Saturday, June 28, 2008

American Hero IV

I have seen the future of activism ...

... and his name is Van Jones.

Tonight, at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly (the UU annual national meeting) in Fort Lauderdale, Van Jones presented the 2008 Ware lecture, a sort-of keynote address featured at every GA.

Frankly, I was spellbound. Speaking without the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentation, without notes as far as I could tell, Mr. Jones alternately cajoled us, praised us, inspired us, blessed us, and made us laugh, but most of all, lifted us up into a new world of possibilities and new paradigms.

Van Jones' vision is of a new Green Economy in our nation, one that first reaches out to the people who were locked out of the old gray economy. His vision is that of an ecological revolution formed by the marriage of environmentalism and social justice.

"The chief moral obligation of the 21st Century is to build a green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Those communities that were locked out of the last century's pollution-based economy must be locked into the new, clean and renewable economy.

Our youth need green-collar jobs, not jails."

-- Van Jones

So, who is this guy?

Well, for one, he is an African-American environmentalist, something that was once considered an oxymoron.
From Wikipedia:
Van Jones (born 1968) is a civil rights and environmental advocate in Oakland, California, working to combine solutions to social inequality and environmental justice. Jones is the president and founder of Green For All, a national organization dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Green For All grew out of Jones' work creating a 'Green Job Corp' in Oakland, California, as part of a program at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Jones founded the Ella Baker Center in 1996. Named for the civil rights and human rights heroine Ella Baker, the Center challenges human rights abuses in the United States criminal justice system and "promotes alternatives to violence and incarceration."

Here are links to Van Jones and some of initiatives:
From LINKTV, Journalist Mark Hertsgaard speaks with Van Jones of the Apollo Alliance about the environment and concrete ways that ordinary people can make a difference:

Van Jones at BIONEERS '07:

Social activist, Van Jones, speaks about activating your personal edge in the context of any social activism and also in the context of healing our prison systems:

There are lots more on YouTube.

And so, when he finished tonight, Mr. Jones made a beeline to where our UU youth sat (or rather stood, as the ovation we gave him after his address was unanimously standing) and spent fifteen minutes exulting them, hugging them, letting them know who will carry America to its promise still deferred. Watch this guy. He is going to change the world.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cindy McCain's Dirty Little Secret

As the right wing begins its election season hatchet job on Michell Obama, don't hold your breath waiting for the mainstream media to talk about Cindy McCain's little brush with the dark side. From Stephen Elliott at the Huffington Post:

"It's a psychedelic experience this week, watching Cindy McCain out on the campaign trail, attacking the opponent's wife. In rally after rally she says, "I've always been proud of my country," a not so subtle jab at Michelle Obama's gaffe earlier about really being proud of America for the first time.

"But Cindy McCain has one hell of a scandal in her past. In the mid-nineties she was addicted to prescription pain killers. Worse, she was stealing the drugs from the American Voluntary Medical Team, a third world relief organization she founded. Like most ridiculously rich people, she didn't have to go to jail for her crimes and was allowed to enter a rehab program rather than face criminal charges. The charity was shut down."

Read the rest here.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Barak Obama and the American Corporatist Empire

In his 1995 book "When Corporations Rule The World," economist David Korten spelled out in painstaking detail the global ascent of multi-national corporations to levels of power and influence unrivaled by any previous power in human history.

Marry this power to to apparatus of state, and you not only have Mussolini's definition of fascism, you have a force that ultimately is the antithesis of all things good about democracy.
The toxic influence of the corporate agenda on our own democracy is evident to anyone who willing to open their eyes. Our media is controlled by a meager handful of huge corporate interests. K Street lobbyists jostle for face time with legislators on both side of the aisle. And candidate John McCain fills his campaign staff with dozens of "former" lobbyists.

The Bush-Cheney era has extended the degree of largess afforded corporate interests, appreciably advanced during the Reagan era and only marginally decelerated during Bill Clinton's 2 terms, to an obscene level, where oil companies set energy policy, banks draft legislation on credit card and personal bankruptcy policy, and insurance companies finesse national health policies.

Those of us supporting Barak Obama believe he is our best (and possibly last) hope to turn around a system that puts corporate interests above people. But as Naomi Klein points out in the Nation, no sooner does he clinch the nomination then does he begin the back-pedaling from any rhetoric that might be conceived as populist (a word, by the way, which has become synonymous in our skewed culture with socialism).

