate of spending it will take 183 years of alternative energy development to match one year of spending on the war in Iraq, and eleven years of funding education for our children will still not match even one year of spending on this war. We have seriously misplaced our priorities, and it driving us further into debt, an estimated $9.357 trillion dollars this year.

The US Senate has an opportunity to begin to turn the clock backwards this week, in the name of our children and the future of our country. Last week the House passed a bill which would create a timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq, limit the ability of the CIA to torture prisoners and increase domestic spending on budgetary priorities that need our attention here at home such as universal health care, which would cost an estimated $169 billion dollars to provide coverage to the remaining 47 million Americans who currently lack health care coverage. For an additional $58 billion dollars we could provide access to universal higher education for all students who want to go to college.

The Senate is considering legislation that would add an additional $168 billion dollars to the US federal debt to fund an additional year of bombers, tanks, military bases, cluster bombs, hummers, and blackhawk helicopters for the military in Iraq. What we need to do in the US Senate is stop funding for the war in Iraq right now. As a candidate for federal office I would make it my first priority to stop all military funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Right now ever American in this country holds a liability of $30,777 which we owe to various banks, investment firms and foreign governments who have bought the promisory notes which our government has issued with the promise of payback at some future date. Over fifty percent of that debt is owed specifically on military spending for the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, the first war in Iraq, military expenditures in over 140 countries and even debt that is owed on the wars in Vietnam and Korea that have not yet been fully paid. Our debt load is enormous and it is the symbolic albatross around the neck of our children.

As long as we continue to vote for candidates who are bought and paid for by lobbyists, corporations and country clubs we will continue to get what they pay for which is more war, more military spending, higher gas prices and declining competitiveness in the global market place. I urge you to write to your Senator and tell them to vote no on more money for war and in November to vote for candidates who care more about education and health care than Halliburton and warfare. In Tennessee, the choice is clear. You can vote for the Republican, Senator Lamar Alexander who will spend another $168 billion dollars of your children's future or you can vote for peace by supporting candidates who will stop funding the war and bring the troops home now.

The Bushes and Hitler's Appeasement - T.O.

Robert Parry | The Bushes and Hitler's Appeasement
Robert Parry, of Consortium News: "To this day - as President Bush showed by mocking the long-forgotten Sen. Borah and then wielding the Nazi 'appeasement' club against Barack Obama and other Democrats - the assumption remains that the bubble will continue to protect the Bush family name. However, the evidence from dusty archives suggests that the Bush family went way beyond appeasement of Adolf Hitler to aiding and abetting the Nazis."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Trip To The 2008 Chicago Green Festival

For starters, I got off to a late start - one of my oldest friends was in town after a couple of years in Spain, so we were out together visiting and shooting pool until close to 1:00 am, by the time I got to bed the night before, it was close to 03:00.

At any rate, I got up late in the morning and started planning my itinerary in the festival guide.
(You can see more about the Green Festivals all over the country at )

Embedded here is a photo slide show from my trip to the fest. (Uses shockwave flash)

For those of you who may not be able to view the slideshow, there is a web album of the photos here:

A few highlights:

The main fest exhibit area - about four football fields, I'd guess.

Yours truly at the fest:

The Chicago Skyline as seen from Navy Pier:

The Navy Pier Ferris Wheel after dark - this is around 200 feet tall:

I stopped in and watched the first hour of the Patchamama Alliance's
symposium entitled "Awakening The Dreamer" first off in one of the 3rd floor lecture rooms. You can check out an electronic version on their site, I believe. It was an interesting synthesis of the bigger picture formed by sustainable economy, energy, ans society. I'd recommend it.

After wards, I roamed the booths checking things out.

I picked up some organic lime shea butter at the Trillium Organics booth for my wife Saren - she loves the stuff for skin lotion, and says there's nothing better out there.

I also got her a four ounce pump spray aluminum bottle of citrus eucalyptus spray as an organic bug repellent from Blissoma aromatherapy.

For our friend Jim, I got a note pad made out of Mr. Ellie Pooh paper. This paper is a soft, fibery, acid-free paper made from...elephant dung from Sri Lanka. Apparently, the elephants in Sri Lanka trample the farmers' crops, and so they get upset and shoot them. One way the farmers can make up the elephant damage is by making paper products out of their pooh. According to the brochure, each one produces around 500 lbs of the stuff per day, and it's all veggie and almost pre-processed perfectly for paper making.

To note, there were several other types of treeless paper at the fest; one was made from some kind of bush in Nepal that you can take most of the leaves from each year, and it grows back.

For My wife and I both, I got some red African bush tea, otherwise known as Rooibos. It is of course organic, and caffeine-free. It also tastes very nice. I'm drnking a cup as I type this for you. I got it from Eco Teas.

For myself, I picked up a set of authentic Tibetan prayer flags.

According to the label, the tradition is that you hang them outside in the breeze with a specific event in mind, such as the birth of a child, the beginning of a journey, etc. The prayers written on the flags are prayers of prosperity and success. It is believed that the prayers are carried away on the winds. As the flags become weathered and the prayers can no longer be read, the prayers are believed to have been delivered.

I also stopped by Calvert Funds to get some advice on setting up an IRA that does socially responsible investing. They're going to work out an appointment for ,me to come into their office (which is right in my train station) and look over what I can do.

All in all, I really wish I could have stayed longer.

Now as to getting to the fest, since it was on a Saturday and I got out late, I had to drive downtown - I have a night-limited parking pass for one of the ramps downtown, but on the weekends I can be in there around the clock. However, my parking space is at least four miles, possibly five, from Navy Pier. I walked. There and back. On the return journey, it was after dark and raining. Not horribly hard, but a constant medium-light rain. Needless to say, by the time I got back to the truck, I was pretty damp. (Just so you know, my pickup is V6 and 2
two-wheel drive. I'm 6'6" and 330 lbs, so I can't fit in the majority of smaller vehicles. )

Altogether, it was a great and happy day.



Friday, May 16, 2008

Larisa: Bush family's Nazi ties and 'appeasement'

Wow. Ya think?

All the President's Nazis (real and imagined): An Open Letter to Bush

(cross-posted at Huffington Post)

Dear Mr. Bush,

Your speech on the Knesset floor today was not only a disgrace; it was nothing short of treachery. Worse still, your exploitation of the Holocaust in a country carved out of the wounds of that very crime, in order to strike a low blow at American citizens whose politics differs from your own is unforgivable and unpardonable. Let me remind you, Mr. Bush, of your words today:

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush said at Israel's 60th anniversary celebration in Jerusalem.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to Israel's parliament, the Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

Well Mr. Bush, the only thing this comment lacked was a mirror and some historical facts. You want to discuss the crimes of Nazis against my family and millions of other families in Europe during World War II? Let me revive a favorite phrase of yours: Bring. It. On!

The All-American Nazi

Your family's fortune is built on the bones of the very people butchered by the Nazis, my family and the families of those in the Knesset who applauded you today:

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's grandfather was a director of a bank seized by the federal government because of its ties to a German industrialist who helped bankroll Adolf Hitler's rise to power, government documents show.

Prescott Bush was one of seven directors of Union Banking Corp. (search), a New York investment bank owned by a bank controlled by the Thyssen family, according to recently declassified National Archives documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

Fritz Thyssen was an early financial supporter of Hitler, whose Nazi party Thyssen believed was preferable to communism.


Both Harrimans and Bush were partners in the New York investment firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman and Co., which handled the financial transactions of the bank as well as other financial dealings with several other companies linked to Bank voor Handel that were confiscated by the U.S. government during World War II.

Union Banking was seized by the government in October 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Oh, but there is much more too:

The two Holocaust survivors suing the US government and the Bush family for a total of $40bn in compensation claim both materially benefited from Auschwitz slave labour during the second world war, Kurt Julius Goldstein, 87, and Peter Gingold, 85, began a class action in America in 2001, but the case was thrown out by Judge Rosemary Collier on the grounds that the government cannot be held liable under the principle of "state sovereignty".

I cannot think of one Democrat who can boast this kind of lineage. Can you? No, I don't think so. But you can lie brazenly and attack a sitting US Senator on foreign soil by comparing him to Nazi sympathizers? Let us continue down memory lane to help those who applaud you understand just what it is they are celebrating.

The All American Traitor

You family did not stop with supporting fascists and Nazis abroad, did they Mr. Bush? Surely you must know of your grandfather's role in the treasonous plot of 1933 to overthrow democracy in America? Let me remind you.

Grandpa Bush - that is to say, your grandfather - wanted fascism imported into the United States, or as you now call this type of transformation, "exporting democracy." Prescott went so far as to subsidize a coup attempt in order to achieve his dream of a fascist America (see BBC report below):

Document uncovers details of a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by right-wing American businessmen. The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush's Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression. Mike Thomson investigates why so little is known about this biggest ever peacetime threat to American

In other words, not only was your grandfather a self-professed fascist, he was a Nazi sympathizer and a war profiteer who should have stood trial at the Hague instead of buying his way into the US Senate. He was also a traitor, twice over.

Now clearly the crimes of Prescott Bush are not your fault, Mr. George W. Bush. Let us therefore judge your actions and words on their own merit.

Iraq is your Poland

Your reminiscence today about the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany should have been seen as your own condemnation of your own abhorrent actions against Iraq. The morbid irony of what you said will likely never register with your or your speechwriter. To truly grasp the grotesqueness of what you said requires that you have both a conscience and some understanding of history. We know you possess neither.

I will therefore make your history lesson brief, but to the point. The unprovoked attack on Poland by Germany was a war crime just as your attack against Iraq - based on lies - is a war crime. This is not my opinion. This is not a political attack. This is a fact. Consider the words of the esteemed former chief prosecutor in the Nuremburg trials, Benjamin Ferencz, regarding your war of aggression against Iraq:

"...Prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation."

Moreover, your reckless verbiage and partisan pandering using something as tragic and criminal as Germany's war of aggression against Poland is an insult to all victims of those atrocities.

My grandfather's sister and parents were having supper in their Warsaw home when a German bomb erased them from this planet. Your evoking the German atrocities against Poland in order to play dirty politics against Democrats is as offensive to me as if you had pinned a swastika onto your lapel.

Even your own words appear to be penned by Hitler's ghost all the while you imply that Democrats are Nazis and/or terrorists - something you have done over and over. Your lies and Hitler's lies even have the same purpose.

When you, Mr. Bush, said "see in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," were you aware of Adolph Hitler's eerily similar statement? Hitler said "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."

Yet if words alone were your only weapon and words strung together into lies your only crime, you might be seen as simply the loathsome, unethical dilettante and despot that you are. Unfortunately, your crimes are many and so similar to those of the Nazi regime that at times one wonders if you are not yourself reenacting that very history you used today as an insult against a political opponent.

Your very own concentration camps

You ordered the creation of secret camps all over the world and on US territory where you also authorized the torture of countless men, women and children is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, international law, and domestic law. In other words, you authorized war crimes.

We don't know the number of people you have had disappeared, tortured, and possibly murdered. Although we have some idea of what these numbers may be, I doubt the full truth of it all will ever be known.

In 2005, I had a CENTCOM document leaked to me illustrating that since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, more than 70,000 men, women, and children have been detained at one of your various camps Mr. Bush. We don't know what happened to them, if they were tortured, raped, or murdered. What we do know is that less than 2% of those 70,000 had any sort of charge brought against them in a court of law. None of those alleged crimes, by the way, were acts of terrorism. We don't know if that 70,000 figure was the actual and full count of detainees in US custody around the world in 2005. But it is safe to say that in the last 3 years since this document was published, the number of detainees has likely grown.

What we also now know, in great horror, is that at least one of your camps had a crematorium in it, which some of the US soldiers stationed there suspected was used for burning bodies:

"We had some kind of incinerator at the end of our building," Specialist Megan Ambuhl said. "It was this huge circular thing. We just didn't know what was incinerated in there. It could have been people, for all we knew--bodies." Sergeant Davis was not in doubt. "It had bones in it," he said, and he called it the crematorium. "But hey, you're at war," he said. "Suck it up or drive on."

What we also now know is that Dick Cheney and senior members of your administration carried out a plan of torture and abuse that violated international and domestic law with regard to human rights, down to the type of torture tactics that would be used against prisoners in our custody. This plan, we now know, was approved by you.

Has the mirror cracked yet from this much fact or are you still peering into the political sphere hoping to ascribe your own crimes to others? It won't work. It never has and it certainly won't work now. We know far too much about you and yours.

I could continue listing the litany of your crimes, both against the United States and against foreign nations. I won't. We know what you are and what you have done. Having roughly 1,000,000 dead Iraqis under your belt should have shamed you into the parasitic hole you came out of, attaching yourself to the blood of this nation and sucking it dry. Instead, you parade around, the globe-trotting horror show and anti-Semite that you are.

Yes, you are an anti-Semite

Would you say no, you are not an anti-Semite? Consider your own words when you thought no one was keeping score:

"You know what I'm gonna tell those Jews when I get to Israel, don't you Herman?" a then Governor George W. Bush allegedly asked a reporter for the Austin American-Statesman.

When the journalist, Ken Herman, replied that he did not know, Bush reportedly delivered the punch line: "I'm telling 'em they're all going to hell."

Only an anti-Semite would think this type of humor is acceptable. Did you tell the Jews of Israel they were going to hell? No, instead, you told them that American Democrats are Nazi sympathizers and in an act of sheer indecency, the right wing Likud party orchestrated the greatest applause you ever got. For shame!

What this blind adoration finally proves to me is that the right-wing regime that has overtaken Israel cares nothing for its people, its heritage, and the tragic history that they now honor by applauding a man whose family-fortune was built on the bodies of their loved ones. Like their Republican (and Lieberman) counterparts in the United States, Likud does not represent its people, rather, it represents its owners. Likud has traded Israel, its Jews, their heritage and history for the same golden calf purchased and sold by the far-right wing in the United States.

I am ashamed of you Mr. Bush. I am ashamed of those who applauded your political porn played out against the hallowed backdrop of the Holocaust. I am ashamed of those reporters with you, who between them could not muster the moral courage to call you out on your ugly rhetoric and ask you about your own family Nazi ties. You are, sir, the most abhorrent human being of my lifetime. I dare say, in the lifetime of this nation.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Restoring Credibility Through International Cooperation

When I was a senior in high school I participated in the model united nations program. As thousands of students do each year, I chose a country to represent as part of the student program. In my case I chose Norway, the home of my mother's ancestors. I was very excited to receive mailings from the Norwegian embassy, which I diligently researched in order to accurately represent my country of choice. Sitting in our high school library we passed resolutions to abide by strategic arms control and non-proliferation issues.

It has been more than twenty years since I participated in that program as a high school student, and in that time a lot has changed in the world. The cold war ended with the fall of communism in eastern Europe, the economic engines of southeast Asia and China have changed the playing field in global politics, free trade agreements have devastated the American economy and global awareness has become focused on the dangers of greenhouse gas warming of the planet.

Some things stay the same though, from one decade to the next. Men and women still fall in love, the birds sing and the bees buzz, the rain falls and the wind blows, and the United States fails to pay its dues to the United Nations, year after year, to the tune of some $2.8 billion dollars. According to the United Nation Association of the USA, the U.S. owed $633 million in arrears to UN peacekeeping alone and this number is estimated to increase by between $250 million to $1 billion over the course of 2008.

The right wing yak machine loves to discuss the ineffectiveness of the United Nations on talk radio. Day after day, week after week, the public is bombarded by arguments against international cooperation and peacemaking. In the meantime, the Bush administration follows a unilateral approach with regards to foreign policy. As a result of these twin towers of ignorance and power, the United States is now perceived internationally as a rogue superpower, willing and able to ignore international agreements and national sovereignty in the name of fanatical patriotism and war profiteering.

The United States still has a role to play in the United Nations, but only if we elect representatives who will respect the historic role that the UN plays as an agency of first resort for all agreements international. Whether it is peacekeeping, refugee assistance, development, food aide, nutrition, global health, disarmament, weapons inspection, disease prevention, global education or family planning, there is a UN program available to deal with that situation. The United Nations is an integral element of global peacemaking and development.

As a candidate for federal office I support full funding of the United Nations and associated programs. I believe this is the right thing to do, not just for the international community, but also for the United States. I firmly believe that the way to restore US credibility in the international community is by fully paying our dues and supporting the UN in their role as an agency of international cooperation.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Workers Rights Are Human Rights

We use them all the time - our firefighters, police officers and emergency medical service personnel. Hardly a day goes by that we don't come into contact either directly or indirectly with these hard working public servants. When we have traffic accidents or emergencies at home or at work these public servants are the first on the scene in our communities. Often risking their own safety in order to serve the public good, these employees of our cities, states and municipalities deserve to have collective bargaining rights.

The problem is that tens of thousands of these public safety officers do not have the right to negotiate with their employers, often leaving our firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel without a voice at work. There is a remedy to this situation - it is called the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, or Senate Bill 2123. This bill would go a long way toward remedying a situation that has become unacceptable. It would allow public safety officers the collective bargaining rights they deserve, including the right of public safety officers to bargain over wages, hours and working conditions.

The bill would also provide a dispute resolution mechanism for when there is not agreement between management and labor and it would provide the enforcement of contracts through state courts. The problem is that there are many states that do not offer our public safety personnel minimum bargaining rights. In these states it is very difficult for public servants to organize and ultimately we pay the price. A workforce that does not have the right to organize is less productive and has lower self-esteem on the job.

Our public safety is worth the investment. As a candidate for the US Senate I do not believe we should cut corners when it comes to the needs of our public servants. That is why I support Senate Bill 2123 and would work to pass it into law if elected to the US Senate. This bill already has broad bipartisan support and its companion bill was passed in the US House recently. We owe it to our public safety employees to ensure that they have collective bargaining rights. So let's give them the voice that they deserve.

for more information please visit

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Americans Need Real Solutions to the Housing Crisis

America faces a housing crisis that it has not seen the likes of since the great depression. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their homes due to the mortgage crisis in the past year and more are at risk if we don't act now. That is why the US Senate must support some version of the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which passed this past week in the US House. This legislation, which is on its way to the Senate next week has been threatened with veto by President Bush.

As usual, the President is wrong. The President has said that he would veto the legislation if it comes to his desk because he doesn't believe that certain types of people should be rewarded for their bad decisions. What the President means is that poor people shouldn't be protected from predatory lenders and that the government shouldn't have any regulatory responsibilities when it comes to mortgage lenders.

The fact is that this housing crisis could have been avoided. It is the result of twenty-five years of federal deregulation across the board combined with a speculative investment industry gone haywire. A rational person would conclude that after seeing so many foreclosures, maybe there is something wrong with the system. But when it comes to the role of the free market and the responsibilities of the government to legislate for the common good, the Republicans just don't get it. Their belief is that the free market is always the best solution to every problem. Just this week, House Representative Marcia Blackburn of Tennessee said that the foreclosure legislation would "provide a safety net for irresponsibility."

Tennessee's Republican constituency wants to live in the good old days when the poor people knew their place and didn't try to do anything irresponsible like own a home or expect a living wage. Their response to this legislation clearly shows the misdirection of the Bush administration and his Republican supporters. In contrast to that is the message of the progressive left in this country, which has real solutions to the housing crisis, some of which are contained in the legislation currently making its way to the US Senate and some of which is not included. As Americans on the verge of a grave financial crisis, it is important to get a grip on why we are in this situation. It is in large part due to the deregulatory nature of federal policy, which has been encouraged by twenty-five years of conservative and neoliberal administrations.

In a deregulated free market without proper government oversight, poor people are victimized by predatory lenders and cannot count on the government to provide regulatory oversight. This is at the root of the mortgage crisis and the federal government has an ethical responsibility to step in now and attempt to remedy the damage that it could have avoided by placing stricter limits on what lenders can and cannot do in order to get a poor person to sign on to a mortgage.

But in order to really address the root of the housing crisis, the federal government must take steps to address the root causes of poverty, unemployment, low wages and homeless in America. We must take steps now to raise the federal minimum wage to a living wage, which is about $10.50 an hour plus benefits. We must invest in job training and invest in our education system to ensure that all Americans have a chance to attend college. We must invest in affordable housing for all Americans. Finally, we need to invest in quality, affordable, single payer health care.

I believe that we can build a community where all Americans can live with hope. If we stop investing hundreds of billions of dollars on war and violence and invest in our domestic infrastructure, we can begin to rebuild this country. We must begin by paying Americans a wage that a family can reasonably expect to live on. We must ask those who have received the most benefit from our system to give the most by rolling back the Bush tax cuts. We must use the government as an agency of good and regulate the more ruthless elements of a free market. If we fail then we must ensure that the government is there, as a safety net, to make sure that no one falls through the cracks.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Green Party of Tennessee Nominates Lugo for Senate

Nashville, TN: The Green Party of Tennessee has nominated Chris Lugo as their candidate for US Senate in Tennessee this year at their state nominating convention in Nashville held Saturday. Lugo said that he was excited to be representing the most progressive political party in the state of Tennessee, "The Green Party is the most progressive party in the state, and I am glad to be representing them as a candidate for federal office. My views about the environment, the war, health care and education are highly compatible with the ten key values of the Green Party. I hope to represent them well as a candidate and to promote the cause of peace through my campaign."

Lugo had originally been seeking the Democratic nomination in January and was the first to register with the state, but then dropped out of the Democratic nominating process in March, citing strong differences in basic values, "Originally I had considered running as a Democrat. There was no one running because the Governor had scared off all of the front-runners and I felt like this was a good opportunity to promote the peace issue, which I have been advocating for since the spring of 2002. But after actively campaigning as a Democrat for several months I got the sense that the Democrats and myself were not on the same page. I wish the Democrats well and I hope that they come up with a clear anti-war policy this year."

The Green Party has had a long history as an advocate for peace and justice and has issued numerous releases opposing the war in Iraq as well as US intervention in Afghanistan and has condemned the detention of prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay and has spoken out clearly against torture, "The Green Party is really the conscience of this country. They have been working for peace and against war for a long time now. The Democrats voted for the war in Iraq and have voted for every funding appropriation that has come to the Senate since that day."

The US Senate is currently considering extending funding for the war in Iraq with another appropriation of $178 billion dollars for the ongoing occupation of Iraq, "The democrats are dragging their feet on this one and they have been so disappointing since they came to power in 2006. I am glad that they are calling for a troop withdrawal as part of their proposal, but the fact is they are going to vote for spending for billions more for the war. This is the Democrats bait and switch and it isn't the first time they have called for troop withdrawals sometime down the road while voting to spend billions more for war right now."

The Green Party has also been the strong party on environmental issues for over twenty five years, having brought the issues of global warming, public transportation, alternative energy, the oil crisis, the food crisis, corporate agribusiness and species extinction to the public's attention long before being Green was considered fashionable. "Nowadays we have Green Drinks and Green commerce and Carbon credits and people are taking global warming seriously. It looks like everyone is going Green and we have been doing it for over twenty-five years. We are the Green Party and the public is going to need the collective wisdom that this party has developed from its twenty five year commitment to environmental sustainability."

Lugo favors weaning the public off of oil and moving toward a sustainable energy infrastructure. "If you look at my platform you will see that I have been talking about alternatives to oil since I began this campaign. It is clear that the current oil crisis is being driven by tensions in the Middle east and investment speculation in energy commodities. I support legislation to require that big oil begin to invest in sustainable energy. The billions of dollars that are currently being driven into the pockets of investors needs to go into research and development to find alternatives to oil and coal."

The Green Party of Tennessee, which held its nominating convention in Nashville on Saturday, also endorsed John Miglietta, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Tennessee State University, as their candidate for the Fifth Congressional District. Miglietta, who is an officer with the Green Party of Middle Tennessee, will be challenging Jim Cooper for the House Seat, which covers most of Davidson County and the surrounding area. "I am happy to have John as a running mate and will be actively campaigning with him when I am in the middle Tennessee area. I also hope to debate the candidates for US Senate who are running this year, including Libertarian candidate Daniel Lewis, Republican incumbent Lamar Alexander and other candidates on the ballot. I believe the voters deserve the opportunity to hear from all the voices in the US Senate race this year and hope the press and civic organizations will allow the opportunity for democracy to be practiced as it was intended."

Chris Lugo will be on the ballot on November 4th, 2008 in the US Senate general election in Tennessee. For more information please visit

Friday, May 02, 2008

There Is Power in a Union

May 1st marks the international worker's holiday known as May Day, which commemorates the fight for the eight-hour work day. The day was chosen in memory of the Haymarket incident in Chicago in 1886 to honor the struggles of striking workers and the very real threats to their health, safety and even lives that workers have undertake when choosing to exercise the right to organize and form unions.

The right to organize and join a union is a fundamental right, which must be preserved and maintained if we are to keep our nation strong. Unions built this nation and built the standard of living that all Americans today enjoy. With the help of trade unions in the United States, workers were able to gain new rights such as the forty-hour work week, worker's pensions, compensation for injury obtained on the job, and living wages.

Without unions we would look more like the developing world, where workers have few rights, face hazardous job conditions and receive little compensation for their employment. We would not have the strength and innovation that our economy has without the contribution of our workers and we would not have a healthy and inspired workforce without our unions.

Unfortunately union membership rests at 18% of the current labor force, making unions seemingly irrelevant to a vast majority of the workforce. The reasons for this trend, which is historical and long term, are complex. Union membership has declined from its historical highs during the middle of the twentieth century. As workers transitioned out of factory blue collar jobs into the corporate work force union membership was seen as a product of a bygone era, not useful in the corporate culture most middle class workers found themselves in during the post-war era.

In addition to the worker transition from the factory to the boardroom, union-busting strategies became more sophisticated and more pressing. Unions have been painted with a broad brush by the right wing propaganda mill as corrupt, a danger to the business climate, a threat to corporate profits, and a danger to international competitiveness. The trend in the free trade era has been a race to the bottom for wages, labor costs and worker health and safety conditions.

The free trade agreements of the 1980's and 1990's have ensured that an entire generation of Americans will once again have to fight for their rights if they want to have decent working conditions. The same is true of the working class of the developing world, who have been impacted by the same development trends which have affected American workers.

That is why unions matter. They matter because the fundamental reality of the working class is that corporations will always seek to maximize profits. The investing class will always seek the highest profit possible for their investors, and they will always seek to reduce labor costs, which are usually their biggest expenditure. Whether it is exporting hi-tech jobs to India or importing sub-standard goods from sweatshops in China or encouraging low wage immigrant workers to compete with trade jobs in the construction industry, the strategy is the same around the globe.

Unions represent working class solidarity. Regardless of whether you work in a corporate office or a factory or on a farm, there is a union for you. Unions are good not just for workers but they are also good for investors. Unions build strength and pride in a workplace and ensure that workers have a sense of safety and security in their occupation.

As a candidate for federal office I support the right of workers to organize in all occupations. I support the increase of the minimum wage to at least $10.50 an hour plus benefits. I support universal single payer health care for all Americans. I support the withdrawal of the United States from Treaties of Obligation such as NAFTA, CAFTA and the FTAA, which have driven down wages around the world while boosting corporate profits. I support full funding for government agencies designed to protect worker's health and safety.

It has been a long time since those workers stood in the streets of Chicago organizing for basic rights. History has shown us that the right to organize and form unions lifts the boat of all Americans. Unions are a win-win strategy for workers and managers. With unions we have better working conditions, better health and safety conditions, better wages for our workers and increased profits for investors. So let's make America strong and support the right to organize for all Americans