Obama's appointment of boy wonder Jason Thurman to head his economic team is worrisome. As Klein writes, "Furman is one of Wal-Mart's most prominent defenders, anointing the company a 'progressive success story.'"
If you, like me, believe "free market" cannot be divorced from fair market, and unbridled capitalism requires regulatory oversight, these hints of laissez-faire from the purveyor of "hope" and "change" is a locus of concern.

A secret history of Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL)

From Muttering Jam's long time nominee for super-hero elect, Greg Palast - the real story of the war that John McCain would like to see continue for 100 (10,000?) years:

"Conspiracy nuts think Geroge Bush, from the moment he took office, had a secret plan to control Iraq's oil. Their wrong. Bush had two plans. Here they are. One crafted by neo-conservatives at the Pentagon; another fashioned by the State Department and Big Oil. This is the history of the secret cold war between these two power elites that drives the hot water on the Tigres."

Click here to see the time line.

Oh, McCain

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bill Moyers for VP

Here's a great video clip of Bill O'Reilly's pimp ... er.... producer, ambushing Bill Moyers at the National Conference on Media Reform last week. Moyers expertly handles the fool as you might expect.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is the start of something good!

Rep. Dennis Kucinich's 35 Articles of Impeachment

#1: Creating a secret propaganda campaign to manufacture a false case for war against Iraq

#2 Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression

#3 Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War

#4 Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States

#5 Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression

#6 Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114

#7: Invading Iraq without a declaration of war.

#8: Invading Iraq in violation of the U.N. charter and international law.

#9: Failing to provide troops with body armor and vehicle armor.

#10: Falsifying accounts of US troops deaths and injuries for political purposes

#11: Establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq

#12: Initiating a war against Iraq for control of that nation’s natural resources.

#13: Secret task force for directing national energy policy

#14: Misprision of a felony, misuse and exposure of classified information and cover up (Plame outing)

#15: Providing immunity from prosecution for criminal conduct for contractors in Iraq

#16: Reckless misspending and wasted US tax dollar with Iraq contractors

#17: Illegal detention – detaining indefinitely, and without charge, American citizens and foreign captives (suspension of habeus)

#18: Torture – secretly authorizing and encouraging use of torture, as matter of official policy

#19 Rendition

#20 Imprisoning Children Bush is guilty of impeachable offence arcticle 20, imprisoning children. Has personal and acting through agents has held at least 2,500 children in violation of Geneva convention and the rights of children in armed conflict signed by the US in 2002.

#21 Misleading Congress about threats from Iran



#24 Spying on citizens violating 4th Amendment

#25 Directing telecoms to collect databases on US citizens.

#26 Announcing intent to violate laws w/signing statements, and then violating those laws.

#27 Failing to comply with congressional subpoenas, and instructing others to do so.

#28 tampering with free and fair election. Corruption with the administration of justice, False allegations of voter fraud in selected districts, immediately preceding elections. Undermining process.

#29: Conspiracy to violate voting rights act of 1965, Ohio Sec of State 2004-06

#30: Misleading congress and american people in an attemtp to destroy medicare.

#31 Katrina and the failures of gross negligence of the administration.

#32: Misleading congress and the American people. Systematically undermining global climate change. Article 2, Section 3: Personally and through subordinates including the VP, for not protecting property of people vis a vis global climate change thru deception. Failure to ratify Kyoto. Editing reports - 294 edits by a lobbyist to add data which called into question the facts by muddying them. Or diminishing scientific findings.

#33: Repeatedly ignored and failed to respond to high level intelligence warnings of planned terrorist attacks in U.S. prior to 9/11.
Clark warned the president in daily briefings of the threat. Clark was unable to conviene a cabinet level position. Tenet met with the president 40 times to warn of threat. Still no meetings of top officials.

#34: Obstruction into the investigation of 9/11.

#35: endangering the health of 9/11 first responders.

BBC Uncovers Lost Iraq Billions

A BBC investigation estimates that around $23bn (£11.75bn) may have been lost, stolen or just not properly accounted for in Iraq. The BBC's Panorama programme has used US and Iraqi government sources to research how much some private contractors have profited from the conflict and rebuilding. A US gagging order is preventing discussion of the allegations. The order applies to 70 court cases against some of the top US companies.

While President George W. Bush remains in the White House, it is unlikely the gagging orders will be lifted. To date, no major US contractor faces trial for fraud or mismanagement in Iraq.

Here's the video report from the BBC's Panorama: